I think that I may have made a friend today, as childish as that sounds, though when I was a child, there would have been far less uncertainty in my declaration. Back then, it seems, anyone not overtly hostile could easily be considered more affectionately than an acquaintance. Now, of course, there is so much nuance to every interaction, so many subtle subdivisions of the classifications into which I file away the human race, that I am, for the vast majority of any given moment, almost entirely unclear as to how I actually regard any certain person. Were I to factor in the uncertainty of their reciprocity of consideration for myself, the whole thing would descend into such sweet and agonizing improbability and madness that only Chaos Theory could be employed in trying to sort the whole mess out and make heads or tails of it.
That being said, I think I’ve made a friend.
This happens far and far less frequently with every passing year, and not only because I am a slave to overthinking the fine (if functionally irrelevant) details of the myriad minutiae of human interaction. Mainly, it’s because I have no time (or rather, allow myself none of it (aside from moments of explosive decompression)), and, to be honest, very little will to muster in dedication to a friendship.
It’s not that I’m a bad friend (or person, as Bad Leon Suave will likely say), though I’ve not much defense against the former accusation (and to the latter, I’ll politely invite him to just fuck off); I just have too many conflicting priorities, and I’m shit about maintaining any sort of balance. Of my closest friends, there is perhaps a cache of maybe half an hour which I’ve set aside each month to share amongst them. Unless, that is, I happen to be struck with inspiration or brought to breaking by some new or recently rediscovered need.
And who’s to say that this friendship will or will not last? It was discovered while at work, entirely by random happenstance, and in my life to date, those sort of friendships aren’t widely regarded for their longevity, no matter how much I might prefer that they should last. I have also learned, due to paralyzing indecision, and warm soaks in pools of pain and apathy, that sometimes friendships need not last a lifetime, but for just a perfect moment of humour, a convergence of interest, or the simple act of connecting, platonically, with another person.
I wish the recap of my actions could make me out as wise as the words which I can so (seemingly) effortlessly craft.
But all of this has merely been the tangentially connected prologue to that which I’ve truly wished to be rid of from off my chest: I’m pretty sure that I am falling in love (again) with my wonderful, if long-suffering, amazing, and enchanting wife. To clarify, if you’ll indulge me, I don’t mean to say that I ever found a way to stop loving her, despite the countless times my brain has twisted in upon itself to worry at its self-inflicted wounds, if only to ensure that they could never fully heal.
I mean to express nothing more than the simple truth that in thrusting my head so firmly up my ass for all these many years, I’ve passed the point of no return, and have begun to come out on the other side like an ouroboros of having missed the point entirely.
Free, for the moment, of the impositions of my own obtusity, I can once again see her clearly for the wonder which she is, and find within me some sort of will to see my way to slice the knot (of the Gordian variety) which has bound us through misunderstanding, frustrations, and the divergence of opinion into a creature built only for the experience of misery, trim away the barbs and blood, and fashion from the transmuted chains of resentment, some sort of common bond (fancied up a bit), which we might employ much as a lifeline to, perchance, save one another from the vagaries of life, lost adrift upon the sea.
Yes, that whole monstrosity was just one sentence, and if you’re reading out loud at home, I sincerely hope you finished quickly enough to avoid passing out from oxygen deprivation.
We both swore ’til death (though actually, we didn’t, as our ceremony was entirely more modern) and one of us must die before the other gets to finally win without conditions. Until then, we’ll just have to keep on meeting in the middle, ill-satisfied with compromise, each of our respective win columns punctuated wildly by unsightly asterisks.
I must be feeling better today, because I am pissed off and feel it necessary to share it with the world. I know that depression and rage are opposite signs of the same coin, so I’m not getting my hopes up too much, but I still feel that’s it’s a good sign that I can turn my rage back outward. There were two things which set me off this morning: my lovely daughter, and some anti-vaping propaganda. Being upset with my daughter is nothing new; we are usually arguing at least five out of every seven days. But seeing the nonsense about the dangers of e-cigarettes is something that is not only irritating, but fundamentally confounding as well. The entire point of vaping is to avoid the public health consequences of secondhand smoke. It’s times like this that make me want to hurry up and find that time machine so I can pop back to nineteenth-century London and nip in for a lost weekend at one of their many fine opium dens. I totally look scruffy enough (or, I did before I shaved in preparation for a call regarding an interview which never came) to pass for one the intentionally befuddled.
I get that nicotine is bad for me. I knew it growing up, when almost everyone around me smoked. I remember restaurants with “smoking” and “non-smoking” sections, separated by only the slightest hint of air conditioning between them, if even that. Hell, my mother even smoked while I was gestating in the womb! I also remember when she finally gave up smoking, and the unrelenting waves of anger and irrationality which consumed her. I mean, the prednisone didn’t help, either, but apparently she needed it to breathe. On a small side note, I have never met someone even remotely tolerable who was under the influence of prednisone, and the prefix of “pred-” always makes me think of some sort of cantankerous lion who not only wants his evening meal, but intends to make it suffer for the trouble of having had to catch it. I remember jumping on the anti-smoking bandwagon when that was a thing, and lecturing my entire family about the health risks involved with smoking. Hell, I was doing this before the major talking points included the health risks which smoking posed to others! I still wound up smoking, though, as I was kind of weird, and desperate (though I would never have admitted it) to at least appear thirty percent cooler.
And I know that I should give up cigarettes, as they are most likely not making my life any easier. I’m tired of the recriminations from my wife and son about the smell, and the need to have just a couple of moments of peace and quiet to myself. I’m also a bit weary of standing outside in the pouring rain when I need to have a smoke (though if it would fix the drought, I’d gladly suffer this more often). If I’m at a bar, I hate that I have got to get up and go outside to light up. I would understand if it were a vegan restaurant, or Whole Foods, but it’s not like alcohol has no ill effects. It can destroy a person’s liver and their life, as well as those around them, if they get behind the wheel after tossing back a few. And yet there is the push to demonize smokers for having fallen victim to the evils of tobacco. And now that e-cigarettes have addressed the issues of secondhand smoke inhalation, what are the anti-smoking people doing?
They are pushing to ban “vaping” (also, can we get a better verb? Vaping sounds… vaguely dirty) in the same places where smoking is not allowed, saying that seeing people puffing on a simulated cigarette normalizes and implicitly condones the act of smoking for the youngsters. I would like to remind everyone that these products are still only to be sold to those people who have achieved the age of majority. These are still legal products. But even that is not enough. Now they are pushing an ad campaign stating that there is enough nicotine in the bottles of the e-cigarette solutions to kill tens of children! You know, if some idiot leaves the bottle unscrewed, and out where his kid can grab it. Maybe it’s just the background level of annoyance which I’m feeling so viscerally today, but it seems to me that if a parent leaves that sort of thing out where their kid can grab it, maybe it’s time for natural selection to do its job. Kids will get into literally everything. That’s the point of kids: they exist to teach you how to cram everything you own up onto shelves which they cannot reach. Never mind the cleaning chemicals which are far deadlier, which have not been outlawed yet.
If it was a matter of protecting children from accidental death, why are guns still legal? Oh, because that would infringe upon a person’s rights! Never mind the ridiculously high number of gun deaths, accidental or intentional, in the U.S. compared to the rest of the entire world! I’m not saying that guns should be outlawed, at least not right now. Let the world have its toys which were created as a means to kill people more quickly and efficiently. I’m just saying that it’s kind of bullshit to go on crusades against an “easy target” when there are bigger fish to fry. E-cigarettes, at least at first, were an elegant solution to a public health crisis. They addressed the health risks involved with smoking (as in, inhalation of combusted plant material), and offered up a way to help some people give up nicotine altogether. But there is no tax money involved in actually getting people to stop smoking, and that’s the real reason for the fight against e-cigarettes. We already have exorbitant taxes of tobacco products, both as a disincentive to smokers, and as a measure of relief to a burdened health care system (at least on paper), but as the manufacturers and vendors of e-cigarettes have rightly pointed out, their products are not tobacco, and therefore are not subject to anything more strenuous than the standard sales tax (where applicable).
I’m not saying that e-cigarettes are healthy; I’m pretty sure that the voluntary consumption of nicotine will never be a good idea. But they are a healthier alternative to smoking, both for the user and for those around him. There are not a whole lot of regulations right now in the e-cigarette liquid industry, and therefore there isn’t a standard set of chemicals for the FDA to use to determine the effects for the use of e-cigarettes, for both short and long-term use. When the findings are announced, if it turns out that they are somehow worse than traditional cigarettes, I will join the push to make them safer. If they are deemed equal in terms of health risk with cigarettes, I will still say that they have eliminated the issue of secondhand smoke, and therefore the need to ostracize and dehumanize smokers. And if they are deemed safer than standard tobacco products, I would like everyone who has been trying to get them banned to just go ahead and shut their bloody mouths. And just so you guys don’t think that I haven’t been paying attention, here’s a link to the FDA page in question.
Now, onto the issue of my daughter: I hate when she buys something, insists that no one but her can use it (while she and my son-in-law happily consume the meals which we prepare and share with them (not to mention that when they cook, they cook only for themselves) because we are a family), and then winds up just throwing it into the garbage. We have thrown out so many pounds of what had been perfectly good food that, in the time she has been living with us, it has probably weighed in at an actual ton. I’m just mentioning this because I needed to use something off-label to help fix something in my son’s mouth because he is a little terrified of almost everything, and if something isn’t done about that dead tooth, it’s going to throw off the entire balance of his mouth, not to mention, put his entire jaw at risk of serious infection. There were three unopened cans of the product which I needed (of those, I only required one), but she handed me the empty canister, and then demanded that we pay her back for it. A small amount of sleuthing led me to discover that not only had that can expired back in April, but the other can of the same brand had expired a day later. She would rather throw things out than either learn to properly shop for groceries, or relearn the lessons which she had apparently missed in Kindergarten. Whatever.
I feel a rant coming on, brought about by a growing sense of irritation. The blood within my veins has begun to boil, and if I’m not careful, I’m going to blow my top. This has obvious advantages, of course, over the general state of listless melancholy in which I’ve been immersed for the past few… let’s say months. Anything to distract me from the handful of sand which is emptying itself rapidly into the bottom chamber. I’ve been forbidden by my wife from going into detail (she doesn’t want me starting a civil war within the confines of our tiny apartment), but let’s just say that I am at a loss for civil words when it comes to this. I don’t want to claim more credit than I’m due, or for that matter, even the credit which I may claim without exaggeration. But I have managed to be there for someone when he had nowhere else to turn (actually, a few people, but I’m focusing on just this one right now), and when I could use- no, not even a helping hand, simply the fulfillment of his obligations. Instead, I’m being treated to childish insolence and petty power games because it has been shown that I apparently do not hold the power to carry through on ultimatums.
In any other circumstance, he wouldn’t dare to do this. No other landlord would accept this level of disrespect, and yet there’s nothing I can do to remedy the situation because it’s all tied up in family politics. You can’t just bail on a lease with less than two days until the rent is due (no matter if the landlord has given a three-day grace period for payment), and say that you’re just “waiting to see what happens.” You want to leave? Fine. You let me know right now for next month and when that final date has come, you get the hell out of my house. I don’t care if you are an “also ran” upon the lease to which we all signed our names, you bear the same responsibility to this legal contract as the rest of us. If I told the landlord this very day that we were bailing on the place, there is not a chance in hell that we would get our deposit back (to which this person contributed absolutelynothing), and our landlord would be well within his rights to take legal action on the whole merry lot of us. And if we thought that we could wait until three days until after the rent was due, and have half a chance of leaving our stuff here while we were moving because some sort of baby situation had popped up, we would be financially responsible for a month of rent on an apartment we were leaving, and if we didn’t put the money up, our belongings would confiscated and sold off to defray the costs we had incurred.
I wish that I could say that I was going to be the adult with all of this, and help gently guide the next generation toward wisdom of their own, but I’m fairly pissed off about this whole ordeal, and sometimes scorched earth can be a learning moment. I’m probably just overreacting, or possibly not nearly enough: it’s hard to tell with passions running parallel with commercial airlines at cruising altitude. My wife was right when she told me that I’ve let people walk all over me. When I was the boss (at both locations) at my last job, I did my best to take care of everybody else first, and even put the good of the store before myself. I’d learned that style of management from people I’d admired, and seen firsthand the horrorshow that came from a lesser style. But those people have long since burned out (myself included), and what do they have to show for it? Grey hair, no hair, failing health, or a complete abandonment of that career. And yet that was the only option which I could have taken. Sure, I was fool, but at least I was an honorable fool.
And now I seem to be drowning in a sea of irritation. Everything these days seems to piss me off. I know I’ve mentioned that depression is just rage turned inward, but after weeks of beating the living crap out of myself, it’s nice to share the torment with others, especially when I’m right (which seems to be a rare occurrence these days). Both my wife and brother have barraged me with the same advice (with which I don’t know that I agree), and now it looks like I will have to swallow what little pride remains and follow the advice of another person. Which makes me doubly pleased to be able to come down with righteous fury on someone more deserving.
If I stopped to think about it, and to tried to be more reasonable, I suppose that I could find it within me to be slightly more accommodating. But, in addition to safeguarding my own family, I am still trying to help my grownup children learn life lessons they will need once they have left the nest. With us, the only true risk which they might face is a dressing down, But in the real world, there are consequences which cannot be ignored. I know this because the lesson was hammered into me during the excitement of my twenties. Back then, I was single and childless, and failure simply meant resetting the clock back another seven years. I have since tested my ability to cheat the inevitable (to surprising success- more than I’m sure that I have merited), but even those heady days are soon to pass. The next job which I take will be the last which I will work within the borders of the United States. I was hoping to have a little better luck with writing so that it might not come back to working for The Man, but it looks like my timing was off by a year or so.
Thank you for bearing with me, and I hope, at least, that I have been informative in my excoriations (I know that I feel better now). Have a good evening, everyone!
I’m going to say the same thing that I said seven years ago: I refuse to vote for Hillary Clinton. Even if Senator Barack Obama hadn’t been the most electrifying man in political entertainment, I would still have chosen him over Mrs. Clinton because I just cannot bring myself to help put us on that path. I’m not talking about how she embodies the sell-out, bought and paid for representation of the multinational corporations and special interests, or the fact that she’s a woman; almost everybody else in national politics is just as bad, and I couldn’t care less about the ramifications of her reproductive system. The fact is that since 1989, two families have held the highest office. Right now, that’s twenty of twenty-six years. Should Hillary be elected president, that will mean that those same families will have been running the executive office for (at least) twenty-four of thirty years, or 80% of the past three decades. To be fair, through 2008, the Bushes and Clintons had controlled the office 100% of the time, but a run of possibly twenty-eight years between two budding dynasties was just too much for me to stomach. Just so no one accuses me of playing favorites, I’m also proud to declare that I won’t be voting for Jeb Bush either.
It’s bad enough that we’ve been reduced to a two-party system, I cannot accept that we’re freefalling toward a two-family system. And from there, all it takes is some social mingling, and we’ve got the beginnings of an empire. Sure, it seems unlikely that people today would accept the totalitarian rule of a single family whose power passes down through heredity, dispensing with the antiquated notion of democratic participation, a system which is widely regarded with disdain and apathy. I mean, we’ve got a couple of brothers who seem intent on using their vast wealth to control the country, but they’re so well shrouded in the shadows which only unlimited wealth and power can buy, that people do their best to simply ignore what little evidence has come to light. But we prefer to think that our officials are elected, and a straight-up power grab reminiscent of the republic which we’ve tried to emulate is still a little far off from being socially acceptable. But I can see how it might be done.
First, you limit public options down to two. Then, you field candidates from two families, alternating them every couple of election cycles. Each of these presidents will be popular with their voter base, at least until the end. From there it’s only a matter of time until those two families begin consolidating power. In the outside world, the War on Terror seems to drag on without end. We continue to give up liberties in our attempt to hold those who might seek to do us harm at bay. Politics have become more of a distraction than ever before, with scandal after scandal shoving actual news deep into the disappearing newspapers, and mentioned almost never in the twenty-four news channels’ broadcasts. Meanwhile, we’re running out of resources, and because of the myth of the job creator, those in economic power continue to run roughshod over both environment and ex-employees. We’re soon out of water, the weather patterns having made the United States a nation of climatological extremes, and the party of deniers has finally accepted that there is some sort of problem, but there is nothing to be done, as we are past the point of no return. On the bright side, Florida finally sinks into the sea, and we are no longer bound to its insanity. The union of two families finally comes to pass, and the product of that union ascends to sit upon his golden throne, ruling over the American Empire as it falls from major player status to a dimming third-world power.
Okay, I’m willing to admit that I may be overreacting. It could just be that I have spent my entire life watching the country which I love embark upon a quest to make itself irrelevant. If I was the type who believed that the End of Days was not only inevitable, but just around the corner, I probably wouldn’t be as worried as I am. I mean, what’s the worst that can happen? The apocalypse comes a little early. I cannot bear the dumbing-down of everything, nor the flailing of religious fantasy as it seeks to drive us back toward the last time it was relevant. I hear constant cries for a return to a more theocratic rule, never mind that the last time it was thrust upon us, it took the courage of band of heretics to drag us out of those dark ages and push us toward the light. In a time when we could feed the world, drive up the standard of living and the quality of life, we fall back upon the superstitions of millennia long gone, and incite the world to war.
It’s time to put a stop to this. It’s time to look toward hard-earned knowledge to guide us into wisdom instead of flipping through antiquities to find something to justify our prejudices. Or maybe we should go the other way, and embrace something more ridiculous. Let’s put an actual cartoon up for an election. I hereby announce the candidacy of Ranger Bob for President in the 2016 election. He ran in 2000, but we wound up with a different deranged type of cowboy instead. I think that the time has finally come for us to formally usher in the Age of Insanity. Let’s cast aside enlightenment for edicts from the past. Let’s toss out reason in favor of fervent faith. Corporations will always do the right thing because otherwise they’d soon be out of business. The rich create the jobs, and not the workers who spend their hard-earned cash. The poor are just lazy, and hard work will always result in unbridled success. We’re not responsible for climate change. Voter fraud! And corporations are people, despite the fact that Texas hasn’t ever executed one.
When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.–Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.
He has refused his Assent to Laws, the most wholesome and necessary for the public good. He has forbidden his Governors to pass Laws of immediate and pressing importance, unless suspended in their operation till his Assent should be obtained; and when so suspended, he has utterly neglected to attend to them. He has refused to pass other Laws for the accommodation of large districts of people, unless those people would relinquish the right of Representation in the Legislature, a right inestimable to them and formidable to tyrants only. He has called together legislative bodies at places unusual, uncomfortable, and distant from the depository of their public Records, for the sole purpose of fatiguing them into compliance with his measures. He has dissolved Representative Houses repeatedly, for opposing with manly firmness his invasions on the rights of the people. He has refused for a long time, after such dissolutions, to cause others to be elected; whereby the Legislative powers, incapable of Annihilation, have returned to the People at large for their exercise; the State remaining in the mean time exposed to all the dangers of invasion from without, and convulsions within. He has endeavoured to prevent the population of these States; for that purpose obstructing the Laws for Naturalization of Foreigners; refusing to pass others to encourage their migrations hither, and raising the conditions of new Appropriations of Lands. He has obstructed the Administration of Justice, by refusing his Assent to Laws for establishing Judiciary powers. He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone, for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harrass our people, and eat out their substance. He has kept among us, in times of peace, Standing Armies without the Consent of our legislatures. He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil power. He has combined with others to subject us to a jurisdiction foreign to our constitution, and unacknowledged by our laws; giving his Assent to their Acts of pretended Legislation: For Quartering large bodies of armed troops among us: For protecting them, by a mock Trial, from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States: For cutting off our Trade with all parts of the world: For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent: For depriving us in many cases, of the benefits of Trial by Jury: For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences For abolishing the free System of English Laws in a neighbouring Province, establishing therein an Arbitrary government, and enlarging its Boundaries so as to render it at once an example and fit instrument for introducing the same absolute rule into these Colonies: For taking away our Charters, abolishing our most valuable Laws, and altering fundamentally the Forms of our Governments: For suspending our own Legislatures, and declaring themselves invested with power to legislate for us in all cases whatsoever. He has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us. He has plundered our seas, ravaged our Coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people. He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation. He has constrained our fellow Citizens taken Captive on the high Seas to bear Arms against their Country, to become the executioners of their friends and Brethren, or to fall themselves by their Hands. He has excited domestic insurrections amongst us, and has endeavoured to bring on the inhabitants of our frontiers, the merciless Indian Savages, whose known rule of warfare, is an undistinguished destruction of all ages, sexes and conditions.
In every stage of these Oppressions We have Petitioned for Redress in the most humble terms: Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury. A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.
Nor have We been wanting in attentions to our Brittish brethren. We have warned them from time to time of attempts by their legislature to extend an unwarrantable jurisdiction over us. We have reminded them of the circumstances of our emigration and settlement here. We have appealed to their native justice and magnanimity, and we have conjured them by the ties of our common kindred to disavow these usurpations, which, would inevitably interrupt our connections and correspondence. They too have been deaf to the voice of justice and of consanguinity. We must, therefore, acquiesce in the necessity, which denounces our Separation, and hold them, as we hold the rest of mankind, Enemies in War, in Peace Friends.
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
Somehow my son gets yet another week away from school, which for him is the ultimate adventure, but for me is more akin to a contest of endurance. Today has been everything which I had imagined that it would be, from the temper tantrums to the unreasonable demands and a lack of desire to put anything in one’s mouth that wasn’t primarily sugar. And that’s just me. David managed to top my insolence, and transform it from the flailings of a well-practiced amateur to the finely-honed craftsmanship of a true master. My only hope is that some day my curse will fall upon his shoulders, and he will sire a son who tests his patience with a dedication that feels not entirely unlike “enhanced interrogation.” I realize that I have brought this upon myself, in so many ways, but it just seems so… unfair that I am forced to relive the highlights of my youth, but in the third person. I guess the main difference between David and myself is that, while we both wholeheartedly believe that we are always right, reality has shown that it is I who holds mastery over the never-ending bag of I told you so‘s.
I get another week of this, which means that I will probably need some sort of therapy by nightfall this coming Sunday. When dealing with almost anybody else with whom I don’t agree, I can simply cut them out completely from the fabric of my life. This has even worked on several occasions when dealing with my mother. But I cannot do this with my son, no matter how tempting it may seem at times. Even if I didn’t know exactly how it felt to grow up without a father, I would feel obligated to remain. It is my job to teach him how to harness his tendencies toward assholery, that he might at least superficially function somewhere deep within society. And if I am not here to face the whirlwind of his madness and help it to dissipate, then there is the chance that it never will, and he will be a hurricane of madness sweeping through all the lives thereafter which he touches, never really knowing why it is that no one has ever invited him to stay. I would say that there is a chance for self-containment upon his realization that girls (or boys, for I judge not) exist, but then I think back to how calmly I was able to navigate the streams of life whilst hopped up on a steady stream of hormones, and I suddenly feel pity for that spinning ball of energy: all alone and horny, with nary a couch to rest upon.
Of course, it’s my job to see the worst, while constantly keeping watch for signs of commendable behavior. I may call him out on bullshit with a whiplash’d frequency, but I also make sure to point out all the times he gets it right, so that he has third-party verification of his success. Inside that head of his, adorned by ketchup and so thick I wonder why his neck has not yet broken, is a mind that constantly amazes me, both in its agility and camouflaged ability. Fed has said of him that he is either “a genius or completely retarded.” My wife, and most people who don’t think we should go around referring to children as “retards” are offended by the comment. But I can see the truth of it. Like his father, David is in negative possession of an overwhelming quantity of common sense. He can grasp the most complicated concepts, far beyond his age, but cannot remember to flush the toilet or turn off the bathroom light once he has finished. Like me, he cannot seem to understand the most basic human concepts. The stupid things he does are not a product of any deficiency other than their own: if something is too simple, he will discount the obvious answer, and wind up overthinking everything until he breaks down in tears. Or I do.
Bad Leon is slightly more understanding, but I’m pretty sure that’s just because he’s trying to instigate a full-scale revolution with The Minkey at the head. Bad Leon is a great uncle for David to have around, as everyone should know someone who can easily add context to their parents’ delusions of control, and help a younger generation come to understand that grownups are full of shit. It’s a shame that Mr. Suave had to go and get himself stuck in the middle of Montana, as I think that it would be nice to have him around on various occasions. I would totally be willing to forgive a certain level of subversion if it meant that I could actually embark upon an uninterrupted date night with my wife slightly more often than every other anniversary (and a half). Well that, and I could finally unearth the Rock Band paraphernalia. Sadly, I am referring to the plastic guitars that wirelessly connect to my Xbox 360, and not anything slightly more befitting of a washed-up poet and the bass player from… I don’t know… some band or something in the middle of Montana.
What I’d like to know is when, exactly, do I get my Spring Break? I mean, besides the small vacation which I take between 8:30 a.m. and 2 p.m. every Monday through Friday when school is in session. And the time I’ve taken off since Thanksgiving so that I could knock off all the dust and rust and try my hand at wordsmithing. But apart from all of that, when do I get mine? I need a vacation from my “vacation.”
Oh, what to do! At least my son-in-law, Nerdenn Events, is off tomorrow. Maybe he can take The Minkey and Cream Soda on a little expedition, and I can sleep in for a little, and then work on a couple of things. And if that fails, at least I have a show to go to on Wednesday night. I think that I’ve exhausted all my complaining for the day. I’m sure that I will have a whole new set of irritations to share with everyone tomorrow. Have a good night, everyone!
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:
Let me just start by saying that I’m not sure if I’m a shining example, or cautionary tale, but I said that I would write this, and write this I will. Sometimes there are things so important to me that I have to actually get out of bed and put pants on, that I can be taken just a little bit more seriously when I begin my long-winded defense of things I care about. Other times, I just say I’ve got pants on, and sort of go from there. But this is definitely a pants-wearing moment. For some reason, the one place that I actually wanted to spend time during those carefree years before adulthood (aside from in the high school bleachers with my girlfriend) is facing a possible closure due to the fact that… I don’t know… kids these days? Unlike so many other places that adults wanted us to go, back in the day, I still remember that we actually wanted to hang out at the Teen Center. Obviously, part of that was its prime location, not more than a couple of minutes’ walk from anywhere on campus, but more than that, it always held that feeling of being organically cool. No one there came out and stunk of old people trying to “get us.” More, the staff there engaged us like they would with any other human beings, and it engendered a level of mutual respect.
Don’t get me wrong, we were still teenagers, and not above testing the boundaries, and seeing just what, exactly, that we could get away with. I mean, sure, my girlfriend and I were asked to stop sucking face (on a couple of occasions), but we weren’t judged for having been making out. It’s easy to gloss over one’s memories of youth, insisting upon the adoption of a bitterness that comes with growing up, but that’s something that we never had to deal with. I remember always being treated with respect (and more than I deserved most times), and never told what I should do, but rather, encouraged to go out and make the right decisions. I can say that for a fact, I avoided so much more trouble than I otherwise would have, simply by having somewhere to go, and something to do. At home, I faced anger and disappointment for not being the person that I was expected to become, but in that little building, sitting beneath the shadows of those concrete bleachers, I was always warmly welcomed. And now, a couple of decades later, I realize that I really do miss that place, and those people, and I wish that I had something similar in my current life. Maybe what we need is a Wayward Adult Center, with snacks, warped pool table, and an NES.
Sorry, got a little off-topic there.
What really meant the most to me, and allowed me to become the adult that I am today (still alive, and moderately well-adjusted), were the staff members who chose to spend their time there. They were the parents that we wished we’d had, the ones who didn’t judge us. I can still remember Shannon taking time out of her day to sit and listen to me expound upon my heartbreak every time a new girl broke my heart, and she helped guide me through the dark times of my depression when even I didn’t really know what was going on. And it wasn’t just me that she took the time to help, nor just Shannon to offer. I always felt that no matter who was working, I had someone upon whom I could rely to help me through the most confusing years of life. And even though I began complaining about the “kids these days” beginning sometime around 1999, the fact is the Teen Center has somehow managed to maintain its youth connection and remain relevant to kids over almost a quarter of a century is a testament to how badly young adults just want to be accepted, in any generation.
The Teen Center was an exemplary alternative to the plethora of unsavory distractions of which we might have availed ourselves, and so it must remain. Perhaps the taint of time has yellowed in my eyes the character of youth, but I feel that more than ever, a place like this must exist, must reach out and help young adults make the bewildering transition from little kid to productive member of society. Even now the youth have begun to drift away upon the tides of interwebz, and it’s up to us, those who have made it through to the other side and come out alright, to help keep the doors open and get the kids off their internet machines and sat down upon a couch and talking to other people currently in the same room. Using their voices. And maybe even learning what a belt is for.
There are some who will say that maybe the Center’s time has passed, and that the kids these days no longer need an anachronism such as that. And here is where I must disagree. More than ever, we need someplace safe for the kids to go, where they can practice what it’s like to be grown up, before they face real consequence for failure. Those of us who were lucky enough to have had this resource available must stand proud and extol its virtues from the rooftops (or, should one wish to avoid a charge of misdemeanor trespassing, the streets), and help to keep The Center of the Cool Universe massive enough to exert its hold upon those who need it most.
As I have been preparing this, I was also asked to share any pleasant memories of the time that I spent there. Unfortunately, trying to remember specific happy things from two decades past is a little daunting, but I do have a quilt of snippets which I can share with you. The first time I went to the Teen Center, I believe it was following a middle school dance, or something involving Commodore, anyway, and I walked up to the this building nestled into the backside of the high school (how rad was that?) to see a show that some local bands were putting on. I used to spend my weekend evenings (because I was broke and had no girlfriends) at the Teen Center with my group of friends and played role-playing games- out in the open. For a date, I bought Independence Day on VHS and brought it to the Teen Center to watch with my girlfriend at the time, the logic being that the theater was too expensive, and this way, I’d still have a movie at the end of the date. It took me a few years to figure out the look that Shannon had in her eyes when I told her my Master Plan. It was amusement and sympathy. But, to her credit, she didn’t say a word as I sat my girlfriend down in front of the television set and proceed to the lay the groundwork for no longer having a girlfriend. She even gave us the room, though there wasn’t a whole lot of privacy, mainly, I believe, so that my shame would be more manageable. And I still can’t play pool, as I learned on a warped table, and if that sounds like negativity, then you’ve never seen me make the impossible shots, which somehow are the only kind that I can make.
I’m including humorous moments and self-deprecation, but the fact is that I spent the majority of my teen years there, and never once was I made to feel unwelcome. It was always nice to know that there was someone there to be on your side, to listen to your problems and nudge you in the right direction. Let’s come together now, and help out this institution. Let’s re-establish the Teen Center’s Non-Profit Status and get the kids back through the doors once more. It’s not a matter of telling them that it’s cool; it’s simply a matter of being cool. I know that it has been a while since we were cool to kids, as some of our own would most likely gladly tell the world, but these issues never really change, and if there is one thing that I believe in, it’s that the world will always need a Teen Center with someone like Shannon Buxton at the helm.
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
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.
“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).
Welcome back to the fifth and final installment in the After Dark: A Blast From The Past series. Chapter One dealt with the beginnings of my blog on Myspace until around the time that I began to (biologically) be a dad. Chapter Two focused on the news of Flor’s pregnancy (through the end of ’06), and my coming to terms with my own Dad. Chapter Three finished out my son’s gestation and welcomed him into the world. Chapter Four was mostly me whinging on about the fact that I had no idea what it was that I was doing as a father. Each of those chapters focused on just a couple of months or so, and that was alright, as there was a whole lot going on. But for this final installment, we’re going to be covering a lot of ground. This chapter is dealing with events from October, 2007 until the end of my old blog in April of 2009. But before you become discouraged, and bookmark this page to read when you’ve got a free week or two, just know that I wasn’t writing a whole lot back then, and that I only chose a few posts to share with you. Let’s get started…
Life within the Cave of Batmart
October 17th, 2007
So it’s time to give an update on the monkey. I’m sorry if any of you are uninterested or already bored with baby stories, but too bad. It’s either that or work stories, and no one, myself included, feels like hearing those.
Today’s subject is poop. I realize that he is on a liquid diet (one rather unlike those of his irish ancestors), but nothing is quite so daunting as facing a diaper full of a multicolored stew. It’s especially appalling if it’s taken me a while to decipher his grunts and cries, and he’s managed to spread the goo all about himself, his clothes, and everything near him. He is a poop artist and the world is his canvas.
We have been developing a rudimentary form of communication. He cries, and I begin to question him as to why. For example:
David: (Pathetic moaning) Me: What’s wrong sweetheart? David: (Face scrunched up, pathetic moaning upgrades to soft wail) Me: Are you hungry? David: (Hits my eye with his razor sharp claw, continues to moan) Me: David, please don’t hit daddy in the- David: (Puts his fist in my mouth, and stares at me, whimpering) Me: (After removing his hand, with only minimal cuts along my gums) Mucho pee pee? Mucho pee pee? David (Apparently understanding the first time, rolls onto his side and places his butt near my face. Wailing continues) Me: What is that? Old cheese? Oh god… did you? David: (Stops for a moment, tears welling in his eyes) Me: Mucho poo poo? Eres un poposo? Are you my little poop monster? David: (Smiles, punches me in the head, grabs my hair and pulls)
It was a Poo Stain. And colorful. It must have been like a quart of it. And of course, the second I start undoing the diaper, he rams his feet directly toward the primordial ooze, like a deity unsatisfied with his creation. So I grab his legs with one hand, and try to mop up the… okay, I’m running out of colorful metaphors… shit.
The whole ordeal takes just a few minutes, but leaves an irrevocable scar. On me. So gross. I mean, I know that his diet is directly influencing the nature of the… grossness, but, I mean, after thousands of years of human evolution, would it be too much to ask that maybe it come out in sort of pellets… I mean, not like Milk Duds, that might hurt him, but maybe like a warm Tootsie Roll. Something easy.
And another thing: Why is it that he can’t multitask? I mean, I’ll toss a couple pee rags out, and he’s fine. But when I change his poo pants, he waits until he’s cleaned, baby wiped, and powdered and then goes nuts with number one. I mean, what the hell is the deal there? He feels uncomfortable soiling himself while he is himself, already soiled?
Okay, enough of the nappies. I have one more anecdote to share.
So, I’ve been calling him “Monkey” since before he was born. Initially Flor was livid with me, insisting that he was a beautiful baby (and before she’d even seen him, no less). And then he was born, albeit without a tail, and indeed, aside from boobs, he was the most beautiful thing I’d seen. And then I noticed all the hair on his upper back. And lower back. And the back of his ears. And his eyebrows, while still defining themselves, are already threatening to become one.
No son of mine will bear the name of unibrow.
So one day, I was bored, and he was distracted by something shiny and/or noisy. I grabbed him gently by the ears and pulled them forward. Lo and behold I found a balding chimpanzee staring back at me.
I love him. I just wish he’d smell a little less like a broken fridge during a summer heat wave.
I think I was handling the adjustment quite well, thank you very much. At least I could find the humor at the bottom of a dirty diaper. That’s something, anyway. The next post was one of those “Tag” things that we did to all our friends that seems to have not fully made the transition over to Facebook. I’m only going to include some of them, as I find them amusing.
The Random Tag Blogger Strikes Again
October 25th, 2007
1) I hope to be living in Mexico next year and writing my books.
2) My first adult relationship was with a woman 19 years my senior.
Her 1st husband was 19 years her senior.
3) I am more or less happily married (without the married part), but I’m kind of terrified that I’ll wind up a widower and in 11 years time, dating someone half my age.
4) My first encounter with someone very special to me, and very important in shaping the nature of the man I was to become, involved him telling me to pick him up and spin him around.
5) I own both seasons of Thundercats on DVD (all 4 sets). I can now justify this by virtue of being a father.
6) This is my 100th blog post.
7) Sometimes I miss my friends so very much. Both friends from long ago, and friends I’ve just recently slipped through my fingers.
8) I was a father twice. But one of my children I was fated never to meet, as his mother ended both the pregancy and the relationship. (Both happened within weeks of meeting the man she would leave me for).
Side note: She was my employee when we got together, and when she transferred to another restaurant, she left me for her employee.
Addendum: When that location closed, I was forced to absorb their employees into mine, and so her new boyfriend became my line cook. I hate people.
9) Some day I would love to be able to fly out everyone special from every time in my life to meet my wife and son. I still suffer from the Bi-Polar Bears, but any of you who have known me would be able to see that I am, at least on some instinctual level, actually happy now. What a trip.
[Fed] and I were once considering sending out junk mail with the following important notice:
YOU MAY HAVE ALREADY WON A GOAT!
See? I can do lighthearted! Also, wow. I thought that I’d be living in Mexico by 2008…. And speaking of things that I just cannot let go:
101 Best Ways to Romanticize The Past
November 6th, 2007
Okay, so we are on Blog Number 101. I would like to thank everybody who reads this (all 5 of you) and for doing so often. Just a few numbers:
Out of 100 blogs, I received 82 comments, 41 Kudos, and 2666 views. I almost feel special.
I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but that seems like a ridiculous number of views per post. Maybe it’s just because I’m only up to 700 with this one, and the writing is far more consistent and generally better, but I’m a little jealous of my numbers on MySpace, not that they were good for anything. Also, I want Kudos!
Things I Hate
January 15th, 2008
A Two-Party Political System
Christians who feel persecuted (Try being eaten by lions, then complain to me!), and who are, in fact, the most judgemental, hypocritcal, abhorrent wastes of life, seeking out ways in which we could make the world a better place, and destroying them (See also: Soulless corporations).
People who think that invading Iraq and building a border fence are good moves.
People who still find Reefer Madness to be educational (but not in the obvious, “Goverment Gone Wild” way).
People who say Bill Clinton ruined this country and George Bush is fixing it.
People who use the word “synergy” and mean it.
People who cannot accept that artists need a wife and a mistress.
My dad, for being an asshole and not even responding by post after I mailed him a letter announcing the birth of his grandson, and trying to reassure him I was not after any of the thousands of dollars in back child support that he never paid.
Not being able to put DVD library onto iTunes and my iPod.
Having to work 11 straight days, even if two of them were only meetings and, combined, lasted less than 4 hours- I had to put on pants: Not a day off.
Not having numbered these so I could tell if this is an appreciably large collection of gripes or merely minor bitchfest.
Customers who think by yelling at me or my employees, I will somehow change my mind (also related, people who bang on the door after close and demand to be granted entrance. Fuck you! We have had these hours for 2 1/2 years. Quit trying to be the last customer before close, because I can almost guarantee you that you won’t be).
Thinking up more things to be angry at.
… And yes, I did speak to my mother today, why?
Now, back to the Minkey!
Happy Valentine’s Day!
February 14th, 2008
So last night my son stabbed me in the eye with a Valentine’s Day card. I went to the ER today (apparently this did not qualify for the $20 Urgent Care visit), and was told I had a Corneal Abrasion. I think I said something like that last night. Missed today at work because the pain is unreal. I still can’t really see. Still love the minkey, though, but please, please please NO CARDS! He’s cut off until he develops motor control.
Now he just leaves them laying around everywhere. Best to just avoid them, honestly.
The next post skips ahead a bit until September of ’08. I’d left my job at McDonald’s a few months earlier and… well, let Young Batmart explain:
Back From The Dead
September 17th, 2008
So it’s been forever since I’ve written anything. Lots of stuff going on. Kind of.
I quit my job at McDonald’s almost 5 months ago, leaving due to a nasty case of ethics. The new owners at of our restaurant had, in the first week alone, fired all but one of our senior citizen lobby attendants, dismissed a developmentally handicapped lobby attendant / prep person, and let the Store Manager go as well.
They then began to terrorize remaining employees and managers (aside from myself), under the theory, we’d rather fire you, but if you quit, we’re not liable for unemployment. This is a disturbingly ubiquitous trend, which does not seem to have abated over these past six and a half years. I only stayed around for the time I did in a futile attempt to try and shield my people from this harassment. But as that didn’t work, and they cut my pay, began charging me for my health insurance, and insisting on transferring me to another location, I said enough was enough and left. No point in staying if I couldn’t do anything to help, and was getting screwed over in the process.
I figured it would be okay, as Flor, Minkey and I would be leaving for Mexico in a couple months, so I didn’t worry about finding a new job, figuring I could finally spend some time with my son. When we found out that we wouldn’t be getting the money Flor’s brother owed us, I began to worry a bit. But we already had tickets to go to Seattle to visit my family in mid June for the Minkey’s 1st Birthday, so I didn’t see a huge point in getting a job, only to start and then be gone for a week.
So we got back, and I slowly began trying to get jobs that I was interested in. They were less interested in me. I wan’t worried. Something would come through. Maybe the money from the brother in law would arrive.
Not so much.
August came, and I updated my resume on Monster, and immediately began receiving calls for phone interviews. For restaurant management jobs. That wanted me to have a car. In the Bay Area. What the hell?
And so we come to September. A little more desperate now. No one calling about my resume on Monster. My best shot is now a sports bar opening in a couple weeks. But to pass the time, I’m housecleaning. For those of you who didn’t know me 8-10 years ago, I used to do that. I vowed “Never Again.” The beauty of that is that now we need to pay for daycare again, and after factoring that in, I’m only bringing in like $10/day.
Also, in Monkey News:
So David can walk now. I left him on the floor in the bedroom and walked out into the backyard. He was about 30 seconds behind me, and when he emerged into the great outdoors, he had a neon green duffle bag around his neck, wearing it like a WWF championship belt (with neck strap) and holding an empty cranberry juice bottle in one hand, its cap in the other. He’s managed to dislodge a sock, and so it was like this that he came into view. I immediately ran inside and grabbed my camera and began taking photos of him that I will use to humiliate him when he’s getting ready to try to breed. It wasn’t until that he fell forward a bit that I noticed something.
Whether it was his carefree smile, or two rosy cheeks staring back at me, I realized that he was missing a key piece of clothing. I ran back inside, retracing his probable steps (and looking under furniture) until I came back to the bedroom, the exact spot where I’d left him. There it was, his diaper, laying on the floor next to the bed, looking as it had when I’d last seen it on him, save for the right side strap, which appeared battered and frayed and otherwise mangled, barely hanging on to the back of the diaper.
You should have heard the screams of protest when I firmly attached it back on him. Maybe he didn’t like the Duct Tape.
For those of you wondering, yes, I did find employment later that year. I went to work at Blondie’s Pizza in Berkeley. I then stayed at that job for nearly six years, until I felt that it was time to move on. And whereas my old blog sort of fell off after I quit my job, this new blog was born from the ashes of my most recent employment.
There are just a couple more snippets to go, mainly introducing things that I am still dealing with today.
Sometimes Life Is Not Enough
February 19th, 2009
Sorry I haven’t written anything here for hella. I kinda got hooked on the Twitter a little bit. Have been enjoying my new job at Blondie’s Pizza.
Oh- getting married on March 13th in a civil ceremony in Oakland, with a nice little gathering at my place on the 15th. Anyone living in the area or willing to pay for their own travel accommodations and lodging is welcome to attend. We are registered at iTunes.
There was no gathering. Fed and his brother were the only two people not related to either Flor or myself that made the effort to attend. Of course, one of the people who did attend our wedding was our beautiful daughter. She seemed thrilled.
And that brings us to our final post. Will you miss A Blast From The Past as much as I will? Actually, to be honest, I’m a little relieved not to have to keep reading through all of the old blogs. You guys are seriously getting the best. Out of 121 posts, I’ve only shared 43, and most of those have been edited to make me look at least somewhat sane. Oh, and then there’s the bonus stuff, I guess. Still, that’s only around a third of what I wrote. And I went through it all, just for you guys.
Hug Me, I’m Goddamn Cuddly!
April 13th, 2009
Tell me if you can figure this out.
She’s 19, lives at home, takes care of her infant brother by using my computer and watching my cable on my tv all goddamn day, eats all the food in the house, quadrupling our grocery budget, has a mother who buys her clothes, prepaid cards so she can call her friends in Mexico (when she’s not using Windows Messenger (which is never)), drinks MY BEER, makes it impossible for me to enjoy my days off, as I can no longer roam about the house without pants, isn’t working, isn’t going to school (in the interests of full disclosure, she’ll be starting an ESL class tomorrow, but that’s it!), refuses to leave the house, is afraid of making friends, even though she can easily overcome the language barrier with a frighteningly large proportion of the populace, as there are plenty of latinos here, and a large chunk of gringos speaking bad Spanish.
And here it comes…
When I was her age, I was busting my ass cleaning houses, helping take care of a kid over half my age (which was one of the only satisfying things to come out of those years). I had to watch the woman I love succumb to drug addiction, and lose everything. Again and agan. I was watching the worst in humanity that doesn’t involve murder. All of this culminated in a nervous breakdown.
And she’s stressed out.
We are getting along much better now. I think that motherhood has mellowed my daughter just a little.
So that’s it! A Blast From The Past has come to an end!
Thank you for spending your Thursdays with me, and I’ll see you all again real soon!
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. Butshe 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: