The Truth is Now an Insult

“I know that even now, having watched enough television, you probably won’t even refer to them as lepers so as to spare their feelings. You probably call them ‘parts-dropping-off challenged’ or something.” ~ Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal

In this politically correct world in which we now live, we can no longer call people out for certain behaviors because they might be part of a protected class.  If we say anything that might be construed as offensive to a member of a protected class, we are labeled as racist, as a bigot, or simply an asshole.

There is this guy on the train that takes the same train as I do every morning.  It is always a packed train, and everyone knows where to stand on the platform so that it lines up perfectly to where the train door opens when it stops.  In order to stand at that prime spot, you have to get there well in advance of the time when the train is due to arrive.  For the most part, people are relatively decent and do not really try to jump the line to get to the front.  This guy, however, straggles in right when the train arrives, but forcibly uses his massive size to cut in front of everyone and push people so that he can board the train first and find a seat. And because of his enormous girth, he takes up two seats.  He has no regard for the frail, elderly, or children, and his only goal is to make sure he is first on the train so that he can always find a seat.

Now, this is New York City.  This is a city where most people do not hold their tongue and when someone commits an offense, they are called out on it.  If this guy was a skinny Caucasian male, the whole train would have been in an uproar over his lack of train etiquette.  But because he is fat and Muslim, no one says a word.  No one wants to say anything to him about his disgusting behavior because to do so might cause others to deem you to be prejudiced and a bigot.  No one wants to say what they are really thinking: that he is a fat pig who uses his size as an excuse to be an asshole.  Just to be clear, I do not call him a pig because he is fat.  I call him a pig because of his uncouth manners.

Fortunately for him, he has not yet pushed me.  I have only been a witness to his appalling actions. But if he does ever push me, I will most definitely say something to him.  I am not going to sit back and watch him get away with being an asshole just to spare his feelings.

Mr. Van Kirk

“… There are places I’ll remember
All my life though some have changed
Some forever not for better
Some have gone and some remain
All these places have their moments
With lovers and friends I still can recall
Some are dead and some are living
In my life I’ve loved them all …”
 
~ John Lennon, Real Love: The Drawings for Sean
I met him in 1989.  Twenty-four years ago.  I remember walking into his classroom and seeing him at the front of the room.  He was dressed casually, with black jeans and sneakers.  I thought he was a bit young to be a “professor.”  He had a military look about him.  Later he would reveal that he had served in the military as a naval aviator.
I remember him because he had a hand in shaping a part of who I have become.  My parents were the one who had instilled in me a love for reading, but he was the one who had inspired me to write.  Write anything.  Just write.  One of our exercises in his creative writing class was to write a daily journal entry.  He was never judgmental about what we wrote.  He merely wanted us to get into the habit of writing, about anything, and to let our creatve juices flowing.  At first, my journal entries were boring.  I wrote just enough to complete the exercise, and it was always without any thought.  But as time went on, I started to think.  I started to really care about what I was writing.  I started to pay attention to the words I was using and how I was using them. 
I worked hard on the papers I submitted to him.  I waited anxiously for his comments about my writing.  He was always inspiring and never critical.  He encouraged, rather than discouraged.  I have never forgotten him, and much of how I write is because of him.
Thank you, Mr. Van Kirk.  You have been an inspiration.

Poverty of Loneliness

“The greatest disease in the West today is not TB or leprosy; it is being unwanted, unloved, and uncared for. We can cure physical diseases with medicine, but the only cure for loneliness, despair, and hopelessness is love. There are many in the world who are dying for a piece of bread but there are many more dying for a little love. The poverty in the West is a different kind of poverty — it is not only a poverty of loneliness but also of spirituality. There’s a hunger for love, as there is a hunger for God.” ~ Mother Teresa, A Simple Path: Mother Teresa

If I had left my apartment a mere two seconds earlier, I would have seen it happen. But I didn’t have to see it. I heard it. And that is more than enough.

I was walking down the stairs to the train platform at the Roosevelt Avenue stop. Mid-way down the stairs, I heard, above all the noise of the crowds, one loud, horrifying, bloodcurdling scream, cut short as the oncoming train came to an abrupt stop.

My stomach tightened as I made it down to the bottom of the stairs. I saw in front of me a group of people standing near the edge of the platform, frantically peering down underneath the stopped train. Some were screaming. Many were crying.

The scream I had heard was that of a man who had hurled himself in front of the oncoming train.
The violent loss of a life occurring so close to you is traumatic. You are left feeling empty and devastated. It doesn’t matter that you never knew the person. It doesn’t matter that you had never even seen him or her. It’s the mere act of taking one’s own life, and the questions of “why?” and the effect it leaves behind with those who had been unfortunate to witness the tragic event, and the suffering of the loved ones who are left behind to pick up the pieces.
I pray for his soul, and I give my sympathy to all who loved him and who are now left to cope with the loss of him.

A Lot of Fish and a Little Bit of Chips

This weekend:

  • I almost got robbed. I was sitting on the train, and an older Chinese woman sat down next to me. The motion of the train always makes me sleepy, but I wasn’t sleepy enough to ignore the woman next to me inching closer and closer. When I looked down, her hand was in my open purse. I slapped her hand away, and yelled, “WTF?!?!” She didn’t say anything, and quickly moved away and got out at the next stop.
  • I walked in on a man as he was using the bathroom. I went biking in the park this weekend, and stopped off near a wooded area to take a little breather. I didn’t realize that I had stepped into someone’s house, until I was assailed by a foul stench, and saw a homeless man behind a tree who just whipped out his junk and proceeded to urinate. I got onto my bike and pedaled away as quickly as I could go.
  • I ate the best fish ‘n’ chips this side of the East River. I always thought that the other boroughs of New York offered better food than Manhattan, and my impromptu search for fish ‘n’ chips brought me to this place.

  • BabyG kept saying “mama” over and over again. It’s music to my ears, and she is even learning to play the harmonica.

I live such an exciting life, don’t I?

Take My Puppy!

There’s nothing unusual about seeing drunks walk around aimlessly at 6:00 in the morning here in New York. In fact, I’ve found that it’s actually quite a normal thing to see around here. There are, after all, no shortages of after-hours bars that cater to those that want to stay obliterated past the 4:00 a.m. closing of the regular bars. I’ve actually found that the streets are quite dangerous between the hours of 5:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., as all the drunks are either drunkenly driving home or walking (staggering) home as night turns into day.

So, there seemed nothing out of the ordinary this morning for me as I was jogging through my neighborhood and I saw a man stumbling through the streets. He was yelling incomprehensibly to everyone and no one, but I just ignored him and kept on jogging.

However, on my jog back home, I saw that the drunk man had stopped and was yelling at an old Mexican man with a little puppy. As I jogged towards them, I strained to hear what was being said.

“Give me your puppy, old man!” the drunk man yelled.

“Please, sir, go away!” the old man pleaded.

“Give me your f*ckin’ puppy! I’ll take your fuckin’ puppy!”

I saw the drunk man step forward and knock the old Mexican man’s sancho hat off his head. As the old man bent down to pick up his hat, I saw the drunk man step closer towards the old man, and it looked like he was going to kick the old man in the head.

In fear that something bad would happen and without thinking, I yelled,”What the hell is going on here?!”

“Who the f*ck are you, you little chink b*tch?” yelled the drunk man.

“I’m the b*tch that’s gonna kick your ass if you don’t leave this man alone,” I said calmly, and with much more confidence than I felt.

I’m not sure why, but the drunken man started to walk away. Perhaps it was my intimidating 4’11 frame. Or more possibly, the fact that I had my wolf with me frightened him away.

“Here, mister! You want a puppy?! Take mine!”

Think Different

I saw her on the bus ride to work. I don’t know why, but she made my day. Any woman who can go around with curlers in her hair and not care who’s looking is cool in my book.
Are you for real
(taken with my camera phone)
“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules, and they have no respect for the status-quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify, or vilify them. But the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” 
~ from the slogan “Think Different” by Apple Computer

Unforgotten

“The memory of the heart outlasts that of the mind.” ~ ♥N

She is seventy-six years old, and the world around her is shrinking. She cannot remember from moment to moment pieces of the conversation that she just had with you or how many times she has asked you if you wanted some iced tea. In fact, if you were to leave her apartment and come back the next day, she may not remember that she has already met you. These days, new faces, new happenings, or new encounters don’t stay with her for very long. But ask her why, in all of her seventy-six years on this earth, did she not get married, and with much passion and bittersweet emotion, she will tell you the tale of a long ago affair that sadly ended when the love of her life tragically passed away forty-three years ago in 1963. She will tell the four decade old story of her beloved and the magical relationship they shared, and she will tell it as though it just happened yesterday.

“After he died in 1963, that was it for me. I could never love another after him.”

After you sit with her for some time, it is easy to see the effects of Alzheimer’s disease and the decline of her mental memory, but what is also apparent, is that her heart has refused to forget that one love of her life that neither time nor Alzheimer’s can erase.

… my thoughts on meeting an amazing woman with Alzheimer’s Disease …

“Memory is the library of the mind.” ~ Francis Fauvel-Gourand

“The heart’s memory eliminates the bad and magnifies the good.” ~ Gabriel Garcia Marquez

Subway Reflections

She was in the corner of the subway car. There, in the cluster of bodies that were all clawing for space, she should have remained unnoticed. After all, she appeared to be dressed no differently than all the other worker bees that rode the train religiously after a long day’s work.
But she was different.
She was not pushing and shoving or elbowing her way around the subway car. Instead, she carried the resounding posture of defeat. She stood in the corner, near the door, unmoving and oblivious to the action around her. She did not seem to notice the flurry of bodies that rushed past her, moving in and out of the train. She did not seem to hear or be bothered by the loud thump-thump-thump emanating from the headphones of the person standing next to her. The foul, pungent smell of summer and sweat that assailed the subway and affected all and sundry did nothing to move her frozen stare.
Instead, she remain affixed to her little corner of her own little world, and I saw from where I was that tears were rolling down her face. Her pain stared back so violently that I felt a cut in my own heart. I tried to smile at her, maybe to make myself feel better, but she would have none of it. She was inside her own pain, and nothing and no one was coming in or out.
As I departed the train at my stop, I turned to look at her one last time. I felt obligated to somehow reach out to her, but she almost seemed comfortable in her state of despair. All I know is that I left the subway car feeling as though the world had suddenly fallen on my shoulders.
“And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff – I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be.” ~ Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye