Fulcrum Ruminations

Saturday, January 03, 2015

Motivations and Cogitations

Hiya blogosphere. Been a long time, innit?

Almost two years since the last entry. This effort has pretty much gone off the rails. After the death of my wife and the Persephone affair, it's just not seemed important. Other projects were consuming my writing time. Short stories. Journaling. Working on my novels.

I have written eight short stories in the last two years and have half-completed versions of three more in the queue. One of the completed ones turned out to be not so short, clocking in at nearly 28,000 words . . . novella length. I've also filled up my ongoing journal, Ancient Noise, after six years of irregular effort. And the one major novel I've concentrated on is up over 10,000 words, which is barely a tenth of the way finished.

All this has drained the well of inspiration. There's been nothing left over for Fulcrum Ruminations despite the tumultuous events of the last two years. So many things have happened . . .

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, finally launched with major problems and less than promised results. The thing remains a grotesque government overreach, basically telling us that the federal government has the authority to compell us to purchase commercial products whether we want them or not. I've been over the Constitution several times and I find no such power within it. But the reality impaired continue to insist that it's good for us. We'll see how they feel under the new Republican congress when that body decides to use the same rationale to do something the "progressives" don't approve of.

Racial tensions erupting in the aftermath of the Ferguson incident. This has probably been a long time in coming and represents a confluence of several trends: the ongoing militarization of police forces, the black community's refusal to address its own issues and blaming all their problems on others, and the explosive growth of the internet making what would in previous times have been local stories into national and even global ones. Back in the era of the civil rights marches and Martin Luther King Jr, racism had to be pretty blatant and egregious to penetrate the national news headlines. Now with the internet we can all get a god's-eye view of all the little stuff that goes on and see that there's a larger pattern of evil at work. And it's not just the racial tensions that are being revealed by this trend.

Gun control. Multiple incidents of madmen running amok and killing innocents. Ambushing cops. Chaos. All framed against the backdrop of the Second Amendment, which has been recognized by the Supreme Court as an individual right to self-defense. These forces are heading for collision and I fear the outcome. If there's one issue that could really split the American experiment apart, it's this one. At its base it's personal liberty and responsibility versus the nanny-state impulse to control people for their own good. We're seeing a shift from "innocent until proven guilty" to "we know you're up to no good, so we're going to watch you all the time." This at the same time that we're raising a generation of kids who are online all the time, post their every random thought and what they had for dinner to social media, and are losing the sense of privacy. Everything is transparent to the kids now and that's what they expect. Anyone not living in the goldfish bowl is now a suspicious character.

If the Second Amendment goes, the rest will follow in short order. The Civil War pretty much killed the Tenth Amendment, the Fourth and Fifth are under daily assault as part of the "war on terror" we've been immersed in since 9/11, and the forces of censorship have never been very far beneath the surface in this country. There's lots of people mouthing hollow words of support for freedom of expression, but it's usually quietly understood to mean only expressions that they agree with.

The so-called "Common Core" standards for education are causing what may be irrepairable harm to public education. While the idea of core standards for what kids should know at each level of their education is a good one, the implementation of "Common Core" has been so ill-conceived that it comes close to rendering the concept of education itself irrelevant. Layered on top of all the other issues afflicting public education it may be the straw that breaks the camel's back. We're already at the point that employers want college degrees for jobs that formerly required only a high school diploma. And colleges are having to send students to remedial math and reading courses just to get them competent enough to continue with higher education. I've said before and I'll say again, the best thing that could happen to education in this country is the abolition of the federal Department of Education and the elimination of the Teacher's Unions. The only way this is going to get fixed is to go back to local control of primary schools, the heavy involvement of parents, and the ruthless elimination of social feelgood gobbledegook.

I could go on and on with brief snippets of current issues. Maybe doing this post will motivate me to resume semi-regular entries. The fulcrum continues to tilt, gentle reader, but as I get older I see it tilting in harmful, even dangerous directions. America has serious, ongoing structural problems that simply are not being addressed. No one wants to feel a little pain now to save future pain that will almost certainly be much greater. We want instant gratification and by God that's what we're going to have, even if it wrecks the world.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

Persephone Lied

Winter is come again
Suddenly, savagely
Springtime's daughter
Abandoning her promise
Sunshine and warmth now lost
She stands, petulant and distant
Light fading
Leaves once tender and green
Turn now dry and brittle, and fall
Frost creeps back
The ground only begun its thaw
Grows cold and bleak
Shadows stretch across the sky
Sunfall
Night
Cold sleep beckons
The only comfort offered
Will dawn ever come again?
Dreams are now the sole refuge
Still and quiet
Alone
Alone

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

Year of Hell

One year ago today, almost to the minute, I got the word that my dear wife had suddenly and unexpectedly passed away. I was in New York at the time.

It's not been a great year since then. Grief, mourning, unexpected bursts of tears. A seemingly unending stream of details to address, things that needed to be done. To be blunt, my life has sucked.

But thru it all were family and friends, checking on me, expressing sympathy and support, helping where they could. Thanks to everyone who was there in my time of need. I could have lost my mind, but I didn't.

It will never be the same without my wife. But the Year of Hell is over as of today and we all have to move forward. Here's hoping 2013 brings balance back to all our lives.

Thanks for standing by me.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Eleven Short Years

Strange that today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11 event, should be an almost perfect duplicate of that horrific day. Faultless blue skies, perfect temperature, glorious late summer weather. Just as it was on That Day.

We who have direct memories of That Day know how it went. Savage barbarians driving airplanes into buildings and over three thousand innocents murdered. Among them my friend Jerry Moran and co-workers Angela Houtz and LCDR Vince Tolbert. Jerry's wife Joyce passed away just last year, so they are reunited in whatever awaits us after.

I lost my own wife this year. So as I remember 9/11 and the horrors it held, I also remember my wife and the joy she brought me. In memory, evergreen.

We remember.

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Sunday, September 02, 2012

Faith II

It's been a little over seven and a half months since my wife passed away. There have been millions of things to deal with . . . insurance, financials, bills, legal matters, on and on and on. At the same time, I've been trying to get my aging parents squared away with some kind of elder care. Going thru the medicaide process, having a home aid going in twice a week, making sure doctor appointments are taken care of, all that kind of thing. Between the two situations I've felt like I'm never "down." Have to be doing stuff all the time. Having both serious, sad things thrown in my face every ten minutes.

In a way that's good. Keeps me busy, stops me from dwelling too much on the loss I've endured. It still hits me all the time. Walking out of work, going grocery shopping, and biggest of all, going to bed at night. Alone.

And then as if in answer to a plea thrown repeatedly to the forces that make things happen, I've found someone. We complement one another, we're comfortable together, we can talk and we can listen. At first I was a little concerned that this might be a rebound attraction. Suffered such a loss that I was grabbing at anything that seemed like it might offer surcease. But now it seems that's not the case. The more we're together, the more real it seems to me. Looking into beautiful brown eyes I find not some momentary band-aide slapped hastily over a wound, but a deep healing draught of elixir vitae. She makes me feel . . . good.

That's no small thing. Being with her is like emerging from the darkness to find that the sun is indeed still shining, that winter's hold is not forever and spring does come. Persephone does win free of the underworld to bring life back to the land.

Symmetry rules the universe, gentle reader. Nothing is taken away without something being given back. There is no pain without relief. The night ends with the sunrise.

I think I've seen the dawn.

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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Faith

Sometimes life just up and punches you in the gut, leaving you gasping and crying on the floor with nothing to do but endure. The only medicine for it is time. Time flows like a river, and it carries you away from the pain. You'll always feel it, but it gets smaller and easier to deal with as the distance increases.

Thursday, January 19th 2012 was a day like that. I was in New York, far from my home in Virginia, trying to get my parents squared away with some kind of elder care. My cell phone rang and I got the news that my wife of six years had suddenly and unexpectedly died. Eight years, almost to the day, since we'd first met.

Naturally I was in shock. Called my brother, who came over from Connecticut and made the drive back to Virginia with me. It probably wouldn't have been a good idea for me to do it alone. I might have gone off the road. The drive was surreal. We followed my usual route, which involves taking I84 to I81 thru the Poconos. It was snowing heavily in spots, and since we didn't leave New York until almost 5PM, most of the trip was after dark. We spoke little. It felt like a dream, and my mind kept circling back to "this can't be real."

It was all too real. We got to my house at one in the morning on Friday. EMTs and police had come and gone. My wife was already at the ME's office. There was nothing to be done but put fresh sheets on the bed - she had been in bed when she died, apparently asleep - and try to get some rest. I slept fitfully, and only for about three hours. Woke up later that morning and began to work the phone to get some answers.

There was no obvious cause of death, like a heart attack or stroke or some such. As of this writing, I still don't have a definitive cause. I'm waiting on test results that may take as much as four months to come back. This is because Virginia, like most governments, had to cut back on spending due to the economic downturn and, again like most governments, cut the wrong things first. The lab that does the testing is seriously understaffed. Anyway.

The funeral was yesterday, Monday the 30th. Today I am alone in the house, friends and family having all gone home. There have been tears, sobs, gasps for breath and burning eyes. And all I have to see me thru this dark, evil time is faith.

Some of you who read my blog have no faith. You, my friends, live in a cold and empty place. You deride and belittle those of us who see the connection to something larger. You point at all the horrible things that have been done in the name of faith (actually in the name of religion, a different beast altogether, which compounds your ignorance, but what the hell . . . ) and you miss completely the strength that faith gives to us.

I have faith that there's a plan, and a planner behind the plan, and that eventually all this seeming chaos we mere mortals live with will make sense. We're so small, we humans, with such limited understanding . . . we're fleas on a grain of sand and some of us think the sand is all there is. The ocean that lies so close to our little grain of sand is too vast to even apprehend, much less comprehend. But, like the saying goes, you don't have to believe in the ocean to get your foot wet when you step in it.

My faith comforts me. It tells me that my dear wife is in a better place, waiting for me, along with all those who have passed before us. I will inevitably take my place there as well, and the time of the transition is not for me to know. As it was not for her to know when she so abruptly left us. This pain I feel is in reality a selfish thing, for it marks my desire to have her back with me. And that would mean she was still dealing with her own pain, rather than experiencing now the transcendent freedom that awaits us when the surly bonds of earth are at last slipped and we rejoin the Maker.

But I loved her dearly, and so miss her terribly, and for now it just hurts.

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Thursday, October 13, 2011

I Don't Care

Don't Ask Don't Tell has now joined many other forms of official discrimination on the ash heap of history. About time. Nonsense like that never serves a useful purpose, it simply reveals the ignorance of humanity.

The jettisoning of the policy has resulted in many hours of additional "sensitivity training" for active duty military members. Because it takes many hours of exquisitely worded lawyerspeak to say, in essence, "Don't be an asshole." But it has also led to the birth of the latest "special emphasis group," which is what the government calls a defined minority which needs protection from the rest of the drones. We already have groups for blacks, women, hispanics, asians, native americans, and the handicapped, among others. Now we've got one for gays, lesbians, transgendered, and . . . well, whatever labels the PC crowd has decided to add to that list this week. Because it's important for people to be sorted into these little boxes, so that they know their place . . . er, I mean, can be tracked for signs of possible discriminatory practices.

It also means lots of signs, notices, meetings, and other paraphernalia related to their existence. See, it's not enough that discrimination against the specified "emphasis group" is now officially Frowned Upon, but we must be made aware of their existence. Because, y'know, until now we didn't realize that such people existed. Now it has to be In Your Face that there are gay people in the world, and at your place of employment, and that they too are special and sensitive and deserving of respect and not to be mocked or bullied or . . . other stuff that any rational human being wouldn't do in the first place.

Which leads me to my point: I Don't Care. I don't care what your sexual orientation is. I don't care what your ethnicity is. I don't care what your sex is. I don't care what church you go to, or don't go to. I DON'T CARE. If you're happy with your life, great. More power to you, go forth and conquer, make of it what you can.

But don't bother me with it. Because I Don't Care.

Leave me alone. I'll return the favor. That's all I ask. If your activities interest me, I'll approach you and ask about them. If they don't, I won't. Which also means I expect you not to jump in my face screaming "I'm a Rosicrucian! Isn't it GREAT?!?" Because it may be great for you, but I. Don't. Care.

I just recently filled out a request for information form from my county for possible jury duty selection. One of the sections related to my ethnicity . . . was I white, or black, or hispanic, or a meat popsicle, or whatever. I find this highly offensive. I'm an AMERICAN, and that's the extent of what you need to know in that regard. These irrelevant labels mean nothing, and official recognition of them does more harm than good. If there'd been an option to write in a category, I would have done what I always do in such cases and written in "American." As for the rest, I DON'T CARE.

I don't want much from life, gentle reader. A comfy chair, a means of support, and some fun or interesting activities to occupy my spare time. High on the list is not being bothered by people pushing their particular take on life as the Bestest One Ever. Don't care if it's newly-liberated gays, or Mormons, or the local Democratic Candidate for Wasting My Taxes. I'll engage where I choose to engage. If I don't engage with you, it's not because I don't like you, or hate what you represent, it's because I DON'T CARE.

I have friends who fall into all of these groups, you see. I'm friends with gay people, and women, and black people, and asians, and fill-in-the-blanks. Because I see them as people, not as hyphens. I don't walk out the door in the morning thinking that today I need to make friends with a Martian so that I can check off that box. If I meet a Martian who turns out to be interesting and not annoying, then maybe we'll be friends.

That's how it's supposed to work.

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