Friday, June 30, 2017


The longest day of the year has come and gone. I am a year older.
These things happen within two days of each other. I turn a year older while the days are still getting longer, and then we turn around two days later at the longest day of the year, and while the days continue to heat up, they are getting imperceptibly shorter.
I am 45 and certainly middle aged. I may even have reached the half-way point, though we won't know for a while.
Mortality is a funny thing. It creeps up on you and while my father's death was a harbinger of it, I still am not certain I believe it. I am special. It won't happen to ME.
Of course it will.
Summertime is the time to entertain these thoughts because there is plenty to distract me from them when I get depressed. There's a concert somewhere. There are movies; big ones, too. Big budget movies that studios hope will drive people into theaters even more quickly than the 100 plus degree heat will.
The heat hasn't come yet, actually. Not here in New York City.
"Hot times summer in the city. Back of my neck getting dirty and gritty." One of the perils my parents didn't warn me about was which songs from my childhood would stay with me forever. I'm not sure why this one did, (it's certainly a little older than I am, in terms of music sensibilities) but it has. The oppressive heat of the summer when enforced leisure time is no longer fun, but there's hope for something coming that will distract from long hot days with nothing to do.
Shut up. I'm sure the person reading this is someone who had to work during the summer starting at a young age. I didn't. My parents sent me to a nursery school that seemed to go on for as long as I wanted it to. My elementary school had a day camp so the younger children could stay active and then when I was 8 years old I was sent to ANOTHER day camp, one that specialized in music, and I found I could be homesick 5 blocks from home because I was tired of practicing playing piano in a room by myself. The book I was reading was in a bag on the floor, but I knew I should be practicing, so reading to distract myself from the fact I that I was bored had not occurred to me.

I was a good kid, and did what I was supposed to.

And that behavior has continued, almost.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Outside Your Bubble

Let's get this straight, the "information bubble" is caused by living in a world where you avoid seeing and hearing the voices of people you don't agree with. The link "outside your bubble" does NOT give you this, because the vast majority of people who read an article with the headline "U.S. denies visas to gay, bi men fleeing torture in Chechnya" from WANT the U.S. State Department to get their collective heads out of Rex Tillerson's ass and fucking issue Emergency Visas to individuals who are going to be killed if they are left in their home country.
Thinking outside your bubble is talking to people who think that LGBT people should live in closets and not express their sexuality and that the state HAS every right to kill them. You know, assholes.
And really, why DO you want to talk to them?

Are we going to change people's minds by telling them "we are all one people"? Is anyone going to "see the light" by realizing that their Uncle Fred and his friend George have been lovers for years, but they don't talk about it, and therefore nobody talks about it. With all due respect to Harvey Milk, as a species we need to look down on other people. It's not specific to Americans. French look down on non-speaking French people. I think they look even further down on people who think they can speak French, but really can't, at least not the right KIND of French.
I think the problem is we want the people who think differently from us to get to know us, so that they can understand we're right. And that's not how you form alliances or build bridges. You build bridges by just realizing that we're all in this together.

And no, I *DON'T* want to learn that my next door neighbor voted for Trump because he hated Hillary. I don't want to talk to him, and I don't want to find out how stupid he is and learn tolerance for him just the same. Why should I? I don't know how to talk to people that stupid, and I'm sick and tired of trying.

A big problem is when the information bubble becomes invisible; When you don't even realize you're tuning people out, because you're so stuck with your own thoughts. That's bad, too.
So how to do we solve this problem of people cherry picking their facts? Can we? Should we even try?

Do we have any choice in the matter? I mean, if we want to survive, don't we have to?

Friday, June 2, 2017

Water is Life....Life is Water

We know that we need water to live. We know we need clean water to live and having to boil water before drinking should not be necessary, which is why we have created pipes that deliver clean water to people's houses.
Water is a substance that cleans us out, helps our systems work. It is also what wears against our coastlines, creating pictures like this:

Life is water.

Life is not the sum of our experiences, but a force that pushes against us, attacking us daily with things we cannot understand and which we must bend or yield to, or figure out how to avoid.
For instance, there is a woman sitting across from me on the subway, who is clearly angry about the newspaper she's reading. I can allow her anger to infect me, also getting angry (though I cannot know what she's so upset about unless I investigate) or I can dodge the whole issue by reading my own newspaper, and letting the news affect me the way it will. In these days, the first year of the Ego in Chief's Presidency, the news will upset me, unless it's about a few moments of resistance, which may or may not have any effect on the Ego in Chief.

My father died a year ago, and my mother is becoming a widow.
My mother became a widow a year and a half ago, when her spouse of over half a century decided to stop cancer treatment and allow the various ailments attacking his body to win.
My mother is a widow. Saying that mother is becoming a widow suggests a process, a metamorphosis, and that the process will change her.
My father's ailments were not attacking his body, but were attacking the systems in his body that continued his life. The medications he took to treat these ailments produced other problems and they did not all make his life easier.
The collective ailments drove a hole in my father's life and wore away at his independence as he needed to take medications that were injected, swallowed, or rubbed into him in order to continue to live.
In order to continue to need other people to help him live, Dad's sense of independence was worn away and his sense of self was altered or made to be aware of the interdependence of us all.
The ailments that attacked my father's body did not win, but merely wore down my father's desire to live. Living is not winning. Living well may be winning, but then who would lose?
My mother was a good caregiver, but her life was filled with aspects of being a caregiver. When being a caregiver was no longer her prominent role, she changed.
She did not change, but things she allowed herself to feel, changed.
Feelings wear at us. You don't believe me? Have you ever been angry for a day? Have you never felt the weight of fury wash over you and been aware of how lighter your shoulders feel when you scream that the milk has gone sour because NOBODY remembered to put it away after Sunday brunch?
Weeping is allowing your sorrow to flee your body through your eyes. Sighing is allowing the tension your are holding to exit in a controlled fashion; not as you pant when finishing the race, but as you finally wrap that last crepe and look at work well done.
Everything that happens can affect you, and your mission is not to say that your partner's death won't change who you are, but that you will remain true to the person...
Fuck that. The man you chose to spend your life with was a force that helped make you who you are. And when he is gone, you will change and discover things that he might not have liked, but he's no longer there to tell you. What he would have liked is not up for discussion, because he took himself out of the game. What he would have thought, felt, said, is a mystery and its absence is a force of its own. Negative space that you might as well recognize, but there's no need to fill it with something else.
The negative space is a force of its own. Its absence forces you to feel what might have been there, should have been there, or would have been there, if life had not worn away at that spot.

Many years ago someone told me he was a product of his experiences. I nodded, sagely, because he was telling me that people had hurt him and he was waiting to be let down by every new person he met. I wasn't going to let him down, I thought. I was going to show him people could be trusted.
He let me down by lying to me. All we were to each other were tools to prove that our prejudices were right. Did I provide him with a new experience where women were truthful? Or did my allowing myself to be worn down (see, there's the metaphor again) by his deceit prove him right? I don't know, and I no longer believed what he would tell me would be the truth.

I have a picture of my grandparents and great grandparents. I keep it with me at work, thinking "all of them would have been proud of who I turned out to be," but I don't actually know that. My mother agrees that they would have been proud of me, but since only three of them lived long enough to see me become anything, we can't possibly know what these ancestors would have thought now. How their lives would have worn away at their thoughts. We can only interpret and project.
And we must project, because even what you're reading right now is interpreted through your own lens of feeling, misinterpreting, understanding my life through a lens I don't see through.
All those interpretations change what we see and feel. Even the words we hear might be different. And the world attacks us with experiences we couldn't imagine, and all we can do is try to stay true to something. And even that something might change over time.
Let your life wash over you; it won't make you clean, nobody said life was clear water, but it is a force. It will change you, we just don't know how.