February 28, 2014 § Leave a comment
In case people are wondering what I’m working on for the new collection, here’s a piece of one of the stories in it.
February 6, 2014 § Leave a comment
In the past month or so, I’ve seen quite a few news stories that affected me personally because they reminded me of myself. It’s a kind of narcissism, I suppose. Why don’t I take every story of tragedy and pain and internalize them? Well, I don’t do that because I would fucking die. Sorry. It’s a selfish choice but I love my wife and the life we have together and I want to keep living it, so I’m simply going to try and not let every story of injustice, pain, fear and the selfish cruelty of human to human seep into my soul. « Read the rest of this entry »
February 5, 2014 § 3 Comments
This one really isn’t about Dylan Farrow’s open letter. It’s not about that because that speaks for itself, and eloquently. It’s about the discussion that keeps surfacing, then receding – the one people want to have about the purpose of speaking out years down the road. The discussion that drives me into a rage so profound I can barely see.
I’ll lay out the situation from my position – when I was ten, someone my family knew and trusted began raping me. It continued, off and on, for three years. It was not very often – maybe ten times in total, maybe less. I remember specific incidents – the first time, and the last time – but not the overall course of events. It was not my mother nor my father, but someone they had no reason to doubt, and I never told anyone. (I only mention that it was not my parents to forestall any guessing games.) I don’t know why it started, or why it ended. I mostly remember fear, and disgust, and whispers about how nobody could find out or they’d blame me, send me away, and I believed and I was silent. I’ve talked about this before, but not easily or well, and I doubt I’ll ever be able to talk about it comfortably. So I admire Dylan Farrow’s courage and willingness to stand up. And many of her details ring true – in my case, it was a dirtbike that I really wanted that lured me outside the first time.
January 29, 2014 § 1 Comment
Musing about societal ills in general, and to me, a lot of them seem to come from a general lack of empathy, or sympathy – an inability to make the compassionate leap needed to see the world through another’s eyes. And it manifests in manners both great and infinitesimal, from the lack of civility in our day to day experiences (cutting each other off in traffic, rudeness on public transit, the general inability to have polite discourse and civil disagreements) to allowing other human beings to suffer when such suffering is preventable. Our unwillingness to provide health care, our inability to grasp the crises of homelessness, the inability to survive (much less thrive) on our inadequate minimum wage (as has been said elsewhere many times, no one working two jobs should ever be living in poverty, but it’s not only easily possible, it’s outright common in modern America) – how a society treats those it considers the least among itself is a mirror of how it acts at every level and every stage.
It can get exhausting, admittedly. To try and care about every outrage and every horror paraded before us saps the strength, the will. But we’re not required to be martyrs, merely decent – there are choices we can make as a society that will have positive effects beyond their simple stated goals. Universal health care does more than simply provide medical treatment, it removes the stress shame and fear of illness, the nightmare that one bad day could ruin your life and the life of your family, drowned in bills that make saving your life seem to you more costly than just letting you die. No society should force its membership, no part of it, to contemplate at what point it would be more cost effective to die rather than seek medical treatment. To alleviate that stress is to show empathy for your fellows.
This empathy is needed in all walks of life and all concerns of the state. Almost any issue, from reading about police officers beating a man to death on down comes down to this lack of empathy, this lack of believing that the other human being you’re dealing with or seeing or hearing or reading is a fellow human being. Our skill at abandoning our shared humanity is stunning, expansive, and terrifying in its consequences.
We are human, and nothing and no one human is alien to us. I hope Terence can forgive me my paraphrase here.
December 29, 2013 § Leave a comment
Maybe you’ll leave behind a good memory or two.
Maybe you’ll touch other people’s lives in some positive fashion. I don’t pretend to know who, or how. A day spent together, a night, weekends, months, I don’t know.
Maybe you’ll help when someone needs it – food when they’re hungry and can’t bear to admit it, a place to stay in a blizzard, maybe you’ll just sit and listen for an hour on a bus while they cry about trauma you can’t even remember. Maybe you’ll go on a blind date to help out a friend and end up with a story. Maybe you’ll meet the love of your life on the internet, and not even realize it for years afterwards.
Life is all about these small moments. It’s all about what happens during. We spend a lot of time thinking about the future, or the past, but the present is constant. And the best you can hope for is that you ease a little pain, make a smile, share with another.
December 26, 2013 § 4 Comments
One of the things that has always bothered me is that I don’t seem to feel the way other people feel. I feel some of the same things – I love my wife, which seems to be a common emotion people express, for example. I’m not sure of this, because I have no real means of comparison. I can’t feel what anyone else feels, or in the manner they feel it. I am forced, as we all are as far as I know, to exist in this limited fashion and experience the world only through my own eyes.
So it is with what people call depression. I have something that seems similar to it. A pervasive sense of pointlessness, an enervation that seems all encompassing. Nothing seems to matter. There’s no reason to do anything, and all emotion is flattened. Sometimes I physically hurt from this. It feels like I have been beaten. There’s an exhaustion to it, but it’s not the exhaustion of having worked hard but rather of having had to endure beyond my strength. My limbs feel shaky, my jaw twitches. « Read the rest of this entry »