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Month: August 2015

Yes, I Swear Like a Sailor, But . . .

Swearing

I need to preface this post by saying I have horrible language. I do. I can use the F-word several times in a single sentence and still be grammatically correct. I don’t pretend to be prim and proper, unless where appropriate. Foul language doesn’t necessarily offend me. That is, unless I see it in a newspaper or other professional context where it doesn’t belong. Then, I’m only left with one impression: Really?

Today I was reading an editorial in one of the nation’s top 10 newspapers, and nothing could have prepared me for the columnist’s reference to employee’s being “scared s**tless.” I read it, re-read it, re-read it again, and literally shook my head. . . . Really?

Let me get this straight. Some don’t consider me a professional writer because I’ve written for content studios. Never mind my byline has appeared several times in two of the nation’s top 25 newspapers. Never mind I’ve written and ghost written hundreds of published articles and blog posts. Never mind I’ve edited thousands of articles and blog posts, many of which appeared in three of the nation’s top 25 newspapers. Maybe I need to start including expletives in my professional writing. Apparently, that’s a criterion now for professional journalism, because I’m seeing it everywhere.

Don’t get me wrong, there are mediums where profanity makes sense. I remember when I went to see The Breakfast Club for the first time. I was in high school, and even though the profanity in the movie was off-putting for many adults in the audience, that’s how teenagers talked. It was real. I used that kind of language; my friends used that kind of language. The kids cussing in the movie were real. The dialogue was appropriate.

I have cursing in my book. In fact, I have too much profanity. I likely singed my beta-readers’ eyebrows, and I’m currently editing most of it out. My main male character is an NYPD detective, however, so, yes, he’s profane in much of his dialogue. This, too, is real. We are a culture of potty-mouths. Just turn on the TV, listen to popular music, go to the movies, read a book, or walk down the street and hear how people are talking; X-rated doesn’t even begin to cover it.

So why was it akin to fingernails scratching a chalkboard when I read this columnist’s profane comment? Because I still believe we should maintain a sense of professionalism in certain professional settings. Not to mention that, in my humble opinion, if you have to use profanity in a newspaper column to get your point across, you’re not a very good writer.

Perhaps these employees were “scared s**tless,” but that was the only “adverb” you, as a professional journalist, could come up with? Really? Call me old-fashioned; call me uppity; call me a prude. Any professional journalist who litters her or his articles and commentaries with profanity is not a professional anything in my book. I mean, really . . . what the . . . fooled you!

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

Sneak Peek

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I don’t know what to write about tonight, so I’ll give you sneak peek into my book. Here’s a small excerpt; I hope you enjoy it . . .

The child crept through the stuffy jet bridge into the refreshing coolness of the air-conditioned airport terminal on that hot second day of July in 1989. She shook uncontrollably as she entered the waiting area and was clinging desperately to her new social worker. She was only nine, and she’d just traveled nearly 3,000 miles from Los Angeles to New York City. Her mind could not process her sensory overload, and terror consumed her as the tears rolled down her cheeks. Why didn’t a foster family in Southern California want her? That was where she was from.

The social worker gently prodded her toward two men: an adult and his fifteen-year-old son. The fifteen-year-old’s brown eyes and smile fixated the little girl named Shaelyn, and he had nearly waist-length, wavy, brown hair. To the nine-year-old girl he looked like a rock star, cool and rebellious, and she peeked out from behind her social worker to catch a better glimpse of him, tucking back into her hiding place the moment both men approached.

“Shaelyn, this is Mr. Bauer and his son, Casey.” The social worker gently pulled the girl out from behind her, encouraging the child to allow the introduction. “They’re going to take care of you while we try to find you a foster home back in California. Remember? We talked about this. They fostered for me before when I was working here in New York, and you’re going to live with them in Queens temporarily.”

Despite her polite efforts, Shaelyn couldn’t muster up a “hello” or anything other than more tears. She was so frightened.

Casey, who found himself oddly fixated by the child as well, slowly walked over and put his arm around her. He couldn’t believe how hard she was trembling or how fair and freckled she was. She looked like a terrified porcelain doll adorned with teal eyes, golden hair, white skin, rosy cheeks, and brown dots splashed across her nose.

He pulled her to his side gently, but not in a threatening or inappropriate manner. Rather, he simply wanted to comfort the child. It broke his heart to see her so frightened.

As the social worker had said, his family had fostered before, and he understood how traumatic the experience could be. The entire Bauer clan discussed at great length before the girl arrived whether they should foster her temporarily, and Casey expressed concerns about how difficult it would be for her to adjust, because they were flying her clear across the country and into an entirely new environment.

Even at the selfish age of fifteen, he realized that the girl would have so much more going against her than the local foster children had going against them. “I wouldn’t want to be moved all the way to California,” he’d said. It was agreed that everyone would work extra hard to ensure that this foster child felt at home, no matter how temporary her stay.

The extreme terror he now saw on her face was the terror he had imagined she—anyone—would be experiencing at this moment, and he found himself wanting even more to help her adjust. He squeezed her a little and said in his Queens accent, “Don’t worry, Little Bit. Everything is going to be okay,” and, for some reason, it worked.

Shaelyn looked up at him—he was tall at nearly six feet—and with a blink of her tear-soaked lashes she stopped crying and whispered, “Okay, Queens.” Somehow, she knew everything was going to be okay. He’d make sure of it.

 

Copyright © 2013 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

What I Learned Last Week

Heart

Last week, I stayed with friends of mine who have blessed me for 22 years. At the beginning of my stay, what I found amazing was how CC, my cat, acclimated to the sudden change. Now, at the end of my visit, I’ve come to realize that there was much more to digest. I learned a lot about myself during my stay, and I want to say thank you to my friends, six of the best people I know, and to remind us all that sometimes you just have to stop and sip the coffee, play with the dog, cry with the girls, and attempt to play video games with a twelve-year-old.

What did I learn while staying at my friends’ house? Well, I learned that:

  • Yes, my cat trusts me, and he really knows how to cute strangers into believing that he’s sweet and adorable and precious . . . and so on. (I’m on to you, CC.)
  • Yes, coffee is my life, but morning coffee coupled with an amazing conversation with my friend is icing on the caffeinated cake.
  • Yes, I can accidentally bean one of the smallest dogs in the world on the top of his head with his rubber ball without killing him . . . thank God.
  • Yes, my cat who is nearly twice his size is afraid of one of the smallest dogs in the world . . . and, yes, I’m going to tell the entire feral colony from which he came so they can laugh at him.
  • Yes, my friends’ oldest son can make me feel special by hugging me even though he is half-asleep when I arrive and leave.
  • Yes, their youngest son can make me feel special by hugging me each night before he goes to bed.
  • Yes, my friends’ daughters can reduce me to tears by simply being excited to see me when we pick them up from a missionary trip.
  • Yes, we four girls together talking over coffee and munchies about their trip is one gigantic, amazing, and blubbering cry fest.
  • Yes, indeed I cannot, no matter how many tutorials my friends’ youngest son shows me, play Star Wars Clone Wars . . . if that’s even what I was attempting to play. I think I died at least 50 times. (Take that, CC. Nine lives, ha!)
  • Yes, my friend and I can mourn together over the death of Frank Gifford even though I’m still banning football.
  • Yes, when I’m surrounded by uplifting and positive people, I actually become uplifting and positive myself—who’d a’ thunk it?
  • No, I haven’t felt as loved and blessed as I did during my stay in a very long time, which is not a negative reflection on the other people who have opened their homes to me but a testimony to the boundless love of these people.

Thank you, my friends, for housing CC and me, for loving CC and me, and most importantly for being each and every one of you. Hopefully, I can return the favor one day and open my home to you. I love you all more than words can express, and I miss you already.

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved

My Amazing, Resilient Baby

CC 8 Months

I don’t give my cat, CC, enough credit. At three weeks old, this little bundle of joy, along with his litter-mates, were brought to me by their feral mama. She knew I’d take care of him; it’s what I do. I began working with him and slowly built as much of a trust as you can with a semi-feral cat.

CC and I have a love/hate relationship. I call him “CC,” which stands for “Calendar Cat,” because when he was a baby, he looked like the perfect kitten featured on the cover of every annual cat calendar. He remains unbelievably gorgeous to this day; he is a “supermodel.”

If ever there were a diva, it’s CC. He’s moody, snotty, temperamental, and he must be brushed at least once a day. If he had his way, he’d get “fur and makeup” on command. Okay, whom am I kidding? He does get fur and makeup on command. He must look just so. Combine the semi-feral with the diva and you have an extremely unstable explosive.

CC will let me rub his belly; something a cat won’t do unless it trusts you. Yet, at other times, he’ll scratch me, bite me, and not let me pet him or pick him up. Last year, he scratched up my face unexpectedly. I never know what’s going to set him off. These behaviors always leave me questioning whether he really does trust me.

Over the last several years, my life has been upside down. I’ve made some poor choices and circumstances haven’t been on my side. I’m not alone; we’ve all had these patches. Yet, through all of it, CC has been with me, even if he wasn’t thrilled about it.

In his short four years, CC has moved three times. Each time, crating him has resulted in blood loss for me and another score added to his tally. Today, we had to move to my friends’ house for a week, so this morning I crated him much to his dismay. He began crying immediately. He reached through the grate, scratched me, and didn’t let up on the drive to my friends’ house.

The car stopped and he stopped meowing. I carried him into the room in which we’re staying and opened the carrier so he could go under the bed. I brought in our stuff and set up our temporary shelter. When I was done, he came out from underneath the bed, rubbed up against my ankles, and laid down on his back so I could rub his belly. What an amazing and resilient baby.

CC may tear me up for no apparent reason, but when it comes to the big stuff, he knows I have his back. He may not like a situation, but in the end, he’ll let me rub his belly. I guess he trusts me after all . . .

 

Copyright © 2015 by Sharon Platz All Rights Reserved