Akio

Akio creates a problem for me. He was born fucked. Two addict parents self-medicating to cope with a buzzing swarm of mental issues. Generations of living on the dole. Akio is an addict. Depending on his mood, he feels either schizophrenic, anxious or depressed. He is homeless, in his first year out of jail, and surviving by being a hobosexual for a string of women.

Akio Winston

Survive

The survival technique is a bastard instance of the Oedipus complex. He wants  a woman who will mother him, marry him, not trouble him too much, and sympathize when the voices in his head say he needs to piss on the statue of Robert E Lee. I count seven attempts at being Oedipus. The current bae is pregnant and both of them say they are staying together. She says she can rescue him from his troubled past. I dunno.

The bae called a shelter program home until a well meaning Churchianitan woman rescued her. The brand is familiar: non-denominational, strong on virtue signal and evangelism, weak on missions and follow-through. Things were good when it was one Churchianitan woman doing a solid for the bae.

Add Akio and things went south. The woman is captive in her own home. Let me explain before you go calling the cops. Churchianitan is wheelchair bound and needs help getting up and down the stairs of her two story condominium. The bae is a sometimes nursing student when she isn’t stoned. Churchianitan is on prescription Oxycodone. Add Akio and the occupation of the house is feeding monkeys. I’m waiting for the phone call telling me that one or more of the three is hospitalized, incarcerated or toe-tagged.

❖ ❖ ❖

Last week Akio and the bae fought. She blames him. He blames her. The apology was underwhelming. At least one wall has holes in it. The flat-screen TV exploded after Akio punched it. One corner of the kitchen floor has scorch marks and smoke damage from a phone thrown in anger. There is no food in the house. Everything that could be stolen and sold is gone. A good deed thoroughly punished.

Your miseries cease being an excuse somewhere mid-twenties. Akio had it bad. I get that. He is one of many who ate an abundance of bitterness. The bitterness eaten by him does not excuse away his continuance of the life in spite of escalating negative consequences. Nor are we obligated to him because his portion was so large. His day when his blues justified his behavior have passed. It is no longer his fate at the wheel of his life, it is him.

Akio answered his fate by achieving early success as a drug dealer. We teach young black men that the only acceptable roles for them are sports, entertainment, crime or indentured servitude to crackers. Akio is tall enough to be dominant on the basketball court. Like many his age he believes himself to be a rap singer. The only trope he didn’t take up is indentured servitude. His greatest success was selling crack cocaine.

Five and six. The other approved path is college, a white collar career, a woman, kids, a mortgage, and so on for the next sixty years. It is the path well traveled Frost and I did not take. Akio is too messed up to make it work. Six is some low rent blue collar jobs and one more plebian tragedy.

Failure to Thrive

Behind Akio is a trail of well-meaning Churchianitans who tried to turn the course of his life. All have failed. Akio still gets high, still sells weed and cocaine, still finds willing women who help him try again to marry his mother and murder his father. He has not changed.

This is the problem Akio creates. All the usual racist tropes about why young black men self-limit don’t explain Akio. Everything usual that can be done to get him to change his ways has been done. He remains the same. It is easy to yell at the snowflakes on campus who have privilege and abuse it by trashing the school and enforcing an orthodoxy of resentment. Their crayons, blankets, low-lighting, soft music, and strict rules about what can and cannot be spoken within safe-spaces are easy targets. Yelling at Akio? About what? Many have yelled at him. He is still doing himself.

I wish it were that easy. A strong fatherly lecture about the deadly course of his life would bring about the epiphany we all want for him. It isn’t so easy. Addicts have to die to their old life before they can live the new one. Said death hurts. If the addiction is deep enough the death is sometimes actual.

❖ ❖ ❖

Addicts are not flawed nor stupid nor weak. To be an addict requires tremendous strength and intelligence. Addicts consume taboo habits they buy on the black market under threat of arrest or violence. Drug dealers are remarkable business people because they cannot write down anything they do. It all has to be remembered even while being stoned or drunk. You can’t have a permanent location selling something illegal. The business must thrive in spite of a lack of place. A good drug dealer is a remarkable and perishable thing. Addicts survive things that would kill someone weaker.

Maybe I could explain Akio in terms of his past–addict parents then foster care then adoption late in childhood, an ancestral legacy of criminal life, all the tropes about living on welfare in public housing. All of that is a cliche so common you wonder if it isn’t just lies. Is the sorry story just a hustle to get more? Maybe. Only Akio really knows.

Maybe the cause is us. Boomers did such an awesome job insulating our kids from the slings and arrows of outrageous first world life that they never learned how to cope with misery. We are able to ingest drugs to shut down our lives and sustain the bubble we believe is a right. We don’t have to suffer in this place and time. Every whim is available to anyone that seeks it. Pursuing the seven deadly sins as a bucket list is possible and perhaps, worthwhile.

Monkey Hungry

His past does not explain him. Nor does his residence in a first world city and time. Yes, he was born fucked. Yes, his single score of life featured a cornucopia of bitterness. No one taught him how to be resilient because it isn’t necessary when cocaine, heroin, codeine and much more can protect you. That is the hand life dealt to him. It is not, ipso facto, his fate. He is old enough to have his fate in his hands. His monkey can be starved out of Akio’s life.

Akio’s monkey would eat me if it could. It ate the Churchianitan. He recurs in my life, eats a piece of me, then gets angry because I am not enough. Which . . . actually . . . is a good thing.

I don’t like strays​ or damsels in distress. There is an alley cat living under my shed. Were I someone else that cat would join me in my house. I am not someone else. The neighbor adopted the cat and got him to a vet who got him healthy. Once healthy the cat tore up a couch because it made such a nice scratching post. I saw the couch on the curb last month. I’m not unsympathetic to the fate of the alley cat. He is staying outside. Akio wants more of me and disappears when I won’t give it. Fine.

The Tao 道教 of Akio

Nothing in my past prepares me for him. Therapy? He does that. Social Services? They signed him up for a crazy check and a SNAP card. Section 8? He got public housing and used it to consume bae #6. #6 put him out of his own public housing apartment. All that I know for getting one’s shit together doesn’t move the needle for Akio.

I love introspective conversations about why I am a hot mess. I’ll wrestle the great questions with you: what is my purpose? Why was I born? Is God a Loving God? Why do bad things happen to good people. Akio is occupied with finding his next meal. A daily goal is to get through it without bullet holes. The merits of Socrates compared to Gampopa? He ain’t got time for that. Mercy is a dollar menu cheeseburger.

I have books in me. My gift to him is words. He can’t eat words nor get high with them. They are useful as tools for getting sex. Words as an end unto themselves are foreign to him. He asks me how to spend the night inside and I answer him with Emily Dickinson. We are from completely different worlds.

The True Road 真道

He aged out of the window where blame can be assigned and a responsible party held accountable. It’s on him. All I can do is watch him die through repetitions of new bae, a honeymoon spate, promises to make it stick this time, a period of calm then escalating negative consequences and predictable jail or hospital time.

There are thousands like him in the inner city. They are the intractable metastatic cancer treated with Uncle Sam’s money for a century. I wish I had a solution for the problem he represents. The only thing I have is that his disease has to run its course. Whether it kills him and along the way takes out others with him is something only time will tell. Churchianitan is learning that rescuing him only feeds his monkey with her soul. I hope she puts him out soon. The boy is bad news.

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Fear

I wrote a post I titled, “Anxiety“. I wanted to be done with it. I am not done with it. I am not over it. Fear touches me in two ways lately. My son, who I don’t usually write about, suffers from anxiety that causes depression for him. This is actual for him. There isn’t a “just get over it” for him. When he gets knocked by life it takes him out. Recovery is never sure and can take months. It hurts and no amount of tough love will move the ball for him. Yeah, he is a millennial, something of a snowflake. The angst is no less powerful for him.

That’s one. The other is the intense tantrum the press is having now that HRH Pimp Daddy US has left the building. Their king, their god, their bhodisatva, did the horrible thing and let Cheeto Satan move in. It’s the end of the world as we know it. A bajillion women worldwide marched and carried protest signs and sang and spoke of wanting to burn down the White House. The *White* House. Shouldn’t it be something else, maybe the 1600 House or something. I mean, seriously, “white” House. Isn’t that racist somehow? All that strom and drang and what of it? Not so much.

I have a question for all those who are trying to learn to contort themselves so that ass and lips can meet. Who is your lord and king? Who is your Daddy? You knew this would end. Pimp Daddy US said so. Is that it? Is that who you worship? A dear leader who committed a venial sin and simply walked away from being the most powerful man on earth? You are that simple, that empty, that you worship a pimp? No wonder you are a mess.

This was going to end. It has to. It’s been a century of diddling about with socialism, either more or less of it. Every election cycle the offers of mo money came and went. Every election cycle we found out that the offered mo money was more money for our pimp, not for us. Instead of less tricks it was more. When we tried to object we got hurt.

The Soviet Union collapsed. Spain’s flirtation with anarchy fell into authoritarian socialism and after some bloodshed, came around to democracy as the least evil way to run a society. China is a mix of places. Where the party still dominates it is a shithole. Where capitalism has infested places like Hong Kong, Shenzhen, and Shanghai these places have exploded in wealth and disparity. We are at a generational turning point where the old guard of the last century is dying and losing elections. Sorry to say it, baby-girl, but this is the beginning of something impossible to avoid.

It’s one of the freakish things about abusive relationships. The victim keeps going back and the abuse keeps escalating. The cycle is well known. Obama was an abuser. Sorry, that’s what his term in office felt like to me. He spoke sweet words, said a lot, but his outcomes hurt us. Each time he would promise to treat us better, do some therapy, be a better pimp, and beat our ass back into the hospital. All the while making sure that we were out in public looking fine as fuck.

After all that, and now that he is gone, we somehow forgot the abuse and want him back. If we can’t have him then we want his bitch-in-chief, Billary. None of what we said in the hospital to the social worker means shit now. Jimmy Choo’s y’know. He took our Jimmy Choo’s with him. We want our pimp back.

The press is doubling down on the propaganda of Pimp Daddy US. They insist that Pimp Daddy US’ story was accurate. It was one of fear, of an unspoken fist in our stomach if we got out of line. Pimp Daddy never hit us in the face or above the neckline. Nobody ever saw the scars. We had to bring him his money, after all. The scars are there. Our John’s saw them.

Now that we don’t have Pimp Daddy we don’t know how to live. Self reliance? What is that? We haven’t shopped for ourselves in Walmart in 8 years. The people who shop at Walmart are missing teeth and can’t speak proper English. You want that for us? We always went to Nordstrom to the personal shopper desk with Pimp Daddy’s card. He always ordered in from a stack of takeout menus. We got thick but he said he liked it.

He’s gone. We went to the doctor and doc says we are diabetic, have high blood, are ?!obese!? and could die if we don’t quit living this way. The HIV test was negative but doc wants to test us again in 6 months. Our pimp daddy god-king left us to go on vacation in Palm Springs. How could he?

Yes, self-reliance. change the things you can, let go of the things you can’t, and pray for the wisdom to know the difference. Nothing changes if nothing changes. We who spent time in meetings have a bunch of these. Change who you worship. Get a new god-king because the one in Washington D.C. dates “models” who turn up on porn sites. Melania is just a high-class mail order bride. Think what you will of the last 2,000 years of idiot followers of that martyred Nazarene carpenter. I’ll put my martyred carpenter up against Cheeto Satan Melanic Dumpf all day. We try to use foundation to cover the bruises but we are not so different from you.

Who would you give your fealty to? A magic brown man who didn’t care enough to shoot Cheeto Satan? Cheeto Satan himself? How about . . . that dead guy the Romans killed whose followers claim is still alive and conduct a cannibalistic ritual meal of his blood and flesh? Is fealty to him, to the Nazarene carpenter any less insane, less absurd than fealty to a rich John with a taste for expensive whores?

In an insane age, in an age where the dominant language is imagery and video, the image of the crucified Christ remains powerful and good. The cross makes sense in this bonkers shit show we were born into. Cheeto Satan will do whatever. The teeth knashing over his latest crime against socialism will continue until he leaves office.

For eight years I deepened my marriage to the cross. I prayerfully sought ways to serve my neighbor, my kin, and my enemies. I have been blessed to be granted chances to do small acts of kindness, sometimes with love, sometimes not. That doesn’t change because Pimp Daddy US is out of office and playing golf until winter break is over and his daughters have to come back to school. Cheeto Satan is just a side show as it concerns the practice of my faith.

Last year some protesters stood across the freeway and stopped traffic for half an hour. They wanted us to care about black people, to understand that black lives matter. Not more than a mile from their protest is public housing where numerous churches and NGO’s are working to get the residents out of there and into stable lives. It is hard, frustrating work that goes largely unnoticed. It is stunning to me that a dozen people would block traffic and claim that black lives don’t matter in complete ignorance of the work under way in Richmond’s public housing. This says a lot about the protest community.

Cheeto Satan? Whatever. Some of what he’s doing was going to happen either by intent or by disaster. Pimp Daddy built a house of cards that was going to collapse anyway. At least Cheeto Satan wants to take it down card by card rather than just let it collapse.


I’ll end here. If fear is a powerful force in your life then you have surrendered to a false-god. You worship a lie. God made you fearfully to love him more dearly. He loves you and wants you to thrive. There is no such thing as courage. Courage is what we say about someone who was terrified and did the needful. To conquer fear get a new god, a real god, who is love. The threat to Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego was not myth or an empty one. The miracle would be less amazing if it were not as the bible tells it. Yet these three men were willing to die for their faith. They risked death and found freedom. That’s an awesome god, way better than Pimp Daddy or Cheeto Satan.

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Felina Novella

#felinaramos. Felina Ramos is my own personal, IRL soap opera. She is my guilty pleasure. I unfollow her on Facebook and then lurk. Everything about she and I is trouble. Yet I still vacillate  between following her, ignoring her, lurking her and going back to following her.

Yeah, what now? Right. She puts a message out on her wall that after she has had some sleep she wants a ride to a fast food place. Her offer is to buy from the dollar menu and also pay for a meal for her driver. I said I could do better than that. All normal and not blog post worthy. This is Felina, though. I get there and unlike previous excursions she comes out the door shaking. There is a tempest alive in her house between her cousin, her auntie, and her. Cops have been called. Contraband hidden. 3 latina women in full battle mode doing their level best to tempt the other into a fight. Entertaining for me and sad to see.

The cousin is learning a hard lesson. Once you escalate to fists there isn’t much else you can escalate to and have the same effect. The next level up is bloodshed and either a combination of jail and hospital or the morgue. The cousin’s attempts at psychological warfare are falling flat. She’s already used the nuclear option so another nuclear option is greeted with, “meh.”

I spent a few minutes with Felina on the front lawn teaching her some basics of sword fighting that enable a warrior to be cold in the middle of a fight. Hollywood has orgasms telling pornographic depictions of war as passionate. Actors get to display great emotion, to *ACTING* on camera. It’s all bullshit. A good soldier is no more excited by battle than he is by his morning shit, shower and shave. This is achieved through training and some simple techniques. I showed Felina some of those techniques so she could sooth herself and be effective.

A little more about the technique. You have seen Bruce Lee and others go through dramatic motions and vocalizations to focus their energy. That’s for camera. The real technique isn’t obvious to those uninitiated. It also doesn’t stand out because a swordsman should live this way so that there is no shift between battle mode and life mode. It is the way he is. He is never not practicing bushido.

Back to Felina. After the cops came, after the cousin lost the momentum, we went to the bodega to make groceries. Felina is a hot mess. She is also a good catholic girl who can’t escape her confession of faith nor her anger at the church. Felina, when she begins to be attracted to a guy or a girl, has expectations of the prospective partner. One of them is that when she complains of being hungry said partner should offer to feed her. Whelp . . . the current bae is a very fashy boy. He is tall & skinny, olive toned, of non-obvious lineage, with sharp green eyes and fiercely blond, nappy hair. He favors androgenous fashion, mixing thick cowboy belts with leggings, ripped jeans and wildfang sweaters. He is also a rather fine snowflake, expert at the approved fashy signals.

So, we’ve all been there. You go to the kitchen, hung over, dreaming of a favorite cure, and upon a search of the cupboards, find that the cunt cousin has scarfed down what you had hoped to eat. Through the fog of the hangover you remember that you ended last night having to get the bae to pay for your Uber home because this week’s check got smoked on a bar tab. There was a fight with the bae because he was not being very copacetic and you were drunk. So, the refuge of a millennial, social media, becomes a place to shout out your annoyance and desperation. What’s the reply of all those fashy friends to your plight? “Wow, that sucks. Wish I could help but . . .” Bae isn’t returning your texts or replying to voice mail. A quick trod around the tubes turns up a thread on gab.ai where the bae is flirting with some yup bitch. Asshole.

Yeah, so . . . all that virtue signalling about the plight of the downtrodden and when one of ours is ass-out the sincerity is smoke on the water. This isn’t just a thing with the fashy protest crowd. My brethren, confessed Christians, do this. Actuality is scary. It threatens our bubble and we react by trying to push it away. Guys like my Uncle Gary and people like Felina, who are an affront to a few orthodoxies, at first generate an itch to shun.

My Jesus was a badass. He was a carpenter who ate with thieves. He did scandalous things that insulted the establishment of his day. I don’t hear him saying to me, “Wow, Felina is a handful, stay away from that mess.” No, he says to me, “learn to love her as I would love her. Serve her as I would serve her.” Ruh roh. That’s not inside my comfort zone. Watching three women go at it is not my idea of a pleasant Sunday afternoon. Listening to Felina hope that her cousin is arrested isn’t the sort of Gauloise fueled conversation I imagine I could have with a girl like Felina. Yet, here I am, leaning on the fender of my Impala, waiting for the storm to subside.

She had me on her front lawn and bae on the phone. Fashy boy was begging off. He had to work overnight at Denny’s and didn’t have any clean uniforms. The circle of friends she engaged with on social media evaporated as she posted about the fire fight under way between cousin and auntie. Everybody was broke, out of town, had to work, car trouble . . .

I did my small act of kindness with some love. I dunno about great love. Felina is on my list of folk who are a challenge to love. She is this big storm of hot mess that seems untamable. At the bodega she lit up buying Haitian items. I had a whole different list in my head when I offered to make groceries. No matter. Part of my task is to do these acts of kindness agenda free. It was illuminating to see what she bought.

On the way back she was negotiating a night away from the house. Bae wasn’t pleased. He didn’t get that a standard piece of advice is to stay away for a bit until things calm down. She was just going to drop the groceries and get a ride to the friend’s house. Cousin’s parting shot was a post on social media that Felina was trading nekkid favors for what I spent at the bodega. As if. But, in the hour since we left the cops had calmed things down and the auntie had started some red rice and stewed chicken. So, from my passenger window she said her goodbyes and went back inside.

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Felina Ramos

Felina Ramos is in her twenties. It’s been hell getting here. I was all set to write a blog post about the speed at which many tag a given narrative as proof of rape culture and in so doing, cheapen the phrase. Check your narratives people. And, yes, I am hinting that my story of a young intern flipping out because a coworker smiled at her will continue in this space. Felina, though.

pigface-flowerFelina’s story killed it. I know she’s an outlier, that most women don’t have such an outsized story to tell. I am one who loves to point out that the stories we publish are the ones that have a larger than life aspect to them. Only a small percent of us are black and bullet ridden. Only a few women have survived as much as Felina. The 99% will never have a story worth a blog post. Felina does.

Felina dresses goth, has a bloody rose tattoo on her left arm. She’s in Richmond trying again to get her grades together to return to Stanford where her full ride scholarship awaits. Her uncanny attraction to pigs is a bit unnerving. She’s not attracted to them. Too many come at her with attitude she reads as, “I could get from flirty to dirty sheets pretty quick with you.”

How About . . . No

I see what the pigs see. I also saw the steel and concrete in her eyes buttressing a deep river of anger that made me decide that I’d regret checking her off on my bucket list. The weather has been good so she’s been living on the street. It’s not as if Felina hasn’t been offered help. It is this. The last time she agreed to take a bed in a shelter she woke up to find the overnight worker fondling her. The place promised to be safe, to be somewhere where she could try again to get healthy, was a place hosting a predator.

Felina spent a night in jail recently after she slapped a well meaning woman at the bus stop who offered, “everything happens for a reason. You have to look for the lesson in this.” The things that Felina has survived defy explanation.  The lesson life has taught her is worse than a night in city jail after bitch-slapping that woman.

Felina, 24, born in Haiti to a Peace Corp father. Dad came to Haiti as an aid volunteer for Hurricane Gordon (1994). Mom was Mormon at the time, in Haiti to soak up the sun, eat, and maybe find out about her family’s connection to the island. Dad’s roots were Moorish and Mom’s were Catalan. Felina grew up in Puerto Rico. A fine beginning that went further south for Felina at around age 12.

The thing that has been so stunning is her inability to escape predators. Monsters under the bed? She’s got men wanting her in the ugliest way. Mom & Dad wanted her to break the family curse and so sent her to boarding school. Their idea was that if they sent her to a good boarding school she’d be safe and set for college and success.

Good Plan . . . Gone to a Nightmare.

Boarding school had a janitor (pig #2) who liked them young. His special pet was Felina, who gave herself to him until she graduated with honors. She got a full ride at Stanford, as far away from Georgia as she could manage. Nightmare over? Not even. It was as if she had some sort of invisible nametag that said, “abuse me.” It wasn’t even limited to men. Women would coo that it’s safer with a girl and then bust out the latex and whips.

Childhood in Carolina, Puerto Rico before boarding school was a little better than what TV loves to show. Her parents did better than most. They both worked, her Dad sold shaved ice (Pure Mountain Water!) to tourists and her Mom as an office manager in a doctor’s office. She had one sister two years younger than her and an older brother she seldom saw. The brother was a soaring vulture who was only home when he wasn’t in jail or had run out of money. But, they had a house and a car, which was more than many of her childhood friends.

Felina’s reason for wanting to go to boarding school was a Bambalan (pig #1) friend of her Dad. This bichote started with her when she was eight. Then she got her first period and he told Papa that she was spoiled and could never marry a Catholic. Es lo que hacen los hombres.

Felina Ramos Knows

Felina knows a couple things. She knows that some men are weak against her and will do nearly anything if she asks them the right way. She knows that no one has ever been able to contain her behavior. She can and has done many taboo things. Lately, though, she knows that between bicho and a good book it is the book that feels better. Some rosehip tea, a fleece robe and something by James Patterson are way better than pene apestosas.

She’s on meds and most days her life trying to hold it together almost makes it to sundown without drama. She’s was living at home in Carolina helping take care of her parents for a couple years. She became the parent in the family for her sister and her gilipollas brother. Then a friend of the family told her she could come to Richmond and study at John Tyler to get her grades up and go back to Stanford. One more gallo del paseo who had her crotch in mind. She still hopes to make it back to Stanford some day.

I was ready to launch, ready to yell at those who cheapen the phrase “rape culture” by spewing it with abandon. It was one of those odd moments I’ve had. I saw what the predators saw. She comes across as an easy fuck. Sometimes, she is. Her heart is walled up behind a deep stone fortress of too many men assuming she’d like it quick and rough. She’s been abused too much, taken for granted too many times, had hands and bicho invade her safety. She is the exception that kills my glittering generality. Her story is too oft told, too old for a young woman.

I’m still there. I live here too. I see that the devil is hard at work eating souls. He’s made an oven for us and we are being baked in depravity until we are nicely golden brown and bubbly. I’m past the age where every woman I see is one I want to fuck. If SYHT reappeared in my life offering a bit of bacchanal it wouldn’t be an obvious yes. I flirted with Felina. But I’ve driven too many miles in a cab, carried to many Felina’s to be captured by her spell so easily. Not Felina specifically, but many like her who got with a guy hoping to use him as a lily pad and discovering he was a drunk, an asshat and worse. Women whom I pick up between 3 and 5am who had something in mind that didn’t happen and now need me to get them home.

What Size Are You?

The thing that bugs me is that the young women burning up the tubes with accusations of rape culture present it as a fact as immutable as the sunset. It is again the assignment of a narrative based on the stories of women like Felina as proof that all men are pigs needing castration and a training bra. And again the stipulation that the victims have no agency. They must just accept their fate as jaiva for bicho. They were born this way.

The genius of Christ was this. His revolution started within. He asked us to examine our own lives and the ways we are broken and in need of repentance. I can’t offer an answer to Felina that explains why life has been shitting down her throat. I can offer her hope that the shit-show can be less shitty. I didn’t start out well at age 19. The ending will be a lot better.

Felina and I are connected through social media. Lately I’ve become a ghost to her. If I were younger and hornier this would be a problem. Now? Meh. Some people are with us for a season and are gone. We get to keep the memories. Felina, when I told her I prophesized that she’d be ok, at first got angry with me and then got quiet, mascara and eye-liner leaking down her cheek.

We owe ourselves and Felina a little introspection and as needed, some effort at behaving better. And yeah, this site is for the pigs, the outliers and malcontents, God made them too. I still hope Felina will find the right support and be able to end the nightmare. And . . . allow me my hope that maybe the pigs will get a shock of recognition and perhaps chill the fuck out.

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Placating

First Posted 10-Oct-2014

Placating is a losing game. Teachers in Nebraska back in October of 2014 were asked to use gender neutral so as to not cause offense. My itch today is a big middle finger salute to those who would impose their orthodox pronouns on the rest of us because a minority resent the pronouns that exist in the language. The LBGT community too often behaves like a tail that wants the dog to wag in a pleasing manner in the name of progress. Placating these folks just sets up a rinse & repeat where the demands are escalated.

pink triangleI spent many a school day fighting a maneuvering war with my bullies. If I could behave in a particular way I might escape a beating today. Tomorrow? Dunno. Tomorrow is tomorrow. You don’t have to threaten me in my presence to bring up those old bad days of keeping my head on a swivel and paying very close attention to the body language of my nemesis. A news story about some LGBT kids (?!kids!?) attempting to control the behavior of the majority through dictating acceptable language works just fine.

I was bullied as a kid. I could not make it through recess or walk home from school without being threatened, teased or beaten up. In second grade, my teacher used to throw her high heeled shoe at me and when that was not enough, grab me by the ears with her long fingernails and shake my head while yelling at me. More than once I went home with scabs behind my ears to accompany the bruises and scrapes delivered by my tormentors on the school yard and in the classroom.

I survived by outsmarting my bullies. I feigned sickness so the teacher had to send me to the nurse. I got really good at figuring out where my bullies planned on hiding to ambush me and then making sure I wasn’t there to ambush. I didn’t try to placate them. Telling my Mom was useless. My Dad gave me orders not to fight and I suffered for honoring his words. So, I am sensitive to behavior that feels like bullying. This week’s news story about Nebraska teachers being asked to use gender neutral pronouns feels like bullying from people who claim to be victims. It’s the sort of insane reason to abuse or use I’ve heard from addicts or abusers. To claim that the use of gender-specific pronouns is offensive, to use that as a bat with which to beat the larger society with, feels like bullying.

One of the things children of addicts do to try and survive is placate. They drop their healthy boundaries and let the addict do most anything. They apologize profusely to the addict, take on responsibility for things no reasonable person would be held accountable for. It gets insane. Mixed in with it is often all sorts of wicked psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse. It becomes a feeding frenzy for evil, a hurricane of ugly that destroys the child. This can be incredibly hard to heal.

Incredibly, for some who survive this, they pick partners who are exactly like the abusers they swore they’d never be mixed up with. It’s as if the momentum isn’t toward love but down a dark and unstoppable road to hell. Some carry on the addiction and abuse they suffered in their own lives, becoming perpetrators where they were once victims. In the story from Nebraska, a proposed alternative is “purple penguins.” I hear this and can’t help connect the placating of children or adult children of addicts to this. We are trying to placate a minority of folk who are themselves deeply broken. It won’t matter what pronoun we use to refer to the students. The root of it is dysfunction of one sort or another that will find offense in any pronoun we use.

Addiction or abuse or both is stopped by those around the addict or abuser refusing to continue a destructive relationship. One of a few things will happen. The abuser or addict will get treatment and perhaps return to being a positive, contributing member of society. Or the addiction and abuse will escalate to the point of crime putting the addict or abuse in custody for a stretch. Last, they may die.

For those affected by the addiction or abuse the outcomes of the addict or abuser don’t really matter. In a way, they are so captured by evil as to be dead anyway. What matters is healing themselves from the wounds caused by the addiction or abuse. Placating just perpetuates the evil and gives it room to escalate. We have to just stop placating. We have to take the stand, finally, that this is nuts and must cease. Until we do the sick folk who take offense at gender specific pronouns will just continue to escalate, continue to accuse us of being abusive to them through our language.

 

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You So Sadomasochistic

First Posted 28-Oct-2014

I may be repeating myself. It is something I noticed as an Americorp Volunteer at Boaz & Ruth. People who had been horribly abused as children sought out adult relationships with abusers. It was as if because of some unresolved business with God the evil of their parents drove them to carry it into their adult life as they sought partners. Children of drug addicts somehow found their greatest love in other addicts and drug dealers. I’ve learned of late that some of the crap I went through as a kid is an inheritance from my grandparents and perhaps further. Lovely.

shacklesI live in the capital of the South. Richmond, VA is one corner of the slave triangle. The other corners are London and the West African Coast. The wound on the soul of slavery is still felt deeply here. It still festers in the hearts of our ancestors, slave and slave owner. The abuse perpetuated was horrid. The inherited bitterness deep and hard to heal. “Why can’t you just get over it?” If you have been abused you know. It isn’t something you just get over. So much of your life is colored by the scars of the abuse. The physical wounds heal. The psychological wounds can be a chronic illness that is difficult, perhaps impossible to heal. You don’t just “get over it”.

We elected a black President. Good on us. He is not, as is popular to say in the conservative press, HRH Obama. But the way some of us have responded to him, the expectations we have placed on him, feel to me like slaves wanting to return to the plantation and shackle themselves to involuntary bondage and whippings. It feels like some of us are seeking from him the very sorts of behavior we despise because it hurt us so. I hope you are mad at those words. You should be. Obama needs to succeed as a president, as a man without regard to race. That his popularity is fading among some because he didn’t buy them a cell phone and a Cadillac should expose a flaw in the character of our culture. It should not be a metric of Obama’s performance as president. It should also reveal a need to continue to heal the wounds in our culture which drive us back to the destructive relationships we left.

That itch to seek justice from the sumbitch that abused us, just drives us back into the hell we so passionately say we never want to return to. The healing has to come from forgiveness and a healthy relationship to God. We need to leave our sumbitch alone. One more thing, though. I am saying we need to love our enemies and turn the other cheek. I’m not saying that we should forgo seeking appropriate justice. Choices need to have consequences. Folk that are behaving in a dissonant or damaging way need to be called to account. Most of the time this means involving the cops or other appropriate support. It’s not something we should do on our own.

This relates to Obama how? We have to stop electing politicians we elevate to demi-gods or kings. We have to stop putting them in power expecting them to stop abusing us, wrap us in material comfort, and attempt to fill the God sized hole with pleasures or things of this world. We have to get over the idea that a president is good or bad based on whether he buys us a Cadillac and a cell phone. Obama can’t do a lot of what we wanted him to do. We have to do it person by person, at the local level. That’s how we break the cycle of bitterness we have inherited.

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Pain Forecasted

The King James version has Exodus 20:13 as “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” The ESV has it as, “Thou Shalt Not Murder.” What do you do with a bully? There is also Matthew 5:38, “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. 40 And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic,[a] let him have your cloak as well“. Yet, a bully is driven to cause misery, to intimidate and injure a victim. Turning the other cheek seems like exactly the wrong thing to do.

bullyIn my neighborhood the way we figured you out was to tease you. We bullied you to understand what you were like when faced with aggression. If you stepped up and won a few fights we liked you. If you let us be ugly to you we shunned you and you became prey. I did not know how to make my place among Eric’s friends and honor my father. My Dad, confessed Christian and red((pink)er) diapered son of card carrying communists, understood the Bible to say that we ought not fight. My Dad is a good man and sincere in what he believes with conviction. When I was young I thought he was evil.

Eric and his buddies lived down the street from me. We all went to the same school from kindergarten until fifth grade. I failed Eric’s attempt to figure me out. I honored my father and refused to fight. That hurt, still hurts.

Eric was my nemesis. He headed up a clique that took great delight in my misery. He was the one guy who I could not defeat without defying my father. Not then, not with what I knew then. These days, if I could talk to my younger self, we’d deflate Eric and be done with him.

I thought then, still feel at times, that what Eric needed was a black eye, a fat lip, and maybe a nice bloody scalp wound. To respect my father rule meant I had to find ways to avoid Eric. I got very good at being where he wasn’t. He and I fought a maneuvering war that lasted through fourth & fifth grades. It felt like a 100 years. Sometimes I’d lose the maneuvering war and have to engage with him. Now I was caught. If I fought I’d piss off my Dad. If I didn’t it hurt. My memory, now colored by time, is that it seemed like every day was a battle. Eric and I did fight once or twice over two years. I lost each time. And my Dad sat me through a long lecture on honoring your parents. Bleh.

I make a lot of noise about mercy. I say that forgiveness is central to the way I live. If you ask me if I’m a lover or a fighter I’ll tell you I’m a lover. Mostly because I figure being a lover is the more socially acceptable answer. There is still a boy in me who’d like to kick Eric’s ass. Am I a lover? Am I a fighter? Do I have to choose? I think I lean more toward fighter, toward warrior. I am not, though the fighter my younger self was. I hold rank in a martial art that teaches non-violent variants of old hand-to-hand combat techniques. Victory is the defeat of the enemy’s will to fight. This is not the boy-soldier life of my youth. It is much closer to the grown-ass man life of Musashi with an oak practice sword. The misery of the playground was resolved by moving me to Mullica Hill Friends School. I thought that if I changed schools my days of being bullied would be over. Not.

Brian Sykes, a star athlete at the school, picked up where Eric left off. I taught Brian how to treat me. It took another decade or so for me to learn that our internal battlefield travels with us. Our minions, dragons & demons remain no matter how agreeable our domicile is. Our fight with them only escalates if we attempt to outmaneuver them or ignore them. The misery of the playground will continue until you engage. This is really what Eric wanted. He wanted to engage. He wanted to win. All I had to do is run toward the fight and win. Between defying my father and letting the misery continue I ended up choosing to defy my father.

There are ways to engage Eric, though, that settle it and leave him able to attack. That is the art of war we should be learning and embodying. I’m a loving warrior. I fight for peace. I fight to find ways to transform my enemy so that we can engage and build healthy relationships. Pain is possible, as is striking and grappling. Weapons are used–Musashi’s oak sword and lengths of staff from 6″ to 8’ as examples. The boundary is this: if you are able to continue the fight then it wasn’t violent. Within those boundaries I fight to strengthen relationships and make allies of my enemies. What if, though, you find an enemy who won’t quit. Today is a good day to die for them. This gives us a choice. Do we die and be martyred to protect our principles or do we attempt to destroy the bloodthirst of such an enemy, knowing that if it can’t be defeated we may have to choose whether we live or our enemy lives? I don’t know what I would do if it came down to it.. I’d like to believe I can end it before I have to make such a choice. Between, “thou shalt not kill” and “thou shalt not murder” I tend to agree with those who read that commandment as “thou shalt not murder.” I pray I live a long and rich life before I have to choose. Not very definitive but there it is.

Bullies are not warriors. Bullies want pain. Warriors fight to end it, to end the pain, to regain peace. My twist on it is the setting of a rule of engagement. Victory comes in the defeat of the enemy’s will to fight. Defeating a bully comes in transforming his or her heart so he or she no longer hungers for the pain of others. We can do this in artful ways if we are humble before God.

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Asshole Filters

This is funny to me. Siderea describes asshole filters here. She finds it epiphanic that there are assholes afoot and that you can behave in ways that filter out other people to leave only the assholes. Siderea, baby, hey, yeah, uhm, I’m one of those, one who would be left in with your asshole filter.

assholeSiderea writes of Fred, who produces conferences, and his duplicitous use of a personal and conference e-mail. He asks that for matters related to a conference being produced people use an address set up for the conference. Then, he doesn’t work that e-mail address effectively so it becomes a black hole from which no action is ever taken. He compounds his troubles by revealing to certain favored insiders that they can get him to take action if they use a personal e-mail address and gussy it up with subject headings and introductions which take on a Chicken Little tone.

So . . you can attract assholes to your life and you can attract drama to yourself. This is news? This was worth a blog post and a thread of flattering comments? Wow. Siderea. I am one of those. I am that guy who has been called an asshole.

Lately, because of the mood of some, my letters, WASP, male, over 30, born of upper middle class parents, college educated, deemed privileged, I am ascribed by some as the reason for all their troubles. Whatever it is miserable that befalls them it is my fault. Worse, I am divorced from my wife because I abused her. I was convicted and served time for the two instances of abuse that the courts know about. I am that guy, Siderea, who would be the soon fired thorn in Fred’s side.

Siderea, my name is Alan Webb and I am an asshole. Those that blame me for all their troubles flatter me. It is humbling to hear that I hold such power over their lives. Though, I don’t want the power that they accuse me of having. I got older. I am more than two decades past age 30, when I realized I couldn’t do it like that anymore. I read John Bradshaw, tried AA meetings for a while, went back to church, and slowly tried to make the last night in jail remain the last time. What has worked for me best is to study church history and learn how to emulate Christ as many did in the early centuries of the church before Constantine came to Him. (Actually, of all the assholes ever, Constantine is one of the greatest. You could also argue that Jesus was an asshole to the church of his day. Herod wasn’t too fond of him either.)

Siderea’s post is funny to me. You can absolutely screw yourself by not establishing and enforcing boundaries and rules. Lately, upon return from a temp job that had full-time travel, I’ve got a backlog of personal business to attend to. One bit is my car, which isn’t legal and needs fixing to make it so. When I got home this week I tried to start it and found that the battery had gone flat. The Chicken Little tactic would mean that I’d light up my contact list with some story about a world ending apocalypse if someone didn’t drop everything and devote the next few days to helping me start my car and get it legal. That’s the asshole move.

My friends should, and did, yawn, crack open another Bud Lite and go back to watching “Let’s Make a Deal”. A few more days waiting for the things I need to jump the battery and get the car to a mechanic won’t accomplish the apocalypse I could have suggested. People do that, though. They make it about themselves and narrate the story such that everybody has to jump to attention and deal with whatever misery has befallen them lately. Though, usually, it’s just raining.

Us boomers, who were seduced by the idea that freedom from the rule of law would foster the utopia we sought–to be coddled and protected in a cocoon where we could fuck every woman who passed our way, blast loud music all hours of the day and night, consume food, alcohol, drugs, whatever debauchery flitted into our fancy, and escape all consequences of our bacchanal, we thought we could do this by ignoring the rules and declaring a reborn Eden operated by anarchy. Then we turned 30. Our failing health betrayed us. The string of women we slept with started demanding child support. Our arrest record got long enough that we no longer qualified for drug court or weekend jail. We tried to have our glory rave at 32 the same way we did at 22 and those 19 year olds started to look at us like creepy old men. There are four roads ahead of us, more hospital time, more jail time, another stint in rehab, or death. Except for death, each of these roads can lead to health and a diminished role as an asshole to society. The choice is ours to make and not all of us repent.

Siderea, guess what. The world has assholes in it. Get used to it. God’s creation includes free will, including the will to be an asshole. Because there is free will we can also make choices which push the assholes in this world away from us. A few nights ago I was approaching a street-car station in downtown Dallas, TX. There were a half-dozen street people on the opposite platform. This has all the markers of a potential mugging and a half-day dealing with the cops and maybe the paramedics. If I made my train I’d get to the airport, make my flight and get home on time. If things didn’t go well getting home would get rather expensive and take a lot longer. I’m sure there have been some in my circumstances who did get caught up in a maelstrom and got home days later, much worse for wear. Because I am an asshole, because I have learned to deal with my kind over the years, it was a nervous half-hour on that street-car platform talking to the street people (mostly drunk) and paying a dollar each to two of them. And then my train arrived and I made all my connections, eventually arriving home in the afternoon as scheduled. The trick is to shut down the will to continue to be an asshole. Disrupt the behavior right then. Make it fail. The art is in doing so in ways that preserve the ability to continue the behavior but interferes with the desire to do so. Also, to keep a merciful heart surrendered to God. We are not going away, us assholes. But we can be dealt with in a way that makes things better for everyone.

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