Righteous Babe Records

I listen to all kinds of music, including indie. In fact one of my favorite artists is Ani DiFranco. There was a point in time in which she said everything I was thinking. She seemed to have a song for everything. If you are unfamiliar with her, check out her website. She made her own record label in the 90’s, and has been putting out one album per year since then. I have most of her albums. And, if you are a fan of music, and interested in other independent artists, check out the other artists signed on her label.

The Making of a Audiobook of Poems

I wrote the collection of poems for Songs That Remind Me of Philosophy as a collection that stands together. It makes most sense to listen to the poems together. The topic is unrequited love, which I have have experience with.

I have been reading philosophical theories of love, and I have found that very few, if any, take into account the experience of unrequited love. In the theories I have been reading, love focuses on the irreplacibility of a person–the fact that each of us is unique and not duplicated. The loved one is irreplacable.

My thoughts, as a philosopher, and as someone who has experienced unrequited love, were: why isn’t this a topic in philosophy? Unrequited love is a frequent trope in literature, and the arts, but it’s hardly mentioned in philosophical theories of love. Rather, the focus in philosophy has been on more positive aspects, and love between two persons. So, I decided to write semi-philosophical poems about unrequited love.

If you order one of my CD’s, it will make more sense than if you listen to one particular poem alone. This is because rather than making a story out of a collection of poems, the poems came to me as a story already.

Poor People and Mental Illness

Because I am disabled by mental illness, and am on SSI, the topic of being impoverished while suffering a mental illness is a dear one to my heart. I will tell my story.

I suffered a psychotic break in graduate school. I was one of the people who was trying to escape poverty. I worked hard, and tried not to make any mistakes. But one cannot account for illness, and, after discussing things with my doctor, I applied for disability. This leaves me with about $8,000 a year to live on. On this amount, I cannot afford a roof over my head of my own, so I live with my mom and stepdad.

Currently, I have a 2004 Ford Focus that was paid off before I got on disability. It needs work, and I cannot afford to have work done on it. I certainly cannot afford a new car. I give myself $100.00 per week to live on, which is the definition of extreme poverty in the United States. This covers my clothing, hygiene products, entertainment, and so forth. I use the rest of the money to make payments on the computer I am using to write this, and, occasionally, I have enough saved up to buy a new pair of glasses, or a new phone, which is the only way I have a smart phone.

I have been in the hospital for psychosis eight times. I regularly go to the clinic to get medications. I go to a place for low income people. So, I associate with poor people with mental illness all the time.

One of the travesties in our country is that we make people with mental illness poor. Social Security is not enough to live on. It’s supposed to cover housing, food, clothes, and entertainment. But it barely covers my costs for gas, clothes, and hygiene products. Think about it: $8,000 per year. Can you live on that?

Before I got on disability, I tried to work because I did not want to be on disability. I was hospitalized five times before I got approved for disability. After that, I struggled with finding the right medication for me. I am currently on an antipsychotic, but it gives me some side effects.

Every month, I go to the clinic for my medication. There, I see many poor people with mental illness. For all of the good qualities I have mentioned of poor people, let me make one thing clear: Being poor is not fun. It’s not great times.

I don’t know what percentage of the poor population suffers from mental illness, but I’d wager quite a bit. If you are disabled from a mental illness, you are bound to be living in poverty.

Poor People and Rationality

I read many articles regarding poverty. Quite a few of them focus on the seemingly irrationality of poor people. This is a topic I have read about and thought about extensively.

Why do people who are poor spend money on fast food? Why do they buy designers clothes or purses? These are the topics I have read about.

Now, I haven’t read many articles critiquing how wealthy people spend their money. If anything, I have read advice from people who are wealthy about how to manage money. So, the ground is already uneven here. Why do we choose to focus on poor people, and how they manage their money, while taking advice from wealthy people? No one asks why rich people buy designer clothes.

Much of what has been written on the topic assumes that poor people are not smart, do not know how to manage money, and lack agency. None of these, in my experience, is true.

What is true is that you have to learn different things if you have a large sum of money. That is, managing less money, on a strict budget, dealing with expensive housing, and so forth, is different than having disposable income, being able to afford housing, and, even, put your kids through college.

But we shouldn’t assume the world revolves around rich people, taking their advice, and assuming that poor people are irrational.

Oftentimes, poor people have less to live on. They have a strict budget. They live paycheck to paycheck. They don’t have much, if anything, for savings. While I’m sure we could all improve in the area of money management, the fact that poor people live this way does not show that they are bad with money. It shows they have very little coming in for what they have to pay for.

If you are disadvantaged, and you are playing by the rules—that is, not engaging in illegal activities—you are probably more rational than privileged people. That is the conclusion I have come to, at least. The reasoning goes as follows: If you are trying to get ahead by playing by the rules, you have very little wiggle room for mistakes. One mistake can lead you back to poverty. One mistake can ruin your bank account. One mistake is all it takes, so you develop a habit of carefully making your choices. You choose carefully—more carefully than privileged people, who do not suffer the same consequences from one mistake.

This habitual training makes me think that poor people who are trying to keep afloat, and even rise up, are probably more rational than wealthy people. Why not take advice from them?

So let’s answer: Why do poor people buy designer clothes and purses? The answer is a lot of times they didn’t buy them. Oftentimes, these are gifts. The only time I shop a Kohl’s is when I have been given a gift card as a gift. In other cases, I shop at Ross, where I can buy designer clothes or bags for much cheaper than at department stores. And when I go to Ross, it’s not like the place is empty. There is a market for cheaper, but somewhat nice, clothes, shoes, and purses. This is why Ross is in business. Poor people need to go to the office, too, even if it’s just a secretary position. And, often, they have to look presentable for work. So they shop at Ross or get fancy things for gifts. Why do they want them? The same reason anyone else would: They are status symbols. Frequently, they are made better than cheaper things. But let me make one thing clear: I do not see many poor people walking around wearing Prada or carrying a Coach purse. I see poor people dressed in humble clothes.

On Poverty

Last week, I wrote several essays on poverty. It’s a topic I have researched a lot. I read about poverty every day. I was thinking about posting those essays here over the next few days. I grew up working class. At times, I have been poor. The issue of poverty is something dear to my heart. When I haven’t been poor, I have donated and helped other poor people. Currently, I associate with people who are poverty stricken. There’s about 14% poverty rate in my city. I think class discrimination is a terrible thing. The lives of people who are or have been impoverished matter. I hope you enjoy reading my essays.

On Writing

In college, I won awards for my writing; both poetry and prose. I find writing rather difficult, though. And sending my work out there, for all the world to judge is rather horrifying. I have been up late tonight writing, and thinking about writing. I think I have studied well enough and broadly enough to begin to write some things. That is why I have some CDs on the way, which will be available soon. However, there is always room to improve one’s craft, and I feel like I am always improving, or trying to improve. It’s not just poetry that I read, however. I take in all kinds of art and media. Recently, I was inspired by a song. I wrote a poem based off that song.

Winning awards isn’t everything, although the things I wrote which were award-winning I am proud of. One needs to keep honing one’s skill in order to stay good, and to improve. This is what I have been doing. I know of people who do not particularly like poetry, but it’s a bit like tuning your ears and eyes to a Shakespeare play. For many, it takes a few minutes to adjust to what’s being said, and then you can enjoy the play or film. I found it was that way with poetry. It takes a bit to adjust oneself to writing, reading and listening to poetry. I hope you enjoy what I have shared so far. Keep a look out for future recordings and writings!

Shakespeare’s First Folio

Shakespeare’s First Folio is touring the United States to mark the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death. It will be in Miami in February, and I am trying to go see it. Check here to find out when and where it will be near you.

Update

I mentioned in a previous post that I have schizophrenia. I don’t talk about it too much these days. I am a person first, and having schizophrenia is just one thing about me. But I did want to mention that I am on a drug that seems to be working well for me right now. It took me about five years to find the right medication; one that suits me and does not cause horrible side effects. I have also participated in therapy, which has been really great for me. But when it comes to my ongoing health issues and whatnot, I won’t be posting too much about that. Currently, my doctor doesn’t want me working full time, so I am not. But I try to participate in a variety of things, many of which I have posted on this blog. I know that some of my followers also have mental health issues, and I wish the best for you.

Who Do You Want for President?

As soon as he announced he was running for president, I volunteered to do work for Bernie Sanders. I worked his help desk for a while. I knew of Sanders long before he decided to run for president. His comments and speeches as senator caught my attention. But I was wondering, who do you want for president?

What Are You Reading?

I read mostly nonfiction these days, and I am a news junkie. If you follow me on Facebook, you’ll know that I keep up with the news quite a bit. You are free to follow me if you don’t already, but keep in mind that I am also a political wonk. I post many political things, and I’m a die hard Liberal. This stems from my training in philosophy, where I specialized in ethics and political philosophy.

Having said that, I also *love* nonfiction. So, I was wondering, what are you reading these days? Anything to recommend?

 

Daisy in Fingers

I thought I’d share another photo with you. This one is from the summer, when there were a lot of daisies growing beside my house.

Daisy in Fingers

On Being an Independent Artist

I think being an independent artist gives one more artistic freedom. And I can reach out to my readers myself. I like that. I like knowing who reads my work. Plus, it keeps me honest. I also have my hands in many pots. I get to design things in addition to writing. I love photography. I’m getting better at it, and am saving up for a new camera. I initially got into taking pictures as a form of therapy. It soothes me to take photos, especially of nature, which is quite often my subject. I live in Florida, and I like that my work is focused locally. I am a Florida artist, and it shows.

Why I Chose to Make a Redbubble Store

I was going to make my own merchandise to go with my new book, but Redbubble gives me the option of making many things available to people without me making things people might not buy. I’m not big on waste. I don’t like the idea of making products no one will buy or use. With Redbubble, I can upload my artwork, and, if you like something you see, you can buy it. I encourage you to check out my store. There are many things to buy–from posters, notebooks, and prints to iPhone cases and more. Check out my store here!

CD’s in Production

I just received an email saying that my CD’s are in production. They will be shipped to me on Friday, Jan 29th. I do not know how long after that until they get to me. But, as soon as they get here, you can order a copy!

CD Proofs

I just approved the artwork for the CD’s. It’s not going to turn out exactly the way I wanted it to, but that’s ok. It’s my first CD, and, even though I hoped everything would be perfect, it’s not, and that’s alright. I am using this picture for the cover:

Marbles in the Sand

The back cover will be the part that’s unusual. But that’s alright. The artwork just didn’t take to the templates. Going in, I didn’t know exactly what the templates were. I have only designed for books, so I used templates for books. But, in order to get things going, I decided to OK the project. It won’t be exactly the way I had hoped, but, again, that’s alright with me. I am selling these at such a cheap price that it shouldn’t matter.

 

 

 

Why I Decided to Make CD’s

I like audiobooks. You can listen to them in your car. In fact, one audiobook I got when I was in college was a collection of famous poets. I was a commuter, so I listened to those CD’s all the way on my drive to school. So, I think of audiobooks as easy and efficient. But, also, there’s the artistry of it. I like opening a CD and looking at the visual art involved. I tired to make the artwork for my new CD relevant to my work, but also individually engaging pieces. I think that’s that’s the way to go.

I decided to release the CD’s myself because I can control the price for you. I can offer my CD’s at a cheaper price than a publisher can. Check out my new CD, coming out soon, for $6.99!

Are there any CD’s whose art you particularly like? I think I always like Ani DiFranco’s artwork.

Schizophrenia Has a Human Face

Longtime readers know that I have schizophrenia. It’s a horrible disease. I cannot really work because of it. My doctor doesn’t think I should be working full time right now. So I have taken to the arts; partly in order to heal, and partly because I have always loved the arts.

I have recently written two poetry books, one will be released very soon. The other is about my experience with mental illness. It will be released later; perhaps next month.

I expect some of my readers will know about mental illness, but many people do not. And many do not know the things people with mental illness go through. Not just because of their illness, but because of the kind of care we get. I am here to put a human face on the disease. We are human. We deserve the same love and respect as anyone else. If you know anyone suffering, my CD’s may be a good gift for them. Or some of my artwork at my Redbubble store.

Redbubble Store

In addition to the store I made on this website, I also made a Redbubble store where you can buy merchandise related to my poetry audiobooks. Right now, I have stickers, posters and more, from photoshoots from two audiobooks I wrote and recorded. Check it out!

Music

What kind of music do you listen to? I listen to a variety of things. There’s not one genre I like more than others. I find music inspires me. Quite frequently, you will find me listening to my iPod throughout the day. I like indie music especially. I think Ani DiFranco may be one of my favorites. If you haven’t heard of her, look her up. She’s really great.

A Love of Poetry

Ever since I was about 12, I loved poetry. Everyone in my life knows this about me. I have written quite a bit, and have won awards. Recently, I picked up the pen again to write some poems. I couldn’t stop. I was on a roll. That collection will be available on my store here, which I just set up. You can look at the top of the website here, and see the new store. I already have everything set up, and you can pre-order a CD of my poetry now, if you would like.

But my real reason for writing today is I wanted to know something: Who is your favorite poet? What is your favorite poem?

I have been influenced by everyone from Allan Ginsberg to Langston Hughes. I love poetry.

Opening Soon!

I am opening a store to sell some of my work. The first thing I will be selling is a collection of poems I recorded, which I’ve posted samples of. If you are a fan of artwork, this site is for you!

 

A Cold Day

It’s chilly here in Central Florida today, but not like many parts of the country, experiencing a blizzard. If you are out it that, stay safe!

Palm Trees

Photography

I am nowhere near a professional photographer. But today I shot a few photos when I was with my dear friend, Laura. Here’s one of them. It’s called Marbles in the Sand.

 

Marbles in the Sand

 

Bonus Track: Doctor’s Office

I’m feeling generous today, so I am posting another poem for you to listen to and read. This is an older poem; a few months old. I wrote it after I went to the doctor.
Doctor’s Office

The way you touch
My flower petal skin

Like a hammer smashing a teacup
And an inconsiderate stomp
Upon specks of fresh clover

Gets me tangled
In a sea

Of how impolite
People can be

While sitting in a waiting room.

Participating in the Arts Improves Mental Health

That’s according to this article, which discusses a survey that researchers conducted, asking people about their participation in the arts and their mental well being.

I have for quite some time been participating in the arts, whether it’s creating poetry, painting, coloring, or listening to music.

Take in some art today!

Do You Write?

Over the past few days, I have been writing poetry. I have won awards for poetry. Back in undergraduate school, I wrote frequently.

I started writing poems at the age of 13. I wrote one poem, at least, per day. As time passed, I got better and better.

I took time off from writing poetry when I was in graduate school, but I thought I’d take it back up.

It’s very interesting, how we grow as writers, as well as in other areas. I find the things I write about now are different from things I used to write.

How about you? Do you write?

First Chill of the Season

Here in Central Florida, we got our first chill of the season today. It was cool enough to wear a jacket, which is saying something in Florida. I always look forward to the chilly weather. Maybe I wouldn’t look forward to it so much if I lived somewhere else. But in Florida, we get so few chilly days, that I look forward to getting into a holiday spirit and drinking some hot chocolate.

How about you? How’s the weather were you are at? Do you look forward to chilly days?

hot chocolate

 

Do You Have a Favorite Philosopher?

Perhaps I shouldn’t say “favorite.” Maybe a philosopher you’ve spent a lot of time reading.

I have to say that the philosopher I spent most time reading and trying to understand is Kierkegaard. I don’t want to get into politics or religion here necessarily, but there’s no way to really understand Kierkegaard without understanding Christianity. Now, one doesn’t need to be a Christian in order to study a Christian thinker, which Kierkegaard was.

I learned about Kierkegaard for the first time in Introduction to Philosophy, where we read Fear and Trembling, and then further in an undergraduate seminar on existentialism. That seminar, taught by a Kierkegaard expert, did manage to divorce Kierkegaard from Christianity by focusing mostly on Kierkegaard’s existential ideas.

After that course, and with help from the experts at Stetson, I studied Kierkegaard on my own. He is a difficult philosopher to understand because of his various pseudonyms, editors, and the like, who are found all throughout his work.

One thing seems clear, however. Kierkegaard seems to have thought it was not possible to make an argument for the existence of God. At the time, there were many thinkers who were trying to get at some-kind-of-Truth (capital ‘T’). Kierkegaard was very much against those projects. He seems to have thought that God can only be known by faith–making a leap to faith. But leaping to faith is itself an act of faith, which Kierkegaard was well aware of. He describes this in detail in various books and essays.

Kierkegaard was also very much concerned with Christian ethics. This is something I was reading about recently, as my specialization is in ethics. Kierkegaard thought that internal devotion was as important as outward displays. In other words, “Christian acts” are not the only thing one should be doing. One should also be internally aligned with God. This is because we can act for show, or for many other reasons. Therefore, acts of love (for lack of a different term) are not sufficient for being a Christian, though they are important nonetheless. Kierkegaard heavily emphasized the individual and her relationship with God.

So acts and internal states are both necessary for being a Christian, which was one of Kierkegaard’s central problems; How to be a Christian in Christendom.

I have found much of Kierkegaard’s writing edifying. I suggest, for an edifying discourse, to read his Works of Love. And, of course, Fear and Trembling is to be read in order to grasp one way of understanding the dilemma Abraham faced when told to sacrifice Issac.

World Philosophy Day

Today is World Philosophy Day. The U.N. put out a statement regarding the celebration of this day.

I studied philosophy for several years, and still keep active in the field by being on the editorial committee of an academic journal.

I remember my first philosophy professor, Dr. Rob Brady, at Stetson. He was a dear man, and I recall him saying, “There is nothing beyond philosophy.”

He said this when we were discussing the definition of philosophy, which is an endeavor itself.

But I remember thinking that, if philosophy encompasses everything, that’s the major for me! And, it’s true, there is a philosophy of everything.

Undergraduate Gift

I was extremely lucky to have had a great undergraduate thesis advisor. She allowed me to pursue my passion in indigenous studies. I got an A on my project, and, when I graduated, she gave me a gift. I drink a lot of tea and coffee. Luckily, she gave me a beautiful cup.

20151029_000124

Indigenous Studies

I started researching indigenous studies as an undergraduate. I did my senior thesis on Native American colonization. I developed some great friendships and gained excellent experience. I have written, given lectures, and invited talks on indigenous studies. I am acquainted with top scholars in the area. One of them, Steve Russell, wrote a very interesting book on the subject: Sequoyah Rising. When he was writing the book, he asked me to go over part of the manuscript. I did. I also gave him some feedback, and was credited in the acknowledgements section.

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A Dose of Reality

One of the projects I have worked on has to do with mental illness. I worked as a case manager and I found that, in my area, there were few resources available to my clients. A friend and I came up with the idea of a website that could serve as a resource for people with mental illness, their friends, family, and supporters. My brother, Jeremy, enhanced the idea. He proposed creating a social media site. We all collaborated and came up with the website A Dose of Reality.

If you are interested, you can sign up and communicate with like-minded individuals.

Environmental Action

Recently, my neighbors and I found out that the lake we live on is now a protected environment. This happened after years of action in my community. There had been some serious development that threatened the habitat of many species there, including eagles, ospreys, and many other organisms. Kudos to my neighborhood!

LakeBaton

Environmental Work

A while back, I did some work with a local environmental non-profit. I did river clean-ups, managed volunteers, and, most importantly, networked with local business people. I was happy to get the chance to do this kind of work. I thought of this experience when I was looking back at some old photos of me. There are very few photos of me on the job or volunteering. But, this is one. Here I am at a river clean up, where I was thinking about how to grow the non-profit, and organize volunteers. The non-profit itself is very good, and I liked working for the Executive Director there.

JennieEnvironmentalOrg

Six Years Ago

It’s hard to believe that it was six years ago that I was working on the book Reading Bernard Williams. I was privileged to edit some really great essays, and gain valuable experience in editing and writing. Although the editor, Dr. Daniel Callcut, was kind enough to give me a hard-copy, I bought the e version recently and read it. The copy that Dr. Callcut gave me had an inscription in it that I keep framed.

ReadingBernardWilliams

Where I’ve Been

I have traveled throughout much of central and the eastern United States. I thought it would be fun to fill out one of these maps to show where I’ve been. I’ve traveled to Washington D.C., New York, NY, Dallas, TX, and more. I made this map with amCharts. Feel free to make your own and let me know where you’ve been.

 

amCharts (1)

UPDATE: I just noticed that I forgot to put on my map that I’ve been to Denver, CO. Well, no matter what the map says, I have indeed been to Denver!

Academia.edu

As many who know me know, I worked in academia for quite some time. In fact, I still do. I am on the editorial committee of an academic journal. But that’s not all. I am also on Academia.edu. This is a great site in which I can follow academic topics I am interested in. I can also follow the work of people who inspire or provoke me. I have uploaded some of my academic work there, and will do more in the future. If you are an academic, I encourage you to go to Academia.edu to see whether you would like to set up a profile. If you do, let me know. I will follow your work. I am interested in most everything.

Green Springs Park

The other day I went to Green Springs Park with a good friend of mine. We walked around, enjoyed the great weather and the nature trails.

Green Springs is aptly named. The major spring itself is, in fact, green. Here are some photos I took while I was there.

This is the main spring. As you can see, it is actually green.

GreenSprings

Here is a stream from the spring.

GreenSpringsStream

And here is one of the roadways in the park.

GreenSpringsRoadway

All in all, it was a great day. I will definitely visit Green Springs again!

Chicago Trip

Two months ago, I visited Chicago. I stayed for a long weekend, and, during that time, I visited the Museum of Science and Industry, the Chicago SkyDeck, and the Art Institute of Chicago. I had a great time. All the exhibits were excellent. Below are some choice pictures.

This is the outside of the Museum of Science and Industry.

This is me in front of the nation’s only U-Boat:

U Boat

And here I am in front of the Art Institute of Chicago:

Art Institute

Lastly, here I am at the Chicago SkyDeck:

SkyDeck

Chicago is a wonderful place. I used the train or Metra to get everywhere I went. The Art Institute had many paintings I really, really appreciated. I took several pictures while I was there and thoroughly enjoyed my visit.