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Saturday
Mar042017

To Him We Shall Return

I have so much to say to you, but I am hesitant. After all of these years, I struggle with the fine line between what part of a story is mine and what part of it belongs to the other people in the story.

You cannot crystallize the meaning of a life into a sentence or a group of sentences. Lives are collections of moments and emotions. Not just the emotions you feel or the moments you experience, but all of the emotions and moments that connect others to you and you to them.

This weekend, I watched my father in law breathe his last breath. This is not a metaphor. I heard the last breath leave him. I am not the person who walked into that hospital room anymore, and I can never go back to being that person, either. My heart is broken in a way that will never be mended because that day, I learned what it really means to be a human being.

If you have experienced this, as well, you know what I mean. If you have not experienced this, there is absolutely nothing I can tell you that will bring you close to understanding all of the things that this moment meant.

A human life is roughly 600 million breaths.

I googled it. What the google result didn't say was that every breath you breathe is a word spoken or a word held in. Love or anger expressed, regret swallowed.

The human heart beats an average of 2.5 billion times in a life time.

I googled that, too. Google did not mention that each of those beats is a willful intention sent out into the universe. I imagine it's your soul whispering, "Alive."

A-live.

A-live.

A-live.

Until one day, it no longer whispers anything.

I watched him breathe his last breath and heard his pulse whisper, "Alive" for the last time on Thursday night. And right then I supplicated to my Creator and begged that I would go the way he did. I prayed that when my heart whispers it's 2.5 billionth whisper and my 600 millionth breath comes forth, that people all over the world would shed a great deal of the 16.5 gallons of tears they are allotted in their lifetime.

I said it before. If you have not experienced this, there is nothing I can tell you that will prepare you for this.

I can tell you, though, that every moment in your life is simultaneously a big deal and then will suddenly become not a big deal at all.

Everything you do, every head you pass your hand over lovingly, every cheek you touch, every penny you save for someone's education, every curry recipe you teach someone, every grandchild you play soccer with in the living room or play cards with after dinner, every son you educate, every daughter in law who you tell is your *daughter* and that the "in law" part is completely unnecessay... is extremely important and then simultaneously fleeting.

Your life is vibrant reds, blues, purples, brightening the world and making it better -- see, the brightness of the colors of your life are made vivid by all the lives connected to you. And then, one day, when you breathe for the 600 millionth time, all of the colors in the universe will instantly dim.

All of the people connected to you will realize that it was your light that made the world seem that bright. And then those people will realize that they will never see those colors again in the way they did when you were here. 

Nothing will ever be the same for them.

Sunday
Feb122017

This is Totally Normal

I realize it's been a while since around November 8th when John Oliver crafted the #ThisIsNotNormal thing, but I continue to have thoughts and feelings about it.

You guys, this racist bullshit that you are experiencing that's masquerading as the executive and legislative branches of the government?

IS TOTALLY NORMAL FOR AMERICA. I'm over here rolling my eyes at people who are sharing these posts of people being detained at airports and hashtagging it with #thisIsNotNormal.

FOR YOU.

This is not normal FOR YOU, BRO.

Two months after 9/11, my dad was taking a flight to North Carolina. He was pulled aside, detained and questioned. This was a domestic flight from Florida to North Carolina. My father, at the time, was 67 years old, had lived in the U.S. for thirty two years and had been an American citizen for nearly fifteen years of those years. Since then, between my parents, in laws and extended family, this family has had over half a dozen encounters like this. 

THIS IS NOT NORMAL FOR YOU.

This is totally normal for US. 

So, why? Why bring this up in the first place? 

Well, look, there's two major kinds of racist/xenophobic/discriminatory paradigm:

1. Superiority Based Racism/Xenophobic/Discriminatory Paradigm: This says, "America is amazing and wonderful, white people made America, foreigners are terrible, gays are deviants, the only black people that get shot by the police are criminals, blow all of those sand people up and we'll be safe, etc."

And, then, there's:

2. Cluelessness Based Racism/Xenophobic/Discriminatory Paradigm: This says that the current climate of racism, xenophobia and discrimination is some sort of aberrant occurrence and totally ignores the pesky yet relevant fact that this triumverate of bullshit (racism, xenophobia, discriminiation) is somehow NOT woven into the tapestry of the American story.

So.

You know.

I like John Oliver.

But let's not forget John Oliver is the great grandson of an Imperialist Britain which used racism, xenophobia and discrimination to dominate over half of the world's population in throughout the 19th and 20th centuries.

And then let's not forget that all those people who are using #thisIsNotNormal are the great great great grandchildren of people who appropriated North America from native peoples with their slaves in tow captured from Africa all of which was justified by racism, xenophobia and discrimination.

Barack Obama, our great hope, our American dream... was not normal.

This guy? P45? Is totally normal.

And he will never NOT be normal if you don't own him as a product of who we have chosen to be as a people for two hundred years.

 

 

Thursday
Jan262017

Another Tap, Tap, Is This Thing On Post...

Maybe this one will stick. I make no promises to the seven people who seem to be visiting here every day. Why? What are you being so persistent about?

I've noticed that a lot of people are either talking about blogging again or actually blogging again.

I looked over the last few posts of mine and it's like I've been wanting to get back to doing this, and I just haven't had the attention span. I think some of us old-timey bloggers just hit a wall when our heads got stuffed with brand identities and all that weird SM marketing based stuff. I've written about that before. I guess since I started this blog nine years ago, it'd be safe to assume I've written about most of it before. I've been blogging long enough to know, for example, that I should probably have backlinked to a few times that indicated the wide span of topics I've covered over the past nine years. Maybe it's not even attention span, maybe it's that I've lost the will to appear interesting to others. Maybe I'm at the point where I'm thinking that if someone doesn't find this sort of high school dairy writing interesting, that this is not my concern.

Let's see... back when I blogged, you wrote about interesting stuff you did. I really wanted to say "shit" there. But I just couldn't. I'm growing up, Internets. Anyway, I did some interesting stuff. I marched in the #MemphisWomensMarch last weekend. That was amazing and rejeuvenating. (If you're interested in my marching experience, you can hear about it on the HTMH podcast that I co-host with Mike Scheinberg. It's available on iTunes or you can just listen from our website at heythatsmyhummus.com)

I did notice that the march was incredibly, er, monochromatic in terms of melanin given that Memphis, like it's slightly dirtier, sluttier sister New Orleans is pretty chocolate. I imagine that most of the some 600 sister cities have their own explanations for why their cities might not have been able to brag about diverse populations at their respective marches. I assume that the diversity factor has to do with who is organizing the march and how committed they are to building inclusivity.

This is the thing about having to build inclusive environments in America: we are a nation of communities who have solid, historically based reasons not to trust each other. So, people have to go out of their way not only to include but to show that they are committed to rebuilding trust. And, oh, also acknowledge that they are aware why trust was lost. It's hard work, and the diversity of your march basically shows how up for working on that you are. I would like to brag at this point that the group of friends that I marched with...very diverse. 

I took some nice photos with my phone at the march, you can check that out on my Instagram account if you don't already follow that.

Okay, I'm done not appearing interesting now. See you later, Dear Diary.

 

Tuesday
May102016

This One is Out of the Way.

There are just going to be those days when you simply get through it. I know you know this, but I think one of us needs to say this out loud. A lot of days are just going to be holding one's head above water and hoping that the people who don't matter don't notice. Because, you know, the people that matter don't mind that you're holding your head slightly above water. It's those pesky people who don't matter, right? They're always over there not mattering and ruining everyone's self perception.

Anyway. Some days are just going to end with a long sigh that says, "Well, this one is out of the way." I'd like to think that I'm doing a-okay if the number of days that are "out of the way" are less in number than the days that end with "Ahh, today was a good one."

I don't really have much more else to say than that.

Except. Maybe.

This one is out of the way.

Sunday
May012016

Podcasts I Listen To & Not Make. But Maybe Wish I Did.

I mean, I do listen to my own podcast because that thing about loving the sound of your own voice. Except I laugh a lot in it and I HATE the sound of my laugh. 

Do you listen to podcasts? If not, you should.

It's not just about learning new stuff or being entertained, but taking advantage of our hyper connected world in a way that allows you to deepen your connection to humanity. That stuff you're watching on television? NOT REAL. That is not how real people act or talk. That is not the stuff that actually happens to people.

While I love my Empire, those are not things that actually happen to people. Although, I will PAY you to be my friend if you are like Jussie Smollet's character in real life. Pay you WELL. Like a monthly subscription.

Anyway, I feel like unless we make an intentional effort to broaden our experience of how people talk, what they talk about and why they talk about it, we run the risk of assuming that human reality is confined to people we talk to and people we watch on television. Also, when was the last time you heard someone tell you a really good story. It doesn't seem to happen very often even though I truly believe that sort of thing is embedded in our supercomputer. Called the brain. I'm talking about our brains, but I used supercomputer in an attempt to be clever.

So, I listen to podcasts. In case you're thinking about getting started, here are some suggestions. If you're new to downloading podcasts, you can usually search by title and just hit subscribe. The iPhone has a little purple icon with a little person doing double dutch with two perflectly circular jump ropes.

You should be advised that I recently retook the Pottermore Sorting Hat quiz and was reclassified as a Ravenclaw. I feel like this is pertinent information as you evaluate my listening preferences. 

Serial. I mean, duh. If you're going to start listening to podcasts, this is the one. Season 1 is better than Season 2. Aside from the unseemly details surrounding the court cases discussed, I love this podcast because it reflects the care with which a story is told and how much of a difference that makes in the delivery of information.

This American Life Once again, the story telling. So great. If you're like me and have trouble telling a linear story, this is a wonderful way to immerse yourself in how that's done.

TED Radio Hour. I'm clearly an NPR junkie. I didn't realize that until just now. I love TED talks, and I love this podcast because it organizes them by topic and also continues the conversation with the speakers after the talk. 

The Moth Podcast. More stories. I love hearing people tell stories about their life -- from the mundane to the intensely deep. It doesn't matter. Tell me a good story and I'm in.

Stuff You Missed in History Class. A great podcast about learning the basics of auto repair. I'm kidding. It's about stuff you missed in history class. 

Lore. Okay, I haven't listened to this one yet, but I am SUPER excited about it. TRUE LIFE SCARY STORIES OMG.

Coffee Break French. So, basically, you listen to people talk in French on your non-existent coffee break and try to figure out what the hell they are saying. The hosts are European so I assume that's why they are implying a coffee break is an actual thing.

Hope that's helpful.

I'm looking for a some more humorous podcasts, so if you have any suggestions - do let me know.