Sunday, September 30, 2012

Journey to the Harvest Moon

 (Cato, drifter)

Cato and his female friend, Alex, came out to Sonoma from SF yesterday. We all went on a hike to watch the full harvest moon rise, Lisa and Matt had generously made the arrangements. There is a portion of land directly behind Sonoma Square that has been set aside as a preserve. Occasionally they will organize hikes up into the hills. Last night was one of those nights. It is a unique vantage point from which to survey our little moonlit community. 

Slightly liquored-up we slogged and stumbled our way in the near dark all the way to the summit, then sat and watched the lit side of the moon, the one that Pink Floyd famously ignored on their seminal 1973 breakthrough album. 

Speaking of rock and roll... What the fuck is wrong with all of the bay area rock stations? Now listen... I know that Journey was famously from this area, but they weren't the ONLY band from around here, there were lots. But the dj's here - or maybe we could blame the music programmers - have dedicated the remainder of their lives to the continued propagation of the local star-producers of Wheel in the Sky.... It is endless, and apparently has been for some time. It shows absolutely no signs of slowing.

It is almost to the point that I can't even scan the radio anymore. It is an absolute daily certainty that I'm going to have to suffer Journey at some point in the day if I do. 

"Highway run.... Into the midnight sun...."

What the fuck is that even supposed to mean?

 (Alex, female friend)

 (Lisa, moon enthusiast)

(Matt, Journey fan)


Saturday, September 29, 2012

"To The People That Kept Us Up All Night"

All seemed to go very well with the job interview. It felt like more of an "orientation" than an interview. The most difficult question they asked me was, "Would you like some more water?"

Either I already have the job or there would have to be a very serious accident in the netherworld before they would ever hire somebody like me. 

Who knows. Now, I just wait to find out. 

It is peculiar, what the mind does: Since the interview I have begun to isolate certain things that I said, or that they said, that have made me question and wonder. I'm doing it now. 

Still waters breed reptiles of the mind. - William Blake (approx.)

The company seems very cool. I was pleased with the overall demeanor of all the people that I met and the general social temperature in the office. It was a refreshing change from the genius bar at an Apple store. It feels like I've worked inside a microwave oven for five years.

Looking for a job is sort of fun. Perhaps one day litigation in this country will go so overboard - some would say that it already has, and long ago - that people would be able to sue companies for time spent trying to get a job with them. I mean, they are a company, and you did try... Why not, right?

You know what makes me really happy.... the future.


Friday, September 28, 2012

How do you handle conflict?

Yesterday I studied for most of the day. I went over index cards with data to be memorized, shuffled them, went over them again, and again and again. I read and re-read a "cheat sheet" that a friend provided. I tried to put all of the things that I was memorizing into paragraphs so that I would feel natural talking about them and not just reciting lines that had been memorized, my eyes drifting upwards as I tried to recall the order and significance of the facts. Now there is only the interview to wrestle with. 

I suppose it is one of the most common things in the world, being nervous before an interview. Very few people ever get good at it. It is not something that most people do often enough to become entirely confident in. I suppose there are some who must. But it's like people who become good at breaking up with lovers. They are always assholes. 

I've practiced a few times, sitting down with Rachel and my friend Matt, having them ask me questions. It is strange, rehearsing. Everybody wants to believe that they will be engaging, charming, articulate and gregarious... all on the spot, all under pressure.  That's not how it works though, usually. I know that from the very limited experience I have in this regard. 

After writing yesterday's post I got an email. It was somebody offering to help. They explained that the job that I was applying for is precisely the type work they do for a living. I explained the need to brush up quickly on the overarching concepts, as well as some of the foundational relationships between the technologies. I went to the gym, when I got back there was an email waiting for me. Seven pages of condensed technology briefings. Victory.... Perhaps what they say is true, there are angels everywhere...

"It's about time those fuckers came out of hiding." - Bukowski


Thursday, September 27, 2012

"Tips and Tricks"

(the eyes of a technician)

Tomorrow I have an interview with a tech company. To give you an idea of what a nerd I am... I have been brushing up on TCP/IP, LDAP, Message Headers, Active Directory, MIME, ISP web settings, network troubleshooting, DHCP, embedding SSL certificates, and the various ways of implementing these protocols together, etc. 

Bored yet...?

I spent five years as a technician at Apple, now it would appear that it is all that I'm capable of doing. That I received a somewhat limited education in the areas listed above while at Apple doesn't help the matter much. Also, that the only other job interview I've ever been on was almost six years ago, for Apple, doesn't help matters either. You do best what you do most. These situations make me nervous. I suppose everybody must feel that way. Most everybody.

Maybe I should have set up a few practice interviews in advance of tomorrow's. Rachel and I tried but it was an unmitigated disaster. I had to let her go.

Confidence can be a very elusive thing. To possess it at one time does not necessarily mean that you will possess it at any other time, or be able to project it at any rate. I suppose that wanting the job affects how I feel about my capabilities, how I am able to present myself, or not. If only the situation were reversed and they were in the position of convincing me why I would want to work with them. How does one achieve that? It is the riddle of life, I suppose.

"So, tell us a little bit about yourself?"

"Oh, you haven't been reading my blog? I see..."


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

I abhor patience.

Rachel sent me on an errand to the grocery store this morning, to get coffee. I followed her instructions perfectly and arrived back at home with the coffee she requested. Once she had poured the ground coffee beans into the maker she realized the bag said "decaf" on it. Why do they even sell that in the same section as the regular coffee? Scratch that. Why do they sell that at all? It is an awful lie.

Luckily, I had bought two different types of coffee. The other one, the expresso blend, was as nature intended it to be. I'm waiting for that to seize my mind and body now, constricting my arteries like a circulatory boa.

I found a great bookstore in Santa Rosa (the first "city" northwards up the valley). It's called Treehorn, I think. It's all used books, mostly hardback, and relatively cheap. It must be owned by an old, wealthy, eccentric of some sort. It sits directly across the avenue from a monstrous Barnes and Noble. There were only one or two other people in the whole store. It's difficult to understand how it's still operating. I went in and found a few books that I had been meaning to get, or replace. Two hardback and one paperback, all in perfectly new condition. $30. Voila.

One is a collection of essays by Gore Vidal, "Homage to Daniel Shays." If you have never read any of Vidal's essays; well, I enthusiastically suggest them. His writing is enviable, his historical perspectives are acute and fascinating. More than all of that is his clever turn of phrase. His timing is precise.

The essay that gives the book its title is the first one I read, the last written chronologically, in 1972. It is amazing how perceptibly he described and predicted our current economic-political condition from a vantage point 40 years distant. 

The other two books were replacements for ones that I had given away, a collection of poetry by Dylan Thomas and Hell's Angels by H. S. Thompson, also a lost gift or an unreturned loan. 

Selavy, I believe, was poking fun of my purple prose from the other day. It's true, I should not write when up late, drinking. I get the feeling that nobody is watching so it doesn't matter if I allow myself to get silly, thinking myself a late-night west-coast purple-poet of sorts. But the morning always comes, the damage is done. It is out there floating in the aether of the past, like your first true love, the one from high school. It is an un-erasable shame at that point. There are stabs of memory, drunken screaming from the neighbor's lawn. Terrible recollections. It is like that, childish love. Certain lines can be changed or deleted, but the spirit of the thing is too far gone. There have been witnesses, and we must all return to class on Monday morning. Ah well, C'est La Vie... Next time I will use a smaller font size, to minimize the damage.

Drinking and writing, they walk hand in hand. I lose all modesty, like a drunk slut dancing on the tabletops, as if already engaged in some imaginary wet t-shirt contest. Or, believing myself to be a sailor at war, or a lion tamer moonlighting as a talk-show host without guests.

There is only one thing worse than a "young poet"... 

I keep seeing people here in Sonoma that I somehow know. Or rather, I should say that I should know. They know me, they know Rachel and the boy, etc. They seem to know all about me.  I will just stare at them, fascinated at the tales they tell of my life. They will try to remind me of when we've met, nodding in self-agreement and clear memory. And I, sitting like a schoolboy around a campfire, gripped by ghost stories, waiting for the next clue... I am hideous. I can't remember names and faces but I have a great memory for things that I've said and people that I've interrupted. 

I was texting with Cato yesterday. I think that's who it was... In any event, he was telling me that I have a habit of interrupting people. I was insisting that my time is running out and I can't bear to hear others talk much more, especially when I can tell what it is they are going to say long before they ever say it. It is excruciating.  If you don't interrupt some people then they will drag their sentences out to the very end. It's rude. There really is no other word for it.

Well, there are a few other words for it... But, I get impatient with those who are not more amenable to my interruptions. Likewise, I repeat myself because they appear to have ceased listening. When they are vaguely shaking their heads in the "no" direction I assume that they still don't understand. 

Conversation is only democratic at the very beginning. It is proven to be something else as it progresses. Why should I, or anybody else, be forced to endure dull ideas? Cato offered that I am a tyrant, but the opposite is more true. I'm the victim here. It's not as if I'm trying to silence anybody from a distance, or when I'm not present. There should be others for that purpose. We could form a league. 

I abhor patience and patient people. I have no time for them. If interrupting people is rude then shouldn't there also be a speed and time limit that should be observed by all those speaking? To go below a certain word-count per minute should be also perceived as a rude waste of everybody's time. Or, to drag one simple idea out for more than a sentence or two... it's uncivil.

Are we also meant to perpetually suffer the dull and unimaginative?

That's it, really. The only people worth listening to are the witty, the people who will say unexpected things. Everything else is like listening to a recording of an endlessly bad sermon, or being forced to read the transcript. You know where it's going, you've heard it before, it is dull and obvious, and all too familiar. 

The true weirdos of life: the intellectual hoarders, the explosively nervous, the wandering crazed bums... are perhaps the only ones worth leaning in to hear any more. Never knowing what nonsense will arrive at the end of each sentence, or during. The absurd non-sequitirs of mild dementia. In that there is the true wisdom and perverse beauty of the ages. Not the primitive scrawling on the cave wall but instead the wiping of a fresh, shiny booger. Announcing its arrival to a collective wince of disbelief.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Strange days

Yesterday, on my return drive from Napa, I came to a stop at an intersection on my way back into Sonoma. Floating there above were thousands of yellow leaves, hundreds of feet up into the air. No explanation for it. It looked as if an invisible funnel cloud had touched down and just lifted all of these leaves into the sky from an unsuspecting tree. I imagined a bald maple or oak somewhere very near, swaying in the wind, shaking its naked limbs in defiance at the sky. 

The leaves seemed to be moving in an almost column-like direction rather than just randomly, not as if the heat from a fire had forced them upwards. There wasn't a cloud anywhere, no sign of a fire, no embers... just these many yellow leaves floating above, contrasted against the blue.  

It was a strange sign that a new season is on its way. 

It had a very Spielberg-like quality to it.  It gave me the feeling that something was just on the verge of happening, nobodys' parents know... I almost expected to see a group of kids following it on their bikes.

No explanation.
Strange days, indeed.

Well, I have an interview on Friday, a company in SF. Interviews are nerve-wracking for me. I haven't slept well for two nights now, in anticipation. I never feel like I convey a sense of confidence. I fumbled and stumbled my way through a phone interview yesterday. I got off the phone and was almost having a panic attack. I was defeated. But the email came later in the day that they wanted to meet me on Friday, for the position that I had hoped for. I'll probably have a stroke on my drive into the city. Or, I'll shit myself when I lean forward to shake the interviewer's hand. I'll see his nose twitch in disbelief, his eyes darting from one side to the other nervously. 

I'll blurt out, "It's cool. I'm wearing diapers. I kind of knew this would happen." Then I'll sit down and give him an unnaturally frozen smile, eager to start.

It's strange, because once I'm in a position I have no real problem excelling at most anything I do. But talking about myself, trying to convince others that I am capable, is just abysmal. I feel almost as bad for the people interviewing me as I do for myself. 

But as for the interviews... yikes: 

"What is one of your weaknesses?"

"I like to sleep for a while after lunch. It's probably all the booze, but it tires me out a bit. I tried to balance it with some light afternoon amphetamines but that didn't work out either. I'd still feel a little bit sleepy most days, but usually just after lunch."

"Where do you see yourself in five years?"

"Probably around step 8 or 9. If I can find a new sponsor."

"Do you have any questions for me?"

"How soon would it be possible for me to take my vacation days? I'd really like to ease into this thing."

I think for the next interview when they ask me if I have any questions I'm going to say Sure... I'll put on my glasses and then pull out a sort of dossier-looking folder and ask if they have any time constraints for the remainder of the day.

Stuff like that.... 

I got a few return emails about other jobs as well. I've never really looked for a job before, so this is all new to me: job hunting. I am eager for it to be over, excited to learn something new. I hope they make me fire somebody on my first day. Wouldn't that be a great joke for a new employee... Holy Hosanna, I hope nobody ever puts me in charge of personnel. I would permanently institute it into the corporate philosophy. 

You'd really learn a lot about a person in those first few minutes.

My friend from NYC has challenged me to some sort of inter-state weight battle when I get to Florida. It scares me because he's so much bigger than I am. It's not really fair. You see, he's pissed because I fondly referred to him the other day as a "fat-ass." I think that's the phrase that I used. It might have been "lard-ass," not sure. I had thought that it was a loving term of endearment, as well as being an accurate description of his overall condition. But he took offense, I guess. Fat people are so touchy....  always touching the Twinkies.


Monday, September 24, 2012

... petition the stars

Up in the middle of the night, unable to sleep. I've just opened a bottle of wine. Well, I hadn't... but then I wrote that sentence. 

It became fate, and I fate's prophet.

I have been worried about things lately, the future. I received an email when I first woke up around midnight. It was from a friend who was worried about his businesses. They are struggling. His income relies heavily on people having expendable income, those who are able to travel, to spend. The recession has really hit him and his family hard, for quite some time now. He has good reason to be angry, though this time he was not. He was just saddened by it all, writing to a friend. He has put much effort into his life, over a long period of time. Now, through no real fault of his own, he risks financial failure. Sometimes it is easy to forget that politics are more than just something to argue about.

This is the point at which neither of our political leanings matter. It simply sucks. Both parties are to blame (His more than mine, of course). It is easy to be sickened about it. We will find a way back to disagreeing again, it is what we seem to enjoy most, but the heartache of the truth of it is much to bear. I wish conservatives well in business also, though I still reserve the right to denounce on a case-by-case basis.

I worry about Rachel and myself, also. Ultimately, we would like to start our own business, but there is some invisible fear there, some sense that first we must re-stabilize our lives first. We must find our feet beneath us in this new life. To take a risk we must feel safe. Isn't that an odd paradox? 

The baby boy changes everything. He will never know, of course, perhaps until he has children of his own. If he ever tries to tell me... I'll pretend that in my day, during the great recession, we just did what we had to do. I will insist on my shamelessly flatulent wisdom, making his kids giggle with joy and revulsion.  That is my only hope.

Yesterday, we went to the mall in Santa Rosa. After a lunch that included a few beers and a nice, little, tasty pizza on the main avenue we walked back towards the end of the street, where there was a mall: Rachel wanted to get some things, new underwear, marital surprises, etc.  I told Rachel to go shopping by herself and buy whatever she wants, whatever makes her happy, not to worry about it, at all. 

She worries too much - I, not enough. It is how we get along.

So, I was walking around the mall with Rhys in the stroller, mildly beer-heavy and pleased with myself, even though the mall is a place that I actively despise. It represents the most base and vulgar aspects of American life, the crassness of capitalism, and the cynical myth of a public space.  It is not even worth parking the car there, much less going in. But as I wandered, happy and proud to be a father, following the vague scent of sweet cookies, I happened upon a familiar site: the entrance to an Apple store. There, at the front door, was an old manager of mine, Chris.  We said our hello's and shook hands. I was genuinely happy to see him and the feeling was quite evidently shared. He always had an amiable demeanor when I worked with him and he was very pleased to meet my smiling little son, a child that is perpetually cheerful. I mean it, the kid is just happy. His face glows with easily shared joy. It is impossible to be sad when looking at him. It can be done thoughtfully, but not with great sadness. 

I petition the stars that he does not grow into adulthood in the same way that I have, forever ripped from one manic state to the next, depressed. Torn between the uncertain emotions that each and every moment insists upon, demanding sensations that can hardly be held, hardly enjoyed; always feeling and yet never knowing, as if being perpetually dragged away from the place that I must next go - a rushed sentence that I haven't said yet, the mind merely an accelerating drug that removes all self-possession - always I am coursing towards a place that will somehow demand to matter more. I arrive, ever-nervous and disheveled, interrupting as I go. Each second is a perverse thrill that invites the next, like the sound of gunshots in the eyes of the movie of the mind. Life, an unscripted film in which I will soon forget my lines.

The image of future speech drifting into infinity, and then back again. The horror of hastening. 

I must learn to calm down.

My illness is like being kicked out of my own heart by a security staff that knows me well, they mock my need to explain as they rush me towards the door, gladly tossing me into the alley, turning faceless, already of the past, immune to my repeated screams and prayerous maledictions. 

Instead of saying, And Don't Come Back..!!!  It is always, You'll be back.... you will be back, you will be here again, don't worry, just go away. If only I could detect it all as it was happening. As soon as I am at the center of conversation then it is there, lurking in the corner, waiting to strike, with horns that look like my teeth, its tentacles twisting me into the pre-formed and accelerated shape that it always demands. I am a vehicle for a madness that saves us both. monster and me, just before the cliffs. Any cliffs, anywhere. I pray that, always. Stop, or slow. My mind is going.

Imagine ever trying to convince yourself of the veracity of the next thing you are about to say, rather than the last. Imagine there's no present, it's easy if you try. No past behind us, above us only sky..

Imagine there being no such thing as a last resort. It is littered amidst the remnants that I have been forced to count on, that something else is coming soon, and that I will be out of my mind for that also, that next verbal utterance, mad to hear the words that are as of yet unformed. Doubly-pulsed, and tumbling amongst stumbled speech particles that scatter the past where it falls, where it belongs, split-seconds at a time, behind us each, behind us all.

Please God, at least let those future words be mine. Crucify me, as long as I get to keep talking. Sacrifice my life, my mind. When ripped like this it is like living inside of a rape. All that I can hear is the fabric tearing towards the future.

It is the unbearable, unspeakable, yet never silent curse, of manic-depression. It is a thing that never follows me, but always knows where I am going. Where I will, without warning, be next.

That is what I wish Rhys never knows. Mania. Or, its counterpart.

But Chris, at Apple, was chatty; content in his move from the previous store to this one. He likewise told me that I also looked relaxed and happy. I told him that I am, but that it's time for me to go back to work, I've had enough time off now, and that maybe the beer has helped with my buoyancy for the day. Before I knew it he was discussing job possibilities at the new store. I took his card and promised to send an email to him and to the store's general manager. 

In fairness, I might have asked about the jobs there. I don't really remember. 

I let him do his job. I wandered back into the mall, waiting, wandering among the soon-to-be ruins. 

The smell of cookies is all that I recall.

I stopped back by with Rachel so that Chris could meet her also. We all chatted briefly and warmly, as it can be so easy to do on the floor of an Apple store. I didn't even bother looking at the new Samsung iPhone 7. In fact, I had forgotten that it was even out until typing this paragraph. 

Driving home I was filled with an odd feeling. The idea of being able to step back into a familiar role was very tempting. It would require virtually no effort on my part, like getting back together with an ex-girlfriend, one that hasn't even bought new underwear, things are exactly as they were when I left. There is precisely nothing new that I would need to learn, or nothing of any consequence, I should say. I know all that I need to know already, or can fake it well enough to suffice. It offers virtually nothing in the way of education but everything in the way of convenience. When a job has molded you into a certain shape it is sometimes nice to fall to sleep back in the bed that is already shaped in the form of your aching body. Now I ponder the purpose of lying alone in a sexless cradle.

A job is nearly Faulknerian, like vines made of dust, a wisteria that never blooms, amidst the partials of the past.

In seven hours I have a phone interview with another company in San Francisco. A startup that would offer more potential for growth, perhaps much more lateral and upward mobility. An old buddy from Apple has recommended me for a position there. It might also mean a commute into SF on a near daily basis. I would be forced to learn a slightly different skill set, but of that I am not at all dismayed. I only reflect upon it for what it is, a minor challenge: an asking of the mind to indulge something other than itself. A conscious challenge is probably what I need, but I can feel the trepidation, the wanting for life to just be easy, with less uncertainty; the vines of the past curling around the column of my neck.

But then there is that familiar voice: Sean, stop being such a pussy. There are no guarantees in life, you know that. Just do something different, Move On. You are capable of so much more. Prove something new to yourself. Rachel bought new panties. Don't let your weakness become a weakness. Don't fall asleep in a perceived strength. Try not to scare people. Smile more. Don't stare. Stop that.

I promised to think about it. I promised to write Chris, an email. I will fulfill my promise, at least. I could sense that Rachel was happy at the idea of me going back to work at Apple. It would mean less in commuter time, more in computer. I might be able to step right back into my old life with my five years of seniority, reclaim my benefits at the state that they were at when I left. The only people that could stop me are the ones reading this post right now. Isn't that one of the silent ironies of living?

I'll be honest, I was saddened that I could detect Rachel's enthusiasm. I wanted to believe that she was pleased that I had left, that it was the right thing to do. But I must also be honest the other way, she was only reacting to my beer-fueled enthusiasm at the idea; my mild, manageable, self-medicated, madness. My keenness for the idea was partially the product of convenience, though that might wear off rather quickly.  To suddenly feel that all of my questions might be answered was comforting, like -re-reading a novel. It might not be quite the answer I was looking for, but any answers have a pacifying effect. It is the questions that tend to perturb and distress.

The new questions are the hope of momentary silence. 

The part of being on a swing that is most enjoyable is when life stops, freezes momentarily, then begins the other direction. The speed between only informs the momentary stops. 

It is the returning spring of answers to ever-unasked questions that keeps me giggling in my swing. 

There is the feeling of always being pulled back, towards a grasp-less curve.

Some just call it nerves.


Sunday, September 23, 2012

The (New) Village

(Physical Graffiti)

Not much to report on today. Yesterday we went to a bbq that did not include any barbecued food. There was a grille sitting there, cold and unused. There were various plates of food, none of which were grilled meats. I drank a couple plastic glasses of Etude 2009 Pinot Noir. There was, at least, that.  Nice wine. I would suggest it to anybody.

There is something strange about many of the people here. I will give it some more thought and perhaps  report back to you about it. I have made observations but don't want to be unfair. My initial survey of the place is almost cruel. It is a strange place in many ways. It is in the way that people carry themselves. It is almost as if they are perpetually trapped in the opening scenes of a film about humans that are actually aliens, aging much too quickly in our oxygen-rich atmosphere. Sort of like Prometheus, but not as poorly written.

Selavy is in New York without me. I warned him against such things. The city is ruined now, no longer worth visiting. I have received links to an online article about how my little neighborhood bar has gone out of business and it will now be turned into a 7-11.... in the very heart of the East Village, a lamentable change. 

I wrote once before about the owner, Bob, passing away. It was when I first began writing on this site; so many confessions ago. Apparently his wife, Anne, had allowed several different people to come in and help her as "partners." Investors and friends, or worse. The place sunk, closed its doors, and now will be converted to a 7-11. There is nothing to be happy about in the telling of the story. Except that the relentlessly complaining bitch that lived above the bar will have her hands full now. Fuck her, She has thrown full soup cans down at people from her window, poured hot water on the doorway from above, screamed out her window anytime she felt that she was somehow being victimized by the city, called the police repeatedly, etc., etc. Now she will have a 24-7 flow of noisy, drunken people underneath her window. 

The bar there functioned as my living room for about a decade. It was were I would often meet friends to chat and have a beer. Most apartments in NYC are too small for such a thing. So, local bars become as much a part of your life as your own living space. I acted like I owned the place, much to the occasional chagrin of the actual owners, or the many people who worked there. I am still friends with several of the bartenders and patrons from through the years. Tricia, Yvette, Adan, Gina, Michael, Delissa, Ishmael, Karim, Vinny, Rosie, Taryn Fem, Dede, Yuun, the list goes on and on.

Dwayne, a fellow "local," is also a friendship formed over the course of many afternoon beers drank there. I met his son, Philip, when he was just 14. He's now in his second year of college. Tricia, the ex-bartender, plans to come visit California with her boyfriend in the early part of next year, surveying the place to see if they will move here.

Once, while sitting at her bar drinking beer, I threw a balled up napkin into her glass from about 8 to 10 feet away. A minor miracle. Then, as she picked the glass up to remove the napkin and was moving it around I landed a second shot, on the moving target. The bar went wild with enthusiasm. I was the champion of unbelievable bar tricks. I spent the next 30 minutes making a perpetual nuisance of myself, trying to land a third.... It never happened. 

Ah well, things change. I have heard several reports that the neighborhood has slowly morphed "for the worse."  Chain stores have been coming in and replacing individually owned shops. A Starbucks can be found on 1st Ave and 13th now. Sacrilege. A recent article claimed that the East Village has more "chain" stores than any other zip code in Manhattan, except for one. So, maybe it was only my skewed perception of the place that made it what it was for me. The mind is ever able to see what it wishes, as it sees past the actuality of what is there. Perhaps my beloved little village always was something other than I had believed it to be. Or, like so many other places it becomes only a portion of a fantasy.

The skies were bluer. The grass was likewise greener... and the delivery guys were always quick and discrete.


Saturday, September 22, 2012

... my thoughts light fires in your cities

Yesterday I gave myself the mission of making all the necessary phone calls to get enrolled in an education class at Sonoma State University. Because I didn't get all of the needed paperwork submitted in time to substitute teach I assumed that what I should do is begin the year-long process towards getting my teacher certification so that I could actually be hired in a full time capacity, rather than just subbing. 

My first call, to the Florida Department of Education, stopped the need for all other calls. Now, this is going to sound crazy, and probably boring, but stick with me here.... I defaulted on my student loans many years ago, close to 15. I lived underneath the radar for many years and saw no reason to burden myself with paying them back, hoping that my last living thought would be, "Fuck the student loan people..." But things didn't work out for me and I ended up getting a job. The first year at the job I filed for my taxes and got a return. I thought that I was in the clear and that they had given up. I believed that a statute of limitations must have expired somewhere. No matter, they have been defeated, vanquished, etc... I, a dragon slayer of sorts.

The next year proved the fallacy of that fantasy. They seized my tax returns. I contacted them, wanting to right the many years of wrongs and get this last and final debt off of my back. I began making payments to them. Modest payments, a couple hundred dollars, but payments nonetheless. The following year I filed my tax returns again. For a two day period the state of Florida had returned the handling of the account to their offices and seized my tax returns again; money that Rachel and I had planned to use on our French vacation/honeymoon. I was completely gutted, and very angry. But there was really nothing I could do about it. Sizable chunks of the debt were coming off. All from the interest and penalties categories, none from the principal. It was still as solid as it had been since the day that I graduated.

The debt collection agency that handles my account perpetually tried to get me involved in the "loan rehabilitation program." After talking extensively to a lawyer-friend in NYC he advised me to just keep paying the debt collection agency. The state of Florida actually advised me to do this also. It had been so long that they had ceased to claim the debt against my credit rating so all that there was to do now was to pay the debt off. It started at around $26,000. After two seized tax returns and two-and-a-half years of making payments, it is down to about $16,000. 

$13,000 in principal.  I have paid $10,000 in penalties and interest.

Now, this is where it gets fucked up. I contacted the state and let them know that I wanted to start teaching and would like to get in the debt rehabilitation program, that I needed to go back to school. But I had a question about one of the provisions on the paperwork. It was worded such that it seemed that they could attach an 18.5% fee onto the entire balance, penalties and interest included, for performing this service. 

What service? I asked. 

"Selling your debt to another lender."

"So, you're going to charge me about $3000, with interest, just to let another lender buy this loan?"


"What do I get out of it?"

"A new loan, with a different interest rate, probably higher."

So, I talked about other options. It was a very short conversation. Paying the loan off in full is the only other option. They will not release my transcripts to any educational institution until the loan is out of default, and they want to charge about $3000, with added interest, to let another lender take over the loan, still all guaranteed by the federal government that I will pay the debt. Not even death can save me now. They will seize any equity I might have built up in the house if I were to die with the loan unpaid. 

After talking with him for a while I asked, "What were all of the penalties that I've been paying for the last two years?" 

"That's the first 18.5% fee we've already added to the loan."

"How is it possible that you can charge me twice? And now you're charging me a percentage that includes a large portion of the other penalty, and interest."

"Well, that was then, this is now. The loan's in a different state."

"Yeah, so am I."

"Excuse me?"

"Never mind."

"How can you justify charging me 37% (18.5 times 2) on the principal, interest and penalties on a student loan?"

"That's what you agreed to.You shouldn't sign a loan without reading it first."

"But they hadn't taught me to read yet. I had just started."

"You should have had somebody else read it for you."

"This isn't a loan, it's paper slavery. In any other business, if this were the practice, it would be considered illegal. It is fraud and racketeering on a national scale. The government guarantees a loan for a product that they know is not worth the selling price. Then, they use taxpayer money to collect on the debt, for other companies, companies that are allowed to continue adding fees on top of the debt so that the principal never disappears."

There was nothing more to talk about after that. I was one sentence away from making a bomb threat and I wasn't even going to bother hanging up and calling back. I was going to verify that he had my right address and phone number first. I was going to speak very clearly, making sure that they would have a nice audible soundbite for the news.

"This is Sean Cusick, from the graduating class of 1996. Allahu Akbar, mother fuckers. Any questions?"


"Mr and Mrs. America -- you are wrong. I am not the King of the Jews, not am I a hippie cult leader. I am what you have made of me and the mad dog devil killer fiend leper is a reflection of your society... Whatever the outcome of this madness that you call a fair trial or Christian justice, you can know this: In my mind's eye my thoughts light fires in your cities." -Charles Manson, at his trial


Friday, September 21, 2012

The growing political body

(barely able to fit into a plane restroom)

I can't figure out what's happening. I've been going to the gym regularly (5-6 days a week) for three weeks now, working out anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, most days closer to an hour. Heavy cardio for about 20 minutes. When I leave I am drenched in sweat. Still, I've gained 5 pounds in three weeks. It makes no sense. I just keep watching the scale go up and up.

I know that when you begin working out after a long period of relative inactivity then your appetite will increase. But I've been particularly careful not to let that get too runaway. Also, muscle weighs more than fat but I couldn't have caused that substantial of a change in 3 weeks. It makes no sense. Somebody with more knowledge of this stuff than me please offer some wisdom here... I am becoming disenchanted with working out right at the point where I should be gaining momentum. 

Perhaps it is an age thing. Everything will start to move in the opposite direction from what it has my whole life. All physical processes are upended. The real way to health is to sit on my front porch sipping a whiskey, yelling at people to "Slow Down!"  Only a petty meanness will keep me fit. Who knows. 

My flip-flops look defeated, like a pair of old futon mattresses, crushed by time and weight, an uneven lumpiness being their telling sign of resistance.

Somebody that focuses on these things please offer me some pearls of knowledge.  I am meeting up in Orlando with some friends from NYC in a few weeks and one of my buddies will be relentless about my weight if it is greater than his. I must triumph over that fat-ass, at any cost....  They probably won't even let us ride Space Mountain together, as is. They will direct us each individually to a special line to wait, a nondescript category that has only one spot to stand on. There we will wait for a special car to hold us. They'll be searching the crowd for, "Any single passengers?" to ride in any of the other cars. Any more that that might be dangerous. At the Haunted Mansion we will likewise be directed into a seat of our own. Where it would normally look as if a ghost was seated between you and a friend we will have to heave to one side or the other to make the illusion passable. Righting ourselves afterwards, chortling to ourselves, out of breath, craving a beer, etc.

Disney, of all places, knows how to manage fat people. The place was practically invented for them; if not invented, at least designed

It's a small world indeed. For you it is, sir. 

No, I kid. I am past the point of competing with my buddy in this way. I have bulked up to about 230 pounds, heavier than at any other time in my life by about 15-20 pounds. At first I was just putting on courtesy-fat for Rachel when she was pregnant. Then it became a sort of fascinating, macabre hobby. I stopped letting Rachel see me with my shirt off. I would take it off only once under the covers, in the dark, always pretending to be chilly, even in June. Sex should always be in the dark anyway. Even now I encourage Rachel to close her eyes and wonder, really let her imagination run. The mind, above all else, is erogenous. Why block its way?

One day I saw a picture of myself, taken with my own camera, while at work at Apple. There was something hideous in the image. It occupied nearly the whole frame. A doughy monster looking back at me with corpulent cheeks and well-upholstered eyes. I looked like 230 pounds of condemned veal, as Vidal used to say about Kennedy. Ted Kennedy, that is, Gore Vidal.

Ok, enough. I will fix the scale at the gym today. Re-calibrate it to suit my special dietary needs. It is easy. I know how. I will feel much better tomorrow. 

I will sell this house today....


It seems as if many people have tired lately of all of the political talk. It's too bad, really. I am just getting fired up. The general election really brings to light the intense divisions within this country. The unhealed wounds of the past, present and future. We are all asking ourselves whether America is right or wrong, convinced that it can not possibly be both. As for rightness, we are all on that side, for all time. The insufferable wrongness can only be, and always is, the other guys. Each opposing side seems intent on running or ruining our country. Always has been, always will be. Apparently, this country would be almost perfect with exactly half of the population. Oddly, that's the perfect numerical standard for the other team also. 

Each side convinced of something very simple about the other: Republicans are hateful racists and Democrats are freeloading socialists. These stereotypes are supposedly enforced through various initiatives put forth by each side. Universal health care will apparently ruin the nation or the second amendment should be thrown out, if not at least seriously reconsidered. It doesn't matter, one side wants health the other side wants guns, each reducing their political philosophies down to bumper sticker wisdom. Onward they march.

Many of the people I know seem too tired to argue any more. Nobody's giving in. Nobody's changing their mind. I had thought that Gary Johnson might be a viable candidate but then I read into his political history a little bit more. Nope. As the governor of New Mexico he advocated putting 13 year old children to death if they had been found guilty of murder, even retarded kids. This is not anybody that I can, or ever will, vote for. I know that one point should not guide such an important decision, but fuck that... That's a big issue to look beyond, to just ignore. What kind of a person would advocate such a thing? He has since flip-flopped on the matter. But it's like knowing somebody was once an extreme white supremacist. There is always that niggling suspicion that they haven't really changed at all, and probably never will.


Thursday, September 20, 2012

When autumn leaves start to fall...

One of the many reasons that Rachel and I moved to Sonoma was so that we could have plants, or a garden, or both.  We now have a townhouse with a pleasant little back patio with a barbecue grille (another modest desire that was not quite possible in NYC). There is a plant out back that was there when we bought the place. I believe it is a type of small maroon Japanese maple. It is almost more of a bush than a tree. There is one in the front of the house also. We both really enjoy them. When fully colored in the summer they are beautiful and slightly exotic. I'm told they're also rather expensive.

A few months back Rachel's mother, my friend Lisa, and myself planted a few additional plants in the back yard. We were all hoping for the best. After only a couple of days it became evident that these plants were not getting enough sunlight or water. I could change one of those things, so I did. I began watering almost every morning. This didn't help save any of the new plants we had planted and killed the one that was already here, the maple. I guess I over watered it. So now, with victory complete, having decimated the entire back patio, I return to square one. We will have to replant the back area and I will have to do some research on what to do next, and perhaps more importantly, what not to do. 

So, that's how things have progressed on me becoming a farmer... I'm thinking of applying for a farm subsidy. I mean, I am still a liberal victim.... I'd hate to not keep my republican friends sufficiently angered. 

My piano playing has not been going well either. I'm not practicing enough. So, I'm not getting any better. I will wait until we have guests over and then after a few glasses of wine I become Elton John in a duck outfit with oversized glasses... hammering out a few drunken chords, forgetting verses, false notes, slurring lyrics, changing songs mid-performance, all the while thinking myself to be quite the entertainer. One friend recently thought enough of it to shoot a quick iPhone video. In the morning I was confronted with the wreckage. Let's just say that Ray Charles' legacy is safe for now. But I'm quickly snapping at the heels of Motley Crue. 

Home Sweet Home, indeed. 


Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Apostrophes, the pain of lost convention

Awake for hours, lying in bed, unable to sleep. I know that I should go lie down and try to drift back but it is a novelty to be up, alone in the middle of the night / early morning.

Yesterday, a friend generously pointed out to me how deficient my grammar is. It is something that I have known for some time. The more that I write, the more detailed I try to become. When I go back and read my posts I am mortified. The errors are too many to fix. Well, the ones that I notice anyway. He specifically drew attention to instances in which I was incorrectly using the apostrophe to pluralize words rather than to denote that I was forming the possessive case. 

It is a long running theme through my life. I have tried, quite self-consciously, to ignore convention, believing myself to be above the petty constraints of standardized rules.  Grammar is for pedestrians, I have whispered in my sleep. Commas are at my command.

I went through a period where I believed that I was a sort of American Rimbaud in the making. It was in my late-teens and early twenties. It didn't take long, by my standards, for me to realize that I was far from being the genius/prodigy/poet. The entire process perhaps took a decade. But the feeling that silly rules didn't apply stuck with me, for good or ill. I went from being the poor man's Rimbaud to a sort of traveling house-to-house Chinaski. I might have made a worse jump. But the impulse to correct myself didn't come along until much later in life.

I joke about being either Rimbaud or Bukowski, of course. They were two of my heroes and I only meant that I tried to emulate them, or what they represented. I don't place myself among them, but only in spirit, etc.

I have a Holt Handbook that I keep next to my desk but I rarely consult it. Most of what I write is only a revised first draft, many mistakes and poor habits slip through. Sometimes I will begin writing in the morning by correcting the post from the day before. Even then, the errors that remain are many. 

It all seems so simple. There are only a few components to punctuation. The mechanics of it seem fundamental, at least on the surface. My focus must be elsewhere. I have accumulated many untutored habits. 

Well... the idea is to improve over time. I am hoping to still have some of that left. Time.

Email me and let me know if you find glaring, shameful mistakes. If you can tell that I have been drinking when I wrote the post then don't even bother. On those posts I will usually just delete whole paragraphs the following morning. Shameful passages crept out into the darkness with swaggering pride; sailors at a whorehouse. Things that can not be so easily slept off by noon, far beyond the reach of penicillin. I often wince at the morning computer screen, wishing it all to be a lie, a joke played on me by the internet. 

But, no.

I miss staying up at night and writing. It is something that I haven't done in a while. The boy has shifted all household behavior towards his needs. I am lucky now to get 15 or 30 minutes in the morning to try to quickly jot some semblance of a thought down. Sometimes I feel lucky and am pleased with what I've forced out, other times it represents the limitations of the arrangement. 

Ok, enough about writing. It is something that is better done. It becomes much less so the more that it is talked of. I must assume that I have sufficiently bored anybody that has made it this far.


I missed the deadlines to get my teaching certification (substitute teaching). So, now I must wait until January.  I will find some other foul means of subsistence until then. Perhaps I will get involved in gambling or African gun-running, etc.

I found a new collection of essays by Christopher Hitchens, one that was recently published in paperback. I will have something to do now for a week or two.  It is why I couldn't sleep last night. Some of my insomnia is self-induced.

That reminds me, a brief story, tales from the family file:

I have tried to learn to manage the family caravan, navigating the streets of Sonoma. There is Rhys in his stroller, Barkley on a leash, and me usually in flip-flops. Sometimes the fates are with me, yesterday they were not. It was the late afternoon and I only wanted to get out of the house for a bit to break up the monotony of the remainder of the day. It helps both Rhys and myself to have something to do, an activity that requires minor local travel. 

We drove to Sonoma square and easily found a spot in front of the theater. I parked the car and meticulously got everybody ready. This requires an orchestration of commands to Barkley to "stay" while preparing the stroller and getting Rhys out of the car. Then there is getting the dog's harness and leash on him while monitoring the stroller and Rhys' happiness reservoir. Barkley seemed quite pleased to be coming along with us. On the way we passed an agreeable black labrador who was tied up just before the book store. The day was not so hot that leaving a dog on the sidewalk seemed cruel in any way. He seemed quite happy, content.

I managed to get everybody inside the book store; acting at once as captain, courier and doorkeeper. They are dog-friendly there. I carefully guided our multi-species convoy towards the poetry section. I wanted to replace my book of collected poems by Dylan Thomas, something I gave away back in NYC. No luck there. Lots of poetry, none by Thomas.

Lots of poets, but not so much poetry...

As soon as we started moving towards the next section - a thing accomplished only with a mild mixture of concentration, discipline and effort - Barkley started heaving up what was soon to be some intestinal remnants on the center of the floor of the book store. I picked him up before he could jettison any of the vile stuff onto the carpet and took him outside, leaving Rhys briefly unattended though presumably safe. I could still easily see his stroller through the front window. I tied Barkley to a sign post near the friendly black lab, confirming their mutual friendship. 

I love the little pup much but he has an uncanny way of making himself a nuisance when I need him to be my easy-going-buddy-on-a-leash the most. It is, of course, not his fault. I had averted the stomach bile disaster at least momentarily, that's what mattered. I went back in but I couldn't browse comfortably with him out there naked to the world. It is the recent story of my life. 

I was trying to not make eye contact and was exuding as much calm and control as I could. Being a lone parent in transit is either a minor feat or failure, or a string of both. I bought my book.

I don't know... 

A man usually learns to manage his own life, sometimes falling in love with a woman and adapting to the changes that love necessitates. The individuals become part of a pair, some say "whole" through that arrangement. The unit learns to function as a team, hopefully. Then, there begins to accumulate around them - around their love - other animals, more life. The dog seems a sensible addition, a friend to care for, a living shield against loneliness. A fuzzy buddy. Then comes the child, upending any and all systems that might have been in place, for all time.

Soon enough, Rachel will be seeking yet another child. I am told that's where the additions to the family unit will most likely stop. We will be fully nuclear.  As is, we are an isotope with one proton eyeing the horizon for a little future neutron.

Somewhere along the atomic way you find yourself standing in a book store, needing some sense of autonomy, some sense of control; the dog is puking on the carpet, the kid pooping his pants in the stroller, laughing along with life, soon to be hungry, and you... wondering how it all happens and whether or not this new Higgs character is truly to blame.


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

the blah, blah, blahs...

(Ellen Von Unwerth)

Well, yesterday's post angered a few friends. My work here is almost complete. As we slide towards the inevitable disaster of the general election the various cultural divides become chasms. We are a republic of splintered fragments, currently undergoing some mild fracking. 

Who would have ever guessed? We are nearly surrounded by Christians. They're everywhere. 

Hey! Some of my best friends are Christians....

Oh, right. Sorry. My benedictions.

What amazes me most in hearing people discuss the various merits, or lack thereof, of the two main candidates is how they all seem to be the victim of the opponent. They have personally suffered at the hands of this cruel monster... or they will if he ever gets elected (the other guy). It's nothing short of amazing. People will blame the president for every failure or difficulty they've encountered in the last four years. 

My brother called me and was saying that he "enjoyed the most economic prosperity during 'blah blah blah...'..." 

When I tried to address the nation's economic prosperity he corrected me with, "No, I said that I enjoyed the blah blah blah..."

I countered with, "Sure, and I got my first strand of herpes during Clinton's first term. What's your point?"

What the hell is wrong with people? 

I remember a pretty blonde girl giving me my first analingus during Reagan's second term. Those were truly prosperous times. I think I was driving a Ford Fiesta.... Thanks, early-onset Ronald...!

Ok, on to more serious matters. Munching butt is not what brought us here today.

Maybe America should stop liberating the middle east, and north Africa, and everywhere else.... Things haven't quite worked out for those Libyans the way that we might have hoped. Man, talk about ingrates. You know, we could have been out liberating other nations... We chose you because you're special, we like you

We're quickly heading towards Arab winter, let's see how that pans out. 

I just love snowfall over Cairo....


Ok, on to less serious matters... Rachel cut Rhys' hair on Sunday. It's the classic first cut, in the "mommy" style. He's still the cutest kid on the block. After much delay I finally conceded that the boy needed a trim. His hair was falling down almost past his nose. It required constant adjusting to keep out of his eyes. He never even seemed to notice. He's the happiest baby I've ever known, truly. If this kid can't make you smile then you have a lonely soul.

The boy just woke up. I can hear him rustling around in his crib. I will go upstairs and give him a few fine, big smiles of my own. Today is our day. I will tell him about Jesus and all of the many angels dancing in the heavens. 


Monday, September 17, 2012

A modest call for intolerance

There is no point in telling anyone that aspects of their religion are absurd, no matter how evident that absurdity may be to an outsider. Favorably comparing the tolerance of your faith to the intolerance of any other proves nothing. The comparisons are meaningless. Any time an individual or a group chooses to act solely upon faith then they are alternately acting against reason. All of it should be resisted by those who value rationale and order over mystery and darkness.

I am tired of hearing about how preferable Christianity is, in comparison. A few of my "faithful" friends have recently gone out of their way to remind me how tolerant they are, while pointing out what seems to them to be the apparent absurdity of Muslims who are globally angered by the video, "The Innocence of Muslims." 

I am not convinced. I remind them that Christians frequently kill abortion doctors and bomb abortion clinics.  They'll quickly try to point out that those acts are the acts of individual lunatics. No, they are organized and strategized, often accomplished by groups. Christian groups. If you can lump all Muslims together in one sentence, after damning them for their lack of tolerance, then the same can easily be done about you and your religion. It's easy.

A friend sent me an email the other morning decrying all the nonsense. I have to agree. I am (again) disappointed by the reaction of the left. Most of them seem to have forgotten the importance of the various freedoms we enjoy. It is far more important to them to seem tolerant, the new byword of intellectual flimsiness. They band together and start babbling nonsense, calling for greater sensitivity to the faith of others. I agree that it might be a good idea to not anger others without purpose and intention, but those that condemn the video and demand that it be taken down regard a vastly different set of values than myself. 

If you don't believe in the freedom of speech, then shut-up. 

The only thing that defeats a bad idea is a better idea.  The only way for this process to naturally work itself out is for various ideas to disseminate through culture. When one culture says, "No, that is not an idea that we can allow, that idea must be stopped by force..." then that culture doesn't get to participate in the conversation. It's all very simple.

The one thing that other cultures definitely do not get to do, and will never get to do, is to decide what ideas will be discussed among the free. 


This includes Christians. So, why not Muslims?

I disagree with a fair number of assertions that Christopher Hitchens has promoted in his writing but he made some very salient points concerning this in his memoir, "Hitch-22." When he reached the section on the reaction of the left to the publication of, and subsequent fatwa for, Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" it all started becoming so much more clear to me. The left has completely lost its will. Too many now - among those who claim to be the true defenders of liberty and freedom -are really only interested in resisting "the American right." When a threat emerges from anywhere else their immediate attitude is one of appeasement, "understanding," and the very flimsy concept of "celebrating diversity." They want our nation to get along with every other nation because they, as people, likewise want to get along with, and be liked, by all. Ever eager to toss out any offending principles that guide our own culture. If Muslims find our freedom of speech offensive then the left is all too eager to modify that freedom to better suit their needs. Salman Rushdie must have done something "wrong."

They all seem to conveniently forget, or ignore, that one of Mohammed's instructions was to convert the world to Islam, at pain of death. If the infidels will not be converted then they are to be killed. It is written. The command is very plain. 

Let me know how tolerance works out there. Celebrate that diversity, while you still can...

When "diversity" includes killing others over the depiction of Mohammed, or anybody else, then the response should be very simple from all sides... No, not at all. Not ever. The freedoms of speech, religion, and press must always remain primary over all other considerations. It is not possible to accommodate all tenets of all religions: like the killing of others for the purpose of converting the world to their faith, etc. We need not ever even voice this, it is embedded in our laws. Murder is a crime, it necessarily must be. We do not bend our laws to accommodate their religion, in any way, nor any other religion. The consideration that we adopt Sharia law - making the desecration of the Koran, or the depiction of Mohammed a criminal act - should frighten anybody that has ever read The Bill of Rights and understands its importance. 

For this same reason, "hate-crime" being a criminal offense should not be tolerated. One only need exchange the word hate with thought to see the problem. Hatred is a form of thought, an emotion. It can be acted upon, but the act alone should be what constitutes criminality. These crimes might be despicable - almost as despicable as the state criminalizing thought - but a person's bias should only be used to establish motive, it should never be an independent crime. It is one short step away from criminalizing dissent, hate against the state. Hate crimes might be an absolutely contemptible thing to witness on any level, but to criminally punish a person's thoughts is far more dangerous than those hateful thoughts could ever be on their own. It is the expression of, the acting upon, those thoughts alone that must be judged. 

We might not have faith in the judicial system, but the inclusion of motive as a separate crime should never be mandated by the state. The penalty for the heinousness of a crime should be left to the discretion of the sentencing judge. It is they who have heard the details of the crime, and they should be left to determine an appropriate punishment, one commensurate with the hideousness of the act. Motive - once included in the trial at the level of either guilty-or-not, with attending minimum sentencing requirements - becomes a very different thing. It becomes the criminalization of distinctions and bias. 

It is illegal before you even think it, soon to be punishable on its own. 

If hatred can be criminalized then Christians should argue for the criminalization of the Islamic faith. It could be proved easily in court. By quoting Mohammed's instructions to kill infidels who refuse to be converted then you have made the entire religion complicit to past and future murders. It would only take one religious based killing to establish this in court.

Jews and Christians would not fare very well under this process either.

This is the greatest threat from the latest left, a very serious one. They have struggled to create a world that is somehow safer for some. Now, the full fruition of that struggle will prove its danger.

The assertions in the last few paragraphs might seem like opposing ones. They're not. They both seem to advocate intolerance, but one does the opposite. Once laws are created to protect citizens unequally then all that is needed is the re-application of those same laws to render basic rights meaningless. If the koran advocates killing infidels who refuse to be converted - a clear violation of hate-crime laws, advocating violence based on religion - then the text will eventually be brought into court as evidence by an overzealous prosecuting attorney. The establishment of a primary religious text as advocacy for a hate-crime will change everything. You think the world has problems now... Just define the koran as a doctrine of hate and then just wait and see.... 

Equal protection under the law. Punish the act of crime... not the speech, not the thought, not even the doctrine.

Imagine if all motives were rendered criminal. Shortly after leaving your insurance agent's office you were arrested. Because your husband or wife listed you as the sole beneficiary of their life insurance policy, then motive has already been established for murder. Haul them away. There is no end to the absurd application of law once inequality is allowed to enter the process, and motive considered apart from the criminal act. If the motive alone is a crime then every child should be arrested when gazing excitedly at the candy rack. Throw those little thieves in the licorice jailhouse. 

If you think this sounds too far-fetched then read this article. Here is the DA allowing debt collectors to act and function as stewards of the law. In most states it's against the law to impersonate a police officer, but apparently not so as the DA. The entire system functions upon the assumption of guilt, then combines the most debased aspects of capitalism to merge in punishing, and preying upon, the untried defenders. Eat the weak, eat them quickly before somebody else gets to them.

Combine the privatization of law with the Christian faith and you've created an unstoppable monster, many unstoppable monsters. The Rick Santorum's and Paul Ryan's of the world will come to life in unimaginable ways, breathing their own brand of fire. Without equality under the law then there will be no way left to stop them. Arm an army with a sense of righteousness and the selective application of the law and it's only a matter of time before they're marching to purge a holy land, one just like ours.


Sunday, September 16, 2012

Up the valley and into the woods

Another day. 

My readers are slowly returning. I have stopped posting on my other site

Life is odd and strange and sweet when at its best.

Rachel, Rhys and I went for a hike yesterday. There is a path that cuts through a large swath of woods between two small, country highways. Midway along the hike, one that we have done many times, I decided to try an alternate path. It led in steps and easy switchbacks up a relatively steep hill for some time. We were almost at the point of turning back several times. I kept negotiating our way up the hill, promising a new and unknown vista. We arrived. Sure enough there was a crest line that was new to me. Rachel had hiked to this spot before but by a different, easier path. Far below us we could see the blue of a lake through the trees. We had been warned of rattlesnakes. A sign at the trailhead also warned of mountain lions spotted in the adjacent woods.  

At the top of the small crest the brush and shrubbery had thinned out so that it was only trees, the floor of the area being covered with dried oak leaves, allowing for an easy view. We didn't linger very long there in the shade. We chose a return path that was slightly less steep but brought us back towards where the car was parked at the beginning of the path.  Rachel led. I carried the puppy, Barkley, about half the way down. The other half he cautiously navigated the trail, with me looking out for snakes, assuring him with my voice. Eventually we made it back to a familiar point on the path and turned south towards the car, all of us sweating through our clothes as we headed back. The day had nearly ended for each of us, there was still the journey home.


Saturday, September 15, 2012

Pop Jazz Super Star

I love jazz. I often try to play it for people when they come over. So many of them look at me as if they've maybe done something wrong, wondering why they're being tortured. But last night Rachel made a suggestion that she recorded on her phone, off the radio. I downloaded it, and voila... magic. A jazz album that I can play for people, one that I like and one that they won't find offensive. A rarity.  Of course I'll end up having a few glasses of wine while its two cd's play through and by the end of it I'll be putting on the heaviest electric psychedelic Miles I can find and the party will be, as they say, over. 

The album is "Christian aTunde Adjuah" by Christian Scott. Anyone with even a passing interest in jazz should check it out. Here is the single off the album. 

He's a 29 year old wunder-kid. He plays in very breathy un-voiced tones. 

Ok, the weekend is ahead of us. I must go to the gym, then decide on some family activity of some sort. We're looking forward to it. We've had so many guests, for so long, that it's nice to finally have a weekend to ourselves. I have decided to have pork for breakfast, after the gym, to maintain the necessary balance of life. 

I will put Christian Scott's album on my iPod and push my heart to the breaking point, demanding that my legs and arms do things that they currently can not, that they will not, issuing stern orders from the center, my lungs aching for mercy, drenched in sweat, my eyes fixed on the wall, repeating a single word over and over.