Clowning The Clown

The other night at our school’s fall jamboree I was a douche–and I’d do it again.

One of the things that truly scares my 6-year-old, Fiona are masks. If she can’t see someone’s face it scares her. She becomes visibly uneasy and frightened. Halloween always makes this fear of hers much, much worse. Halloween was a holiday I used to love but it has become increasingly scarier over the past years and it is now something I dread.

The other night at our school’s fall fundraiser she stopped in her tracks and clung to me when a parent dressed as a scary murderous clown walked past us pausing for a moment to look straight at us in an intimidating manner. Fiona’s little body shook next to me. Without thinking my brain switched modes as it does and I became what I can only describe as a douche.

Look at that jerk I said with a laugh–loud enough for everyone to hear. The clown turned and looked at us. “What a dork,” I said with a laugh. Fiona looked at me and then at the clown; she could see I had no fear of this murderous looking clown. I couldn’t humanize this dumb parent because of his thick rubber mask so I did the next best thing–I clowned him. I quashed him. I scoffed. I minimized him as a threat. My daughter loosened her grip and her tiny body stopped shaking. 

The rest of the night I entertained my daughters by creeping up behind the scary clown and tapping him on the shoulder and then circling around him as he twisted and tripped over his own feet trying to see who was messing with him. I admit I took a little too much joy in this. I probably should have stopped after calling him a dork… but every time I saw this parent I became irritated again.

Did this thoughtless parent deserve my ire? Yes, he absolutely deserved it. Was it my job to hand out a humiliating punishment? No, not really. I admit that it was childish. It was unkind, mean-spirited a bad example and kind of douchey. And I’d do it again. 

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I Am Tired 

This post was written sometime after 2 am. It is mostly unedited. 

In the late hours when the world has gone quiet, you walk to the window for the 100th time. You are tired–irritable. A car alarm has gone off blocks away; enough to keep you from returning to bed. You stare into the dark street. Do I stretch again? Do I get back in bed? Should I turn on the t.v? 

I’ve honestly lost count of how many different sleeping pills I’ve been prescribed. Five maybe? Six? Most leave me incapacitated the next day. Not a single one has left me feeling rested.There wasn’t a single one that didn’t leave me feeling ineffectual the next day. 

I do yoga early in the evening, then again in the early morning hours. Sometimes it helps me to relax, sometimes it doesn’t. My legs are restless. My heart pounds when they begin to jump. Sometimes I calmly stretch, other times I feel like screaming into the void.

People who don’t understand sleeplessness often ask if I get a lot done with all my extra awake hours. No, I get nothing done. I’m exhausted all the time. The word insomnia implies to some that I’m wide awake at night, lucid even. No, I am restless. I am not fully awake and I am not asleep. It’s a paradox. You want to turn on the television, but then you’re giving in to the enemy. So you leave it off. You practice your breathing until 3am. Then you pound the mattress in frustration. 

The hours after midnight are the worst. Your brain won’t settle and you become irritable because You know you should be sleeping. You’re tired but your brain will not shut down. Now you look at your phone. If you fall asleep right now you will get 4-hours of sleep. Three hours of sleep. Two… 

The hours between midnight and when you finally fall asleep are also the loneliest. There is no one moving. There is no one to talk to. You begin to make enemies of noises as you try to meditate. When you are sleepless, every sound is an enemy. Sirens in the distance. A barking dog. Even the wind will take your peace and force you to face more demons. It all threatens your sleep and your sanity. 

The worries start to flood in. Money… job… your children’s future. Things you can’t possibly fix or even understand at 2am. Memories flood your brain like pure epinephrine. Your heart feels like it will pound out of your chest as you relive your worst memories. Mine are mostly memories of slights and things left unsaid; regrets and untreated wounds. It’s cruel that this is what your subconscious craves in the early hours when the world is asleep. 

Sometimes you unravel. Too many hours awake will tear you down. “What is wrong with you?!” You scream in your head. “Sleep! Why the fuck won’t you sleep! Just sleep!” 

I used to get a lot of advice. Everyone had something to add. Turn off all electronics, do breathing exercises, listen to relaxing music, drink warm milk, eat carbs before bed, eat protein before bed, don’t eat at least 5 hours before bed. I took their advice, I’m not too proud to shrug off advice. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t. 

I believe, after many years of insomnia, that it all comes down to being able to let go. Let go of everything. Let go of your mistakes. Forgive yourself for harsh words. Forgive those who have trespassed against you. Lay it all to rest. A clear mind, a clear conscience–that is where sleep lives. Ambien may take you there but it won’t be pure. You won’t wake rested.

Some nights when you are able to shut it all down, you close your eyes and you embrace the sleeplessness. You make peace with your yourself, you put all the demons that have plagued you to rest… and after you’ve paid your dues, that’s when it happens. Slumber–a warm sweetness that cannot be fully described. 

Who Taught You

I remembered the words because they fascinated me. I had been standing behind two gentleman in line at Holiday Market when I overheard a conversation regarding the bombing campaign we were currently engaged in. It was 1986 and I was a Freshman in highschool when U.S. forces bombed Libya in response to Muammar Qaddafi’s ties to a terrorist bombing in a West Berlin disco. One American serviceman was killed and several other American servicemen were wounded in the attack.

“Forget the bombs and shit,” the man said to his friend. “Let’s drop a Nuke on that motherfucker and turn the desert to glass.” I had no idea what that meant. Turning the desert to glass was a punishment? I asked my father about it later that day. When I repeated the words my father went silent. I searched his face for an answer but he remained expressionless. When I asked him again what it meant he replied, “The theory…” He paused for a moment then continued in an exhausted hollow voice,”Is that if you dropped a nuclear bomb in the desert the intense heat would melt the sand and turn it to glass.” “Oh”, I said. I felt like I had just said something evil. Like I had repeated some filthy schoolyard lymerick to my Grandmother.

“A nuclear strike would kill millions of innocent people,” he continued. “Oh,” I said again. I remember wanting the lecture to be over but it went on for what felt like hours. When it was finally over my dad put one of his giant catcher’s-mitt sized hands on my shoulder. The weight of his massive leathery hand on my shoulder assured me that there was no shame in my question, it was as if he had been waiting for it, waiting to tell me something. My father I would find out many years after his passing, experienced napalm being dropped as a defoliant when he served in Vietnam in 1967. That’s all I have to speak to and have no specifics. I can only assume that after having experienced that he could not tolerate indiscriminate killing. It’s all I really have to go on anyway. And that feeling about my father and what motivated his compassion in all things is what strengthens my moral compass today.
I can remember a few of the words my Dad lectured me with, “So many lives have been lost just because they were in the wrong place. Someday, it could be us in the wrong place. That is why we feel for others.” A tornado doesn’t care how many homes it destroys or how many lives it takes. It cuts a swath of destruction, tearing the hearts out of innocent lives. It may seem like a living breathing entity but it has no soul, it is not a sentient being. But we as humans do, or at least we should. We should also recognize that we have the power to not destroy countless innocent lives, just as we have the power to take them.

We are human, capable of more affected emotions. Why is it we can cry when something affects us personally but not when we see an image of a recently orphaned boy in Aleppo? is that not the meaning of empathy? Right now in Syria, innocent lives face conditions so cruel you’d have to cover your ears should they tell you their story. But we’d turn them to glass. Melt their bodies, hopes and prayers. Nothing left but glass glinting in the desert sun.

Don’t misconstrue my empathy for weakness. I was one of the guys who signed up after the September 11th attacks. What I’m talking about is collateral damage. I’m talking about innocent lives. Yes there are times when we must retaliate. There are times when we must saber rattle and show the might of our resolve and the power of our military. But this perverse idea that everyone remotely associated with a religion we believe is at war with the United States should just–die. I cannot and will not entertain such a cruel and thoughtless paradigm. Oh you don’t want them to die… no. You just don’t want them here… And that in many cases is a death sentence.

People, it seems, can be divided into two groups. Those who can place themselves in another person’s situation and those who cannot. Yes that is a sweeping generalization and yes I’ve known plenty of people who can empathize with one person’s plight but not another’s; so maybe that makes my point invalid. Or maybe it strengthens it. What makes you feel bad for a friend who has had their home destroyed in a flood and a soul who lost their life trying to escape a war they didn’t create? I’ll tell you, it’s the ability to empathize. The ability to see beyond your own backyard, community and country. That is what true empathy is.

It must sound odd that I base all my values and morals on a man that passed away almost two decades ago. But I have to ask, where do your morals come from? Who taught you right from wrong? Who taught you that we should do everything we can to end human suffering? Who taught you compassion? My father taught me those things, and I plan on carrying them with me, always.

Fascism and High Waisted Jeans

My Dad used to say that everything is cyclical. Ideologies, tension in the Middle East, Swatch watches, speidel bracelets, even high waisted jeans have made a comeback. Yes, everything comes back around, and thank White Jesus it does because some of my favorite things had lost their luster over the years. Try as they might though, no one can keep wealth inequality, nationalism, populism, autocracy and kleptocracy down. Here my friends, is my favorite recrudescence.

Fascism: Fascism may have fallen by the roadside for a bit but now it’s back and populist as ever! So get out there and tell people what to do with their lives! Tell them what religion they should and shouldn’t be, who they can love, and do it with confidence. Don’t be shy! Hey, you don’t like someone’s sexual identity? Tell’em with signs, tell’em with angry hurtful words, change the laws designed to protect their equal rights… just get out there and make some decisions about what’s right for other people. While you’re at it, tell women what to do with their bodies! It’s fun and you can slut shame them while you’re at it! Just don’t let them get an abortion; because fascism is cool, abortion isn’t and you have just as much of a right to that woman’s reproductive system as she does. 

Making the rich richer: I’m so glad this one is back. All those taxes that the wealthy had to pay are finally being rolled back. I had a hard time sleeping at night knowing the ACA was being funded and rich people were paying their fair share. Hey, I may be struggling financially, but I stay warm at night with the knowledge that some folks get to shit on a gold plated toilet.

Polluting: Thank the lord and pass the fracking wastewater! This one made me happy as a clam after a gulf coast oil spill. I’m just so glad pollution is back. We’ve got the EPA on the ropes y’all and we’re shredding bills designed to protect natural monuments and sacred Native American lands faster than you can sing This Land is Our Land. At this very moment there’s enough poison in our groundwater, aqueducts and rivers to give Chemical Ali a hard on. Also, thanks to new rollbacks you can now legally shoot a family of sleeping bears! Yes! Bears! In hibernation! You can shoot the fuck out of them! Why? I dunno. There’s literally no reason to shred a law meant to protect bears in hibernation but who cares! There was no reason to pull out of the Paris Climate Agreement either–but hey, here we are. So pass the coal and shoot some bear cubs! It’s all good!

Yep, it’s all cyclical. It all comes back around. I’m really excited for fascism but please, you guys, let me know when those low-rise jeans with visible thong panties come back into vogue. I’ll be over here celebrating the deregulation of banks and waiting for the next bubble to burst.

I’ve been up for hours, dissecting your words. Running them over in my head. You stripped me of my dignity and you didn’t lose a moments sleep. You cut me to my core and you didn’t lose a moments sleep.

I listened for 6 hours yesterday. I listened to you tell me the entire story of your extensive car collection. Not that you’d remember but you’ve already told me the story. But I listened anyway. I nodded along as you delighted in your cleverness.

I listened for hours as you tarried on. I feigned interest as you talked for hours about every detail. I pretended to be shocked when you told me how much your collection is worth. I tried several times to add to your conversation but you didn’t hear me. You certainly didn’t notice the look on my face when you cut me off mid-sentence.

You asked me what I was doing these days and asked was I still a house husband. I began to tell you about my writing. But you cut me off before I had a chance to tell you. Then you talked for an hour about your local high school and how superior it is. I listened and nodded along. I was your captive audience.

Then, very strangely and quite savagely, you attacked me. Is attacked too harsh a word? No, because it was the only time you asked me a question and waited for my response so you would have ammunition for your argument. I personally would be ashamed to attack someone the way you did. My daughters sitting a few feet away. My wife standing next to me. But you stayed your course. You made sure you got your point across. You made sure you said your peace. And you didn’t lose a moments sleep over it.

This wouldn’t be the first time you stripped me of my dignity and left me feeling ashamed. I was only a freshman in high school the first time you did it, but you wouldn’t remember that. In my memories I have several occasions where I felt small, inconsequential–decimated by your words. But you haven’t you lost a moments sleep over them. You’ve said hurtful things about my mom, my sister and my brother. Everyone that means something to me. But I doubt you noticed. I doubt you lost a moments sleep over them.

You didn’t ask me, or thank me for what I did for your daughter last summer. Five times I went to her aid. The details of that didn’t get discussed. But we discussed your mustangs and corvettes. You didn’t thank me for helping your daughter, instead you were critical of my sister’s religion. Don’t worry though–you aren’t alone in that. Everyone feels like it’s okay to tear down her religion in front of me.

But after 45-years I realize it’s not your fault, it’s mine. I’ve given you too much power. I’ve given your loud voice and boastfulness too much power. I’ve given your un-researched and unsubstantiated opinions too much power. You hold nothing over me but I treat you as though you did. 
Next time you have family over you can tell your story again, this time though you can tear me down. I’ll be your punchline. I can be fodder for your family gatherings. You can discuss how ridiculous I am. You can sit amongst your riches and talk about your nephew Michael. Another ridiculous character in your story.

This is all coming as a shock to you. You have no idea why I’m overreacting to your words. You believe I’m being too sensitive. That’s because you don’t understand the weight of your words. You don’t understand the power of your words; but you threw them out there as if they were gospel.

I’ve never intentionally cut anyone out of my life before. It always felt unnecessary. Now it feels necessary. You no longer have a part in my story and the saddest part about that is that you won’t lose a moments sleep over it.

The Captain Was Here

I stood for a moment under the naked branches of the Silver Maple, the last beams of moonlight creating hard, cold edges.

In those early morning hours as the cold settled on the earth turning the fresh snow to crystalline, I realized the captain was not coming. I don’t know why I expected him to step out of the backdoor, coffee cup in hand, much too cheerful for such a cold morning. I couldn’t really imagine anything else I suppose. I turned on my heel and set to work starting our 1947 Fordson Major diesel.

I set the choke and pumped the compression handle on the aged tractor just as I had been taught. I still felt that pang of anxiety as the fan blade began to spin just an inch from my knuckles. I dodged the spinning blades just as I had 100 times before. The tractor came to life but only just. It sounded tired. Like a life of toil and burden had finally taken its toll. My father would be able to instantly diagnose the problem. Clogged injector. Loose valves…

As the Fordson warmed, the familiar din of the diesel offered some solace. I set to work dragging the hoses out to the water troughs. The ice on the troughs was too thick to break with my hands so I retrieved the wooden pole affectionately referred to as the ice buster. It had many uses but the most important was keeping the herferder bull at bay when he got too nosy. I bashed at the ice which alerted the livestock that morning had officially begun. I pulled out the larger pieces of ice with my bare hands and refilled the trough. The first of the cattle walked lazily towards the water troughs, their heads held low; steamy breath hanging in front of them.

As the herd moved toward water I stacked bails of hay on the trailer. The bailing wire felt like razor blades on my gloveless hands. We still used a steel wire bailer which has been abandoned by most ranchers in lieu of the lighter faster nylon bailers. My father refused to purchase a new one as our McCullough 100 was still performing to his standards. It had been bailing since just after the Second World War and continued to work with routine maintenance. Most of the paint had given way to rust and probably appeared to be just another derelict piece of machinery to most.

As the tractor continued to warm I turned off the water and began to walk the hoses down. There were many times when I had neglected to walk the hoses down resulting in useless frozen hoses. This of course meant water could not be delivered to the animals. This was a huge offense and I made it often when I was young and had better things to do.

I climbed into the cold steel seat of the Fordson and pushed it into low gear. It had been years since I had felt the diesel’s power underneath me. I pulled the hay trailer out through the barn and into the pasture where I was instantly mobbed by hungry cattle. They showed no emotion. No sadness. Only hunger.

I unloaded the alfalfa bales, carefully retrieving all the bailing wire. Green foam had already begun to form around the mouths of the feeding cows as I stared south west past bald mountain to the jagged face of Thompson Peak. I watched for a moment as last years alfalfa crop nourished them.

I put the Fordson into gear again and lurched forward. I pulled into the barn and let the diesel idle. I inspected my hands. My calluses had long since disappeared and my skin was now chafed and painful.

When I went inside the house it was cold enough to see my breath. There was only a small amount of wood split and stacked by the door so I went out to the wood shed to spilt some small pieces. Mine were the second set of footprints in the hard snow leading out to the woodshed.

The wood was seasoned lodge pole pine. It split easily. Each piece sounded like a blowing pin as they clacked against each other in my pile. I hauled in an armload of and started a fire in both wood-stoves and the fireplace. As the house began to warm I could feel the radiant heat mixing with the cold stillness that had permeated the air.

I went back to the woodshed for some larger pieces and spotted our steel splitting wedge in the snow. I picked it up as it would have bothered him to leave tools on the ground. As I turned it over in my hands the cold steel burned me. I grasped the wedge tightly and began to carve and gouge heavily into the old woodshed.

When I stepped back to read what I had written I felt like weeping. I looked to the east blinded momentarily by the dawn light easing over the mountains. I looked back to what I had carved and with my fingers felt each letter–The Captain Was Here. 

Man Enough to Cry

It wasn’t a purposeful thing to never show emotions, it was thrust upon me by generations of real men. From birth, I was taught to not show emotion. All men are. We’re taught that masculinity means “manning-up” and, “not being a little bitch.” Movies teach us this. Books and music teach us this. Our peers teach us this. We’re taught from the time we can walk that showing vulnerability is a sign of weakness. We’re taught that real men are not supposed to be fragile, and real men are not supposed to cry.

The culture of hyperbolic masculinity shut me down. For over a decade of my young life I could not show what I felt in my heart. But here’s what I want to tell you–all that masculinity isn’t part of us. It’s not innate. It is taught to us by men who cannot or will not show emotion. We are bombarded by the term that shuts down any conversation–Real men. A real man does this, not that. A real man wouldn’t be seen wearing that… It took me a long time to recognize this is the rhetoric of frightened men.

Toughness and strength is born of circumstances, actions, fortitude, grit and mettle. Toughness and real masculinity is not the fabricated machismo we are taught. I know this because of one man who wasn’t taught to be ashamed. Stanley Bill is the toughest man I ever met, and he knew nothing of fake masculinity.

Stanley Bill owned the Bill Brothers Ranch, a beautiful piece of land on the north end of the Honey Lake Valley. It was some of the most fertile land in the valley and as luck would have it, it was located just across the road from our little ranch. Over the years Stanley had become close to our family and as all of us kids grew up and moved on, he and my father forged an unlikely yet unbreakable friendship. My father had become the son Stanley never had and none of us saw it till the morning of my father’s death.

I had just driven the hour and a half drive out to our ranch and noticed Stanley Bill’s truck in our driveway. The news of my father’s passing had already traveled through the valley and Stanley Bill had come to pay his respects.

Stanley stood in our living room in those early morning hours. He said few words as his wife, Una, usually did most of the talking. At 6’6″ and shoulders almost as wide, Stanley Bill was an imposing figure. He was the last person I ever expected to see openly weep for the loss of my father. He struggled to speak as he wept into a small wadded up handkerchief. Though it would be days before I could shed any tears of my own, Stanley’s tears gave me comfort.

For a brief moment I thought, is he joking? No, Stanley Bill was not capable of that type of guile. No, the tears were real. My father had meant something to Stanley and his heart was broken over the loss. He had taken my father under his wing when we first bought our ranch. Stanley took an instant liking to my dad and showed him the ins and outs of ranching. Not just how to turn a crop of alfalfa over, or move a head of cattle; Stanley taught him the etiquette and propriety of ranching the generational lands of his father and his father’s father. He made sure my dad didn’t make the kind of mistakes that might show him in a bad light or worse, earn him the moniker, “greenhorn.”

The Bill Brothers ranch was well known in our valley and surrounding counties. Each morning Stanley and his brother Howard would famously tack up a team of Belgian work horses for disking, cutting or bucking hay. They worked their land with massive equine creatures that could tear through earth faster and with more finesse than a diesel tractor. You could hear the toil and peals of metal and beast as they neared the fence line. It was a magnificent sight to see Stanley Bill driving these massive animals, each one sensitive to any movement of the reigns or his shouts of Gee and Haw.

Each horse was meticulously cared for. Their manes carefully and intricately braided. Their tack polished to a new cars sheen. I remember thinking, this is the kind of man whom Steinbeck, Hemingway and Conrad had in mind when they wrote their heroic protagonists. Stanley Bill was the strong, silent, archetype–cogent yet humble in his words and his actions.

In my 28-years I had never seen a man cry before. Especially not a grizzled, tough-as-nails rancher who had fought at Omaha Beach and lost a brother in the Norman hedgerows. The man who was openly weeping on front of me along with two of his brothers rode down off the Madeline Plains on horseback to sign up for Second World War. These were the men who’s contributions saved the world. Stanley Bill stood in the our living room in those early morning hours, his chores unattended as he weot into his handkerchief. Crying for my father. Crying for a man he considered a son. 

I believe Stanley Bill had never heard all the macho axioms that men are bombarded with from a young age. He didn’t know about all the cliches designed to mock a man who dare show his emotions. This was an important lesson in humanity and I paid close attention. It was a lesson that has served me and will continue to serve me for the rest of my days.

I owe a debt of gratitude to Stanley Bill. He left no question in my mind as to what constitutes a real man. Crying for the loss of a loved one is something that only the most ardent of us can do. It is strength, not weakness that allows a man to cry.

A few days after my father’s passing I was finally able to release everything. I sat down on a lodgpole pine round in the woodpile where I had been splitting wood and allowed everything to hit me all at once. I cried for the loss of my father–and a few years later as I read Stanley Bill’s obituary, I cried for him too. 

The Coolness of Cool 

When I was in the 7th grade I coined the phrase “Geekaroni” which actually stuck. People used it for the better part of the year when referring to anything that wasn’t cool. “Ugh, that teacher is soooo geekaroni.” That was probably the coolest I have ever been.

When I was a kid, being cool was easily definable. The only requirement was being well liked. The dynamics of being cool changed slightly in middle school with the introduction of “cool” clothing. Being stylish became a large part of the cool requirement. In high school the Darwinian alpha male thing really took its foothold. The strongest, best looking and most charming were the coolest. Everyone else was second tier, 3rd string or some form of geekaroni (C’mon, let’s get geekaroni trending again).

Later on in my twenties being cool meant something else entirely. There was a major shift in the cool paradigm. Being cool meant detached, aloof, maybe even dangerous. Experts refer to it as ironic detachment and it’s cool as fuck. Therein lies my problem–I give too many fucks. I care about everything way too much. 

Another point in my life that I may have been cool was some time in the grungy 90’s. I was a young twenty something working in an artsy coffee joint. I had grown my hair out long and pierced my ears and nose. Again I’m not sure if I was cool because I have always lacked the aloofness cool people possess. I certainly looked the part. But simply looking the part is not enough. No it always comes down to attitude. The Fonz had it. Elvis had it. Han Solo had it. Even my own dad had it. That laid back, insouciant, devil may care disposition. Yeah, that’s it. These guys were the epitome of cool and it was all about the attitude. Here’s an example: 

The other day I went into my favorite cool people coffee shop–and was greeted by the 20-something barista-bro with gauged ears and full tattoo sleeves. I use the term greeted loosely.

Barista Bro: Hey brother, what’s good?

Me: Oh hey, Brother. I mean, um, Bro. (In my head: What the hell does ‘What’s good’ mean?)

Barista Bro: *Blank stare

Me: I’m pretty good bro, how are you? 
Barista Bro: I’m swass, brother. 

Me: (What the fuck does swass mean?) Yeah, absolutely. Me too. I’m just Swass and stuff, (In my head: nailed it). 

Bro: *Blank stare.

Me: (Shit! You fucked up! Say something cool!) Uhhhhh… the ummm.
Barista Bro: *Blank stare 

Me: You know, I’m just out doin the daily swassification. You know how it is. 

Bro: *Blank stare 

Me: *Blank stare 

Bro: You get the Ethiopian pour over right?

Me: Yep. 

I’m not sure why getting cool approval from a twenty something is important. That guy wasn’t my peer. His entire life revolves around being unaffected by his surroundings. But I think maybe there’s something in everyone that makes us want to be cool and makes us seek approval from verified cool people.

Something I am sure of is that not only am I uncool, I am a full-fledged card carrying, dad-doofus. My singing is shushed by my children. My cowlick is smoothed down by judgmental little hands in the morning. I’m asked repeatedly not to speak in a Irish accent to the crossing guards. My life is uncool. I spend my days yelling at cars to slow down in the school zone. I get giddy when the NPR Christmas catalog shows up. I enjoy deconstructing and improving Daniel Tiger plots. I’m un-fucking-cool. 

Let me ask you, what’s your definition of cool? I mean… the idea of what’s cool is pretty much all over the board these days. Everyone’s idea of cool is slightly different. Apparently being a nerd is cool now? What kind of paradoxical bullshit is that? All the old standbys seem to be timelessly cool e.g. Tattoos, sense of humor, no fucks given attitude. But now there’s a whole slew of new cool axioms. Did you know that neck tattoos are cool now? Inking your neck was something you only did if your daily commute was to and from the yard in an orange jumpsuit. Now it’s the ultimate symbol of not giving a fuck. It shouts “Fuck you, this is my art and this is my body, you can look away if it bothers you.” And yeah I’ll admit–that manner of thinking is cool as fuck.

Why should it even matter if I’m cool? Who cares? Besides me. And my children. And probably my wife. Unfortunately for them I will probably never be cool again. Unless being attached, concerned and stricken with cowlicks somehow becomes cool.

So this is it–my declaration to the world–I am uncool. I will never know what cool feels like again. At this point in my life I will never know what the latest cool lingo is, (young people just make words up anyway. Swass, what kind of crap is that) I will never drive a cool car or listen to cool music. I am uncool. And strangely… I think that knowing I’m not cool somehow makes me cool. Right? Just a little? I know, I know. *Sighs deeply. I’m total Geekaroni.

Donald Goes to Heaven 

Donald Trump dies and stands before our Heavenly Father in judgement.

God: Donald, I must ask you, what did you do with your time on Earth, did you feed the poor? Did you heal the sick? Were you humble? Did you ask the important questions in life? Were you merciful and forgiving of your enemies? Did you show the world compassion?

*God shuffles through some papers

God: Ohhhhh. Wow. Donald it says here you owned a gold toilet? Is that right? And did you say this?

Suddenly an image appears on a passing cloud–it’s of Donald bragging to Billy Bush.

God: Okay I’m just gonna shut that off. Donald… I think I’ve seen enough. You’re not quite what we’re looking for so we’re gonna send you back for a little retooling. How’d you like to be a cockroach? Yeah I think that works. Peter can you make sure Donald gets back to Earth safely? Oh and he’s going back as a Cockroach. Okay, bye bye now.

God: (Exclaims loudly) Jesus, where do they get these guys?!

Jesus: I don’t know! That guy was really screwed up! And is it just me or was he orange? Like really, really orange.

“Tell them to use their money to do good. They should be rich in good works and should give generously to those in need, always being ready to share with others whatever God has given them”
1 Timothy 6:18

The world is a low level of gray. Dark; like those days when you were a child walking home from school. Those days when the clouds were black and your pace quickened as the heaviness of a storm felt too close. Do you remember the feeling? Like you were too small for the world. Too small to be under the sky. 

The rain is sweeping across your windshield obscuring your view now. The wipers won’t move fast enough. You turn the music down even though you can’t hear it over the din of the rain and wet wheels on the concrete. You need to feel connected to the road. Your senses are heightened. Your knuckles have lost all color as a semi truck passes you throwing even more water in your way. 

You approach the underpass; as you enter your wipers finally catch up with the rain. Then for a moment the world goes quiet. The sodium lights cast a comforting glow in the dark gray of the storm. For a brief moment you feel peace. The world is crashing down around you. But inside the tunnel, the strength of the walls and ceiling shelter you. You breathe deeply in the quiet before going back into the storm.