Saturday, September 30, 2017

-Disable comments
-Ignore hypocrisy
-Ignore judgement
-Disregard social media for a while

I'm not able to rant about this when it's fresh because my new job doesn't allow for any social media time has been wildly frustrating.  So:  I was listening to MPR (my commuter jam) early inthe morning when they ran a piece on the Thursday Packers/Bears game, and wanted to focus on the recent National Anthem kerfluffle. (Kneeling. Linked arms.  Owners disavowing it then allowing it, etc.)  They aired conversations where they said they spoke with 5-6 people, (If you were awake at 6:30 you might've heard it) and it ranged from "I don't know, I just think it's fine...I guess..." to "I go to these games to escape, not get political, but whatever" to interviewing a Vietnam Vet who stood out front of Lambeau and stated very clearly how he feels about it. (Angry.  Thinks it's disrepectful.  etc. etc.)  Point being, there was not a single voice of support to the players or even an interview with a person who thinks what they're doing is right or their message should be heard.  In short, kind of lopsided journalism.  Like, who are we pandering to?  Are we making fun of them?  Supporting them?  Then it got me thinking-

If you don't like the protest, we fucking already KNOW why you think it's disrespectful etc etc etc. We know. We know we know we fucking know. You don't need to repeat your goddamn message and scream it and make long winded opinion pieces about it. I'm pretty sure that people are patriotic about the flag too.  You don't need to fill social media or write opinion pieces.  It's galling to make the baseless assumption that people are somehow unpatriotic or unAmerican because they choose to come out and stage a protest on a popular stage...one where your enjoyment of the event does not hinge on the words starting with "Oh say can" and starting with "Buh-raaaaaave" (Usually with unnecessary runs and vibrato, depending on your choice of singer, but seriously.  It's a lovely enough song to sing straight through.  Maybe consider starting a little lower so you can hit those power notes if you're a baritone or alto, y'know?)

The actual problem is the complete unwillingness to see where the people protesting are coming from. We don't need explanation pieces as to why you think standing is important. We're patriots and have a fully realized comprehension of the sacrifices we may never understand, or at least have been educated as to the importance of the symbol of freedom.  On the liberal flip side, we don't even needt need to blather on about how "As of 2009 this wasn't even a practice" or memes showing lazy congresspeople sitting on their asses or even reminding people that the anthem has racist verses (which people don't seem to care about*) or there are constitutional amendments in place saying how people treat the flag are protected.

Breathe. Take a sec.

Because, if you're allowing yourself from your laptop of computer or television (yeah...get angry on your couch.  Awesome.)  You are not seeing the flip side. And the people who are experiencing it, and the people like myself are going to keep saying that you are not willing to acknowledge that systemic racism exists. That *white supremacy* exists. And that having this douchebag as our POTUS has allowed the thin candy-coated veneer of racism that's been a cancerous and insidious issue undermining our society for the last 60 years to peel away so that the death-eaters can roam freely and say what they want, and THEN say that they don't see where the problem is and that racism was solved but at the same time there has ALWAYS been racism so can't we just GET ALONG and then act confused and blather about reverse-racism and overpaid athletes and celebrities who should just shut up...people who are telling you, 
asking you, 
and begging you to stop and listen are being patently,

 ignored.

That's the issue. You complain and want them to stop.  And do what?  Complain at home?  Over eggs and homework?  Keep quiet, but let us have our escape.  Because...I don't know...you don't walk outside with your kids and wonder who's going to die, you?  Or junior?  Or a friend? 

See...You'll STILL get football and people playing and drafts and trades and people who abuse their spouses on camera and trash talk and Super Bowl rings and the ability to bitch out the fact that JT is going to be in a halftime show and how Prince or the Stones were better and how that late hit makes that team a piece of shit and isn't it sad that traumatic brain injury is only *just now* sort of becoming an issue but YEESSSSSSSSS did you SEE that fucking play?!?!?

Of a ball that gets thrown on camera for millions to see. Thrown by a black man. To another black man. For your entertainment. While meanwhile, another black man gets shot by a jittery cop in his car with his kid and girlfriend recording it all.  A guy who works and is loved at a school.  But he might've smoked a doob, so okay.

Knees aren't being taken for your inability to comprehend the ideas behind patriotism and your idea of respectful behavior.  What the common person, or even a serviceperson thinks an athlete should do.   If you think they "shouldn't" behave in such a way, you are saying you think they "should" do what they're told or adhere to your imaginary sense of patriotism.  Do as you say, and not necessarily as you do.  And if YOU were in power, it'd mean these people would do it, or those sons of bitches'd lose their jobs.  Which means you want them subservient to those ideas. Which, whoops, kind of looks like slavery. Moreover, when you say this on social media, it is how it looks.  Perception= Reality.  Saying "That's not what I meant!" doesn't count after you've said the thing.

Roads aren't blocked so that you can sit and be angry in traffic, or so that you can be pissed later that they should do it on their own time.

"They". "Their".Who, exactly are you referring to?  



So, I'm directing this to "you people". In this case, "you". Mainly, primarily, and mostly only cis Caucasian people.  As in, the one's who are frustrated or full out *angry* by the onset of professional athletes staying in the locker room or the protesting BLM muggles blocking freeways. Now YOU are the "they" people in this conversation.

You're wrong. And this might get your Facefeelings upset or maybe even roll your eyes, but, you're still wrong. And as a guy struggling with work, school, and over two years worth of adversity and challenges I can say openly that as a straight white male with bills and debt I *still* have it better than a multi-million dollar contract holding POC football player. And if you're a non person of color, you do too. 
Now.  You're *they*.  And even after typing that last statement it doesn't fucking matter because if you're white, you'll never be *they*.  I don't know how many times I have to type that before you listen.  We're *they*.  And if you don't start by saying "Ok.  Let's have a conversation", you probably won't get your sanitized patriot games .  If you took a second to say "Ok, I know this is a door I don't want to open, but I will stand here to support your decisions"...which is free...opening your mind to ideas and all...like I said, the game is still going to play...

I'm just saying that's a tiny tiny way to start things up. 

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Happy Birthday, Mom...

By the time I post this, the service will be done or we'll be on our way.  And that'll be one of the last-er steps in what's been a pretty challenging year.  It was respectful.  It was moving.  And it's still one of the hardest thing's Roman and I have had to do in our entire lives.  On your birthday, we finally get to put you and dad to rest.


Hiya.

It's your birthday.  In my planner, that I always buy year after year, and love and use as my journal of sorts -I had "Mom- 74" written in for 10/17 like I have the last 20 or so years of planner-journaling.  As was with dad, and since your poorly timed departure a week before Mother's Day, we've been dealing with these milestones as they come.  I just thought it was time that maybe I filled you in on what's been going on with us so that the blog-o-sphere remembers my existence (read: my 2 followers), and let you know how much we miss you.  And maybe hash out some online honesty.

Facebook drives me crazy on the best days.  What with the onslaught of information that I can barely process, it being an election year (I'm with her, Ma.  I think I remember you being frassy about the other fella, and I'd like to believe deep down you were mildly progressive enough to think he's the chode he is and we'll leave it at that. )- the worst part LATELY is the "On This Day" and "Timehop" feature.  See, it's occasionally fun to see what you were posting last year, 3 years ago, etc.  (And, for a forgetful flibbertigibbet like me- keeps me from blabbering about the same food/super hero/weather/shitty driver related posts I usually blab about.) Of course, TODAY on your birthday I've got birthday well wishes, restaurant check ins (last year we had Indian food.  The year before Macaroni Grill, etc etc.  As a side note, I'd like to remind you, that we USED to do Mother's Day at the Bonfire Grill which would get my all you can eat bacon fix out of the way for a year, so bacon is SEVERELY underrepresented in my diet.  Harrumph)

Another problem, is that you were always "liking" shit.  Or commenting.  Or saying how you don't understand what I'm posting...So as long as I have that feature, I'll be bombarded with recipes that were terrible for you that you would post with a message "Mom needs"...

Like with our old 10am "wake-up" phone calls, seeing those stream of recipes you'd ask me to make for you, or October Halloween Diorama ideas for the upcoming year, it's a big painful reminder of the void that's there.  I don't wanna bitch about my weight or body-image, but I confess that getting outside to go for my daily constitutionals is still a struggle when you're not there on the other end of the line.

Enough about that.  Let's see...Housekeeping...

To your eternal chagrin, your house is empty and on the market.  It took us a very long while.  we were able to muster some fun stuff over the Summer- trips to the lake, Claire's birthday, a trip to Wisconsin for my in-law's birthday.  Most of the time, though, we were cramming in to empty your place out.  It's an interesting progression- how much I started wanting to (try) to honor your wishes, or preserve our family legacy.  In the end, it was three semi-trailer sized dumpsters and the realization that I would only be transferring the mess over to my place and never be done with it.  It's just stuff.  And there was a lot.  And we did out best.  Case in point, I spent an *entire* weekend organizing family documents and photos between your family, dad's, and miscellany.  It was exhausting.  And dirty.  And we were grateful from the help and support of our relations on both sides of the family.  And it's inspired me to start to discard a ton of crap here...my 8th grade report card, for example.  Who needs to remember when my econ teacher said "Please contact for tutoring immediately"?  Not me!

In going through old letters and cards, I also learned some stuff.

It's not necessary to get into on a blaug.  It's not juicy, or dirty laundry.  It's basically a lot of history that's helped me get to know you as a person better.  Less a "mom", and who you were as a person,  all around.  From that, I realized that maintaining an air of transparency and a line of open-communication with my wife, my friend's, and my family is actually not a bad thing.  (What with the suffering in silence or weird stoicism that older generations seem to think we need to maintain) I used to think that hiding our problems or matting them down, sweeping them under the bed so people could always see the best side isn't necessarily the best course of action.  Not asking for help.   Not acknowledging that you might have a problem or *need* help.

But some people do.  And it's important to remain empathetic to that.  Sensitive towards the needs of people we care about.  About when we sense there's something wrong.  No need to badger, but ask.  An intervention...might have saved our backs and a few months of manual labor, sure.  However, that's in the past.  It's almost done.  And the big thing is that we always knew there was a lot of love in your heart, and how you showed it was by saving every last piece of ephemera from our lives. 

On to more important things-

Rachel and I made it through one year of happy marriage.  You, miss, were a BIG part of that year (THANKS, Timehop!), and it's weird to be entering my 1st Halloween without you.  I'm...I'm kind of stuck.  Yeah, I know "You can still have a diorama without her." Or "She'd have wanted you to"...but the wind is sort of out of my sails.  It was a year ago that you had your big Halloween fall and didn't tell me.  A little after that, you were in your brace.  Then prohibited from driving.  Then Thanksgiving.  A pretty tired Christmas.  Making sure you were able to get to your New Year's Eve game night.  And then...into sort of the last few months that took us by surprise.  Even with advance warning.  It was a terrible surprise.  Sorry.  Happier stuff.

Ray and I managed to finally go on our honeymoon!  It was a glorious week in Paris.  I know you'd have loved the Lourve more than anything- we saw Hammurabi's codex, and drunk in all the wonderful art we could.  (To be honest- you'd have been pained to know we only managed to sprint through the Egyptian artifacts.  It makes the British Museum look like the Science Museum...and they weren't super friendly to people with wheelchairs or canes, so your trick of playing the "Old Lady Card" might not've flown.) Also, my BIL and SIL were FINALLY matched for adoption!  Yay!  Yay for TWINS!  Right?  They are IN trouble.

I'm pretty busy now-  We're building a garage, finally, planning and saving for our future- the possibility of new pets (Lord.  Rach has to stay away from the Second-Hand Hounds website or Grouch will have a hairy younger brother/sister)  I've had the pleasure of being asked to join the Mystery Cafe', which is steady and gratifying work.  I'm doing a show for the Twin Cities Horror Festival- another 1st.  (Think "Fringe Festival" but more skeery stuff.  Probably up your alley, and I'd have to tie you down so you didn't comb Savers for props and stuff.)  So that means I'm either performing or rehearsing on top of work- constantly.  I miss the crap out of karate, which I can start hitting soon (hopefully after the aches and pains and injuries from cleaning your place subside.  SORRY!  Both Roman AND I are OLD DOT COM and hurt ourselves.)- but I guess that brings me to the last bittersweet part...

I realize that I'd been adhering to a fairly self-censoring policy when it comes to social media.  Granted, I did way back when I started this blog...going so far as using aliases and nicknames etc.  Now that I'm about 12 years in, and since you and dad are gone- I've been stripping that veneer.  I don't want you to panic.  No no.  I'm not going to be talkymeat word-vomiter...which...is sort of par for the course.  I don't plan on oversharing, or being *more* crass and vulgar than usual...puns and double entendres...bad ones...are my jam.  But I plan on engaging a bit more honestly.  More-More honestly, if that makes sense.  I'll probably butt heads with some folks eventually.  I'll lose some Facebook friends.  I might draw the ire of some extended family.  But at the end of the day, I think there are some pretty common sense values we can all adhere to.  And I'd like to think that if I have any sense of justice or fairness- whatever that means- or need to protect or defend the "little guy" (remember when dad did that for me?)...or in today's climate...to sniff out the assholes that are in it for themselves.  To make sure that people of color aren't having their rights infringed...or women...or immigrants...or ancestral...or the geeeeaaaaaaayys...You used to tell folks you didn't raise us that way.  Or at least tell me you didn't. So I hope that going forward, you're going to be okay with me being more engaged.  I'm getting too fat to have my Spider-Man suit under my dress clothes.

Ok.

It's been something, having you and dad together in my hutch.  (And Rocky on the front porch as our guard dog in his "Attack urn")  I think part of saying good bye,and part of the roller coaster of emotions that has been marked with sadness, avoidance, resentment, and nostalgia is going to be having a place where we can visit you on the regular.  Fort Snelling is a pretty sacred place for that.  And we'll not be leaving you guys alone.  I miss you.  5 months to you, and 7 years for dad.  I don't like having that head and heartspace feel so empty where you once stayed, but I'm keeping you close in other ways.

I love you, ma.  We miss you.  And down there...That was you.  Our anchor.











Thursday, December 31, 2015

End of...a very long year.

I'm finding it hard to sum up 2015 concisely, since the primary focus (which I'm naturally, quite happy about.) for approximately 2/3rds of it was:

THE WEDDING!!!

You're hearing this guy in your head, aren't you





I proposed back in January, and from there it was a whirlwind of planning, trips to see dear friends on the West Coast, another stay in Vegas, another St. Patty's 7K, more wedding planning, seeing some theater and some great movies, more work, more podcasting, more work at the Caves, more more KARATE!  By late June, I had my black belt.

Pictured:  The self-defense portion of my test.



So that was a long time coming.  Meanwhile, there were cabin trips, road trips to visit my girl when  it was her turn to be up in the Midge at the PBP, re-acquainting with old friends, bachelor parties, MOAR trips to Vegas (for work, no less.), my first BIG GAY MARRIAGE of my best friend, work stress, Halloween madness, Thanksgiving at my in-laws, out of town trips with buddies, visits from out of town guests, a little movie about the War in the Stars, the in-laws adopting a doggie, annnnnnnnd the Holidays.

But with all that, came a lot of stress-balling.  With stress comes exhaustion- we slept through a majority of our honeymoon, I ended up with some boo-too neck and back problems along with my general aches and pains from so much kung-fu'ing.  Mom's still illin', to the point where the big C is almost on the back burner as her body heals.  There've been some terrible, terrible losses this year, seeing some dear friends depart who were just too, too young.  We've had other close friends move away, other friends who are in pain or struggling a lot, and some pretty turrible tragedies throughout the world and the nation that can break your heart.

And good Gods...the talking political heads...I'm not naming names, but the normal shit show has turned into something frightdiculous to hear and behold.

Seriously.  Between the Pyramid grain silos, Xenophobia/Racism, and playground antics...I'm shutting down, kids.




So...I'm not gonna talk about that stuff, aka my bullshit resolutions that I never follow, or my silly plans for the upcoming year...all that I'm gonna try to keep loose so I don't feel disappointed.  Yes, there'll be races and karate and a full honeymoon overseas, and helping mom, and projects and visits to Camp Awesome and the Finch Nest in 'Sconnie and new friends in the neighborhood and all that.

But if you're a regular reader of this here blog, or a new reader, or just someone who doesn't mind seeing another regular Joe's take on naivety/wishful thinking...take heart:

I have a big wish for the people in my sphere.  Worldwide or nationwide, really.  But I'd be just as happy if this happened on a smaller scale and rippled outward.  2016 is an election year, and since I tend to be an anticipater of vertain events, I don't think that it's too far-fetched to believe this year is also going to be a pretty rough/less unifying one along with more and more hurtful division.  (Yes.  The present GOP and NRA are big fucking problems.)

Within the last few weeks, I've heard some people on social media as well as here at work say they don't like talking to their neighbors or avoid it outright.  So my wish is for kindness.  I wish for thoughtfulness.  I wish for people to reach out to people.  Engage.  The cashier.  The stranger.  The neighbor.  The family.  Without pause or question.  Make yourself available to the world.  Don't turn your back on others, which is like turning your back on life.  Don't worry.  Be amazed at people being shocked by being forward and bold and generous with it.

Allow yourself to find new opportunities and not lament what you don't have- because you probably have more than you think.  Which is probably impossible.  Because I'd be asking for people to log off Facebook and turn off the TV.  But I think that's an optimistic wish.  And after a pretty hectic year, I think people can get back in touch with being kind again.

Bring it, 2016.  I'm in martial spirits, chauffeuring my mom for New Year's, have gigs and travel plans, and a supportive and loving spouse.  Let's just get that blood pressure and cholesterol down and we're solid.