Do not drink someone else’s poison

One day there was a man sitting on a park bench. The day was gorgeous, sunny, a little warm but there was a gentle cooling breeze coming in off of the ocean.
In the distance, he could hear the sound of the surf, and the cry of gulls as flew up overhead.
He wasn’t doing anything much in particular, just enjoying his day, enjoying his life as best he could. He wasn’t bothering anyone. But as busy as he was, he just felt like stopping for a moment to just simply relax.
Well, not too long into his rest another man walks up with a smile on his face and a cup in his hand. The other man, roughly the same age as the first, was sharply dressed while the first, was dressed exactly for what he’d set out to do.
But the man came up to the man on the bench and said, ‘beautiful day, isn’t it?’
And the first man nodded, slightly curious about the man and even more so about the cup. But he decides to mind his business and said, ‘Why yes, yes it is.’
The man in the suit asked, ‘Mind if I sit down next to you?’
And the other scooted over and said, ‘Sure, it’s a free country.’
Wel,l the man in the suit did sit. And they sat together in silence for a little while before the man in the suit handed over his cup.
‘I need you to drink this.’
Taking the cup out of curiosity more than anything, and maybe a little thirst the other man asked, ‘What is it?’
And the first man replied, ‘Its poison. It’s going to make you sick.’
Shocked and a little disbelieving the first man chuckled and asked, ‘Why would I drink poison?’
And the first man smiled sweetly and said, ‘If you drink this poison, even though it’ll make you sick, I will like you.’
Aghast, the man – who didn’t know the other from Adam asked, ‘And if I don’t drink it?’
The first man’s face clouded over and suddenly he looked very mean and very angry. And with spittle on his lip,s he replied, ‘If you don’t I will hate you. And I hate you, I could hurt you in other ways.’
Wel,l the first man on the bench, who’d taken some time off just to relax, who’d been minding his own business was naturally really upset that a man he never met could hate him for no reason or want to make him sick just so he could like him.
But finally, the man shook his head and handed his cup back to the man in the suit and said, ‘ You may hurt me, this is true, even kill me. But I will not drink from your cup. You liking me simply isn’t enough of a reason for me not to like myself.’
And without a second though, the man stood up and left the other sitting on the bench with the cup of bitterness in his hand and went about his life.
Furious the man left seated quickly downed the cup and rose to pursue the one who walked away. He made it four steps before his knees gave out and landed face first onto the ground. Dead.
The other – never even knew as he went about his life.

Moral of the story: No one is worth trading yourself for. No one is worth ingesting poison for no matter what the contents of the cup or how much they may like you. Be it religion, politics, and so forth. And while yes, they may be able to hurt you, it’s because they’re ate up inside with hate and their demise isn’t far behind.
And if you have been drinking someone’s poison before, and may still yet be, even though they may grow angry at you for stopping, you have EVERY. RIGHT. TO. WALK. AWAY.

F.E.

Violence and Scars ( a call for passive resistance)

 

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Photo by Gerrie van der Walt on Unsplash

I remember the day 9/11 happened. It’s something that is seared into my memory.
The whole day I was in shock.
I fell asleep to CNN and woke up to it still playing on the television with picture after picture, replay after replay of the hijacked airliners and the damage they’d done.
The body count.
People standing outside of The World Trade Center weeping, begging God and passerby’s to deliver them their loved ones.
The next the numbness of it all wore off and there I was, nineteen years old, weeping into the arms of my sister.
I was scared.
Knowing all those people died, it broke my heart.
I remember asking my mom if she thought there were ‘saved’ people in those buildings.
The other day, with Charlottesville I sat down and cried again. I’m thirty six years old and later on as I prayed the ‘Our Father’ with my husband – clinging for some kind of comfort – when I got to ‘Thy Will Be Done’ I choked it out.
I’ve lived a long life.
Not in years but in experiences.
I am a survivor of fundamentalism.
I was raised in the belief that I had no inherent ‘good.’
That the world had no inherent good.
I was beaten. Often. The religion was rigorous and I often rebelled against it.
I knew as a kid there was something inherently wrong with them.
I couldn’t put my finger on it – I mean, the people we talked to were polite, they dressed nice, the churches were nice, they drove nice cars….and in a lot of ways, it wasn’t the worst of circumstances.
Until it was.
And when it was, baby, it was a honey.
I’ve seen and been through things too bizarre to put in 9 books let alone one.
My sisters, can even top my experiences.
Those experiences have put a scar in me, on my heart, so deep it cuts into my very being into the foundation of who I am as a person.
And if I am not careful, those scars, get infected.
I have to be vigilant.
There is an old Sunday School song that goes, “Oh be careful little ears what you hear. Oh be careful little ears what you hear. For the Lord above is looking down – in love – oh be careful little ears what you hear.
It’s in what I hear – that requires the most vigilance.
Like someone who’s had a weather related injury, such as heatstroke, or frostbite or someone who’s come in contact with poison ivy – I’ll always be susceptible to the tone of a message than the actual message itself.
Passion, rhetorical flourish, and charisma are the cornerstone of any good speaker. It’s not really in what they say, that makes us listen, it’s all in the delivery.
Think of your favorite speaker, preacher, politician, or public persona.
Don’t listen to what they say, give that a rest, listen to how they say it.
There’s a lot of umph to their message, a schtick they use, they’re just like you….but they’re not. If they are public speaking, have their starched white shirts rolled up, can deliver a speech without any reservation or nervousness, they haven’t been one of you for a very long time. Most people I know HATE public speaking.
Right now, there is a lot of talk about Nazis and their alter ego – Antifa.
There’s a lot of passionate rhetoric being tossed around by both sides. Promises of violence. Actual acts of violence and confrontations.
A whole lot of passion.
We should always stand against fascism. Always. There’s no room in a free society for authoritarianism. Period. White supremacy and it’s ugly older brother antisemitism and ugly older sister bigotry – ruin and destroy – and have never once created a thing.
It’s led nations into ruins and took its people along for the ride.
And while there is something in the idea of standing up to a Nazi and ‘giving them their just desserts’ violence never creates anything. Like racism and bigotry – violence only begets more violence.
I’ve seen so many people on social media talking about ‘getting ready ‘ for some kind of showdown with the evil that is Nazi’s and no doubt – they are evil.
Yet these same people are unaware, or maybe they are aware, that they are slowly becoming being pushed into the very thing they’re trying to fight against. They become the other side to the same coin.
I feel like a fool when I quote this man, because everyone does who try to drive home a point. Bigots have used this guy, which isn’t too far a stretch since a racist will use Jesus and the Bible to justify their deep rooted hate. But Dr. Martin Luther King stood against much worse, so much worse, and was far more effective in his methodology of passive resistance than any armed conflict can ever accomplish.
War is not about success no matter what General stands up and delivers his speech ‘to the boys’.
War is about failure.
It’s about people failing to come together and work out their issues.
It becomes mindless.
To commit an act of violence against another human being, you have to work yourself up into a state of mindless rage and once that line is crossed – there’s no coming back.
Ask the vets who’ve come back from Iraq and Afghanistan how they feel.
I am not telling you to march. I am not telling you not to resist. I am not telling you to just let them hit you or hurt you. No. You have a right to defend yourself from bodily harm.
All I am asking you to do – is listen not to what your side says – listen to how they’re saying it. Listen to the words they use, not in a way that convinces you to join their cause, but what they are calling for.
The French know about this.
While their revolution was probably 100 percent just. It became a mindless stream of violence and death because people couldn’t back out of the frenzy they found themselves in.
There were so many different factions inside of that event that when someone starts to talk about the French Revolution – you are 100 percent justified in asking, “Which one?”
Are we facing some dark times? Yes. No doubt.
‘ The other’ regardless of where they fit, are in dire straights.
But ladies and gentlemen, there is power in numbers.
Passive resistance like Dr. Kings wasn’t very popular in America. He was murdered for it. Like Christ, he used to the parts of the society in which he lived to shame the wise. He held a mirror up to this country and let it get a good look at itself.
Sure you may face violence and worse when you stand up for what you believe in in any capacity.
But there is one sure fire way you’ll be unable to avoid it and that is by being violent yourself.
A man that lives by the sword will die by it each and every time.
Whoever got a hold of those 15 hijackers used passion to convince them 100 percent of their righteousness. The man who plowed into the crowd of protesters was 100 percent convinced of his righteousness.
The man who sucker punched his little boy, and bounced his head off a tile floor in the kitchen because they were angry, was 100 percent sure – in the heat of the moment – he was right.
Curtail your passions. Or they will destroy everything around you and trust me, there are some fates that are worse than death.

Violence is NEVER the answer. All it does is create a whole myriad and painful questions. Questions like, “Why me?”

What’s worse, is some questions then, have no good answer and because of that – there is are scars that never heal right.

Okay, Teen Vogue, Let’s talk Sex. But let’s talk about all of it.

First off, I’m Gay.
Secondly, I’m a little weirded out by this whole thing. I think having gay sex in a sex ed course is important.
That being said I’m not so sure about Teen Vogue posting a ‘how to guide’ when it comes to anal sex.
For a couple of reasons:
A) Anal Sex isn’t for everyone. I know a lot of gay men who don’t do it. This has been somehow turned into ‘all the way’ in the gay romance m/m version of Paradise by the Dashboard Light. It isn’t. Cut the crap. 
C) I know teenagers have sex. I’m not stupid. Abstinence only education doesn’t work. I grew up evangelical baptist – it didn’t work there either. Trust me. That’s how you end up with the aforementioned HIV stats and that isn’t factoring teen pregnancy. 
So far we’ve just talked mechanics.
But sex is far more complicated than just the act itself. I wish there was an open and honest conversation about ALL of the things that come with sex – stuff adults have a hard time wading through let alone some kid who’s bodies and brain aren’t fully developed. Who’s emotions aren’t fully developed.
Basically, I wished I had someone to talked to me about sex in the same fashion that say women get talked to about sex. With a firm understanding that sex =/= love and love doesn’t always require having to be naked. That there was a worth to me more than what I can do with my body. Young gay men need to hear this and they never do. As a matter of fact, they spend their whole lives being told their less or worse.
When I first had sex I was twenty and it was with a woman.
I was ugly. I was overweight. I had bad skin. I was my own birth control.
But then I lost a lot of weight and got really really cute. And that got me a lot of attention.
When I did have sex with a man, a couple of years later, I wasn’t emotionally ready.
I was reckless, careless, and stupid. I never used a condom. Ever. And while I didn’t end up HIV positive by some miracle, I’d fucked my heart up and become so jaded that when real love showed up, actually showed up, I was bitter. I couldn’t see it. I almost destroyed my relationship with my husband before it ever really started.
Because like it or not – sex does something to you. Inside. Mentally and emotionally.
Maybe that’s not the way it will be for them, but God, shouldn’t we spend a couple of years emotionally reinforcing these kids before we throw them out into the world of Kama Sutra?
D) While I understand the article said to use a condom – there are adults who won’t. Who use Prep as if it’s a cure all pill and don’t consider HIV’s older siblings that can be just as deadly if left untreated or just as permanent. 
E) While the right is dedicated to being socially retarded, and their bigotry is an emotional investment in ignorance, I think the far left is becoming just as reckless and irresponsible in their short sightedness. Don’t be so ready in your efforts to declare love is love if you won’t come out and say sex isn’t love. It isn’t the same. And while you’ve been getting heat from ding bat people for this article, you have a responsibility to teenagers to give them the whole truth about what it is your selling to them. 
F) I know the second leading cause of death for people ages 10 – 24, is suicide. Bullying is at an epic level in our country. These kids need emotional reinforcement. They need positive role models. They need space to just be kids. Some of them have shitty parents. Some of them have shitty religious figures, bad school lives, a flood of negative things said about them. Horrible Politicians. Hell, Michelle Bachmann couldn’t keep kids alive in the district she was head of, as a matter of fact, according to this article it seemed like certain people there were actively trying to get these kids to kill themselves or were turning a blind eye because they thought these kids were better off dead than gay,  http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/michele-bachmann-teen-suicide/
http://www.thetrevorproject.org/pages/facts-about-suicide
In this political climate, Jesus, especially in THIS POLITICAL CLIMATE ….come on.
G) Some people might roll their eyes calling this ‘slut shaming’ or ‘Don’t do as I did, Do as I say.” To the first people, go to hell. You know the way kids can be, you know the way some ADULTS can be, don’t set these people up for failure. This doesn’t concern you .
To the second, to some young adult that might read this,  You’re right. I sound like a hypocrite. I wish I could go back and undo what I’d been through now that I know what love is.  And it isn’t because ‘I got a man’, either. Love was with me the whole time. I just didn’t have a mom and dad who cared enough about me to let me know that in the beginning. So I went looking for it in other ways that, looking back, took from me instead of gave me anything. There’s so much being thrown at you now. It’s so confusing and overwhelming. I am not saying don’t do it. I am just saying, “You don’t have to.” No one would ever think less of you. And if they did, then they don’t respect you. You deserve respect.
Can I give you one more piece of advice? Be a kid as long as you can. The adult stuff isn’t much fun. We don’t ‘have it down’ any better than you do.  Except now we have the added bonus of paying taxes. It’s bullshit. Take all the time you need. You’re so worth it.
And if you’re a young adult who may have had sex but you’re not so sure if you want to again – there’s no shame in saying, “I want to focus on school. SAT’s are coming up. ACT’s are coming up. Prom. College Applications.”  Just know you’re worth waiting for.
H) If I were a parent and my kid brought this home. I’d be pissed.
I) This was the best sex talk I’d wished I had. If you don’t believe me, Listen to ‘Kurt’s Dad’ from ‘Glee’. 

Fucking excuses (poem)

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I am so tired of the fucking excuses
friendships, relationships, existence excluded
concluded for what?
are we that fragile
is thinking, now, something frowned upon?
staying true to a person now passe?
is it all relative?
Love is not love that turns its back and walks
stop spreading bullshit – this isn’t a garden

9/10ths of the problems of the world
are rooted in the idea that a person has a right to another
I can own you and can therefore do to you what I want
Whether you’re talking about police brutality
or when people let their fandom that much access to their lives – people will move the fuck in and will take up whatever room you allot them.
Are you for real? Still not clicking in to this?
How about when a grown ass woman – not some nasty side hoe
doesn’t reduce herself, her dreams, her ambition so he can feel needed?
Feel me now?
He couldn’t own her, she wasn’t on the auction block, so he left.

And in my case I stood up for some Jews
those are the fucking people you hate when you WANT
to become a bigot. They’re a racist’s training wheels.
I could have said that a lot nicer
But I don’t pretend to be someone I’m not
There was no ‘welcome to my parlor said the spider
to the fly’ sign on my door
I’ll kiss your ass for the same reason I do your laundry
and that’s only because we’re fucking.

I am sure there are people here
who are tired of being hurt because they put a down
payment on the bullshit someone sold them
and when it started to crumble moved heaven
and earth to make the relationship work
only to find the property was in foreclosure to begin with
but goddamn – the things we’ll do just to hear someone say
they love us
What we trade in for just one more night in their bed
or one more phone call, book sale, a nice word
for what? In fifty years I won’t remember their last names
and neither will you
So stop letting people treat you like their side chick.
all or nothing
no more fucking excuses.

Memory (poem)

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chase memory through the wildflowers
down by the stream and across the covered bridge
stand in the inbetween place – between sun and the shadow
and remember the dragonflies alight on lily-pads
florescent blue upon emerald green

Remember the feel of the worn sun bleached wood
as you slipped off your sandal to touch barefoot
and how you jerked it back up quickly with a hiss
but not before you felt the smoothness almost softness of the plank

Remember the smell of the water all around you
as stream fed the pond fed the lake that surrounds
and the smell of sun dried earth and freshly cut grass, drift
as a john deer moans across the path and down the hill a ways

its a Thursday, and you’re playing hooky and its summertime
and your young but not in love and so your burdens are light
and your skin is so much tighter, and your smile is still quick to wrinkle your nose
and easy as the warm day resting now upon your shoulders

Twenty one, maybe, no more than twenty three to be sure
open to everything and everyone around you at this tender age
Not knowing that this moment will be recalled days and laugh lines and gray hairs later
as if you were a dusty camera plucked off a shelf in the hands of someone who needs a smile

And perhaps you’ll only revisit this memory once
then again perhaps you’ll come back again and again
when the smell of cut grass, or the sound of water rushing
reminds you of that in between place when a moment you so quickly barely witnessed yet can recall so vividly
so much so you can almost feel the burning of your foot

Love me loving myself (Poem)

 

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(Photo Yoanne Boyer)

Of course I want you to love me
For who i am! Not for what you think I should be
This isn’t Ralph Lauren you don’t get to choose
I’d rather sing rock and roll, than sing the blues
I want you to love me because quite frankly
I’m just like you

I’m as needy as you are needy
I’m as boring and frightfully dull
I can laugh till my side aches
And cry when my heart breaks
And I love moments when I’m the king of it all.

I’m as delightful as you are delightful
And I grow sad and so morose about the passing of time
I count gray hairs and crows feet lines
I groan when I see that’s a quarter til five
And I haven’t been to sleep, not a wink, not at all

But of course, I want you to love me
For who I am, I’ll let you know who that is when I know
Cause right now I’m as lost as you are lost
Stumbling forward, crashing, smashing onward ever forward
As Queen once sang, ‘…on with the show.’

I’m as wretched as you are wretched
And I grow more discontent by the day
As i grow older my patience grows thinner
My eyes grow dimmer, Everything grows slimmer
Yet someone forgot to tell my waist

I’m as sweet as you are precious
But my sweetness is reserved for those who deserve it
Not for those who I simply pass by
Nor for those who’ve made a habit of making me cry
I’m getting too old for other people’s bullshit

So, yes, Yes! Please, by all means love me!
But understand if I won’t wear a mask for you
I won’t trade myself, place who I am on a shelf
If that means you have to leave
Well, you have to do what’s best for you

For I am as worthy as you are worthy
And there is history behind my voice
But my voice is my own, my opinions full grown
Loving one’s self is a toast to your health
And loving myself is my choice

So you want to be a writer? Prepare for crippling doubt.

motivation

 

Do you have that novel in your mind that you’ve always wanted to write?

Do you have that great storyline you think should be made into a screenplay?

Do you have that autobiography you’ve been thinking about sitting down and hammering out now that you’ve reached a place in your life where you have the time?

Good.

That’s step one.

Now comes step two.

Fear of failure.

I have a quarter written manuscript that I have poured my heart and soul into for the past several months sitting open on this very computer right now. I’ve had people read over it. I’ve had my publisher read over it. I’ve read over it a number of times.

And, not to toot my own horn, but I love it.

And so did everyone else.

But today as I was reading back over it once more to capture the feeling of the story I am trying to tell I found – before I knew it – in the midst of a black hole of despair.

Nothing triggered it.

I was happy all day today.

I got up, kissed my husband goodbye, walked the dog, had breakfast, worked out, caught up on social media, sat down to read and get to work –

and BANG!

There it was.

Doubt. Self doubt.

I have been published multiple times. I get some pretty good reviews. While I am not the biggest seller out there – I know that at the end of the day – I can tell a story. And a good one at that.

And most days that’s more than enough to keep me going.

But today, I felt like a fraud. A poser. A no good craptastic punk who couldn’t string two coherent sentences together.

When my husband came in, and we had dinner, he noticed I was upset and inquired about it like a good spouse does.

“You go through this every time you write,” he said shaking his head and looking upon me with a gentle gaze of patience.

He’s right. I do go through this and so will you. Over and over and over again.

It is the loneliest feeling in the world to try and create something you’re not 100 percent sure the world wants or will treat well once you’ve handed it over.

I am not going to give you a pep talk, espouse one of those OBNOXIOUS one liners on those OBNOXIOUS motivational posters in offices the nation over. You know which one’s I’m talking about. Those posters that, when you’re having a bad day makes you want to punch someone….yup, them.

I am not going to tell you that what you’re working on is important, that it will be well received, that you will make a million dollars, and your work will one day be taught in universities.

Because all of that may not be true. Hell, it most likely won’t be.

But I will tell you , that feeling you get when you’re up late at night hovering over your laptop, sitting at your desktop, or scrawling through a notebook curled up on the couch – when that moment of terrifying self doubt washing over you – is completely normal.

I’ll also advise you not to finish it for the enjoyment of the world. Finish it for the satisfaction of saying, “I did that.”

That’ll mean more than anything.

I did that.

And if you still don’t feel better go burn one of those fucking posters in effigy.