Life as Chaos

My world, my life is chaotic, consisting of my elderly, failing mother, a son with Schizophrenia, and a younger son struggling with life in general. Social workers, doctors, psychiatrists, group homes, nurses, therapy workers, court officers all populate my contacts and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t engage some of them. Some days, it’s overbearing and at the end of such a day, I’ll lay my head  on my pillow, stare at my ceiling, engulfed in despair and pity, and wonder how I’ll survive.

Then I awake, coffee in hand, and come across a story about a young woman suffering with Cystic Fibrosis, and suddenly my problems seem minuscule in the scheme of life. I’m struck with an awareness there’s still room in my heart for others, to feel for others, and that has to be a good thing.

But there’s something else. Envy, maybe. I have friends whose lives are picture perfect, their children excel in school, their health is good, their world good and I often wonder if it all comes down to the flip of some cosmic coin? I don’t know, but I do know this, I read a story about a Claire Wineland and her daily fight for her life, I find myself strangely contemplative about our lives, thinking that there’s something more to all the suffering, the pain, that amid all the chaos, there are ties that bind us all together, regardless of what side of that coin flips for you. You deal with what comes your way, you fight to retain your empathy for others, because we’re all in this together.

Honor and Sacrifice

are words we toss around like they mean something, maybe more to some then others. The truth lies in our actions, how we treat our Veterans, the good, the bad and the ugly, it’s all there and you can find a given story to illustrate such.

In my lifetime, I cannot remember a time when our nation has not been involved in some type of military conflict, somewhere in the world. We have called upon our children, and sacrificed thousands, condemned thousands, to a living hell. I work, side by side, with a handful of these young men, and I have to tell you how proud I am of them, and their service.

 

To hear of another veterans suicide is heartbreaking, even if I did not know him. To read his wifes words of despair, and loss, are beyond heartbreaking. To read of the breakdown in services are beyond comprehension, but a reality. Working for the Veterans Administration as a housekeeper, I can tell you firsthand, the staff are dedicated to the care of our Veterans. I’ve seen staff do some pretty awesome things for the Veterans they serve. Many of them are Veterans themselves. They know. They’re family.

 

But the bureaucratic red tape, the rules, policies and regulations are simply ridiculous, overbearing and antiquated, doing more harm than good. They are rigid, unbendable policies which prohibit creative solutions, prevent workarounds, and put our Veterans at risk.

 

It is our duty to Honor our Veterans, Our duty to sacrifice our agendas, our political views, to help those who will carry he cost of war through out their lives. We can do better.

In the Beginning

God created man in his own image, and god looked like an ape, or a reptile, or.., I don’t know anymore. For mainstream science to ask the question if there’s evidence out there of a civilization that predates our own is fascinating. Fascinating in it’s implications, and fascinating in the fact that someone in the mainstream has the balls to ask it? The question alone throws half of what we believe in the fire sale dumpster, and is sure to bring condemnation from those who would rather all science be nice, neat, tidy, and tied to their belief systems. Me? I think our history is stranger than what we’ve been taught. Hell, most of what I was taught about our own evolution has changed, and like humanity itself, knowledge is evolutionary. I suspect God planned it that way, whatever he/she looks like.

Stop by robpaxton.me for a lot more cool content

Debtors Prison?

Really? In 2018? In America? WTF is this shit? And why is the BBC reporting about it and not our mediaYou get a speeding ticket, miss one payment and you set for a couple of monthsYou know I gotta say it. Local communities are using tactics like these to fill their coffers, while not considering the expense of housing these people for a month or two. People in communities who are doing this are the same people duct taping up a flat tire. That’s one issue! The other issue is, well, I thought here in the great ol’ USA, going to jail for a debt was against the law.

www.robpaxton.me

An Unspeakable Secret

I spent twenty years with our local school district, and I’ll vouch for the veracity of this report. Kitchen staff, Secretaries, Paras, Janitors are all paid substandard wages. Their union contracts, if they have one, are weak, and generally ignored due to inherent managerial rights. Most kitchen staff are not full time, and receive partial benefits, Paras often replace teachers in the classroom, and are tasked, with minimal training, to provide services they’re not prepared for. Custodians are often exposed to Blood born pathogens on a daily basis as an expectation of their daily routine, without financial acknowledgment. But the two things that really ticked me off in my twenty years with my district is first, administrators had their health care paid for, while my cost was absolutely ridiculous, and second, when it came to raises, admin would claim that they were being fair in that everyone received a 2 percent raise. Two percent of a 130,000 is a hell of a lot more than 2 Percent of 15,000.

So yeah, there’s a problem.

Is What it is, I Think

I’m not a Trump fan, never have been. I’ve voiced my displeasure more than once. So why have I been bothered by a lot of Comey’s personal comments about Donald Trump? At first, I thought such comments were beyond his dignity, and lowered him to Trumps acidic level of toxicity. That’s probably a part of it, but not the whole reason. I think James Comey understands, unlike many, that to battle a monster, you often have to take the war to the monster, on his own playing field. Calling our President morally unfit to be president is a hard truth that many believe, and resonates to those setting on the fence. No American wants to hear that about our President, but it needed to be said in the venue it was said. I don’t like Trump as a man, I’ve always known that. His morals and ideals don’t even come close to aligning with what I believe, and I’m far from perfect. The thing is, you cannot separate a mans morals from his behavior, they go hand in hand, Trump has proven that. James Comey is simply reiterating that.

Deep State

Americans are embedded with a suspicion of government. It’s who we are, it’s how we’re raised, that suspicious eye being derived from our history, and weaved into our constitution. On one hand we trust our Government, and on the other, we’re deeply aware of how government can fail it’s people, and work to it’s own, ugly agenda. There is no surprise that 75% of Americans believe in a deep state, a cabal of the powerful running the show, behind the scenes.

If you define deep state in the above manner, look around. It’s not so deep, not so secretive, and in fact it’s quite evident. The rich and powerful, be they major corporations or individuals, spend billions of dollars to exert their will, to push their agenda, agendas that often betray the American experience.

If you define deep state as Trump does, as a cabal of Obama, left leaning democrats embedded in key government positions for the sole purpose of dictating policies, and working against his administration, I’d ask to see the evidence. I’d want to know how that works, especially in light of how each incoming president appoints their own cabinet officials to voice their political ideologies and agendas. A newly elected democrat could easily claim the same of the right. He could fire the Director of the FBI, claiming the director was out to get him, wasn’t following his new policies. That’s not evidence of a secretive cabal, that’s a disagreement between a man and his new boss.

I’ve never trusted our government to do the right thing, but not because of secret cabals of men working to their own ends, hidden deep in the offices of Washington, but rather because of money, and power. Of the two, money and power wins every time.

Honor and Respect

A co-worker asked me last night how long I had been married.

’30 some years.’

‘Quite an accomplishment’ he stated, ‘How’d ya manage?’.

I really don’t have an answer, but I like to think it has something to do with the truth that I married my best friend, and that friendship has endured. Friendships are built on trust, mutual respect, understanding and compassion.

Given that it’s International Women’s day, I think it’s appropriate I be reflective of the women in my life. When I think about it, it’s been the women in my life who have shaped who I am today. Sure, my dad was a huge influence, but in my house, growing up, the dominate influence and lawgiver was my mother. My father and mother had a working relationship, an equal foundation to raise their children, but my father was gone a lot. I didn’t always get along with my mother, and I find that my role today as a primary caretaker for her, is one that I cherish. In a lot of ways, I’m closer to her now then when I was growing up, raising my own family.  I have an older sister who I love, but don’t talk with much, and I suppose that’s on me. Barb has a good heart, has always been socially aware, and a lot of my social beliefs, to strive for social justice, derive from her, and I’ll always be thankful for that. Her daughter, Shelby, an army vet, now grown with a family of her own, is a lot like her mom, and that inspires me. I’m simply impressed with how Shelb manages such a full and rewarding life. I remember my grandmother, a farmers wife, who put up with a ton of emotional abuse from my grandfather in the early years. Things I didn’t know about till I was much older, and things I didn’t want to believe. Then there’s my Aunt Lil, who always had a brewing pot of coffee, and a kitchen table ready for me when I wanted to talk. Lil was my go to person, and when I think of compassion and understanding, my Aunt comes to mind. Her passing was my first real sense of grief and sorrow.

And then there’s my wife, Theresa. I’m a good ten years older than Teri and I met her when she was babysitting for my sister. She was only 17, and I was 26. Her mother, Jeanette, had me over for a roast beef dinner, and asked me bluntly what my intentions were, with her daughter. Teri didn’t fall far from that tree. Deeply religious, steadfast in her convictions, Jeannette was shocked when she found out Rock Hudson was gay, but she simply refused to be judgmental. She loved Rock Hudson. I remember that conversation over dinner, I’ll always remember her love and faith in me, to treat her daughter with respect.

My wife isn’t perfect, I’m not either, we both realize that, admit it, talk about our mistakes, then move on. Together. If you were to ask me what love is, I couldn’t put it in words, but I would hope her mother is smiling down upon us, knowing that I’ve honored her simple request to treat Teri with honor and respect.

I owe all the women in my life that.

Cafe Conversations at the End of the Universe

I watched the dying embers of the universe, lost in a millennium of thoughts. Time had been lost, I reached for my coffee, felt the coldness of the ceramic, and left it.

“So you’re not happy with how it turned out?”

I turned to God, who shared the cheap Formica café booth, and just took his presence in. There was nothing left to say, it was all gone.

“It was meant, by design to end like this.” God was saying as I lifted my coffee cup to the thick, tank like woman who was our sole waitress among empty booths, “There was a thought, to let it continue, but there was no purpose in doing so.”

I met the woman’s eyes as she filed my cup, and gave a slight nod, then turned to God. “But what was the purpose to begin?”

“Loneliness.”

I saw a shifting pattern of stars in the eyes of God, and noted the sorrow.

God tapped out a quick forefingered rap on the chipped Formica, and raised his white mug, didn’t drink, and then sat it down.

“Have you ever wondered why you’re setting here with me?” he asked.

I had, but never asked.

“Because you’re lonely?”

The corner of my eye caught a galaxy dwindle to dust, scattered by the remaining cosmic winds.

“Not in the sense, of being alone, of being without companion. More in the sense of purpose.” God replied turning his head toward the great window we were seated at. “Existence is futile without purpose.”

I furrowed my brow, wrapped my palms around my cup, not wanting to look God in the large void of now starless eyes.

“You created existence to give meaning to your own? You didn’t find it, and now it all ends?”

“Or perhaps I found purpose, and I no longer have the need I once had?”

God smiled.

I frowned.

God noticed.

“You had a good life, why the frown?” A star exploded, and died in his pupil.

“Because apparently I had no purpose of my own.” I answered as the last light of the star dwindled into darkness.

“Purpose is not given. Purpose must be found, my old friend.”

My sight crossed over to the waitress, who stood behind the counter wrapping silverware in pleated napkins, laying each bundle neatly in a row.

I wondered who she was expecting?

Rob Paxton

Are We Stupid, Or What?

I was twenty years old walking through an airport in Germany, and I remember thinking how grateful I was that I lived in a country where there weren’t armed police officers every thousand feet. I couldn’t imagine living under such a presence, of threat and security. Forty years later, here we are, wanting to turn our schools into armed camps.

Is this who we are? Is this the best answer? Where will we be ten years down the road? I don’t have the answers, but I’ve got a few thoughts.

Based upon personal experience, a person suffering from a mental health issue isn’t going to be deterred by the fact that there is, or might be, an armed teacher or officer on site. Jared Loughner wasn’t worried about secret service protection when he shot Gabby Giffords, neither was John Hinckley when he shot Reagan.

Most schools host a wide variety of events after the school day, from basketball games to dance shows to community classes. That means a lot more doors are open to the public. Imagine a thousand people arriving for an event, having to go through security. Who’s going to pay for that? Who would want to attend a basketball game thinking they’d have to go through that? And if there’s no security after school, whats stopping someone from hiding a gun till the next day?

As far as arming certain teachers, is that the best we can come up with? Really? What’s going to happen when a teacher kills an unruly kid because they feel their life is threatened? Or two teachers get in an argument and pull their guns? Teachers are already stressed with large class sizes, insufficient wages, lack of supplies, and behavioral challenges from their students. What right minded person would take a job like that, and be told they now have to carry a weapon?

We’re asking our local schools to carry a financial, ethical and logistical burden that they simply cannot handle, yet they will be held accountable for.

And where will it stop, armed guards at the movie theaters, in our churches, our places of business? Imagine the scene of walking through your local mall, Christmas shopping and there are armed guards with machine guns every thousand feet. That’s where we’ll be in a decade after deciding to arm teachers and having armed guards roaming the halls of our schools. Is that what we want? Is that our future?

One last thing, I don’t believe God woke up one morning and said, ‘Hmmm, people have a right to own guns, and so they shall.’ If you’re thinking God gave you that inalienable right, you might want to try looking for a more peace loving God.

Rob Paxton