This Was My Damn Day

1. Stayed up late the night before playing poker. Felt worn down, but not sick.  Woke up tired and sick. Considered calling in, but it was my last day to clean up stuff before starting my new position, and I had a meeting to attend.  (More on that later.)  Also, it was a co-worker's birthday and my last day in my unit.  Missing that just would not do.  And there was that meeting.

2.  Forgot MP3 player for car.  Livable.  Get stuck behind a lady who stopped every ten feet or so to look around to see what road she was on.  Irritating the first five times.  By the sixth time I'm yelling out the window.  Stomach now gurgling. 

3.  Get to work (found some Coke -- thanks!) and have to go right to the meeting, which, apparently, I was not supposed to attend.  Nobody, of course, tells me this.  I feel out of place there, and am doing my best not to throw up.  Not only was I not supposed to be there, but it was obvious (to me at least) that I was not supposed to be there ... and it was pointed out later ... several times by several people ... that I was not supposed to be there.  Uncomfortable.  Embarrassed.  Not a good way to start the new job.  I brought this up ... a lot ... to a co-worker, who, to her credit, did not stab me but actually listened and sympathized.  She is a good person despite her occasional dabbling in the world of Reggae.

4.  It was my last day in my unit, and things were ... different.  People gave me a lot of crap in a good natured way, and my new unit also sent me many warm welcomes.  I didn't want to get sappy over any of it, but it made me realize something: I work with a lot of good, well-intentioned, smart, compassionate people who do a hard job that they actually give a damn about ... and many of them could be working elsewhere (most likely with less stress and more money).  Looking around today I realized that with all the sentiments being thrown my way, I was damn lucky.  I wish I was deserving of all the kind words, but that doesn't mean I didn't appreciate them.  I did ... more than any of them know. 

5.  Went to my anniversary lunch and was again amazed by my co-workers.  Ate too much that did its best to do even more damage to my stomach.  Brilliant.

6.  Picked up my daughter and she got to ride in the front seat for the first time (I checked with highway patrol first).  It felt kind of alien until she reached over and tickled me, and then it felt fine.  She laughed her butt off and told me she always wanted to tickle me when I drove.  Very pleased with herself, she just kept smiling and looking out the window, and I remembered being the same age and doing the same thing.  Brilliant again.

7.  I love the post office.  It brings me books, movies, CDs, magazines and other wonderful gifts ... except today.  Figures.  Instead of cool stuff, I got a summons for jury duty.  This will be a huge waste of everyone's time.

8.  Went to a great dinner with my daughter at our favorite Mexican restaurant.  We don't even need to order anymore.  They just bring us our food.  And, in celebration of my daughter's birthday, they didn't charge us for her meal.  Sweet.

9.  Got home and let my daughter play on her skateboard and pogo stick and had an even more wonderful evening. 

10.  Got paid for some writing.

11.  Still feel sick.

12.  Got a few disturbing texts from a female friend who I worry about far too much ... but with reason.

13.  And now I'm here.  Making a chronicle of a day that was equal parts inspiring and horrible.  I want to sleep for a long, long time.


By The Time I Get to Arizona

Arizona, that haven for retirees and asthma sufferers, has gone to the forefront of the news with its new, tough stance against illegal immigrants.  Joe Arpaio, the sheriff from Maricopa County who is always on the news for his unorthodox treatment of prisoners, was on the Today show stating that people were going to be happy when they went in jobs and arrested illegal immigrants working in the country illegally.  There, of course, is the rub.

A poll quoted on that same show said that something like 70% of the people agreed with Arizona's tough law.  What it didn't say, and what interviewer Matt Lauer didn't address is: What should be done with the businesses that hire illegal immigrants.  If you think illegal immigrants should be thrown in the slammer or booted out of the country, then surely you'd have to agree that businesses that hire them should be disbanded and employers jailed.  After all, these illegal immigrants can only take jobs away from decent, hardworking Americans if they are offered to them.

That never seems to come up, though.  It seems as if there is a tacit agreement that a business can do whatever it can to raise profits (as they are legally mandated to do), but God forbid an illegal immigrant takes that job (which usually pays them less than it would if they were a "legal" citizen). 

Consistency is important when trying to frame an argument.  You can say illegal immigrants are ruining the country as much as you want.  You can say they are taking jobs away from Americans.  If you aren't targeting the businesses that hire them as well, you are a hypocrite.  At the very least you haven't thought out your position. 

If the majority of Arizona residents want to endorse such a policy (and it seems they do), then hopefully they will demand that these businesses hiring these "criminals" be shut down.  And they should also demand that police demand proof of citizenship for all traffic stops, violations of rules, etc..  After all, not all illegal immigrants have brown skin and an accent.  They could be from Canada, London, Guam, Ireland, Japan, Norway, Bulgaria, the Ivory Coast, Sydney ... the list goes on.  Every citizen of Arizona should be mandated to provide proof of citizenship for every encounter with a police officer.

I imagine the Tea Party parrots will jump on this new law as more unwarranted government interference.  At least I hope they well, as they seem to fear socialism, communism and, one would imagine, a dictatorship.  This new law would seem right in line with the very thing they fear: government curtailing liberty.  You could argue that illegal immigrants don't deserve the liberties enjoyed by American citizens, which is fine, but the only way the police can reasonably determine this is if they demand proof of everyone, and that seems like a violation of that liberty.

I'm sure the Tea Party Parrots are just formulating a platform and planning their protests.  I look forward to seeing them storm the state's capitol demanding that the law be revoked.  I look just as forward to the police questioning everyone and the employers who hire illegal immigrants doing time behind bars as their businesses are auctioned off to the highest bidder who will then (hopefully) hire Americans at a living wage.

Let's hear it for Arizona!


Arson Parties and Drugs

Standing in line.  Waiting.  I've got some food (not much of it), and I want to pay for it and get my ass home, but the woman two people up from me is having an issue with every price that comes up on the display.  "That isn't right."  It's a mantra by this point.

Every ounce of my patience is being tested by this point.  I just said good-bye to a friend.  I miss my daughter.  I have a feeling my evening will not go well (turns out I am right), and this woman is upset that the green onions aren't cheaper.  Pick your battles, right?

She turns and apologizes to the woman behind her.  "Sorry for holding up the line."  Then it's back to arguing over soda.  

I move to another line.  The man in front of me smells of beer and charcoal.  A cook-out, perhaps.  Makes me want a hamburger.  He turns to me and says, "This place is always fucking packed, man.  Always."  He has about eight teeth.  His t-shirt proclaims his love for the the Giants, a baseball team I care little about.  If this is any indication of its fan base, however ...

"I try to avoid here on Saturdays," I say.

"Smart move.  You know if there's any parties tonight?"

I cannot believe this.  I am not a party person, but I'll play along.  "There's an arson party I know about.  About thirty people getting together."

He nods like he understands this thing I just made up.  "Sounds cool," he says.

"It's actually hot."

He smiles.  "Got it."

Does he?

"You're funny," he says.

"Wasn't trying to be?"

"That hurt?" he asks as he pays.  He's nodding toward my face.  My septum piercing.

"No."  Not as much as being stuck in the store at this time.

"Sweet.  I want a tattoo."

I'm shocked he doesn't have some girl's name etched into his arm via a gun made of a Walkman and a guitar string.

"Good luck," I say.  I've paid.  Gathered my food.

"Have fun at the arson party."

"It'll be a real barn burner," I reply.  He follows me out of the store and then changes.

"No where I can get party favors?"

Oh fuck all mighty.  So now I look like I can hook him up?  Sweet.

"No.  That ain't my thing.  I like fires and guns.  Sorry."

"All good," he says, as he gets in his truck.  There is a car seat in the front.  Luckily, it's only occupant is the bag he brought out of the store.  It's clean, though, unlike the rest of the truck.  He's got a kid.  Lovely.

I watch the truck pull away, sigh, and start my car.  None of this seems right.


Kill the King

If I saw the Burger King king crawl through my window or wake me in my bed, I would take a baseball bat to that creepy fucker and beat him into unconsciousness.  And when he woke up?  Well, good luck getting out of those cuffs, and yes, that is gasoline you smell.

Whatever made Burger King think this was a good "mascot"?  Was a leper trademarked by Wendy's?  Did they consider a sex offender until they saw how they lost the 18-34 year old female market?  I can't even begin to imagine the meetings that went on over this?  "Well, he's got this over-size plastic head with a frozen expression and he creeps around your house bringing you breakfast in bed.  I got the idea from the guy who broke into my neighbor's house and killed his family."


McDonald's has its strange clown and other oddities.  Subway has that pedophile Jared.  In and Out has Jenna Jameson.  (You know, that was sarcastic, but now I'm convinced that would be an awesome idea.)  Burger King?  They go with the most disturbing character since ... I don't even know.

Disturbing.  Creepy.  Chilling.  Just the things I want to think of when I'm looking for a quick lunch   

The Future is Acid

HD TV.  5.1 sound.  A DVR full of Top Gear and Black Flame at my side.  Didn't think about work.  Didn't think of wild nights.  Didn't think of thinking too much, as I just wanted to relax with some expensive Cajun salami (quite good, by the way), some of my favorite show and not a whole lot on my mind.  It was a rare event for me, the result of a day that taxed me mentally and physically (those chairs in training are torture devices for my back).  Debating whether or not to see Kick Ass and The Losers.  (The comic of the latter was great up until the final issues.  Trying to figure out when I can see a friend before she leaves for a new life (which sometimes sounds like a bit of a devil's deal) in a much more hospitable climate. 

Today it looks like the clouds are clearing up, which is never a good sign.  I've got about ninety minutes before the torture chair sessions begin. Tempted to take a pill to quell what I know is coming, but don't want to doze off in the middle of an exciting training session.  That wouldn't be good now, would it?

I've got my girl, my girl's birthday party, a race with Mirror, and a meeting with a friend to look forward to.  Beyond that there is sushi outside on my deck, reading in the sun while the hummingbirds put on a show, and a stack of DVDs that aren't reviewing themselves.

The future is acid.


Sunday Night Feast

A lot of you know I enjoy cooking.  I'm actually not too bad at it, either.  (I even had a recipe published in Cooks Illustrated.)  Cooking for myself, though, is just kind of boring.  On the weekends, however, when my daughter is with me, I like to do special things from time to time. Tonight I gave her the choice of a four cheese pizza (parmesan, mozzarella, fontina, and provolone) or sushi.  She picked sushi.

She doesn't like nori, so typically I make her a couple of rice balls with a dollop of almond butter laid out on a plate with mandarin orange slices arranged in such a way that the entire thing looks like a flower.  Tonight I wanted to try something different, though.  Tonight I wanted to blow her away and show her something totally unexpected.

Part of the appeal of sushi is the presentation.  How it looks is just as important as how it tastes.  Her sushi was gonna look like nothing she had ever seen before.

For myself I made two rolls with baby shrimp and green onions -- my standard.  I usually use a chili paste, as well, but decided not to tonight.  For my girl ... well, I could only work with three ingredients per her request.  Sushi, almond butter and soy sauce (I also served her cherry tomatoes on the side).

I made her a winged dragon.  It stretched across the length of the square plate.  It had a round head with soy sauce sprinkled on it and two green onions for horns (I removed them after she saw it because she does not like green onions).  The body was twisted into an "S" shape with wings.  The body had almond butter down its spine, while the wings had almond butter and soy sauce on their tips.

I made her close her eyes while I put the plate in front of her.  When she opened them, her mouth dropped open and all she could say was, "Awesome!"

"Pretty cool?"

"Pretty cool.  I never thought you could do this."

"I did."

The smile on her face made it all worth it.  Highlight of my day.  I asked her what she wants next time, and she's requested a panda.  "It may be hard to do," she said, "but I think you can make it work."

I'm already planning it out ...


Raw Lust in the Time of War

She's got these black chills that run down her spine.  Her body sways to music only she can hear.  Like a devil twisting in the flames, she writhes in time to the beat.  Sweat glistens on skin that begs to be tasted.  When she arches her back it does things to you.  Good things.  The way her body curves, it takes your breath away.

She runs fingers through her hair and those lips part, and you forget to breathe.  Just for a moment, but it's enough.  It's enough to make you realize that what you are seeing simply isn't human.  It's female ... those hips don't lie ... but it's not human.  You don't want to say it's sex incarnate.  That sounds too cheesy.  No, this is otherworldly.  This ... magnificent mistake of nature has one purpose, and you know if she looks your way you're gonna crumble.  The way she walks, the way she talks ... she knows the power a female has over the male, and you know she can use it.

Your hands twitch.  You long to touch her, but you're afraid.  What if this sight before you is just an illusion?  You'll never get her out of your mind.  She'll never leave you.  No other female could ever measure up.  Those lips.  Those eyes.  Those legs.  You don't stare like a stalker.  You stare like a blind man who has suddenly regained his sight only to find himself peering straight at the sun.  She is art, and you are watching creation.

Your hands twitch, but you don't move.  You won't disturb this display.  You can't let her know you are there.  She won't bolt, but she will devour, and you know that if she touches you at this point, your heart will explode.

"Embrace me," you whisper, "in your graveyard embrace.  Drag me down into the depths with you.  Make me immortal in this limbo in which you dwell.  Wrap your pale flesh around mine and tear my muscles from the bone.  Bring your lips to mine and use those teeth to draw blood.  Devour me as I yet breathe, and drain my soul dry."

You whisper that, praying she doesn't hear.  She does, and she looks at you.  You know you're done.

Bea Arthur 5/13/22 -- 4/25/09.  Rest in Peace, Golden Girl of the Golden Dawn.  Your memory lives on. 


Idiots in Glass Houses ...

Gregory Lee Giusti was arrested for allegedly making a series of threatening phone calls to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  He did not want her to vote for health care reform.  No word on why he was upset about health care reform, but if he follows the same line as a lot of people who are against it, it has to do with its semblance to "socialism" or some such nonsense.

All well and good.  I don't like certain things, either.  It should be noted, however, that Giusti, at the time of his arrest and for at least a decade prior, had been living in government subsidized housing.

Ahh, nothing like a fresh cup of hypocrisy to get the morning started right.     


Bathing in the Blood of the Guilty

Saturday night was spent having dinner with a friend, and then hanging out with another friend before she had to leave due to a slight emergency.  Yeah, I was being social.

After I was alone, I watched Deliver Us From Evil, a documentary done a few years ago about a child molesting priest who got moved around from parish to parish as the Catholic church tried to cover up his crimes. 


As I'm watching it I start thinking a lot about revenge.  We're taught early on that revenge is not something we should seek.  We are taught to let the police handle things (because they are so effective).  We are taught to trust those in power to handle things and protect us.

All of that is wrong.

I believe revenge is a natural step in the healing process.  It's not for everyone, but it can work for many people.  The police and the justice system rarely compensate for the pain brought on by, say, a pedophile.  Yeah, it's great that many get caught and are sent away and then have to register once they are set free on society again, but let's face it, if your child was raped, registration doesn't quite cut the cake.

But heating up a screwdriver on the stove and then shoving it down some sicko's throat can really get some of that anger out. 

Watching the film, a theme became fairly obvious.  A man people trusted because of his station used that trust to hurt people.  That is why you don't trust people in positions of power just because they are in those positions.  If anything, you look at them under a microscope.  You examine their motives, and you question them.  When these parents let their kids sleep over at the fiend's house they never thought anything was going to happen.  Why would it?  He was a priest (or cop, or scout leader, or teacher -- fill in whatever blank you'd like).  He would never harm anyone under his care.  Unthinkable.  Unimaginable.  Unfathomable. 


A lot of people who do horrible, nasty things to others know they have little to fear.  People don't fight back often enough.  They call the cops and hope that they can catch the bad guy.  They never think, "I have the power to take care of this."  We are taught to give up the responsibility of punishment and to leave that to the experts. 

It's that kind of thinking that let a priest molest hundreds of kids in California.  It tore apart families, ruined them financially, scarred his victims for life ... and that child fucking monster gets to walk around free in Ireland with an annuity bought for him by the church in order to buy some silence.

He probably lives with thoughts of molesting children in his head every day.  For all I know he may still be doing it.  Guaranteed that if just one of those families harmed by this molester took a pair of hedge clippers to his fingers, those same fingers that forced their way into little girls, he'd be having second thoughts.  If left alive, he'd look down at that stump of a hand every day and think about what led him to such a mutated state.  He'd feel the scars.  He'd remember the pain.  He would be crippled for life and he'd have a hard time hiding it, a hard time coming up with a new excuse every time someone asked him, "How'd you lose your fingers, bub?"

I'm a firm believer in revenge.  Utter and total.  I believe it works.  I believe it is effective.  I believe it can send a message and work as closure.  Had that piece of shit molested me, I would've accepted his invitation to come visit him in Ireland so he could apologize.  I'd listen to the apology and then I'd begin.  I'd give him the choice: cut your own wrists wide open, or watch me watch you try to put your intestines back in.  They're slippery.  It's not easy.  And every time he'd try, every time he'd start to get them back into that wet, gaping cavity, I'd take my foot, hook it through one of those sausage-like loops and pull it right back out.  I'd make fun of the grunting noises he'd be making as he fights to remain conscious.  I'd ask him what it feels like, leaking out all over the carpet like that.  Ask him if he ever thought about what those kids felt like when he was ruining their childhood.  And just before he'd close his eyes from the pain, I'd let him know that I'll wake him back up and we'll start all over again.  "I've got time and a lot of imagination, friend.  And you've got yards of intestines to work with."

Even writing that is cathartic.  And I admit that knowing I'd enjoy it is kind of troublesome, but admitting it is what keeps me sane.  Many people never even think of these things, never examine how they feel about violence.  I think that is wrong, unhealthy and dangerous.  We all have the capability for doing great harm to others.  I believe that those who admit to that, who think of it, who examine it, are the least likely to do it because they know how important it is.  Those who ignore it or pretend they harbor no such feelings are the ones I believe should be watched out for (though there are a few people I've met whom I truly believe could never hurt a fly, but that is rare).  Those who ignore those very basic feelings of justice and revenge are the ones can suffer a disconnect from their actions ... and that kind of disconnect got that priest through his daily life.  He was able to disconnect himself from his actions and get on with the day.

I don't suffer from any such affliction.  I know where my anger dwells and what I can do with it if confronted with such a situation.  I don't go seeking out fights.  I don't beat women or children.  I don't kick dogs.  And I don't lie about my feelings on the subject of violence, revenge and anger.  I don't pretend to be above it.  I would never be so bold.

And that is the key to controlling it.

You may feel differently.  I'm sure many of you do.  I'm sure quite a few people believe they could never do such things, let alone think them.  That's fine, and if it's true you have my respect.  I have no such illusions, and I don't like lying to myself about these things.  It's too important to not be familiar and comfortable with it.  It is there if I need it and that is all it is there for.

Watching those victims and their families made me feel their pain.  Seeing that man walk the streets made me think: If only someone had put a stop to it right away, there wouldn't be a laundry list of victims years later.

Why is it we have little problem with the state putting someone in prison for life or even administering the death penalty, but as soon as we make it personal we are going down a taboo path?

I don't quite know the answer, but I think part of it lies with the fact that people like to think they are better than the monsters they confront.  I would say it's not a matter of being better or above it.  It's a matter of fixing that which is broken. 

Happy Easter.