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Stupid-Ass Stuff

(Note: I’ve tried to start this piece about eight different ways, including caveats, trigger warnings, and explanations as to why I’m addressing this to men and not to all folks, regardless of their place on the gender identity spectrum. To be totally honest, I’ve only seen this behavior in cisgender males, so that is to whom I speak. Feel free to change the pronouns to fit your own experience.)

Now . . . that said:

Dear Men,

I’ve seen us do some stupid-ass stuff in the past, and I’m fully aware that we will continue to do stupid-ass stuff in the future. Some of this stupid-ass stuff is so outrageous that it takes us out of the genetic equation entirely. Other stupid-ass stuff merely (and hopefully) teaches us something, something like “let’s not do that again.”

Most of this stupid-ass stuff results from our testing the limits of our abilities (and/or physics), to see if our abilities are in sync with reality. For instance, I once believed I could, in one jump, go from both feet firmly on the ground to both feet on the countertop. Whilst wearing clogs (hey, it was the early ’80s). My belief, as it happens, was misplaced. My shins still bear the scars. Lesson learned.

However, some of our stupid-ass stuff hurts people other than just ourselves. Sometimes, we hurt others more than ourselves. And sometimes we hurt only others. These are harder lessons to learn because the ones we hurt, well, often they’re the ones we love most, and they hide their pain because of their love for us. We, not seeing their pain, continue on with our stupid-ass stuff, ignorant of the damage we cause.

Case in point: fear of marriage. Continue Reading »

A Study of Tears

I’ve studied tears this twelvemonth past.
Presented with such concentrated array,
comparison is a natural response.

Grief, I found, comes on in briny waves, salting recent wounds,
while tragedy burns with toxic bile.
Isolation, wrapped in bitter, aching skin,
tastes bitter, foul, and acrid on the tongue,
while pain, all physical yet all intangible,
hones its razor’s edge, making torment manifold.
But by none of this was I surprised.

Until
one day, not too long past,
when life’s encroaching blackness
pressed me to my osseous redoubt.
Seeking solace, I there discovered
a sound imbued of perfect beauty
and I was lifted, lightened,
transported beyond the encampment of my misery
to a place I’d left too long unvisited.

And in that place I learned
the tears of joy do not sting.

k

My Golden Ticket


Ages ago, I had a golden ticket.

It opened gates that were closed, gave access to forbidden lands.

My trusty US Passport, respected throughout the world, allowed me to depart the country of my birth whenever I chose, but could not guarantee entry to all nations beyond our borders. It was, simply put, insufficient to get me into the places I wanted to go.

I needed a golden ticket.

I needed my vaccine passport.

Should I have balked at the requirement? Should I have, with hackles raised in righteous indignation, told these other, these lesser, these pipsqueak nations to go straight to hell because by god, I was an American, and no one was going to put restrictions on my absolute sovereignty? Is that what I should have done?

Was I weak? Was it a sign of a lax morality, a milquetoast nature, or a spineless lack of patriotism when I subjected myself to these jabs? Was I exposing my cowardice when I exposed my arm to these vaccines? Was the mild ache in my shoulder from the smallpox, yellow fever, diphtheria, and tetanus jabs some sort of reaction to this un-American act? Were the symptoms of cholera and typhus I experienced (due to the live vaccines administered), were they merely a sign of my own turpitude?

No. Such sentiments would have been as ludicrous back then as they are today.

And yet, here we are, arguing about this exact thing.

Public health and safety are the primary purposes of government. A pandemic, such as the one we experience today, is a threat to public health. Our best tool against it is an effective vaccine, distributed as widely as possible so that, as a nation, we can grab the brass ring of herd immunity.

But not everyone admits this reality. For some of our nation’s people—certain demographic groups, political parties, and even entire states—public health and safety are set aside while, with a misguided sense of outrage, these folks stand up and shout to the rafters their creed of individual freedom. These sections of our society feel that their personal privilege trumps any greater concern, for others, for neighbors, even for loved ones.

And so, we are stuck on this carousel, spinning ’round and ’round, suffering wave after wave of resurgent infection and death, and the brass ring remains tantalizingly out of reach.

Vaccine passports are going to be a reality. Just as when I was young, fresh-faced and dewy-eyed, wanting to visit lands unknown and experience cultures as alien to me then as the beliefs of these deniers are to me now, nations are going to require proof of vaccination before entry is permitted. You can rail and shout your fleck-spittle manifesto of faux patriotism and American exceptionalism all you want; without proof, you shall not pass.

More to the point, due solely to the calcified stupidity of this sizable proportion of our society, we cannot even trust one another and this vaccine passport may be required domestically as well. Want to see your home team compete against the visitors? Show you’ve been vaccinated. Want to experience that arena concert? Prove you’ve had the jab. Proof, or go home.

This is the future, and ironically, it is a future that these deniers are making manifest by their very actions. They are causing this reaction, just as that typhus vaccine caused my body to react with fever, chills, and sweats. The body politic is fighting off the viral infection these deniers represent.

Don’t want the jab? Fine. Don’t get it. It’s your choice. You have that freedom in this country. But Americans are not demigods walking amongst mere mortals, and actions have consequences.

So don’t act surprised when you get turned away from a nation, an airport, a venue, a concert, a restaurant because you chose to value your privilege above the health of others.

Get your jab.

Get your golden ticket.

k

Evicting #32

Regular readers (and I have a few) may have noticed I did not post last week. Also (possibly) that I’m late with this week’s post.

There is a reason for that: oral surgery.

TL;DR: I had a wisdom tooth that had to come out. It did, but it did not go quietly. I’m healing and I’m getting better.

Long version: Continue Reading »

I See Hope

Fingers deep in waking earth
  clearing ferns from wintry somnolence

Their feathered, spiked, serrate fronds
  release spores in ochre clouds

Raindrops drum my hat brim
  enthusiastic paradiddles of spring

Hands set blade to swordleaf
  trimming old stems and rusted detritus

From the center I lift accreted duff
  revealing curls, verdant and sleepy

Nestled in that fiddlehead crown
  is the confidence of rebirth

Hope is spring’s eternal gift
  a promise of life
    and all it contains

 

“Cancel culture” is scary. It can destroy reputations, bankrupt businesses, stifle dissent, and ruin lives. 

At least, that’s what conservatives tell me.

And they’re not wrong.

Continue Reading »

Tesserae

I am built of tiny things
bits of stone and glass and wood and bone
each one a moment

I am drunk
and high
and sober as clear water
I broil my skin red in the Judean desert
as my toes freeze blue in the Sierra snow
I kiss Ellen under Corinthian sequoias
and Luann in the spray of Pacific surf
I walk barefoot across summer hills
through grass as tawny as a lion
I feel the thrum of my tires
as I cycle along fog-shrouded curves
In Paris I am lost in place and language
In London I give directions to tourists
I play Berlioz in a stone cathedral
I paint a sunset at a winery
I cook a meal that isn’t very good
I grieve a brother lost
I smile and hold my wife’s hand

These are tesserae of my life
not frozen in time but freed of it
not layers of the past but cut from a shattered present

I lay each one down
be it clumsily or with care
to form my greater whole

You see the mosaic
I am the mosaic
unfinished
incomplete
in progress

Moment by moment
bit by bit
I am built of tiny things


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