us vs. them

509516I’ve been spending way too much time reading social media this week, maybe because I’ve been sick, or maybe I’m a slave to the bug that makes so many people feel tied to their electronic devices (this makes sense given my “former” gaming addiction). Either way, instead of just reading an article or blog, I’ve felt some disturbing need to read the comments sections. I mean, where else can you find out that our “president hates our country and wants to give it to his Muslim brethren” or “all liberals are retarded” or “all conservatives are bullies?” Believe me, I had to censor this, some of it just hurts my eyes.

What stuns me the most is that people don’t seem to actually read the stuff they’re commenting on anymore. Or, they’re reading it with such a cynical eye that nothing else gets through. Of course we shouldn’t believe everything we read, but it sure seems like the sides have already been picked, and the rest is just the taunting, thrown back and forth between sides like those jellyfish I remember from that really nasty jellyfishy beach I spent one weird day at when I was a kid… (well, surely you can imagine people throwing jellyfish at one another on a beach, can’t you? ::shudder::).

Still, the geek in me (stand back, I’m about to do science!) knows that before there can be reaction, there has to be action. Someone is pulling the strings in your life, and if it’s not you… well, you know, it’s not you. It seems like only a few people see themselves as actually capable of taking action on their own. And the rest? Well, I love the term “tool” as an insult, but it seems like most people I see commenting on these articles and blogs are the other kind of tool, just throw a switch and they’ll go to work like nanobots following a program laid out for them by… well who knows who wrote what? And well, whoever it is making people react these ways, I’d like to learn their secrets, because if I can’t make the world a better place, then I could at the very least use some adorable minions.


Being soft.

“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
~ Kurt Vonnegut

I think Vonnegut is badass. He’s always had this tough guy ‘tude, and writes fearlessly. His stories stay with me, most for decades. And then there’s this quote, which feels like the boiled-down-to-purity essence of the struggles I’ve had everywhere lately. I’ve been growing bitter, something far from my true nature. I’ve let the bastards get me down, again, only this time it’s been more than just a peaceful dark withdrawal into self defeat. I’ve hated other people this time, sometimes just for taking up space, or more often for spewing hate themselves.

But I want this beauty, and the softness that is the hardest damn thing sometimes. It used to define me, it’s been used against me, but it’s who I need to be, somehow, again. I think this may be the real challenge of my lifetime, my measure of success. If Anne Frank could still believe in the basic goodness of human beings after being hunted and hated by so many, who the hell am I to write people off?

Still, my inner cynic is swearing about asshats right now, and she has a point too. Some people suck. Some people delight in creating chaos all around them. Some are just lost in ugliness.

But I don’t want to be one of those. I want to be part of that thing that Anne Frank saw in us, that Vonnegut sees in the beauty of the world. I want to follow my own advice, given often, to step outside and feel the air on my skin and feel the wonder of the world and of life and of creation, however it got created, because please, that’s not the point for me. The point is, just breathe, and be soft.


I’m taking the site, Stephen, and I’m sorry…

I know when we bought the site, it was for the novel, and I know that even though it was my title, you had some kind of stake in it too. The novel may get finished someday. I promise to involve you, somehow, if I ever really get it going again. And you’re a co-author, regardless. I actually had some ideas for it not long ago. Good ideas. But these days, like older days, it’s just best to write alone. I don’t think the novel killed my marriage. I don’t think our friendship did either, in spite of the stories I kept hearing then, and second-hand for years later, probably even still. But when the marriage collapsed under its own weight, it smothered the novel too, as you know. The few times I’ve stopped by to visit, I’ve just stared, feeling so sad to see it languishing there, then breathed a few very shaky breaths into it, and closed the door again, turning back around to face the life I live now, and love.

I feel like a liar sometimes when I tell people I’m a writer. I mean, I have the poems, and chapters of new things that have some promise. But it’s hard now to remember the time when I would write for hours a day, and work with you on the nuances of it all. I know I was happy, and I know the writing was good. Yeah, there’s a lot that still needs changing if it ever goes forward, but there’s some great stuff in there too. I feel more like I should say I was a writer, once. But it’s easier to just say I’m a writer, present-tense, because even with that little bit of information given forth, the questions come at me like accusations. Are you published? You mean, like, fiction writing? Have you written a book? Plus, I’m not ready to give up just yet. I hope I never am.

Anyway, this isn’t about the novel. I mean, the site, this site, isn’t about the novel. Somehow this note became all about the damn novel, didn’t it? Well I’m taking the site, and I’m going to write things down, and I have no idea what I’m doing, but so far my life seems to work better that way. The other half of me that analyzes things to death needs to accept that this may be one place where I can let my spirit take me, up, down, and sideways. Or, it’s just one more thing I started that I won’t take care of in the end. That’s poetic in its own way too.

Anyway, like I said, I’m taking the site, Stephen, and I’m sorry.

Sarah smiles

Sarah smiles

I would walk for miles, for one of Sarah’s smiles.

There are words forming in my head in a language that this keyboard doesn’t recognize. Maybe anyone who’s ever watched their beloved children hurting can speak it too. My daughter isn’t happy, although she has memories of being so. She has a drive for more, and nothing ever seems enough. And yet, the trip we just took to Disneyworld gave us both a glimpse inside “enough,” into what it could feel like. She’s a tough girl! She beat her fear of flying just to get there. She beat her fear of coasters, and rode so many times I lost count, although she didn’t, and she would tell you if you asked. She spent a lot of the trip not smiling, but content enough. Then the night-time parade came through Main Street USA, with snow that she knew was made of soap but maybe that just added to her excitement, and with hot cocoa, and free apple slices and cookies. This was just after the fireworks that literally filled our sky from all directions and lit us both up like little girls. The fireworks had come just after meeting an admittedly slightly intimidating mouse in his own backyard. The goosebumps were still fresh from that, a surprise to both of us, but welcome.

Then the parade. She’s never liked parades, according to her. I have different memories, filled with small-town parades and her chasing after candy in the streets, catching all she could. But still we sat, with our good friends, and waited, watching the crowds forming and feeling that electricity of anticipation that makes the hair on your arms rise up, just a little. Disney magic does not often disappoint. The parade was magical, and we pointed and laughed and delighted in recognizing characters we each grew up knowing so well. I saw her excitedly spot each princess, then shrug it off, because she outgrew that stuff, long ago, she says. Then in one amazing moment, the Fairy Godmother went by, THE Fairy Godmother. And she looked right at Sarah, and she winked. And blew a special kiss right to her. That kiss was loaded with real magic, and it brought my girl’s smile back to us, if only for one wonderful night. “I feel special” she said, wonder in her voice. You are special, Sarah, so very special, Godmother or not. We watched the rest, the dancers, the toy soldiers, the whole Goofy lot of them. Then Santa came and blew her a kiss too, before heading back to the beach to rest up for December. We had to hurry then, to catch all the rides we could before midnight. She and her good friend and I closed Space Mountain that night, walking away wishing for just one more ride.

There really is nothing like Disneyworld, especially at midnight. You can really feel the special everywhere.

We’re home now, and Sarah seems to have lost her smile again, although I catch glimpses. I can’t afford to take her back to her Fairy Godmother, maybe not again in her first childhood. But we sure could use that smiling round happy lady around here, both of us. Keeping the magic alive is a challenge here in the Real World. I hope we can figure it out, and Sarah smiles again.

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