I’m a runner. Not a fast runner, but I can cover a lot of distance on my feet and enjoy it the whole time. Besides, the suffix word part “er” means pretty close to “one who.” I run, making me one who runs, ipso facto, I’m a run-er.
Paragraph 1 covers word 1 of the title, so guess what paragraph 2 will do… I’m scared. So much so that I’m considering not running on roads anymore (does anyone have the luxury of running anywhere else these days?) It’s not pot holes that have me frightened, it’s cagers doing illegal shit with their guided bombs. It’s not the law abiding drivers, although accidents do happen. It’s the people speeding, looking up - briefly - from their cell phones to scan the road ahead, it’s the drinkers, and the pot heads, too. On a weekly basis, I’m having “near miss” experiences because of people who are intentionally breaking the law.
I wear safety gear. I run in a bright yellow/green workman's vest with huge amounts of reflective material. I have reflectors on my shoes and my hat. I wear a 340 lumen headlamp in front and a bright blinking red light in back. Guess what. It doesn’t help when drivers are breaking the law. Speeding through a curve? Yes, you’ll drift out or over-correct and kill me. Looking down at your phone? Yep, they take driver’s licenses away from blind people, and if you’re not looking at the road, constantly, intently, scanning, you’re blind. And, you’ll kill me. Drunk? High? Yep, you’ll kill me. Sleep deprived? It’s illegal for professional drivers and pilots, and it should be illegal for every driver on the road. That’s why I’m running scared. Lawless idiots recklessly (wreck-fully??) wielding deadly hunks of metal.
I’m driving scared, too. Drivers using their cars illegally are killing other drivers on the regular, not just pedestrians and bicyclists. In 2019, drivers killed more than 36,000 people. I have no idea why we accept the convention of calling these deaths “accidents.” The vast majority are caused by people illegally using their vehicles. 36,000 people killed, annually, by automobile drivers: 10,200 alcohol, 9,478 speeding, 3,142 distracted, 842 in work zones alone, and 53 children baked alive by being left in the car in the parking lot. (https://www.nhtsa.gov/press-releases/2019-fatality-data-show-continued-annual-decline-traffic-deaths). That leaves about 12,200 unaccounted for - maybe those were legal drivers really having accidents? That's even MORE frightening! They're obeying all the rules and paying attention and they STILL kill more than 12,000 people annually? WHAT?? To put that in perspective, if we take suicide out of the mix (because there are a great number of people who think suicide, while tragic, should be a legal choice) that’s greater than 20,000 more deaths than were caused by firearms in the USA in 2019. These "drivers" are people doing illegal acts with hunks of metal shaped like cars, and they are killing over 20,000 MORE people annually than the people who are doing illegal acts with hunks of metal shaped like guns!
No, I’m not trying to be tricky with the numbers. Yes, 60% of all deaths involving firearms in the USA are suicides.
Here’s the breakdown for 2019 firearms deaths according to UC Davis: https://health.ucdavis.edu/what-you-can-do/facts.html
39,707 Firearms deaths total:
23,941 Suicide (60%)
14,861 Homicide (37%)
905 Legal Interventions, Accidents, Not able to be determined, Public Mass Shootings
*79 Public Mass Shooting (0.2%) - also included in the above 3%*
I’m not leading up to a conclusion that we need less gun control. I’m leading up to the conclusion that it’s about time we take the same approach to cars that we take to guns.
We need to take cars away from EVERYONE because too many bad people are using cars illegally.
Let’s put “governors” in all cars so that no one can speed. These will not let any car travel above the posted speed limit (your phone knows what the speed limit is, and your car can, too. We have the technology, let’s do it.) Nobody needs a gun that sprays 100 bullets a minute, and nobody needs a car that can travel faster than is legally allowed on any public road. Why are they still being sold? Why are they not being recalled?
Let’s put breathalyzers in every car, require all occupants to pass a breathalyzer test before the car can be started. (we have the technology, there’s already a seat sensor for the airbags so the car knows if someone is sitting there, and we have the breathalyzers in place for ALREADY CONVICTED DRUNK DRIVERS. Why haven’t we taken their cars away forever? That’s what we would do if it was a gun! And we should!) There's no reason for a drunk person to be anywhere near a firearm, and there's no reason for a drunk person to be anywhere near a car, whether they are driving or not.
Let's require that cars be in secured, locked, garages - emptied of and separated from fuel after each use so that children, or drunks, or insane or overly emotional individuals don't have easy access to them in a moment of weakness. Sure, it will be inconvenient, but it will save lives. Having a car is a luxury, not a right, we can take the extra 5 minutes to fuel them each time we need to use them safely and legally.
Let's require background checks before a person can be licensed to drive. 3 letters of reference required from "respected citizens" in the community before licensing. Mental health evaluations required, and if a person gets a diagnoses of depression or anxiety, not to mention schizophrenia, bipolar, vision loss, epilepsy... let's take their license away. We do it for guns, and we should do it for cars. For gasoline, too. Background checks for gasoline. That's an explosive more powerful than dynamite! (A single gallon of gasoline has the explosive power equivalent to 83 sticks of dynamite.)Why are we doling it out like water? Am I allowed to buy a stick of dynomite? Nope. Can a convicted felon, arsonist, drug dealer, child molester, ponzi scheme orchestrating, wife beater buy a gallon of gas? Yep. 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, for less than a $5. No questions asked. Diesel is much safer. Here's an article reminding farmers, who use much more diesel fuel than gas, that gasoline is extremely dangerous: https://www.purdue.edu/uns/html3month/1999/990604.Kingman.gasoline.html
What about sleep deprived drivers? Easy, two solutions already exist. I was just in a friends new Ford pickup delivering Christmas presents, and it has sensors that monitor driving patterns associated with sleep deprivation. Here's an article about it: https://sleepdt.com/ford-launches-new-technology-to-help-sleepy-drivers/ . The second solution is to pre-emptive. Let's install a reaction time assessment "game" that takes 30 seconds. If you can't pass it, you can't start the car. Done.
Don't get me wrong, I love both cars and guns. I just did the math comparing the energy of a regular sedan at 60 miles per hour to the energy of the bullet from my very powerful 30-06 hunting rifle. Shockingly, the energy of that sedan is 176 times GREATER than the bullet from the gun. Cars are guided bombs. No joke. Put away your phone and drive. You'd never put up with a person staring at their phone and haphazardly waving a gun in all directions!
If it's sound logic to restrict law abiding citizens from having and using firearms in order to reduce firearms deaths, let’s use that same logic with automobiles. It's called restricted access. So let’s start restricting access to cars for everyone too, not just the lawbreakers. 20,000 non-suicide car deaths a year MORE than firearms. That’s absurd.
Let’s take back the streets.
My dog wants to walk unafraid, too.
Follow, thou fatted lamb, these crooked guides and thy wool veiled brow shall be sheared.
Thou shalt not consume anything thou hast not harvested (hunted/gathered/grown) and prepared thyself - thy marital status not-with-standing. (I recommended this to my father. His momentary consideration that this is a possible reality in at least one of the infinite quantum universes brought on temporary paralysis - during this brief time, he did not eat.)
Thou shalt harvest, prepare, and consume food using only implements crafted by thine own hands (Spoon, fork, knife, cup, plate, bowl, pot, pan, bow, atlatl… fire… etc. Once you’ve built a friction fire you’ll never respect cardio equipment at the gym.)
If thou must purchase food, scribe for thyself a scroll of thine favorite foods - never shalt thou purchase these. (If the only food you have available when you’re bored is food you don’t like, you’re much less likely to eat it. Even if you do eat it, you’ll eat less.)
Thou shalt not smoke thine house plants. (That’s roughage, dear, eat them instead. There’s more than one definition of a tossed salad, and Paul Newman’s charity was not created with your definition in mind.)
Thy feelings are not food. (You can’t change your feelings, let alone make them go away, by eating.)
Hear something, say something.
I'm not usually a coffee shop guy - why pay three dollars for something I can make at home for about six cents? But sometimes... and yesterday morning was one of those sometimes.
Sadly, I hit the teacher rush at the local coffee shop and the place was packed both inside and at the drive through. I chose inside.
There were a few teachers who had already put in their order standing, masked and conscientious, off to the side. They were discussing holiday plans. They all had a good laugh when one said, "Well, it's that time of the year when my Catholic in-laws insist we take the kids near the Priest and risk them getting molested again! Ha Ha!"
Another said, "Ho, HO, HOOOoo! I don't know what's worse - Santa's lap, the Boy Scout's, or the Priests!"
I said, "I'm a big fan of the public school system. I'm a Santa fan. I'm not Catholic, but I have some good friends who are loving and caring Priests, and I've got a dead uncle who was a life changing-ly great scout leader. No doubt there are bad people in every profession, but sadly, if you take the time to check the numbers, several MILLION more kids in the USA are physically sexually molested by K-12 public school employees than by people in all those other roles combined. Thanks for being great teacher's though. Happy holidays."
And I left.
U.S. Department of Education: Educator Sexual Misconduct: A Synthesis of Existing Literature
S.E.S.A.M.E (Stop Educator Sexual Abuse Misconduct & Exploitation)
“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.”
― Brother David Steindl-Rast
one time tempted
something of wonder
the erotic bit
confounding and expanding
something of wonder
“There are no chaste minds. Minds copulate wherever they meet.” -Eric Hoffer (1902-1983)
Wisdom is the correct bit of knowledge revealed artfully, with empathy and situational awareness; the right knowledge, at the right moment in time. Wisdom is most often personified in the feminine form, for good reason. As Halloween approaches, so many less-wise women will don the “costume” of a schoolgirl, but costuming has morphed. One night’s disguise is now likely an expression of true self. No, thank you. I long for the librarian, pursue the pedagogue, desire the doyenne. She will teach me what I have yet to know. I will devote my every thought and movement to learning her.
Posts from a Post-Ex-Christian
This piece is going to end with the admission that I don’t – stronger, can’t – identify with any organized group of modern “christians” I’ve encountered, but I do consider myself a christian. Give it a minute though, because on the way to that conclusion I’m going to suggest it’s never a good idea to piss in the well from which you drink.
I went through a phase in my life where it was it emboldening to sing hymns with those who struggle against the flaws of the christian church(es). Later, I started studying literature, and I learned that with all literature it is never a good idea to dig into the criticism before reading the primary text. So, I read the primary text. Stunning. The christian bible begins (note: the vast majority of the christian bible is Hebrew literary tradition) with two very different creation stories. The first (Genesis chapter 1) presents a god who creates out of nothing – poof, and things are perfect. The second (starting at Genesis chapter 2 verse 4) presents a god who creates out of something. A potter god perhaps, who gets it wrong every time and keeps trying to make it better. Any tradition that starts its doctrine with a literary admission that, “we’re not really sure what god is like, but we think it’s an important question and we’ve got a couple of ideas…” well, I’m good with that. That’s some quality thinking. Story after story in this collection of stories, written over a period of time spanning thousands of years, build upon one another to give a greater sense of some big themes, of recurring conflicts, of the rise and fall of some major characters, motif and tableau, foils and archetypes and… a general picture of a complex life. That is, unless you approach it as the modern church’s lens mandates - expecting every sentence to be directly related to you, and how you should live your infinitesimally short singular life. I think that’s a silly approach to take when reading a limerick, or a tweet. I think it’s even sillier when reading literature written down by people who were trying to understand how all of life and love and pain and community work, especially when those writers and collectors admit at the outset that they haven’t really figured it out. Yep, I’ll take that kind of writing over mis-used quotes and one line ejaculations every chance I get, even when the pictures are cute and they do make me laugh, and briefly feel like I belong. We’ve all got our reading preferences.
Why the christian label for me? Because I’ve never found a better label. I’ve talked with feminists who deride the Jesus language of “turn the other cheek,” because the churches they reject have told them it’s a doctrine of submission. But that’s reading the criticism and interpretation without reading the primary text for yourself. Here’s what the oldest English translation says for that text in the book of Matthew, “Ye have heard that it hath been said, an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: but I say unto you, that ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.” It starts with a rejection of the Hammurabi brand of justice, so don’t be deceived by the next words about not “resisting” evil. Consider that it’s a conversation about not engaging evil the way Hammurabi decided to engage evil, but is instead an entirely new way to engage evil. In a culture that only engaged socially with the right hand (as many cultures still do today) a strike on the right cheek meant a back-handed blow. An insult. A clear message that the receiver of the back-hand is an inferior. So, here’s how I prefer to read it (thanks to Walter Wink’s book Engaging the Powers for the read that lead me here) – and Jesus said, never let an evil person insult you with a back-handed blow, but in resisting their evil, make sure you do not become like that evil person by striking back as Hammurabi might have told you to. Instead, stand back up, and insist that you be struck on the left cheek, as an equal. It will be clear to all that witness this, you are more than an equal to the evil person that struck you; you are the wiser and stronger of the two. As is said in Proverbs 29 (an incredible collection of the thinking of its day…), when a wise person argues with a fool, nothing gets solved, and by implication - no one can tell which of them is which.
To be clear, I’m not trying to force an interpretation of these texts on anyone. I’m suggesting that you read it for yourself and make your own criticism before throwing out the source material for most of the great literature written in the English language. Read it with the same level of interest and integrity you might approach any poem, or piece of prose. There’s such a thing as ambiguity, and there’s certainly room for interpretation. If you think you’re correct to reject your church as a bunch of incompetents and assholes, why continue to accept their interpretation of its texts? Why continue to believe that any of christianity is what they say it is?
American culture today is the child of christian churches – for better or for worse those traditions are our parents. I often (humorously, but there’s a solid dose of truth in all good humor) introduce my biological parents by telling people that I’ve made it my life’s work to raise them well, and I’m very proud of what they’ve become. I do realize it is they who raised me, but I think they also realize that for decades the reverse has been true as well. Do I agree with my parents about everything? No, I don’t. But I also don’t claim that those who made me what I am are irredeemable and worthy of my chiding and exuberant scorn. That would be childish of me. I do believe that there are people both today, and in every generation of the many thousands of years of human life, who are worth listening to. I’m not willing to dismiss them any more. I’m ready to learn from their mistakes, and mine. I’m ready to try to clear the air instead of pissing in the well. Admittedly, there are worse parents than mine by far. Admittedly, I don’t – stronger, can’t – identify with any organized group of modern “christians” I’ve encountered, but I do consider myself christian. A post-ex-christian.
What follows is three gems from the father of Deconstructionist Theory himself, Jacques Derrida. I will hazard a guess that he might have started with the idea that before you deconstruct any piece of literature, you have to read the words...
“A text is not a text unless it hides from the first comer, from the first glance, the law of its composition and the rules of its game. A text remains, moreover, forever imperceptible.”
“That is what deconstruction is made of: not the mixture but the tension between memory, fidelity, the preservation of something that has been given to us, and, at the same time, heterogeneity, something absolutely new, and a break.”
“These critics organize and practice in my case a sort of obsessive personality cult which philosophers should know how to question and above all, to moderate.” – Jacques Derrida
Freedom ≠ Greatness
The truth is, freedom is simply a pre-requisite for greatness in life – in fact, freedom will not help you pass the course, it will make it more difficult. How could this be? Here are the course descriptions:
Pass/Fail – open enrollment/rolling admission
A passing mark in Greatness 101 requires participants to do great things when free to do other than* great things.
Pass/Fail – open enrollment/rolling admission
A passing mark in Greatness 201 requires participants to do great things while both free to do other than* great things, and being offered rewards for doing other than* great things.
Pass/Fail – open enrollment/rolling admission
A passing mark in Greatness 301 requires participants to do great things while 1) free to do other than* great things, 2) being offered rewards for doing other than* great things, and 3) threatened with loss/punishment for doing great things.
Examples: (for reference only – situational appropriateness is the rule, not the exception):
Not Great –
- Under duress (parental punishment and loss of allowance), a child apologizes for
stealing another child’s candy. (lacks pre-requisite freedom)
- Slave labor builds pyramids in Egypt (lacks pre-requisite freedom)
- Pharmaceutical companies pay billions of dollars for addiction recovery under court
mandate (lacks pre-requisite freedom)
- Parent in parking lot, harried with 3 young children, walks shopping cart to the
corral instead of leaving it to roll into other cars.
- Homeless person sees a passing pedestrian drop their wallet, and immediately calls
out/waves/points to draw the pedestrian’s attention to it.
- Company (already profitable with other products) invents, produces, and sells sixty
percent efficient solar panels at a loss in order to increase availability and usage
*Other than great things include, but are not limited to, complacency, complicity, non-intervention…
A writer walks into a coffee shop carrying a backpack and an umbrella. I’ve got a table in the back room with a cushion on a bench that fits my butt just right. I’m no more creepy than the next guy, and a hell of a lot less creepy than the blue hair chick who cops a feel every time she passes Janette, which she does every time she stands up. Janette. That’s her name. The barista. Above her left breast, pinned to whatever lucky shirt she’s wearing. That’s from a Jane Kenyon poem, that part about the lucky shirt.
I don’t write “erotica.” To be clear, by “write” I do mean write. If thinking counted as writing you could say I write lots of erotica. But it doesn’t, so I’m being honest. At least I was being honest until about six months ago when I started journaling my thoughts about Janette. Now I say, “I’m not that kind of author.” An author gets paid for their writing, so technically I’m not an author of erotica.
I journal because I got worried my imagination was showing. Maybe the blue hair chick started scent marking because she’s adversarial with everyone, but maybe my behavior was telegraphing the hots for Janette. I don’t know, but it was about six months ago when the blue hair chick (magenta at that time) came in and gave me the quick sniff with the upward nose flick and said, “Nice sack!” Sideways peace sign, duck lips, walk away.
I didn’t miss a beat, “Thanks, man! Is that a new ‘strap-on’ your sack?”
What worried me was that I didn’t hesitate. No filter, no volume adjustment. Bam. Out-loud sex toy slam on the lesbian in a public venue. Maybe I did want a plumage war, so now I’m writing stuff before it slips out at the wrong time. Like when Janette asks if I’d like some sugar and THWAP, its on the table like a sausage still filling from the front of the grinder, and I say. “I’m good, but you look like you want some sugar in your bowl. I know how you like it – hot and wet. Want help stirring that?”
Oh my god… see, I just reread that. I have to keep doing this or something untoward will definitely get air time. That’s like the satire me, not the me, me. I’d say that in the blue hair chick’s voice for laughs. But right now Janette is handing the bill tray to the blue hair chick. Yep, old predictable blue hair went for the over-reach-and-glide the fingers down the back of the hand move. I’ve seen her do it at least six times. Janette walks away, rolls her eyes with a little smirk. Once she even winked at me, commiserating.
It makes me want to read to her.
I imagine Janette will wait until no one else is here and then she’ll bring my check. But she won’t hand it to me. She’ll lay it on the side of the table and hold it there with one finger. She’ll ask me what I’m reading. I’ll say, “It’s just poems. I don’t even need the book, I’ve got these pretty well memorized.”
She’ll say, “No way. I don’t believe you.” She’ll close my computer and put it on the bench, and she’ll slip my book into her skirt at the small of her back and say, “Prove it.”
I’ll say, “Do you want me to read to you?”
“Yes, but no cheating.” And she’ll jump up on the bench, standing with her feet straddling me, and pull my face into the stretched skirt material between her thighs and she’ll say, “No. Peeking.”
But I’ll say, “That can’t be comfortable for you…” my voice all muffled, and I’ll try to look up at her but I can’t because she’s pulling my face into her skirt and the bridge of my nose will start to lift her. I’ll slip my arms between her knees and stand up fast, letting her body slide down as mine slides up, and she’ll laugh as I lift her, and she’ll pull herself toward me, arms around my neck, trying to kiss me. But I’ll lean forward. I’ll lay her gently on the table without looking away from her face I’ll lift her hips, reach up under her skirt and pull the book and her cottons down and toss them onto the next table. I’ll say, “There, isn’t that more comfortable?” I’ll put her palms on her own breasts and press my palms down the inside of her laid wide thighs. I’ll grip her ankles and pull her feet, one on each side, over my shoulders as I sit down. She’s ready when she pulls me to her with those toes behind my head, but I’ll resist. “Now… you said you want poetry.”
And I’ll give her what she wants.
It’s dynamic. Poetry. It’s different every time, so you can read it over and over again. Every little inflection point, every syllable can be stressed or unstressed, every elongated vowel and each hard consonant makes its impression. Pace matters so much. A poem makes the reader feel part of it, or the reader makes the poem part of herself when she gets the rhythm going and / there / are / line / breaks to keep things unexpected and a poet, a good poet, never wants to leave the reader behind. Keep the reader guessing, yes, but keep the reader open, engaged, trying to pull the whole poem inside all at once, but it’s all she can do to take it / one / line / at a time and she won’t want it to end. Not end. Ever. Not ever. Not / even now. But it does. End.
It’s ok to read it again. Read it. Read it again. Read it to me. Please.
See what I mean? What if that came out for real? So I have to write.