South Park Mick

Submitted for Your Convenience

LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 11B - Topic: IF THE CREEK DON'T RISE
This week is a contestant only vote.

This is not a poll.

This is merely a list of currently competing contestants, and their submitted entries for the week,
to facilitate ease and practicality of use for reading where there is no formal poll.


CONTESTANT SUBMITTED ENTRY
adoptedwriter But-what-if...
alexanderscttb The Whole Made Wholly Discrete
alycewilson Another Flood
az_starshine Not That Kind of Pastor
banana_galaxy Toronto
beeker121 Rebecca
belenen 's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
bleodswean Paradise
copyright1983 River of Life
dadi Cheat More Efficiently
dizzydog ...Then Our Sorrows Will
emo_snal Tinderbox
encrefloue Cry, Little Baby
estelle Before.
favoritebean Angry, Brittle, Dry
flipflop_diva The Wild Goose
furzicle Time Traveling
halfshellvenus Brook
hangedkay The Driving Beat
i_love_freddie River Watch
karmasoup Force of Nature
kate_spencer Liven Things Up
kittenboo My Choices
lawchicky Float
m_malcontent Mueller's Creek
mac_arthur_park Granma's Words
marlawentmad No entry received
md_meezer Tee Time
me_sonrei Flood
millysdaughter Slim Chikn
morning_stand Go With The Flow
murielle A Serious Case of the What Ifs
n8tastrophe The Trials of Henry  (Part Two)
nikkiii_brown Jamie's Older Sister
oxymoron67 My Direction Sense Fails Me
proceedcyclone Rite of Passage
quiltingdragon Surprise!
rayaso 's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
roina_arwen Cento II
ryl Next time buy a calendar
static_abyss The Cousins
suesniffsglue Flood Season
sunouttomorrow Who voluntarily buys a house in Nebraska?
swirlsofblue Sea Bound
tigrkittn Sometimes The Creek DOES Rise
tonithegreat Just Great.
topaznebula Drought
tsuki_no_bara Fomenting Rebellion
unmowngrass Whispers In The Wind
viagra Here We Go...
xo_kizzy_xo Things Build Up
yamyam_kat I Was Mowing My Lawn
zedmanauk 's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
zhent The Clutch

This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
Lightly Exposed

Force of Nature

INFLUX

I imagine there are a lot of different reasons to get married, but I would suppose most people choose their life partner because the chemistry works, and the connection they share is special.  In my case, I chose Minion because he was exactly the opposite of everything I’d ever thought I wanted in a mate.  I hadn’t seen that coming, but I’m glad I had the presence of mind to recognize it as right for both of us when I finally came across it.

Or rather, when he finally, gently, patiently helped me to see our relationship for what it had become, which I’m sure was more of a challenge because I didn’t have a healthy perspective on what love is before I become connected to Minion.  Despite nine rejected marriage proposals, more fiery affairs, brief flings and one-time encounters than I will readily admit to, I’ve since come to figure I’d never experienced a healthy loving relationship until then.  I was damaged, and most drawn to people with baggage, too.

I’d loved people who didn’t love me.  I’d been loved by people I wasn’t in love with.  It was all very one-sided and dysfunctional. 


Even so, somehow, I never became jaded.  I’ve always believed in the power of love.  In fact, I’ve often referenced it as the most powerful force in the universe.

I believe love must be held in a functional perspective, though.  I’ve rolled my eyes at overly sappy love songs, and people who mistake the giddy butterflies of infatuation or the fireworks of sensual passion with real love.  I see that kind of fool’s folly masquerading as genuine to be false, fleeting, and a pointless waste of human interaction.

I don’t believe people fall into love, like some sort of freak accident that just happens to you outside of your control when you’re otherwise going about your normal life.  But I don’t perceive love as an emotion... I believe it is a choice.  I’d just never found someone to make that same choice about me as I’d made about them.

But I never despaired from the idea it was possible.  It was something I longed for.  The goal seemed to be to find the kind of damage that was the least incompatible with your own.

Love can be soft and tender and gentle and sweet, but it’s also strong and ferocious and zealous and tough.  What I truly wanted in my heart, was to find someone for whom each of us were equally devoted, about whom each of us could say to the other, “No matter what happens, come hell or high water, it’s going to be you and me, babe, against the world.”  The statement that sums up the sentiments: I will lay down my life for you... I will walk through fire for you.... I will go to hell and back for you... Nothing can separate me from my love for you.

I’d felt that way about lovers.  I love hard, and I give everything.  Or at least, I thought I had.  But I had no idea how hard I could love or how much I could give, because no one I loved that way ever loved me like that.  Until someone did.  And then I finally said yes.  I guess in my case, the 10th time is the charm.




Minion and I each wrote our own vows, but I wrote the entire ceremony, but for one small interjected address I set aside for the officiant to create on his own, within a few general guidelines.  He is a preacher, after all, and as the family’s minister, he was performing the role for free... it seemed only fair to throw him a small bone of composition.  But he was a great sport about it.

It wasn’t going to be anything resembling any sort of traditional service.  That’s just not who we are.  Our minister was willing to go along with most everything I threw at him, but he did take exception to one item we had to come to a meeting of the minds over.

For the call and answer section of our oath to each other — in which the officiant reads off the promise we are making to one another on the day of our wedding and forever, for us to repeat each portion back bit by bit, with our own and one another’s names inserted respectively — the traditional standard wedding oath verbiage is along the lines of:

                 “...to have and to hold, for better or for worse,
                      for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health,
                      ’til death do us part.”

A variation of that portion did make it into the ceremony, but that’s not where I started.  That wasn’t what I wanted to focus on saying to my lifemate.  Instead, we each began:

                 “...I take you, today, to cherish always, the past we have shared,
                      to relish in every present moment with you,
                      and to eagerly seek out the future we will create together,
                      whatever it may bring...”

...and here, what I wanted to say was, “...come hell or high water.”  It was really important to me to be able to make that statement in that moment, because for the first time in my life, it was true for both of us.  But, our family’s minister couldn’t bring himself to say hell in that context, because that would be swearing in his book.

I thought of that as an odd position coming from a preacher, considering how one would generally expect most preachers to regularly communicate about hell and damnation and the wages of sin and whatnot.  He was never the thundering fire and brimstone type, though.  (If he was, he wouldn’t have been officiating our wedding.)

I made my case for what it meant to us, and why it mattered so much, asking if he didn’t think he could make an exception on this one word this one time.  He countered with some potential alternative solutions we thought perhaps we could both agree on.  Unfortunately, “H – E – double-hockey-sticks” just really doesn’t carry quite the same power.  :-/

How about come rain or come shine?  Really?  Are we postal workers?  Is our marriage a ball game???

His next suggestion, though, was even worse.  He threw out an old Southern classic, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise.”  I think my first reaction to that was to just blink rapidly for a few moments, completely dumfounded.

When I recovered from the initial shock, I asked him what that even meant.  Not because I didn’t know, but because I wanted him to take a step back and actually ponder what he’d just proposed.  To be honest, I couldn’t tell you the specific origin of the colloquial phrase, but I’ve had a general impression about it since I was little.

When I was a preteen, my Mom checked out a Sissy Spacek movie from the library — which was exactly as exciting as you’d expect a Sissy Spacek movie watched with your Mom would be — about a rural slice of life and the human struggle of man against nature to save a family farm on a flood plain when the rising river threatened their livelihood.  I don’t recall much of it, as either brain damage or selective memory has taken most of the plot from me, if there even was anything more to it than a bunch of folks coming together to fight torrential rains with sweat and buckets, in the hopes something would be left to call home when the clouds cleared and the dust settled.  What I did take away as the moral I think the filmmakers were trying to make is... when your way of life is in jeopardy, be careful who you reach out to for help, but always maintain focus on your most cherished priorities in life, and never stop trying to save what’s most important to you.

That’s a nice enough life lesson about what happens when the floods come up, but the main point is, for country folks, any plans you might have made come to a screeching halt when the river rages.  Everything stops.  No one even considers a promise broken if the reason you couldn’t make it is due to the crisis of a natural disaster or “act of God.”

Growing up in Florida, having survived a handful of hurricanes, I’ve seen how folks can respond to these kinds of situations, so I can relate, to some degree.  But Southerners throw the saying around as easily as “knock on wood,” though, and more or less to mean the same thing.  Our minister is from Arkansas, so he probably tossed it into the ring without really giving it much thought, which is why I felt I had to call for the pause to reflect.

So... what you would have us promise to one another on our wedding day is, we will be devoted to each other, so long as the Lord allows, and there isn’t any major emergency to otherwise distract us.  When I put it in that perspective for him, he had a good laugh at the ridiculousness of the thought compared to how I’d described the bonds of our love.  He saw that, “Lord willing and the creek don’t rise” — meaning, “so long as circumstances permit” could not be any more diabolically opposite to a saying that conveys, “by any means necessary, no matter the circumstances.”

Then he told me a story of some painting he’d seen once where there was a tiny little one-room country church on the other side of a bridge over a small creek, and he always thought of that image whenever he heard the saying, wondering who would make it to church when the creek rises.  I have no idea what that had to do with our wedding, but I was glad he was lighthearted about it, and we moved on from there.  Which is just as well, as I really didn’t want to have to explain why my atheist husband would not be too happy with the inclusion of permission from any supreme being as a factor in his life decisions, whether about a marital companion, or anything else, for that matter.

In the end, we compromised with “come what may.”  Not nearly as potent as I’d wanted, but it worked okay enough.  Those words as a lyric had been prominently featured in that horrific Ewan McGregor-Nicole Kidman musical I think I’m the only person on the planet to absolutely loathe, but my husband had liked it, and it was a love story, if tragic and overblown, so I let it slide.  Fortunately, four years and a two-year old later, our marriage hasn’t suffered any for it, but I figure we both know what we really meant.  ;-)




LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 11B - Topic: IF THE CREEK DON'T RISE
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on…
                                                                                                            ...and thanks for stopping by.
Lightly Exposed

We Are Billions of Beautiful Hearts

Waking up

I received an unexpected text from a stranger the other day.  I don’t randomly give out my cell phone number, and I don’t plug it into social media outlets, so anyone who has it came by it through a channel I must have opted into, at some point.  As those communications are few and far enough between, I will give them a little leery leeway upfront.

The texter was shilling for a particular presidential candidate — one I don’t actively support, but wouldn’t be in opposition to succeeding.  I inquired if she has my contact info because I’ve donated a few times to a leading grassroots progressive campaign; she said she took it off my voter profile record.  I guess I’m okay with that.  I’m open to human conversations about impacting genuine change for serious issues.


She identified her candidate as an ally to the one I support.  I would agree.  I’ve been saying for years they should have been on the same ticket all along.  The surest way for them to both win is to come together.  I don’t even really care who has top billing, though his record on social issues is stronger, and while I believe she is capable of making some positive changes, I only see him as the realistic option for sweeping reform with the potential to transform politics as we know it today.

Sometimes, people on the inside of politics can be too close to the politics of it all to see problems for what they are.  Problems require solutions.  Solutions require change.  Change requires more forward momentum than can be accomplished by simply carrying on with the status quo.

The canvasser wanted to find out what issues are important to me as we get closer to the election.  But it’s hard right now to know how to answer that, because what’s beneficial to me and mine personally pales in comparison to what’s best for healing a deeply damaged nation torn asunder.  Both candidates, as they have been doing throughout their careers, will continue to fight corruption while looking out for the little guy, though that’s an obvious imperative prerequisite, and should pretty much just go without saying.

We need more than just the basics, though.  We are beaten.  Battered.  Well and truly broken.

We the people need someone leading the charge to crack the whip and upend the money changing tables.  (I’m never been much of a bible thumper, but that was one scene I always liked the idea of, and it has stuck with me.  I think of that legendary figure as the original folk hero, and the character he represented as an ideal to be aspired to.)

The problem with trying to “MAGA” is the concept suggests we ever got there in the first place.  But we didn’t.  We still haven’t.  And at this rate, we never will.

The best part of us was always the collectively held belief instilled in us by our forebearers that we could do better.  We could be better.  All of us, together.  We, the people.

Somewhere along the way, though, we lost sight of that dream.  Probably about the time we began to redirect our individual focus to our tiny microcosms of separateness.  All because some slick snake oil salesman with a winning smile and really great hair once convinced us that was what God wanted.

The unholy union of patriotism and christianity pulling the strings of the man behind the curtain lets the puppetmasters’ minions raid the coffers of a sleeping giant, while gleefully ignorant zombified masses are distracted by the dazzling light show.

Are we not entertained???

Money may not be evil, but the love of its power certainly is.  And that evil has destroyed all that may ever have been good about who we wanted to be.  Because there’s no profit in homogeny.

So we sold our soul to the devil disguised as a new messiah.  Collectively.  (Well, a 46% minority collective, anyway.  The rest of can collectively say, “in our guts, we know he’s nuts.”)


That may have been our undoing to this point, but we can’t let it be the end of us.  I don’t want to be on the wrong side of history.  I don’t want to be apologizing to my grandchildren someday, trying to help them understand how much this “was a different time,” and “that’s just the way things were back then.”

At every historical point of change towards personal progress for the population of the US within the last 4 decades, though, one man has been in the trenches on the front lines calling us all onto the right path, demanding that we follow.  Some of his policies will benefit everyone, but right now what’s most important to me is that something like what we’re experiencing right now can never happen again.  I don’t know how much more of this we can take.

We need real forward progress to soothe the wounds that brought us to this point and allow us to learn and grow and be better.  I don’t see anyone from the DNC who would do any more than breathe a sigh of relief, put out some decent policies, and try to recover for the next 4-8 years.  The blue hats want to be able to get away with just patching up everything busted with rubber bands and bubble gum, and a comforting “there, there,” and call it good enough for now, I suspect because anything more than that would require too much work, and I imagine no one believes we have that much change left in our pockets or our hearts.

Who knows, it might even be good enough for now.  Some bellies might get a little fuller for a little while.  But a patch “for now” lasts only as long as until the next party comes along and rips it off to drive the knife in deeper, furthering the great divide.  If we haven’t been taught at least that much by this experience, then we might as well consider ourselves incapable of learning anything at all.

This country cannot sustain that much more yoyo-ing politics.  The impact of what is happening right now, today, has far reaching consequences that will continue to affect our children’s children.  That is, if we as a civilization even make it beyond the next generation.

We as a people may destroy ourselves before then, and if there aren’t any changes to middle-of-the-road DNC politics in the immediate future, then we the people of this country certainly will.  Right now I’m not even sure my 2-yr-old will grow up in the United States that raised me.  I don’t know how much longer that country will survive.

The American Dream is a pipe dream.  The promises upon which we forged our independence are only available to some, and come with caveats.  For-profit health care, for-profit prisons, and sweeping income inequality and the slave wages of working poverty are all in direct and absolute opposition to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

For better or worse, what we have right now, is a consumer driven economy.  There’s a lot to be said about how to boost it, but the best way to fuel it is to ensure consumers have means to consume.  FDR’s New Deal did not conceive of our families grinding our own bones to make our bread.  The prospect of working yourself into your grave at 2-3 jobs just to scrape by is not anyone’s definition of a dream.  Even Republicans at one point knew there should be a chicken in every pot.

But that’s all beside the point.  Those are just symptoms.  Right now the disease is, “We The People” are merely empty words.

The greatest threat to our democracy is the political system itself as we know it.  That’s why I can’t support a toe-the-line party candidate.  Right wing and left wing are just two sides of the same bird.  That bird is a vulture, and it’s eating us alive.  It’s time to let the Prometheus of the people fight back.  To do that, we’ll need to ruffle some feathers.

The founding fathers never intended for us to divide ourselves into political parties.  Bicameral government DOES NOT WORK.  The Electoral College DOES NOT WORK.

I don’t give a damn about states’ rights, and neither should anyone else.  Those screaming the loudest about it were wrong when they used it to push slavery, and they are just as wrong now.  One single solitary voter in Montana should not have the same power as 8 Californians.  And gerrymandering and voter suppression ensure some people’s voices don’t matter at all.

I would be willing to go to war over these issues, if that becomes the only road left to righting these wrongs.  To truly fix real problems, you first have to dig down to the source of the issue, root out and neutralize the infection.  Only then can you talk about growth.  Only then can you begin to heal.

Life is more than mere existence.  The pursuit of happiness is about more than survival.  Justice for all should include everyone.

Any candidate willing to bite the hand that feeds them, and work towards dismantling the system that put them in place has my attention.  Everyone else is just blowing a lot of hot air.  And as far as I’m concerned, they can suck it.


In the last election, I voted for the lesser of two evils, and I hated myself for it.  There’s not too many left to get the nod to be one of only two choices I would hate voting for as much now.  I won’t believe the remaining options are wrong for us the way I know the last lesser evil would have been.  (Less wrong than the Gossamer in office now, but by degrees.)

But I will hate the system that backed me into a corner and forced me to make that choice.  I will hate that whoever wins will see that as a victory.  I will hate that we can expect then to see some changes, but no real growth.  I will hate that I will live in fear of it being only a matter of time before we’re right back here where this all started, doing this same dance all over again.

I don’t want a candidate who’s thinking about what’s best for the next 4-8 years.  I want a shaman whose entire life’s works exemplifies the principles promoted, whose practices epitomize the proverbs preached.  I want a guardian who will build a legacy of leadership in a time to come when a teetering socialist democratic people’s republic collectively moved together as one to pull itself back from the brink of extinction.

We don’t need a bandaid.  We need the voice calling in the desert.  And we need to answer the call.  For all our sakes, I hope we do.



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 11A - Topic: WILD GOOSE CHASE
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on…
                                                                                                            ...and thanks for stopping by.
Morning After

Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

Dangerous Liaisons   (CN: NSFW)

A couple nights ago, I stumbled upon an unfinished, fragmented, “freewriting” style journal entry I’d begun more than half a decade ago, but never got around to wrapping up, perhaps because I didn’t know where it was going at the time.  Though I hadn’t gone looking for it, the timing of finding it now is serendipitous... here, at the turning of the years, at the changing of a decade, at the ringing in of the new “20s,” as we all consider the passage of time, and compare the reality of our today to the hopes and dreams of our yesterdays, against the prospects of our tomorrow.  It was in this mindset, I came across a crude, rushed synopsis of a brief introspection into my own subliminal coping mechanisms.

A dreamscape.


Writing can create a kind of time capsule — after a period of separation, it can help to put the past into perspective.  And, sometimes, the opposite can be true, as well.  A pinpointed focus on one moment — a snapshot of your emotional state, for example, frozen in time on a slide, under a microscope — could potentially allow the past to help put the rest of your life into a different perspective.  This is one such case.  I’ll lay a little background before sharing this particular excavated relic — a fossilized treasure from mid-summer just over five years ago, with an unpredicted poignancy compared to the unfolding of life since then.


In August of 2014, at the end of a fulfilled contract, I was looking for work between projects, but also exploring other options.  I’d become weary of the constant shilling to continue earning a respectable income compelled by the nature of this career track.  In truth, I’d tired of it long before then, but hadn’t been able to escape it by that point.  In fact, I still haven’t, but I’m working on it, and haven’t given up yet.

That June, though, I’d attended my eldest brother’s second wedding, followed by my eldest nephew’s first wedding, just two months later.  At certain ages, for some, weddings can have side effects.  Evaluating life partners.  Internalizing life choices.  Considering alternatives.

I had not known at the time of the former that my then-housemate (now husband) had secretly pulled aside my brother — the only living male who shares my DNA — to ask for his blessing over my Minion’s proposal plans.  (With which he wouldn’t follow through for another six months — I don’t suspect he had planned out the mangled oatmeal pancake approach at that point, but, hey, whatever works, right?)  I may have had some intuition into the changing winds blowing a redirect to the course of my walk of life, though... perhaps it was that instinct driving my need to find a stable source of gainful employment — one suitable for a more “settled” way of life than I had been living previously.

I was at the precipice of launching a small business — a project that would ultimately be tabled due to extraneous obstacles.  At the time, though, it seemed a better alternative to the constant rub on the gumshoe of pounding the pavement and knocking on doors in search of the next gig, sometimes having to settle for whatever was on the other side of whichever door opened when most remained shut.  At the very least, the unknown path of the road less traveled was something different than I’d always done, and worth a shot.


Two years previously, I had been released from a long-term business partnership and corresponding cohabitation — a retrospectively fortuitous turn of events I came to appreciate as an escape from the gaslighting abuse of a manipulative control freak with a severe case of NPD.  It had taken about that length of time for the ice prison I’d been frozen in while living with his boot on the back of my neck to thaw out enough for allowing my natural wings to begin slowly unfurling.  I was becoming myself again.  And people noticed.

Throughout that extended period of confinement, during which I had been methodically isolated from friends, family, and any external source of social support or financial resources, I had often likened my situation to that of a frog in boiling water, as I saw these changes deflect where I had been going in life at the onset of that doomed alliance to where I was restricted to move about within its parameters.  I’m not sure, though, how well I had picked up on the changes in myself once I’d been removed from that circumstance.   From my perspective, I had always remained the same me in my own head.  I just couldn’t always be myself on the outside.  That, in and of itself, was its own kind of mental prison.

In the home I shared with Minion, though, I no longer had to carefully calculate the vocalization of every thought or second-guess the initiation of every action to determine whether it would appropriately fit into the “dynamic” of my living situation.  For me, internally, it was just a matter of flipping that switch off.  Though some patterns had become habits it took a while to “unlearn.”


The significance of symbolism can be an important tool in how you see yourself.  Maybe I was like a butterfly emerging from a cocoon.  But, then again, on the other hand, just maybe... I was a dormant alligator, breaking free from a long winter’s nap in the hibernaculum of a frigid lake, and ready to dominate the top of the food chain once more.  The following inner workings summary from a 65-month younger version of me is a timely reminder of what the symbolism of your lizard brain can do for you. 



*******

I had a conjoined streak of peculiar REM visions early this morning.  I’m a little fuzzy on the details, and there’s a fair bit of disorienting discombobulation, as one would expect, what with how dream sequences tend to be, especially as these transition one to another, overlapping into each other.

But they started out like this...



PT I
First, I had a dream about an apparent zombie apocalypse.  I was working within a collective of people who had been preparing for it for some time, and it was finally upon us... here, live, and coming, very soon, around the corner... maybe in another state or something.  But I was connected to a community, some of whom were some sort of chosen family to me, and others were there in some sort of more “official” capacity... none of that was too specifically defined in my dream... I just understood and accepted it in such a way that made it irrelevant to the story.

I know there was some sort of issue with money... actual cash money had been changing hands, which was ostensibly problematic at that point in the de-evolution of socio-economic structure, for some reason.  The group representing authority were frustrated to learn we still had some cash money, that we hadn’t just put it all in non-cash form, and spent it for supplies and materials, because now it was contaminated, they didn’t want to touch it, and it was about to become useless.  They left it with me, and left me alone to defend the area I was responsible for... it seemed to be some sort of bar or something.  (I was to dispose of the cash somehow... I’m sure I had a general comprehension of my expectations in that regard while in the dream, but the clarity of that point is lost on me now.)

I went off by myself to my assigned section, leaving behind the communally composed family to defend the spaces they’d been assigned to.  We all had our parts to play.  I barricaded the area around me with tipped over chairs, armed myself with a double barreled shotgun and a couple of fire axes, and then just had to wait.  It would seem I then determined it was prudent to devote some considerable time to figuring out what I was going to wear to spend the rest of eternity as a zombie.  In the end, I decided on an ironic T-shirt:

“Zombie 5-K run.”

I figured it would work either way.


And then, weirdly, I woke up.  Only... I didn’t.  I woke up in my dream, from the first dream, while still dreaming, but now in another dream.  :-/



PT II
In this new dream, I was driving (wondering if should I be alarmed that in my dream, it seems I may have been asleep at the wheel?) and telling someone I used to be close to (who is now removed from my life) about the dream.  It was raining out, and there were lots of puddles.  In the dream where I was telling her about the zombie dream, I had more to tell her than actually happened in the first dream when I had originally dreamed it... like more had happened that my dream-within-a-dream didn’t show me, but that my other dream had actually dreamed.  (Okay to insert raised eyebrow/wtf face here.)

According to the storytelling part of the second dream, as I recounted events, in the zombie apocalypse scenario, I had actually moved past that moment in the bar, barricaded by bar furniture, and I had survived not just that battle, but several others.  I had become a zombie apocalypse survivor, all while wearing the Zombie 5K run shirt, which had become very bloody.  In my retelling, it was like I was simultaneously having more of the zombie apocalypse dream, because I could see it in my head as I was retelling it.  (Yes, it was a very “Inception” sort of a moment, which is weird, considering I really hadn’t enjoyed that movie.)

The hard rain coming down as I was driving had formed a number of huge puddles in the rather large potholes in the road.  Several other drivers had become hung up in these, and I had to swerve pretty wildly to avoid multiple multi-car crashes.  The person I was telling about the zombie dream (a former best friend) held her breath to keep from screaming while clutching the door handle white-knuckled.  But, with some fancy evasive maneuvering, I managed to get us away unscathed while narrowly missing several collisions.

We made it through that crazy gauntlet, and arrived at... get this... the mall.  She was kind of uncomfortable being there with me.  (I didn’t press on this issue, as I gathered this was also something just accepted by my dream state self without overt elaboration — I guess dreams depend on you suspending disbelief and not asking too many questions?)  I tried to reassure her things were okay, but at that point, I had performed the mission to drop her off there (was I an agent?  some sort of taxi service?  I just don’t know), so we were then going our separate ways naturally.



PT III
As I had some time to kill, I wandered through the mall, which had an outdoor cobblestone corridor, sorta like Nicollet, but more like Boston.  In fact, come to think of it, I think this whole thing may have happened in Boston... everything about it had the look and feel of New England.  (I spent a summer there when I was in grade school... loved it.  Took a puerile internet test once to find out, “What city are you most like?” and came out Boston — so Boston is purportedly a municipality representative of my personality, if one were to put stock in such things — I don’t, but maybe I do in my dreams?)

So here’s me, strolling the cobblestone sidewalk, with a variety of dips and crannies also filling with rain drops, but I’m nimbly stepping around and between them, which is surprising, considering I’m on my cell phone, sending a text (I suppose it must have been important, because it’s not like me to do that in public — though I seem to recall it had something to do with completing my “mission?”), when I am abruptly jolted by a body collision with this incredibly good looking curly headed blonde guy who’s dressed in jeans with a faded military jacket and black T-shirt.  In the process of stumbling all over him, we press together rather intimately, more or less hugging each other.  I fumble back, apologizing profusely, and he gets this weirdly twisted, slightly sinister smile on his face, mumbling something about buying me a coffee to get to know me first.

I appreciate the attempt to diffuse an awkward moment with humor, and give him an acknowledging smile, taking a beat to size up if this is a random accidental encounter, or a purposeful introduction.  As I’m racking my brain to remember whether I’ve missed a coded exchange, he grabs my elbow and directs me to a narrow inlet into the mall interior... a kind of back alley to the “behind the scenes” area for the shops.  There’s a good deal of hustle and bustle all around, so I wouldn’t be able to hear him very well, even if he were saying anything.  But he’s not... he’s intently focused, and very obviously searching for something.

There is a show going on inside the mall... it’s a festival day in the city... some sort of celebration happening — not quite a holiday, more like a hullabaloo specific to the locality, but the whole place makes a big deal about it, and there are a lot of circus type acts in the backstage area preparing their performances.  This guy is moving us both past all of them, and I come to the realization he’s trying to find a quiet, out-of-the way nook apart from eyes and noise.  Instinctively, I know he’s planning to rape me.

The freaky part is, I continued to go along with him for another minute after that — almost like I’m preparing myself for the consequences — mentally going over my options, how I’m going to respond and what I’m going to do.  Then the part of my brain that remembers I’m ME, not some character in a story, yanks my elbow away from his grip and turns the other direction, walking away from him at a good clip.  I head directly for as big a crowd as I can get into, surrounding myself with strangers, to slip back into the throng.  (This was one of those moments where a part of my subconscious came to life and just took the wheel, with an assertive NOPE!  THIS is NOT happening now — since, otherwise, I was about to be raped in my dream.*)


*I can’t explain how I do this, but ever since I suffered the second traumatic brain injury, one of the perks is, I no longer have nightmares — if a dream becomes intense enough, my brain will either completely alter the storyline to get me out of a sticky situation, or simply end it by waking me up.  As seen with this dream series, obviously, I have multiple levels of subconscious, and I am more in control in some than in others.  I was initially a passenger going along for the ride in this third dream, until the heat turned up enough some part of me decided to say, “*#>@%* that noise!” and took charge.


So the handsome blonde predator spins on his heel and bolts after me, catching up and grabbing my elbow again, hissing in my ear, “WHAT do you think you’re DOING?”  I jerked away from him again quickly and emphatically, with a large, sweeping, rather publicly demonstrative motion.  I squared my shoulders, set my jaw, put on my most powerful pissed off bitch-from-hell voice, and barked at him.

                “DUDE!”  I bellowed like a drill-instructor, loud enough to call attention.  Dozens of heads turned toward the sound.

                “You really think I’m just going to let you lead me away like a sheep to slaughter??  That I’m just going to go along with you to some back alley corner so you can RAPE me?!  Out of some sense of social obligation?  Or what, FEAR?”

My neck darted side to side like a standing cobra poised to attack, jerking with every incredulous presumption.  Dude’s face twisted up in bewildered surprise.  His neck grew two inches upward as he tried to make sense of the sudden transition in his prey.

                “Well, I’m sorry you happened to catch me looking down when you met me, but if you think I go through life like that, you’ve got another think coming, man.   Just because I’m a chubby chick doesn’t mean I’m a shy wilting wallflower with no self-esteem!  And as for fear, you may not have noticed, *@$$#073*, but I’m BIGGER THAN YOU.”

I clocked the darting of his head as he made a quick body assessment.  If I was more malignant by nature, I’d have taken advantage of the momentary lapse to issue a swift kick to his nethers.  But I trust the blustery of belligerent posturing more than my reflexes against his, so I continued.

                “You may eventually get the better of me, just because you have more testosterone.  But I wouldn’t even guarantee that.  If you’re willing to roll the dice and take that gamble, though, I’m going to make sure you not only feel it, but regret your choices.”

Effusively, I cracked my knuckles out in front of me, shaking my fingers out, and rocking on the balls of my feet to limber up my muscles and show my action readiness.  By then, enough people had raised their heads from what they were doing to pay more attention to us that he started to back away.

I was causing quite a scene.  Noting his demeanor reversal, I started coming after him.  At that point he was looking like a deer in highlights, desperate for a clean getaway.  I began poking him hard in the chest with my finger as I spoke, pushing him a step back further with each jab.

               “Yeah, dude, that sensation you’re feeling right now?  That’s your fight-or-flight impulse kicking in.  It’s your instinct telling you to make a choice which one you are.  You thought you had mine figured out, but you had me pegged wrong, bro.  I’m a fighter — all the way to my dying breath.  If that’s today, then so be it, and bring it on.  You want a fight?  You got one, pal.  You sure you’re ready for this?”

When he looked like was about to turn and run, I pushed him down, and he fell hard on his ass in a puddle in the alley, rain drizzling down on him, leaving his curly blonde hair dripping in dark tendrils around his face, his pretty mug showing panic.  People from the crowd had enclosed in a circle around us... he couldn’t have escaped by then if he wanted to.  Without lifting my glare, I gestured to the amassing mob and taunted.

               “Oh yeah... I bet you don’t want them to hear this, do you?  Well then, did you ever pick the wrong chick, bud, cause it doesn’t matter how far away you take me... have you noticed this set of lungs?  You have your weapons... I have mine.  If you push yours, you’re going to find out just what I can do with mine.”

He started crawling backwards away from me on his feet and palms.  Skittering like a cockroach, he nearly tripped several people behind him before he had to stop because no one was moving.  I stepped into the empty space, closing the distance between us.

               “You know what the really sad part is?  You’re actually pretty damn good looking.  You even give off an air like you might be kinda smart, on some level, though this certainly wasn’t your most brilliant move.  And I bet if you gave yourself half a chance, you’d probably be semi-interesting, too.  I cannot imagine why you think you’re so pathetic you’d have to resort to raping a stranger.”

His mouth was open, his chest heaving.  I wondered if he would hyperventilate.  He was clearly no longer a threat to me, but I wasn’t done.  He was still a menace.

               “The real kicker is, if you’d only bothered to ask my name, and talked to me like a decent human for a few minutes, I’m sure I’d have fucked you.  I wouldn’t have even waited.  I’d have gotten to that quiet spot you wanted, and we’d have done it right here, in this swarming bazaar.  I’d have found that incredibly hot.”

As I said this I stepped over his legs, standing across his body.  Straddling his torso and looking down on him, I licked my lips and gyrated my hips, rubbing my curves seductively.  His head twitched.  His expression showed he had no idea what to expect next.  I chuckled.

               “I would have been the best piece of ass you ever had, pal.  I’d have done things you’ve only read about in porn mags.  But I bet you don’t even have a condom on you.”

For a moment he looked like he thought it was over, that I had softened, and I was going to let him off the hook.  I wasn’t.  My eyes blazed with a thousand fires.

               “It’s not about sex, though, is it, jackass?  I don’t know what terrible kind of *#>@%3&*-up *$#!&* happened in your life that convinced you to feel good about yourself you have to take power from someone else.  But you won’t be taking it from me today.  You want to know what it feels like to be in control?”

I squatted down over him and bent close to his face, my nose to his, my breath on his cheeks.  I patted my chest.  With pursed lips and clenched teeth, I whispered just loud enough for only him to hear.

               “Look closely.  Take a good long hard look.  THIS is the face of self-control.  This only comes out of loving yourself.  There’s nothing in the world stronger than that.  You could use a touch of this.  And you should be grateful for it today.  This self-control is what’s stopping me from kicking your ass right now.  ’Cause I’m better than that.”

As I stood back up, I flexed my pecs, bouncing my giant rack in his face.  Then I reached into my back pocket and pulled out a black and rainbow packaged prophylactic.  I threw it on his chest.  He flinched, and clutched it quickly, I couldn’t tell if from fear or out of shame.  I didn’t care either way.  I kept at him.

               “Here... a souvenir for the next time you think you’ve got some gal figured out without bothering to know anything about her.  Just a reminder of the time you were so far off it almost cost you your manhood.  ’Cause don’t think for a moment however this played out, I’d have let you get away clean.  If I’d have taken a trip to the morgue today, I’d have gone with a smile on my face and your shredded balls in my bloody fingers, you imbecilic, pantywaisted invertebrate.”

Then I hacked a loogie and spat on him.  A handful of people laughed, and several clapped and cheered.  As he reached to wipe his face, I stepped past his head, moving into the crowd, which parted like the red sea to release me, then swirled back into my wake.  I didn’t calculate on them doing anything to him, but several of them had his face on Instagram by then, so he wasn’t going anywhere unnoticed.  As I left the scene with my head held
high, I looked up and closed my eyes, lifting my hands to the sky, breathing in deep and soaking up the gentle mist of rain upon my face.

-----

Just then the phone rang, and I talked with the woman who’d called me yesterday about setting up an interview tomorrow, and from that point I went about my day as I would any other in search mode on the hunt for a fresh hook.  But maybe, this time, I felt more like a shark than a guppy.  Apparently, my subconscious thinks I’m in need of being sent some pretty strongly worded, heavily ’tuded messages right now.  It will be interesting to see how well I can figure out what to do with them.



*******

Naturally, rationally thinking, awake-and-aware me recognizes how unrealistic all of this is on so many levels it’s not even worth delving into all of them.  But dreams aren’t supposed to be plausible, they’re simply the psyche’s sandbox — a metaphysical playground with random thoughts and experiences for its toys, in a universe unconstrained by the limits of imagination for its tools with which to shape them.  Even a lucid dreamer like myself isn’t making them up as we go along, but only merely holding onto the reins of an otherwise wildly careening carriage to keep from going over the edge.

Sometimes the messages you get out of dreams are nothing more than your own interpretations of your brain being a supernatural toddler while your body sleeps, which it does to keep itself active.  Other times, it’s the deeper part of you that understands details about your situation better than your cognizant self does, reaching through to help you sort out daily puzzles or life problems your alert mind has been actively trying to solve.  I know when I had this psychedelic triptych, I was feeling rundown, unsure of the future, trying to find strength to keep piloting the ship without losing hope, and longing for something different.  My hindbrain stepped up then with a much needed pep-talk.

“Don’t let the bullies get you.  You are stronger than you know.  You got this, girl.”

I’m sure I’m not in as bleak a situation these days as I was then.  Now I have so much more to be grateful for.  But, even so, that’s a message I could stand to get most any day, and would be happy to arm myself with to face whatever life may have in store.

I know better than to challenge the next year or the next decade to “bring it.”  I don’t want any trouble.  I hope the universe will be kind to me and mine.  But when the going gets tough, we pick up our double-barrelled shotguns and our fire axes, we keep our eyes on the
road and our hands on the wheel, we grab our black-and-rainbow rubbers, remember to love ourselves, and learn to dance in the rain.


Happy 2020 to you and yours.  May your twenties roar, and may you have all the tools you need to survive all they have in store.  And may your dreams grow wings and take flight.



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 10 - Topic: OPEN
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Starry Eyed Mama

Believe In All The Possibilities

GROUNDED

This time last year I had just finished up my first week at a new contract after 18 months at 3M.  I was excited to have it, as I was returning to my roots in supply chain accounting, and to the kind of billable I’m accustomed to.  The kind that would more effectively support us.

I’d taken a step back in position — along with a corresponding paycut — to work at Minnesota Mining & Manufacturing, because I’d had this crazy idea it might be a good career move for me.  If I’d known at the time 3M would let me work there like a trained monkey for a year and a half without a degree, but they were never going to hire me, I would have thought better of taking that opportunity.  It had been a tough term of tightening the belt, but it was finally over and behind me.

I was just settling into the next gig, ready to breathe easier and get caught back up to our normal household standards of paying bills on a functional schedule without having to squeeze hard enough to turn coal into diamonds.  The timing had been fortunate; end of year is a rough patch to be looking for a new project.  We feasted gratefully that Thanksgiving — my first day on the job was the next after the holiday.

This new post was supporting a merchandise distributor providing consumer goods for a member co-op of retail farm operations.  A small but growing company, there was a comfortable, easy-going, laid-back kind of homey sort of companionship with the folks I worked closest to, and I made some genuine friends there.  The office was done up like something right out of Fixer Upper, and as a southern country gal at heart, raised in a country-chic farmhouse on a 10-acre plot 17 miles out from the nearest town, who got married at a 125-year-old country-chic farmhouse, it felt like coming home.

I’d have been happy to make it a permanent placement, as with an 18-month old baby in the nest, I was ready to put contracting behind me and settle down for good.  Unfortunately, I took the engagement knowing the company just needed some fill-in help to get them into a good position to successfully transition their headquarters.  To Ft. Worth.  TEXAS.

Well, *$#!&*.  :-/


Initial days in a new place are often comprised of an endless string of introductions.  The first executive “bigwig” I met there told me with a grin,


             “If there’s a right way to do any of this stuff, don’t assume we’re doing it, or even that we have the foggiest clue what it is.  Feel free to forge your own path.”  It’s nice to be given empowerment up front, and to know folks have faith in your abilities.  After I’d been on the job about a month, the CEO stopped by on his way out with a cheerful,

               “How ya doin, Mick?”  I was surprised he even knew my name, and couldn’t help but gleam back with perhaps some touch of overexcitement,

               “Fantastic!”  Then he added, grinning,

               “I’m hearing great things about you!”  To which I naturally blushed,

               “That’s wonderful, thank you so much!”  As he continued toward the door, with a wink back over his shoulder at me, he returned warmly,


               “No, Thank YOU!”

It’s also great to be appreciated.


If ever there was a mid-sized entity that could have convinced me to uproot my life and family in a job-related relocate to the polar opposite side of the country, it would have been that one.  Heathen knows they tried.  And tried.  And tried.  I had it coming at me from multiple angles, including the CEO himself, though I’m pretty sure by the time he got around to it, he already knew through the grapevine I was a no-go.

After a while, to put some semblance of finality on it, so I wouldn’t have to spend weeks  answering the question, or have well-meaning folks keep trying to change my mind, I came up with a response no one could argue
with.  We are never leaving a blue state. I joked with the CEO when he finally asked me personally, if only he would move HQ to New York or California instead, then he might have my interest.

But that’s only partially true.  The statement was mostly to make the quandary unsolvable, since everyone knew that wasn’t going to happen, so everyone also knew just as obviously, neither was my family going along for the ride.  New York and California are expensive states for business.  But cost of living is also insane on either coast, too, so not super practical for us, either.

The truth is, as much as I have complained about Minnesota’s passive aggressive Minnesota Nice anti-culture, this place is likely always going to be home for us.  I know, you can never take the South out of the girl, and there will always be a special place in my heart for the natural habitat of my upbringing, but I’ve grown too much as a person to ever be willing to be surrounded by that much conservatism on a long-term basis.  More power to the saintly types of special folks who’ve taken it on as a crusade to try and change that particular machine from the inside, but Minion and I have got a family to raise.  We don’t need to be adding that much toxicity to the challenge ahead of us.



Florida to Minnesota is not your typical transfer, I’ll warrant you that.  I landed here over 30 years ago when my Dad, after being a key presenter at a child welfare conference had his choice of multiple job offers, and could have moved wherever he wanted to.  He selected Minnesota, because the idea of being in the place that birthed the nation’s social services system was appealing to him.  In time, it appealed to most of the rest of us too, as every one of us has tried our hand in social services, in some form or another.  None of us retired in it, though, like my Dad, who then, ironically, moved to Florida. 

In fact, everyone else in the family has since moved away, and then came back.  Except me.  I never left.  I don’t know if I can say I picked Minnesota; maybe it’s more accurate to say Minnesota never let go of me.  I might be tempted to consider that complacency, except, I’ve come to appreciate what there is to offer here.



Most people in Minnesota are pretty well educated (2nd highest population of citizens with a degree in the nation), and as liberal as you would expect a highly educated populace to be.  The culture is powerfully progressive.  Folks respect each other here, and there’s something incredibly valuable to that.  Minnesota is a harbor, a haven, a platform, and a launching pad for people who take social justice seriously.  And we make a comfortable home and quality of life for about as many different ways of being divergent from normal culturally accepted standards as anyone can imagine.

There’s a surprising diversity here, too, that belies the harsh climate.  An eclectic mix of all kinds of folks, and many of them transplants — from other states, other countries, other ways of life, and they all bring their unique characteristics together into a harmonious assorted blend of spices.  It’s a great place to be a foodie... even the Smithsonian did a write-up about the impressive culinary experience of Minnesota dining.  It’s a great place to start a business.  It’s a great place for arts and culture, without the density problems of the nation’s bookend states.  There’s always something going on.  I’m not kidding, seriously, there is a festival for about anything and everything you could think of. 

There’s plenty of beautiful countryside, a lot of it still relatively untouched.  But even within cities and urban sprawl, there’s a lot of green.  Winters can be brutal, but you learn to survive them.  The payoff in having four complete seasons is a fair trade, though, especially if you happen to be a sucker for the rich plumage of autumn hues.  (Minion and I said our vows at the end of October, in front of a fiery orange oak tree.)

Most importantly, though, this is where I became the me I am today.  This is where I searched for my place in life, and found myself.  I don’t know if I could have done it the same way or as definitively somewhere else.  Perhaps I might have had an easier time elsewhere, I don’t know, but this place grew on me, and became my home.  It’s where my friend became my housemate, my lover, my partner, my fiancé, my husband, and the father of my child.  It’s where, to some extent, I reached the fullness of my essence yet when I became Mama. 

It might take me a while still to figure out where I’m going to land for the long haul on a professional level, so all the more reason, I should stick close to where there’s the most opportunity.  My family is here, his family is here, and these are some of the best schools in the nation.  We just bought a minivan, which we could take anywhere with us, if we needed to, but we’re only a few months away from buying a house now, which won’t be going anywhere.  And neither will we.  We are growing roots. 

Some people would say I’m crazy to have gone from the Southernmost state to the Northernmost.  But Minnesota is just the right kind of weird for us, and we fit here.  I don’t know if it’s my true north, but for now, it’s as north as we’re going to get.  And hey, it’s comforting to know if all hell breaks loose after the next twitter tantrum, from here Canada is only a short car ride away, eh?  You know... just in case!  ;-)


LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 8 - Topic: TRUE NORTH
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Faceless

Submitted for Your Convenience

LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 7 - Topic: FECKLESS
This week is a contestant only vote.

This is not a poll.

This is merely a list of currently competing contestants, and their submitted entries for the week,
to facilitate ease and practicality of use for reading where there is no formal poll.


CONTESTANT SUBMITTED ENTRY
adoptedwriter's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
alcat666 No entry received
alexanderscttb This Spherical Block
alycewilson Neighborhood Mom
az_starshine Super Bowl Sunday
banana_galaxy Better You Than Me
banyangirl1832 The Teakeeper and the Demon
beeker121 The Magpie
beldarzfixon's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
belenen The Symbol
bewize No entry received
bleodswean The Price
brienneofsnark Luck
cnotesays 67 Days
copyright1983's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
dadi No entry received
dizzydog No entry received
elderwoodpixie The Challenge
ellison Mayhem
emo_snal The Rebel Queen
encrefloue The Bookbinder's Psalm
estelle You're My Favourite
eventualdemise Go Down Swinging
favoritebean Feck-it-all!
flipflop_diva More or Less
furzicle Taran Comes of Age
halfshellvenus Kashka
hangedkay No entry received
hwango No entry received
i_love_freddie's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
invisible_girl Feckless Reckless Heart
irradescent Mama's Boy
karmasoup Resistance is Futile
kate_spencer Over
kehlen Invisible
kittenboo Smash
kristalsawesome Opportunity
lawchicky The Last Straw
liminaltraveler A Feckless Addendum
m_malcontent Door Number Two
mac_arthur_park Frankly Scarlett
marlawentmad Knowing
md_meezer's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
me_sonrei The Guild Leader's Son
miintikwa Wish Me Luck!
millysdaughter The "Kid"
minikin There was a little girl . . .
morning_stand Day by Day
murielle Thurston Avenue
n8tastrophe PUBBA
negativecon No entry received
nikkiii_brown The Battle Is On
orockthro Here Comes The Sun
oxymoron67 Taking Turns
pixiebelle's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
proceedcyclone Options
quiltingdragon The Responsible One
ramblingraccoon No entry received
rayaso The Fecks
roina_arwen Getting Personal
ryl
The Future is Uncertain
serpentpixie Silence of The Lamb
song_of_thea Grace
spydielives No entry received
static_abyss's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
suesniffsglue The Quest
sunouttomorrow The Intruder
sweeny_todd No entry received
swirlsofblue Cold Water
tigrkittn Dear Jess...
tonithegreat's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
topaznebula Sick Day Policies
troof_therry Feckitude
tsuki_no_bara's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
unmowngrass Before and After
uselesstinrelic No entry received
viagra Junk Mail
watching_ships's BYE Week.  Votes for this contestant will not count.
wild_muskrat No entry received
xlovebecomesher No entry received
xo_kizzy_xo Cupcake
yachiru Princess Amelia
yamyam_kat Sisters for Life
yuniebaby No entry received
zedmanauk Feck
zhent No entry received

This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
Green Army Man

Resistance is Futile

COUNTERPRODUCTIVE

According to an obituary circulated on social media, which may or may not be either true or a joke, an elderly Ohio man, recently deceased, had left instructions in his will for his funeral procession to be led by pallbearers comprised entirely of professional NFL players from the Cleveland team.  That way, when they carried him to his final resting place, the Browns could let him down one last time.

Last weekend, the Minnesota Vikings game came right down to the wire.  The spectacle had started out moving in the wrong direction, continuing down that path until Minion could no longer bear to watch, and turned it off.  He checked in again at the tail end to assess the damage, and was not only surprised to find the Vikings had finally decided to show up, but they’d actually managed to recover and turn it around.  He also then regretted not having stuck with what had apparently at some point become an enthralling event.

His team was winning, but by a small enough margin their opponents could have taken it with a touchdown.  And with two minutes left, which is an eternity in football.   (As I understand from my husband the sports enthusiast, the Broncos are not a team ranked such that the Vikings should have been losing to them, so aside from throwing off their statistics, this loss would have also been a significant embarrassment.)

Denver made every attempt available to them, and got close enough it could have easily gone differently.  It was a white-knuckled nail-biter, even capturing our 2-yr-old’s attention, as he wouldn’t take a cookie when offered before the game was called, which wasn’t certain until there were only 4 seconds left.  I let Minion know if they lost, I was prepared to update his funeral instructions to include Vikings pallbearers.  (I think I might have gotten razzberries for that! ;-)

I have often told Minion that being a Vikings fan is tantamount to a Greek tragedy.  This weekend, though, the Vikings have a bye, so there will be no sweating or hand wringing.  (Well, at least, not over football, anyway.)


But I can’t effectively discuss Minion’s obsession with sports without mentioning ... I hate sports.  My husband has been good about it, though... he’s never made me a sports widow.  If that were going to be the case, we likely never would have become involved in the first place, much less married.  He watches Vikings football, and listens to a few talk radio programs to give him coverage of details he’s missed out on because of scheduling, or just having other things to do.  He’s a great multitasker, and often does this while also performing any number of the other many projects around the house that benefit our family in multiple ways.  (Have I mentioned he’s a keeper? ;-)

So far I haven’t been able to get him to express to me in terms I can understand what he likes about it.  (We’re still working on that.)  He says he enjoys the team aspects, but that’s about all the intelligible rationale he can offer.  In my opinion, I think he’s more or less been “indoctrinated” into the “religion” of sports culture since he was very young.  His father was a coach, and not only taught him to play and expected him to, but also ran his household like an overbearing drill sergeant, demanding excellence and perfection.  From my perspective — and I happen to be somewhat in the know on the subject — I would call that emotional abuse with long-lasting effects.  Minion doesn’t seem to mind, though, and we haven’t noticed it’s done him any obvious major damage so far, so, we’re not rushing out to the psychotherapist just yet.

But everyone comes to their interests from a different perspective.  For my Mom, who loves Florida State football, fandom of “The Noles” represents community.  It keeps her connected to all the dear loved ones she left behind in the move from Tallahassee, who are still back home watching the games with eager intent.

For myself, I suppose I should clarify, it’s not so much sports that I hate.  I played a mean defensive soccer position in my school days.  I was pretty decent, too, until my folks made me quit to join girl scouts.  (Which I hated.)  To be fair, they had originally become connected to the city parks and rec team community because they wanted the next in line of my older brothers (14 months ahead of me) to develop some rapport with his peers and build up his self-esteem.  Being teased because your little sister is better than you doesn’t help that situation any, though.  As a parent myself, I guess I can understand the challenge that position must have been for my folks, although I do wish they’d have given me some other options for choices in whatever was going to be an alternative for “my thing,” rather than pushing scouting on me, which so wasn’t my thing.

Well... actually... hmmm...

Looking back on it, the organization of Girl Scouts and the social interaction with my friends is very me, but it was how I had to participate in a way that separated me out from the group because of “our religion” I took issue with.  But I suppose that’s a different post. ...Or is it?  Come to think of it, my folks had a lot to do with impacting my relationship to team activities and athletics in general, largely because of my Mom’s interpretations on what kind of behavior is acceptable for a “Christian” walk of
life. 

I was also pretty good at volleyball, too, but that’s the sort of game that mostly gets played on beaches and in bars, where there’s all sorts of debauchery, so that was out.  In gymnastics, when the coach saw a plausible future for me, he called up my Mom and begged her to make an exception, upselling what he believed my natural talents, if properly honed, could do to benefit me in the long run.  But she couldn’t, of course, because the uniforms were too revealing, and there’s too much focus on body movement.  And the coach of track, where I showed the most promise, bless her heart, wanted me on her team so badly, her phone conversation with my Mom resulted in screaming, swearing, and an abrupt hangup.  (By the coach — which unfortunately didn’t help her case any.)  But the shorts are too short, so, you know... no go.

Not surprisingly, given the other latent physical abilities I’d already displayed, ballet dancing and synchronized swimming also came very naturally to me in a way that demonstrated raw talent with untapped potential which easily could have been cultivated into a formidable skill with the right training.  But by then, I knew better than to even bother to ask. 


The one sport she would have been okay with was softball, because the outfits were full length and loose fitting.  Unfortunately, I wasn’t really good enough to have much interest.

Decades later, is it any shock I turned into a fluffy desktop potato?  I often wonder what my life might have been like if I had been allowed to bloom where I was planted, and blossom into the creature I could have been, but for the stunted development of my god-given gifts.  It’s a fortunate thing for me I’m not also a dunce, with no other natural aptitudes, or the creative capacity to shine where I can, else I might possibly have otherwise turned out positively useless in this world.

But what benefits could have been gained in my life from being trained to embody the personal discipline that must be imparted in order to master any level of athletic challenges?  Or the spirit of camaraderie that comes from learning to be a valuable member of a team, along with all the other life lessons and skills that can be gleaned from working together with others to achieve a common goal?  The advantage of discovering how to identify the values offered by individuals within a group dynamic in order to put to best use the strengths available, and accommodate for the weaknesses of each as a total unit, so that no one falls, but rather, all rise together, has the kind of real world applications that make it understandable why team sports are a requisite course of every public education curriculum.

So, yeah, it’s not so much sports I have a problem with.  There are so many activities that officially fall into the sports category, it would be incredibly closed-minded to write it all off.  Running, dancing, swimming, cycling, weight lifting, martial arts, wrestling, etc. — these are all technically considered sports.

To excel in most sports requires not only impressive physical skills, but also above average mental fortitude.  I would never suggest otherwise.  Great athletes are often smart.  (Mediocre players are generally not that bright, but then, the same applies to mediocre operatives of most any outlet; likely factoring into how they reach their limit at mediocrity.)  But one has to be at a minimum somewhat brainy to succeed, because games of sports don’t only involve the flexing of brawny muscles.

Football, for example is a highly tactical game requiring intense planning, preparation, and strategy, not to mention extensive hours of practice, and personal dedication.   I’ve never had much knack for strategy games, myself, so I can only look on with a sort of wide-eyed awe.  I’ve even been known to enjoy a game or two now and then on the rare occasion when I feel there’s anything to be personally invested in the outcome.

No, my general opposition is relegated to the degenerate professional sports culture that permeates society in this country.  (I can only speak to its effects in this country, because I’m sadly not world traveled enough to have any insights into what is happening with civilization globally as a result of the professional sports phenomenon.)  The reasons for my vehement reactions on this matter are varied and multiple, but they can mostly be summed up in the observation that the combination of tribalistic sports fanatics as a whole, the outrageous antics of gorilla jocks, and the gluttonous, predatory, corrupt big business of the institution, predominantly represent everything ugly about this country at its absolute worst.




PROFESSIONAL SPORTS CULTURE...

...IS INVASIVE, SUPER SATURATED, OVER MARKETED, OVERLY COMMERCIAL, AND OVER EXPOSED
There’s hardly a corner of this country that hasn’t been overrun by the overreach of professional sports culture.  You can’t turn on any network or move about in any public setting without running into high energy conversations about last night’s amazing play or devastating loss, that team’s prospects for making it to the finals, speculation on whether this injured player is out for the season, or when that suspended player is going to be let off the bench.  Even my own husband will occasionally forget himself and begin trying to capture my attention with some amusing tale he heard on one of the sports broadcasts he follows, only to be met with my standard response:

“Honey.  You need some friends.  You realize you’re talking to me about sports, right???”

There’s an underlying general presupposition among the opiate steeped masses that most any yahoo one might encounter ought to be sufficiently well-versed in the language of sports.  Being a woman, I have a natural out, in that I can “play dumb” and my ignorance will be easily dismissed, if not forgiven.  I usually get around being dragged into the boredom of tedious minutiae about past or future bouts of professional sports games by asking intentionally dense questions.

“So, is that the one with the caveman club and the urinal cake, or the old man cane and the hoop thingy?”

I get to be excluded from sports talk after that.

Men are not so fortunate.  Young boys risk being mocked, bullied, or made to feel inadequate for not being able to relate to sports culture, or giving proper deference to the “right” team.  And heathen help them if they got no game.  I shudder at the prospect of being male in this country without daring to speak the language of sports, in all its many dialects.

I know several spectrum folks in my Geeks & Nerds group — who have absolutely no interest whatsoever in either playing or watching any sports — have made it a point to keep up with local and national major scores and headlines, just to be less awkward when the subject comes up, and to always have something to talk about to almost anyone.  To some degree, I like the idea of a universal subject for people who would otherwise struggle, but it saddens me because it’s a false narrative.  It just doesn’t work for everyone, so it shouldn’t be forced on all of us.

As if it isn’t bad enough to have the routine expectation of our daily lives regularly include game related traffic congesting our commute, and game play overtime preempting our recorded programs, how is that live stadium games can charge $15 in parking fees, $80 per seat, $12 a beer, $8 per hot dog, $65 a T-shirt, $25 a ball cap, and $10 a souvenir pennant to sold out crowds of over a hundred thousand screaming fans per event, to benefit billionaire owners who pay millions per player, while dodging taxes in a supposedly “non-profit” scam, yet those same owners can never find the funds to cover effective enough repair work on their own damn properties that they’re not digging back into joe taxpayer’s pocket to supplement the costs once a decade?

I couldn’t tell you why lower and middle income fans continue to shell out the fruits of their hard earned labor at these astronomical rates for a temporary experience, along with all the appropriate labels to show they’re one of the proper herd.  Belonger mentality is strong with these groups, I guess.  I don’t take an interest in every hobby held sacred to everyone in town, but I’m also not going to go telling anyone how to spend their money.  Do whatever works for you, as long as it doesn’t infringe on others.

But if I don’t watch sports, and I don’t wish to participate, why can’t I opt out?  *I* don’t need a new stadium, if you please, thank you very much.  Hell, I wouldn’t even care if we didn’t have a team, if I didn’t happen to know it would disappoint my husband.

Why do I not have a choice in this matter?  Why do I have to be complicit in supporting this neurosis?  Why are private business venues subsidized with public funding?  Surely there are better uses for my portion of collected state revenues.  Have all the hungry been fed?  Are all the homeless sheltered?  Do all our children have safe classrooms, a productive ratio of student to teacher, and enough materials to go around for everyone?  Are all the parks cleaned, the natural resources protected, the infrastructure in good shape, and the wildlife properly cared for?  These are the kinds of things I would rather earmark my taxes to be used for.  A conglomerate cooperative of billionaires shouldn’t need any help from me.

When did we go from being a nation of the types of who would frequently engage in intelligent discourse with friends and family, neighbors and peers, and even newcomers over matters of art, science, history, or politics with a meaningful impact to society?  When was the most socially accepted favorite go-to subject for the average man reduced to the lowest common denominator of how a group of strangers handles their balls?  And how did we get here???

Professional sports culture needs to be more selective about who it imposes itself on, and leave the rest of us alone to let us get on with our lives in peace.



...PROPAGATES AN INCESTUOUS SUCCESSION OF POOR ROLE MODELS FEEDING INTO POOR ROLE MODELS
Minion believes sports figures shouldn’t be seen as role models.  I might agree they *shouldn’t*, but I live in the real world, where I understand no one can change the reality that they *are,* not just because of the way they’re pushed on us, but also because of the way we respond to them.  And it’s largely our fault.  It’s in our nature.  That’s just who we are...  We can’t help ourselves.

People get famous for stupid reasons.  In this culture, we have a terrible habit of making stupid people famous, often even FOR *being* stupid.  Then we adore them so much for being famous, we forget they’re stupid, and lavish on them a kind of hero worship that embellishes their position in civilization as if their mere existence provided some sort of greater value to the world.  Many sports figures don’t bring anything of value to the greater collective, and yet still, we trip over ourselves to go all starry-eyed and gooey, because, dang, that dude can jump!

Minion contends these guys are just playing a game — they didn’t agree to being anyone’s example; for them, it’s just a job.  I disagree.  No, if all you wanted was to play a game, you could just do that with your cronies at the gym.  Instead, you agreed to accept millions of dollars, to give up of any semblance of personal privacy, to play a highly televised sport, in a highly public forum, and to become a highly public figure.  You wanted the money, the fame, the fans.  You don’t get to ignore the responsibility that goes along with that.  It comes with the package.  It’s part of the job.  That’s why contracts include morality clauses — not because sports promoters have any genuine ethics, but because they want to be able to distance themselves from you, if necessary, which would only be if you screw up badly enough in the public eye that it could negatively impact sales, and even then, only if the loss outweighs your value as a player.

The reason it’s obvious those clauses clearly don’t matter enough to be worth the paper they’re printed on, though, is evidenced by simply taking a good hard look at the rap sheets for *current playing members* of practically any national sports team, which tend to read like a who’s who of America’s Most Wanted or, perhaps, in many cases, America’s Dumbest Criminals.  USA Today, for example, keeps a running database of the arrest records of all major sports franchises, maintaining records going back 20 years at a time.  Currently, for the last two decades, in the NFL alone, the list is at 947, with charges comprised primarily of assault and battery, domestic violence, and drugs.  Not exactly the kind of examples you want your kids looking up to.

I certainly do believe athletes can and should be admired for their talents, perhaps even respected in some cases for having overcome great odds to rise to their positions of influence.  But those whose character matches their abilities is insufficient for the organization at best, especially in light of the disproportionate ratio of bullies, outlaws, felons, and cons that make up the general population of professional sports practitioners compared to the rest of society.  Respect should be earned, not thrown away on knuckle dragging thugs, like pearls before swine.



...FAILS THE MAJORITY OF ITS MONEYMAKERS
My husband says many of these guys though, just take the money to get out of the projects, and better their lives and the lives of their families and those close to them.  Which is an understandable perspective, considering a rather significant portion of professional American athletes are African American, or other people of color, who in this country today are still generally economically depressed compared to the white majority.  A 2013 NCAA report concluded that 86% of student athletes live in abject poverty.  That’s why Minion says for most of these guys, most of the time, the first thing you see them doing with that initial big check is to buy their Mama a house.

I appreciate professional sports for being be an avenue for disadvantaged students to gain a chance at scholarships, and to escape a life of being downtrodden and oppressed.  But we are not preparing young men plucked out of that life for the challenges and trials of fame.  We just throw obscene amounts of money at them, as if their existence, while useful for a while, is an inconvenient problem that can be whitewashed away with an appropriately soothing application of cash.

For the most part, “we the people” don’t care anything about bettering the lives of the underprivileged, other than to spout aphorisms of bootstraps and perpetuate the self-made myth.  That is, until we discover they can entertain us, like trained monkeys in the zoo of our chosen arena.  Then suddenly, some Daddy Warbucks has everything they’ll ever need or want... all they have to do is sign their lives away on the dotted line.

Thanks to the affiliation of professional sports culture with the breeding ground of the college sports ring, the entirety of the university experience has morphed from a focus on the academic education that will prepare our young people to become functional, contributing members to society, to how well this jock carries or that one throws.  These collegiate incubators effectively reduce those kids with any shot at the pros into semi-sentient meat bags, little more than draft livestock, with about as much say in their options.  Don’t misunderstand me, I doubt there are too many stories of picks snapped up in the draft lamenting their results, but, still, in some respects, it’s just a different kind of auction block, at an enormous expense rate, complete with a lavish lifestyle for those who have been “bought and paid for.”

For some — those who have the will and acuity to push past the distractions of a burdensome training / practice / game / work schedule to actually get something out of their scholastic exercises, there might be the possibility they could do something productive with their lives after their bodies have given up and the money has run out.  Maybe they’ll have made the right choices in wealth management or financial investments, or not lived so extravagantly they can’t sustain their lifestyle once their career is over, which for most will be mid-late 30s at the latest.  At that point, if they haven’t properly planned ahead, their futures could easily be all about living in the past, reminiscing stats.  Unless they’ve achieved boss level status the likes of Joe Montana, Wayne Gretzky, Michael Jordan, Brett Favre, or Shaquille O’Neal, only the freakishly hard core of their fans will even remember them once they’re no longer in the limelight.

But at least you have your health!

Yeah.  For the better part of 10 – 20 years, the racket of sideline docs brazen enough to call themselves “healthcare” professionals practicing “sports medicine” will get away with doing merely whatever bare minimum it takes to get players back out onto the field, regardless of how it otherwise impacts their long-term physical well-being.  They are patched up with rubberbands and bubble gum, smacked on the fanny, and told to go play.  For everything after that, they’re on their own.

We snatch these kids out of a cesspool from which they’re made to believe they’ll never amount to anything, and drop them into a world of glitz and glam, where they’re revered as idols.  It’s shouldn’t be any surprise when the results are about as successful as when an everyday joe schmoe wins the lottery, and then you find out later he was broke off his ass in less than ten years.  Fame and money are powerful tools of influence, and when you fall into both suddenly, you might not know how to use them.  They don’t teach that in school.

So after a while, they start to believe their own hype.  They become wrapped up in their own legends.  Because we ask them to.  And then they *#<@%* it up.

When we see someone famous acting in a typically stupid way — as one would expect the stupidly famous to do — because they’re famous, or perhaps, ever better yet, rich and famous, not only do we forgive them for being stupid, but many will even go so far as to emulate their stupidity.  And round and round and round we go, again, and again, and again, with the stupid example begetting the stupid mimics, until the student becomes the master, and passes the stupid baton to the next generation of fools.  And so on, and so forth.

Now, obviously I’m not saying every athlete is an idiot or every kid who once lived an impoverished way of life is an imbecile.  No, stupid pretty much crosses all boundaries.  There’s no formula for what makes a person stupid.  Except, in the long run, I think a total neglect by all of us as a culture to give any regard to personal betterment for an individual on a pedestal beyond a lifelong pinpoint focus on one specific athletic ability is detrimental to more than just that individual alone, and has far reaching consequences stretching out generations into the future.  Because now they’re out there in everyone’s face, waving their stupid flag loud and proud.  It’s hard to justify being okay with the millions of dollars paid to some people after watching news clips with some bruh who’s clearly been hit in the head one too many times, and now struggles to string together a coherent sentence.

If we’re not more careful with our cultural acceptance of rampant stupidity, before long, stupid people will be voted into the highest offices of the land, and we’ll all be lead by ignorant... Yeah, I guess I see your point.  I suppose that ship really has sailed, hasn’t it?

We ooh and aw over anyone with ability and money simply because they have ability and money, regardless of how they came by it, or how they use it.  It’s a vicious cycle, it’s a failed system, and it has got to stop.



...ADVOCATES REGRESSIVE VALUES
On a continued basis, with no end in sight, professional sports promoters publicly endorse primitive sexist, racist, ageist and ableist dogma, without apology or remorse.  That’s just good business.  After all, it’s what the public wants, right?  It’s in every sports-related commercial you see, every broadcast you hear, the talk in the locker room, and even around the water cooler.  Sometimes it’s subtle, other times, not so much.  Sometimes it’s in what’s spoken directly, other times it’s in what’s not being said.

The ultra-machismo of announcers and program hosts.  The overtly sexual, fawning, eagerly excited commercial models who never have any lines.  The commonly held socially accepted presumption that would have you believe a man’s masculinity can be measured by his athletic prowess.  The king of his castle with all of his pals, enslaved to the big screen TV, shutting out the woman of the house, whose only role in the spot is to warm up his snacks and bring his buddies beer, with a 1950s toothy sally happy homemaker smile.

Wait — what century is it, again?


Don’t get me wrong, as a feminist, I’m all about female empowerment, in whatever form it takes, so if it enriches the lives of sideline dancers who opt for that career track to show their support for their team in sexualized outfits with their own great feats of athleticism (Yes, of course it takes incredible strength to be a professional cheerleader — show me the armchair quarterback who could pull off just *one* of those high kicks or even the simplest of their complex acrobatics displays!), then I wish them well, and hope the lucrative income stream earned from this form of undeniable degradation, objectification and exploitation is merely a stepping stone on the path to their next great opportunity, whatever it may be, where they are treated with basic human dignity and respect.

When a competent quarterback, recognizing his position of influence, made productive use of his public platform to inspire others as he exercised his patriotic right and civic duty of demonstrating a peaceful protest by refusing to stand for the anthem of a country whose broken promise of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness for all flies harshly untrue in the face of people of color who are regularly denied these rights, he was blackballed by the organization that had attempted to levy a forced response from all teams for the sake of satisfying the company’s business connections with big government in the first place.  Three years later, despite winning an undisclosed settlement with the promise of potential offers being made available to satisfy his collusion suit, this capable, competitive player has yet to be signed, mostly because no one wants his “politics” (which are in fact nothing more than a direct result of his response to their politics) to affect their team or their bottom line.

And, a sports gear manufacturer chose to capitalize on his decision to stand for something, even though it cost him everything... cause there’s nothing quite like making a hefty profit off a righteous crusade to call attention to injustice.  To this day, players are required to stand for this enforced publicity stunt of the propaganda machine.  Which, by the way, is not only unconstitutional, but also illegal.  Money talks, though, and the NFL can afford to buy a lot of lobbyists.  That, and, well, you know... we’ve pretty much thrown the rule of law out the window, dragged it into the back ally, beat it with billy clubs, and buried it in the river.  But hey, tell me another one about how making tons of money gives you lots of choices, and they should all just suck it up and be grateful.

Over the last few years, everyone has had their strong and loud opinions about this situation.  No one could escape it.  I once heard a sports radio DJ in a rage expressing indignation that anyone would *$#!&* all over this solemn tradition.* (*Fact check: while the playing of the national anthem before games has been a long standing practice dating back to the mid-40s, players were never on the field before 2015, when the US Department of Defense gave a buyout of $6.8M to the NFL for what they referred to as “paid patriotism.”)  His big beef was that he’d lost his father earlier that year, with whom he’d seen many games, and how dare these disrespectful *@$$#%7=$* mess with people’s childhood memories.

Right.  How rude of them, to consider the struggle just for survival of an entire oppressed people to be a higher priority than your wistfully nostalgic impressions of your past with your Dad.  No really, how dare they?

What about all the kids with Black fathers murdered by cops, who now have to grow up without getting to make any of those special memories?  What about Philando Castile, who was shot down in front of his 4-year-old daughter, only 74 seconds after being pulled over, less than two miles from where I share a home with my Black husband and our mixed-race child?  Where’s the outrage for messing with that little girl’s memories of her father, and her visions of his death in her nightmares for the rest of her life?  Are this DJ’s memories that much more important than those people’s lives, that everyone else should just shut up about all of this, and go back to watching the game with their heads down, so as not to disturb the other fans?

You know, just so we’re all clear on the rules, and all.

But maybe the worst unspoken code is the proliferation of the notion that “might makes right.”  As if any disagreement we may have between us can be solved by whomever hits the hardest to bring down his opponent.  Haven’t we as a people reached our fill of that overblown testosterone-heavy *8@77$#!&* yet?  Isn’t it enough that our resident tangerine dreamer hovers his itchy twitter thumbs torn between sending love letters to or picking fights with the biggest nuclear bullies on the block?  When will cooler heads finally prevail?



...PROMOTES ARBITRARY ALLEGIANCES, SHEEPLE MENTALITY, TRIBALISM, AND DIVISION-BASED AGGRESSION
This country is in dark times right now.  We are deeply divided across party lines, over issues of social classes, and about matters of racial discrimination, cultural differences, gender bias, biological identity, sexual orientation, religious and political abuses of power, and denial of scientific fact, just to name a few.  There is a war on truth being waged right now, and if truth doesn’t win, then everyone loses.  EVERY.  ONE.  Do we really need to go piling on top of that additional levels of an “us vs. them” mindset in relation to some manufactured false dichotomy designed entirely for no other purpose than to rake in monumental proceeds for unscrupulous profiteers of a shameless industry?


...OFFERS NO INTRINSIC VALUE TO HUMANITY
A famous brilliant author shares a story about imposter syndrome.  In a gathering of elite artists, writers, scientists, discoverers, and others who had established themselves as great in their respective fields, he felt out of place, wondering how he ever came to be counted among these giants.  While there, he connected with a polite elderly gentleman bearing the same first name, who came from a military background and felt similarly, unable to understand how his achievements landed him in the presence of such skilled creators, as he had only done what was asked of him.  The writer was Neil Gaiman.  The vet was Neil Armstrong.

The fact that even those who’ve given inestimable lasting accomplishments benefitting the history of our civilization still second guess their value to the human race, in some respects speaks to the inherent insecurities of people in general.  But then, on the other hand, it also leads us to scratching our heads at wondering how so many who truly have spent a lifetime doing nothing worthwhile still walk around with their noses in the clouds as if the world owes them a living.  Professional sports stars are particularly guilty of this grievance, likely in great part due to how they’re given the impression between their over excessive compensation and our over excessive veneration that they somehow deserve it.

Newflash, sports dudes:  YOU.  PLAY.  A.  GAME.

It’s just a game.  It’s not rocket science.  It’s not brain surgery.  In the grand scheme of things, it won’t even make any difference to anyone.*  As Joey Tribbiani describes, it’s a “moo” point — like a cow’s opinion, it just doesn’t matter.

*For the most part.  With a handful exceptions.

If you’re Jesse Owens, making larger than life strides that give a middle finger salute to white supremacy at the Olympics of Nazi Germany, you’re speaking for the world.  If you’re Jackie Robinson, setting the stage for the emergence of a civil rights movement, you’re opening the door to a better future.  If you’re 11 black college kids from Texas against Adolf’s Kentucky white boys, you’re drawing a line that will not be crossed.  If you’re Tommie Smith and John Carlos, bowing your head and raising your fist against centuries of injustice for your Olympic medal theme, you’re calling attention to a voice that must be heard.   

If you’re Billie Jean King, wiping the floor with your opponent in the Battle of the Sexes, you’re striking a resounding blow for gender equality everywhere, and generations of feminists to come.  If you’re Gertrude Ederle or Kathrine Switzer or Danica Patrick, making your way onto the track to swim or run or ride with the big boys, you’re paving the path for women to follow.  But so rare is the anomaly for a sporting event to have any significant bearing on a greater scale that these cases stand out as few and far between, and their numbers are dismally represented throughout the history of professional sports, especially when stretched across decades of recorded game play.

It’s also true that plenty of sports stars have certainly used their affluence and influence to positively impact the world around them.  A number of charitable organizations making a gigantic difference for their specific causes have been created by professional athletes, and in each case, the world is better because of them, especially for those directly benefitting from the needs being met by these foundations.  This is a good example of how to do the right thing with what you’ve been given.

Let’s not forget how they got to that point in the first place, though.  Professional athletes are paid millions to be in peak physical condition, to push through the pain, to perform otherwise nearly impossible feats of athleticism.  Sure, they’re the best.  You would be too, if that’s all you’d focused on your whole life, and were then given an 8-figure salary to keep it up as long as you’re capable.  Of course they can run laps around amateurs.  But so what?  This is their job.  This is all they do.  How is that even impressive???

When a single mother runs a 6-minute mile while balancing a full time job and caring for children because she wants to keep herself in shape for the sake of her family, that’s impressive.  When a middle aged middle class sedentary worker goes from carrying 65 extra pounds to a BMI of 23 to combat the history of diabetes and heart failure in his genetic lineage so the promise he made to his bride til death do us part will see them together into their senior years, that’s impressive.

Just because people might worship you for what you can do, that doesn’t make you a saint.
Sure, you can entertain the ignorant masses, but what have you actually done for them?  On the Maslow’s scale, public viewing of professional sports doesn’t even make it out of the basest rung of needs.  It’s about as useful as masturbation.  It might feel amazing for a moment, but when it’s all over, you’ve got nothing to show for it, and even the memories are fleeting.

Let’s put this in perspective.  Sports stars are effectively actors, paid to perform.  Trained monkeys dancing for strangers they’ll never even know.  But even actors create something lasting and permanent.

As a part-time filmmaker and an avid movie buff myself, I confess there’ve been plenty of sports themed flicks that have found a special place in my heart.  Most of the Rocky franchise, for example.  The Karate Kid.  The Blind Side.  Radio.  Remember the Titans.  A League of Their Own.  Field of Dreams.  Secretariat.

The thing is, though, while these are a form of entertainment associated with sports, it wasn’t the sports that drew me in.  It was the human element, related to the people centered around the sports that captured my attention.  As a storyteller, I’m interested in tales of genuine humanity that have the power to teach something worthwhile, something that has the potential to make the patron better for having had the experience.

And, there was a tangible outcome for the people involved in creating these works.  From the performances of the actors, to the writer’s script, to the producer’s project, something remains.  There now exists in the world an artistic creation that can be passed on, that can be watched again, with something new to be gained with each reviewing.

Professional sports culture offers none of that.  Sports produces nothing.  Creates nothing.  Teaches nothing.  No, not even good sportsmanship... have you seen the temper tantrums of these primadonnas?

There is nothing to be gained from any association with professional sports culture.  This is because the intensity of idolatry sheeple maintain for throwing in with mob hysteria runs counterintuitive to a mindset reserved for valuing higher learning and independent thought, which are exactly the key ingredients needed to bring anything of lasting value to the social collective.  Professional athletes are leeches of our culture’s fanatical obsession, and nothing more.

Doctors are well paid and live comfortably because they save lives, and we recognize their value.  Legal representatives are well paid and live comfortably because they help us maintain justice, and we recognize their value.  Architects, engineers, and general contractors are well paid and live comfortably because they build our civilization, and we recognize their value.

I would have no problem with sports stars being paid at this level or beyond because of their incredible gifts, but what they offer in return for their compensation does not compare to the imposition of wealth redistribution required to support their way of life.  When we start paying scientists and artists and teachers whose legacy will far outlive their own ability to continue working as well as the upper echelon of our society, and sports stars more in line with their actually usefulness, then we might be on the road to appropriately balancing the scales in the right direction.



...EMPOWERS THE TRANSFORMATION OF OTHERWISE ORDINARY PEOPLE INTO RAVING LUNATICS
What is it about this particular national pastime that makes people feel they have permission to childishly resort to behavior not even considered appropriate for the schoolyard playground?  Did I somehow miss a memo about this unspoken social agreement when I was a kid?  Or is this merely the inevitable result of the dubious marketing hustle that forever married the consumption of alcohol to the diversion of the professional sports experience?  Because you know, booze makes such natural bedfellows with amped up testosterone, heightened adrenaline, arrogance, overconfidence, toxic masculinity, a sense of invincibility, and a jingoistic attitude... what could possibly go wrong?

Gambling.  Looting.  Vandalism.  Brawling.  Rioting.  Arson.  Random Violence.

And there are still people who worry about the effect of video games???

In Buffalo, tailgating fans have gained notoriety for a peculiar pre-game practice of “table-slamming,” or grabbing one another and throwing each other into tables so violently as to break the tables with their bodies.   These same fans also regularly toss vibrating self-pleasure devices (yes, *those*) onto the field whenever the Patriots play on the Bills’ home turf.  (Usually in the general vicinity of Tom Brady.)

A rabid Philadelphia once fan punched the horse of a mounted police officer, then had the audacity to sue the Eagles team over the incident.  Worse than that, he apparently set off a trend across the country of copycat horse-punchers.  During one particular December game, Eagles fans also pelted a halftime Santa Clause with more than 100 snowballs, some containing rocks.  MERRY *#<@%!?&* CHRISTMAS, *@$$#%7=$* — HO, HO, HO!

During a contract project with the University of MN in my mid 20s, one of the more unusual odd jobs I was tasked to perform was to write a radio press release about a fundraising effort to collect reimbursement for a young student who’d had the misfortunate of working her part-time job at a fast food joint on campus when the Golden Gophers won the NCAA Men’s Hockey Championship.  In the course of the celebratory rioting, the poor gal’s car, dormant in the parking lot while she served sandwiches to patrons, was capsized and lit on fire. This is apparently such a common practice at the U that there have been multiple incidents of “hockey rioting,” over the years, and it doesn’t seem to matter whether they win or lose, as either situation incites an excuse to pick a fight with everyone on a rowdy weekend night.  There are apparently no fans nearly as violent as hockey fans.


Even my own sweet, loving, 76-yr-old mother to 5 of us, granny of 10, an elder’s wife in the church, red-faced, puffy veined, and remarkably evocative of a yodeling chicken, squeals bloody murder at the top of her lungs, while shrieking, “Git him!!  GIT HIM!!!!” when she needs someone on our team to stop a runner before he makes it all the way downfield.  Sure, it’s all in the heat of the moment, but it can be incredibly alarming if you don’t know to expect it.  I’m tempted to suggest along with her signature southern boiled peanuts, she offers visiting guests earplugs in advance, just in case the game might get exciting.

And a little closer to home, coming up on nearly two years ago now, at the final play of a division playoff game on our home field, we witnessed an historic event so momentous it was given its own unique title, sparked a wiki page, and prompted a change in league rules.  There had been a lot of promise leading up to this game that it might usher the Vikings to their 5th shot at a ring (it didn’t, of course... unsurprisingly, in true Vikings fashion, they choked on the very next game, naturally), but while it had been a compelling spectacle to watch, it wasn’t going in our favor, and my husband had all but given up, until those final few seconds, when we experienced the Minneapolis Miracle.

My mild mannered husband freaked out and bolted up so violently, yelling obscenities at the large screen TV so loudly with such giant erratic motion in the compact 8 x 8 space of our toddler’s play area that he startled me right out of my skin, while frightening our then infant son so terribly the poor little guy began crying hysterically.  I had to scream at him, “YOU’RE SCARING THE BABY!!!” to make him sit down and return to some semblance of the normal human I married.

My Minion.  My gentle, docile, kind
and tender, exceptionally intellectual, naturally cerebral, normally rational, incredibly domestic life partner.  A man who doesn’t even usually swear, who apologizes when he laughs too loud.  This is the behavior professional sports culture provoked him to.  WHEN THEY WON.

So what else is there to do?  If this epidemic madness can even infect even the meek, who among us can ever hope to be safe?  And where do we go from here?


If you are at all a student of history, you may recall most of the grand scale rioting in ancient
Rome came about as a result of contentions over the outcome of sporting events in the Colosseum.  So maybe, the more things change, the more they stay the same.  A frightening prospect when you also consider a psychological look at anthropologic mass-movements throughout history has taught us that the addictive neurochemical reward offered by public viewing of spectator sport has repeatedly contributed to the downfall of civilizations.

Meaning, perhaps professional sports culture doesn’t bring out the worst in humanity.  Maybe it just accurately reflects how truly terrible we really are.  But hopefully, some day, we will advance enough as a people to finally outgrow it.  For the sake of future generations, I certainly hope so.



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 7 - Topic: FECKLESS
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Bedroom Eyes

The Wake of the Walk

DEPARTURE

There’ve been so many problems in my life that could have been solved by walking. So many cases where it was the right thing to do.  And certainly more situations than I care to admit to about which at times since I’ve wished I’d done it sooner.  But it was always a hard decision to be faced with, and never the easiest option available.

Mother walked.  Her response to learning her oldest daughter was being raped and her son was being beaten was to abandon all three of her children in the care of the monster doing it.  But — as should be obvious to any respectable human capable of rational thought — finding a crime is being perpetrated under your own roof, and choosing not to participate in said crime by removing yourself from the scene, doesn’t actually stop the crime from happening, but in fact perpetuates it.  So I hadn’t grown up with the greatest impressions surrounding the aftermath of what is left behind by walking.

I was 3 years old.

...which is an impressionable stage of development for any interminable injury...  Young enough to acutely ingrain patterns that would impact my life for the majority, if not the remainder of it, but too young to properly understand, accurately interpret, or effectively process what was actually happening.  Somehow, the residual imprint left in the back of my unchanneled subconscious transformed into the amorphous sense that, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love.”

So I learned not to.

It would be decades — and far too many additional wounds later — before I came to include myself in the list of people I love who shouldn’t be abandoned.  I lost at least 15 years of my life in doomed relationships hanging onto the misguided notion that, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love,” meant I had to nobly, doggedly, selflessly remain at the behest of any irreparably impaired loved one’s beck and call, regardless of how one-sided that love was, or how that loved one’s actions affected me.  Even at great personal cost to my own well-being.

Apparently, for the first portion of my adult life, the rudimentary repeating theme, “Good people don’t abandon the ones they love,” somehow stunted my sense of self-preservation.  After all, the bastards I stuck by like Tammy Wynette to her man were only pathetically self-loathing, narcissistic, emotionally abusive, manipulating alcoholic gaslighters.  It seemed I just couldn’t get enough of them.  My Daddy,
though, was a violent drunk, a slob, a hoarder, a thief, a pet killer, a racist, a criminal, and a pedophile.

But Mother shouldn’t have left him.


Naturally, I didn’t conceptualize my circumstances that way on any sort of cognizant level.  The intellectual acumen of my adult brain could fiercely grasp that, in fact, abandoning an abusive alcoholic rapist — assuming doing so includes taking along the victimized children and any others in the household at risk — is exactly the first step of the correct response to Mother’s discovery... The remainder of the appropriate response steps being: 2. Call the police and have his ass thrown in jail.  3. Get immediate and ongoing help for your traumatized children.  4. Contribute to his prosecution to ensure he gets a proper sentence that would prevent him from ever preying on any others in the future.


But consciousness and intelligence aren’t always the only driving forces behind the way we grow as people.  Many of our emergent characteristic traits are developed based on deeply imbedded hidden habits from our formative foundation.  In time, I would come to realize, the things we do to save ourselves from harm can be a deterrent to undoing damage done, and, more importantly... love isn’t always enough.


It was a long strange trip getting to that place, though.  It took me far too many hard-headed missteps to earn the skills and experience required to be
fully able to consciously comprehend how that primitive, backward, half-baked, unevolved, germinal subroutine of my basal, abecedarian emotional narrative maintained at a subliminal level had been driving my relational behaviors well into adulthood.  Or, how its latent, vestigial power of immolation remained at the cruxt of their dysfunction.  But somehow, I figured it out.

And then, I grew up.

“Good people don’t abandon the ones they
love,” is just as undeniable for me today as it ever was, perhaps even more so, now that I have so much more riding on it.  This truth remains a fundamental guiding principle of my life; an inherent certainty that cannot be expunged.  But now I can better distinguish, expelling toxicity is not equivalent to abandonment.  And running away isn’t the same as walking out.


I can’t easily say in a few words how it finally happened, but I can encapsulate a habitually duplicated pattern of personal history by summarizing, like a howling dog on a nail, eventually I stayed too long, and it finally hurt enough.  In some respects, I was fortunate to have escaped.  Not everyone is so lucky.  But I never question or protest why anyone can’t or doesn’t do it sooner, because I have walked a mile in those shoes, and I understand what it means to have so many varying degrees of factors contributing to that struggle, with some roadblocks heavier than others, and some obstacles impossible to overcome.  I can just be there to support anyone who finds their way out, and makes it to a safer space.


Yes, I made mistakes, and not a few of them.  I don’t know if there was any way I was ever going to be able to avoid them.  Sure, I’ve been hurt.  I’ve probably hurt others, too.  I never intended to be the villain in anyone’s story, but really, who does?

I protected myself too much.  I didn’t protect myself enough.  I didn’t love enough.  I loved too much.  I kept too much too close to the vest.  I gave too much away.

Somewhere along the way, I lost myself.


But I found myself, too.

And I also found the love of my life.  Mostly because I wasn’t looking for him.  I was able to experience unconditional love for the first time when I became able to love myself the same way.  I realized then that everything else I’d known up until that point had only been just a mere shadow of what was
possible.

And, though I didn’t know it then, I was ready.  Maybe for the first time.  And when I was, he’d found me. 


I’ve spent a lifetime figuring out who I am.  And I do like me.  But for most of my life, I’ve liked myself most when I’m alone.  I related entirely too personally to the warning Ive often shared, “It’s better to be alone than to wish you were.”  I was stronger on my own.  The “loves” I would never abandon had always chipped away at that strength.  They were a cancer that had consumed it.  Until I finally learned to be able to resist letting anyone else take that strength from me again.


Minion
didn’t want to minimize any aspect of who I am, though.  He just wanted to be part of it.  Not to overtake me, challenge me, or compete with me.  But just to share in my life.  And as I came to respect and appreciate who he is, I knew I wanted to be a part of his life, too.  Now, we’ve made a life together.


I’ve never really had a debilitating problem with self-esteem.  Some occasional nagging self-doubt, maybe, as we all do.  But I’ve never had a disparaging sense that I’m not good enough to be worthy of love or happiness.  I’ve always believed I’m deserving of a great life.

So I’m working on building it.  It’s been a long and winding road, getting from there to here.  But for the first time in decades, I’m in the right company, and finally on the right track.  And though it took a little while longer for me than it does for most, any different steps along the path would have taken me in a different direction, and I would have ended up in a different
place.

I know where I’m going.  I know where I’ve been.

It’s time to enjoy the journey.


There’ve
been so many problems in my life that could have been solved by walking.  But I owe the life I have to being the kind of person who didn’t.  And I wouldn’t change a thing about it.


LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 6 - Topic: SOLVITUR AMBULANDO
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Lightly Exposed

Tilting At Windmills

POTENTIAL

My mother used to tell a story about the circumstance of her life before I was born, and how I came to be.  She told a lot of stories.  Mother didn’t exactly have a close personal relationship with the truth.  I would take this one with a grain of salt, just like I did with so many others, but stories have a knack for seeping into your subconscious and coloring your perspective on many aspects of your life in sometimes unpredictable ways.  Especially stories drilled into you from a very young age.

Noxious stories could negatively impact you in damaging ways that have far reaching ramifications, which can be difficult to undo.  Like religion, for example.  (Whoops — did I say that out loud?)  But maybe it’s possible that constructive tales of healing — even the crazy ones — might just hang out in the back of your lizard brain like a silent super power, at times giving you the preternatural adrenaline boost you need to achieve the impossible.


Before I was born, my mother had three other children, one through a youthful fling, and two by a previous husband who was not my father.  I never met her firstborn, but I grew up with the other two for a while, until we were all separated.  By the time I came along, Mother was a bit older for those days, though not nearly as much as passes for older today (a cultural shift I know a little something about!).  She certainly wasn’t past childbearing age, obviously, but was long enough in the tooth that another bun in the oven didn’t seem to be looming on the horizon for the near future in her world.


The story goes like this:

In the early 70s, Mother became increasingly sick over a period of a few months.  With symptoms that began like a flu bug, she pushed through for a while, but eventually the pain got so intrusive she struggled to function normally.  By the time it impacted her ability to work, she planned a visit to the doctor, which couldn’t have been an easy decision, as her family lived in abject poverty.

The news was devastating.  She had contracted ovarian cancer.  She likely didn’t have long left.

To say Mother was always a fighter would be an understatement, but it wasn’t just that.  She also didn’t always live in reality.  Mother refused to accept this news as her truth.

She made some basic modifications to her diet and exercise routine.  (Any changes would have to be basic, considering the family’s grocery budget was formed around food stamps.)  She was determined to get healthy, though, and beat the odds.  She felt a little better for a while, I imagine through sheer will.  But she still couldn’t shake the sickness.

Mother went back to the doctor — a different one, this time, for a second opinion — in the hopes of better news and a more functional game plan for overall improvement.  The prognosis hadn’t changed.  The same path was outlined in front of her, and the trajectory still lead to the inevitable.

Mother’s paranoid schizophrenic personality disorder caused a lot of problems for her (and everyone close to her) throughout her life.  But it made her nothing if not formidable.  Failure was never an option.

Armed with a greater sense of conviction, she resolved once again this thing would not get the better of her.  It would not be the end of her.  She had children to care for.  A husband to manage.  People to save.  God wasn’t ready for her to give up.  He wasn’t through with her yet.

Mother then turned to her church for help.  The congregation collected communally, while elders “laid hands” on her, and conducted a healing ritual, with much prayer, and probably a great deal of pomp and performance.  Afterwards, she went back to her life a new woman, this time feeling even better than she had before.  Until she didn’t.


In the summer of 1973, Mother once more experienced symptoms that by that point had become familiar to her.  Ever the dramatic, she was certain then the Lord was finally calling her home.  This time, there would be no more running.  She resigned herself to her fate, and began to put her affairs in order.  To facilitate doing so properly, she would need to know how much time she had, so she scheduled another appointment with a third doctor.

But she wasn’t sick.

At least, not that way.  She was pregnant.  With me.

Doctors ran multiple tests.  There was no more sign of cancer.  Only a tiny child growing inside her.

A miracle baby.


My mother believed from the day she learned of my existence until the day she died that God gave me to her to take away the poison that was killing her, to save her life, and to renew her faith, for the greater good.  Of what, I couldn’t tell you, but she swore up and down that I am in this world today only because it was God’s will. (Her marital relations had nothing to do with it, apparently.)

Mother said that day she prayed to God and promised to devote the life of her child into the service of his will.  Meaning me.  My life.  I have always taken issue with that.

I told Mother, my life was never hers to give away.  Not even to God.  Just because she’d “created” me, didn’t mean she “owned” me.  She’d simply respond that maybe not, but if I thought my life was mine, then I didn’t understand what life is.  And the sooner I came to terms with the truth that all of us belong to God, the greater my life would be.


There have been multiple moments within the history of my life that have made me feel like I may be a total failure as a person and nothing more than a complete waste of potential.  Knowing my mother’s expectation that my existence is entirely to serve the purpose of some higher power is not the least of those.  But, to her credit, Mother was never disappointed in me.  She believed all things work out according to God’s plan, even if we can’t see how.  I could have become an ax murderer, and Mother would have been convinced it was God’s will.  (I guess it’s a good thing for axes everywhere I never bought into all that nonsense! ;-)


What growing up under the influence of this questionable family legend has done for me, though, is to instill a deep-seated belief that anything is possible, even — or possibly especially — that which doesn’t seem to be.  I’ve spent a lifetime proving the impossible – isn’t.

For example:

When I was little, I never believed I would ever escape the small town life I came from.  Where I grew up in a sharecropper’s shack in the middle of an orange grove on the outskirts of anything considered remotely civilized.  Where I wore goodwill clothes with mismatching patches and mystery stains, shoes with holes, and anything donated by charity.  Where I developed an iron constitution from learning to pick the moldy green bits off the bread, and just stomach it down.

But I did.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I never could have imagined I would one day perform before a global conference at the Headquarters of the United Nations.  But I got to.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I never figured I’d make a film, much less one that would get me recognized by the Toronto After Dark Film Festival and earn me a credit on IMDB.  But you can find me there today, for my first attempt.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

When I was in a car accident, doctors told me I would never walk again.  But I did.  Because it wasn’t impossible.  Then they said I wouldn’t ever walk
normally.  But I learned to.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I never suspected I would find myself guilty of planning and coordinating a felony heist to aggressively rescue a handful of severely abused exotic birds. 
But I did it.  And I don’t regret it.  Because it was the right thing to do, and it wasn’t impossible.


After years of estrangement, I didn’t think my adopted family would ever be a part of my life again. 
But they are now.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

After
losing a decade and a half of myself to abusive relationships, turning down 9 proposals and reaching my 40s, I suspected I would never be married.  But I am.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

After losing a pregnancy in my 20s, getting married in my 40s, and being considerably beyond grossly obese with a thyroid condition, I didn’t believe I could bear children.  But two and a half years
ago, I had a beautiful bouncing baby boy who is my heart, my joy, my reason for being, my everything.  Because it wasn’t impossible.


I never suspected when I accepted my first contract role right out of high school with no college degree, that more than 25 years later, I’d have expanded that experience into a functional career that significantly contributes to our household bills and helps to keep our family afloat, without ever having a “real job.”  But that’s how things have played out for us.  Because it wasn’t impossible.


I never thought of myself as a writer, but then someone turned me onto
this little online project, where I discovered not only a modest talent, but a true passion for writing.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I never thought anything I would have to say could be considered valuable, but then I began to share my experiences with others, and have been moved by seeing people take away
lessons from my life that have impacted their own.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I never believed I could conjure up decent fiction concepts, but then I paired with a handful of other creative types during
partner challenges, who spurred me to realize I’m brimming with ideas.  Because it wasn’t impossible.

I wasn’t sure with only 6½ hours left to write before the deadline this week, I would get my entry in without having to take a bye.  But I got it done.  Because it wasn’t impossible.


I haven’t lived an impossible life.  I’ve just surmounted tremendous obstacles, and overcome incredible odds.  Because that’s what it takes to make your way in this world, one day at a time.


The truth is, I haven’t done amazing things.  Yet.  But I’d like to.  My life is fantastic, and I love it.  But it’s not all that incredible.  Though I want it to be.


For example:

I want our family to buy a house, even though I don’t officially have a “real job.”  Others might say that’s impossible.  But I don’t think so.  In fact, we’re so close now, we can almost taste it.

I do want to get a “real job,” with enough stability to assure me I won’t have to keep looking for the next project 2-3 times a year anymore.  Because constantly selling yourself becomes tiresome after a while.  Like every few decades or so.

I want to use the income from that stable “real job” to set us up with a firm foundation of financial security, and enough discretionary cashflow to fund side projects and hobbies that will pay for themselves.

I want to run a thrifting business that converts one man’s trash into another’s treasure (mostly to pay for my own thrifting obsession).

I want to own and operate rental properties that provide a second chance to the disadvantaged, in preparation for home ownership.

I want to start a Montessori style neighborhood co-op school that in addition to a standard educational curriculum, would also teach children about... developing a love for global cultural diversity, so they don’t have to be afraid of others who aren’t like them; caring for animals, so they understand the importance of safeguarding the environment; tending to a garden, so they have the means to feed themselves without having to suckle from government subsidized corporate mass marketing; managing finances, so they know how to secure their future; appreciating the beauty of art and music, so they can find joy in life; ...and a great deal of other important life knowledge they would otherwise graduate without ever having learned.

I want to establish a restaurant that caters to particular dietary needs.

I want to be part of a regularly gigging performance group.

I want to get back to filmmaking, even to do it enough that I can say that’s what I do for a living.

I want to achieve enough success though my many endeavors to be afforded the external resources that would... release me from the shackles of having to stay forever in the 9-5 grind; let me retire from the oppression of a “real job;” provide the freedom to be at home with my family, to travel the world, and to be able to make the choice about how I answer the question, “What do you do?”


Others might say these things are impossible, especially for someone who came from nothing.  But I don’t think so.  I believe anything you want can be accomplished as long as you have the will and the means to do it.  And if you don’t, well, then, you just have to find a way to get them.  Obstacles are meant to overcome.  And some are harder to break through than others.  But many things only seem impossible at first.  Until they aren’t.


The most seemingly impossible challenge before me right now is managing how we’re going to handle the takeaways from my husband’s cardiology appointment yesterday, which made getting in the right mindset for celebrating our 4-yr anniversary last night something of a challenge.  You see, among other wonderful things that make my husband special, Minion is also a mildly overweight early 40s diabetic with hypertension and a heart condition, who had a heart attack when he was 22, an angiogram a few months before we were married, and an aortic episode that landed him in the emergency room a couple weeks back.  It was pretty scary there for a few days, and I’m not going to pretend it’s not quite a bit still.

Minion has the body of a former athlete — one who maybe let himself go just a little — and is carrying about 30ish extra pounds or so, mostly concentrated around his midsection.  His cardiologist said he has to lose the weight, now, and fast, to get his blood pressure — which has been through the roof lately — back down to healthy levels, if he’s going to have any hope of being able to avoid having to undergo open heart surgery.

She wants him to work more exercise into his regular routine.  We will figure out how to do that.  (We have decided to get him a peddling apparatus for under his desk, and to have him take the dogs for a walk when he gets home in the morning before he goes to bed.)

And, she wants him to go on a fast for 90 days, but since he’s also a diabetic, that’s not an option.  The diet she originally wanted for him is $2000 a month of prepared meals.  But we don’t have it.

I would max out all our credit to make it work, if that’s what it took.  My husband would not be okay with that, though, because it would set us off track for home buying.  And to that I would say, screw getting another house.  I would stay in this tiny little hovel we hate that’s half the house we left, for two years or more, if it meant the difference between having him around another five years or another fifty.

But I know that’s not practical.  Because even if we could tighten our belt, pinch every penny we have, call in every favor we’re owed, and somehow pull it off, what happens when 90 days is up, and now they need more money for some other miracle cure, and we’re flat broke and barely able to make ends meet?

So, we’re going to have to wing it.

And that’s the most unsettling part.  How do we put him on a diet that’s “mostly” fasting, while still making sure he gets enough protein and nutrition to manage his blood glucose at healthy levels?  Especially without a roadmap to follow?

Well, not much of one, anyway.

The rules we have are:

No carbs, no sweets, no salt, no seasoning; large portions of vegetables, some protein; mostly water and tea.  Which pretty much translates to: No fun, no taste, no joy; not much to eat, a comfortable relationship with hunger, and probably plenty of headaches.


Minion has been the member of our household who does most of the cooking, because that’s the way he likes it.  But I don’t want my husband cooking separate meals for the baby, for me, and for himself.  That’s way too much work!  The baby needs foods he can eat that don’t negatively impact his development, that we can’t change.  But I can certainly lessen the workload so it’s not an extra step for me.  What the hell — I could sure stand to take some pounds off.  And I’ve never even officially been on any diet.

So, we’re in this together.

Right now, my job for the next week is to eat all the remaining leftovers that were cooked with “old rules” that he can’t have any more, so we don’t waste what we already have.  Then I will join him in this misery for the next three months.  (Holidays are going to be a blast this year!  *sob*)

Boring, bland menu?  No sweat.  Solidarity is a strong ally, and my husband is worth the sacrifice.

Losing weight?  I can do this.  Because it’s not impossible.

Losing my husband — that’s unthinkable.


We are resilient.  We will get through this.  We have what it takes.  We will survive.

Because it’s not impossible.



Keeping the house “guest worthy clean” with 200# of dog and a 2½-year-old baby?

Now THAT’s impossible!



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 4 - Topic: IMPOSSIBLE
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Starry Eyed Mama

Hard Lessons Lately — We Ain’t Learning

BACKSLIDE

In less than two weeks, Minion and I will be celebrating 4 years of marriage.  Though, really, it still feels like every day is already a celebration for us.  I guess in that respect, most folks would probably consider that makes us effectively still newlyweds.  And maybe we are.  I don’t know when that feeling wears off, but maybe it’s the side benefit of marrying your best friend, the person you’re most comfortable with, and the one you most want to spend all your time with.  If that’s the case, maybe it will always feel that way for us.  I hope so.

But we haven’t done much to make a big deal about our anniversaries since the first one.  That year, my gift to him was a “Congratulations, Papa!” Father’s Day card along with a copy of my test results, showing “we” were becoming three.  I don’t think I’m going to be able to top that for a while.  And, of course, every anniversary since has been with a little one in tow, and not a lot of time or sleep in our lives, so we just haven’t been making that big of a deal about them.

Our 2nd anniversary — our first with Firebird — was the first time someone in public mistook us to be our baby’s grandparents.  It won’t be the last, I’m sure.  Not much we can do about that, though, except to laugh at ourselves, and be grateful Firebird keeps us young at heart.


In some respects, I feel like being married has changed so much about me.  Not just in the sense of who I am now, but even who I thought I was.  I don’t think I realized before how much “sex appeal” had been such a vital element of my own sense of self.  And, I’m not saying I can’t be sexy anymore — it just isn’t as important these days as it once was to even bother to try.  I guess maybe I don’t come across like an obvious “catch,” now that I’ve been caught.  I have Minion to thank for that, and I make sure I do.  Often.

Minion thinks I’m sexy.  He calls me his “Pretty Mama,” after the
Eagles hit, “One of These Nights. He says he always felt a connection to that song, searching for that woman in white, and he found her, in me.  That’s as sexy as I ever need to be.  These days I don’t have to care what anyone else thinks about my sex appeal.  Minion’s opinion is enough for me.



Minion naturally creates a nice “safety buffer” between me and the rest of man-kind.  I like that.  I’m so grateful not to have to be “out there” in the meat market of the single life.  When I was dating, I wouldn’t say I had a great perspective on men in general.  I imagine that’s fortunate, because if I had, I’m sure the perspective wouldn’t have been favorable.  At all.

But you can’t really judge an entire gender based on the limited frame of reference you get in pools of options available to ladies seeking male companionship.*  (*And even gals who are not, as prowlers and players are not great at “staying in their lane,” and many seem to think all women are “fair game.”)  I expect the types of men most women are constantly barraged by “out there” are most likely not the best cross-section of the male of the species to fairly represent men as a whole.  Or at least, one would hope not, anyway.

I contend, if you’re looking to settle down (for the record, I wasn’t, and didn’t think I ever would, when I did), you’re better off looking a little closer to home than putting yourself “out there.”  Lifelong partners are best made from lifetime friends, and “out there” is a crazy place.  You’d think most men must see themselves as hammers, the way they act like their primary function is pounding, and every woman just needs to get nailed.


I’ve never formally come out and said
# metoo, partially because I’m not looking for sympathy, partially because I don’t want to be seen as just as statistic, but mainly, to some degree, because I figure it pretty much goes without saying.  If you’re living as a woman, in this culture, we can probably all just safely assume # metoo, in some respects.  And then some, for some of us.

I won’t go into details.  They aren’t relevant now.  But it was enough to have impacted my development, my adolescence, my adulthood, and possibly even my perspective on my place in this world.  That kind of trauma can be consequential enough to significantly color every aspect of your life.  It was enough to have created deep-rooted, inveterate patterns, putting out signals like a homing beacon alerting victimizers, manipulators, gaslighters and abusers to take advantage.  Enough that those patterns were difficult to break free
from.  Enough that I lost at least 15 years of my life to trying.  Enough that breaking free took getting into my 40s, and finding someone exactly opposite of everything I’d ever been drawn to.  Even enough that when I was pregnant, I desperately wanted a girl.

That’s why Minion and I determined we had to know beforehand.  I was so emotionally invested in having a girl, it was imperative I find out with enough time left in advance to become enamored with the idea of bringing a man-child into this world.  I figured if there was any chance I was going to be disappointed, I didn’t want it to be on the day I delivered our bundle of joy.  Shortly after I got the news, when I was still trying to adjust to it, I had some private time with my Mom, who helped me to put everything in the right perspective.

Mom asked me why I wanted to have a girl.  I told her, because this world is so complex to navigate for little girls, and even still more so for women, I wanted to be able to help guide my baby from infancy through the danger zone of culturally institutionalized social conditioning, chauvinism and misogyny she could not escape, into becoming a strong, independent young woman able to stand up for herself and make her own way in life.  I wanted to be the force that would protect her, the way I hadn’t been — the one that saved her from having to endure what I went through.

What my Mom told me in response that day changed my life.  She said, “Honey, if you bring up a little boy to become a strong, independent, kind and loving, respectful young man able to think for himself and stand up for what he believes, even when it goes against the flow... you’ll save a lot of little girls.”  In that moment, I began to realize some small semblance of scope of the magnitude that task truly carries.  I cried tears of relief and gratitude then, for having been raised by such a wise and loving maternal figure.  And from then on, I could hardly wait to get to work on what will surely be the greatest responsibility of my life.


Pregnancy is an emotionally turbulent time, but the issues looming before you are immense, and even without hormonal upheaval, it shouldn’t be any surprise when your reaction to them becomes overwhelming.  I remember the day I was on my way to work, about six months along, when I had to pull over on the side of the road just to cry, because, during one of the many “conversations” I had regularly with my internal mini me while driving, I realized, I was absolutely, completely, totally, head-over-heels, madly, crazy, bonkers-in-love with the tiny little creature growing inside me — my sweet little baby boy.




Last week, a billionaire investment guru at a wealth management summit lost a $6M contract to backlash and outcry over disgusting sexist comments and other generally offensive remarks, when a number of CEOs in attendance were willing to break the secretive code of silence at the exclusive event in order to expose his crude behavior as unacceptable.

I’ll say that again.

People of power at a Billionaire Boys Club summit banded together to draw a line in the sand and say,

This is not okay,”

. . . about one of their own.


It’s historical.  Groundbreaking.  Momentous.

It’s inspiring, and potentially a positive catalyst for change.


But even so, sadly, it’s only barely a drop in the
bucket.


A brave 16-yr-old girl stands up before the United Nations to say, “
How dare you” to a collective of powerful leaders more concerned with maintaining the wealth of antiquated fuel sources than about its impact on this planet, or the health and well-being of our children.  She is mocked, ridiculed, and threatened with violence and even death for speaking the truth, by the types who believe god would never allow his people to have a negative impact on their surrounding environment in the land he promised to them.  She speaks of science, and the need for change for the future.  They attack her looks, her clothes, her behavior, and her mental health.

This is not okay.


Leading this affront is the Gossamer-In-Chief, who left the climate summit to attend a gathering of religious zealots seeking government sanctioned “freedom” to impose their version of morality on this abomi-nation.  Whether or not they will be granted the power to exercise their “right”
to restrict and deny the basic rights of others will be determined by a group of conciliators as divided as their domain.  They are supposed to represent the best among us, blameless and above reproach.  But their number includes members confirmed amid the scandal of sexual assault, where actions spoke louder than words, and told the world, it’s not that we don’t believe brave women willing to speak up — it’s just that we don’t care.

This is not okay.


This
month, a former white police officer was sentenced to prison for killing an unarmed black man in his home.  He was sitting on his couch, eating ice cream.  One might be tempted to call a singular case of accountability in an ocean of impunity a promising breakthrough.  But two days later, the principal witness in that case was shot and killed, execution style, in the mouth — a tactic generally reserved for snitches.

Just yesterday, not 35 miles from the same spot, an unarmed black woman was
shot to death in her home by a white cop.  Shed been up late playing video games with her 8-yr-old nephew.  Police had been dispatched to her location in response to a wellness check, based on a report from a concerned neighbor that her front door was open.  In Texas.  In 70 degree heat.

This is not okay.


Stories like this make me want to close my eyes and wake up from a nightmare, to believe these things dont happen in the land of the free, that they would never happen here.  But thats not the reality we live in.  So we have to be prepared.


Our mixed-race boy will grow up having been firmly ingrained to uphold the laws of the land, and always keep your nose clean.  And when you’re unsure, when you’re scared, when you need help, reach out to your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community, your own.  Folks who get you will be there to support you.  But whatever you do... never, ever call the cops.

This is not okay.




We’re making some progress, I won’t discount that.  It just isn’t enough.  Not by a long shot.  Not when for every ounce of ground we gain, regressive forces are working to oppose justice, inclusiveness, and the basic human right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness for all.

These days, it feels like every time we wake up, some new
societal corruption has arisen to pivotally drive home the point that our rights don’t matter.  The law doesn’t matter.  Women don’t matter.  Our children don’t matter.  Love doesn’t matter.  Science doesn’t matter.  The environment doesn’t matter.  Sanity, reason, logic, and critical thinking do not matter.  The future doesn’t matter.  Humanity doesn’t matter.  None of us matter.



We’ve got a lot of issues in front of us right now.  Really.  The world is a mess.

The road to fixing it is not going to be easy.


But when, finally, titans of industry are willing to take on and fight with other titans, that’s a good start for all of
us.  And perhaps, even, in a world where the illusion of wealth and the power to maintain it is more important than anything else, and nothing makes sense anymore, maybe a battle between giants is the only way to ever achieve real change.  So maybe we need to keep making them take notice.


Keep
speaking your mind.  Even if your voice shakes.  Keep them paying attention.

Let them know we are the
majority.  We are outraged.  And this is not okay.


It’s a deplorable tragedy that we as a people have regressed to still be fighting the same great battles hard fought for in the 60s over basic human rights.  Back in the days when protesters were crusaders for peace and love, and champions of the oppressed, and Peter Paul and Mary immortalized, “
If I Had a Hammer,” it seemed then like there was hope for the future.

And yet, here we are.

Again.  Still.

So, if I want my son to grow up in a world worth living in, I’ve got to pick up my hammer and get to work.  Because everywhere I look, everything’s a nail.


We’ve got a hammer of justice
We’ve got a bell of freedom
And we’ve got a song to sing
about the love between our brothers and sisters
All over this land.



LJ Idol | Season 11 • Week 3 - Topic: EVERYTHING LOOKS LIKE A NAIL
This post has been brought to you by an association with the online writing community forum, LJ Idol.
If you have enjoyed this entry, please feel free to speak your piece, share the love, and pass it on...
                                                                                                            ...and thanks for stopping by.