There will be (more) Blood

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This is insane.  This should not be normal.  It’s become normal.

 

I had another piece planned for now, but I put it off because of the recent shooting in Parkland, Florida.

This will not be a hope filled piece.  It’s resignation to reality.  This won’t stop.  Not anywhere in the near future.  We watched as small children were gunned down, and the lawmakers did nothing.

Watched the deadliest mass shooting in the history of America, and it took less than a week before the demands for gun control were snuffed out by an NRA fueled group of sociopath senators.

And you know I’m really light on the list.  if I said “did you hear about the school shooting” you’d talk about the shooting in Parkland.  But if I asked you about mass shootings in 2017, 2016, 2015…  Only a few will stick out despite there being so many shootings you can’t keep track.

Barely removed from the most deadly mass shooting in American history where  58 died, and it’s nothing more than a forgotten hashtag to all  but those who buried their dead.  Now I’m not telling you anything you don’t know.  I know the frustration of all the people in America who want gun control and want it now.  They wanted it before Columbine.  (As a side note, think how sad it is that Columbine doesn’t make the list of top 10 deadliest shootings any more.)

And there are three things certainties after a shooting like this.  The majority calling for action, the Government offering useless thoughts and prayers and then cashing their NRA cheques, and the 2nd Amendment lunatics rushing to their twitter, Facebook or gab (I threw Gab in their only because it exists.  as far as I know, Gab is nothing more than grumpy nazis who kept getting suspended on twitter,) to defend guns.

Let me start by saying, if you do that, if your reaction to shootings is to defend guns, you’re a flat-out asshole.  A scummy, ridiculous human stain.  These are the same people who say “don’t politicize this when we should be grieving” and then proceed to politicize it by telling you why gun control won’t work.

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Sorry Aaragorn. I know you’d be in favor of common sense crossbow control.

 

Gun control works, but I have to say ACHIEVING gun control won’t work.

First you have the government, who won’t do anything suckling at the massive teat of the NRA.  Millions upon millions passed to Republican senators.  So are they the block?  yes, and no. Because it does not matter how low the approval ratings for senators get, Republicans would rather vote for Satan than a democrat.  The usual things.  Abortion.  Same sex Marriage.  People with brown skin from different countries.  And, yes, gun “rights.”

I’ve often said that Republicans are single issue voters, but I’m not being fair.  they have maybe 4 or 5. And the truly  belligerent asshats go online after a shooting and immediately attacking everyone calling for something to be done.  Same old excuses, same old tired arguments, none of them making a lick of sense, but they don’t deal in sense.  They deal in “muh gun.”

These are people who take photos like this.

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Next Christmas card let’s go with pistols!

People so stupid that they put guns in the hands of children.

Now there is a perfectly good counter to every one of their stupid arguments.  But again, reason does not resonate with these people.

More car deaths, let’s ban cars! (accidents aren’t shootings.)

Guns don’t kill people, people kill people! (Yes.  and a staggering number in America is with guns.)

Criminals won’t obey the law ( ok.  so we shouldn’t prohibit drunk driving because drunks won’t obey the law.)

I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I loathe these people.  They always say “so much for the tolerant left” and in this case, it applies.  I cannot tolerate their negligence, stupidity, lack of empathy, and complete refusal do deal with reality.  I loathe their champions.  Tomi “racist barbie” Lahren.  Dana “I was created in a vat” Loesh.  Dana is ACTUALLY a paid NRA shill.  Her job is to literally defend guns after mass shootings.  I can say without equivocation I consider these people to be repugnant, and am close to thinking it’s actually divergent evolution between those who have logic centers in their brains, and those who don’t.

 

They always scream “Gun control doesn’t work! “(Except in every nation that has gun control at varying levels, NOT having anywhere near the same number of shootings.  I mean it isn’t even close.)

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America is number one! U S A! U S A! U S A!

 

Sane people know that gun control works. People who care about other people know gun control works.  But flipping red senate seats is near impossible.  The majority of America is left of Center, but the Senate is filled by states.  More red states, well, you know the rest.  And here we are.

I know so many good and caring people who are fighting for the insanity to stop.  And I don’t wish to try to stop their efforts, and I truly hope they succeed.  I have no belief that the American “democratic process” will allow it though.

So there will be more blood. More tears. More impotent rage.  More worthless thoughts and prayers.

I don’t know anyone who has been shot in mass shootings.  I mourn for America, not individuals.  I mourn a country filled with people I love dying a little more every day. I mourn for my friends held captive in a nation being run by a dispicable minority and not a creed of  “fuck you, I got mine.”

 

I have no hope this will change.

Please, America, I beg you to prove me wrong.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The 40 year old teenager

 

 

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Ok. Quick disclosure before getting in to this piece. I came up with the title and concept before my birthday and am writing it after so I’m actually 41 now and I know you can never really trust me again.  I’ll just have to live with the shame of it all.

 

So what do I mean when I say 40 year teenager?  Video games and dick jokes?  Giggling when someone says something I can turn in to an innuendo? Nah.  I do that and it doesn’t have to do with my age, I’m just a jackass.

 

It’s not zits either. no it’s not. Stop looking at my selfie.

It’s more this:  I never was a teenager.  I never had those years.  Sure, numerically I had them.  I didn’t go from 12 to 20 on a single birthday.  But I never was a teenager at the right time.

I don’t write this to garner sympathy.  I’m well beyond that.  My friends know my issues, I’m open about my mental health, and I don’t believe in comparative suffering. But this is my story condensed in to less than novel length.

I endured bullying straight from Grade 1.  In the time of my childhood, there wasn’t much oversight on what kids did on the playground. Living in a small town, you don’t escape it when you move on to higher grades.  The same Fuckfaces that made your life miserable on the playground do so in the High school, except at this point they’ve graduated to beatings.* Long story short, I dropped out.  I was flunking everything anyways, as I refused to go to classes where I was picked on.  So, all of them.  I didn’t see the end of my grade 11 year.

yeah, I’m a high school drop out.  surprise! Or not, depending on what you’ve thought of my education level interacting with me.**

 

I started working full-time at a series of incredibly shitty jobs.  This is not a value judgment of the jobs themselves, but they made me miserable.  Retail. Office clerk.  Factory.  Door to door satellite TV salesman.  at 17.  Those huge ugly dishes.  Another reminder of my age.  The pay sucked, the hours sucked, the life sucked.  And then I got my girlfriend pregnant.  So now instead of making ends meet, I was working two jobs, 7 days a week, to feed a baby. Now don’t get me wrong.  I don’t regret my daughter.  She was one of the truly wonderful things in my life.

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she made a gif.

Working every day of the year drains the hell out of you.  It wears you down to the edge of insanity.  It ages you.  And for a while, I was just getting pounded.  Everyone has a story about how their ex is awful.  Let’s just say mine did not work even when our daughter reached school age.

And then she left me.  Thpppt.  Found a new guy to sponge off of.  All good for me, other than less time with my daughter.  Then I dragged myself through various office jobs that sapped the soul out of me.  Until I ended up where I work now.  I’ve been there for 13 years, and in that time have risen to the point where finances are not a key problem any more.  but 12 years of poverty took its toll.

As I approached 30, I met another woman and got married again.  It wasn’t a bad marriage, even though it ended after 10 years. It just wasn’t a fulfilling one.  A wonderful person with whom I shared little in common and that gap increased each year.  During that time, My daughter came to live with me.  Chronically depressed, and struggling, I then had to fight to save her life.  This drained me faster than anything else, other than failing.  No, I don’t blame myself for her taking her own life.  I don’t blame her.  There isn’t blame.  It just is another vampire sucking the life out of you.

I developed PTSD, depression, and anxiety disorders.  This further dragged me down.  I’m successfully fighting it at the moment, but still have real issues, and will for the rest of my life.

And now I am with a truly wonderful partner.  The first intimate relationship that gives back to me, really, instead of sapping me dry.  A true partnership of equals with empathy and compassion for each other.

 

So wait, you might ask, what does this have to do with being a 40-year-old teenager  (fine, 41)

I never was one.  And some of my mentality kind of fits that of a teenager.  I have a real struggle with confidence.  I often feel like “nobody gets me.”  I can be moody and pouty.  Although given the way the world is today, that may not mean teenager at all.

I’m fighting to regain some joy in my life.  Some spontaneity. reckless abandon on some things.  occasional shirking of responsibility just to fuck off and do what I want.  I adult, and adult well.  I just don’t really want to most of the time.  I’ve been working full time since I was 14 years old, with almost a decade being multiple jobs at once. 27 years so far. and I have 25 to 30 to go.  I’m tired.

It’s like a regressive midlife crises where your lost youth just needs to be indulged.  I cope with humour.  If you’ve read my twitter timeline, you can tell that I have this mistaken impression that I’m really funny.*** I sometimes write angsty tweets, or, reading this, angsty blog posts.

Truth is, I am not ready to grow up any more.  Not that I don’t want to progress in my life.  I just want to savour my dying  youth, and somehow,  maybe buy back a few of those teenage years that were stolen by circumstance and situation.  I can’t stop time.  I can’t reverse the clock or erase the laugh (ok, frown) lines.  I just want to try.****

*Plus side, I can now run my head in to things and feel a minimum of pain.

**I actually completed two college degrees and completed my GED after all of this.  I just don’t have a classic education.

***I am.  If you can’t see it, it’s you. not me.

****so expect more dick jokes.

 

With love to all my readers,

 

Smartassicus out.

 

 

 

The making and breaking of a bigot

im20not20racist20poster20300x300I’ve had a lot of difficulty writing of late.  I have a number of stories I want to share, but delve pretty deep in to who I am, what I am, and what happened in my life.  Some of it is extremely painful.  Disturbing and off-putting. Some of it would bore you to tears, and some of it would make you cringe.

Lest I come off as a self-martyr bemoaning his existence like an emo muppet, I’m sure we all have the same.  But one of the things that bothers me the most about myself is my history of ideology.  Most of it is not who, now, I would ever want to be.  I’m going to skip the old chestnut of “everyone changes over time” and ask that you do the same.  I am not looking to exculpate myself nor am I looking to claim that I have moved beyond it.  I just want to tell my story about this one aspect of my life.

I am a bigot.  was a bigot? Am on a bigot spectrum in decline?  I don’t know how to express it, in that I don’t think someone as myself can ever be completely free of prejudices.  Nor can I, as a cisgender mostly heterosexual man begin to claim to understand what other people go through.

Enough of the navel gazing to try to determine the RIGHT way to identify my bigotry level at present.  Let me delve in.

I grew up as a white boy in a white family in a white town.  I grew up Christian.  I grew up privileged. I went to sunday school and sang Jesus loves me and thought nothing more of it because Mom and Dad told me this is the way things are.  (this is not really going to be a deconversion story.)  I was a complete WASP.

And I never knew I was a bigot.  Now I was never taught to hate people with different skin, but it was just assumed that white people were the norm.  There weren’t any black people in our church, that’s for sure.  And there was one Black kid in my primary school (and probably 3 in my High School.)  Casual racism was just normal.  Nobody was running around throwing out the N-word, but we didn’t think much of other slurs, nor sayings that meant the same thing.  And we felt like very good people, of course.  Add on top of this that yes, my church was one of those homosexuals are terrible sinners churches.  It basically was a Noah’s Ark believing turn or burn church.

So I was taught that gay people were not right. And that’s just the way it was.  God said so, so it is.  I didn’t even know about Transgender people or gender fluidity of course.  The only thing as a teenager that we ever saw was “drag queens” and they were something to be sneered at as obscene.

Then came my assaults.  I will not discuss them at length here, as it’s perhaps a story for another time.  Suffice it to say that in my mid teens I was twice sexually assaulted by male friends.  This of course could not be told to anyone.  The shame of it alone would be unbearable, and I had obviously sinned, so I had to take some of the blame.  But it made me grow even more bitter and hateful.

By 17 I was working full-time, not going anywhere, and pretty disillusioned with everyone and everything.  Then I met my first wife.  Now when people say their ex is awful, it’s standard procedure to nod and know that being an ex makes the other person horrible.  But my first wife really was horrible.  This is not about her.  It’s about the child we had together.  That is the only thing of note or value that came of that marriage, and the rest I choose to ignore as an irrelevant grain of sand.

I Married at 19, as we ended up with a baby on the way.  We married not long after she was born.  And I went about my life.  Worked. Paid bills.  Watched sports.  Got divorced.  Paid more bills.  All along never thinking for a second that there was anything the matter with me.

But the truth is, I hated gay men.  Some may point to my assaults and say “well, yeah, sure.” but I don’t even know if they were gay or just curious or just being an asshole.  I had been steeped in hate for homosexuals from the beginning of my life.  I don’t want to say I was overtly racist, but I certainly didn’t think much about the social injustices to minorities nor the reasons why things were the way they were.  And yes, I shied away from groups of black men.  I bought in to the stereotyping.  Just never as a proud white supremacist.  Just regular whiteness.

 

It wasn’t until my 30’s that I began to change, really.  It coincided, not surprisingly, with the beginning of the faltering of my religious beliefs.  I had married again, this time to a Chinese Canadian (no, that didn’t clear me of racism.)  But I had begun to realize that there were things in the world that just weren’t right.  That people were still being treated badly because they were black, or brown, or any shade other than washed pig.

I began to realize, of my own accord, that I wasn’t right about my attitude.  That I was casually racist.  That I bought in to stereotypes.  Thus began a learning process that continues today.

But the homosexual angle was still a problem. I still didn’t like gay men.  They annoyed me.  Just keep it to yourself.  Go be disgusting somewhere else.  Why do you need a fucking parade.

Yeah. That was me.  Less than a decade ago.  I had become atheist in the meantime, but still clung to that hatred.  Then my daughter came out to me.  Now here is the thing about gay women when it comes to fundamentalist churches.  They don’t get mentioned.  They are like unicorns, don’t really exist.  All talk about gay was about gay MEN.  So although I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of it, I didn’t connect the dots.  And I accepted and loved my daughter for what she was.  I found out that someone so good and wonderful couldn’t have something terribly wrong with them, realized that I had held on to beliefs that were shoved in to my head, and it suddenly became crystal clear that there was absolutely nothing wrong with people being gay.

I wish I could say it was something more noble.  Something more tangible than “well, my daughter is gay, so that changes things.”  But it mostly wasn’t.  It was the catalyst for change.

I will say after that point I actively sought to learn and understand more.  I learned to let go of old assumptions.  Tear down my walls I had put up.  I kept doing that after I lost my daughter 5 years ago.  And now, When bigots interact with me on Twitter they see me as a left-wing loon.

I listened.  Read.  Learned. Still am.  And now I’d LIKE to say that I’m an advocate and an ally to both People of colour and LGBTQIA. I don’t say it though, because that’s for them to decide.

 

These stories are supposed to have a watershed moment, aren’t they?  a death-blow that leaves the old self bleeding out. But other than my daughter, it really was just a matter of raising my head out of the slop that I had been fed all my life and breathing clear air.

I don’t begin to pretend to understand everything.  I can’t.  I don’t have enough lifetime left to even come close.  All I know is that I continue to try.

I am ashamed of what I was, and have learned enough not to be proud of what I am now. Just like the way people are supposed to be, not being an asshole to them.  I know that I can never atone for any harm I did in my life for what I believed.  I can’t even say that I know when I did.

All I know is that I am proud to know people across all spectrums of gender, sexuality, skin colour, and not one seems wrong any more.  I managed to pull the demon out of my head.

Forgive whatever traces he left behind.

With love,

 

Smartassicus

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The forgetting

Yesterday was a day of remembering for me.  A day of thinking about what is gone from my life, and how it has impacted and shaped me over these last 5 years.

To me, my daughter will always be an ever-present memory in my mind.  Unchanging and indelible.

 

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A crisp white rose without blemish or fault. Lest you think I romanticized what my daughter was, I speak only of my memory, untarnished by the time that has passed.

 

 

I received a great deal of support from my dear friends at twitter.  My partner was by my side.  My parents called.  My daughter was their first grandchild and in some ways my mother is more desperately hurt than I am, she has to balance the death of her granddaughter with her supposed loving god, where I do not.

 

But oh, the ache, the disappointment, and even the anger at those who should remember but don’t.  Family members that once made calls or sent messages on that, the day of days for me, remembering her.  Just including her in their thoughts as they go about their lives.

Family members that no longer do so.

 

Rose flower 5 weeks after the stem was cut and put into water.

 

They haven’t forgotten her, they’ve forgotten me.  About what this does to me.  Now, I haven’t had the closest of relationships with my family outside of my parents.  I’m the cliché black sheep.  The only (identified) atheist in the family.  My extended family wasted little time in simply not being in contact with me.  Forgotten invitations,  Sudden stop to Christmas cards from an Aunt who was like clockwork.  None of that concerns me that much, because if they cannot accept what I am, it’s their issue, not mine.

All it takes though, is deviation from their world and you are on the outside though.  And all the things that go with it.  That includes forgetting the death of their Niece/cousin whatever connection they have.  Not through spite, but just ignorance.

But that isn’t what burns the most.  My family is what it is.  Relatively decent people (oh, who am I kidding, on side of my family is a bunch of awful bigots) for the most part.

 

what makes my eyes burn and my jaw set is the friends who know, the ones who were by side for years, and I by theirs, through thick and thin, who since a falling out have “forgotten” entirely.

 

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The thing is, they don’t forget.  They know. They sent me messages and tributes to my daughter every year.  I stood with them at their weddings,  Was there for them through thick and thin.  But a falling out with them has allowed them to toss aside any need to remember, actively or passively. They have let it wither and die.   There was some overtures of trying to resurrect our friendship from the ashes of the conflict, but it was soon forgotten, and never more keenly noticed than when this day went by, and I heard nothing from any of them.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect everyone to know, nor do I expect flowers or gifts or anything.  But even when you are not in a good place with someone you care about, if you don’t reach out on their darkest days, there is something wrong with you, and the relationship is well and truly dead.

 

We all die, and eventually we become memories.  Given enough time, most of us won’t be remembered at all, and that is OK.

 

But to forget her so quickly, to walk away from the commemoration, or at least acknowledgement, is an abandonment.  when my parents die, I will be the only one left to remember her.  And then when I go, there will be nobody.

 

I simply did not expect her to be forgotten this quickly.

 

 

5 years

Tomorrow will have been 5 years since you died.
One eighth of my lifetime, after you had been there for just under half of it. And now I speak to someone who hears nothing.  No, I’m not crazy.  No, I don’t think you’re somewhere where you can hear my voice.
I know you are gone. So why do I speak to you?  Because of all things I miss, it is your voice that burns the most.  Sitting outside discussing the stars. 

The sobs in your voice when you came out and the louder ones when you realized I wasn’t upset by it.
Your laughter that infected the room with mirth, or your voice carrying across the soccer pitch calling for the ball or yelling to a defender out of position.
I no longer ask the question why you chose to die.  I am no longer angry.   All I have is an empty spot that will never be filled.
You’d be just shy of 22 years old now. But I will always see my beautiful 16 year old.  That’s where your journey ended. That’s where the photos stopped.
I never want to feel ok on this day. I always want the feeling of wrongness of a world with you not in it.  I mourn the college you never went to.  I shed tears that I will never walk down the aisle with you to the woman of your dreams.
See, death is experienced by those peft behind. And the person you still called daddy up until the day you were gone experienced it more than any.
My grave is next to yours.  Bought and ready for my eventual end.  One day millions of years from now our matter will be scattered into the universe together at the death of our planet.
We will be together among the stars, forever.
Maybe, my dear Amber, my precious daughter, we will form a star together.