Last week I learned that, as of New Year’s Day, I will no longer be writing for Patch. It was a disappointing phone call which I am sure my friend and boss lady, Heather Asiyanbi, was not looking forward to making. I’m fairly certain she was expecting an emotional meltdown of some kind or at least a slew of swear-jar-worthy vocabulary. Surprisingly, however, I was able to maintain some sense of decorum.

I have written since I was a teen – high school paper, copious amount of letters to the editor of various newspapers, my personal blogs and a little writing for the Gateway paper as well.  I considered it a hobby while gaining experience with a dash of cathartic release.

Writing for da’ Patch was my first real paid writing gig. I had written in the past for a California-based free magazine (much like the Shepherd Express). But I was never paid unless you count the free CDs I was sent for reviewing.

I owe much thanks to Heather, Denise Lockwood and Dustin Block who have all assisted me on this writing journey. They believed in me when I thought I was nothing more than a fraud, they helped cool things off when the kitchen became too hot and they gave me chances I would not have had otherwise.

Anyway, this isn’t my goodbye piece…that will come shortly. But I couldn’t write the following article without a bit of explanation.

With only two column submissions left to write, I sit here with an accordion file stuffed with story ideas I have considered, toyed with and planned on writing. My sad, silent, little file is just staring at me, wondering if it still holds a purpose. Hey, I never said I wouldn’t get all melodramatic on ya.

There are many topics I wish I would have had the time to cover. Here are just a few:

Ban on Gay Blood Donations – Did you realize that there has been a ban on the donation of blood from gay men since 1983? Seriously. With consistent shortages, national tragedies, and a tremendous need – the blood of healthy individuals are still being turned away in the year 2012.

11×15 Program – This is a very innovative program of which we all need to be made aware and loudly support. Reducing the prison population, helping those who cannot help themselves and making our environment safer are all goals of 11×15. Not all criminal offenders belong in prison – and often times incarceration only breeds a more sophisticated criminal. By treating mental illness and substance abuse properly and in a timely fashion, our entire society can benefit in a variety of ways. Please educate yourself on this campaign and help it become a success.

Miss Representation – This is a documentary everyone should watch. Parents, teachers, students – we must be more cognizant of the messages we are constantly conveying to our children and to ourselves. The campaign was initiated to expose the media’s responsibility in the way women are perceived in our culture. We are bombarded with images and messages of which we are not even aware and which keep us in positions inferior to men. Please watch this film and learn how we can each make changes to stop this worsening trend.

(not so) Temp Workers – There are employees who are hired as temporary workers and often remain in these “temp” positions for many years. No benefits, no pay increase and no real job security while companies are actually paying a much higher rate in order to cover the agency’s cut. There are many nuances some may never consider such as corporate tax breaks, headcount goals and avoiding benefit coverage. Temporary employment agencies have their purpose and provide a great service – but corporations take advantage to further tighten their grip on the American workforce.

Atheism – This “monster” (aka Atheism) is taking over our country, destroying baby Jesus and taking down Christmas every chance it gets. At least that is what many right-wing pundits would have you believe. But what we have is a culture of believers vs. non-believers and the believers act as though they have the monopoly on freedom. Atheists are looked upon as evil, even satanic (which is a whole different ball of fire). Before judging an atheist, talk to one. Get to know them and their values. Then perhaps you will begin to recognize that one does not need a religion, a Bible or a celestial being in order to understand or follow a moral compass.

Legalization of Marijuana – States are beginning to see the multitude of benefits in regards to legalization. Controlling the jail population, allowing personal freedoms, access to healing properties and pain relief, significant tax revenue, fuel and material sources, shift in policing resources – the list of potential benefits is nearly endless. And there is no justifying marijuana being illegal while alcohol is not. Makes no sense. When making these decisions, usually one weighs the benefits with the risks. Make that comparison with alcohol and then with pot…the answer will be crystal clear.

So…yea…well…these are just a few of the things about which I have wanted to complain and groan. So many things left unsaid. But worry not; I will continue to find a way to get my voice out there. One way or another, like it or not, you will hear from me again. (Goody goody…lucky you!!!)

“I promise I will take revenge. But not like men by gun and sword and aggression. Instead, I will write.

~Afghan writer


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