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Next Stop, the World

30 Sep



Well, I did it. Thanks to my efforts,  Marissa Alexander will be receiving a new trial.  Next, I’ll work on getting the mandatory minimums reformed so that nobody has to deal with what she did ever again, then I’ll move on to solve the problem of homelessness, then world hunger, then I’ll grab my Nobel Peace Prize, write my memoirs, and retire to Greece.

In all seriousness, this news is sanfrantastic and I am thrilled.  I REALLY hope that the State of Florida gets it right this time. What would be even BETTER is if the State chose to drop all charges. The state has until October 16 to re-file the charges against her and now the push is on to convince them to do just that BUT, if you know anything about Florida at all, you might know a little something about Angela Corey, the state attorney. This woman is the gift that keeps on giving.  I could make a joke about her being born on Halloween, a day that is tied closely to horror, but I am a lady dammit, and won’t stoop to such things. Plus, I love Halloween and don’t want to sully it by tying her to one of my favorite days.

If I’m mincing my words here, let me be clear. I do not like Angela Corey.  I feel that she is overzealous and has a personal agenda that I can only assume includes higher political aspirations. I don’t want to get into the Zimmerman thing, but her handling of that case is being called into question on many levels.

BUT HEY, I have not come to bash Angela Corey, I am here to celebrate what is essentially good news regarding Marissa Alexander! This is from a press release sent out by Marissa’s lawyers the day the new trial was announced, September 26, 2013 –

Marissa was informed of the reversal of her conviction early this afternoon. Marissa expressed her gratitude for today’s decision as well as her continued confidence in the judicial system’s ability to correct mistakes. Marissa also wanted to thank those who have offered their support and prayers during her incarceration. Finally, Marissa expressed her desire to be back with her children and family.

THIS amazes me. Every time I have corresponded with Marissa, I am struck by how she never lost faith in the system. I cannot imagine I would feel the same. I have lost faith in just about everything, as we sit on the cusp of our government grinding to a halt because of stubbornness and the inability to compromise and as Dr. Phil would say “a bunch of RIGHT FIGHTERS”.

I am happy to be a part of something greater than myself, and thrilled that as one person on the Free Marissa Alexander Facebook page said “a lot of tiny raindrops make up a great thunderstorm”. Proud to be a part of the thunderstorm. It gives me much-needed hope.


Step Off, Weiner

23 Jul

I had planned to write a “What the Hell” post about Anthony Weiner, but really, what more is there to say except WHAT THE HELL, MAN? CARLOS DANGER?  Please, just stop. Step away from the public eye, then you can get on the internet and/or Twitter and go crazy with the sexting that you kids are so into these days. I don’t want to read about your weiner in any way and I’m annoyed that I feel the need to write about it, so just go away and stop doing stupid shit. I have very little self-control and I have more important stuff to write and read about. Thanks.

On that note, I have had such positive responses to the posts I have written about mandatory minimum reform and specifically, the Marissa Alexander case.  I have read your comments and even though I have not had a chance to respond to all of them, I greatly appreciate them.

When I first read about Marissa Alexander’s case, I was incredulous that such a thing actually happened. I researched and found that not only had it happened to her, it has happened to other citizens of Florida as well (and other states, but as a citizen of Florida, that was my focus). As a fellow mom, Marissa’s case in particular hit a nerve with me. I wrote her to offer my support and let her know that she was not alone and that nobody would forget about her. She wrote me back and I was struck by her response, and each response since then. She has not lost faith, in the system, or in the ability of people to change things for the better.

Today I had the opportunity to ask a question that has been plaguing me since I decided I wanted to get involved in trying to change the mandatory minimum statutes.  Greg Newburn, Project Director for Families Against Mandatory Minimums Florida, hosted a one hour question and answer session on Facebook and I got the chance to ask him just what the hell I could do to help. Here is his answer  –

Thank you, Amy! Humbly, I think the best way to get the statutes changed is to support our efforts at FAMM. Make sure everyone you talk to goes to our website, follows us on Twitter and “likes” us here on Facebook. The more people we reach, the better our chances of success. We’ve been working very hard to get this issue in front of the legislature, and we won’t quit until a good reform is passed and signed by the Governor. Keep up the great work! (And we will, too.)

I am a good listener, so that is what I am doing.

Also, I heard that rallies were being organized for cities all over the country to take place on September 14, which is Marissa’s birthday. I was SO hoping I could make a powerful sign and just show up and have my voice be heard, but it looks like there isn’t a rally organized in Florida, SO, I’ll be organizing it. I have no idea what I’m doing, but I will be looking into pulling permits and I have the best damn meeting planner in the world helping me (my sister) and a lot of supportive friends and family. This issue is hugely important to me and I know it is NOT necessarily important to everyone, but, as my friend Cheri said, I will keep talking, even if nobody listens, I will keep talking. My mother, and everybody who has ever met me, can attest to that fact, for better or worse.

I know this has been a very Amy-centric post, but I have not forgotten for one second that this is about Marissa, and Ronald, and Orville, and Todd, and every single person affected by the mandatory minimum statutes, including babies being raised without their moms or dads and parents having to face each day without their child.   This is my blog, so I am expressing my angst at organizing the rally, but, I am excited to be doing it.

Here is a link to the rallies. If you want to attend or organize, please get in touch with them and let them know so they can add you to the list. Here is the link for the “support for Marissa Alexander” Facebook page.


Thank you, as always, for reading. I will write about the insanity that is Miley Cyrus’s half sweatpants, half jeans abominations and the joys of being relatively comfortable in my plus size body sometime again soon. I promise.



Thanks for Nothing, OJ

17 Jul

Sometimes I wish I could go back to being 25 years old. Not because my life was so much better back then (it really wasn’t) or that my ass was so much smaller (it really wasn’t). It’s because before I was 25, I lived in a bit of a cocoon. When I was 25, I had an epiphany; The world is an unjust place. It sounds EXTREMELY naive, and I am fully aware of that fact. I was naive. I didn’t grow up in the lap of luxury, but we were comfortable, and my dad had a way of making it SEEM like we had a lot more than we did (which looking back was probably not a good way to live). More than that, though, I grew up thinking that the world was a good and just place. I don’t know why I grew up thinking that, I just did.  After watching the OJ Simpson trial on TV, like half of America at the time,  I started thinking maybe everything wasn’t so rosy. When Simpson was acquitted of murder,  I started to open my eyes to injustices.  I don’t think it is controversial of me to state my opinion that I think OJ Simpson is guilty of murdering his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman. I think he got away with murder. He was not the first of course, and sadly, he will not be the last.

George Zimmerman being found not guilty of second degree murder and manslaughter charges in the death of Trayvon Martin did not surprise me. It saddens me, because beyond all the media hype and charges of racism,  a 17-year old young man is dead now and honestly, if Zimmerman had stayed in his truck, he would not be. I imagine stating THIS opinion IS controversial. I also imagine that I don’t care. I don’t write to be controversial, or to not be controversial. I write because I have a need to write and I write about what I want to write about.

I do think that the jurors did the best they could in the parameters of the law with the charges Zimmerman faced. However, it still makes me sad. I am not a lawyer, just a woman with a computer and an internet connection, but from what I understand, if Zimmerman had been charged with aggravated assault, thanks to Florida’s ridiculous mandatory minimum laws, he would have gone to prison for 25 years.

I refer to mandatory minimum laws as ridiculous because I believe they are. There is no “one size fits all” situation that warrants mandatory sentencing, also known as 10-20-life.  I have written about Marissa Alexander and her case and how mandatory sentencing means that she is now in jail for 20 years for having fired a gun into a wall.  I don’t care if you dispute the facts of her case or don’t believe that she was in the situation she says she was in, this is indisputable – she fired. A gun. Into. A. Wall. And she is in prison for 20 years. She will be the first to tell you that she made mistakes on that day as well as on her day in court when she was offered a plea deal and rejected it.  I imagine George Zimmerman would say he would do things differently as well. The difference is, Marissa Alexander is in jail for hurting nobody, and George Zimmerman is walking free while having killed someone.

Maybe you totally don’t buy anything about Marissa’s case. How about the case of Ronald Johnson, a 65-year old Clay County, Florida man who in 2009 fired two shots into the ground to try to scare away a couple of teenagers he thought were breaking into his neighbor’s house. What is interesting about Johnson’s case is that Circuit Judge John Skinner sentenced him to 3 years because he declared the 10-20-life statutes “unconstitutional”. Shortly after that, State Attorney Angela Corey appealed the sentence and Johnson was sentenced to the mandatory 20 years.  In June, 2012, Fourth Circuit Judge Don Lester granted a new trial, ruling that the jury instructions were flawed. Johnson is out at this time awaiting a new trial. In all fairness, if 10-20-life is not reformed by the time of his new trial, he really SHOULD go back to jail to finish his 20-year sentence.  But hell, what’s fair, right? Like I tell my kids, fair is a place for funnel cakes, and that’s it. It certainly has no place in the justice system it seems.

I have been in contact with Marissa and I am struck by how incredibly positive her outlook is. It is amazing because I would be awful and I would actually have a reason to be a terrible bitter bitch, unlike now.  And now we’re back to pre-OJ and how I wish I was there sometimes because once your eyes are open to injustice, it’s hard not to see it. I find myself torn with what to do, though I know I HAVE to do something.  What I AM doing is writing everyone I can about her case and the insanity that is mandatory minimum sentencing. I am looking into what can actually be done to change the statutes. I am working on attending and/or organizing rallies.  I am TRYING.

Take her out of it if you want to, the fact that there are statutes on the books that have the ability to send someone to jail for 20 years for simply firing a gun in a situation deemed felonious in nature scares the ever-loving hell out of me, and should scare all citizens of Florida. Actually, it should scare all human beings.

I haven’t even touched on the fact that Florida also has mandatory sentencing statues that apply to people who are convicted of selling drugs. That is another depressing rabbit hole that I will tumble-down and write about at some point,  I am sure.

Like the real world in The Matrix, my real Post-OJ world is pretty ugly. However,  I am not so bitter about the state of things that I would rather do nothing than to try change the world just a little bit.

“You can’t make footprints in the sands of time by sitting on your butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?” –

Bob Moawad


*Picture credit –

What the Hell? Paula Deen Edition

27 Jun


I am a Southern woman. I was born in Alabama and grew up in Florida.  I grew up reading Gone with the Wind, eating grits, and knowing full well the ugly history of the South. I grew up in a house that was not racist, but I certainly grew up around racism. I saw it. I heard it. I remember it permeating bits of my childhood from talking with my second grade teacher Mrs. Cooper about her baby girl who was due soon and her telling me that my suggestion of Natalie for a name was “a black person’s name” to hearing  my classmates discuss why the president of my senior class won the election (well only because the black kids outnumbered the white kids). No, it couldn’t have been because Michael, the guy who won, was charismatic, smart, funny, attractive, etc. All of those things that he WAS. Couldn’t have been because of those reasons.

Hearing this week that Paula Deen tells racist (and anti-Semitic, and homophobic, and hell, redneck) jokes does not surprise me.  Nor does hearing that she ALLEGEDLY really wants to have a true Southern wedding. What does that mean, you wonder?  “Well what I would really like is a bunch of little n—-rs to wear long-sleeve white shirts, black shorts, and black bow-ties, you know in the Shirley Temple days, they used to tap dance around, we can’t do that because the media would be on me about that”.  I will say that in the deposition, Deen opposed the use of the N-Word in this instance. The rest is allegedly true, though.

This all DOES sadden me, however, because I really WANT us to be past this. I really want the term “politically correct” to not exist, or to not NEED to exist I guess. I think that term was thought up as a sort of fake way of saying “hey see, let’s all be gender-neutral and non-racist and play nice with each other because that’s what we’re SUPPOSED to do” and yes, we ARE supposed to do it, but because it’s the right way to treat fellow human beings, not because we’re trying to get re-elected, or trying to make our way into a celestial afterlife, or because it’s bad for your image.

To all of those people who feel the need to be outraged and boycott the Food Network and Wal-Mart for severing ties with her, those organizations, and the other ones, have every right to not want their products endorsed by someone they deem unworthy, just as you have a right to be mad about that fact and watch another food related channel and  haul your ass to Target.  Were you just as outraged when Tiger Woods lost his endorsements for infidelity? Or do you only vehemently shake your fist and talk about how ridiculous it is that someone was kicked off their gravy train for their actions when it involves defending racist remarks? I thought so.

It’s cool, everybody has their own moral compass. Hey, we are making strides, we have a bi-racial president! We as a society, are less racist than we used to be , but of course when an absolutely precious commercial that features a mixed race couple and their bi-racial daughter is met with racist comments, I am reminded that we still have work to do. Call me an idealist, I’m okay with that, but why can’t people be concerned with themselves and have respect for others and  let people love who they want to love and be who they want to be? There is no good excuse for hatred. I know it is born of fear, but come on, educate yourself.

The fact is, the history of the South is so ugly, and so ridiculous, it seems like it has to be made up, but it is not, and while Deen’s desire to have a historically accurate wedding is ludicrous, I find it even more ludicrous that she doesn’t seem to GET why that time in history is not something to be celebrated. How can you live in the world for 60 some odd years and not realize how hurtful and shameful that time was in Southern history?  Claiming ownership of another person because of skin color…Yes, let’s highlight that horrible time in history on this most special of days, our wedding day. Oh wait, the media would have a field day with that. Too bad, it was SUCH a good idea otherwise.  I guess I’ll just continue to plan my holocaust-themed birthday party. I just need to find GIANT gas chambers.

I don’t think Paula Deen is evil. Not by any means. I think she is ignorant as hell, and whoever told her to go on the Today show and fake cry while playing the victim should certainly be fired, but I don’t think she is malicious. I also think she will be just fine and no tears need be shed for her.

We should never forget our history, even the ugly parts, but to want to CELEBRATE those ugly parts  is dumb, and hurtful, and smacks of an inability to realize the gravity of an awful time in American history, and yes, it certainly comes off as racist.

Thank You Dad, and all Veterans

27 May

memorial day

In Gainesville, Florida, where I live, every memorial day weekend up and down one main street, little cardboard tombstones are erected for each person who died serving the United States in the Armed Forces. Every year, I am absolutely amazed at how many there are, and I am reminded of my dad, and all the others, who served this country, and all the people who are continuing to do so.

I grew up hearing fantastic stories from my dad about his life. If you have ever seen the movie Big Fish, or read the book by the same name, the father in the story reminds me very much of my dad.  Honestly, I am still not sure what stories were true and which were “fish tales”. At this point I don’t know how I would be able to confirm or deny them, but I do hope that this one, my favorite, the one about how he joined the army at age 16, is true.

My dad grew up in an abusive household. I know that much is true. His father was a mean alcoholic and his mother was a classic enabler. My dad was the eldest son and had one brother and twin sisters. They each had their demons, as is to be expected when growing up the way they did.  My dad tried for years to be the protector of his mom and siblings both when they were children and after they grew to be adults.   Because my dad was the eldest, or because he tried to protect his mother and siblings, or because he had blue eyes, or was a smart ass, who knows the reason, my dad seemed to receive the brunt of the abuse. It became imperative for him to leave the house.  I think that decision haunted him for the rest of his life.

My dad went to a Catholic school for years on charity.  The story goes that the hospital where my dad was born burned down, taking all of the paperwork, including my dad’s birth certificate, with it. I know this is true.

One day when my dad was 16 years old, a priest, who knew my dad’s family situation, called my dad into his office to speak to him. My father told him that he wanted to join the Army, as soon as possible. The priest told my dad that he was too young to do that but if he were to join, he would need an official letter stating my dad was 18 years of age. A letter written on stationary that was kept in the top drawer to the right of where the priest was sitting.  The letter would have to be sealed with an official seal as well, with a seal that was kept in the bookshelf behind the priest.  After doing everything but writing the letter himself, the priest excused himself and left my dad in his office to write it on his own.

My father joined the Army at 16 years old, and I believe it saved his life. He was stationed in Germany and was in combat in Korea.  Sixteen years old is four years older than my eldest son is now. It’s surreal to think about. I know my sons won’t feel the need to join the service for the same reasons my dad did, but if they chose to join for any other reason, I would support their decision.

I am liberal in my leanings. My thought process is that I want a country that will take care of those who need it, feed those who are hungry, educate everyone, and respect all  regardless of color, religious preference, sexual orientation, disability, shape, size, etc. My religion is none and my heart bleeds for all. Having said that, I have nothing but respect for everyone who  has joined any branch of the armed forces, for whatever reason.  I cannot imagine many of the people who join the military do so thinking that they will die in service to our country, but many do. I don’t want to get into my feelings about war and the government in general, but my feelings about those who serve in the military are nothing but pure gratitude, on many levels.



J. A. Allen

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