Thursday, March 24, 2016

Mad World

     I begin by saying that I'm not in a happy place right now, so I apologize if my words make any one of you sad or low.  I have always viewed part of the reason for my existence to be a light for others, so I certainly don't want to run contrary to that goal.  It's dark in my head, fair warning.
     There really doesn't seem to be any sense in the world right now.  Terror and destruction is raining down from extremists ... Brussels, Paris, Egypt, Turkey, Yemen, Tunisia, California.  Islam is being vilified, when more Muslims are being killed daily at the hands of these terrorists.  The refugee crisis is catastrophic and untenable; children continue to drown, families are broken, a generation or more is being lost.  Syria is forfeit  ... with towns like Madaya where the people are literally starving to death.  At home, our Presidential race is comical and frightening; each day bringing ridiculous statements doled out through tweets.  Tweets.  The decayed state of discourse in our nation is best encapsulated by 140 characters.  The Senate Republicans have decided that they don't have to do their jobs, but they get to keep their pay and their health insurance and fuck the nation, as they best understand the Constitution.  And let us not forget the North Carolinian Republican lawmakers who have decided that discrimination of LGBTQ people is a-ok in their book.
     For fuck's sake.
     This madness is overwhelming.  We need action; we need superheroes.  We need something, something more than prayers and good wishes.  We need to remember that this is the only world we have, and we are fucking it up royally.
     And on top of all this sadness and misery, my dear, sweet father-in-law is dying.  I saw him last September, and we both knew then that might be the last time I would get to see him alive.  We didn't need to say it to each other.  We just knew.  He doesn't need me sitting there being weepy and morose - no one needs that.  He doesn't deserve pity, that would and should piss him off ... some insipid prayer circle of who can get Jesus on the line first.  (Editor's note: I had something a bit more intense here, but for the sake of my beloved Aunt, I have reigned myself in a little.)
     It doesn't work that way.  None of it works that way  
     And before my religious friends and family think I've lost my mind, my way or my faith.  Nope, the Lord and I are tight.  I know what I've discussed with Him about my father-in-law, and we're keeping that close to the vest.    

Friday, March 11, 2016


     Over the last several months, I've written a couple posts about the current political climate, specifically mentioning Donald Trump, the crowds that he was drawing and the vitriol that was being spilled.  Afterwards, many friends and some family told me I was overreacting.  Trump was a carnival side-show.  He can't articulate actual policy, let alone a coherent speech.  He's crude, vulgar and a bully.  He won't get that far.
     As you know, we've reached a point where there are four Republicans left in the field; a religious zealot who is despised by by more than half his co-workers and gleefully almost caused a default on the US debt, the next big thing who having fizzled completely and failing to unite anyone behind him has resorted to discussing penis length during a national debate, the governor touted as a moderate who has signed nearly every reproductive rights restriction that has crossed his desk dramatically impacting women's access to abortion and medical care in his state, and finally, Donald Trump.
     You know I'm a Democrat.  I make no bones about it.  Do I have opinions on a host of topics - sure.  Could I provide you a cogent argument as to why I believe what I do - absolutely.  Would I expect to change your hearts and minds - no, but I would hope we could have civil discourse.  For those of you firmly entrenched in your opinions, I don't expect to sway you - I'm good, but I'm not a miracle worker.  Just as I have several opinions that no matter what you say, you're not going to sway me on either.  But I'll listen to you, I'll respect your right to voice your opinion.  I don't have to like it, just as you don't have to like mine, but I would hope that at the end of our chat, we could have a beverage and maybe a snack together.
     The pundits say that even if Trump becomes the nominee, which is still debatable due to the delegates outstanding and what may happen at the convention, that he'll never win the general election.  I hope and pray that this is true.  But more than that, I can't stop thinking about what has become of discourse and civility in our country.  Where has this enormous backlash against education and intelligence come from?  The Republican debates have, by far and large, been embarrassing, mean-spirited and full of inaccuracies that rarely seem to be called out.  Trump's rallies  have given us a plethora of examples of the worst of our human character traits - protesters punched, shoved, taunted, kicked and all while Trump stands at the podium egging his supporters on.  Even today, his Chicago rally has been cancelled due to security concerns.  Two recent Trump quotes from his rallies specific to violence:

          "I'd like to punch him in the face, I'll tell ya." (said of a protester from a 2/22/16 rally)
          "There may be somebody with tomatoes in the audience.  If you see somebody getting ready to throw a tomato, knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. Okay? Just knock the hell - I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees." (Iowa rally 2/1/16)

     Can you imagine Ronald Reagan saying something like this during a rally?  Could you imagine George H.W. Bush discussing his penis during a debate?  I can imagine him walking off the stage and disavowing anything the others said.  Can you imagine George W. Bush telling a crowd in Spanish that Mexico is sending rapists and murders across the border?  These aren't even my guys, but if you forced me to vote for one of them versus Trump or Cruz (because Rubio and Kasich will be gone soon), I'd put Reagan's corpse back in office.
     Trump does not give one solid fuck about the people voting for him.  Make no mistake about that.  He cares about himself and his brand.  He has no solid plan for how he intends to bring about any of his ideas.  The Republican National Committee should have disavowed him months ago, forcing him to run as an independent and depriving him of what he desperately craves - attention.          

Wednesday, March 2, 2016


     A couple days ago, I got a rather fat letter in the mail from the County Sheriff's office where Mom used to live, the town of my formative teenage hood.  It was a lengthy obtuse legal document.  I found her name a couple pages back amid notes about taxes and liens and such.
     My beloved grandfather used to live in said county on a small piece of land with a trailer.  It was set off from the road a smidge and surrounded by trees.  He had a window behind the couch that looked out on a backyard that was more trees than yard.  He'd watch the deer come and go.  During one particularly difficult summer, we spent several months there after we were evicted from a house we were renting that was suddenly sold on us.  We slept in Grandpa's living room on the foldout couch and an easy chair - my mom and three kids.  That summer I also tried to have a romantic picnic in the woods there with a boy I was sweet for; all I succeeded in doing was getting us eaten alive by mosquitoes ... a story for another time.
     Anyway, one year a man bought the property next to my grandfather and literally built his gaudy house right up to the property line.  He would push my grandfather trying to get him to sell, so he could expand.  It pissed my grandfather off, because he told my mother, who told me, but Grandpa stood his ground.  This was his land.  He died very unexpectedly in 1994.  We had barely finished burying him, when the next-door neighbor started in on Mom.  Now this land was tiny.  It just fit his trailer, a small shed, enough space to park two cars and trees all around.  And although it was tiny, it was agreed upon between her and my uncle that the land was hers to live on.  She couldn't build anything on it, 1. because it was too small to do so and 2. she didn't have any money.  But this was hers.  The word land is magical when you've never owned anything of substance.  She didn't have the money to have the trailer removed, so it sat there.
     That next-door neighbor continued to push at her.  She kept declining, but it got harder and harder.  She had to pay the property taxes on a place where she couldn't live and still pay her rent, and as I've mentioned previously there was never enough money.  I had graduated from college just a couple weeks before my grandfather died and then moved halfway across the country.  I wasn't really a mouth to feed, nor was my brother who was living on his own, that left my little sister at home.  She tried to keep up with the taxes.  She even had to ask me for help a couple times, which I was glad to do - this was hers.  Unfortunately, she couldn't keep it up, and the time came where she had to make a very hard choice, and that next door neighbor dick was right there to seize the opportunity.  He was visibly pleased with his success.
     Fast forward to that letter I received.  I called the Sheriff's office to see if they'd be willing to explain it to me.  I was nervous that they were coming after me for money owed by an estate that never existed.  When Mom died, she left us barely enough money in her account to cremate her, and a beat up Volkswagen Jetta that sat in our driveway until two Hispanic guys in the neighborhood asked if they could give us $100 for it.  All those other expenses that come up when someone dies, from final bills to official death certificates to God knows what else can come up, my sister and I paid for.  There was more that my sister took care of on the sly, but she kept that to herself.  Mom had requested that one of us be there when she was cremated.  Mom was desperately afraid of being burned alive.  We were to make sure that she was really gone.  My sister took on that responsibility, and that is a debt that I will never be able to repay her.  Never.
     A very nice lady at the Sheriff's office explained that I was being informed in the letter that the property, along with a lot of other property that the next-door dick owned, was being sold off for taxes and such.  In case I had a lien against the property or some other arrangement, this would be my chance to let it be known.  I'll admit, I started to cry a bit on the phone with her.  I said, Ma'am, forgive me.  This was my grandfather's land and then my mother's.  It was all she had.  All we had.  This man had bullied my grandfather to sell and then my mother.  My dear grandfather wasn't even cold in the ground before this man started to ask her about selling.  I said, I'm sorry but I'm not really sorry that he's losing his property.  Then she told me, that he was a huge jerk and a really bad man, and if this news had in any way made my day better, she was very happy.  I thanked her immensely, and we said our goodbyes.
     When we were younger and someone would do something really bad to one of us or her, an underhanded boss or cheating boyfriend/girlfriend, Mom would say, "God will get them.  I may not be there when it happens, but God knows what they've done."  If I close my eyes, I can hear her saying it even now.