The Truth Board

A Blog by the Editors of
The Truth About the Fact: An International Journal of Literary Nonfiction

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Location: Los Angeles, California, United States

The Truth About the Fact: A Journal of Literary Nonfiction is an international journal committed to the idea that excellence in the art of letters can play a vital role in transforming the planet we share.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Vote early!

I knew that my moratorium on political ramblings would never last. I hope that you can forgive me, but these next few days are far too important to ignore. This is my third presidential election. First and foremost, I feel kinda old. I remember the sense of pride and excitement I had when I voted way back in 2000. I had just turned 18 two months before and finally I had the opportunity to vote. No more listening to my parents bitching and moaning about the state of our country. I actually had a say in how things were going to be. Talk about a cool feeling.

Unfortunately, it didn’t last. I almost didn’t vote in 2004 because I, at the incredibly old age of 22, had become disillusioned and jaded with politics and the whole election process. Bush had shown a decided lack of foresight, intelligence, skill, and integrity over the last four years. John Kerry was just plain boring and uninspiring. Why vote when either candidate sucked so much? At least that’s what I thought. Only at the last minute did I realize that not voting, that not exercising my duty as a citizen, would only make things worse. Theoretically that is.

With only four days to go until the 2008 presidential election, I’ve started to wonder if just blindly voting, for whatever reason, is really all that worse than not voting at all. I think this falls back to my previously stated belief that people suck and are idiots. How many people this year are going to vote strictly across party lines? Certainly it will probably be a majority. How many people are going to vote for John McCain simply because he has a big R next to his name (and vice versa for Obama)? I figure it must be a lot, or why else would the election be tightening these last few days? Why else would John McCain even have a chance at winning? Why else would people support a party that is nothing more than a parody of itself, led this country into a debilitating and unnecessary war, destroyed our economy, and pushed many of our civil liberties to the breaking point? I can only assume it’s because they’re Republican and not because they actually believe that all these things are good things. Who knows, maybe I’m giving humanity too much credit (I’d rather believe they were mindless sheep than just morons).

Thomas Paine said that “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.” I urge you, before you step into that voting booth, to inquire, to search, and to learn about what you’re voting for. Go online and read the candidates’ platforms. Vote based on knowledge and not ideology. I may not agree with how you vote, but if you vote informed, at least I can respect that. It’s your duty as a citizen to vote with your brain, not with your emotions.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Vote or Die

Pundits are not sure if young people will put down their iPods long enough to cast their votes. Musicians like Jay-Z and John Legend and P-Diddy are trying to use their iPod-driven fame to drive the youth to the polls.  Historically, the youth haven't  shown up. But this year seems to be different. Senator  Barack Obama has spoken their language.  And that language is user friendly technology.  From Facebook to MySpace to online fundraising to advertising on video games, he's reaching young people where they live.  Now, the text-class may reach out and touch an eVote machine for a  candidate with Jay-Z on his iPod.

Peace & Blessings,

Michael Datcher

Friday, October 24, 2008

I'm gonna be a thousandaire!

Today, I'm going to be short, but probably not sweet. I had this whole political rant all set to go, but decided that if I have any hope of making it to 30, I should probably let go of all my repressed anger. Usually, ranting is a good release mechanism, but I figure my hysterical comments must be wearing a little thin by now. So while my rants may live on, you will be spared. Instead I'm just going to talk a little about how I think I will manage to eat for the next few months.

You might think having a Master's degree, any Master's degree, would make me a desirable commodity in the job market. You would be wrong (either that or I just give off the impression that I suck). There is a surprising (not really) lack of positions available for someone of my extensive qualifications in today's world. Nobody wants to hire a writer. That's fine, I'm sure I didn't want to work for them anyway. But a guy's gotta eat. So what to do?

It’s simple, go into business for yourself. Okay, so it's not that simple. But you gotta do what you want to do, and that's what I'm doing now: Freelance editing (what a lucrative field!). It's up to me to create my own opportunities. This is the harsh reality that I am facing. No more do I have the warm embrace of academia to prop me up and be my crutch. It's just me (and that's scary), but I like to think maybe I got a shot at doing something. Only one way to find out.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008


The truth is that I am overwhelmed. I am not overwhelmed with work, my relationship, or the economic state of the world. I think I would feel better if these were the issues overwhelming my mind and time. I am overwhelmed by my diet. I’ve been diagnosed with CD, Celiac’s disease. Basically, I’m allergic to gluten. It has taken me 24 years of vomiting, excruciating stomach aches, and osteopenia to figure that out. Now I’m waiting for my intestinal tract to heal so that I can actually go to the gym without any “mishaps”. I’ve thrown up in the presence of everyone that is close to me and some people that are not so close. I think the worst experience would have to have taken place in front of a group of sorority girls (the scary thing is that they didn’t seem to mind). Not being in control of your own body can be humiliating.

Since learning that I have CD I finally made the effort to figure out the extent of the alterations to my diet. I found gluten in some unusual places. Soy sauce is out and with it all Chinese food where the contents are questionable (so all Chinese food). Then I realized that restaurants and all complex dishes within such buildings are now off limits. My boyfriend and I were going to order Thai food and I was trying to figure out what I could eat, after my sixth or seventh prospective dish was yelled out my boyfriend yelled back, “Just ask the restaurant”. I stopped for a moment and mentally played out the process of that conversation. I’ll just make scrambled eggs; scrambled eggs are safe. I am going to turn in to one of those women that eat in every night for fear of outside food. There has to be a name for that. Perhaps on my next night of making an effort to learn more about CD I’ll look into it. I only have so many nights making an effort. The majority of my nights are spent making scrambled eggs.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Middle

In the middle of my junior year at LMU, I faced death. I know it may seem melodramatic to state it so bluntly, but there is no other way to put it. After battling a common cold for two weeks, I woke up with a yellow sheen and multiple bruises the size of baseballs on my hips. After an agonizing five hours in the emergency room, I was taken to the cancer ward and told I may have leukemia. Life—the part where you actually get to interact in the outside world—was put on hold while I fought for my physiological existence; blood flowing through my veins and my heart pumping steadily. After a bone marrow biopsy, it was discovered that I luckily did not have leukemia. However, the red blood cells and platelets in my body were rapidly dropping, veins and organs bleeding through to skin, while my body struggled for oxygen. The doctors could not figure out what was wrong with me. I had multiple blood transfusions. Two days later, I was told I had a rare illness. My immune system had made a mistake. While trying to fight my cold, by a random chance, something had gone wrong and my antibodies had begun attacking my blood instead of the virus. My body was nearing the point of major organ failure when my doctor’s decided to experiment with plasma transfusion. Tubes ran in and out of me, a catheter stabbing my neck invasively. The ice cold foreign blood sloshed through my veins, freezing me from the inside out so no number of blankets could mollify my chill. My heart could not keep up with the movement of my body. Strength had left me, I could not stand and the risk of falling was fatal. Any slight physical trauma could cause massive hemorrhaging and death.

Did I mention that this all occurred during the first week of my spring semester? As my peers went to class, I was sitting in my hospital bed, facing my mortality at the age of twenty. It was at this moment in my life that I realized how truly precious my education and the people I have met through these learning institutions are to me. I fought with all the strength within me to return to school because I was taking a writing workshop called RoadWrite, I was new to the staff of the International Literary Nonfiction Journal The Truth About The Fact and if I missed another week, I would have to miss the entire semester. I wanted to walk through the hallways with my peers, listen to the stories of every stranger I met and absorb each new lesson from my teachers. When I sat in my hospital bed, I talked to every nurse I encountered, listening to how they got to be where they were now. What happened to me that week changed my life, just as every move of my childhood across America had. I was not about to miss out on the new semester because when my life was going crazy and I didn’t know if I would walk into the crisp morning air of the outside world, what saved me again was reading. From Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie to Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, and then writing my fears, my hopes, the truths of my life into my own poems and stories, my passion to continue my education and eventually teach was affirmed. Just as Audre Lorde wrote when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, I too “felt inside myself for what I really felt and wanted, and that was to live and to love and to do my work, as hard as I could and for as long as I could.” I reexamined my entire life. My priorities and commitments shifted, bringing to light what I needed to do to live the life I desired. I knew at that moment, as I sat in my hospital bed, I wanted to learn—to sit in my classrooms—and soak in whatever knowledge I discovered, and to then pass that on to those around me. I fought to do just that.

The novelist Isabel Allende wrote, “Give, give, give—what is the point of having experience, knowledge or talent if we don’t give it away? Of having stories if we don’t tell them to others? Of having wealth if we don’t share it? I don’t intend to be cremated with any of it! It is in giving that we connect with others, with the world, and with the divine.” And this reminds me of why I write and why I want to teach. It’s simply because of my want to share my life, its lessons, and its experiences with others. Because often when writing, I remind myself of what life continually teaches me and makes me experience. I would never have found such passion for writing and such success in my endeavors if it weren’t for the encouragement of my teachers. This life is not meant to be a hole we are dropped into, but a garden in which we plant many seeds. I have learned all too harshly how easily and quickly our time can be threatened and stolen. I will work whatever soil is given to me to plant and grow, writing, teaching and giving back to the world what love and understanding it has given me.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Obama & Shameful Math

Several recent polls show Senator Barack Obama with a double-digit lead heading into the campaign's final stretch. Many pundits have been saying the race is essentially over. That's what Tom Bradley thought.

During the 1982 campaign for the governor of California, polls leading up the the election and exit
polls showed the African American Bradley as a clear winner. But once the votes were counted, California, in fact, did not have its first black governor. Political scientists discovered that polling booth-privacy has a way of bringing out the racism in some white voters.

Although this is not 1982, Barack Obama is still black -- and race still matters in America. Anything less than a double digit lead in the polls and Barack Obama may not be the nation's first black president. That's a shameful kind of math that we, as Americans, need to eradicate. But until then, Senator Barack Obama best keep knocking up doors, winning debates and kissing hella babies.

Peace & Blessings,

Michael Datcher

Friday, October 10, 2008

People suck

In the movie Men In Black, the character Kay tells the character Jay why they keep the knowledge of aliens living on Earth a secret: "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it." I've always held this philosophy to be more or less true. A single person is generally somewhat smart, but get anymore than four people together and the average level of intelligence tends to trend down with each additional person involved. Of course, I usually take this one step further and just say that I hate people. I see no reason to mince words or give people the benefit of the doubt. People suck.

What does this have to do with anything? Other than the acknowledgment of one of life's few truths, not much. There is a tenuous connection, I suppose, to how I view this country's political process. Every time I watch a presidential debate comprised of nothing more than talking points and untrue statements, or watch a pundit espouse a political ideology, or see a woefully unqualified candidate give an interview, or anything really related to this election, I get angry. I get angry because people suck and are stupid idiots. This is the only way to explain why we must sit through 18 months of presidential campaigning.

I finally had a chance to watch the latest presidential debate. I have to say I was not that impressed by either candidate. Barack Obama at least came across as more presidential than McCain, but I was disappointed by Obama's determination that this was the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. This kind of statement I consider fear-baiting and believe it not only unnecessary but beneath Obama. With the way things are going, the last thing the Democrats should resort to is trying to scare the crap out of people to get their vote. That's a Republican tactic and one of the reasons why I no longer support the party. I keep waiting for the inevitable movie-esque promo line for this economic downturn (it's disappointing to know that the movie trailer guy is dead, because he'd be perfect here) - The Great Depression Part II: Just as great, but twice as depressing!

As for John McCain, well, the least said about him the better. Unfortunately, I'm a little too verbose for my own good, so I'm going to say something anyway. I used to like John McCain. I wish he had won the Republican primary in 2000, as he would have made a much better president than Bush. Things never work out how we want though, and while McCain won his party's nomination this time around, he's not the same man he was 8 years ago. Now he's just a Bush in old, wrinkly, white man's clothing. There are a lot of things that McCain holds as an ideology that I don't agree with, but watching the debate, the thing that got me most was McCain's constant assertion that if we left Iraq now, it would be only admitting defeat, running away with our tail between our legs. Like somehow, McCain is going to pull out a victory, as if there is even some way of determining a victory in that place. I honestly wanted to reach through my TV screen and shake him. Iraq is not something where we can declare victory (by the way, Bush already did that many years ago, and I've yet to see an actual "victory" anywhere). As long as McCain believes this, he'll never win. So why does he keep saying it? It's simple: to inspire fear in people. To make people believe that if we leave Iraq, we'll have another 9/11. People are stupid, panicky animals after all; they'll gladly believe any lie you feed them if it makes them feel just a little bit safer.

People suck.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

The Beginning

With only 26 letters and a handful of punctuation, worlds beyond imagination are created and the thoughts that encompass our lives are altered. As a young child, my family moved from coast to coast and I was forced to constantly pick up my life and say good-bye. In the solitude that came with long airplane flights and strange, new neighborhoods I discovered myself within the pages of books. No matter where I was at in the world, my books were the constant I could rely on. There was always a new adventure to be had, a love story to dream of and the thoughts of a character that I could relate to—someone I could befriend and learn from. I drew strength from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House On The Prairie to face the unknown frontiers of foreign cities and dared to be different with the help of Ann Rinaldi’s vibrant female heroines. Then my mother gave me a new object that would change my world. Another book—but this book was different. This 8”x5” beauty, bound with glue and a plain purple cover, was filled with blank lined pages. These pages were calling to me, begging for my pencil to scrawl across those innocent white stripes to share what my heart needed to say to the world. If Laura could help me be brave, maybe my stories could help someone else.

After that, I was a lost cause. Reading intertwined with writing, the two actions blending and supporting one another, a way to learn and then an avenue to express. In high school and college, I worked for the school newspaper. I found not only was it beauty to tell my own devised tales, but I discovered the stories of others and that to write them onto a page gave me the chance to learn through other’s eyes. I interviewed unique community members and penned nonfiction glimpses of their lives for others to understand. I began typing my stories on the computer and when doing this, I found a passion in graphic design. Creating book covers for my stories and illustrating with type completed what I loved. When it came time to enter college, I knew what I wanted. This coming December, I will be graduating early from LMU with a Bachelor’s of Arts in English, a minor in Graphic Design and a Certificate in Pre-Journalism. The only thing that really seems to make sense is to listen to the world around me and then write with every ounce of my being in my words. What happened to me in Spring '08 only affirmed what I want from life...but that is a story to be shared next time.

Post-graduation Pleasures

This past spring our fantastic editorial consultant, Colin Crabtree, graduated from LMU with his Masters degree. Shortly after graduation, Colin and I did what all bona fide book geeks would do, and puttered down to Barnes and Noble to sink some cash into pleasure reading. I can’t remember all of the books Colin purchased under the umbrella of pleasure reading, but I know they were all part of the Barnes and Noble Classics series, and that Les Miserables was among the choices. Only a former grad student could consider unabridged Victor Hugo for pleasure reading.

As a fulltime grad student myself, I rarely indulge in pleasure reading. Often the stuff I get to read for school (anything from Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father to Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest to Sheridan Le Fanu’s lesbian vampire novella Carmilla) comfortably qualifies as pleasure reading, but for all of the fun reading associated with an English literature degree, there are also tomes of reading so dry and arcane that they leave you feeling parched and wrinkled. This is why it is imperative that grad students, particularly those in the literature and writing vein, continually read for fun. Grad students need to be reminded of why they’re packing in all of these long, painful efforts for a degree that usually results in financial pittance.

For me, the stuff that refreshes my zeal for studying lit are the books that I read as a kid, Anne of Green Gables being at the top of that list. The books that encourage me to write are the contemporary authors I admire most: Steve Almond, Ryan Harty, Annie Proulx, William Gay—the list goes on. Allotting time for the favorites keeps me from getting bogged down by the stresses of teaching and being taught, but it’s rare when I actually do get to read for fun.

I can’t wait to make my own post-graduation trip to Barnes and Noble and invest in the books that I haven’t been able to devote much attention to as a student. I doubt I’ll be following in Colin’s ambitious Les Mis footsteps, but at some point in my life I do intend to finish Anna Karenina. Perhaps I can do that in May 2009.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Put it in the Air

On Saturday, October 4th, The Truth About The Fact co-produced (along with Barack Your World. The event was a combination fundraiser and change maker. Inspired by Senator Obama's call to create change that's bottom up, the event brought together nonprofits committed to social change, individuals looking for away get involved and deep pockets interested in getting a little lighter.

As is our tradition, there were scholars (Dr. Regina Freer, Chair of Politics at Occidental College) discussing the significance of the Obama campaign), powerful live music (Dwight Trible, The Jane Does & Nailah) that uplifted the soul and moved the ass, inspiring poetry (Sekou & Steve Connell) and super hot DJs (Derrick Wize & DJ Drez) spinning with purpose.

All the money raised went straight to Senator Obama's Ohio Campaign Office and the executive director of the Ohio Campaign Office even called in to address the entire party.

However, the most inspirational part of the night was seeing the mixture of people who had gathered at Barack Your World. Neighborhood residents (the event was held in the South Los Angeles neighborhood of Victoria Park), professors, community organizers, students, musicians, poets and editors of The Truth About The Fact. The multi-ethnic audience ranged from children as young as a few months to folks in their 70s. Truly a sight to behold. And another example of how artificial barriers can disappear-- when change is in the air.

Peace & Blessings,

Michael Datcher

Friday, October 3, 2008

The Boy With One Ear

On the first date with my boyfriend I was impressed by how attentively he watched me from across the table, paying attention to every word and not taking his eyes off of me as I talked. It wasn’t for a few more weeks that I realized his attentive nature was not because he was fascinated by what I was saying, but because he was reading my lips. He’s completely deaf in one ear and has hearing loss in the other.

Dating a half-deaf guy usually sucks. I have to repeat myself a lot. He can’t hear anything else if a radio or television is on. When we’re in the car I have to almost shout in order to be heard. If he’s listening to someone who mutters, obscures their mouth, or has a heavy accent it’s really hard for him to hear them, and I often end up playing the interpreter. Dealing with this problem creates a lot of tension because we both work to overcome it—I’m always repeating and translating, and he’s always trying to catch words or noise that he missed.

He resents being deaf, for it is understandably a really annoying situation to never be able to entirely hear a conversation, television, or music. I hate having to deal with the deafness on a regular basis, but the deafness is also one of his aspects that I admire. I’m prone to closing up and becoming introverted when I’m confronted with challenges, but my boyfriend just keeps trudging on with one ear, Van Gogh-style. I find the deafness quirky, a personal challenge that is lived publicly and without apologies.

The other reason that I love the deafness is because he can’t hear himself very well in addition to everyone else. This means that when he laughs he has a high-pitched squeak that is too high for him to hear. He doesn’t know he does it, but it’s a signature laugh: deep and guttural, manly, and then at the end, a soft, squeaky squeal that sounds like it came out of a fourteen-year-old girl. It’s a slight squeal; you won’t notice it unless you really listen. I’ve been listening for it for almost four years, and it still makes me laugh when it happens.

Well, doggone it, that's just not true.

I've seen a lot of crazy things happen in the 10 or so years that I've actually paid attention to national politics, but I don't believe I've ever seen a candidate wink at me. Twice. I have no idea how I'm supposed to feel about that. I think, mostly, I'm just uncomfortable. I have no issue with a wink in general, but in the middle of the only Vice Presidential debate for this year's election, it leaves me a little out of sorts. I understand the point of the gesture. Palin was clearly going (overboard) for folksy, average Joe, down-home charm. She made frequent use of darn, doggone, betcha, and any other number of ridiculously overplayed cliches in an attempt to play up her appeal to so-called Middle America. Unfortunately, it didn't work. At least not for me.

I'm an Independent. I'm exactly the kind of person Palin and McCain have to appeal to in order to win this election. The Republican ticket will not win without the support of the Independents and undecided; the floating middle that often waits for the last minute to pick a candidate. I'll be honest: I was already predisposed to voting Obama before McCain picked Sarah Palin to be his running mate. McCain's decision simply solidified my resolve.

Sarah Palin is not presidential material. I don't care what other qualities she may have (perhaps deeply buried somewhere inside her) but I'm one of those people who actually holds the Vice President in high esteem. I know, that's crazy, but I believe that any potential Vice President should be qualified enough to be President at a moment's notice. Palin is not. I'm not even sure I understand how she was elected governor of a state (even Alaska). Her grasp of the issues is negligible at best, her idea of connecting to the American public is, frankly, condescending and insulting, and every time I try to imagine her sitting down and talking with other world leaders, I burst out laughing. Not because I think she's stupid (she's not, really, and that's the scary thing) and not because I think she's incompetent, but I laugh because she's nothing more than a caricature. I try to picture her talking to, say, Vladimir Putin, and I imagine ol' Vlad having to physically restrain himself from slapping her silly. How can anyone take her seriously?

Five minutes into the debate, and I already wanted to change the channel. Her voice is beyond grating, her vocabularly belies the fact that she has a college degree (even though it took her like a million tries), and her "maverick" nature scares me. What little amount of respect I might have had for her disappeared when she straight out said that she hadn't come to the debate to answer the questions posed, but had come to talk about whatever the hell she wanted to talk about. She was so rehearsed that she couldn't go off mission at all, and when she did, she screwed up royally.

I worry about what America has become. People are saying that Palin did a good job. Why? Because she didn't screw up. Because her expectations were so low, that just barely topping them is considered a huge success for her. Since when did the measure of success become simply not monumentally screwing up? Since when did things get so bad that people are actually congratulating Biden for not going for Palin's throat because it would make him look mean and sexist? You've gotta be kidding me. As much as I was pleased with Biden's performance, I think I would have respected him more if he had just ripped Sarah Palin apart (like he clearly wanted to). That, at least, would have been amusing. But hey, I guess I still had the wink. That's something right? Clearly, Palin is the candidate for me.