Friday, April 19, 2013

What's Next?

Update: I hate everything about this post, but I'm not going to delete it because that feels like lying somehow. For anyone who might be going back to read things, don't read this one. Skip it and read the Marathon Monday post or the one about the Bills or your Late 20's sucking.

Yesterday (Thursday) the FBI released pictures of the two suspects in the Boston Marathon bombing.
This morning, at 5:30am Jenna woke me up with news that one of the suspects had been killed along with an M.I.T. campus policeman, a 26 year old named named Sean. Suspect one is dead. Suspect two is on the loose.

Skip ahead a few hours and Boston is on lockdown. Twitter is sharing pictures of police snipers  on roofs, armored trucks rolling through the streets. Most of the city is shut down and people are scared. The only consolation at this point is this part of the debacle will most likely be over soon, the hardest part is who knows if we'll get any answers.

Jump to West Texas where a fertilizer plant exploded killing around 40 just two days ago.

Jump to Washington, D.C. where, despite incredible support from the American public, the Senate bi-partisanly put an end to talks of gun reform and background checks. President Obama called it a "sad day in Washington" and a "failure." 

Let's get something straight:

The last five days have been fucked up.

I apologize for my language, but everything else I typed didn't share the gravity.

I wanted to write thanking everyone who read and shared the last post I wrote regarding the Marathon Bombing. It was viewed over 1500 times in two days and I am still in awe of the response and how much people care.

I wanted to write asking people to help me. I was motivated, I was encouraged, I was excited to be sharing something with so many people! But I need help, too often it takes a disastrous event or a major life change to move me to words, and I do not want that to be the case.
What should I do?
How should I proceed?
Should I proceed?

I wanted to write and share the positivity that swept through the world despite the horrific events. Whether it was the Mr. Rogers quotes, the Patton Oswalt Facebook post I already shared, the Patton Oswalt Star Wars filibuster for that matter, George Carlin quotes, or blogs and retrospectives written by other individuals personally working their way through events (Here are two I've shared on Facebook from my good friends Kris and Justin). People stood up (or maybe sat down) and took the time to think, feel, and share their way through an awful moment in our history.

Hope was sought, some peace was found, love was shared.

Now how do we move on from this? Individually? Nationally? Politically? Peacefully?

In all honesty, most people will do exactly what they did after Newtown, Aurora, Oklahoma City and all the other sites of local terror, atrocity and death; they will use them as references in blogs, but move on with their life saying things like, "we should do something" or "something like that could happen right here" to "is our government going to do anything."

Well, in short, yes we should, yes it could, and no it isn't.

Our government is broken. I won't turn this into a political rant, but it is a fact that our elected officials are often elected because they raised the most money from special interest groups. Thus, they function on behalf of those groups. They are basically paid to be elected and as we saw with the gun control vote, despite 90% of public support, the officials elected to represent the public failed miserably.

It's sad. It's frustrating. It's seemingly and almost comically futile.

Most people will go on with their every day lives a little sadder, maybe a little more cautious. The folks in Boston and the families directly effected by these events in West, Texas, Newtown, Connecticut, etc. don't get off that easily. They will live with it every day, some for the rest of their lives. Most of us still ultimately feel safe when we go to bed. If you don't live in one of those places and you don't feel safe, give it a week or two, if you're honest with yourself you will most likely realize you haven't thought much about the bombings or shootings.

I don't have answers. I don't know what we can actually do. I want to start electing officials who are going to represent the people. I want to stop people from jumping to broad conclusions based on race, religion or even their relation to the Mason Dixon Line.

I want our country and our world to change, but I honestly don't have any idea how that is going to happen. I don't want to go on living my life without change, but what can we do?

Some people say the best way to combat events like this is to go on living your life. I agree, to a point, but living our every day lives typically ignores everything that is wrong with the world.

Man! I'm getting frustrated writing this, so it's time to take a step back ...

I don't believe we have the luxury of simply living our lives anymore. Maybe I should say we don't have the luxury of living our lives blindly or trusting that "they'll" take care of it.

I want to be challenged.
I want to be called out on my words and actions.
I want to be asked to help.
I want to be asked if we can make things better.
I want to make things better.
I want to reiterate some things I said in my last post...
I want to teach our children to think and be better people of the world. I don't want to stop there.
I want to teach myself, my friends, my parents, my world to be better.

I don't know how.

I want you to help me.

Many of us were not directly effected by the tragedies of the last 30 years. Most of us are thoughtful and conscientious enough to offer support and condolences, but that only goes so far. I haven't heard of anyone I know being physically injured by the events in Boston. Yet ...

All morning I have been reading Facebook and Twitter posts from people huddled in their Newton/Brighton/Watertown homes with the doors locked and their children scared. That feeling isn't going to go away anytime soon for those people. I hope beyond hope that their fear, uncertainty, and madness is met with swift resolution and replaced with action, love, support, and eventually peace of mind.

You might not be there.

The explosion at the fertilizer plant might not have been a terrorist event, but make no mistake that the survivors and the victims families are currently living in terror.

It is inevitable that, at some point, we will all be struck with tragedy, horror, or atrocity. That statement isn't meant to be disheartening, it is meant to be true. It is a fact of life that life isn't always good. Bad things happen to great people. That's okay. Without the bad we could never see the good and we could never fight against the darkness. We would never get the motivation of thought and consideration for life.

None of these events have been good.
Please, help me find the good in them. Help me find a path that leads to change.
Help me figure out what to write next.

I hope the next one is funny. Whatever I write, I hope it is funny. Not everyone agrees, but I think I'm pretty funny. Just don't read my post about Parson Brown... stick with the ones about being in your 20's or the Buffalo Bills... pretty much anything about the Bills is hilarious at this point.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marathon Monday

Warning: The following is a rant written by an angry and sad young man who spent much of his formative life in the city of Boston. His words might not be coherent or well written. He is doing his best to work through a situation he will never understand. Also, he posts everything without rereading or editing and curses on occasion... for your consideration.

Boston was home for 20 percent of my life.

I lived and worked a quarter of a mile away from the 20-mile mark of the Boston Marathon. My first Marathon Monday was humorously unappreciated, as I didn't know what Patriot's Day was or even that I had the day off. I was completely ignorant of the holiday and how much of a spectator event the marathon is. I walked to Cleveland Circle that year, but spent more time avoiding my students openly "celebrating" than I did watching the race.

Over the next five years, my experience certainly evolved from watching closely, cheering for strangers, to the often-muttered "maybe we should do this next year," to what became a little tradition of following the race path from Boston College into the city. Each year I eventually came to the finish line and watched families greet their loved ones after completing an amazing feat. Each year I grew closer to the city and closer to the race.

Marathon Monday became one of the rare holidays I respected. Not because they call it Patriot's Day, but because of how easily it brought a city together for an utterly positive event. Thousands of thousands of strangers cheering and celebrating thousands of strangers. Families, friends, children, volunteers, sidewalk barbecues. It could have been chaos, but an aura of respect always seemed to keep order.

Today I was home when Facebook told me about the bombs.
Jenna was home as well and we spent the next few hours balancing playing with the baby, watching Desmond and searching for news.

The positives I've taken from today have been few, but significant. The power of social media has been astounding. I have gotten better, faster, more efficient information from Twitter and Facebook than from the network news. 
Patton Oswalt wrote a fantastic post that will thankfully be read and shared by thousands of his fans and individuals. I have seen instant and sincere shows of support without the pomp and circumstance (read purposeful terror, embellishment, and lack of any sort of decorum or ethics) from the networks.

That bring me to some of the negative.

We live in a tough world.

We live in quite possibly the best part of that tough world. Our problems are the price of gas for our cars or minor annoyances like traffic. The majority of the planet has real worries. You know what they are ... you have seen it in movies, flashes on the news, fly-by-night Facebook campaigns or maybe on a few placards on your college green.

The terror and sadness much of our country feels today after the devastating event at the finish line of the Marathon so many thousands have run and so many millions have enjoyed is the same terror and sadness much of the world lives with on a daily basis. When the special hour long ABC World News is opened with "Terror! In Boston." Spoken in the deepest most treacherous voice they could find in the bad movie voice over department there was no doubt they were trying to keep us scared. They are referencing the blood, the other national tragedies and bombings and making sure to spout off as many buzzwords about fear, pain, suffering, or terror as they can fit in.

I've felt sick all afternoon.
I felt sick after hearing about the bombs.
I felt sick after seeing photos and video footage.
I felt sick thinking of my students and friends who could have been in danger.
I felt sick remembering four years ago when Jenna and I were happily strolling around the finish line right around the three-hour mark of the marathon.
I felt sick reading the ignorant Facebook posts from friends and strangers already placing blame or assuring the unknown enemy of a swift and violent response.
I felt sick at how easily individuals turn to hate, racism, violence, and utter indecency in response to the same.

My heart broke as I watched my little girl laughing and playing with her mommy, completely unaware of the pains the world will bring her.

It's sad. 
All of it.
The action. Much of the response.
What it says about our world.

A lot of people asked the double-barreled (no pun intended) question, "What is our world coming to? Is nothing sacred?"

This has always been the world in which we live; today it's just a little closer than most.

Making things sacred are the reason they are targeted and the reason it hurts so bad when they are desecrated. Kevin Smith hasn't given us much lately, but he did give us Chris Rock's speech in Dogma about having ideas of faith over beliefs. People hold onto beliefs as if they are facts. They kill and die for them. Ideas can change; ideas, like people, are flexible and give way to conversation, growth, and adjustment.

None of the religions have it right. None of the countries have it right. Chances are if someone is telling you something is definitely one way over another, they have an agenda.

Our young people need to learn to think. Learn to question everything. Learn that the only thing that is going to separate them from the person next to them is their individual identity and unique thoughts. Learn how lucky we are to be where we are, but that this is not the greatest place in the world. America, like anyplace else, is terribly flawed because its people are flawed. I do not seek a remedy for that - I am looking for acceptance. If we all stopped making so many broad stroke assumptions or hate-based reactions…

Today is a sad day in my world because I spent so much time in Boston; the city and the marathon mean so much to me. Today is a sad day in my world because I have been so disappointed by so many people and formally respectable establishments.

I choose to swallow up all this anger, breathe through all this sadness and look at the details. When the first bomb went off on Boylston today it knocked an older gentleman running the race to his knees and on the ground. By now, most of you have seen that image and the following image of the man sitting in the street bleeding. You see the smoke, blood, wreckage and carnage. It is scary. It's okay to be scared and mad and sad ... but don't forget to notice the details. When that bomb went off and that man fell to the ground, a half a dozen individuals ran right to his side. They ran toward the smoke and noise and into the carnage.

These men and women aren't what is good about America or Boston or their religions or anything else. These men and women are the only hope possessed by humanity. Through all the filth, hate, destruction and muck, the bright light is our capacity for complete and utter selflessness. I truly believe it was in each and every one of us at some point. Some people have lost it through these tragedies, through bitterness, through selfishness, naivety and a need to separate themselves from thinking about the things in life that might make them feel something they can't control or understand. But even if it's gone, it is still around.

In your neighbor.

In a stranger.

In far-away countries we’ll never visit or understand.

We're a simple people easily, startled and easily swayed. Ask questions. If you must fight, fight to make it better. Fight to educate our children and each other. Fight against the urge to flee. Pick someone up when they are down. There are a lot more people in this flawed world who want to be good and live in peace than those who are evil and crave chaos.

I'm thinking of my friends, my family, my students, their loved ones, and I'm thinking of the energy radiating through Boston on Marathon Monday. I remember how great it is and how many lives have been changed because of it. A lot of people got hurt today ... a few even died. We don't know why and maybe we never will. I do know that running that race raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for strangers. Running that race changed the way hundreds of individuals viewed fitness and their lifestyle choices. Running that race honored the victims of another senseless American tragedy. There will be an asterisk next to Patriot Day and Marathon Monday from here on out, but if we do our job correctly, that asterisk will someday tell about the people whose lives changed for the better after a tragedy that has, sadly, become all-too common.

I really don't know if anything I wrote made sense. I do know when I started writing I was very sad. I was very angry after that and in all the stupid things I've done and been through in my life, one of the best things I've ever learned is how to work through that. Anger is consuming ... find the other side.
I'm finishing this post with hope for whomever reads this. We're a terrible species capable of so much good. I believe it is time to strive for that good rather than living in the shadows of the fear that surrounds us.

Note: Thank you Kris Young, one of the quickest and most poignant young men I know,  and Justin Schoenberger, one of the best writers I get to call a friend, for helping me post this.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Easter Updates

There is a whole bunch of stuff I hated below. I decided not to delete it so you can all bare witness to my self loathing when I write.Tell me that's not some shitty writing when you get there. You can't. It is.

I wanted some sort of motivation to re-address and review the reasons I started this blog, but even that wasn't coming along so I thought about giving up. I have been thinking of effort a lot lately. Writing things like this doesn't take much effort, but it does take time and some consideration. Having the baby and keeping the house and the dog and spending time with Jenna takes plenty of effort, and a ton of time, but that doesn't really count because it doesn't feel like effort it's just what I do and I love it.

What I've been thinking about is the effort it takes to truly grow and improve yourself. I've grown, continue to grow, learn something new every day when it comes to the baby girl and the love of my family, but, like I said all the effort that goes into that is effortless. I'm talking about getting better. I want to read. I want to write. I want to learn.

I hope this isn't just a silly way I feel that doesn't make any sense. That is terrifying, knowing you're the only person know feels or even understands feeling a certain way. (Is everyone sorta scared of that? I'll assume yes.) I hope somewhere, even if it's deep down, everyone wants to better themselves,  but everyone is burdened with everyday life or complacent or lazy or playing video games and never gets to it.

I want to get to it. I want to make it happen, and this is all part of it. As proof I am currently writing this (point) and just finished eating vegetables with hummus (healthy point).

Anyways, this thing is all over the place, as per usual. I'll just say, it's that time of year when more things are going on. The weather is changing, people are busy and excited for summer and it's the perfect time to make some changes. I'll be posting more and if I don't say mean things like, hey, you're a piece of shit. You said you were going to post more so you should. Don't be a liar, you have a kid, you're supposed to be a role model.

Plus, it can't get much worse, am I right?

Stay tuned.
Check out Letterboxd, I enjoy that.

I also sometimes live tweet what my friends are tweeting about on twitter, that's fun.


After a massively successful Easter I laid feeling absolutely terrible about what I had just ingested. 

At some point I think I started hallucinating. Then I had another hard boiled egg, a second piece of cake and started crying and realized I wanted to refocus a few things.

So, not only haven't I written nearly enough lately, but I feel a little professionally lost, so let me start there.

PREFACE: I absolutely love my job. I work in a constantly evolving office with phenomenal students and great co-workers... and here is the but. 

So I've been thinking I need to start refocusing on my personal development.

A few of my friends professionally use Twitter and have really thrived professionally through it. I tried. It's way more fun to follow comedians and Life Tweet My Friends while they're tweeting about other things.

I've been thinking of