On Gratitude

Last night I got some very sad and tragic family news. I will not divulge details, but this affects us all and it is heartbreaking. I needed to calm myself down from being upset about it, so I went to the pool so I could swim my daily laps and work some frustration out. It was 111°F today. I don't mind the heat, in fact I like it - but while stretching out my back in the pool and standing waist deep in the water dripping wet, a nice cooling breeze enveloped me like a hug, and I thought of my dear Shane and how that happened in 100°F heat at his graveside service - and it felt like a final hug from him. I stretched all of my limbs and thanked the Earth for that momentary gift.

I got out to dry off and the sun felt amazing on my back. I sat there in my personal oasis and thought of my beloved Damien, and how he makes everything in my universe right for me without even trying. He can come home when I'm having the worst day and the mere sound of his key in the lock can set everything okay and I feel safe, and free from any harm. I thanked the universe for him and our life together that we have worked so hard for.

Walking home from the pool I caught the scent of honeysuckle, and I stopped, closed my eyes, and breathed it in so deeply I could taste it. I was so grateful for that sense memory and the reminder of what is possible when you stop for a minute and switch gears to humility.

I'm wrapped in love, all the time, and this is how I honor that.
Balloon Boy

Parenting & Imparting Life Lessons

I posted this to my Facebook wall because it was hysterically funny, and because I can relate to these parents. I think anyone for whom this resonates will get it, and can find the commonality we share with those who would do such stuff to make a point to their children. Or rather will, as is our collective fate, do this stuff to further terrorize our children into learning the most important life lessons the only way we are certain to know how. We're just wired that way, we'll sink your fucking ship in a minute with an epic prank when your ego gets in your own way. It's just who we are, there wasn't much choice in the matter beyond how we communicate all that. It got me thinking about the kinds of life lessons we should be imparting in our children, so that we send respectable, trustworthy, capable, and intelligent people out into the world when it's their time to fly.

I would like it known that while I read that failblog article with the hilarious pictures, and while I'm writing this down, I'm thinking of and channeling my beloved friend and phenomenal single mom vastlymore, who does this kind of shit to her son Jake ALL. THE. TIME. The beauty of it is Jake is an awesome guy with a fantastic sense of self, sense of humor, and empathy for others. That is a direct correlation between who he is as a person and who has dedicated her life to raising him and sweating how she does it by kicking her own ass to make sure she's doing right by her son. For which I adore her - and then there's her WICKED sense of humor. I understand her in fundamental ways, because she loves her baby boy as much as I love my babies. There are many others who might read this and who feel similarly, but this one goes out to Kristen - because she deserves it, just as she deserves to feel as beautiful as I believe she is.

Here are a few of those important life lessons for our children, Biscuit style. Feel free to add more, or gank these and make them your own if you like.

1. LIGHTEN THE FUCK UP. I respect and appreciate your intelligence and temperament, but you have to know that other people are just going to do what the fuck they want most times, as is their right, whether or not you like it or care, AND YOU HAVE NO CONTROL OVER THAT. Get right with that now, for the same reason you got over expecting to get a new toy each time we passed Toys-I-Lust, and it was okay. I believe in you - the POWER of you - to know when it's time, when it's just over, and when it's just broken. Also, can we agree, Smart Child O' Mine, to cut the shit with the "OMG, I ALREADY KNOW THIS, LIKE, UGH, BOOOORIIING, LIKE... blah blah blah Kardashians blah blah h.i.m. best EVAR blahbitty blah blah blah" bullshit, please? Beautiful child with the gorgeous everything, consider ME for a moment. Train thyself to consider who I am and what I've studied and debated before reacting as though you know more than I do. Being fair, yeah - you might know a thing or six that I don't enough to speak with some measure of authority on the subject, I just know more THINGS than you do, so lighten the fuck up and show some respect. Also, so I won't have to verbally bitchslap you so fucking hard you'll be stunned for the first 10 minutes after before you even feel it. You knew this snake bit when you picked it up, take responsibility - I'll only dole that shit out when you deserve it.

2. I will always be the softest place you'll ever need or want to land on. I will also be the one who walks into the mythical fires of Hell itself, simply to grab you by the hand and pull you out and into my safety. I will respect the boundaries of your privacy as is age appropriate for you, specifically for you, because you're not a child - you're not even MY child - you are a completely unique individual. I just ask to be included in the things that affect you, so I can best encourage you to be the best YOU you are capable of. I will never lie to you - but so help me, if you ever lie to me willfully and intentionally, the wrath that will come down on you will be so epic that intelligent alien life approaching Earth from space will see it and say to each other "UH-UH, OH H A I L naw, we're not stopping and getting all up in that shit - keep going." Be told, and don't think you're clever enough to test me on this stuff. I know you think it's crafty of you to think you're getting over on me, but let me tell you, that ain't SHIT. Any time you try to manipulate me, I'm only pretending to buy it because I'm hip to you and secretly thinking "OMG, look how cute you are right now with this, you really think this is working!" Unfortunately or you, *I* know how to take Mom's car out of the driveway and go joyriding at age 15 on a Tuesday school night, and get in all kinds of potential trouble, without ever getting caught. I was getting in bar fights at 17. Trust me boo, you ain't shit - I can smell deception like a fart in a car, and worst of all, I'm able to seamlessly go from 0 to fucking CRAZY before you even catch on. I'll buy into it like I have no idea what's really going on, and then come out of the ether like the fucking Batman and wreck your whole week - and you KNOW this. My point here is just don't, because this is what the consequences are, and you really don't want to be bringing the redneck out of me. Every sense I have as a parent is finely tuned and driven by pure will and determination, so I'm in your head and heart and will die before I willingly allow harm to come to you - including your own self-harm.

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Go Obey Your Husband You Stupid Republic

This Week In Bachmann Lunacy

For Michele Bachmann, another week at the top of the heap made for a lot of repetition. She's still beefing with Tim Pawlenty. She's still at war with gay people, because they keep "harassing" the Family Bachmann for being constantly hostile to their interests. As a result, she's still affixing her signature to every anti-gay pledge she can get her hands on, and dodging questions about her family business of ex-gay crank therapy. She's also still terrified of modernity -- high-quality, energy-efficient lightbulbs that save ordinary people money and fast-moving trains that save ordinary people time remain existential threats to America, and freedom, as far as she's concerned.

That doesn't mean that the week didn't contain some new spice. Jon Huntsman, for example, scandalized himself when he called Bachmann "photogenic." So, that happened, in America.

Also happening in America, of course, was the final act of the Debt Ceiling Kabuki, a matter that compelled Bachmann to leave Iowa and return to Washington in order to participate in the end of functional government, forever. Of course, the deal that was wrought was not good enough for Bachmann. She cast her vote against it on the grounds that the end of functional government wasn't sufficient unless it was combined with a default that would also cause the end of the global economy. To make up for her absence, Bachmann spent money on an Iowa ad buy, where she reminded Iowans that she would have preferred that whole destruction-of-civilization-through-a-Treasury-default outcome, "Believe it!"

Yes, heroes, it's always worth remembering that Bachmann just doesn't have even an elementary grasp of economic basics. And she's taken the appropriate steps to ensure her grasp of foreign affairs matches her grasp of the domestic, by signing professional anti-Muslim crankjob Frank Gaffney as an adviser. (Gaffney trusts Bachmann to identify and eliminate the Muslim Brotherhood infiltration of America, don't you know! Maybe they will also fight poltergeists, and capture the chupacabra as well!)

But in this day and age, all of this makes her all the more endearing to the GOP base. There seems to be only one thing that could erode her support, and that's if Rick Perry decides to jump into the race. Polls that treat Perry as a serious possiblity continue to return decent results for the Texas governor. Quinnipiac, for example, finds Perry cutting into Bachmann's support fairly significantly in the critical state of Florida. This is why Bachmann's campaign manager Ed Rollins is asking Perry to please, please, please "stay in Texas" -- forever, if need be.

Source: HuffPo

And this, my fellow Americans, is who will be doing her best to continue amassing support amongst the majority of us who are terminally stupid, arrogant, willfully blind oxygen thieves. Consequently, this is also why I am convinced that the majority of people in this country are fucking stupid, mouth-breathing, hyperreligious cretins that I wouldn't trust to run a goddamned lemonade stand.

Self Love, Finding The Gratitude, & Properly Loving My "BROS"

So, as many of you now know, we had one of the most hellacious dust storms ever here in Phoenix last week or so. This thing was a monster, and the residual dust and the stress of life caused me to have the worst migraine of my life. It raged for 8 days. Just 8 goddamned agonizing days. As soon as it was over, I went out to look at the pool, which looked like river water. I had never seen a dust storm the likes of this one and didn't realize how much I was breathing in when it was too late - migraine ordered. The pain was nothing short of excruciating, I'm not kidding - my worst migraine ever. I'd forgotten how the image of that pool struck me in such a deeply emotional and sentimental way until today, when I was in the now sparkling pool with my bro Ozzy and remembered it intact and vivid.

It was the ritual some boys are lucky enough to have that forms brotherhood bonds with the same boys you knew then who, as fellow adult men would still, even now at 40, lie down in traffic for each other. That's brotherhood. Those guys are your bros. The celebrate you and keep you in check. They cherish every moment of life with you just to have had it and memorified it all for days when you need to be reminded of who loves and accepts you the most - just as you are - flaws and all. They are the ones who can tell you "SIT DOWN, SHUT THE FUCK UP, I GOT THIS SHIT" - and you'll let them handle it, even when you're running way too hot. BROS, motherfucker. RESPECT.

My bros and I used to love playing underwater hide and seek in the pool late at night. With the sun inked in bronze onto out backs and shoulders as is customary for all southern boys in the summertime, putting on our best good behavior faces to stay in good graces with the parents, nighttime was another matter. You were less likely to get caught stealing Mom's car at night. You were not likely to be missing when parents are exhausted and asleep for a good hour already to sneak out and be with the ones you trust most in the world, who would never hurt you or let hurt COME to you without it being mutual and shared, to do nothing but be together doing nothing. We were responsible for more shit than I can tell you that would have landed us in BIG trouble, and that isn't even including the ounces of pot smoked on a riverbank at all hours when any of us needed the other or just wanted to get high and bro-out together. I'd take the fall for them, only to find they'd taken it for me - and we would be grounded from one another and it was bearable because of what we'd proved to ourselves and one another, and it's how we learned to trust. My bros can walk in the room and I light up. My bros can kick my ass when I need it and it'll be like velvet, covering the softest pillow you'll ever be fortunate enough to land on.

Once we realized that muddy pool water made the game more challenging and therefore more fun, we set about throwing dirt into the pool - and the process for that made it another game within. We could dig up big chunks of porous, chalky clay and make balls out of them... A whittled out end of an old 2 X 4 makes an EXCELLENT bootleg cricket bat... What could be more awesome than having a bro stand at the end of the diving board, dripping wet, and to have another bro pitching up a dirt ball while another swings away - creating the perfect dirt explosion to turn your friend into an instant mud-man before jumping into the pool with the craziest flip he can improvise - and THAT'S how WE are going to fucking dirty up this here pool.

So I got the most wretched nightmare headache ever from the dust storm that dirtied up our pool when I was having that memory. To tell the truth, as sweet as that memory is to me, as precious and amazing and perfect as a pure thing can be in this world, the migraine was worth all 8 days just to have it all back. To have the honor of sharing this with some of them who are still alive and equally loved just makes it better. That I can do that even now means I'd suffer another one twice in a row if it makes them feel even one tenth of what the power of memory made me feel when they read this for themselves.

You know who you are. I love you like I will love no other men on Earth, because it can still amaze me that you love me even more, even better as grown men. More now in spite of everything I've ever turned to wreckage selfishly left behind that you had to clean up. So honoring you is just another way of professing my love for you, the loves you've chosen, and all of your children whom I adore as my own.

We're bros - you could never do worse than that. If you know what that means, I challenge you to step up and be better men for those who take the best care of you and FUCK everybody else, man. They either matter or they don't, and if they do then you work your ass off for them. If they don't, they can fuck right off.

OH... MY... GAY...

That's what Ozzy calls the appropriate response to 'the gayest thing you've ever heard': OH... MY... GAY.... I was inspired to write this after Best Beloved comes sashaying out of the bathroom, naked, to lip sync to Cher before showering so I'd laugh - he does something different at least 5 times a day just to make me crack up, up to and including making a damned fool of himself.

This was said a few days ago and I'd forgotten about it because it's so gay I blacked out. D playing Cher in the shower triggered the memory, so I am sharing it with you. If you add jazz hands and say *S*P*A*R*K*L*E*S*, rainbows will shoot out of your fingertips and the power of your gay can be seen from space. You might even make Liberace look butch by comparison, and create the new gender identity. Or a Superhomohero, you decide.

So this guy I know was telling me about meeting Chaz Bono and the two of them posing arm in arm for a photo-op. Then he said it, and the power of the gay was so strong I immediately smelled leather, poppers, envisioned a drag queen with fire batons, and heard "OONCH OONCH OONCH OONCH" in the background somewhere. He actually said "...and I was all OMG, I just touched something that came out of Cher's vajayjay!"

Yeah. I couldn't make that shit up.

This Just Happened. No, Really.


It's hot today and I've been cleaning since I got up, so I thought I might trek over to the pool to cool down and have a quick 10 minute break. There were two 20-something girls laying out by the pool. Talking like they learned their vocabulary watching The Hills or The OC or some such nonsense. Orange, leathery skin, and practically NO bathing suits at all, they were that skimpy. Like RIDICULOUSLY small. Also chain smoking, wearing belly button piercings, hideous highlights in their over processed hair, and nails that looked like the entire Phillipines worked on them all at once. Lastly, underneath their chaise lounges were high heeled shoes, and I kid you not - the heels were clear. You feel me? Thought so.

I walk in and put my feet in the water just to see if it's warm or cool. It was warm, so I didn't get in - but nice enough that I sat there for a minute minding my own business when I glance over to them, smile, and nod. Cue the eye rolling from both, and much muttering between them. I actually heard "GAHD, I *hate* it when guys are checking me out like that, it's *so* rude." Being that I was the only person around at the moment, I responded by saying "I beg your pardon?" Her friend sat up, put on her VRY SRS BZNS face, and with much attitude, spat at me "You've very rude, that's what she said."

Oh, you stupid, stupid, lecherous little girl...

I stood up, and while walking past them to leave made the following statement: "I get it - you didn't know I was actually a great big faggot when you pulled that bullshit just now so you're slow to recognize it when no one is really paying you the attention that you're clearly so desperate for. I can see how you might mistake me for the usual guys throwing $20 in singles at you while high fiving their bros and yelling 'SHAKE DAT ASS, BITCH, AND LEMME SEE WHAT YA GOT!' but I'm not one of them. If you're really serious about not being objectified by people, perhaps you might want to wear more than an eye patch over yourself before venturing down to the public pool, but make no mistake sweetness - you ain't shit. Fuck you both and everyone that looks like you."

Now I'm back to cleaning. Haters gonna hate, what can you do.

Gifting Yourself, & Learning/Knowing Who You Are

I cannot say that all in all I really KNOW who I am, but I can say with some degree of confidence that I'm learning more about myself and who I want to be. I went through a major life change recently, and that's what this post is all about.

Just a few short months ago I did something really extraordinary in my opinion - I lived long enough to have a 40th birthday. I use the word extraordinary to describe that event rather than using, say, 'milestone', because growing up I've never believed that I would live past 30 and so to be a full decade beyond what I always imagined my expiration date would be is an act of extraordinary measure. So, not wanting to let the occasion pass me by without a bit of introspection I decided I would give myself a gift on this particular birthday, something I plan on doing every birthday from now on. The one I gave myself is in 3 parts, and it's more about committing to be better - a better man, a better son, a better father, a better husband, a better friend - you get the idea. The first part was to lighten the fuck up. The second was to continue on learning new ways to become more humble, and the third was to let go (as much as humanly possible) of ego. I call this gift my path towards enlightenment. I simply couldn't imagine living this long and not taking time to fully appreciate and embrace what my life has been, and currently is, so this is what I came up with. The truly amazing thing is that I've learned insanely huge and mind-blowing things just by opening myself to learn more about my limits and boundaries and to really push myself to think critically about my role in everything I can imagine.

My political activism really hit the proverbial wall after the last midterm election. In fact, and to be more to the point, I've completely surrendered to the fact that I simply don't know what I believe in anymore with respect to politics. I know that I'm completely fed up with the two party system; that it will take a full-out revolution for me to personally invest myself again in campaign volunteering, and that I'm resolved to two things that will actually make some headway toward change: time and pressure. Time for the old white people who always turn out to vote to finally just fucking die off, and pressure to bring about the revolution I spoke of before. Once the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that corporations are people, and the President and his allies that I walked my legs off for are revealed to be just a bunch of bullshit artists whose principles (such as they are) are not centered around any backbone or balls, I have no cause to believe in them any longer. They roll over and cave to fear and try to make nice with the opposition all in the name of creating the kind of compromise that allows for goalposts to move at will. It's easier to have a standard that it is to maintain one and I simply cannot abide that kind of weak spinelessness.

I've always identified as a progressive, an independent, and a liberal - but never a Democrat. I can relate to the majority of their platforms and that's where I'm most comfortable, but when you shuck right down to the cob about your principles and morals and values - and come to find where you are right and true - that's how you learn to determine what is fair and equal, and consequently, what is right. The thing about being right is that you cannot be proved wrong, and it takes work to get to that point. When I see such dire conditions in my own country and government and the time to dig in your heels and fight for your principles and standards has never been more apparent - and those powers-that-be who have done their level best to convince us that they WILL fight, that they ARE committed, they WILL NOT back down end up being a bunch of fucking pussies, that's when I really have to reexamine my interest and my involvement. I remember when being a Democrat actually meant something other than simply not being a Republican, something that commanded respect, something that drove people who knew they were in the right to make changes in the law and thereby within the culture that benefited all by being fair and equal. Now it's not enough to be right - they want us to make the opposition LIKE us by falling to the illusion that such things are necessary. That unless we compromise, we cannot make gains for the betterment of all. Well, that sounds reasonable on the surface but if you just scratch beneath that you'll learn as I have that this, my friends, is folly. In fact, it's fucking bullshit. There is no compromising with people who, if you were lying on the side of the road and moments from death by dehydration, would give you the courtesy of taking a wet shit in your mouth. Sometimes there is no compromising with a bully who is simply intent on destroying you - there is only getting your own ass kicked over and over, or getting fed up enough that you arm yourself properly and just wreck that motherfucker to the point that he will never again underestimate you and certainly won't fuck with you for the sake of it anymore. THAT'S change.

I believe that it is your intention that matters in most all things. I've had the misfortune to let a few people get under my radar and betray me, and in the end it was their intentions that made up the sword they fell on all by themselves. So I've had to let them go and write them off and find the blessing in such things as it only serves to make you better when you cut out what becomes toxic or at the very least no longer works. My intention in loving the people I love is to be a soft place to land, a loyal and faithful confidante, a harsh critic to remind you when you're falling short of your standards, and to never, not even once, place a single particulate of the respect and trust I've earned from them at risk - for anyone or anything, ever. Because I cannot live with the idea that I've failed someone that loves me as much as those who love me best and sustain me.

A few days ago I returned from my home state of Georgia after being there for a total of 2 weeks for many reasons, but the main one was love. My family (blood and chosen) needed face time with me, needed my personal brand of support and acceptance, needed to be revered and adored, and mostly to be loved in person. It was a difficult task but I came back home to Arizona feeling I accomplished everything I set out to do in my time there and then some - and on my last day there, I decided to give myself another gift. Many of you who have known me since I was young know that my best friend when I was 15 was a girl named Staci Ward who died the summer of our 9th grade year. Staci and I were inseparable for the fleeting time we loved one another, and before moving across the country almost 2 years ago I meant to visit her grave site but never managed to. I was on my way to spend some time with my family for a nice send off hours before I was to board my plane in Atlanta and I missed the exit that would be the fastest route to my Daddy's house. By the time I passed the 2nd exit, I realized I would soon be near the cemetery and needed to stop just before it anyway to gas up my sister's truck and it occurred to me that I should go to Staci's grave. It was something I really felt I needed to do. I also felt strongly that I couldn't be that close to my dear friend Craig's house without stopping in for a minute or two to at least hug him and see him in the time I had remaining. As I was gassing the truck up, I called Craig and told him where I was and where I was about to go. Craig and I met the same day Staci and I met in the classroom 2 doors down from the one where he currently teaches, and he was with me the day we buried her. Craig is an amazing man and I adore him for his boundless love and acceptance of my entire existence, so I told him I was going to the cemetery and then coming to see him immediately afterward. Of course, he understood me perfectly.

It was windy but clear when I sat next to her grave and began to brush the sand and leaves from her headstone and for the first time ever since she died back in the summer of 1986, I realized I wasn't bereft and sobbing in this space. I decided to honor her, our love, and myself by surrendering my grief over her loss and instead do something I've never done before. I began speaking aloud while looking at the picture of her encased in glass and tracing her name with my fingers and said "Hi, sweetheart. I don't know if I'm right and I'm just talking to myself or I'm wrong and somehow you can hear or feel me, but I have to tell you some things..." I spoke of how much I loved and missed her and that she had never left my heart or mind, how well I've done for myself, about my life now and all of its amazing wonderment, about Damien and everyone who makes me feel constantly loved, and what she might think of it all. After a while, I decided it was time to head over to Craig's house and so I held her tightly in my mind's eye and loved her with everything I have as I said goodbye and walked back to the truck feeling solace and closure washing over me.

Less than 24 hours later I was flying over my new home in my beloved desert oasis that I share with the love of my life, in the town named for the bird that is capable of reducing itself to ashes and then being reborn from them - new, stronger, and ready for the next thing. My gift to myself was appreciation - that no matter how many times I've been knocked down or how many times my life has been one giant ass-whooping, I have it in me to stand back up.
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