January 26th, 2019 | Tags: ,

Flung to the stars, we rose and fell–fell from the sky, fell from grace, fell out of our minds, fell into chaos. The Spire stands still in Redgar Bay, its gleaming bulk impenetrable to us even now, a dozen dozen years after its doom. Lights wink on and off, seemingly at random. The waters around it are still fell, though no longer as deadly as they used to be. Our children grow into adults, not knowing the home from which we sprang, while the wind rustles the red grass on the plain. We know it not ourselves.

But life goes on. We grow still the seeds from the ship that brought us here, those which the Settlers brought down before the Fall. We raise the calves, mis-shapen though they be, of the beasts that the Settlers grew from their laboratories. Darkened now, useless as all the other tools they brought with them, hoping to forge a new life. We scratch out our life from the soil with forged clay; metal is all but useless to work with. We build with wood, wood that must be drained of its blood and cured like meat. We clothe ourselves with grass and the skins of the animals of this world, tough and brittle and unpliant, but clothing nonetheless.

Eyes watch over us, three of them. Amidst the unchanging stars, the moons of this world have taken on a mythic quality. The Witch watches over us in winter, glittering green; the Thief in summer, his golden eye winking open and shut. But the Dragon is unblinking in its gaze, tenday after tenday, season after season, year after year: a baleful red gleaming that rises with the setting sun and sees into the hearts of us, alien interlopers on this world that we are not of.

And we are not alone. In the night we hear the terrors of the things that claim our stock, and though we hunt to end their predation, they are uncanny in their skill. Often the herds-yeoman is slaughtered along with their herd, harvested with the rest, but those who live have not much to give account of. Nothing we have thrown at them seems to effect a change, though they will not attack us within sight of the City. That may be the only reason we yet live.

So our City, Vindulan, is our beacon of hope, that we will carry on and not flicker out and crumble like ash into the dull red soil of Maroon.

January 7th, 2019 | Tags: , ,

First, the news. We have shuffled along to Catonsville! I am returned to work, as a preschool language teacher at a Reggio Emilia-inspired facility, where my son has been graciously afforded an opportunity to thrive and grow alongside me. We live right on top of the Catonsville Junction, with all the Scittino’s pizza, Caffe Di Roma goodness, and Trolley Trail #8 hiking within walking distance that entails. It’s also nice to be a 10-minute drive to Seoul Spa, the only jjimjilbang in the region. (I have so much to say about Korean saunas. Another time.)

What I wanted to write about here, though, is women. Not specific women–I mean the idea of women as being included, as a fundamental part of our perspective. The woman who married me sat me down and shared with me a (nominally) comedy segment called Nanette, performed by an Australian woman, Hannah Gadsby. It’s apparently much talked-about, but I missed all that in the vortex of being back at work full-time (and raising a son, and being out of the country, and on and on and on). And before I write more, I exhort you to sit down with nothing else to do, and watch it.

All of it. Don’t stop watching when it gets uncomfortable. Keep going.

OK, you still with me? Good.

So, Nanette blew the gates wide open for me. I have been writing, working, and living as a feminist, but Hannah’s story sunk home for me a lesson that I should have learned growing up as a young man, raised largely by my mother. My mother, who had to fight her direct supervisor tooth and nail (successfully!) for every promotion and raise at work. My mother, who stood up against (and beat!) the school board who wanted to suspend my sister for violating their arbitrary no-shorts policy for girls.

And the lesson is this: we need to become aware of marginalized people’s perspectives, and educate ourselves on their realities. We need to be conscious of the validity of their perspectives–and actively demonstrate that validity–not merely in our spoken words, but in our internal speech and the actions that spring from that. We must take up arms against an active oppression, one that has been going on for centuries, against humanity.

But I didn’t learn it. I went to high school and college, absorbing patriarchal thought patterns as you do when you are part of the highest social caste in Western culture–the straight, white man. Rape jokes were funny. Prison rape jokes were just the bomb. “Gay” was a useful epithet for describing disdain. Even as I dislodged my mind from this intellectual morass in undergraduate, even as I began to practice a basic sort of feminism thanks to my fantastically patient professors and my vastly-improved peer group, I persisted in thinking of women as objects (to be worshiped and praised and sought after, but objects nevertheless). I thought trans individuals were arrogant for rejecting the pronouns that perpetuate our cultural ignorance of the vast diversity of gender that exists. And even as I grew into a teacher, as I began to inject into my curriculum that awareness of the social Other, I laid down and rested on my laurels. I wrote from the lens of that boy growing up sheltered in a cul-de-sac, reading fantasy books by old white men.

No more. I’m not tearing up what I have written. But it requires surgery, and long rounds of physical therapy. It’s pretty simple, really. All people are equal, fiercely and unapologetically–and I commit to my writing as an act of showcasing the ways that people–and specifically women–are alive, and intrinsically worthy of those lives without any reference to another. I have so much to learn.

August 23rd, 2017 | Tags:

Well, we have unpacked, gone to Ikea for shelves, and set everything up. We are officially residents of Ellicott City, MD :) My better half has begun working, and she is thriving wearing the many hats that the job requires.

Time is going to take on a different sense now that I am a SAHD; indeed, it already has. I have been trying to write this post for about three weeks. No car means being creative about seeing friends, and generally more isolation. But there is lots to do here in EC! The Boy and I hike down to the Trolley Trail on a mostly daily basis, and we play with his train set, and I subsume myself in keeping the house running: cleaning, cooking, getting groceries, etc. It is a way to channel my anger at the current state of national affairs.

But it’s not just national news that is getting me angry–it filters all the way down to my family and friends, so divorced from the web of the people around them that they let their bigotry hang out like yesterday’s laundry on the line. I stand my ground, and choose my battles–but the void of reason remains. The insulation of their line of thinking makes them impervious to the very real damage they’re doing to American discourse, and their support of this kind of thinking at the highest levels of national office means that the damage is nation-wide. They go on about fake news, and then turn around and spread fake news, which they defend from a position of simple intransigence. It’s infuriating.

I am grateful for the opportunity to see the Boy grow in real time, and to see and talk to friends as they allot time for us. And gratitude is what carries me through these times most of all.

July 20th, 2017 | Tags:

Two years, and how life has changed. (And somehow remained the same…)

After an adventure abroad in South Korea and Vietnam, we have moved back to Maryland, and it feels like home. My wife has made the leap into her career as a plant nursery manager for a watershed restoration non-profit, coming from the Piedmont to save the Chesapeake Bay. Somehow, North Carolina was always terra incognita. So, rather than spend a few weeks each year returning to the Old Line State and spending the rest of the year pining for my beloved friends and family, I return with my family. My son (a Tar Heel born) has spent over half his life outside the US, which will only change on his second birthday. I used to say–never having  left the US–that I was a citizen of the world. I feel that title truly belongs to him. We are the wings that lift him up, beating on to sustain his flight to heights undreamed.

I followed the election closely last year, and it is difficult to contain the feelings that arose afterwards, continuing onward through the transition and into the new presidency and Congress. A thousand Cassandras spelled out the doom that would follow, and yet I still see people surprised by events that unmask the professional grifters we have elevated to high office. I dedicated my life to truth a very long time ago, and to see such blatant disregard for it promulgated by friends and family rocks me to the core. It is a wound of the psyche, difficult to bear even as we live our lives in quotidian dismay and joy. My son and wife are my reminder that we still have power to change the world, by learning from our mistakes and teaching our children a better way.

Ever the Knight of Cups, I return to writing as the challenges of life ebb and flow. I succeeded in completing NaNoWriMo again last year, and the world of Maroon is more vivid in my mind than ever. The Boy guarantees that it comes in fits and starts, but my resolve has only wavered, never vanished. I tried writing groups, but the effort of keeping up with the group crowds out time for writing itself. It is a truism that people understand only after parenthood the meaning of not having enough time. We fritter so much away and call ourselves bored when we merely fail to perceive the gifts before us untouched. I have let drop so many connections with friends and family in the face of overwhelming responsibility, but as we emerge from the woods of our son’s infancy into the meadow of his burgeoning independence, I resolve not only to write but to connect.

Habitica or Google tasks seem reliable choices. (To this day, I mourn the passing of the Handspring Visor, and with it the Calendar+ app, set to Sinead O’Connors “Nothing Compares 2 U.”) I must try to avoid the trap of futzing with the medium too much, though. My life as someone with ADHD is a song of distraction and immediacy. Too often I absorb my stress into video games. But if, instead of playing games that merely pass the time, I make my life into a game of sorts (a la Habitica), that may serve.

Thanks for listening, even amidst the silence.

August 13th, 2015 | Tags:

Things are officially As Real As It Gets–today I set up a life insurance policy for my wife and son. In the whirl of complexity that is our life, in the maddening press of all the things we are perceived as needing or actually need or are able to discern that we don’t need, this is one of the anchors, the failsafe in case the unthinkable happens. It very nearly did this past January in the form of a woman stopping dead in the midst of morning rush-hour traffic, and I am lucky to be alive. So I am not taking chances, not with our future already in such flux.

We are on the verge of being in open water, adrift on the ocean of our lives–to extend the metaphor, currently in dock at a safe harbor to bring our son into the world, so that he can swim with us. Mexico and South Korea are now equally viable candidates for our work, so we research them while I keep us afloat with gardening work. I just took care of the biggest major bill in our short term future, and we are paring down expenses and selling our needless possessions (rather a lot, it turns out). We don’t require much in the way of Things, mostly just the electronic tools to make sense of this modern world. So much ephemera, in the face of everything being ephemera–

“Like a tiny drop of dew, or a bubble floating in a stream; 
Like a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, 
Or a flickering lamp, an illusion, a phantom, or a dream.”
Diamond Sutra, Ch. 32

But how we make our way through this ephemera still matters. We can shape our son to make good choices, to change the world in his way, to better the lives of those around him just as I want to.

July 15th, 2015 | Tags:

So, we went to the Grandfather Mountain Highland Games this past weekend. It was a thrill to be around so many characters–of similar mind and different, at the same time. The nature of a highland games is one of old flags. Scotland, in fighting for its independence from the English, had the excellent rampant lion, and of course the seven Celtic nations all had their own. The highlanders had tartans to represent their clans, all unique. (I am among them–I officially joined Clan Hamilton, being the son of Donna Hamilton, grandson of Albert Hamilton). So, naturally, the national discourse on the stars & bars continued in the camps there.

A couple things of note. Everyone had flags of all sorts strewn around, and you could see buried amongst them sometimes a Confederate rebel battle flag. My goal isn’t to talk about its history–that’s settled fact, as a racist banner adopted in promotion of the cause of continuing the practice of slavery–but about freedom of expression. We camped in Linville Falls and shuttled in, but my wife’s sister and her husband camped with some friends on the site, sharing a space with a well-known group, located off the beaten path. Hanging amidst their flags, as we strolled into the site to cook dinner, was a rebel flag, and I simply said to myself, “Are you kidding me?” They were great hosts, and the presence of a flag doesn’t give me cause to shit where I’m trying to eat. Besides, the space was somewhat separated; I could sit where I didn’t even need to look at it. I warned my friends who I brought in to join us that it was there, and no big deal was made.

By report, however, it was still an object of drama. Apparently it had initially been hung near the tent of the folks with whom my wife’s sister was staying, and they asked if it could be moved so that it didn’t seem like they were associated with it. No big deal, still; their hosts were cool with that. But the juicy bit (ah, rumor volat) is that another friend of the group came into camp and took it down of her own volition, and when confrontation ensued, she declared that they would have to choose between her friendship and the flag.

Well, I can’t make choices for other people, but that’s not the hill I would die on.

There was also a more public camp, along the main road coming into the games, and just as many other camps, it was festooned with flags. I noticed a dingy off-white towel, glaringly different from the rest of the banners, and on it had been Sharpie’d “Confederate Flag removed by request”.  On the one hand, this wasn’t a government facility; on the other, I’m not sorry at all that the organizers chose to exercise their rights as hosts to shut down a bullshit flag. And the tears of frustration at the poor folks whose free speech was being stepped on, manifest in their little protest banner–well, I couldn’t help but chuckle.

July 5th, 2015 | Tags: , ,

Two major things on the horizon: producing a caring for a wee, infant boy, and moving to Mexico. “What?” you just said. “You’re moving to Mexico?!” Yeah, no big deal, we’re just going to go teach English abroad while raising our little bairn. :)

Lots of reading in the pipeline. First up is Dr. Karp’s The Happiest Baby On The Block, a research-based discussion of calming techniques founded on the theory that newborns need an extra trimester, and our job is to provide it by swaddling, swinging, and shushing them just like they had during the first 9 months of growth. It’s pretty fantastic so far, and I feel like I’m going to have a lot of fun being a dad. Key sentence today: “The fastest way to succeed in stopping your baby’s cycle of crying is to meet his level of intensity” (Emphasis Karp). I. Am. So. Stoked.

Next in the queue is the Moon guide, Living Abroad in Mexico. I’m still waiting for it to arrive, but it looks to be full of usefulness. I have many questions about the process, and it looks like it’s got a lot of answers! We’re looking at Merida, on the Yucatan. If you have any supportive advice, feel free to chime in!

Time, it marches on…

July 1st, 2015 | Tags:

Today marks a new practice: no imgur for 3 weeks. It’s a fantastic place for anthropological investigation and ruminating around the landscape of ideas and images with other nerds, but I want to shift my mental habits to more immediate, less abstract domains. I have very practical goals now, and I need to stop just wrestling with ideas themselves. This state of mind was why I went for, and acquired, my degree in philosophy–it’s what I do, regardless of anything else. But as amazing a tool for rational inquiry and exploration of the boundaries of human expression in 140 characters as imgur is, it’s got to make room.

I’m not quitting forever, just 21 days. So, here’s to day 1.

(I have abandoned HabitRPG. I don’t know if I’ll come back to it yet. But I got by without it before, and I’m going to do it again.)

June 30th, 2015 | Tags: , ,

I wanted to start this off as a letter. “Greetings,” I was all set to begin. Time was people read this, but then I let it languish, as I do now and again. So I guess I don’t really have an audience to greet. But I’m picking it up again, so you lucky readers buckle in. :) So much change has gone on in my life these last six months. Some of it I willed to being, but some of it I allowed to happen through inertia (or lack thereof).

As of June 19th, I am a married man. It’s the internet, so if you know me, you know my wife.  She’s amazing, beautiful, kind, generous, thoughtful, incredibly intelligent, compassionate, whole-hearted, nerdy… I have too many adjectives jammed at the space where the words come out to really do her justice. As we courted over the last summer and into the winter, I awakened to the very real changes that I had been wanting to make in my life, changes that she not only supported but encouraged. And I found myself not only supporting her goals and motivations, but supporting just the beauty of her existence, and all those underlying motivations and goals yet to emerge in her consciousness. As I told my parents practically the moment we began dating: she’s the one. And as we dance this dance through life, I am awed by the profundity of joy that is this life with her.

I have also completed my teaching in NC. I finished up the third year here, and I have learned a great deal about education; as the new teacher steps into my place, I am confident I have brought an academic rigor to the Latin program at Middle Creek that had been lacking before I arrived. We are looking elsewhere for jobs, as this state is clearly not interested in retaining its teachers.

And in the glorious narrative tradition of the three-topic discussion, I am about to become a father. We are expecting our son to arrive into the world around September 21st, and he’s got all ten fingers and toes, so I’m pleased as punch :)

As one chapter of my life closes and another opens, I am thrilled to renew my commitment to writing. I feel like my creativity had been drained from me these last few years, and it is time to touch base with the eternally-flowing font inside me. Maroon’s stories call out to be told, and life doesn’t stop for the living.

March 31st, 2015 | Tags: , ,

It has been a wild month. Much positive change, but also some waning in my habits. And I’m still putting off the monster.

I love climbing mountains, at least. And falling down them.

I’ve been so distracted; so many things are floating around me that are Stuff I Must Do Or Else. It’s to the point where Or Else has become a meaningless concept to me. (Of course, that doesn’t remove it of its teeth; I have just stopped caring.) But, at least, I have been showing up every single day, fighting the big fires, and then tending to the little ones if there’s time. The biggest thing I am seeing is the need to stop numbing out with facebook and imgur. The discourse is a pretty intense reward, but it sucks me in and becomes more habitual, and then it just is the thing I do, instead of being present in the real world. And the Or Else marches closer.

So many things I want to write about, but my time grows short. So, another post.