Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Liquid



We live in a world of things
inescapably known to us,
or so we say:
things shiny and things loved,
things deep and things seen and all else between
synapses

Maybe, just perhaps, possibly, it could in fact be
Pope Francis, a leaf, the Philippines:
any noun that is relevant to
an Absurd existence – relevant
like a hot shower during
frigid winter

But I am relevant
We are relevant
Living, breathing things
that think on this
place called earth
in astounding space

Awe becomes a ripple
in the stream of thoughts

Consciousness is the serrated
edge of a knife's blade:
points of sharp clarity and
the great seas of the unknown
infiltrating,
pouring into
microscopic valleys . . .

Seas of blackness and fear, they are






 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Deficiency - Short Story


            I saw those tinfoil train cars enter at the station’s fourth platform. Tarnished, slightly clouded metal gleamed dully in the summer day. Scott was wearing dad’s hat; it displayed a Yankees logo that I noticed through the windows, partially eclipsed by whitish glares on the glass. We used to play baseball with dad when we lived at home and he was still alive, played catch on balmy nights in the outskirts of Queens. Mom and Dad owned another house in a rural area outside of Buffalo. Mom sold the house in Queens a few days back and made a call to a local moving company to help her move the rest of her belongings. 
            I wore the skirt mother gave me as I sat on the oaken bench. Orange silk fluttered in the wind, exposing sunburned skin from my vacation to Hawaii. I went for my friend’s bachelorette party while my boyfriend, Ryan, took care of our two dogs in the Manhattan apartment. He looked after them again while I visited Mom for a weekend to talk about the will. It was a time I’ve been dreading for a little while now. I put down my psychology book I started for my new class at Barnard. On the cover, Freud frowned with disapproval.  
            Scott exited the passenger car with only a backpack and metallic voices announced names from tags on stranded luggage. Even though he was younger, he was much taller than me – a couple inches shorter than Randy Johnson. I yelled his name and waved. I noticed a look of recognition on his youthful face when he looked up and saw me. He smiled and the shade from the baseball cap cast his face within a subtle shadow. “Long time no see, Katie,” he said in a drab manner. I gave him a respectful hug and we walked to the car.
On the way to Mom’s house, he told me how tired he was and how train rides made him tired and that all he could do was think about things. He thought about the stress at work with the new boss and unfair charges on his cable bill and an argument he had with Anna about visiting New York. “I even thought about Dad,” he said. We drove by a high-school marquee with black, dusty letters that announced a father/daughter outing at the end of the month. My mouth quivered. Scott turned on the radio just as Ichiro was hit by a pitch. 
We turned off the road and rode up the gravel driveway to the house. Weeds and wildflowers grew in uncontrolled frenzies across the lawn. The car tottered on little divots and tires crackled on the gravel driveway, granular white noise. I stepped out of the car and saw the powdery dust on the metal hubcaps. I opened the door and asked Scott to grab my book in the back seat. He gave me the dignified and superior look of a cult leader and shook his head, the bill of the hat cutting the air, and walked a few steps back to the car and took the book. I always hated that look. I remembered he gave me that look one time when we were in Sunday school class learning about how Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers. He gave me that look and I stuck my tongue out and Dad told me to stop. I felt sad when Dad told me that, incomplete. Scott reversed his hat - Dad’s hat, putting the bill backwards.
Rectangular stepping-stones led to the front door. Mom let us in and poured iced tea from a cheap dusty carafe and we tried to avoid the subject. Scott sat with left hand awkwardly palm down on the laminated tabletop, tapping his fingers while you could make out his fingerprints in the dust. There were little cobwebs lining the corners of the kitchen, stringy like strands of yarn. Wall tiles opaque from dull gray dust. I looked at Scott. He placed his head down on his hand and everything I perceived was dusty except for the hat. Mom swiped her ringed hand over the tabletop, garnet glistening. She inspected the grayish fur and a solemn demeanor overcame her. Subtle trembles in the lips; eyes watery. She turned to an old black and white picture of Dad on the wall next to the refrigerator, right next to a photo of Joe DiMaggio. When Dad was alive, she always kept the house clean. Tears like little rivers down her face.
            “I think it’s time to talk about Dad’s will,” Scott said after what seemed like eternal silence. Mom pulled some wheat crackers out of the cupboard and Colby-Jack from the refrigerator. I couldn’t tell if she didn’t hear him or was ignoring him. She pulled out a stainless steel knife and chopped thin slices of cheese. After a while, Mom brought the tray to the table and left the kitchen. I tried, in desperation, to find temporary and effective distractions from my insecurity: the emerald color of my fingernails, what my life would have been if I were a man, my job. My mind constantly searched for happy memories. I thought about the time when we all went to the Yankees game when they played the Red Sox last season. Dad smiling in his Jeter jersey and spitting peanut shells. Hoppy bites from India pale ales. Dad had season tickets and said he’d go to every game. He was so disappointed that he missed games while in hospice. Bought Scott that hat a week before he died on his birthday. My father loved baseball. It almost seemed like he was baseball. He used to joke about how he wanted us to engrave his name with the epitaph “Greatest Fan Who Ever Died.” 
Mom came back into the room and held a dusty metallic security box. I looked to Scott. He took off the navy blue hat and set it down on the table. I envied him. She sat back down and removed a tan piece of folded paper from the metallic confines. She held it up in front of her and I could see Dad’s writing emitting through the thin sheet. I was so nervous in that moment – when Mom lifted the paper closer to her cataract-stricken eyes. I needed him. To feel some kind of gratitude for me was all I ever yearned for. Something given, set aside for me that showed whatever sliver of love he had for me. Something like Scott’s hat: my father materialized. Something freely given; not something given out of obligation like all the other things in the past. She read the note. I leaned forward. Particles of dust floated where a small triangle of sunlight lingered. Scott’s leathery lips curved into a smile. I sat back, squinted my eyes and looked downward like somebody watching from the nosebleeds.  
~
On Sunday evening, we took Mom’s old Jeep to the church. It looked painted with dirt. When we entered the parking lot, I saw Gerald and Emilia Robinson. Emilia was an old friend of Mom’s. She wore wire-rimmed glasses and was immersed in a world of deafness. Her husband, Gerald, nicely dressed with his suit and an old pork pie hat, held her firm and led her to the front doors of the social hall. Scott sat grinning in the front passenger seat, excitedly tapping his fingers on his knees like someone who just won the lottery. I stared, depressed and heartbroken, at the distant water tower. 
When we entered the hall, Gerald waved to us, smiled, and tapped Emilia on the shoulder. She turned and looked at Gerald. He moved his hands like a warlock casting a spell. He gave her signs. Emilia looked at us and smiled warmly and Mom walked over to give her a hug.
We walked past a dusty crucifix made from driftwood at the front of the room, next to Dad’s picture and the microphone stand. I looked at his picture and winced. Long tables with metallic legs stood on the other side of the room in front of the kitchen. There was an old ink drawing of Noah right above the drinking fountain in the back. Skipper of the ark. Succulent smells of ham and cheeseburger sliders entered my nostrils. Mom and Scott sat down in two chairs in the front row and the usher politely motioned for me to take a seat beside them.
  Father William came to the microphone and held out his hands, motioning for us to rise. We all stood. Gerald took off his hat like someone about to hear the national anthem. Scott looked bored, Yankee’s hat welded to his head. I was a spectator to the game of life: a game where my brother and mother inherit everything and I am ignored or forgotten. All heads bowed and eyes closed except mine. Father William prayed that the Holy Ghost would come and live in his own earthly creation in this time of remembrance as if it was some kind of super ego that would influence the actions of all men. I saw Gerald stretch his hand to touch Emilia’s back. She responded with a little startled jump. Gerald shook his head as if he should have known better and exhaled a breath that sounded a faint whistle.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Earth's Lementation


Rainfall: heightening tears
ripple on agitated waters
Dead fish floating over
bleached coral, remnants
of human negligence
that far outweighs my
 volcanic self-mutilations

My sadness manifests in
aggressive gusts of wind,
disturbing me further
Humans look to God and
seek palpable reasons why
he desecrates them while
the rape continues:
worldly gang bang

They are threatened by
their own misdeeds
Glaciers melt, seas accumulate
like my raining tears
All this harm for
selfish comforts -
petty comforts that
result from the rape of another

 









Saturday, November 23, 2013

Cells


These little things gather and multiply,
masses of tiny things not seen before 
innovative inventions transcended
optical restrictions

Oh, the amazement 
in those eyes when 
they looked upon 
replicating things:
alien world of 
proteins and acids

I could see atomists
celebrating their victory 
over issues long argued
while skeptics loom 
in tavern shadows,
shaking their balding heads, 
knowing that nothing's solved



 

Monday, November 18, 2013

Snowfall



The snow isn't
here, but I'm waiting for it

Thunderheads loom
overhead, over the freeway
I haven't seen the news, 
but it feels cold enough to freeze
Lips parched and peeling,
hands sensitive and tingling
inside leather gloves

Tents and shanties line
gloomy and downcast alleys
Below the dwellings of the fortunate, 
I notice a woman and child
foraging through unwanted items

I feel a strange guilt,
standing here towering, looking
down upon them

The little girl coughs violently,
chest heaving, almost choking, 
and puffs of vapor forming 
and disappearing in bluish lamplight
The mother rubs a bare purplish hand
on the stooped, convulsing child

The girl stops
Distressing silence
I remember wisdom from
sources that urge benefaction
and turn around, ashamed
Too afraid to give away

Greatly troubled and 
wanting a diversion from myself,
I descend stairs and walk
toward rotating doors
Mucus in my nostrils freeze
as I inhale frigid air

I leave the building and turn left,
away from the alley of disgrace
I see the tavern sign a couple 
blocks away, white and frosted, 
rocking in the wind

I sit in the corner, 
mind laden with sadness
and bury my face in gloves
Damning reek of leather hides

A man approaches, drink in hand
He places it on the table, 
the glass connected with wood 
and there was a tap of misery
"Cheer up," he said, nodding 

Looking up, the man walking away, 
I sink into a more profound depression
I cover my face in hands once again, 
my temporary refuge from inadequacy

Outside, the snow starts to fall
Small droplets crystallize,
gathering on the pavement
There's a woman near the hearth, 
cozily stroking the fire 


 



Saturday, November 16, 2013

Worms


Falling rain looks like 
ripples in my vision:
little waves of moisture
that speckle the 
canvas of reality

Bare feet sloshing through
street side puddles that
coalesce in concrete cavities
Worms creep from earthy homes and 
settle like hairs on a woman's arm

A car passes by and splashes
Splotches of blackish gunk and
scant, ghostlike lines where tires rode
atop inching annelids
Stringy spaghetti corpses



Wednesday, November 13, 2013




       

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Butcher Shop

My gloves, once white and unblemished,
now splotched with blood and snot 

Cavalcade of carcasses:
pigs, heifers, ducks, chickens
Reeky room of death and squalor

My first glance at
hooks in the freezer:
hooks painted crimson, blood crimson 
with flesh dangling: gelatinous ooze,
remnants of things that lived
Hanging, just hanging from the hooks

The apron now matches my gloves
except for occasional splashes of urine
or smeared feces  

"Time is money," my boss always said
I learned the trade of swiftness:
drag the meat, throw it, hear the
slap of flesh on concrete
floors; lured my morals away 
and left them at the door
I got used to it




 
 
  

Monday, November 4, 2013

Train



Riding down the tracks:
shadows from the tunnel
approaching fast
It devours the car with menace

The cabin lights flicker,
burying, steadily subduing
any trace of worry
Calmness arises from 
abyssal security

Peace is here 
when I think of my home
of many facets:
house, job, 
money, bills, 
girl, love,
writing, car
 
I sit on the roving seat of affluence
Sometimes, self-consciously, inwardly 
I feel shame at my immodesty

Pained by many trivial matters,
forgetting, once again, 
fortune's  favor

Shadow recedes and gives way, 
daylight emerges from confines
Mountains stand assembled 
in the background of sight:
breathtaking, magnificent  
I'm lucky to have eyes








  





Against Strong Athiesm

 “I think it's much more interesting to live not knowing than to have answers which might be wrong. I have approximate answers and possible beliefs and different degrees of uncertainty about different things, but I am not absolutely sure of anything and there are many things I don't know anything about, such as whether it means anything to ask why we're here. I don't have to know an answer. I don't feel frightened not knowing things, by being lost in a mysterious universe without any purpose, which is the way it really is as far as I can tell.”
-Richard Feynman, interview in BBC's Horizon program (1981), emphasis mine


I hear it time and time again. In the atheist community, people are very overzealous about "disproofs" of God's existence. I find it troubling to see a group of people who, with great enthusiasm for skeptical thinking, accept propositions that assert the disproof of God. One could say, as I have, that these people are absolute atheists: people who assert that God (in all possible forms) does not exist. This position is also known as strong atheism or positive atheism.

This position is dishonest in one respect. As the Richard Feynman quote suggests, how can we be certain about anything? Of course there are reasons to believe that a future event would happen due to past experience. But this is far from deeming value to a case with absolute certainty. This kind of certainty is a higher rank than trusting fallible human perceptions for a length of time. The requirements that justify absolute certainty are, quite frankly, unknown. I am disappointed to see so many people claim that they know things which they do not.

  

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wreckage


Broken glass on bathroom tiles:
troubles materialized
by a frenzied fling of hand

There, my mind spills,
puddles accumulate,
carpet saturates
with content

A calm voice is heard
from a pleasant place,
made pleasant by her presence, 
down the hall of hope:

You've got it all wrong 
You've got it all wrong

That voice, ignored
many times past,
permeates my mind
while I stare
at the wreckage below

When I think myself impervious
to the vanities of life
That voice, calm voice,
reminds me, soothes me, 
when I shatter







  



Friday, November 1, 2013

Clocks, 1822


Tick tick tick tick
Staring at a face - old, hardened face
with hands that journeyed across points,
I think of obsolete shadows befalling
copper sundials, brown faces
warn, mingled with oxide

So peculiar were those instruments
made by ingenuity
Curiosity drove and almost forced
mankind's impeccable nature 
to reach an understanding 
evermore grounded than before

Centuries later we now hear 
(tock tock tock tock)
the mechanical circumvention,
the steady intervals of seconds
Analog clocks talking, telling
of new moments

I wonder, looking toward the future,
if new designs will come forth,
turning these clicking things into 
dated bits of technology
I wonder if they will ever
return to the hush of dials past

Silence



 
 


 



Monday, October 28, 2013

Flames


 Shadows tottering, 
staggering throughout the forest

Yellowish light reveals
concealed sectors beyond

In these woods, death looms over
bold scents of burnt botanicals

A screen of haze wafts in the air
like an opaque fog after summer rain

The soothing sound of the nearby brook:
no longer the pacifier of adversity

Raging clamor of ferocious heat 
overwhelms untroubled dispositions

The mind imagines other states
but remains fixed upon colors

An observable, tangible hell
lacking the torturous gnashing

Life engulfed by nature herself:
an action of the barbarous cannibal  

Parched ground, ashes abound:
remnants of what stood before   
 
Gaze at the dancing flames
Such a mundane occurrence

Friday, October 25, 2013

Autumn


Crisp smells 
of decaying leaves
leaves my nose
reminiscing 
It almost smells 
like sticks
on a campfire

The woods and us:
Dad loved nature
Hatchet, water jugs,
lantern, matches,
effortless explanations 
of the way things were

Aches after every hike
led to subtle complaints
He was always 
observant
Impossible avoidance 

Now:
distorted vision
Images blurred,
indistinct 
The patter of tears
on dogwood leaves 




 

 

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Cycle

Bibs and cribs
pacifiers
bottles of warm milk
A place to play:
space, shelter

Toys
Decoys:
distractions from infractions
Potential troubles
avoided

Makeup, nice collared shirts
Hair gel and pretty purses  
Current styles accepted  
reads the fine print of society

"Always read the fine print"
Everyone will love you
The hand of dependence
Not a care where 
things come from

Powerful wheels and stainless steel
silverware
"That TV's too small"
Gourmet food
"Only the best for our children"

Garden tools and an expected inheritance
A trip to Hawaii 
Caribbean cruises
Fresh grandchildren waiting
for more hands

Certified nurses, regurgitated verses
from the old days
Pills and open house
Watching the sun set 
through the window



Wednesday, October 23, 2013

On Different Kinds of Faith

Most reasonable people are reluctant to classify themselves as someone who "has faith." In a lot of contexts, especially with the rise of secularist values in education, to have faith means believing something for no good reason. As Matt Dillahunty always says: "Faith is gullibility."

I do think it is necessary to split faith into two sections. In one section, we have religious faith. This kind of faith rests upon the conviction that there is no scientific explanation for a phenomenon. It is usually maintained by the claim that there is a "spiritual" dimension of experience. Faith, defined in this way, is based entirely on the subject's resignation of reasonable faculties in order to include the spiritual experience.

On the other side of the divide, there is another kind of faith: practical faith. This, in my view, is the faith that is involved in scientific endeavors as well as everyday life. In science, for example, the scientist relies on practical faith to assume that the tools they use will adequately solve the inquiry. The microscope will serve its purpose; based on this calculation, we can assume that there are limits to the dimensions of this object. In this way, practical faith can be mathematical. For everyday life, we use practical faith as well. When going to the grocery store, customers have faith that they will stock certain goods available for purchase.

One could object and say that practical faith is based entirely on perfected reason. I do not think this is always the case. In the grocery store example, I think there is a sort of desire for the availability of the goods intended to purchase. In a sense, our intentions blind us from the possibility that our groceries are unavailable. It could be the case, though, that the particular store doesn't carry the desired good. So, in this sense, there is a certain risk involved when evaluating our faith-based motives. I think this runs contrary to many proclamations that say reason is totally without risk and potential error. 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Solace


Solace

Written for my wonderful soul mate to celebrate two years of love.

I remember the day well

Two years back,
the students went to the desert
to study wildflowers
I felt alone within the class of seven

After gathering my pen and notebook, 
I opened my car door,
finally encountering the
blistering heat of the desert
without structure
Sweat gathered on my forehead

I rejoined the group,
life’s anxieties once again falling upon me
Dusty paths meandered,
dodging the sparse bushes and
occasional rattlesnakes
Sandy air coated my nostrils

We split into two groups –
one had three, the other had four
My group, along with the other two members,
scoured the plain in search of
what was thought a common flower

We couldn’t find it, and I obsessed about failure

Then, I had wandered from the group
I felt liberated to work at my own pace
Walking past the spiny cacti,
my glance fell on the most
beautiful flower I ever saw
The apricot petals blazing with charm

I bent down, the bones in my knees cracking
An awestruck feeling came upon me
I rubbed the petals in between my fingers
like a loner who finds his first love,
caressing the hair of his new found purpose

Just then, I did not care that I was alone


Sunday, October 13, 2013

Guidelines for a New Socialism

It seems admirable, in this day and age, to concoct new ways of politics in light of the numerous troubles of our current circumstances. Although, it is crucial to resist the temptation to cast aside ideas solely for the fact that those ideas go against our established conceptions of what is acceptable. Slavery, for instance, was seen as a norm before its abolition. Soon after, the degradation of the inhumane ownership could be clearly observed by anyone with developed empathy. So, when investigating and putting forth possibilities about new systems of government, we should not completely disregard our reason, but allow for us to postpone our criticism until after all of the premises are conveyed and tested. And, for this reason, history might not serve as an effective reason for dismissal. For history merely shows the effects of a single system under a certain regime. This does not mean that another approach, one that is entirely unlike those of the past, would fail in the same ways. These proclamations are by no means complete, and will require some further thoughts.  I'm writing this now so I can return to it in the future.

Proposed Criteria for a Flourishing Dictatorial Socialist Society


1. Above all, the dictator must be willingly and unreservedly beneficent in character and actions.   

No leader that is unfit to lead should lead a nation. It is not enough to elect the dictator by use of coercion. And, to complicate the matter, it might not be adequate to elect the dictator by democratic means. For, even in the democratic voting system, there is still unwavering ignorance of the populace. Even today, there are citizens that remain in total oblivion in respect to political events. Usually, monsters arise because of this kind of ignorance: ignorance that, in the end, effects every other citizen. It is unclear, at this point, to indicate the most effective election scheme.

2. Rulings shall be made with the main purpose of benefiting the greatest number of citizens, regardless of class, race, religion, or any other identifier. 

Undoubtedly, there is bias within the current political arena. In the United States, there is a constant fracas between the democrats and republicans, which will be discussed in the next criterion. The purpose of this criterion is to totally destroy such biases before they are manifested in political programs.

3. All party affiliations prohibited.

Even in the beginning of the nation's history, the founding fathers (especially Washington) never intended the implementation of party identifiers. It creates an opposition between citizens that harm relationships and causes opposition where it shouldn't exist. People will be free to speak their opinion about political actions on an individual basis.

4. Amendments on free speech. 

The First Amendment states many acceptable freedoms and guidelines. However, there is one aspect of the article that needs refinement: the freedom of speech. In the new socialist society, there is no room for anger or hatred for some at the disposal of others. Radical groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and the Westboro Baptist Church will be forced to change their behavior of hatred or be ordered to disband. If such vulgar groups that spout hatred refuse such prohibitions, they will face imprisonment for the sake of the victims of their hatred.

5. The economy will be under the surveillance of the government, and harsh punishments will be issued for immoral use of such powers. 

This is crucial to counter the mania that exists within capitalistic economies. Businesses and markets become so powerful that they can indulge in unfair practices that cause harm to individuals as well as the environment. The surveillance branch of the socialist government will be overseen by the beneficent dictator. He will ensure that no one in the surveillance branch will infringe upon the moral interests of the citizens. If, for any reason, a member of the surveillance branch breaches code of conduct, he/she will face imprisonment at the discretion of the leader. This criterion will surely involve plenty of revising before it reaches applicability.

6. Special requirements for the dictator.

The dictator will live among the people of the nation, and will not receive extra income for the sole fact that he is dictator. Their home will not be something akin to the White House. Their lifestyle must be humble and not extravagant. They will receive citizens upon their request at any time to discuss the topic of their choosing. The whole point is to break down the barrier between ruler and citizen. The military must belong to a separate branch which would oversee the rules of the dictator. Imprisonment of the dictator is the main course of action if such abuses ensue.

7. Special requirements for the head of military

The main requirement is an early indoctrination in beneficence.  Commanding an army requires a special moral awareness. The child will learn, especially, the tragedies (taught also as tragedies) of Nazism and the failed Communists. They must know his moral responsibility. Also, classing in empathy is needed to read and study the dictator. They must ask questions like: Has he gone too far? Will he cause severe pain and suffering of the citizens? Is he mentally unstable? Leaders must also learn to prevent as much harm as possible so they can see where lines are crossed. This is the leader.

 

Monday, September 30, 2013

Cessation


Death
is such a feasible solution
when I think about my failures.

Events slither and cast
their sickening gaze upon me:
great angst seeps out of the sponge,
already saturated with concepts. 

My mind becomes useless,
momentarily enslaved by
the criticism of bodies more
dignified than me.

No knowledge is gained,
only self-pity is exemplified.

Death is the cessation of knowledge. 

   

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Message to Christian Women


I always try to expose myself to differing viewpoints everyday. Yesterday, I listened to a podcast entitled Wives Who Withhold Sexual Intimacy - How Feminism Erodes Christian Marriage and encountered many horrific assertions. The horror comes from the fanatical way that these men attempt to manipulate women in order to submit to their sexual needs. Submission is also a common theme of Islam, and there is no denying that the Quran speaks of women as a lesser being than their male counterparts. However, due to the fact that the podcast deals with Christian marriage, I want to take a moment to speak to Christian women as an individual who yearns for equality. This is for all of my female friends who find themselves allaying their beliefs with the poison of Christianity.

One of the claims made within the episode arises when one of the hosts talks about the "radical shift" in the way Americans view sexuality and gender. He says, "I like to tell husbands their job is not to make their wives happy. Many men think that's their job . . . but their job has never been to make their wife happy. Their job has been to make their wife holy" (2:57). What kind of benefit does holiness bestow within the world? Holiness, as far as we are concerned, is an adjective completely dependent on supernatural speculation. Happiness (or, more accurately, the chemical equivalent to happiness) is an actual phenomenon that affects a person's mental capabilities. One can observe happiness with modern technology. Holiness is a noble idea, but one that is void of any real value.

Another sickening bit of commentary from the podcast deals with women's sexual power over men:  
Here's an article from ChristianMarriageToday.com by Wanda Collins, she asks 'Ok, my Christian sisters, have you ever resisted sex with your husbands if things don't go your way? If you are, you must stop this behavior immediately. First of all, this kind of behavior is not all pleasing to your heavenly father. The word of God says in 1 Corinthians 7:5 that husbands and wives should not deprive each other from sex unless it's for the purpose of prayer and fasting. Secondly, withholding sex from your husband is a form of passive aggressive behavior. It's your attempt to punish him for something he did or did not do. It's your way of controlling your husband instead of submitting to your husband. This is not good. You are playing a dangerous game. Your husband will feel angry, rejected, and undesired. Eventually these feelings can create an open door for sexual sins such as pornography and adultery enter into your marriage' (10:23).
There is so much apparent corruption within this quote that commentary is not imperative. The bottom line is: young girls and women should not be exposed to this sort of forced submission. It is a tactic that originally appeared in the Bible to ensure the sexual gratification for men. It was designed by men for men. When women follow these teachings with unfaltering obedience, they are doing a disservice for their kind.    
   

    

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Errand - A Short Story (unedited)




(unedited)

Choices - endless choices; realms and realms of possibilities. Lives lived (perhaps as a result of upbringing) in such a way that praised choice. “You all have a choice,” say the enthusiastic elementary school teachers, “to become whatever you wish to become.” Grocery stores provide a wide assortment of different goods so that the customer feels satisfied with the numerous options. Airlines offer the luxury of first-class seating, as if to privilege those honorable and well-to-do customers who are willing to spend more money. The presidential ballot gives one the discreet illusion of choice of two candidates.
            Harold Greenwood did not have choices. You see, his parents despised choice; they wanted him to experience the world void of freedom. Chad and Linda Greenwood came to an agreement that involved sheltering their son from what they called distress.
Modern society gave a revelation to this well-intentioned couple – it cautioned them against choices. When Chad met Linda in high school, he sought his place within society. His mother was a kind and generous woman who took a sort of laissez-faire approach to parenting. This strategy was implemented within matters of her son’s vocation as well. Chad was a bright student and excelled in all of his subjects. The success, however praiseworthy at the time of his schooling, soon developed into a mental infirmity when burdened with a social force to choose a profession. He was interested in so many things, and to choose a single path seemed regrettable. For many months, the distress of the situation clouded his being and caused him to plunge into chaotic thoughts.  
Linda experienced a different kind of distress. Her father, before early retirement, was a Wall Street businessman. His success in the stock exchange led him to the hasty conclusion that his job stood as the ideal image of American success. So, all throughout childhood, Linda’s father showed her how to conduct investments. She had the vivid memory of sitting on the walnut stool at the dinner table while he showed her complicated charts and graphs from the newspaper. She even remembered his magnifying glass, which soothed his eyes from the tiring effect of gazing. Her father would always tell her, “The fulfillment of your personal dreams are directly proportional to how much wealth you have, Linda.” He spoke these words as a man who viewed life from the obscured perspective of his pocket book - a perspective that only saw the light of day when removed from the abyssal confines of its dark imprisonment in order to gain the most miniscule financial advantage.
But the distress of Linda’s life was not simply due to her upbringing. As she  
matured in age and investment knowledge, her father gave her the great responsibility to work as his personal assistant. She scoured, day after day, the current standings of the stock market. Always a loyal child, Linda attempted to show her father unwavering competence. The burden of relentlessly trying to find the best and most suitable investment soon affected her personality. She became obsessed with the task, oftentimes skipping meals to observe the standings. In the end, Linda realized that the vast pages of stock abbreviations were the catalysts for her unease. To someone who took her assistantship seriously, the process of choosing became all the more crucial; a choice could lead to boundless profits or it could lead to a position less favorable than the previous one – which is, her father told her - the worst possible thing. The expectations of the task were too much to bear; Linda eventually succumbed to unhealthy amounts of depression. She vowed, during the whole ordeal, to never expose her future progeny to similar devastation.   
            So Chad and Linda retained a dutiful responsibility quite peculiar to many other parents of the time. The majority of children experienced life on the condition that freedom consisted of a finite number of appropriate decisions; they seemed to exist in a type of decision bubble – a bubble that, once popped, would cause the parents to frown upon them with disdain. Every moral boundary that a child crossed resulted in a barrage of disappointment instigated by the guardians. No child, whether young or old, wished this feeling upon himself; the feeling of failure was the punishment of a blundered task. This was the kind of conditioning that prevailed within the city of St. Louis during the time of this story, and one that Chad and Linda experienced in their younger days. The Greenwood couple, fully aware of this mechanism of shame, did not intend to raise their son in this kind of manner.


            Harold’s eyes seemed to sigh as he watched the computer screen. His back was bent and his hands gesticulated as he pondered. He was never fond of night classes, but it was the only time when the university offered the course. Momentarily, his attention wandered to the wall behind the monitor, browsing the numerous geometric formulas pinned up with red and yellow thumbtacks. Harold excelled in geometry, but calculus was his passion. This became evident if you looked on his four-tiered bookshelf in the corner of the room; it even had its own light that revealed the books: a few on algebra, logic, chemistry, and physics. All the rest consisted of graduate level calculus. It gave him the sense, however naively, of a bachelor’s degree obtained by his own volition.
             The moon embraced the clouds with its light while a lone tire swing bobbed under a lamppost next to the gravel path. From Harold’s upstairs window, he could hear the murmur of cars on the nearby freeway.
There was a cemetery a few blocks down from Harold’s house; he could sometimes hear the tires screeching from people who yielded to the funeral convoy as if a dead person could use a day where he encountered non-existent traffic. It is an interesting thing – how people entitle the dead. They entitle things that are just things and sacrifice their own living reality for the consciousness that recently passed. Harold liked thinking about this – probing, investigating human etiquette.
An itinerary for the mathematics club presentations clung to the wall, imprisoned by staples. Small, slightly faded type displayed his name in bold letters. The floor, littered with papers, was a landfill of failed ideas. The calculator rested from its profuse use. A protractor lay flat against a sheet of graph paper.
His lungs begged for a cigarette. Abandoning his desk, Harold descended the cherry colored staircase. He met eyes with his mother before clenching the iron knob of the front door. He wafted through the lush humidity and sat down on the concrete stoop. The lighter scratched like sandpaper and the embers glowed in the night.  


Harold woke up early the next morning. Toil had mocked him. He went downstairs to the kitchen and pushed a button on the coffee maker. The metallic click from the switch sent an almost electric titillation to his wary mind. “This is life,” he thought with foggy acceptance. “This is life.”
His father’s car was not in the driveway. He must have gone to work. Chad eventually found his place within society, although he often thought his occupation subordinate to some of the others. Harold faintly remembered his dad’s raggedy red plumbing truck. He recalled hearing his mother sigh, one day, while driving to the market in that shoddy box. “Chad, we should take my car to store next time,” she said and subtly licked her lips. They were parched from the cold winter air. Chad nodded his head without diverting his face from the road. He already knew what she was thinking. “If you say so, honey,” he said in reply. He seemed to relax a bit for he said, “We really need to get the convertible ready for the spring.” Linda smiled for an instant, then realized something and a look of seriousness drew across her matured features. “But Chad, we have to get a sitter for Harold, so we can have a date night,” she said, her excitement gradually returning to her. She glanced back at Harold who fell asleep in the back seat of the cab. Her voice descended in volume like the fade out of a dwindling track on the record player. “He needs to be watched, Chad. What if he gets” she hesitated. “What if he gets exposed to something?” Harold never thought anything of the memory.
Now, some time later, a redolent spice of dark coffee roast lingered in the kitchen. Harold sipped the coffee from a sky blue mug.  He noticed a note Chad left him that asked him to buy some milk at the gas station. Harold smiled at the thought of the task. He didn’t get out often. Even though the gas station was three blocks from his house, the freedom of the errand elated him. He glided on the newly paved sidewalk. The asphalt looked like a river of blackness beneath his tennis shoes. Harold strolled past the cemetery, which had a fresh pile of dirt recently displaced for burial. The mound had the consistency of crumbled cheese. Harold slackened his pace and felt the blatant assurance of an eventual death.
The gas station was encumbered by a chaotic bustle of morning commuters. Harold met eyes with the clerk and shyly parted his glance. The image of the clerk’s figure was imprinted on his mind like a newly pressed stamp. She was a young girl – maybe a few years older than he. She had blonde curly hair and a pink lotus blossom tied around her neck, dangling from a hemp rope. Her face was that of Calypso. Desire overcame Harold in that moment, but he had no time to act; he had to get milk. Walking over to the refrigerators, he searched for the white liquid. Apparently, dairy farming was a popular commodity. So many brands. Harold opened the transparent door and a blast of freezing air greeted him. He never saw so many different kinds of milk: one percent, whole milk, chocolate milk, soy milk . . . A familiar sense of limitation suddenly dissipated and Harold felt lost in the chasm of possibilities. Every now and then, when he found himself in these rare occasions, he felt an impulse to refer to his parents’ guidance. “What would they buy,” he thought to himself, very much like a particle in a chain of causes. Hesitation finally abandoned him and his pale arm grasped a plastic carton. Rubber flapped loudly when the door closed. He found his way to the counter and temporarily lost his footing on the tiles.
The clerk smiled at him. Her teeth were pearls. “Anything else for you,” she asked.
“That will be all, thanks,” said Harold in response.
Still smiling, the clerk put her hand flatly on the counter. “$2.59 please.”
            Harold was not accustomed to the attention. He handed her the change and he heard a buzzing sound as he nervously exited through the sliding doors.
            As he emerged from the parking lot of the gas station, he sat down on an oak bench near the sidewalk. His parents always told him to return straight home after errands. He would always inquire, “Why can’t I stay out for just a few hours?” They would look at him with a fatuous look and say, “Because, son, you have to do your studies.”
            Today, Harold had other plans. Seedlings of curiosity had already been planted ever since he went on his first errand. He wanted to see the landscape of the town and maybe walk around Delmar Boulevard. More than anything, he wanted to know why some people had a certain look of agency to them. He carefully observed people whenever he received the chance. Mathematical minds have impressive attentiveness, and Harold labored all his life to perfect it. People always looked so determined, so intentioned. They walked the streets as if they had total freedom. Harold loosened his grip on the milk carton and placed it at his side. The condensation felt balmy in the morning light. Without looking down to pick up the carton, he walked further down the street in the opposite direction of home.


            Delmar Boulevard had an air of eccentric energy. Harold gracefully dodged a sidewalk artist as he passed beneath the overhanging street sign, which made him feel like Jesus on his jubilant arrival in Jerusalem. Except, instead of people welcoming him, there were shirtless men who played guitar for tips. It was early afternoon now; people sat outside on restaurant patios and indulged in leisure.
            About halfway down the boulevard, Harold saw a woman carrying a sign in front of a business. He could not see what the sign said at his current distance, but the writing magnified as he approached. It was a green sign with neon orange text. It read: Electronic Sale: Today Only! Harold did not have any interest or money for that matter. He had more profound intensions during his walk down the elegant street. The sunlight glanced off her glasses and the glint collided with Harold’s eyes. He turned to the window of the electronics store. There were rows of televisions, each displaying a different channel upon a faded display. Harold did not recognize any of the programs. One particular advertisement invited his attention, and the same awkward feeling he experienced with the gas station clerk arose while he watched. The commercial displayed a woman in very sensuous lingerie while she lounged in a shaded gazebo in the backyard of a mansion. Harold noted the perfection of the recently mowed lawn and the grandiose architecture of the home. A small table stood next to the lustful woman, buttressing a martini. The woman turned and lethargically grasped the glass between her small, delicate fingers and brought it to her lips. Lust surged within him. Then, as if by deus ex machina, a suave voice said: “Patrick Gazebos. We complete the American dream.” Harold turned around and continued his walk down the boulevard. The commercial remained entrenched in his thoughts; he never realized how a gazebo could make such a considerable impact upon one’s life. He wondered what other things had the same effect.
            The St. Louis Artists’ Guild had an exhibition in the courtyard at end of Delmar Boulevard. Harold approached the exposed square. Smoke billowed from the grill at one of the barbeque restaurants, and Harold salivated as if he were a subject in one of Pavlov’s experiments.
He eventually arrived at the courtyard where the local artists enthusiastically talked about their work with inquisitive onlookers. Yellow tents and cheap tables lined the area. A man, about 60, unexcitedly reclined behind his wooden sculptures. Some were light red – cherry perhaps, and others were a slightly purple padauk. The legs of his chair were uneven and crooked and the man took no notice of its imbalance. Harold stepped forward and analyzed the shapes of the figures. Words like dimension and measurement arose in his internal commentary. Familiarity of such words allowed him to find substance in the art. The matured artist ascended from his seat, and the chair clanked against the concrete as the lifted weight disturbed its crude equilibrium.
The man’s droopy eyes found Harold’s. “What are you thinking, boy?” he asked.
Shyness descended upon Harold. “I . . .  I was just thinking about the art,” he replied nervously.
“Is that so?” The old artist circled around the table and settled himself beside Harold. He met Harold face to face and drearily turned his gaze to the sculptures. A fragrant smell of maple pipe tobacco saturated his flannel clothing. “You know,” the old man started after a brief pause, “people always come to me and tell me they like to think about art. Of course, I can relate to them. Sometimes, though, one just has to appreciate your own emotional response.” He said this without a trace of pretentiousness. Harold turned from the man’s kind, warm words and felt free. He felt pleasant under the overhanging clouds that protruded from what seemed like nothingness in the atmosphere. A heavy feeling of content embraced him, held him in its arms. There was a sense of pride in that moment and he perceived the world with emancipation. He disregarded, for that brief and subtle instant, the jurisdiction of his parents.
“Yeah, I felt it,” Harold said after a few seconds. “It was pleasant.”
            The man curtly grinned and radiated with mirth. “That’s the best thing I could ask for,” he said. He produced a pipe from his pocket. “Fortunately, I was not na├»ve to think that I chiseled wood for myself. It’s on display for those who wish to see it. Others create for money and pride, but I feel it’s my duty to humanity.” His eyes glimmered. He lit his pipe with a match and tobacco crept from the opening. “It’s different for everybody,” he said, the smoke pouring out of his nostrils. “What do you feel?”
Harold crept closer to the table. “I feel as if no one could dissuade me. The way the wood warps makes me think of liberation,” he added with optimism. “You, as the artist, have influenced the wood into a certain form.” Harold hesitated and began to feel a surge of triumph. “But the statue still exists as itself.”
The man nodded, the curls of his long sideburns animated by the subtle breeze. “Doesn’t it remind you of us? We are all forced – we are all accustomed in a way. We are raised into the world for the purpose of complying with the norms of our environment.” He took a puff from his pipe. “Feathers in the wind,” he said. “Feathers in the wind.”
Harold thought of his parents, said his farewell to the old artist, and continued down Delmar Boulevard with a mollified spirit. He knew that he would confront the unwavering wind that awaited his homecoming. As for now, he had a demeanor of utter intentionality. The sensation of freedom was so exquisite that it distracted him from his imprisonment. He vowed to discover a way to prolong that majestic sense of independence. The clouds began to merge, and the sunlight permeated the grayish puffs. Harold stopped and looked behind him before heading home.
Light rain descended upon the earth as Harold approached the graveyard. The black asphalt turned to glassy obsidian and the air smelled of a vague petrichor. Miniature water droplets settled on Harold’s clothing. He seemed totally unaffected by the dreary effect of rainfall. Harold moved with purpose toward his destination, hardly caring about the milk carton he left on the bench up the street.