In Defense of My Own Truth and Humanity

You need to stop trying to fit me into categories that are familiar to you, but are inaccurate in describing my motives, or my character. Guilty people seem to feel vulnerable around truthful people because you think someone who strives to be an honest person exposes the dishonesty in your own character. It is because I have been hurt by lies and inhumanity myself that has made me care so much about truth and humanity. I have learned that a lot of people are very uncomfortable with the idea of realness.

People get downright vicious towards me. Guilty people feel so threatened by my effort to be truthful and humane, that you seem to think I need to be reminded of my weaknesses and failures. I have had people repeat to me every bad thing I have ever done, to accuse me, and to convince themselves that I’m a fraud.

I have been dehumanized and forgotten by the cruelest people, who mattered enough to me that their actions and rejection continue to hurt. There is a corruptness in guilty people that makes you desperate to prove that anyone who proclaims to be truthful and genuinely humane must be a fraud. But in your desperation, all you do is project your lies, hate, and insecurities onto me.

I do realize that I’m a flawed human being. I lie sometimes, but I try not to lie. I strive to treat everyone with humanity, but sometimes I have trouble seeing humanity in people who have hurt me or others. I’m sorry if you’re uncomfortable with me. It’s not easy for me to be like this either.

The nature of my character causes people to attack and accuse me. I’m not sitting atop some self-righteous perch, with a smug smile, thanking people for accusing me. I’m human, and when you accuse me, I feel pain. When you betray me and spit lies at me like bullets to justify your betrayal, it hurts. When you tell me and others how bad I am, when you’re really describing yourself, it feels like I’m getting a beating. But when others decide to hate me based on what you said about me, that’s not your fault, it’s theirs.

I choose to be truthful and humane because those things about you that you use to hurt others, you have used to hurt me. I never want to make anyone feel the way you have made me feel.

This post is not addressed to a single person. It is addressed to a composite of people who have tried their best to discredit me to make themselves feel better about their own corruptness. And although the nature of your character will probably cause you to read this post as having an accusatory tone, I am not accusing anyone. I’m only honestly addressing a problem I encounter often.

48 Hours in London 

​In 1979, when my brother was sixteen he went to London and got detained for two days at Heathrow.  I  was fifteen,  but it was up to me to find out what happened to him because I’m kinda gifted in that area. 
He wasn’t permitted to use the phone, so I had to figure out what happened with no clues. After many phone calls to airport security,  American Embassy,  and the airline,  I was able to pin him down at the airport detention center. 
I learned the reason he was detained  was because he told customs he planned to live there. They never told me they were sending him back, but on a hunch, I thought they might be planning to do that.
For no particular reason, I  suspected he would be on a  flight from JFK that  was arriving at Will Rogers the second night.  We hadn’t spoken to him since before he left, but I talked my mother into driving to the Oklahoma City airport  airport from Altus on nothing but a hunch. 
I was nervous while watching the passengers getting off the plane. I was afraid my hunch might be wrong  since it was a long shot. 
As it turned out,  he was on that flight,  and he bounced into the terminal with his Gilligan hat and a huge smile. That made me angry. How dare he be so carefree and oblivious to what he put us through for the last 48 hours. 
The phone bill was over a thousand dollars that month.  Doc had given me a sailboat, that I was looking forward to trying out at the lake, but hadn’t yet been out in it. Doc sold the boat to pay the phone bill.
My brother soon became a world traveler. He has visited over fifty countries.
I have never been sailing.

My boat was a 12′ Challenger,  but it did look a lot like this one.

You Need a New Lens

I’ve been patient, polite, and tolerant in extreme measures to people who support Donald Trump, but to be honest, Trump supporters are not just wrong about him. These are people who are looking at life through one hell of a distorted lens. Not everything is subjective. Bigotry is never okay.

If you think there are certain groups of people who are less human than you, the lens from which you see the world is distorting your view. If you think you’re superior to people of color, to women, to gays, to Muslim or Jews, or any marginalized group, you’re a racist, a misogynist, and a bigot.

If you think this country needs a wall along the Mexican border, that undocumented immigrants need to be rounded up and deported, that Mexico sends us their rapists and murderers, that Muslims should be banned, that sexual harassment is not to be taken seriously, and that Donald Trump speaks for you, then you are in the lowest common denominator. Trump isn’t appealing to your intellect. He’s appealing to your emotions and fears. It’s a cheap shameless way to get a vote. The masses have always been upset about generalized issues, foolishly believing there is an easy solution to the problems in our country.

Now, there’s a narcissistic demagogue named Donald Trump, who’s clever enough to convince you that he alone can fix all your problems. But the more I hear him speak the less clever I think he is. He really just views the world the same way you do. So you, the lowest common denominator, and Donald Trump relate to one another over these biases.  I get that you think someone is finally speaking for you, but he’s really only saying what you want to hear, so you’ll vote for him, chant his name, and feed his ego. You are being used and manipulated.

I don’t think Trump supporters are necessarily stupid, but it’s not your intelligence at work here. It’s your fears and hatred of all of the terrible ways you think your country has let you down–and along comes this larger than life figure who understands you like no one ever has. Only Trump can’t fix these perceived wrongs any more than anyone can. Some problems are a matter of perspective. The country isn’t broken. Your lens is broken.

If Trump is elected, you’re still going to see the same problems you see now because that’s the way you view the world. Donald Trump doesn’t care about what is going to happen when you finally figure out he can’t fix all your problems because his only mission at the moment is to win at all costs. He won’t know what to do when he gets there, but for now, he doesn’t care. For him it’s about the win.



Best Laid Plans

I am learning that folks in the Northeast are not as impressed with my qualifications as I had hoped. So after months of a disappointing job search, I decided to take a different approach.  Actually, I’m just going back to my original plan to become a teacher.


To become an alternatively certified teacher in Oklahoma, I will be required to take at least one credit hour of post graduate coursework. So here’s what is going to happen. I am enrolled at Cameron in the graduate program to study to become a reading specialist. Sometime after January I am going to take the OSAT for English teachers. If I pass, I’ll be alternatively certified. I will take the OPTE last.  That’s the Oklahoma Professional Teaching Exam. When I finish grad school, I’ll be able to take the test to be a reading specialist. Then I will be considered standard certified which means my certification will be reciprocal in Virginia.
Then I can go to Virginia, take their certification and reading specialist test, and boom! I’ll be employable in Virginia, and I can finally get out of Oklahoma.  I think I can get it all done in less than three years. I wish Cameron had a concentration in adult literacy since I want to work with adults. I am hoping that as a reading specialist I will be skilled in working with adults.
So I will start classes in August. I’m not super excited. At this point I am just doing what I need to do to become employable. I will probably substitute teach along the way.

Success isn’t a Secret, it’s a Decision

Back to school one last time started on May 29, 2014. I was more afraid I would quit again than I was fiercely determined to press on.

Billy came home in October that year, and I was afraid he would derail me. Later he became very supportive, which helped me to start believing I might really graduate.

Then our dog died, Billy got a brain bleed, refused treatment, moved out, decided to come home, but died only a few hours after we decided he should come home, in December 2015.

I don’t know how I got through the spring 2016 semester. Billy died only three weeks before the semester started, and I was consumed with grief when I returned to school in the spring. I was very afraid I would quit again, since in the past I usually quit school whenever life got overwhelming. Dr. Hodgson, the department chair was also concerned I might drop out because it had always been my pattern.

It took me over fifty years to learn that successful people are the ones who choose a path, set goals, and keep going no matter how hard life gets at times.

I missed out on a lot by not learning the path to success a long time ago. Yes, it’s good that I figured it out, but not nearly as rewarding because many opportunities were squandered.

Life really is very short. We have to make the most of every moment we’re given to live the best life we can live.

 There are Certain Things Every Educated Person should Know

Three college professors influenced me the most of every teacher I ever had in my life. Donna Evers taught me how to write a news story.  I liked her because she loved newspapers like me. She taught us to report the news, when not every story was breaking news. You could smell the ink as soon as you walked through the doors of the Lawton Constitution. The newsroom energy was exhilarating with desk phones ringing, typewriters clanking, and reporters hurrying to meet deadlines.  News was Donna Evers world, and in 1983 she taught me about that world in Intro to Journalism at Cameron University. Journalism has changed a lot since then, and I am grateful to have been taught by an old school journalist, and to have been a part of that exciting vibrant culture for a moment in my life.

Larry Shanahan taught me how to write an academic paper. He had to, really. He already liked the way I wrote, and had recommended me for his wife’s honor’s English class when he found out I didn’t know how to write a research paper. In those days the university didn’t even have a writing lab, so he tutored me. He is the reason I know how to research and write an organized paper.

Mary Shanahan taught me how to analyze literature. She believed in authorial intent. She said the writers had a specific message in mind when they wrote a story.  When she first walked into Comp II class circa 87, her stance was commanding and fierce. The chatter among the students stopped, and we all looked at her because we could tell she was going to say something we needed to know.  She said,

“What important event happened from 1914 to 1918?”

She expected an answer. To everyone’s relief one student knew the answer.

“World War I,” he said with confidence.

“That’s right,” she said. “Do you know why I asked you all that question? Because there are certain things that every educated person needs to know.”

These three professors taught me how to think, so I could filter through the sludge and find the truth.

Mary Shanahan died on May 11, 2016, six days after I finally got my bachelor’s degree in English literature. I would come and go from Nance Boyer hall at Cameron University so many times in 33 years. My memories walked those halls with me every time I was there. I ran down the stairs with Susan Jackson, hurrying off to somewhere, laughing about something. I watched Kevin Bartram develop photos for the Collegian in his darkroom. The Center for Writers is located in the old Collegian offices now. Kevin’s darkroom is their break room now.

I don’t know when the Shanahans left Nance Boyer for the last time. I was gone to Tulsa by then. I walked out for the last time on May 4, 2016. My memories walked out with me. Mary Shanahan ‘s voice always echoed in Nance Boyer. Her presence resonated in the halls and classrooms. I imagine she’s enjoying a dry martini right about now. Thank you, Mrs. Shanahan. I’ll see you when I get there.

Go here to read a poignant tribute written by a family member.


Rudy Ramos opens Solo Fest at Whitefire Theater in Sherman Oaks, California with “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation”

If you live in Sherman Oaks, or happen to be in the area, Rudy Ramos is opening tonight, Saturday, January 3, 2015 at Whitefire Theater,  with his one man production of  “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation.”   Solo Fest is a popular event in the Los Angeles area, and  Ramos is thrilled with the opportunity to open the festival with his play. Whitefire Theater owner, Bryan Rasmussen invited Ramos to open Solofest with “Geronimo,” and has also scheduled the play to be performed on January, 10, 17, 24, 31, and February 7.  All performances will be on a Saturday night.

If you don’t live in the LA area, new tour dates are opening for “Geronimo” all the time. Take a look at the schedule to see when the production will be near you.  You may also book “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation” at a venue in your area. Since its opening last March in Tucson, at the High Chaparral Reunion, the requests for bookings have been steadily on the rise.

“Geronimo, Life on the Reservation picks up the story of the great Apache warrior from his surrender in Arizona in 1886, and continues through his death in Lawton, Oklahoma in 1909. This is a part of Geronimo’s story that has never been told, and Ramos portrays Geronimo with honesty, humor, and compelling perspective that has the audience believing that they are watching Geronimo himself.

Here is a video of Ramos as Geronimo that was recorded at the High Chaparral Reunion in March. This clip is the opening of the play:

Author, Janelle Meraz Hooper, wrote the script for “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation,” and you can look at her website here.

2015 is going to be a big year for Ramos, and “Geronimo, Life on the Reservation.”  Be sure to check the schedule to find out when there will be a performance in your area.