Sunday, December 31, 2017

Someone Get The Lights

I've said goodbye to 2017 already. I did so last Friday, when I said goodbye to my beautiful niece, my brother and my sister-in-law. I later said goodbye to my kids and my new co-workers, leaving last, grasping on to it, as I did my niece earlier in the afternoon.

I promised her it would not be another 365 days before our next encounter. A promise I do not know if I'll keep, but it's something to strive for. She brings out a happiness in me. One that has been trapped. Her childish indifference towards me, often ignoring my silly face, to study the paper on which she draws, is refreshing. I do not control that situation, but should I look away, her calls; my name, bring a warmth that I can not describe. Her goodbye touched me, but it wasn't sadness, but an immediate feeling of excited anticipation. I didn't feel that last time, because I couldn't.

Last year, New Year's Eve, I was living, not staying, but living in a motel room. Daily sexual encounters to the left of me and angry heroin deals to the right. In the middle, somewhere in the middle of everything was me, a cat, a laptop and a few hundred dollars. On that evening, I was ten days from moving to Tuscon, Arizona. I was in a bad place and I feared, I was heading somewhere worse.

The very next week, I had a potential place to live nearby. Almost a year later, here I am. Set to move again, but maintaining some of the familiar surroundings. My landlords, despite my complaints about their lack of "land lording," are good people. They love their families and they appreciate me. I appreciate them. I forget that sometimes, but then again, I don't think every day about the good in life as often as the bad. There's a fairly good reason for that and no philosophical debate is necessary. It's my life.

2017 was a good one in comparison to 2016, but it was an extremely emotional one. I lost a few friends who I considered to be great friends. Two important people in my life. Not just the friends we say hello and goodbye to. One was a close confidant in those high school years when fitting in wasn't so easy. Our relationship had lulls and was basically an Internet one at the end, but we appreciated and valued our friendship and the past we shared. I will miss Susan more now, simply knowing the world is a little less bright. The other was a friend who I could go a year without speaking to and then speak for three days straight and pick up where we left off the last time. He was my movie friend, my book friend, my drinking buddy and at times my mirror. Albeit a much thinner reflection. He was one of, if not the smartest friend I had. He was, like I am (so we were told), underachievers. We were called lazy, unmotivated and content with the bare minimum life had to offer. I'd beg to differ. I feel we were bored with others mundane existence, we were looking for more and that didn't always come from the beautiful wife, the great job or the house and kids. He could sit in a boat or on a rock, with a book, a beer and a fishing rod and be content, each and every day. I envied that. We'd chat for hours and despite similar views, it was our differences that made us close. I will miss Shane as much as I will miss anyone that has passed since my mother. It took me days for it to sink in and each new film I love, I wish he could see it, or tell me he had.

I did have some ups over the past year. Reconnecting with friends and even having two visit, one more than once and helping me to my surgery and after. Oh yeah, and my surgery. A hip replacement at 46 allowed 47 to be the most comfortable year I've had in my 40's. The relief of pain, coupled with medicine that has mostly cleared my rosacea, has given me a new found confidence. This led to a job and while it's not enough to live off of, it's helping and it's bringing me back to where I was. I need more and that's my goal for 2018. It's not a resolution, because it's a necessity. I'd like to have more confidence, but the last few years, ha, decade and a half, have weakened me. Life is a little more complicated than simply quoting a Gloria Gaynor song and posting it to social media. I'll try to survive, but I make no promises.

I have motivation in a fourteen pound, four-legged, fur ball. As I type this, he has positioned himself against my knee and shin. He is purring and has taken to sleeping against me at night. He knows my moods and positions himself accordingly. During my recent illness, he stayed by my feet, moving closer as I healed. He seems to know before I do, so let's hope his recent lack of daytime affection is simply a sign that he knows I'm going to be busy. It's a word I hate to use, because I correlate it with all the people who haven't had time for me when I needed it most. I'll never be that kind of busy, but I need to be preoccupied with positives. Again, not resolutions. Necessities.

As I said at the beginning. I've left 2017 behind already. For those still enjoying or fleeing this year, I'll be waiting. Just someone get the lights.

Here's to 2018! If it's better for me and not for you. I don't think that's good enough. If it's better for you and not for me, I'll accept it. If it's better for us both, let's make a promise to share its farewell together. Cheers!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

First Time Sick In Five Years

Doubt. Skepticism. Disbelief.

I realize for many, the title sparks the above words feelings, but it's true. Aside from some sneezing due to pollen, mold or dust, it's been over five years since I've had an actual cold. Whether it's due to being back around children, chronically sick housemates or under-the-weather family visitors, I do not know, but I am definitely ill. A slight cough, that I managed to fend off, has returned and become harsh. The congestion was not present early on, but now it is here. I have so far avoided any fever, but I sense, as my body amps up the fight, it will be here soon. Sickness during a break from work. It seems like a visit from an old friend. 

When I first started working with children, my immune system would fight and kept me healthy, right up until the holidays and then, the simple act of relaxing, would bring on colds like I never knew. I'd usually be in bed for three, maybe four days, and then it was gone. Gone again until the next winter. I'd usually miss a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, or at the very least, not enjoy it as I should. It became expected and then one year it stopped. I stopped getting my festive flu (never had the flu that I know of) and oddly, despite not taking care of myself, I stayed relatively healthy when it came to my internal self. As the outside began to crumble, I changed my ways and the inner health stayed, but the body broke down. This year, despite being in the best health of the past eight years, both outside and in, I have succumbed to sickness. Once again, it has taken away any joy of holiday. No smell. No taste. No energy. 

The irony of this year, is I actually had to opportunity to possibly enjoy it. I did get to see my niece, but did not get the joys of her attention beneath a tree. I did not get to wake to the sounds of her tiny feet and feel her gentle kisses on my cheek. I got to spend it with my landlords and their family and while I didn't take part in breaking bread, I did exchange presents with their grandchildren and while I keep the instances private, they reciprocated with meaningful gifts for me and my furry companion. It was quite enjoyable for a few moments and then, I drifted off into a bit of a slumber. 

I'm not a good patient. I pride myself on hiding my physical pain, but the common cold does more damage to me than I care to deal with. I don't follow dosages and avoid doctors, knowing all colds eventually go away. I drink tea and it dawned on my last night, my disdain for tea is all due to the connection I've made with drinking it and feeling as if I am on Death's door. I will heal in time, because that's how time works. The odd thing about my infrequent sickness over the years is how much it has taken away. Simple moments that I hear about, often seeing in photographs, are lost on me. So many holidays spent alone, recuperating, avoiding spreading what ails me, but then I think of the last five years, in good health, but lacking wealth, spent alone, not wanting to spread what ails me. 

Maybe next year, right?

Monday, December 18, 2017

For Those Who Celebrate

"Happy......., For those who celebrate"

One of the most sincere and unintentionally cringe-worthy phrases in the English language. Yes, even more so than the embraced War on Christmas's Happy Holidays. It is never said with any malcontent, but it immediately divides us. Why, if we celebrate, wouldn't we want others to share in our happiness? Why, if we don't, wouldn't we desire to share in the happiness of others?

Forget the religious aspect of Christmas and think about this time next week. Children, awaken to the dark sky. Lingering in bed for an appropriate amount of time, until they can wake their parents or expect festivities. The coffee pot or the aroma of its contents is a good sign. The pitter-patter of tiny feet, scurry across the floor. Still in pajama, they embrace their parent(s) and any other loved ones present. Their widen eyes, fluttering heartbeats and excited minds, racing. They wait for the first gift, then another, and another. They receive things they expected and some are surprises. Parents, most likely spending much more than they can afford for that cherished moment.

So what god loving or humane person doesn't wish this for all? What person doesn't like thinking, somewhere out there, there is child with a smile? Who doesn't, for even a moment, wish it was every child? Would Jesus, Mohammad, Moses, Buddha or any other divine figure, including God herself, wish anything, but love and joy for all? Has nobody thought of the irony that we spend more than we have to give gifts on someone else's birthday? One who teaches to give up material desires? Or the idea, that a miracle of oil for one night lasting eight, inspires us to light 44 candles over the course of eight days?

In almost all religions, there is a bit of sacrifice, followed by a feast and often gift giving. Receipt of these things is what makes us humble, so why wouldn't the normal, acceptable form of greetings, for all religions, be to wish those who may not celebrate a happy time? To include them in our own joy and to embrace their differences and let them know, that while we may not take part in their traditions, we're celebrating their happiness.

For those of you who share this space, we call Earth, regardless of your belief system, enjoy, love and be happy, not just because of a notation on the calendar, but for every day. And for those kids, whose parents have chosen their beliefs for them, embrace them and be thankful, it will soon be your turn to return the favor.

Happy Days, holy and otherwise!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

October & November Movies

As the year speeds to an end, it has become abundantly clear that this year, in terms of volume, will be a failure in terms of movies. I'm currently at under sixty percent of my normal 300-325 movies per year. That being said, I've seen some great ones this year. Here's the last two months. October's list is embarrassingly small.

  1. Top Of The Lake: China Girl - Impossible to top the original series and doesn't come close.
  2. Split - Shymalan's vision comes to life thanks to McAvoy, Buckley and Taylor-Joy!
  3. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter - More of the same starts to fade, but loved the conclusion.
  4. Woman In The Dunes - Beautiful, haunting and erotic. A film that lingers inside you. 
  5. Peur(s) Du Noir - B&W Animated vignette. Stories are good, but animation is the draw.
  6. Rififi - Sadly, the DVD wouldn't let me finish the movie, but at that point, I stopped caring.
  7. Cria Cuervos - Wonderful acting, but this anti-Franco allegory didn't work for me.
  8. It Comes At Night - Horror fans will hate it, but it's as complex and layered as it gets.
  9. The Babysitter - Samara Weaving is beautiful, but this film struggles with what it wants to be.
  10. Arrival - Amy Adams not being nominated for an Oscar will go down as an all-time snub.
  11. The Steamroller And The Violin - Early Tarkovsky with hints of the classic, The Red Balloon.
  12. Alien: Covenant - It's as bad as you've heard. One of the worst scripts of all-time.
  13. Stranger Things 2 - Worth the binge watch, but pales in comparison to season 1. Still solid.
  14. Letter Never Sent - Surguy Urusevsky's cinematography makes up for dull plot.
  15. Samurai I - Inagaki trilogy begins. Mifune is wonderful, but the story drags.
  16. Samurai II - Slightly better than original, but mostly due to enhanced cinematography.
  17. Samurai III - My favorite of the trilogy. While hardly great, these film's impact is irrefutable.
  18. Patton Oswalt: Annihilation - Tight routine, with poignant and hilarious segment about loss.
  19. Get Out - Starts strong, but disjointed writing, odd shift in tone and horrible ending fails.
  20. War for the Planet of the Apes - The best since the original 1968 film. Sans ending, better.
  21. Capture Kill Release - Decent found footage, completely running on lead actress's insanity.
  22. I Live In Fear - Not one of Kurosawa's best, but timely, then and now. Mifune is stellar.
  23. The Other Side Of The Door - Tension builds and builds...and builds. Ends up being a bore.
  24. One Wonderful Sunday - Early Kurosawa, feels like other's great films. Depressing, but bold.
  25. The Exorcist III: Legion - Re-watched after 27 years. Still better than the original Exorcist.
  26. The Prodigal Son - Martial arts and humor, with more of the latter. A pleasant distraction.
  27. Kristy - Formulaic horror, but is better than average due to realism and strong lead.
  28. Rosa - Strikingly beautiful animated short. Interesting, but needed more. Want more.
  29. Youth of the Beast - Early Seijun Suzuki is more style than substance, but so much style.
  30. Atomic Blonde - Easily Theron and McAvoy's worst roles. So absolutely terrible.
Top Three: Woman in the Dunes, Arrival, It Comes at Night
Bottom Three: Atomic Blonde, The Other Side of the Door, Get Out
Biggest Surprise: War for the Planet of the Apes
Biggest Letdown: Get Out

Friday, December 1, 2017

The Final Month

Rabbit, Rabbit

Needed good luck and good cheer. Silly childhood sayings, myths and fables. This year winds down, and like all, since turning 40 (or was it 30), the years seem to flash by. Days drag, at times, even weeks, but the years are a blur.

As kids we measure time by holidays. In school or out. Our Sunday Best, fireworks, costumes and presents. As young adults, we waited for our weekends away with friends, maybe even spring break for the post-college crowd. In my 30's, it was watching other's kids grow and it was pleasant, but age creeps up and in our 40's, time and years are marked by those we've lost.

December. another Christmas and Hanukkah without my mother. Next yea will be my 15th holiday season without her. It shows. It's been years since I gave or received a gift. I don't want for anything, so I often think others need to feel as I. Selfish, I know, but I look back on the massive amounts of time and money I've spent, searching the aisles or sites for the perfect gift. A smile, a hug, a kiss...gratitude. Trinkets, knick knacks and bric-a-brac, often sitting in the box for months, some never opened. Worn once and hung on a hook or a hanger. Forgotten. On to the next.

New Year's will be upon us sooner than we know. Resolutions will be made, often resembling those of the year before. Lose weight. Start exercising. Save money. Write a book. Call Brett. But why? Why does the calendar dictate that we look down on ourselves. Why not enjoy our bodies and what we put into. Exercise our minds, through a weekly, monthly for those too busy, trip to the library or a museum. Prioritize what we need to be happy and don't feel pressure to spend money to make other's feel as such. Create something; anything. Call a friend. Laugh, cry and think.

Make a resolution to look up and look out more. The sun, moon and stars are gifts that can be unwrapped daily. Enjoy the company of others and look them in the eye when they need and listen always. Spend less time thinking of your response and more about what they are saying and where it is coming from. Especially with children. The next time you're impatient, think of all the time you spend watching TV, sitting in traffic, or browsing the Internet and breathe for a second. Realize the time you choose to waste and then realize these brief moments of frustration are paltry in comparison. Listen to children and learn from them. Do the same with the elderly and realize their repetitiveness has value. The same story over and over, told exactly the same way means it's important. Realize that tiny insignificant moment stayed with them forever. Take time out of your hectic life not to miss your tiny moments.

December is the final month. Most of us will never know when our final year is. So enjoy the insanity of the holidays, but don't add to it  There's nothing wrong with giving of yourself if it's all you can afford, either financially or emotionally. Realize not everyone is festive, but it doesn't mean they don't want to be included. They just may choose to attend from afar or send wishes and embrace their solitude. Look for the signs and take those who need company in, even for a cup of a coffee or a beer. Thirty-one days and the finality of one year gives way to the rebirth of another. Us older folks realize it will simply be Sunday becoming Monday, but with a day off for most. Enjoy that day and spend time building on your year first. Your happiness will show unto others. Trust me. I've been around the opposite and probably was the opposite for long enough.

Happy December and the Holidays, no matter what you do or do not recognize.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Me Time During The Holidays

“Guard well your spare moments. They are like uncut diamonds. Discard them and their value will never be known. Improve them and they will become the brightest gems in a useful life.”
 ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

I spent Thanksgiving alone again and it was fine. The two days and nights that followed were spent entirely with my landlords. Something that hasn't happened before, despite living here for nearly eleven months. I craved solitude and when I got it on Sunday, I felt the anxiety float away. They returned and I laughed, with them. 

I've often spoke of the importance of solitude to my friends who are mothers. My friends who are fathers always seem to have that male bonding time during the holidays and never appear as hampered by the responsibility of making everyone else happy, well fed and appreciated during the holidays. I realize this is a generalization, but for me, well from my perspective, it's true.

Solitude is often viewed as a negative, but in small doses, it's a vacation from the act of doing for others. Something most of us do daily, but for a few, the aforementioned mothers especially, it's a myth. A legend they've heard, or a distant memory, since bringing children into this world. We hear the stories, told as jokes, of not even being able to pee or shower, but they aren't jokes. No, they are small cries for help, they've already accepted as being unheard. Shopping, errands, cleaning and the daily commute isn't the solitude they need. A detour, a book, a walk, a glass of wine when the kids are out with their friends, father or simply somewhere where there is no need to worry; that is what I speak of.

My mother used to go for rides. I followed in her footsteps when  I was younger. Do not believe for a moment age is an issue. Young people, yes, even your children need their Me Time too, but for those who carry the burden of providing, it's imperative. It isn't so much as a cliched recharging of the batteries, but taking them out and making sure they're all there. There is no time limit or time frame, but especially during this time of year, we all need some time to reflect. We need time to be introspective, appreciative of ourselves, for us, not for what we do for others. We need time to think about the last few days, weeks or months and think past the trees, menorahs and festive foods. A glass of wine, an ice cream Sunday or driving over the speed limit, without a sound coming from those car seats. A book or movie that has been set aside, or a hiking trail. A one man or woman karaoke show while enjoying a sunset. Whatever the chosen endeavor is, do it alone and remember, at the end of the day, despite what you may tell others, or even tell yourself, you are the most important person in your life. Take some time to remind yourself of that. In a season that sees us overcome with emotions, both good and bad, we often lose our sense of self. Recapture it. Own it. Enjoy it.


Tuesday, November 21, 2017

The Riddle Of Thanksgiving

Thankful? I've written about this before. Why are people thankful for things they should be grateful for? To be thankful, is to be happy you have what you expected to have or, in most cases, relieved it's not worse. It's simply a feeling. In many ways, a superficial feeling. I'm thankful when someone sends me a Christmas card, but I'm grateful to have them in my life.

So why is it, in a day when our consumerism is at it's peak, when we cause stress on others to do things we should all do often, when we waste time, energy and money, are we thankful? Before rolling your eyes, realize for most of us, holidays are a stressful burden. A time when we put on a happy face, so that others don't have to see our daily troubles. Are we really thankful for that?

I will be spending my third Thanksgiving alone. Two years ago, I sat in an ice cold house, watching a movie. I don't even think I made dinner. Last year, a lonely motel room. One of two people in the entire complex. A kind stranger offered me a plate. This year, I'll be content, and yes, thankful to have a home, albeit not mine. I will be grateful for the food, however simple it may be. I will try to be festive in my own way. Grateful to a small handful of people. I'll think about the nearly 11 months I've gone without seeing my niece, my brother and sister-in-law. I'll get to see table spreads, where the yearly competition to see who can throw out more food will sicken me. I'll read news and wonder about those who are worse off than I am. I'll feel sadness and be grateful for what I have and that won't be a feeling. It will be determination. That next year, I'll be in a spot to offer my home to others, as my mother did every year. To those without family, friends or the means to "celebrate" a single day. A tradition our family sadly let die with her.

I'll hear stories of those who didn't appreciate someone being rude or someone lacking respect, but will know better. I'll think about a few who may be spending their last or sharing it with someone who is. I'll think about others and hope they are enjoying their day, never once thinking about whether those thoughts are reciprocated. I'll think about the children I know and take great pleasure in their naivete,

I'm not angry. Please don't misread this. I was the year before, and the year before that. Not this year. This year, I''ll be thankful to cook, but grateful for the food. I'll be thankful for the quiet, but grateful it's not merely loneliness. I'll be thankful I'm where I am in my head and grateful for the reasons why. I'll be thankful for the physical pain being gone and grateful for the small opportunities it's given me. I'll be thankful for a paycheck and grateful for those who were able to help when I had none. And as silly as it may sound to most, I'll be most thankful for the bed I sleep in and grateful for the little furry friend, Swag, who has in some odd way, understood my moods better than any human over the last two years. I like to think I protect him, but I know it's the reverse. He's changed my view of animals and I assume, if they knew, they'd be thankful.

I do hope people enjoy themselves. I realize the stress of planning, preparing, travel and relatives is a chore, but it's only a chore, because we make it one. The irony of Thanksgiving is, those who are most thankful, usually feel so after it is over, and I'm truly thankful I don't have to endure that irony.


Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Strangest Year

As the sun sets this evening, it will mark an end to most tumultuous year of my life. In the course of the past 365 days, I've experienced an emotional test few I know personally have had to deal with. Do not misunderstand. I am not looking for sympathy, as I at no time was ill. I did not face death or disease, so I consider my troubles self made. It's simply been a painful year, made easier by some, mostly those I'd never have thought would be the ones when the year started. And as IS becoming expected, the ones I thought would be there for me have all but disappeared.

I will not bore you with details. Not to be cryptic or for need of attention, but out of a need to protect my sanity. I don't feel like revisiting certain pains and I don't feel like looking backward. I'm in a better place. Far from what anyone I know on social media would call good, but a better place. I am secure in a home, at least for the next two month and that's not something I could say one year ago today. Essentially being homeless is a little different in this day of technology. I mean, who feels sorry for someone without a roof over their head, when they can log into Facebook? As if Facebook someone shelters you from the storm or gives you sustenance. If I did cry, those cries fell mostly on deaf ears.

The one thing sadness and solitude does is make you reflect and it's a painful journey. One I can not lie, test even those of us who view ourselves as strong. As someone who has always done for others, the prospect of truly needing was humbling experience. It still is. I've received help in the form of money, clothing, food and even one absolute surprise. A gift that allowed me to do something for someone else without the guilt, or shame, of them paying for it. I will forever be indebted to this fine young man. I just hope one day I can pay that forward, as I do not view him as the type to accept reciprocation.

This weekend, despite a joyous time, with laughs, love and incredible food, I had this date in the back of my head. Exhausted from a new job and some new stresses, I managed to block the ill thoughts. For the most part.

So tonight at sundown, I'll do my new evening routine. I'll come home, feed Swag, sip some bourbon to warm by bones and make some dinner. I'll be grateful, never thankful, but truly grateful for those rare few who have stood by me. I'll think of the friends I've lost to much greater struggles than I know personally. I'll thank my mother for being the reason I didn't go up. Says a lot when you don't want to let someone down who is no longer here. I'll thank my younger brother for being the older brother, despite it paining me to accept his help. I'll thank my friends who have been by my side physically and emotionally. I'll thank my cat, Swag and for those who chuckled, you have no idea how different this story would be without him. I'll thank all of you who have made me smile, laugh and maybe even cry. For the support and the kicks in the ass.

And at this time tomorrow, it'll be a new year. The old one will be a memory.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Cold

Cold has evaded me for most of my life. Playing outside in the snow as a child, I had to practically be dragged inside. As a teen, the cold weather meant football, sometimes even shoveling snow for basketball. My work as a roofer, made the cold days seem pleasurable in comparison to the 90 degree days of summer. As an adult, shorts and a thermal, maybe a sweatshirt were all I needed for a winter day. Socks were optional.

Then I went vegan.

If there has been one dramatic change, aside from weight and body image, it's been the weather. A comfortable summer, but with much less heat than I anticipated. Less sweating, but also limited activity due to my surgery. Autumn seems to have faded after two, maybe three weeks and winter is here. The first snow yesterday. The second last night. A chill is in the air and has entered my bones for the first time in longer than I can remember. Three layers on my torso and I could feel the cold on my much less broad chest, my puny arms and running down my spine. I still wear shorts, but my once massive thighs, atrophied from lack of use, felt the air. My spindly calves showing the affects of the breeze.

It will be a long Autumn and even longer Winter. I do not look forward to it. I'm not in a position to purchase a Winter Wardrobe and the fatigue the cold creates causes me a slight fear. I know that when the body runs down, sickness inherits the space. As of this Sunday, it will be 67 months since my last cold. A few allergies, stomach aches and a headache or two, but no actual colds. The cold, the fatigue and working with children spells doom for my untested immune system. Positive thinking? I'll try.

Brr.

Friday, November 3, 2017

Back Where I Belong

Work.

Work is a four letter word for most. If you work with children and view it this way, I'd be glad to part ways with you and I mean that with great sincerity. I point to social media often, but the number of teachers I am friends with is astounding. The number of those who complain about their job is minimal, but it's enough to be known. I have no use for these people and in most cases, remain friends out of a favor to others. I simply can't comprehend anyone working with children not feeling pride and joy, each and every day.

Yes, I get it. We'd all love to sip margaritas and leave our pants in the drawer. I've lived that life. Not in the relaxed sense, but in the way where my options were limited and my physical abilities had become a burden. Recently, I returned and while not exactly what I'd like to be doing, I am happy again. I have stories, laughs and I feel energized. So much so, I am sleeping again. I have fears, but not once I'm there. Sure I have days I'd rather be in bed with some snacks and a movie, but then a child reaches up and grabs my hand or gives me a random hug and I forget about me.

That is what it is all about for me and I assume for most. The thing I missed most about working with kids isn't that it's a job. It's not about money, which I will never have enough to be even remotely comfortable with my life. It's about that time. For those hours, every woe; physical, emotional and financial, all get stripped away and four however long I am there, I cease to exist for myself.

I'm at peace with that.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

My Only Real Fear

I may have written about this before, but I can't be certain. While I've been known to be open, I rarely talk about fear, because to be honest, I'm not really afraid of much. Sure, I don't want to die alone, but I'm pretty sure we all die alone in some ways. I don't like the idea of not being loved, but well, we deal with that too. I mean real fear, from something completely out of our control. Mine is wind; strong winds.

The recent news of hurricanes bothers me more than people know. Seeing the devastation is tough and the poor support people are shown when nature's fury strikes, is always upsetting, but for me it's the cause that I find upsetting. Things like earthquakes, mudslides, sinkholes and tsunamis are scary, but for me, strong winds are simply terrifying. The pressure, the accompanying rain, thunder and lightning add to it, but for me it's that sound. That howl!

Last night, my window was open a crack, the soft whirl of my ceiling fan going, the blinds shut and the shades drawn, as I slept to the normal sounds of evening. There was some wind, but the standard clink and clank of the wind chimes, did nothing more than sooth me. Around midnight, the wind chimes' melodic notes gave way to what sounds like a child banging pots and pans. The soft whirl, becomes a whistle and howl, sometimes shaking the window as if angered by my safety. At times, it sounded like a roar and while I knew, I couldn't relax. The house shook, the trees rustled, Swag nestled closer and thoughts of Dorothy and Toto, ones that should have brought the comforts of my youth, brought angst and trepidation. Maybe it's because you weren't there and you weren't there, unlike the cast of that classic. I don't know. It's such a visceral reaction.

As the winds died down, the rattling and rumbling stopped and gave way to the soft tones of the chimes, it soothed me. My heart slowed, my breathing calm. The feeling one feels stepping of a roller coaster. Somewhat exhilarated, relieved and the adrenaline release gives one that feeling they've exerted themselves. There was no desire to ride again. I drifted off, woke again to the soft rain, my favorite sound and off again. The cat purred and his paw stretch, resting on my back. He was there.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

In Control

Being in charge isn't for everyone. People say they are "take charge" or "control freaks," but the reality is, most of those who claim that are poor leaders. I do not know if I am a good leader. I was as a child, especially when it came to sports, but mostly and maybe secretly, because I didn't care much about winning. I've never actually cared about winning, other than the joy it brings others. It's a weird dynamic of my life, which spills over, both positively and negatively into other aspects of my life. I don't think it will change, but I'm seeing it's affects now.

For many years, I ran a program for kids. For years before that I was lucky enough to work for places that allowed me the freedom to, within reason, mold my groups in my own way. Well, after a three year hiatus, I'm back working with kids and I'm low man on the totem pole and I'm having difficulty with it. I'm having a problem being a cog. I'm having a problem with the lack of control. I'm glad to give up the power and the responsibility, but the control is the hard part to let go of.

Before you over think this, I do not mean control of the program, the kids, the money, the staff or anything to do with that sort of thing. I miss the control of freedom. The control to take a group and make their time in the afternoon the best it can be, all the while learning lessons they aren't even aware of. I'm not good at very much in life, but I'm great with kids. Call it cockiness, ego, what have you, it's something I excel at. I can connect to the best and worst of children and I mean that in how they view themselves. I can make that worst be seen as a lesson to overcome and that best as something they can share with others. I am good at leveling the playing field both literally and figuratively and I'm good at it, because I have control. I miss that already.

I will adapt and I will learn to feed off the smiles. I've already taken to the frowns and some I've turned, some I haven't. I won't give up on those who haven't, but I lack the control to take one and introduce them to the other. They other may not want to play soccer, while the other has no interest in Lego. In a perfect world, I'd have created a Lego soccer game by now and a friendship would have been forged. It's that control I crave. It's not power, it's merely the freedom to do the one thing I'm good at and I miss being good at it.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Being There

I am about to be vague or some may see it as cryptic. I'll attempt to be brief. I'm just feeling a little flustered, confuses; possibly even bitter. Do most people think their mere presence equates to effort? I mean this is the most general way, but think about all facets of life, if you choose. A job, a relationship, even a marriage, a parent, a friend, even a tryst or an acquaintance. Have we become a society, a culture, where our presence is viewed as enough? Do we view just being present as enough? 

Think of people you've been with over the past twenty-four hours? Did the person serving your morning coffee, maybe even your breakfast, act as if you were more than just a person standing in front of them. Did you accept them for more than doing their job? What if it was your child or parent or spouse? Do you see them or the routine? Does how they do it make a difference or is their doing it simply enough? Some work in a class, a cubicle or maybe a site. Everyone plays their part and those parts change, but is there ever a time when you think they are irreplaceable? I don't mean to say they aren't good at what they do, but are they, or is this based solely on the fact they are there? 

Let's make this more personal. Your child's affection. Is it generic? Your spouses? Is love-making exceptional because it really is or because you're with that person. Is the effort put in or is it implied this is love, not just sex? Too difficult to view this and the love of your child at the same time? OK, you have a night out and you call the babysitter. Are you happy they present or that someone is, or maybe that you are not. When you walk into work are you changed? Do you feel the need to be there or are you there for your needs? How do you feel about others, the old and the new?

How often do you put forth the effort to recognize another human being's presence? How often does that happen to you? How often do you even think about your own presence and if your physical being there is simply enough? We joke about the tree falling in the woods, but what about all the things in life we do or don't do that are ignored based on us simply being there or someone else being there? 

Has the simple act of being present become the single most important aspect of our culture and our lives? Is it enough?

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

The One "Me Too" Argument That Still Has Me Seething

Yes, it's true, some of us good guys immediately think of our mothers and sisters first. Maybe our wives and our daughters. Maybe simply friends.There is nothing wrong with that, but it works a lot better when you simply think of women as fellow human beings. Try it.

I've seen the use of homosexuality used to explain it. Put yourself in the position of "How would you react if a someone of the same sex expected sex, because they bought you dinner, something nice or they were simply with you at the end of the night and wanted you?" That too works, in a sense.

I've seen half jokes about not saying anything to a woman you wouldn't want said to you in prison. Once again feeding of homophobia, as if it that were OK. I've seen every argument other than try to be better. Own your faults. Apologize for your behaviors, especially when drunk. Explain your feelings and realize that when your fantasies become expectations, you've already crossed a line. Work on it. Get therapy. Talk it out. Understand that 99% of the women you meet do not want to have a sexual relationship with you, even if they are attracted to you. There is in fact, more to it than that.

This brings me to the next part. To the part where the title derives. The Friend Zone. It's one of the more grotesque phrases in our society. Those who use it, use it with a laugh, a smirk or even anger, explaining a relationship with someone that is suddenly tainted, lessened, or even ruined, because one man feels he will never attain that thing he is entitled too. It's gross.

Let's go back. Imagine if I said "Your mom is so sweet, but she friend zoned me." Imagine if I said that about your wife, sister or daughter. You'd probably have me picking up my teeth, so why is it OK to say to anyone else? I have a friend who I longed for sexually for years, maybe even a decade. We joke about our non-physical relationship and you know what. We're best friends. There is no zone, we're friends. I accepted that. Is she still beautiful? Is she still sexy? Is she still desirable? Yes, but it's called being a normal human being, accepting that the physical attraction won't ever happen and the reasons, while many, don't actually matter. Have I slept with friends? Yes, but it didn't break some silly zone and didn't change our friendship, nor did it make it stronger. So what zone was there to begin with? Has sex ruined friendships? Yes that's happened too, but it wasn't because of some mythical zone. It was because it didn't work for numerous reason, the least of which is sex. And then there are the hundreds of women I've not slept with, despite being attracted to, because when I showed interest, they,in a multitude of ways, let me know they weren't viewing us as a sexual thing. You know how I took that? Like a normal human being. I held nothing against them and depending on how openly I let my feelings know, they normally responded as openly and we moved on. Not weaker, nor stronger, nor being placed in some zone. We were friends, continued to be friends and I no longer made advances and that was that.

Here's the thing about sex. It's special. Whether it's with someone for the first time or last, someone you love or a total stranger, someone you're friends with or someone you're dating, or even married to, it's special. It's special, because sex, for all the wonders of the physical aspect, is letting down each other's guard and feeling a sense of security with someone else. Letting someone see you at your most physically and for many, emotionally vulnerable. This and this is important. This, is why rape, sexual assault and even sexual harassment is so painful for people, especially the women we've been seeing, so brave and courageously opening up one social media. Imagine being at work and being expected to hear the things you hear in a bedroom. Imagine someone saying they wanted to do something, that you only do with someone you trust. A trust that took years possibly to gain. Imagine now having those things actually done to you. Imagine living that and now imagine reliving that. Imagine hearing someone use the term friend zone, knowing that they had expectations of doing to you what they wanted, whether you were accepting of such things, when you never even thought of them that way.

Are you starting to see the problem. You can imagine these things being done to people you care about, if it makes it easier for you to grasp. You can use slogans for the reason why people don't want you sexually, if the fear of being emasculated is so frightening. You can ignore other's feelings, figuring there must be something wrong with them for rejecting you, but here's what you can't do. You can't rape, sexually assault or harass them. You can take them out and expect nothing. You can be rejected and accept it. You can compliment someone, when it's appropriate, but be thoughtful and make it personal, not out on a busy sidewalk street. If it's someone you know, don't assume you can say something, because there is a level of friendship and most importantly. Respect that friendship for what it is. Two human beings who share something special. That's what a friendship is. There are no zones. There are two people. Two people with feelings and emotions, who connected in a way that they became friends. I'd like to say for most that's enough for normal human beings. #MeToo has proven me wrong.

Imagine if #MeToo was meant for every guy to honestly claim they respect women and would never rape, assault or harass them? Imagine if it was to raise awareness that we, as a gender, respect and care about women as much as our own fantasies, desires and what we feel we deserve? Now, imagine all your male friends and family. Imagine how few would be able to post those two words and have others say "I believe you." Get it?

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Odd Sunday Morning

I've been up at least an hour. That's not to say I didn't sleep, but the Sun and I don't seem to mesh well as of late. My friend Swag, who has been quite the cuddle bud lately, decided to go sleep in the kitchen. Maybe it's me, but more than likely, he's as thrown off as I am. The children are back, and for the first time in nearly three months, my weekends have not been my own. The stress of this was not something I expected, but the peaceful moments, especially in the early morning are something I will miss. Will I be here come next spring or summer, when the house is mine? I tend to think not, but then again, I have thought many things about my location in life and I've been wrong every time. Every time, since 2004. Not a single time was I correct. An odd thing for someone who strives to be "correct" as much as possible.

There's a new stress in my life, but quite possibly a good stress. I'll keep it under wraps for now, because I have reservations and I also have fears. Stress is something we all deal with, but I've never felt it as I do the last few years. Physical pain, trouble getting comfortable, irritability to the point where attention to even the most everyday things, falls by the wayside. No, apparently it's not depression, because despite having no reason to feel this way, my sense of self worth hasn't faded. Despite being very little to very few, I still feel my life offers others things they wouldn't normally have.. Conceited, egotistical, narcissistic? I do not feel that way, because I do not view myself as better. I view my strengths as positives and my weaknesses negatives and I'm acutely aware of which are which. A talk with a doctor, the medical kind, suggested medicine, but also suggested it would be more for peace of mind, but my fears, fears he confirmed to be real, is that with that peace, I'd lose a piece.

There's no shame in being down, but there's shame in being down for too long. I've been down for a long time, much of the reason hidden by my absence from those who claim to know me. It has dawned on me, many times over the past forty months, that those who were closest to me, never really knew me. My so-called best friends still think I care what others think about me, when the reality is, I care more what people think about themselves. I do not mean this wholly as a positive thing. I do find most people have a much more elevated view of their importance in the world, as if their simple being keeps the Earth on its axis. I post things on social media and there are times when they believe the light has shined on them, but really, it's the darkness within them being revealed. Not that they are evil, demonic or even bad, but that they are merely no different than anyone. Isn't that the greatest fear in life? To be average.

An average existence is what I've lead the last forty months. That's not true. Things have happened that are far from average. They are much worse than average. Much, much worse, but I don't hide it and yet, people think certain things. My opinions are hated, but so were a great many people who thought about others first. Maybe, just maybe, that was my mini epiphany this weekend. That all those who hate my opinions, many who claim to hate me as a person for them, aren't so much angered by me, but that I want so much, so very much, for those who are not me, but also, are not them. That is where their hurt, their anger, even rage comes from. That I've chosen others to care for, strangers even, over those who despise me, yet call me friend.

So today will come and go. The sun will rise soon and set soon after. I'll annoy someone by pointing out I'm not like them, don't think like them and at the end of the darkened day, care more about people who aren't them. They will simmer in their own fears of inadequacies and the thought they are superior and tell others of my rhetoric. This is the funny thing about those who view themselves as superior. They're usually, just a small group of average people, who are so angry with that simple fact, they've convinced themselves that is the supreme way to live. It's called cognitive dissonance, but that's another topic, personal to me, altogether. Getting back to this scattered thread, I will return to the beginning. The last ten weeks, I've had myself to entertain. My cat. He's suffering now, with an itch and I'm trying to relieve it  Those who are now around me, get my attention, more than he. More than me. A hug here and there. A laugh. Cleaning dishes for others, folding laundry, making life easier, never looking for or receiving thanks. My own anxieties increasing as I await something to happen for me. Make it happen, people will say. Yes, I am, but I have others to help before that. No, not you. You're superior, remember. You don't need my help. Simply tell me I'm wrong, I'm a waste, to shut up, to go to hell, to die, to disappear. Wow, you sure do spend a lot of time thinking about me, day in and day out. Oddly, it took until this odd Sunday morning for me to even recognize you. Enjoy that power I've given you. It won't be there tomorrow. I have strangers who may need me.

Friday, October 13, 2017

My (extremely weak) Anti-Trump Freestyle

Arrived in Westchester donning a sheepskin jacket,
Even back then I was causing a racket.
You're not like us and we don't like you,
Wonder how much more hate had they known Mom was a Jew.
Lily white people, like the shell tops of my Adidas,
Sitting in Math class, learning PMDAS.
Off to White History, learning about this, that and the other,
Could look for miles and couldn't see a brother.
Spent thirty years blinding myself to the racism of friends,
Social media arrives and many of those end.
Eight years of hate, but not cause he's black,
They feel so oppressed, but what is it they lack.
Middle class whites, talking about their plight,
Ignorance isn't acknowledged, they just want to fight.
They bashed him for healthcare and his knowledge of the constitution,
This isn't what they learned in the educational institutions.
They see in a Trump, a great white hope,
Ignoring the fact, he's a great big dope.
They use every excuse for him, even accepting his plan,
But don't call him a Hitler, a Nazi, they prefer Klan.
He attacks our women's right and they won't stick up for their mamas,
It's clear as day, they simply love he's not Obama.
He is orange skinned and it's getting thinner,
But he's white enough, that's what made him a winner.
The American Dream of Trump in the imagination is a figment,
He's only there, because his skin lacks darker pigment.
He's turned again our societal norms and our news,
How soon people forget, Hitler did this, before he went after the Jews.
Obama had brought us promises and many we reached,
The only glimmer of hope is that this tyrant's impeached.
We don't want war, but he'll use it for distraction,
He knows us flexing muscle is an American attraction.
We're losing our friends all over the globe,
Some are questioning his cranial lobes.
I'm not Eminem, and my lyrics are whack,
But open your eyes, MAGA's a step back.
We need equality in person, education and wealth,
Let's stop wasting money on weapons that are stealth.
For eight years, people's hate grew and grew until we could see,
But now it's erupted over taking a knee.
A white man shooting, a car plowing through people,
Not as bad as a black or brown fist to his sheeple.
The people who bestowed this power need to rebuke,
Before our world ends with the drop of a nuke.
Who would have thought, Trump, Pence and Ryan,
Would give us a daily reason for cryin'.
We need to fix those roads and bridges that divide,
Stop listening to the tweets that do nothing but deride.
We can end this by simply banding together,
Hell this fool doesn't even believe in the weather.
We can't turn our back on the killings and screams,
Of Natives and slaves, and call it a dream.
The dream that Martin had was fit for kings,
We can't let this man reverse all our great things.
Moving forward has always been us,
thanks to people like Rosa who sat on a bus.
Fighting the system was written into our rights,
Equality for all was coming into sight.
But now we stand peering into the abyss,
We have one last chance, let's hope we don't miss.
My rhymes are weak. angry thoughts shattered,
Our country now feels so broken and battered.
I know many think I'm silly and a chump,
But who cares what you think, if you're defending Trump.
I'm ending this now with a hope for us all,
Let's hope Trumpty-Dumpty takes a big fall.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

2017: The Year Facts Went To Die

Thanks to FOX News, we have the war on Christmas, White People, Christianity, Wealth, The Anthem, The Flag and everything else viewed as "American."

Not reported in response, is the War on Intelligence.

Thanks to social media, "Blah Blah Blah," "ZZZ" and "Whatever" have become legitimate responses to facts, research, history, science and the proper use of the English language (you know, the language those who despise intelligent thought want made official). In the not so distant past, a debate was ended when someone could give irrefutable evidence that the other party couldn't argue to the contrary. Now, simply being contrary is a debate tool.

It's 2017, we have more people believing the Earth is flat, than we did two hundred years ago and we have just as many who believe the Sun revolves around the Earth as we do who believe dead people and illegal immigrants are voting against their candidates. The problem with this new found belief system is, people have started to confuse facts with opinions. About two years ago, a "friend" argued with me and when I read the comments she posted after she blocked me, I found it comical, not that she refuted my fact with her opinions, but that she had more defenders than I could fathom. When asked, she said "I know my opinions and nobody will tell me they're wrong." Somehow, she managed to have upwards of thirty people turn on me, completely satisfied that facts could not prove her opinion wrong. The problem with this whole scenario was, she was factually wrong, so her opinion was based on the political equivalent of the Sun rotating around the Earth. Yes, you're entitled to free speech, free thought, freedom of religion and your opinions, but Free Facts are not a thing.

In a time when the term alternative facts is actually a valid excuse for being wrong, we're entering into a time where propaganda is the becoming the norm and the more we accept opinions as fact, the more divided we become. In my lifetime, I've seen the concept of being correct go from the simply fact vs fiction to fact vs fiction vs alternative facts vs reality facts vs tabloid fact vs Trumpism vs liberal bias vs science vs hoaxes vs history vs white history vs religious truth vs opinion.

Confused?

ZZZZZZ

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

August & September Movies - 2017

2017 continues to be the year I watched the least number of movies in a calendar year, I have watched a few series, but then again I've watched a few shorts, so I'm about 150 behind the norm this time of year. At about 140, I'm well over 100 movies behind last year's pace. Doesn't look to rebound much, with the baseball playoffs starting and my life in a bit of a tailspin as of late. Well here's the best, the worst, and the rest of the last two months

  1. Election - Johnnie To's triad film feels like a weak homage to Goodfellas and alike.
  2. The Spirit Of The Beehive - Second viewing and easily the most complex film I've ever seen.
  3. The Gospel According To St. Matthew - Biblical tour de force from Pasolini. Beautiful.
  4. The Devil's Candy - Solid acting and decent story gives way to horribly silly climax.
  5. Lifeboat - Re-watched. In my opinion, Hitchcock's greatest film.
  6. Strasek, de Vampir - Ode to Dreyer's Vampyr, it looks good in B&W, but fails miserably.
  7. Come and See - Klimov's war film is unlike any other. Viscerally shocking, haunting film.
  8. Gojira (Godzilla) - The original still resonate with it's anti-war message. Maybe more today.
  9. El Topo - The weirdest movie I've ever watched. Jodorowsky is insane.
  10. Ghostbusters (2016) - Exceeded not only expectations, but its predecessor. Yes, I said it!
  11. No Estamos Solos aka We Are Not Alone - Well done, but typical and predictable. Nice finale.
  12. Le Silence de la Mer - Melville's visuals accentuate the silence of all, but one character.
  13. Drunken Angel - It's impossible to believe this was Mifune and Kurosawa's first collaboration.
  14. The Autopsy of Jane Doe - Great cast can't save this. Absolutely awful.
  15. Kanal - Wajda's film develops so many characters, so quickly. Shot beautifully, despite themes.
  16. The Darjeeling Limited - First Wes Anderson film I hated. Truly awful. 
  17. Raw - Average throughout, leading towards boring, but excels in its finale.
  18. Logan - One of the better superhero/comic movies ever. Great action and stands on its own.
  19. Armageddon - Re-watched. So silly, but still a fun movie.
  20. Delta Force - Re-Watched. So campy and very little Chuck during the first half.
  21. Hounds of Love - Good, but disturbing film about domestic violence and kidnapping. 
  22. Don't Breathe - Great idea, fails with lack of tension and ridiculous side story and finale
Top Three: The Spirit of the Beehive, The Gospel According to Matthew, Come and See
Bottom Three: The Autopsy of Jane Doe, El Topo, The Darjeeling Limited
Biggest Surprise: Logan
Biggest Disappointment: The Autopsy of Jane Doe

Friday, September 29, 2017

When You See It

Now, this isn't a photo with a hidden message, funny incident or a foot that looks like male genitalia. It's not a knee slapper or an "Oh my god" moment. It's when something that's been around you all your life, comes into focus as not being what it appeared. At times, I wonder what hurts more, the reality of it or the reality I ignored, not only the signs, but the warnings.

We are raised to love and respect our parents and grandparents. We are raised to. We are raised to listen and obey, value their wisdom and most of all, in most cases, we're told by outsiders to emulate their lives. We hear people say, "If I can be half the man my father was," or "If I'm half the mother my mom was," and then something following that pertains to luck. But here's where this has always fascinated me. We judge our father's on being men, but our mother's on being moms. Why?

I'm 47-years-old and I'm very happy being not even close to a fraction of the man my father is. I'd never want to be like him. I'm happy I'm smarter than him. He's more well read, but his inability to learn from his mistakes is where his intelligence is limited. He can remember when the Magna Carta was written, but can't remember his daughter-in-law's name. He can remember every book he's ever read, but forgets what his youngest son went through in high school. He can remember every detail  of things he read, but missed the fact his older son gave up, at the time, a large chunk of his life to care for his mother, because of things he didn't want to sacrifice. He then turned his back on his son when he needed him most, taking the advice of his cousin's husband. A man who spent the times I shared, ogling his wife, like a horny teenager, and trying to get his daughter's to emulate her looks, while treating their son, much like her father treated his. Funny how people marry their fathers, especially when they're awful human beings.

So where am I today? I'm not successful financially, I've no college degree, because the commute got in the way of my mother's chemo, and my father, wasn't willing to get a license. Something he did on year after she died, because "I feel guilty putting my neighbors and friends out." So maybe I turn this around and end my life with what most Americans consider success, maybe I don't. Hey, a year ago, I was essentially homeless and there's no guarantee I won't be again soon. I've had help from friends, mostly inspiring me to keep going. I've also had surgery, which will hopefully allow me to find a job working with kids again, or at the very least, one where I can stand. The future isn't as bright as it was when I gave it up, but it was for my mother and when I think of it now, I have to smile, because I realize, I'd be lucky if I could ever be half the woman my mother was, because she was an exceptional human being who sacrificed so much and endured what many would call a horrible marriage and life, and she did it for me and my brother.  I gave up a future for her and the physical and emotional pain of the last 15-20 years has been excruciating, but you know what? This blog proves that I'll never live up to her greatness, because she's never have complained or let anyone know. I don't have that strength. One day; maybe.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Moments

In an attempt to romanticize my mundane life, I may exaggerate the power of simple moments, but it occurred to me, that locations have a time of day. What I mean by this is, for each place we visit, live in or come across, there's a time when that place is illuminated. Maybe it's routine that makes us seek out these moments, like being captive, waiting for the sunlight to stream across the cell. Many who work in office buildings probably feel that same need for a glimmer of hope, even if it is just light.

I'm sure this has always been present, but nothing in my childhood matched the first glimpse of the outfield grass, while walking through the shadowy tunnel of Yankee Stadium, on way to my seat. The bright lights making the lush grass glow, still gives me shivers. I sometimes wondered, if there was a heaven, might this be what it looks like. 

Later in life, there was a moment, shared with five friends in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire. We took our folding chairs, placed them in the lake and sat, watching sail and motorboats glide across the water, as the shimmer of the sun glistened on the ripples. The cool water surrounding our feet, cooling us from the hot summer day. Six of us, sharing stories of years past, of personal experiences, of hopes and dreams, but it was a moment of about fifteen, maybe twenty seconds of silence, where it was magic. I sometimes wonder, was that lull in the conversation and the resulting moment was as meaningful to them, as it was for me? I'd like to think so.

A few days back, early morning, I was sitting outside, as the sun rose in the east. My back to it, as I sipped coffee. It was cool outside, and I sat watching the dew rise off the grass and fog lift above the trees. Everything was green, but then as the opaque mist burned away, the side of the mountain was lit by the sun and revealed magnificent reds, yellows and oranges. Fall had not arrived and this was simply the reflection of low sun on the damp leaves. There was almost a glare, maybe metaphorically blinding me from the harsh realities of life. I glanced down at a distraction, took another sip and returned my gaze, but it was gone. Many morning, I've sat, doing and feeling the same things, but this morning felt different. For that moment, this familiar, not always comfortable place, became serene.




Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Me vs We

I was listening to politicians in Mexico and San Juan this morning and you heard the pain and fear, but also the trembling sincerity in their voices. The main concern was making sure our citizens were safe. They reassured them all would be done to take care of the damage, but that they must first protect themselves and their loved ones. I then listened to Trump use words like I and my, using hyperbole to describe the natural disasters, recovery and rebuilding efforts. I and My, in contrast with We and Our.

 It doesn't even have to be taken politically. It's about the person at this point. It's just so frustrating, when we look back at how America dealt with both gas/oil crisis, Iran hostage crisis, a crumbling economy and increased debt, 9/11, housing market collapse, recession, wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, those that preceded them, and every natural disaster in between....it's always been We, Us, Our.

 I miss that terribly.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Why Did He Go There?

I have a new roommate. He's 25 and like most people his age, he is wise beyond his ears. Yes, ears was intentional. His intelligence, his profound thought and his life experience is simply something that sounds good; to himself. There's very little substance to it and within his ears, I sometimes question whether there is a light on. Like many his era and younger, he appears to have a strange sense that if you leave something and it's washed, fixed, repaired, assembled or replaced, he has achieved. Many people will blame parenting, society or participation trophies, but I question those people. I also condemn that thought process as being part of the problem. A proverbial out for an entire generation. My feeling is, he simply lacks knowledge in an era, where it's so easily accessible, one must make attempts to appear smart, as to avoid questioning. 

So why am I bashing this young man? Many reasons, but I do have fun with the child, at times. One afternoon I happened to notice a belt buckle he was wearing. It was large, had a cartoonish skull on it and commented, "Oh that's Jack Skeleton. Nice." Immediately, his chin and nose rose into the air and he replied "Skellington. It's from a Tim Burton movie." I paused. Being this was only our second or third conversation, I hesitated, but then realized his condescending correction had given him pleasure. I took a sip of my drink and said "Ah yes, Nightmare Before Christmas. Do you consider it a Halloween movie or a Christmas movie? Many debate this." He replied "Halloween," and before he could add, I said, "You are aware, it's not technically a Tim Burton movie, right?" He produced and wrote it, but didn't direct. None of the usual muses are in it either. No Depp or Bonham Carter. The actual director has stated that Burton had very little to do with it actually. It's a shame too, because credit Burton, and Burton's ego rarely allows him to correct them. He was busy directing the dreadful Batman movie. So which film of his is your favorite? Do you enjoy the Batman movies, stop motion films or his earlier comedies? Maybe the Gothic stuff, like Sleepy Hollow or Sweeney Todd? I guess Beetlejuice and Edward Scissorhands cross comedy/Gothic horror genres?"

It was at this point the stuttering began. As he tried to spit out out the word, "Beet...Beetle...Beetleju," I quickly interrupted him, warning him not to say it three times. Then followed it with a mock laugh. An instant later, his nose and chin distinctively lower, he excused himself. 

Was I rude? Of course. Was I a pretentious jerk. Of course, but if there is one thing I have learned in my life, one that has seen the earth orbit the sun twice as many times as his, is that, we should never assume one doesn't know as much as us, simply because they make a tiny mistake. And please don't fret for the young boy. He has since told me about the "processed crap" in my veggie burger, while swigging a Mountain Dew and slurping Ramen Noodles from a cellophane package, described working on cars and heavy construction equipment as "basically the same," and explained to me how my cat, who has little care for deception or perceptions, "isn't as slick as he thinks." This self professed gamer, has a high opinion of himself, which is important, but I do think it masks some insecurities. I do not know the gamer lingo, but my Tim Burton tirade was my ode to the late Frank Vincent's Billy Batts. "Now go get your shine box." Who knows? Maybe how I should have thought about how that turned out for poor Billy.

In Allen Iverson's voice "Movies? You're going to question me on movies?"

Friday, September 15, 2017

The Screen Has Been Too Dark

Every year, since I was young, I have watched movies. Almost every night. I've never been much on television, and rarely as an adult, have I had "my shows." In fact, I've not owned a working television for over seven years. I now have one in my bedroom, but so far, I've only watch sports. Movies are, and always will be "my shows."

In the course of any given year, I will watch approximately 350 movies. I rarely re-watch movie I've seen, but still will do so, if I've forgotten them. This time, last year, I was approaching movie #250. The year before, #240. This year, I've watched a paltry 130. While many may laugh and think of this as much ado about nothing, it has a great impact on my mood. Even more so, I've not had many people to discuss my films with, because nobody I have left in my life embraces the art of cinema, as I do.

I realize this all sounds petty, slightly conceited and incredibly minor, when one looks at the woes of surrounding and within my life, but it matters. It's like that cup of coffee in the morning or hot shower at night. It's that weekend drive, morning run or hour in the gym. It's that kiss on the forehead, mom used to give, after saying goodnight. Yes, it sounds crazy, but it means that much to me, and like most of my life's complaints, the reasons for my not having it in my life are all caused by me.


Wednesday, September 13, 2017

A Hare Of Despair

I love my cat.

Anyone who knows me well, knows in many ways, he's why I exist or quite possibly why I still exist. He sets my schedule. He makes me wonder, worry and at times, most times, makes me feel important. I sense he knows this and there are days he plays this against me and others allows me to appreciated feeling in needed. He senses my moods, when humans can not, but unlike them, he shows deference, always.

He also likes to hunt.

His tally of field mice is in the thirties, and that is merely the number I know of. He has eaten some whole, but usually shows those to me first. He occasionally comes home with feathers stuff to his whiskers. That number is much lower. Being vegan, for moral reasons, the deaths bother me. I then put myself in his mind and realize it's these instincts, skills if you may, that set him apart from humans. He is not doing it for sport, but at times, to feed me. In his mind, I am aloof and can not fend for myself. In most humans minds, we own cats, but I know better. The mice and the birds are his way of providing for me, and he only takes from them what he needs to survive, the rest is mine. I decline, always.

He has a taste for rabbits.

I don't advertise this, because as someone who once had a family member with a pet rabbit, it hurts to see them dead. I only knew of one, until the other night. I had left the screen door open and when I returned, he was trying to get at something. I thought he had brought a mouse back in, but when I heard a noise, I immediately became worried. It was obviously something larger. I moved my night stand just enough to find a tiny rabbit, breathing heavily and on it's side. I scooped it up in a pair of shorts and cradled it. It's breathing was frantic. As I walked outside, I saw a clump of hair. There was more to it, but we'll say hair. I locked the cat inside and stepped out. I placed the rabbit down and unwrapped the cloth. There was blood and the rabbit didn't move. I picked him up. Took him inside and tended to his wounds as if I would a small child. I held him securely and let the cat back out. I laid on my bed and stroked the rabbits head. The breathing slowed and nestled in arms. I know most people would worry about a disease, but that's not how I think. Despite what some would call arrogance, I put others first, always.

My cat was busy taking apart another rabbit. I found scattered parts, innards and fur on the deck. I quickly disposed of it as I'd let him back in. I must have had a lapse of judgment or maybe subconsciously I knew I couldn't save the rabbit and left him for the cat. When I came back in, there was the rabbit, wrapped in a fresh white towel, small body gently raising and lowering and the cat, a few feet away, slumbering, his breath almost in tune with the rabbits. The only breath and heart racing was mine. I cleared out the clothes in a drawer and used bedding from another house pet and created a cave for the rabbit. I fed him leafy greens and water. I think he ate, but I can't be sure.

Morning came and the cat wandered up to the dresser, tried to peak inside and I stopped him. I went through my routine and attempted to check the rabbit. He'd soiled the towel and the small was horrible. I knew I had to make a decision. A phone call provided no help, as they don't take wild rabbits. I thought about what was humane, what was just and what I in my heart could and couldn't do. I couldn't keep him, or maybe I could, but simply didn't wish to watch him suffer. So I picked him up, in my hands. Gently stroking his soft ears. I walked barefoot in the dew soaked grass. It was cold on my feet and the human side of me felt guilt. Would he be warm enough. I placed him in a patch of high grass that looked as though it had been tamped down by tiny feet. I had seen other rabbits there and in my scattered mind, I felt they could help him. I placed him down and he quickly started to flail. I realized that his side was still hurt and he possibly had broken his leg. I turned him over and the calm set in. He laid there, helpless and I felt every ounce of it. As if looking at my own life recently. Tears tolled down my face as I pulled the tall grass over to give him some shelter from the morning sun. I told myself this was the right thing to do, but I know in my heart, I could have done more. I normally do.

I thought about his suffering and almost hoped a larger animal, like of the many hawks flying overhead, had swooped down and done in nature what I didn't have the courage to do. As the sun began to set, I worried he was still out there suffering and I couldn't stand it. I walked back over. The grass not dry and cut into the bottoms of my feet. I almost relished the pain. I deserved the hurt. I found the spot and there he was. I leaned in and  looked at his tiny body. There was no movement. Tears welled up and I apologized profusely. I apologized for myself, not for the cat. As I returned inside, I tried to compose myself. As I splashed water on my face, I felt the familiar soft brush of fur on my ankle. Later that night, as he curled up on my leg, he stared up at my reddened eyes. He let out a sigh and went to sleep. He seems to fully understand my world and realizes I will never understand his. We human try to do "our best," but when it comes to nature, we fail, always.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Sixteen Years Later

I know it's probably not as often as I believe, but is it always a high, cloudless, light blue sky on this morning, every year? This morning's, with the sun and the moon both visible, brought back memories, both awful and promising.

 I don't normally post about this and actually, I normally don't post at all on this day, but it's the first year that I've felt we're worse off than we were on this day 16 years ago. Obviously, nothing compares to the horrors of that day, but the country, almost immediately, came together. Those on the fringe, have grown into what is now running the country (and media) and while they are still a minority, they are no longer silent. Their hate is bold and brash, mush like the terrorists from a little over a decade and a half ago.

 It's just an odd feeling for me. As someone who grew up peering out my bedroom window at those majestic towers, I commented a long time ago, about a tangible loss of innocence. I remember when I first felt it, knowing this would never be the same. Knowing that some, even some friends, would harbor ill will towards anyone who looked, spoke and practiced a religion that was different from theirs. Before anyone makes judgments, my first experiences were with the far left. Those who needed to lay blame for creating this. Then there were the moderates, whose confusion spoke volumes about a bigger problem in this country; education. Then the right started and we needed to act, and act we did. I, like many, wanted vengeance. Now our children face the debt of that misguided vengeance and the lives lost in response to 9/11 has far outweighed the losses of that day.

Today, we sit in safety. No real fears of this ever happening again. If the opposite were true, North Korea, Russia and ISIS would truly be a the thing that divides us. No, 9/11 simply opened old wounds. Wounds that are not complex, not uncommon, and not difficult to process. That day reminded a small faction of America, that we were built on erasing those who were different and those we chose to cohabitate, would always be seen as inferior. We even drew up documents to depict this, and while those laws and rights have been changed, the words still exist and for many, THAT is the Constitution.

 I think back to a few weeks after that fateful day, when I was talking to someone who was down at Ground Zero, and they described a much different scene than what was being reported on the news. There was of course, a feeling of great loss, but there was a spirit of rebuilding. Not rebirth, because we are what we stand for, no matter what changes. There was a feeling that we could rebuild, change, and make things better. And we had. The following years, saw us bottom out, but we came back and we came back much stronger, much wiser and much more aware of how others perceive us. I remember a day in 2007, when things were bleak economically and there was a new found air of despair. A conversation with an older neighbor, his politics could not have been more different from mine, and he joked "We just need to end these two wars, and we'll get back to hating each other. Things will be better. You'll see." Sadly, despite our presence in Afghanistan continuing, he was half right. We have gone back to hating each other, but are we better?

 9/11 taught most Americans what a Muslim was. As someone who had taken a class on Islam and has actually read the Qur'an, it didn't teach it well. I hope our children, and theirs, will be taught that it isn't the religion that causes violence, it's the misconceptions about religions, within their own, that causes violence. We are a world that is currently living out of context. Whether it be religion, politics or the every day relationships we have. Nearly all our issues stem from something or things being taken out of context. I'm sure some will read this and think "being political on 9/11, how dare you." Well, if you think about the last 16 years, we've had more people use this day, in a political context to promote hate, than to promote the rebuilding, the growth, the acceptance of others and yes, the greatness, we have already achieved and achieved again, long before 2017.

 I want to end with a completely different comment. A thank you. To all those who ran towards the towers, while others ran away. To all those who escorted those in need to safety. To those police, fireman, EMTs and all the others who acted bravely in a time of chaos. For all those who lost their lives, lost loved ones, became ill due to this horrible event and for all those who did what they could. I also want to point out that there are many who saw things they can never forget. Some of saw those images on television, some in person and some, sadly, still see them. It was a day that has become more pageantry than anything else, but let's remember the hurt, but also remember the time that followed. Despite what caused it, it was a better time.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

2017 NFL Predictions

Yeah, I know, the Chiefs shocked the Patriots and I know Eric Berry is done for the year (Horrible!)
But here it is, one game in
And yes, I realize I've not exactly gone out on a limb with my pick for champion

AFC EAST
Patriots - 2
Bills
Dolphins
Jets

AFC NORTH
Steelers - 4
Bengals
Ravens
Browns

AFC SOUTH
Texans - 3
Titans - 6
Jaguars
Colts

AFC WEST
Chiefs - 1
Chargers - 5
Broncos
Raiders

NFC EAST
Cowboys - 4
Eagles
Giants
Redskins

NFC NORTH
Packers - 3
Lions
Bears
Vikings

NFC SOUTH
Saints - 1
Falcons - 5
Buccaneers - 6
Panthers

NFC WEST
Seahawks - 2
Cardinals
Rams
49'ers

Wild Card 
Steelers over Chargers
Titans over Texans
Falcons over Cowboys
Packers over Buccaneers

Divisional
Chiefs over Texans
Patriots over Steelers
Saints over Falcons
Packers over Seahawks

Conference
Patriots over Chiefs
Packers over Saints

Super Bowl Champs - New England Patriots

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Take A Minute And Remember, It's 2017

I defend every human who comes here and their right to dream about a better life
I defend the LGBTQ community and their right to love, marry and be respected for who they are.
I defend POC and their right not to be treated differently, because of their skin.
I defend Muslims and their right not to be judged by the actions of a few.
I defend the poor, of which I am now one, but very few I know can relate.
I defend a living wage and American's right to achieve some semblance of he American Dream.
I defend women and their rights to be treated as equals, both in the workplace and in society.
I defend everyone's right to vote and believe it should be as easy for each and every one of us.
I defend every child's right to a proper education.
I defend every human being's right to shelter, food and healthcare.
I defend every human being's right to choose what happens to their own bodies.
I defend every human being's right to be happy and feel safe in their world.
I defend everyone's right to speak freely, as long as it a message of peace, unity and equality.

It is 2017 and for many, even those I call friends, I am "the enemy."

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Forget His Politics For A Minute

To make mistakes is human; to stumble is commonplace; to be able to laugh at yourself is maturity.
William Arthur Ward

I'm as critical of Donald Trump, if not more, than most. I don't like his political views, his goals or his ideals, but truth be known, the things that bother me about him most are not political in nature. In fact, the single most telling sign we were headed where we are now, lies in his disposition and it's not something one can fake.

I've never seen a spontaneous photo that shows joy on his face. The joy that comes from looking at your spouse, your child or a beautiful view. I don't like that he doesn't have a dog or a cat, and rumors have it he never has. I don't like that he never speaks candidly about his favorite book or movie, his favorite composer or pop artist. I don't like that despite his great wealth, his lone known piece of art is a portrait of himself. I don't like that he doesn't speak like any other president or that he's incapable of writing in a manner that suits his position. I don't like that he doesn't try to fake empathy, when real empathy is called for. I don't like that I've not seen him with his staff's children or any moment captured  relaxing in anything that resembles reflection. Most of all, and this is, for me, the most damning accusation of character and his fatal flaw, I don't like that he can not do what every president before him, with the exception of Nixon can do, he can not laugh....at himself. He lacks that dash of humility indicative of all of our successful leaders; that ability to recognize infallibility and for the most part embrace the minor moments of disappointment or embarrassment. Despite what some may believe, it's not a sign of strength, but of immense insecurity and something I saw long before Trump the candidate, or Trump the President arrived.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Old Posts

I do not do it often, but every now and then, I glance back at old posts to see where I was in my life. This morning I looked and realized I was coming to the end of something I tormented friends with, called 100 Days of Hopper. In this day, in 2014, I wrote of my decision to leave Westchester for good and all the reasons. There was no joy in leaving and definitely no joy in staying. The change in my life has sadly had very few positives. It's changed me. It's made me more cynical, if that were possible. It's made me question the humanity of others and see people without their facade. It's also made me pay attention to what they say, and I believe I've learned to read messages between lines they don't realize they've revealed. Sadly, I don't really believe I've found much out about myself, other than the walls my mother described so often. She could always set me straight, even if only for a while.

I also read a post about that one friend. The one who saw through the bullshit, of others and of my own. Maybe he gave me a bit of a pass, because we had common misgivings and misfortune. I smiled at first and then realized how detached from reality I have become. My friend isn't here anymore. I've lost a lot of people I once called friends, not once n the past three years having a chance to say goodbye. There's a lot less laughter lately. A lot more sorrow, sickness and loss. I'm not the person I once was and feel I'm losing my ability to feel pain. I used to cry a lot. At movies, books, but most often memories. I don't cry very much and I feel it, bottled up waiting to burst, but it never does. I've become callous, not really towards individuals, but mankind in general. I have become obsessed with news and the future, but not mine. My life has no news and I wonder about the future. A soft purr and the occasional nuzzle, reminds me I'm needed, if only for a bit. I have true friends, but that list is dwindling and my time with them is lessened by distance.  It's my fault, mostly. I am aware. I haven't lost that.

It's been almost a year since I spoke to my friend, never once thinking it would be the last time. I did not have some philosophical lesson about cherishing days, times or epiphany of seizing a day. I learned the same lesson I've known. I enjoy moments, surrounded by many more that I don't, and those moments define my nature. For good and for bad.

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Ed Lavandera:

CNN has a journalist named Ed Lavandera and while filming the flooding. He kept rolling, kept reporting as an elderly man was removed from his home. He kept reporting while pulling the elderly man onto a boat. He then pulled the family's dog on, still reporting. Then he paused, as he relayed the message to the studio that the man's wife was bring brought out, he said "Give us a minute. She has Alzheimer's and we don't know what condition she is in. It was a rare moment of compassion in a field where a photo or a sound byte is everything. Moments later, the woman was filmed, but he demanded the cameraman put down the camera and help, reassuring the woman "you look great,"

Forget that this reporter was putting himself in harm's way, doing more than he was sent to do. Forget he showed basic human decency by assisting in rescues. In the height of the madness, when people don't think straight and most reporters would be thinking about their careers, possible awards, prestige, Mr. Lavandera stopped and thought, I assume, about the women in his life, maybe people he knows, and showed a level of compassion we all need. Despite what some may think, he proved, he and those like him are not our enemy, but one of us, with a job to do and on this day, he went above and beyond "doing his job." He showed empathy. People who call him an enemy could learn a thing or two from this man.

Friday, August 25, 2017

I Wonder If...

I left the library today. Three movies in my hand, knowing one was at home. I thought about how I'd be back on Monday to return them. Who knows if the woman with her three kids, one in her arms, maybe three, four months old, and two others, maybe four or five, wanted one of them. The automatic doors opened and I was immediately hit with the smell of a diesel exhaust. The gray haired lady approaching winced and her nose twitched like Tabitha. She gasped a little, then passed. I turned the corner and saw a woman in a short black dress checking under the hood of her car, almost leaning in far enough that the workers across the street would be rewarded for their stare. I walked down the street, passed a bow legged old man, wearing a slightly too small blue polo shirt, with a tattoo reminiscent of Popeye. I nodded, then thought of whether he was a sailor and if he'd seen battle. A muscular man with ear buds passed again, almost trying to bump shoulders with me on the more than wide enough sidewalk. I crossed over mid street and felt the warmth of the sun on my face. I stepped onto the sidewalk and noticed a man, the hotel's employee, chasing an empty plastic bottle in the breeze. His blue shirt, matching that of the old man, but with words across the chest. I think his name or that of the hotel. I smiled, he laughed. I turned the corner, changing my gait to give way to a woman with a fancy walking stick. Too proud to use a cane,, I suppose. A bucket hat pulled down to protect her from the glare. I stopped briefly, letting a car pull into a driveway, the father waved, the two children in their seats, screaming, seemingly having a ball. I heard the father laugh and I smiled. This smile continued as a past by a woman with short black hair, green shirt and yoga pants. She smiled back and locked eyes, then looked ahead. I passed a young college girl, staring at her phone, bopping her head to music, shifting my steps to avoid her concentration. I skipped over some leaves and into the street, entering my car. The heat from the interior felt immediately, turned the key, as the windows rolled down, the music came on; Chuck Berry's No Particular Place To Go. Apropos, I thought, and shifted into drive. Left or right?

I wonder if anyone I passed remember me.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Sharing Space: Do Unto Others

I've never been a neat freak, but have always taken pride in how I treat other people. While living in other people's homes, even if for a single night, I've always made sure to, at the very least, leave it as it was before I arrived. I do not think we can excuse people based on age or ignorance. I don't think being respectful of other people's property, especially their homes, is a learned behavior. I simply don't believe one needs to be told to be respectful to do so.

Living in other people's home has taught me a lot. I've learned that the expectations other have of me are very often the exact behaviors they lack within themselves. I've learned that my level of respect both for their material items, privacy and general comfort, is not always reciprocated. I've also realized that sarcasm and playful jokes are not effective in remedying these inconsistencies. Many times I find, it's just easier to do what needs to be done and move on.

The real issue I'm finding is that with the addition of a new person in the house, I made a preemptive effort. I pointed out the things in the lease, the house "rules" and the general happenings, both good and bad and how we can make things run more smoothly. My cries fell on deaf ears. A 25-year-old, who apparently doesn't do much other than eat cereal and play video games has entered and it dawned on me quickly, that it's not today's youth that isn't being brought up right, it's today's young adults are simply not held to any level of civility. They are championed for protesting a cause that only affects them, but rarely scolded for being unconcerned with their futures or the current lives of those older or younger. They are told they shouldn't be judged by their clothing or hairstyles, but never once told to do the same for others. They are commended on the material things they've obtained, but never corrected when they disregard those things of others. It's not children who become this, it's adults, who view the world as their domain, which it is, but their lack of interest in sharing it is my issue.

Good luck in your future endeavors. Enjoy your car, your clothes, your video games. I wish you all the best for you and your generation, just one thing. I'm not your mother. So clean your dishes and put things that aren't yours, back where they belong. Life really is that simple and it's even in The Bible. Do unto others....

Thursday, August 17, 2017

This Nazi Stuff

I had to unfriend someone on Facebook yesterday.
I have three rules about friends, as it relates to Facebook.

  1. Don't get nasty with my other friends
  2. Don't lie about me
  3. Don't you ever fucking sympathize with Nazis
Now here's the thing. I don't think this kid realizes he's sympathizing with Nazis, but that's somewhat how Nazis began. The naive, the complicit, the cowards and the stupid, didn't want to ruffle any feathers, so they either went along or stayed quiet. A few years later, six million Jews and many millions of others were killed. This is known. This is taught in school, by our elders and it's clearly understood that while history has a habit of repeating itself, never again will we allow Nazis to be a thing, especially in the United States of America.

So it's 2017 and I have a friend, an ex-friend, because I'd likely lay him out if he stood by his posts, whose comparing some group called Antifa to Nazis. Now, I'm not up on my Antifa knowledge, but hell, you could bring out Vikings and I'm giving them a pass in comparison to Nazis. I'm giving Caeser's Romans a pass, in comparison to Nazis. Hell, Stalin helped with Nazis, so there's that. Nazis don't get a "many sides" pass. There are no two sides when it comes to hate groups, especially Nazis. There are no "very fine" people who are members of, support or sympathize with Nazis. Not ever! 

Here's the thing. My mother was the most important person in the world to me. Her parents were #2 and #3. They were Jewish. I grew up hearing stories about the Holocaust and before I could learn on my own, I never quite believed them. The atrocities were too unbelievable to comprehend as a truth. So maybe that's Donald Trump's problem. Maybe that's his followers problem. They just aren't educated or intelligent enough to perceive that the horrors were real. So how do we impress upon the ignorant, my ex-friend included, that supporting a president who sympathizes with Nazis is in fact, sympathizing with Nazis? How do I let people know that what they view as a harmless Internet meme, touches a part of me they would never like to see. I mean this sincerely.

I love the art of tattoos, but would never get one on my own person, because of Nazis. Out of respect for my mother and grandparents, I would never desecrate my skin, because so many others had it done as identification. I will never forget the day I shook a man's hand and his sleeve rolled up and revealed his number. I shook. I went home and I wept. We didn't discuss it. I didn't let on that I had noticed. I simply felt overcome with emotion. I was 19-20, and in my mind, a tough guy. Here was a somewhat frail older gentleman whose strength is unparalleled in my world. I was humbled to be in his presence. The respect I had for this stranger was greater than of anyone I'd actually known. That's what my feeling about Nazis is. There will never be many sides to hate. There will never be "very fine" people who hate. But I will go one step further. There will never be a place in my world for people who are complicit when faced with hate. Are there times we all let stuff roll off our backs? Yes, of course. That being said, when you take the time to copy and paste or share something that breeds hate for another group, especially Jews, while promoting Nazism, you're dead to me. Luckily for you, it's only via the Internet.

I hope this young man realizes his mistake and I'm not one to easily forget, but I do forgive. I can forgive ignorance, because it's easily cured with education. I can forgive being a coward, because it's easily corrected with conviction. What I can't forgive is never caring enough to learn or never standing up for others, because it's easier to be who you are. An ignorant coward. Because if you're not an ignorant coward, you actually believe in what these white supremacist, white nationalists and Nazis have to say and then, you're in an entirely different category.

As for the rest of society. Let's stop pretending Trump didn't promote their cause in all of 2016. Let's stop pretending he isn't a coward or ignorant. Let's stop pretending he cares about "us." He does care about them, because they elected him. Do you really want to be on the wrong side of this part of history? You may not view yourself as a sympathizer, but history will. Educate, stand up for others and for the love of God, please stop posting and saying things that even hint you believe there are good people on that side and that anyone, I mean anyone, is wrong for standing up to them, with or without violence. They're Nazis!

Monday, August 14, 2017

Funny Patriostism

I just spent the better part of an hour writing an epic blog on American Patriotism. As I reached the end of what had turned into more of an essay, I realized something. I had spent the entire time explaining what isn't patriotism, referencing many things I've read or heard lately, in defense of patriotism. It was all nationalism, socialism , capitalism, Marxism, communism, conservatism, liberalism and a few other ism I don't know the names of, but nothing was patriotism. It then dawned on me that patriotism isn't a love of country anymore, but a love of a country we all desire, but as the current culture has shown us, isn't attainable.

My main theme was "we all hate Nazis."
Another theme was "we all SAY we hate white supremacy."
Finally, the last theme was, "do we really love our neighbor?"
I deleted that and this is all that remains

Nearly every great politician has spoken of patriotism in terms of questioning one's government, for the good of the people. Nearly every dictator, has spoken of the reverse. Nearly every great writer has condemned patriotism as, not the love of one's country, but the hatred of one's neighbors. Nearly every great philosopher has questioned how one could view their own superiority as a love of anything other than themselves (and those who share those beliefs).

It left me thinking, most of us don't claim to be patriots, because we believe we are and those who pound their chest over it are the least patriotic of all. Somewhere in the middle, we all have a love for our country, but most who speak of it embrace being content, as if this were a marriage. Marriage is a choice, so we accept our flaws and adjust. Patriotism is not a choice and should always be about being better, but never a disbelief that the sum of our parts is great.