Archives for posts with tag: don’t be cruel

I woke up angry this morning. I’m feeling pretty raw and bombarded by violent media imagery (recent school shooting, remember?), and omg, yet another round of craptacular memes masquerading as “truth” – that’s propaganda, folks. Memes aren’t cited, they aren’t fact-checked (and how would you know?), they aren’t held to any standard whatsoever of accuracy – do not get your fucking news (or your opinions, holy hell, seriously??) from god damned memes. lol Seriously. Read a fucking book. Read a bunch of books. Listen deeply, instead of waiting for your turn to talk.

Understand that your experience of life is not defining of life itself for all around you; they are also having their own experience.

It was my dreams. The world slid to shit and mayhem on the backs of pro and anti gun memes. lol It’s too much for me and I need a break. It’s literally a “problem” with a known and obvious solution (several of those) that we simply will not put in motion. It’s grim, terrifying, and fairly stupid of us as a society. Yep. Straight up saying it; we’re fucking dumb as dirt on the topic of firearms in America. I don’t need to say more than that; that is my opinion. Americans are not rational about firearms. Go ahead. Prove me wrong by being that rational American. Please. Definitely do that.

…And to the proud rebels out there concerned they may be unable to overthrow the government if they allow the government to take their guns, I have just one more thing to point out; that’s not how it’s done these days. Vote. Just fucking vote – and vote for people who will actually provide the nation with the legitimate necessary legislative support required, instead of a bunch of parasites making themselves wealthy on special interest handouts and stock tips. Maybe elect some folks who are not lawyers. Who are not rich. Who do not have a college education. Who are not white, not male. Not directly financially invested in the outcome of their decision-making. Damn. LOL How hard is that? Elect a government that looks like America – all of America. That’s how “representative” government works. Actually educate yourselves and learn to reason well and clearly, and have actual conversations about what you actually think, without relying on memes, labels, slogans, or name-calling. How many governments have been toppled in the past handful of decades without a citizen militia? More than one. Read a book.

Be kind to each other. It’s such a short mortal lifetime we live. There is no time for hate; it robs of us time we could spend enjoying love.

Begin again. (I sure need to…)

Well… Happy Valentine’s Day, at any rate. Try to avoid getting VD (venereal disease) – it would be sure to detract from any potential holiday joy. 😀

“Lovers” 8″ x 10″ watercolor on paper 1992

I have a lot of thoughts about Valentine’s Day, few of them are G-rated. My personal take on Valentine’s Day, as a holiday, is that it is the one holiday on the calendar specifically devoted to sexual love. Romance. Not “family life”, not little kids giving paper cards, not “hearts and flowers” in any casual sense (“I sent my Mom flowers for Valentine’s Day” is definitely not in the spirit of the holiday as I understand it, myself). Valentine’s Day is a holiday to celebrate sensual pleasure, sexual pleasure, physical connections and bonds, the delights of romance of all sorts, and not some watered-down Hallmark holiday at all.

Is love a journey or a destination? Or… is love a verb?

Having said all that… I’m alone this Valentine’s Day, and lacking co-celebrants of any sort in any near-at-hand physical sense. LOL 😀 Somehow, I manage not to be bitter about Valentine’s Day. Some years I’ve been partnered. Some years I’ve been solo. Some years being partnered hasn’t resulted in sex on Valentine’s Day… which is like the worst way to celebrate this holiday. LOL At least have some smooches and snuggles, y’all. 😀

Be love. It’s a choice. Love is a verb.

Somewhere a long the way, people seem to have gotten the idea that “inclusion” and “inclusivity” means everyone can, and must always have access to be able to, celebrate and/or enjoy everything available to be celebrated and/or enjoyed by anyone at all. I don’t think life really works quite that way. This is a really good example. I see Valentine’s Day as a specifically quite carnal sexual celebration of love… I also don’t have a partner at hand with whom to celebrate this holiday, on this day, in this year. Those are all true things. Does this, then, mean I am entitled to celebrate nonetheless and all such celebrations must now be tailored to enable and accommodate my participation? And what if the pre-requisite for such requires that I be fundamentally other than I am? What must change? Just something I turn over in my head now and then. I’m a huge fan of inclusion – sorting out what precisely that actually means is tougher. I mean, I will nonetheless “celebrate” the holiday – by noting that it exists, and quite probably enjoying a lovely meal later, and maybe a very tasty glass of sherry or port – but it is a pale comparison to my preferred ways of celebrating sexual love. LOL 😀

Love matters most.

Valentine’s Day-wise, Love gets to lead a lot of the conversation. Love has a lot to say. I don’t know what it says about love – or folks who read my blog – but this post on Valentine’s Day, from 2013, is my most popular post ever of always to date. So, this year, remember – even if you can’t “get lucky” this Valentine’s Day, how lucky you are simply to be, and to be you; you matter. Celebrate with the person in the mirror (<groan> lol, sorry, I could not resist, but sure, if you’ve got the time and inclination, do you. LMAO). Enjoy you. Lavish yourself with your own affection this year – why not? You may begin the best relationship of your life, by beginning a better one with the person in the mirror.

My lovely chill Saturday morning was suddenly disrupted by the screaming next door. Not my duplex neighbors, other neighbors. A door slams. Slams. Slams. Slams. Hysterical rage. She’s out on the front stoop screaming to be let in, so clearly the target of the yelling has now locked her out. From her repeated enraged screaming, “if you would just HEAR ME!“, again and again, I’m pretty certain she already felt “locked out” for some time, this morning, if not for far longer.

I can see their front stoop from the window of my studio, where I am sitting. I’ve turned up the music on my headphones to try to drown out her anguished vocalizations, but at this point, I’m at risk of damaging my hearing to turn up the music more. My eyes are helplessly drawn to her misery and anger, and she’s begun throwing her body at the door, again and again, and isn’t making actual words now, just animal sounds, anguished, enraged, frustrated, demanding, pleading. She is lost to “now”, and exists in some moment of complex emotion, trapped in her narrative.

This isn’t where I want to exist this morning. The morning began quite differently. My tears, part sympathy, part PTSD, part lack of executive function, part pure animal stress at being exposed to pure animal stress, spill down as I write. I glance at the phone – should I call 911? Shoulders shaking now with sobs, helplessly overcome by my own memories of terror and rage, I watch her collapse, crying, on the front step of her home… what do I do? I mean, aside from sitting here crying, myself? I can’t bear to be that person who observed and did nothing, even recognizing that I don’t know who the “good guys” or “bad guys” are (it’s “other people’s drama” – in a very real sense, we are all both good guys and bad guys; they are human beings, having their own experience), and I don’t know what’s really going on there, or what the risk is.

…I’m triggered now, but I’m also aware of the other human being, over there, alone in her moment. Shit. I sigh as I rise from my chair, slipping my sandals on to walk next door and offer her a moment of calm, a cup of tea, someone to talk to. Hell, I’m already crying, and I know how terrible such experiences can feel in the moment. May as well… Can I conquer my fear with my compassion? Can I be a friend to someone suffering?

…. … …

It’s some time later. I got to the front walk, and started to walk down the driveway as the first police car pulled up. I find myself wondering who called, and when, although those details don’t matter at all. I go back inside, figuring this is likely a deeply embarassing moment for their household, and not wanting to compound it being an obvious witness. I’m trembling. Crying again. Leaning with my back to the inside of the front door, the unexpected knock startled me. It’s a “cop knock” – they have their own unique way of making a knock on a door sound terrifying (or is it just me?). The officer at the door “just has some questions”. He scanned my face, the tears were obvious. Was I involved, or…? “No, dude, I’m a survivor with PTSD. I’m stressed about that shit going down next door, is all…”

His questions aren’t hard, but I unexpectedly broke down trying to express myself clearly, sinking to my floor helplessly weeping uncontrollably, lost to a moment that doesn’t exist anymore, that can’t hurt me anymore, that isn’t my experience of life anymore… He asks to see my id, and I try to retrieve it from the wee card case in my pocket. Cards spilled everywhere. Credit cards, id, my insurance card, my medical cannabis card, assorted defining cards of an adult human – without any real worth or meaning, just then. I cry harder. He picked up my cards, because I clearly couldn’t. I looked up, feeling embarrassed and childlike. He looked at my id closely. “You’re a veteran?” I just nodded. He sat down with me on the stoop. He sees how my view frames the stoop next door. “Did you see anything?” “Heard her screaming at her door is all” I say, sniffling and wiping my eyes. Practical questions gave me something in the present to hang on to. She is not me. I’m here, now. I’m okay, now. “She was body slamming the door a couple times, then just sat down crying”. I wipe my eyes on my sleeve. “I was going to offer her a cup of tea and help her calm down” I observe, “…you guys got to her first.” My tone sounded vaguely accusatory in my ears, although that’s wasn’t my intention. He sounded sad when he replied “That’s all the questions I had” and “thank you for your service” as he stood and reached out his hand to help me up, before shaking hands with me and leaving.

It’s quiet now. Very quiet. I don’t even know if anyone was arrested, or who, or… I only know it’s quiet now. I’m okay right now. This wasn’t about me, or my life, and now the moment is about letting it go, and taking care of the woman in the mirror. Begin again, I remind myself…

…Please treat the people you say you love as if you do indeed love them. The damage done when you don’t lasts longer than you may understand. There are never enough tears to wash away the stain of cruelty, neglect, or violence.

I lost my taste for gaslighting after I lived with it for years. I gave up on April Fool’s Day entirely as a result. I mean, think about this “celebration” with great care… Is it kind to willfully mislead people about the nature of their reality? Who does that? Even as a prank, it’s a dick move. So… I stopped doing that shit because it isn’t actually funny. Just as with humor based on Schadenfreude; it isn’t funny for the person having the experience. Our amusement over it? If it’s based on cruelty, it’s cruel. Tit for tat? Not funny. It’s a dick move. We’re very fancy primates… which means our animal nature is not above that sort of bullshit, and, sadly, some of us actually go for wallowing in our worst potential.  We are too easily entertained by the human equivalent of throwing poo.

Am I being curmudgeonly? Perhaps. I just don’t care for people treating people poorly, (I definitely don’t want to be the person doing it) and in an era of serious challenges with bullshit and lies being passed off as news and truth, we’re all fighting for our sanity as it is. Don’t be a dick today. Consider that other person and what it means to be treated poorly solely for the amusement of others, and this just because the calendar turned over by one day. April Fools are the people playing the pranks, not the pranks themselves. Can you not pass up the chance to be foolish? Really? Is this the best of who you are?

You do you, though. It’s not my call. I’ll be over here, enjoying a lovely Saturday on the first day of April, staying away from social media, and treating people as well as I am able to do. 🙂 I’m not saying I’m any better than you, or even different – I’m just walking my own path. There are verbs involved, and I live within the confines of my own perspective. I have to face this woman in the mirror, a woman who knows what being gaslighted feels like, who understand how cruel practical jokes are for the person on the receiving end, and for whom frustration is real kryptonite. Gnothi seauton… eventually. 🙂

Is it clear I didn’t start here?  …I did have to begin again. It has been a journey, with missteps, and choices, and things to consider further. I’ve fought and resisted a commonly enjoyed cultural practice. That’s okay. I’ve made progress over time, and that’s enough. I awoke to the understanding that this practice of pranking people is cruel, and my understanding changed my choices and my behavior. That’s sort of how the whole growth thing works, actually, and it’s a very singular personal journey for each of us.  🙂 Today is a good day to grow and to choose. It’s a good day to take another look at the day and ask myself “why this?” and “why today” and “who might this hurt?”. It’s a good day to change the world.

I’m sipping my coffee, starting my day, and skimming headlines. It doesn’t take long; the news is filled with non-news about celebrity politicians and the presidential election draws near. I speed along contentedly and largely without stress by allowing myself a jovial mental reply to the headlines – as though a friend said it to me aloud. I move on from there, generally without reading the articles.  Over weeks they have degraded, lacking anything really new to say, becoming strident on all sides, using ‘shout louder’ hoping to gain readers, views, and clicks; reading the articles is already pointless, reading the comments would be a crime against my own humanity.

Skimming the headlines does get me thinking about language. It functions by agreement; differences in our “dictionary”, and thereby our “map of the world”, result in a lack of shared understanding. It would be nice if that were so obvious that each of us routinely would request clarification in conversation (“Would you define ‘liberal’, ‘conservative’, ‘urgent’, ‘required’, ‘necessary’, ‘obscene’, ‘family values’, ‘right wing’, ‘left wing’, ‘terrorism’, ‘racism’,… You see where that could be cumbersome?), but we don’t ask; we assume we share an understanding of common terms. We are routinely deceived or bamboozled when (and because) that is not actually the case. I will walk away from conversation with someone who says “that’s just semantics” when talking about the meanings of the words they choose to use in reply to a request for clarification. It was just such a moment that firmly made up my mind to leave my last job; I can’t work comfortably with someone who expresses the belief that the definitions of the words he uses are not relevant to communication. That’s just… yeah. “Meaning” is sort of the fucking point of communicating… for some of us. For others… well… words can be a shortcut to forcing their will on others, and for those folks, perhaps the actual meaning is less important than the outcome.

Meaning still matters – that it matters is independent of what we choose to do about that. Sort of like reality itself – which gives not one tinkers damn what our opinions are, or what we ‘believe’.

Take a minute and have some fun. How many terms in the prior paragraphs are too loosely defined to be sure that you and I are “on the same page”? 😉

A flock of geese walking by; how do they communication so well?

A flock of geese walking by; how do they communication so well?

I sip my coffee, now-cold in the chill morning air, and watch an enormous flock of Canada geese slow march across the lawn beyond the window. It’s been some weeks since I’ve seen so many, it tells me fall is approaching to see so many.  Is that ‘true’? Does it matter? Well… if I were a feral human in my natural environment potentially relying on a tasty goose to eat now and then, it very well might matter that I understand very well, and quite accurately, their comings and goings. As a suburbanite on the edge of a manicured and maintained not-at-all-wilderness, with a well-stocked pantry, running water, heat, indoor plumbing, and a bit of time on my hands, it’s comfortable to accept their comings and goings as part of the scenery, content with the notion that they are a harbinger of the season changing… maybe they are. My required level of accuracy seems conditional.

I continue to sip my cold coffee – it’s very tasty in spite of having gone cold – and mull things over. There is value in simple language. I like being well-understood. What has value but doesn’t come naturally is worth practicing.

Today is a good day to compare the map to the world; it is of greatest value when the map accurately reflects the world. Scale matters. Perspective, too. Today is a good day to change the map.  🙂