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.



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