Thursday, December 31, 2020

Dirge is such a dreary word

5 years in, and the physical healing I've sought hasn't materialized.

I'm still devastated by this.

But this past year or so, I've experienced a mental shift - namely, that I'm still here. And that I don't know how much longer I will be. So I should put my thoughts to "paper" - some of them anyone - to leave behind for those few who will want to spend time with me, even when I am gone.

I have chosen burial arrangements with the same aims, being, essentially, composted beneath a fruit bearing tree, symbolic of the Tree of Life, and continuously providing "good fruits" - a goal I hope I achieved to some degree in the one life I know I was gifted.

It's hubris to believe with any certainty that anyone will find this, but, if you do, please know I am not being morbid or sad. Rather, I am being my own warped form of grateful.

I finally got to a place where I loved my life. Where I found some mental peace. Where I established at least a few boundaries with which I was comfortable. Where I could - and do - believe myself to be a "good" person in so far as that is possible.

Some of you - again, assuming you find this - are direct contributers to this growth. While it may be called "self" esteem, some of you are the reasons I was able to find some of me.

And I thank you.

I'm not unhappy. Which, in and of itself, is quite a feat.

And it's because of this revelation - that I am no longer unhappy - that I feel compelled to write. Because something in my soul says my journey is close to its conclusion.

Does that mean Death in the traditional sense? I don't know. It could just mean a metaphoric death to all the pain I've carried with me since memory serves.

But I am a Pisces - the last sign of the Zodiac - the last spiritual phase before Nirvana. So maybe my soul chose to have its most challenging life this time 'round, to prepare me for what's to come. If anything. I've been dreaming a lot lately, and whether that's the sleeping pills or the last vestiges of my mind exorcising old hurts, I cannot say.

But I can say I am physically much worse and spiritually much better than I have been at any other point in my life.

If you are one who will miss me, thank you. And please know the best thing you can do for me is remember me fondly.

I do hope you'll come visit me at my tree, partake of sweet fruits, and continue to share with me all the details of your continued life.

Do I believe in Heaven? Not really. But I know we live on in the minds and hearts of those whose lives we've touched. So maybe there's my immortality.

Thank you for being a part of this life, a beautiful thread in the fabric of my experience.

I am grateful for you, for me, for growth, for the life I was given.

I am grateful for the love we shared.


I feel very powerfully "an end" in this moment.

Strangely, I felt compelled to go back to my very first blog post on this site - composed almost 11 years ago to the day.

Frighteningly, it parallells this present post.

And confirms the feeling that's presently so strong in my soul.

I recently had tarot read - and my cards said that a struggle I've been carrying for so long is at it's end.

The card - a dead man, with 10 swords in his back.

11 is a number that has special meaning to me.

11 means I'm going in the right direction - that I can trust the path I am on.

That the man is dead with 10 swords in his back - does that mean 11 - my right path - is just around the corner?

I'll leave you where I found you: with my first blog entry.

I may not pass this way again.


"Female Frankenstein"

I am the living evidence of the decisions of generations past.

My shape derives from the shape of their lives.

I see the world through the focus of their eyes.

Their story is hardened in my bones. And beats through my pulse.

Individual choices,
right turns down streets of Fate,
left turns into adversity...
All culminate March 16, 1981...deep gasps and baby's cries.

Female Frankenstein.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

On Justice

I value justice.


And no, not "Cancel you on Twitter 'justice'."

When I say I value justice I mean "right the wrong, hold the assholes accountable, change the world" justice. And to achieve those ends? Often involves punishment.

Indeed, to some, justice can only be achieved with punishment. Harsh punishment. Punishment "befitting the crime." There can be no righting of wrongs, no changing of the world, if the assholes "get off easy". To some, punitive justice is the only true justice.

I was one of those people.

At least I thought I was.

In recent years, as I've looked at my life and considered my (ongoing?) development, I've discovered something "other" amid the punishment that I (still) regularly wish - and inflict, if only in daydreams - upon the irresponsible, ignorant, arrogant, intolerable assholes of the world.

It's that "other" thing that's on my mind this evening, as more and more I'm coming to realize that the "other" is the type of justice I'd like my future self to pursue.

This "other"? Is RECTIFICATION.

Allow me to explain: rather than being out for blood for all those assholes who hurt, abuse, mistreat people - rather than seeking PUNISHMENT for the crimes - I now declare my desire, hope, and intention to pursue RECTIFICATION for the crimes.

Punitive punishments only affect one individual - the perp - and only after the crime has been committed. But rectification justice affects entire communities, and may even prevent future crimes.

How so?

I'll give you an example: If an asshole brandishing an AK-47 robs a bank, punitive justice means he's sent to prison. But that punishment doesn't provide true justice. Punishing the perpetrator doesn't mean that the bank ever got/will get its money back. Punishing the perpetrator doesn't mean the folks he scared to death in the bank lobby will ever get their sense of security back.

And, while acknowledging that sitting in a cell is no one's idea of a good time, punishing the perpetrator in this way doesn't mean the asshole has (or ever will) learn his lesson. (*In fact, recidivism in this country is so high that, if the asshole ever is released, it's likely he'll wind up right back there again. More on that later.*)

So what has this punishment really accomplished?

And, more importantly, what is the alternative? Especially when seeing an asshole put behind bars makes so many of us feel secure and self righteous in that "justice has been served"?

I propose that rectification is the answer.

When something bad happens, the root issue and fallout must be rectified, and, surprisingly often, this has very little to do with punishment as we, the Frank Castles of the world, typically understand it.

In the above example, rectification would require that the bank be compensated in some way for its losses by the individual who caused the harm. The same is true for the citizens of the bank, who may well suffer PTSD from such an experience. And lastly - and listen up here! - rectification would require that the asshole not only be held accountable BUT ALSO AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, that he be assisted and supported in chaging his behavior so that 1. he can make better decisions in the future and 2. we, as a society, will give him the chance to show he's changed, and to benefit from that change.

Yes, you read that last part right.

True justice - rectification justice - requires something from US, THE INNOCENT PARTIES, because we're all members of the community, and the community sinks or swims as a whole.

I know I just lost some of you. I know there's at least one, "Why should I have to do anything? I'm not the one who robbed the bank! Why am I being PUNISHED for someone else's mistakes?" person in this crowd.

And you? Are the person I am writing this for.

Why should you (or I, or society as a whole) take part in this rectification process?

Because you're a fucking human being and, no matter what they've done, so are "they."

Because you'd want another chance if you fucked up royal.

Because you should be given the opportunity to rise above and grow beyond your worst day and your worst act.

Because sweeping change only occurs when resources and ideological shifts are made across communities as a whole.

And here come those same "I shouldn't have to change because he robbed a bank people" now: "Oh yeah? Well what if the person is a child molester? Or a rapist? Or a murderer? You think we should just let those people off without being punished? Tell that to the victim's families!"

To that I say, don't ask me, Kimosabe. Ask that Jesus you claim to worship who hung out with the dregs of society and made a literal murderer a disciple.

Ask that same poor, wandering Jew who highlighted the importance of the community's responsibility to forgive when he said to forgive people "70 times 7" times.

Or, if you insist on asking me, I'll tell you this: there are numerous stories of criminals who turned their lives around based on the kind acts of folks around them, who gave them a chance and the resources to make better, healthier choices and become productive members of society.

Entire punitive systems in other countries are based on this premise, and their recidivism rates (and violent crime rates) put ours to shame.

And, here in the United States, there are even more examples of what happens when you stick someone in a cell, and later let them out, without forgiving, without providing avenues to better choices, without giving a helping hand to those who need it and a guiding light to those who lack it: More crime. More hurt. More pain. More vicitms.

Fact of the matter is, our prisons are filled with people who were raised in poverty, without adequate role models, in areas where selling drugs or forming gang affiliations were the only ways to ensure survival. Our prisons are filled with abused children masquerading as adults, people who turned to drugs or other vices to dull pains that were never addressed. People driven by mental illnesses they often cannot help or for which help was available but unaffordable.

And all of those people, while owing a debt to society, are also owed a debt by society.

Yes, I said it.

And yes, some of y'all are cursing me out.

Fuck y'all. You need to hear this.

In Judaism, we have something called Tzedakah. Many translate this to mean "charity" as financial collections typically go to the poor, the needy, or other worthy causes. But the true meaning of the word is "justice." Justice, in Judaism (and in truth), recognizes that some of us are just gifted with more than others. And, quite often, those gifts are not reflections of our own merits, but, rather, our own circumstances, which are largely outside of our control. Did you choose to enter this world to poor, drug addicted, abusive parents? No? Well, neither did any child for whom that is their circumstance.

Sure, it's the asshole's fault for robbing the bank. But it's not his fault he was born to a single mom in a bad part of town and took to crime at an early age to make sure he and his siblings could eat.

And sure, there are those who came from similar circumstances who never rob banks, but, statistically, folks who grow up with abuse perpetuate abuse, because it's all that's been modeled for them and it's all they know.

As we're already aware that most mimic the situations in which they were raised - and those that don't manifest their traumas in other, often unhealthy ways - what can we do, what should we do, to break these patterns to help individuals and society as a whole?

So what's the true justice here? What's tzedakah here?

Tzedakah would be this asshole serving the sentence for his crimes, but tzedakah would also require that our society look at the poverty from whence he came and try to do something about it. Tzedakah would require that we examine ways to provide resources for the poor, for people from one parent or abusive homes, for people for whom higher ed is wholly unaffordable, for whom selling drugs is a more accessable means of financial independence.

Tzedakah acknowledges our power to help change the world around us for the better. To pursue actual justice. Tzedakah changes and saves lives.

And this should be a goal of justice - not punishment, but positive change.

Which is why I plan to put aside (to the degree I am able) my propensity toward punitive justice, in favor of rectificational justice.

I want to see the bank robber serve the bank the robbed, perhaps by receiving training in some aspect of banking, where he can work for the bank, learning skills, and facing, every day, the people he harmed, while learning a better way.

I want the bank robber to attend group meetings to listen to people who face PTSD after a violent event, and hear how his actions have lasting consequences.

I want the robber, while serving his time, to be counseled in ways to deal with his own personal issues that lead him to steal in the first place.

And, lastly, if he makes parole, I want opportunities made available to him that would allow him to thrive within the law, and contribute to a better, more just society.

There are those for whom this model will have to be modified. There are those whose crimes necessitate they remain behind bars for the remainder of their lives. But those circumstances don't negate our responsibilities as a community to provide a more nurturing environment to allow that person to heal and grow, and to foster a society that will breed fewer like him.

Lastly, I want to say to those pouters who've long-since stopped reading because they'd rather see someone put to death than given a second chance at life: you purport to care about the victims. You claim that caring about those who've been wronged justifies your treatment of the perpetrator of those wrongs - and to you I say this: punitive justice doesn't bring peace.

It may bring some sense of satisfaction, but it doesn't bring peace.

For those who've been hurt by unspeakable crimes - incest, rape, torture, murder - having the perp behind bars or even on death row might feel good, but it doesn't mend the deep wounds. Therefore if you, I, we as a society, truely care about victims, we need to provide avenues to healing and to peace.

We need counseling services available and affordable for all involved, victims and perpetrators. We need programs that will bring about changes in perps' hearts, lives, and actions. We need to see and enjoy the ripple effects of these changes. We need to foster environments where families will get true, remoreseful apologies. We need such growth and change that perps will one day learn that it's better to be part of the cure than part of the disease. And we need to create a society that nurtures all of its members, regardless of class, color, or creed, so that these same atrocities don't happen to other families.

We need rectification justice. We need Tzedakah.

And henceforth I plan to pursue both.

I hope you'll join me.

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Google long enough and you can and will find a source that will agree with you.
This is a problem.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Crazy On You

Why do other people's (mis)perceptions bother us so much?

If you know (to the extent anyone CAN know) that you're a "good" person: pay your taxes, help little old ladies cross the street, never commit a crime worse than manslaughter 2, and a "sane" person: you wear shorts only in summer, know the earth is round, and don't treat gaslighting like an Olympic sport where you're gunning for Gold, then WHY do you (I? We?) obsess and second guess ourselves when the demonstrably wrong person calls you "bad" or "crazy"?

Why do we feel the all-consuming need to set the record straight?

And why does this need often result in behaviors that, ironically and counterproductively, actually make us appear that we ARE, in fact, a bit crazy?

Example: A friend makes a commitment to meet you at a certain time and place.

When that time and place comes? You're there. But they? Never show.

Like any non-crazy, reasonably good person, you text or call to check on him. Is he ok?

No answer.

5 hours and a million unreturned texts and worries later you get a blase response: "Sorry. I fell asleep."

That's it. That's all.

No real apology for wasting your whole day. No asking to make it up at a future date. No common courtesy of any kind.

So, like a sane (and still good) person you're more than miffed. You're frankly pissed.

You try to fairly but firmly call him out on this rude behavior.

"Hey man, I was worried about you all day. I spent my whole afternoon going to meet you and then trying to find you. I think you owe me a real apology." will be met with "Why are you acting so crazy? Chill the fuck out. I was just taking a nap. Jesus, don't you have a life? Why are you giving me the third degree!"

And just like that, you go from victim to perp, hard-done-by to Bad Friend Fuhrer of Crazy Town.

You spend the rest of your night vascilating between anger at being ill used, and wondering if your "friend" really is right - that you really are crazy and overreacting and being a "bad" person.

Meanwhile he? Is out there badmouthing you to anyone who'll listen. "I was just trying to take a nap, and Erin wouldn't quit blowing up my phone. She's crazy, man. Totally psycho."

I've lost count of the number of times some version of this shit's happened to me. And the number of times I've let it get to me.

But the truth is, some people will contort themselves into a pretzel rather than cop to their bad behavior. They'll make you the bad guy so they don't have to be. And they won't settle for just making you the villain in their story - they'll crow like the town crier until everyone in earshot hears what a "crazy," "bad" person you are.

They may do it on purpose. But as often as not they don't even possess the self-awareness to realize they're the ones in the wrong.

And it'll drive you nuts.

Unless you make some changes.

In that vein, here's some changes I am making. Because I am a good, sane person, and I deserve some fucking peace.

Change 1: Don't argue.

Don't get me wrong. Don't be a door mat, but don't engage either. Why? Because that's what these toxic people want you to do. They want you mad. They want you to say or do something they can blow out of proportion to cover for the fact that they're the real asshole. Don't give it to them.

To do so would be bad. And crazy.

Change 2: Acknowledge you can't change them.

Most of my romantic relationships involved some sort of tit-for-tat mental exercise wherein if I just said the "right" combination of words or performed the "right" combination of deeds, the other person would cease their toxic behavior. I tried every combination I could think of. Know how many times it worked?


Move on. You can't change them.

And you might do some bad things and go literally crazy trying.

Change 3: No matter what you have or have not done, you're not responsible for their actions.

This one goes hand in hand with the last one, and it's one so many people don't get. But here it is: no matter what you do - no matter how nice or how mean, how reasonable or out of line - your actions are your responsibility, and HOW THEY REACT TO YOUR ACTIONS IS THEIRS.

If you cheat on your partner, that's on you. If they beat the hell out of you for doing it? THAT'S ON THEM.

You didn't MAKE them do anything.

You can't make someone love you. You can't make them hate you. You can't make them do a goddamn thing. Because everything they do? Is their choice. And often has very little, if anything, to do with you.

So don't lose sleep over it.

Change 4: You can't and you won't be loved or even liked by everyone. Stop trying. Instead, focus on the people who really matter, and let everyone else fuck right off.

We try to be everything to everyone, and we feel like garbage when we fail. Which we inevitably will. Because the goal we set was impossible to achieve.

So, rather than mire yourself in what "that asshole who stood you up because he fell asleep, gaslit you when you called him on it, and talked shit about you to anyone who'd listen" thinks? Buy yourself a snack.

He's not worth your mental energy, and snacks are delicious.

Change 5: DO self examine. DON'T self sabotage.

Wanting to hold yourself accountable is laudable and encouraged. Work to be your best self. Be critical of your choices, but be fair. Self-flagellating because you can't tell the difference between what you do and do not have control over, especially with regard to other people, isn't positive.

It's the craziest thing a sane person can do.

Change 6: Learn to trust yourself.

This is a hard one, but its practice is the only way you'll ever break free of the bondage of what other people think.

Sheep will follow each other off a cliff. People aren't much brighter.

So trust yourself, because at the end of the day whether or not you end up dashed on the rocks is on you.

The sheep can't force you to follow, no matter what they say.

And following others off the edge because you didn't trust yourself? Is bad. And crazy.

Sunday, December 20, 2020


You walk in
I want out
before this
shit goes south.
you opened
your mouth
and the bag? Cat's got out.

You: "Hey! How you been, E?
And how you know Tekashi?"

I smirk,

Pin drops.
Music stops.
And so do you -

but just for a tic -

'cuz you know it's a lie
It's a fight that you picked


"An innocent question"
like you've ever done those
We both know it goes:
Pick a fight. Fall out.
Pen a song. Write some prose.
And do it all again when the passion subsides.

I know you remember
that's what we do (lie)
we slice at each other
we're eye for an eye (true).

You walk in
I want out
I want never to see
your smug, fucking face
in the same room as me.


You're hollow
like holes
and that's all you leave -
I greived.
You leave!
No, I'll leave!


the holes in the wall
where you punched by my head
the holes that you filled
when we fucked in my bed
the holes in my heart
that you left as I plead

You fucked with my head.

And I wanted you dead

Yeah, I said what I said.

You walk in
I want out
'cuz I can't fall again
My original sin
was just letting you in.
And I won't
sin again.

You reach for me


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Happy Hanukkah!

I was raised Southern Baptist, right wing, conservative.

In our house, we were pro gun, pro life, pro military - hell, we even had a dog we named Stormin' Norman Schwarzkopf. (Oh, and speaking of Hell - we most definitely believed in that - and wanted to do anything in our power to avoid it.)

How did we avoid it? Easy really. Don't be gay. Don't have premarital sex. And don't vote Democrat.

Seldom came a Sunday when we weren't in a pew, listening to a minister who might or might not later be caught having an extramarital affair with his secretary, tell us all how we were sinners and, were it not for the brutal murder of a poor, Jewish teacher, we'd all be on the express bus to Hell - even if we were straight, virgin-til-married Republicans.

Now, my best friend growing up was Jewish - an unfortunate state of being I knew little about, save that she'd "rejected Jesus" and was therefore Hellbound. I tried to share my concerns with her - I mean, her immortal soul was on the line here - but all my efforts culminated in was a parent teacher conference about how one cannot go about attempting to save their best friend's soul on the Chapman Elementary School playground.

Apparently her heathen parents didn't appreciate it.

But, even as I toiled to save Jewish Stephanie because 12 year old Erin's Heaven would suck without her, I was internally struggling.

Often, I found myself in trouble in Sunday School. I was always the kid who pointed out when something didn't make sense or contradicted something we'd studied the week before. Which happened frequently.

My raised hand would be met with exasperated sigh, and the question I posed answered with a pat, "because the Bible says so" or "It doesn't have to make sense. You just have to have faith."

Like a kid dressed in ill-fitting clothes, I was pulling and tugging and wiggling, trying to get comfortable with the information presented.

If I was vaguely aware of other spiritual options, I wasn't aware I could clothe myself in any other form of righteousness. There WAS no other form of righteousness. There was just Christianity or Hell.

Which is precisely what my mother told me one day in the car when, true to my argumentative nature, I'd posed the question: "If non Christians go to Hell, what about the Native Americans who were in the USA and didn't even know who Jesus was?"

"They went to Hell," my mom said, flatly.

"That's not fair," I argued.

I'm sure there was further exchange. Maybe even one of many episodes of domestic violence. But what I took away from the experience - and what I carry with me to this day - is that if I knew, in elementary school, that sending people to Hell for not even knowing who Jesus was was unfair, then only a handful conclusions were possible:

1. That mom is right, God is a jerk (and who wants to worship a jerk?)...
2. That mom is wrong, and there's actually no God at all...
3. That mom is wrong, and there is a God, but whoever S/He is is way more fair than punishing people who don't know any better.

I decided on the last one.

And, though I didn't recognize it at the time, this decision marked my first foreay into Judaism.

The journey would be long - I'd wander for about 30 years (not too bad, comparatively, for a Jew. We're known to wander 40.) - and make several stops along the way.

In high school I'd struggle with lackluster condemnation of gay friends. When a friend came out, like a true Jew I "wrestled with God." I'd been inundated with anti-gay teachings for as long as I could remember - "Love the sinner. Hate the sin. But gay people for sure burn in Hell." - but somehow, it didn't trouble me that Chris was gay. And that it didn't trouble me, troubled me. What did it mean that something I'd been taught for forever didn't ring true in my soul?

Just call me Jacob, 'cuz I was fightin' them angels - and, come to think of it - did I believe in angels?


Time passed, and more and more of those "raise up a child in the way that he should go" sermons fell away. More and more often, I found my heart being less likely to condemn the "sinners" railed against from the pulpit, and more likely to condemn the folks in the pulpit and pews.

The final straw was the death of my sister in 2007.

Her death, her funeral, and the fallout afterward broke every remaining tie that bound me. I was, if not agnostic, the sole practitioner of a "religion" I referred to as "Erinism," because I had things I clung to, things I outright rejected, and grey areas that I wasn't yet ready to label either way.

Through all of this, there was one area in which I really struggled (and continue to struggle): forgiveness. Forgiveness of those who've wronged me, but also a complete and stubborn inability to forgive myself for even the smallest of transgressions.

I'm sure some of this stems from my upbringing, but the older I get the more I think this obstacle was encoded into my genetic programming.

For all the faults found in my early religious upbringing, I was always told that God was forgiving. I never understood it. That Jesus could be nailed, hanging on a cross and still pray forgiveness for the very people who put him there?


Were I in the same situation, I'd hate those people 'til I died. And even after - if there was/is an after.

So, it's with this same "hold a grudge til you're dead and maybe even after" mindset that I retrospectively examined my behavior during my final few days before my sister's death.

See, I'd meant to call her the day before she died.

I meant to, but I didn't.

Likely out of laziness, exhaustion, because I'd just forgot.

And then, out of nowhere, she was dead.

And I hadn't called.

And I would never be able to again.

The merciless flogging I gave myself for this lasted between 3 - 4 years, and it was Hell. The very Hell I'd heard preached about for the first few decades of my life - I was living it - in my own mind and heart. And I hadn't even turned gay or anything (though I had had premarital sex and voted Democrat so...)

I've written elsewhere about how God spoke to me in this situation. How he lead me to the Jewish practice of T'shuvah, which began my spiritual journey into Judaism. How major aspects of Jewish belief fit so perfectly with "Erinism" that it spooked me. How, in practicing Judaism I no longer feel that disparity between my head and my heart - what I was taught versus what I knew in my soul to be true.

I was always meant to be a Jew.

I was born one.

It just took me 30 odd years to put it together.

And it's taking me even longer to learn how to forgive.

But I am making great strides.

With forgiving myself and others.

Forgiveness brings a freedom I never knew through the "shackles of sin" I was constantly scolded about in my family and faith of origin.

I finally feel free - at least from that burden - most of the time.

Turns out life and love are a lot easier when you're not spending every waking moment lashing yourself or others over mistakes that were made and can't be unmade.

And while that's not a teaching solely found in Judaism, it is a teaching Judaism has helped me understand and embrace, and it's one of the accomplishments of which I am most proud.

Forgiveness? Is fucking hard!


Two of my very favorite people on this earth have a saying about Jewish converts: "You choose/chose to be Chosen."

It's quite cute.

But, in my case, I think it's only partially accurate.

Like the ugly duckling, I feel my spiritual self was placed in the "wrong" nest. "Wrong" isn't the word I want here, but, as another dear friend said about herself recently - she just isn't a good enough writer yet to convey what she wants to say (She's a very talented writer and needs to give herself more credit, but here we are...).

That's me in this situation.

I'm not an accomplished enough writer to choose a better word than "wrong" here and this is why I say so - the nest didn't fit me. The teachings didn't fit me. I felt ugly in that nest.

But every teaching, every negative and positive experience, every pain - each and every one of those lead me here.

Every one of those experiences was necessary - perhaps even Divinely inspired - to get me here.

And here is where I am meant to be.

So did I "choose to be Chosen"?


And no.

Because I was always meant to be a Jew.

I was born one.

Some of us just need to wander a while.

Happy Hanukkah!

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Christmas present

Minutia presents in sharp relief when stacked against mortality.

Death bed whispers and dying wishes never lament crow's feet, traffic jams, the stain on your expensive shirt, how you're gonna get your hands on the new iPhone or PS5.

"If it won't matter in 5 years, then it doesn't really matter now."

"You can't take it with you."

For most Americans, it's Christmastime. For me, Hanukkah.

Either way, it's a season of giving - typically things tied up with bows and strings.

Tactile things that, more often than not, lose value and novelty.

It has me thinking - about the gifts we give each other - about what "gifts" really mean something. It also has me thinking about what we place value on. And what we allow to rob us of our joy at this, The Season of Joy, and also throughout our limited years.

At a very basic level, we all know our time is finite.

But we bury this knowledge in ID or EGO or whatever recesses our minds can conjure so we're free to focus on the mundane.

The mundane - be it soothing or irksome - is managable.

Road rage, shirt stains, the incessant capitalist pursuit of stuff to salve our souls and occupy our minds - is manageable.

Confronting our mortality - delving deep to ask what of any value we will leave behind - if we never finish the Great American Novel, or become a celebrity chef, or complete whatever project lays in pieces in the garage - that's the tough stuff.

Tougher still: recognizing that even if you wrote the Great American Novel, mastered French cuisine, and completely restored that Ford Model T in the garage, all of it amounts to nothing if your relationships are fractured.

Every other song on the radio stresses the importance of love, and with good reason: in the end, it's all we have.

Even if you're one of the few whose life's works warrant a Wikipedia page, your true legacies lies in the memories you leave behind.

Were you a saint or a sinner? Selfless or selfish? Did you leave the world a better place than you found it?


Minutia presents in sharp relief when stacked against mortality.

Legacy isn't ackquired in a store, or at a plastic surgeon's office, or in a paycheck.

What you look like, what you own - minutua.

The minor inconveniences, the petty acquisitions - minutia.

Did you love your neighbor?

Did you forgive those who tresspassed against you? Even if - especially if? - they never asked for it?

Were you ever kind for kindness' sake? Even to someone who didn't "earn" it?

Did you ever have a moment's peace - or contribute to Peace on Earth?

Or did the crow's feet, the traffic jams, the ruined shirts, the Keeping Up With The Joneses and Kardashians, the discarded manuscripts, the unopened recipe books, the broken carburetor - did these occupy your mind and time?

Spread the Good News - you've still got time.

Time to write or cook or tinker, but also, time to call your estranged mother.

Time to right a wrong or gift mercy to those who've wronged you.

Gift yourself and others memories that are lasting.

Wrap them in your loving arms.
"Refuse to Scrooge your life away," - The Ghost of Christmas Present.
Be present.
Here's your present.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

They're meant for hilltops

Random internet user comment about bagpipes:
"They're meant for hilltops, not small rooms. Can't get the right reverb with all that echo."
I'm adopting this idea as my own - but about people.
"They're meant for hilltops, not small rooms. Can't get the right reverb with all that echo."
They're meant for hilltops, not small rooms. Can't get the right reverb with all that echo.
They're meant for hilltops, not small rooms. Can't get the right reverb with all that echo.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Hold The Line

When you draw a line in the sand -
when you dare say "This is where I stand" -
refuse to bow to Their demands
They'll do everything they can -
gaslight, mock, threaten to "walk," -
to restore the status quo.
But they don't know what you know.

Hold the line.

When they stifle your attempts to grow
disapprove of what you sow
insisting that
the best devil? Is the one you know

Hold the line.

Trust yourself and hunker down
walk your path
live unbound
affirm aloud
strong, proud
"This path, this choice
this walk, this voice

Hold the line.


Tuesday, October 27, 2020

A Phone Call That Will Never Come

Like a teen, I wait by the phone, for a call that I know won't come.
I'm too old - too wise? - for this to bother me.

It bothers me.

I've a house to clean and pay for, a dog to clean and care for, a husband to clean and care for.
They're neglected.
I prefer to wait by the phone.
I prefer the pain precisely because it's so familiar
because it reminds me of a time when I was physically well but emotionally broken.
I long for the days of emotional brokenness
because the physical pain is just too hard.
I'd rather pine for a phone call
than scour the internet for cures
or clean house
or walk dog
or give my deserving husband my time.
My mind's
a gift I want to give
to a recipient
who remains unfound.
My mind's the best and worst of me -
I long to share it freely
with someone I've found
who exists
only inside it.
I reside there
which means I'm never present
even when you're around.
I hear you chatting.
It barely registers.
I won't remember
because I was somewhere else.
Waiting for a phone call that I know will never come -
that I hope WILL come -
just to prove me wrong
just to right old wrongs
just to change the same old song.
I wait for you because I want something new.
I wait for you because I'm a hypocritical Jew
who wants others to make the world better.
External stimuli to distract from the feelings inside -
feelings of inferiority
But then, we all want to be loved.
We all want to be loved.
So intellect - tell me:
what does it say that I seek it from
a phone call that will never come?

Sunday, October 25, 2020

BANG BANG Kitty Kitty

Will I hear from you again?
On whether
you get your act together.
On whether you run.
On whether we have a shot
or you're off
like a gun.
Is that all you were here for?
Did any of this mean
anything more
than a case of curiosity
killing the cat -
a pity -
because without Kitty
you've no 'score'
to settle and should I
settle for you?
BANG Kitty Kitty
Pussy Galore?
Is that all you were here for?
Light banter and hardcore?
trussed up as a girlfriend?
like what you wanted was something
BANG Kitty Kitty
I've got a score
to settle
but a score is 20
- more lives than you've got.
But I gave you a shot.
And I'll give you another.
BANG BANG Kitty Kitty
Bye bye lover.

Thursday, October 15, 2020

Same ol' Song

There was a time,
potential lover,
when your disappearance,
would've seen me,
head some
search party,
around bushes,
- and why -
you've gone.

But my dear?
I've grown
too strong
to give in
to that same ol' song.

I can admit
I was wrong
to commit -
push headlong.
I can sit
all alone.


And I knew
when I last heard
from you
it would be
the last word
would hear from me.
I knew you
were already

Same ol' song.
Same ol' song.

I could
sing along
- and I would -
if I thought
it'd change things.

But the tune
set in stone
stays the same:
I'm alone.
Though this time
I refuse to be
This time
I refuse
to waste my breath
humming the tune
of "our" death.

Same ol' song.
Same ol' song.

If, in your absence,
you ask
if I've wandered
the paths
in search of our last
encounter -
Well, I'd counter:
have you?

Are you humming the song
or beating the bush
are you searching the signs
and trying to push
for an ending that doesn't
quite end?

Are you seeking
a friend?
A savior?
Love from a stranger?
I finally see the danger
in that

So this party -
of pity? Or search? -
I won't attend.
Same ol' song.
Same ol' song.
Has to end.

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

Encore. Stigmata. Stephen Adly Guirgis.

S. Adly Guirgis

shone a light on the circus

exposing the wires

we wear

'cuz we liars

claimin' we fliers




in air.

For fans who don't really care.



for the folks in the stands

for the stans

who would stand

for the man on trapeze

but whose "love" disappears

when he's down on his knees

And Guirgis?

speak to that man with no net

bring him down from the rafters

before he forgets

that the urges -

the surges -

that keep him free falling?

Are interior

sacrosanct fears.

Remind him, sir, would you?

Through word or deed, could you?

that the eyes that look

in the mirror and see

the inferior man

staring back at me

are stigmatic.

And stigmata? Is tragic.


confirms this

in "Last Days"

when he says

Good people

end up in Hell

because they can't

forgive themselves.

When life

like the play, plays out?

The way out

is to simply walk through

the open door.

But it's the cage that we adore.

Defying depth

denying ourself

as the crowd screams

"Encore! Encore!"


Who would I be

if I trusted me

or tried to?

Who would I be

if I wasn't broken

and lied to?

Who would I be

if you

had backed me

supported my dreams

or just tried to?

Extra steps I must take

all these demons I face


from a childhood with you.


So who would I be

if you hadn't made me

stand behind

enemy lines

that you drew?

Who would I be now

if I had just backed down

- when should I back down? -

and when should I stand,


When should my actions

and passions

be loud?

Who would I be

if I trusted me?

Fear I'll never know

and it just goes to show

that everywhere I go

I'm surrounded by ghosts

of a past I can't shake

any future I make

any triumph or mistake

is a consquence

of your negligence

and failed attempts

at recompense

that dictate my circumstance

and I'm tired.

Who would I be

if I just

could trust me

but plainly

I can't and I won't.

I've been sentenced

to a lifetime

of blank verse

and half-rhyme

feelings with no lifeline

pulse remains

a crime.

And I'm crying.


You gave me this life

and this name.

and this brain

you can't tame.

Damn shame.

It's a damn shame.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

"The Story of Stories" #NativeAmerican #NavajoNation #ScientificAmerican

I interviewed my grandmother and her sister, my great aunt Mae, before they died.

I only filmed the interview with Mae, and that haunts me.

That I was prescient enough to think it was important is a point of pride, and the stories they told provided several more.

How my great grandfather, a poor man, wooed - on horseback! - my great grandmother, a wealthy woman, in one of Ford's Model Ts.

How that same great grandmother abandoned her riches to marry the man with whom she would have 10 children, my grandmother being the youngest of these.

How my grandmother grew up in a house with no indoor bathroom. How they had a well. How my great grandfather was never much for schooling, but was none-the-less brilliant with machinery and electricity, the latter of which he stole to make his home one of the first in the area with power.

How that genius was self-taught - how he was a marvel with cars and how his mechanic's shop still exists in Bristol, TN.

How he and Mae worked on the atom bomb.

Pride goes before a fall though, and my family also had plenty of those.

Grandma said there's a town in Virginia named for great grandma Venus's family, who were plantation and slave owners at some point. How I have black cousins somewhere, that I've never met, from the whole sordid mess.

How my great, great grandmother was Cherokee - and married to my great, great grandfather, who was a sonofabitch by all accounts. and family photos have proven some of this.

It's also proved I'm a distant relative of Barack Obama and Marilyn Monroe.

Other claims? Like our ties to the Hatfields and McCoys? Well, I'm not so sure...

Perhaps because of this Cherokee lineage, I've always been drawn to the story and plight of Native Americans (and minority and poor people of all stripes). I've tried - purposefully - to seek out stories to report that put Native Americans in the news, and in front of white America's eyeballs, a paltry offering to a people who lost damn near everything, but an offering none-the-less.

Last year, I got some racist signage and displays at a local museum changed to better reflect the truth and suffering of the Muskogee (Creek) people who were native to my area.

I regularly visit a rock that Native people's carved thousands of years ago. It's currently in the parking lot of a bank.

In childhood I found such a rock in my grandmother's backyard. I asked her to give it to a museum. She didn't. I don't know if she ever gave it a second thought. But I think about that rock often, and the stories it could have told if I knew the language inscribed there.

I've been thinking a lot about stories lately.

About ancestry, and the stories that are passed down.

About what those stories mean to us as individuals and to our various clans as collectives.

The truths, the lies - what we choose to hold on to, what we choose to ignore.

Such thoughts returned today when I read a piece in Scientific American written by a Native storyteller of the Navajo (That's the Spanish name for it) Tribe. among themselves, they are the Dine, and will be referred to as such henceforth here.

In the article, Sunny Dooley laments the actions taken against Native Americans which still reverberate. Actions that, she says (and I agree), point to why COVID is hitting the Dine so hard.

In it she details aspects of the Native Americans' tragedies of which I was not aware.

The importance of her story and her witness cannot be overstated. Her story - one of the few that keeps the Native practices and tongues alive, even on her own reservation - is a unique, sad, and powerful one.

She notes how the suffering of others has lately been in the headlines, but that the suffering of her people continues to be ignored.

And she's right.

She asks why that is, and offers no concrete answers.

My answer would simply be: power.

Black people make up about 13% of the US population. Natives? Less than 1%.

They simply don't have the numbers to be included in the National conversation.

And that's OUR fault (descendants of colonists).

We massacred these people - that much we know. But in doing so - in removing a People whose religion was tied to the land, from the very land sacred to them, we stole more than their lives. We stole their faith and their legacy.

What we took, they will never get back.

We know lives were lost. What we don't seem to understand is that those people were destroyed.


And we slap their visages on our sports jerseys and turn a deaf ear when the few remaining protest that we continue to take their sacred lands and desecrate them.

The home I own is on Native land.

If you're an American, the same can likely be said of you.

But this is a chapter in our collective stories that we seldom discuss.

How much do you know of this chapter?

I know a little. Despite my great great grandmother's Tribal status, I couldn't compose more than a paragraph or two about those people from whom I am at least partially descended.

I am the product of both conquestadors and the conquered, and, as the "winners" write the history books, I know next to nothing about the conquered people from whence I came.

But this isn't about me really.

My early interest likely stemmed from family history, but this goes beyond that.

The Scientific American article articulates so plainly the lasting suffering of the few survivors around to share the story - a story that, broken into fragments - reminds me of the shattered pieces of pottery the Tribes left behind when they were forcibly marched West.

Their stories are important. And they are being lost.

Theirs is not MY story to tell. While their blood runs through my veins, their stories have not shaped my life because I never knew them.

I was robbed of those stories, but Native people's were robbed of so much more.

If you've read thusfar, I'd encourage you to read further - the article is linked below.

Take the time to learn the Native stories, and, in doing so, learn a bit more about your own:

Monday, June 29, 2020

Proverbs 6:6-9

There's an ant

crawling across my computer screen

seeing what I see

but completely differently.


from his vantage

must look


from mine.

Same world -

different perspectives.

A lesson for our time?

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Wisdom is Unwanted

Wisdom is unwanted

Ignorance preferred

when events make you question

your view of the world.

Better, yes, to bunker

to hunker down and stew

to reaffirm your worldview

all challenges eschew.

Wisdom is unwanted

Ignorance preferred

when events make you question

your view of the world.

To salve your soul you harken

to voices that affirm

"Don't listen to the experts!

You've nothing left to learn!"

You know you will feel better


to your echo chamber

where "friends" and "followers"

feed your anger

at strangers

who don't do as you do.

Because wisdom is unwanted

Ignorance preferred

it's dangerous to question

your view of the world.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020






for the just system

that's placing them on top.


since birth I've

always been on bottom

and I believe

I come

from damaged stock.

Saying this aloud

makes me sound




would make me right

that I'm "not right."

Genetically inferior

despite my skin

and bloodlines

or rather - because -

those bloodlines mustered


The dented



Sure, I can

but not without

superior help.

Overlooked in every room

Not pretty




I was charming once.

It was a mistake.

Or an accident.

I've since learned

my place.

And it's not among

a superior race.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

Country People

Today I cried

for the country people

the small town people

whose suffering

until today

I refused to see

because they're different than me.

Today I cried

for the country people

the small town people

the mom and pops with shuttered shops

the closing mills that employed generations

the "backward" people clinging to coal

'cause it's all they know

Today I cried because I saw

the pride

of the country people

the small town people

who, despite owning next to nothing

put some flowers on their modest table

My eyes

could not handle

the flowers.

I cried because

the life they knew


A problematic life?

It's true.

But who among us

hasn't clung

to something toxic

just because

it's The Devil We Knew?

I cried for the people on the economic fringes

who've had wealth and gilded guilt

the dangled carrot of prosperity gospel

preached at them through digital screens.

Lifestyles to which they're told to aspire

that we all know they will not achieve

and their conservative upbringing teaches them

it's their fault.

Their lack is a personal flaw.

The wound is real and it's raw.

I cried for the country people who

like injured animals

lash out

bite the hands trying to feed them

and elect those

that will perpetuate the very cycles

that hold them down

I cried because

I realized

It's people like us

that contribute to the cycle

that hurts the country people.

And though some are walking wounded

still others keep their open hearts

offer cookies to Jewish photographers

who show up on the doorsteps of their modest homes

to take pictures

of the flowers

on their modest tables.

My own sensibilities say

now's not the time

to cry for the country people

many of whom

might not

be crying

for the suffering of others

suffering we're seeing

played out on urban streets

across America.

But my heart says

my inability to cry

for the country people

mimics their inability to cry

for the suffering we're seeing

if, indeed, they are

not crying

And some of them

Those in pews of tiny, country churches

those for whom Christ Jesus is real

and loves all people

They are crying.

And we do them an injustice

not to think so.

But whether they cry

or whether they don't

I am wrestling with my own heart

because I turned a blind eye

to their pain

Because I did not like the way they expressed it

In short - I am confronting


my own hypocrisy

I come

from country people.

But even I

have forgotten them.

Until today.

I cry for country people

who feel

- and it's very real -

that they're being Left Behind.

Country people

angry and wounded

by the very same lies:

That all men can succeed.

The money comes, if he tries.

That wealth and health is earned.

That God rewards the virtuous and wise.

I cry for country people

because none of its true

because, so often

the size of the bank account

is the inverse of virtue.

I cry because "The System"

doesn't work for them either

but they keep courting the hand

of that abusive father

And every time he beats them

they double down harder

"I just have to try harder."

"I just have to try harder."

Lambs to the slaughter.

I cry for the pride

of the flowers

on the table

I cry for the sentiment it speaks

about my grandma's generation

12 in the house

drinking water from the well

working the family's mechanic shop

it was hell

and their names?

Near 100 years later are still above the door.

I cry for the country people

without funds for education

without access to healthcare

for the backbone of this nation

They see only that we urban liberals call them backward

And in some ways they've earned it.


But who among us has never been wrong?

And who among us has liked to hear it?

Who among us wants to hear all of our flaws

from someone who won't acknowledge any of our hardships?

I cry for country people

whose humanity

I've denied

in my own arrogance

and ignorance.

I cry for country people

because I cry for this country.

And who among us

doesn't deserve

flowers on our modest table?

Monday, June 1, 2020


If you think

this isn't my fight

because I'm white

Then, friend, I'd remind you of the song:

Red and Yellow, Black and White,

ALL are PRECIOUS in His sight,

and if "brother" stops at "color",

well - you're wrong.

It's not my place

to dictate

how a race

I don't share


its despair.

But as a Jew

I pursue

Tikkun Olam.

I'm required to do better

be inspired

use my letters

lest my Talent be buried in the sand.

When I stand in His glory

what will be my story?

Did I CROSS on the other side

- or -

like The Good Samaritan, lend a hand?


For we, too, were once strangers in a strange land.


Hated, feared, seen as "less than."


Sages: "walk a mile in their shoes."

Philosophers: "a mile begins with a step."

Me? I plan on running 'til I run out of breath.

Because more than once I have witnessed

"Stop! I can't breathe!"

Knowing all the while

It won't happen to me.

Knowing all the while

I won't get the knee.

Knowing all the while

that those precious to me

can't say the same.

Which is why we say their names.


Which is why, though I'm white

the plight

of my brother

is a fight I must take.

The fate of our world -

the future's at stake.

And the Torah, it teaches

every life is a world:

an eternity of possibility

in every boy and girl,

And if you take one

the damage you've done

is immeasurable.


So I say "not another one."


Not another one.

Tikkun Olam.

Not another one.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Exceptional people throughout history have been miserable. And - often - murdered by mobs. So why the hell would we want that anyway?

Many in my generation seem to not want to

And we have our reasons. REAL, JUSTIFIABLE, LEGITIMATE reasons.

We did stuff in the past. Lots of stuff. Busted our ass, worked-our-fingers-to-the-bone stuff. And in the end it made no difference.

So we stopped trying.

I get it.

Sincerely, I do.

But I think we pendulum swung the other way, and would benefit from correcting to a middle ground.

See, we were raised to believe one person could (and therefore SHOULD) change the world. We were raised to "swing for the fences."

These teachings aren't bad on their face, but they are EXTREMELY bad for those of us who continued to fall on our face - as most folks do - despite our best efforts.

I'm swinging for the fences, ma! Why do I keep striking out? Where are my home runs? I'm trying to change the world, pa! So why do my efforts fall so flat? Why do I feel so fucking useless?

Fellow Millennials - I offer you this insane (but pragmatic) advice: AIM FOR THE MIDDLE.

Swinging for the fence every time will wear you out. "Change the world" is a helluva item to have on your daily to-do list.

It's no wonder, with goals like that, that you busted your ass/worked your fingers to the bone for a while. And it's likewise no wonder that, when those Herculean efforts fell short again and again and again, you gave up.

Now you just bury yourself in Netflix because what's the point in trying? The end result of both is the same.

You know how to change the end result? AIM FOR THE MIDDLE.


Because exceptionalism is, by definition, elusive and exclusionary. And if we're honest with ourselves, the exceptional people throughout human history have been miserable. And, often, murdered by mobs. So why the hell would we want that anyway?


Stop swinging for the fences, and just try to connect the bat with the ball. You don't have to be Hank Aaron (You're NOT. You won't be. No sense saddling yourself with that expectation.) Just focus on making contact. Get a single, double, or triple. Hell, keep your eyes open to make sure what you're being offered is even a good pitch, because if it isn't? You may get to go to 1st base just because the pitcher screwed up.

STOP TRYING TO CHANGE THE WORLD, and, instead, help your neighbor, family member, or friend. Know who DID change the world? Mother Teresa. Know how she did it? ASK HER!

"We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop."

"Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love."

"We shall never know all the good that a simple smile can do."

"What can you do to promote world peace? Go home and love your family."

"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."

"I want you to be concerned about your next-door neighbor. Do you know your next-door neighbor?"

Like so many in my generation - and likely YOU - I've felt that what little I've contributed hasn't amounted to a hill of beans, so why try? Life and effort are meaningless. We're all gonna die anyway. Kim Kardashian is a gazillionaire for having a sex tape and a big butt, and the rest of us will die in obscurity.

What's on Netflix?

But in recent months I have been attempting - at least once a day - to aim for the middle. What's a small thing I can do today that can move the Needle of Awful just one one-millionth of one percent toward Sucks Less?

And it's been paying off. Psychologically and otherwise.

I took a walk the other day, and, instead of wordlessly passing a neighbor (What's the point in talking?), I paid her a compliment. That compliment became a 30 minute conversation. That conversation is blossoming into a friendship.

I know. Earth-shattering stuff.

But when you look at the state of the world - when you think about how often you feel lonely and helpless and hopeless - a new friendship IS a form of earth-shattering stuff. It's possibilities. It's new ideas. It's a new perspective. It's more presents on your birthday!


Clean out that room you've been meaning to for ages. Donate the junk from it. Tell yourself some poor family got your junk and loved it.


Get a book from a Little Free Library. Actually read it. Put a book back. Imagine someone reading your stupid donated book.


Make the phone call you've been putting off for 2 weeks, 6 months, 4 years.


You won't lose 20 pounds in a day. Probably not this year. Maybe never. But you can forego that one extra Coke today and feel good about it.


You probably won't be remembered for all time. But the time you spend with your kid today? They'll remember for the rest of their life. And it will affect how they treat their children. So that's a good 80 years of influence right there. Not bad.


"Small," very achievable activities like these are worth doing. And we NEED to do them. For ourselves and for future generations.

Roll your eyes all you want, the little earthquakes reverberate - they make you feel better. They replace the feeling of powerlessness for a few minutes.

I've come to believe they are the only ways out of the abyss.

And there's still a part of me that wants out of the abyss.

I think there's part of you that wants out of the abyss too, or else you'd have abandoned this post paragraphs ago in favor of yet another binge of "The Office."

So many of us are hurting. So many of us are lost and disillusioned.

We feel powerless, but we're not.

We've just been misled about where true power resides.

You don't have to be Churchill to change the world. But you do have to contribute somehow.

Watch for good pitches. Swing and just hope to connect.

In any and all things, just hope to connect.


Sunday, May 3, 2020

Rights for ME but not for THEE

I can rally, scream, and open carry

under the flag of The Confederacy.

But you? Can't even bend a knee.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Whom I love, I get and marry

I - not you! - LGBT!

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

What we need is prayer in schools.

And civic life

by Christians' rules.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Live by what MY Bible says!

Supreme Court by Conservatives

all votes: 5 to 4

and you know I'm keeping score.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

A return to "olden days"

You know? Those happy golden days

before DREAMERS stole

my birthright

before migrants came

in the night

to kill me in my bed!

Even if that's all in my head.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Why can't we just go back

to when whites could paint their face black

and not have to face all this flack

for a joke?

And ain't it funny how you can't make

half the best films of the decades

'cuz of all this MeToo

I don't care if I offend you!

I'm so sick of being 'woke.'

I hope you choke

on all of your "P.C."

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

And, no, I don't believe her.

Mamma taught me that what I wore

told men whether I was a whore.

So maybe she wanted it.

Or lied.

For attention.

Did I mention

this bullshit might cost him

his scholarship?

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

And while we're onto men's rights

I shouldn't have to fight

some queer in a wig

who wants to wear perfume

and use the women's bathroom.

'Cuz this is MY world, damn you

I make the rules!

on your uterus too!

I'm the majority - not you Jews!

or Muslims

or Hindus

or whatever froufrou

shit you believe in.

I'm the majority - I should be

what you see

when you turn on tv

but now it's diversity


and diversity


Like I give a fuck if you're black.

or Asian

or brown.


You can take that Spanish nonsense

back from whence

you came.

So what I mispronounced your name?

Guess you went and forgot

that in this melting pot

You're on bottom, I'M on top.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Rights for ME, but not for THEE.

Saturday, April 25, 2020

The Wicked Syndrome

Have you ever been given a glimpse of yourself through someone else's eyes?

We all have self-concepts.

But we also all know that one guy who we think is a total douche, who thinks of himself as God's gift to the mattress sales industry.

So who's right?

Does the douche know something we don't?


Do we see what he can't?

Also yes.

I'm not the first to point out that we are our own worst critics.

Or that other people don't ruminate on our flaws to the astonishing degree that we do.

But what's got a bee in my bonnet this morning (Do you like my bonnet? Is it silly? I'll go change...) is the idea that much like the "what color is the broke-the-internet dress/maybe what I see as red, you see as blue, and we'll never know because we can never look through each others' eyes" conundrum, applied to the nature of an individual.

I'm astonishingly aware of my many flaws, but I do feel I lead an examined life.

So it ceaselessly floors me when someone will say something about me (either to my face or behind my back), that doesn't in any way fit my description as I understand it.

It's happened positively - some people think I am pretty ok. Fun, smart, brave even.

But, as is often the case for humans, the negative ones are the ones that burrow in and rob me of rest.

As when I have been accused of chasing someone's romantic partner (in whom I had no interest.) Or having negative feelings toward a person that I honestly hadn't given a moment's thought.

In these situations, there is nothing one can say to counter the other's claim - nothing that will budge them anyway.

So you must go about your day knowing that Karen thinks you're after her husband, when in all honesty you find him tedious, resent the fact that you have to work with him at all, and hope he puts in his two week's notice, like, YESTERDAY.

It's these interactions by which I am fascinated.

Like, I'm over here seeing a red flower, and Karen's looking at the same flower and calling it blue.



And WHY is she seeing this thing in ME?

As is too often the case, I don't have a definite answer.

There's always the "it's just her insecurity talking" or "maybe her husband said something about you that made her suspicious" or "crazy just gonna crazy"...but why ME, specifically?

What is it about my face or pheromones that makes Karen come a'calling?

And, honestly, this happens to me all the time. As if I am communicating constantly in text messaging, and therefore no one can read my tone.

People who've known me forever - family even - will take something I've said off-the-cuff, or that in no way pertains to them, and make it somehow ABOUT them.

They speak about me as if I am the Maleficent of the original, animated "Sleeping Beauty," when, really, the Angelina Jolie remake would be more accurate.

I'm gonna name it now - this tendency for others to define you in a way completely opposite to how you see yourself: I'm calling it "The Wicked Syndrome."

In the book and musical of "Wicked" fame, we read/see/hear that, contrary to what we were told for decades about "The Wicked Witch of the West," the personage of Elphaba is someone who is passionate, caring, awkward, and, dare I say it? LOVEABLE.

So why have we spent decades hating her?

Because the victors write the history?


But that's not the case in our day-to-day.

I mean, Karen didn't win the war for Oz. So why are we all aboard the Erin tried to take Mike from Karen train? I know I didn't personally buy that ticket.

The answer is probably some complex human psyche thing.

And that is, in turns, both fascinating and boring, so I'll simply say this: everyone writes their own story.

In some people's story, you'll be the villain. In some, the hero(ine.) In some, you'll barely even factor.

And somewhere betwixt the three probably lies the truth.

You likely aren't a maniacal supervillain (but, you know, kudos for trying). You likely aren't the pristine hero either (again, here's your participation trophy), and you are probably much more and much less important than the stories in which you are Rosencrantz/Guildenstern.

You're a person.

Complex, petty, generous, at turns the dress as black/blue, and then white/gold.

But whatever you are, the truth is YOU DON'T WANT MIKE SO JESUS, TAKE IT DOWN A PEG KAREN.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

Prescient Precedent

You chopped down the tree.

The big one, in the front yard, where Shellie and I used to play.

The one with the faded paint around the base that my grandfather put there - why? I never learned.

The willow outside my window, whose graceful branches shielded me from a world that probably wasn't looking anyway.

You chopped down the tree.

The tree that meant the world to me.

The tree that - maybe? - obscured your view

without stopping to think

how it might have shaped mine.

You chopped down the tree

and with it, a piece of me.


I wrote this piece around midnight last night. I woke this morning to find my favorite tree had been torn up by the roots, was completely blocking our driveway, and had destroyed a fence.

Had the tree fallen another way, it would have taken out our power lines, or, more dangerously, landed in my bedroom, where I was sleeping.

I am convinced that my penning this piece is somehow connected to the downing of this tree. It isn't the first time I have had a strange sense about something, only to have it happen within hours.

Pics are proof:

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

I Ain't Your Moses

Moses died within sight of The Promised Land.

It's said he never lived to see it because he lacked or lost faith.

As he saw the burning bush,

heard God's voice,

obeyed, and left his home and family,

confronted the Pharaoh,

brought forth the plagues of Egypt,

parted the sea,

saw God at the summit of Sinai

carried the commandments,

and witnessed the manna from heaven,

this interpretation shocks me.

And doesn't bode well.


His eyes saw God...

but his feet ne'er trod

The Promised Land.

What am I to take from this?

How am I to understand?

If one so favored as Moses

ne'er reached The Promised Land?

I've seen no speaking bushes.

I've confronted no Pharaohs.

My staff has never turned to snake.

My faith, diminished, never grows.

I've commanded no locusts.

There's no blood above my door.

No hail, no seas that part for me,

so what's my suffering for?

I have not climbed up Sinai -

hell, stairs now give me pause.

Sure, I try to keep the Commandments

but for what cause, I ask. What cause?

I know I should not seek reward.

I don't - I seek relief.

And maybe that's what Moses sought

but in grief he kept belief.

Had I seen what Moses saw, perhaps I could keep too

but contemporaries of the time

built the calf, called it divine

so maybe we're all screwed.

Damn. Is this what it means to be a Jew?

Friday, April 3, 2020


Excuse me.

I'm here

to demand my face-to-face apology

for all those times you laughed at me

gaslit me to cover your apathy

in this catastrophe



you wrought.

Excuse me.

I'm here 'cuz you disparaged

your effects on my marriage

your role in my miscarriage

And while we're on the miscarriage - where's my fuckin' justice?

And - hey - not between just us

but your fuck ups?

Caused my DNA bust up

so nut up


this shit

ain't just a dust up

You dirty -

BigPharma filth

the pills you peddle?

got some coughin', stopped some walkin'

put some in their coffin

But I still got air in my lungs

and though I struggle to step

this may take me out - but it ain't done it yet.

And yeah I am the voice

that rings out for the crowd

for the thousands and thousands

who tried to speak out

but were silenced when you shoved your degree in their mouths.

Yeah it took a few years

let you swagger and boast

marinate in your hubris

now it's time for the roast

And I? Well, I, for one, hope you choke

on the facts that we find

hope it weighs on your mind

that it's me and mine that the science supports.

It's time

for that apology

the one that you owe to me

and everybody

you poisoned


The "What if"s of COVID

Read a story 'bout a man who took a cruise in early March

back before the government was taking this thing seriously.

You can guess the end

the man got sick

and died

in hospital


Now his family has no husband



And they're left with only


and the curse of "What if?"

What if grandpa had never taken that cruise?

What if the government had given adequate warnings, so he'd have known to stay away?

What if the cruise ship company, noting what happened aboard the Diamond Princess, had cancelled the cruise 'til they knew, conclusively, that COVID was under control?

What if grandpa had heard about the Diamond Princess and acted on any second thoughts?


I'm all too familiar with the "What if"s.

I've not had a second's peace from them since 2015, when some pills and an ill-advised hospital stay robbed me of my health.

What if I had heeded the warnings on the packaging?

What if the government had given proper warnings, or pulled these drugs from shelves, knowing, as it did, that these drugs had destroyed countless lives?

What if, when I Googled the drugs - which I did - the personal accounts of the victims and the many lawsuits had come up on the search, instead of just the generic Bayer info?

What if I'd listened to my gut and refused the additional antibiotics? And the IV iron, which made everything worse?

What if

What if

What if

We make choices every day. And those choices have consequences.

What helps one could hurt another.

What's right for one could be wrong for another.

Sometimes the choice to "take the scenic route" versus the "straight there and straight back" one will forever change your life.

My heart goes out to all of the families battling COVID. To all of those who've lost someone, who are, I'd wager, playing the "What if" game.

To all of the spring breakers who brought COVID home. The "it can't be that bad"ers who ignored warnings and lost loved ones. And those whose jobs put them in the line of fire, who might ask themselves "What if I'd just chosen a different career?"

To those for whom this applies, I cannot tell you not to play it.

I play it every day.

But what I can tell you is that it doesn't change anything.

"What if" hasn't given me back an ounce of my health.

And it won't bring back grandpa.

Rather than live with the "What if"s, I encourage you - and this goes for those who have not lost anyone to COVID as well - to recognize this moment for what it is.

THIS is a "what if" moment.

Decisions you make IN THIS MOMENT can affect the rest of your life.

You cannot change the past, but the present is yours.

Make wiser choices, because more are going to get hurt.

Friday, March 20, 2020


There's a house up the block - the one with the Deathly Hallows on the door - and I could hear him screaming.

As I passed, on foot, I could hear - among the many expletives - the reasons for his wrath.

Something about the laundry.

Something about his damned son - whose ass was gonna get kicked because he was riding his Big Wheel too far from the designated mailbox border.

I saw her face, downcast.

I kept walking...

and made it maybe 20 yards or so.

Is THIS who I am?

The one who'd rather slink away than stand and fight?


I cast about for my courage. Where the hell has it gone?

I talk a Gryffindor game but when the time came will it be said that I up and run?

Fuck no.

I'd rather die in battle than live a coward. And be damned if I'm gonna flee from the House of the Deathly Hallows.

I turn around.

My steps are steady but my mind is racing.

Do I prepare for a fist fight with this man who's got military signage in his yard and what appear to be service-commemorative tattoos on his arms?

I guess I'm prepared, because my feet keep moving, but my racing mind? Is stilled.

Or, more accurately, moments before my feet hit their yard, my mind hones in on a still - the image of a little boy, only 8 years old, who I never met, but whose story recently filled me with guilt. Guilt that the system failed him. Guilt at the pain he endured. Guilt that I wasn't there to stop it...

The last one, I knew, was an unreasonable guilt.

I mean, I didn't even know Gabriel Fernandez. How could I have saved him?

My feet hit the grass.

"Excuse me!," I yell over the din.

He stops screaming.

They both stare at me.

What. the fuck. do I do now?

I still haven't decided. And all I have in my head is Gabriel Fernandez.

As I scramble for a battle plan that I should've had before I marched myself over, I hear the voice of Gabriel Fernandez's teacher, saying that every time she called child protective services, Gabriels' beatings got worse.

I decide it's safest - for the woman and the son - for me to deescalate.

I tell her I've noticed the Deathly Hallows on her door. I ask if she's a fan.

He's sulky, but silent. She brightens.

"Why yes!," she says, and I register the relief on her face.

As she speaks her fandom, she has her son stand up from his tricycle. He's wearing a Harry Potter shirt, which he shows me.

I ask her if she made the Deathly Hallows (she had). I compliment her work. I ask if I can commission a piece from her.

She's positively beaming now, and runs inside to grab a business card.

I am left with the man.

I don't say anything - but I make eye contact. And I keep it.

He knows I know. And he knows I saw.

She comes bouncing - has she never received a compliment on her work before? - back, card in hand. Apparently she makes art for military families.

I introduce myself.

She introduces everyone, and tries to introduce little Eli - the tot on the trike - but he insists on introducing himself.


I've heard of God speaking through burning bushes. I've heard of a Still, Small Voice. I've heard tales of whales, and of promises written in rainbows.

But in the few times in my life where I can be sure God spoke to me, it's felt like a sneaky gut punch. Like I'm looking left and someone, from out of nowhere, lands a body-shot from the right.



The name Eli is special to me. It's my nephew's name.

"I also have a brother!," Eli says, expectantly. He has little kid gaps in his teeth.

"Yes," she gestures. "He's in the house."

I look to Eli, with his "I like to play outside" scratches on his knees.

I look to Eli, and I ask: "Oh? And what's your brother's name?"

I'm looking left.




Friday, February 21, 2020

Little Earthquakes

In every life, there are pivotal moments - moments where you enter as one person, and emerge as a person changed.

Some of these pivotal moments are earth-shattering: the loss of a loved one. My sister's death was one such cataclysmic event in my life.

But, while the death of a loved one can rend the very fabric of your world, so many pivotal moments are but little earthquakes - rumblings felt only by you, and largely brushed off by passersby.

Today, I share one such little earthquake, the reverberations of which continue to shape my life and perspective.

My family took a trip to Jamaica when I was in undergrad.

We stayed in an all-inclusive resort, but took excursions to destinations throughout the island.

I could write another post about the wealth disparities I saw - the extravagance of the resorts as compared to the poverty of the local populace - but I'd seen poverty before. It troubled me, but was not new to me.

What was new to me dawned on me slowly.

It wasn't apparent on the resort, but it held me in an intense, larger-than-life gaze every time we boarded the bus:

The gaze came from different faces, but always from brown eyes - every ad here, every billboard, every "buy this or do that" - was presented by black people. And for black people.

Everywhere I looked, black faces were heralded as the beauty standard, as the friendliness standard, as the...standard.

Now I can already hear the quintessential 90s "well duh" emanating from some of you. Logically a predominantly black population would have advertisements etc featuring predominantly black models and actors.

But what you're not getting - and what I didn't understand until I'd experienced it - was the impact of seeing a race other than my own presented as "the standard."

*Insert Erin's little earthquake here.*

This is the moment when I discovered for myself just how much race mattered/s.

Now please don't misread - no one was mean to me. I faced no discrimination in Jamaica for being white. I wasn't singled out - it was actually the opposite. I was completely ignored.

I was invisible.

And, in that week of invisibility I discovered an uncomfortable truth from which my whiteness in a predominantly white country had shielded me: invisibility hurts.

To that point, I'd been aware of what I understood to be hurtful racism - the racism that sneers slurs. The racism that says, "You can't drink from the same water fountain as me." The racism that says you get a stiffer sentence for the same crimes. The racism that burns crosses, vandalizes businesses, commits murders.

But it never occurred to me that, in just leaving people alone, being polite, doing nothing racist or "cruel" to them in particular, but surrounding them by images of beauty in which neither they nor anyone resembling them are included, making media in which they and their stories are excluded, and assuming all's well so long as everyone gets to use the same fountain, creates its own kind of pain.

Again, don't misread. I understand capitalism. I understand that, in a predominantly white society, predominantly white stories sell. And it's all about the bottom line. But what I didn't understand until that trip in my early 20s, was the larger sociological and psychological impact of these truths on marginalized peoples.

This earthquake reverberates in my soul to this day.

Remembering this feeling of invisibility - of existing as a walking, talking ghost in a sea of people who didn't resemble me - is an exercise I try to revisit with regularity.

It's why, when I watch shows like "Fresh Off The Boat" and films like "Us," I do so with the consciousness that my patronage, however small, contributes to the visibility of those people that white America has traditionally walked right on by.

It's why I think "White History Month" and "All Lives Matter" would be comically ridiculous if they weren't so injurious.

It's why I am writing today, when I haven't in months, after seeing Donald Trump disparage "Parasite" when it's nothing short of remarkable that a foreign language film featuring no white actors has reached such heights.

I don't think I am exemplary in this regard. I don't think I deserve some sort of accolade for discovering in my 20s a truth minority peoples have experienced their whole lives. Rather, I just want to use whatever small platform I have to bring attention to an issue my white brethren may not have previously considered:

Even if we share the fountain; even if we share the lunch counter; even if we share schools and neighborhoods and backyard barbecues - the work isn't finished.