Thursday, April 29, 2010


You know what it stands for. When you say you're having a bad day, you have not only defined your day. You have defined yourself. That was always the case until the dawn of the current era of mass communication. Now, when you have a crappy day, you not only make it so in your mind but you repeat the process countless times in text messages, Tweets and Facebook posts. In fact, the maelstrom of daily communication, no matter how inane, has barely allowed us to take a step back and look at what we've become. Well, I have chosen these three letters as where I am taking my stand: FML. As I said, you know what it stands for. NOW is the time to take a step back. Think of what you're saying. Now think of the implications of packaging such a thought in such a neat little expression and tossing it around like it's a sigh or a yawn. Are you getting me? Am I off base? Am I out of line? Does it mean nothing? George Carlin once said that we think in language so the quality of our language affects the quality of our thoughts. How about the quality of our lives? You can have a bad experience, extrapolate it into more bad experiences by fixating on the first one, write off the rest of the day as a 'bad day' then RELIVE the entire saga in multiple electronic formats and arrive finally at the grand finale of summarily dismissing your LIFE with three letters. Just think about it, folks. I'm a passenger like all of you but we can take that step back even as fast as life can be these days. Remember the immortal words of one Ferris Bueller:

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"

Solidarity, Part 2: Fun With Personal Pronouns

I'm thinking of YOU. While I am sure the concept of solidarity is associated more with a sense of belonging to a particular group, I am using it in reference to my belonging to THE group: YOU. It is the one group we all belong to yet still can't seem to remember it. Now if you noticed I described this one group as YOU and not US, bonus points for you. WE are all members of this group but it is all too easy for the group to become YOU. THEY? Ok, that exhausts our supply of personal pronouns. Let's re-center with the last words I left you with in Solidarity, Part 1:

"The fundamental delusion of humanity is to assume that I am here and you are out there." Yasutani Roshi

Zen masters such as Roshi use the word 'mindfulness'. This word better serves this essay and any hope I have of achieving lucidity than the term 'meditation'. The wizards of popular culture and the ministers of propaganda have reduced this concept to a caricature as it does so many other useful concepts. Alas, these tiny broadcasts are subatomic particles compared to the work of those machines. Thus, while at this very moment, I may be somewhat mindful of you, all or any of you, the owners of the means of production and the satellites are rendering the very same concept as a Coke commercial. After all, they can actually show you a convincing image of the rest of the world on those flat-screens of yours. I guess I can't.

Thursday, April 22, 2010


Children are not safe. Let me get back to that. Loneliness is not a passive emotion. It does not just appear but rather, it convinces you. While the choice is yours, that should not mean that we all dismiss it, ignore it or remain oblivious to it. Yet, the sad truth is that when a person has become convinced of their loneliness, they then convince the world around them as well. Now let me tell you how this blog's title and its opening statement factor in. While I lead quite a full life and thoroughly blessed, I have my reasons for hearing that call heard by the lonely. We're not talking about a "I have nothing to do tonight and no one to do it with" lonely either in case that is what's on your mind. When I declare my solidarity with this particular group of people, I do so while standing amongst those convinced of and therefore oblivious to their condition. I remain as mindful as I can be despite my own natural aversion to that state of mind.

Now, where do the children come in? Why are they not safe? It was once said to me that most people settle into who they are and will be for the rest of their life by the time high school is over. This does not mean that things stop happening to you. It just means that, for better or worse, your basic set-up is established and you're on your own. All common sense always then used to dictate that until such time, we so-called adults are supposed to cover the children. In part, this particular thread of the blog came about upon hearing reactions to the recent suicide of an Irish teen who took her own life due to "excessive bullying". See, I believe I structured that sentence to reflect the proper order of importance. Upon hearing the story, my focus settled on the girl's suicide. In my mind, this occurrence should be cause for pause. But when I have to hear people, adults, say things such as "When I was a kid, I got bullied and I didn't hang myself.", I shudder just a little bit. I almost imagine them saying that while the kid is hanging in front of them or does the always increasing distance from humanity provide the disconnect necessary to form such a thought? Children are not safe. If we can intercept terrorist communications and still be attacked from within, a la Fort Hood, what sort of urgency does the cries for help preceding a teen suicide have? Just a few days ago, the anniversary of Columbine passed us all by rather unnoticed and that couldn't be more fitting.

Our refusal to evolve as adults is literally killing us AND our children. The solidarity I refer to in this blog may be with the lonely and forgotten. It may be with the young people who are reaching out and grasping air. But don't you see? Solidarity is the whole point. Look around you. These children are everywhere. The lost are everywhere. The lonely are everywhere. You or I might not be stopping terrorists anytime soon but all it takes to stop the rain from falling on these people is to let them in. It's their party too.

"I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together." John Lennon

"The fundamental delusion of humanity is to assume that I am here and you are out there." Yasutani Roshi

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blog To The Future

So Im back to the blog, to blog to the future. Title reference! Since my last entry, I have gone through a change that actually involved deleting a number of blogs due to the place I was in when I wrote them. Now this is a miniscule aspect of the change and as a writer, I realize that the place one writes from is integral to the writing and not really a reason to eliminate the work. But one does have a right to edit one's life in a sense and once I unlocked the key to closing a chapter that needed closing, I did whatever the new chapter called for. I didn't mean to stop writing in this space all together but at least one major new development happened in the meantime. The notion of surrounding myself with creative people, especially writers, has been one that plenty have done their best to get through to me. Yet, the young and dumb punk in me always misconstrued the notion as elitist so I was too good for that. I know. Gag. But perhaps I shed an ounce of ignorance during this change and realized that writing never should have been the Plan B that I made it. The fact that the failure of Plan A would be the catalyst of the change I have undergone could very well have something to do with that.

As for the change itself, you could say that the final bubble of my twenties has finally burst. Gone is the pipe dream of making a difference as a teacher and established is the very directive the King himself hung around his neck: TCB. That's right, Taking Care of Business. Work is work. The dream is the dream. Whether or not they get to occupy the same space is not my focus anymore. Does this not mean I don't want to teach writing while writing myself any longer? No. But I am certainly not holding out for it. I can't afford to. This fella needs to get moving big time. So, I started to see that notion of surrounding myself with like-minded folk not as elitist but as absolutely vital to my plan of taking my talent to the next level. I applied to Fairleigh Dickinson's MFA program in Creative Writing. Not only was I accepted but I was given the Director's Award for Fiction, a distinction and monetary reward reserved for one writer showing significant promise in fiction writing. That's that.

What of employment? It turns out that the whole of my teaching experience in ALL schools I have taught in boils down to one immutable fact. My conscience is my undoing. I have known this since the time in 7th grade when all the boys snuck into the school kitchen, stole cans of soda and were able to return to the open to enjoy their drinks while yours truly immediately hid in a bathroom, gulped half the can with shaky mitts and threw out the rest. Now, saying that my conscience is my undoing may make me sound high and mighty. However, the flipside is that a certain school of thought would have me believe that I am flawed, somehow inept or disabled in my inability to eat it and grin. But it is this understanding of the "real world" that I have been told I lack that allows me to see how insidious that which thwarts us all remains and shall always be. There are no heroes and villains. It is what it is. And what it is can be everything to everyone. It will not compromise but you and I will. An old friend showed me the model of establishing the career and family while working at what you love remained separate. Whether or not that included eventual success, however measured, in the work that you love was a separate matter. Still, I had to have it all. In those twenties I mentioned, that bubble I dwelled in allowed me to judge a simple 8 hour a day, 40 hour a week paycheck and place on a pedestal the notion of holding out for the so-called "dream job" where I could make a difference for a living. Well, here's the deal. Like I said, that bubble is burst and I remain a caring person who strives to make a difference in the lives of those he loves and those who gift him with friendship and kindess. And THAT guy needs to start making a living. THAT guy doesn't need to find himself in helpless scenarios, feeling utterly futile while events, big and small, fly in the face of what he cant help but call his conscience, his principles, his standards, etc. THAT guy has learned compromise to the point where it is no longer compromise but a deliberate suppression of perception. THAT guy has finally learned to take care of himself. THAT guy has finally learned to take care of business. Thanks, King.