Friday, May 25, 2018

Modern Martyrs

Do you know what's great about being a martyr?

I'm not talking about martyrs in the religious sense, those figures who die for their spiritual beliefs. I'm talking about would-be martyrs, people from all walks of modern life who want us to know and appreciate the suffering they do for us so thanklessly. Those poor souls carry on in quiet desperation, unloved and unappreciated by everyone around them.

Woe is them, and shame on us for not groveling at their feet.

The great thing about being a martyr today is twofold. One, you probably don't have to die. In fact, you probably don't even have to undergo any physical pain or discomfort. As a modern martyr, you get to hurt other people emotionally, especially those who care about you. You do this by making them feel guilty.

Secondly, once people around you acknowledge your status as a martyr, you don't have to do anything else because asking anything of you is just increasing the burden on your life, and we should all feel so bad for mistreating you.

God forbid you take a stand, make a decision, stick by it, and accept some responsibility for your actions.

If only the world wasn't so cruel, if only the people in your life appreciated all the sacrifices you made for them, then you could truly accomplish something and be who you want to be, instead of wallowing in self-pity and resentment.

Christmas 2011: Part 2

Editor's Note: This is another note I wrote on my flight back from that English holiday in 2011. My sister Bethany, who passed away in 2013, was born with severe mental and physical disabilities that basically kept her at the intellectual level of an infant her whole life. The fact she was able to make the trip at all was something of a miracle.

I enjoyed the English trip more than I thought I would. It was quieter than expected, and Bethany was surprisingly good during my time there. As I've told the others, the little kids didn't seem to be afraid of her, and they showed affection. The adults were understanding and patient, and not one of them got angry when she did lash out.

Even family bowling night was fun. We all took turns watching her, and she seemed to enjoy all the activity going on around her. I wish she would have tried to bowl, but she looked like she had fun. I don't know if we were extremely lucky or if we missed opportunities to include her more than we did.

There's no way of knowing how much she understands. I doubt she even knows she's gone over an ocean to another country. Whenever I think about it, it strikes me as more and more unfair to her that she has to live like that.

I just think of Johnny Got His Gun. How much is going on inside her head? Is there a greater degree of understanding and intelligence buried within her brain? Can we do anything to tap into it and bring it out into the open?

All the answers appear to be no, but it's something I will never stop wondering.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Wrestler and Harvey Milk

I saw "The Wrestler" in theaters about ten years ago. I ended up sitting behind this older couple who, based on their conversation, apparently chose to watch this instead of "Milk," starring Sean Penn as gay rights activist Harvey Milk.

The husband had an issue with "Milk." As he put it, he was tired of seeing all these big shot Hollywood actors playing "queers," and he was sick of all the "gay" in today's movies.

In retrospect, I should have done what I wanted to do then. I should have leaned in close and whispered:

"Shh. I'm trying to watch a tanned, shirtless, overly muscled Mickey Rourke in tights grab sweaty men in spandex."

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Lavatory Coffin

Time creeps. The minutes laugh at me,
mocking my efforts to occupy my mind.
More than seven hours in with one to go,
I can't wait for my feet to feel
the parquet and carpet of the terminal,
to feel the cool air of 30 degrees
instead of the 60-degree bubble
in the negative 50-degree sky.

At last check,
we were 40,00 feet up.
I only hope we haven't climbed higher.
The freedom to spread my legs at a urinal
instead of contorting into the lavatory coffin
would be magnificent.

We're almost there.
I can smell the pretzel dogs.


Editor's Note: A poetic tribute to one of the Big 4 of Thrash Metal. I wrote this after I saw Anthrax live in Columbus at what was then known as the LC Pavilion in 2011. Even though it was February, I walked there, alone.

Under the rail and over the river,
down to catch the disease.

The floor is sticky and the beer so warm,
I'll die of thirst before I taste.

Forget my cares and bury my fears,
the show will kick my ass tonight.

             Metal Thrashing Mad

             I Will Soon Be Dead

             Caught in the Mosh

Sitting on the Plane Back to America

Editor's Note: I'm still going through old notebooks, and I found this little piece I wrote on the plane as I traveled home from England Christmas 2011. My entire immediate family made the trip after my sister and her husband sold their house for more than they expected and brought us all over.

Sitting on the plane back to America, I look out the window and see the clouds below me, the sun having sunk beneath them. Stars begin to fill the sky, little beacons appearing one by one. It is not quite dark. The horizon looks like God blended the colors, an array of orange and purple swabbed together beyond the edges of the cloudy blue floor.

When an open patch occurs among the clouds, I can see the Atlantic and occasionally little currents and boats. We hardly seem to be moving at all, although the monitor in front of me says we're going about 795 kilometers per hour.

The screen just flashed to show we're less than 2,400 kilometers from New York. The clouds ease by, the only sign we're even moving. The horizon changes color, our only real watch from Mother Nature. What draws out the beautiful sky is how we're flying into the sunset, against the flow of time.

Given how peaceful it is, it's strange I am unable to sleep for long stretches of time. Unlike the flight to England, the seat is reasonably spaced, although I still cannot ease my head back, a combination of a crick in my neck and the headrest being too low.

The tip of our wing is lit. The light looks like a star and feels like my guide.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Mac Diva

Editor's Note: Yes, I once wrote a mock epic poem about Paris Hilton. From a college class about British Restoration Literature.

All human things are subject to decay,
even beauty, as many do say.
Not so for she who is forever young,
by virtue of plastic and the botox gun.

By the grace of God, she was in spotlight;
she got there without using her own might.
She was the most famous in all the land;
the untalented singer of a lousy band.

She got the most coverage in the news,
more watched than the wars and genocides, too.
Her name was Mac Diva; she beat the odds;
did grand nothings and worshiped like the gods.
She fulfilled the ultimate quest:
become famous and do nothing but rest.

Out on the town, Mac Diva did go
to revel the success of her hit new show.
A reality show of living a simple life,
degraded herself to that of house wife.

She drove her red corvette she got as a gift;
She can’t be expected to buy her own shit.
She was rewarded by gods with her fame;
now she gets treats just because of her name.

In and out of traffic she did weave;
the laws of the land were hers to leave.
Odysseus had not traveled as far;
she had to strain to get to the local bar.

The journey was hard; she paid a steep price.
She stained her wheel when she ran over some mice.
But the forces of hell could not hold her back;
she was to meet with her boy toy Jack.

Yet at the bar she did find him so,
in the arms of her rival, A. Nother Hoe.
Of all the injustices that could be done,
She cried: “There might as well not be a sun!”

With the force of Hercules she attacked,
in a daring effort to win back Jack.
The two women fought; the two women screeched.
It was more vital than Normandy beach.

Like Achilles over Hector, Mac Diva did win,
and to celebrate she drank some gin.