Assholes Among Us

If I had to choose a friend, or companion to spend my life with, and my only two options were a child that suffers a horrible medical condition, and the other, a person who advocates for abortion of those children who suffer a horrible medical condition, I’d choose the child. Every time, every.single.time.

My blood boils and roils when I read shit like this. We all carry burdens, we all face hardships, trials and tribulations. We all suffer to some degree. What makes us human is our ability to care for each other, to understand the suffering of others because we’ve been there. It’s a collective experience.

At least for most of us.

The rest are just assholes. And no one wants to spend their time with an asshole.

Rob Paxton

I’m Ready, Let’s Go.

Trump has pledged to send humans back to the moon, and beyond. I’m not holding my breath, but I’m hoping we not only walk on the moon again, but that we establish a base, an internationalbase. I’d like to see us get to Mars in my lifetime, yet like I said, I’m not holding my breath. Administrations change, goals change, policies change. For all the interest the American public has in Scifi movies, there just doesn’t seem to be an interest in space exploration, much less a human migration toward the stars. Maybe we’re afraid our dreams will be crushed once we get out there? I don’t know, but I do believe that migration will come, someday. I just won’t be around to see it, and that makes me sad, because at heart, I’m kind of a space cadet waiting for my wings.

www.robpaxton.me

Who Cares?

I care! You know who doesn’t? People that set in harsh judgment of those afflicted by mental health problems. I don’t buy into the fact that you’re compassionate, much less have the right to judge, if a kid sets in jail for four years waiting for a simple evaluation, and when it doesn’t come, you just throw the kid in prison cuz there’s no alternatives, and you’re OK with that. Fuck, an exceptional nation takes care of it’s own, and we are not doing that. In fact, what we are doing when it comes to those suffering from mental health disabilities is tossing ’em out the car window as we drive over a bridge. Think that’s harsh? Then you’ve never dealt with a loved one who suffers from the terror, sorrow and anguish.

www.robpaxton.me

I Would Do This

Man, there are those days I just want to get away from it all. Nature calls, and I want to commune. Get rid of the phone, the TV, the radio, sever the link to the real world. There’s something that makes my man blood boil about hunting my own food, building my own shelter and clubbing some woman over the head and dragging her back by her hair to my shack, making her mine. Then I remember, I can’t pound a nail, can’t shoot straight and I ain’t got the nerve to club a woman, then having to put up with her for whacking her.

Still, it’s a nice thought as I set around my firepit drinking my beer.

www.robpaxton.me

I grew up in Liberia.

A small Nation that sets on the western coast of Africa. It’s capital was a thriving, bustling city of energy and diversity struggling toward modernity. There were parts of Monrovia that were comprised of tin shacks, along side concrete buildings. My concrete school sat in a neighborhood, where I would cross the dirt road after school and buy cheese and ground peanuts in a small tin shack of a store. As I grew older, I spent some precious evenings setting around an open fire, drinking beer in the middle of a village comprised of mud huts. Poor, economically depressed, not modern, underdeveloped, use what ever words you want, I will tell you that the people of Liberia gave me something that I cherish. That no matter what your environment is, you can still be a decent human being. You can still have dreams, you can still work toward something different, something better. Of all my time in Liberia, this is what I remember most. For my President to speak as he has, shows a fundamental lack of understanding and respect, and I am deeply offended, and embarrassed. Liberia was, and is, many things but it was never a sh*thole, and for a man that tosses the f-bomb more than most, I actually find it hard to use the presidents words in a sentence.

www.robpaxton.me

The Hoarding of the American Dream

We hoard people.Closet our elderly in nursing homes, minorities to the other side of the tracks, the working poor to apartment complexes. We box them up nice and pretty and say, this is your place, and if you don’t like it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps and solve your problems, but in the meantime, we’ll embroil and entangle your life in a social welfare system that won’t allow for you to buy the boots.

I am not a rich man, I live paycheck to paycheck, in an older middle class neighbor comprised of repetitive ramblers in a small town along the Mississippi. It’s kind of a bucolic life, peaceful and quiet, lights go out at 10, everyone works for a living. There are no minorities in my neighborhood, they’re relegated to the older homes, the ones with clapboard siding and showing their age. The poor are congregated in conglomerations of apartment complexes where drugs are dealt with occasional gun play. We have several retirement communities, well kept, maintained and full of the elderly who slip, fall, mandating a visit from someone who cares, if they have that someone.

The larger city across the Ol Miss ain’t any different, just on a larger scale.

Twenty some years ago, we lived in an apartment. With 3 little boys! That was a trip. Across the hall, a young banker and his schoolteacher wife. Down the hall, an auto mechanic with his family. All working to climb the ladder known as the American dream. Most of us succeeded for the most part. We still have Apartment complexes like that, and they even have minorities, people of color, living in them. Unfortunately, we also have complexes where drugs rampage through the occupants lives, where police calls are daily occurrences and the truth is, those people will only move from one complex to another. That is their life. There’s way too many of them. They are essentially a prison without escape.

At face value, retirement communities, nursing homes and independent living facilities are good ideas, good ideas where we relegate their care to strangers making minimum wage. The cost is outrageous, and for most, any assets they have are gone in a matter of months. My mothers rent is raised annually, can barely afford the home healthcare she needs, and she’s charged incessant fees for a toilet overflowing, a smoke alarm going off, or losing her keys, or a parking space, or a garage. It’s not that families don’t care, it’s that we don’t really have much of a choice, our hands our tied. We do the best we can.

I don’t have the answers, I don’t know if there are better choices out there. But I do know this, we segregate people in this country. We worry if an African American buys the house next door, the value of my house will go down, if a poor family moves in down the street, the neighborhood will degenerate.  And we don’t have the time, the money, the space, the emotional responsibility to take our elderly parents into our homes.

It just strikes me as wrong.

60

I lay flat on my back in some old pasture splotched with brown grass, a cows head is hung nearby, nibbling, and I’m watching a single, insignificant puff of a cloud wander about a lazy blue sky. Like smoke, the clouds journey is buffeted by the wind. East, West, North or South, the destination is the same, dissipation. A return to oblivion to begin anew.

Even the cow has similarities.

I smile with the thought, the irony. Of a cloud, a cow and a human, the path remains the same.

My hands are folded across my chest, a mosquito lights on a forearm, and begins to feast. I let it. Not because I don’t care, not because I’m not irritated, but because for this moment in time, I think it’s the right thing to do. To give sustenance to some lesser being derived from my personal suffering.

Gorged, full, filled, fat, the insect whines and buzzes off, probably toward the cow, I think. A bloodsucker is never satisfied.

I do not know how I came to be here. There was no direction, no manual, so signage along any path I ever traveled, so I stumbled, missed a turn here and there, wandered from time to time, to end up here. I have regrets, unlike the cow, although the cow may disagree. I wouldn’t know. Regrets only because nothing is preordained, no path laid out in stone. If life was concise, an arrow bent against this blue sky, I would have no regrets. I would not know the meaning of the word.

My thought is interrupted by the cow. A loud, lingering single word sound of base, tone, and reverberation. Perhaps the cow is talking to me, and I smile as I wonder what that damn animal would say. There would be no commonality, no foundation for words to speak with each other. Then I ponder, the cow might be the smart one.

I have never been the smart one. I think back to the desert, the jungle, the firepit, and ask if they were, indeed signs along my path, but settle upon acknowledgement they were nothing more than the mosquito, an intrusion. Intrusions, I perhaps, allowed. And if they were by chance, guideposts, they were as human signage often is, vague, offbeat and of little value. The map I’ve been looking for was bigger, laid out in the heavens, written by the hand of God. Intelligence is the ability to quiet the confusion, to discern the word of God from the voice of man. Perhaps it is the breath of the almighty that drives the cloud, than the cloud has no choice. The cloud has no choice, regardless.

My life has always been the world. That is what has meaning. What lies beyond the boundaries of my sphere is of little consequence, and lesser meaning. I have always explored my world. Turned every rock, listened to every bird song, sought answers to unknowable questions, and now I find myself wondering if those answers are to be found beyond the borders of my own private universe. As vast as my existence is, here in a field with a cloud, a cow and a bellicose bloodsucker, might there be more?

I do not want to grow old. I’m not afraid to grow old.

I’m afraid of not being able to take another walk down some ill-defined path, of passing through the door without the right answers, without the knowledge that allows that entrance to call out to me asking for my tome, to verify my life.

Is that what life is? To find meaning? To have meaning? To be able to claim when the far world reaches out, I have answers. I have knowledge. But what knowledge could I possess on my death, that old friends would care to hear? None, I suspect.

There is, I think, a larger question. I do not follow it, I don’t like the thread, the texture of the thought. For one who lies in a field with questionable associates, the question is sour. If I am that guide, that marker along your way, I have failed miserably. The cow wanders off without discourse, the cloud dissipates without direction, and the bloodsucker is justly swatted.

Surviving Trump

Christ, am I ever going to get a break from this imbecilic bully? Are any of us ever going to find our sanity again?

I’m tired of the 24/7 next level bullshit. Did I say next level? Hell, he’s skipped the next dozen rungs of the ladder and taken it to never before seen heights. Yea, we can point our fingers at the media, but the medias just taking his bullshit and fertilizing the America soil. I’m tired of it! I’m tired of Trump, and I just wish he’d go away, someplace where fire bakes brimstone.

Getting up in the morning, coffee in hand, reading the news is like standing in a shitstorm, mouth hung open, facing the wind. There’s no other way to say it.

For eight years I listened as Republicans fertilized our soil, spreading lie after lie about Obama. That was palpable, but I could deal with it, I knew what was going on. I guess in a way, they laid the foundation for Trump, and their refusal to recognize that adds to my Trumpfatigitis, cuz I know they could do something about it, but won’t, and it ain’t because they’re tired of slinging shit. Personally, I think Republicans are liking the show, revealing in it. They’re used to it, they spent so much time in the pigpen, it’s all they know. Shit!

I really don’t know if I can take another 7.5 years of this. That’s a lifetime, ‘specially for a geezer like me. Being old accounts for a lot of aches and pains, and I’ve rode a wild bike down the road of life, but I don’t deserve this shitstorm, nobody in this Nation does. Hell, nobody ever in existence does. Trump has taken my old mans pain and just beat me down, to the point where I’m like living in an alternate reality, where nothing is real. Living in a Salvador Dali world would be a blessing compared to this.

I don’t relish waking up every morning for the next seven plus years, and getting a mouthfull of shit. I got other things to do. Grandbabies in Hungary, an elderly mother, summertime firepits, tequila, YouTube videos, a little website. Christ, I skype with my son, it’s about Trump. I visit my mom, it’s about Trump. I set around my firepit with Friends, it’s about Trump. I do a vlog, and Trump has to show up. I drink tequila by the shotglass because of Trump. Shot after shot till I’m finally wandering about a Dali landscape, rejoicing in my escape.

And then I wake up to the shitstorm. Mouth agape, foul taste, and I’m just so fucking numb from it all. I’s only 9am, and I do a shot. And another. Now I’m ready for this alternative Universe.

I’d also bet what years I got left in this world, that I’m not fucking alone.

And don’t forget to stop by my website, robpaxton.me

 

Life Got you Down?

I want you to know, I understand. Your backs up against the wall, there’s no where to turn, no one to ask for help, you’re stressed to the max, and you don’t have an answer. You flutter into a restless sleep, and when you dream, your stress makes them weird. You’re days are spent praying to God for an answer that never seems to come. Personal relationships, work, financials, or all three, sometimes life just dumps on you. There are times you see it coming from a mile away and just refuse to believe it and when it impacts, you’re still bewildered, stunned by the gale force. There are times too, when you are unable to see that gale force  coming and when it hits, it changes everything in a passing, remarkable and memorable second, often in the most tragic of circumstance.

As if life’s demon has his foot in the small of your back, grinding your face into the dirt, and to make it worse, he’s laughing at you. You spend your days on the edge of tears and you begin to question, everything. You wonder what’s wrong with you, question where your friends are, and more than anything else, you wonder what the point is, of anything. Your favorite refrain is now, ‘why me?’.

There comes that time in all our lives where the pain and suffering seems overwhelming to overcome, you’re just too tired to fight, much less to stand, if not outwardly, certainly inwardly. Your soul aches behind every smile, wondering why you’re even bothering to force a smile.

Like I said, I understand!

Here’s a bigger revelation. Most people will understand, most have been there to some degree or another, and survived. In it’s way, suffrage and troubled waters go hand in hand as a rite of human passage. None of this makes it any easier for you, or anyone to bear their burden. It makes for us an easier way by our experience, to understand, but that doesn’t necessarily calm your waters.

There are things you can do. I’m not a self hep guru, a therapist. and some will say I’m the last person alive to give advice to anyone, and they might be right. But I do have experience in surviving my own personal ocean of troubled waters.

First and foremost, know that life is walked on a thin line between sorrow and happiness, that everyone walks in one direction today and the opposite direction tomorrow, all to different degrees. There’s a huge amount of truth that we are more alike than not. The biggest difference between you and I? How we look at things, our perception. That perception is based on genetics, our current environment, our education, our ego, self esteem and a lot of other factors.

The takeaway, perception can be changed. Some change their perception of the world around them by finding God or engaging in professional help. Some merely through friends or through books, some by grit and determination. Changing perspective on the world, in your life isn’t that hard once you decide to change it. Deciding to change is the hard part. People will argue that the decision is the easiest part, but ask yourself this, if you can’t follow through on a decision you’ve made, are you really committed to that decision?

But what the hell is perception? Well here’s a surprise. It’s not how you view the world and your life, perception is who you are as a person. So if you want to start walking a bit more on that thin line in the direction of happiness, it starts with you.

Start with that recognition, own the troubled ocean you’re drowning in. Once you own that perception, you can mold it by writing about it, by talking to others, by research, by sharing. By even, OMG, by asking for help. Asking for help and understanding can be humiliating, I get that, but what you’re not getting, is that asking for help, asking for a friend to listen, can be one of the most rewarding human experiences in the entire catalog of human experiences. It can be, and often is, the first step in an experience that is transformational.

It ain’t easy, it never is, and like I said, I understand.

Than again, maybe I don’t know nothing and I oughta just slap a piece of duct tape over my big mouth.

A Path Forward

Minnesota has a unique political history with the Democratic party. While many Democrats in Minnesota identify with Democrats, we’re known as the DFL. I grew up believing the principals of the Democrat Farmer Labor party, I still do.

In the early 1920s, the Farmer Labor movement became a powerful political force earning State legislative victories over Democrats and Republicans with their simple message. ‘Agrarian reform, protection of farmers and unions, public ownership of our natural resources, utilities, railroads and a belief in social security legislation’.

Ideals that benefited people’s lives. Ideologies that common folk could understand.

Not only was the Farmer-labor party successful in Minnesota’s legislative seats, from 1921 to 1944 this party elected 3 Governors, 4 United States Senators, and eight United States Representatives.

In 1944, with Hubert Humphry being instrumental, the Minnesota Farmer-Labor party merged with the Democratic party becoming the Democratic Farmer Labor Party of Minnesota.

Today’s Republican party have all but merged with the Tea Party, Libertarians, the Alt-right, and far right Evangelicals giving them a powerful, political voice that drowns out Democrats, Progressives and Liberals.

There’s a history lesson here, and we should learn from it.

Democrats should ask themselves, ‘Why are people who hold our values, our belief in unions, in our environment, in social justice, turning from us, and seeking representation in third parties such as the Progressives, the Green Party, the Independence party, and even Libertarians?’.

We should ask also ‘Why does America have one of the lowest voter turnouts of any modern nation?’.

I don’t have to parse the questions into a thousand data points to find the answer. It’s there, clear, concise.

People don’t vote, simply because there’s nothing to vote for. Nothing new, nothing challenging, nothing that speaks to their future. Not because they don’t care, not because they’re lazy, but because they have heard it all before, with no real-world results.

The Progressive party will continue to grow, as will the Green party, the Constitutional party, the many state Independent parties. So will the Tea Party in some form and fashion, and the Libertarian party, and as they grow, the Republican Party will grow, and become much more of a force than they are now.

At face value, the Democratic Party will claim that they echo the voice of Progressives, that they believe in public ownership of our natural resources, that the Party believes in our labor force, that corporations have grown too large, their influence too great, but if that were all true, Bernie Sanders would have been our nominee.

And here’s the rub, rank and file Democrats, believe in all those things. People in general believe all these issues. Yet, half our nation will not vote.

For the Democratic Party to become sustainable, they must do more than echo repeatedly their concern for issues. They must reach out to people with third party affiliations, bring them into leadership positions, incorporate some of their platforms into theirs, cut ties with corporate donors that contribute to both political parties, and they must learn how to message their belief systems beyond simply attacking Republicans.

While we live in a different world than those of the 1920s and the Farmer-Labor party, some things don’t change. The need to change, the ability to change, the desire to change are always with us.

Politics are, after all, always rooted in being local.

www.robpaxton.me