Friday, May 24, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

Bones splinter. That's a fact. The older you are, the more likely it is. You ever seen a chicken bone splinter? It's a lot like that but it's inside your body. You can hear the snap. You can feel the hot fire. You are overwhelmed by the body's warning system going haywire. 

Wounds heal, but they leave a mark. You can collect them. Myself, I am a patchwork of scars and badly mended bone. I am held together with duct tape. A strong breeze might scatter what remains of me. 

Inflicting wounds is a different story. I've done it. I've been there. I think I felt worse than the wounded. My words can be fierce, but, inside, there is a scared kid who never figured out how to stop being scared all the time. He just wants everyone to be happy and to stop yelling.

Some people can rationalize themselves the hero in every situation. I assign myself the villain role. Even when it is not my fault - even when I'm right. I was programmed to manage my emotions with guilt and shame. It has proven to be hard to shake off. 

I wound myself. That's the saddest part. So many of my wounds have been self-inflicted. I always feel like being punished. I have taken stupid chances. I have dared death to take me, and I have been to the precipice. Believe me. I've been one wrong step, one wrong swallow, and one scraped footpeg away from it. I'm not afraid of it. 

I have that going for me. 

It has gotten complicated though. I'm old now, and I don't like to be hurt. I don't like to wake up remembering all the dumb shit I did. All the times I treated my body like it was indestructible. I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop, always. Gotta be some cancer in there somewhere. Or some kind of internal damage that is waiting for an opportune moment. I'd go the doctor and find out, but I have medical insurance through my job, so I can't afford any tests that would reveal anything. The insurance is just for show.

Maybe that's the worst part. I don't like surprises, and I know a big one is waiting just around the corner. When it happens, I hope my family can move on with hope and love. I hope the medical insurance company burns to the ground, too. But mostly, I worry about my wife and kids.

I deserve to suffer for my sins. 

They don't.

Friday, May 17, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

Some surprises suck. Some surprises snatch your wind, weaken your resolve, or fill you with a thick paranoia. There are also good surprises, but we tend to forget those. I can show you the scars from the bad surprises if you're interested. Some of them are on my skin; some of them are internal.

I've had a few surprises that almost killed me. Either because they were dangerous or because they knocked me so far off my footing that I almost fell all the way down. The scars from those are bright purple, and they throb when my heart beats. 

I can't stand duplicity. Don't kiss my ass while you give me bad news. That's just to make you feel better. Don't try to take the sting out for yourself. I want us both to feel it. That's only fair. 

Saying it's your job don't make it right. Just ask Luke. 

If this is my tragedy, let it be mine. Find your own. Or wait until someone surprises you with it. 

Friday, May 10, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

It starts with heat. The feeling is tight and hard. It has sharp edges. It doesn't feel good, but it tries to convince you that it does. I don't know if it's universal. I'm just me, and that's all I can be. I am speaking from my frame of reference. Maybe it makes you feel cold. Maybe you feel it all the time. If so, I pity you.

It's poisonous, and it can hurt you worse than you can imagine. 

You have to vent. You have to let it out in little pieces. Otherwise, it will grow. It expands so rapidly. It reproduces itself inside you. You are now a breeding ground. You are a host, and, eventually, it will kill you. It takes a long, long time. 

If you can avoid it altogether, then good for you. Good for you and Mr. Rogers, maybe. Most of us are all too human, with human weaknesses and emotions that poison us from the inside. Mr. Rogers wouldn't like my neighborhood. 

Once in a blue moon, the feeling is washed away completely, but it creeps back in eventually. For me, at least. 

That's how it works in my neighborhood. 

Friday, May 3, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

They said it would never happen to you, and you believed them. That’s a shame. Critical thinking skills matter. You gotta be able to do your own sniff test. That’s part of life. Problem is, some people don’t. Some people can’t. Some people need to be led to every thought they have. Some people just really need a daddy to tell them how to think, feel, react - or they think they do.

I’m not a perfect person, but I've never trusted what I was told without thinking about it. Still don’t. I live in a country where the Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment happened. I live in a country where bison were exterminated. Because meat. Because hides. But also because it fucked with indigenous people and their ability to live autonomously. All those things can be true at the same time. And you don’t have to take my word for it. Think about it. It fits a pattern. Decide for yourself. 

I’m not looking for disciples. Never have been. I hate it when people kiss my ass or accept what I say at face value. That shows lack of engagement. That shows apathy. That shows a craving for simplicity, and I know that life is not simple - only simple people think it is. 

One of the reasons that punk rock meant so much to me as a young man was that it was a community full of people questioning everything, rebelling against any authority that was strictly for authority’s sake. That shit was church for me, finally surrounded by people who thought like me. 

So, maybe it’s hard sometimes, but it is the only thing that can save you. Unless you want to be spoon fed. If that’s the case, there are plenty of people out there with spoons and questionable intentions. 

Open your mouth as wide as you can. Try to ignore the taste.

Friday, April 26, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

I'll tell you about it. Seems like it was yesterday. Really, it was two days ago. Time flies. What can I say. Or drags? I don't know, that seems like math. Math is not my friend. It stresses me out, makes me feel boxed in and trapped. 

So, anyway. It was a few days ago. A week? Maybe it was a week. Or a few months ago. I'm pretty sure it happened to me, but it could also have been a book I read. A movie I saw. Maybe it was an anecdote I heard, but it happened to someone. At some time. I think.

It wasn't something you can really put into words. It was a feeling...almost like deja vu. It was something that lurked right below the surface of somebody's consciousness. It was a tease in the brain, but it brought feelings that soaked you to the bone. Or me. Somebody got soaked, that's for sure. Somebody is all wet.

You can tell this story if you want. Maybe it happened to me. Maybe you. Maybe no one. Maybe someone we know. You tell the story, and that makes it real. That's the magic. That's a gift that is given to you. And me. And everyone you know.

Tell the story. Make it true. Spread it. Maybe I'll hear it again some day.

Friday, April 19, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

How could you be so small minded as to prevent someone from speaking their truth, especially someone you claim to feel "love" or kinship for? You support people you love. You should support people you don't love, too. It's one of the things that makes us special as animals. We have our problems, but we also have empathy. Most of us. We all have things about us that others don't agree with, but that doesn't mean we don't deserve courtesy and respect. 

I absolutely cannot understand why anyone would want to destroy anyone else's methods of expression. You don't like the book? The song? The movie? Don't partake, and shut your fucking mouth about it. We all have the right to be ourselves, to speak our truth, and to feel safe while doing it. You disagree? Wait until the cultural tides shift against you and "your people," and I bet you have a whole different view. 

I pay a lot to live where I live, and part of the reason is that I like to see the writing on the walls, literally. I love to see the protests, even when I don't agree with them. It doesn't matter if I agree. That's not the point. I'm excited that my fellow citizens are advocating for themselves and the things that are of import to them.

You take down the art of a friend of mine...or an enemy, for that matter, and you have joined the ranks of the book-burners. The knowledge killers. The one-minded. Think for your fucking self. That includes deciding what you want to "subscribe" to and what you don't. Don't prescribe for other people - that's not your job.

I'm thinking about Leland, of course, but it's not just Leland I am thinking about. My students are doing a walk out today for racial equality. I support them every step of the way. I want to see the signs in the air. I love to hear dissent in young voices.

Women have checking accounts now. The queer community has safe spaces, and the ability to express their truth. Black people can eat in the same restaurants as white people. Farm workers' rights are not solid, but the idea of rights for migrant workers used to be a joke. These things changed because some people had the heart to stand up, and because people with hearts supported their right to advocacy. 

Go ahead and take all Leland's books down. I've taught them to my students. I have given them to people. I will loan them out forever. I don't give a sweet goddamn what anyone thinks about it. 

I can think for myself. 

Friday, April 5, 2024

2 Minutes. Go!

The sickness lives inside of you, but we can all see it. It makes you twitchy, easily startled. It makes you paranoid and judgmental. It is growing day by day like cancer, but it is intangible. They can't lance it or fry it or cut it out of you. Sometimes, you are better at hiding it than other times. 

This is when you become dangerous. 

When you're full on raging, no one can miss it. It's all bells and flashing lights. It's when you almost have it under control...that's when you are the sharpest. That's when you make the cuts that can barely be felt. 

I prefer you flashing, but I know you no matter what. I see you. And I'll keep an eye out. 

Go ahead and keep hunting.

I will, too.