What It Means

Do you know sometimes you can go most of your adult life focused on the wrong things, working hard toward a future that in the end will not be what you planned or expected. Never mind as you sit and contemplate where you are and what you have done, your dreams have not been fulfilled. You can break yourself, physically and emotionally for that pot of gold at the end of that proverbial rainbow and find nothing but pyrite. You can give everything worthwhile up, sacrifice to the pantheon and what you will have in the end will be rooms filled with the chaff of broken dreams. In a world that values the trappings of success above nearly all forms of decency and compassion, far too many of us have fallen victim to the sales job. Now we are learning, there are no ‘do overs,’ for our failures and regrets.

What do we do when we look at life through the prism of our values, ethics, and standards? Those pesky things that are foundational to who we are and where we come from. Do we first question these as they are not a genetic predisposition but rather cultural and familial. As we enter the wider world, we are challenged more often than not, especially if we come from a more traditional culture or family experience. Do we question ourselves, our beliefs, our parents, our faith, our very foundation as we make our way through the maze of often terrifying new experiences? Many do, while some cling to what we know in an attempt to stave off the changes we see around us. The bombardment of information, especially social norms and expectations that may be significantly different from what we know is enough to make our heads spin and our hearts stutter to a standstill.

When we are young, we are sure to at least try some new things, maybe spread our wings in a few new directions. Most of us are brave, wanting to test ourselves against the world. Many of us believe we are both infallible and indestructible. We have worldviews that do not allow for any opinion but our own and rarely allow for facts that do not align with our ‘truths.’ When we are young there is one truth that is nearly universal, we have an unearned arrogance.  

During the arc of our lives, we usually learn many things and most of us lose our arrogance along the way. We learn we are absolutely fallible, we make mistakes, we stumble, we fall down, and we are taught lesson after lesson about just how much we do not know. This is one thing that continues throughout our lives. Sometimes we need the proverbial kick in the ass, taking us down off our high horse but other times it is simply the cruelty of others who wish to see us fail. Still, you fall down, and you climb back up to your feet, learning the best lesson; you are fallible.

The next thing we learn as we step foot into the world? We are absolutely destructible and mortal. Sometimes we learn this through the loss of a beloved parent, or a friend. Other times it is someone within our immediate circle who is faced with catastrophic illness or injury shaking the foundation of our belief in our own indestructibility. Then there is that time we learn this terrible lesson by a close brush with our fragility, this lesson remains with us for the remainder of our years, we either become risk-averse or alternatively we become what is now known as adrenalin junkies. It is an important lesson to learn, our mortality put in perspective, our place in the world filtered down into more realistic terms, more digestible bites. Over time, there will be more masterclasses to embrace, more blows to our confidence and we will in most cases survive them to tell the stories to the next generation.

So, thinking about all of this, what does it really mean? We magically hit the world firing on all cylinders somewhere between 18 and 25 years old. We leave our parents’ protective nest and rush out to do grand things in a world waiting for us to announce our entrance, only to find there is no fanfare and no one really cares. We begin as dilettantes, so certain of ourselves and our personal greatness, so self-assured. Nothing can stop us; nothing can stand in our way. We pronounce, at every opportunity and with absolute certainty, our opinions as fact. We have no need for wisdom from those who have lived longer and done more. We are full of fight and ready for our march to the corner office, or wherever our ambitions are focused. We are insulted by the very suggestion that we might not be ready, or all the Gods forbid we may not know all we need to know.

We weep and rail at the unfairness of it all. The waiting and the hard work of it all, yet while we are doing that which we thought was so unfair and unnecessary something happens. We grow up, we learn, we mature, and we begin to see the reason and logic of it all. That arc between fresh into the world and “been there and done that” is long and in many cases hard. For too many of us, it is filled with heartbreak, failures, and regrets. Along the way, we learn, and we grow; we also try to pass on the wisdom we gathered and the things we know don’t change from generation to generation. No matter where you come from, no matter who you are, no matter your cultural or familial beginnings, some things are truly foundational, even universal.

  • Treat people the way you want to be treated, kindness and compassion never grow old.
  • Ethics and honesty in business and your personal life will always be the best strategy.
  • Put people before things, before money, before your work.
  • Never forget to tell people you love them; they won’t be there forever, and you may not get another opportunity.
  • If you have the chance to lift up another person, do it.

So simple, yet so many of us have a difficult time getting there. In today’s world of greed, myopic selfishness, curated ignorance, and the ongoing attempt to undermine core values as ‘weak’. We tout our faith, religion, and the Sunday-Go-To-Church faithful are quick to beat the drum of their godliness and goodness. Meanwhile, they are busily tearing out the heart of future generations, their children are becoming monstrous, and communities are disintegrating into viciousness, celebrating ignorance over learning, and meanness over compassion.

So, what do we do? We focus on what we can do to make it better and hope time will make a difference. Some of us, well some of us weep at the time we lost being arrogant shits when we still had the time and energy to truly make a difference in the world.

Dear God VIII

Dear God, have you been watching? The general fuckery down here is something to behold, isn’t it? I know it has been quite some time since we last talked, but I thought we should have a quick chat. I think perhaps my quiet, private prayers may be getting lost in the cacophony sent to you from the podiums of Congress, the pulpits of the prayers for-profit and State Houses across this nation called “Thoughts and Prayers.” I am not certain where to start, there is so much to cover, and I need to push it from my heart to your plate. I know, truly that you have much to take care of so I will try not to take too much time and only pick the big stuff, but God, really it is getting bad, and you might want to consider a lightning bolt or two just to get folks attention.

Dear God, have you seen what your believers are doing? In your name no less. It is shameful and downright terrifying. No matter where we look these days it seems those who claim you as their own are the most self-righteous, the most unforgiving, the most judgmental, the most violent; they are everything that I would think would be anathema to you, to your word. But damned if I can tell by their activities and seemingly ongoing success in this world that this is true. Meantime, while they seemingly thrive, the rest of us suffer under their heel. So, God, where are you while those who claim your favor are acting like early pagans on the day of Moloch sacrifices. What more must happen before you start with some smiting, or at least some assistance for the rest of us?

Dear God, it goes from bad to worse. It seems we cannot control our worst impulses. Everything from petty theft to genocide is on the plate for our consumption through everyday media. What is even more disturbing, at least to my mind and broken heart, where there is a crime against humanity there is a master pardoner for the perpetrator and inevitably your word is part of their patter. I guess I am old enough now where I can remember when all of us, entire nations came together regarding certain behaviors, where we all believed some things were wrong by any standard. Now? Well, now not so much. Now, seventeen (17) school shootings across this nation before the end of March doesn’t even make a blip on the nightly news. These days, seventy-nine (79) mass shootings with a total loss of life of ninety (90) human beings doesn’t even merit a comment. Nevermind the madman who is raining down misery and missiles on an entire nation’s civilian population, killing innocents in his drive to annihilate those who will not bow to his dream of a new Imperial Russia. God, if you happened to miss it, this lunatic claims a close alliance to you and your word through the Russian Orthodox Church. Not to take you to task for your current inattention, but really Lord so many of the recent batch of the truly bad have held up your word as a shield and it is growing tiresome.

Dear God, I think perhaps I don’t fit anywhere any longer. As I grow older, I also question too much the thinking of those who I once allied with nearly as much as I do those who have always been on the other side of the debate. This disease of extremism is destroying us all, making us fearful to speak up and speak our mind on any subject. Reasoned debate is no longer possible, and the ridiculous must be accepted as the new normal no matter how it harms others. Cruelty seems to be an acceptable alternative to civility. Truthfully? There is so much nuanced ugly to the past five years, political correctness combined with the legislative rape of civil rights, including voting and women’s autonomy it is hard to know where to even start. But God, you cannot possibly have intended for us to walk back every single gain we made, did you look down and say, “Nah, this was too much let’s make them suffer.”

Dear God, I know you are busy and gave us that great gift of self-determination. Yet still, I would think just now and then you might want to take some of your children and nudge them, off a cliff might be good. A bit of discipline is not uncalled for in certain circumstances, even with self-determination. You and I know children without discipline become out of control, eventually turning delinquency and without correction into habitual criminality with no chance at redemption. Lord, I am afraid that is what we have today in this nation, and what is truly terrifying, they are concentrated in the halls of Congress, on the Bench of SCOTUS and scattered throughout the land, in legislative bodies simply working their evil, pursuing power with the thirst of a man who has walked across Death Valley without water to quench him.  

Dear God, I know you have a great deal to contend with. I am not without eyes to see. Human beings have generally screwed up the world. Every opportunity, we find a way to cheapen and destroy the gift you gave us, both for ourselves and the future. We are an unseemly and ungrateful lot. We are good at saying the words, “thoughts and prayers,” and other such nonsense. We are not so great at living by the words so many profess to believe in the book they use to batter others with. Day in and day out, your word, is used to abuse those who can least afford to give by those who have found a way to rob them of dignity, humanity, and a future. You must be tired of your creation by now. I am certain the angels must beg for reassignment when you tell them they are coming to earth, if even for a day. I know I would. But like Lot, I beg you to look down, I know there are still good people down here, maybe not saints but people who every single day do good and are worth saving, worthy of your blessing. Could you please just take a minute or two, send a message to all these terrible recalcitrant traitors of the people who deserve your concern and care. I am only asking for a strong message to steer them back to the path of the righteousness, you know maybe some focused bolts of lightning, thunderous messages of fury, specifically placed sinkholes might work.  Anything that will get their attention would likely go a very long way.

Dear God VII

Dear God, hello, it’s me again. I know it has been a while since I have appealed to your better angels as they say. Really though, it is getting pretty terrible and terrifying down here. It is to the point where you can’t tell the good guys from the bad anymore, and even the pacifists are thinking about self-protection in the form of rocket launchers. Does this seem extreme? Are you thinking to yourself that I am hysterical? Have you looked down here recently? I mean, really taken a close look at the state of this once shining experiment of a nation.

Just think God, these nonsensical, ignoramuses call themselves your servants. If this is the truth I would suggest you have a really bad management policy. Really, first Lucifer and now this.

Dear God, don’t get me wrong, we were never perfect. We got so many things wrong for so very long, and as they say, the chickens are coming home to roost. The problem is, even as those chickens come home, even as they call out and demand better, a big part of the nation strikes back out of fear. But I will not talk to you about chickens; I need to tell you about people, humans, and the horror being wrought by your creations and against your creations.

Dear God, I know you see us and shake your head in disappointment. I would be throwing bombs at this point, massive ugly destructive bombs. Maybe you are; it is just a huge part of our population who are too myopic to see them for what they are. I have watched for forty (40) years as everything once considered of great value has been devalued beyond recognition. All we once turned away from has been uplifted, even idolized. Those who once were considered sideshows and unworthy of our attention or time now hold high office, preach from alters, or network ‘news’ desks nightly. We demonize what is good, even our founding principles, and hold up the criminal as worthy of adulation and emulation. We reward evil while crushing kindness, compassion, and those who question are demonized for their counter thinking.

Dear God, surely you see us and wonder at our use of the free will you have gifted us. Do you turn to Michael and say, “what did I do when I gave my greatest creation free will and intellect?” Does he answer you with a shake of his head and, “I told you so!

Dear God, we are slowly dying down here. Our brethren are being murdered in the streets by police. Then insult to injury, their murders are replayed for our entertainment on what passes for the nightly news. Inattention, poverty, police violence, crime, inadequate healthcare, and a host of other socially violent acts are killing the rest as we watch. We did this. We founded this nation on a violent sin and perpetuated that iniquity through our laws and bad acts. This nation, founded on a promise, was in truth based on a lie. Maybe an unwitting lie, but nonetheless a lie, a lie that continues four hundred (400) years later. Knowing this, we compound the lie with half-truths, bigotry and jingoism. We are so intent on ignoring history and hard truths, we willingly place ourselves in prisons of ignorance and bind future generations to even further depravations.

Dear God, don’t you ever look down and simply want to smite entire swaths of this wholly corrupt and entirely ignorant nation? I know if I were sitting where you are, I would have a difficult time not throwing a few fireballs right about now. I get it, Lord, you didn’t actually write the book all these $2 preachers yell fire and damnation about from their Lear Jets and McLaren Elva’s. I know that book is the accumulation of eons of men’s ruminations of how best to engineer society to suit them. I even know, though you may be in there somewhere, it really has little to do with you and more to do with the evil men do to one another in their quest for power over each other. But really, come on, God, don’t you just want to fling one or two lightning bolts?

Dear God, one more thing, and then I will leave off for now except for my daily talks with you about all this terrible and terrifying. Can’t you please reach down and touch the hearts of those who claim alignment with you. They gather in one place much of the year; they call themselves leaders and have the power to change lives. These men and women, they are a constant boil on our national ass. They fan the flames and fail in their duty almost daily, yet claim you as their guiding light. The men and women of our political class, whether city, state, or federal; whether elected or appointed, have lost their way and failed in their duty. Too many have chosen a path that leads to our destruction, putting their own enrichment above all others.  Too many have agreed to a lie that will lead to division and ultimately greater human misery. Do you see it, God? Are you waiting for our implosion to see who is left standing?

Dear God, I know some of your misguided children keep saying we are a Christian Nation. You and I know this is a laughable claim, and we are not anywhere close to this, never have been. We both know this claim is made by those who have no clue what this means and would not want to live in the nation they claim we are. Logic has no place in discussion with these clueless illiterates. In their right hand, they scream Taliban when they see a woman in a Habib, oh my, the horror of it all. In their left hand, they cry, we are a Christian Nation; what do they think that would mean?  I would suggest, oh God, they refer to that Good Book and the six hundred laws contained within for how a Christian Nation would be ruled going forward. Someone should remind them, these cretins of ignorance, they live in a land of Freedom of and from Religion that happens to have a majority of Christians within it. However, this majority is slowly changing because of their immoral acts. The American Christian Taliban just needs a nudge, just a small one, so they can get back in their lane and leave the rest of us alone, get back to bothering you. Dear God, I am done for now. I am afraid for my nation, my friends and my family. I am constantly grateful you have kept those I love safe. I hope we live up to our potential; I pray, as always, we continue to seek reconciliation, truth, and peace. I am grateful for the gifts you grant me, and once again thank you for listening.

Not Social Media

Recently I have been watching social media and the disruption to our social fabric. This isn’t of course new, it is though greater, larger and more ugly. Once upon a time Facebook and others like it came along and invaded our consciousness, invaded our lives in ways no one then could have predicted back in 2004 when Facebook first hit the internet with its innocuous and simple strategy to connect us with family and friends. Today, we are not only connected, we are divided, fighting over politics and anything else. Families are falling apart, lifelong friends are participating in virtual battles reminiscent of WWF cage matches, friends and strangers alike joining in or sitting on the sidelines with popcorn to see who will be emotionally destroyed this time. There is no room for the moderate in this new virtual reality, it is all or nothing proposition in every discussion, every issue must be pro or con, no middle ground is accepted.

I find myself at odds with the world these days. I live in the grey, not black or white, not pro or con, not yeah or nay. I am not a willing participant in the battles any longer, valuing my relationships far more than the debate I once loved. The joy of the examination no longer exists as it is no longer a literate, civil or educated one. I am no longer willing to participate, not with family and friends who I have loved for most if not all of my life. Now and then something so offends me I will offer up a thought, an opinion and then almost immediately regret it. I nearly always  find myself dragged down in the muck, mired in name calling and character assignation (mine) until I bow out of the conversation, defeated by the sheer ugliness of the attacks. These always end with me wondering how my friend or family member could sit back and allow these strangers, these new friends of theirs to attack my character and intellect without mercy simply because of my disagreement with a position. I am stunned by the vitriol within the virtual world of social media. I am brought to my knees some days, but truthfully over the past ten years this has been escalating, the introduction of social media and our ability to sit behind a computer screen to communicate without repercussion has shattered previous norms. I am always hurt by the unwillingness of my friends and family to stop the attacks, I always assume it is fear that stops them. Fear of retribution or ridicule from these friends with very specific and often extreme views.

Are we all becoming more extreme?

I constantly ask myself this question. Is social media enabling extreme views to flourish?

Another thought is, are the extreme views we see today new or simply the manifestation of what has always been part of our social fabric given a new and more anonymous outlet?

If the second question is the more closely aligned with the truth and we as a nation, as a people, are showing our true and terrible colors to the world then our descent from the ‘greatest’ nation to something less than, is well deserved. If on the other hand, social media simply provides an outlet for all the worst and is not representative of us, as a people than still we fail but we have the opportunity to redeem ourselves.

Still it seems I am at odds. The problem is, I am uncertain who I am at odds with. Am I at odds with the majority, truly I hope this is not the case? Am I at odds with friends and family who I have known a significant part of my life, I don’t think this is true as most are like me reasonable, moderate and intellectually curious? Am I at odds with those who I have politically aligned with for a significant part of my life, for better than forty years in fact. Am I at odds with the majority of my gender? Who and what am I at odds with and how in the hell do I resolve these strange disparities in thinking after all these years.

Truthfully the gaps I have found between myself and those who I would normally consider my political allies have too often become great chasms as the current environment has demanded ever more worshipful adherence to a party line moving further and further toward extremes. There is no room any longer for moderation, freedom of thought or thoughtful thinking. Any challenge is considered traitorous and opens the challenger up to being pilloried in the public square. Nevertheless, I continue to challenge. I continue to ask questions. I continue to think freely rather than being led like a lemming to the edge of the cliff. I continue to seek the best answers, no matter where that answer comes from and look for how to fix problems in the best way possible for the nation, not just for those I consider allies and friends. I still believe we have a nation worth saving for all of us. Perhaps I am naïve, yet I believe all our citizens are worth saving and while some are certainly worthy of demonizing based on their horrendous behavior, they are nonetheless part of the fabric of this nation and we must find the means to deal with them within the bounds of our laws, our norms and our hopefulness in a better future.

Someone close to me is convinced this terrible we find ourselves in today began with Barrack Obama, he has his ‘facts’ to show how this is the truth, how the election of this ‘inexperienced’ Senator from Illinois was the source of all our problems.

Someone else close to me points to Donald Trump and says the terrible is laid directly at his feet and prior to him, the nation was not this bad. She can list all the points she has that makes this true and stands firmly by her ‘facts’.

Someone else I know says Bill Clinton’s presidency and the investigation into Whitewater and then later the Monica Lewinsky scandal are where the Terrible began, where the nation experienced the first great divide. Where the polarization of the body politic first happened and that we have never truly recovered.

presidentsI think we must go much further back to find the initial cracks. The first crack, when LBJ signed Civil Rights and the parties shifted. The next with Nixon and the Southern Strategy. The continuation with Reagan and Trickle Down Economics, shifting wealth from the middle to the top creating larger and larger gaps in income each decade since. Barack Obama’s election simple brought fear to the surface, fear of other and fear that what White Folks had been hearing for years was coming to fruition, they were no longer the dominate majority. With the election of Donald Trump, that fear showed its ugly underbelly, it is manifest across the nation and of course vibrant and quivering on Social Media.

So back to where I started, does social media provide or enable a disruption to our social fabric, to norms and values? Are we enabled by the anonymous nature of social media to act on our worst nature? Do we reveal in it or is it simply easier to allow are worst angels their flight wings.

If the above is true, do we have the ability to stuff the ugly and terrible back into the box or is this it, the electronic version of The Purge where friends, family and imperfect strangers attack driving those they disagree with off in virtual bloodletting frenzies.

Telling the Blues

Starting Here

You wouldn’t know it by my writings I am extraordinarily private about much of my life, especially if it is imperfect in my own eyes. I intimated I was struggling in my last somewhat personal writing, here Introversion and the Blues, still, it doesn’t tell the entire story. I find I haven’t had the words, my voice simply silenced by my internal war with depression. I could not find a way to tell the story of my own fear, melancholy and my failure to be compassionate toward myself.

The truth, while this isn’t the first time I have been laid low by depression it has been one of the worst. It was exacerbated by external influences, some over which I had control but chose to push to the limits and others over which my control was limited if not non-existent. I allowed others inside my world, wanting to believe they had my best interest at heart, even while knowing they did not. I dug my hole deeper, shook my soul harder turned myself inward, allowed myself to be hurt, time and again and ultimately doubting myself, questioning myself, my value and my worth.

There were days when the sun came up and I despaired that I had woken with the sun. There were nights, I lay down and prayed for that one last seizure that would stop my breath and heart.

Terrible, I know. Terrible to write the words. Terrible to admit that I felt this for so long. Terrible to acknowledge there are times I still feel this way some nights, some mornings.

The truth is, my blues had gripped me hard this time and initially I had not realized just how hard or for how long they have had me in their grasp. I kept thinking I am out of it, the fog is lifted I am moved beyond this thing but the truth is, I hadn’t. I keep looking for the starting point, that place in time I can put a stake in the ground, in my soul, in my psyche; when did it start where the Y in the road had appeared and I took that path that led here, to this place right now. Honestly? I don’t know. There are so many intersections over the past five years, so many points in time.

I am so grateful there are a few beloved friends and family members who saw my despair and continued to stand by me, shake me now and then, reach into my self-imposed bubble of silence and demand my participation. They did this even when I retreated further into my natural state of isolation. It would have been so easy to stand aside, let me draw my darkness closer and allow me to withdraw further knowing my introversion was simply part of my personality but that this was different. They saw me and saw this was more, this was dangerous and they sometimes kicked the shit out of me and other times just gently prodded me into the world, if even just for an hour or two.  These diehards, who dug in knowing I was closer to the edge than I would ever admit to withstood my rejections, my absolute and outright sometime lies of “I am fine, really”. They threw lifelines and drug me through and demanded I stay in the world, even when my one true desire was to give up when the world seem pitiless and I wanted nothing more than to get up and get off.

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Am I beyond this funk, this fog, this blue? No, really I am not yet. But I know it has been clinging to me and I get that I have been reacting badly, letting too much of my life be taken over by this terrible. I know I have made some horrible choices because I was hurting. I know I allowed others to hurt me because I was hurting and thought they were the most I deserved. I know now I nearly broke myself because I didn’t heed the warning signs, I didn’t listen to my own heart and soul when I screamed. Thankfully, even during this time, I have made some great choices too. I have done some good things for .  myself though I nearly took myself to the brink of destruction and lost it all.

Is it over? No, not yet. I have recovery to do. I have to find those doors to walk through, those steps to take to recover what I have lost. I have to find ways to be healthy, to embrace what I know and allow others to take care of me when I need it. It is time for me to start the slow climb back, emotionally, financially, physically and elsewhere in my life so I can live with all the choices past, present and future. It is time to re-engage the world on my terms, without apology or recrimination. I have to recognize I am subject to the Blues, not let them overtake my world, destroy what I build and be proactive or one of these days I won’t have the opportunity to say no more.

For those who suffer from Depression, I get it. This is hard. It is always hard. We lose so much every single time. Do not do this alone, reach out if you can and if you can’t let others reach in grab the lifelines they throw.

What the Hell America

0-9jzicdodmhkgda85I have written this, rewritten this and then written it again. My words have stopped one hundred times. My ability to place into words, written or otherwise my thoughts on the tragedy that is our current national mood, I am at a loss.

We are three weeks from the election of Donald J. Trump and his God Awful running mate Michael R. Pence. I watched, numb and mostly in stunned silence as this travesty took place. Actually, I watched for months as Trump stomped, whined, insulted, bullied and assaulted our senses without a single person truly taking him on, not the media, or the opposition, not the majority of his own party and not the public.

I watched as we all shook our heads, thought never would the GOP allow this buffoon and life-long Democrat to represent them, to take over their party or be elected POTUS. We ignored what was before us every step of the way.  We whined when he insulted entire groups, when he bullied, when he assaulted, when he got into twitter wars, when he suggested his opponent be murdered, when he suggested a foreign nation hack our systems and interfere with our election. But we didn’t demand he be taken down by the systems we have in place such as the Justice Department or the FBI.

No, we did nothing at all, we piled onto our own nominee instead…Benghazi and Email all the way.trump-pence-03

Like so many I watched as the perfect Manchurian Candidate plowed through practiced professionals, chewed up the press and sucked in the disenfranchised, left-out, angry and ignorant with the aplomb of the reality star he had been for decades. We shook our heads as he selected as his running mate the most far right homophobic, misogynistic, xenophobic, hate and fear mongering insider there was out there and we said not one damned word.

The DNC offered up Hillary Rodham Clinton as the anointed candidate for our acceptance. With little in the way of opposition and despite her many flaws the Left was told it was her turn now. It seemed we were to be led by dynastic houses rather than the democratic process.

We laughed and shook our heads, we polished our wit as we watched Martin O’Malley be skewered and drop out. Bernie Sanders snuck up from the true progressive left claiming ideals and ideas at odds with Mrs. Clinton and the DNC and forcing at least a conversation, carrying a true populace standard. What did we do? We impaled our own candidates, at least those with the nerve to challenge the anointed. We disregarded the corruption of the super delegate system, we disregarded the voice of challenge. We disregarded the message. We laughed as we ushered Hillary onto the stage as the pre-determined and anointed candidate of choice.

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One thing on Hillary, one thing only. I have never been a fan of Mrs. Clinton, however, I also believe at least 70% of what is said about her is flat out smear tactics that have stuck because it has been said often enough over the past thirty years. She is not the devil most believe her to be, in fact, she is an accomplished, knowledgeable, well-educated public servant. Is she perfect? No, but then who is. Has she made mistakes? She absolutely has, so have we all. My problem? If even 10% of what is said is true then she is corrupt, who the hell wants to elect a person to the presidency knowing they are corrupt. I know I don’t.

But it seems this nation did not care if the President Elect is corrupt, so long as they got to choose the corruption.

This nation has elected a president who wants nothing more than to enrich himself and his family. Yes, that’s right that is his primary goal. Make no mistake, this is not a man who looks at the Presidency and says to himself, “How am I going to do right by the 325 million people in the United States over the next four years.

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He isn’t concerned, he doesn’t give a shit about the lives of those people, not the ones who voted for him and certainly not the ones who didn’t vote for him. If this isn’t obvious yet, it will be.

What can we say? What can we do? I have watched as some have taken to the streets. I have listened as some of those on the streets have espoused their anger at election results in one breath while in the next admitting they did not vote. What? I have watched as one with the least to lose has challenged results in multiple states, raising money to do so, okay this is good right? Yet, where does the excess go? Who will benefit in the end?

I have watched old friends vent their fury at the outcome, draw the lines that are at once ugly and specific.

If I am White I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am a White Woman, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am White and Heterosexual, I am to blame. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame and I have no right to any opinion. No matter how I voted.

If I am any or all of the above, I am to blame, I have no right to any opinion, no matter how I have voted this year or in the past and no matter what I have done throughout my life to open doors or make positive change. The lines have now been drawn. Friendships are now set aside. Civil Discourse is no longer possible.

I have watched this play out time and again. I am saddened by it. I am silenced by it. I weep for friendships lost. I weep for our nation, for the fear engendered by this election, for the hate boiling over in all corners, for the normalization of racism, xenophobia, homophobia, misogyny. I weep for where we are going. I fear for all of us, mostly I fear for those who will be most harmed by what is to come.

I wonder, how do we begin to attack the hate and bigotry being normalized and enabled by this election, by this President Elect and the cabinet he is nominating? Where do we start if we are unable to even remember our own friendships and alliances? How do we even begin to undo what is done if we are only willing to fight within our house. We came out. We voted. Did alliances hold? Not always, but we have to look beyond and we have to talk rather than point our fingers. We have to reach out rather than beat down. We have to work together rather than lay blame within. We cannot afford more loss, more giving ground.

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Fallen Apart

soapboxpileTo support one thing does not mean I am against another. I want to make certain all who read my words understand this, to support one thing does not place me at odds with another thing. I can be for both, I can be in support of two seemingly different things. How you might ask, it is simple and I will tell you in as simple as terms as possible.

I am for humanity. I am for human dignity. I am for justice, fairness. I am for all of us, together as a people, as a nation finding solutions that will move us forward toward sanity and peace. I am at a loss, not just for words but my spirit is seeping away, hiding in a dark corner and refusing to seek the light any longer.

We are a people of disquiet and terrible, tragic division. We are not a single people, joined together by our desire to become stronger through our diversity and our shared history. Instead, we have sought the lowest common denominator, sought the very worst in ourselves and celebrated these most terrible and violent traits that drag prejudice and fear. Some of us protest the violent and senseless loss of life, we march and raise our voices demanding justice and change, yet the only thing that truly changes is the divide widens, the chasm of mistrust grows between us and violence increases. In our demand for recognition, our voices raised seeking justice that has not been ours in the past we say with one word, allies and friends be damned and cheer as innocent blood runs in the street.

The language of divisiveness has torn us down and apart. A mirror has been held up and we have seen ourselves, the worst of ourselves and embraced it. We have forgotten that good exists in abundance. We have chosen instead to ratchet up the hate, the vile rhetoric that will incite fear and violence on both sides of the ever widening abyss. Our leadership, whether elected or otherwise,5-signs-from-last-night-s-game-of-thrones-that-point-to-the-rise-of-daenerys-the-derange-996054 uses every opportunity to politicize death and mayhem, to feed our fear and fury. We are spiraling down the rabbit hole toward anarchy and those who would be king, they sit and rub their hands together gleefully as we fulfill their mad desire.

We watch in horror as another Black man is gunned down in the street or in his car as his child watches. We listen in horror as amateur journalists put their deaths on Facebook live, rather than offer them comfort and we justify their actions, we understand their actions because we need to know we need to see the bad acts. We forget to weep, we are immune we have seen this all before replayed over and over, these deaths simply cause our fury. Another senseless death. Another child, father, husband murdered by those sworn to serve and protect, murdered by those who will not be held accountable.

We blame the victims, searching for any misstep they might have made in their past, smearing them in public to justify their death. We tsk tsk as their death is replayed, over and over and every pundit tells us what we should think of them, depending upon what side of the chasm they speak from. We see the pain of their family, the fury of their loved ones and the demand for justice sends us to the street, more and more often with terrible results.

DALLAS, TX - JULY 11: Dallas Police Chief David Brown

We pay men and women to put on the blue, to ‘protect’ and to ‘serve’ us, the people. We demand they do so and without them Anarchy would rein in the streets. Yes, we must demand they be held to a higher, more perfect standard. We must require they be fit for the job they perform. DPC David Brown had been doing that, going against what many believed would work in Dallas, he charted a new course.  Dallas has become a model city, proving community policing and modern ideas can work in large diverse city. We cannot ever be good with the mayhem, the chaos and misery they cause in our cities, our communities. We must not turn away, thinking just so long as it isn’t at our doorstep and so long as we can justify it with a good old fashioned smear campaign of culture, people or individual we can ignore it as ‘not our problem’.

Last week seven people lost their lives senselessly to violence. We do not know all the details surrounding the deaths of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, but we know enough. We watched in horror as they died. We have also watched in horror as their lives have been dissected and their characters smeared.

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Their deaths have led to nationwide marches, demands for justice, demands for change and unfortunately in some cases demands for the blood of police. Which was finally met on Thursday night at a peaceful #BLM demonstration, with shooting of twelve Dallas police officers, resulting in the death of five. Not just any twelve, not just any five, but in retribution specific targets were selected based on race and their wearing of the Blue.

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Dallas mourns their fallen. I mourn the fallen. I mourn with the families of Alton Stearling and Philando Castile, their loss is devastating. I mourn with the families of the fallen officers, their loss is also devastating. In truth, how can we mourn one while celebrating the other? Yes, to all of those who have said ‘good’, to the loss of those five police officers I say shame on you and truthfully ‘fuck you’. We cannot mourn one without mourning both to do otherwise is ignorance on our part and shows a lack of compassion that strips us of our humanity.

Why don’t we know by now, we are one people born of struggle, fire, blood and tragedy. We are one people, born of spiritual poverty and horrify mistakes. But one people generations removed from our beginnings yet it seems still mired in the ignorance of our ancestors, still clinging like Velcro to our history it seems we will continue to refuse to climb out. If we do not learn to reach across the divide we are doomed. So yes, I can and do support both. I can and do see both and desire reconciliation, change, justice and the creation of a better more perfect nation. This, this tragic and terrible one, it has to end. But violence, bloodshed, hate and bigotry this will not end well for any of us.

If We Were Having Coffee-Circles Unbroken

If we were having coffeeimages we might have it here, in my small but a little bit cozy apartment. I still haven’t fully unpacked, there are a few boxes I have no clue what they contain. I struggle to figure out how to organize the bits and pieces, but have finally decided maybe I simply don’t need too right at this moment in time (more later). I would offer you a seat either at my table, on the couch or outside on the porch overlooking the pool, what is on offer is a selection of hot or cold beverages today. Yes, I still have the Tequila in the freezer but I am not feeling the need, happy to provide some for you though if you feel as if it will help you through the day.

It has been terrible out in the world, hasn’t it? I remain stunned by the lack of viable candidates for POTUS from the two major political parties. I stand ashamed for us as a nation that this is what we have to choose from. The USA has for years called themselves the leader of the free world and we have stomped through the world as if we had the right to be there, telling others how to run their nations. We have plowed through nations, as if we had the moral obligation to ‘right’ the wrongs. I believe we can safely say, we are not the moral / ethical standard bearers of jack shit any longer. We haven’t been for a very long time, probably for far longer than any of us realize but with this election cycle I think it is safe to say we can put down our national ego, tuck our tails between our legs and keep our happy asses at home.

The news has been full of terrible and tragic. I can hardly bring myself to turn on the television anymore. Worse yet, though we seem to have a plethora of reasons to take a hard look at ourselves and make changes, those we have put in charge don’t seem to be aligned with us. Forty-nine dead in Orlando at the hand of a maniac, two young girls dead at the hand of their mother in Houston and still nothing. Congress people ‘sitting in’ on the floor of the House, deemed nothing more than a ‘publicity stunt’ by a tone deaf House Speaker, while a nation clamors for change. The DNC ignoring the voices of millions to define a platform for the future distinctly not Progressive and not inclusive of those who have said ‘Never Hillary’, nearly insuring a future Trump presidency.

Abraham Lincoln said, “America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

I believe we are seeing the beginning of the end of our once great nation.

Maybe I will take some of that Tequila after all, what about you?

If we were having coffee I would have to turn the conversation toward some better subjects, this one has been a bit morose. Honestly, when I sold my house and moved to this apartment I thought I would be here for at least six months. The market in Dallas is hot and rough right now, houses come on and off in the blink of the eye, they are also expensive and I was beginning to think I was going to be priced out of the market. Honestly? I was getting a little bit afraid, thinking maybe I had made a rash decision in selling my house. Well lo and behold, I simply needed to broaden my mind and my search field. Not only did I find something that suits me quite well, I made an offer, but I am in the tail end of the escrow process.

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Not there yet mind you. The inspection is done, out of this there were some concessions made and I am happy. The appraisal should be back next week and I don’t expect any surprises. My finance package is with the underwriter and though there are always questions because of my status as a ‘contractor’ and private business owner, I honestly don’t expect any real problems. The house is fun, it is 2,400 sq. ft. all on one floor. It is imperfect, just the way I like it, needs work but it isn’t a disaster. Built in 1976, it has great potential to be fabulous! There are some things I will do before ever moving in and other things I will do over the next two years to make it entirely mine.

Things to do before moving a stick of furniture into the house:

  • Fix all faulty AC venting
  • Fix plumbing in master bath
  • Remove all carpeting and tile throughout house and replace with stained concrete or hardwood
  • Repaint entire interior
  • Replace exterior door hardware
  • Install security system
  • Remove screen door
  • Widen interior office door (converted garage) and hang Barn Doors
  • Replace electric kitchen appliances with gas (oven and stove)

Seems like a long list doesn’t it? I know it seems daunting to me too. But honestly it isn’t that bad, either cost or effort wise. Most of it is small stuff, likely the worst one on there (cost) is the floors, I simply cannot tolerate carpet though. The funny thing about this little gem in the rough? It is a ‘flipped’ house, the current owner put lipstick on a pig, clearly watched far too many house flipping shows but didn’t pay attention to the important stuff, thus ended up having to pay $5,000 in repair concessions which will go a long ways toward my ‘things I have to do’ budget.

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Assuming all goes well, I will close on the house 11-July and all the work will be done within 30 days. So I will be living in my new home by 1-September. Exciting stuff.

One more thing that is sort of exciting, if you have followed along with me for a while you might remember a few years ago when I wrote about the Grown Assed Man, here and here that I wanted in my life. It has taken me a while, it has taken a few missteps and a couple of stumbles. It has been a difficult time of resets, finding my own personal comfort zones and learning that I am first very good company and second a very good person and woman. When I finally found my way through all that, I also figured out what I wrote in Grown Assed Man Parts 1 and 2, that really was in large part all of it, what I wanted and needed in a partner/lover and that I deserved it all. The other thing I discovered? I deserved to have it all, but having it all was different today than I thought. Today having it all meant retaining my independence and personal ‘self’ even while growing into a commitment that might just be with that Grown Assed Man I wrote about.

So that is what has been going on, just small things. I hope as always you are doing well and you will tell me what is going on with you. As usual I have taken over the entire conversation. I do want to share this with you, I found it recently and it has stuck with me, I hope you find it as poignant as I have.

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Things I Know

Sleeping BeautyI know we have an infinite well of compassion, empathy and love at our disposal. We are bottomless, we are never tapped out. Not ever in our lifetimes do we run out of ‘good’.

We might retreat.

We might close the spigot.

The truth is though, we remain full up no matter how much we give. Truth be told, I suspect the more we give the more we have within us to give.

I know we learn throughout our lives. We learn every single day and through every relationship. Sometimes we learn how to become better people, other times we learn to love in better ways. Sometimes we learn our capacity for love, other times we learn our capacity for pain.

With experience we change, our world view changes. Who we are changes as our understanding of self and our place within the world grows. As we learn we find our footing, we determine where we are comfortable, what makes us tick, what makes us sing, what makes us dance. We emerge as our true selves, like butterflies from our chrysalises.

I know we all have the innate ability to forgive, ourselves and others. Not the forgiveness many of us are taught in our churches, but something much deeper and more intimate. As children we are quick to let go of hurt, fast to return to those we love. It is only as adults we hang on to our anger, plot revenge or simply wrap ourselves in painful reminders building shields to protect ourselves in the future.

We forget, anger and hate are active emotions requiring our participation. Forgiveness does not mean you give someone, not even yourself, a free pass. It does not mean you have said to anyone they are free to do harm again. Forgiveness doesn’t come easily to most of us, it is a hard fought battle of letting go. Sometimes, even as we forgive we also must say ‘no more’. There are times when we must see our only choice is letting go, lovingly and with great compassion, simply letting go.

I know each of us is unique and wonderfully made. We are, each of us, flawed and perfect at once. We are forged within the furnace of our family and later by the fires of society; whether tragic or magnificent, usually both, we are formed. As we walk through our lives both alone and with others we are formed into something distinctive and entirely individual.

So many of us these days try to fit in, try to hide our light in anonymity primarily because there is a certain safety in numbers and shades of beige and gray. We fall into the common thought that ‘fitting in’ will gain us acceptance, get us further in life or even provide us a more comfortable living. Maybe this is all true, perhaps if we work hard to strip ourselves of what makes us distinctively us we will have an easier time in the world, but then we will also have to wake every single day and force our spirit into boxes of conformity that may not fit as well as we like, that may squeeze every bit of life from us and leave us gasping for breath.

I know we are meant to dance in the rain with abandon and joy.

I know we are designed for pleasure and it is not a thing to be ashamed of or to shame others out of.

I know we are infused with the spirit compassion and forgiveness.

I know we are intended to give and receive love without stinting or judgement.

I know the world has corrupted our vision of ourselves as human and humane, who we are and what we should be. We have too often substituted joy for shame, compassion for weakness and love for sex in our pursuit of anything to fill a hole in our spirit and our heart. Far too many of us look toward others to define a reality that isn’t our own and then we judge ourselves as failures for not living up to impossible standards.

All of these things I know in my heart. As I continue to work through what I need, how to free myself and where to go from here, all these things I know.

14-April-2016

14-April-2016

Weekend Coffee Share: It isn’t that

imagesIf we were having coffee I would have asked you to come to my house, I know odd but it might be the last time I am able to host you here and it is important to me. I would pour you a cuppa of my favorite blend, cut with chicory and strong enough to stand a spoon upright in, offer you a selection of sweet creams and sugars before we settled in. Look out the back window, my Lavender is starting to come in I am truly going to miss that view, I cut them back in January so they would come in heavy this spring.

This past month has seen too many changes, decisions and strange happenings. I am underwater most of the time simply trying to catch my breath or is it hold my breath in between sinking. Having a house on the market, dang it isn’t easy. In fact, it is hard. Add to just the normal, keeping it in ‘show’ ready condition all the time as if I don’t actually live here, is the barrage of strangers walking through my home. It is an uncomfortable feeling, at best it is uncomfortable.

I had a contract, went through inspection fairly unscathed and then the appraisal came in extraordinarily low, specifically $70,000 low. Even the buyers’ bank questioned the competency of the appraiser and they have ordered a new one at their expense. In the meantime, the house is back on the market and I am questioning my sanity. The original buyers are not happy they will have to make a new offer after the new appraisal (on Wednesday), but they are the ones that wanted their earnest money back.

Why, why am I putting myself through this? But then, I look around and realize I simply cannot sustain myself in this house any longer. I cannot maintain this house, without help. It is no longer a home and though there are many things I truly love, I cannot live here alone anymore. Is what I am planning risky? Yes, surely it is. But then, without risk there is no life. I would tell you, if I can do this and come out on the right side of it all in the end maybe I can get some of my life back.

If we were having coffee I would tell you about my current contract and how my hours have been cut from 36 to somewhere in the neighborhood of 12. How I am now looking for my next contract and it will likely force me to travel again, the very last thing I wanted to do. The mantra of ‘getting my life back’ is looking more impossible all the time. Just when I am trying for more normalcy it is looking as if it is slipping away from me.

I would tell you, I am truly tired. Bone tired and scared too. I didn’t think this would be my life at nearly sixty years old. I thought it would be something much different. I would tell you how hard it is to write at this time, though I have so much to say with words bouncing in my head and hurting me sometimes with the need let them fly, I find more solace in my journals than actual writing for consumption. My natural inclination toward isolation has been in the forefront these days and even blogging has seemed to public, too much like giving up space.

I would tell you how difficult love is, all of it. Friends and family worry about me, they don’t see me or hear from me in any of the normal ways I interact, none of the snarky social media daily posts, none of the morning texts to say I love them. I would tell you though, I am trying to sort out my space and my world in a way that makes sense to me. Trying to frame love, all of it in a way that makes sense to me. Sometimes, love is hard. Especially when you aren’t young and innocent anymore, instead you have had a full life and some disappointments and hurts, you can’t approach love with the same wide-eyed wonder. Love is hard, especially when you know yourself, when you know who you are and what you want and need from life. Finding a partner with luggage as battered as your own, who won’t judge your monsters, well that is damned near a miracle. I would tell you, love is a miracle all of its own.

After I had rambled on, likely with tears at some point because my tears seem to come easily lately I would ask you to jump in and tell me what is going on in your world. I would hope you have had a more uplifting week, maybe good news even something silly we could giggle about. I promise you, I would listen throughout.

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