New Skin

The Daily Post: If you could spend the next year as someone radically different from the current “you” — a member of a different species, someone from a different gender or generation, etc. — who would you choose to be?

All my life, I’ve felt as if I was from a different time. If I could spend the next year as someone else, I’d probably just “go home.”

As a brown skinned New Yorker, with hairy arms and hair that is a rich black that grows into natural waves that glow with life, the words, “go back to where you came from” have been leveled at me a few times as an insult. You see, I am Indian. I am not descended from the wise and noble culture that some fair skinned idiot found and decided to call Indians. I am not descended from the uncivilized savages who didn’t understand property and sold a piece of the planet to some horrible people for a dollar. I am descended from the wise and noble culture that first idiot was looking for. I am descended from the uncivilized savages who were so advanced that westerners wanted to trade with.

But that is not what I am talking about when I say “go home.” Continue reading

A Tale of Two Cities

Daily Prompt:If you could split your time evenly between two places, and two places only, which would these be?

This is a surprisingly difficult question for me. When I opened up my word processor and started typing I thought I had the answer. By the time I started typing my own words, I was lost. There are several stipulations I’d have to make in order to answer. First, certain individuals would have to be willing to relocate to one of the two places, or within commuting distance. Secondly, whether money was an object or not would determine the second location.

First, I would take up residence in Ibiza from mid-March to mid-September. I love the life of the island, both the club scene and the natural scene. The party culture and the hippie culture are both amazing. I could see myself growing old over there with some downbeat house. I can’t imagine being too old to appreciate DJ Sammy. I can picture the waters of the Mediterranean. It is the only beach I’ve been too where the water called to me. Ibiza is where I wish to spend eternity.

If money was no object, I’d Gatsby it.   My Daisy isn’t in NY, but I’d live there among the wealthy, throwing parties and letting the stories grow. Maybe my Daisy would cross the bay or the country to see me. Maybe. Regardless, that is not why I’d live there or in that lifestyle. I would live there because it is close enough to NYC and close enough to some of my best friends. NYC offers some magical things to see, but I’d never want to live there. I don’t know that I ever did.   I like loud music at home. The idea of neighbors on each wall and the floor and ceiling annoys me. I also like having a front yard and back yard. Dinner parties that turn into late night parties are always fun.

If money was an object, I would be here. Sitting on this bed with integrated computer and 4.1 surround sound with a little subwoofer bolted to the bottom. I’m not sure that I love anything about Orlando, but I love Orlando. Perhaps it is simply because this is where my heart and mind and life began to heal. Perhaps it is the amazing feeling of meeting amazing people. I can name 4 people I have met in the last 5 years, that I never want to lose touch with. Two of them I can call for help with anything at anytime. It blows my mind. Regardless, I have a simple life down here and am living on college loans and scraping by, but life is good. I can’t remember feeling this much a part of my own life before. All the hardships and problems of the day to day aside, I am happy. And I get to play my eclectic music very loudly all the time.

So I guess I’m a pretty boring person, since I wouldn’t change much short of winning the lottery, but really, I’m okay with that. Life is good!

Worst Case Scenario

Daily Prompt: Of all the awful possibilities, what’s the worst possible thing that could happen to you today? Now, what about the best?

The worst possible thing that could happen to me today is the same thing as yesterday. It is the same thing as tomorrow. It is the same thing for you and you and you. The worst possible thing that could happen to you is that you could find out what the worst possible thing that could happen to you is. This is not some simple dismissal of the question, but a very long considered thought. Reality is far more creative than my imagination. I have a pretty healthy imagination. Continue reading

Showdown at Big Sky

The Daily Prompt: How do you handle conflict? Boldly and directly? Or, do you prefer a more subtle approach?

I am so sick of “Fight or Flight.”

My ex-wife was a slam the door and runaway from arguments kind of girl. She ran away alot. It never sat well with me. I can only imagine how she was as a child. It hurts to realize that I was, in many ways, just her place to run away to.

When we fought, I never wanted to run away. I never wanted her to run away. Her running away always hurt. It made for an annoying dynamic that left us both unsatisfied with the fighting. When fighting is all you have, you should work on making it satisfying.

I did learn one incredibly important thing. Continue reading

Fight the Power

Daily Prompt:  Tell us about a time when you fought authority and took a stand against “the man.” Did you win?

My fight has always been with the man.  I am generally a pacifist, though I have thrown a few punches in a few fights for great justice.  However, when it comes to the man, I have a definite “bad boy” side.

If you’ve read anything else I’ve written, you already know I am a geek and nerd ad comfortable with it.  The story I want to tell you about authority is about an obese man who got his kicks by being the duly appointed tyrant of my middle school English class.

I was 13 years old and in 8th grade.  The last class of the day was English.  The class itself was alright.  There was less literature than previous years and a stronger focus on process and technique.  I had an appreciation for the art of writing then so it was not hard to pay attention.  The problem I faced was the way in which this man needed to demonstrate authority over pupils in the realm of vocabulary.  He had a way of teaching vocabulary that worked phenomenally well and had been in use for at least 5 years.  I can tell you that from firsthand experience.  Just as in 3rd grade, we would write the definition of the word, write a sentence with the word and then write the word 10 times.

Yes, in 8th grade.

I am sure that the system worked well; I mean it had worked in 3rd grade, how could we dare threaten the system?

As the “bad boy” you know I am, I refused.  I would turn in a list of all the definitions and sentences every Thursday and would be sent down to the assistant principal’s office.    I don’t know that I was ever even reprimanded in the office.  Maybe the first few times, but it was a recurring event.  Eventually, I would go down to the Assistant Principals office on Thursdays and tutor a kid in math.

This was the wisest punishment that has ever been doled out.  Only as I write this do I realize that this is possibly where my definition of genius comes from:

Genius: combining 2 or more problems into 1 or more solutions.

I was given a purpose.  I was not told that I was a horrible person.  I was treated with respect even though it was tempered with some mild annoyance at the fact that I was adamant about it being below me.  I hope that when I have children and interact with them, I can treat similar situations as well as this.  It is hard to take a child seriously when they are being so serious about something so trivial.  At the same time, I recognize that if I had been yelled at and scolded and my parents had been called, I would have been forced to comply.

If I had been forced to comply there, I think my life may be easier now.  However, I instead have a strong sense of what is right and wrong.  I will do what I think is right no matter who tells me not to.  I believe the universe will not punish me if I am true and honest and direct.  If I had been forced to comply at such a crucial point in my life, perhaps I would be like everyone else who complies and is scared to speak the truth for exactly what it is.

In my job today, there are situations that come up where I have to defer to my boss’s judgment.  I will offer her the situation and all the details along with my own opinion in no uncertain terms.  Sometimes I am sure she thinks I am retarded because I will ask her and make my case already knowing what her answer is.  I will, however, never become complacent or complicit with the system.

In every facet of my life today, I seek the opportunity to teach.  It makes me come off as conceited, regularly.  It is not because I am better, it is because I may know better.  I am not humbled when the new guy at work teaches me something, I am awed.  I have learned to respect learning from teachers and from “bad boys” who buck authority by refusing to follow simple rules.

Yeah, I guess I won.  I think I came out stronger on all fronts because of it.  I am glad that I had an ally in the system.  Though I guess he didn’t start as my ally.  I am glad that he had wisdom and vision.  I am glad that he understood that there was a failure in the system.  I am glad for all of it.  When it comes time to list the pieces of myself that I am proud of, this is it.

“Screw broken systems.  Think.  Be free.  Live well together.  Help one another.  Respect people who know what respect is.  Ignore the people who should be hated.”

This is what Mr. M taught me.  This is what I wish to teach you and everyone else.

Why Can’t We Be Friends?

Daily Prompt: Do you find it easy to make new friends? Tell us how you’ve mastered the art of befriending a new person.

The moment I read the title of this prompt Jeannette popped into my mind. Every part of me wants to be friends with this girl, but every time I see her I feel like I’m teetering on the edge of falling in love. For a long time it felt like a dangerous cliff that drew me out and made me want to dive into crystal blue waters far below. I am terrified of heights and I don’t know how to swim, but none of that is important.

What is important? What’s important is that I know I don’t want to fall in love with her. It may happen, but I don’t want it to. I wouldn’t say we’re close, but on some level, there is a tunnel between her palace and my fort. She is a beautiful woman who manages to keep people at bay with majesty and mystery. She does a great job of evading situations that she’d rather not deal with. I am an introverted guy who, until recently, wanted the world to know nothing about me.

Somehow, when we end up in the same room, it’s like we’re tumbling through a castle as little kids with wooden swords and magic wands. There is a magic to children that I can’t help but be drawn to. We have to teach kids not to talk to strangers. At the center of it all, children want to share the world with people. She brings out the kid in me. She conjures fairytales with elements from my past as if she was there. She reminds me what it must’ve been like in my long forgotten childhood. Perhaps I never had a childhood like that and she is just gifting it to me for the first time.

Regardless, making friends isn’t easy for me, because I live in a well guarded fort. The friends I have are well defended and they will always have an ally. I stand where I stand, unapologetically. Somehow, she has brought out this love of the world. My fort is looking better and more approachable every day. I invite the world in more readily, though warily. I still don’t venture far from my fort, but maybe one day that will change.

In the meantime, the beautiful princess of the next kingdom can have her palace. Perhaps one day our kingdoms will unite. Perhaps we will be allies for all time. I just hope that we never go to war and that we can at least share in conversation and celebration together. The sounds of laughter and children tumbling through a castle are hard to beat.

I already wrote a post about friendship and almost wanted to just link it to the Daily Prompt, but I am still mildly trapped in my fairytale world.  Here’s a more detailed explanation of how I “manage” friendships.