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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Secrets

Let me explain the title of this piece. This aphorism, “secrets have a way of getting out,” was in my head as I watched our local TV station report the march on Broad Street because Dumpf was inaugurated. Dumpf’s opposition is desperate for a secret that will kill his ability to be President. The secret that keeps revealing itself is our national general anxiety now that Pimp Daddy US has flown to Palm Springs to devote himself to golf.


NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA! NO TRUMP, NO KKK, NO RACIST USA!

I said in an earlier post that anxiety never speaks of life or victory. It speaks of death and injury and misery and trouble and toil. It is what God gave us so we don’t get eaten by a sabertooth tiger. I’m making this edit three weeks after I first posted this piece. Our current national mood feels like an anxiety fueled tantrum where we don’t want to understand that this was inevitable. The secret is that Dumpf is destiny.

It’s a lot easier to be against something than it is to be handed the royal scepter. I can happily write a million words of snark, never advocating for an answer and it is of little consequence. We have had a professional class of agitprops for as long as I remember. These folk make it their career to be agin it. It doesn’t matter what the thing to be agin is. They are just agin it. It has happened in history that the agitprops win and have the scepter because they killed the king. For the bulk of human history the way the regime changes is through war. Equally constant is the use of genocide to control a king’s enemies. One reason we are exceptional because we have been able to change kings without bloodshed for over two centuries. Trump is finding out that being mouthy and agin it is very different from being king.

I used to try to engage with them, to ask what they wanted. The answers were usually some foolish platitude like giving the people a fair deal. Anarchists would say they wanted to just wreck everything and replace it with governance by community boards. The Communists have tried in numerous places to enact their utopia only to find that the wealth moves into the black market and ignores them. Socialists are just communists that are willing to allow some private ownership of capital and tangible assets. Same deal, the core belief is that the community in the form of government is the better operator of the enterprises of an empire. It fails.

Now I leave them alone. I am a follower of the Way. I believe that Jesus of Nazareth died and was raised again on the third day. Read Σύμβολον τῆς Νικαίας for the rest of it. I don’t need to hate or fear or bother myself all that much with what happens in Washington D.C. The change I seek comes from being it. I’ve written extensively here about what that looks like. I’ll not repeat it here. The PUDFRB agitprops throw bricks through store windows with the same religious passion that I sing Amazing Grace. It’s a waste of time to deal with them. They are walking dead incapable of being light and salt.

We were headed, may still be headed for a Nazi America. We are almost there. We just need a leader who leads by either overarching patriotism or by a constant drumbeat of reasons to fear everything except the dear leader. Trump marks a delay in this, maybe. His opposition seems intent on furthering their goal of revolution to be replaced by some childish fantasy of what would make America great for them.

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It is a tactic. Find some juicy rumor about somebody and beat it to death on social media. Muster up a ton of righteous indignation. Keep at it because if you repeat an accusation enough times it gains the heft of truth. Lately, it is a finger pointed at the left, who have become obsessed with the idea that our president hired Russian prostitutes to piss on the bed that Obama once slept it. This is added to the steady drumbeat that Putin personally hacked the election and caused Cheeto Satan to be the most powerful man in the world.

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That’s one. We have Bradley Manning, nee Chelsea Manning, who has garnered enough sympathy by choosing to cross-dress that Obama commuted his sentence. This one goes way back for me. When I was naturalized as a citizen of the Peepul’s United Free Demokratik Republik of Berkeley I had to pass a quiz and sign a loyalty oath. I was given a classification: zzcc, for apprentice cab driver in a collective. It’s not a very high status. I would have scored higher if I had agreed to be classified after getting my first crazy check. High status goes to an African-American lesbian who has six kids by six different fathers and is on TANF, SNAP and so on. Even higher status is awarded to her if she is an addict.

What’s happened since is that guys have heard the unspoken message and decided that gaining status to get the girl means agreeing to be gender fluid. The penultimate is the love-fest for a treasonous spy simply because he decided to wear a training bra. See if this doesn’t sound nuts to you: that one could do anything, any depraved thing, and get a pass because they self-identify as trans-gender.

Young women are my krypton. I am a creepy old guy lurking about the tubes ogling women young enough to be my daughter. But . . . Chelsea Manning is my savior. I can simply declare that I self-identify as a twenty-something lesbian and solve my ethical issue. Since I now am Alice and not Alan, I am 22 and a lesbian, I gain status in my old PUFDRB home. I qualify for attaching Go-Pro’s to my shoes to get video of panties worn by SumYung HotTea and others. When challenged, I get to claim that I was born this way and am fulfilling my destiny.

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We are in trouble if your train of thought is, “sure, if that’s what makes him happy, let’s set up a personal shopping appointment at Nordstrom’s and drop some cash on a new wardrobe.” One of the inanities of some is that their rules are ok but those old rules by people they dislike, those rules are not ok. I’ve been in so many seminars by agitprops where after hours and hours of discussion the core boundaries that emerge have a strong resemblence to either the القرآن الكريم or the Bible. Efforts at wiping the slate clean are amusing to me because very often even though the past is disregarded it has a way of sneaking back into the resulting decisions.

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I am writing this on the Saturday after Trump’s inauguration. I had to turn off my phone because Inger is apoplectic. She started blasting Ray last night, who turns out to be surprisingly empathetic to Inger, and me and Felina. Through the fb meme storm, the story seems to be that she has made a home for herself in a house leased by Felina, who is the one among peers with the most legit presence. Inger is recently out of rehab and at risk of arrest because she’s blown off her drug-court judge and social worker. I don’t think I am giving too much away in saying this. So . . . yeah, Inger has garnered the ire of her housemates because she launched an epic fit. Nothing damaged that threatens the security deposit but also the house has a long weekend cleaning up. Felina doesn’t have a license. It was never necessary. The one vehicle owned by the house has expired tags. This is not a bunch that gives a rip about compliance. Felina is herself capable of epic latina angery storms. Ray and Felina managed to drive Inger to the psych ward without getting arrested. Not bad.

Inger’s tantrum seems to be an attempt at being pissed off enough, ugly enough, that she will be heard in D.C. and they will come correct and make Billary president. Inger is one of those who spent a few hours being booked and released from Richmond City Jail. She was charged with public intoxication and assault on a cop. That went well. Inger is still learning that attempting to motivate and lead by force of negative emotion is a game of diminishing returns. More hate has the opposite effect of what is intended. It’s power over a group diminishes to arrive at indifference. Inger should be out next week. It’s going to be rough because the hospital followed protocol and contacted her probation officer. Her near future will not signal very much virtue.

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There was a picture that raced about social media that claimed to be of a dead woman who had been left out in the cold with her child. So it was said, she and her child died on that bus bench because no one had stepped up to help her. The proffered answer was something program, NGO or government above and beyond what we are already doing. There was very little bandwidth given to the thought that we, without a program, could bring a cup of soup to that woman and sit on the bench with her, talking. No, it had to be Pimp Daddy US who had to do something more.

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Service is ugly. It messes with your orthodoxies. The usual tropes, that the guy asking for help is somehow damaged and undeserving of mercy, get stomped on. The other, that we are not enough, or that sacrificing will put us in jeopardy, are both shown to be false by the many who have sacrificed to give mercy and find that God has blessed them.

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Back to Chelsea. I have no interest in what underwear you choose to wear or whether you decide to be something other than whatever ugly you were born with. Neither is it noteworthy to me if you love a partner who shares your same genitals. There are two things I care about: parenting and dysfunction. For me, there are two genders: parents and non-parents. If you are a parent then I care about how you raise your kids and what that will mean to us as we have to cope with your progeny. Dysfunction should be obvious. If the reason you have decided to be an outlier and choose some gender identity that isn’t cis-male or cis-female is some bitterness or mental health thing–fix that. It’s the bitterness and the cray-cray and the way that makes an impact on us that matters to me. Whether you end up as two sausages or two oysters or whatever but are otherwise mostly healthy it is the healthy that I wish for.

I am struck by my encounters with some within the LGBTQ world. Rather than take what is noble and good about men or women they seem to like being obnoxious. The caricature they present as their true selves isn’t what we would wish from the better parts of what masculinity or femininity means. No, it’s the trashy stuff, the stuff where men or women are being asshats. That’s what seems to define the transgender set. They choose the aspects of men and women that are shameful and shove it in our faces as the real identity. It makes good copy and a terrible lifestyle.

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Things are going to change. It looks like a lot of the bribery of the Demokrats that they were using to stay in office is at risk. I am ok with this. What the Demokrats were offering through Billary was something we couldn’t keep doing. We are broke, America. Pimp Daddy US doesn’t have our money. The only difference between Dumpf and Billary was the severity of the collapse. With Billary the PUDFRB agitprops would get their D.C. in flames and a government that would have to shut down because it could no longer pay its bills. With Dumpf it may still happen but not as soon as it would have with Billary.

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I’m repeating myself  in this next. Empires come and go. Emperor’s rule and die. Dynasties rise and fall. The circle of life continues. Dumpf is done in at most, eight years. In the meantime, if you want to change the world the means to do so hasn’t changed. If you have not befriended your neighbor now would be a good time to do so. If you are renting now would be a good time to look for land to buy. You want something with a lot big enough to support a small garden and maybe a few chickens. If that’s illegal where you are maybe use all that political animus to get the county or city to approve of keeping chickens. Humbly seek to strengthen your relationships to those around you. Trust your instincts. Listen with both ears and be slow to speak. You’ll know what to do.

We change the world by being the change we seek. I know, it’s a cliche. Whatever. Still, do the small acts of kindness, be merciful and gracious first. Remember this? אם אין אני לי, מי הוא בשבילי? אם אני רק לעצמי, מה אני? ואם לא עכשיו, אימתי? This also: עשו לאחרים את מה שהייתם רוצים שיעשו לכם – זאת תמצית התורה ודברי הנביאים.

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Who Washed Feet First?

It sounds like a catechism question, “who washed feet first?” Next, remember this lyric, “How do you solve a problem like Maria,” from the Sound of Music? Maria as a nun was an absurdity. But, Maria as a nanny and later wife of Captain von Trapp was a thing of beauty. Though, this post isn’t about Maria von Trapp. No, it’s about Mary of Bethany before Jesus was crucified.

who washed feet first? spikenard-anointing-feet-of-JesusSo, there was one before Jesus who washed the feet of another. She washed His feet and pointed to an answer to a persistent question: “what do you do with a thick necked people who have continued to sin in spite of everything done for several thousand years of recorded history?” If all the sane answers have failed, could it be that an insane answer might be the right one? It doesn’t fit that a bastard son of a poor carpenter from Nazareth could be the Messiah.

It fits that a subject of a king would wash his feet. It fits that anointing the feet of Christ with perfume is a sign of his authority as king of the Jews. The resurrected kingdom we got was not one that was victorious over Rome right then. Constantine’s deathbed conversion came later. In the normal course of events it is expected that the king’s subjects would show him their devotion through acts like this.

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Next, it is not fit that a woman would wash the feet of a man with her hair. That is a scandalous act. Perfume as expensive as nard would not be used to wash anyone’s feet. Judas is right to be shocked that a pound of this perfume would be wasted on such a decadent act.

Though, Jesus is not Caesar. He isn’t Herod or Pilote. He is a poor carpenter born to Mary under suspicious circumstances. Many whispered that the virgin birth story is a cover for Mary cuckholding Joseph. Judas said that selling the nard would raise money to do so much more good. Christ praises Mary for her act of devotion. This Nazarene speaks with the authority of a Rabbi but he is just a carpenter’s boy born out of wedlock. It is outrageous, it is absurd, that Mary of Bethany would use a pound of expensive perfume, her uncovered hair, and her tears to wash the feet of Jesus of Nazareth because Lazarus lives.

That is Absurd

Christ is absurd. He is a king that died. He is a martyr that lived. We say he descended into hell and took our sins with him. Did we stop being evil? No. An enterprising group of Twitter users sabotaged Microsoft’s “Tay“. Terrorists bombed Brussel during this year’s Holy Week. It would be easy to fill more than 1500 words surveying the news for all the ways in which we are evil.

I would be far from the first if I dove into the oft-asked, perpetual question, “why do bad things happen to good people?” Let’s leave it at this: absurd things happen that defy easy answers. My king, my Jesus, was killed by the Romans at the request of fellow Jews because of claims that he had spoken blasphemy. He said absurd things.

This is an absurd anointing of a king. It is crazy. It is scandalous. Judas Iscariot is right to be shocked. Six days before Passover she does this in the presence of Lazarus and others. If Jesus were a candidate for presidency this anointing, known, would be above the fold and push off the current kerfuffle over claims that Ted Cruz had 5 affairs. Why, then, would we keep this story, this scandalous narrative, in our sacred text, for over two millennia after Christ left us?

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Before that, for as long as we have recorded history, kings and democracies had failed us. People worshiped God and gods then. The Romans had their pantheon of gods, including many adopted from the Greeks. The Jews had their God of Abraham and the law. The morale was not improving in spite of continued beatings. We have laws, many, many laws. The laws don’t matter. Our Muslim brethren enforce those laws through brutal consequences. Brutal consequences only matter to some. To others they are just the price of living. Evil persists, sin persists, despite everything. We have kings. We have democracies. We have every stripe of economic system imagined. Crime exists. Disparity and poverty exist.

Mary Did You Know?

Mary did not know that she was washing the feet of a king. She knew that this wretch, this bastard carpenter’s boy, had said some absurd and amazing things. She had heard of miracles, perhaps seen them. Lazarus was there eating with them. Who is Lazarus? Go look it up. Her heart so filled with devotion, with a desire to honor this man reclining at table, that she annoyed Martha and scandalized Judas, with a decadent act such as this.

When it is all crazy, when all the philosophers, physicians, lawyers, kings, senators, rabbis, all their words, and soldiers failed to stop the ways in which we are evil to each other, what is God to do? Nothing has worked. He destroyed the world in a flood. While Moses prayed we made a golden calf. God gave Moses a set of laws and appointed the Levites as judges and religious leaders. He answered our cry for a King with Saul, David and Solomon. King David slept with another man’s wife. He sent us prophets and judges. He parted the Red Sea. He fed us manna and pigeons and caused water to flow from a rock. We still sinned. We still sin.

When millions of lambs, doves, calves are sacrificed and the good, law abiding people do the right thing and still, it is not enough. Evil persists. Lucifer still wins sometimes.

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What is God to do with us? What is he to do with his thick-necked people who build idols and worship Baal? What is he to do with us when he scatters us and scrambles our tongues so that brother cannot understand brother and yet, we violate every letter of every law and build temples to calves.

There are only two things left to do. Sound the trumpets and lay waste to His creation. Or, perform an astounding act of mercy and be born a baby and crucified. Christ is either who he said he was and we are truly forgiven or he is one of a legion of crackpots who lied to us.

When the only thing left to do is an absurd act of grace, can you not grant me that it is possible God would then martyr himself, wipe the record clean, and begin again with a ragtag bunch of dissident Jews who claim that a bastard carpenter killed by the Romans was the Messiah prophesied in the Nevim? No? Whatever.

The crazy continued. The absurdities continued. Today, millions upon millions celebrate the life and death of Christ the King, Jesus of Nazareth, whose story is absurd. We are countless lights, countless salts, working to be stones of the resurrected temple. We start with grace, with knowing that we are not only our past. We live as we understand Christ would have us live. As absurdity has abounded, so has countless miracles and acts of love and mercy.

Crazy Good

I don’t have space here to recount the infinite ways our absurd story has brought light and salt to this world. Yes, the church, churchianity and all the other names spat out in anger of us, has committed atrocities. We are not immune to evil. While I acknowledge that, I ask you to grant me that we have also done much good, do much good.

It is the eve of Easter, the Saturday between our ceremony mourning the crucifixion of Christ and our celebration of his resurrection Sunday morning. By tradition, Christ is in Hell. It is a day when I feel like fasting and writing. It is one of those moments when there is much to moan about. I am in the gap between scary and things working out. Tomorrow I’ll celebrate with my brethren at St. Giles the completion of the story. We will say, “Christ is Risen!” In the coming weeks I’ll traverse this gap and things will work out.

Today is a cold, grey day of “not yet.” My Jesus is buried in the tomb. We have the blood of those we sinned against on our hands. In two thousand years we have much to answer for. It is not yet Easter. Still God is dead for another day.

So, this I know. Of all that was tried, all that has been done, this crazy thing, this absurd king, did more to change the world for good than anything in history. I am called to serve a bastard carpenter’s boy from Nazareth, who died on a cross with criminals. This I know, serving Him has saved my life.

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Ray(rob(ert))a

I offered Ray(rob(ert))a a a chance to write a post colonoscopy essay. He was all excited, promising to make it wonderful, make it great again, that it would be ‘uge. Addicts. His F150 was parked over by Monroe Park last Friday. Then it was gone. His phone shows up as being in Toano, VA. I guess he went to his girlfriend’s farm. So much for getting a blog post out of him.

young mayan womanRay(rob(ert))a arrived on Terran soil in Yucatan, Mexico in 2015 from his home some light years distant. The night he arrived UFO spotters blew up Twitter with sightings. He speaks fluent Mayan and Spanish. His English isn’t very good. It’s nigh incomprehensible once he is drunk. Gender is a little tough because his race of aliens are hermaphrodites. He told me he ovulates and has something you could call a penis. Yes, I’ve seen s/him naked. His people don’t share our stuffiness around nudity. S/he mostly dresses as a human male since that seems to be easier than presenting himself as a woman.

S/he *loves* Earth, especially our women, our liquor and our food. He has a special fondness for Mayan women and Xtabentun. S/he spent Christmas of last year (2015) in Peru and discovered roast Cuy. Ray is also annoying because he is mildly paranoid. He told me one night still drunk that he drinks to cope with his anxiety. I’m always suspicious of a drunk’s words while drinking. This thing he said rings true. He seems like he’s in his mid-thirties in human terms. He tells me that because of the way his race traverses the stars it is effectively a one way trip. There is no way to return along the same timeline to the life he had before he left. I get the feeling he wasn’t a volunteer.

I’m not sure I like the idea of Earth being a prison colony for aliens of Ray(rob)ert))a’s sort. He tells me we don’t really have a choice. Yeesh. Pronouns. There is a fight currently over the proper pronoun for someone’s choice of gender. Ray tells me that although s/he is both and ovulates and can get pregnant, s/he chooses to be called a he in our culture because we are still asshats to women. I’ve seen s/him dress in a skirt and camisole with crocs for shoes. He’s already odd looking as an alien. I’ve also seen him in thrift store jeans and a t-Shirt from the show Moonshiners and Birkenstocks. Not being of this planet he doesn’t share our taboos. Ray tends to dress more feminine among people he knows and more butch among strangers.

Ray is taken. When he first arrived at Coba he met Itzel May who was trouble to her family for a few reasons, among them insisting on being called Gloria after Gloria Steinham. Usual farm girl wanderlust. Itzel seems to be mid-twenties, petite, and fierce. She wanted to go to University in Mexico City and study history. Her family was getting intense about her settling down with a nice local boy who farmed a half-acre. Itzel was gathering pitahaya when she saw Ray(rob(ert))a wandering. Girl meets alien hermaphrodite. Aliens of Ray’s sort don’t exactly marry for love in our complicated, Western way. It’s more of an imprinting thing. It was Ray’s time for that. He’d been sentenced to life here right when he was supposed to have a spouse.

Ok, ok. listen. I have my degree. I know the literary mistake I am making. We are supposed to narrate the story rather than describe it. The way I write involves iterative free-writing paired with re-writes and edits. An early phase of this is describing the story as it flowers in my heart. This is that phase. I know there is a novel in Ray’s initial romance with Itzel. This is a blog. 1500 words is long for a blog. Every word counts. So, to tell the RayItzel tale in something the length of a novel would mean serializing it ala “The Martian”. For now, not going to happen.

Where was I? Oh, RayItzel. Yeah. Itzel was at first annoyed with Ray because after she found him he was like a little kitten. He followed her everywhere. He wouldn’t go away. Then Itzel did what you should never do for a feral cat–she fed him. Game over. Then Itzel discovers he’s been supplied with a deep identity that includes dual Mexican/US citizenship, passports, all the rest. He’s also been supplied with “enough” gold and US currency by the prison authority that sent him here. Ray is her e-ticket out of Yucatan. Her family lays down an ultimatum: stay and marry a nice local boy or be shunned. It was a long 30 minutes initiated by a hot hand shot at her father and ended with shouting as she stormed out the door. Next stop was Ray’s hotel room. She asks Ray if s/he can help her with crossing the border. He goes one further. He is gone for a day and comes back with papers for Gloria May, who owns 10 acres in Kings County, VA. It’s not exactly love. But a deep identity as a landowner in the US went a long way. RayItzel became a thing that night.

Ray’s biggest disappointment with Richmond is the scarcity of Xtabentún. He usually drinks Tequila instead but it isn’t the same. I’ve seen him drink Absinthe. He tells me he can get close to Xtabentun if he mixes Tequila and Absinthe. I’m not a drinker so I’ll take his word for it. Second to his wish for genuine Xtabentun is homesickness for tamales. Itzel makes them but the ingredients here are not the same as back in Yucatan.

Ray isn’t around as much as he used to be. He’s mostly out on Itzel’s farm in Toano where nobody bothers him. I see him in his F150 sometimes on Midlothian. The latest thing is he joined Twitter and said he hates all my friends. Fine by me. He tells me he likes being a farmer. He was a food chemist back on his home planet. Anyway, that’s what I’ve got for Ray(rob(ert))a Bob. I’ve named him Marketing and Social Media Director of the blog. You can follow him on Twitter: @raybertabob. His g-mail address: rayrobertabob@gmail.com.

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Love Disrupts

First Posted 20-Apr-2015

Here I am, in my house, in the daylight before my next shift as a rideshare driver. I’ve made a good thing, a mostly stable life living in a rented house, with the inventory that many in the world would call wealth. I have good friends I hang out with. Life is good. The groove I’m in is one I could happily run to its end.

beautiful womanLove Disrupts. It takes our comfortable rhthym and syncopates it. All our habits, hangups, hurts, all these become ingredients in a new stew called a relationship. We are not only ourselves. We become an “us”. Some of our old, our before, dies to be reborn anew as that “us”. She comes over to cook dinner and in the process, rearranges the kitchen. You have been buying Sauer’s spices for years. You grew up with them. She arrives with stuff from Simply Organic she’s been buying lately because it’s Non-GMO and hypoallergenic. You love her so now you love her spices. You’ve always thought you were an autumn. At least, the last girlfriend said that. Your closet is filled with burnt umber, black, tan, and maroon.

She shows up and says it’s fine. But you hear how she says it’s fine and start buying graphic t-shirts from thrift stores. The next date you wear one and she’s all smiles all of a sudden. She says you look good. Your heart swells. Bourbon neat, that’s you. She’s Mai Tai’s in a young coconut. She’s grasshoppers and white wine. She likes this thing called a Foggy Bottom that is kind of a Mai Tai but they serve it in a little crock that has dried ice and water in the bottom so it bubbles fog out of it. You rediscover your love of Pinot Gris. Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey starts to be a plan.

You can’t be in love and remain the same. It’s what’s difficult and wonderful about it. In the two, in the surrender to the new “us” you discover things you never knew. It changes you. If you follow it through to marriage and parenthood the changes are dramatic and permanent. Things about you die so that new things about you can live. I’ve been a bachelor longer than I’ve been married or in a relationship. I have this pathological difficulty getting beyond the first awkward kiss. I hunger for love, for the beauty of a woman, for every way in which she’ll disrupt my quiet life. It has avoided me for most of my life. I can’t say why. Only that I’d rather have her, have the ways in which love disrupts, than remain alone in my quiet house.

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Something I’m Bad At

First Posted 21-Apr-2015

This happened repeatedly in college. It continues to happen. I meet somebody, there are sparks, chemistry, emotional heat. I want her. I want her to want me. Flirting happens, there are some dates, the moment when it’s soaring violins and time to kiss the girl and . . . it doesn’t happen. I don’t kiss the girl. Some really awkward conversation happens, maybe a weird, creepy back-rub or an odd pattern of hugs and I make a polite exit.

young hottie 2I love women. If I have a false idol it is women. It’s worse if I am attracted to someone. It’s so bad that in the moment when the magic is supposed to start I lose it. I become a babbling idiot. Lately, I was at a friends house and it was time. I should have kissed her. I did not. I stumbled out words about really enjoying the time, we should get together soon . . . hey we’ll do coffee some time and made my exit. I don’t get it.

This isn’t a new pattern. It used to really piss me off that in the ‘80’s, before AIDS, I got more play from middle-aged gay men than I did from women. I’ve had girlfriends. I was married, have a son. So, it’s not been a total wash. It still happens. I am into somebody, we get into the same room together, it’s time and . . . and nothing.

Guys that ride with me joke about being desperate for a woman after a couple weeks. They drunkenly boast about the women they’ve been with. I have to laugh because the last time I was with somebody and it went all the way was before the new millennium. Over 15 years. Blue balls after a couple weeks. Nearly 2 decades, people. Epic blue balls doesn’t even begin to cover it. This is how bad it has gotten. There was somebody about a decade ago. We started getting together at her house. We did dinners, watched movies on her VCR, the backrubs, some making out, then one weekend night she sat on her bed, smoking a cigarette, and suggested I rub her back (wink wink). I don’t remember what I said or did next, but there was no backrub and when I tried to call her later she’d blocked my number.

There was a string of Japanese women all through college who even had friends tell me that their cab light was lit. Available cabs have their rooftop light lit. These women knew I drove a cab to help get myself through college. It’s an obvious reference. Yet . . . she and I were in her dorm room, her back to me, mumbling in accented English about tax lights and I totally killed the buzz by launching into an odd tangent about Taxi Unlimited and our art cabs. One of these days the one I catch will figure me out and I dunno, greet me in a robe or something. Maybe not that dramatically clear. Something though, so that I get over my shyness and make my move.

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These Don’t Co-exist

First Posted 04-Jun-2015

A bit of housekeeping before I continue with the post. The featured image in this post is Edward Munch’s, “The Scream“. Munch has been dead more than 70 years so his painting is in the public domain. My copy of his work comes from Wikipedia.

Back a few posts ago I wrote about Darlene. I have a friend who is skeptical that prayer can be an antidote to anxiety. It can. Some of us are overly attached to our anxiety so it takes a lot of prayer to make the change. But . . . I did it and if I can, others can as well. His way of dealing with whatever is in front of him at that moment is to count blessings. There are too many blog posts that are merely lists. I avoid writing lists because I value original prose and narrative content. There also won’t be a homily on why we should count our blessings. I’ve got nothing original to offer there.

anxiety catI had an idea in writing the title for this. It is that we can’t both be in control of our lives and surrendered to Christ. We can’t be disciples of Christ and overly attached to our anxieties. Spoken by a guy who is anxious about almost everything almost all the time. So, I am the pot calling the kettle black. Worse because I’m getting all preachy about it. I am surrendered to Christ. I’m also daily working to trust Him so the anxiety thing goes away. I’m better but I am not free of it. Still working on it.

Today, in the camera car with my coworker, I learn this phrase, “At least I have . . .” To at least have whatever is not enough for this coworker. He won’t settle for just getting by. It’s not enough to say, “at least I have a job, at least I have a home, at least I’m still married, at least I still have my kids, at least . . .” he wants more.

I found it odd because my Dad’s plan is to die broke. At last count, he still has most of the pension buyout from 30 years ago. Through investment he has managed to earn enough to take care of himself and my Mom and still keep the principal amount. Pretty good.

I am a survivor. That’s what’s ended up after 36 years. I fall apart and I get it together. I come through ok. It’s never been in the plan to settle for “at least I have.” Also, it’s never seemed possible to me that I could have a principle amount to invest and live off the capital gains. What I sought, what I value, is the chance to be creative, to write, and through writing, both enlighten and entertain. The thing I’ll leave behind is my work. That’ll be my legacy, my more than “at least I have . . .” I’ll probably die broke like my Dad. I guess I get to do both.

I can relate to my coworker’s annoyance at folk who fall to a low common denominator and decide that it is where they’ll stay. I am restless. I wasn’t happy to just go to college, graduate into a career, meet & marry someone from college, then tick off the next few decades working, raising kids, to arrive at retirement ?successful? It’s the narrative I keep coming back to as the thing I didn’t want. It is what I still carry around as a “normal” legacy. I wanted more. I guess I got more. Today, typing this post while in a hotel in Gorham, NH, it’s kind of good. Life is full of supposed opposites. Die broke or leave an estate. Life is full of things that seem to be too big for one town. And guys like me who subvert the dominant paradigm and show that it isn’t either die broke or leave an estate. My son will never get rich off this blog. But it’ll be here, it’ll be something of me he can have forever. It’s an estate I can be proud of. So I don’t leave this post with no blessings counted, here are a few in no particular order:

  • This job, which pays more than I’ve made in 20 years, has me traveling to remote corners of the country, and let’s me do something I’m good at–drive.
  • God, who puts up with me and answers my prayers in ways I don’t agree with all the time but end up being pretty good.
  • My house. I’m still high on the fact that I have a house.
  • My car. Ok, it’s a crappy old cop car that needs a ton of expensive work. Kinda like me. Maybe that’s why I like it.
  • My friends, without whom a lot of what I’m doing would be much harder.
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The Alien Returns

I took a break from scrubbing the carpet in my living room to type this. Alien puke smells worse than human puke. Robert, who on a whim decides s/he’s Roberta, is asleep in his (?her?) S-10 pickup at the curb outside my house. I have a hard time telling the difference between Robert and Robert(a). They seem to dress from the same racks at Fantastic Thrift. It’s a rather Goth look using a lot of deep greens and splashes of pink. Roberta assures me that if I were an alien it would be obvious to me that s/he was a she. Noted. I’m not an alien, so . . .

rainy mondayIt’s sunny and wintery warm outside my window. The recycling truck came by an hour ago. I’m hungry, broke (again), with no job since 12/9/2015 and the usual pile of bills I can’t pay. Our vaunted Affordable Healthcare Act so profusely promoted as a better way has resulted in my appearing to not have health insurance even though I’ve done everything asked of me. Yay! I’m scheduled to see my doctor for the first time tomorrow and though I’ve paid for insurance and my insurance company has recorded my payment the Health Insurance Exchange in Virginia thinks that (a) I have not applied and (b) I haven’t paid. Can I punch Obama in the face? No? Damn.

I offered to volunteer at the jails with prisoners who need help finding a job once they are released. The pastor who runs the program suggested I take the class myself, since I am an unemployed ex-offender. The “Therapeeved” post is one I still have to repost because it was lost along with everything else when I tried with good intentions to upgrade the MySQL instance that runs this site. The too oft offered answer for almost half a century has been, “do some therapy.” I’ve done my share of therapy. I am incorrigible. One thing this this site is for me is a narrative on what it’s like to be a hot mess and maintain a quiet, stable personal life.

At least in church people know this and know that what works for me is to learn how to behave appropriately in a given circumstance. Which, I’d say, I’ve done ok with in the last decade or so. Another class to teach me how to apply for jobs and keep a job doesn’t excite me. It kind of pisses me off.

My living room still stinks. With all my therapy and martial arts and reading and Boaz & Ruth and Sunday School and counseling and long teary conversations with friends you would think I’d just not let Robert in the door. I’d get the locks changed. I’d call the cops and have him (?her?) trespassed. I’d get a restraining order. He’s there, on the curb in his truck, snoring loud enough to be heard here in the spare bedroom. “Anxiety is a choice, just get over it.” Right. Were it that easy.

Yah Yah. It’ll be fine. It always is. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you . . .” The usual cavalry has arrived and is helping out. But the habit of worrying is a hard one to break. Robert now says I should call him, “Bob”. I can’t help but think of the original “AA” Bob of many moons ago. The tract listing meetings I put on his windshield is gone. Maybe this time.

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