The Loudest Trumpet

With each passing week and every new Donald Trump quote, you can practically hear comedians the country over rubbing their hands together whilst salivating. Trump’s own brand of ridiculous nonsense is what comedians live for. He can say just about anything and they jump on the opportunity to crack a joke in regards to the gold-obsessed billionaire; and we all laugh along with them.

It’s amazing that someone like Trump could ever get this close to a Presidential candidacy. After descending an escalator (for some reason) he announced that he would run for the presidency of the United States and that he’d make the greatest, most amazing president that blah blah blah. It later came out that he had hired people to hold signs and pretend to be supporters, which is a fantastic sentiment in and of itself.

He also said a lot of extremely negative and racist things about “illegal immigrants.” We all sat back with jaws wide and slight smirks on our faces because, clearly, this man had killed his chances of running before he even began. The comedians had a field day, as they should have, and we all waited for Trump to backtrack and try to fumble his way out of his comments.

Except that he never did. And, what’s worse, he jumped to number two in the polls of Republican candidates.

This is where things stop being funny.

Trump is a unique and odd individual. He boasts about being extremely successful, despite having filed for bankruptcy multiple times and having gotten his money from inheritance. He also criticizes things he clearly has no actual knowledge about (the illegal immigrant comments, for example; he also called a Scotland farm a “slum”* because, presumably, he doesn’t understand what a farm should look like). He thinks far too highly of himself, with no modesty whatsoever, which is not a great quality for a president.

Through promises of making every American rich, he’s become this entity of delusion that clearly doesn’t understand economics or Capitalism even on a basic level. Perhaps because of this, coupled with his unabashedly American idealism of being one hundred percent unapologetic, his ranking as the second most popular Republican candidate has stuck fast.

And that should concern everyone—not least other Republicans. If Trump made it into the nomination, it would say something extremely discouraging about America. It would show how aligned we are with Trump’s ideas and characteristics. Are we so boastful? Are we so greedy? Are we so critical of things we know nothing of? Are we so egotistical?

Although I like to think the best of my country, the truth is, we are many of those things. We’ve become a nation isolating itself from the rest of the world. We keep a handful of other countries friendly, if only at an arm’s length. Maybe, hopefully, that’s what will happen with Trump: The American populous will see him for the tyrant he is and push him away long before the primaries and the next election will be between two (or, even better, more) sane people.

But then we have to go back to the old point of why Trump is getting so much media coverage in the first place: He’s entertainment. He’s hilarious in a sad-clown-kind-of-way. We like pointing at him and laughing or rolling our eyes until they get stuck inside our heads. Without him we might have another boring election of people rattling on about issues. Bah! Where’s the remote?

My prediction is this: The Old White Men that back the Republican party will edge Trump out for someone who looks extremely reasonable next to the orange-faced, swooping comb over of Donald T. At this point, Trump will either get back to trying to be the best, most richest whatever in the woooorld; or he will run as an Independent. If the latter happens, he’ll dump large amounts of his own money into his campaign since no rich Republican-backing individual (or two brothers who shall remain nameless) would touch him with a dollar bill attached to a ten-foot stick. He’ll get, maybe, two percent of the vote, thus confirming that his current second place ranking among Republicans is a fluke.

I very much doubt, though, that he will make it to ever debating a Democratic candidate. His nomination in the primaries would depend solely on the average American’s deluded desire to be a millionaire and our thirst for entertainment over our own good…

Actually, now that I put it that way, we might be calling him President Trump in a year and a half. And heaven help us if the White House becomes the Gold House.

Footnotes:
*If you’ve not seen it, check out the documentary You’ve Been Trumped.
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To the Person Who Censored This Book

I get a lot of weird and/or funny stories out of my workplace. I often come home and share some odd event with friends, in which everyone gets to laugh or roll their eyes. You’d think life was sleepy working in a library, but really it’s always something—everyday.

A few days ago I was working the desk when another employee brought a book over to me. She told me that a patron wanted to let us know that someone had made marks throughout the book and that that patron wasn’t responsible (this is actually quite common, especially with children’s and non-fiction books).

My coworker, however, couldn’t find any markings. I took the book from her and flipped through it until I found a tiny little pen scratch over a word. Upon further examination, I found it to be the word “goddamn.” A few more pages on I found the same thing. There were several occasions in which someone had inked out that one particular word.

The book was titled Seducing Cinderella. It’s what we call a paperback romance—you know, those cheesy books in which the unsuspecting, humble woman is courted by some rogue (or rake, or small-town sheriff, or cowboy, or highlander, or werewolf). Seducing Cinderella featured a blue-tone cover of a man’s toned chest and six-pack abs with a woman’s hand caressing this headless and limbless body.

It was that kind of book.

Now, of course, I’m not berating paperback romances or the people who read them—at least it’s not the angst-filled teenaged girl who’s never read a book in her life except the Twilight saga-like poor writing of Fifty Shades of Grey. If that’s your thing, go for it. Read on, my friend. I just want everyone to have a clear understanding of what this book was about before I make my main point.

What is my main point? Well, it’s this:

That’s what you censored?

The next day, in retelling the story to a couple of other coworkers (both of whom love these kinds of anecdotes; truly, we exchange them on a regular basis) I decided to make a greater point about the hilarity of the situation by actually reading aloud a passage of the book that included a marked-out “goddamn.”

I got to the phrase “into her channel” before one of my coworkers turned toward her desk, covered her ears, and shouted, “DING DING DING! Okay!” to stop me from going on*. I didn’t even get to the censored word.

I’m not saying that anything should be censored, but if you feel you need to take the time to scratch out offensive words, why are you reading that book in the first place? These are the kinds of books that repressed Christian women who only wear ankle-length skirts would call “smut,” but apparently using that word is a step too far! Ignore the sex scenes described in great detail—what we need to watch out for is potty words.

When I was a teenager and still religious, I would scold friends who used the forbidden “G-D” word. Most were respectful and avoided using it around me (or any other offensive “Lord’s name in vain” phrases). Even today, if I know someone is Christian I try and watch my language. I understand the underlining negativity for religious people in certain words or actions (I even understand why Muslims get so upset about drawings of the Prophet Muhammad).

However, if I was reading a book and noticed the author using a word I didn’t agree with multiple times—I would stop reading the fucking book.

What this patron did was so much worse. Instead of deciding that her morals come first, she kept on reading her book which referred to a vagina as “her channel” and marked out the offending word. Really, she would have actually had to look at the word “goddamn” even more by marking it up instead of just skipping over it in her head.

The whole incident made me laugh. Usually I would simply shake my head at anyone willing to damage the book of a public library, much less someone who censored books. This, however, was a whole new level. It’s about like a guy ripping the articles out of a Playboy Magazine and shredding them for moral reasons.

I thought about getting a snapshot of one of the censored pages, full of vaguely-specific sexual encounters between Mr. Sixpack and Cinderella, but couldn’t bring myself to due to the possibility of getting caught by one of my coworkers. Oh well.

My message here, kids, is this: Don’t censor books. Find another, less offensive book to read. Or just grow the fuck up. Either/or, really.

Footnotes:
*In my defense, I didn’t preread the section. And, after I stopped reading aloud, I continued silently just to get an idea of what kind of bullet I’d just dodged. It got much worse.
†By the way, if you don’t like the word “fuck,” you should probably stop reading this piece (or most of my blog posts…)
‡Or his. I don’t actually know which, but I do know that of the people I see who check these kinds of books out, 100% are women.
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Your Memes Are the Worst

It’s a whole new world out there. Gone are the days of simply sitting and talking on the porch with your neighbors; or hanging out with a group of friends at your favorite bar. No, we live in an age in which you have to tweet about your conversations and selfie yourself at your favorite bar. We live in a time when it is more acceptable to share your exact location at any given moment with three hundred people you kind of know (or, worse, the entire world without filter) than it is to give your mother a call on her birthday (or, worse, Facebook the entire world with a generic message and then tagging your mother in the post).

I’m not saying these things are bad—although, I will say it; these things are bad—but I really just want to point out that we live in a time of sharing and, more often than not, over-sharing. We pour ourselves onto the internet so that everyone else will know exactly what kinds of people we are.

Except, the thing is, we’re not sharing the right stuff. We share where we ate today and what it was we ate; we share when we’re hanging out with other people or simple views we hold; we share if we just got into a relationship (fear: “Facebook official”) and our daily horoscope. We (you all, not me) share baby pictures and more baby pictures and PLEASE STOP SHARING PICTURES OF YOUR STUPID BABY. What we don’t share is our true selves—the things that might make it easier to relate to one another. We do try to share these truths, but in a very different and very stupid way:

Enter the memes.

Read a book

I will admit that I enjoy the occasional meme. I like pointing at my computer monitor as if other people are in the room and muttering, “Heh.” They can be clever or, at the very least, amusing; they can make fantastic references from everything from popular culture to classic literature. At times, you even have to stop and think about it. Those memes I accept with loving embrace.

Then there are the other memes. The ones that make you groan or roll your eyes or even scoff. The overtly political memes; the “I can’t think for myself, so here” memes; the “did you know that I’m like this? Because I’m like this” memes. And, worst of all, the “Like if X, Share if Y” memes.

A couple of weeks back I was scrolling through my Facebook feed, picking up on amusing articles or great jokes by my stand-up comedian friends. I came across a meme which I promptly voided from my memory. It was one of those “Here’s a one-sided political statement with no backup; Like if you agree, share if you think we need change.” I groaned, rolled my eyes, and then scoffed—but I moved on.

KIWIS

Then I came across another meme. This time it was a Christian meme with the message of “1 like = 1 prayer; 1 share = 10 prayers; ignore = you don’t care” and I hit the fucking brakes. These memes get to me. It’s not the shoving of religion in your face (truly, I don’t feel they’re trying to shove anything in anyone’s face) so much as the blatant laziness.

One like equals one prayer? So, instead of just praying for whatever thing the meme is picturing, you want people to simply like it? Or are you saying that first the people have to pray and then click “like” so that you know who is praying for what? Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of prayer? Isn’t the idea that you are communicating on a personal level with your god? Perhaps the poster is simply offering to pray for the thing for others if they agree to like—which, frankly, seems the worst of all three options.

NEWHART

And then you have the audacity to say that a share is the equivalent of ten prayers? Again, are you allowing people to be lazy, forcing them to acknowledge their personal conversations with their deity, or are you just offering to pray TEN TIMES if the person shares the image?

Oh, but if they ignore the meme, then they’re a terrible person who doesn’t care about starving children in Africa or that Jesus died for their sins. This third alternative is pretty much the worst. Putting these three options on a meme (in particular the last one) all you are doing is trying to get people to focus on you. They are not liking/sharing/ignoring the meme itself, they are liking/sharing/ignoring you—and the meme by proxy.

GORGON

It’s not just religion memes (although, the religious ones seem most insulting, always) that I’ve seen like this, either. There are political and personal belief ones as well (I once blocked a friend from my timeline for insinuating that any of us who didn’t share a photo of a skinny mill puppy didn’t care about animals).

Thus, I decided to fight back! Armed with Google Image search and MS Paint, I went to work on my own memes to counteract the negative ones filling up my Facebook feed. Find a ridiculous image, paste it in Paint, put black bars above and below, add text in capital Impact font—upload to social media.

fourth meme

I felt immediately better. I didn’t do it for the likes (yes, I did), I didn’t do it for the shares (kind of)—no, I did it for the ignores! I knew that some people would see them and realize how stupid my memes were and then, hopefully, they would reflect on how they’d wasted their life away forcing three hundred kind-of friends on Facebook to acknowledge their beliefs.

DOWN UNDER

The thing that gets me, in the end, about these memes people post is that they think they’re letting others in. They think they’re sharing an intimate moment with others about who they are deep down inside. But, really, all they’re showing is who they want to appear to be on the outside.

At least my memes let in a sliver of my true personality: A sarcastic jerk who just wants to make fun of you.

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Birthday Blues

Every year we all get a single day that’s all about us. People give us presents and there’s fucking cake; people we haven’t thought about in ages post to our Facebook pages; we can do just about whatever we want and use the simplistic excuse that comes with the moment: It’s my birthday.

As an attention-seeking asshole*, you’d think I’d love my birthday beyond any other day of the year. It’s the time that people turn their focus on me and I get to act like an even bigger attention-seeking asshole. However, my birthday seems to have the opposite effect on me—I become depressed and sullen.

It’s been that way since I was a kid. The tension would build up throughout the month, my excitement nearly topping off. But when the day actually came and I was surrounded by people, I would melt down. I’m talking about tears and hiding in my room while the other kids ran around the yard playing as they waited for the cake to be brought out.

My sister once suggested that this is actually another way of me getting even more attention: By throwing a fit I was drawing all eyes toward me. And though I think she was on to something when she told me this, I believe it goes a little bit deeper.

Whenever I would (or, indeed, still do) go into one of these birthday withdrawals, I did it as quietly as I could. I didn’t so much throw a tantrum as slink away while everyone was busy doing other things. What I think I really wanted was someone to notice I was gone. I wanted someone to come looking for me.

I remember this result happening specifically once, when my mom found me crying in the bathroom. She didn’t understand what was wrong (as, truly, I didn’t understand myself and, therefore, couldn’t explain) but was very motherly to me. She brought me back from tears and told me the secret of hiding the telltale signs you’ve been crying (simply smile). After she found me, though, I felt so much better and enjoyed the rest of my birthday.

For the past few years I’ve tried to make up for all those sad birthdays by having child-like themed parties for myself—dinosaurs, Star Wars, Sonic the Hedgehog, etc. I did have a good time, as I always do when I’m around my friends, but there was always an underlining sadness that needed constant suppression.

In my twenty-eight years of birthdays, in fact, there was only one I remember being wholly happy. I spent it with one other person and we did absolutely nothing. We had coffee, lunch, saw a movie, went walking, and generally did nothing birthday-related. It’s a birthday I would love to relish in memory, if it didn’t bring with it the memories of eventual heartbreak.

About four weeks ago that old birthday-month tension began up again. To keep myself at a safe distance, I blocked my birthday from view on Facebook. This is something I used to do years ago to stave off would-be Facebook friends from congratulating me on something that didn’t deserve congratulations.

I was feeling this strange pressure to figure out what I wanted to do for the day (or the day after, in this case). Was I going to continue my new tradition of childish birthday themed parties or simply invite everyone out to the bar? Up to the day before my actual birthday I was trying to bring myself to make a decision, but I simply couldn’t. The tension had warped into depression and the mere concept of having to choose had become daunting.

I woke up on my birthday early, since I had to work that day. Most of my friends were either asleep or getting ready for work themselves, and as a result, I had only one birthday message (a text from my dad). I responded as politely as I could and then I powered off my phone. I went to work, kept my head down, denied the one accusation I got of it being any kind of special day, and went home. But instead of jumping on my computer and resuming my quiet life of Facebook and Twitter, I avoided the internet all together.

The next morning I turned my phone back on and received a couple of birthday messages from the previous day. I responded with an explanation of my phone having been off. No one asked why, which is probably for the best.

My birthday came and went quietly. It wasn’t exactly a happy one, but it also wasn’t completely devastatingly depressing. It was what it was: A quiet day at work followed by a quiet night of Marvel movies. But it also epitomized my love-hate relationship with my own birthday: I reverted back to the kid crying in the bathroom, hoping someone would come looking.

When you’re an adult, however, you should know better—know how to act—and no one comes looking.

Footnotes:
*See: Pretty much anyone who has a blog.
†I don’t actually think I was throwing a fit, and my sister didn’t quite put it this way either, but I’m sure that’s how it looks from an outside perspective.
‡Ugh. Sorry about the super depressing blog post, but there it is and I’m not fucking writing another one to replace it.
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It’s Just Marriage Now

Last Friday, for personal reasons, I shut off my phone early in the morning and didn’t get onto the internet or social media until the next day. Which is why it was amazing when I finally did log onto Facebook only to see that the country had gone rainbow.

On that Friday, as I’m sure everyone by now is fully aware, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality. And despite a few governors or county clerks throwing hissy fits, everyone showed such great celebration—gay, straight, and everything in between.

I’ve been a big supporter of marriage equality for a long time now. The reason for my support comes down to a single question that I’ve yet to get a real answer to: Why not? I mean, why be so vocally against something that won’t affect you in any way? Of course, many people are quick to give you a handful of reasons that they picked up from Fox News or wherever-the-fuck, but those reasons are easily debatable with simply logic. (That doesn’t stop those people, however, from dismissing your logic, I’ve found, and continuing to believe whatever they want.)

Honestly, though, I’ve yet to hear a real argument against marriage equality that holds up in any way. Everything that opponents of this civil right say is rather weak and usually based in religion, not politics. Here are some of my personal favorites:

“It’s a slippery slope. Next thing you know, a man will be able to marry his dog.” So true—except not at all true. Marriage, for the most part, is about adults consenting and vowing to be together forever in a state-sanctioned union. And seeing as dogs can neither consent nor vow anything—as they’re dogs and can’t talk—this argument has always been more insulting that accurate. It should also be noted that this was the same thing said about interracial marriages fifty years ago.

“It will ruin the sanctity of marriage.” As opposed to Britney Spears’ fifty-five hour marriage, which strengthened the concept as a whole. If anyone was truly concerned about the sanctity of marriage, they would protest marriages of people who are not in love, instead of saying things like, “Gay people can marry…just not each other.”

“We allow them civil unions, why do they need marriage, too?” Because, under law, spouses have more rights than people in “civil unions.” It’s about like saying, “I’m giving you the shells, why do you need the peanuts, too?”

“It’s unnatural.” Ignoring the fact that there is an easy argument saying that many other animals (and, indeed, even some plants) indulge in homosexual behavior, let me just point out that much about modern life isn’t natural. You think cars are mined out of quarries? You think the internet travels through tree roots to get to the cell phone that you harvested from the carcass of a buffalo? Marriage, indeed, itself is not natural. What lion do you know that goes down to the court house to sign a marriage license? The whole “It’s unnatural” argument is so ridiculous and easily debated that when someone says it, I usually just laugh, unbelieving, under my breath.

And of course: “Because the Bible says it’s wrong.” You mean your bible says it’s wrong. I think the real idea behind this one is that people are afraid that it means their church will be forced to do weddings for gay people—despite that even before marriage equality, no church had to marry any couple if they did not agree with the beliefs of that couple. So, just chill it with the Bible hate-talk—you’re making real, loving Christians look bad, bro.

I could go on and on in regards to this subject; it’s so easy to dispute all the ideas people have about why gay people shouldn’t be allowed such a simple right. But, the truth is, I don’t have to. Because it’s the fucking law now. On that note, let me point out one last thing:

Another interesting occurrence that came about with the ruling was, after Facebook introduced a feature to let you rainbow your profile picture, some people out there decided they were going to “counter” this feature by American-flagging their profile pics.

Except (sorry, dudes) getting married to someone of the same gender is now more American than you are.

USA!

USA!

USA!

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Acknowledgement Vs. Celebration

You get freedom of speech. I get freedom of speech. We all (assuming you live in a country that has it) get freedom of speech. We get to say whatever we want about whomever we want, so long as it’s not a threat. You can say that your god can beat up my god; you can say that I have Sally Jessy Raphael glasses; you can even wave your Confederate flag in the faces of the rest of America—because you have freedom of speech. It doesn’t make you less of an asshole, though.

Less than a week ago, a terrorist opened fire in a church, killing nine people, injuring one.

In a church. And, reportedly, after the members of the Bible study invited him in to worship with them. He waited and even, he said later, thought about not going through with it. But, ultimately, he did. And people died. Nine people. Nine African-Americans in a church rife with history of civil rights and freedom.

The suspect, Dylann Roof, was later arrested and brought into custody (after getting a bite to eat at Burger King with the arresting officers, according to the internet). Pictures of Roof were discovered, including ones of him wearing apartheid flags and one of him holding a gun with the Confederate flag.

There is nothing about this whole picture that isn’t fucked up. It’s so mind-boggling that this sort of thing not only can happen in a modern country like America, but that it consistently does happen. Mass shootings are so commonplace in our country that it’s no longer a shocking occurrence. I still remember when the Columbine shootings happened. I was scared to go to school for a time. But now? It’s simply, Oh, not another one.

Soon after the shooting happened, however, even more disturbing news began to come forth: While the U.S. and state flags flew at half-staff for the tragedy in Charleston there was a third flag flying high and proud, still. The Confederate flag near the State House in the city remained in place.

The question that most people had was not “Why did they not fly it half-staff as well?” because that’s FUCKING RIDICULOUS. That’s not the question any reasonable person would ask. We were all wondering what the hell it was doing there in the first place?

Okay, yes, the flag was flying over a monument for Confederate soldiers. But still, what the fuck?

This is where the would-be controversy started up. Whilst some were shouting for the flag to be removed permanently, others were demanding it stay. Why were the latter making such a demand? Because it’s part of their history.

Such mentality is the equivalent of a seven year old losing a game of Monopoly and knocking over the board.

There is no bigger group of sore losers than rednecks waving Confederate flags and shouting, “The South shall rise again!” just before they go collect their food stamps.

I am, of course, not saying we should forget the American Civil War ever happened. On the contrary, we need more than ever to remember why it was fought and what it cost.

Which is where the whole Civil War monuments debate gets a bit tricky. I think we do need memorials, but not monuments. We need giant slabs with names—from both sides of the fight—etched in to remind us of the people and the family members that we lose when there is a war of any kind. We need to be reminded that people are people; they are loved by others and missed when gone—despite the color of their skin, their religion, their gender, their sexual orientation, their anything.

Yet monuments are different. Monuments hold individuals up as heroes. They glorify the actions of certain people. And this is something that is not okay when those individuals stood for hatred.

The thing is, though, that not all monuments are set in brass. And not all of them are of people. Some monuments are symbols, lasting generations—like the Confederate flag. It’s heralded as a mark of Southern pride and history, and, as is the case in the past week, should be celebrated.

Except it shouldn’t be celebrated. It should be acknowledged. It happened, we shut that shit down, move on. If it’s so important to celebrate losing, why don’t we fly the British flag over the Boston Harbor? Or the Japanese flag over Pearl Harbor?

I’ll tell you why: Because Britain and Japan both lost. And then they moved on. So isn’t it time for Southern Confederates to move on?

No, it’s not: They should have moved over a hundred and fifty years ago when they lost, but they didn’t.

Instead, they passed on their hatred through the generations. They passed on a history of lynchings, and beatings, and shooting black Americans. Some traditions should simply disappear, and the tradition of hate should be the first.

Since the controversy of the Confederate flag in Charleston, a number of other politicians have called for Confederate symbols to be done away with. In Mississippi, a proposal to change their state flag—which totes, in part, the Confederate flag—has been made. In my state of Kentucky, Mitch McConnell has asked that a statue be removed (and placed elsewhere, instead of being destroyed) from government property.

All this is great! The way it’s being done, however, is not. These things should not be press releases. If McConnell truly cared about racist imagery in his state, he would have asked quietly for it to be removed before anyone noticed. I’m sure that his, at the very least, was a political move. It’s harder for me to say whether this is true or not for Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn.

The worst thing that all this controversy over Confederate symbols is that it’s taking away from the real issues. By shouting about the flag near the State House or a statue that most Kentuckians didn’t even know existed, we’ve moved away from the actual controversy: That the reason those things still exist in our country is because there still is a mentality of hate.

Take down the fucking flags, change the names of your streets from names of Confederate generals, melt down your monuments, change your state flag—do it, but don’t do it with pride. Do it with a sense of shame that it hasn’t happened sooner—and that these things have helped keep the idea that racism should be celebrated instead of acknowledged, and dealt with.

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Dad Stories

Dad Stories

Upon showing this to my dad for approval (for the internet), his response was, “If you’re going to even bring up the mayo jar thing, you might as well just say what happened. You’re just leaving it up to their imaginations…” Then he said in a very monotone, possibly sarcastic voice, “Thanks, Garrett, that was very thoughtful.”

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