The struggle continues

I’d like to believe, as MLK said, that the arc of the universe, though long, bends towards justice.

I’m currently reading An Indigenous Peoples’ History of the United States’ and it makes me feel like the bad guys win more than the good guys. I am white. I benefit from it. I live on land that was stolen. Blood land. But I don’t see that struggle or any others before or since as white vs people of color. We each choose our side. We decide whether we will fight for, quite simply, good or evil. Those are the teams.

I hope it bends towards justice, all I know is that history repeats itself. But as Vince Lombardi would have said, as long as time hasn’t run out, then our side hasn’t lost.

An old friend of the family, a political activist her whole life, but in NYC asked me about Stacey Abrams chances, here where I live, in Georgia.

I told her that if there weren’t voter suppression, Stacey Abrams would have won the last time. More recently, we elected two democratic senators, but since then the new voter suppression law has passed and this sort of thing has been going on not just in the south but in every swing state, north or south, for decades, and not enough people have taken notice until now. I hope its not too late. So, Stacey’s chances would be good, if the election isn’t stolen which it might be. But she leads that fight, and at the very least she will shine a light on it.

I’ve thought for years that eventually we would overwhelm the suppression with enough votes and by the time we were in charge, Democrats would have a super majority. But it’s now clear that Republicans see the writing on the wall and are willing to do almost anything to maintain power, including a coup. And if they have enough support among the merciless types that have darkened much of this country’s history, it could be violent and it won’t be easy to stop.

So, it is war, I told her. A war of ideas, and hopefully not a real war, but not so different from the challenges every generation faces. If the arc is to bend towards justice, this is one of those times that we have to fight to push it there.

And (I hope), we will.

I can do this

I can keep a journal and a blog of whatever is on my mind on any given day. I can do it. Maybe some days I’ll be exposed as a fraud, or a baby, or a woose (these are my biggest fears), but other days it will be good, looking back on it many years later. At the time, I might not be able to tell the difference.

Will I be honest? Why shouldn’t I be? What could I possibly admit that would make me seem so different from who I was before I admitted it? We are the same before and after our drivers license expires (though one time a friend of mine couldn’t use his license at an airport as identification because it had expired).

It is a new year.

We all know that people don’t keep resolutions. It’s become trendy to resist resolutions, because they don’t get kept, so why try?

Because. I’m going to see what happens. The point is not to keep them, the point is to try.

I don’t publicize mine, because I don’t want to be “held accountable.” I’ll fail, if I feel like it. I’ll change my resolutions, or do something other than what I said, and I’ll add more as I go.

Writing wasn’t one of the originals. But, what’s stopping me from writing again? It’s the perfect time, because I’m not watching TV (a resolution), so I have to find something else to do besides reading and yoga and playing the drums.

So, I read a book. It doesn’t matter which one, just that I read it. I pushed through. It was work. This book was well researched, thorough but really really detailed. At times I told my wife that I really didn’t like it and she would say, “why are you still reading that book you don’t like.”

“It has it’s moments,” I said once. And anyway, all books take effort, if I quit because it was hard to read, I wouldn’t read anything. It was, in fact, a very interesting story.

Nobody Knows Us

I have wanted, my entire life, to be understood. It fueled a desire to express myself, artistically through acting, music, photography, and writing. 

But I was misguided. Because no one can know us. We don’t even know ourselves.

I wanted it so that people would encourage me in the right ways. I thought that if they understood me, they wouldn’t judge me, they would just love me, and help me to be the person that I wanted to be. Why did I think they would do that? And I was so afraid of their judgment I rarely dared to be honest. 

Better to just accept that no one can understand. If someone wants to try, then let them in. But they won’t.

I don’t think that we can begin to understand ourselves until we stop caring what other people think. And we should relieve them of the responsibility for saving us. They have themselves to worry about.

Please live

Some of us trust big pharma, or scientists, but we are mostly not scientists. So, it is still about faith. Beyond our limited effort and capability to actually understand the science, we have to choose who to trust.

I often come down against the norm when I take positions against fluoride, and statin drugs, and anti-depressants. And I’m an anti-vax sympathizer.

But I’m not against vaccines. I am for the right of people to choose for themselves, and I am personally selective. I prioritize the vaccines that protect me from death or debilitation. It’s not my goal to avoid discomfort. To the extent that there is any risk to vaccines, I figure the more you take the greater the risk.

That’s why I don’t get the flu shot, or the shingles vaccine. I’ll take my chances.

But this I know:

4 million people have died of covid out of about 200 million cases.

I know some.

3 billion people have been vaccinated. How many deaths depends on who you ask, but it’s comparatively few.

And I don’t know any.

I don’t believe that people should be forced. If we want to get this done right, our challenge is to convince them. This is as true for vaccines, as it is for everything else. If we want the society we deserve, then we need to get people on board.

I don’t know if anyone can be convinced of anything these days. But I have faith that it’s possible.

So, I am here today simply to say, please live. Live to fight another day.

Fuck the Filibuster

Through gerrymandering and voter suppression republicans have secured super majorities in state legislatures where the actual majority of citizens support democrats. They are using that control to further suppress votes in order to limit the popular majority’s federal control to four years. And they are using the filibuster to prevent the passing of legislation that would prevent that.

I used to be for the filibuster, because I worried that if the republicans got control of everything that would be the only way to protect the country. But that’s not primarily how the filibuster was used, and now I think that the only thing we would be protecting ourselves from is finding out how bad the republican party really is. If in fact, the majority chooses unilateral republican rule, let them fail. If I’m wrong, then great. If they really screw things up, then their supporters would find out once and for all and the backlash would set things straight. There’s risk to this, but there’s more risk to actually letting them take control without a majority. If you believe that the minority rule the republicans might actually achieve is better (and you might), then you aren’t for democracy (and you might not be).

There is nothing in the Constitution that requires or ever intended to require a 60% majority to pass laws. There are checks and balances, but the filibuster wasn’t one of them. It came about as an unintended consequences of congressional rules of order, and has historically been used by the minority to hold on to and advance anti democratic and often racist causes.

Can the majority make the wrong choices? Most definitely. If you’re worried about the potential tyranny of a majority, you should be, but we have protections against that built in to the constitution. The bill of rights and later amendments are essentially anti democratic limits on the majority. They establish that even the majority are not allowed to do certain things, among them limit free speech, and enslave a minority. These limits are enforced by the supreme court, whose justices are appointed for life so that they do not have to be beholden to the majority. Yes, this protection has been weakened by the republican’s effective obstruction of Obama’s appointment, but that is one more reason not to fear a democratic monopoly on the house and executive branch. The Supreme Court won’t be liberal for awhile.

Olympic Injustice

That Sha’Carri Richardson deserves her consequences because she knew the rules and broke them anyway, is a flawed argument. If you are followers of the thinking of Henry David Thoreau or Martin Luther King, Jr, you might even argue that when a rule is unjust you have a moral imperative to break it.

Whether marijuana is performance enhancing is also irrelevant. Lots of things are performance enhancing, vitamins, diet, EXERCISE.

The only criteria that should be considered in whether to ban something is whether the substance is a significant risk to health (as can be argued of steroids), and that its effectiveness is also clear, such that allowing any athlete to use it, would require, in effect, that all athletes follow suit, in order to compete. Marijuana neither poses that kind of health risk, nor is it’s effectiveness clear. That it might work for a given athlete’s regiment, I am open to believe, as I am open to the idea that it could hurt another’s. I am content to leave that up to the athlete. In that it has medical and therapeutic applications, among them, depression and even asthma, are we supposing to ban antidepressants and asthma medication too?

The crime here is not whether they smoke a joint, or whether they feel that attending press conferences takes them out of their mental game, or whether they wear a swim cap that works with black hair, or weather they miss a random drug test for which there is no reasonable suspicion and no due process or assumed innocence. It is not even whether they tested positive for steroids, as long as there is a possibility of a mistake for which all of the burden of proof falls to them.

The crime lies with the establishment who would deny athletes who dedicated their entire lives to their sport the culmination of what they earned, and who deny us, the fans, the opportunity to see who really is the best, and who would deny even the remaining athletes, the chance for victories untainted by thoughts of, “yes, but would they really have won if…..” And the crime is how often this sort of thing affects black athletes.


Accounting is not what I am, it’s what I do.

And if I said the opposite about writing, that it is who I am, and not just what I do, that would also make sense, right?

Not that people can’t be called to accounting, more power to you, we just wouldn’t readily understand that.  And writers could do it just for the money too, but that would be a weird career choice for someone only interested in money.

Here’s my problem. I can’t separate what I do from what I am. Maybe you’re different, but I doubt it. People become what they do. That’s why I think like an accountant.

It takes practice to train the mind to work in certain ways. What you put your attention to, grows. The wolf who survives is the one you feed.

I don’t want to be an accountant. I want to be creative, unique, authentic, honest, wise.

I wish I could go back and forth, but I can’t work all day with numbers, certainty, superficiality, normalcy, and then switch gears to the unorthodox, unconventional, and intuitive.

The only way I ever even think that I am happy as an accountant is when I can fool myself. If I keep reminding myself that I could be different, by writing, for example, that depresses me, and makes it hard to stay motivated to work.

This is why I want to finally say fuck it to accounting, and why I want to spend all the energy I can muster, whenever I can muster it, writing and reading.

I never wanted anything else. 

So, I will retire as soon as I can, which isn’t as soon as it should be. Then the accountant will be put to death. And something else will work the warren, to emerge into a new day, reborn.

Reinvent Yourself

There are always things I want to do, like read, write, learn languages, exercise.

Can I become a different person?

Can I reinvent myself, for example, as someone who doesn’t care what people think? Can I be courageous, confident, happy?

Can a person change what he believes about himself or anything else?

I mean, I can’t choose to believe something that just doesn’t make sense to me, like that stuff about Jesus. 

But can you be happy when you’re not? Can you be extroverted when you’re introverted? Can you be young again when you are old?

I had a saleswoman tell me recently that I was older than her. I think it was in the context of remembering the old days.

I didn’t want to be mean, but I thought I must have misheard her. “wait, are you saying that I’m older than YOU?”

She was 10 years older than me.  She told me her age. And she looked it, if not more so. But, I get it. I work with someone who I consider my peer, because we work together, and so I was admittedly taken aback when she told me that I was the same age as her father.

We’re not constantly looking in the mirror, so how can we know how old we are?  Isn’t it more important how we feel? As George Costanza said, “it’s not a lie, if you believe it.”

So, start over, if you need to.

Or at least rewrite your history. We are time travelers, all of us, and the older we are, the further back we can go to reinvent, not just who we are, but who we were too. 

What if you can turn yourself from a person who failed a lot to someone who always succeeded, from one who regrets everything to someone who has always been grateful? Which one is fiction? Who’s to say? It may be as simple as remembering more of your successes than your (supposed) failures.

And even if I made up the fact that I had a wonderful life and it wasn’t true, does that matter if it helps me to reinvent who I am today?

I had a friend in 1984 named Larry Wachowski. He was a film student and a fanatic Cubs fan. He won a bet I made with him at the beginning of the 1984 season that my Mets, who had finished last the year before would finish better than his Cubs who finished second to last.  I knew the Mets would do well, because they were bringing up a bunch of talent from the minors that year, Dwight Gooden, Lenny Dykstra. They had David Johnson, the manager they had played for in the minors, they had Darryl Strawberry, the 1983 rookie of the year.

But the Cubs ended up in first, and the Mets in second. When the Cubs clinched the division, Larry came to my dorm room with a bottle of Jack Daniels, – he had introduced JD to me – to celebrate.  I called him an asshole, and then we drank it.

I liked who I was then, even though my team had lost, or at least I’m choosing to remember it fondly, and then I rooted for the Cubs in the playoffs.

When the Cubs lost the playoffs, Larry put his hand through a window pane.

Since then, he reinvented himself. I only know this because he’s kind of famous, not because I’ve kept in touch. He’s a girl now.  Maybe she would say she was always a girl.


I thought about him when the Cubs finally won the World Series. And I wondered if she is as happy about it as he would have been. how much do you re-invent? Would she have put her hand through a window pane if they had lost again?

I hope so. Because you gotta like a girl like that. 

Life is a Bother

It’s my job to be bothered by people that work for me.  They say, “sorry to bother you with this, but….” And I say, “don’t apologize for bothering me, it’s my job to be bothered by you.”  It’s also my job as a dad to be bothered by my kids, and it’s even my job as a husband to be bothered by my wife. Life is a bother.

The thing is, when people bother you, they make you better, so you shouldn’t get mad at them for it (shouldn’t, but I still do). 

When my employees push me, I respond by helping them to do their job, the job I want them to do. They make me do something I may have been neglecting that they need me to do. And then, I look like I have it together and my bosses don’t necessarily know that I was about to drop the ball. So, I encourage it, even though I may not look forward to it.

I used to help my oldest daughter a lot more than I ever helped my other two kids, because she asked me too.  It’s not because she needed more help, my son has always needed help, and sometimes I think I failed him, but it could be because he didn’t make me be the father I could have been.

I also find that when I have uncomfortable arguments with Republicans, and I am forced to debate things that threaten to make me mad, and that I don’t really enjoy talking about with them, and that I’m not necessarily prepared to debate, it prepares me. I end up understanding them better, even if I don’t agree with them, even if I didn’t convince them of anything, and then I end up being able to make better arguments, to people like them, and I maybe even change, I’m open to this, my positions. We can discover, or look for, common ground. There’s usually something we can agree on. Allies can hide in surprising places.

I know all this, but I haven’t lived my life by it. In fact, I have been quite reticent to have difficult conversations with my wife for almost all of the 32 years since I met her. I have been, like many men are, scared of my wife.  I’m more inclined to express my views now then I used to be and I got here through a lot trial and error that didn’t always end well.

A Valentine quiz went around facebook recently in which one of the questions was “who gets more angry” and I would answer (if I had done the quiz) that I can get much angrier than my wife, but she gets angry more often. A lot more often. And I’ve been scared of both her anger, and my own.

But acknowledging that life is a bother, and should be a bother, and that we want it to be a bother, and that maybe that’s even why we’re here because that’s how we learn, helps. It’s what we need to grow and learn and teach and resolve. Sometimes I have wished that I lived with someone who was exactly like me, but then again, when two people are the same, one of them is unnecessary.