Tag Archives: courage

Mental Health: Nervous Breakdancing

Mental Health Week is upon us, and I figured that I should check in with everyone. In the years since I was first diagnosed with Manic Depression, back when it was still called Manic Depression, I have seen a general decrease in the stigma surrounding mental illness. At least, until the issue of gun control becomes involved, or the police decide that they just don’t feel like putting up with it that day. But at least it’s not something which must be swept under the rug, and hidden deep within the family histories. I’m cynical enough to think that maybe this drive toward understanding was not brought about by the goodness of mankind, but rather that pharmaceutical companies finally had a way to make a fortune off of those of us who had to battle the demons in our mind. And they couldn’t run all those massive ad campaigns if depression was something that nobody could talk about. And now I’ve got a bitter taste in my mouth, forced to admit to myself that maybe The Free Market might have been good for something. Well, I suppose that even evil can wind up doing some measure of good from time to time, if only by sheer accident.

I’ve never gotten a chance to meet my dad, and it looks like I probably never will. I’ve had to piece together the family history of mental illness from anecdotes from people who knew that side of my family, and the reaction from my father when I tried to contact him. My father’s brother, who lives and teaches in Japan, comes back to Idaho every year to check up on his brother and take care of other family things. He was the one who found and read my letter, and got in touch with me. He told me that my father was wrapped up in depression, and suffering from a heart condition. And damn it, if my dad didn’t see that letter exactly as I would have seen it. He kept off to the side, terrified to open it, and then indignant when it was read to him. He blames my mother for a comment she made in passing, and it would take a paternity test, which I would have to pay for, to convince him that I am his son. Part of me wants to just do it, so that I can throw the results in his face, and sit down and talk to him. That’s the part of me that needs to know absolutely everything so that I can try to prepare for when my son displays the signs of what I’m beginning to believe is direct line heredity of mental instability.

My son, the Minkey. The school believes that he’s got ADHD, and so does his doctor. Well, his last doctor did, his current doctor isn’t entirely convinced. The type of pills he takes have also had the same effect on me when I… sampled them a couple of decades ago, and I do not suffer from ADHD. Maybe I’m just looking for something that isn’t there; I wouldn’t put it past me. But from the stories which I’ve been told, both of my father as an adult, and myself at my son’s age, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before my son will face the same challenges which I was forced to face. The only advantage which my son possesses is that his father has been through it all before. I wish I thought that it would matter, though. I’ve never really found a good answer to the melancholia. But at least I will be able to know what’s going on with him, and I can try to help him cope in a less self-destructive manner than I chose for myself. Maybe that will help him feel slightly less alone. That is, if I make it long enough.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. It’s hard to tell what’s a product of the swirling ups and downs, and what’s a normal reaction to the situation that I’m in. All I know for sure, is that I don’t know what to do. No one is calling back about the résumés I’ve left. I’ve been questioning my choice to jump back into writing, foregoing a steady paycheck (or any paycheck). But then I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish, and I know that I made the right decision. I’ve written more over the past five months than at any other point during the past twenty-eight years. I’m better than I ever was, though after rewriting Terracrats, I’m not sure how impressive that statement might be. Last night, when I couldn’t get to sleep, I finally figured out how to structure the novel which I’ve been working out inside my head for the past couple of years. But it’s all come too late. I’ve run out of time, and I don’t know what to do.

Normally, when backed into this type of corner, my instinct is to curl into a little ball and try to build up the courage to finally end it all. I’ll be honest with all of you: Last night, after I’d had my revelation about the book, and then realized that I’d figured it out too late, I locked myself in my bathroom, and… considered certain things. I don’t know what it was that stopped me. I don’t know what’s keeping me from sinking into the soothing madness of a nervous breakdown. I’d like to think that I’ve discovered some secret source of strength within myself, but I think it’s just that I’m a coward. I’m afraid to leave the things I feel I need to do undone. I don’t want all of this to have been for nothing. I just don’t know if I’ve still got the strength to see things through until the very end. What’s worse is when I open up to Flor, trying to find some comfort in her love for me, and she tells me that I cannot go because of David, Cream Soda, and the granddaughter who’ll be born any day now. As she hurls those words against me, I feel the weight of all those years upon me, and I feel that I cannot stand it anymore.

Why do they need me? Why did I give into the loneliness, and drag someone down with me? Why did I bring a life into this world who will most likely face the same things to which I still have never found an answer? What gives me the right to make them suffer with me? Why even bother dragging everything out like this? I’m nervous breakdancing all around inside my head, and I’m trying to find my equilibrium. I know that if I can just stick it out a little longer, that everything will soon seem better. I know that all of this is only in my head. Also, why does it feel like August?

Thanks for bearing with me.



I always tend to overlook the other pole in my disorder. I’ve spent too long gazing into the navel of my depression, learning each and every contour of self-deprecation, and taking for granted the few occasions when I’ve not only gotten out of bed, but actually felt inspired. I don’t know how long this wave will last, but I’ll take it. And who knows how deeply it will mire me into the melancholy aftermath, not that I am all that worried. A little inspiration goes a long way to validate the pain which must come after. This is a side of me which most people never get to see. And I’ve found ways to keep it under wraps for almost a decade, but now that option has expired. So here goes: A little present for all of you, before I finally get started on what I should have months ago.

I feel like I am burning brightly, shining out from within myself, converting will to energy, and racing toward the end. It’s not a sad thing, to burn as such, like a candle warding off the darkness. But as I am that point of light, expanding outward, yet never quite able to outrun myself, I find that I am lost somewhere within a sea of darkness. I am racing on the wave’s edge, surfing at the speed of light, and there can be nothing lit before I have arrived. I’m not going after messianic glory, mind you, just trying for a smidge of illumination. I would like to find a way to transmute my suffering into a beauty which inspires joy. The only hurdle that I face is that I am not all that terribly cheerful of a fellow.

And now there are too many thoughts bombarding me, and I can feel myself beginning to fly apart. When I was riding smoothly, there was never any problem, but now, even a tiny pebble can send me tumbling into trouble. It’s something that I should have seen much sooner, something which I think that I’ve instinctively always known: my consciousness itself is the bottleneck to my own creativity. That’s why every time I found something to get me out of my own way, the words would just begin to flow, beautiful and perfect, from my fingertips, and I wouldn’t even realize what I’d written until I’d put the pencil down. I know my voice. I know my myself. I don’t need to always overthink it. I do, of course, because that is who I am.

And now I’m getting a little worried that my two lives have begun to crash into one another, like matter and antimatter, destroying both themselves and everything around them in what can only be described as a blaze of glory. The version of myself which can blindly jump into the wordstream cannot do so if he constantly must worry about silly grownup things. And the part of me that’s somehow managed to grow up knows that’s all fine and dandy, but it’s more complicated than that. But I know that it is not, that it’s only as complicated as we allow it to become. That there are solutions of simplicity, if only we are willing to admit to ourselves that they can exist.

The wave is subsiding once again, and I can feel myself calming. Not that I am actually in a state of peace, but calmer than I was before. I have established balance once again, and the world isn’t spinning quite so quickly. The tapestry of time has faded from tangibility once more, and I am merely its passenger.

Breathe. Calm. Repeat.

Breathe. Calm. Repeat.

The migraine is returning, so I don’t have much time left. But it felt great to feel that moment of inspiration. That moment when I knew that I could tap into something so much greater than the limitations which I’ve placed upon myself. Somewhere within this meatsack is a spark of genius which no one else can fan. Everyone has something which they are able to present the world, a thousands of millions of moments of perfection, burning dimly throughout the world, just ready to ignite, and make the human race its own crucible until we’ve rid ourselves of the impurities that greed and prejudice have brought us. Lighter, then, than air, we shall begin to rise, free of the stupidity of shortsightedness. Let’s throw the world into a conflagration of liberation from the shackles to which we’ve forgotten that we hold the key.

Breathe. Calm. Repeat.

Breathe. Calm. Repeat.

At the end of this journey, there is a land of constant shadow and despair, and I know that it’s but a matter of time before I am welcomed home. I’ve spent too much time basking in the light of day and searching for the happiness which, it seems, must always elude me. Or maybe it’s just that I’m terrified that some day I might actually be happy. Without conflict, there is no tale to tell. The moment when I know that the world can spin on without me is the moment that a part of me will die. Call that arrogance, if you must, but it’s what I need to get through the day. I just want my time here to have mattered. I want to know that all the pain was worth it. I want to contribute something of beauty back to the world before I must depart. Is that so terrible a desire?

I’ve still got stories in me, stories which no one else can tell. But I’m so afraid that they’ll be stupid, or that I’ll find out along the way that I’ve only been telling stories to myself, reinforcing my ego, so that I don’t collapse. I have to believe that the past twenty-eight years have been for something. I have to believe that I’m the way I am for some evolutionary reason. There has to be an answer somewhere deep inside me, if I only have the courage to go looking. And if I can maintain that courage once I find it.


Today I was reminded of just how old I truly am. A little boy who I once helped to raise has just turned 28. And another little boy whom I have known since the day of his birth just asked me if there were cars when I was younger. It seems that I cannot escape the march of time, or the inevitable karmic payback of things which I once said when I thought that I was being clever. My youth keeps coming back to poke me in the eye, and I can only sit and watch it happen with a little smile across my face. It’s times like these that make me think that maybe my time has come and gone, and that perhaps the moment has arrived for me to shelve my old ambitions and look forward to the future. And then I think that The Boy isn’t really all that much younger than myself, only David’s age difference between us, and he’s too busy being an amazing person to want to change the world. He is the type of person who will lead by example, which is the change for which I’ve advocated, but I don’t think that he’d like all the attention that comes with starting a cultural revolution. And David can barely make it the length of a commercial break without losing all focus entirely. But enough about my failed dreams and lack of accomplishments.

When I first met The Boy, I was coming over to hang out with his sister. This was just before I wound up calling in a favor, and changing my permanent address to that location. Here came this little kid, though I suppose not so little as I saw him at the time, running up the driveway and demanding that I pick him up and swing him around. I’ve never understood what it is, exactly, that makes kids love that particular type of play. I myself shrink back in terror at the very notion of someone grabbing me and swinging me around, robbing me of control over myself, and the gentle tug of gravity. And yet The Boy could never get enough, nor David, nor my grandson, for that matter. They all kept demanding that I play until the moment that I physically couldn’t anymore. That time is coming for my grandson far sooner than I’d care to admit, but at least for a little while longer I can still scoop him up and spin him wildly until we both feel just a little green.

History replays its finest moments.
History replays its finest moments.

But what strikes me most, is are memories of a conversation that I once had with The Boy regarding his homework, and how he wasn’t doing it. I’ve been having the same conversation with my son lately, and, like The Boy, he also has been diagnosed with ADHD. It seemed odd to me that I was the one, of all people, to have to lecture another human being about the necessity of bowing to the pressures of the busywork. I was the kid who would blow off weeks of homework and then stroll into the classroom to ace the test. I knew the material, but I never had even the slightest inclination toward wasting my time on repetition. Time has taught me that me that there was more important lesson hidden somewhere in the rows of nonsense, and I would have been better served to learn just how to ignore the boredom and get the homework done. I hadn’t figured that out the first time that I had to sit somebody down and try to convince them to do what I could not, but I know it in my bones this time.

The Monkey and The Boy
The Monkey and The Boy

All in all, though,  The Boy didn’t turn out too bad. He’s living life more beautifully than I ever had the courage to even truly begin considering. Sure, I’ve moved hundreds of miles away from where I once ran free, but I fell into the trap of doing all the things which I was supposed to do, and setting aside what mattered in favor of another dream. I had the chance to have the family which I never could when I was just a boy, and I took it because I’d finally found out what it was that I was after. I don’t think that the couple of years that I spent with The Boy when I was learning how to be a man, and practicing to be a Dad, could have influenced him all that deeply, but it is my hope that a little of the dream which I once dreamed might have inspired him just a little to seek out the man he would become, and never sacrifice himself to for anything that wasn’t worth it. I’m not saying that my sacrifices weren’t of value, just that I never seemed to have made a bargain which had unexpected consequences.

Am I happy? In so many ways, I must admit that I am indeed. But there is a part of me that misses the freedom that I once had to go and see the world, not that I ever really did. I have what I have always dreamed that I might have: a family. I grew up in a home torn apart by the statistics of divorce, and I swore that if I ever married, it would last forever. That means, however, that I cannot run off on wild flights of fancy whenever the mood may strike me. I am needed here at home, and, more than that, have no desire to disrespect the bonds my wife and I have forged together. So instead, I settle for a little thrill in hearing of The Boy’s adventures as he travels across the country in search of what it means to be alive. I don’t believe that there is just one answer to the questions life is asking. I’ve found several, both as a father, and as a husband. And these past few months, I’ve rediscovered what my writing has always sought to tell me.

On this day, the twenty-eighth anniversary of my good friend’s birth, I wish him nothing but the best, and hope that his travels might lead him back here once more, as I’ve found that I kind of miss him. Like a blur, the memories are overwhelming, but of him, they are all pleasant. As I look toward the man my own son may become, I have no better example of a good and decent human being to show him than The Man which The Boy has become. Happy Birthday, Homunculus! Be well, and try to do something fun.

Memories in motion.
Memories in motion.


Prestidigitation: A Life of Education

I am not a good teacher of things. I lack both the patience and willingness to use it to be an effective educator, at least when it comes to the fundamentals. This is a downside of how my intelligence works. I tend to pick things up through osmosis, give them a go (in private, where no one can see me fail), and then pretend that it wasn’t all that difficult to begin with. The only things whose difficulty I intentionally emphasize are the things which I have absolutely no interest in being asked to do again. Just ask my wife on laundry day. She has a very specific set of standards on how she feels that clothing must be folded, and is in no way impressed by my technique, which involves a quick doubling of said textile, with no regard to whether they will appear to be septuagenarian leggings. Unfortunately, my wife has known me long enough that she has figured out my game plan. So now I have to fold the laundry correctly. I did earn a small concession, however: I do not have to fold her blouses, as even she has admitted that they do not conform to the laws of physics, and would rather that I didn’t tear a hole in the space-time continuum whilst attempting to neatly and geometrically fold them. But she does expect me to attend to the rest of our clothing in the manner which she has taught me.

She is a good teacher, you see. Flor will keep going over the basics, and even answer my patently ridiculous queries as to why it’s actually important do it in a certain way. I could never teach another person how to do their laundry. I mean, I could explain how to use the machines, and the describe why detergent is important, and when not to use chlorine bleach, but their clothing would remain forever wrinkled, and they, like me, would have not the slightest inkling of what fabric softener actually is, or why a person should even bother using it, or how to use it in the first place. But that’s regarding something which I am incapable of caring less about. What about when someone needs to know how to do something that I’m actually half decent at?

One of the things which always drove me crazy when I was working in restaurants, was having to train other people how to do things so that they wouldn’t remain completely useless. I’m crap when it comes to laying down the fundamentals, as any of my former employees would most likely tell you. There are certain basic concepts about how one does his job, and if you cannot understand them from the get-go, then I grow irritated, and probably counterproductive. That’s why I most often just farmed the first couple of shifts worth of training to my new employees out to someone who only did that particular job day in and day out. The owners usually wanted the newbies under direct management supervision, but I felt it was better to get new hires started under the tutelage of someone who wasn’t me. I didn’t want to waste my time talking someone through the basics of how to use a register, or how to do the busy work that comes before one is allowed to actually touch the food. I’d watch for those couple of days, jumping in to make a correction now and then, and finally, when it looked like the rookie had finally achieved mastery over the basics, I would step in to finalize their education.

You see, I’m all about the nuance, at least when it comes to work. I want to know why things work so that I can figure out the best way to make them happen, and then pass that on to my employees. Take register monkeys, for example. There are three stages that most cashiers will go through: Inept, Proficient, and Stellar (there is also a secret, fourth stage: Burnout, but that is usually reserved for those employees who no longer need this f’ing job).

Inept covers the first few shifts, and I like to think of it as Training Wheels. Sure, on the surface it appears that they can ride the bike, but there is no real confidence or speed, and if it weren’t for the extra help to prop them up, they would probably fall over. After cashiers have finally found their balance, they are upgraded to Proficient. There are several subcategories here, but the main defining quality of Proficiency is that I, as the manager, will not be called up every couple of minutes to answer a question that might just as easily be addressed by reading a menu board. Most cashiers tend to stay at this level until they find other employment, as they will not get their shift preferences until they achieve a Stellar ranking. Proficient cashiers are still not my problem, but I have been known to give advice or point out little shortcuts to those I think are on the rise. Think of a Proficient cashier as running the secondary register on a busy night.

And now we get to my favorite type of employee: Stellar. These are the people who take work seriously, and are always looking out for how to do their own jobs better. These are the people who get preferential scheduling (although they never seem to get to have a weekend to spend with friends or family anymore), and keep their hours when the restaurant hits the slower times of year. These are the people who have noticed that there is a difference between being good, and being great, and are no longer satisfied with remaining among the former. I love this class of employee, and will gladly teach them what I know regarding how to streamline customer interactions and generally rock it like a professional. How does one move their line faster when it’s slammed? Limit what you say, and don’t ask open-ended questions: If someone wants something to drink that isn’t Coca-Cola, they’ll correct you immediately. If you ask them what they’d like to drink, you might as well take a seat while they decide. Stellar cashiers will know the POS and menu shortcuts, know what’s in each menu item, and know how to make proper change. These are the people whom I am indebted to for making my job easier, and I will do everything within my power to keep them happy at their life-draining, soul-crushing place of employment.

But that sometimes doesn’t work, and this Stellar individual begins to fray around the edges. They are starting to Burn Out. Maybe it’s because they are so good that the restaurant cannot really run without them, which means that weekends are for other people. Maybe it’s because the owner hasn’t approved their raise, because it’s been forever since he’s had to worry about the personal cost of basic things, despite his constant moaning about just how broke he is. Maybe it’s because the truly talented people realize that they are simply too good to be wasted on a cashier gig, and that there’s more to life than being mistreated by the general public. I’ve seen it happen so many times, and have felt its seductive call, myself. And it’s hard to argue effectively against, because it is so obviously true. Despite knowing all of this, it still broke my heart to witness one of my Superstars decide to throw the towel in, and turn down the Burnout path.

At this stage, the once-Stellar employee begins to let things go. He begins to drop his standards and perform, at best, as a high-functioning Proficient. If there is line running out the door, he can still kick it into high gear, but usually that’s just a vestigial reaction back from when he still gave a crap. At this point he is looking for another job, or has made the other job that he already has, his main priority. He will change around his availability so that you can no longer schedule him during the really busy times, and he knows that he’ll still get as many hours as he wants because he’s still the best cashier you have. You can tell a Burnout from the hatred barely, if at all, concealed behind his eyes. He doesn’t care anymore, and doesn’t mind sharing that knowledge with you.

At some point he will either become insubordinate to the detriment of everyone around him, or else he will simply not show up for shifts (usually on the busiest days), and management will have to let him go. I tried to view this as a mercy killing, but I always took it personally. I only befriended the good employees, the best employees, but it was most frequently the members of this very group who wound up breaking my heart. I’ve since wished them the best, and have taken solace in their happiness, at least to their faces, but it still hurts that they couldn’t stick around to help me get through my own purgatorial days.

Maybe that’s why it’s so hard for me to deal with newbies. I don’t want to invest myself in personal interactions with people who aren’t going to make it through their first week. Or maybe it’s because, after decades of living with Bi-Polar, it’s simply easier for me to point out how someone is failing, as opposed to setting them up from the very beginning with a chance at legitimate success. I have tried to learn from the managers that I respect the most, though they seemed to Burn Out just as easily as I did, in the end. It’s hard to balance both the ledger and your humanity. But I thank them, all the same, for showing me the importance of retaining my humanity in an industry which seems to encourage its dismissal. In my mind, they shall always remain Stellar examples of how to do things the right way. And I hope that (if I don’t win the lottery this week) when I get back into the industry which has become the harshest of mistresses, I can face it all with courage and humanity until the very end.


A good friend, and a cautionary tale I never took to heart. Too good a man to work in this industry.
A good friend, and a cautionary tale I never took to heart. Too good a man to work in this industry.
I hope you have been resting well, and I just want you to know that I have always hoped that you were proud of me.
I hope you have been resting well, and I just want you to know that I have always hoped that you were proud of me.
The man who taught me to value my time... and myself.
The man who taught me to value my time… and myself.

One Week on reddit

It’s been kind of an exciting week for me here. I succumbed to the narcissistic pressure within me, and submitted a few columns to reddit.com, figuring that I had gotten more or less back into form, and was ready for a truly global audience. I wasn’t prepared for the result. Amazingly, my column about Star Trek took right off, and has, to date, gotten more views this week by itself, than almost double the total amount of views I’d had in my best week prior to this one. Of course, reddit is a fickle mistress, and large numbers of people reading me there didn’t translate into much voting, in either direction. After spending almost a week in the r/startrek subreddit, I’ve gotten five votes, two-thirds positive, which have garnered me a total score of… 1 imaginary internet point! I’m trying not to get too hung up on that, as redditors can be unforgiving assholes (I should know), but it still kind of hurts that over two hundred people took the time to read what I had written, and only five had rated it positively. Still, I’ve said from Day One that my main goal in all of this was to give people a chance to read my stuff. I wasn’t expecting everyone to love it, but I had kind of imagined that it might have had more of an effect. Still, though, it’s kind of amazing. People with whom I have absolutely no connections in the real world have stopped and read the words and thoughts which have exited my head, and that, to me, is incredible.

The numbers have gone back to normal now, as I made a decision on Wednesday morning not to drink from that particular well anymore, at least not for a while. I wanted to see how many new readers I could maintain, and now, sadly, I know. It’s kind of wild to see just how this week has skewed the numbers, and I know that April is probably going to be the first month since I’ve started where I don’t increase my readership versus the month which came before it. To be honest, the temptation is there to head back to reddit sometime next month, just so I can try to avoid such a dubious distinction. Or I could try to make my stuff better, I suppose. I’m honestly just please with how easily the words are coming, compared to when I started, and how I can just jump in, even if it’s seven in the evening, and pound out words which, at the very least, make some sort of sense. I mean, I’m not really any closer to my larger goal of writing something that I can sell, but I’ve found my groove, and have built the courage to try out several different things over the past few months. And something that will please my wife: I’ve discovered that I can still write in the mornings, and that I can usually pound out an average column in an hour and a half. That basically means that I can now go looking for a job, free from the worry that it will cause my words to suffer.

The downside is that I now have to come to terms with my fear of everybody, and deal with easing myself back into the Food Service Industry, but luckily, I’ve had almost fifteen years of restaurant experience, with a decade of that spent in management. I know what I am doing when it comes to rocking in the kitchen, and the only thing which has held me back has been my exhaustion at the very notion of returning. It’s not the owners, it’s not the employees, and it’s definitely not the distributors; the component which worries me the most is having to deal with a brand-new set of customers. Well, that and doing interviews, but the latter is more a reflection of my personal bi-polarizing issues, so ultimately, it’s sort of just on me to get myself through that process. But when it comes to the customer experience, I think back to every single customer I’ve had the pleasure of not serving these past four months, and I’m reluctant to go back. But restaurants are generally always hiring, and are usually in need of competent management. And the only way that I can pay off all my bills at this point, is to jump into the deep end, and become Mr. Manager once more.

I’ve sort of gotten used to living this life of carefree indolence, and loathe to imagine the day when it must come to an end. But all good things must do so, if we are to truly appreciate them. I could be wrong, of course, and the only thing that stands between myself and happiness is my inability to accept myself for who I truly am: someone for whom putting on pants is the moment when he knows that his day will never stand a chance of recovering. If I was single, I suppose that I could travel the country on the backs of couches, seeking out just Wi-Fi, nicotine, and the occasional full belly. But the fact is that I would have never made it this far without the love of my dearest wife, and should the day come when she’s had enough of my shenanigans, I don’t imagine that I’ll be able to really handle anything in the manner expected of an adult. There will be crying, floor-pounding temper tantrums, and snot running down my face like a river flowing freely from my nose. And then I’ll slip back into habits better off forgotten, seeking solace in my liberation from overwhelming pain, and before I know it, I’ll wake up in Billings, Montana with a tattoo of Crying Rose, and naked, save for a strategically placed necktie. Poor Bad Leon Suave, I’m sure that he doesn’t entirely deserve that.

See? Watching the worst case (and yet, strangely entertaining) scenarios play out inside my head is still more comforting than the knowledge that I’m going to have to get (another) job! I’m not sure what that says about me, but I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading all about it. I’d say that I am now heading off to bed, but I think that I’ll do some pity-voting back on reddit.

The cowboy rode off into the sunset, but left his steed behind.
The cowboy rode off into the sunset, but left his steed behind.


Domestic Violence

I am sitting down to knowingly write what will most likely be my most unpopular column, and I’m strangely okay with that. In writing about our failings as a species yesterday, I left out one topic: Domestic Violence. When I was growing up, my mother, grandfather, and almost every adult that I came in contact with, at some point would remind me that is was never okay to hit a girl. This was all fine and well until one time, at a family reunion when I was about twelve or thirteen years old, my cousin (a girl just a little younger than myself) decided to spend all afternoon harassing and striking me, and according to every single adult figure of authority, there was nothing that I was allowed to do to defend myself. After all, it was never okay to hit a girl. As I grew older, and entered high school, I frequently saw my friends’ conversations with their girlfriends punctuated by punches, kicks, and slaps, all which was not only tolerated, but cheered on from the sidelines. Say something stupid? Deadarm. Say something cluelessly hurtful? Slap across the face. Bored? Just kick your boyfriend somewhere and then make that cute face that he seems to really like.

Let me go on record as saying that I am against Domestic Violence. Let me go further by saying that I am generally against violence altogether. My son has been taught that it’s not okay to hit anyone, except in times of self-defense. And then I’ve told him that he is only to use the bare minimum of violence necessary to escape the situation and allow the authorities to sort everything out. I do not say this a snarky rebuttal to feminism or as a counterpoint to undercut calls for equality. I am not allying myself with the Men’s Rights Movement, which only seems interested in saying the foulest things that its members can come up with regarding women. I am teaching my son to defend himself as such because I have been the victim of domestic violence. At the hands of two different women. Four years apart. I am willing to accept that I am easily one of the most infuriating people that it is possible to come to know, but that is no excuse for “violent or aggressive behavior within the home, typically involving the violent abuse of a spouse or partner.” Unless I’m completely off-base, at which point, please excuse me, I’ve got a gritty reboot of Caillou to start working on.

No, I did not report these incidents to the police, nor did I spend time receiving comfort from my friends. Until recently, it seems we were still too “manly” to feel comfortable talking about one of us getting the shit kicked out of us by “a girl.” I stand roughly five and a half feet in height, and my extra weight is most definitely not muscle mass. Hell, the first time that someone I was dating decided to beat the daylights out of me, I had never even heard of some guy calling up the cops on his abusive girlfriend. I mean, to be fair, this was in the late ’90’s, but that still doesn’t feel right to me. By the time I lived was being introduced to the fists of my next (and last) abuser, I had begun to believe, despite the overwhelming evidence against me, that maybe even I did not deserve to be wailed upon by someone whom I cared for and her tiny little bony fists. That relationship ended shortly thereafter, and it was at that point that I decided that I wouldn’t allow myself to be a victim anymore. I realize that I am using humor here and there, but about this, I am deadly serious.

I began a period of self-reflection after the last time I was abused, and wondered if maybe it was my fault for being so strongly attracted to women who seemed to want nothing other than to break me. Maybe not at first, but imagine living with Gilbert Gottfried (but imagine that he’s funny). I blamed myself for finding them, and then for learning to provoke them. I felt ashamed that I was beaten by someone whom society deemed “weaker,” and was terrified to call the cops for fear of ridicule, or worse, that they would take me away because I don’t bruise all that easily, and when you’re holding someone’s arms away so that she cannot keep on hitting you, and your girlfriend bruises like bananas… well, you get the idea. I blamed myself for so long, that when I met my wife, I was still jumping at every shadow. And when we talked about taking our relationship to the next level, I could only recall the last two times that I had lived together with a girlfriend, and I have to admit that I was a little terrified.

When my wife and I began to live together, we sat down and spoke, at length, about what types of behavior we found acceptable, and also, what wasn’t necessarily on that list that we were willing to put up with. Despite the stereotype of the drunken Mexican beating his wife, or perhaps because of it, my wife told me that if I ever laid a finger upon her in anger, we were through. I wholeheartedly agreed and told her that I didn’t find it cute for women to attack their boyfriends, and if she tried it, she’d be out on the street before she had the chance to blink. Now, since we’ve laid down that groundwork, we’ve found ways to come right up to the edge of our own prohibitions, her with dishes, and myself with walls, but we’ve never struck each other (intentionally; there have been a handful of occasions on both sides where and elbow doesn’t quite clear the head, or a foot sinks someone’s knee backward into the bed), and I don’t believe we ever will.

Sure, it looks cute now...
Sure, it looks cute now…

This is not satire. I’m not trying to be cute. These are real experiences. Domestic Violence is not a laughing matter. If you are being abused, please try to get some help. Get out of there. I have found that you can only beat the living shit out of someone who you don’t respect, and if he or she doesn’t respect you, then please: Get The Hell Out!

There are resources to help you: http://www.thehotline.org/, or call 1 (800) 799-7233.


Progress and Equality in the 21st Century

Progress and Equality in the 21st Century? Ha!
Progress and Equality in the 21st Century? Ha!

Never underestimate the human capacity for getting everything wrong. Why is it that we always seem to find the need to categorize some group as “Other”? Our history is marked by the hard-fought steps toward equality, and what makes it all the more disheartening is that the argument itself never seems to change, only the group to which it is applied. We now can all accept (well, most of us, anyway) that people should not be allowed to own one another, and that interracial marriage doesn’t lead to bestiality. It should be obvious that women are every bit the equal of their tripodal opposites, and that the differences between the sexes are no basis for a comparative judgement on superiority. The Blacks didn’t steal the White man’s jobs, and the Latinos aren’t stealing them now. Gay Marriage isn’t about granting special privileges to a certain group, any more than feminism is about destroying men. Sure, each and every one of us will take every advantage we are given, but when it’s obvious that the game is rigged against us, who among us would not speak out? And why is it so easy to turn a blind eye to the suffering of someone whom you do not know?

I’ve only faced two hurdles in my quest for dominance: I wasn’t born into the 1%, and I suffer from a mental illness. In every other conceivable way, I am so far ahead in the game that I am a little ashamed that I haven’t done any better than I have. The worst I have to deal with is someone assuming that I have lots of money, and a good credit score, and then screaming at me because I cannot spare a dollar. I have had no issue getting hired just because my name’s spelled “different”, and have never been passed over for a promotion because someone assumed that I would not be able to command the respect of my employees. I have been frequently undervalued in the workplace, but the woman who took over a restaurant from me when I moved to the other store across the bay wound up making $5/hour less than I had, all while doing performing the same job. Yes, I did have more experience than her, and yes, I was also about a decade older, but a job is still a job, and no one should make only $13 every hour to be a restaurant’s General Manager.

When my wife decided that the time had come for us to marry (she was tired of wasting her time on something so open-ended), we had no trouble with it at all. I may have mentioned before that I am an atheist, and as such, wasn’t really interested in a fancy church-type wedding. My wife was Catholic, and for us to have been married in the eyes of her faith, I would have had to convert, and that wasn’t going to happen. We went to the Oakland Courthouse, filled out some paperwork, and then had a pleasant little ceremony in front of family and friends. Done. We didn’t want a church wedding, and we didn’t get one. If marriage is a religious institution, as many have suggested, then I should never have been allowed to marry. But no one has said a single about that, even when I bring it up, because my wife and I are of “complimentary” genders. At this point, the conversation turns to the reason for marriage, which, supposedly, is to populate the world. I then ask if marriages should be annulled if a couple cannot conceive. Or simply decide they don’t want children. Or want to adopt, instead. Again, the crickets become almost deafening.

I really just don’t understand.

It’s not a zero-sum game that we, the human race, are playing: trickle-down economics have taught us that. When one group is given an institutional advantage under the pretense that it will be better for everyone, it never is. I have known wealthy people, and the majority of them do not spend a single penny more than they are absolutely required to by law. Those of us without portfolios, because we cannot afford to leave our money out of reach, tend to spend it when we get it, and pump our hard-earned dollars right back into the economy. The more money that we have to spend, the more money we will spend. Yes, we will pay off our bills, and most of us will try to be responsible, but after years of making hard decisions regarding healthcare versus eating, it’s nice to pick up something that isn’t a necessity. And the more we spend, the more jobs will be required, as it takes more people to work the registers when there’s a constant line spilling out the door.

Letting someone else do something that you can do isn’t granting privileges, and they aren’t “special rights.” The world will not come to an end if two dudes can marry, and it will not end if women are finally thought of as something other than the “weaker sex.” Yes, the millionaires and billionaires might see their money vaults become a little emptier, should workers have the right to earn a living wage, but more money than god is still more money than god. And just because someone doesn’t share the same faith as you, doesn’t mean that they’re declaring war upon it.

I’ve made the point before, but I feel it bears repeating: If you are in the majority, you are not being persecuted. That’s kind of the benefit of having a majority. And, after having been railroaded into being confirmed into the Lutheran sect of the Christian faith when I was barely able to grow facial hair, and having read the Bible cover to cover, I am even more confused by those who wear a crucifix and spout off about how Jesus disapproves. Correct me if I’m wrong, as it’s been awhile since I peeked at those red letters, but I remember Mr. Christ wanting to keep money out of religion, feed the hungry, help the poor, and generally treat people better than they had been. He never said anything about a “homosexual agenda,” but I do remember something about wealthy tailors and their camels. And the parts of the Old Testament that people flip to when they are in dire need of something with which they can condemn complete strangers (Leviticus, primarily), are nestled right in among prohibitions on diet, fashion, and the sale of daughters, which are frequently ignored. It was my understanding that Jesus came to redeem the world, not start a cult of hatred and oppression.

And since I seem to be determined to piss everybody off, let’s talk about feeding the hungry and helping the poor. I mean, first we’ll have to drug test them, and scrutinize their lives for any mistakes they may have made (because we all know that no one who’s in power has ever taken a misstep), humiliate them, demonize them, moralize and then demoralize them. If they are going to receive our the fruits of our taxed labor, then they had better be on the straight and narrow, just like those we send to represent us in state and national government. Are there people who game the system? Yes. But that epidemic is not limited to just the working poor. Or those who cannot even get a job that doesn’t pay enough. If you say that we are a Christian nation, but allow a man (or woman, or child) to starve, then you haven’t been paying attention. That little “t” around your neck is not a status symbol. There will always be people who take advantage of the kindness and decency of others, but that is no excuse to punish everyone who might need help.

From there, let’s shift to voting rights, since I’m detecting an underlying theme. If your political party cannot exist unless you deprive citizens of their right to participate in their own representative democracy, you need better ideas. The goal should be to make everybody’s voice heard, even if they disagree with everything you’re saying. I, for one, do not appreciate a slide back into a state of feudalism. Money shouldn’t determine the social agenda, and wages shouldn’t consign someone to slavery. If you cannot make enough to get by, even if you’re working sixteen hours in a day, you don’t need to see the shackles to know that they are there. There is an overwhelming sense of apathy in regard to the electoral process. Every vote counts is a beautiful sentiment, but when decent people are barred from running because they refuse to sell their soul, and a candidate can garner fewer votes than his opponent, but walk away the president, I see why people just don’t care. And if no one turns out to cast their ballot, the election becomes a contest between fanatics. And that’s when you get legislation like this:

In Florida (because, of course it’s Florida), there is a bill in the State House which would ban transgender people from using “single-sex public facilities” to which they were not biologically (genetically) eligible. The bill states that its purpose is to “secure privacy and security for all individuals using single-sex public facilities.” Which, on the surface, seems like a noble cause. People should be able to feel safe and secure when they are at their most vulnerable, i.e., when then are in a state of undress. “Single-sex public facilities are places of increased vulnerability and present the potential for crimes against individuals using those facilities, including, but not limited to, assault, battery, molestation, rape, voyeurism, and exhibitionism.” Again, good on you for recognizing that. Of course, these actions may be committed by people not banned under this bill, so it only disproportionately affects those who identify with a gender that they were not fortunate enough to have been born into.

There are so many things I get to take for granted as a white, heterosexual male. I can walk down the street and not worry about harassment from the cops, or catcalls or intimidation from the opposite sex. My instinctual expressions of love (well, most of them, anyway) have never been criminalized. It’s actually a little depressing to think of how little I’ve accomplished with all of the opportunities that I was lucky enough to born into. I cannot imaging the courage that it takes for those without my privileges to face such an uphill battle. Life is hard enough without knowing that you’re probably going to be worse off for having tried for something better.

I imagine that I may have lost some of my audience somewhere along the way, and I can only say that if I have offended you, I am glad. It means that I have challenged your beliefs, and I can only hope that you will take the time to consider if they might be in need of re-evaluation. I don’t know that I have all the answers, and I don’t presume to speak for everyone. There are experiences that I will never have, and that both reassures and saddens me. I speak not because I feel that others cannot, but instead, because I have a soapbox upon which I am allowed to preach. I have many failings, as my wife will more than happily attest, but each and every day I try to leave myself open to the possibility of learning something new. Don’t tell anyone, but on a few occasions, I have been known to fall a little short of right, and as much as it has violently abused my ego, in the long run I would rather know the truth.

We cannot hide back in the past, nor look within it for our answers to the future. We must learn from our mistakes, for our victories teach us so much less. The history of humanity is a brutal struggle with our world and with our very selves, but we have made at least some progress since the dawn of time, and despite our best intentions, will most likely make some more, if we don’t drive ourselves toward extinction.


And here’s a little something to put your day back on track:

He has his own way of mining for truths…

Chicken Little


I looked up at the sky last night to see that it was falling all around me. As has been the case for as long as I remember, the best of days seem always to conclude in a spiraled attempt to be the worst. I’m trying not to read too much into it, but the fact is that, as a writer, I’m constantly on the prowl for subplots and foreshadowing. And it’s hard to pin down the cause, as I can never tell if it’s just me who’s freaking out, or if I have a right to stand my ground on any given issue. Add someone who is also showing signs of emotional fatigue, and it becomes a game of twenty questions (that you should never ask). Yes, there is a part of me that is even angrier for not being allowed to enjoy what had been my best day as a writer in well over a decade, having reached a wider audience in twenty-four hours than I had in any week before, and having been affirmed as a wordsmith of at least some value by people with whom I do not regularly converse. I should be riding high upon the world this morning, and yet the only thing I want to do is curl myself into the fetal position beneath the covers and wait for everything to fail.

For years now, I’ve had to be the voice of reason in this household, clinging desperately to sanity and rationality as a form of self-defense. That’s not to say that my wife is incapable of doing so, but she tends to focus her attention on other areas which would otherwise be neglected. The only problem in my ascendancy to this august throne, is that having to keep it all together is a massive strain, and every day that I put off the breakdown which I know is coming, the worse I know that it will be upon its prophesied arrival. Somewhere deep inside me lies a tectonic plate of sanity which has been grinding up against the neighboring plate of madness, and the pressure feels unworldly, and I know, like everyone living on a fault line must, that the Big One is on its way, and there’s nothing left to do but hope I’ve retrofitted everything sufficiently. I’m still not sure why I haven’t cracked, and it feels so overdue that I’m growing a little terrified of what will happen in the aftermath. I’m getting older now, and I don’t know that I can bounce back as easily as I once did when I was twenty-one. There are too many people who depend on me (yes, Virginia, even when I’m not pulling in a paycheck) for me to just throw in what little will that I have left and wait for Death to claim me. Of course, in putting it off, I’m just making it worse.

I remember when I could believe that love could solve everything. I also recall how that’s worked out for me before, so now the wound is extra salty. Love is hard. There are some days when it would simply be easier to grab a handful of my necessities (my laptop, hard drive, and all the old notebooks I could fit into my backpack), and just run away from home. There are couches in the world which I have not yet surfed, and my writing has always soared when I am broken by despair. And yet I know that I am too old for all of that. I cannot keep running when things get too big for me to face. I’ve run away to fight another day so many times that I think that, just this once, I should turn back around and make my final stand. Getting older has allowed me to discard the judgments of others for the shackles that they are, and the same obstinacy which has allowed me to get this far by refusing to let me fail should give me the courage to face down the end of all things, though I’ve everything to lose, and only the status quo to gain. When all the drama has been stripped away, and the arguments laid to rest, I can so clearly see that it is only our fear which drives us apart. We’re living in a constant state of terror that the world will begin to crumble beneath our feet, and when it comes to fight or flight, you could call us Orville and Wilbur Wright.

I think that I once wrote that it’s not about the grand gestures. Those are easy, and generally only for show. It’s the little things which change the world, one act of consideration at a time. And here is why I know that, despite the odds, the time has come for me to fight: my wife is someone worth fighting for, and though the simple acts of cultured love are most often lost within the daily grind, they are there, waiting patiently for us to notice, and far too humble to draw attention to themselves. I don’t know that I can become the person that my wife deserves. I am who I have always been, and I never lied about that. But for her, for my Wildflower, I am willing to make the effort. She is infuriating and obsessive, selfless and self-destructive, amazing and inscrutable. And I’m a better man for having known her.

So what does this all mean? I have not the slightest clue. I know I love my wife, but I am uncertain if the years of knowing me have robbed her of her love for me. On the outside, I am often caustic and uncaring so as to not reveal the scared and tired child behind the curtain. Someone once said that “Sometimes you can’t fix everything with a hug.” But I will hold her close until the end of days, and we can face the wave of uncertainty together, if she’ll have me. The sky is falling all around me, and I am Chicken Little.


After Dark: A Blast From The Past Presents: A Lesson In America and the English language

I know, I know. I promised you all that I was done with these After Dark: Blasts From The Past. But I saved out this one for two reasons: 1) It’s my anniversary, and I might just want to sleep in, and 2) I still feel the topic is relevant today.

Go ahead, enjoy it!


A Lesson in America and the English Language

October 10th, 2008

2:10 a.m.

When I was six years old, I received a lecture from my best friend’s grandmother. We had be running around like six year olds, and I had said that I hated something. I don’t remember what. But just seconds after I’d said it, my friend’s grandmother said to me, “Don’t use that word.”

“What word?” I asked.


“Why not?”

“Do you really hate [said thing in question]?”

“Well, no… I just really don’t like it.”

“Then say that. You should never say ‘hate.’ It’s such an ugly and violent word. Say what you mean.”

Feeling unjustly chastised, I agreed, and my buddy and I went on playing.

That memory has stuck with me for two reasons. The first, because we all hold on to embarrassing moments and remember them far better than our happiest. And secondly, the older I get, the more I realize how right she was.

In my life, I genuinely hate maybe only a couple of people. Trust me, they are very bad people whose names start with the letter “J”, and, honestly, hating them hurts me more than them. Unless I see them in person.

Why am I bringing this up? Proposition 8 in California. For those of you who either do not live here or are unaware, Proposition 8 wants to overturn the California Supreme Court’s overturning the previous Proposition 22 from 2000, which banned same-sex marriage in the state by amending the state constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry.

In the interest of transparency, I have always been against this proposition, and on November 4th, will cast the same vote.

What bothers me in the analysis, is the call for “tolerance.”

I tolerate the old person in front of me in the register at a fast food joint for counting out pennies for her senior coffee.

I tolerate the woman with 3 shopping carts at the 99 Cent Only store ahead of me in the checkout line, arguing with the cashier over obvious things (Why does this receipt say $5.95 for this item? I thought everything here was only 99 cents! (Mind you, she had purchased 6 of the same item)).


1. To allow without prohibiting or opposing; permit.

2. To recognize and respect (the rights, beliefs, or practices of others).

3. To put up with; endure.



a. To answer affirmatively: accept an invitation.

b. To agree to take (a duty or responsibility).

2. To receive (something offered), especially with gladness or approval: accepted a glass of water; accepted their contract.

3. To admit to a group, organization, or place: accepted me as a new member of the club.


a. To regard as proper, usual, or right: Such customs are widely accepted.

b. To regard as true; believe in: Scientists have accepted the new theory.

c. To understand as having a specific meaning.

5. To endure resignedly or patiently: accept one’s fate.

I have excluded medical definitions, although they are interesting in the context of this post.

So people talk about tolerance like its original meaning (from Latin): To bear. Whereas acceptance focuses on its origin: to receive.

Therein lies the difference. Are we only to bear the existence of those who differ from us, or do we receive them into our lives? If everyone is equal, then the choice is obvious.

Unless people are saying what they really mean.


Point After (In the spirit of Football Season)

Gay used to mean happy. Are we so self-loathing and morally bankrupt a people that we seek to demonize and ridicule happiness?

Just a thought.


See? I used to go on all sorts of moral and ethical rants back in the day as well.


I’ll be taking this weekend off to celebrate my anniversary, but don’t worry: I’ll be back on Monday with something that I’ve been meaning to write about: The Teen Center on Bainbridge Island, Washington. And if you absolutely cannot live without my rambling words, feel free to peruse any of the other 98 posts I’ve written since I started this blog.

Thank you for support, and I look forward to your continued readership.

Now go outside, and have some fun, and come back on Monday for my 100th Post (which coincides with the 100th Day I’ve been running this blog).



The World I Know

It can’t be that hard, right? I mean, the human race has the technology and the ability to feed the hungry, to house those living out-of-doors not by their own preference, to educate those who know the only future forward is to learn. Most of the folks whom I have met have, at some point in their lives, needed just a little help moving forward. I myself was homeless for a time, and though I was extremely lucky (in that I always tend to land upon my feet), I also had more help than most, and more than I necessarily deserved. At the point when the time for life-changing decisions were made, I would say that I wasn’t much of a better prospect for pulling it together than anybody else in my situation. I suppose I did manage to pull myself up by my bootstraps, but there was a whole team of supporting players who were steadying me off camera, or I most certainly would have fallen flat upon my face. Because pulling yourself up by your bootstraps is physically untenable, and unless you have some kind of freakish, mutant upper-body strength, you’re probably not going to do it. At least not on your own. And, of course, you have to believe that there’s even a point in trying.

Once upon a time, when I was young, and in love, I tried to hold myself up as a mirror to someone determined to fade away. I thought that by sacrificing myself, she might come to see the value of my love for her, and, in turn, find the value in herself. I was young, and amazingly good at grand, romantic gestures that have no place in rational discussions. It took me years to realize that I couldn’t help her. Even after we’d been broken up for quite some time, I still would find a moment or two to chastise myself for the damsel in distress who I let get away. It offended my very sensibilities that I knew what was wrong, knew what had to be done, and yet was rebuffed even before I could make the attempt. Was my love a good love? I can finally say, without beating myself up from head to toe, that it was probably not a love that was meant to last. Sure, it was grand, and passionate, and everything to which fictional characters could ever hope to aspire, but it wasn’t the kind of love that makes things better. It wasn’t understanding. My love was a galleon of conquistadores spilling out upon the shores of the New World. In some regards, it still is. But it’s smarter now. It uses Black Ops and intelligence gathering to achieve much the same goal without the necessity of smallpox.


That last paragraph kind of got away from me a little. That may, in fact, be the most disturbingly accurate representation of my love life that I have ever put to paper. I don’t know how I feel about that. Or myself. Come on, Tex. It’s just a metaphor. Shake it off! And the worst part of that entire peek into the twisted corners of my psyche, is that I never actually quite got to the point: You cannot save someone who doesn’t want saving. Help proffered is often rejected out of hand by those too proud or stupid to know when they cannot do it all alone. Okay, maybe I’m still a little bitter. It’s not even that I am still in love with her. But she told me how to save her, and I lacked the will to get her through it. I know that it’s unreasonable to expect a teenager to succeed where counselors and rehab could not, but I’m arrogant, and I don’t like losing, especially when the stakes are a person’s very soul (or whatever the atheist equivalent may be). How am I still on this? I thought it was a joke, but it turns out my issues do, in fact, have issues!

Now I cannot help but wonder if I’ve come to want to save the world as some sort of proxy for the woman whom I could not. Talk about inflation. That’s like a seven billion percent increase. Well, I suppose that if the task wasn’t impossible and entirely insane, it wouldn’t have fallen to me in the first place.

We have the resources. We have the technology. We have the modes of transportation. All we lack is the will to make it happen. And while we wait, all caught up in the dramas of our own lives, people are actually dying. They didn’t deserve it. Even if they happened to make a series of poor decisions that would cause even me to reconsider medication, that’s not the point. And I’m not just talking about those poor wretches in foreign countries where they don’t even have the decency to learn English. It’s happening right here. Kids are literally starving. Parents have to make the choice between food, clothing, or a visit to the doctor. The cheapest food is the worst which one might consume. The rich kids are spirited away to walled-in institutions where they might actually (if accidentally) acquire an education, while their exodus has left the rest of us in substandard districts where a parent’s only hope is that their kid might not get shot today. It’s not right.

Poverty is not a sin, especially if you are born into it. So much is shouted about the rights of the unborn (Sorry, I have to pause right now because an image of toddling fetuses shambling about in search of “miiiiiiillllkkk….” has inappropriately popped into my head), but no one is legislating protections anymore for anyone who’s exited the womb. There is a reason that our children are immature for such a length of time that causes waves of chuckling throughout the rest of the animal kingdom: we must teach each successive generation, and they must mature alongside that knowledge. A newborn is no more capable of fending for himself than he was just the day before, all safely wrapped up in his mother’s uterus. My son is almost eight years old, and, through no fault of his own, is in no way capable of most things adults can do on autopilot. He knows how to do things, but his judgement is impaired because he is overwhelmed by curiosity while simultaneously completely free of common sense. He has not yet had the decades of experience required to size up a situation and do must be done. Mostly, he just makes fart jokes.

But we all lack decades of experience when it comes to most things in this world. If you dropped me into South America, I don’t know that I would survive longer than a month, and it has nothing to do with language or level of civility: our cultures raise us up to face the problems inherent to the region. Language soon follows suit. There’s a reason that a culture based out of the extreme northern reaches might have a couple dozen words to differentiate the different types of frozen precipitation. We are, each of us, a specialist of survival in our own little areas by the time we reach the age of majority, and even then, only if we’re lucky. Everyone knows something which you do not. Everyone brings something to the table. Why is it then, that in this world connected by the speed of thought, when the globe is smaller than it has ever been, that we are all so far apart?

I’ll leave you now with this, The World I Know by Collective Soul: