There’s Crime in the Afterlife?

I was listening to NPR’s coverage of the Dallas policemen’s funerals; Brent Thompson’s work partner, Joe Kyser, spoke at Brent’s service.  I mean no disrespect to the fallen officer or to his partner’s grief, but this is disturbing to me.

JOE KYSER: “I look forward to the day when I see Brent again. God will be in heaven giving out assignments. God will look right at me and Brent. He will smile because the team will be back once again. I will hear him say, Kyser, Thompson – two-man team. Keep the streets of Heaven safe.”

Watch out, you post-life hooligans and thugs who make it to heaven but are still capable of breaking the law…




Politically Dumbfounded

I– uh, give me a second.  Let me start by saying… ahhh…  Hm.  Well.  OK, how about… no.  Can you believe–?  I never imagined… it’s sort of…

I have been silenced by this election cycle.  I mean really.  I just can’t.

It’s so bad I can’t offer anything encompassing, so I’ll just begin with one thing.

The next time you hear “politically correct,” or “political correctness,” or “PC” coming out of the mouth of a republican, repeat the sentence to yourself but where “PC” was, substitute “kindness,” or “respectful,” or “compassionate.”  And when you hear “straight talk,”  sub in “demean.”

Donald Trump:  “I’m so tired of this respectful crap.”  Because he’d rather demean women, by reducing their relevance to their boobs and periods.  “I’m so tired of this compassionate crap.”  Because he’d rather demean Muslims, by inferring that all are potential terrorists. “I’m so tired of this kindness crap.”  Because he’d rather demean Mexicans, by accusing them of wanting to be in this country only to rape and steal.

Is this man a “straight shooter,” or just the bigoted grandpa that gropes his granddaughters and uses racial slurs after a couple drinks at Christmas?  The grandpa who is so desperate to be “free” to leave his fly open, scratch his balls, slam the table, yell at neighbors, call women “honey,” slap an ass, undertip, fart as he’s leaving and get into a fistfight in the parking lot?

People are flocking to see and support this man.  I think I’m either caught in a 7th grade nightmare from which I can’t wake where the adults can’t be relied on, or, in a really really bad Bill Murray movie that went straight to video in which Bill Murray ultimately and truly does not have any redeeming qualities whatsoever.



The father of the perpetrator of the recent shooting in Oregon: “I’m not trying to say that [it’s] to blame for what happened, but if Chris had not been able to get ahold of 13 guns, it would not have happened,” Mercer said.

In search of answers as to why this guy committed murder, authorities and society and individuals are looking for a motive, evidence of mental illness, evil, a bad childhood, drug abuse, something to explain why.  We want somehow to know that this happens to other people, for reasons that we can eradicate in our own communities.  But the truth is that none of us is safe, not in our schools, grocery stores, Walmarts, churches, McDonald’s, parks, highways, workplaces, concert halls.  There are guns everywhere.  Your neighbor has three.  The clerk at Lowe’s has ten.  The assistant manager at Burger King has thirteen, like Chris Mercer.  Any one of them could be the next star of his own private vengeance movie.

There have always been disaffected young men, adrift, with violent tendencies.  They will always be with us, in every society, every country.  Here in the U.S., we choose to arm them.

I don’t want to have to be armed to go outside my house.

I want to live among others who are not paranoid, who accept that we drive on the right side of the road and do not shoot each other. I do want to take away your guns, if you want to be in this community with me.

If your guns are so damn important to you, live elsewhere, and arm your angry young men all you want.  Leave us peaceable people in peace.

Her Petticoats Are, Like, Size Zero

Kim Davis is the Rowan County KY clerk who has defied a court order by refusing to issue marriage licences to anyone seeking one in order to avoid having to honor the SCOTUS decision upholding the right for same sex couples to obtain a license and marry. My personal theory is that she is a woman beyond her prime, on her fourth marriage (and is it safe to assume the current marriage’s honeymoon is over?), who could use some attention, some excitement.  I don’t know this about her but I picture the “conviction of the holy spirit” coinciding with feeling invisible, unnoticed, unappreciated, much like she might have felt toward the end of marriages number one, two, and three. My problem with it is that this vital issue, giving same-sex couples the same drab DMV-like experience of obtaining a marriage license (and all that represents), is being thwarted by a bored housewife.   Her supporters are “praying she won’t lose her job for her faith,” even as they’re hoping for it,  salivating over the prospect of claiming her as their own brave martyr.

What gets lost in the drama of the poor ($80K/year) white christian clerk is the fact that this is the tail of the last millenium wagging the dog of the next.  It’s 2015, people.  They didn’t know then what we know now.  I Corinthians 13:11: When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child.  Now that I am grown, I have put away childish things.

Thomas Jefferson agreed.

I’ve Got Nerves that Jingle, Jangle Jingle

Annoyance alert: if you get irked at continuing references to introvertedness, you’ll want to skip this.

I didn’t sleep last night. Not a sliver.  New experiences are overwhelming and my brain keeps them for a half-life to churn, digest, absorb.  And yesterday I started a new job.

A new job, for an introvert, is like being in a fun house that veers toward scary rather than fun.  Fight or flight instinct is ever-employed, I’m hyper-alert and ON, with zero down time.  Even alone yesterday, in my cubicle for lunch, I was still overwhelmed by the newness of it, the lighting, the smell (not unpleasant, just new), the possibility that yet another person would pop in to welcome me.

In this fun house for introverts, my body perceives the experience like thus: everyone is a laughing stranger, the lights are whacked, a tin can with two quarters is being shaken right by my ear, the music is super loud, and there’s a 6.2 earthquake. While I’m trying to be poised and smile and remember fifty names and their place in the hierarchy.  And, prior to and after, I’m learning a new commute, wary already of new construction and detours.

Each day will bring a slim coating of familiarity here and there, and it will get better.  I’m certainly happier to go through this gauntlet than to remain in a job that I had come to dread, but in the meantime I’m finding the noise, chitchat, and protocol of being the only newbie simply exhausting.

I took a walk this morning at 5:30am, a bit of natural valium, and I look forward to the second day, which is not the first day, on the new job.


Cars and Guns

NOTE: This post has been edited to include yet another horror.

Until they hit 25 or 26 years old, male drivers pay the highest rate for car insurance.  Because they are more aggressive and impetuous, more likely to crash, more likely to cause harm, more likely to drink before driving.  Less able to modulate anger, less able to let go of perceived offense.  This age group of this gender is just riskier, a danger– the risk  is recognized and assessed a fee.  We make it significantly more challenging for boys this age to drive a machine that can kill people.

Dylan Harris and Eric Klebold, Columbine, Littleton CO: both 18 years old

James Holmes, Aurora CO: 24 years old

Adam Lanza, Newtown CT: 20 years old

Dyllan Roof, Charleston SC: 21 years old

Mohammad Abdulazeez, Chattanooga TN: 24 years old

Chris Harper-Mercer, Roseburg OR: 26 years old



I was talking to a friend about her nephew, a young man of 18 or 19 who is having difficulty acknowledging his potential.  In other words, he’s being lazy, sleeping until noon, putting in job applications about once every never, skimming over household chores, hoping no one notices that he’s accomplishing nothing. 

It got me thinking about the young women (sometimes but rarely young men) who become parents at 15 years old, the same age as the prince. 

The difference between the two is the disparity in life equity.  Equity, in finance, is the difference between your assets and your liabilities.  In life, this is the sum of your advantages, abilities, strengths and opportunities, minus the demands of life. 

In the case of my friend’s nephew, he has an abundance of equity– middle class, a high school graduate, healthy, with basic life skills and the support of people who love him– and he’s sitting on it,  not attempting to grow that equity at all.  In the case of the too-young mother, too often her equity is too close to zero.  She has no life skills yet, hasn’t graduated high school, very likely low-income or poverty class, no opportunities and little support.  And this ridiculous demand, a baby, is put upon her.  Instantly, she has negative equity.  The demands of life well exceed what she was given, and she has had no opportunity to build any equity herself.

We are quick to criticize both, but we reserve the harsher judgment for the young woman on welfare.  “Get a J-O-B,” we think.  And when, two years later, she has another baby, the critique is more severe.  But look at this now 17 year old.  She has not worked, so she has not learned to.   What she has learned is how to take care of a baby.  She’s building on the only equity she has had the keys to, since she has not been able to graduate high school or get a job.  She has not been able to build the type of friendships that adults do to have someone ready to take the baby when the sitter fails to show so she can work, or who can give her a ride when her car breaks down.  What car?  She can’t afford a car.  She doesn’t have a bank account or a credit score or the ability to cook a meal from what’s in the pantry.  But she can take care of a baby.

Life equity is built by developing skills and opportunities before they’re needed, and working toward a wide range of as yet unused abilities.  Just like working out at the gym: cross-training year round means that weeding in the spring, helping a friend move in the summer or shoveling in the winter is something the body is already prepared to do.  The body’s equity is there to use.  If all you do at the gym is work the quads, you’ll be shocked by how hard it is to clean the top of the kitchen cabinets, or carry a toddler through the zoo.

In the alternative universe, the young woman with two kids instead is back at 15 years old.  She has no father in her life and her mom has no money, and there is little stability at home: but two afternoons a week she is at the public library to study for an hour.  When she turns 16, she works on Saturday mornings at the farmer’s market in town, and begins to save money.  She buys a bike, and then is able to work four days a week in the summer at the grocery store.  There, she gets to know kids from more-advantaged homes, and instead of being defensive or resentful she becomes comfortable with their lingo, habits, and idioms.   She becomes an adopted member of this middle class, and begins to see what may be possible.  She grows her discipline, her self-respect, her ability to juggle work and school and study, and wake up with an alarm.  She builds the equity necessary to expand what is possible for her.  She becomes, in effect, in shape, and strong for her life.  When, ten years later, she has her first baby, she is well equipped, sitting on enough equity to meet the demand of a baby, a job, a partner, a home.  (The royal we are aware that this is an overly optimistic scenario, but the point stands).

People want things, a good life, an abundance of options.  A 15 year old with a baby has all but ensured she will not obtain any of those.  A 15 year old, or a 19 year old who begins with the small steps necessary to achieve small successes will compound that effort into the capability, the strength,  necessary to be a successful adult.

The fact that we allow teens to bear children is appalling to me.  We should sooner allow them to drive a semi cross country, or become police or therapists with no training.  Parenting, or any adult pursuit, should come only after the skill set is there; allowing teens to take on more than that is tantamount to child abuse.

The fact that we allow teens to loiter (and the queen is no exception: last night I toiled past 8pm, after a full work day, dinner, and laundry, on the lawn, when I had a terribly able-bodied teen available to push that mower)– this is the type of child abuse akin to allowing kids to eat Lil’ Debbies and Cheetos all day.  Requiring more of them is the only way for them to own their own abilities, grow their own equity.  Teens believe they’re doing plenty when they’re made to take out the trash– one chore– in a given day.  They need to be shown they’re able to do so much more, and made to believe that they will feel great doing so.   They need to know that homework comes before video games, so they know later that the mortgage gets paid before the cable bill.   Making it too easy for them is nearly as crippling as expecting far too much.

(the prince would like to be on record as having said that he objects to this message)





There Was this Boy

There was this boy in high school who was out

of my safe circle, in

with the weed-smoking long-haired


He saw me on stage in the play. He wrote me

notes, letters about what life may mean and about

how we were meant to find out together.

“You don’t understand,’ he wrote me,

“I love you.”


I have rejected other men who wrote me,

 “You don’t understand, I love you,” and

the verb trudges with such strain, as though

the act of loving me requires steroids, a bench press.



“I love you,” this boy wrote: a daisy proffered, a weightless surprise, a buoy in my old age.



Canned Peaches and Cottage Cheese

Had she not up and died twenty five years ago, my mom would have been 95 years old this past week.  For all this time, since 1990, I have been without the one person who  thought I was amazing.  She didn’t always think I was right or perfect, but she did think me particularly neato, a font of interesting, a bundle of possibility.

I could have used that kind of attention in the last six months when I have struggled to generate a turn for the better only to be passed over, ignored, or self-defeating.  Clearly, the world is not seeing what my mom did, nor, really, do I.  Feeling particularly loserly of late, I would love a tearful talk at the kitchen table, a cup of tea, and yes, a cigarette (times like these I miss a smoke, I do).  “Say oh, and let it go, honey…”  she’ll have minimized the hurt.  “Your turn will come, you’ll see.”  The homely cliches are a comfort, and a reminder to appreciate the ordinary bits of life even as what I feel I deserve remains out of reach.

That was her talent: appreciating the plain.  After a traumatic childhood, she deserved better than she always got, but never lost the ability to admire the everyday.  Next week we might eat steak, but taste of how delicious these peaches and cottage cheese are, this dish that’s right in front of you today.  It’s lovely and whole.  So.   Are.  You.


My God Was Bigger Than Your God

When I was a believer, my god was huge.  My god could beat up your god.  My god could lift the heaviest things in the universe.  My god knew everything, even the thoughts of every person on earth, and was acquainted with every blade of grass.  My god cared for babies and dogs and the smallest of sparrows, and knew every one by name.  My god named  every one of them, for christ’s sake.  He made them. He loved them.  He loved me.  He loved sinners.  He loved haters.  He loved and pitied them, and hoped for their return to his embrace.  He was not threatened by them.

He was not threatened, because he was an immense and all-powerful god.  He made us come into being, and if we ignored or made fun of him he could take it, because he was the alpha and omega, the beginning and the end, world without end.  We come and go, we small humans with our puny lives and our adolescent humor: my god had heard every whisper, every lie, every disrespect, every giggle.  It was beyond his merest notice, because we were like mosquitoes, to him: tiny little nothings, whom he loved so much still, buzzing, annoying.   Drawing cartoons of him, long white beard, stern brow, with some comical feature to diminish him, make him our size: a buffoon.  A big dumb papa, having made some mistake in our creation, ha ha, look at papa and his foibles!

Beneath him.

I pity the faith of the isil isis islamic state (surely I will not capitalize that when my god goes without)– what wizard of oz do they worship?  How tinny and flimsy, how cheap, is this deity?  Did the French Charlie bruise his tender feelings?   He couldn’t take a little teasing?  That’s lame.   And, sly, this one, asking a legion of mosquitoes (tiny little nothings) to defend him.  Sly, and slick: biological warfare, scary for the ease with which these pests are lured, with pink lemonade promises.   A phantasm of virgins, a chimera of figs and honey.  Die for me, little nothing, and you will see Elysium.

I pity you because when I was a believer my god was captain of the universe, strong and powerful, to infinity and beyond; and your god is a skinny evil prison warden in a bad made-for-tv movie.  Your sacrifices mean nothing, you will never have your heaven, because your god will never win.