There’s never been a problem that couldn’t be solved by imagining a world void of humans.

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Ghost

That place where fog kisses sea,
the fading tail of a falling star,
I’ve given up my name,
the definition, the decay!
If meaning is mourning than I am jubilant,
all binding without a word,
The love song particle beams at wave.
Saturn’s rings on god’s cold hand,
the skeleton’s rattle,
grandfather’s dust,
pencil notes in ancient history books.
White noise, window panes, seashell whispers.
I’ve made myself a ghost so I can live.

Vs.

X posted a ridiculous remark on my last essay about how much God seems to enjoy killing kids, Easter. Invoking freewill as their faith-fixer, claiming more or less that God wasn’t responsible for the people he kills—it’s the people’s fault for sinning. An argument that begins with victim blaming isn’t normally something I bother with, but I can’t pass up an opportunity challenge freewill.

It’s not fair to discuss this without bringing up fate. Arguments about “fate vs. freewill” have always itched under my skin, yet for the longest time I lacked the words to articulate what really bothered me and now I think I finally have them.

Would anyone be miserable or suffering, hungry, poor, sick, lonely, tired, overworked, if they could just not be so? Pull themselves up by the bootstraps, as the overused idiom goes. Do we freewill our way into welfare, war, hospital beds and heart transplants, prison, Ohio? No, we’re born into nuanced circumstances which largely dictate the short time we get to experience on this planet.

Fate is just a lazy excuse, it’s useless otherwise. “That’s just the way it is,” “we’re all gonna die anyway,” “why try?” The only people who can say that and mean it happen to be dying quite a bit quicker than a lot of us, and they usually don’t have that attitude about it. But there’s more to fate than just our ultimate one. Let’s say I win the lottery, was I destined to win $500 from a scratch-it? If yes, this implies that there is some meaning or purpose behind my luck though in truth it there is absolutely none.

Any morsel of truth or usefulness is found between the two, the “vs.”. It is the deep dreadful waters of chaos, whose waves lead us in dance to phantom music, dead space clicks, electrons bouncing off a satellite receiver. Vs. rouses us from binary constructs, comfort, ease, and offers us a lens through which we can enjoy the symphony of ideas at odds, bloodying each other’s faces for as long as we persist.

Easter

Easter is my annual reminder that Christianity borders on child-death cult, and this year it very appropriately fell on April Fool’s Day. I don’t say this to ‘rouse strong emotions, any casual reading of the Bible will have you mulling over death as it’s mentioned or referenced over 400 times in the English Standard Version. God didn’t fuck around when it came to killing, most of the Old Testament can be summed up in this verse: “Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.” Genesis opens with mind-games for the first humans, God pit Adam and Eve’s children against each other resulting in Abel’s death. Later, God could only be truly satisfied with Abraham after confirming his willingness to kill his only son. Reminds me of the plagues of Egypt, the climax being, again, the death of the firstborn sons. The second part of the Bible continues the same uninspired story. After Jesus is born, Herod, a ruler at the time, wanted to kill baby Jesus, but couldn’t locate him, “Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, became furious, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time that he had ascertained from the wise men.” The next 30 years are a Scooby-Doo mystery and the narrative returns when Jesus begins to build his holy entourage. God of the New Testament isn’t about killing everything that opposes Him, just the few who really like Him, mainly His son. But rather than force another cliche death of firstborn, there’s a twist: Christ 2.0. Had Jesus simply stayed dead, it would have been meaningful. As some of the Bible attempts to convey, Jesus gave his life for our salvation, but he rose three days later, and dying and coming back to life isn’t a sacrifice–it’s a magic trick–no different from pulling a chocolate rabbit out of a hat or sawing someone in half. If you can’t die, where then is the sacrifice? So much for salvation. All that’s left is a history of God-sanctioned death and a group of passionate followers, which to me, explains a lot of modern problems.

Men, we are the product of a society that, largely still, says it’s okay to coerce, harass, pressure and make women feel generally uncomfortable or afraid—but that’s not an excuse. This is the year the other half of the population takes back the power we’ve withheld in both passive and aggressive ways. As men, we can either acknowledge that, apologize and change how we treat women, or we can all die off. If we can’t give basic respect to each other, or better still, elevate others despite their gender, then we’re certainly not going to save our planet.

Taxation

The French Revolution began with regressive tax reformation that burdened workers and lower classes. A few years later those workers guillotined Louis XVI. Forgive me for being heavyhanded. But, what does it take to get a very small group of assholes, who have all the money, to indulge a fucking history book?

Nothing Makes Me Better

Lately, I’ve made a much more conscious effort to treat people better. Not because it’s the holidays or to walk some “higher road”—I started thinking about how I treat people and why. I found myself running a marathon of thoughts. Decades of circumstances all dancing seamlessly, selfishly, and vastly out of my control. So it goes for us all, gears, pins, springs, dials, and hands in a clock without numbers, and in this I find the patience to treat others, and myself, well.

Guns Don’t Kill People, Heart Attacks Kill People

I have an awkward relationship with almost all of my family, my stepdad, in particular, and it hasn’t changed now that I’m 32 and he’s dying of heart failure.

He’s had heart problems for a long time. It never struck me as odd or out of the ordinary, even after they initially developed. I don’t remember if I called him after his first surgery.

I drop the “step” and call him “dad” because that’s the role he took. While my sperm donor (we don’t talk), John, was in Michigan (getting krunk), my dad was doing likewise while also providing barbequed ribs, AOL, cable, and a waterbed—you don’t hear much about waterbeds anymore—they’re not good for you.

Before I started Middle School we moved into a Pepto-pink house. Neither parent had no intention of repainting it. They worked too much and had their own priorities. For my dad, it was his prized hot tub, photojournalism (he worked for the Valley Morning Star, but his real passion was, and still is, animal photography), and weed.

Not long after we settled in he wanted me to do chores around the house like cleaning dishes, picking up his dogs’ shit, bathing his dogs, feeding his dogs, and picking up trash from our front lawn. I was paid for my work but criticized regularly for missing the occasional piece of trash or pile of shit.

He also insisted that I refer to him and other men as “Sir” and my mother and other women as, “Ma’am”. Binary. This was not a public formality, this was a general expectation along with holding doors, standing when a woman returned to her seat at the dinner table (so old-timey), and many more things nobody does as an adult (not even him). He threatened to spank me if I didn’t, which he only did on a couple of occasions when I was really young.

But that never stopped either from threatening to spank me—my mom was just as guilty. A lot of kids grow up and naturally realize their parents can’t just hit them anymore, but that line was blurred during that time of my life.

He’s laying in a hospital bed, eating hospital food, and making Facebook posts. A mid-century Texan born into a wealthy farm family, Smith. He was almost the Marlboro Man—another gem you don’t hear much about today. After his career in journalism was put to an abrupt end he started driving a Truck. Then came the pacemaker, and then, a decade later, a massive heart attack. Told me he didn’t even realize it. Said he felt off and drove home on a hunch. He was scheduled for a quadrupedal bypass the next morning.

I can’t remember if I called. I’ve always kept myself at a distance from my family, both literal and emotional. When I was 11 or 12 my parents separated. My mom and I lived together for about a year before we nearly got into an altercation over the amount of oil necessary to fry frozen chicken nuggets (our hands clutched each other’s shirts and our fists were drawn). A few weeks later I flew up to Michigan to live with John and my sister, Nicole.

A few months after I graduated from high school and turned 18, I moved to Las Vegas, and that’s about the time my dad started driving. A few months later Facebook launched. He didn’t discover it until much later (and I’m very grateful), he joined and now he’s posting selfies, sticking his tongue out and quoting the Borg, “resistance is futile”, while his heart is functioning at 20 percent. A thumb up, heart or any of the other fucking emojis just don’t articulate how I feel.

He also has to comment on every single thing I post that’s even slightly political. All he wanted to talk to me about after the recent Las Vegas mass-shooting was an article I posted about Australia’s gun buyback (which worked great). He wrote me via Messenger, “…left forearm that has an infection from iv in Tyler. A note on gun control. Ask the American Indians how allowing their guns collected worked out. A long list of nations fell to dictators and evil rule. I wouldn’t trust any country of individual who collected the firearms. Just food for thought.” And no, he didn’t spare me the cliché cherry on top: “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Then he ended with, “Long road to a heart transplant. Hard to wrap my head around it.”

He’s still in the hospital and he essentially has two options: heart pump or transplant. I talked to Nicole today and she tells me He’s leaning towards the pump, they have about the same life expectancy. He’ll have seven or eight more years to bitch about my Facebook posts and take pictures of hummingbirds.