Category Archives: A Depraved New World

Life is Good…Mostly

IMG_7997I own a handful of trendy t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan: LIFE IS GOOD. I wear them because they’re ridiculously soft, they feature stick figures with infectious smiles and, quite frankly, because I like the upbeat message they send to the big, bad world. Often times, people will stop me in the grocery store or post office, point at my shirt and nod in agreement: “Yeah, life is good, isn’t it!” which is great, because sometimes I’m the one that needs a reminder.

That said, sometimes life is downright ugly—like right now, as the wheels fly off this crazed election and increasingly hateful rhetoric spews from otherwise civilized and compassionate people. I am no exception. Life is not only ugly, it’s also heartbreaking and undeniably unjust because senseless violence continues to ravage the globe, hurricanes, floods and fires strike unmercifully and so many people I love grapple with cancer, or Alzheimer’s or any number of other devastating diseases. Neighbors move away. Parents and beloved pets die. Friends endure unspeakable adversity—including, but not limited to financial ruin, crippling addictions or, heaven forbid, having to bury a child. What’s more, marriages fail, suicides happen and people I care about become broken for a host of reasons.

I suppose that loss—sometimes more than people can bear—comes with the territory, an unwelcome side effect of this thing called life. Strangely enough, the more sorrow I experience, the more difficult it seems to manage on a personal level, each event affecting me more deeply than the last. You’d think that by now coping with it would be a walk in the park for me—something distinctly unpleasant, yet easy to accept because, if nothing else, it’s familiar. Admittedly, I sometimes stay in bed and hide from the world—especially on days when sadness and negativity threaten to consume me, convinced that by avoiding reality somehow it will cease to exist.

Of course, avoidance is only temporary. It does nothing to change what is real. So I shake my fist at God, infuriated by the fact that bad things happen to good people each and every day—despite denial, despite rage and despite prayers.

And then, as the sun rises, a funny thing happens. My dog ambles over to my bedside and shoves his head and warm muzzle into my hand, demanding to be petted, acknowledged, and eventually, fed since it’s time for breakfast. I then crawl on the floor and spend a few moments rubbing his impossibly soft ears and talking with him about all the important things in his life—the walk we’ll take later, his renowned affinity for squirrels and how great his scrambled eggs will taste. Yes, my dog eats scrambled eggs. Don’t judge.IMG_6206

At any rate, somewhere between hugging him and caressing the leathery pads on his feet my mind is flooded with what can only be described as gratitude. Indeed, I can’t imagine life without the rescue dog my family and I decided to adopt more than two years ago—our black lab-mix with the grizzled face and unsteady gait. Nor can I take for granted the other loveable beasts that reside here, never mind that our curly-haired, pint-sized yapper is decidedly neurotic and that our cat gives him plenty to be neurotic about.

From there, it mushrooms into recognizing all the good that has come into my life—all the people for whom I am thankful and all the experiences I’m glad to have had. I think of my husband, a man who has been my best friend for more than 20 years, the love of my life and my soft spot to land when the universe spirals out of control. I think of my three children who are talented, bright and most importantly, kind—ever so grateful that I get to be their mom. I think of all the people who touch their lives daily and I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of indebtedness. I think of my treasured friends, my church family and how fortunate I am to have the lot of them in my life.

Of course, I’m happy to have a roof overhead, food in my pantry and the sweet refuge of music and books, too. But mainly it’s the people that remind me that life is, indeed, good…mostly.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (probably wearing a LIFE IS GOOD t-shirt). Visit me there at www.facebook.com/NotesfromPlanetMom.

Copyright 2016 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under A Depraved New World, Gratitude, Love and Loss

A Depraved New World: A Mother’s Rant

Horrified is the only word I can summon to accurately describe how I feel about a book that was authored solely for the purpose of facilitating pedophilia. The Pedophile’s Guide to Love and Pleasure: A Child-Lover’s Code of Conduct was written by Colorado-based Phillip R. Greaves II who defends his self-published tome as “…my attempt to make pedophile situations safer for those juveniles that find themselves involved in them, by establishing certian [sic] rules for these adults to follow. I hope to achieve this by appealing to the better nature of pedosexuals, with hope that their doing so will result in less hatred and perhaps liter [sic] sentences should they ever be caught.” He expressed further, “True pedophiles love children and would never hurt them.”

Apparently, Mr. Greaves never heard of Elizabeth Smart. Or Jaycee Dugard. Or Jennifer Schuett. Or 11-year-old Michaela Petit. Or 6-year-old Adam Walsh. Or the countless others who have been victimized at the hands of a depraved pedophile. Either that or he is somehow confused about the notion of what actually constitutes a sex crime. Or maybe he just wants the world to better understand people who would commit such heinous acts and to dig deeper to find the inherent good within their sorry souls—a concept I find wholly inconceivable.

More disturbingly, Greaves’ book (as of this writing) ranks among the top 100 of all Amazon.com Kindle sales. Due to an apparent explosion of public outrage (i.e. thousands of impassioned protests and threats of boycotts on the cusp of the holiday shopping season), the online giant removed the aforementioned title from its shelves, responding to concerned users by stating they “…do not support or promote hatred or criminal acts, however, we do support the right of every individual to make their own purchasing decisions. Amazon believes it is censorship not to sell certain books simply because we or others believe their message is objectionable.”

Well that line of reasoning certainly makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside (not!) with regard to protecting our right to free speech—regardless of the potential implications it may have, despite the grossly misguided message it sends humanity and notwithstanding the deeper moral issue that seems to have been sacrificed in the process of promoting said book. Needless to say, I don’t advocate censorship in every instance, but this piece of literary filth crossed the proverbial line and if ever there were justification for burning a book—this would be it. That said, I fear the tenet of social responsibility no longer means anything to anyone—least of all, to the industries that pay homage to the almighty dollar.

Clearly, it’s too late for Amazon to feign ignorance, or to having had a temporary lapse of good judgment. Honestly, how could ANYONE assigned to screen content for appropriateness possibly misconstrue the gist of this book? The title alone should have grabbed a reviewer by the throat and squeezed until its vileness was duly noted. In essence, it is an instruction manual for child molesters…a collection of dos and don’ts for would-be pedophiles (complete with legal advice)…a free pass to the Land of Exploitation—and until late Wednesday, it was available for download at the insanely affordable rate of $4.79.

Of course, The Pedophile’s Guide isn’t the only book of its ilk listed on Amazon’s site. Nor is Greaves the only author to delve into such topics. Until very recently, Greaves’ Gardens of Flesh could be purchased there. It’s likely that CNN’s Anderson Cooper (of AC 360) triggered its removal—and rightly so. However, others still remain. Join the LIVE CHAT to weigh in.

In sum, I am appalled by the audacity with which the guide was both created and promoted online—which is truly a reprehensible thing. Likewise, I am alarmed by the volume of demand and interest that evidently exists for such a product (an undisclosed number were sold). Moreover, I am saddened to think it would still be available had it not been for the voices of so many enraged individuals.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (thoroughly disgusted with this deplorable turn of events).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under "S" is for Shame, A Depraved New World, Bookish Stuff, I blog therefore I am, Rantings & Ravings, Sick-O Central, The Write Stuff

A Depraved New World

Pardon my French, but there are a lot of sick bastards out there. People who routinely, and perhaps obsessively, sit at their keyboards and Google the bejesus out of lewd keywords and phrases, hoping, I assume, to find whatever twisted bit of prose they seek. A sordid “fix” so to speak. I need only peruse my WordPress Site Stats to view the pathetic snippets of speech (taken entirely out of context, mind you) which apparently lead people to my digital home. Every. Single. Hour. Of. Every. Single. Day.

Needless to say, it makes me ill.

But it’s nothing new. Sexual predators have existed since the beginning of time, lurking all too near, littering this otherwise lovely place with their depravity. Like the disquieting woman at the playground who looks like she doesn’t belong, or the pervy guy in the parking lot who lingers two cars down, making the hair on the back of your neck bristle and the pace at which you shepherd your children, hasten. Call it motherly instinct. Label it fear. Wrap it with a therapist’s bow and call it paranoia if you must. But it’s real, and it causes great multitudes of parents to hoist those little red flags in a quiet panic.

Indeed, on any given day the media machine fuels our collective anxiety by spewing forth a disturbing volume of society’s heinous acts, riddled, of course, with horrific detail…so that we might be jarred into attending more closely. Lord knows we need jarring. As a culture we’ve been desensitized to the pervasive climate of horribleness within which we live. The scourge of terrorism. A vacationing jet-skiier murdered by a Mexican drug cartel. An investigator’s severed head showing up in a suitcase days later. The brutal and senseless Tillman killing. The countless suicides prompted by an unsettling wave of bullying. The Elizabeth Smart and Jaycee Dugard nightmarish abductions. The barbaric rape and thwarted murder attempt of Jennifer Schuett. The savage and incomprehensible Petit family home invasion.

Over and over the unspeakably gruesome sound bites play in our minds, filling us with grief for the victims and their families, consuming us with a palpable sense of unease and leading us to invite the notion that monsters do, in fact, exist.

Maybe this explains why I sometimes smother my children. Texting my oldest to excess, to ensure she’s perfectly fine…trying desperately to remember that she’s nearly as old as I was when I became her mother. Holding my youngest children’s hands in the street, although it makes them inordinately cross. Preaching about the importance of letting me know where they are every minute of every day (or perhaps more frequently). Stuffing wads of Kleenexes and Band-Aids in their pockets in the unlikely event that the school suffers some sort of shortage. Denying their ceaseless petitioning for going it alone at the bus stop. Listening to their restorative breaths in the dead of night and checking to be sure that their smallish bodies are safe from harm.

Damning the aforementioned sick bastards…the world over.

Quite frankly, as a parent I’m tired of feeling angry and imprisoned by fear. Without question, the impressionable youths in my charge sense this, spoiling their fun and squelching their desire to explore. That said, kids shouldn’t be tethered to their parents like balloons. Especially once an age-appropriate level of responsibility has been demonstrated. At that point, they ought to earn a modicum of independence…so they might be inclined to climb trees, to dig in the dirt and to roam the Earth (sans mom and dad) in search of new friends and adventures. As a child I distinctly recall being permitted to gallivant hither and yon from sunup till sundown for much of June, July and August. Read: I hiked a considerable distance from home for hours at a time in the thick of forests, the depths of ravines and across streets and vast expanses of our neighborhood without (Gasp!) a cell phone, bug spray or sunscreen. Nor did I have a GPS device surgically implanted within my skin or permanently affixed to my stupid canteen so that my parents could obsessively track my whereabouts.

It’s clear I need to get back in touch with being a sensible parent…the kind I was a decade ago, inspired, perhaps, by the kind of kid I was. In light of that, I should probably read Lenore Skenazy’s Free-Range Kids.

Planet Mom: It’s where I live (searching for the courage to raise free-range kids in a world that is more than a little frightening at times).

Copyright 2010 Melinda L. Wentzel

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Filed under A Depraved New World, Rantings & Ravings, Smother May I?