Review: Scott Pratt’s “Justice Redeemed”

As y’all know, I’m a huge reader. I connected with Scott Pratt over a typo in one of his books and we exchanged a few emails. I kept my cool but I won’t lie, I was sort of fan-girling a bit. He has a series with a character named Joe Dillard, which I love. They’re legal crime thrillers with a really good description of the law without talking down to the reader. Score. Helps that he went to law school I’m sure – knows how much it sucks to be talked down to.

Because I’d contacted him previously, he gave me an advance copy of “Justice Redeemed.” SO COOL. Naturally he asked me to review it and hoped I’d enjoy it. I review pretty much everything I read in one place or another (helps me keep track of what I’ve read), so it wasn’t a big deal.

HOT DAMN. The book is awesome. You get all parts of the criminal justice system – investigation, courts, and corrections – which is pretty rare. The writing is great and the book flows well. I can always tell when the writing is good because I just zoom through it without any idea how much time has passed.

Most important to me is character development and you definitely get that with the main character and some of the supporting characters as well. Pratt’s characters are real people – none is perfect or always does the right thing (especially not this main character). But you always know where they’re coming from.

The book is sort of disturbing too. Obviously there’s a lot going on these days with the U.S. criminal justice system. We don’t want to believe this kind of thing could happen, but we know it does.

If you like legal crime thrillers, this is definitely one to check out.

Dose of Lyndsy: Approved.

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When I’m 34

My birthday is tomorrow and I’m just not that excited. This past year has been really rough emotionally and physically. I don’t think I’ve had a year quite that bad, maybe ever. I definitely know what living the spoonie lifestyle is about now.

Two months after my birthday last year I fell into a terrible slump. I became a person I didn’t like. I did some work and became someone I like again. I don’t know that I’ve really left the slump all that much.

I miss my dog. Once you have a tiny (or not so tiny) ball of unconditional love it’s hard to live without it. I met a wonderful dog yesterday and seeing her with her hooman really drove home just how hard it is to be without a dog. I have a hard time even looking at other pictures of dogs.

I think last year I expected that my pain would get better. All year. I thought having the tendon transfer would make things better than they were. And while I can walk now without a brace, I still have pain. Some of it is different than before, but it’s not less intense pain or less frequent. It’s just different.

I had to cheer myself on to get out of bed this morning. “Come on Lyndsy! You can do it!”

There’s other ridiculous drama that I just don’t have the spoons for. I tried to step up and do something good and nice and I am perpetually getting shit on. Well, fuck that. Not. Worth. It.

And poor Mr. Lyndsy. He doesn’t understand what this feels like. He always wants to keep trying things. He doesn’t know that sometimes, things just can’t be done. So he gets frustrated – he can’t really help me feel better and he doesn’t really understand where I’m coming from.

I don’t think he gets that it’s not that I’m giving up. But that I’m trying to find my new “normal.”

But that’s what 34 seems like it’s going to be about – finding my new “normal.” Knowing that the “normal” is going to be some kind of shitty shade of what I’ve had in the past isn’t really exciting. It isn’t really something I want to celebrate.

I do have some birthday wishes you all can help me fulfill. More tomorrow.

Unexplained Illness

I took a trip to the ER Sunday night. I spent 6 hours there and learned that I do not have appendicitis. Yes, that’s good news, but maybe we could tell me what IS wrong with me?

It started Saturday night with a dream. In the dream, a woman came up to me, squeezed my right side and said something like, “Oh got some pain there?” Until she squeezed me, I had no idea there was a problem. Then, later in the dream, another woman came up to me, squeezed my side and said, “It’s serious. You should get it checked out.”

When I woke up on SundayI remembered the dream, but didn’t think it made any sense since my side wasn’t bothering me. I poked myself, sure that the women were just crazy. Nope, turns out I was the crazy one. Palpating my side definitely produced some pain. I diligently examined myself to discover that was true all the way around to my belly button. I had crap to do on Sunday, so I let it go.

As the day progressed the pain got worse. I didn’t have to push as hard to elicit pain. By the end of the day, it just hurt without me having to do anything. Around 11pm, Mr. Lyndsy asked if I wanted to go get it checked out. We tried to find a clinic that was still open, but since none were, we headed to the ER.

The doctor managed to elicit a lot of pain when he pressed down and since that wasn’t enough to tell him anything, he ordered blood work. It came back normal, but that wouldn’t necessarily rule out appendicitis, so he also ordered a CT scan. Also clean. Since I clearly wasn’t in any immediate danger, they discharged me with Zantac and Tylenol.

I haven’t yet taken the Zantac because I’m a terrible patient. I do still have the pain as well. Dr. Google has failed to yield any useful answers.

Perhaps I’ll have another dream and the pokey, prodding women can tell me what’s actually wrong. Not sure how I’ll explain that to a medical professional, but that’s okay. I’m sure they’ve heard stranger stories.

Hey Damon Wayans, blow me

I want to begin this post by saying that everyone should have completely disregard what Damon Wayans, Sr. says in this interview since he starts off by saying that diabetes is a “circulation disease that starts in your legs.” He keeps moving to keep diabetes at bay. Uh. What? But, that’s not why I think he can blow me.

It’s not even the fact that he said that anything can be funny, if presented the right way. Nope. Not true.

In a recent interview on “The Breakfast Club” on Power 105.1, Wayans was asked what advice he would give Bill Cosby.

If I was him, I would divorce my wife wink wink. Give her all my money. And then I would go do a deposition. I’d light one of them three-hour cigars, I’d have me some wine and maybe a Quaalude, and I would just go off because I don’t believe that he was raping. I think he was in relationships with all of them, and then he’s like, ‘You know what, it’s 78, I can’t get it up for any of y’all, bye bitches.’ And now they’re like, ‘Oh, really? Rape.’”

 

His defense of Bill Cosby stems from the fact that some of the rapes happened 40 years ago and suggests that that makes their claims not credible. He ignores the pushback from one of the interviewers when she says that women did come forward years ago.

In response to the fact that some of the women have said it happened multiple times, Wayans says, “If you listen to them talk they go, ‘Well, the first time…’ Bitch, how many times did it happen? Just listen to what they’re saying.”

Then he goes… “And some of them, really, is unrapeable. I look at them and go, ‘Nah, you don’t want that.‘”

IRRELEVANT.

Wayans blames women by saying that fame makes women do things. He also says that what Cosby did wrong is to criticize young black men and that turned us against him, thus the allegations.

He does concede that there may be some women who were raped by Bill Cosby, and his heart goes out to them and hopes they get justice. Then says, “You other bitches? Look…” Then he goes off about how Quaaludes were the drug of choice of then and people did it to get in the mood.

Damon Wayans: “What’s the joy of sleeping, you know, banging someone who’s asleep?

WRONG QUESTION.

The problem is that a lot of people think like Wayans. They think that that’s the right question to ask, to frame it that way.

In reality, to understand rape, you have to think like a rapist. It isn’t about joy, it’s about POWER. It’s about making someone do what you want them to, however you have to do it. It doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with how someone looks, what they say, or how they dress. Some do it by force. Some, like Bill Cosby, do it by subduing a woman with charm and fame. Some guys do it by playing off your weaknesses or a pre-existing relationship.

Like the guy who had been a good friend of mine since high school who took my virginity without asking. Just went in and then said, “Guess you’re not a virgin anymore.” What was super special (note: heavy sarcasm) was a couple weeks later when he instant messaged me to see if he and I were still okay since “[he] didn’t ask [me] first.”

WAY TO ADMIT TO RAPE WITHOUT SAYING THE WORD RAPE.

He wanted something. He took it. Plain and simple. It didn’t have anything to do with what I wanted. How is that so different than “banging someone who’s asleep”?

We really need to have more discussions about what rape is so that we can all be clear. If your partner hasn’t given you permission to do it, DON’T. It’s not fucking rocket science.

 

I hope you like orange, Ms. Davis

Despite numerous orders to do so, Kim Davis refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay couples (read: to do her job). As a result, she’s been found to be in contempt of court and jailed.

The thing about having a legal job is that oftentimes you’re required to take an oath of office. The point is that you have to affirm that you’re willing to uphold the laws of the United States and the city and state you live in. This doesn’t always make things easy – people who are opposed to the death penalty participate as judges, attorneys, and jurors. I have seen firsthand how difficult it can be

However, people do their jobs. Kim Davis had to take an oath when she assumed her office about one year ago. Her oath was:

Members of the General Assembly and all officers, before they enter upon the execution of the duties of their respective offices, and all members of the bar, before they enter upon the practice of their profession, shall take the following oath or affirmation: I do solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution of this Commonwealth, and be faithful and true to the Commonwealth of Kentucky so long as I continue a citizen thereof, and that I will faithfully execute, to the best of my ability, the office of …. according to law; and I do further solemnly swear (or affirm) that since the adoption of the present Constitution, I, being a citizen of this State, have not fought a duel with deadly weapons within this State nor out of it, nor have I sent or accepted a challenge to fight a duel with deadly weapons, nor have I acted as second in carrying a challenge, nor aided or assisted any person thus offending, so help me God.

The supreme law of the United States is the United States Constitution. If there’s a conflict between a state law and the Constitution, the Constitution wins. People get pissy about the judiciary creating laws, but this is how people are protected. Without the judiciary it may still be illegal for a black person to marry a white person and schools may still not be integrated.

People are making fun of Kim Davis for the way she dresses, her hair, and the fact that she’s been married four times, in seeming opposition to her Christian values. She’s a rather recent convert to Christianity and offers that as her explanation for her past transgressions. I don’t think you need Christianity to use good sense about who you marry, but what do I know?

I’m also not sure how it is that Davis issuing licenses to same-sex couples has anything to do with her religious beliefs. This has nothing do with her personally. It is through her role as the Clerk that she would be issuing licenses. We all get that she doesn’t want to do that. She has made that abundantly clear. She isn’t marrying a woman. So what of it?

What she is doing is imposing her judgment and view of Christianity on others. There is obviously a lot of discussion about whether Christianity prohibits same-sex marriages, with a number of churches in favor of them. When last I peeked into Christianity, it is not the place of any individual to impose their judgment on others and no one lives a sin-free life.

There are a lot of jobs that Davis could be doing right now. She took the post from her mom who held the position for 37 years so I can see why she may be reluctant to step down. Issuing marriage licenses is but one of many things a Clerk does, but it’s something that impacts a lot of people on a regular basis. If she can’t execute the duties of her job, she should step down and let someone who can uphold the oath of office take over.

In the meantime, good luck with that orange jumpsuit.

Take your lazy labeling self elsewhere

I am an overweight, American, cisgender, straight, mid-30s, black/white female, who is spiritual but not religious, and tends to vote for Democrats. LABELS GALORE.

Now, with all of those labels, what did you actually learn about me? Go ahead, think about it. I’ll give you some time.

On a superficial level, do you know what I look like? My hair? Bone structure?

On a deeper level, what do you know about me? You might say I’m lazy, since I’m overweight. My nationality may lead you to think that I’m arrogant and narrow-minded given how Americans behave when they travel to foreign countries and what our government does with its power. My sexual orientation and gender might make you think that I’m homophobic or not understanding of others who differ from me. You might think I’m a lazy Millennial with an entitlement complex. You may think I’m hedonistic and without a moral compass since I actively proclaim my lack of religion. Maybe the fact that I’ve never voted for a Republican makes you think I’m a socialist.

Those are all things I’ve heard based on those particular labels. But they don’t even come close to telling my whole story.

Make a list of your own that matches mine. Try to picture yourself based just on those labels and come up with the things someone might say about you. How accurate it is? Probably not very.

Labels are quick and convenient. To some degree they’re necessary, but not to the degree that we’ve employed them. Each one of the labels I used to describe myself contain a range of values. By the labels I used above, it’s hard to tell where on the range I fall. Even qualifying them doesn’t really provide that much more detail because it either doesn’t get to the WHY/WHAT/HOW or it’s a big cup of “so what?”

Yes, I’m overweight, but why? Why Democrat instead of Republican – what factors did I use to make my choice? Why am I not religious? What does “spiritual” mean to me? What does being American mean to me? Do I see how we look to the rest of the world?

My race/gender/sexual orientation fall into the land of “So what?” Yes, I’m female both gender and biologically. Being female doesn’t tell you anything about what I’m capable or not capable of. Neither does my race. That’s not to say that those things haven’t had an impact on my life – but to the extent they have, it’s because others have made them an issue. Not me.

But that’s the real crux of the situation, isn’t it? It’s not how we label ourselves that matters – since we think we know who we are defined in those labels (though I don’t think we always do – some of us are as lazy about ourselves as we are about others). It’s how we labels others that matter – and the real problem is that we even think of someone as an “other.”

We label at the most minute points, rather than the highest point. We focus on the labels that separate us rather than those that unite us. If we focused more on human, instead of black, white, Asian, English, Indian, male, female, straight, gay, whatever, we might be more inclined to take actions that benefit all humans, since we fall under that label too. It’s much easier to sit back and do nothing, or worse, take actions that are harmful to others, when they don’t sit in the same label box as us.

The other error in that thinking is believing that something bad needs to happen to anyone. Despite what many people say, there is enough to go around. There’s enough money. There’s enough power. There’s enough.

Once we can stop thinking of life as a zero sum game and start recognizing the abundance that exists around us, we may be able to start thinking just in the label “human.”

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Why I Engage

Equality

This past weekend was a flurry of activity on Facebook. I read a piece written by someone called “#AllLivesMatter” and commented on it… a lot. The thread ended up being quite long and I took it to my own personal timeline and those discussions were still going yesterday. Hundreds of replies.

One of the questions I got over and over was why I bother engaging with people who just don’t seem to get it. That’s an obviously biased perspective which assumes that the people who asked the question DO get it. I happen to agree with them and it seems pretty clear to us. And of course, neither “side” ever appears to move from their position, so what’s the point of even having the discussion?

Here’s why: Several years ago I was out to dinner with a friend. I asked him what was new in his life, if he was dating anyone. He mentioned that he was and I, knowing his history with women, made a comment hoping he wasn’t dating a particular type of woman. Not because there was anything wrong with that type of woman necessarily, but I knew him and what he was looking for in a partner.

This, surprisingly, turned into a way bigger discussion  than I expected. He got defensive about his choice. I couldn’t understand what was going on. I explained why I thought he might be better with someone else. He continued to take a defensive stance and then told me that I didn’t know him as well as I thought I did, his family knew him better, etc.

At that point I knew it was better to just let it go. When the discussion turns to comments like that I know it’s not going to have a rational basis any longer. We finished up the dinner and I didn’t see him for a few months.

When next we met, he randomly brought up the conversation we had and said, “I thought about what you said. I can see where you were coming from.”

That was all he said about it and I let it go. That was as close as I was ever going to get to hearing him say, “You were right.” Today he’s married to exactly the type of woman I thought he wanted to be with.

This story isn’t about me being right, but rather to emphasize that sometimes when you have a discussion with someone, they aren’t in a place to hear whatever it is you’re saying. We’ve all be there – convinced we were right, unable to hear anything else. We know people who have held staunch positions on something, only to find out they’ve later changed their minds. Friends who got married even though those closest to them advised against it who end up getting divorced.

When it comes to social justice issues, though, it can be a lot harder. These are ideas we’ve grown up with that have formed over time and become quite ingrained. That doesn’t mean they’re immovable though. The way I see it, if something I say plants a seed and over time as the person I was engaging with goes about their lives and events happen that cause that seed to be watered, it was a worthwhile discussion. It may not even be the person who I was initially engaging with, but someone who happened on the discussion and took something away.

Will it always happen? No. Will it happen even most of the time? Maybe not. But when it comes to the fights for equality, I’ll take changing even just one person’s mind. Who knows whose mind they’ll change?