Fast Food Nation

I recently reread the book, Fast Food Nation, by Eric Schlosser, for the third time. Like my favorite novel, The Jungle, written by Upton Sinclair, Fast Food Nation is a story that warrants a refresher every few years.

The book’s raw depiction of the social injustices in the exploitation of low-wage workers, especially immigrant workers, and the conditions they are forced to work in, the horrendously inhumane way our farm animals are slaughtered, and the portrayal of how the fast food industry has permanently changed the American landscape, make Schlosser’s book an incredibly educational read.

Fast Food Nation begins with fast food’s inception in Southern California in the 1950’s and takes the reader on its journey to becoming the most powerful industry in the country.

“The basic thinking behind fast food has become the operating system of today’s retail economy, wiping out small businesses, obliterating regional differences, and spreading identical stores throughout the country like a self-replicating code.” (Schlosser)

The takeover of the American culture by the over-franchised fast food industry, including restaurant chains like Applebees, Olive Garden, and Chili’s, has led to the homogenizing of the country’s scenery. No matter what state you travel, you will find a McDonalds, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and Wendy’s, cluttered along the state’s roads and highways, not to mention malls filled with the same retail stores.

“America’s streets and malls now boast the same Pizza Huts and Taco Bells, Gaps and Banana Republics, Starbucks and Jiffy Lubes…Almost every facet of American life has been franchised or chained.” (Schlosser)

When I first read this book ten years ago, I made a conscious effort to patronize independently owned restaurants that are unique to its own cities, establishments that give individual towns character. I no longer wanted to support the conformity the fast food industry has created and thrives on.

There are other reasons I learned from reading this book that encouraged me to turn my back on the fast food industry. Another being its unfair stranglehold of keeping minimum wage low, by employing strong lobbyists, despite the industry’s multi-billion dollar profits.

The industry has successfully kept their workers from unionizing. McDonalds went as far as shutting down one of its restaurants where workers were close to forming a union.

The high turnover rate of employment makes it hard for workers to unionize, but in recent years there has been a strong  national push among fast food workers to raise the minimum wage. I completely support this, and after reading this book and seeing how unscrupulous, greedy owners take advantage of their workers while reaping huge profits, I don’t see how most people wouldn’t agree with giving the county’s minimum wage workers a raise.

I’m sure I’ll be citing this book in any future blog I write regarding animal and worker’s rights. The horror of slaughterhouses and the dangers to its workers as companies sacrifice worker safety for profit.

These days it’s important to be a conscientiousness consumer.

 

 

Advertisements

Time to End BSL. It’s Discrimination.

In December, 2010 I adopted a dog named, Phil.  The same dog who is asleep right now in a tangled mess of sheets in my bed. The same dog I have been obsessed with since the day I brought him home. He is a pit/lab mix and I didn’t even consider the “pit” part of him when I saw him on Pet Harbor and decided to drive to Animal Control to visit him. I love Labradors. It was the Lab in him that caught my eye, but the pit bull mix part didn’t deter me in anyway because I had no preconceived notions about pit bulls. I guess I wasn’t paying much attention to mainstream media news that love to portray pit bulls as inherently mean and aggressive dogs who want to do nothing but tear your limbs apart.

With all dogs come the possibility of a bite if the dog is mistreated, teased, or trained to be aggressive. And we know that pit bulls are the most abused breed out there. Every day I am so grateful that I didn’t let ignorance prevent me from bringing Phil home. But when I ask myself if my decision would have been different if I’d been paying a little more attention to the negative portrayal of pit bulls in the news headlines, and I wonder if Phil would be sleeping peacefully in my bed right now. I’m not sure. And that scares the hell out of me because Phil had already been with Animal Care and Control for a couple months by the time I got to him.

In fact, when I brought him in for his veterinary check-up shortly after adopting him, the Dr. told me she was surprised he was kept that long. I was crushed. Over-crowded kill shelters don’t give dogs a lot of time to find homes. And most of these shelters, especially city shelters where I found Phil, seem to be filled with mostly pit bulls, a breed not everyone is willing to bring home. (But I know from experience they are missing out on a great breed of dog.)

As a pit bull owner, I am really concerned about Breed Specific Legislation. BSL does nothing but make it harder for dogs like Phil to find homes. I didn’t know about BSL when I brought Phil home. I didn’t know there could have been external factors preventing me from having Phil as a pet, a companion. Phil has been an amazingly loving dog to me for six amazing years and it infuriates me to think that some city ban, or insurance policy, or association could have told me Phil wasn’t allowed to stay with me.

But yet, some people have to adhere to ordinances placed by people who have never known a pit bull personally (I am sure of this because to know a pit bull is to love a pit bull) and as a result, great dogs never make it out of shelters alive.

People who support BSL believe it is an effective way to prevent dog attacks by basically profiling and discriminating against a specific breed. Even though that “specific breed” has no “specific look” because it includes over five different breeds, including mixes, the legislation continues to ban dogs whether that particular dogs is a danger to society or not.

The term “pit bull” is actually an umbrella reference to include up to five different breed of dogs and mixes. There is no set rule to determine if a dog is actually a pit bull. If a dog looks strong and has a big head, it most likely will be deemed a pit bull, thus decreasing the odds that dog will find a home, despite how sweet and loving the dog may be, and also puts the dog at risk of being a victim of BSL.

BSL wreaks of mistaken identity and unfair judgement that cost innocent dogs their lives. Phil doesn’t know that being part pit bull means he’s supposed to be mean because all he wants to do is cuddle with his blankies and give sloppy kisses.

If the town I live in passed BSL they could legally force me to muzzle my dog any time he is in public despite the face that he has never bitten anyone as long for as I’ve had him.

If you’re interested in learning more about BSL and why it’s not effective, please visit the link below.

http://www.realpitbull.com/laws.html

And if you’re looking for a pet, please visit your local shelter or Animal Control. Please don’t be put off if your shelter has an influx of pit bulls because despite being given the same generic breed name, all of these dogs are so different in looks and personalities.

 

My baby taking an afternoon nap in his mama’s bed

Here’s to Another Clean Slate

Here’s to another New Year. Another clean slate.  A time to put the bad, the regrettable, and all we may want to forget to the side and start anew. Fresh. A rebirth, if you will.

Although I’m not sure all those sentiments are possible, I think people need to believe that at the stroke of midnight on a specific night changes everything. When we pop the champagne, put on glitzy hats, blow our paper horns, kiss strangers, and celebrate into the wee hours of the next morning, we are toasting to an end.

Maybe the year concluded on a high-note for you and you salute good luck’s continuation. Or, possibly, you’re crossing your fingers for a shift in the universe that will be more favorable to you and the path 2016 sets you on.

Either case, each scenario comes with hope. That’s what the New Year does. It gives us hope.

“Here’s to a year of better health!”

“Here’s to a year of much happiness and success!”

The month of January is the beginning of a new you, if you want it. A month filled with promises to ourselves. For the next few weeks, gyms across the country will be crowded with new faces, forcing not-so-subtle grumbles from regulars who now have to wait to use their favorite machine.

But no worries, regulars. Statistics show crowds will taper off after a couple weeks as the thrill of setting promising resolutions mixed with the excitement of a “new you” to go along with the “new year” meets reality.

And most of the time reality bites (one of my fave movies!).

The simple fact may be if you hated going to the gym in 2015, you will most likely hate going just as much in 2016.

And that’s okay.

I hate the gym, too. I’m a homebody who prefers to do as many activities as I can without leaving my house. This includes exercising. I have workout tapes, a yoga mat, a treadmill I resolve to fix some time this year, and a stationary bike I sometimes use.

I won’t make a resolution to go to a place I hate, but rather, I’ll change my intentions in the areas of my life that may need more dedication. I’ll ease myself gradually toward the changes in my life that need improving. But I’ll do it through meditation, not by guilt or external pressures.

It’s okay if on this third day of the new year resolutions may have already been broken.

Forgive yourself.

The truth is, we can give ourselves a clean slate any day we want. Every morning we wake we can sit silently with ourselves, and still our minds, and set goals, intentions, for each day.

We should celebrate each new day the way we do each new year.

 

 happy new year

Photo courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net

Getting in the Christmas Spirit

The unusually warm weather for this time of year is making it very hard to believe that Christmas is only a few short days away. Two weeks ago I went to the Morton Arboretum’s Illumination. The gorgeous trees with its lights synchronized to classic Christmas music, and the entire production with all its festive decorations certainly helped to get me into the Christmas spirit.

But despite the Illumination and all the houses I drive by dressed in green and red costumes with front lawns pinned with giant plastic Snowmen and blown-up Santa Clauses, I still feel that the holiday has crept up on me.

All this even after I purposely made sure I went to see the movie, Krampus, just to be certain the Christmas spirit stayed with me. And maybe it did a little because for a couple days after seeing that movie, I walked around the house yelling, “I believe! I believe! Do you hear me, Krampus? I believe so you don’t have to come for me on Christmas morning.”

Still, I think I’ll lock my bedroom door when I go to bed on Christmas Eve, just in case. And Phil may not know it yet, but he’s definitely sleeping in my room that night, even though my dog prefers a certain family member over me. This little habit of my baby favoring someone else took time for me to accept, and I am often compelled to remind Phil that I was the one who took him from that over-crowded shelter, with its constant barking and utter chaos, and gave him his furever home. 

But I don’t say that to him because I don’t want Phil to remember his life before he had a home.  Because dogs live in the moment, I’m quite certain he doesn’t dwell on the past or wonder about what the future holds. He lives in the “here and now” and as long as that “here and now” consists of lots of comfy blankets, bowls of food with scraps of chicken or steak, fresh water, a tennis ball and a soup bone smeared with peanut butter, Phil doesn’t worry about the future, only the “here”. 

I love that about dogs. Their ability to move on, even from the most abusive pasts, and love and trust again, absolutely amazes me.

This Christmas I’ll be thinking of all the dogs in crowded shelters, waiting for someone to come rescue them, many with only days or hours left to their lives.

If you’re thinking about getting a dog for Christmas, and remember they could be a 15-plus years commitment, please consider visiting your local shelter. If you can’t afford to care for a dog right now, but would like to have one, please consider fostering. The shelter provides everything for the dog. There is no cost to you, except to love the dog. If you don’t have time for an animal in your life right now, please consider sponsoring a shelter dog or cat.

All of these will help to save a dog’s life.

If you’re looking for a puppy, please know that shelters have lots of puppies, too. You don’t need to go to a pet store or a breeder for a puppy. But the more time I spend around animals, the more I appreciate and love older dogs. Puppies are cute, but it’s hard to explain the feeling that overcomes me when an older dog looks me directly in the eyes and licks the top of my nose.

It’s as though they’re saying, “I’ve known and met a lot of humans in my life, but not all of them have deserved a kiss on the nose, but you do.”

Aww….nothin’ beats that.

Since Christmas has sneaked up on me, I will be running around tomorrow, and possibly early Christmas Eve, picking up last-minute gifts.

And to be sure that I am in the holiday spirit come Christmas morning, tonight I will watch a couple of my favorite Christmas movies, It’s a Wonderful Life and You’ve Got Mail.  Okay, maybe You’ve Got Mail isn’t technically a holiday movie, but it does have some Christmas scenes in it and it is sweet and revolves around books and online romance, a couple things I know very well (only one is kinda unfortunate).

Merry Christmas, Everyone.

 

phil in front of tree phil santa hat 2 phil santa hat cute phil santa hat tree

 

 

 

Please Help Musa Publishing Celebrate its Three Year Anniversary

To celebrate their 3rd Anniversary, now through Oct 31, Musa Publishing is offering 30% off all its books! Please check out some amazing authors at a spectacular price. Whether your favorite genre is Romance, Young Adult, Mystery, Suspense, Thriller, Paranormal, Historical, Classical, LGBTQ or Erotica, Musa offers it all!

Please go to their website, Musapublishing.com, and take advantage of these great prices.

You can find my lesbian romance novella, Her Name, originally $2.99, for only $2.09!

Her Name is a story about a woman, Madison, who believes the beautiful woman she dreams about is the real love of her life. She has vivid dreams of the same woman every night, and soon, Madison believes this woman is the love she has been searching for. Madison’s dreams become more intense and she realizes the dreams she’s having recreate moments taken from actual events from her life–and this woman is there for all of it. Madison searches for her, but how can she find a woman she knows everything about… and yet nothing? She doesn’t even know her name.

Below is an excerpt from Her Name:

Shelly and I walked across the dog park, chatting while Shelly’s pooch ran free.

“Freddy! Stay where Mama can see you!” She turned to me. “Has Becca tried contacting you?”

I shrugged. “A couple calls. Some texts, but I didn’t respond, so I think she got the message.”

“Good.”

We walked for a little while, and then she asked, “So, did you really wake up crying this morning?”

I had told her over the phone earlier that day about my dream. I looked her dead in the eye and nodded. “My pillow was drenched.”

Shelly shook her head. “And you don’t remember what you were crying about?”

I glanced toward the sky and shrugged. “In the first dream, I didn’t know her. She knew me, but I was looking at her for the first time. In the second dream, it seemed like we were living together and we had our own little routine, like I’d come home from work and she’d cook dinner. But in this last dream, the way she held me in her arms as I cried was so personal. I wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable around her. And then she told me she loved me.”

Shelly stopped walking and grabbed my arm. “Wait, she told you she loved you?”

“Yeah, so?”

“Did you say it back?”

“Of course I did.”

My friend threw her hands in the air. “How could you tell her you love her? You don’t even know how long you’ve known her for!”

I narrowed my eyes at her. “Are you [messing] with me?” I asked.

She looked at me, and I suspected she was holding a straight face for as long as she could before she burst out in laughter. “Of course I’m [messing] with you! This is a [frickin’] dream we’re talking about! She’s not real!” she yelled.

I walked away, but Shelly followed me. “What? You’re mad at me?”

“No, it’s my own fault. I shouldn’t have told you. I’m not even sure why I did.”

“I’m sorry! Please don’t stop telling me! I’m dying to hear more about this amazing fake woman.” She cracked up and wrapped an apologetic arm around my neck. “I’m sorry, really I am, but let me just make sure I’ve got this straight so far. You’ve played games with a hose, you woke up naked with her, you cried, and you told her you loved her, but you haven’t even [slept with] her yet?”

I pulled away and gave her a hard look.

She laughed. “Oh, I’m sorry. Did I just insult your girlfriend? If she’s mad, just apologize for me when you see her tonight.”

“You know what!” I yelled. I started to let her have it, but stopped myself. I wasn’t sure what I’d expected my friend’s reaction to be, because they were only dreams and everyone had them.

Thanks for stopping by and please give a Musa author of your favorite genre a chance!

hername-300dpi

‘My Writing Process’ Blog Tour

Thank you Mystic Thompson for inviting me to join this exciting blog tour! I’ve enjoyed getting inside the heads of other authors! Please be sure to visit Mystic’s blog at mysticthompson.weebly.com

 

What are you currently working on?

I have just begun edits for my first book, a Lesbian Romance called Her Name, which is  scheduled to be released this July. As a new author, I’m not sure there’s anything more exciting than the release of your first book. It’s all starting to get real!  🙂

I also just finished my second Lesbian Romance book, tentatively called Loving Again. I have a long list of old, abandoned stories that I have promised to rescue. So once the edits of Her Name are complete and I find a home for Loving Again, I may toss the life preserver out to sea because my characters have been in the water way too long.

 

How does your work differ from others of its genre?

My writing is simple in style and usually has a nostalgic feeling to it. My last two romance stories revolve around the notion of time and how we are all connected to each other in some way, even if our paths cross only briefly. My novel, Loving Again, shows the journey of two strangers who discover that one moment in their past had brought them together in a way neither could ever imagine.

Why do you write what you do?

I write lesbian fiction.  I came out in 1996 when I was twenty and I remember going to Borders to buy my first lesbian book. It was a huge moment. I was so nervous I walked past the Lesbian Fiction aisle seventeen times before I finally entered.

You see, the aisle was clearly labelled “Lesbian Fiction” and that meant anyone who saw me standing in front of those shelves would know I was looking for a lesbian book. The horror! But I braved it and stood there long enough to pick out a book that appealed to me (of course they all appealed to me because they were about women who loved other women).  But I was so grateful to have that outlet and those stories helped me to feel normal in a world that didn’t seem so welcoming.

I know today there are a heck of a lot more outlets for young gay people and a trip to a bookstore (for those who still go to bookstores) is no longer a life-changing event, but it would mean so much to think I could give a confused, questioning, lonely person the comfort of knowing there are others like them out there. And here’s just a couple of their stories. 

On a side note, to prove how far we (I) have come, six years ago  I had a horribly loud and obnoxious fight on my cellphone, in that same Borders, with one of my ex-girlfriends while fully aware that there were others around me but not caring (yes, for ten minutes I was one of those people) – In the same place where, twelve years earlier, I had stood as a timid, self-conscious, twenty-year old,  sweatin’ out the purchase of her first lesbian book.  Progress!!!!

 

How does my writing process work?

New ideas usually come when I ask myself,  “What if?”

I wrote a blog about the power of that one question. It’s an important question and one every writer needs to ask her or himself because there are no limitations. That question pulls me away from the notion that I should only write what I know.

If I want to write about something I know nothing about  – It’s called Google, Baby!!!!!