Half(a)Life

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Me arrancaste el alma…

and there, in the palm of my hand,
the bloody trace of
who I am, who I
might have been

…corazón destruido por latir…

the words come like a bolt
from the black,
will not be taken back
when the past strikes it hits like
a gunshot,
memory shrapnel to the back of the head
and leaves you for dead

…latiendo por destruir…

we die every moment
and live every death, a breath’s hesitation
a lifetime’s regret, until forgetfulness
comes and erases the line
between real pain and play
a world swept away in an instant of
always

…un espejo hecho añicos.

Patrick Swayze on a Pottery Wheel!

Demi_Moore (5)

According to our resident Delphic barnacle, Rush Limbaugh, Donald Trump as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee has come “out of nowhere.”

Let’s talk about that.

We live our lives in an online environment characterized by hateful, ideologically violent ad hominem attacks, hit-and-run partisan rhetoric, and the guilt-free savaging of people we call friends. We have done for years. Day in and day out. And you are what you eat.

Women assume all men want to rape them. Whites assume all blacks want to rob them. Blacks assume all cops want to kill them. Americans assume all Muslims want to blow them up. And we all assume that anyone who disagrees with us in any way must be our enemy, and at the very least can never be our friend. And the kicker is, none of these are completely groundless assumptions.

We live in a world of exceptions proving rules.

When I walk across campus, I am nearly run down by people so absorbed in their iPhones that they forget other people exist. We carry on conversations with distant strangers (twits with tweets that we are), while our nearest neighbors are virtually unknown to us. And when I do happen to catch someone’s eye, it’s often hard to distinguish between latent fear and outright dismissal.

We are terrified of everyone and everything. We populate our world with ghosts and specters of threats and danger (we ain’t talkin’ Patrick Swayze here!), and we embody those spirits in the forms of all the Others we don’t know how to approach: Muslims are terrorists, the transgendered are perverts, Mexicans are rapists, and African-Americans are thugs and welfare queens. Full stop.

Then, to put the friggin’ cherry on top, we wrap all this bullshit up in a nice, neat bundle of jingoistic self-satisfaction: we are the U.S.A., dammit, and we’ve stopped by to save the day! Can we help it if the rest of the world is too blind to see how much it needs our “assistance”?

We are a nation of self-absorbed, narcissistic, multiphobic war hawks with a collective God-complex.

Donald Trump? Yeah…what a shocker!…

To Pee or Not to Pee…

CAROLINA-sheneman

That is the question.

Okay, Christians, you asked for it:

Take your religious freedom and shove it! This is not freaking about YOU! And don’t give me this crap about how these anti-transgender laws provide a “baseline protection” for your religious freedom. There’s already a baseline protection for Christians in this country: being a Christian in this country. 501(c)3s, anyone? It’s on our money, it’s there every time we insist on political candidates “clarifying their views” on faith, and it pops out whenever anybody talking about anything anywhere in government “God blesses” America, as if it’s some sort of spiritual freaking punctuation mark.

In case you don’t get it (and probably haven’t thought about it), preventing the transgendered from using the restroom of their choice is equivalent to insisting that I, a straight male, use the ladies’ room. A transgender woman is a woman, not a man dressed like one; a transgender man is a man, not a woman in disguise. Simple as that. Kind of like a Christian who discriminates against others just because he can is an asshole, no matter how he dresses.

I am tired of wearing kid gloves on this issue. Religious freedom is not about pooping on others; it’s about freedom from getting pooped on by others. It’s about freedom from people like you. So, for the love of God (literally), keep your pooping to yourself. In the restroom of your choice. AS IT SHOULD BE!!!

Personals

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Lonely Guy seeks lonely girl
all alone in a drowned-out world
too many swine, not enough pearls
for a heart set on roses and curls

Lonely Girl seeks lonely guy
a little action in a world of try
too hard to live, too soon to die
she can’t remember how to fly

lonely guys in lists and tiles
lonely girls with lonely smiles
lonely roads, lonely miles
to end up beached upon the piles

I Got 99 Problems, but to Bitch Ain’t One

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Learn to look, because compassion is understanding itself. 

– Thich Nhat Hanh

It occurs to me that I have nothing to complain about.

It also occurs to me that I don’t know from injustice. I mean, other than in theory, as it applies to other people, stuck in other lives. But in practice it is, for all practical purposes, foreign to me.

Black Lives Matter. Equal pay for equal work. A woman’s right to choose. The plight of the refugee. Gender discrimination. All these things speak to me. But I cannot speak to them.

What I can do–really, all I can do–is listen.

Because at the end of the day, the real professionals aren’t the “expert” talking heads on Fox or MSNBC, or the eggheads in the halls of academia, or the do-nothings in Congress. And it’s definitely not me. No, the real professionals are the people living these circumstances from day to day, the ones who can’t escape the situation simply because it is who they are, whether they like it or not.

I can watch, as I did yesterday, documentaries on the Holocaust; I can read books about slavery and Jim Crow; I can feel the weight of my own history, the white albatross of my existence, hung about my shoulders. But I cannot really comprehend the weight that my history has hung about the shoulders of these others.

So, I watch. And I listen. And I trust that my teachers, caught in a structure of real suffering, real injustice, know of what they speak. It is painful, to allow others to inform me of my complicity in matters that seem beyond my control, but these are words I must hear. I must yield to the experiences of those whose experiences can never be mine. Even if those experiences feature me in the role of antagonist.

This is not to say that I have no opinions on the subjects in question. But my opinions, however honestly considered, are also fatally flawed; they are based on feelings I cannot wholly feel, with which I can only sympathize, never empathize. And sympathy, while perhaps warm and fuzzy, is ultimately ineffectual. It is theater.

Racial theater is somehow the stand-in for actually confronting the problem. It lets us move on feeling like we’ve done something without challenging the order of things. And we tell ourselves after watching the special or listening to the conversation that we are all better people for doing so–that we are, at least, a bit less racist. But our racial habits remain completely intact. (Eddie S. Glaude, Jr.)

I don’t want to tell you not to take it personally. That’s the point: we never do. Not really. There is a difference between taking offense at something and taking that something personally. To take it personally is to make it our own, to the extent that we can. And we make it our own by recognizing that it is not, and making room for those to whom it really belongs.

It hurts, to be told you are ineluctably part of the very injustice you abhor. It hurts, but the truth often does. It stings, but it’s necessary. It is hard to step out of my own way, to stop listening to the sound of my own voice long enough to really hear someone else’s.

When you listen to someone, you should give up all your preconceived ideas and your subjective opinions; you should just listen to him, just observe what his way is. We put very little emphasis on right and wrong or good and bad. We just see things as they are with him, and accept them. This is how we communicate with each other. Usually when you listen to some statement, you hear it as a kind of echo of yourself. You are actually listening to your own opinion. If it agrees with your opinion you may accept it, but if it does not, you will reject it or you may not even really hear it. (Shunryu Suzuki)

Sure, I have problems. Everybody does. But are they really worth bitching about? My house drives me crazy…but I have a house. I really don’t like my job…but I have a job, and it pays well enough.

I don’t have to beg people to accept my marriage as valid “in the eyes of God.”

I don’t have to fear deportation or being turned away from a nation’s borders because I happen to resemble others who have done evil things, regardless of my innocence or guilt.

And unless I do something really, really stupid, I don’t have to worry about being stopped, frisked, Tasered, and/or shot by an officer of the “law.”

For some people, existence itself is a problem. For them, life is one long experience of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, because there is no “right” place for them to be. For no other reason than that they don’t look like me, or talk like me, or dress like me, or worship whichever deity I would prescribe.

Me? I’m white, straight, and male in the United States of America.

So who the hell am I to talk?

Just a Tip: Tipping, Empathy, and Eating Shit.

Tip your waiter/waitress, people!

Kristopher Bone dot com

In Japan, I’m told, it’s considered insulting to tip your waiter. Apparently, so the story goes, since the waitstaff are paid a real wage, to attempt to pay them more than the price on the menu is both unnecessary and presumptuous.

I don’t necessarily agree with the custom of tipping, to be quite honest. If I weren’t a waiter myself, I can tell you that I wouldn’t be too keen on it. Every other week lately, there’s some new restaurant out in New York or here in Toronto that’s decided to follow the international model and do away with tipping altogether, raising both the wages for their staff and the prices on their menus accordingly. On the one hand, I applaud that. As a restauranteur, concerned with the overall experience of your guests, to do away with the often-uncomfortable and sometimes-mysterious convention of tipping is probably a good idea. Make…

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