Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Layers

You could add layer after layer, blanket after blanket, 3, 4, 5 toppings for your cocooned self, trying to hide from the world and the cold in bed but painfully aware that lying down too much will eventually make your back weak and sore. You could try to hide not only from the cold that drifts in through poorly sealed windows and doors but also from the thoughts of another year that passed and brought you 365 days closer to some ephemeral post-peak or maybe a not so ephemeral descent into creaky limbs and bones. Maybe you could look back on the good and try to smile but it's so easy to lie still and gloss over that and focus on the negatives while the cold air accosts you, the water on your face from washing that you didn't fully dry, your feet at the edge of the bed that stick out from under several of the layers, lips chapped and skin on your hands parched no matter how much greasy, oily residue you leave on them from some overpriced artificial eucalyptus product. And with the darkness seemingly permanent and a perpetual state from 5pm to 8am the thoughts can be dark too for much longer, no warmth or light to break through the conflagration of regret or missed resolve or what ifs and whatever else your aging self perpetuates that always feels a bit too old to comfortably say out loud no matter how young you really are. And maybe you grab the blankets from the inside so as to not leave your arms open to the elements and try to scrunch and bundle them up closer and a little sigh will escape and you'll realize that you can only hide under the layers for so long, and that eventually, everything has to come out.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

The Family

The Family gathers and smiles and laughs and prays to God and exchanges gifts and food and doesn't just feign interest in each other's existence, it is general interest in well-being, grandmas, aunts, uncles, all wanting to see and share and eat and be merry. It's a cover like many families, like many Americans, like many white people or men, in between the bowls of mashed potatoes one uncle will talk about how 'you can't take the black out of them' as if to say the blackness is a sin itself, its very nature corrupted and criminal. Another will joke about thugs, or chicken and watermelon, and what stings you the most are your cousins and their S/Os, all younger than you, teens and 20s, nodding and laughing along, realizing they were raised that way and they will raise their kids that way and the cycle will continue, another white family feigning ignorance about racism and denying its existence while swapping jokes that violate the very people they say are not in harms way. It's an impenetrable loop and even when you and your one relative who is also aghast speak up, it is 12 against 2, and there is denial, and excuses, and 'life isn't perfect or fair' or 'the world isn't all roses' or 'I didn't even realize/think/know that was bad' and then it's just hopeless, so you excuse yourself from the table and just hope that nobody here will turn down a job application, or defend a state murder, or what have you, but deep down you know they have, and know that they won't change, because they have all been fed this from day 1 to year 60 of their existence, and your anger and frustration just brings out excuses and deflections - 'why didn't you say anything earlier? shame on you' and perhaps there is but I am not the one cracking racist 'jokes' so shame on them but they don't see it that way, because once again the world isn't fair and they aren't actually racist even though we have full control over what is fair and it is racist and we could stomp it all out if we wanted. That's the thing. Deep down the family doesn't want to. Because they are all white, there is not a single person of color here, and it's all they know, and to take that away from them - their racism, their jokes, their stereotypes - is to assault their very identity as Americans, as white Americans, namely, and that's a tear at the very fabric of this country. Because we all know, and they know, that white America feasts on this stuff, not the food and the gifts, and that power and ability is way more sacrosanct than a present or a slice of ham or God itself.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

The Opportunity Lost

In many ways winter is sort of a catch-all. There will be no more walks down Westnedge or around campus alone or with others, taking in the sun and the warmth, both of which left months ago. Confined to indoor spaces, huddled together briefly on a front porch that does little to shield you from the cold wind while your friend smokes, trying to get the layers just right so you're not too warm and awkward in the car but not shivering outside. Unlike the larger carapace of life, though, winter will pass, and outdoor opportunities will present themselves. The metaphor doesn't work. Your existence continued its decay nonchalantly. The seasons just cycle through as if nothing changes.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

A Tree Called Home

The present author would like to offer, if one may, a sort of pithy advice regarding life. That is, one must aspire to never live in a house, apartment, or other residence in which the amount of housework one must continually pursue is infinite, in order to keep the place neat and tidy. This, of course, renders the amount of livable places rather limited. One might suggest to find, say, a big, towering tree to live in, somewhere pleasantly warm, and to reside, not unlike Tarzan, in the shelter of its branches. At that point, when one asks where you reside, you can respond thusly:

"A tree."

To which your curious communicating acquaintance might questioningly suggest:

"You mean a tree house?"

Given, however, your distinct control, still, over your verbal abilities and vernacular constitution, you could simply correct them:

"No, just a tree."

At which point, it becomes easy to weed out the friends you don't want from the ones you do, as those who might condescendingly raise their eyebrows are no friends of any inhabiter of trees, while those who might prescribe a sort of badassery to residing in nature's quintessential air filter are the friends worth keeping.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

False But Earnest

When one says that one might get a cold from being outside in winter without a hat, one does not do so intentionally to deceive or reinforce false data. Their earnestness is merely expressing itself as a false factoid. The harm is not in the actual suggestion, nor the feelings it conveys.

So too is there nothing intentionally harmful about one who attributes the temperature to when leaves change colour and drop (they're driven almost entirely by sunlight, which is why we can predict when they'll peak each year - it's the same time year in and year out with just a small effect driven by precipitation).

These sort of common mistakes - common knowledge passed as accepted wisdom but actually false -- proliferate our daily existence. The present author almost assuredly knows some things that are false. These unknown unknowns, as esteemed international criminal Donald Rumsfeld once explained, haunt us, dangling just out of sight - an ignorance we assume we have but have no way of finding or knowing. A sort of self loss of ego as we stumble around, wondering if the factoid we just explained or correlated was in fact incorrect all along. Even to attempt to research said acceptable data can be a rabbit hole of paranoia and confusion. One merely need look at the entire industry of research and data and ads and guides and self-help of diet and exercise to question what we really know and feel overwhelmed. The fact that we are so often driven by a desire to know what we don't know is one thing, the fact that even once we know something, we might still be wrong, is another thing entirely. As always, the end result is self-doubt.