28 more

I slowly drove up the hill, navigating my car between parked vehicles on both sides of the road.  At the crest, I heard the NPR reporter announce, in a monotonous tone with which I’ve become so familiar, that at the top of the hour they would be giving an emergency report about the elementary school shooting.  My heart immediately sank to the pit of my stomach.  Another shooting.  Again.  I pulled over in front of my house, and sat in my car, engine quietly idling, staring blankly ahead.  

I waited the last few moments in silence, as the seconds turned to minutes, and the minutes finally turned into noon.  Please, I thought.  Don’t let this be a really bad one.  Which thought completely turned my stomach; as though there could ever be a shooting in an elementary school that wasn’t a really bad one.  

28 dead, they thought.  Mostly children.  Children.

I was awash with emotion.  I felt glued to my seat, incapable of moving.  The simultaneous dread, horror, heartache, and rage weighed down upon me like some impossibly heavy force.  I imagined this instant unbearable burden that we as a nation were suddenly and cruelly forced to endure upon our souls.  And I realized it was nothing as compared to what the people of Newtown were feeling.  And would be feeling.  And would forever feel.  The soul of Newtown had been destroyed.

My first reaction was to naturally think of gun control.  But very quickly, my racing, emotion driven thoughts strangely and solidly coalesced into one painful conclusion; this is our fault.  Sane people don’t shoot 20 children.  Somehow, as with millions of others in this country, we as a society have failed this young man who committed this despicable act.  And in failing this young man, we have sacrificed 20 young children upon the alter of indifference.   

We care when children are harmed.  We care when students are massacred.  We care when Congresswomen are near-fatally shot.  We care when triggers are squeezed, and fiery hot rounds explode through barrels seeking to pierce flesh, rend organs, and steal the lives from those we love.  Or don’t love.  From those we know.  Or strangers.  We care when tragedy strikes.  But in between mass killings, and as millions of mentally unhealthy people languish in jails, we turn a blind eye.  We worry more about self inflicted heart disease and diabetes, than mental illness over which people have no control.  

We wait for the next massacre.  

And then we do it again. And again.  And again.

When is enough, enough?  When will we wake up, and realize that mental health education is an  issue tantamount to physical healthcare?  That without more available care, we will continue to inundate our prisons with the mentally ill?  How many Newtown’s, and Littleton’s, and Virginia Tech’s, and Columbine’s must there be, before we take care of those who are most stigmatized and disadvantaged in our society?  

We owe it to these people to do better.  We owe it to ourselves to do better.  But most of all, we owe it to every single victim who has died by the hand of someone who fell through the gaping cracks in our mental healthcare system.  

We owe it to 20 first graders, and the 6 heros who loved, taught, and died with them.


The blackest of fridays

The existence of Black Friday and genocide convinces me of one of three things:  
either a) there is no god
b) god doesn't like anyone very much
or c) god is as bipolar and wrathful as evangelicals think he is

I must say, I hope for option c the least.  

As part of my "take back my life from crippling high interest debt" plan, I have been moonlighting as a Best Buy home theater "specialist."  I've always been cognizant of the horrors of Black Friday, in the same sense that I've been, via the media, aware of the hideousness of genocide.  Youtube videos of humans devolved into something worse than feral, pathetic animals, clawing and scraping and herding for some piece of shit something made in China, have always caused my stomach to writhe with loathing and disgust.  And I say worse than animals, because I've never known animals to trample other animals to death over some unnecessary frivolity.  And last time I checked, we are capable of moral cognition.  

Animals: 1  humans: 0

On Thursday night, I was finally able to experience first hand the moral genocide that is Black Friday.  

Thanks to glorious, holy consumerism, Black Friday has been slowly encroaching upon Thanksgiving. Which is the absolute epitome of contradictions.  And is probably testament to the devolution of Thanksgiving in and of itself, into a holiday which revolves around gluttony and football, rather than any sort of thanks giving.

So, I found myself at Best Buy, around 10:50 pm, having risen from a hasty nap, heart more full of dread than I recall ever experiencing in relation to a job.  As I walked quickly past the seething multitude of greedy humanity, I had this mantra on a loop in my head: "Don't get fired.  Don't get fired. Don't get fired.  It's just 12 hours.  Don't get fired.  Don't get fired.  Don't get fired....."

Upon arrival, I discovered that it was my duty to go out and hawk a 55" Samsung TV on sale for $799, to people waiting in the line.  Which is apparently what we were doing with most of our major door busters.  As I began wading amongst the throng, I discovered that the majority of people only really had interest in 1 thing; a 40" Toshiba on sale for like, $180, down from 5 or 600.  

Obviously, we only had like 23 of these, as they are merely a trap to lure thousands of idiots into the store, where they will proceed to give Besty like, a million dollars in a 24 hour period.

So as I'm freezing my ass off, grumpy as...a decent human being, torn away early from Thanksgiving with family, having to* freeze his ass off to help a bunch of greedy shittheads satiate their need to increase credit card debt, person after person is inquiring about this Toshiba.  And I continue to tell, person after person, that I don't know shit about it.

All along the line, people are literally about to come to blows over people cutting ahead.  Some woman grabs my arm, and angrily asks if I have the Toshiba.  In as oily a manner as I can manage, I say, "I sure don't.  It sold out.  SORRY."  And this woman proceeds to tell me how this is bullshit, and she has been waiting in line since 6 pm, and that next year, we need to have people out here by 4, making sure nobody cuts in line, because all of West Valley had cut in front of her.

Pardon the vulgarity, but this is where I was mentally, in that moment.

And I marveled, that this woman had the audacity to tell me that I should tell one of my superiors that several peoples' Thanksgivings needed to be cut short next year, so this manatee of a woman could get her grubby flippers on a discounted TV.  

And that was the theme and feel of the night; a store full of entitled shoppers, perplexed and choleric when they didn't get the exact deals they deserved.  I didn't get physically trampled by the stampede of human animals who burst through the doors like people fleeing machete wielding Hutus.  But my soul felt trampled.  

I like buying things.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't.  But I will never fight other humans for things.  I will never line up for hours in the cold on a holiday, for things.  I will never turn into a raging, angry lunatic over things.  I definitely lost some faith in humanity.

*I realize that "having to" is debatable, as I choose to do this job to get out of debt.  However, there are a lot of people that "have to" do this very thing, in order to survive.


Happy tears

I think it fair to say that most Americans, during this past election, were mainly concerned with economic issues.  I had democratic leaning friends who said they were voting for Romney based solely upon his economic qualifications.  Other people were planning on voting Obams because they felt like corporations as people/a tax code that favors the wealthy isn't a system that will do much good for average Americans.

Ultimately, my reasons for voting came down to social issues.  Eventually, I think, regardless of who is in office, the economy will right itself.  Now, depending upon who you are, "righting itself" may signify different things.  And in the end, I don't really care too much about those things.  But here is one poignant example as to why I give way more shits about social issues than about how many dollars are in my wallet at the end of the day.

As I arrived at school on that lovely Wednesday morning, after the [not so shocking] vote, I couldn't help but smile at the fact that finally, after an entire year, KSL's (a local news station) unmitigated raging Romney boner would finally be rendered flaccid.  Surely, the Lord, by this point, had wearied of all of the local prayers and supplications for Romney's triumphant ascendency to the presidency, so I'd imagine maybe he was smiling too.

I exited my vehicle, and took a deep breath, the crisp cool Erda air filling my lungs with the clean scents of a small town.  No smells of burning decay, despite America's proverbial death the night before.  Life would go on.  And as I contemplated this life, going on, I started attempting to formulate a way I could, (as much as possible) in an unbiased way discuss some of the election results with my class.  Because I was definitely pleased with the outcome.  But I suspected that I had at least one Mittens supporter in my first class, and so would have to choose my words carefully.  And that student aside, ethics require that I at least appear to be somewhat unbiased.

Class began, and the girls filed in.  Immediately, a few of them brought up the election.  After a few moments of discussion, it dawned on me that we had ended the previous class talking about the fact that homosexuality had been included in the DSM until the 70's, when it was shockingly discovered that homosexuals were no less mentally healthy than anybody else.  In this moment, I recalled reading that both Maryland and Maine had passed gay marriage initiatives by popular vote.

I said, "the President stayed the same.  The balance of power in congress largely remains unchanged.  But I think the most significant thing that occurred last night, was the fact that Maine and Maryland both legalized gay marriage, by popular vote, for the first time ever."  As I said this, I had my back turned to the class, because I was writing Maine and Maryland on the board.    I heard what sounded like a sob.  I turned around to see my transgendered student with her face buried in her hands, weeping tears of joy.

I said, "Wait...you didn't know yet?"
She said, "No, I hadn't heard if it had passed."

To add a little bit of context, this is a student from whom I had never previously observed any sort of emotional response—PERIOD—about anything.  And knowing that a majority of people, somewhere, even though far away, had collectively shouted "we don't know you, but we love you, we support you, and we do not fear you," was enough to shatter her emotional barriers.

There was almost a palpable feeling of love in the room, a feeling of pride.  A shared instant of enlightenment.  In that moment, we all knew that somewhere, despite the odious storm of political bullshit that we had all weathered over the previous months, America had done something right, something profound, something beautiful.  I spent the rest of the class desperately fighting back the happiest of tears.

This is why social issues mean something to me.

Because I will never see someone weep tears of joy over a tax break.

Because I will never see someone weep tears of joy over cheaper gasoline.

Because i will never see someone weep tears of joy over being able to purchase assault rifles.

Because I will never see someone weep tears of joy over invading one more oil rich country.

Because I will never see someone weep tears of joy over a government surplus.

Because things are just things.  We can all learn to be happy and survive with fewer things.

My President supports love.  My President supports equality in love.  Sorry 1%.  But I care about love, more than I care about your money.

I support my President.

Sorry orphans

I suppose November is as good a time as any to resurrect this blog, as though it were easter. Or a zombie apocalypse. Either of which is just as likely to occur, in any given November. My life has taken many an odd turn over the last couple of months. I sold my death trap, blew through 8 grand, got a roommate almost twice my age, started working at Best Buy, and lost a best friend.

 That probably requires some explanation.

 As summer drew nigh, the reality of crushing, crippling student debt began to stare me in the face, with its soul withering, 7.8% interest rate face. Which is something maybe not to dissimilar from what it would be like to wake up every morning, in the pre dawn glow, with Steven Tyler staring at you, inches away.   Nobody wants that.

 I began to contemplate what it would feel like to grab 9, 50 dollar bills every month, and set them on fire, in front of starving [insert random poor country] children. Or, better yet, the parents of those children. While setting some candy on fire in front of the children. Or if they have no concept of candy, like maybe a favorite rock, or a stick. Ah, I digress. Anyways, as one would suspect, that thought was much less appealing than the one Obama certainly feels when he is firing his money cannon into outer space, just for the hell of it, thus increasing our national debt.


 I began attempting to formulate a plan, which would render me financially solvent within a year. Which was one hell of a task, with 27k in graduate debt. Since I'm not very good at making methamphetamine, I thought maybe living in a trailer in someone's driveway for a year might be a good idea. Until I thought about it for like 6 or 5 minutes. Where would I empty the septic tank? Would I freeze to death? Would anyone I know allow a homeless human to occupy their driveway for a year? Would I ever manage more than a first date? WWZ[ombie][Wizard]JD?

 Before I had to really contemplate all of the many sad ramifications of living in a trailer, a wonderful, benevolent co-worker offered me a free room. Suddenly, this crazy-assed plan seemed less crazy-assed. All I needed to do then was find another job. And preferably one that wouldn't thrust me to the brink of alcoholism and/or suicide (or possibly suicide by alcohol), with poor tips from ingrate patrons.

 Turns out, having a master's degree was enough to get me hired at Best Buy, and so I was able to begin an exciting, illustrious part time career talking poors into buying enormous TV's they can't afford. Oh, the cognitive dissonance. And the utter paradox of working your ass off to get out of debt by working your ass off to convince others into acquiring frivolous debt.

 So I was living for free, and shooting a bi-weekly money cannon right into outer space. The first couple of $1000 payments sure felt really shitty. All I could think, was that $1000 is a lot of shoes and liquor. But eventually, I made a mental shift into hating the debt more than I hated lighting thousands of dollars worth of candy on fire in front of hideous orphans.

 I'd also been contemplating, for some time, decreasing the likelihood of ending up with a crinkled spine, and a severely diminished mental capacity, by selling my motorcycle. I couldn't help but think, over the last few months, that ending up as a wheeler with a damaged brain would put a severe damper on my life's goals. And, loading that money cannon with three and a half thousand dollars would sure feel great to launch into the dark abyss. So I sold it.

 And now, 2.5 months have passed, and I've managed to burn about 8000 candy bars in front of weeping orphans. And so, largely, life is pretty okay. I feel incredibly fortunate to be able to be in this position. I'm busier than I've ever been, I think. But I feel like I'm making real progress, and putting my life in a position where, in the not too distant future, the adventures and possibilities will be as endless as some metaphor that has a bunch of seemingly endless possibilities.


Today, i'm ashamed to be a utahan

This week, our beloved Utah State legislature has taken an enormous step towards state mandated head-sand-burial, by passing an archaic law that would forbid public schools from addressing sexual education from any angle other than from DON'T EVER DO IT EVER UNLESS YOU'RE MARRIED. Oh, and also mentioning in a class that homosexuality is a thing that some people do, would also lead to a burning death at a stake, surrounded by fiery torch wielding moral-champions from capitol hill.

I understand that, because most members of our state congress are part of a particular religion, that sometimes we are going to get laws that feel very theocratic. But really? This? THIS ONE?

Obstructive, obnoxious laws that make acquiring alcohol either more difficult, or more expensive for those responsible adults who wish to partake of said wicked, vile liquid, are one thing. That is a mere annoyance. Legislating policy that has vast, destructive, life-altering consequences for teens, and the state as a whole, is something on a totally different plane. A really, really embarrassing, unbelievably sad, how-in-God's-name-are-we-having-this-debate-in-2012 kind of plane.

Let me clarify something really important: there is nothing wrong with emphasizing teen abstinence as the best, surest, safest route to avoiding unwanted pregnancies and STD's. HOWEVER—and this is a really big, really important however—some kids are going to have sex anyways. They need to be informed that, should the unthinkable happen, and on prom night, little Bobby forgets that he has to pass the sacrament the next day, and Sarah forgets that she has to give the prayer in sacrament meeting, that MAYBE—just maybe—one of them will remember that "the girl on top can't get pregnant, because gravity saves the day" rumor was debunked in sex ed class. And maybe they will resort to dry humping (Levi-sex, zipper sparking, DFing, whatever the kids are calling it these days), as opposed to the real thing. Which everyone—the state tax payers, the Bishop, the parents, Bobby and Sarah, and all of the potential, unrealized Bobbys blown all over the inside of his pants—can be grateful for.

Rejecting abstinence-only education does NOT mean you support teenagers having all of the sex. It just means you care about the ones whose parents are too stupid or too afraid to explain that if a penis accidentally falls into a vagina, a baby/STD might get in there.

I understand that a lot of people worry about "some teachers injecting their morality into the lessons," and whatever. But how that is somehow worse than the entire STATE forcing a moral blanket to be wrapped around EVERYONE, is beyond my comprehension. I get it—some people don't want their kids learning about sex from a teacher. TOTALLY COOL. YOU CAN OPT OUT. But to bar sexual education from everyone, because some think that an "if we don't talk about it, it will all go away/wont exist" policy is best.

So...should we stop teaching about the effects of drugs in school? Oh no! If a kid hears about the existence of a particular drug, then he or she will DEFINITELY be more interested in using it! We better just pretend they don't exist, and if a student asks about them, say "Sorry. Just don't do them. That's all you need to know."

This bill WILL cause teen pregnancies to escalate. This will WILL foster the spread of STD's.

Let parents and churches teach teens what is moral and what isn't, involving sexuality. But let the schools educate teens about how all that stuff works, so just in case those kids end up accidentally following their natural urges, and have some brief moral lapses, they at least might not create babies, and spread around some really cool diseases.

I teach 15 year olds with children. Children, who have children. Contrary to what common sense dictates, being a teen parent doesn't really help them succeed in life. Many of these kids fall through the moral cracks, as well as the educational. PLEASE—let's not make the educational crack into a gaping pit, welcoming any and all who aren't lucky enough to have parents who give a shit.

Give Herbie a call, or shoot him an email, and let's help him make the responsible choice to veto this bill.
801-538-1000 or 800-705-2464,


That obama again!

If one were to listen to the likes of Sean Hannity, and other pundits, one would expect to see a photo on the evening news of Barak Houssein Obama, standing on the prow of a boat, angrily driving a gleaming harpoon into into the eye of a religious whale, à la Captain Ahab. Maybe that religious whale could be Newt Gengrich. I don't know. But whatever the image conjured, listening to the rhetoric, it was hard not to grab my bible and my gun, and seek out the nearest anti-government militia.

What Hannity et al were sensationalizing, and referring to as "Obama's latest assault on religion," was the Department of Health and Human services requiring most insurance plans to cover contraception. What they typically fail to mention, is that churches and places of worship are exempt. So don't worry Catholics; Obama isn't going to kick down the doors of your local cathedral, and force you by chest-bomb-and-turban-point to give any people you may employ, insurance provided spermacides or cervical sponges. You can continue on with your archaic notion that every sex act should result in a pregnancy.

What the religious right wants, in addition to church exemption (which singularly is totally their prerogative) is employer exemption. In other words, if I am a Catholic employer (or any other religion) and I think providing contraception (which, surprise, surprise, isn't exclusively used for preventing pregnancy, but also myriad other health uses) is wrong, I can dictate, on some level, my employees' access to such. This is no different than, say, a Jehovah's witness refusing to provide employees with an insurance plan that could cover a blood transfusion. Or an orthodox Jew refusing to use an insurance provider that will cover medical emergencies on Saturdays.

It just seems to me, that as an employer, you shouldn't get to force your moral values upon your employees. If you hate contraception—more power (and babies) to you. But why does this have to be considered an assault on religion? Why is EVERYTHING with the religious right an assault on SOMETHING? Gay marriage is an assault on marriage. This is an assault on Religion. Planned Parenthood is an assault on every baby who wanted to live, ever. The Obama presidency is an assault on the constitution. I just fail to see how giving someone the right to choose, is anti-religion.

Yes, people can still choose contraception without it being covered by insurance. But that is assuming they can afford it. I get the fact that, on some level, by you providing the insurance, you are sort of partially paying for it. But, simply by virtue of paying taxes, we pay for a lot of things we don't agree with. And you are also, by providing a paycheck, probably funding lots of things your employees do, with which you don't agree.

Providing insurance is part of a payment package. What the employee decides to do with that payment, should be up to the employee. Just like a paycheck.

Man, I didn't even get to Richard Santorum, stewardship, and the global warming hoax.


Hey guys. i'm still here.

Looks like I'm returning from my hiatus with one of the stupidest topics about which I've ever blogged.

Every time I buy a product that has some sort of a price tag on it, and upon peeling it off, I find that said shitty tag has left white sticky crap on the item, I can't help but be angry that some company, somewhere, is still making tags like that. And that whatever company from whom I purchased whatever thing, is using these asininely developed tags.

The thing I find most frustrating, is that there exist tags that don't even do that thing. The technology for a non-stick residue tag exists, but many companies choose the ones that take up to an assload of seconds to scrape off. Common IKEA, I didn't spend .49 cents on this plate to have to spend more cumulative seconds than the pennies that plate costs to scratch at a sticky spot like I don't live in the United States of America. It just seems like capitalism would have rendered hard to remove, overly viscous sticker producing companies obsolete. Slay those companies with the mighty sword of the free market, o' ye capitalism!

That compelling piece of blog fodder out of the way, I suppose an explanation of my absence is in order. Because I'm sure that all 120-something of you have been checking this blog every single day over the last however many months, wondering why I ceased to enrapture you with such thought provoking material. The truth is, I just sort of forgot I had a blog for a while.

I found that between working as a new teacher, and finishing grad school, doing anything on the interweb besides researching shit and ruining America by stealing music was less than appealing. Also, most of the times when I have had the itch to write something, it has concerned the abominable cesspool of a Republican primary process that has been occurring.

And it seems like those who read this (or who did) would probably tire pretty quickly of my Newt-Gengrich-is-a-fatuous-puerile-narcisistic-out-of-his-damned-mind-crooked-sonofabitch rants. Or maybe how Andrew Jackson was probably also referring to Native Americans when he said, "What do Americans do with our enemies? We kill them." Take that, women and children. Good one, Newt, you slimy tub of lard.

Or maybe how much I hope Richard Santorum will have the opportunity to eradicate the abomination that is contraception, that the earth may literally flood with all the babies that should have been conceived since people figured out how to have something other than just business sex. Or how much I hope that he can stop all the homosexuals from destroying marriage with their pledges of fidelity. Or how much better off we will be keeping those same homos from sullying uniforms and bullets with their infectious gay blood.

Or maybe how the one sane, rational, reasonable Republican candidate just dropped out and endorsed Romney. Or maybe about how I've never know a Rick that wasn't a douche.

Anyways, THAT'S WHY.