Then, There Was The Ever Present Football Player Rapist

We all like to think we’re individuals.

We’re all so unique and important and no one else is like us.

Except, you, over there in Ohio.

You raped some girl. Society blamed it on her. You’re back on your football team.

Oh, how trite and tired.

I supposed I should turn up my nose in disgust at your actions, but all I feel is sorry for you.

The clichiest of cliches.

It would be nice if one of you, some day, could rise above the stereotype and be a prison-bound rapist or a castrated rapist, but for some reason you all insist on conforming to the rapist standard.

I mean, it’s just, could you be any more…ordinary?

Try a little harder next time, will ya?

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Everything Looks Different From Far Away

When you leave your corner of the country the houses look a little different. A different building material, a different way of positioning the garage, a different angle to the roof. Suddenly, you realize that there are many ways to build a house and the way you’ve always seen houses isn’t the way they have to be.

Different parts of the country have different trees and different landscaping. They have rocks instead of grass. Palm trees instead of Evergreens.

It changes the way you think, these subtle differences. It kick starts something in your brain that makes you see everything differently.

This is why I want to travel. But, I don’t just want to see the differentness (that really isn’t all that different) in this country. I want to leave the country and go somewhere so completely different than what I’m used to.

Things don’t have to be the way they are. They can be better. They can be worse. They can just be different.

I like different. I want to seek it out and embrace it.

I’ve had the idea recently that I want to go to Iran. I’ve been voraciously reading people’s stories of traveling there and it has only served to stoke the fire. There aren’t many places on earth that would be so different from the United States, mostly because the picture of Iran that’s painted by the media isn’t the picture of the real Iran. Even reading the descriptions of the people and the culture in books isn’t the same as experiencing it. Reading the trip stories from people who have been there isn’t the same as being there myself.

I want to tell people how friendly Iranians are. I want to describe what it’s like to wear a head covering when I’m out in public. I just want to know what it’s like to be there.

I’ve long been fascinated by the Middle East, yet I’ve always accepted that I couldn’t go there because of their views of women and because the Middle East is unsafe in its un-Westernness. I think that’s just silly.

I feel like it’s where I need to go to seek out the differentness that I want, and Iran is among the most fascinating of the places I dream of seeing.

Like, Totally

I’ve got World Cup fever and the only cure is, well, there appears to be no cure.

I am liking the ish out of this World Cup for the first time ever in my life. However, I appear to like the World Cup for reasons that are the opposite of why other people like it because that’s just how I roll.

I like that the US isn’t a world soccer power. We’re so dominant and arrogant in just about everything else on the world stage that I like that we aren’t a top soccer country. I like that we weren’t supposed to escape the Group of Death. I like, even more, that we did because if there’s one thing we like in the US, it’s the underdog. I like that we’ll, hopefully, win at least one of these elimination games, then bow out and leave the dogfight for the World Cup trophy to the real soccer countries.

I like that the World Cup emphasizes how far MLS has to go before the league is in the upper echelon. There are certainly players in MLS that make buckets of money, but I make more than many players. (How many of us can say that about any other sport?) Those are the players I want to root for. I feel like there’s a gritty quality, a love of the beautiful game. I feel like when I’m cheering for them, that I’m cheering with them. We’re on the same level; I’m not a fan who pays for their lavish lifestyle, I’m a fan cheering them on to their best.

I like how US fans cheer for the US, then cheer for the national teams of their heritage. I love the idea of the United States as a melting pot where world cultures and languages and people mesh into one. I love the pride of heritage and sharing of different ideas that happens when we open ourselves up to them.

I realize these things are a brief snapshot in time. The US Men’s National Team will improve and become a World Soccer Power. The MLS will improve, salaries will rise, and players will become entitled twits. Racial violence, mistrust, and phobia will continue.  That’s just how people and the world are.

But this is a moment in a life that rushes by so quickly and trods over the little things that give a person hope in humanity.

I’m just savoring this moment, and enjoying the World Cup for the first time in my life.

Just let me like my likes!

Just a Little Bit of History Repeating

100 years ago today the Archduke of Austria, Franz Ferdinand, was assassinated, kick starting a series of events that would trigger the War to End All Wars. (Today, his legacy lives on through an eponymous post-punk revival band.)

His assassination no more caused World War I, of course, than firing on Fort Sumter caused the American Civil War. The pieces for war were in place, just awaiting a hand to strike the match.

The series of events following the assassination are truly astonishing in their utter stupidity and nonsense. This is true of almost every major event in history, but the European Imperialists really out kicked their coverage on this one.

World War I didn’t end all wars, as we well know, but it completely changed the world and it completely changed the United States.

As such an important event, it truly boggles my mind that we spent all of 15 minutes learning about it in my high school American History class. We spent about as much time on the Vietnam War, so clearly learning about history as something that lives and breathes and affects us now as much as it did when it happened just wasn’t the point of history class in school.

The nonsensical, illogical thinking behind the events that caused the War to happen are exactly what we need to be teaching in school. There’s a certain inevitability to human beings making stupid decisions, but how can we ever recognize those stupid decisions as they’re happening if we don’t learn what they looked like 100 years ago?

I can’t help but smile and laugh a little bit to myself when people proclaim that history is nothing more than a set of dates and facts to be committed to memory so a test can be passed.

Because history isn’t facts. History is fluid. It changes and evolves. We sculpt it to fit the way we understand the modern world. Decisions that made sense 100 years ago look utterly ridiculous to us today.

It absolutely fascinating to read about how the assassination is viewed and how the interpretation of the assassination has changed in the past 100 years, being filtered through the ever changing prism we call The Present.

World War I was inevitable. Not just because Europe was ready to get all Rambo’ed-up and fight, but because the world itself was changing and the Old World Order no longer fit.

There’s an inevitability toward violent, destructive change. There’s an inevitability toward the humans involved doing it as stupidly as possible.

Maybe it’s a little silly to wish that we were taught how to look at events of the past critically and apply the lessons to our thinking about politics and foreign policy and voting decisions.

I rail against the willing ignorance of the masses, even though it’s inevitable. Because to think that we’re important and that we can master human nature and change the very essence of our existence is perhaps the most inevitable of all the terrible human traits.

An Honest Mistake

The New York times ran an article a little while back on Mayor Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, in which she described how difficult the transition was from full time career woman to full time mother. Unsurprisingly, she was skewered by the New York media for daring to suggest any of the things she suggested (mainly, that life can be full of difficult decisions and transitions).

See, when you have a child, the child is supposed to fulfill your every wish and desire and you aren’t supposed to want to be away from that child for even a nanosecond because nothing else can possibly make you happy or satisfy you.

Except, when you have a child, the child is also not supposed to fulfill your every wish and desire and you are supposed to want to continue to work and lean in and crash through glass ceilings because you are a modern woman and it takes more than hearth and home to make you happy and satisfied.

It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that you may not wholeheartedly want either of these. And to be honest about the conflict? Pure blasphemy.

Honesty is the most controversial thing to put out there. It’s uncomfortable. It doesn’t fit tidily into the story you’re trying to tell yourself and everyone else about your life. Worse, it has no place in the story other people are trying to tell themselves about their own lives.

To speak honestly requires bravery.

To recoil in horror at honesty is to be uncomfortable with real, messy, unphotogenic life.

The Wolf’s Gonna Blow It Down

It had absolutely nothing to do with me. Even talking about it the way I want to talk about it, I feel like I’m trying to put myself in a story that isn’t mine. The characters in the drama interact and their scene plays out while I bang on the glass that  keeps me out, trying to be part of it.

The day before, I drove through campus on my way home. I drove through when the building that would become a major crime scene a day later let its students out of class. They crossed the street in a seemingly unending line in front of my car. I just wanted to get home!

I was annoyed at them for no good reason, really. I was annoyed at them, not knowing that a day later one of them would be dead and all of them changed.

I can’t help but wonder if Paul Lee walked by my car that day, the last time he’d leave class. I search the pictures of the other injured students. I study the face of Jon Meis, who brought the gunman down and saved the lives of his friends, and try to jog my memory into recalling him.

It has nothing to do with me.

The night it happened, I stared blankly out my window and wondered what the students at SPU were doing at that moment. What do you do? Were they walking around like zombies, feeling, numb, feeling drained like I was? Were they drinking? Probably not. SPU doesn’t strike me as much of a party school. Were they gathered in small groups, praying, trying to talk themselves through it?

It has nothing to do with me. I would never had been in that building. But it’s a corner of my world. I drive by that building when I drive home from work. I run behind that building on my lunchtime runs along the ship canal. It’s so much a part of my world and a terrible thing happened in my world.

I thought about the bomb threat we had my senior year of high school, a year after Columbine. I thought of us joking about how we had to stay inside, away from windows. Our nervous laughter poking fun at the idea that THAT could happen to us because how can you function knowing that THAT can happen to you?

I started building a wall that day. I added another brick every time a random shooting happened. Another layer of mortar every time I wanted to curl up in a dark corner and not face the world.

I wonder how people do it in parts of the world where bombs and public attacks are a part of life.

Then, I realize this is one of those parts of the world.

My bricks and my mortar are in a pile of rubble at my feet. I can’t help feeling despair as I stare at them. I can build them as strong as I can. It’ll be fine for a while.

Until a huff and a puff and I’ll stare at the pile of rubble again.

And After All, We’re Only Ordinary Men

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I have a complicated relationship with patriotism, the military machine, and the United States and the way it behaves on a world stage (never mind the domestic). But I can’t discard the moments in history that are huge and meaningful, these moments in history that changed the world.

The landing at Normandy, D-Day, was 70 years ago today.

My Dad gave a beautiful eulogy at my Grandfather’s funeral. I only read it a couple years ago, finding it in his desk after his own death. He wrote that his Father didn’t change the world. His impact on the world was doing the ordinary things. Waking up in the morning, going to work, providing for his family. His impact on the world was doing the ordinary things that made their lives full and wonderful.

But, 70 years ago he was there.

This ordinary man was there for one of the most important moments of the 20th century.

He wasn’t an internationally acclaimed military leader. He wasn’t featured in newspapers or the movies with incredibly stories about his bravery. He was an ordinary man who was part of a moment in history.

The generals and the politicians didn’t make D-Day happen. History was changed by men like my Grandfather at Omaha beach on this day 70 years ago.

I’m incredibly proud of that.