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.