The Closest I Ever Came to Being Sexually Assaulted

It was the summer of 1992. I was nineteen years old, and had finished my first year of college. I was living near Ann Arbor, Michigan, staying with a friend and his family for the summer between school years.

Ann Arbor is a college town, so even in summer there was stuff to do. But we were under twenty-one, and broke (I had the worst job I ever had, that summer, or close to it, working for a moving company that required I wake up and call in at 7am to see if they had work for me that day; most days, they didn’t). But my friend was really into dancing — I liked it, too — so we would, once every week or two, splurge and pay the cover at a dance club in town. I want to say it was called Tangerine, or something like that.

The place was alright, as small-town dance clubs go. Not that I was particularly an aficionado. But I liked dancing, and I liked the at least notional chance of meeting women, so I was happy enough to go those nights we could scrape together the five bucks each the place cost.

Then, one night, I had to take a shit.

I didn’t want to do it there. The bathrooms were not the most sanitary and, worse, the stall doors had no locks. But as time passed and the pressure mounted, what I did and didn’t want mattered less and less. I couldn’t even leave the club to go find a more suitable spot, because I’d have had to pay cover again, and I had no money for that.

So I did what I had to do. What was the worst thing that could happen? Continue reading “The Closest I Ever Came to Being Sexually Assaulted”

When Someone Is Wrong on the Internet

I mean, you’re never going to change that asshole’s mind. Why bother engaging? Why roll the rock all the way to the top of the hill when you know it’s just going to roll right back down once you reach the top? You’d do better to conserve your passion and energy for something useful, like calling your Congressional representatives or digging a shelter to cache supplies for the coming post-Apocalyptic nightmare that will surely follow the decline and fall of the American Experiment.

And look, there probably are a hundred better things you can do with your time. And probably you should do them. I mean, we’re all going to die someday, which means our time is finite. Probably best we spend it doing positive things.

But you know what? There are some damn fine reasons to engage the shitheads, trolls, and wingnuts of the internet-o-sphere if you have the time, emotional bandwidth, and outrage to spare. So, in the spirit of, like, five years ago, let’s make a list, shall we? Continue reading “When Someone Is Wrong on the Internet”

The Lesser Evil

We’re starting trade wars with our friends, cozying up to brutal dictators, selling off public lands to extraction companies, giving tax relief to the ultra-wealthy, appointing hyper-conservative judges to the federal bench. We’re stripping away consumer protections, failing to do anything to stop gun violence, leaving millions of Americans with opioid and addiction issues to their own devices, starting trade wars with our allies. We’re separating asylum seekers from their families.

An adversarial regime has been waging informational warfare with us since 2015: we do nothing. Neo-nazis and white supremacists are coming out of the woodwork: some are called ‘good people,’ some of them win Republican primaries for federal office. Oh, and climate change? The looming emergency that might end the human race on which the clock is running out on doing anything in time to obviate the worst of it? Not only are we doing nothing, we are denying it’s a thing, and, in many cases, actively making it worse.

The con man/mafiosi/serial sexual assaulter currently occupying the White House is the most visible face of what’s happening, but let’s be clear: Donald Trump is just a symptom. He’s the devil taking his due from the Faustian bargain the Republican party made with America’s racist, sexist, gun-humping Id. Their policies can’t win on the merits, because they basically boil down to doing or saying whatever it takes to sell tax cuts for the 1%. But in order to do that, they’ve started what amounts to a cult, one that recognizes no limits on action, nor any legitimacy save their own.

They currently control all three branches of our government. The only checks and balances they operate under are intra-party squabbling and the batshit insanity of the Freedom Caucus. The only Republicans willing and able to call out the insanity are those who have chosen to retire. And even they haven’t demonstrated the courage to actually vote against even the worst items on the agenda. As for those trying to hold onto their seats, they’ve got no choice but to drink the Kool-Aid: Trump’s extremely popular with the Republican base, who vote in primaries and mid-terms and make their voices heard.

So, what’s to be done? Continue reading “The Lesser Evil”

Toxic Masculinity vs Depression

I knew something was wrong the moment my mom walked into my room. It wasn’t just that she was crying, though she was. In a moment I was crying, too, because it was my mom waking me up to go to school that morning. Which was not her job. My dad was the one who woke me up for school in the morning. The moment I laid eyes on my mom I knew: my dad finally left her.

I was in fifth grade. Not quite ten years old. It was the early ’80s, and I was very shortly to have the disctinction of being the first kid I knew whose parents got a divorce.

It wasn’t a surprise. Like I said, I knew right away what had happened. And to be honest, I can’t — and could not at the time — remember a time when my parents weren’t fighting. I didn’t know what they were fighting about, didn’t really even want to. It was just a thing that happened, and when it did I would go to my room and play with my toys or read a book or I’d go outside and ride my bike around the neighborhood or go knock on a friend’s door or one of the thousand other things kids did back in the days when parents weren’t expected to schedule and supervise their childrens’ entire existence.

That morning was the last time I cried about it.

Because like I knew what had happened the night before, I knew what was expected of me. What was expected of any boy who wasn’t girly or gay or soft or weak. No one had to tell me that boys don’t cry.

So I didn’t. I tamped that shit down, put on my game face, and went on a field trip to Sea World with the rest of my class. As I recall, my dad was one of our chaperones. I didn’t ask him what happened. I mean, it wasn’t like it was a surprise. The real surprise was it hadn’t happened sooner.

I remember being very proud of myself for being so mature.

It wasn’t long after that I started acting out. Continue reading “Toxic Masculinity vs Depression”

Fuck Depression

Depression is a thing that will fuck you up, no matter how well things are or seem to be going. It saps the foundations like termites, wears away self-esteem like your own personal, internalized gaslighter. It’s kicked my ass up, down, left, right, sideways, and diagonally, and I am a person routinely mistaken for strong. Depression is a cancer, a colonizer of the soul, dimmer of the spark and whisperer of bitterest nothings in your psyche’s ear. It wears you away, eats you away from the inside.

It is also, in some times and some cases, a perfectly rational and reasonable response to the world we live in, which seems to conspire to create misery for most so a few can accrue — if not always enjoy — prosperity and power and wealth.

So yes, be kind, because you never know what kind of struggle someone’s going through, and kindness costs nothing but pays the highest possible dividends. But as we mourn another dead celebrity, another had-it-all suicide, another loved one or friend or friend of a friend, let’s not just be kind.

Let’s resolve to build a world that makes people happy. That takes care of their needs and provides space and opportunity for them to flourish. That asks what they can give and gives more than they would ask. That takes the prosperity and progress we as a species have achieved — and can achieve — and sees to it everyone gets their share, and that no one gets left behind. No one falls through the cracks.

Let’s build a world that takes care of everybody, that lets everyone live their best, most productive, and happiest possible life, so we don’t have to lose these bright shining stars before their time anymore, and because, goddamit, it’s the right fucking thing to do.