Love (not tolerance)

Growing up in the 1980’s and 1990’s, a big thing was ‘tolerance’, that we had to learn how to tolerate people who could hate and hurt others if given the opportunity because if we ‘tolerated’ them, then maybe they wouldn’t physically hurt others. By 2016, tolerance was declared dead. Tolerance was a good idea but I think back then, no one could see how would be totally destroyed by the weaponization of hatred through massive propaganda and programming courtesy of right-wing media and social media along with pure greed by gun manufacturers and others to profit off of hate and death.

This past Saturday, that weaponization of hatred resulted in the deaths of five people at a gay nightclub in Colorado Spring, Colorado. Club patrons overpowered the gunman with no weapons of their own but a determination to save other lives. Yet right-wing politicians have spouted the absolute total fucking bullshit line of ‘thoughts and prayers’ for the victims when they themselves are guilty of inciting violence against the LGBTQ+. And if this pisses you off by reading this, keep reading because I’m not going to let up here.

Hate speech is speech that incites others to commit acts of violence. Hate speech demonizes a particular group of people with lies and disinformation and seeks to drive a group of people into silence and out of sight if they dare to live openly and honestly. Hate speech is about turning one group of people against another for the gain of power and wealth for the perpetrator of the hate speech.

Words matter. Words can be used to hurt, and to incite violence and mass murder.

This is why tolerance has been declared dead and buried because tolerance equals silence. Because those who speak with hatred will not be silenced despite what they may say about being ‘canceled’ or any bullshit like that. I know by speaking out like I have and am doing now I’m pissing someone off.

My father taught me at a very early age that hatred is a poison of the mind, the heart, and the soul. He taught me you have to fight hatred from taking root inside you. I have learned to do that by asking those who do hate, who do use hate speech to ask themselves why they think and feel the way they do and to keep asking until they find all the answers they can. And I also give warning that they may not like the answers they find, and they will have to deal with those answers. Because I can tell you why I think and feel the way I do.

In the 1980’s when my mother was going through her rebellious period as I call it, one way she rebelled was to learn about homosexuality and seeing past the homophobia she’d been raised on. She shared this with me as we watched so many young gay men die of AIDS and be condemned and hated on simply because they were gay. I watched in silent awe at the activist group ACT UP as they fought with incredible courage and bravery to save the lives of their friends and lovers. And like millions of other Americans, I will always remember that glorious day in 2013 when the US Supreme Court legalized gay marriage and we shouted, “LOVE WINS!!!”

But I knew then the backlash would be brutal, and bloody. Sadly, like many things in this world right now, things will get worse before they get better. But like the group ACT UP taught us, silence equals death. And we have to break our silence and never go silent.

So if reading this still pisses you off, ask yourself why.

To my lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer brothers and sisters and non-binaries: I love you.

And I believe with all my heart and soul love will always win.

Uber Tales: Never a Dull Day, Edition

I still haven’t had a completely wacked-out Uber driving experience but in the last couple of days I’ve had a few quirks in the driving Matrix here.

First off:

Last night I was taking this lady home from the airport, and she lived in a high enough-dollar subdivision that had a guard at the gate. She was a nice lady, really friendly and a good tipper. Now when I was coming back out of the neighborhood the guard is standing by the guard shack and he waves at me to stop. So, I stop and he comes up to my car and he says he loves my haircut. Okay, I’m thinking that’s an interesting compliment and say thanks to be polite. Then I tell him I cut it myself and he says he’s a barber (though maybe not the most successful barber if he’s working as a security guard on the night shift, but to each their own). He then goes on and on about how he’d love to cut my hair and would be willing to do it for free. He says he’s cut ladies hair as short as mine and in fact, offered to cut mine into a flattop. I keep politely declining him and trying to get him to stop talking. Now I’ve had hair stylists compliment me on my hair all my life and gush about how they love my hair is really awesome according to them (it’s thick and wavy and when back when I had it monstrously-long it was a major pain the ass to maintain so that’s why I keep so short now). Finally, just before I was about to flat-out tell him I needed to get back to work, he let me go.

But jeez, Universe, why can’t I get the attention of someone who doesn’t come off as a total borderline-perv loser (he was an older white-haired dude who did give off a slightly pervy vibe)? Why can’t I attract, even for just a few minutes, a Keanu Reeves or George Clooney type?

Then earlier in my day yesterday I get what I thought would be a nice lady but a lady whose dumb-ass arguments I had to demolish one by one. First off she asks me how I feel about President Biden’s administration hiring a bunch of new IRS agents because they’re going to go after little peons like me. I told her that was a bunch of whack (politely) and said it was to go after the big tax cheats (which it is). Then she talked about gas prices and how the President sets them and how they went up because he stopped fracking. I immediately schooled her on the greed of the oil business and how we don’t need to frack for oil. Then she talked about the evils of labor unions until I set her straight there and told her how labor unions ended child labor and brought about protections for workers. Then just as we were turning in to her hotel she says the country is going downhill because we got away from God. I let that one slide because her God and my God are two different entities. I also didn’t tell her how she’d probably shit bricks if she walked into the grocery store nearby and saw women in full chadors and veils and African women in their very colorful and beautiful dresses. Because the side of town I live on is a mix of rich and poor, and at times my lily-white ass is in the minority, and I love that. But to buy in to those dumb-ass arguments because Fox News says so- not in my car.

Then early Monday morning (around five a.m.) I head to a pickup with a slight case of dread. The location tends to mess with the GPS so I’m not entirely sure sometimes where my pickup is in this area. Well, the pickup was outside the sleazy strip bar next to some apartments. And my pickup was waiting at the end of the parking lot for me- a single guy who seemed reasonably sober. So, I pick him up and it’s not a long ride back to his drop off (a hotel downtown). He tells me his buddies left him at this strip club and I told him that sucked. Then he says something about picking up a ‘scoundrel’ like him. He wasn’t Han Solo in any way, shape, or form so I said NOTHING to that. Instead, I focused on turning up my ‘don’t fuck with me’ vibe, which must have worked because he clammed up and didn’t say jack till we got to his hotel and he thanked me for the ride (and tipped me well like my right-wing nut lady and the lady who lived in the neighborhood with the guard-letch).

I don’t like strip-club pickups because I had one guy hit on me so bad he made me an indecent proposal (which he immediately apologized for after I called him out on it with a simple, “Excuse me?”) and others where the guys were drunk and pissed off because they didn’t get a blow job from one of the strippers. I have so much respect for women who work in strip clubs because of all the shit they take. But these days us ladies seem to take so much damn shit (even from other ladies) and I think we’ve had enough. I was talking to one of my fellow woman-drivers and she was telling me how she told off one of the other drivers at the airport waiting lot for being an asshole to her (he hit on her and she turned him down and he got all pissy about it so she chewed him out in front of all his fellow-guy drivers- I would have paid good money to see that).

So, there’s never a dull day on the road and the tips are very good.

Generation X Subdivisions

Continuing on about the 2022 mid-term elections, one statistic that pissed off a lot of people was the numbers of Generation X voting Republican. Not by a huge margin and also the data is a bit skewed as I saw a lot of charts that split the demographic between two age groups. But I want to clear up some misconceptions about Generation X, mainly the fact that a lot of what is considered Generation X culture or ideology is not ‘mainstream’ and it never was.

Generation X is considered the demographic of those born between 1965 and 1980 so we came of age in the 1970’s and 1980’s and began voting in the mid to late 80’s into the 1990’s (I turned eighteen in 1992 so that was the first year I was able to vote). But in comparison to the generations before and after us (the Baby Boomers and the Millennials), we’re the smallest demographic in terms of numbers. In plain English, we’re not going to determine the outcome of an election like those who came before us or after us, especially Generation Z.

I grew up in predominately white suburbs and the song, “Subdivisions” by Rush probably describes that suburban upbringing best. Rush drummer and lyricist Neal Peart said he got the idea from the song from what he was seeing with kids then (the song came out in 1982) but I wonder if it was some of his own experiences, too because as a quiet, introverted kid who was into music and books like he was I’m sure he wasn’t Mr. Popularity in high school. But there are two lines in the song that truly stand out for me:

“Conform or be cast out”

“Be cool or cast out”

One of the very first words I ever remember learning as a kid in the 1980’s was ‘conformity’ and no matter what I did or tried to do, I would never, ever fit in. And I discovered very early on in life I did not want to conform to the lifestyle my bullies were living. Like the late Neal Peart, I was quiet and introverted and into books and music and so I was not Ms. Popularity either. I find it very ironic now that people like me or Neal Peart are considered cool by people who probably wouldn’t have given either us the time of day back in junior high or high school. It’s like the kids on the show ‘Stranger Things’- they’re not jocks or princesses, but outcasts and they’re only considered cool because of the way the show is presented.

So, the outcasts are a minority and always were because a slight majority of Generation X were what I call Young Republicans and always have been and always will be. These shit-heads grew up to trash the economy in 1999 and 2008, codified asshole tech-bro culture to produce the tech-bro assholes we have today shitting all over everything they can get their hands on, and most of all, they’ve always been consistent Republican voters. To me, they’re a lost cause though luckily their asshole-genes may be weakening as ninety to ninety-five percent of their offspring vote Democrat.

Sadly, a lot of outcasts have turned conservative in the decades since the demise of MTV playing music videos because things turned to shit for them at one time or another. Or they were given an opportunity to be with the cool, Young Republican crowd and decided to go all in. These are the ones that piss me off the most because I will never, ever understand, nor condone in any way, shape, or form, rejecting good ideals of kindness, compassion, and generosity for the conservative ideals of hate, conformity, and hypocrisy. I know how shitty life can be but I never, ever thought of turning that to hatred. Instead, what I’ve learned over the last few years is that you take grief and pain and turn it into purpose and for good. This section of the Generation X demographic that turned against that idea are the ones whose asses I want to kick so hard maybe their heads will come out of their asses and they’ll stop eating and spewing right-wing bullshit. But I don’t have a lot of hope for that, so I’ll leave that one here.

To any young readers here: what you might think is Generation X cool such as heavy metal/rap/hip hop/punk/new wave music was not mainstream in any way. Kids who were into science fiction, role-playing games like Dungeons and Dragons, and saving the world weren’t considered cool. Also, the homophobia was monstrously evil back then along with the racism that was classic divide-and-conquer back then, too (I was told more than once by racist white adults that anytime I listened to black music artists, read books by and about black people that I was trying to be black- like the what the fuck?). Stands were taken back then but they were more in silence than out loud, especially for me. I’m just being loud and raunchy here because I’m a middle-aged bitch who ran out of fucks to give a few years back.

To all the Generation X posers who have become right-wing assholes: fuck off.

To the rest of us Generation X’ers: let’s keep fighting the good fight for these kids now so they’ll be able to make it to middle-age like we have.

To Younger Voters (voters under 30)

To all the younger voters this past week, thank you. Thank you for turning out in record numbers and determining the outcome of so many races. Thank you for organizing and standing in line for hours on end to vote. And thank you for pissing off every right-wing Nazi pundit for voting like you did.

As I’ve said before, I think all of you younger voters know exactly how hard life can come at you simply because your first memories in school weren’t learning letters and numbers, but of doing active-shooter drills. You voted against a party (the Republicans) who have made you do these since you can remember. You voted overwhelmingly against a party that has tried to destroy the public education system, ban and burn your books, and make you economic slaves to their greedy capitalist bullshit.

I’m proud of y’all. But I want to put something out here that I’m sure you’ve thought of: will your hope and anger die off and you’ll become the people you hate?

In the past, I would have said that was a strong possibility. Now I will say that’s nowhere near as much of a possibility because I know a lot of you wonder if there will be a habitable planet for you to live on by the time you reach my age. I believe it’s nowhere near a possibility now because younger people are rejecting organized religion, especially neo-Nazi non-Christian evangelism in record numbers. And that many labor union movements in the last couple of years have been founded by young people.

I believe that young people are stronger than ever before. An example of this is the activist group March for Our Lives founded by the survivors of the mass shooting at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. These young people have had numerous death threats against them and their families and have been harassed and threatened by members of Congress (look up the evil bitch-from-Hell Marjorie Taylor Greene to see what she’s done to them). Despite these threats and harassment, these young survivors continue to work for change and to save lives.

I’ve seen young people leverage technology like no other generation before them. Young people migrated from legacy platforms like Facebook and Twitter to Tik Tok and others and have used social media to wreak havoc on the right-wing Nazis hell-bent on turning them into goose-stepping soldiers. Most of all, people under the thirty don’t consume right-wing media in any significant numbers other than your less-than-ten-percent who y’all run off your college campuses when they try to spout their neo-Nazi bullshit to you.

Don’t give up.

And don’t ever go silent.

You’ve all stood up to the loud-mouth raging Nazi lunatics, but I want to remind you that you need to stand up to the well-intentioned hand-wringers as I call them. These are the motherfuckers who will come up to wringing their hands saying they have your best intentions as they try to silence you. I gave in to these people way too much in my life and just have a shit-ton of mental and emotional scars to show for it. I think you’re pretty good at telling these motherfuckers to go to Hell but if you haven’t done so, do that if anyone tries that well-intentioned hand-wringing bullshit on you.

Know that there are more older people on your side than you might realize. A lot of us are breaking our silence like I am, and a fair number are also pulling their heads out of their asses and getting their shit together to join the right side and not be conservative assholes. But younger people have the numbers and that’s what has the right-wing assholes scared shitless and trying to take away all your rights and freedoms like they are now, such as raising the voting age to twenty-one and establishing a right-wing dictatorship simply because they know best.

Believe every single thing these right-wing neo-Nazi motherfuckers talk about doing, whether it’s abolishing Social Security and Medicare, banning books, shutting down the US Department of Education, or anything they talk about. Because like the Nazis of Germany in the 1930’s, they will do what they say if given the opportunity. Don’t give these motherfuckers one opportunity to put any of their plans into motion. They’ve already done enough damage over the last fifty years with gerrymandering and the right-wing media apparatus along with thoroughly corrupting organized religion.

Finally, take care of yourselves. Take care of your physical, mental, and emotional health. I believe in you, and I care about you along with millions of other older people. Don’t give up, don’t give in, and don’t go silent.

And to quote a book of your generation, ‘The Hunger Games’: “May the odds be forever in your favor.”

Stand or Fall: Buying Time

Today is the 2022 Mid-Term Elections. These elections are crucial to say the least but to me, they’re just buying time. I think the Democrats will hold both the House and the Senate and some states will go Blue. But the opposition is dug in deeper than Hell and I think the Red side will bleed hard at their losses.

My optimism is tempered by the fact that this isn’t 1992, or 2002, or any other election year. The first wave of Generation Z voters are coming online and if the numbers play out like they’re projected to, they’ll be the deciding vote. And that’s a good thing, and something that’s going to be fought against harder than ever. But these kids know just how hard life can come at them, and in a way they remind me of the Greatest Generation who lived through the Depression and fought Nazis and Fascists and won. But us oldsters need to get off our lazy butts and stand with them, fight alongside them, and be there for them, especially Generation X. Us X’ers have the attitude and we need to tell the Young Republicans that grew up into MAGA-assholes to go fuck themselves once and for all.

I say this election is just buying time because I’ve seen the euphoria of a win wear off so many times before along with the shock and sadness of a loss, too. But we don’t have time for either one of those things right now. Because what the people of the United States of America are facing is like nothing we’ve ever faced before.

I’ve read articles saying that the right-wing hate-and-outrage machine began in the 1980’s but in reality construction on that machine began in 1972 with the election of Richard Nixon and when the Democrat and Republican Parties made their final, fundamental switch complete. The Democrats truly began to fully embrace a progressive agenda of equality for all Americans and the Republican Party rejected the values of Abraham Lincoln and became the party of racists, and also Communists.

I grew up in the 1980’s and saw straight through the lies and bullshit of Regan Republicans, and George Bush, Sr. made me want to projectile vomit with his talk of ‘compassionate conservativism’ because there is NO compassion in conservative ideology. I rode the euphoria of Bill Clinton and Al Gore in ’92 and watched it crash and burn by 2000. Barack Obama is one of the best leaders this country has ever produced but my faith in the system for correcting itself was gone by the time he was elected. I had hope in 2016 but that hope was destroyed that year and although 2020 was won, it wasn’t by a landslide. Today’s election is still to be determined and although I feel good in seeing record numbers of young people voting and know they skew heavily towards democratic progressive ideology I still say this: today is just about buying time.

We should be out colonizing our solar system now and healing our planet and not killing each other over stupid shit. But because white-power mongering assholes and giant corporations couldn’t profit off of equality and advancement, they decided if they couldn’t get everyone under their control they’d burn the motherfucker down. And they tried to do that on January 6, 2021, and will do it again if given the opportunity.

How do we keep right-wing fascist traitors from destroying everything:

Vote them out of office and keep them out of power as much as possible.

Stand up to them and don’t back down in the face of their threats, harassment, and intimidation.

Don’t minimize their agendas or excuse their bad behavior.

Keep as much money out of their party apparatus (Republican) and their media outlets to where they can’t fund their hate and disinformation campaigns.

And most of all, to anyone reading this who voted Republican in 2016 and 2020, ask yourself why. Listen to the monsters you voted into office and read the agendas they’ve set out. Then make your choices, and know that if you chose hate you won’t win.

To young people reading this: enjoy the euphoria of a win then get back to work and don’t ever stop working towards a better future. Don’t turn away from the values of kindness, compassion, and empathy no matter how hard someone tries to destroy those things inside you.

Most of all know this: politics is personal. In the last six years I’ve learned just how personal it is and not just to myself. I’m still working on putting that into words, but I stand by my words here, and I vote accordingly.

And like Jyn Erso said in the movie ‘Star Wars: Rogue One’:

“Rebellions are built on hope.”

Breaking Radio Silence: No Feedback Needed

Recently I read something that really hit me like a lightning bolt (in a good way): it was from Dr. Nicole LePera who is on Facebook and Twitter as The Holistic Psychologist: it was from a Facebook post she did about how to undo ‘Good Girl’ conditioning, and this was the lightning bolt:

“I’m not looking for any feedback right now.” (link to Facebook post here)

This hit me so hard because all my life I have felt like I have been the recipient of so much unsolicited, unwanted, and unnecessary feedback. I’ve had so much of my life, so many of my decisions, and most of all, so many of my failing and short-comings questioned and judged that I felt like nothing I ever did was good enough for anyone. That even my silence wasn’t good enough, nor was striving so hard to be a ‘good girl’ ever good enough for anyone either. And yes, I have asked myself why I’ve been on the receiving end of all this bullshit.

The answer to that question is a bit complicated but I think a lot of it has to do with my late father. When it came to me, my father was divided over how I was to be and live my life. On one hand, he told me I could do anything I put my mind to. Then on the other hand, he told me I couldn’t do this or that because it was too this or that. When it came to me, he had a protective streak that was ten miles wide and fifty miles across, and that made it visible to everyone else around me. And that’s where I think a lot of people got the idea that I needed damn near constant feedback and to be ‘protected’ and held back from doing so many ‘normal’ things. And just the thought of me wanting to do push back against that charged the situation around me to an emotional high it should NEVER have been at.

But here’s the thing: when the shit came down I was left alone to deal with it. I think because I had retreated into silence, into massive appeasement, and into trying to be the ‘good girl’ I thought everybody wanted me to be, I was left alone to deal with my thoughts and feelings. In turn, this silence made me look like a cold, unemotional bitch when I was anything but. This in turn led people to lash out at me when I wasn’t at their fucking beck-and-call, or when I tried to push back  against their selfish shit. And worst of all, all of this isolation and bullshit-spewing was directed at me as ‘feedback’.

Over the last six years I’ve learned one big thing about myself: I don’t like being told what to do by people who haven’t done what I’ve done (or what I do now), or who think they have the right to tell me how to think and feel. If you have knowledge or experience that will help, offer it as such. If you don’t want to deal with someone’s thoughts or feelings, shut the fuck up and walk away. And most of all, don’t EVER think that because someone is closed-off and silent they’re cold and unemotional. People who are cold and unemotional don’t hide that at all- they just spew their bullshit at every opportunity. And I’m not here on this Earth to deal with that kind of shit from anyone.

So from this point forward, if someone does decide to try and offer me some unsolicited and unnecessary feedback I will say this: “I’m not looking for feedback right now.” That’s the polite response and I hope it works. But if it doesn’t I’ll probably resort to just a plain ‘fuck off’ instead.

I’m a middle-aged bitch who has lived on her own for close to twenty years and in those years I haven’t been arrested, assaulted, had my place broken into, or my heart broken so I think I have some pretty good basic life skills. Yes, I’ve lost things along the way but they’re just things. And getting unnecessary feedback about those lost things won’t bring them back nor help me out in any way so I’m not going to let anyone spew that feedback-bullshit to me.

For me, this isn’t so much about setting a boundary. It’s about keeping people off my ass but not through silence like I used to. I don’t know if I’ll get the opportunity to say this in person, but I hope I do. I hope I can find the strength and the courage to stand up to unsolicited and unnecessary feedback once and for all.

And despite what my late father might have thought about me, I don’t need anyone to be over-protective of me. Being over-protective of anyone is wrong and does more damage than anyone realizes. It’s something I’m learning how to deal with and yes, that’ll be a good chunk of the book, too.

Online Communities

I’ve been online since the mid-1990’s and back then, the term ‘social media’ wasn’t even a neuron firing off in someone’s head. Back then I got online and met people through chat boards, such as eHarlequin.com. I’ve been with that group from there since then through two other platforms (Yahoo! Groups and now Facebook) and on Facebook I’ve found friends with similar interests and also reconnected with some old friends from my pre-internet days.

In private groups I’ve been able to vent to like-minded people, and those times gave me a feeling that I wasn’t all alone in the world. In those groups, I was never judged and found lacking. In those groups, I never felt like I was never good enough no matter what I did or didn’t do in my life. I wasn’t judged or given obnoxious amounts of ‘feedback’ (a word I now consider a synonym for ‘bullshit’). Also, these groups were a way of escaping my shitty life and talking about things that were fun and goofy.

Yet time and time again some asshole (or two or three or more) comes along and shits all over this sense of community. From Facebook letting their site being overrun by racist bots and Russian trolls (and fuck Mark and Sheryl Zuckerberg all to Hell for letting that happen despite knowing what was being done), to Twitter being bought out by a billionaire who wants to suck Vladimir Putin’s dick and kiss the asses of the Chinese government- it’s like each time something gets good someone has to come along and shit all over it.

When Elon-the-Shithead bought Twitter I knew it was going to go downhill fast. I think he’ll go bankrupt as the site turns into a cesspool of hate and shit-bag trolls. And that made me have this thought:

Maybe we ought to burn the motherfucker down and be done with it.

I don’t mean literally burn something down for all the idiots reading this. I mean this metaphorically (look up the word ‘metaphor’ if you don’t understand what I’m talking about here). I mean, let it become a hollowed-out husk and then when all the shit-heads move on to the next piece of real-estate they want to shit on, rebuild what they left behind into something better.

Every single day, more and more people are saying ‘Enough’. Along with ‘’no’, and ‘fuck this shit’, and ‘fuck you’, too. They’re establishing boundaries to put it in a more polite way and that’s a good thing. From ‘quiet quitting’, to ‘working your wage’, or going independent, people are just saying ‘enough’. People are free to cut and run but you can’t do that forever. Sooner or later, you have to take a stand and fight.

My father was fond of an old saying: don’t let the bastards you get you down. He also used to say there was always an asshole in every crowd, and not to let the assholes of this world ruin things for you. He was right (as always) and this is why I’m standing and fighting. It’s why I let it rip here with all my colorful profanity and sayings that I learned how to formulate from my late father. I’m out of fucks to give and if it makes me a lonely old bitch with only a dog and cat for company, then so be it.

People have asked if the assholes on the internet are like that in real life: uptight, judgmental, racist, etc. And my answer: yes. Online interaction makes people think they can be assholes in private and hide that in real life though most people have removed those masks these days and put on red MAGA hats instead. That’s fine because at least we can see them clearly now. It’s these uptight judgmental pricks that bought into right-wing bots and Russian trolls and QAnon conspiracy theories hook, line, and sinker. Sadly, lives have been lost because of their shit-spewing and believing in lies over the truth.

So what do the rest of us do?

Stand and fight. Be the people we are, and always want to be. And don’t take shit for doing the right thing, believing in the good of this world, and not hating other people simply because they’re different from us.

To all my online friends over the years:

Thank you for all your kindness, generosity, and acceptance. Thank you for being the great people you all are. Please know I won’t leave our online community, nor will I ever forsake you. And know that I will stand up to uptight judgmental shitheads for you, too.

My online community is just like the real-life world I live in: it’s worth fighting for, and worth saving. And maybe it will burn down but like the Phoenix, we can rise from the ashes and start over.

Passion Awakened

Last night as I was driving home from my last Uber run, I was listening to the program ‘Music for Listeners’ on KRTU FM 91.7 here in San Antonio (hosted by Michael Thomas and Rolando Torres). And just as I got onto the highway to head home, they put on ‘Bad’ by U2, the live version from U2’s 1985 EP ‘Wide Awake in America’. All the lyrics of that song came to me even though I haven’t heard this song in a long time. And as I was driving along singing the song, I thought:

When did I lose my passion?

Then I answered: I never lost it. I just kept it silent. I buried it and hid it away. Why? To keep people from giving me shit about it, to not be ridiculed about it, to not be told I was an idiot for believing in something more than myself.

I first heard the band U2 in 1983 when I saw their video for their song ‘Two Hearts Beat As One’ on MTV and got into them through their album ‘War’ then their other two albums prior to that, ‘Boy’ and ‘October’. Then there was their concert film in 1983 ‘Live at Red Rocks’. They were punk influenced but they weren’t so much angry as passionate because they were (and still are) Christians. In fact, before their album ‘War’ they seriously thought about giving up music because they weren’t sure they could be rock ‘n’ roll musicians and Christians. Luckily, they realized they could stay true to their values and make the music they wanted to. And yes, they’ve been mocked and gotten a ton of shit for wearing their hearts on their sleeves. But they’re still around and still making music and I’m forever grateful for that.

All my life I’ve asked why the expression of passion, of faith, of all emotions from pain and sadness to happiness and love make other people lash out and hurt those who feel that way and show those emotions. For so long, I’ve never had an answer but now I do:

Someone who feels emotions, who is in touch with their feelings is an affront to someone who is not in touch with their emotions, someone who puts emotions into very rigid boxes and any deviation from that is an affront that has to be destroyed if it can’t be put into place. I say this because all my life I’ve felt like when I truly expressed my emotions there was someone who hated me for it and flat-out told me. And because this happened many times, I began to believe I was WRONG in having emotions and showing them in any way.

In the last six years, I’ve broken the silence around my thoughts and feelings. Putting my emotions into words has been very painful at times but well worth it. Because once you put your feelings into words, no one can silence those feelings ever again. You’ll take shit for it, but you can always tell someone to fuck off with their shit, too.

Music has always touched me deeply, and the song ‘Bad’ has made me cry over the years when I listened to it. But tears aren’t a bad thing and losing your shit over a song isn’t wrong either. Why do people have a problem with something like this, I’ve asked. And my answer: because some people don’t want to deal with emotions, not just their own but anyone else’s. I’ve always felt like no one wanted to see me show emotion, like crying or happiness. I used to think my timing always sucked and that I never could read people the way I should. But reading people and trying to navigate their emotions while brutally suppressing my own is NOT my purpose in life.

Over the years, I’ve stayed away from music for long periods of time. It’s like I felt like I had to listen to my thoughts or my silence, and I felt like I had to try not to feel so much. Now I know that’s a load of bullshit and I feel like I’m being a rebel here. But I’m just a pissed off middle-aged bitch who has run out of fucks to give to any asshole in this world.

So, you don’t have to give up your passion, your idealism, or your faith despite what feels like a big tidal wave of fascism, conformity, and conservativism that is threatening to all of us. DON’T GIVE UP YOUR PASSION, YOUR IDEALISM, OR YOUR FAITH! Put your thoughts and feelings into words. Feel your emotions from good to bad and every way in between.

And to anyone reading this who may be saying to themselves that wasn’t your intent to make me or someone else feel bad, then ask yourself what was your intent then. Ask yourself why you think and feel the way you do and keep asking until you find all the answers you can, but I will warn you that you might not like the answers you find, and you will have to deal with them. I say this to counter hate, to try and bring genuine emotion out of the silence.

I haven’t lost my passion and I never did in the first place. I’ve just gotten in touch with it. I embrace it and stand tall in the face of anyone who will try to destroy it knowing they never will. Passion lives forever.

On the Streets Where I Live

Yesterday I was with a passenger and as we were driving by an apartment complex on the side of town where I live and we saw a group of boys playing outside. As I slowed down to get around a parked vehicle, I saw the boys were playing cricket. Not baseball, but cricket. Yes, they were refugee children and my passenger and I told her I loved seeing that and how I love living on the side of San Antonio I do. On my side of town there is a large refugee population along with people from all over the world that live here. I love living around people who don’t look like me, talk like me, or think and believe like I do. And we all get along pretty well around here because we’re all just trying to get through the day.

I hate it when people who don’t live here tell me how awful life in a big city is. It’s not perfect but it’s not a burnt-out, trashed-out, shoot ‘em up mess that right-wing media likes to lie about. I’ve been in some of the wealthiest enclaves in this city, driven by multi-million-dollar homes. And I’ve been in neighborhoods where homes are worth a fraction of that, where the sidewalks are cracked and everything is worn down. But in those worn-down areas I see mothers walking with their kids from school, older people sitting on their front porches waving hello to everyone, and I see hope. And I hate it when people shit all over that.

And two years ago in the summer of 2020 I felt a real change in this city when a group of racist white men came to downtown San Antonio openly carrying guns. I was downtown on the biggest day of protests against these racist white-motherfuckers and yes, I was scared. But then I read the Bexar County Sheriff ran these racist-motherfuckers through the system and found several had outstanding warrants. So he put those assholes up in the Bexar County Hilton (aka the Bexar County Jail) till he could ship them out. Then he told the rest of the racist-pricks to get the fuck out of town. Then the Sheriff, along with the Mayor and other city leaders went outside to the protesters and said, “Let’s take a walk. You talk and we’ll listen.” And I remember the Mayor saying this: “This is your home, your city. Tell us how we can make it better.” And since then, that’s been the commitment of city and county leaders, and yes, it pissed off the Republican Establishment in both Austin and Washington DC till the Orange Menace was voted out in 2020.

I was also telling my passenger yesterday that for the longest time San Antonio tended to skew older in terms of population because young people, like many who live and grow up in small towns, would leave and not always come back. But now this city’s population is skewing younger. Young people aren’t leaving and those that do are coming back to stay. I love this because these young people are awesome. This city is getting more diverse, and these wonderful people are bringing a vibrancy and hope to these streets. They’re battling the old white power structures and machine-politics and getting leadership to focus on what we need: good jobs, education, infrastructure, and bridging the economic gap.

But small towns aren’t bad either. Yes, they can be insular and isolating but technology is changing that along with people moving there and bringing new life and investment to these communities. In the Hill Country towns that are outside of San Antonio, sometimes this can make these towns like glorified tourist traps but it’s not all touristy. A lot of these towns have grown in size and population but are good places to raise kids. And yes, they’re even getting diverse and trying to welcome new people who aren’t all lily-white stereotypes.

In this current midterm election, pollsters and other idiot-pundits are surprised that smaller communities aren’t skewing as conservative as they used to. I think it’s because more people are beginning to see through conservative rage-politics and lies that right-wing media spews out. And I think they realize the conservative ideal of dying in a huge mansion on a huge stack of money is not something to aspire to, or support anymore. The vast majority of people in this world just want to have a roof over their heads that doesn’t leak, food on the table that won’t bankrupt them, and not to have to worry about money too much. And most of all, they don’t want to hurt people or shit all over them. They’re beginning to see that the raging-shit politics of the conservative right-wing Republican Party are not about them at all. And most of all, the Republican Party is NOT the party of ‘family values’ or anything like that at all.

In the end here, I think more people are beginning to value genuine knowledge. I told my passenger yesterday I look for knowledge in a political candidate, genuine knowledge of how government and public policy are supposed to work for everyone and not raging rhetoric and bullshit, but about the details that make things work in our communities. Because the thing that has always pissed me off and what I will not be silent about anymore is this: I’m through with putting up with people who talk shit about things they have no real knowledge of.

So on the streets where I live, things aren’t so bad. And they can only get better if we come together and make it so.

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