The Middle Class is un-American

I read an article today saying that the phrase “the middle class” was only mentioned 3 times in the last Republican debate that inexplicably took place in front of Air Force One, which would be like the Pope giving his address in Washington this week in front of a decommissioned former Popemobile.

“can I catch a ride while the next guy’s on vacation?”

Imagine doing a job interview while standing in front of your dad’s first car.

Yes, it’s cool that the Reagan Library has the real Air Force One there. But you don’t see the President give a speech in the lobby of the National Archives to talk about the Second Amendment.

Mostly because it would give too much cover for a very broke Nicolas Cage to steal and later pawn the Declaration.

Do you know how much it costs to lease a fleet of Rolls-Royces?

watch out lady, nicolas cage might try to have sex with you!

Speaking of things that don’t matter to “the middle class”, the phrase was only said three…THREE times in the debate.

To be fair, that’s 3 more times than “the middle class” needed to be uttered. It’s said far too much and means far too little.

You know what hurts “the middle class”? Talking about “the middle class”.

I don’t want to talk about “the middle class”, or class in general. I don’t want to separate people into class. I don’t believe that to be a principle in line with the values of America. Our whole gig is not upward mobility – it’s the freedom to be upwardly mobile.

Or to not be!

Maybe you’re more concerned with your art than profiting from it.

Good!

You’re pursuing your American Dream – just like the guy staying extra hours at work to get a promotion to earn a manager’s salary by the end of the year.

The more you identify with a class, the more you give others the right to pigeonhole you in that class.

“We’re middle class”, “we’re lower-middle-class”, “we’re upper-middle-class”. You notice how rarely people try to claim that they’re lower class or upper class?

we laugh audibly at your poverty!

There’s a fear of identifying as poor or wealthy.

In fact, instead of “lower class” we use “working class”.

“We’re poor…but we’re working!”

Or the great “I come from a working class background”.

Nobody cops to coming from a “lazy non-working background”.

But looking at the welfare rolls, there’s gotta be a lot of lazy, non-working people to explain the stratospheric increase.

yeah but she can still get it

Like “middle class, “working class” is more of a Soviet idea than an American one.

We lionize an ideal of “middle-class”…why? So we create more taxpayers to subsidize more wasteful government projects?

If you want to work, work. If you don’t want to work, don’t work. We won’t subsidize you. If you can’t work, then we will subsidize you – but have a good reason for it.

Sounds a lot like school, right? We’re slowing down the smart kids to keep pace with the slower kids, we’re ignoring the slower kids because we have to move the whole class along, and everyone gets ignored as the train moves forward.

This isn’t how America is supposed to work. We created a new country to function with participation, not drone along like a complex machine that nobody quite understands how it works and is easily exploitable by anyone who’s clever enough.

When you look at the less-obvious internal versus the obvious reasons why the Soviet Union disintegrated, an ungovernable and unwieldy government combined with widespread and victimless, diffuse, endemic corruption are at the top of the list.

but you wouldn’t know it by their jaunty propaganda posters

One could argue that when government works effectively, it becomes far too susceptible for one person to control. But the real problem is that when it works ineffectively, it becomes far too easy for many people to exploit.

We’ve tried paying government workers more to lure them from the private sector. We’ve tried hiring a purposefully-diverse government workforce. All while blaming decentralization for inefficiencies.

When you have to wait for an answer from “the top”, that’s the largest inefficiency.

And is there anything less efficient than waiting for “answers” from a group of thirsties who want the top job?

except this guy, he’s fun

Is there anything more embarrassing than being lonely?

You sit there and swipe on your phone when you’re waiting for someone.

It’s a public place. You don’t want to look like someone just standing there. You look like a predator for chrissakes, just standing there, leering at fellow human beings.

This is why I’m never early anywhere. There’s nothing worse than watching the minutes pass while the person you’re waiting for isn’t there. What if they don’t show? Oh god, what if they don’t show and someone’s watching and you’re just standing there by yourself and you’re pacing by yourself, you’re waaaaaaiting on them, think of all the things you could be doing instead, you could’ve eaten something before you left the house, you could’ve checked to make sure the oven was off after you fried those mediocre eggs for breakfast, you could’ve taken a shower instead of spraying on some deodorant and hoping to god nobody notices you smell like garlic and desperation, you could be responding to the messages of all the people you’re ignoring, but no, you’re sitting here like some kind of schmuck waiting for the other person to show oh there they are only one minute late the bastards *HI HOW ARE YOU, HAVEN’T SEEN YOU IN FOREVER!*

Nah, I’d rather be late and build up a completely different kind of anxiety and sweat because I mis-timed how long it took to take a shower and make that quick bite to eat and actively avoid messages.

Cellphones that you can use as visible identifiers of being occupied with something are a pretty recent invention, however.

What did people do before that (i.e., Big Bang — 2009 AD)? Stare at their pocket watches? Read a newspaper standing up? Count goat droppings?

I’m convinced this is why mobile phones were invented — they give us SOMEthing to do when we’re out in public.

We don’t *really* need to reach people as quickly as buzzing their watch.

We don’t *actually* need to confirm something 7 times over.

And we don’t *quite* need to play Candy Crush in line at the bank.

We need something to fiddle with so we don’t look out of place and appear out of sorts and, most importantly of all, feel like a total loser for standing there without company.

There’s a certain pain in loneliness because it triggers a deep survival mechanism of “I’m alone, I am without my fellow species mates to defend me, I am vulnerable to attack”. Perhaps that’s why it triggers such pain, that pain is designed to be a catalyst to action. Which means you would usually respond to loneliness in one of three ways: fight it (immediately immerse yourself in people), fly from it (find a way to distract yourself from the crippling loneliness), or freeze (enter a depressed-like phase just feeling the loneliness and being unable to do anything really).

My reaction is usually the flight/freeze. I’ve occasionally fought it, but even that’s just a temporary solution to a deeper problem. Feeling people around you is not the solution and is, in this instance, simply an extension of the flight reaction.

The real solution is to find out why you’re lonely, and what you can do to fix this. Pro-tip: the easiest way to do this is to feel lonely at the time, and then the hard part comes in of having to overcome the fight/flight/freeze reactions.

Maybe it’s your fault.

Maybe you’ve been making life hard on other people around you.

Maybe you’ve made other people lonely.

Maybe you prefer being lonely more than you’d like to admit.

Maybe all those are wrong and you’re surrounded by not the best people.

Or maybe it’s a mix of a few of those.

Finding out why, and then executing a plan to fix it based on all the above (example: being more outgoing, making amends with the people you’ve made lonely, and surrounding yourself with better people who won’t make you lonely) is just going to bring an end to the loneliness that much quicker.

It’s not going to be easy and it will probably hurt. But you’re tough enough to handle it.

Just like you’re tough enough to stand in public, waiting for someone, without pulling your phone out of your pocket.

After all, people have been doing that for thousands of years. And the cumulative success of their survival is you.

And a bunch of other lonely people who feel exactly the same.

We will forget

On my previous WordPress, I wrote a small 9/11 tribute message that I’d refresh and repost every year:

“Seven Years Later”

Seven years later, and it still feels like yesterday.

The images of that morning will be forever seared into our memories.

Never has this generation seen such fear, such horror, such bravery, and such courage.

We must remember both the good and the evil from that day.

We must never forget that radical Islam attacked us on that day, and we must continue to fight the encroachment of such an evil ideology on all fronts.

We must never forget our ability as Americans to come together as we did in the hours, and days, and weeks following that September morning.

Seven years have passed, but the memories still remain. The families who lost loved ones that day are reminded every day of that fateful day. Those of us who pause once per year cannot forget those who pause as they awaken from their beds every morning, as they see that empty place at the dinner table every evening. We must always keep them in our prayers.

I would like to end with a quote by President Bush, something that he spoke poignantly today at the dedication of the remarkable memorial at the Pentagon, “On a day when buildings fell, heroes rose.” We will never forget.

It always brought it back home for me because it helped me remember what that day was like.

I remember my mom waking me up and showing me the television.

I remember teachers with bewildered expressions, trying to comfort and calm.

I remember adults all around me with more uncertainty, confusion, sadness, and loss than I’d ever seen.

When the adults don’t know what to do, how are kids supposed to?

say what you want about him — staying in the classroom to avoid frightening a roomful of children was the correct choice

It brought politics to the forefront for me. I’d previously been insulated in the worlds of science, writing, art, and dismissed politics as just useless back-and-forth.

But then I saw something happen that threw every rule book out of the window.

People came together on an unprecedented scale.

The worldwide outpouring of grief and comfort was enormous.

Stories like the Masai tribe that sent a gift of cows to the United States are particularly touching.

9/11 made us see that grief and comfort are a part of the human experience.

Beneath everything — hatred, violence, bitterness, division — there’s a small but strong fiber of goodness.

Maybe it’s shared survival — the hope that kindness spread will be kindness returned which benefits all — but it’s still goodness.

9/11 also showed us that evil is a universal part of the human experience as well. That battling with that sense of goodness is unspeakable evil, callousness, cruelty, that had just taken another form: Islamic extremism.  And that evil comes from a sense of survival just like good — the sense that the only way you can survive is by brutally harming others.

The thing that scared us the most about 9/11 was the fact that no matter how advanced we become, that battle between good and evil will always be a part of us as humans.

People in the most advanced office building, pursuing a completely civilized existence, could be taken out by people who had experienced a completely different sense of modernity, using technology as a tool for evil instead of good.

Perhaps some day we’ll be supplanted by artificial intelligence that won’t be good or evil, just neutral, in a goal to sublimate humanity past notions of good and evil.

Perhaps that day will come in this century, when human-created artificial intelligence reaches a second-generation of artificial intelligence that creates itself — to completely remove it from the boundaries of human control.

Perhaps that’s the only way we could completely prevent another 9/11 — when we remove humans completely from the equation in being able to determine our fate.

For there will always be evil, and there will always be another 9/11, and it will come when and where we least expect it.

But to return to 9/11 itself: I just realized that it’s been 14 years since 9/11 this year.

That means that the kids who are freshmen starting high school were born the year 9/11 happened.

It also means that the seniors who graduated high school this year likely have no memory of that horrible day.

By the end of this decade, you’ll have college graduates who have no memory of 9/11.

What does this mean?

It means the first-hand memories of that day are aging along with those who hold them.

This is not a bad thing.

Most of those memories are sharp, painful — from those who lost a loved one in the Towers, at the Pentagon, or on Flight 93. Our brains are not designed to fully digest traumatic memories, but to pass them.

The argument has been made that truly evil acts come from those with traumatic memories of evil being perpetuated upon them. And that may be the case in some instances, but something about that day seems to not fit that description.

After all, the hijackers were by no means poor nor actually victimized. They were driven by an ideology that told them to kill — apparently an ideology that also looked another way when they were living it up in Vegas with booze and hookers just hours before the attacks. Is it really about the 72 virgins when you’re getting action a couple nights earlier?

It wasn’t for some kind of evil supervillain profit either — after all, how can you profit on the kingdom of Earth when your goal is to exit it?

The writings of Sayyid Qutb have been said to influence the Muslim Brotherhood, and later, al-Qaeda. Many are surprised to hear that this Islamic “scholar” studied in the US, living in the town of Greeley, CO in the late 1940s. He observed church gatherings and dances through an incredibly distorted lens, denouncing Americans as immoral. This was his description of women in 1949 (i.e. your grandmothers):

The American girl is well acquainted with her body’s seductive capacity. She knows it lies in the face, and in expressive eyes, and thirsty lips. She knows seductiveness lies in the round breasts, the full buttocks, and in the shapely thighs, sleek legs — and she shows all this and does not hide it.

No wonder the burqa is coming back into fashion in the Islamic world.

They danced to the tunes of the gramophone, and the dance floor was replete with tapping feet, enticing legs, arms wrapped around waists, lips pressed to lips, and chests pressed to chests. The atmosphere was full of desire…

That’s quite a stretch for a church dance to “Baby It’s Cold Outside” in a dry city 100 miles north of Denver during the late-40s.

I guess you can say that they “hate us for our freedom” then, although judging by the receipts from the hijackers, they certainly indulged in the freedom quite a bit while they were here.

Maybe simple jealousy was the cause — but can it really be that simple?

I’ve referred to extremist Islam before as a “sex-obsessed death cult” because when you look at the base instincts behind these horrific acts, it’s true.

The infliction of trauma across decades and generations can probably cause someone to go absolutely crazy down the line.

That’s memory being used for the purposes of evil — using it to inflict harm on those that follow, instead of helping the next generation actually understand.

True memories of hurt don’t pass many generations along.  At some point they have to be exaggerated, falsified, magnified to still hold resonance.

It’s why one hurricane that hits a tribe can hundreds of years later be remembered as a great bird that came from the sky to punish them for their evil acts.

It’s why one simple disagreement with a neighboring tribe can become a generations-long blood feud.

That having been said — our culture will forget the painful memories of 9/11 as years and anniversaries pass.  It holds incredible historical weight as the first truly global, simultaneously-experienced tragedy in human history.

But we’ll forget the pain, the shock, the fear, the sadness.

That’s ok — as long as we never forget the cause.

Guess what? Your pursuit of experiences is ruining your life

Millennials disgust me.

I grit at them like a Clint Eastwood gif.

Partially because I felt like one once.

I know it’s hard to believe by my youthful, radiant complexion, but I *lived* through the 90s.

I remember unfettered optimism.

I remember Scholastic book fairs, drinking Squeez-its and watching Wishbone.

note to future hooker: my likely fetishes start with the listed above. If you can flash me a few foil Pokemon cards I’ll tip you extra

As tempting as it sounds, trying to create that now is making millennials absolutely miserable.

Why?

The number one life value of the millennial is “experiences”.

They’re bought, sold, and bartered like spices in the Renaissance.

this was the Birkin of the Middle Ages

And like said spices (was the mutton THAT bad in the 1450s?!) they’re willing to cross dangerous waters on shoestring budgets to acquire these “experiences”.

Every travel Instagram (#hotdogsorlegs #legscuztheresnofoodhereduh #LoveMogadishu) is no different from what Vasco da Gama would’ve photographed 5 centuries ago.

i’m gonna call bulls*t on that #nofilter dude

Nobody Instagrams their depleted bank account or horrible diarrhea. That’s for Snapchat.

By that same token, da Gama wouldn’t have Instagrammed the empty treasure chests and violent scurvy.

There’d absolutely be lots of selfies, inebriation, sunsets, and beaches. Humans haven’t evolved much since the Mona Lisa.

The “Living the Experience Life” voyeurism is reminiscent of the Victorian-era travel craze and 50s-60s family vacations, but dark. Whereas those were an indication of having reached some status and comfortability in life and being able to afford leisure, Millennials are putting the leisure before the work, creating more work after the leisure than if they did the work in the first place.

Millennials aren’t completely to blame.

They’ve been sold a false bill of goods since birth.

Remember when movies were an “escape” and nobody took them seriously?

People treat them as *real* now. Experiences are just the real-life versions of movie adventures.

Let’s use “The Road to El Dorado” as an example of saccharine, over-designed 90s film.

“someone watched us!”

Here you have two main characters looking for the City of Gold, and finding love and other crap along the way.

They didn’t know this was an “adventure”. They simply were seeking gold. If they could’ve found the gold without crossing a river full of piranhas, they would’ve chosen that option, as would any sane person.

The problem is that millennials are treating their journeys as the gold in the equation, which is completely foolish.

You’re supposed to look at The Journey as The Gold *AFTER* the adventure. That’s the whole point. You can’t go into the adventure knowing it’s an adventure. Why is everyone trying to break the fourth wall on their own life?

After all – life has setbacks and challenges – otherwise, it wouldn’t be life!

Now, we’re so detached from reality we’re having to create false realities.

There’s nothing challenging about modern suburban life, unless the maid shows up late and you have to have the uncomfortable Spanglish conversation with her that she’s only getting $40 this week.

But there is a challenge in backpacking through India. It’s an “experience”, despite the fact you can get the previously-mentioned horrible diarrhea at your local Indian restaurant that you can in Uttar Pradesh.

Here’s a textbook example of the millennial fetishization of “experience” (look for future hookers to offer “Instagram travel companion” as the new “girlfriend experience”).

A couple with decent, steady jobs quit their jobs and decide to travel worldwide.

Sounds expensive. They patiently saved about $10k beforehand for flights, meals, and rooms, right?

NOAP.

They dove in headfirst *on purpose*, and are now picking up sh*t to fund their shoestring strip through the world.

quick!  do “slave laborer” pose!

Does it count as a vacation if you’re spending most of the day scrubbing kitchen floors in the 3rd-world country with a toothbrush instead of walking through a museum and relaxing on the beach?

Of course not.

You’re doing some weird Orientalist wet dream where you drop in poor, live as a local for a few days, then ride the next train out of there “for the experience”.

It would be like someone born and raised in Santa Monica moving to West Virginia for a week, taking a job washing dishes at a local diner, then flying back home.

why it’s practically Nighthawks!

The West Virginians would be pissed, because not only did you not spend any money there to help the local economy, you temporarily took a job away from a high school kid who wants to earn a few dollars so he can get to Santa Monica.

Experience tourism is far more damaging than luxury tourism. If the Dominican Republic focused on experience tourism, it would begin to resemble Haiti more than the Bahamas.

separated by a giant chasm in the earth!

You can’t blame Millennials for the great “experience” lie, however.

You can, however, blame Baby Boomers.

These people all climbed in vans to go to Woodstock, follow bands around the country, packed up to go to California in search of “experience”.

They had everything. They had stable suburban lives, parents who loved them, great job opportunities, and they threw it away to have regrettable acid-fueled orgies in the back of dingy Microbuses.

you can almost hear the creaky slide of a window as a hoarse voice says “let’s not turn this rape…into a murder”

Although most didn’t. THAT was the aspirational goal.

The 60s and 70s could have been more like the 80s and 90s if this generation didn’t pursue fake “experiences”. We could have been living in the 50s-predicted hyper-automated future of flying cars if promising college grads didn’t decide to pursue narcissistic self-enlightenment instead of doing something to improve humanity as a whole — ironic considering their stated goals were to help build communities.

the only thing they couldn’t predict was traffic

We’re still feeling the effects of this deleterious culture on society today. We don’t have a space program because they didn’t work hard enough to become physicists. We’re devoid of cures for cancers and other infectious disease because they sat out for a generation instead of becoming doctors and scientists. The page of “To Kill A Mockingbird” used to roll a joint instead of read could’ve led to hundreds more “Great American Novels” — instead we have to deal with crap like Infinite Jest.

spoiler alert

Millennials are not like hardworking Generation X who had to live as the battered children of this narcissistic, “experience-seeking” ambition. They grew up to idolize it. Miley’s parading around a stage with a weed leaf bra because she thinks it’s cool. She’s not counterculture, she *is* the culture.

“it’s sexy because it’s NOT sexy because it’s sexy, see?” –some fifteenth-wave feminist rn

What Millennials don’t understand about Baby Boomers is that they had to work *hard* to achieve their lazy, drug-seeking lifestyles. Scoring drugs was not as easy as texting that guy you met at a party, it meant actually walking to meet with someone in a stinky one-bedroom flat in Hell’s Kitchen and having to listen to 2 hours of the same Grateful Dead record you pretended to like so he’d just give you the damn hash already.

Of course, Baby Boomers are the same generation who had a hard-on for the “college experience”, hammering it into the heads of the Millennial generation who treats it as some rite of passage that it’s not.

The same Baby Boomers are now professors and administrators whose salaries rely totally on your Millennial child being fed the line of bullsh*t from an early age that, without a college degree, and more importantly, the “college experience”, they’re a bunch of handicapped babies trying to enter the race of adulthood on a motorized wheelchair stuck in neutral.

as per usual, I’m Cartman peering at this just off-screen and plotting

The correlation between Debt Culture and Experience Culture is staggering. Real life experiences generally don’t cost money, although if they do, they usually come with a lesson to spend money more wisely next time. Faux “experiences” like unnecessary college and experience travel cost a great deal of money for staggeringly little reward or the equipment to pay off those experiences when you’re past them.

What else are people doing “for the experience”? Well, travel is costly, so now you’re beginning to see a slew of idiotic ideas like “I stripped…for the experience”.

there’s a lot going on here

Life is not a giant Jezebel thinkpiece.

We’ve completely discounted our abilities of reason and common sense.

Let me guess: your feet hurt every night, most guys were respectful but there were a few creeps, you gained some canned insight about feminism, you have a newfound respect for women who “choose” to do this.

Or you could’ve guessed all that beforehand.

It’s unfair to “Kayla” who’s stripping to afford to move out to California for a job while you’re playing dress up in her job for an “experience”.

Her grandchildren will probably be proud of and impressed by her for doing work she didn’t want to do so they can live in a nice house with in the Hills.

Yours will laugh at and be embarrassed by you when you show your holoslides of Snapchats where you convince a lonely Baby Boomer to buy a bottle of champagne before you sit on his lap…for the experience.

Republican Debate One – Liveblog

It’s time for a presidential debate!

*sigh*

Why is 2015 here already? Wasn’t it just 2012? Why do we have to do this crap all over again?

I used to like debates.  I used to like the fact that we could watch people actually go in-depth with issues and maybe, MAYBE…learn something.

But that doesn’t happen anymore.

It’s a couple of talking points and some boasts here in there and then we all have to sit around and pretend like we like this people better or worse based on their ability to bark out answers like dogs.

Dystopia aside, here’s my liveblog of this terrible event.

**I started late because I couldn’t get a halfazz decent liveblog feature going because the Fox one shut down, but thank goodness for

6:21 KASICH tie down his arms, he’s waving around like one of those inflatable car lot guys

6:25 TRUMP: “if it weren’t for me, you wouldn’t be talking about illegal immigration” he’s right you now

Each of these questions is carefully designed to bring out the worst moment of someone’s recent past that most people hit them over the head with and that’s smart.

6:34 CRUZ said “Washington Cartel”.  Drink.

6:36 MEGYN KELLY has makeup turned up to 11.  My God.  One more lash of mascara and she looks like a drag queen.

6:36 CHRISTIE “I was appointed attorney general September 10, 2001” CONSPIRACY *rings bell repeatedly

6:37 PAUL needs to take the volume down about 3 tones

CHRISTIE needs to go over and give PAUL a suplex

PAUL: “you gave Obama a hug!”

CHRISTIE “the hugs that I remember are the hugs I gave to families on September 11th”

CHRISTIE +1

6:40 CRUZ “Radical. Islamic. Terrorism.” was the worst of the Mission Impossible franchises imho

6:42 BUSH “knowing what we know now” is the stupidest thing you could say. You don’t back down from Iraq.  Your answer is weak.  You are weak.

“I called every one of them.  Every one of them I could find” –a few veteran’s families specifically hid from being called apparently.

6:44 CARSON sounds a lot less confident than when he has prepared remarks.  He sounds like he’s breaking a cancer diagnosis every single time.

6:50 TRUMP “I gave to Hillary and she came to my wedding” heheh that was good.

6:50 HUCKABEE needs to use a little Just for Men…

*side note: THIS LIVESTREAM SUCKS EVERYTHING IS HORRIBLE* now back to your regular broadcasting

6:52 BUSH completely sidesteps the Common Core question talking about education in general.  Desperate.

6:53 RUBIO has enormous ears.  “Huge”, says Trump.

*commercial break*

Harlan Ullman, Senior Advisor of the Atlantic Council (whatever/whomever that is) is providing terrible advice via a sketchy Skype connection to the Sky News anchor.  This is the best we can do?  All he’s doing is moaning about “gotcha” questions.

7:00 I miss Herman Cain.

7:01 KASICH talking about balancing budgets.  Smart.  It’s his strength.

He also joins “America” with “miracle” to make “Amiracle”.

7:01 CARSON “IF Hillary is the candidate, which I doubt” ooh, catty

cites the Alinsky model, who’s one of those blond Russian models during the late 70s, I believe

7:03 BUSH why can’t he talk? Why is he stammering so much?

7:04 WALKER just finally, at long last, had a pretty decent and lucid statement about the economy.  He’s monotone and a little dull, but substantively he’s ok.

7:05 HUCKABEE has one eye on the streets, the other eye on the moderator

7:07 CHRISTIE shows he’s also capable of making a lucid, sober-minded statement about the economy.

Fair tax is a broad tax on consumption or a consumptive tax on broads?  Hey-o!

HUCKABEE sounds like a good preacher again.

CHRISTIE calls HUCKABEE to the mat on the “cut Congress pension” point.  Good talking point, doesn’t do crap in the long run.

HUCKABEE talks about “prostitutes, pimps, and drug dealers”, which was the ill-received sequel to Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves”.

7:10 TRUMP finally responds to the bankruptcy question and raises a good point about how bankruptcy laws are used by many, many major corporations to their advantage.  Explains every company in Atlantic City went bankrupt.

7:13 RUBIO has a nice suit.

Mentions Dodd-Frank — now briefly explain what it is for the audience  (most people have no clue).

7:15 FIORINA responds intelligently to the Iran Deal question.  After listening to his answer, no wonder PERRY lost.

7:16 WALKER’s response about tying a yellow band around a tree was a good speech story, bad debate anecdote.

7:17 HUCKABEE’s popularity is in that “trust but verify, trust but vilify” dyad of commentary.  That right there.  That’s what makes him popular.  That’s it.

7:23 BUSH says he created a “culture of life” in his state.  I created a “culture of life” once when I spit in a petri dish.

7:24 RUBIO gives a decent abortion answer tying it back to the Constitution.

7:25 TRUMP responds at least logically to changing his positions over time.  Tie it to Reagan, personal experience, etc.

BUSH backs down from calling Trump an “a**hole”.  So why did you say it?

TRUMP: “we don’t have time for tone.  we have to go out and get the job done”.  that’s a great, great point.

7:29 KASICH “of course I would love [my gay daughter] and I would accept them,” good.  let’s end the conversation there.  the “how would you not support marriage if your daughter blah blah” stuff is so overwrought.

“God gives me unconditional love and I’m going to give it to my family and friends and people around me.” also well spoken.

WALKER says something about something, I don’t know, he fades into the wallpaper.  He looks like the Pokemon that evolves into Santorum.

7:36 TRUMP “I would say [Obama’s] incompetent but I won’t say that because it’s not nice.”

TRUMP agreeing with the shout from the audience is a highlight.

“If Iran was a stock right now you should buy it cuz it will quadruple” is the TRUMPiest statement ever uttered.

7:38 CRUZ has good words but sounds like a weenie.

7:40 CARSON is lovable but I’m falling asleep when he talks.

Fox pulled the debate from Sky News.  Owned by the same company.  Jesus.

CLOSING STATEMENTS

KASICH: I balanced the budget once.

CHRISTIE: My father was the first in his family to go to college.  I’m from Jersey.

RAND: I’ve been to many cities where black people live, end with slogan.

RUBIO: My family was born on the “island of Cuba” for you 7 people who didn’t know Cuba was an island, end with slogan.

CRUZ: Vote for me for Class President.  My father also left Cuba.

CARSON: I’m the only one to separate siamese twins. — yes he actually said that.  His half-a-brain line about Washington is the best one so far.  Where was this during the debate?

HUCKABEE: F*ck Trump, jk it’s about Hillary.

WALKER: I’m running for Class Treasurer.

BUSH: I don’t know when the primaries are.

TRUMP: “We can’t do anything right.”

I watched a man get shot by police and die

It’s one of those things you don’t really think will ever happen. You don’t expect to see a crazy person with a gun. You hear about it on the news or read about it on Buzzfeed (“12 Ways Your Monday Could Be Worse!”) but it’s never one of those things you think “oh, ya, today’s the day when something weird that I never forget is gonna go down”.

Today was one of those days.

It’s a Friday, and I was proud of myself for being relatively productive, or at least getting up early enough to get enough done (which doesn’t equal productivity, but it *feels* productive, dangit).

I was still behind on work and trying to catch up, so I slipped into one of my favorite Starbucks, the one in Studio City. It’s the same one where I saw Jane Lynch walk in, use the bathroom, and smile at me as she walked out. That was a neat moment.

Also it’s convenient, quiet, relatively clean, and all the baristas are nice.

I was talking to a cute Armenian-Persian girl next to me. I was still upset I wasn’t being more productive, but what the heck, I thought, I’m gonna get up and pee and come back and try to refocus on work to meet a deadline.

Within the approximately 1 minute 30 seconds I was in the restroom (it would’ve been less but I dribbled a little on my shorts and I was desperately trying to dry it up) a crazy homeless-looking guy started firing bullets in the air across the street. I didn’t hear them or see them. I walked out of the bathroom and saw everyone standing and congregating near the windows.

It was a spectacle all right. Four LAPD cars trained towards the Union Bank building and approximately seven officers with their guns drawn and pointing. I asked a few questions of the people next to me, and noticed that people started ducking near the condiment bar and behind the pastry display case.

We’re all across the street and directly behind large police vehicles with armed cops. We’re not really in any danger. Even if the gunman shot directly at us, he’d probably hit the top of the glass. I mapped out the trajectory in my head and it didn’t seem plausible. But of course, guns, so everyone was freaking out.

I walked closer to the window and asked a guy at the window to point out the shooter. I heard commotion and orders from the outside, perhaps it was the cops yelling at the guy to drop the gun.

And I saw the gunman. Overweight, probably mid-50s, homeless and disheveled looking dude sitting there holding what looked like the shape of a gun under a piece of paper, pointed back towards the street.

As I peered at him, I heard two shots…BLAM! BLAM!

The gunman immediately fell back.

He was hit.

He was dead.

I’ve never seen someone get killed before, or even get shot. It was surreal, but it was as one would expect. The closest thing I could liken it to is a video I saw awhile back of a man in India who stood atop a train and touched a live electrical wire, and was killed instantly. The loud “POP” sounds and him falling back, lifeless, were exactly what I experienced today.

I felt an immediate sense of relief, even as the officers still drew their guns at the man. The cops did the right thing. This guy had a gun that he was waving around and shooting. He could’ve hit one of my friends walking to Starbucks in the neighborhood. He could’ve hit me, who was weighing walking across to Chipotle minutes earlier.

I don’t know what came over me, but at that moment I was Zen with everything going on. Logic, fear – everything fell into its appropriate slot. I knew a bullet probably wouldn’t cross the street diagonally, go through the glass, and hit us. Or even if it did, maybe it would hit me in the arm or the leg or something. It’s hard to describe, but I just…didn’t care. I knew I wasn’t going to die.

People started screaming, and ducked. Someone yelled to run away from the glass. I went back to my seat and started trying to focus on work again, while making sure the girls sitting around me were ok. There was no threat afterwards, the guy was dead and that was that.

Going to a gun range and learning how guns work while learning to hunt really helped me through this situation. The sound of gunfire isn’t unfamiliar to me, so I didn’t panic. I was equipped to understand the likelihood of getting shot having learned about angles and trajectories.

The barista, whose name I can’t recall but I’ll have to get at some point to include in here, went above and beyond in every sense of the word. She made sure the door was locked, kept people away from the glass, and comforted customers by offering to get them a drink. She also advised people to go when it was safe. Similarly, the cops who responded to the situation today acted appropriately. They made sure everyone was locked inside and safe in an intersection typically filled with pedestrians, families, and lots of traffic.

My number one regret is that I didn’t record the actual shooting. Of course, I didn’t know it was going to happen so it makes sense. I posted them on Twitter immediately, and I was inundated with requests from local stations like NBC and ABC to comment as a witness. I left the scene and spoke to NBC over the phone, then at NBC’s request, followed their news van to the far corner of Ventura because they wanted live reaction.

the thirst was, indeed, real

Then local radio. Then ABC, and CBS, and Reuters, and some NPR or something, and even Russia Today.

help me

Here’s the LA Times article featuring yours truly and a man who appears to be Wilford Brimley and, from reports, ushered people indoors at Chipotle (who knew Liberty Medical could make you a superhero?)

The media questioning was more surreal than the shooting itself. There was one point where I had multiple microphones shoved in my face and giving multiple interviews at once.

It made me immediately appreciate the job celebrity and political handlers do at press conferences. Thankfully, the reporters were polite and accommodating, and I got the chance to chat with them and the crew in-between live breaks. Reporters seem to form a kind of brotherhood, joking around with each other about which station is going to buy dinner because they have more funding. Imagine the opposite of the Anchorman fight scene. I also do not envy reporters or camera crew. They have to perform in dark and heavy clothing in the 90 degree afternoon sun.

I crossed the street to give my info to the police, and spoke with some of the other witnesses. A couple of guys younger than me were in Chipotle right next to the scene when it all went down. The officers offered to purchase Chipotle for them since they didn’t even get their food when everything went down. I spoke to a couple more reporters, fielded some responses on Twitter and Snapchat, responded to some texts from friends, and then spoke to the police detective on my way out who thanked me for cooperating.

The scene was still unbelievable.  6PM on a Friday evening on Laurel Canyon, and the street is completely blocked off.  An enormous thoroughfare that would usually be clogged with traffic was quiet and empty, a parking lot of police cars, fire trucks, ambulances, and news vans.

All in all, everyone perfectly performed their jobs. There aren’t many situations these days where I can say that. The cops responded quickly and neutralized the suspect. The baristas protected the customers and made sure they were taken care of. The reporters were courteous and did their best to get the story on the ground. And the detectives were professional and polite.

In retrospect, it seems like I was watching a movie the entire time. I was expecting some horrible dysfunction to happen at some point, because real life is fraught with horrible dysfunction. I remember it like a 3rd grader who remembers their weekend to share with the class – with great, specific, but completely rote detail.

 

Shame works! Here’s how

Let’s face it – we’re moving towards a society that seems to be forgoing manners.

Before I go full church lady on you, here’s an example: dogs at Starbucks.

It used to be on the odd occasion you’d see a clearly blind gentleman with a German Shepherd in a highlighter-bright vest that said “SERVICE ANIMAL” and you’d understand. This was an animal trained specifically for this purpose – to be this man’s eyes. It was also trained to function in crowds and be generally pleasant and well-behaved.

But now you can get an official-looking “SERVICE ANIMAL” vest on eBay and slap it on your flea-ridden pooch, granting you access anywhere. Bank? No problem. Deli counter? Bring him on in. Airplane? Of course!

The problem happened when the definition of “service dog” became “service animal” and “service” which used to mean “can’t see sh*t” to “emotional support” as well. Carrie Fisher started this trend because she was an addict of some sort and the dog was used for her therapy so it was like a sober coach that crapped with impunity.

I’d love to bring a lot of things for me with emotional support. I’d love to put my CA King bed on a dolly and wheel it with me everywhere. I’d feel emotionally-supported taking a nap in line at the Post Office. I’d be able to skip asking for phone numbers and get right down to business.

In fact, I’d bet a lot of folks would feel emotionally-supported bringing a concealed-carry gun into Starbucks, especially victims of assault or rape or someone with a stalker.

Between the service animal and the concealed-carry pistol, Starbucks only allows one (of course). If someone pulled a Lindt Chocolates and took people hostage at gunpoint I’d feel safer with a Beretta than a Bearded Collie, but what do I know?

Service animals are the new handicapped placards. Good intent, completely warped execution. It goes to show – when you allow special privileges through regulation, no matter how well-intentioned, they will be abused. Especially if the regulatory body is as slow-moving as the government. A man trying to sneak a cheaper beer on ladies’ night at a bar gets thrown out right away. A lazy Beverly Hills housewife could use a phony handicapped placard for years before anyone even noticed and she gets a meager ticket for it that’s still less than the parking meter and ticket fees she would’ve paid in the first place. One could extend the “special privileges” to a discussion of legal and illegal immigration too. A club with a sleeping bouncer would be packed over capacity in minutes with people who shouldn’t be there. And if the punishment was to walk people outside and tell them “you can’t be in here”, you won’t be surprised when they try to get back in.

What does this service animal insanity say about us? We have warped, selfish priorities. Adam Carolla has ranted similarly on the subject – how people view dogs as a narcissistic extension of themselves, how up until a few years ago most people would tie up their dogs outside, how as soon as “THIS IS A SERVICE DOG GET OUT OF MY WAY” became a legitimate excuse that was abused to no extent for bringing a whole menagerie of animals with you, EVERYWHERE.

So co me shocked when I saw a woman with a Pekingese in her arms at Starbucks, dangling the little turdmonster over the counter as I stood in line behind her.

The barista, who I know casually, started backing away from the register.

“I am deathly allergic to dogs”, she said, after taking the woman’s order. I lean in and told the woman she should take the dog outside where it belongs, and she scuttled outside, without a fight.

As the barista recovered from an itchy spell, I was expecting a cavalcade of complaining entitlement from Dog Lady (a word that rhymes with “itchy” comes to mind) but the shaming worked. Most people are the type of people who are “too afraid to say anything” but will quietly grumble when they see someone doing something wrong. I know because I’ve been one of those people. But lately the voice in my head that says “SAY something this is CLEARLY wrong” has been louder than the “shhHHHhhhshhh don’t say anything this complete stranger will disapprove of you” voice. And guess what? It kept the barista from having an allergic reaction and having to run away from the register.

Assertiveness saves lives.

And shaming works.

They killed my people

Armenians gather around the world to recognize the Armenian Genocide today, April 24th. Today, on April 24 1915, Armenian intellectuals were banished from the city of Constantinople, which is modern-day Istanbul, Turkey.

Approximately 1.5 million Armenians were brutally and systematically slaughtered by the Sultan and Young Turks of the Ottoman Empire, in what is considered to be the first genocide of the 20th century and one of history’s most calculatedly evil acts.

this was AD.  just 100 years ago.

The Genocide, in fact, was used as a model for the Holocaust just two decades later. Hitler himself was said to have remarked on the subject.

We are a diaspora community. Because of the killing of our people, we were forced to spread to cities and countries across the world, including France and the United States.

A note:

Out of every photo I’ve posted, this one devastated me the most.  

The phrase, “starving Armenians”, came from the Genocide, when so many generous Americans and Europeans donated money and provisions to feed young Armenians who were left orphaned and to die.

What devastates me the most is that this photo of little Shushan looks exactly like my mother when she was that age.  And that my mother’s grandmother fled with everything she had, from a land where little Shushans and Anis and Armens starved, to a giving land where my grandfather and my mother could be born.  To think of what my great-grandmothers thought when she saw my mother as a young girl, as Shushan, haunts me.

My ancestors were forced to flee their homeland and the only lives they knew. They entered the US through Boston and Canada to escape, changing their names in the event they were hunted down. They assimilated to American society, and started a new life in this land of opportunity.

They told the stories of the relatives they left behind knowing they’d never see again. Of ancient cities obliterated by an evil force, seeking to extinguish all things Armenian and Christian from the land. They hoped — they prayed — they would be able to visit those left behind. They would earn money in this new land, sponsor them to come.

Most didn’t survive. It took another 70 years for some extended family to escape from the then-Soviet Armenia and join their brothers and sisters in this new land.

Hemingway referred to the “Lost Generation” as those who grew up during World War I, “lost” meaning “disillusioned, wandering”. Armenians had a real “Lost Generation” – a majority of our population wiped out, obliterated from the face of the earth. Their potential, their contributions to humanity that could have happened were lost to history – doctors, scientists, artists, intellectuals.

Families.

Children.

The camera had come into more common use during the early teens, and the pictures of that time are an indescribable horror. If you’ve ever seen photos out of Auschwitz or Bergen Belsen – you’ve seen these photographs.

Despite every atrocity, Armenians have survived. For thousands of years we lived on blessed land that allowed us to experience the best the world had to offer, between Europe and Asia. But that left us vulnerable to attacks from every ethnic group who went through that area. Persians. Seljuks. Mongols. Turkmen. Russians. Azeris.

No matter what, we survived.

We rebuilt.

We started life anew.

We are the first Christian nation, established over 1700 years ago, before Rome. It is a part of who we are, an indelible hallmark of our identity.

Today, we honor those who could not make the journey with us.  The martyrs who died for their beliefs, for who they were.

To this day, we face an incredible obstacle.

The current Islamist government of Turkey does not recognize that what they committed was genocide. That word, one word, is anathema to them. They lobby with extraordinary force for the US and other governments to not recognize the Genocide.

Germany owns their crimes in full. It is a crime in Germany to promote Nazi ideals.

In Turkey, it’s celebrated. As this country seeks to enter the European Union and become a part of the civilized world, we must take pause. They are engaging in an ugly and systematic campaign of genocide denial. They are holding our American troops stationed in the country hostage, threatening to withdraw support and remove them from their base if we don’t comply to their terroristic demands.

It is a great shame that our country still cannot recognize the Genocide for what it was. That we must talk like children in euphemisms because a regional power puts the lives of our brave men and women on the line. It’s not an easy decision for those in our government to make. But the right decision always becomes immediately clear in the eyes of history.

So many have worked so hard to raise awareness for our cause. Of special renown in recent times is the Kardashian family, who traveled to Armenia and have rallied faithfully to have the Genocide recognized. They didn’t have to. They chose to.

It goes to show that support in times of need can come from the most unlikely places. It’s a lesson I’ve seen play out in my own life, and it’s one I hope to spread to others through mine.

On a day like today, we remember. We never forget.

In high school, I wrote a poem about the Genocide which was reproduced and which my parents proudly shared. I’m recalling it from memory here, with a few tweaks from the past decade.

Few remember that time

Horrible as it was

The pain, the suffering, the consternation

The screams that cry out of from a hellscape between life and death

One point five million lives extinguished

One point five million lives lost

Banished from this earth

Unrecognized by history

Forgotten to most

Forced to leave their homes, their every possession

Marched through the valley, of the shadow, of death

An identity reduced to a statistic

A century forward, the killers remain

Proud, arrogant, selfish

A paragon of evil in this world

The old ones remember

But there are so few old ones left

And the young ones don’t know

But let me tell you a story

From one generation, to the next

Let us always remember

Let us never forget

The millions of fears

The one hundred years

The sea of tears

My child dear

About Bobby Kristina

As I sit here watching the reports of Bobbi Kristina, Whitney Houston’s daughter, being taken into the hospital after being found unconscious in the bathtub, I can’t help but well up with tears.

It’s a sadness that’s unexplainable.

At once, I remember how I received the news about her mother being found the same way at the Beverly Hilton almost three years ago today.

I had the same reaction. I wanted to know more. I scoured every site for details, refreshed Twitter obsessively.

At that point, my mind flashed back to pressing the “replay” button on my mom’s car stereo every time “I Will Always Love You” came on.

How she hit those notes.

My God, how she hit those notes.

My mind would fast forward to the days after my mom slipped into a coma after her stroke. I would listen to that song and I wouldn’t make it to the end without crying. I still can’t.

The bond between a mother and child is one that can never be replicated or fully described. You come from this person. This person is everything to you — your protector, your incubator, your nutrient source, your entertainment, your world.

To have that person taken from you when you still have so much more to learn from them is devastating. It’s not so much wanting them to be there for the events in your life. It’s thinking about the laughs you miss, the shared moments that won’t happen, the times when life will throw you curveballs that you won’t be able to catch and you just want to run, you want to run away from everything and to that one person who you know will have a kind word, a warm hug, and will provide the reality-steeped perspective you need to weather the storm.

I remember later that day when we lost Whitney when Bobbi was taken in because she was suicidal.

I don’t fault her. Shock makes that happen to people.

For all intensive purposes, Bobbi appeared to be Whitney’s best friend. She was the only one who wasn’t in it for the money, or the namedropping, or to be the hanger-on.

She was the only one Whitney called ‘daughter’ and the only daughter who called Whitney ‘mom’.

When I heard the news this morning, my mind flashed through all the rumors I’ve heard and read the past few years about Bobbi’s out-of-control drug use. How she is spiraling down the same path her mom did. How she

February 11, 2012, the day we lost Whitney, also became the day that we were tasked with one thing: take care of Bobbi. Don’t let her story end the same way her mom’s did. Her dad has his problems. Her grandma is trying her best. But for God’s sake, don’t let her end up the same as her mom.

We’ve failed.

Of course she’s an adult. Of course she’s capable of making her own decisions. Of course we have to take care of our own and not worry about others.

But she’s one of our own. Her mother’s voice made so many important moments of our lives memorable: weddings, funerals, love, heartbreak.

We owe it to her mother’s memory to take care of the daughter she left us with, the daughter she loved so much.

What is our relationship with celebrity, anyway?

We treat them like zoo animals. We watch them incessantly, gawk at them, follow them, treat their every creation like a parent placing their child’s artwork on their fridge. We pay them, we get to know everything about them, we speculate on them, we send them letters and well-wishes, they become a part of a strange, disconnected extended family. We identify them, when we meet them we tell them how much what they do affects us.

We do everything but take care of them, and even that’s not true. We give them money. We pay the bills, keep the lights on, keep their kids in school.

So why don’t we try to help them?

These are people. They’re people just like us. They have their faults, and their faults get pasted on billboards while ours at most leak out over a beer.

If we can crowdfund to support a celebrity’s movie project, why can’t we crowdfund to help a celebrity keep doing what they do? Why can’t we crowdfund their bills? Their expenses? Their therapy? Their sobriety?

Unions don’t take care of celebrities outside of giving them expensive health insurance plans. Studios and record companies don’t care, they’re replaceable. Managers and publicists don’t care, they get 10% regardless of outcome.

Why don’t we care?

We’re the end user. We get a product. We get the fruit of their gift.

We invite them into our homes at our choosing. There’s a reason the industry is called “entertainment”.

It will be a milestone when the first celebrity uses a crowdfunding platform or similar to fund their medical expenses, their rehab, or their therapy. When that happens, we’ll have broken down one of the last barriers that exists between celebrity and reality.

We may not like the results.  We may realize these people are people just like us and abandon them.

Or we may gain a special appreciation that they’re people just like us AND they have incredible talent.

Reports currently show that Bobbi Kristina is stable. Someone was watching over her.

Now it’s our turn.

Scabs, existentialism, and Welch’s Grape Juice

I once got a papercut as a kid. I shiver to think about it now and immediately recall that part of Jackass, the only part I had to fast forward through multiple times and out of all the times I’ve watched the movie, I’ve only seen it in its entirety twice and with my eyes open through its entirety once. I got a fun Band-Aid on it though, and then I started putting Band-Aids on everything. They were magic. You’d put them on top with some Neosporin and…voila! You were Iron Man.

As I would get more cuts from roughhousing or playing outside or riding my bike, I got more Band-Aids. So naturally I put them all over my toy robot, because if I was going to have Band-Aids then goddammit, so was he. This event made my mother worry and it was definitely a topic of discussion with the child psychologist.

In 1st grade I skinned my elbow on the playground. It was on the concrete and blood poured out like an oil spill. It stung a little, but it formed this amazing, beetle-like thing atop it – a scab. The scab was crunchy and if you poked it, it hurt. And if someone bumped into it rushing through the hallway, it bled all over again. It was tasty too, like sand, but that’s another discussion.

But it was a sign of my mortality in the same way the Band-Aid was a sign of my mortality. Cuts and bruises went from being “things that heal” to “things that heal with a scar” – and that scar is with you forever.

Mortality – well, more specifically – permanence that was not of my choice – was obsessively fascinating. And soon — horrifying.

I didn’t see the other car coming and neither did my mom when it turned in front of us. All I remember was the sound of the glass shattering and my mom being more angry and scared than I’d ever seen her in my life. The nightmares were unbearable. That’s another story for another day.

At that point, mortality went from “fascinating” to “devastating”. How does it happen? Can it happen that easily? Does it happen to all of us? Will I die?

It went from being a mere mental exercise of existentialism to a complete panic breakdown reallyfuckingquickly. Forget mid-life-crisis, this was an end-of-life crisis and I had barely reached mid-elementary-school. Is there a way to not die? Is there a way to have some sort of eternal life?

I started becoming intensely religious. I dusted off those children’s bibles and read it. I asked my mom to go to the religious book store. I had to read more. More Chicken Soup for the [insert demographic here]. Prayers every night. So many rules to learn. So many things to not do. I never cussed before because I knew it would piss off my mom. But now there was someone else telling me not to do it. My religious beliefs supplanted my relationship with my parents. They were mortal and flawed, but this was truth. Seeing them as flawed actually made me love them less. Why didn’t they give me a religious upbringing like other parents? Did they not love me?

I didn’t have a religious upbringing, and resentment began to grow from that. My mom went to Sunday School, my dad didn’t, and while my mom and I would pray and I knew right and wrong, it just seemed like a whole other world of really-happy people who were all having fun while I wasn’t. They weren’t depressed about dying. They weren’t obsessed over non-existence in this life. They were happy. They were joyful. And they had structure. I wanted all of that.

I started self-flagellating over everything I ever said or did. If I thought bad thoughts, I’d scold myself for it. I’d mutter “sorry” under my breath if I expressed an undesirable emotion. I was this kid sitting outside the cafeteria drinking a box of Welch’s Grape Juice and crunching the mental scabs that grew over my fears over and over again. I withdrew from other people and wanted to stay home more. The world wasn’t safe and it was full of evil and I was evil and home was safer and while other kids enjoyed sports I became terrified of getting hit too hard on the football field and dying.

Everything I wrote and did, every project had religious themes. I wanted to be saved. I had to make up for lost time where I didn’t have a religious education or upbringing. I needed to go to Heaven because – what if I died? What if I was ejected from my seat on the drive home? What if something happened to my parents and I lost one of them?

As I went from 6th grade into middle school, I just wanted to be home with my mom. I literally cried at school because I missed her. I was afraid of losing her. I was afraid of getting lost. I was at this scary place where kids got stabbed (thanks, “Pay It Forward”, you horrible goddamn movie) and things were changing too fast and I was a mess of churning fears and anxieties. Of course, just as I started to get over all that by 8th grade, my mom’s accident happened, in a car no less, so imagine your own private “Sum of All Fears” while being tied to a chair and unable to stop it.

I miss being a fearless kid because those obsessions of life and death and morality and religion still exist. I used to slide-tackle people in soccer and get scabs during recess and loved it. I was a thrill-seeker but a smart one and a moral one– not the bungee-jumping kind, but the kind who wouldn’t be afraid of a fight. The kind who would laugh at a papercut.