A Chance Encounter

•14 January 2018 • 1 Comment

A perfectly normal January Saturday in the Upper Midwest — sky cloudless and razor-sharp, temperature hovering around ten Fahrenheit. I was out running a few errands after the morning’s fixtures. High on caffeine and nicotine, I pulled into an open spot, lingered in my hybrid Civic a few while the NPR hostess interrogated her hapless guest on the financial oddities of la famille Trump. My phone let me know that someone liked my tweet about Harry Kane.

Next to me, a clay-red thoroughly weathered Ford pickup idled. Festooned with stickers, it wasn’t out of place here, a perfectly normal Midwest grocery in this gaspingly alive perfectly Midwest town. “Cruz 2016,” “Send Them Back,” “Support Yer Boys in Blue,” and the like made for an interesting contrast with the ass of my blue Honda. I straightened my tie, fired a (surreptitiously-obtained) Djarum Black and nodded to the wife-beater-wearing, fully inked, poorly-maintained Fu Manchu-sporting gent in the truck, locked my door, exhaled a cloud of blue smoke tendrils tearing off in the ether and went off.

My car’s stickers proclaimed my allegiance to an English football club, an Ivy, intersectionality, the Human Rights Campaign, and a bold strip of rainbow announcing my homosexuality and my commitment to the worldwide defense of LGBTQ equality.

I don’t think we’ll become friends, he and I, but one never knows. Oh, America.


What Defines an ‘Office’?

•13 December 2017 • 1 Comment

Firstly and foremostly, I’d go with “an enclosed space that lacks a surface upon which one can sleep.” A seeming contradiction, no? One can always choose the floor.

All that’s required is a writing composite — some combination of media (pencil & paper, keyboard & screen, blood and flesh, neurons and neurons) and time. Of the two, time is the more important; time is the shibboleth. What vistas it may open onto are unknown and ineffable.

The tangible thus addressed, what remains is the will. “Make of this space (physical and mental) a temple to the imagination, to work!” sounds the imperium.

So muß es sein.  

What “Pro-Life” Really Would Mean:

•10 December 2017 • Leave a Comment

The term “pro-life” has focused so heavily on terrifying children with placards depicting aborted fetal remains, protesting loudly and sometimes violently at Planned Parenthood clinics, and even resorting to acts of domestic terror (see: Tiller, Dr. George) that haven’t even noticed how far from the actual meaning of that simple term construes. Simultaneously, many involved in the “movement” blinkered themselves so thoroughly, they’ve failed to realize that the organizations and political parties (mostly Republicans) largely could care less about Roe v. Wade — they’ve an issue about which voters whose professed views largely align with the views of others in their district, and they’ve exploited you folks for every last penny, phonebank, polling place intimidation, etc. You are nothing to most likely very many of these politicos than votes and dollar signs.

Someone who is actually “pro-life” would probably include in their professed beliefs:

  • Firstly, that all life is sacred, and should be given the opportunity to develop according to its path, as only the Creator can see. Therefore:
  • The death penalty should be abolished universally;
  • Planned Parenthood provides services specific to women’s well-being, up to and including abortion, and their services provide invaluable resources to which they might not have access
  • With regard to healthcare, it must be a right guaranteed to all, including food and shelter assistance, mental health care, child care and access to education and livable work.
  • Guns should be strictly regulated, and should be used for hunting or personal defense exclusively
  • Proven-effective vaccines must be administered universally at the proper time.
  • With every means available, climate change must be arrested and ideally reversed, to which end I, as pro-life, will contribute by reducing total energy output, investing in renewable technology and agitating for my municipality, county, state, etc. to do the same, as the global costs of climate change already end, disable or disrupt life.
  • As pro-life, I am ethically bound to oppose armed conflict in all cases, unless if — andonly if — that conflict direct affects my community, is ethically unacceptable (Holocaust, Rwanda, Rohingya) or if all other methods of conflict are exhausted. This obviously allows for community determinations of *what* those standards mean and how and when they should be applied. I am bound to demand emphatically any organization to which I have ties to divest from any organization just violates any of these principles.
  • As pro-life, I am ethically bound to take no part in the ending of another’s life, except in cases where I am left no choice. Depending on one’s preference or availability of natural resources, “another’s life” can and in many cases should include the lives of other living organisms.

That would be a more accurate description of any person who claims to be “pro-life.” Please ask elected representatives who claim this label merely for opposition to abortion how they stand on these matters, and please question vigorously anyone who defends the contradiction. This list is merely a suggestion, but a valuable one I hope, when, in our digitally manipulated world, catch-phrases and keywords distract attention and distort ratiocination to ill-considered emotional reactions.

Heaven or Las Vegas

•1 December 2017 • Leave a Comment

Cocteau Twins’ “Heaven or Las Vegas” (the album, not the titular track) will forever be associated for me with one image and one distinct stretch of my time. First, the image: it was 2005, I think, and I was listening to the album on my iPod (yes, those used to be all the rage), missing someone deeply. It might have been 2005, as I’d then be 20 and a junior, but the colors are wrong — were it autumn 2005, I’d be in Berlin, and that triggers its own set of formative elegiac memories. It must have been 2006 then; as the image of me gazing out the broad window always involves snow-crusted but not yet dead shrubs and small trees.

Ah yes, the image — take those flora and add to the picture a young man, wrapped in a black pea coat, a scarf twirling black, dark pine and deep crimson wrapped around his thin neck, unshaven for a day, perhaps two, blonde hair cut severely short — and recently, you surmise. Hand, nails uneven and picked at, drawn up to a thin mouth, beneath an unremarkable nose and cheeks bearing marks of battles against acne past. Drawing up to a set of wire frames, lenses powerful enough to blind most, though you know he’s worn such since before kindergarten, slate-blue eyes one minute lost in the music’s trance, the other trying to see what might just lie beyond the endless there.

Frozen in time, as it were, that’s how I recall my experience of the stretch of time —

I write “stretch,” because it seemed and seems thus — a period in my life without direction or worth. As with many times in my frail and oscillating existence, I felt three-dimensional in a Calabi-Yau manifold. All I know is that the music and the isolation took me to a place I frequent more often than I should — a space where J. and B. and E. and more rightfully accuse me of the same offense — “you were never there.”


Boiling Anger and the Infinite Sadness

•9 November 2017 • Leave a Comment

I tweeted a few times on this subject throughout the day, so if you follow me on Twitter (@destroy_time), apologies if this is redundant. Last night, I came across devastation, plain and simple:


And was horrified, as, I like to imagine (but know better), any human being would be. The suffering is horrific in scale and scope, and at least in the media through which most Americans get their “information” (scare quotes sadly necessary) largely unmentioned in the US. Famine, disease, lack of necessary medical supplies, violence on a scale growing comparable to the worst humanitarian suffering of the last fifty years face Yemeni daily. Closer to home, Puerto Rico remains utterly devastated, largely without power still, ravaged by disease, hunger, lack of potable water while a mere 1,850 km to the northwest, the nation of which it is a part contemplates how best to enrich its richest at the ultimate expense of its least. Hence the anger, hence the sadness.

Or so I thought. What was missing came later last night in the form of a dream.


I dreamt I was in some nondescript room, working (as I am now) on my iPad, listening (as I am now) to the BBC3 via a high-end Bluetooth speaker, which suddenly chimed its “Battery low — feed me power, minion” alert. I snapped to it, unable even to contemplate having to use the built in speaker. But what’s this? No power outlet? Panic. My iPad was fully charged, and somehow I had a cord that I could use to connect the devices so that I could charge the speaker from the iPad to the point where maybe each had half battery life — enough at least to finish whatever it was I was working on. Just sharing between friends, right?

Wrong. To my horror, the speaker drained the iPad to the point where I was just watching the percentage numeral drop steadily, rushing toward zero and without the speaker itself being charged. I awoke right before the battery life hit zero, breathing rapidly and physically sick. I’m not exaggerating. Thanks to my wounds, I can’t really run at the moment, but I flung off the covers and moved as quickly as I could to the bathroom, dropped to my knees in front of the toilet bowl, dry-heaved a few times, then sat back and just let the nausea roll over me in waves. Not exaggerating.

Interspersed with the images of that cold Apple-grey steel room and the feeling of panic that I couldn’t charge a fucking speaker were the harrowing images from Yemen and Puerto Rico, of the dead who don’t know they’re dead yet. Not some silly TV show, but real human beings. Here sit I, not wealthy by American standards by any means, yet wreathed in such luxury and privilege as the vast majority of the people in the world can’t even dream of, so far beyond the scope of their daily concerns, fears, troubles and understanding is the bling that, to us, is just background noise to uneventful days. The most basic version of the new iPhone X costs $999 — how many lives could be saved with that amount of money?

Hence the shame. I know it must be tempting for any so-called “conservative” (scare quotes sadly necessary) out there reading this to raise the cry of “liberal guilt!” “Ashamed to be an American!” And other such Coulterisms. I’m ashamed on a deeply personal level — not that I had the fortune to be born in the wealthiest nation in the history of nations, that I have been given the privilege of access to technologies, medicines, communications, entertainments, cheap and safe food and water the likes of which remain inaccessible to most of the world, and taking the long view, to all of humanity for our brief existence on this world. No, that’s privilege I was born into, just as I had no say over having a Y chromosome or being of Northern European heritage; I’m not ashamed of those things — they’re collectively constituent parts of my personal privilege. I am ashamed at myself, that I could see such images, process them, be affected by them, yet only feel panic because meaningless electronic devices didn’t function as they were supposed to. While the worst cholera epidemic in modern history rages through Yemen, infecting over one million Yemeni and counting, I freak out because I might have to clean my wounds and change my bandages without pain medication for a day. I spend mental energy debating Stranger Things‘ second season — the unspoken assumption that *everyone* has seen it or at least has access to see it — while my Yemeni or Puerto Rican analogue uses his mental (and physical) energy to find his family’s next meal, a safe and dry place for the evening’s shelter, insulin for a diabetic parent, penicillin for an ill child. I hop on GrubHub and play FIFA while waiting on my Tom Kha Gai.

The deep shame is something that’s been written about, debated, contemplated often, so much so that it almost seems banal to take up the theme — how this tremendous privilege wallpapers each of our scenarios. That, of course, is where the anger and sadness intrude upon my consciousness; that even recognizing the recognition that such wealth surrounds us unnoticed is itself trite… it’s a sort of moment of truth, isn’t it? Do I continue in conscious and willed ignorance, or does the arbitrary juxtaposition of images from far away with everyday technology shock one just enough to actually do something?

Congress Minus Trump Could Equal… Legislation?

•17 October 2017 • Leave a Comment

One solution to the “Trump problem” I’ve not heard almost nothing of would be decisively flipping the tables on him, effectively seizing back the reins of power in DC, making him largely a figurehead — legislative rule. Why hasn’t the idea of Sens. McConnell & Schumer, Reps. Ryan & Pelosi getting together & hashing out some form of compromise by which they could stitch together two-thirds majorities in both houses to override any Trump veto? It’s becoming ever clearer that Trump’s brand is almost as toxic as the water he’s content to leave Puerto Ricans to drink, i.e. there’s more to lose for Congressional Republicans in supporting Trump than to gain. From a purely cynical political stance, making Trump a party pariah may just be the only chance the GOP has to maintain congressional control.

Floating this as a possibility to minimize Trump’s dangerous impact on American policy, not to endorse it — I shudder at the prospect of a McConnell-Schumer-Ryan-Pelosi quadrumvirate, but it seems to be the least bad of present options.

Night, 04:34

•3 October 2017 • 1 Comment

The cat lies there,

Wrapped up like a seashell,

Served with scallions and fish sauce,

A dash of soy to perfection.
Focus closer; see it?

A fleeting gaze into that which we are,  

Dust so dense, diffuse in its scarcity —

Profound only in its absence;

Billions of years hurtling toward a world 

Wanting only a voice to name it home.

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