The Well-Placed Word


Not that long ago, what I can only presume is an “older gentleman”, and by “older”, I mean over fifty, but probably closer to seventy, sent me a private message on Facebook to complain about my use of a word. I remember reading the message and thinking “Are you for real?” Initially I ignored it, until I decided to reply and set him straight.

As a writer, and especially with something like this platform, I don’t feel I have to edit myself or dumb myself down. In fact, I transitioned to this platform from another one that is still “active”, because I felt like I was neutering myself there and wasn’t fully being the outspoken person I always am. I needed to remind myself how I started out and how I have grown, but not changed my voice and how I use it.

I have come to resent myself whenever I am not 100% me, especially when someone turns to me and gives me any type of “warning” about how vocal I am or how they would like for me to “behave”. I’m not a child or a trained dog, so that kind of behavior, when directed at me, is a quick way to get yourself on my shit list. I revel in authenticity. You cannot ask me to me something I’m not; because the results will be negative.

The word this man took such issue with is one I did edit, slightly. Instead of using the word I wanted to use, I said “effing”. If that offends someone, that is a sad state of affairs to me because that’s pretty clean in my eyes. I couldn’t get more “clean” with that specific word, either. Perhaps I should have used symbols, instead? I know lots of us use this word in our daily lives because no one is perfect and it’s probably an overused word in many instances. I’ve never counted, but I’m sure I use it daily.

I remember consciously making the decision to use it in that “edited” way so as not to offend anyone. And yet, I get someone who is offended by it. Big surprise. He somehow felt the need to inform me that I shouldn’t use it in connection with God on a public forum. I love it when people think they’re lecturing me. <rolls eyes>

“I don’t mean to come off judgmental…” Really? How did you expect to come off? When surfing Facebook or the Internet at large, I am certain we probably all come across things we don’t like, or things that affect us in a negative way. You have the right to engage or scroll on. Hell, you can walk away from your phone, computer, tablet, etc., and disengage entirely.  I will usually scroll on if something isn’t worth my effort because unless I know someone, what’s the point of engaging? Would I engage with a stranger on the street who said something stupid? It depends on the situation, obviously, but for the most part the answer is “No, I would not.” I’m not that nice, or approachable.

As a result of this person’s comment, I ended it with respectful wishes for the upcoming holiday (Passover) and left it there. I’ll probably have to block him if this comes up again, lest I offend his delicate sensibilities with my honesty and directness regarding Israel, Judaism, or perhaps the placement of the sun in the sky.

When something is titled “Poison In Lethal Doses”, you can come to expect certain things from me, since I’m the one producing the written content. Anyone who has read my bio can probably figure out that I’m a “take no prisoners” kind of chick. From day one, the way I have conducted myself as a writer is the reason I have received respect, not to mention a widespread audience. There are Harvard educated doctors who read my work (Yeah, it shocks me, too.). If they’re not offended by the occasional use of profanity to make a point, I’m good with that. This is definitely not the place for anyone who is sheltered or buttoned-up so tightly that an edited word bothers them.

Believe it or not, this is the first time I’ve ever had someone approach me in ANY way during the course of my career and tell me that one word I used bothered them. I think I’ve maybe offended one other person with my “brazen authenticity”, but for the most part, people either like me or they don’t. I can’t control how I affect others. I’ve mellowed over the years (sort of-ish) and curse a lot less than I once did, so I found myself staring at this message for a while, pondering how to handle it. Under normal circumstances, I wouldn’t have replied in such a polite fashion, but I was incredibly polite. I let him know, in no uncertain terms, that HE contacted ME, and that if someone takes issue with a word I use, the issue lies with them, not with me. I’m not so sheltered that people have to curb their words with me. I’d be more concerned with the tone of voice you use, because that’s something I am more inclined to get in someone’s face about.

On the Internet, unless you’re on YouTube, you can’t really pick up on tone from people you don’t know. I have relatives who I communicate with who I am positive do not pick up on my tones when we speak. If they did, they’d stop talking. I have several tones that are “warning tones”. My voice drops several octaves and my responses become icy, or short. A lot of my text messages are “warning tones” because I’m probably pissed off at the other person for being nosy, presumptive, rude, disrespectful, hurtful, etc. I don’t always pursue my anger towards someone if I know how it will be received. It’s not an easy choice to make, but it’s knowing who and what to argue about. If someone keeps talking or texting through the “warning tone”, I do not feel sorry for them when they inevitably incur my wrath.

I have many different tones to how I speak and express myself. There’s my “dry tone”, which is all about timing. In my family, we refer to it as my “dry, British humor”. It’s my Judi Dench tone, along with the accompanying expression, and sometimes I throw in the accent for good measure. It can be delivered in a myriad of ways. There’s my “funny tone”, my “sarcastic tone” which are also, all about timing and delivery. What I find interesting is how people who know me well are never entirely sure which tone is which. Whereas my brother KNOWS if I’m being a smart ass or just being me. He knows my “warning tones” because he will often remind me, when I use them, that stabbing someone with a fork is illegal. He can even pick up on it in a text message. He gets me, even though he often pretends not to.

Nine times out of ten, I get accused of being sarcastic when I’m simply stating the obvious. That’s when you know, for sure, that a person is making an assumption. Don’t make assumptions via text message, because you’re probably wrong. I simply don’t have time in my day-to-day life to use a “tone” via text. Unless you’re an absolute moron, I’m probably just stating facts. No one said I’m not rolling my eyes while swiping my reply. I might be, but the other person can’t see me and that’s probably a good thing, though I wouldn’t shy away from rolling my eyes at them if they were in front of me. I’m not two-faced.

My daily vernacular is a combination of varying expressions, both in English and other languages, along with wit and measures of sarcasm and honesty. In certain situations, I dial myself down approximately five to ten percent, because I have to filter myself with the other person. I don’t like being unable to fully be myself, but sometimes it’s a necessary evil.

A family member pushed my buttons last winter. After giving them ample time to “get over themselves” and apologize, they continued to treat me like shit and be rude and dismissive. Publicly, they behaved like nothing had occurred. Because this person married into my family, I have to shield my actual blood relative from the incident, and my subsequent feelings. But first, I wanted to verify if the behavior was normal, so I asked this person’s sibling, with whom I am equally close to, if this was normal. They told me “That hasn’t been my experience.” and proceeded to ask if I had said something offensive or hurtful, leading the person to respond negatively to me. I had done no such thing, and I found the question borderline absurd. They quickly dismissed the subject after I replied that I’d done nothing but be nice and kind, and went back to talking about themselves (Yeah, that’s my family. I wonder if group rates are offered in family therapy…). I have now spent over a year shielding this family member from my true feelings. Someone I respect said “Well, you’re keeping the peace because you don’t want to lose another friend.” I stared at him blankly, because he clearly forgot who he was talking to when he said that. “Keeping the peace” isn’t how I do things. That’s “people pleasing” behavior, and I REFUSE to do it.

Since the initial incident, I have tried my best to be polite to this person, but I’m sure I’m failing miserably. My concerted effort has clearly not been well-received because even after sending this person a birthday card, something I did NOT have to do, I’ve continued to be treated as a threat. However, I have to be honest with myself about how I feel. I cannot be fake.

Fast-forward to last week, when I received a text message inviting me for Passover. Normally I am invited at the last-minute each year to most holiday occasions, and while I consider the invitation supremely kind and genuine, it’s the last thing in the world I want to reply to. I’m not known for my diplomacy. I know I can’t say what I truly want to say in response, so naturally, that upsets me.

On pretty much any given day, the last thing I want to do is sit in a room with a group of people I don’t know and pretend to be interested in forced, polite chit-chat. It’s not who I am. Food is of zero interest to me, and people I’ve never met before rank up the list, too. I appreciate the invitation, but there’s no polite way to say “I’d rather remove my eyes with a melon baller.” On top of my very real feelings, there is always my health to consider. I try to be around as few people as possible with uncontrollable chronic migraines and all the other health issues I am currently trying to navigate. I just took my last round of antibiotics this morning, and I don’t even know if they helped, which is worrisome.

Chronic illness makes me unreliable for many events, especially anything short notice. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to heavily caffeinate in order to go to a doctor’s appointment or something else I committed to in advance. Inside, I feel like the biggest mess on the planet, but on the outside I don’t think people ever notice that something isn’t right. After all, the majority of people are only looking for visual clues. They’re not going deeper.

I ended up sending a very polite text reply to the invite last night. I was downright polite and borderline diplomatic (for me), but I didn’t get into any detail as to why I could not attend. If I’d been asked, that would have been a problem, but I wasn’t. Instead, I was told I am welcome anytime. I know it was genuine, so I was genuine in turn. I’m good with large crowds of strangers when I’m speaking in public or have a commitment, but there are still times when I will say no to such things.

This year, I need to spend the holiday focusing on my health, and giving myself a short break from all the craziness because I’m really suffering in terms of quality sleep. My body needs rest in the worst way. 😦 I won’t make any appointments those first few days (March 31st might have been a good day to get my MRI out of the way, but I’d feel bad doing it on a holiday.), but I do have things that I will need to get squared away during the following week.

Words are important in society. It’s how we communicate, because not everyone responds to non-verbal cues. I find that the well-placed word is crucial. It can be the difference between “keeping the peace”, should you enjoy the route, or starting a fight, but it can also be the difference between complimenting someone and making their day or going through life as an extremely unpleasant person. Each day, we make choices with our words.

No matter how you choose, I’ll be over here, maintaining my authenticity as a “Speaker Of Powerful Words”. 🙂

copyright © 2018 Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.




I haven’t been quiet intentionally, I’ve been quiet because I’ve been sick for the majority of the month we have recently said goodbye to until 2017. February didn’t exactly begin with a sense of calm, either. I’ve had maybe one or two migraine-free days over the past month or so, and the migraines themselves have been intense.

I’ve spent a lot of time punishing myself over the past month and a half. I only just realized it last Sunday evening. I am utterly horrible to myself, and I don’t deserve it. Admitting it is the first step, moving on and self-correcting the behavior as I go is the only way to improve upon it. It’s hard to erase a habit that has existed for such an incredible length of time overnight, but I will simply make myself aware of it so that I can work on it this year. That and personal “mind noise” are issues I wish I didn’t have.

Being sick, overly stressed, and exhausted within my soul has deeply affected my writing. I am torn between what I am used to doing each day and what I am drawn to. They are two completely different things, yet both on the creative spectrum. I am working hard to launch a new project, which is basically an upgrade to something that already exists. It’s a springboard to a career change, but yes, I will still be writing.

When people consider writing “a hobby”, it’s insulting to me. I’ve never used writing as any type of hobby form. I wouldn’t know how to do that either, because I’ve been writing for so long that it’s an art form. I absolutely hate it when people tell me, upon learning that I’m a writer, how much they’d love to write, but don’t have the time or when someone says “I’d love to read a book, but I don’t have the time.” That’s implying that I have time to basically goof off, because they do not perceive writing or reading as life priorities. How do you learn if you don’t read? No, documentaries on the History and/or Discovery channel don’t count.

We all have passions in life; things we prioritize over other things on a professional or personal level. I am a master multi-tasker, but I do know people who can’t multitask. I can do five things at once, which is astounding to anyone who cannot, but it’s also my attention span and how I work on a brain level.

There are always going to be days when I can’t get out of bed due to migraines or Fibromyalgia, but I still force myself to feed Cat and Kitten and give them love, even if I can’t force myself to eat. I still scoop three litter boxes more than once a day. OGK still gets attention from me, or he has tantrums because he likes to be included in everything. Unlike Cat and Kitten, who are younger and love differently, OGK likes to be a part of “the family”. He likes to sit in the middle of conversations and do silly things. The girls are goofy and silly too, they’re all incredibly smart cats, but he’s approximately 16 years old and is set in his ways. He wants what he wants and he wants it yesterday. That aspect of my life is day-to-day stuff. You do it because you have to do it, or it doesn’t get done, but it’s not necessarily what you live for.

No matter what I feel or what I am doing, shit still has to get done. Laundry still has to be done. Food still has to be bought and cooked, but when someone asks me what I do for a living, I am a writer and an editor, albeit one who aspires to do more. I’d prefer to grow, as opposed to remain stagnant. (Kudos to everyone who thinks I should be a personal chef. That’s a lovely compliment and anyone willing to pay me can hire my personal cooking skills for holidays and/or special events. Hell, you can hire me to come over and cook for you daily, I don’t mind.)

It doesn’t always pay to be a writer or an editor, I’ve talked about that many times, but it’s still a huge part of who I am. On the flip side, I am also incredibly enterprising and entrepreneurial. I inherited that from my Grandfather, who ran many businesses (bars, candy stores, etc.) until he passed away at age 40. In the throes of pain, I don’t always believe I’ll live to see 40, much less 50, but words, they live on. Words can, and do, impact lives.

There are books that speak to me. There is music that speaks to me and feeds my soul. There are people whose words are an inspiration to me daily. There are TV shows and movies that make me laugh. All of this stems from writing. Words on paper. Words in any format made to enlighten, educate, communicate, or entertain. Words have power and magic in them.

I’m an incredibly proud master of words.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.


There’s A Difference


Of late, I’ve noticed people feel incredibly safe behind their computer-based bubbles, but I often wonder how real people are being. Sometimes, stories don’t add up (You can’t bullshit me, I have common sense.), and other times, it takes about two seconds for someone to get offended by the simplest thing. What is that you may ask? Honesty.

Here are the facts: Not everyone is the world’s greatest writer, try though they might. Not everyone is talented, funny, or smart. However, there is seemingly a niche for everyone. To each their own. Everyone is entitled to be themselves, but please, be authentic.

When I say something, it’s not for shits and giggles, unless I’ve managed to make you laugh (I don’t go out of my way to be funny, but I know when I’m being a goofball. In print, not everyone’s sense of humor translates because you can’t hear the tone they’re saying something in). I come from a place of genuineness, and I think that resonates in my work and my words.

I’m not here as a “blogger”. I am here as an experienced writer and editor who, as of next year, will no longer be editing other people’s work. I am moving on to another creative endeavor, something I should have done ten years ago. I will continue to write, as I have an unfinished series of novels to complete for publishing, but I am tired of the bullshit, the drama, and the never-ending attempt to outdo one another, because no one wants to see you do better than them, no matter what they might say. Instead of people being happy for one another, people will go behind a person’s back and tear them apart, as if we’re all trapped in high school. That is not, and has never been, acceptable to me.

One aspect of my brusque honesty is that people often mistake it for me being “mean” or “having a bad day”. For starters, I tend to reserve meanness for people who deserve it and two, I keep my bad days/moods to myself because that’s rude in my eyes, so understand that if I say something, it is meant to be helpful, not cruel. Why would I take my valuable time to comment and be mean to someone I don’t know personally? That makes no sense. While I realize there are people who would jump on that and do precisely that to as many people as possible, because starting fights with strangers is what keeps their days and nights “interesting”, I have absolutely no need to be less than who I am. If you lack the communication skills to deal with my honesty, I have to wonder how you will handle the inevitable criticism you are bound to receive on your work up the road.

Every writer has been criticized. I am not immune to that, but I have risen above it. I have been told a handful of insulting things over the course of 28 years as a writer, but you know what resonated most with me? All the genuine, positive feedback from absolute strangers who had no vested interest whatsoever in my success. If a person said “Take that out.” or “That’s not funny.” or “What did you mean by that?”, then I answered them. A huge part of writing is being able to properly communicate with your readers. Anyone who knows me knows I don’t just flip people the bird and tell them to have a nice day. If you ask me a question, I will give you an answer. You may or may not like it, but at least it will be genuine. Also, if I have something personal to say to you, I will say it directly to you, I will not embarrass you on a public platform (if you’re the shy type), nor will I be mean for the sake of being mean. That’s not how I roll.

I am not everyone’s cup of tea, nor is everyone my cup of tea. We don’t have to be. I’d rather have mutual respect as opposed to catty bitchiness behind my back, but the fact of the matter is, I cannot control other people’s reactions or behavior. I, however, can control mine.

If you have something to say to me, by all means, say it to me. There’s no need to be fake about it or passive-aggressive (two things I loathe with every breath I take). Try being real.

There is real criticism in this world. It is vindictive, hateful, and mean-spirited; it is meant to dissuade you from your goal(s). And then there is constructive criticism that is meant to help you and make you better. If you don’t know the difference between the two, precisely who is responsible for that? You are. One should roll off of you, you should know in your heart who you are. The other is to be positively absorbed in order to help you grow. If you decide to turn that into something more than what it is, so be it, but it just goes to show the intelligent speaker that you’re immature and not prepared for what’s to come.

And this is one of the reasons I do not want to edit for fledglings any more. If you cannot handle my honesty, which is meant to help and guide, then what the hell do you think you’re going to do when bad reviews pop up on every book web-site from here to eternity? Amazon, Goodreads, and a plethora of other sites will not delete bad reviews. As a reader, I’ve seen a million of them and many times, they have saved me money. Other times, there was one bad review, but 500 reviews explaining why you should read/buy the book in question. Bad reviews are going to happen, but they will not make or break you. Just like constructive criticism will not break you, but it WILL make you better. Take that to mean whatever you like. I speak from experience.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

But for the sake of all that is Holy, know where to put commas and periods in your work. Every time you don’t, an editor bleeds to death. Do you really want that on your conscience?