Southeast of Eden?

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Adjective joke: The sign indicated “Reserved Parking,” but the guy who exited his vehicle was one of the most aloof people I had ever seen.

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Overly-descriptive analogy for the morning: “…it was the type of morning for which you would gladly insert your head into the slivered aperture of a storm drain, hoping that Pennywise the Clown were there, anticipating your arrival…”

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Confirmed: local hospitals are offering free wound care to any Arkansas Razorback fan who is still deeply butthurt.

No word yet on whether Beliema’s $11,000 a day was wounded, though.

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The old man turned to yell at me. “Hold your horses!”

“Mister,” I replied, “I can barely get them to cuddle!”

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Sometimes, location matters. Imagine if we’d grown up watching the “Werewolf of Toledo” instead of the horror classic as we know it.

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Because they warned me to dress formally, I appeared at the gala wearing my best birthday-suit-and-tie.

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I woke up to a Monday morning. I dread the day – not because of the calendar, but because I can write 90% of the conversations I’m going to see and hear today before they occur. Don’t blame me as I creatively avoid the inevitable onslaught of news interpretations in favor of seeing things for what they are: overwhelmingly normal with a chance of crazies.  (Written the morning after the Las Vegas shooting…)

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Inexplicably dangerous: playing The Cars’ seminal 80s hit song “Shake It Up” on the company sound system at Dynco Nitroglycerin Manufacturing.

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“I’m not saying that the small town’s police force is racist. On the other hand, they did arrest a can of black paint the other day.”

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Culinary Science Fact: calamari was actually the result of an experiment gone awry. Two teams of scientists were investigating both calamari and nasal discharge. They got the samples mixed up and both were rated as “edible.” It’s been hell ever since.

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If Target or Wal-Mart wants to play Xmas music already, you should rejoice. That means that big business thinks that Trump won’t have effed-up the entire country by then. That’s optimism, the fundamental essence of Xmas.

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For a short time, I had a parrot that loved nuance, trivia, and arcane little-known facts: he was a technical fowl.

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“Why do you insist that a sense of humor is our greatest gift” He asked me.

“Well, your face is sufficient proof that our creator indeed had an unrivaled sense of the hilarious,” I replied, a small smile touching the corners of my mouth.

PS: I value wit over popularity

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 It turns out that my Bedroom Gong wasn’t the best idea…

…but I’m basing that conclusion solely on the murderous look on my wife’s face this morning at 5 a.m.

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It occurs to me that he is also the Inedible Hulk, too.

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I recall with fondness the halcyon days of my youth – especially that time when I entered my sawhorse in the Ozarks Rodeo.

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Strange and Inappropriate Juxtapositioning:

Is it just me or is there something amiss with playing Michael Jackson’s greatest hits at an 8-year old’s birthday party?

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I spent about 2 hours in the dentist’s chair this afternoon. He was pissed when he came home and found me napping there.

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October Surprise

Every once in a while, I walk somewhere new, where I’m not sure in which direction the roads might run – or if the road continues at all. There’s something about the unexpected that makes an otherwise uneventful walk a tad better. Because I found a new combination of places this morning, I walked much further than I intended. But because I encountered no one, I walked the roads as if I owned them. In a sense, when I’m the only one on them, I suppose that I do. At one point, I smelled the faint odor of tobacco and thought I could discern the orange glow of a cigarette, but I couldn’t be certain. I waved to the dark place containing the tip of the glowing cigarette and continued on. It amuses me to think that whoever was standing there was startled by the idea that I might be able to see him or her in the dark. Yes, it’s not smart to wander unfamiliar roads before the sun rises to greet me – but it is the only way I can be the sole owner for a brief moment.

I could see the horses to my left shortly after I started walking. The bright moon above gave their silhouettes a pronounced presence against the slight hill they were standing on. It seemed like I could walk up and reach out across the brush and touch them. On the way back, I stopped to approach the gate near the road. The white horse with dark flanks turned and came up to the fence. Unwisely, I reached out my hand, expecting the horse to eat at least two of my fingers. Instead, it pushed its head down across the gate and rubbed the side of my hand and arm. He stood, patiently, as I rubbed the side of his head with one hand, then two. I agree that it’s unwise to do this before 5 a.m. but in my defense, I think that we parted as friends. Although that horse may indeed bite me the next time I reach out my hand, I will be able to recall a surreal October morning when he dropped his guard and said hello.

In one spot, near a wide, open creek bed, I passed an imposing manor. Much of its profile was lit by arcing security lights. They might have been bragging lights, too, given the scope and intricacy of the house they were illuminating. The house was enormous, with a rolling yard and a gate which cost more than a new kidney. Oddly, though, the towering iron gates were wide open, as if they were an invitation to me to come inside and have a grilled cheese sandwich. The house seemed like it would have been a better fit in the countryside of England. Against the driveway, there was a small street sign. It probably said, “Don’t even think about it.” I took a picture of it but all I have to prove it is a large white blob, as its reflective surfaced rebelled from being captured in a picture.

As I turned from the apex of my walk, I discovered that I had been walking up a very long hill, imperceptibly taking me toward a rise I couldn’t see as I walked. Off in the distance, I could see a tower with its blinking warning light. The wind, already blowing with some force, escalated and began to whip at me at that elevation. It was a beautiful sight, looking toward the distant skyline and feeling the wind’s invitation to take flight and disappear into the night. Like most things, the view differed drastically coming from the opposite direction.

The full moon was a couple of nights ago, so the moon above wasn’t full, but it certainly shone brightly. The sky was intermittently broken by swaths of cotton ball and gauzy clouds. All the details of the early morning were starkly illuminated by strong shadows.

While I was admiring the sky, a dog materialized from either Hell or the dark shadows of the treeline along the road. He lunged and barked viciously. The only reason I didn’t get bit was because I jumped toward him, ready to stick my hand down his throat and yank his innards out through his mouth. He retreated for a moment. I elegantly turned and ran. Being an adult, though, I planned my vengeance. Before heading back toward the spot of the dog’s assault, I snapped a large branch off of one of the trees lining the road. I pulled off the little limbs and twigs of the stick as I walked back. As I neared the house where the canine resided, I readied my stick. Again, instead of barking in advance, the dog waited and I almost missed his silhouette by the edge of the road. As he jumped out to chase me, I stopped, raising the stick above me. I was going to show that dog what a headful of stars looked like. I’m not sure what changed the dog’s mind, though, because he continued to angrily bark as he ran past me and across a wide expanse of yard behind me. I put the stick in the driveway where the dog had originally emerged, as a gift to the owner.

Since the roads were desolate, I decided to go shirtless. Not since I was on the cover of “Least Likely” magazine have I wandered the streets in such a state. The breeze was simply too pleasant and I decided that if I did accidentally encounter someone on the roads at that hour, they would be too startled to object. I walked mile after mile, feeling the air on me and the trees rustling their approval.

As tired as I was, I stood near my car, feeling the wind howl around me. Someone watching me might have been concerned for my mental health. Unlike that hypothetical observer, though, I’ll remember this morning for a long time, perhaps forever, and most likely for reasons which might seem inconsequential to you. It was the perfect October morning, before the encroaching cold, before the bonfires on Friday evenings, and in advance of the hordes of costumes scampering around the streets.

I wish you could have been there, given that I don’t possess the words to convey the sublime pleasure of the morning. I could almost see the glittery magic dust in the air as I sighed and got in my car, returning to own version of normalcy and daily duties.

In my mind, though, I’m still standing on that unknown road, at the top of an immense hill, as the wind prepares to give me wings.

No Law Against 365 Days of Xmas Decorations

Please forgive my passive-aggressive, tongue-in-cheek commentary…

Off the wall observation: Springdale has no law which prevents someone from leaving up holiday lights all year. So, if the POA/HOA doesn’t have one either, this means that I am perfectly fine installing the gaudiest, ugliest, flashiest nonsense that I wish to- and never, ever remove them, no matter how pitiful they begin to look or how many passers-by become strangulated by their hanging presence. This also means that those neighbors who have already decided they were going to do this starting last year are free to continue to do so.

I’m torn about this absence of a rule requiring holiday displays to be removed after a certain period of time. On the other hand, though, it presents a lunatic such as me plenty of room to make the city of Springdale regret this oversight. Who among us doesn’t want to see all the reindeer and a 9-foot Santa 365 days a year?

PS: I’m going to sneak over to a couple of houses and ADD lights to those they left up last year. I might even fix the string of lights a couple of houses down which shorts and arcs sparks across the guttering from time to time. It’s pretty at night, though, so maybe I won’t.

John-The-Catalyst’s Lesson For Today

Note of warning…The following is a paraphrasing of something that will either turn on a bulb on in your head or trigger mild irritation. Either way, listen closely to the revelation buried in your reaction. X
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From John-The-Catalyst

The fact that you take a moment to bitch about what someone is wearing, the way they do their hair, sing, dance, or how they choose to speak is proof beyond a doubt that you believe that what other people think truly matters.

It’s the only logical continuation of your complaint.

If what other people think truly doesn’t matter, then exactly who are you complaining to and for what reason?

Your words of derision don’t reach the person you judge. Their lives continue on, pursuing their own chosen course.

You, though, have appointed yourself to be the arbiter of taste and decorum. To deny this is to misunderstand your own words and motives.

Even if you do tell the other person of your thoughts, anyone free of external validation will recognize your pettiness as just that. Anyone wounded by your words was already suffering – and your efforts have made the world incrementally worse by your presence in that moment.

If you don’t understand your own motives and self, who is the greater fool: he who wears clothing which doesn’t meet your approval or he who fails to see himself as a unique creature with free will?

Face facts. You judge the clothing, style, and bearing of another person to improve your own self-image for a brief and fleeting moment. It escapes from your grasp as soon as you utter the words.

The very nature of your words implies a superiority of perspective, if not worth, between individuals.

It is the most inauthentic to way to proceed in your life. You’ll feel powerless to stop it and perhaps to even try, even if you recognize the futility of anything except humorous observation.

All of us look and sound stupid and uninteresting to someone else. As you lean over to whisper a comment regarding another person, be assured that on the horizon stands your judge, barbed words at the ready.

The Morning of Shoes

I walked down the middle of Pleasant Street this morning. It lived up to its name for once. There was a single shoe in the exact middle of the road. It wouldn’t have surprised me to find an unattached foot in it but it turned out to have a pair of sunglasses inside. I tossed it to the sidewalk, hoping that no one with sun allergies was wandering the metropolis sans shoe. I know it’s not safe or smart to walk in the road, especially when every fifth car is probably being navigated by someone smelling of the fumes of a Corona or Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. I’ve often mentioned how liberating it is to own the road and the slumbering town around it. It is a sensation that I already know that I’ll miss when infirmity eventually robs me of my ability to walk the abandoned nighttime roads.

Seeing the high school from every angle certainly amplified the size of the place compared to when I crawled the halls there. It is much more majestic in the deep night, each light inside highlighting a plaque, a shadowy doorway, or polished surface. It was the embodiment of an empty world awaiting its inhabitants, both timeless and anticipatory. It is a haunted place, its souls imprinted there from the thousands of students and faculty who’ve resided within, concentric lives centered upon a collective of buildings with a single purpose.

Walking around business 71, I couldn’t help but intercept a group of young people exiting an eatery. One of the young men had a mostly finished bottle of beer in his hand. He raised it in salute and then turned to laugh with his other friends. I couldn’t imagine drinking at 5 a.m. and still be laughing. It’s a sure sign of old age when a cup of coffee and a comfortable chair defeats the call of the wild and youth. Although they wouldn’t understand the joke, I wanted to yell, “Get off my lawn!” in mock humor.

As I passed McDonald’s, I had the momentary urge to run inside and order 15 breakfast sandwiches and eat them all, without even bothering to take the paper off the outside first. The aroma was momentarily maddening, like when you visit a pizzeria and get your first sniff of the yeasty crust, certain that you will literally die before getting a bite of it. After a moment though, the siren call of the aroma changed and soured in my head to one of cloying grease in a pan of cooling water.

Heading back to my car, my feet demanded that I walk another long circuit, this time around the circumference of Murphy Park, a beautiful place transformed by the recent modernization of its features. As I was watching the geese and the ducklings circling around them near one of the central fountains, I didn’t notice the form seated on one of the trailside benches. He was seated, motionless, a hoodie covering his head against the chilly air. Had he screamed “Boo!” as I approached, I would have undoubtedly needed a new pair of underwear. I said “Guten morgen” instead of “Hello,” and he didn’t reply, move or give any sign that he saw me – or indeed that he was even alive at all. I’ll admit I looked back at least twice as I moved away from him. For all I know, he was the grim reaper, having lost his scythe. I saw no reason to invite any trouble, despite that fact that trouble has me on speed-dial.

Peering into the library from a distance, it occurred to me that I’m a terrible criminal. I’d rather break into the library and sit among the million books than magically appear in a bank vault. At the heart of the matter is the insufficient number of minutes allotted in life. No matter how pronounced my greed to consume even 1% of all the books, life’s stop sign will reach me before I can fulfill such a desire. Even though I love libraries, I still dislike hoarding books myself. I have a very few at home, nestled in a box, ones with names like “Night of the Avenging Blowfish” and titles in Spanish. The best books live a little each day in my mind, memories of other worlds and people. They are far safer there, virtually comforting me.

If you find another solitary shoe in the road in Springdale, pick it up and drive by the park and library. Toss the shoe into the bushes. Just don’t make eye contact with the faceless void of anyone wearing a hoodie.

An Anecdote and Some Thoughts

 

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This morning, I walked on the Elm Springs side of town. Because a social media friend reminded me of him yesterday, I listened to Ludovico Einaudi, a neglected Italian pianist and musical friend I discovered 3-4 years ago. I walked westward for a while and when I looped back, I cut through along Oak Grove road. There’s a beautiful white-planked country church about halfway down the road, and I wanted to see it in the mysterious hours of the morning. Along 48th Street, the next streetlight in front of me went out, probably on a timer, and everything turned to black. Until Macadoodles way ahead, the entire swath was empty – and mine. To my right was the huge expanse of undeveloped land next to the interstate. To my left, more empty land. I turned down my music and stood in the middle of the road in this darkness, watching the bullets of traffic hurl along the interstate, each one undoubtedly destination-focused. After a minute of observation, I turned Ludovico up and continued along the urban sprawl. Even though I had meandered much longer than I intended, I walked across the interminable Wal-Mart perimeter, going down the road which warned, “Street Closed” by way of traffic barriers. I ignored them and walked along the dead end avenue. It ends abruptly fairly close to the interstate as it travels parallel to it. Dawn and I had visited this terminus shortly after the road was constructed; it still has an other-worldly feeling to it in the dark of night. Coming back, I watched the silhouette of a Wal-Mart worker as he used a jabber to collect the never-ending trash from around the store. Even though I was just a dim outline to him, he waved toward me and I responded by waving both arms above my head for no reason whatsoever.
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If you ever feel life is too short, ask a friend who is “taking a break from social media” about his or her reasons. The explanation will be so tediously long that you’ll beg for the sweet release of death.
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“The hurricane became disorganized and weakened, then wandered off course and disappeared” would be an ideal way to describe a typical day where I work.
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Grammar is the comfortable refuge of anyone choosing to write ideas as if everything is “bcc.”
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Also, as the frequency with which a person uses “bcc” increases, so does the likelihood that you should NEVER take this person to an amusement park or with you as you try a new restaurant.
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It’s either comical or tragic to realize that the highlights of your life could be used exclusively as a blooper reel for a documentary on the human condition.
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Never start a fight with someone who has one twitchy eye.

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Minimalism isn’t about taking things away. It’s about posting pictures of exotic living rooms you’d never want to be in, at least judging by 90% of all minimalism websites.

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Part of my healthier eating plan includes potatoes. Potatoes are the bath towels of Xmas gifts. You love them if they are disguised as french fries or buried in sour cream but otherwise, meh. But I love them unconditionally, even in raw chunks. Sliced and roasted though, potatoes are the platform which propels this simple food into the realm of ‘gourmet.’ I’ve eaten so many potatoes in the last few months that I thought I was buying marijuana, as they have names that vegetables shouldn’t have: Yukon gold, Russet Burbank, Duke of York, Kennebec, and… Laura. And then I see news stories like this one, which make me an amateur in spud consumption by comparison: Man Eats Only Potatoes For a Year.

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It’s strange to confirm what I’ve known for a long time: it’s a waste to feel impressed with most people, as they are literally ‘winging it’ about much of what they seem to know and certainly for the decisions they make. We have so much self-doubt only because we know the gaps in our minds and life, while those same chasms in other lives are mostly invisible to us. These sort of revelations also tend to trigger disillusionment toward those we hope might help us live happier lives. There are many people out there to learn from – but beware, as the number of delusional ‘one-answer’ folks tend to shout the loudest from the highest podium.

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I’ve had this crazy idea for years that radio stations should intersperse songs with fascinating bits of trivia or news, very short in length – and not just about music, but about the world, arts, history, and people. I think it would be a spectacular thing that would lessen the monotony of over-the-air radio and get people to talk about different things again. For example, after a Beiber song, we should hear a short anecdote about how to apologize.

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A wise man once said, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” I can see that you agree with this idea; yet, you’re probably reading this, making coffee, and juggling live otters as you nod your head. Isn’t it amazing how we know these simple things and spend our entire lives fighting their application?

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From The Book of Platitudes, Chapter 5, Verse 2: “Thou shalt not assume the role of superior, even when circumstances apparently warrant it.”

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Contradictory Law of Argumentation: As you get older, you inevitably realize that almost all arguments are pointless and stop participating. Logically, then, at some point, only those who haven’t learned anything are the ones still arguing.

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I love you all, but…: expecting people to stop putting their feet on the dash while in the car is pure fantasy. We can’t even get people to stop drinking and driving – much less waving guns in the air from road rage.

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“Your god is a TV channel, one filled with word static and droplets of fear. Mine is the one granting us complete autonomy of this universe, to understand it or not, improve it or don’t, and to stop squandering every opportunity to move forward.” – John The Catalyst

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A Road By Another Name

Last week, I discovered that South Hewitt Springs road is the same one as a county road by a number which escapes me. It seemed blindingly obvious once I walked off of it onto Parsons Road. Due to a condition I refer to as “being old,” I hadn’t made the connection coming from the other direction. There are times when I set off walking not sure where I’m going or that the road I’m following comes out somewhere recognizable. Dawn has joked that I’m going to end up on a milk carton; this would be doubly amusing given my aversion to drinking milk. It would be triply hilarious if I accidentally wander inside a cow pasture and get tenderized by the hooves of a herd of dairy cattle.

As I cut through Parsons Road, a very elderly man was inching his way from an outbuilding back to his house. While he wasn’t 100 years old, he walked as if he personally had carried the last 3 generations on his back. I guessed that he was 90+, which means he has 40-something years on me. I wondered how many miles I might traverse before my body gives out. Life already feels long to me. To look back after 40 more years is going to look like an infinite encyclopedia, its pages laid carefully end-to-end, without end, so to speak.

I’d like to think in 10 more years, I will have walked every street, lane, avenue, and road in the city of Springdale. It seems more likely as I continue to discover places which have been previously hidden in plain sight.

PS: When I got home, I used a map to find the house of the elderly man on an aerial overlay and then used this to find the owners on actDataScout. (DataScout superimposes an overlay with the owner’s names and property limits directly in your browser. It is a powerful tool.) You might be thinking that this leads to more questions than answers. In this case, you would be correct. After my eavesdropping incident earlier in the week, I didn’t resist my curiosity this time. The problem with knowing a little, though, is that I always want to know more.

Below, I’ll put a sample screenshot of what you can see if you use the mentioned website. Before you have a privacy-induced nervous breakdown, please stop and remember that this information is already publicly available, without charge. I’ve written about it before but sometimes people think I’m exaggerating or have omitted some crucial step.

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Wasps, And Wasps Behind Walls

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On the way home today, I followed my instincts and pulled over somewhere I had not yet walked, a place not aligned with pruned trails nor convenient walking. I left my car parked in a place better suited for vertigo-afflicted mountain goats and started walking. Most of the road was built without regard for humans; vehicles were the intended possessor of the asphalt strips I chose today. I knew that off in the distance as I reached an affluent area, the sidewalks would magically appear. It’s strange that it is more likely that roads will have sidewalks in the very neighborhoods where people seldom use them and yet, among those who are in need, they are absent like one’s written family tree at a reunion. I decided that if a vehicle didn’t wish to move slightly over as I walked, that I would fling myself into the thorny underbrush in deference to their overwhelming mass.

As I reached the immaculately-maintained area of the Cleverly Hillbillies, I heard voices tinged with venom. Two voices went from indistinct to perfect diction after about twenty steps. It was apparent that they were sitting in the unseen backyard of their property, oblivious to the world outside. The neighborhood is one of those with an elaborate stone and brick wall, one reaching 8 or 9 feet high. I think that perhaps those two people arguing beyond the great stone wall near the Italian-villa neighborhood would be embarrassed to know that I could hear the intimate and complex shadings of their traded barbs. It seems as if this million-dollar wall somehow had failed to provide the promised happiness they sought when they were younger. I shouldn’t judge because I can’t know for certain that this type of argument isn’t routine and that the verbal daggers I was hearing were imaginary. My experience tells me, however, that this verbal duel was both routine and viciously new. I wish they would sell their mansion and argue on a beach. At the least, the sand in their feet would overlook a new perspective, even if they still turned toward one another to punch each other verbally.

I briefly considered yelling, “Shut up! You’re rich but you sound like my neighbors, the ones who can’t even afford a trip to Bethel Heights.” I very much wanted to match faces to the disembodied voices wafting from over the tall wall. I took a golf pencil from my pocket and made a small “X” on the gray stone of the nearest vertical column holding the immense structure vertical. I did so because it occurred to me that I could then return and use the address on the other side to discern names, then faces, then details of their lives. Being modern people, I had no doubt that much of the superficial nature of their lives would reveal itself to me. While they might have their privacy settings on social media locked to prevent unwanted eyes, they had forgotten that beyond their high wall, the one purportedly providing security and distance from the world, had also made them drop their guard against people walking the street beyond it. I was able to hear them in their most intimate moment, teeth bared in anger at one another. As soon as this idea of discovery struck me, I abandoned it, knowing that the mystery of the unhappy lives on the other side was more compelling to me than knowing their stories. I left them behind, their voices still crescendoing and ebbing in turn.

It seems absurd to know that a couple of people of decent wealth took time out in the middle of their day on Tuesday to rant at one another, doesn’t it? Not that Wednesday is the ideal day for such a thing, either. It occurs to me that I should send them a postcard to let them know that I hope their marriage survives. Would such a card help or hinder this effort?

So, I walked on, alone, in the middle of the day, the sun watching me as I made my progress along the new territory. The sidewalk was lined on both sides with beautifully-coiffed trees, their overhead limbs creating an austere canopy above me as I moved. It was strange to enjoy the tranquility of these trees, knowing that the residents behind the security wall paid a monthly reminder to keep it so elegant. I wondered, “Who owns it? He who pays for it or he who enjoys it?”

Before I turned to make my way back, a red wasp emerged from the recesses of a green trash container on the edge of the road. It flew directly toward me; had I not been looking directly at it, I’m sure I would now have a bright red stinger emerging from the tip of my nose. As it was, I reacted with grace. I’m kidding. I shrieked involuntarily and flailed around as if someone had just thrown a cupful of spiders into my knickers. I’m certain my idiocy was apparent as I writhed around to fight off the ongoing approach of the wasp as it buzzed around my head. I ran away from the red demon and kept walking.

Like most delicious stories of vengeance, however, this ended badly for the miscreant wasp. While it had forgotten me, I had not forgotten him. As I approached the scene of the initial (and unreported attack), I watched the confines of the green container closely. I crept up from the rear with my hat upraised. As I peered on the far side, I could see that the wasp was about to launch after me again. I swatted and scored a direct hit on the bastard, knocking him to the ground. Since I couldn’t Mike Tyson his ear, and not only because wasps don’t have ears), I jumped and reduced the wasp to particles. Victory was mine. It didn’t occur to me until much later that it could have ended badly had there been more than one wasp at the container. The aura of vengeance was therefore reduced by the uncertainty that the wasp I killed in revenge might have been an innocent bystander at the same container. I hope the owners of the trash receptacle were watching me from their windows. Perhaps if so, they are at this very moment writing a story regarding the ridiculous of a grown man waging war via his hat with flying insects.

PS: I wanted to use the marker in my pocket to draw a tiny outline of the wasp’s body on the pavement, as a warning to other wasps. While amusing, I had my doubts the owners of the driveway would see the humor in such a thing.

 

 

Of Protests, Kneeling, and Democracy

A large group of several hundred protesters gathered near the intersection of Edinger and Bristol, at approximately 9:00 p.m. Wednesday night. Protesters gathered to voice their dissent over the election of Donald Trump in Santa Ana early tonight. The protest took a violent turn when protesters began lobbing mortars at officers later in the night. Police used non lethal weapons to control the crowd, who were throwing bottles, mortars, and other objects at officers. Santa Ana PD was assisted by multiple agencies from around Orange County.

You’re one of two people: the man shouting or the man covering his ears.

Everything we’ve achieved in this country resulted from those shouting and seldom from those who seek silence or conformity.

The status quo favors those in the majority, those holding the reins of power, and those with the gold.

Shouts and powerful whispers threaten all three. The shouts aren’t simply demanding more. They demand equality in every respect – and not simply in the material realm, but in the spiritual, and in the minds of men as all of us conduct our daily affairs.

That such an action would threaten democratic ideals instead of reinforcing them is one of the most quixotic and incomprehensible lines of reasoning I’ve ever encountered.

That the majority grumbles in response is one of the most viable signals that words or actions of protest committed peacefully are striking at the heart of their discomfort.

It is only through discomfort that we might collectively agree that we have stepped off the path that should guide us. Democracy is always an uneasy alliance of interests. We should beware of anyone who falsely claims that those who seek change are lesser citizens. These allegations tarnish those making them.

This country belongs to all of us, not just those displaying a glib grasp of patriotism. Those who are shouting are doing us and democracy a great service, even if we find ourselves in a position of discomfort.

We are a nation of better ideas. Let’s hear them and those who aren’t satisfied with where we are.

Despite my fair skin and privileged life, I tend to find myself leaning to hear the words of those who are kneeling, shouting, or trying to tell us something. It’s the least I can do, literally. Learning and growth only occur through challenging all our supposed truths.