If I Could Wear Your Clothes, I’d Pretend I Was You

I came across a shirt yesterday. A man’s dress shirt, fine white cotton,athletic cut, french cuffs, beautifully made. It was David’s favorite shirt, it fit him well. It showed his wide shoulders, long body, and small waist to best advantage. He looked damn good in it. Nobody else could ever wear that shirt.

I laundered it, pressed it, and hung it my closet. His closet in now my closet, just like everything else he ever had. Most of his clothes are gone, I’ve keep a few things, most are packed away, but some things stay. The good things, the things that defined him, the things that made him unique.

When your love dies, in some ways, you become them, not just legally, but in a much deeper sense. You are the closest thing left of them, you incorporate them in ways you never thought possible. Just as you could finish their thoughts in life, you finish them in death. You have their voice. It can be so intense sometimes it’s hard to tell your voice from theirs, but there is no confusing the source of that voice.

You hold on to the irreplaceable, the core of who that person was, the preciousness of memory. To suggest they could be replaced is an impossibility, it denies both my worth and the strength of the true memory of my love. Nobody else could ever wear that shirt, and I would never pretend to dress anyone else in it. It belonged to David.

There is a strange duality to widowhood, if you haven’t been here, it’s hard to understand. Having loved doesn’t keep you from loving and sometimes the message on both sides of the unmistakable border of what was, and what it is now, is the same. Don’t let go.

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I Live In the the State of Stupid or Why Snake Handling and Cousin Fucking are No Substitute for Satire

After waking very pleasantly this morning, I commenced with my morning routine. This involves drinking a whole lot of coffee, reading online news sources and making disparaging comments about whatever idiot idea Joe Scarborough is pontificating on at the moment. Like I said, I feeling good, looking forward to a beautiful early fall day in Missouri, when I saw this…

Missouri local school board ends ban on Slaughterhouse Five

12:46am EDT

By Kevin Murphy

KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) – A school board in southwest Missouri on Monday restored two books it had banned from public schools for being contrary to teachings in the Bible.

The Republic School Board voted 6-0 to make the two books – “Slaughterhouse-Five” and “Twenty Boy Summer” – available to students for independent reading as long as they are kept in a secure section of the school library.

Only parents or guardians can check them out.

Under a policy the board adopted in July, teachers still cannot make the books required reading nor read them aloud in school. The old policy had removed the books from the school altogether.

The novel Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut is a satirical account of the bombing of Dresden, Germany, during World War II. Some people object to violence, language and sexual material in the book.

“Twenty Boy Summer,” by Sarah Ockler, is about young people and sexual relationships.

Area resident Wesley Scroggins, a Missouri State University associate business professor, objected to those books and other materials he said “create false conceptions of American history and government and or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.”

Several anti-censorship organizations, such as the American Civil Liberties Union, sharply criticized the book ban, which received national attention.

In August, The Kurt Vonnegut Memorial Library in Indianapolis offered up to 150 copies of “Slaughterhouse-Five” to any Republic students who wanted to read it.

(Edited by Peter Bohan)

When I read the headline I thought, “Good, it’s hard enough to live in a state in which the current media exposure consists of a semi-reality series about running a truck stop, (yeah, I’ve been there, don’t judge me) without the anti-intellectual drama of book banning.” Then I read the article.

Seriously, Missouri? Mommy has to check out a Kurt Vonnegut novel for you?

And who is this Wesley Scroggins? Has anyone checked on this moron’s credentials? If this guy actually has higher education, he is a testament to the worthlessness of business degrees these days and possibly the value of any degree from Missouri State University.

Mr. Scroggins, since you you apparently busy with an Ol’ Time Religion Snake Handling and Cousin Fucking Tent Revival the week they covered this, let me give you a clue, education is not about indoctrination, it’s about exposure to ideas. Good education allows the student to form their own ideas and philosophies. Your personal beliefs are irrelevant in this context. It’s not a complicated concept, you should be able to grasp it, even if the more complicated concept of satire is something I’m sure will always elude you.

If you were capable of understanding satire, you would, no doubt, see the humor in your situation.

You say allowing young minds to be exposed to the content of these two books would, “create false conceptions of American history and government and or that teach principles contrary to Biblical morality and truth.” Really? Because you should know that history is an always developing discipline, encompassing opposing viewpoints of how history should be interpreted. Not to mention you work for a secular institution, supported by a government who at its very heart separates church and state. Are you seeing the humor here yet? 
Mr, Scroggins, you are at best ignorant, and at worst profiting from an institution that promotes ideas contrary to your own values. Either way, you do not belong there. I suggest you become a lay preacher at a truck stop.

The Minimum Gold Standard

I got a call from my a-mom yesterday afternoon, she wanted to know if I’d like to go out to dinner with her and dad tonight. She told me it will be their anniversary. I had no idea, we don’t do well keeping track of those kinds of things in my family. Mom knows the birth dates of all her children, including me, but dad, not so much. He has the vague idea that two of us were born in the fall, but that is it.

I’m not good with dates either, more than occasionally I have to do the math to figure out how old I am. After I hung up the phone I did wonder how long mom and dad had been married. I had to first, figure out how old I was, then add the appropriate amount of years to my age. Turns out it’s my folks 50th anniversary.

Around here most folks make a big deal about their 50th anniversary. The milestone justifies a picture (taken at Olin Mills, of course) in the local paper and a reception in the basement of house of worship of their choice, not to mention the mandatory card shower. My family never went in for that stuff.  Though we might all agree that showing up is 90% of success, we aren’t ones to celebrate meeting the minimum requirements. Being married for 50 years simply means you haven’t screwed it up, yet.

Even if doing what is expected isn’t much revered in my family, neither is royally fucking something up demonized. We’ve all done it, many times in spectacular form. These episodes get more play in family conversation, many times, than our achievements. We just don’t find it nearly so interesting when things go as they should, that’s expected, but a good near death experience, especially due to your own actions, is pure conversational gold.

I’ll be counting on that acceptance of screwing up tonight. The chances of me coming up with a suitable gift for my parents by 6 p.m. are slim to non-existent. My own guilt is tempered by the fact that no two people on the planet need one more thing in their house less than my parents. But karmic justifications do little when everybody else has a gift.

Maybe I should just thank them for expecting the minimum standard and teaching me to admit, and even sometimes embrace, my failures.

You’ve Got Yours, We Want Ours

YOU’VE GOT YOURS, WE WANT OURS!

This phrase should sound familiar to most folks reading here. It’s the chant repeated over and over as we march in the annual Adoptee Rights Demonstration. After demonstration day its so ingrained in your mind, you hear it in your sleep.

YOU’VE GOT YOURS, WE WANT OURS!

This isn’t the kind of statement that demands an answer, it stands alone. You don’t really expect a cadre of legislators to emerge from their meetings and answer, “Well gee, okay, you can have your original birth certificate, you’ve made a hell of a point there. We’ll get right on that.” They are simply words that you want to be heard.

YOU’VE GOT YOURS, WE WANT OURS!

The thing is I’m starting to hear an answer.

I’VE GOT MINE, SO SCREW YOU!

We live in a world where, at least a vocal minority, cheer at the thought of someone being allowed to die for lack of health insurance. Do you think that bunch is going to give a good god damn if you have your original birth certificate when you’re dying, at home, from a fully preventable cause, because you didn’t have the financial assets to find treatment? They won’t, being adopted, in their minds simply marks you as another useless member of a permanent lower class who didn’t fully embrace the American dream.

Empathy is in short supply these days and empathy is essential to our cause. Those who cannot put aside their own perceptions and feel the plight of their fellow man are sadly becoming more of a force in politics. Their number among state legislators is significant enough it must be dealt with. For that reason, I propose we add a new chant along side the others.

ABANDONMENT IS NOT FREEDOM!

We must make people understand that being abandoned by your government does not liberate us from our our origins, but creates a kind of inequality that will never allow us to be truly free. We are at our very essence people, citizens, even entities completely created, without our consent, by our government. If some would see our government as promoting freedom above all others things, shouldn’t we, the creations of this government, be allowed the truest freedom, that of our identity? If our government judged that we would better enjoy the benefits bestowed upon citizens of our county with revised identities, shouldn’t we allowed all the advantages of citizenship? What possible argument can be made for shrouding our origins in secrecy?

ABANDONMENT IS NOT FREEDOM!

Battle Fatigue

Activism of any kind is exhausting. Being the flea biting, the would-be slayer, the acceptor of hopeless mission, the one who journeys again and again into the lion’s den, will drain away the very stuff that sent you down this path in the first place.

If we look at the on going struggle as warriors, why shouldn’t we tire from battle? Traditionally those that chose warrior as a profession did so not just because it appeals to a need to do good, to protect those that cannot protect themselves, and a baser instinct to apply the force within ourselves to strike at those that do wrong, it was understood that this dangerous work had advantages. The righteous joy taken in the defeat of an enemy, the very things which they defended spread out for the taking, a time to celebrate with comrades all glorious in triumph, and the returning home as subject of honor and praise. Without these things, the warrior life can be a grim one.

When we must band together as guerrillas, few in number, poorly equipped, fighting an enemy so large to be beyond comprehension even by those who are part of it, or be the even more foolhardy one who goes alone, our victories, slight as they are, give us no plunder, no salt, no gold, only the celebration of our own band of fools. Is it any wonder that we tire? Should we not feel we are only receiving half measure of our commission?

There is no wonder in that we tire, the constant battle leaves no time for laurels. We must settle for our scars and scraps. But through that, are we not the truest of warriors? Those that sign on for the fight alone express the purest, most divine, of our guild. And what shall we do when we tire? Return to the fields, the dwellings, the people we defend and advance, and take comfort in them, knowing they surely need us.

We must find satisfaction, if not glory.