July 25, 2018

Dearest Sophia,

I hope this letter finds you well in Montreal. I know you would much rather be down here bearing witness to this Second Civil War, but not even Boston is a good place for a teen who would identify as “Fake Media.” It was not an easy decision for a father to make but definitely a prudent one. It is better you are with your brother James and his family in the relative safety of the Northern lands with the chocolate dipped ice cream and poutine.

I am well. Not too much danger in the Green Zone of the Greater Boston/Metro West loop, but I fear for a lot of those in the dark lands between Worcester and Springfield. Not many venture past the 495 connectors, but those who do have returned with harrowing stories often set upon by roving hordes of people in wife beaters and red MAGA hats. Most are armed with improvised Harpoon IPA molotovs and bats wrapped with barbed wire (makes me wish Walking Dead wasn’t SO popular). Some are armed with guns, but aren’t very good shots if you’re lucky. Some are, and we’ve had a few casualties shot squarely in the ass. Some gang members from Dorchester and Roxbury are planning manneuvers to drive their numbers down sometime soon. They have been called “the 2nd 54th” after the first Civil War all Black regiment. I would love to see it but have other things to take care of. A number of us drivers from Mass and Vermont will blockade the last of Central Mass’ supply pipeline from New Hampshire. This would be the last of the holes to plug that would starve their supplies. We know their alcohol supplies are running low and most Massholes can’t shoot straight sober, so this would give us Easties and chance to push further west. We are hopeful.

Your brother Billy is doing fine as you have no doubt heard. His band of Antifa LARPers have been pushing wide swaths further and further south. They have met up with an active group of cosplayers in Rhode Island and have a lot of luck pushing down through Central Connecticut. There is talk of him teaming up with the NYC LARPs and cosplayers to take all of Jersey and parts of Pennsylvania. Listen for the action sometime in August. I know that’s when we’d normally do Boston ComicCon, but they’ve been mobilized that giant push. I don’t think the Dumpsters are mentally prepared to get their heads handed to them by hundreds of nerds in steampunk outfits, handmade Avengers’ costumes, and boffer swords. It should be pretty glorious to hear.

I got your care package. Thank you for the Deathstroke and Darth Vader bobbleheads. They look very good with our already growing collection. Love you much and hope we can be reunited soon at some point when democracy can overcome the crazy. Until then, please write again soon and say hi to Noah and the family.

Love always,

Dad.

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Saturday was the day of action to protest “President” Trump’s “Zero Tolerance” immigration policy, which has had children and parents separated during arrest at the border, and both detained and/or deported separately. A federal judge has ordered the separated children reunited with their families within 30 days (14 days for children under 5 years old; over 5 and older must be reunited within 30 days), but the administration has no idea how to do this. Meanwhile children and parents crossing the border will no longer be separated–instead will be detained together with no clear process to get them out. So yeah, people were angry.

Normally we’d go to the Boston Common to join the protest, but we still haven’t been settled in an apartment yet and are staying at a friend’s house in Haverill. Luckily people of Haverill gathered to protest as well. This was a different one that Sophia was used to: people were staggered across 4 corners of an intersection, holding signs, chanting, and trying to get motorists to honk in support. It was in the 90s and humid, but we had water and Sophia had her cell phone. We eventually made it to each corners and supported those in custody and tried to get the word out.

Everyone there said the parade and Pride Day in Boston was awesome. I had mixed feelings about it. Sophia wanted to go and be in the parade and see it and see her friends from school and stuff, and I wanted her to have a good time. I tried to coordinate all her friends so we would wind up at the same place at the same time and Sophia would have a really good Pride Day. As it turned out only one of Sophia’s friends was at the spot we pointed out; everyone else were at different places. We got there early at 10:30am, which would have been okay had it not been already 67 degrees out. The march was to start at noon, was “fashionably late” as usual and left about 12:30pm, which then hit 90 degrees. Sophia was getting headaches and I was worried about her being dehydrated, but by the time I got her water and Tylenol, she got a text from her friends who were at a different start point in the parade. I should have made the decision to stay there with her one friend in the Elizabeth Warren supporters, but I listened to Sophia’s needs and we went after her friends near the middle head of the parade. When we started getting closer, her friends texted that they moved positions which meant the parade started moving. So we tried to catch up to a moving parade but realized it wasn’t going to happen and told  Sophia who was already winded that we could either go to the end point and catch the head parade there, or head back to where we started which would be the end of the parade and possibly go home from there. She chose the second part. We went back, got lunch, waited for some of the parade to pass–because our parking garage was in the middle of two points in the parade and we weer trapped–and tried to get our car. By that time I was hot, spent way too much money, and off my meds, so I was in a horrible mood, which affected Sophia’s mood (I think). She said she had a good time, which I’m happy to hear. She did also get a lot of behind the scenes photos of the parade.

Happy Pride month everyone. For Sophia, Pride month started early as the LGBT youth of Boston hold their Youth Pride March in May a couple of weeks before the official Pride month festivities kick off. She wanted to make sure we didn’t miss the event, held at the City Hall Plaza.

It was a gray day but a lot of rainbow flags; more than I knew existed. They have the standard rainbow flags, flags for bisexuals, transgender, even asexuality was represented with colors. She met up with her friends from her Rainbow Alliance club at school and joined the march, which circled the Commons, around the State House and back to City Hall Plaza.

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This part was pretty cool. A couple of homeless men who were asking for change saw the march come by. When they found out what it was for, they found some chalk used for another mural and wrote “You Are Beautiful” for all the marchers passing by. That got a round of applause and they got a bunch more donations. Now part of me is cynical enough to know that these homeless men were playing to an audience to get money they needed–which is probably true. But it was good to see the back and forth from the marchers to the homeless people. The kids gave coins, and a lot of bills; the two men posed for cellphone shots with the marchers. There was something pleasant from seeing two groups who normally struggle for acceptance and sometimes existence by themselves, now coming together and, for a brief moment, being a part of a self made community, each accepting the other.

Panic Time(s)

April 23, 2018

We’re at serious crunch time. My move out date is 9 days away and I don’t have a place to move into. If you read my last blog entry, you know staying really isn’t an option right now, but I need somewhere to go. It’s not that there haven’t been places, but they’ve gone to other people—lanlord’s choice, not mine. I am either between paralyzing anxiety and walking depression, neither of which helps me.

There are times when I hear myself say “I’ve never been this pannicked before.” Then I realize that it’s not true. This isn’t the first time that I’ve suddenly had to vacate a residence quickly. This isn’t the first time I’ve had to leave with no real place to go tet. It’s definitely harder with a child, but it’s not the first time dealing with that either. I’ve done it all before to one degree or another, and while it was hard, anxiety provoking, terrifying, and a breakdown of self on many levels., I made it through and got what I needed. A friend of mine told me, at a time of similar upheaval, that I am a survivor. Not that I didn’t believe him, but I was hoping to be able to do more than just survive. After getting through that time and knowing where I am now, knowing I can and will survive is a good things. I can navigate through Hell; I’ve done it before. Even if the path through is slightly unfamiliar, I’ve seen it in other forms already. I will survive this and make sure my daughter does too.

There’s a point where I need to make contingency plans and I know what they are. I have friends in my corner and that helps. Plus I am not giving up yet—I have a few places to look at and something will pan out. It’s very hard to be in the middle of this, but knowing my ability to get through all I have in the past means I will make it out of this too.

Life Off the Grid

April 14, 2018

Dropping off the grid is more routine for me than usual. It’s part of growing older I guess. Actually it’s growing older without learning good time management and organizational skills along the way. If I did I’d have time to stress out and write. As such, that which is least urgent suffers.

Coming back from Vegas, a few things immediately popped up. Food stamps required another review after I seemed to have a review last week, and there was another section 8 inspection of the house which also seemed too recent. SNAP always needs a six month review of finances and they try to get it a couple months ahead of the cutoff date; so I always feel like I’m saving paystubs in batches of four weeks at a time just for them. The section 8 inspection was a surprise. The last inspections was our two year inspection with a new inspector who is nice guy and a thorough inspector. He found a bunch of problems that needed to be fixed before he would certify it. Most of it was regular wear and tear on an old building and the rest I blame the cat (yes, I’m sloppy but I don’t damage walls). But I think failing the two times triggered an early inspection in mid-January. So I did what I could, cleaned up the house did the paperwork, mailed off what I could to SNAP and waited for the inspections.

The inspection cae first. As usual he found new wear and tears to the place—mostly to normal usage but stuff that caused another failure on the inspection. One thing was mine and the rest the landlord had to fix. This got the landlord (honestly her daughter) mad that she had to keep spending money on repairs to the house. That and the fact that I “wasn’t keeping the place like she remembered it”—whatever that meant; it was sort of a wistful remembrance of the place as it used to be. Either way, it led them to ask me to leave the apartment. I was a little stung but not surprised. It seemed to be brewing for a while, and I hate to be living under ambiguous assumptions so I took it a time to move on. Oh, and the food stamps were taken away as I was over my monthly allowance; I’m not making a lot of money, but I won’t miss $15 a month.

Finding an apartment is usually pretty simple, but now I had a section 8 voucher. Believe me it helps with the rent and I know I can afford a place to live, but finding a place was a new ball game. There’s a whole process to go through before I could start looking and then trying to find a place that was affordable, within Sophia’s school district, and took section 8 made this an uphill climb; made all the worse by the landlady saying at the end of Feruary that I had to be out by March 31. I took over the lease in late April and thought I had until then to move, but their lawyer was going by the lease as it was originally stated at the time of Sophia’s mother’s death, which was the end of March. I told her I would need until the end of Arpil to move out, but she didn’t really listen to me. First it was “We can give you a little time, but not much,” then it was we need to reinstate the termination date to section 8 so they can pay her for April. Luckily because of an accounting error, I was owed $2200 by section 8 which they were forwarding to the landlady who would supposedly pay me back. Knowing getting them to be that honorable was a bigger battle than it was worth, I told them to keep the money and use that as the rent for April so we can forgo the bureaucratic stuff. I was worth my piece of mind to let that money go to where it was needed.

I thought I had a place, but today I found out I lost it. I think there was enough problems with my credit (which needs work) and an eviction from 2012 that did me in. The realtor who tried to get me that place, which was walking distance from Sophia’s school, is trying to work with me and section 8 to find something by April 30. I’m glad she’s helping out because I can use someone in my corner. I sent out a call for thoughts and prayers, and only recently upped to to offerings and animal or human sacrifices. Either way, I need a back up plan if I can’t find anything. The stress has gotten to the point that my stomach cramped up for the last two days. Not the flu, but it still sucks to try to work with pain and exhaustion. Hopefully I’ll be able to blog more regularly, starting with an announcement that I found a place to live.

Time with Friends

January 5, 2018

Funny little vacation. We went to Vegas because two of my best friends live there and I saved enough last year to visit them. While the one friend we stayed with has known me and Sophia for at least 14 years, the other friend I wanted to see has been my best friend since freshman year of high school some 34 years. When we were both about 35, I bought us both tickets to Vegas to celebrate 20 years of friendship and our birthdays. It was a formative trip—despite constantly getting lost while driving—and it impacted him enough to move there when he left NYC. However I never realized how much that trip impacted me until I got there with Sophia.

A lot of the places we went to 14 years ago are gone, and the strips have changed enormously. I know this because I kept telling Sophia about it every place we went, and wouldn’t shut up. I’d talk about all the things we did, the places we went, and where they used to be. When we did meet up with Will, it was like old times for both of us, except for meeting Sophia for the first time, and we got a local’s eye view of the area.

But going to Red Rocks Canyon sealed it for me. Originally, I was going to take Sophia to either the Grand Canyon or Zion National park. When I realized it was four to five hours traveling time to get there and back, it was going to be Zion. When I woke up with the cold my daughter had and I was fighting to keep from getting, Red Rocks was a happy substitute. Will and I went to Red Rocks that trip 14 years ago. It was fun—eventually, in time. We hopped around a bunch of the rocks on one of the trails, then got seriously dehydrated and delirious trying to hike back to the car without water. This time I made sure we had extra water and not stay out in the sun too long.

A lot of ghosts were playing with my head as Sophia and I hit a short trail further up from where Will and I were years before. I was so happy to be climbing on rocks and steppes with her, more cautiously in my age but still out of both our comfort zones. I could feel the past reverberating through th present, very conscious that I was reliving an old adventure with a new partner in tow. Reminiscing made the new time even more special.

When the New Year rolled around on the West Coast, I was saturated with nostalgia. I used to always go to New Years with the friend I was staying with in Vegas, but this would be our first New Years together in at least 5 years. Getting both of them together for the first time in person, even though they’ve been Facebook friends for years, was a real trip. Two friends I’ve spent many times together with my daughter welcoming a new future. Rarely do past, present, and future intersect so vividly and I hope we have more like them.

 

It’s one of those times when I can’t complain about things. Work is good, Sophia is doing fine in school, writing is slow but steady, I’m sticking to my meds regularly, getting sleep, and making gym a habit. Things aren’t bad. So why do I feel like my head is about to explode from stress?

For the last few days, I’ve been anxious for no obvious reason. Nothing is going wrong but I’m under this overwhelmning feeling of dread. At church, they had kids (and any willing adults) to light a candle of gratitude for something. I fought off the urge to go up and light a candle to be grateful for Ativan.

I honestly can’t think why I’m on edge. Ages ago, my therapist told me I’m always waiting for the next shoe to drop. While I’m not waiting for a shoe to drop, I still am dreading something and have no idea what or why. Maybe I’m nervous that I’m doing okay. Maybe it’s because I think I’m not doing enough—even though I’m doing plenty. Maybe it’s the nature of mental illness and how it ebbs and flows from dramatic heights to stiffling depths. Maybe it’s a lot of things. Either way, I feel off.

I hate it, I’m used to it, and I hate that the only thing I can do sometimes is ride it out. My anxiety isn’t a curse or a gift, but it’s an ever present source of annoyance. It doesn’t stop me completely, but it slows me down considerably. Still I move forward one step at a time. It feels like molasses but I’m moving.

10-Word Story Challenge #3

November 14, 2017

I’ a little behind (okay WAY behind) in getting these out, but I’m still doing them. These are published here as posted on my Facebook page. All stories are credited to the author; unmarked entries are my works.

Blind Dates

“Her rusty blonde hair matched her seeing eye dog’s.”

“Is this her?” He thought. “Please, not him.” She thought.–Gregory M. Bruce

“Oh, great! Short in stature and on manners. Cheap, too!”–Gerri Hancock

“After creepy intimacy, neither knew the other’s name, nor asked.”–Heather Munn

“Through dinner and drinks, we never glanced past our phones.”

“I like red”. “I like green”. “We complement each other”–Rod Cummings

They didn’t say another word. They knew it was over.”–Gregory M. Bruce

Their love was truest because neither could see the other.”–Rod Cummings

Dad! You’re my Tinder Date?!?!?!”

It was a blind date, but I needed the blindfold!”–Marc K’urlii Eytina

As she gazed upon his face, rage swelled within her.”–Joel Araujo

It was clear that he could turn heads and stomachs.”–Gerri Hancock

“Exactly what made you think she was MY type?”

“The lobster and wagyu surf and turf, please” “Goodbye ‘–Rod Cummings

She turned the corner. Was blind, but now I see.”–Scott Will

“Cousin Jenny! Why are you–?” “I think I’m your date?”–Rod Cummings

“The waiter, in an act of pity, comped my meal.”–Gerri Hancock

“She was cute, but her mother was HOT.”

This was my Facebook status last weekend:

To ALL African-Americans out there,
I voted for Jill Stein in 2016,
and it didn’t matter because
it didn’t help Trump get elected.

Some Background: We all know the events of last year’s presidential election. Hillary Clinton got 65.9 millions votes to Donald Trump’s 62.9 million yet lost the electoral college by 77 electoral votes. I didn’t vote for Clinton, voting for Jill Stein hoping to get the Green Party to 5% to get matching funds in future elections. That never happened as she only got 1.6% of popular votes and no electoral votes at all; yet that still hasn’t stopped many on the left from blaming her and/or those that voted for her for costing Clinton the election and giving Trump the presidency. If the 2,395,271 voters–or 1.7% of popular vote–had cast a vote or president had gone to Hillary, she would have won. Or if the 46% of eligible voters who stayed home instead cast a vote, she might have won. There are many more ways Clinton could have won, but somehow it’s the Green Party voters that did it.

But this election has been analyzed and as depressing and bruising as it was why bring it up again now? Because Hillary wrote a book about the campaign. Titled “What Happened” Secretary Clinton recounts, in her estimation, why she lost the presidency to Tiny Hands Trump. According to the review in the New Republic, “this book is precisely what her critics predicted it would be…When Clinton does discuss what went wrong, it’s mostly to point fingers.” From the leaked pages criticizing Bernie Sanders, it was pretty much how I thought it would go. With the release of the book, a lot of unhealed wounds from 2016 were ripped fresh and people were arguing like it was the day after the Democratic Convention.

To that end a friend of mine put up a Facebook post defending Clinton in that progressive men were berating her for writing a book, asking “if you wanted Clinton to stop Trump, maybe you should have voted for her?” So with my own hackles admittedly up and unnerved, I commented “I’m berating her for blaming everyone but herself for her own loss. And that’s when the trouble began.

My friend had a “troll”/friend–a liberal “progressive” who got on my case for supporting and voting Stein over Clinton. It went back and forth for a while, but I got pissed when he said I wasn’t a “real” progressive while implying I also wasn’t a real “Negro.” I know, I know, I should have cut my losses at the word “negro” (his word, for real), but he caught me WAY off my scheduled meds, so the full Brooklyn experience was in full effect. When he countered that no one in the African-American community would agree with my decision, I put the headline above as my Facebook status. It was a middle finger to his challenge, even though I really should have taken a few deep breaths and walked away. I got some support and some arguments on the post, but one good point made out of all of them: why are we still having this debate when we should be working on fighting the current administration?

My friend is absolutely right (as she usually is). I got sucked into a blame game when there’s more important work going on or that needs to be done. It doesn’t even matter how many of my friends are with me or not, as long as I’m arguing with internet trolls whose opinions are meaningless to me, I’m wasting my time. Rather than bother with it, I’m writing it out of my system and letting it go. I couldn’t care less what he was trying to prove, I don’t care what others I’ve never met feel about my choices, the fact is the election is over and we need to get to work and fix things. Everyone wants to hold onto grudges because it’s easier to look backwards than it is to move forwards.

Consider this: my status headline soon after the first one was the following:

Ten Things the Drumpf Administration has done while We’ve been talking about Hillary’s Book.

The comments included links to things Trump did from the Tuesday when the book pages were leaked to the Tuesday after the book was released (see the links below). Granted more has happened since I posted the links, but that’s why we need to pay attention. Clinton’s book should be treated for what it is: another big distraction keeping our minds off of real problems.

I can’t guarantee this will be my last troll battle on the internet and it’s not our first, but each time it gets easier to ignore the insects and keep moving forward. Haters are gonna hate and I can’t do anything about that except remember not to make their drama yours.

 

What Trump Has Done While We’ve Been Arguing About Hillary’s Book.

White House to Lower Refugee Quota Below 50,000 

Trump Ends DACA

Trump Pushes Tax Reform After Response to Hurricane Aid

UN Pushes Sanctions on North Korea

State Department to Close Guantanamo

State Department Approves $3.8B Sale to Bahrain

DeVos to Scrap Campus Rape Protections

Hurricane Harvey “Toxic Soup” in Houston

DOJ Won’t Charge Police in Freddie Gray Case

Trump Election Commission Setting Up Road to Voter Restrictions