A Poem a Day: How One Man Gets his Groove Back

I’m in the grey.

Not in a Counting Crows, “Mr. Jones,” sort of way, but rather, in a black and white combination; a one-for-two deal. I’ve asked advice from friends, and they’ve given me little gems ranging from completely useless, to no help at all. Some have ignored me, and one even made a pretend fart noise.

Since I am 30 now, and I have in a way failed to live up to a particular life goal, it is high-time to take initiative. I’d promised myself that I’d finish my first novel by 30. Well, 2 starts, and about half way on another, is close – but no cigar. I’ve taken solace in that I’ve written a screenplay, a children’s book and other things. But, that leads me to what this whole thing is about.

For those that don’t know me, I lived for the past 5 years in London. It was a great experience, and I had very hard time returning home, so much so that it still eats at me from time to time.

In the days leading up to my departure from California all those years ago, the person I was moving for (more her than grad school) suggested a project. She suggested I write a poem for everyday that I was away. While I wasn’t sure at that point how long I’d actually be living in London, and the prospect of writing a poem for several years straight was a bit daunting. We eventually compromised and decided I’d write one for every day of my first year as an expat.

The premise of this exercise was to give an insight into my individual, daily experience. For me, the human experience is dictated largely by the daily excursions into society. We may feel greater emotions with the large, earth-shaking moments in time, but those are so far and few in between, I believe we change more from the daily experiences than we do from the larger ones.

That was my aim with the endeavour. My aim with this one? I don’t know. Some of these poems are bad, some are cute and others are forgettable. I guess the point is, I don’t know how they are useful to people, but I believe if they are to at least one person then it will be worth the embarrassment. For the next year, I will be posting one a day.

One minute insight into the mind a person far removed from comfort; homesick and in love.

While most of those things fading into the years, the experience was one that I will never forget.

I hope you enjoy, and remember I was about 24 at the time. Please be kind.

August 17/August 18 – In flight

Come this way, come nearer–
Separation grows with the distance.
But, wires stretch thinly, and travel slowly;
Our words reach to fit the distance.
How will what was said know the way?
All we can do is try.
The future moves as well, casually,
But it doesn’t try.
No one can miss the fear
In your shallow gulps.
Anticipation builds;
We will become just as quickly as we will forget.
The mind works only to preserve and repair.
How do we learn to remember?
You don’t –
Now boarding –
I have to go –
The light swells placidly.
How do I learn to preserve? –
You don’t –
Figures hang more like shadows,
The moment fades, and fades.
I’m moving –
You’re moving –
Tell me –
You cannot preserve, repair, or remember;
There is only forgetting to forget.

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At Least I Look Good on Facebook

So, it looks like the NRA wins again as it was announced today that an assault weapon ban is to be dropped from a gun bill floundering on the floor of the Senate.

Once again the cowardice of congress and the American people is ringing out across the globe.

What are we telling the rest of the world? We are telling them that in America we have a hard time learning from our mistakes. However, that’s not the end of it; the American public is showing the ignorance the rest of the world accuses us of having by giving into the fear and hurricane mentality stirred up by fear mongers.

Is there any reasonable excuse as to why Newtown has seen an increase in applications for gun permits? Surely those that have seen the damage caused by assault weapons should long to see them removed from the average persons hands. Let’s be honest, does anyone that has travelled on an American freeway want a weapon of any kind in the hands of most American drivers? We ignore speed limits like a dull hum; we find it difficult to avoid getting behind the wheel without a few beers in us; we have little use for rules unless undue harm is, or is about to be, inflicted upon us. Lanes? Bah! They’re for liberals!

For a nation that has little interest in rules, or at least living by them, we enjoy the fruits our legal system, along with passing our righteous belief in our own happiness and well-being. So, when the gun control debate heated up following the Sandy Hook Massacre, both sides organized their offensive and counter.

Bait and maneuver.

There was never enough to grasp, but more than enough to get worked up over. However, despite this seeming stalemate it looked as though favor was beginning to sway in the direction of a ban on assault weapons. Then, as is the wont in the Western World: a new tragedy reared its ugly head and swiped Newtown from our consciousness.

As we well know, American interest only extends so far as the media has air time for it.

Well, this is never more true that today with the scrapping of the assault weapons ban.

Chris Cox, chief lobbyist for the NRA said, “History has proven that a senseless ban of firearms based on cosmetic features will not make our communities safer. Congress should reject this so-called ‘assault weapons ban’ whether it is offered as a stand-alone bill or as an amendment.”

Good thing he got his wish. But, does that make him right? Are human beings safer with weapons? For me it’s simple. If you’re swayed by the wild uproar of a terrible massacre; carried away by so much fear and panic that the desire to own a gun seems to be the only possible option, then you have ignored the entire event that led you to this decision.

Shiny toys led to more attention on the street, and as much as it will pain many Americans to hear: most of you are not heroes. Someone stirred by fear to such a degree they make an irrational decision, is no hero – they are the characters in war films you shout at, scream, curse and vilify.  They are the cowards, the obstacles your heroes must endure to find justice, victory and a clear conscience.

This is why I curse Congress and the American public today. Why not stand up and fight for something?

Oh, I suppose you have. You’ve fought for your civil liberties, which has come in the shape of an AR-15 you aren’t sure how to load, clean or keep safe, but you look damn cool with it in your Facebook profile picture.

Forget the kids, the movie patrons and hundreds of victims across the United States who have died as a result of assault weapons being doled out through a poor screening process and relaxed gun laws, you have your gun(s) – you can’t pay your credit card bills or taxes but you’ve got a gun and are prepared to kill anyone that tries to take it away from you. From little kids to pinko-commie liberal bastards; we’re all fair game when it comes to your rights.

Well done America, you’re living up to the ignorant, inbred persona the rest of the world assumes we have.

 

 

 

 

 

Inauguration Day: Another day to Moan About Nothing for Americans

With the 2013 inauguration only a day away, there has been a fair amount of discussion on what President Obama should say, will say and how he’ll remedy a tepid first term for his liberal base.

Chatter is ranging from his policies on gun control, foreign policy, strengthening a climbing economy, health care and a bevy of other hot button topics, with each seemingly more divisive than the next.

While I’m a card carrying Democrat, and a supporter of most of the agendas suspected to be outlined in the inauguration speech, there is something in the political air that has left me unsatisfied.

Liberal’s have been celebrating since Obama’s victory in November as the Republican Party’s infighting has weakened it position, and credibility, as of late. Though some portend that the future of the party seems to be unsure, anyone with half a brain should have the good sense to let that little morsel lie. As entertaining as the infighting has been to watch, it won’t go beyond this, and it can’t. Firstly, every group, being or structure endures a crisis of faith that tests the validity of belief – this is never truer than in the political sphere. This happened to the Republican’s in the 70s after Nixon, then what happened? They got Reagan, with a Bush chaser.

More important than reaffirming faith is maintaining the checks and balances an opposing party provides. Sure, this phrase is long forgotten in lexicon of American Politics–where this curious phenomenon of an all powerful President-for-life seems to have replaced the actuality of the system according to the right leaning political networks–but, it is probably the most important one. Much like our governmental structure, political parties need opposition to ensure that one-sided policies don’t run rampant in the US. And, as much as I’d love to see the policies I believe in become the norm across the length and breadth of the United States, I’m a bigger believer in equal representation.

As we gear up for inauguration day our political beliefs are growing increasingly divided, contradicting the platform through which both candidates ran: uniting the nation under a set of basic, human ideals. Now, a month removed from that furore isn’t a shame that the idea of a truly United States seems more like a romantic ideal?

Individuals are parading themselves under the pretence of “the greater good,” but what is actually happening is what is best for them, and those in their circle. We are dividing ourselves from our loved ones, countrymen and neighbours at a rate unseen since the Civil War.

In the past there have been galvanizing moments to bring a limping nation to full strength. The depression found the Second World War; the 60s saw the assassination of three great men. Such a feet is impossible today because the nature of our society has created a bigger is better attitude, and something large enough to move a nation to rally behind a single banner would surely wipe-out half of us.

So, until then we will live divided, swamped beneath the belief that our personally ideology is the only way to live–well, I have news for those people: if your ideology isn’t bettering mankind, i.e. providing homeless people with homes, starving with food or just living without hate in your heart, then your ideology is shit.

So, tomorrow, when President Obama is inaugurated in for his second term look beyond the policies you hate, or the policies you love, but see a man that is doing his best to help the country, even if you disagree with him. That is one thing all Americans, liberal, conservative and independent should agree on (though they never would), they love America, and the freedom to complain too much to see it waste away into nothingness.

Even After Sandy Hook No One Will Listen

There has been another shooting in the United States. This time Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut was the battleground. At the time of writing this there were conflicting reports about the amount killed, and though I’m sure there is a more definitive answer out there now I feel that takes away from the real issue: someone walked onto an elementary school campus and shot at kindergartners.

So, where do we go from here?

The victims will be mourned by the media and our hapless politicians, buried and that will be the end of it. The issue of gun control will be raised slightly, only to be pulled away by the slight of hand tricks lobbyists have taught our favorite politicians and media outlets.

Though it all we will continue to hear the phrase, “isolated incident” being muttered in newspapers and conversations–but after fifteen years of campus shootings can we still make that argument?

My fear is that Sandy Hook is going to be a name that triggers some thought when heard years down the line, only to end with a scratch of the head. That is not take away form the importance or severity of this event, but merely to serve as a reminder that if something isn’t done now to tighten gun regulations in the United States there will be too many Sandy Hook’s to remember them all.

What’s the answer? Should children begin carrying weapons? It has been suggested weapons are an American citizen’s right, and as Cass Barron has so eloquently tweeted, “If you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.” Perhaps the answer is an armed guard at every elementary school across the nation?

So far the reactions on twitter from those in support of gun rights have come across as cold hearted. Kyle Shake tweeted: “#SandyHook will be another driving force in the Assault Weapons Ban. Stir up the libs, here comes a gun control debate.”

Is this what the tragedy at Sandy Hook first brings to mind? There is a misallocation of priorities here that will inevitably prevent any reasonable conversation on the topic–and I’m not only referring to individual’s squawking across social media platforms, but in congress as well. Our national mindset mimics that of our political party; we cram in the facts we’re fed and cling to them as though we’re not sure if we’ll ever be fed again.

Events occur in our life that are preventable. We endure needless tragedy because of some ideological path. Why? There are children dead–there are memorials across school campuses most of us can’t remember the name to, and still there is a necessity to adhere to an antiquated mindset that weapons in the hands of everyday people is the safest path for our society.

This tragedy should give evidence to the reality that what we have in this country is a flawed system that at the very least, out of respect for the deceased, deserves to be looked into. I can’t help but think of the song, “Fortunate Son,” by Credence Clearwater Revival. I think of the line: “It ain’t me, it ain’t me, I ain’t no senator’s son, son.” In the United States we live saddened by bad news, but far removed, like learning of the death of someone you didn’t know–there is no personal connection so it’s easy to maintain strict adherence to an antiquated mentality.

But, your argument is always the same: if someone wants a gun, they will buy a gun off the street.

Well, that’s fine and dandy but I’ll leave you with this: these massacres, do they take bravery? Absolutely not. Does it take bravery to walk into a gun store, file the paperwork and wait for it to go through? Or, what about having someone you know buy it for you at a gun show like the fellas from Columbine did? No, not particularly. However, would that coward have the ability to approach an arms dealer on the street? This is a known criminal, who at that moment is understood to be carrying a weapon, because our maniac intends to purchase it from them with a wad of cash stuffing their little pockets–my guess is no because if they’re coward enough to fire upon little children then they wouldn’t possess the gall to walk up to a hardened criminal and ask for a weapon. In all honesty, this is how drug deals happen, and they often have unhappy endings, so why would a gun deal be any different?

What will happen in a few years time? No one really knows, but I could make an educated guess: Sandy Hook is just going to be a slightly memorable name from a long list of American tragedies; they will continue to occur because the tragedy hasn’t happened to no senators son.

Hi Ho! I’m Hungry, but so is the Rest of the World

Well, Cheech and Chong are happy–as is Spicoli.

I mention these characters of the higher class for a reason. With the legalization of marijuana in Washington state and the impending legalization of it in Colorado, my mind wanders to the films of my youth–those college films filled with capers, over-sexualisation and alcohol; films where there is always some bildungsroman culminating in a wild chase scene. The saviour? Well, more often then not it some ample chested woman scantily clad who is capable of distracting those who need distracting long enough for the heroes to disappear into relative safety.

Think of films like Porky’s, or Porky’s 2; Revenge of the Nerds and the like; we are twenty years removed and we still find ourselves distracted by methods of instant gratification.

That is why this debate about whether or not the legalisation of marijuana is the right thing is our time’s pair of big distracting breasts.

It is as absurd as it sounds. Some of our greatest minds are distracted by this marijuana conversation, when brainpower should be spent tackling any number of the larger issues that are plaguing the world. Whether or not I can buy a joint at the corner market is not one of them.

People like to get high–just as they like to get drunk. Did prohibition stop people from drinking? Nope. Was there a correlation between the lack of alcohol and the Depression? Without any facts, I’ll say yes. Can we say the same for our current climate and the lack of marijuana? Yes, if we ignore fact and accuracy once more–truth is that simple to come by.

According to the pundits, the legalisation of marijuana will spin the masses into an unending spiral of degradation and depravity. But the question remains: do they truly believe that the great problem solvers of our time, the instructors and politicians haven’t the willpower to pass on the dutchie before heading off to work in the morning? Apparently the ability to say no to a beer or cocktail prior to work isn’t enough to forego a little purple haze after your bran flakes.

Look, we haven’t angels running our world, it’s evident; no one pretends that they are (unless you live in the bible belt and Mike Huckabee is your kind of dude), but we trust them enough with the keys to our uranium Pizza Hut’s, or whatever secret place they’ve drummed up to store it. We trust them enough because we find something strangely comforting in their shortcomings. It’s like hearing that God picks his nose and wipes it under his chairs. There is poetry in basic human foulness because us lesser souls are equally as foul–what they choose to do once they are through with day, well that doesn’t concern me as much as what they do during it, and it is this that leads me to my over arching question: why are we still wasting time talking about this?

The world is falling apart at the seams: Israel and Hamas (not to be confused with Jewish and Arab people, there is a difference) are equally terrible because they are dead set on destroying each other, and everything else around. Corruption is rampant as greed spreads like crabs from a pair of lost & found underpants. Poor people have less; the rich are growing richer–swimming in their hoards of cash like some disgusting live action Scrooge McDuck–treating taxation as though it were the responsibility of the poor alone. Major corporations are following suit as their funds are being sent through loopholes and distorting revenue, while resting in some small nation’s favourite bank, comfortably beside their executive’s personal fortunes–all receiving no tax.

In China, Egypt, Syria and the United States we find oppression, censorship and the wild mistreatment of women.

All of these issues that are causing death–both literally and figuratively–bloodshed and the inability to carry on with basic human rights: eat, sleep, breath, live and love, and we are busy wasting time discussing whether or not marijuana should be legalized.

Well, who cares? Let that debate exist when Democracy lives in Egypt; when the blood and tears left behind in Tahir Square aren’t left in vain; we can spark the Marijuana debate when Assad is punished for brutally killing his own people; when food and water is accessible in Africa and war torn Syria; when women around the world aren’t blamed for the violence some else has inflicted upon them.

We have all of the technology in the world to make our lives better, easier. Conveniences are the norm, but the world is falling into worse shape. Racism and discrimination is on the rise–Ah, but who cares, right? We have bigger fish to fry–some commie bastard hippies are token up in my country.

They may be high but that marijuana they’re smoking is taxed by the state, which is more than we can say for the income of the pundits fighting the legalisation of marijuana.


All Your Cousins in One House: Mexican’s, Bush’s and the Changing Faces in American Politics

The ever changing face of the Republican party is finally getting the long awaited make over it needs to regain favour with the growing majority in the United States: the Hispanic population. Like we knew it would, this renaissance is going to begin in Texas.

The Lone Star state has a hotshot politician on the farm causing a number of GOP-ers to salivate in anticipation of his arrival into the big dust-up that is American politics.

What has voters, policymakers and Ol’ Rick Perry in Austin clamouring is what this 36 year old has in his bag of tricks.

He has pedigree, carried with him by a legacy not always favourable, but a name that is the conservative answer to the Kennedy’s. Secondly, and most importantly, he is a child of a Mexican-born mother into a family with blood bluer than the mighty Pacific.

If you haven’t guessed it by now, it’s another Bush; another George Bush because, well they all are.

George P. Bush is the grandson of George H.W, nephew of George W. and son of Jeb and his wife Columba.

This list of heavy hitting political names is like something out of Middle-Earth, and should be enough to give Democrats a sudden shiver because his first stop will be for a seat in Texas, then you know where Bush’s always end up–the South Lawn at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave sipping Shiner Bock.

If George P. is serious about running for office (and we know that’s all Bush’s do, aside from become insanely wealthy) he is just what the GOP is looking for, fitting snugly in with John Boehner and Sean Hannity’s backtrack on immigration policy.

During the recent election President Obama was re-elected largely impart to owning 71% of the Hispanic vote nationally. Romney wasn’t helped the riotous language the Tea Partiers were filling the GOP rhetoric with, as the recent election showed the Hispanic vote is growing while the white vote is way down; proving that Tea Partiers like to moan and keep things the way they are so as not to go to the trouble of finding something new to moan about.

The fact George P. Bush is a Texan (sort of, he grew up in Florida) like his Uncle and Grandpapy (who were breaking bones in Connecticut, and found homes in Texas after Yale) where Hispanics make up 35% of state population. P. Bush is everything that the Republican Party is looking for: he speaks Spanish, has Republican values and has that delicious pedigree the GOP voters gobble up.

However, it isn’t all doom and gloom for the Democrats as the Republican’s aren’t the only ones to have blue chip Hispanic leaders waiting in the wings. The Castro brothers, identical twins from, wait for it–Texas–are both currently in the thick of San Antonio politics, with Joaquin just being elected to the 20th Congressional district, and Julian still mayor of San Antonio. They believe that Texas is in for a big political shake-up, and they might be right as they have caused some in the Texas GOP to grow nervous, and that’s what will make the future of American Politics really exciting.

It is because of this that I will make the prediction that in the next 3 or 4 elections you will see a Hispanic as the President of the United States of America. One party will make the first move and the other will counter with their promising star–it’s the way it works.

However, this should give Democrats reason to be concerned because if there is two things the American public love it’s change and continuity. We are a contrary sort, but George P. Bush offers satisfaction to this contradiction. He is a new face, with an interesting new voice while still possessing a name that has a long history of “success” in American politics. The Castro’s on the other hand share a name with a frightening figure from the 20th century, which would undoubtedly be brought into the ring, much as President Obama’s name was associated with nefarious terrorist figures and Iraqi leaders. Politics are just that petty.

Though I’m not really a fan of a Bush dynasty, I love what this means for my race, culture and the future of my nation. I am a half-blood Mexican and have long witnessed my family suffer as a result of their heritage and absence of voice. My great-granduncle rode with Pancho Villa, and my great grandmother stood side by side with Caesar Chavez, but that was as far as their puny inexhaustible voices would carry, until now. The landscape is changing and I’m sad that some of them never got the opportunity to see their hard work; their blood, sweat, tears and constant poverty come to mean something for the generations they struggled for.

I’m proud to be Mexican, and I’m proud to be American–but what brings the most pride is that we aren’t simply learning to speak the language of the nation, the landscape has changed so much that America is finally learning to speak ours–and my family would be proud.

Who Did You Wake Up Next to Last Night: How the Republican Party is Learning from its Dalliances

With the hangover from the election beginning to subside, things are starting to take shape; the haze is beginning to clear and what was done the night prior is piecing together. What we’ve learned over the last 36 hours of wildness is that the Republicans are in dire need of a little heartbreaking.

Over the last 18 months or so Republican candidates vying for office in every race across the United States bowed to the lunatic fringe; fear mongering ran rampant; tales of a new brand of economic woe that would funnel the nation into a cataclysmic tailspin of rapturous proportions if the left-devils and their heathen blood won. Then there was the racism. The heavy panting urgency to get them non-American’s out of the country–that being anyone that didn’t think like a Tea Partier, or a true conservative. It was like mad cow disease; the fever went to the brain. But that wasn’t the worst of it; it was the candidate’s decision to use it to their advantage rather than to a halt to it.

They made their bed, laid in it with about 100,000 of their lunatic friends and are now paying the price–there is a democrat sleeping between the Egyptian sheets in the White House.

Because of this the Republican Party is beginning to buckle; the party is at odds with itself and internal bickering is causing the fractures to show. The hard line policies that they had adhered to in the months leading up to the election failed them because they overestimated the amount of hard line Americans there were. There weren’t enough, and for many of us that should be a result; something to hang a hat on, but for some reason it doesn’t feel like a victory.

I love my country and more or less I love my people–despite their impressive ability to make expats look awful–but racism is a problem in the country. I’m not suggesteing that it was ever perfect, but the problem is that is weaving its way back into the media and in conversations the youth of our country will see on social media. By seeing adult speak the way they are about their President, and the fact that he is a Black man is absolutely appalling. Those Tea Partiers and vehement conservatives that are looking to take the constitution back seem to forget the first lines of the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed…

This doesn’t simply extend to white men, or white women, but all men and women of all races, and beliefs. We are of the same fabric but woven separately.

We are a resilient nation who has been forced at times to endure great struggles, as well as little tiffs that caused great whining. We will get through whatever you see as a problem, and even the stuff you can’t see. That is why I can’t see the rationale behind the lunatic fringe paying their respects to a nation that will apparently fall into the sea (where, they will join the Bay Area, which has been there for decades in their minds), and bemoan a glorious past that seems too far gone. I won’t even beginning to mention those discussing secession, civil war and the various other great overstatements made famous by that special brand of American whine-ism made evident over the last few days.

There is little need to fixate of these gross statements of pure ignorance because regardless of your Republican sensibilities, Democrat peccadilloes, choice of state color or independent voting habits any sensible human being can see that suggesting the nation will plunge into an age of darkness with the election of President Obama has a short list of possibilities: you’re a racist; a product of too much television; or you’re pleased because it’s a sign of the oncoming rapture.

The sensible Republican’s are working at rebuilding the image that this election, and those maniacs they got into bed with, damaged because like all parties, a handful of scratched CDs can ruin the fun for everyone.

John Boehner is no dummy he changed the direction of the party without waiting for the hangover to subside. He knew where he had been the night before and led the pre-emptive call to let the equally guilty second party that it was a one-night thing; a mistake and it wasn’t going to happen again.

That first call was to the Tea Party:

“Hey, so…last night. You know, I’d had a lot to drink and I was in a really vulnerable place, but I want to let you know that we’re gonna change our stance on immigration. Sorry.”

The new generation of Republican is moving to a more centrist attitude, a more social open individual, and after the massive swing the Hispanic vote brought to the Democrats it’s almost as if the Republicans are just now realizing that Hispanics are actually a real thing; not something like the Loch Ness monster which pundits and super PACs use to frighten voters.

Now people like my grandparents, who are Mexican, make a difference; they matter.  Where were they in the 60s when Caesar Chavez was marching for the rights of the field hands? Where were the republicans when Mestiza’s and Mestizo’s were being terrorized for not being American enough, or Mexican enough? Now our vote matters because the white vote carries less weight than it did in the past.

This first change in song is evident that the Republican machine is no longer going to stand for the lunatic fringe infiltrating good, sound policy. Radical conservatism isn’t the answer to our economic woes, nor is it the answer to our foreign policy. Whether one is religious, atheist, indifferent or too capitalist to give a damn, we are all human beings and want the same things out of life: love, a bit of happiness and equality.

I’m not going to make out like Republicanism is synonymous with racism or bigotry because that is just as inflammatory as suggesting that President Obama’s win was “Pearl Harbor,” and “tomorrow you plan for Normandy.” The Republican’s played to their opponent and worked the field they way they thought best. A certain sect of the voters wanted this radical conservatism, but far less than they anticipated. They are changing, and changing for the better, and if this brings the immigration reform back to the table and lightens the current restrictions on immigrants in the USA, amazing. It’s late, but it is better than never.

Sometimes a little bender, and a one-night stand with a lunatic has benefits.