Bloggin' it out

To my pride of Lions - (2020)

Originally published in 2020

I miss you. I miss the world. I hope that when next we see each other we get to spend time together. Real time. Real talking… in the meantime, I hope this helps you know how much I miss you and helps you maybe know a little more about me.

What happens after you finish the rough draft? - (2020)

Originally published in 2020

There is this moment,

A moment found in the eastern hemisphere of the period that is preceded by the simple words “the end.”

For that moment, It doesn’t seem to matter the size of the font,

It doesn’t seem to matter what the seventy-thousand words prior to that period are.

What matters is my right ring finger, on instruction from my brain, but more on instruction from my heart, finds itself poised on the key, and with more pomp that that finger normally receives, it is asked to thunderously hammer a small round dot to the end of an adventure.

That moment, that elation, that rounded railroad spike of finality, hammered through the keyboard with purpose and resoluteness, reverberates back through your finger, your hand, your arm, your heart, and your mind — causing a cascading feeling of accomplishment that is as strong as any drug, any kiss, any manufactured moment of joy, to wash over you.

The first step after — the answer to the question — is to climb back onto the ledge from which you leaped seventy-thousand words prior. To find yourself back, looking over the world you built, the lives you created and destroyed, the passion you felt and instilled, and appreciate being able to look across that great plain of experience and seeing off in the distance the curve of that final period as it drops off into the horizon.

Take a minute, take a day, take a week to appreciate yourself… and once you do… get back to work. There’s editing to be done.

Remembering 9/11 at the Suisun City Train Station - (2019)

Originally published in 2019

On the train to the city… the same thing I was doing 16 years ago. We just arrived at Suisun Station. This is where I got off and waited for two or so hours while they inspected all the trains to ensure they were safe. I made it home just in time to watch the first tower fall.

Until Brian called me to tell me what was going on, I didn’t know. My dad had called and left me a voicemail early in the morning telling me he loved me and hoping I was okay. He never called me that early, and I thought maybe he was sick since it was so out of place.

While driving my kids to school today, we talked about it. We talked about how terrorists seek to incite terror and hurt, maim, and kill people as a means to their end — but that any endeavor that can only be accomplished through acts of, terror, intolerance, or inhumane cruelty cannot be righteous in intent. I told them that those 19 men with box-cutters and a bankrupt ideology were willing to give their lives to hurt us and to instill fear, and in some ways, they accomplished that goal.

I think it would be easy to look at politics, the ongoing wars, climate events, and the other noise and wonder if the world is better… but I think we’ve all risen up quite a bit and may not notice how much higher our collective tide is. The fight isn’t over but marriage equality is real. The fight isn’t over but social and racial injustice aren’t things being whispered about at brunches and barber shops. The fight isn’t over but the conversations we’re all having, every day, are about how we all can be better, more united, more fair, more just, more equal, more loved, and continue to move forward and progress as a people.

In that context, sixteen years after it rained stone, steel, and blood onto the streets of Manhattan, while division remains, I feel very confident that what they endeavored to ultimately accomplish that day failed. They sought prolonged fear, they achieved prolonged resolve. They sought to maim us, but only left the shadow of a faint scar.

It’s sometimes difficult for me to bifurcate patriotic pride from inane tribalism — but just taking a moment to think about that day sixteen years ago — and think about those that ran into the buildings… and those that drove into the storm last week… and those driving into the storm today, all to grab the hand of those that need help because those people are *our* people… those are the days where I’m proudest to be an American.

Some thoughts on Turning 39 - (2017)

Originally published in 2017

Sometime during the night, between three and four in the morning, I will finish my thirty-ninth year on this planet and begin my fortieth.

Considering there have been nine leap years (and one skipped leap year in 2000) since I was born, calculating my precise age requires a little bit of math.

I was born on June 30th 1978. That means I have been alive for 468 months… or 2,034 weeks… or 14,245 days…

That feels like a lot.

So, thirty-nine-ish trips around the sun and I feel like I’ve learned a fair bit and want to share some of those thoughts.

Shoes are important – both in comfort and style.

I prefer to overdress. If I show up overdressed the worst someone could say about me is that I was uninformed. If I show up underdressed the worst they can say is that I didn’t give a shit.

Give a shit. There is a well-documented art of not giving a fuck, but there is an equally important art of knowing what to give a fuck about in order to achieve the things you really give a fuck about.

Hats and scarves are awesome.

Dignity and pride in yourself come from treating others with dignity and respect. It’s much easier to feel good about yourself when you make others feel good about them.

Try to not be creepy. Ever.

Don’t be afraid to tell your kids you were wrong. It teaches them humility and fallibility. Both are good things to help us all improve.

I think being on-time is important. I prefer to be early and maximize the experience, rather than be late and feel rushed. It’s okay to be late to certain things, as those things shouldn’t have had a deadline to begin with.

No matter how much I try, I will never be great at grammar;

Caffeine is a magical drug, but sleep is more magical. Set aside a day now and again to sleep late, watch TV in bed, or read a book. You don’t have to do this alone, in fact, it’s better when you’re not.

There isn’t going to be a huge number of people who really get you – but there will be some. Make an extra effort with them.

Don’t have dreams you don't ever pursue. Try. Whatever it is you dream of doing, try. Even if that effort starts with checking a book out of a library. The smallest effort creates an avalanche of excitement. If you dream of being a doctor, start with a medical textbook. If you dream of being a musician, write some songs. If you dream of traveling the world, pick a destination and work toward getting there. Even if you never fully realize the dream, you’ll learn a lot along the way and have some great times in the process…

…and sometimes the process is the better part.

Travel. As much as you can. If you can’t travel, visit other cultures. Meet people who aren’t from where you’re from. The more you talk to people from everywhere, the more you realize how alike we all are. Ask real questions and really listen to the answers.

Stand up for equality. Real equality. As a cisgendered, heterosexual, (reasonably) white male, I recognize I have power, privilege, and access not everyone has. Being part of a chorus that allows others to sing the same song doesn’t diminish your voice.

Eat less sugar… you’ll feel better.

Watch more comedies… you’ll feel better.

Read more stories where people change the world… you’ll feel better.

Read more stories, watch more movies, and watch more TV shows where the hero doesn’t look anything like you, isn’t from where you’re from, and sees the world differently. They’re still the hero.

Eat foods from different cultures. Ask the waiter how to eat it if you don’t know.

Not all news is fake. Check the source. Read things from the other side of the political spectrum, and dismiss immorality and political nonsense out of hand. Trickle-down economics doesn’t work. Tax cuts aren’t always good. Err on the side of humanity. Care about your fellow citizens and not just their or your money. Be less politically selfish and at the same time don’t necessarily vote against your own self-interests. Often they align but sometimes paying a little more taxes so that kids have healthcare is a good thing.

Donald Trump is not a good President.

Don’t add raw garlic to a protein smoothie ever. You’ll regret it.

if you have kids, play with them. Sports, Board games, word games, video games. Don’t be afraid to be silly. People who can’t be silly aren’t to be trusted.

If you have kids take the time to learn about their passions. Learn how Pokemon works, learn gymnastics terminology, learn how to escape prison in Roblox. It shows your kids that what they do is also important and that you care.

Avocado toast is awesome.

Watch sports. Boxing isn't just two people hitting each other, it's the sweet science. MMA is a chess match on canvas. Baseball is a delicate dance of probability and statistics. Rugby is elegant violence.

Professional Wrestling isn't what you think it is... unless you think it's awesome.

Ask for free stuff. You’d be surprised how often you get it.

Listen to music. Find the stuff you love and listen to it a lot. Find the stuff that makes you smile. Find the stuff that makes you cry. Find the stuff that speaks to you.

Take more baths. There is something about submerging yourself in water that is good for the soul. Use bubbles.

Take some time to learn how to drink properly. There is nothing wrong with shots, but learning how to appreciate the complexity of a craft cocktail is very rewarding. Learn what type of beer you like… there is one out there for you.

Cook… sometimes for your family, but also cook for yourself. Also, cook for friends. If you can’t cook, learn. It’s a skill that will never fail you in life.

Stop doing things you don’t like unless they’re required. Also, camping is bullshit.

Visit more museums. Museums are gateways into someone else’s mind. It’s the closest you’ll ever get to being able to read thoughts. Occasionally you’ll be struck with so much beauty you’ll want to weep – more often you’ll look at something and not know what the fuck is going on.

Books are time machines. They’re moments and thoughts captured and recorded like the grooves in a record.

Music can also be a time machine. Pick an album you loved twenty years ago, put it on and close your eyes. You’ll find yourself yanked backward.

As you get older, take some time to reflect on who you are and what you believe… but just as important why you believe what you do. Be a tenacious evaluator of yourself and do your best to continue to improve.

Write shit down. Your thoughts, your frustrations, your triumphs.

Write poetry, even if you never read it again.

Know you’re beautiful, whoever you are.

Don’t be afraid to let go now and again. Be a little reckless. Be a little adventurous. Try new things.

Find people who love the things you love and talk to them about why you love them.

Dance. In the kitchen, in the shower, on the subway, in the car – dance.

Don’t be intimidated by people who are better educated, have more experience, or talk in a louder voice. Even the best of us is occasionally full of shit.

Do things that make your friends comment, "YAAASSSS." Praise feels good. There is nothing wrong with seeking it out.

Ask them questions. Ask a Physicist about physics. As a chemist about chemistry. Those people spent years learning their craft. Learn from them - not just about their subject, but about them and why they love their subject.

Be Intellectually curious, never stop asking questions, and never stop learning.

In 365 1/2 Days I’ll be 40. I’m going to do my best to wrap up my first forty with moxie before I start the second half of my life.

Here’s to trying for ten more leap days.

Charlottesville, Pride, and Perseverance - (2017)

Originally published in 2017

Thinking about this past weekend’s events in Charlottesville, I find myself often lost in thought about the “why” of all this. Why did Heather Heyer lose her life? Why did that man feel enigmatically compelled to commit such a horrible act? Why did a sea of people feel the need to take up torches, a symbol intrinsically tied to a very specific hate group, and march in the street? Why did it take our President two days to condemn those groups? Why do those people feel so proud to be white?

It’s overwhelming and sad, and that last question gnaws at me.

Why do you, I, or anybody take pride in being white, black, brown, gay, trans, or any other race, ethnicity, creed, or identity? What is pride anyway? Is it simply being proud of some characteristic that accidentally was bestowed upon you at birth, or is it more? Is pride ultimately is the emotional connection to perseverance in the face of hate?

I have pride in my Jewish heritage because my people throughout history have been persecuted and murdered, and to take pride in that heritage is to shake a fist at those who failed to extinguish our light while honoring those that fell to the venom of hate. Similarly, black pride, LGBTQ Pride, Latino pride is about squaring your shoulders to the gale of inequality that has tried to push you back. To say you’re proud to be Black, or Proud to be Rainbow, or Proud to be Latino is to acknowledge the perseverance required to be those things and to honor those that fell to the hurricane while still providing shelter to those walking behind them.

White pride is to take pride in power. If you’re proud to be white — yes, you’re proud of the accomplishments of white people — which, sure — white people have contributed many great and wondrous things to the world — but when it comes to power and subjugation, if you proclaim “White Pride,” to those that have been subjugated, oppressed, enslaved, murdered, controlled, demoralized, criminalized, and segregated — you’re taking pride in those accomplishments too.

Bigotry is real. Black people have a long history of oppression in the country. LGBTQ people are still fighting for equal rights in many states. Study after study shows that being white, on the aggregate, means higher wages, more employability, might rights, and more safety. You can pick any individual out on the scatter plot and say, “Not that white person!” or “that Black Lesbian makes more money than me” — but that ignores the cumulative effects of systemic, proven, institutionalized racism and inequality that minority communities still face.

Yes, poverty is the great equalizer, but solving poverty doesn’t end racism, bigotry, or hate.

Black Pride, in part, comes from this: “There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amid the piercing chill of an alpine November.” — Martin Luther King, Jr. (Assassinated)

LGBTQ Pride, in part, comes from this: “It takes no compromising to give people their rights. It takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no survey to remove repressions.” — Harvey Milk (Assassinated)

Jewish Pride, in part, comes from this: “Our freedom was severely restricted by a series of anti-Jewish decrees: Jews were required to wear a yellow star; Jews were required to turn in their bicycles; Jews were forbidden to use streetcars…” — Anne Frank (Killed in the Holocaust)

Latino Pride, in part, comes from this: “It is my deepest belief that only by giving our lives do we find life. I am convinced that the truest act of courage, the strongest act of manliness is to sacrifice ourselves for others in a totally non-violent struggle for justice.” — Cesar Chavez, advocate for basic humanity in work

More often than not “pride,” particularly in the context of race, ethnicity, creed, or sexuality, is intrinsically tied to perseverance in the face of oppression, bigotry, and the exertion of power.

“White Pride” lacks that essential perseverance, as in this country, White people have been the ones oppressing, subjugating, and exerting power. A friend and I had an earlier conversation where my friend said that for him, pride in being white came from the story of his family, who a hundred years prior, came here from Eastern Europe and built a life, tasted the American dream, and setup future generations; but that’s not “white pride,” that’s pride in your family. That’s pride in America. To have “White Pride” for that is take pride that your family most certainly had opportunities that black families that had been freed from slavery a scant 35 years prior still didn’t have. I’m not saying those immigrants didn’t work hard, or struggle, or suffer, or require grit and perseverance themselves to make it — I am saying that taking pride in your race as part of why you got there is to take pride that your family had opportunities, that many descendants of slaves absolutely did not.

In my family, it’s the same reason Benjamin Gendenlaf changed his name to Benjamin Love, as there was an advantage on paper in people thinking he wasn’t Jewish.

Charlottesville shows us all that we have a long way to go. While there is an absence of leadership in the White House, we can look to our community leaders, the voices who still ring out loudly on the topic, and the echoes of the past to light the dark tunnel ahead.