Saturday, September 22, 2012

A Letter to a Coward

Dear Thief:

Yes, I saw what you did.

When I got back to my car today after my round of golf in Fort Myers, I saw it missing.

And  yes, I am pissed off.

First off, who in the hell gave you the right to take anything off of my car? Keep your fucking hands off my property. Secondly, the magnetic Obama bumper sticker is also my property. You stole it. 

Now I am sure the bumper sticker had no value to you – it’s not like you took it so you could sport it on your car –it’s likely in a trash can somewhere. What is obvious is you didn’t appreciate me exercising my freedom of speech and expression, which is a right in this country, even for those who disagree with you. Especially, in fact, for those who disagree with you.

You are a thief. But moreso, you are a coward. And while I’m at it, you are a nutless, gutless piece of crap unworthy of the freedoms granted to our citizens. Thieves lose those freedoms. You're obviously a Republican, so you cherish those freedoms, remember? It's your party who is railing against Obama because, among other lies your party is purporting, he is taking away our freedoms.

You took away mine. The correct term is irony. Or hypocrite. Both fit.

Now, I am sure you are likely thinking I am overreacting. Perhaps. But it bears repeating – my car and what is on it is none of your fucking business. If you don’t like what I have on it, too fucking bad. Just consider yourself lucky I didn’t witness you taking it. Not that I would have picked a fight. I just would have slashed your fucking tires. We call that frontier justice – you deface my property, I deface yours.

My buddy Mike said to me, when I noticed it missing, ‘Hey, you’re in Republican Country here in Southwest Florida, Jer.’

No. I am apparently in intolerant douchebag country.

Anyway, I hope you got a few seconds of some kind of vicarious thrill out of sticking it to someone who doesn’t share your political views. Enjoy it while you can, because once this country speaks on November 4, your frustration will return when the president in reelected in a landslide.

But you will always be a nutless, gutless thief. 

Sunday, September 16, 2012


I was driving to work the other day. In front of me was a car that had one of those stenciled sayings on the back window. Due to my obsessive habit of tailgating, I got close enough to see the message – “In Memory of (name here), July 12, 1983 – August 27, 2008.”

Now. I have never (thank God) had to bury a child. I cannot comprehend the grief a parent must live with on a daily basis as a result. It has to be a constant, consistent burden that never really ends. My heart goes out to these people for having the fortitude to even get out of bed each morning and face a life that seems so grossly unfair.

But stenciling a reminder of their sorrow the window of their car?

I don’t get that, for a couple of reasons. For one, it just doesn’t seem appropriate. Again, I am not trying to tell anyone how to grieve, but is that a proper method of doing so? I mean, the parent obviously is already ‘in memory of’ the deceased – they sure do not need reminding. Which brings me to the second reason – what are they going after – reminding the rest of the world they lost a child? Is it their intent to let total strangers, like me, know of their unfathomable burden that will beset them the rest of their life?

Why would you even care what I think? I’m just a guy following you too closely on the highway.

Sure, when I saw that message, my first thought was, ‘That poor person,’ but just a couple of seconds later my thought shifted to, what are trying to accomplish with this message?

I am going to try to inject myself into their shoes for a moment. Let’s say my son died tragically. I go through the grieving process – denial, hating God, anger, compromise, then finally acceptance. Now, where would my mind be at after all that? I honestly do not know, but really, about the last thing I would think on doing is stenciling a reminder (to who?) of my loss.

My son’s mother lost her other child tragically to a drug overdose. He was 17. She channeled her grief into action – she took autopsy photos of him to schools and spoke to other 17-year olds on what would happen to them should they follow the same path her son did. I am sure she, by doing so, saved lives. She kept other mothers from the incomprehensible sorrow of having to bury their son or daughter. To me, that was a perfect way of her to express, process, channel…and help.

What does stenciling an epitaph on a window do, other than remind? Isn’t that what gravestones are designed to do? If you want a tangible reminder, why wouldn’t you visit the cemetery or look at the urn on the shelf? Why do you want it sitting there whenever you take the car to Publix to get some milk?

I just don’t understand.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Define Yourself

This is something I’ve been cogitating on for a while.

Who am I? And I don’t mean that on some kind of existential plane; I’m not floating out there on some kind of ether looking for enlightenment. I am on more solid footing with my query. What I mean is, how would you define yourself?

What are you proud of?

What do you want written on your gravestone?

How do want to be remembered?

Give this some thought, and while you do, I am going to give you the list of things I am very proud of with hopes that perhaps it will spur you to think likewise about yourself:

I absolutely, completely love golf. This love affair started when I was ten years old, and it torridly continues 43 years later. And I’m pretty good at it, presently sporting a 5 handicap. I shot a 72 two weeks ago.

Okay, enough bragging. My point for this inclusion is I found my passion early in my life, which, I feel, puts me ahead of the majority of the planet. Having an avenue to pursue your passion is essential in life and many find it in their career. And for those people, great. They probably make a lot more money than I do. But for those people I ask this – what do you do for fun? If work is your passion, doesn’t anything else seem, well, passionless? My point is I am extremely grateful that I found my passion young, and it was in something that I will be able to do for the rest of my life.

I am a yogi! This one is recent; I just started doing yoga less than a year ago, and what an eye-opener it was. I went into it trying to find something to do that involved moving muscles. I needed some kind of exercise in my routine, and the ‘gentleness’ of yoga appealed to me. A Groupon coupon later, and I had ten yoga sessions for thirty bucks. Ten months later and I do it twice a week without fail.

Yoga has changed my life. For many it is a way of life. I’m not to that level, but I am definitely hooked. It is an experience that you always, without fail, come out of feeling better than when you went in. Namaste.

I am a writer. This has also been fairly recent, having started this blog about four years ago. I have one book published, which if I had a do-over, I would pull. I re-read parts of it the other day and it’s really kinda crappy. But I have evolved! I just finished a second book, this one a real book with a real story. And it’s real good. When this gets published you will agree.

I also don’t lack for confidence. But that doesn’t make my list here.

My point is that I found something I was good at and that I enjoy, somewhat late in life. Not that 53 is old, mind you, but it is a mirror-image to the golf thing – I found that young. This I found later, and it provides that same level of passion I feel when it hit a six iron on the screws.

Why am I proud to be a writer? Well, aside from the vicarious thrill of having people like what I write, it is this – it will outlive me. It will be my legacy. If I get hit by a truck tomorrow, this blog will still be here, as will my books.

And, finally, perhaps the most important thing I am proud of:

I am a good father. My son is now an adult, having turned 18 this past March, which is the ‘unofficial’ end of my main fatherhood duties. Yes I know it will be a lifetime job, and one that I regret not a single bit – I look forward to the coming years of helping him through college and to, hopefully, babysit grandkids. Helping to raise Nick has been the most satisfying thing I have ever done, and the results speak for themselves – he is a fine young man. Now the majority of the credit goes to his mother, and she deserves ten times more of it than I do. But I had a role, and I see it every time I am with Nick. He is me.

You will note nowhere on that list did I mention my job. I made a reference earlier to people who find passion in their work. Great. I truly am envious of those people, since they spend a large chunk of their time doing something they’re passionate about…and get paid for it. My job is not something I have a passion for. It’s something I’m good at.

But this is not supposed to be a list of things I’m good at. It’s a list of things that excite me.

What’s on your list?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Metamorphosis In Four Minutes

So I am back to musing about rock and roll again.

What brought this about? Well, per usual, an inspirative spark. In this case it was my drive home from work Friday afternoon when I was wrung out from eight hours of meetings and dysfunction. My brain was done; there was no more for it to give, and my only thoughts were how to negotiate nine miles of I-4 and what I was going to buy at the grocery store…and even those thoughts were hard to cull.

So I plugged my mp3 player into my car’s stereo and hit shuffle. Here was the first thing that came up –

Fuck yeah.

Where two miles earlier I was trying to not fall asleep behind the wheel, I was transformed into a head-banging, energy-overloaded pool of Angst DNA. Instead of gently trying to maneuver my car through the morass of Orlando traffic, I became an urban warrior in an up-plated Humvee, daring people to take me on.

Don’t tell my insurance company.

This is the power of music, and specifically rock and rock. Sure, all genres of music have that power and I am not trying to dis them, but rock is my drug. Case in point – my dear friend is going through a break-up, and her way of dealing with it was an evening of Mike’s Hard Lemonade, Blake Shelton and Lady Antebellum. If she was sad before, she was damn near suicidal afterwards. So in this instance her choice of country music (I’m sure the alcohol had nothing to do with it, heh) enhanced the mood she was already in.

And hey, if that’s how she wants to roll, roll with your bad self. But speaking only for myself, if I am sad the last thing I want is something that enhances the sadness. And if I am happy, I want something that makes me continue to feel happy.

Now, I can hear your fingers typing – “Ministry, Jer? Really? That makes you happy?”

Yes. Yes it does.

Why? Because it – and rock music in general – demands you to be happy. Sure, there are exceptions to this; one that comes to mind is Mumford and Sons, as they tend to get me thinking too introspectively about opportunities lost and of better times. My son played M&S as we were driving the Niagara Falls last month, on the same day we decided to call in Hospice for my mom, and halfway through the second song I demanded my son to change it to Green Day. I was not having a real good day, and Little Lion Man kept reminding me about the traumatic decision my siblings and me had to make earlier that day.

I mentioned Green Day. Virtually all their songs make me happy. The only one that doesn’t is Wake Me Up When September Ends, which is as melancholy as Billy Joe Armstrong gets. My son told me he wanted that played at his funeral; well that pretty much killed that song for me. I can’t hear it now without thinking of the awful possibility that I may have to one day bury my son.

Sorry dude, that’s not going to be my job, it will be your job to bury me.

So back to being happy (Please!). If it’s Green Day, give me Holiday (“The representative from California has the floor” – awesome interlude).

“I beg to dream and differ from the hollow lies!”

Fuck yeah. Again.

Last point. I get this sometimes – “Doesn’t angry music, like N.W.O. or Holiday, make you angry, Jer?”

Nope. It makes me move. It instills an anthemic to-the-core beat deep in my bones that manifests itself in purposeful striding and increased blood pressure. It makes me feel alive.

So take that, Lady Antebellum. And take a little Helmet with ya -

Fuck. Yeah.