glutinous racism: it’s what’s for breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, lunch, afternoon snack, dinner, evening snack, midnight snack, etc. etc. …

If you’re paying attention, you’ve watched as coronavirus migrated from hot topic to shrouded in camouflage as protests and race riots commandeered the ship.

Long forgotten are the days of cheering on essential workers. And it was basically last week. You still hear squeaks of reports on coronavirus. But they are overshadowed by George Floyd and BLM.

This country couldn’t be more divided on “opinions” about everything from confederate flags, to the efficacy and strength of our president and governors.

I keep my 11th finger on the pulse of Breitbart, especially the comments sections. The articles alone are insanity times a zillion. But the comments are mind blowing. The views expressed on that site should scare the world into complete reform of our overall fabric. I’m not sure that’s ever going to happen, but I read the site astonished that the words there are emitting from real Americans.

“Surely these are Russian bots,” I think to myself. I wish there were ways to identify who they are.

The number of people claiming “I’m not a racist” is through the roof. It’s usually followed by, “I grew up with black people. They are my friends. But let me say, ‘Fuck Black Lives Matter.'”

Pro Tip: if you claim you aren’t a racist, you are a racist.

I’m a racist. You’re a racist. We’re all racist. The key to the puzzle is self identifying as someone who needs to grow and learn about what is and what isn’t racism.

I do my best to not be racist, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have racist tendencies. I make snap judgements, based on my evolved brain, that immediately snaps judgements of people based on their appearances.

I make comments that I have to stop myself and ask, “Wait, was that racist?”

Racism comes in many forms. It could be assuming that someone you can’t see driving a car is a certain race. It could be crossing the street when you see a person of color walking toward you on your side of the street. It could be talking down to someone because you hear on the phone that they aren’t your color.

Hell, how many times do you hear a story and either identify someone as a “black person” but do not qualify another person as “white”?

Or during a story, someone doesn’t identify someone as a color and the first question you ask is, “Were they black?”

We need to heal. We need to understand each other. We need to listen hard to the stories about black people unnecessarily arrested, needlessly stopped, blatantly mistreated, egregiously abused because of the color of their skin.

I wish that the November 3 election were the impending cure to all that ales us. But I’m afraid we put too much pressure on dates as scapegoats. Or on people. Or on viruses. Or on memetics.

Let’s all heal, grow and learn. Take a second to focus on your racism like your breath. Agree that it exists and fix it … together.

Thank the universe I live in Chicago

Yesterday, I was shopping at at a grocery store. In the checkout line, I was struggling to find my six feet wondering when it was appropriate to place my three items on the conveyer belt. Suddenly a male voice behind me asked, “Hey man, do you mind if I cut in front of you? I only have two things and I’m trying to get up to the protest.”

I looked down at my three items again and thought, “Yeah, why not?”

“Sure, man. Go ahead.”

So he jumped in front of me with his two boxes of Capri-Suns.

“Where is the protest starting,” I asked him.

“Up at the Riv,” he responded.

“Okay, cool. Do you happen to know which way it’s going and how far?” I asked.

“Um,” he paused and checked his phone. “It’s going from the Riv to the Sheridan Redline stop and back up to the Riv area.”

“Okay, cool,” I said.”And thanks for doing what you’re doing. It’s important work.”

“I don’t know about that,” he said. “I’m one of many.”

“One of many doing an amazing service and necessary act for this country,” I said. “Stay safe and have a great day.”

Later in the day, I talked to my best friend in NC. He asked about the protests and riots. I told him that it felt more tame on Wednesday and Thursday, but it was still happening. “I’ve heard the flash bangs every night.”

“Get your ass back down here asap, brother,” he said.

“Nah, man. I kinda like it here.”

“Oooo-kay,” he eeked out.

I’m not sure I got a chance to really explain. But I somehow feel safer here than in NC at times. My parents don’t believe in masks. North Carolina has been back to “normal” for a few weeks. People are likely out spreading the disease more than they think.

Not to mention that here in Chicago, we have much more diversity and intrigue.

It’s summer-time temps. People are out in abundance and it makes me so happy. I love being in a place where expression is vast and frequent. I love living in a city where protests are massive. Where people are creatively writing signs and holding them high over their heads.

A city where I get texts saying, “Be careful out there. Traffic is a nightmare and exits on the highways are closed.”

I love life in North Carolina, but it just can’t compare to the adoration I have for Chicago … especially in warmer temperatures when the variety of our neighbors is in full view.

The riots and violence are part of our fabric. I’m not sure why I’m able to accept it. I don’t stare at it in complete horror.

Destructive protesting has a much louder voice than we imagine.

I have a temper. And that fucking temper gets the best of me. But you know what? My temper has forged longtime relationships of iron strength. It’s also removed relationships that, for fuck’s sake, I didn’t want in the first place.

People reminded me with broken record advice, “Do not cry in public. Do not lose your temper in public. Do not show a temper tantrum emotion. That’s bad. Expressing anger is negative. It’ll get you no friends. It’ll produce no good.”

But the truth is the opposite.

Anger is an expression of vulnerability. And when seen in a certain light, it breaks down barriers. It exposes raw, animal-like behavior. It humanizes us. And ultimately, it binds together groups.

I don’t believe that the cops who are committing atrocities toward black people and people of color are angry. I think they think they are intelligent and superior. Their group think is to control others anger. Their approach stems from ignorance and lack of self-awareness and self-control.

The result of their behavior is anger by onlookers. And anger must be expressed. It is natural. It is honest. It is requisite to a sound mind.

Sure, peaceful protests are preferred. But if destruction creates awareness. If it sparks conversation. If damage provokes an iota of thought. If it seeps into every conversation and overshadows all other discussion, then yes. Riots and looting is somehow a version of acceptable.

Our black neighbors need to be heard. Give them voice and lend your ears. And if they start shouting, banging drums or smashing windows, or drumming doors down … they are playing the music that you desperately need to hear, dear reader.

Please listen.

As cacophonic as explosive tempers seem … it is a song that seriously needs amplification.

Inhaling, exhaling, smokers, sneezers, bad breath, olfactory nerves, coronavirus and you

When I see runners up and down the streets of Chicago who are not wearing masks, I repeat the same line: “How fucking irresponsible.”

Perhaps runners think, “I must be healthy. I show no signs of disease. I obviously don’t have a respiratory illness; I’m running and my lungs feel fine!”

Or maybe a collective apathy toward self-protection is on the rise.

Or maybe runners are assholes.

I’m a runner. Runners push air from their lungs with much greater force than walkers. And from what we know of the spread of this respiratory disease (e.g. here, here, and here), inhaling droplets infected with the virus is one of the quickest ways that it spreads.

Not only am I breathing out harder, I’m inhaling deeper. This puts my risk level higher, I would imagine.

My runs have been between one and two hours, and I’ve worn a mask the entire time or most of the time. If I’ve pulled down my mask to help catch my breath, it’s because I don’t see anyone around and I feel I can do so. But at street corners or passing another biker, runner, or pedestrian, I pull my mask up. It’s a curtesy to them and a precaution for me.

Do I feel like some masked vigilante at times with my sweat-soaked bandana swinging around my neck like a turkey waddle? Yes. Does it make it difficult to breathe at times? Yes. But it’s not impossible.

During the run, I also try to sense which way the wind is traveling. If I’m running into the wind, I make sure my mask is pulled up. I wonder how far droplets surf on invisible wind waves and a neurosis take over my brain.

One of the thoughts that keeps coming to mind is the distance cigarette smoke travels from a smokers exhalation. This is an unscientific observation. But I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been outside somewhere, and I smell cigarette smoke long before I see a smoker. I look around and sometimes they are 30 to 50 feet away. Maybe more.

Or you exit a building where smokers are huddled 15 feet from a doorway and you suddenly remember the bar scene before January 1, 2008.

Again, not scientific, but the smoke I’m smelling is coming partly from exhalation. Does that mean I’m recognizing the possibility of droplets because one of my senses is recognizing it? I mean, minutes after someone smokes pot, you can smell it. Hell, sometimes a bathroom carries an odor of its previous occupant for up to how long.

Is olfactory sensation an indication of airborne droplets?

Just this week, I was cooking a garlic-y meal. I had to take my dog outside to go pee. Outside, I could smell garlic. When I walked back in the front door on the first floor, it became much stronger. Walking through the front door one flight up, garlic slapped me in the face.

We can’t smell halitosis from certain distances, but if we had dog noses, could we? And what would that mean for the length of time droplets can float before gravity pulls them to the ground?

Science has recognized that sneezes throw droplets farther than we can really measure. Runners exhale with great force. A cough also pushes out air with force.

We can all relinquish care and assume we are all going to get the virus. And maybe that is driving the drop in mask use around town. Or maybe I’m misinformed and need another lesson what is and what isn’t safe.

I guess one point I’m trying to make is: if you could smell coronavirus like you can smell cigarette or pot smoke, would more people wear a mask. Would it make it more real if one of our available senses could identify it?

Just a thought or two to start your Saturday.

Thanks for giving me a platform to express my neuroses and curiosities.

Oh, and wear a fucking mask.

Candle lighting ceremonies and Covid-19

image from here.

Every Christmas, our family attended Christmas church services. It was the highlight of my pyromaniac year.

Upon entry, the ushers handed out little white candles with round cardboard wax catchers to almost everyone taller than 4′. The entire service passed by: the carols, the scripture readings, the sketches, the children’s choir, the message usually from Matthew or Luke and then … the best part … the candle lighting ceremony.

The same message was repeated every time.

“When you spread the word of Jesus Christ, it starts with a single light in the darkness … but it spreads and consumes the darkness with light.”

By the end of the ceremony, the whole church was illuminated in the prettiest flickering light. As everyone sung “Silent Night,” candles were carefully lifted over head.

It was a one of the most beautiful symbols I remember of the church because felt slightly more literal than metaphor. You could see the action it represented. One could watch the spread of light. And as a future photographer, I fell in love with that quality of flickering beauty.

This contradicted the times when the pastor said, “Bow before God,” but in our church it was figurative. We never knelt on our knees like Catholics, Episcopalians, Methodists or Wesleyans.

My mind keeps returning to this metaphor of spreading one bit of phenomenon to many and how it pertains to the spread of viruses.

Covid-19 seemingly starts in the darkness, and by George, you can watch it spread via scientific discovery, testing and by following symptoms.

Gosh, you could use the metaphor for systematic racism or any other memetic virus.

Back in late March and April, Tina and I escaped to our investment property in North Carolina. While there, we ended up painting the exterior of the home. We planned on hiring pros to do it, but after the pandemic hit, we wanted to save some money.

It was a welcome distraction.

The color we mainly used was white. Over time, I noticed I left clues of the places I’d been or frequented. There are stairs leading out of our back yard into the front. There were white smears at the place I ascended, grabbed the gate and pulled my way up.

There were white smears on the doorknobs and on the floors where I tracked it through.

It was like there was a permanently illuminated blacklight forensics team showing me my crimes against our property.

Thing was, I thought I was cleaning up after myself. I thought I was washing my hands. But the evidence proved me wrong.

I finally realized that I needed to clean my hands and shoes more often. Not only more often, but more effectively. I needed to remove shoes before entering the house. I needed to grab handles with a clean cloth.

To what end?

To quell the spread of white paint on our clean floors, knobs, faucets, gates and misc property.

It’s quite an interesting observation to literally see what I was touching.

My observation led to an eye-opening moment: if I can’t keep track of everything I’ve touched after I’ve got paint on me, how much does the average bear know exactly what they’ve touched and how much its affecting those around us.

That, in part, is why I decided that wearing a mask was an important part of my public persona. I couldn’t see my path of destruction, just like I couldn’t see anyone one else’s. Someone with Coronavirus cannot see how far their breath goes and I can’t see where it is either.

It’s not a candle held to another candle held to another. It’s not white paint on fixtures around a home.

It’s “invisible” to the naked eye and it could easily be everywhere.

This isn’t to say I’m a neurotic shit.

It’s to spread a light in the darkness.

Too many loved ones still do not wear a mask. They are too big for the monster that is spreading like a Christmas Candle-lighting Ceremony.

And that’s sad.

This “changed the world” MLK meme is making its rounds.

Here’s my response to the popular meme among conservatives and so-called libertarians making its rounds (MLK = Looted nothing. Burning Nothing. Attacked No one. Changed the world.”


I agree. Eye-for-an-eye violence should not be the answer. My brother in law sent me photos of his historical and internationally popular record store in Chicago boarded up and it broke my fucking heart. 

I hate it.

I live within ear shot of the violence every night and it makes me shake from fear. 

But how about a devil’s advocate stance? The story of redemption in the church cannot be told without the story of Mr. Christ’s ineffable torture and agonizingly violent death. First came violence, then came “peace”, for anyone who believes. Biblical history is chockfull, packed, filled to the hilt with violence before peace (e.g. Cain & Abel, the Flood Killing Umpteen number of population, Sodom & Gomorrah, Samson, Joshua & Jericho, Moses and the Plagues, David & Goliath, are just a slice of popular stories). Hell itself is a violent end to the thought crime of rejecting Jesus as Savior, but it is “necessary” for salvation for believers to choose peace over violence. 

Contemporary Americans are lucky Sons of Bitches. Our collective memories does not remember the riots, the revolution, the civil war, etc. World Wars I & II were fought overseas. We nuked Japan not once, but twice, for what? 

For violence? No, for “peace”. 

We can make our strongest arguments about non-violent protests. It’s a tough counter when violence is what ended Mr. King’s plight yet continued his message. They don’t say “fighting for peace” for nothing, perhaps. I don’t know. It’s a fucking minding numbing cyclical argument. Difficult. Nuanced and a damn travesty of challenge. Cheers, mate. I hope to see you on NC time soon.

The last line should read: “Murdered for his passive actions.”

casting a critical eye on all media as being part lie, part truth, part bias

Year after year, we get the benefit of a “free” social media site. I use Facebook to advertise my photography and filmmaking, but otherwise would be as far away from it as possible.

Facebook doesn’t have a constitution, nor promise first amendment rights. They have a TOS. A Terms of Service. They own the country and they set the rules.

They also burgle you of as much personal information and sell it to advertisers behind your back. So, yeah, you pay dearly for the site … with your LIFE!

The masses of misinformation on Facebook are clearly a cesspool of frightening ignorance.

During the pandemic, the crazies have filled the virtual streets with signs loaded with apocryphal taunts. Memes abound. Biases are confirmed en masse. People who never had a voice before, seemingly have one. Unlikely cults find and recruit members quickly and easily.

Today I saw a post from a friend on this meme :

The first response was from the guy who posted the meme’s father. It read:

Is he saying that the USA doesn’t help the poor or Christians don’t help the poor? I wonder what he bases that statement on?

My response – which seems to be getting legs – as my friends are screen capping it and sending it to others:

I think many of the faithful think they are benevolent based on their involvement in their churches. Or by proxy because their churches have outreach programs. 

Having spent many hours with my very conservative friends over the last year, I have seen first hand how much some believers LOATH the poor. They complain about them incessantly given the topic in conversation. Helping them means telling them they shouldn’t be in full view at their stop lights holding signs. They shouldn’t be visible, because it plagues their green pastures and blue skies. 

I agree with you and Mr. Colbert here. It appears that Jesus’ mission of helping and curing the poor and the sick is a willfully forgotten pastime. The only thing selfish people of faith care about is the “next life” where everything will be solved in harmonious cloud life. Here? That’s Satan’s land. There, that’s where all are healed. All are safe. All our happy. All are well fed in a magical economy of what would appear to be socialism to the max. 

I don’t necessarily enjoy being critical of believers. I don’t think all believers are bad or evil, per se. Nor do I think that they — in their minds — are doing something wrong. I believe many people have enough self awareness to see their own hypocrisies. Including myself.

I have two best friends in the south who LOVE their faith and love Donald Trump. One is a guy I grew up with and the other is my dad. Given this info, and I still love them dearly, might indicate my level of consideration, I would hope.

I think the world is a huge landscape to navigate. In theory, we’re all doing and living exactly the way we are in our minds, not remembering that others perceptions of us are usually negative as well as positive. Each one of us is a hypocrite. Each one of us fails and succeeds.

Each one of us mistakenly views our perspective as truth. Some more than others.

Sometimes it’s our inability to identify personal weaknesses and be thoughtful about them.

Yesterday, a friend of mine, a very lovely person I met here on this blog and also in REAL LIFE tagged me on Facebook hoping hear my thoughts on Facebook censoring certain ideas. This person, Julie Ferwerda, author and nurse, entered my purview after I read a post ±10 years ago that she wrote about “dating Jesus.” She wrote that she must make time to spend with her personal savior because it helps cultivate their intimacy. Make him cards! Record His answers. Make time for one another! Read my post here.

I’m sure I was critical of it, because a relationship with Jesus is one-directional. I found it laughable that anyone would “date” the so-called creator of the universe.

While some believe we have His Word to communicate to us. There’s no way to have a “real” conversation with someone who has no tangible voice. So we talk all we want through prayer, to a voice in our heads that many attribute to that of God himself.

At the time, she laughed it off. And I thought that she showed showed enough personal awareness of her foibles and idiosyncratic approach to relationships with invisible friends.

Since then, she wrote a book called Raising Hell, Christianity’s Most Controversial Doctrine Put Under Fire. The book is a verbose meandering of her decision to leave the fold of hell believers. At the time, we had become friends, and I had written a few times here on this blog that hell is the easiest Christian doctrine to research and dispel as fiction. I’d like to think it was the foundation for her book, but I love to think highly of myself. 🤣

She’s recently displaced her views of fervent evangelicalism to replace it with proselytizing the religion of vaccination awareness.

She didn’t write the following. But I did. Her view, in my opinion, is this:

Mark Zuckerberg totally admitted — out loud! — that Facebook tries to prevent anti-vaccine information. This is CENSORSHIP! How can they censor helpful information about the EVILS of vaccination. It’s all a sham scam, perpetuated by Bill Gates and Big Pharma!!!

So here’s this LONG ass thread discussing vaccinations with all her likeminded darlings. It’s not being taken down. There are links in the thread to Bill Gates. To the evils of vaccines. And it hasn’t been censored.

But they’re complaining about censorship.

Does anyone with a pulse not see the irony?

So she tags me and says, “Thoughts?”

I looked at the thread and rolled my eyes. After pointing out the irony that her controversial post was yet to be censored, I responded a few times. Given the opportunity and “welcome” into their house to give my “opinion”:

 I believe that it’s inappropriate to discuss controversial issues on Facebook. For instance, I don’t discuss my lack of belief, my political stance, my thoughts against people like you with views like yours … I am now, because it’s on topic. 

Why? Because it’s dumb as dirt. I don’t think we would have these arguments if we were in person. We’d be much more delicate — at least in theory. There are better things to talk about than vaccines. And there are better uses of my brain space than to try and convince against something you’re already convinced of. 

Just like you changing your mind about hell … these changes happen organically. I could care less about your stance otherwise. I do come from the camp that you’re very misinformed. As do you toward me. Surprise!!!

I believe you have moved your beliefs of hell to that of vaccines. You believe that you’re loving your fellow humans with the gospel of “don’t vaccinate.” So you go on proselytizing rants and raves for a giant conspiracy of censorship. That you’re being marginalized like Christians. Oh the martyrdom of promoting your beliefs!!! 

It’s like your brains need so badly to get the world to see the unseen that you latch on to crappy arguments like these and scream, “LISTEN TO ME!!!! I — and I alone — am speaking the truth.” 

Only this time it’s not hell and heaven and Jesus … it’s a damn scientific doubt founded on a bunch of hooey capluey.

The Anti-vaccination crew blab about their absent rights and their censored truths. They throw around how they all eschew mainstream media. While claiming that their peripheral media sources are solid, and grounded — no steeped — in research and amazing information! Read them and you, too, will open your eyes to the pit of evils instituted by Bill Gates.

When did Bill Gates get demonized? I can’t really figure it out, but it seems like it’s gained popularity in the last couple years. Check these articles here, here and here.

Bill Gates. He’s the formidable enemy of the anti-vax cult. With his pointy ears, horns, red skin and trident held high with hundreds of dead babies on each spear.

This guy:

Who publishes a summer reading list so thoughtfully curated and reviewed.

While his blog is a diverse gathering of educational material, the anti-vaxxers are posting endless memes about how evil he is. They’ve taken his words out of context to render him a monster of vaccinations at the peril of you, your loved ones and your fellow neighbors.

Mainstream Media — and all you un-woke people — have fallen into Gate’s hypnotic gaze.

I asked myself recently, “Who do I not like in the world?”

And I answered, “Well, I don’t like Donald Trump.”

Then I asked, “Do I not like him so much that I have demonized him, reveled in his awfulness both on and off the social media court.”

And I responded, “I spend a fair share of time, energy and mental real estate thinking about this guy. Yes.”

And then I asked, “Do you do it ALL the time?”

My response, “Not really. There are good thoughts I have of him. I remember a roast between him and Hillary Clinton before the election in which I saw this one glimmer of kindness toward Hillary in which he tried to pull her seat out for her as she was sitting down. She, in that moment, was a cunt. She was the one who acted the asshole.”

I’ve asked myself a hundred times if I adored Barack Obama as much as Trump supporters adore him. I don’t believe I do. But Trump’s cult of personality is different. Obama was a boring president in comparison. We all got earfuls of how awful he was. How he wasn’t a Christian. Sympathetic toward Muslims. But besides wearing a tan suit and “um-ing” more than the average bear, he was largely flying under a radar. Fox News tended to air their grievances daily. But I never owned a poster. I never thought he was worth adoring. He was just another president doing his best to do the job he was voted in to do.

I look back at my disdain toward George W Bush. I changed my mind about him even though I thought he was a war-mongering prick. But once I heard him talk to his daughters getting interviewed on Ellen. He was on the phone and the girls were in the studio. Hearing his humanity and kindness toward his daughters softened my heart and I totally saw him as a man.

There are plenty of things I wish Donald Trump did differently. But I don’t believe deep down that he’s trying to ruin the world. His views of the world are living out in his day to day life. And while they aren’t my ideals, apparently there are many who adore him.

Because I get more chances lately to spend time with those Donald Trump fans — including my best friends — when I’m in the south at my second home, I get to see first hand that they comprehend his foibles and they overlook them. They think highly of him.

And while it’s like they want me to like their favorite band or love their favorite TV shows … you can’t convince me that I should completely love them or him, too.

It’s like demonizing the devil. Everyone paints him as evil, but he was responsible for opening Adam and Eve’s minds to the so-called truth. He didn’t condemn people to eternal torment, God did. He’s kinda just a bystander with a huge pool of incessantly burning embers. He’s apparently easily defeat-able, but God lets him stick around causing havoc, casting doubt, tempting you with sex, lies and drugs. But God sent the flood as punishment. God kills. Satan seems to just sport cool tattoos and wait for his kingdom to be filled with people who commit the thought crime of not accepting Jesus as the savior of the World.

Bill Gates. That Satan-loving, child murderer and vaccine profiteer. I don’t love him. I could care less. But I do see a tendency for groups to scapegoat someone without merit. And the more I read about him, the more I’m not convinced that he’s going out of his way to benefit off of the world by having it vaccinated.

Like you perhaps, I’m trying to make sense of this vaccination crowd. I ask myself, “Why don’t I make the same connections as they do? I’ve read the same material. I’ve watched the same videos. What am I missing?” Am I sold-out? Am I stuck in a loop of ignorance?

I recently read that in the DSM-5, there’s a term apophenia – the tendency to perceive connections where none exist.

And maybe this is where the issue lies. Humans are pattern seekers. One cannot look into a cloudy sky without identifying forms as representations to a living being or inanimate object. Patterns are everywhere. We tend to connect two points of interest automatically, and if this pattern repeats, we latch and do not let go. I got a cold after I walked outside in a cold rain. Every time I wear this shirt, my team wins. When I put my car in the shop, ten more issues crop up … the mechanic must be sabotaging me. When I test for the coronavirus, more people test positive … so let’s not test.

Almost every group claims their sources of media are the right ones and everyone else’s is the wrong ones. I call bullshit.

When people finally cast a critical eye on all media as being part lie, part truth, part bias, then, and only then, will I listen to anyone preaching a message of “truth.”

The Buddha, two arrows, and you

An interestingbit from an article at Vox:

The Buddha taught that when we experience something painful — a physical illness, or the news that someone we love has died, or witnessing suffering all around us — it’s as if the world has shot an arrow into us. It hurts! That pain is totally normal, and it’s fine to acknowledge it. In fact, it’s good to acknowledge it, to let ourselves simply be with the experience of pain.

But often, what we then do is shoot a second arrow into ourselves. That second arrow is any thought we use to spin up a “story” around our pain, as a way of resisting simply being with the experience of pain. This can manifest in many different ways.

It can take the form of shame: “I’m such a weak person, to be crying out like this!” Or anger: “How dare the doctors not save my loved one’s life! They’re so incompetent!” Or ruminating: “If only I’d nudged my loved one to take this or that extra precaution, maybe they wouldn’t have died.” Or catastrophizing: “I’m going to die, too!” Or guilt: “I don’t deserve to live while other people are dying.”

We’ve all got our second arrow of choice. Whichever one you incline toward, the key thing to bear in mind is that it’s self-inflicted, which is to say, it’s optional. It might not seem that way, because it comes upon you so quickly that it seems automatic, but the Buddhist teaching insists this is a second arrow we shoot into ourselves. And doing so is what causes us suffering. As many Buddhist mindfulness teachers like to say: Suffering = Pain x Resistance.

Am I the only one enjoying the pandemic?

This pandemic, while incredibly stressful, has been a welcome relief from a busy several years. When the economy slowed down in 2008, we lost 50% of our income in one year.

But on the plus side, Tina and I got into a rhythm of working out four to five times a week, often during the middle of a work day. We lost weight, got relatively healthy and enjoyed life in a way that I’m guessing only retirees might.

But then something turned in our world. The economy boosted. In early 2010, we had depleted our savings to almost nothing. Which as a conservative business owner, I was shitting bricks. I try to keep a bit of a nest egg for times of crisis. Thankfully, by the end of that year, it had bolstered back up over 900%.

So for the past 10 years, we enjoyed a steady work life and a comfortable income, but we also suffered from a unpredictable work load that seemed unending. My creativity deteriorated as a result. I was in a rut. And for years, I couldn’t seem to find the same amount of time to work on what I wanted to work on. It was all commissions.

I don’t believe humans were meant to work their entire lives only to finally get some respite in our 60s when we retire. We’re meant to have balance. We’re meant to enjoy life.

Tina and I LOVE the weeks when we can spend two or three hours in the middle of the day away from our computers. Gosh, there were months in which we didn’t see any work and we did NOT care.

Then the other people in my life were complaining about “Obama’s shitty economy.” I was like, “Wut?” Our income steadily rose during his administration. If anything, the current administration started hurting us as we saw a decrease in some of our work in 2018, again in 2019 and 2020, I’m guessing we’re going to drop way more than 50% like the crash of 2007/08.

But you know what? Fuck it. While the “get back to work” protests rage with covidiots, I’m thankful for a break. My creativity muscle is getting a jolt of good joojoo. My relationship with my wife is flourishing. My fun muscles are jacked up on steroids and my penis couldn’t be happier.

I love seeing the creativity that has blossomed out of others. The memes right now are so funny my sides hurt from laughter.

My biggest beef with this is how stress is manifesting into a couple too many beers every day for myself. But also the stress that seems to be crushing others into 5G madness or couples deciding now’s the time to split up in a bankruptcy-causing messy divorce and custody battle.

We social distanced a fireside chat with friends earlier this week, and it turned into a couple, male and female, berating us about 5G conspiracies and Bill Gates vaccine nutter butters and 800-page books written by real, bonafide doctors … that they didn’t read … but that wasn’t the point. The point is that it’s their “truth”. And their truth is that this pandemic is caused by 5G. And a simplistic, remedial understanding of basic biology is completely bullshit, because EVERYBODY KNOWS that radio waves caused the Spanish Flu.

“Where’d the Bubonic Plague come from,” I asked.

“That’s bacterial!!!” they shouted.

“We need to let natural selection take its course,” they continued.

“What about the other side of Darwinian theory of mutation?” I asked.

“This is our TRUTH, Jeremy! You can believe whatever you want to believe!”

“Well, I’m not buying it. I call it BULLSHIT. I’m fucking leaving.” And up I stood and fled in a furious cloud of anger in what can only be seen as a three year old temper tantrum. I sprinted almost a full 1/4 mile to get home, only to have Tina call me and yell, “You have the car key!

I returned to find Tina and Talulah at the end of their driveway waiting for my dumbfuck ass to return. I ran up the driveway to the car, started it, floored the pedal and shot gravel all over the place as I lost traction.

After I got an earful for abandoning my wife and dog and after I apologized profusely, I started running up and down our driveway. When that got old, I started running up and down a neighbor street that was about 1/4 mile up and down hill. I did that for a full hour and fifteen minutes which probably translated to around 5 or 6 full miles. The entire time, I shouted into the darkness: “Natural selection? Natural selection? You want my mom and dad to die, because you think herd immunity is the cure and you want to believe this is all caused by 5G? And you don’t want to wear a mask because it’s a metaphor for shutting our collective mouths? And you don’t watch the news, but you KNOW radio waves are at fault, but you have the latest iPhone in your pocket pumping you so full of the same goddamn waves you’re claiming is causing this shit?!!”

What the ever living fuck.

Then I couldn’t sleep.

Then I couldn’t let it go.

Suddenly I was struck with Turrets Syndrome. While doing any task from cooking to house painting, I suddenly blurt out things like,

Natural selection!?

Herd immunity?

This is all caused by 5G!

What the fuck! 

Holy shit, these two are loony toons.

Don’t preach at me!

“That’s our truth, Jeremy!” 

I may finally be calming down. It’s been four days.

It hasn’t ruined my pandemic joy, though. It just jolted it with 5 gazillion watts of “Holy moly guacamole, some people are nutter butter bombs of all the nuts.

Good thing I’m perfectly normal and have no faults whatsoever with solid views and am never, ever EVER wrong.

Now get off my lawn! 








marriage is built on a foundation of innumerable failures

In my journal recently, I wrote this:
“Marriage is built on a foundation of many things, one of which is forgiveness for an innumerable number of failures.”
I feel fortunate that I entered into shelter in place with someone with whom I spend 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. We’ve practiced enough conflict resolution, been to enough marriage therapy, sorted out lots of doubts or insecurities, seen each other through levels of stress and difficulties.
We approach marriage that divorce is an option, because you know what, I refuse to flash a badge of carte blanche to hide behind “til death do us part” or “for better and for worse.” Marriage is hard fucking work. And if I screw it up, and Tina wants to leave me, she should have that right. And vice versa.
But I know we’d go out in a ball of furious firey fighting to save it first. Splitting would be last resort after all efforts to reconcile were exhausted.
For me, it’s a beautiful institution chockfull of sticky, dirty, shitty, no-doubt awful times … mixed with a whole helluva lot of great, good, heavenly, mediocre and boring ones.
Tina comes from a divorced situation. I come from a thick-and-thin 51 years of marriage trials and tribulations. I’m adopted. So we share our fair number of abandonment wanderings and psychological baggage.
I sincerely hope my friends are balancing their approach to the stress of this damn pandemic with a bit of long-term clarity. This, too, will surely pass.
I hope.
I imagine it would be incredibly easy to hyper focus on the foibles of your spouses or partners: the unkept hair, the lack of clipped nose hair, the grays coming through, the unflushed toilet, the stench of a few too many days without a shower, the one, two or twenty drinks too many, the barked response to, “What are you making for dinner?”, the kids screaming and there’s not enough Calgon to take you away … all those idiosyncrasies that were tolerable before 24/7 stay at home orders.
I hope to the heavens we get through this. You get through this. We get through this. And if you don’t stick to staying together, that’s okay, too. Life is also founded on an endless number of failures.
Then comes the big dose of self-compassion.
Self, you are forgiven.