Time to rid yourself of Christmas guilt – 2010 Edition


The current economic climate has brought about the perfect time to reassess what Christmas is about.  I recently read this posting that I wrote almost 2 years ago.  I decided that now is a good time to republish it.  The following has been edited and updated for this year but the message is the same.  I even fixed some misspellings, and rewrote some poorly constructed sentences.  I hope this post gives you something to think about.

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Christmas means different things to different people.  At its core, Christmas commemorates the birth of Christ.   It is a Christian holiday.  I  believe that unless you are devout in your celebration of this birth then you have no business celebrating Christmas.  Otherwise it’s no different than celebrating Hanukkah.  You may as well.  You’re guaranteed eight gifts that way.

I have not forgotten the magic that Christmas can bring, but from where does that magic come.  We are often more prone to charitable gifts during Christmas.  So to some less fortunate child, or family, a Christmas miracle could be one toy, or one meal.

Many of us get emotional during the holidays, mostly due to the memories of our childhood.  Some never had a Christmas. Some never had a happy Christmas.  I”m not sure which is worse; never having one, or never having one that lives up to the hype.

A few years ago, I had my own economic downturn.  Giving gifts that year wasn’t within the realm of possibility.  Yes, I could have given home-made gifts.  But, I would have felt inadequate and guilt that comes from NOT giving.

So I decided to take a different approach.  No Christmas presents?  I approached the people with whom I normally exchange gifts and told each one  the truth (do people tell the truth anymore? – I’m used to it, but I find that many struggle with it).  I told them I can’t afford to buy presents and I would appreciate it they didn’t buy me a present either.  I can’t pretend I have the money to do it, and if I spend money on gifts, I won’t have money for Rent, or Food, or to put gas in my car.  And I don’t want to feel the guilt of getting a gift when I don’t have one to give.  I don’t believe that my “plan” was received very well, but I had no choice but to move forward with it.

The most important gift in the world, in my opinion, is your time.  I wanted to spend time with the people I love.  Laughing, relaxing, telling stories, playing cards; all of those things that we rarely have time for.  Since most of my friends and family aren’t consistent church-goers, we weren’t celebrating the birth of the Messiah. No, in previous years we weren’t celebrating anything, and giving each other mounds of presents because of it.

In as little as one day after opening gifts, maybe less in some cases, most kids can’t remember who gave them what.  They were already bored with the toys, and the adults usually think “thank god that’s over”.   How sad is that.  Such a build-up and in a flash, it’s over.  Some are happy it’s over.  Some are disappointed that they didn’t “get what they wanted”.

In recent years many of the people I know were ready to take down the tree and decorations by the evening of Christmas Day.  And as we reflected on Christmas, we realized introspectively that we spent too much, probably went into credit card debt, and even if you got great stuff, something was missing.

After the time when I stopped giving out Christmas presents I didn’t feel that way anymore.  Christmas had taken on a different meaning.  As I said before, the gift of time, and laughter, I think, are such valuable commodities.  What an incredible relief it would be, don’t you think, if you never had to worry about the traditional gift giving aspect of Christmas?  I know people who say that they truly like the chaos of shopping for Christmas gifts.  I think they are lying to themselves.  I think they are trying to recreate a fantasy that is unattainable.   The magic of the perfect childlike Christmas is unattainable.

To me, it’s not that gifts shouldn’t be exchanged anymore, just not gifts that come with a receipt.  I have always believed that birthdays are special.  That is one person’s special day and that should be the day they get all the attention and a gift or two.  And I also believe in buying people things that you happen upon and give for no specific reason.  I bought a family member a certain gift,  just because I knew they liked it, not because it was their birthday or Christmas or any other holiday.  Those, to me, are real gifts.  The unexpected act of kindness.  But giving wrapped gifts is NOT necessary at Christmas.

So I am asking you to participate in a new kind of gift giving for the holidays.   Stay out of the stores and off the online shopping sites.  Make a promise to yourself, and to those you love, to spend time with them during the Holidays.  Why do we keep perpetuating the myth that a “present” equals “love”.  And if you decide to spend more time with the ones you love playing cards, relaxing, enjoying food,  and most of all laughing, then maybe you will begin to see what is really important.  You will be able to see it because your mind will not be consumed with guilt over whether or not you spent enough money on so-and-so, and “oh I hope he likes it, I don’t think he’ll like it” or “maybe I should get her something else, or something more”.  Rid yourself of that Christmas guilt and put your energy into memorable, intangible, important things.

We need to stop buying into Corporate America’s idea of Christmas;  the kind of Christmas that makes Corporate America rich.  They wait all year for Christmas because it makes up something like 60 or 70 percent of their profits for the year.  And you wouldn’t believe how they try to get into your head, and your heart, so that they can get into your wallet.  Stop the insanity.

If you believe in God, then you should know that God doesn’t keep track of the presents you give;  God only cares about gifts you give that can’t be wrapped.  If you don’t believe in God (nobody says you have to – I don’t) then all of this should make perfect sense to you already.

I welcome your comments.

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Ass Wipe Nation


When I was a kid, and even when I was a younger adult, the words “ass wipe” were used as a derogatory slang expression that meant “a real asshole” – nay, you were worse than that, you were the toilet paper that wiped the dirty asses.  Don’t you remember referring to someone as an “ass wipe”?  “Oh my god, that guy is such an ass wipe.”

Oh, how times have changed.   Today, the definition of “ass wipe” is not derogatory, ass wipes are a requirement in the American household.  I don’t recall when it started, but I do recall being one of the first people I knew to buy ass wipes, also called “moist wipes”.  They are a derivation of “baby wipes” except you can’t flush baby wipes like you can ass wipes.  I remember having visitors to my home, close friends usually, who said “what are those things sitting on the back of your toilet tank in that plastic box”.  And I would explain to them that they are “moist wipes”.  When they still didn’t get it, I said “they’re ass wipes – they’re slightly wet and you use them to clean you ass”.  For christ sake do I have to spell it out??  Do you really not know what these things are?  Were we, as a nation, so naive, or blind to a fact that Europeans and their bidets have known for years:  Skid marks aren’t pretty. 

Maybe as a gay man it all seemed so natural to me to have these cleansing gadgets.  I won’t go into details – you’re welcome.  But American bathrooms, for the most part, are bidet-free.  Sure there are high-end homes with super high-end bathrooms that have bidets.  Many wouldn’t recognize what it is and would probably ask why there is a water fountain in your bathroom.  And now the “must have” bathroom fixture is the thousand dollar Japanese toilet that basically washes, blow dries, and puts your ass through a spin cycle before sending you on your merry way.

But barring that, Americans have their “ass wipes”.  Currently it’s almost unheard of to walk into someone’s bathroom and not find a box of moist wipes sitting on the toilet tank.  Mothers are happy.  Their kids and their husbands don’t leave so many skid marks in their underwear; making their laundry chore far less disgusting.  Husbands are happy because now maybe their wives won’t mind giving them head somuch because it doesn’t smell so bad.  As for gay men, we’re just happy.  Happy that we spread the word about ass-wipes and it took off.  I’m disappointed that Spell Check in America rarely get’s “bidet” correct.   To summarize, clean asses are in our thoughts, but not in our dictionaries.

My only counterpoint to this?  Dick Cheney is still an old-fashioned ass wipe. (Sorry, I had to slip that in somewhere).  I’m not sure, exactly, why America has become obsessed with cleaning their butts.  But I’m glad they did.  It makes sitting in a crowded room so much more pleasant.

December ’09 is a slow news month


We seem to by in a news cycle where there is a lot going on, yet none of it is important enough to write about.  And so the bloggers, and the main stream media, begin to fill up the pages and the TV screen with something that can only be called “stuff”.

Does anyone really care about Tiger Woods personal problems?  I don’t.  And neither should you.  All of the wasted file server space used up by people writing articles and opinions about who Tiger slept with or had an affair with; it’s a crying shame.  Who cares?  Let him live his life and handle his problems on his own,  just like the rest of us.

Amanda Knox, did she, didn’t she.  Who cares???  Her family, yes, and friends, of course, but the rest of us have no say in the matter and will never know the truth.  I don’t care if the Italian court works like the American system.  I don’t care if Italians are prejudicial in their court judgements against outsiders; because I don’t plan on going to Italy to kill anyone.  Who the hell cares?  It’s just another murder trial.

Obama took a while to decide what to do about Afghanistan.  He did what any smart person should do – think long and hard about his options and then make a decision and stick to it.  Done.  Do we need to debate it to fill air time?  I don’t think so.

And even I am guilty.  I just wasted how much electricity, and file server space, to write this post about how there truly is nothing to write about that isn’t already being said, or thought.  I’m glad I don’t own a cable news network.  I’m glad I don’t have to fill 24 hours each and every day with noise, so that the advertisers have some place to show their products.

Here’s what I think is going on in the world that we should be thinking about:  We all have friends, and/or family, who are hurting, and to some degree, suffering.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt caused by personal crisis:  sickness, abusive relationships, or love that seems to be dying.  Maybe it’s the kind of hurt that is financial: mothers and fathers who can’t feed their kids, or people wondering how they will avoid eviction or foreclosure.

We should be writing about, and watching TV that deals with, taking care of each other.   Random acts of kindness are under-rated.  Whether it’s holding the door for someone or helping a woman in the parking lot clean the snow off her car.  Now we’re talking about stuff that matters.  Lend an ear, lend a hand, lend a dollar.  Listen to what people around you are saying.  Some of them have a difficult time asking for help.  But if you really listen, and watch, it’s not hard to figure out what someone needs.  It might just be a hug, as corny as that sounds.  What if a big, smothering, maternal or paternal hug is all someone needs today.  What will that cost you.  Or maybe it’s money, or food, or a ride, or a job.  Just do it.  And do it thanklessly.  You shouldn’t do it for recognition, or glory, you should do it because you are human.

I’m not saying all of this simply because it is the holiday season.  As far as I am concerned, even Christmas is not worthy of writing about.  Unless someday (in my wildest dreams) Christmas is no longer about buying presents and instead is about helping each other.   Unless Christmas is no longer about gifts for the sake of buying gifts, then Christmas is not worth wasting more space on a file server somewhere; and it’s not worth filling up the airwaves.

Why don’t we all take this opportunity to take advantage of this “inconsequential” news month.  With the exception of families with loved ones overseas fighting in wars that we shouldn’t be fighting, everyone else should start to make a list, and check it twice.  And on that list should be thank you’s, and donations, and meals you made for someone who can’t get out of the house, and packages for troops, and treats for your dog, and all of the things about which writing words on a page are worthy.

I am the last Baby Boomer a.k.a “things I learned while blogging”


In looking back at the posts I have written over the past 2 years, the first thing that comes to mind is that I can’t believe it’s been 2 years.  When I look at the titles and subjects I see a lot of anger.  There have been a lot of people I’ve been mad at over the past 2 years.  I think that finally I’m at a place where either I’ve matured enough not to get angry, or I’m too tired to get angry.  I”m not sure which, yet.

All through the 2008 Presidential campaign I had a lot to say — mostly about right wing republicans with their head up their collective asses.  But I also wrote about family, pop culture, entertainment, baseball and just plain human interest stories.

The second thing I think about is how different my life is today from what it was when I started this blog.  I had just been fired from my job, and didn’t know why.  Finding a new job seemed impossible.  I’m not a writer by trade, as you can tell, but I do have other marketable skills; at least I thought I did.  After 18 long, no, very long months of confidence-crushing job searching with nothing to show for it, I had a lot of time to build up my anger and needed an outlet.  So I took to blogging.  I had way too much time on my hands.

I had no idea what I was doing when I started blogging, still don’t.  I receive a lot of hateful comments from people who troll the internet looking for someone to hate.  I call these people “republicans”.  I receive a lot of  “hate” comments from people who  so afraid of liberal ideas, that they would do, and say, anything based in that fear, in order to squash progessivec ideas.  And I received a lot of “support posts” from people who seek  out opinions of others with whom they can agree.

I don’t believe for one minute that my writing, or anybody else’s writing,  can actually change a readers opinion.  Let’s face it.  It takes years for us, as human beings, to change; change out minds, change our tune, change our outlook, change our opinion, change our politics, etc.  Even if we want to change it doesn’t happen overnight.  So for those of us who don’t even want to change, or don’t think we need to change, reading blog opinion pieces will only inspire the co-conspirators, or anger the detractors.  There’s just not a lot of “re-thinking” going on.

I’ve done my share of reading both mainstream blogs, and personal blogs like mine.  I don’t find there to be much difference between the two.  It’s all just personal opinion, some with agendas, some with butterflies & unicorns.  None if it really matters.

Here are just a few of the things I learned in the last two years.  Some of it I learned about myself, some of it about others:

I hate people who say “at the end of the day”.  It is the most overused, and least meaningful expression in generations.  It is verbal filler, not unlike most of what today’s talkers have to say.  Whether it be a blog or a cable news pundit, it’s all just verbal filler.  What are all these political talk shows but blogs on TV.  It’s white noise that in a week, or a few days, you won’t remember.  And that’s the real problem.  None of it is memorable.

People who don’t like what you have to say will call you every name in the book.  They will write a degrading comment on your blog telling me to stop degrading people.  I don’t get it.  And they don’t understand “hypocrisy”.

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I thought Michael Jackson died 20 years ago – so to speak


For those of us who grew up in the “Off the Wall” and “Thriller” era of the late 70’s and early 80’s, we mourned the loss of Michael Jackson 20 years ago when he became something we didn’t recognize anymore.  The “pop culture” mindset of our lives has not crossed paths with Michael Jackson for a long time.  He hasn’t been in our thoughts or in our CD players for many years.  We mourned the fact that the young black man, who broke down racial barriers through his music and his attitude, had turned into a mere shadow of himself, unrecognizable to us physically and plagued by accusations of pedophilia in horrific detail.

It is sad – sad when anybody dies as there are always friends and families who will be overcome with extreme sadness and disbelief.  And most of us know what that feels like.  But sadder, is an entire generation who wrote Michael off a long time ago.  And now it is difficult to muster up the emotions again.  I can’t say that I miss him or his music.  When I look back at clips of him singing, and I mean really singing, it blows my mind.  When he was 10 years of, Michael Jackson could belt out a ballad or a dance tune with a full voice, and a full vibrato.  He sang from his gut and from his diaphragm.  That all stopped 20 years ago when his music became sounds and grunts and squeals.  I had not heard him actually hold a note, like a real singer does, in years.  His voice was meek.  He sang like a frightened little girl.  So yes, we mourned for Michael Jackson.  We just don’t’ feel the need to do it again now.

No matter how talented  Mr. Jackson was, it is difficult to get past the fact that he was accused of child molesting; and not just once.  I believe there is some truth to this.  I just don”t believe these allegations are accidental or part of some conspiracy.  We’ve all heard the details.   Maybe he never touched a child in the grotesque way that we all know can happen.  But how close to the edge of molestation can you go before it actually IS molestation.  Do we want to cut the slice that narrow?  Do we want to say, “well he never actually penetrated a little boy with his penis or finger (sorry but it needs to be said) so he’s not guilty.   Or maybe “well, they were naked together but he only briefly rubbed up against the 12 year old boy after giving him some Jesus Juice”.   While he was acquitted, I  don’t need a legal dictionary to define a crime; or what is inappropriate.

All of that aside, my personal belief is that Michael Jackson struggled with a lot of things, mentally, emotionally, physically, and financially; all affecting how the world saw him and how he saw himself.  He was at times indignant about the way the public perceived him; as if he had no responsibility in the matter.

So Michael Jackson has now died.  He was preparing for a “come back” tour and nobody knows how that would have all turned out.  Maybe at 50 years old he mellowed a bit and understood how is actions with young children have consequences.

I mean no disrespect by anything in this posting.  This is simply my opinion of the events as I see them.  I do feel badly for his family.  I wish the media would leave them alone.  But I also wish the media would leave US alone.

The wheels on the Republican bus have officially fallen off


I didn’t think that the Republican Party could fall out of favor any further than it has.  But in true Republican fashion, they never let you down when it comes to disappointment.

I would not have believed if I didn’t see it.  Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher blamed Barack Obama for the violence and death on the streets of Iran.  He said that if Obama had spoken up and denounced the violence three days ago, the violence would have been avoided.  That woman who was shot and died on live television would be alive if it weren’t for Barack Obama.  Yes, this guy actually said it.

And what if John McCain was our President.  According to his recent remarks, we would be at war with another Islamic country; further degrading the standing of the United States around the world.  And thousands upon thousands more would be dead.  McCain couldn’t even answer this question:  Is Barack Obama on the side of Majmud Ahmadinajad or is he on the side of the factions that are protesting an unfair election.  McCain said “Well I know what side I”M on” insinuating that Barack Obama was on the side of the tyranical President.  He’s kidding right?  No he’s not.

Then, Republicans like radio host and columnist Mark Savage, and a Maryland Republican women’s group, and many others too numerous to mention, have been, just in the last few days, comparing Barack Obama to Hitler.  They are litterally trying to make direct comparisons between Obama’s actions and policies to Hitler’s reign of terror.  It is amazingly ridiculous and hateful, and so far off base that I can’t figure out who these people are trying to convince to join or support their party.  They should have stuck with the idea that Barack’s birth certificate is a fake.  At least that is a conspiracy theory the right wingers can REALLY get behind. 

And now Mark Sanford, South Carolina Governor, admits to infidelity with an Argentinean woman, which explains where he was over Father’s Day Weekend when neither his wife, his sons, nor his administration  knew where he was.  And all the while they thought he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  He was lost in the woods, alright, metaphorically speaking.  I can’t wait to see how Sanford’s close friend, Joe Scarborough handles this tomorrow morning on “Morning Joe”.  Will he defend Sanford using tax payer money to go to Argentina for a booty call?  Just this morning (Wednesday) Joe was defending Sanford’s behavior.

This is like a bad plot in a bad daytime soap opera.  Even Luke and Laura knew when it was time to give up the Ice Princess plot line.

So Mark Sanford goes on TV today and gives a very long list of all the people he hurt; beginning with his sons.  The young people behind him in his news conference were giggling.  I don’t know who they were or why they were there.  But it was sad, demeaning, and even somewhat humorous.  If there were ever a reason to have a pre-planned speech or tele-prompters, that news conference was it.  This is a man who said President Clinton should resign for such sexually deviant behavior.  Well, Mr. Sanford, will you now resign, because you should based on your own moral compass.

Is it any wonder why the Republican Party is falling apart.   What comes next; calling Barack Obama a extra-terrestrial being while some other Republican congressman gets arrested for molesting pre-school boys. 

Barack Obama is poised to strike and get whatever he wants out of Congress; Republicans or Democrats.  Now is the time Barack.  DO IT!  Get health care passed.  Clean up the environment, Get all the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan, create millions of jobs, send America over into the financial abyss; finance our asses off.  Who cares?  It can’t possibly be worse than anything that brain trust we call the GOP can come up with.

And just yesterday, the GOP had begun to lay out plans to take back Congress in 2010.  Sorry guys, I don’t think so.

And the cherry on top?  Rush Limbaugh said about Sanford – “he could have been our JFK”.

I can’t even keep up anymore with the train wreck and casualties that make up the GOP.

It’s time to Fade to Black.

Mika Brzezinski enraged at the sight of McDonald’s food


If you caught Morning Joe on MSNBC this morning you would have seen an absolute mad woman bear her fangs and foam at the mouth because there were food items from McDonalds in the studio.  This half-whit, blond ambition whose only job is to read the days top stories in extreme brevity from a teleprompter was literally trying to pull the food out of Joe Scarborough’s mouth as she screeched “DON’T EAT THAT”!!!!   That food is awful. It’s just, it’s just, it has no nutritional value, it’s all carbs and fat, if you squeezed that, the fat would drip out.  That food is the reason there’s an obesity problem in this country”

Well somebody must have squeezed Ms. Brzezinski’s head and all of her brains dripped out.  She sounded like a complete and utter idiot.  She was acting like a spoiled child who was offended by the crusts not being cut off her white bread sandwich as she whined “It’s too hard to eat with the crust on it and there’s not nurtritinal value”

Mika, shut the hell up.  I don’t know what little world you live in but contrary to popular belief, not everyone in America eats McDonalds every day.  But there are those days when only McDonalds will do.  Whether because of time constraints, or the need for comfort food, eating McDonalds is not the end of the world.  If you want to make a statement, keep it to yourself.  If you don’t want to eat fast food, then don’t.  If you don’t want you kids to eat it, then don’t give it to them.  But don’t sit there and attempt to pull food OUT OF SOMEBODY ELSE’S MOUTH simply because you don’t agree with the choices they make.

Should I rip the bottle of hair bleach from your hand because I think the color is too brassy for you?  And all that bleach can’t be good for you.  Should I turn the channel when you are on simply because all you do on Morning Joe is nod your head and give Joe Scarborough puppy dog eyes and offer no real value?  All that ass-kissing can’t be good for your career.

What a world you must live in to feel you can judge people right down to the last molecule of what they put in their mouth, and then time after time when asked your opinion or asked to stand up for your opinion you simply utter “never mind”, and then roll your eyes as if you are superior.  You’re not superior, Mika, if you can’t articulate an opposing viewpoint, or any viewpoint, on current events.  And you can’t make up for that by crawling inside Scarborough’s mouth to remove the offensive calories and then clean his teeth on the way out so there is no residue left for him to enjoy.

How to survive the holidays


I haven’t written anything on this blog in ten days.  I haven’t really been focused on politics, current events, or pop culture.  While I no longer participate in exchanging gifts, I have been concentrating on the holidays.  They are an especially difficult time for me and each year I try to survive them the best I can.  Christmas is a very emotional time for many.  I believe it stems from looking at your Christmas tree late at night with just the tree lights on in a quiet room.  How can you not think about Christmas past.  Yes, there were good times, but bad memories are easier to conjure up in your mind.  There will always be the gift you didn’t get when you were a kid.  The one gift you wanted so desperately.  There will always be memories of what was going on in your life during a particular holiday season.  There will always be people missing from your life that were there during one Christmas, but are no longer. 

I would like to dedicate this posting to my friend Sarah.  In addition to her insight, she has been a kind ear to listen to my pinings.  She is a soft place to land as I feel the harshness of disappointment and lost love.  I must say that this Christmas is better than I remember Christmas being for a long time.  This year I have so much to be thankful for and luckily, didn’t forget it this year.

It wasn’t perfect, and it wasn’t tear free.  But I enjoyed the holidays this year because I felt more like myself, more inner peace, than I have in years.  I have talked with a few people who know me well and I talked to Sarah who doesn’t know me all that well.  Her interest in other people’s stories opened the door for me to tell my story  to her.

To me the Christmas season should be about giving thanks, just as much as Thanksgiving is.  I am hopeful that since sales were down this year, some people have learned that you can celebrate and be happy at Christmas time with less “stuff”.  They may have sweated and toiled over what to buy and how to buy with less money, but in the end maybe they realized that Chirstmas spirit has nothing to do with “stuff”.  It has to do with the people you love, being there for them, and them for you.

So next year, maybe the world will spend even less, regardless of the economic conditions.  You can’t put a price on kindness.  I’d also like to thank my family for welcoming me back into the fold this year.  The last 2 years have been very diffucult times and I wasn’t the same person during that time.  Many didin’t recognize me at all.  But luckily family always foregives, if it works out right, and this year it did.

Thanks again, Sarah, my jewish friend who helped this gentile make it through a difficult time.  My Christmas wish to everyone is that they have someone to share their successes and failures, their pain and joy; a soft place to land, all without judgement from anybody. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Election Season 2008 Update


I can’t believe how long it has been since I blogged anything substantial.  In some ways I have checked out mentally from this election.  I am so tired of Palin and McCain and the ridiculousness of it all.  I’m tired of Bill Ayers, and irate republican rally attendees, and Sarah Palin’s clothing budget, and Joe the plumber.  Stick a fork in me, I’m done.

And I can just sit back now without guilt anyway.  I’ve done all I can.  I’ve written all I can.  I have already voted.  I’m going to spend some time writing my election night blog post ahead of time; one if Obama wins and one if McCain wins, and I’ll just publish one of them that night.   Unless of course there is a tie and a long drawn out process.  Or god forbid we have another Florida 2000; I don’t think I can handle that again.

In my final analysis, as much as I hate to say it as to jinx it, I believe Obama will win by a landslide.  We have not used that word in the country for politics in quite some time.   But an Obama landslide would make me proud.  Proud of us.  Proud of us Americans.  Proud of America.  Even if Obama were to win by the smallest of margins I would feel that pride.  But for whatever reason, I want the BIG win. 

After 18 months of being unemployed, I finally have a job.  I did not think I would survive the ordeal but somehow I hung in there and things worked out OK.  I have a huge financial hole to dig out of but at least now I can start digging.  It is strange now because I am on a full-time work schedule and have far less time to write about current events, politics, and pop culture.  I spend far fewer hours thinking about and watching TV about politics.  I think this is a good thing because it was becoming all-consuming.  I was watching cable TV News all day and night.  And I would get angry and I would write on my blog.  And when I wasn’t doing that I was worrying day and night about how I was going to survive another day.  Survival at its basic elements is an ugly thing.  How will I eat?  How do I get to an interview now that my car has been repossessed?  How can I afford to buy decent clothing to wear to an interview or a job?  How in the world, with my failing health, am I ever going to even hold down a job?  All of this was on my mind 24 hours a day. 

I am feeling better these days.  Tired, but it’s a good tired.  I really like my new job and its only a few miles from home.  In Maine, that’s almost unheard of.  People here commute long distances.  So even if gas were to go to $4.00 or more a gallon again, a tank of gas will last me more than a week.  My life taking a turn for the better has made my health take a turn for the better as well.

Things are looking up.  After 18 months I actually went to Target to splurge on a pair of jeans, some cargo pants, and a few shirts.  I have changed so much since going through a job loss.  I’ve always known what’s really important in life, but living as I did really brought that point home.  Friends and family are really all there is in the end.  And I was blessed in so many ways by people who reached out to help me during my time of need.  You can’t even make some of this stuff up.  People are truly kind deep down.  There’s so much bitterness and hate in the world and that is what is shown on TV every day.  But in reality, the kindness of strangers has at times amazed me.

That’s it for now.  Eleven days left and unless something major happens, I’m going to lay low until election day.  I should write about what a complete idiot Elisabeth Hasselbeck is and how I’d like to smack her, open-handed, right across her mouth and then back it up with a smack upside the back of her head.  But she’s not worth it.  In my opinion, let her leave and go have her own show on Fox Noise.  It’s only a short step from there to obscurity.  Hey, that would be a great name for her show:  “From here to obscurity”, get it!  And I still get the giggles when Hasselbeck shows up in spell check with a suggestion of “horseback”.

Anyway, Ciao folks.  See ya’ soon.

AND DON’T FORGET:  VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE, VOTE., VOTE (not more than once, just go vote).

Racism in the 2008 Election


The latest statistics I’ve heard indicate that 15% of voters admit that race will still play a role in their decision for President.  The statistics don’t say whether or not it will be a positive role or a negative role, just that 15% will take race into consideration.  I was not raised to consider race in anything, so it is something I don’t understand.  I didn’t know what racism was until at least high school and even then I didn’t hang around with a crowd that was racist so it wasn’t something I thought about.

In the early 1970’s I was in grammar school at Verplank Elementary School in Manchester, Connecticut. I learned how to jump rope, Double Dutch style, from my friends Janet Cooper and Audrey Gaines.  I got so good at Double Dutch that I was better than they were.  But they weren’t mad.  The were proud of me.  We were friends.  I knew that they came to school every day on a bus.  I knew that they lived in Hartford and that is where the buses took them home to every night.  But I didn’t know why, or think about why.  I didn’t care why, I didn’t even question why.   I think I just assumed that there weren’t enough schools in Hartford.  It certainly wasn’t something that I thought was out of the ordinary.  In fact, I was jealous that they got to ride the bus (until I got older and actually rode a bus to school every day).  My parents never mentioned anything about busing and it wasn’t talked about in school.  It wasn’t until many, many years later when busing kids from the inner city out to the suburbs became an issue again sometime in the 1990’s that I even realized that my grammar school was part of desegregation.

My 3 older brothers went to a vocational technical school in Manchester as well.   My oldest brother had a best friend named Eric Coke.   They were much older than I was back then.  My oldest brother and I are only 6 years apart but back then it seemed like generations.  Eric lived in Hartford.  Eric would often stay at our house on weeknights when they boys had a night game or something and it was just easier for Eric to stay with us rather than have his parents or mine drive back and forth to Hartford.  He would come to our house for things like Halloween and dress up with all of us.  We used to laugh because back then with the Polaroid instant cameras, the quality was so bad, and Eric had such a dark, very dark, complexion, he would disappear in the picture unless he smiled.  It wasn’t something racist to us, it was just a funny matter of fact.  We laughed, he laughed, we went trick-or-treating, and that was just another normal day at our house.  I was the youngest of 6 and we’re all about a year apart.  So having one more, or two more people around wasn’t unusual.

Many years after my father died in 1984, my mother and I met for lunch somewhere.  We got to talking about the old days.  I was still in my “I’m going to write a novel” phase.  So I started asking a lot of questions about my father, his past, his upbringing, etc.  My mother told me a story about how my Dad helped the one and only black family in our neighborhood get a mortgage.  He spent weeks going from bank to bank with this man until somebody would give him a mortage.   I didn’t know any of this.  And I certainly didn’t know that banks could be so blatantly racist as to not give a black man a mortgage for a house in a white suburb.  Of course it happened right before I was born.  But it wasn’t something my father bragged about and it wasn’t part of our family story.  It was just something my father did because that’s the kind of man my father was.  He didn’t brag about it because he didn’t want to teach his children that people were different and those differences led to people being treated differently.  I think he wanted to shield us from the evils of life as long as he could.

I am somewhat of a loner.  I don’t like people all that much.  I have always hand-picked the people who are an integral part of my life.  There are a lot of reasons to hate people.  They are crazy.  They are selfish. They are self-centered.  They are dumb, racist, bigoted, loud, misinformed, uncaring, childish.  The list goes on an on.  I can’t image that of all the reasons there are to hate people, someone is going to go with color????  I was raised better than that.

I did not have the best of childhoods and I never really identified with my parents.  They never truly understood me and I did not understand them.  I don’t recall them being very affectionate and loving and I don’t recall really loving them all that much.  Of course that has changed and I have re-evaluated many things over the years.  I learned to understand my mother better and I learned that I am so much like my father that it’s scary.  The big difference between me and him is I don’t have a problem telling people how I really feel.  But when I look back and think about all the things my parents did, and didn’t do, I thank them because I was not raised to hate anybody.  I was not raised to hate those who were different; different from me, or different from the norm, or different from what society said they should be.

I know I am probably living in a fantasy world about the subject of racism.  When I first heard Barack Obama give a speech at the 2004 DNC, I was in awe of him.  I thought, “what a great President he would be”.  And I never even gave race a minute of thought.  I just thought to myself, “Finally, someone who is smart and can inspire me and others to be proud Americans”.

So to me, even if one person refused to vote for a man or woman for President simply because of skin color, that’s one too many.