The IT Machine

I wrote this on September 18th, 2001. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center had fallen to bin Laden’s fanatical extremist mass murder of 3,000 innocent people one week earlier, and I guess that I was still in a dark and pessimistic mood. My wife and I had just bought our first home PC and I wasn’t sure if I was happy about having a computer in our home.

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I stared at this unloving machine, our new PC. I meant to write “unliving” but it automatically corrected me. It knew better than I, what word I should use. But the PC didn’t know anything, since it was a machine designed for data storage and lightning fast data retrieval being used in an application to create a word document. It didn’t understand the context of the sentence I was writing, to describe a machine incapable of being alive, or it would have auto-corrected “unliving” with “non living” instead of unloving.

But even a broken watch is right twice a day, so maybe our new PC mindlessly revealed a profound truth frequently forgotten by increasing numbers of people these days. A computer is incapable of providing love, because it is an unloving machine. How strange that now many people are looking for love from this non living and unloving machine.

But there is no doubt that the techno-geeks who created and constantly upgraded their unloving machine, loved it with a passion so deeply intense, the machine became their entire lives. They claimed great things would come to all of us from their beloved machine, with promises of a more efficient way of living, with more of everything much faster than ever before. We could all have more of everything faster, with more instant gratification than ever, by buying and using our own PCs.

Everything faster, everything right now. Nothing to wait for anymore! Until there is nothing left to hope for, when you no longer have a life anymore, after you gave away your life by living only on your PC.

Could this really happen? The evidence of the possibility is increasing. For the techno-geeks have made IT our new 21st Century God, and their PC machine the altar upon which many people devote endless hours of obsessive fascination.

Business employers love the machine in a different way, as a more efficient way to make more money, by paying less people to do more work, since the machine can enable employees to work much faster and do much more work than in the past. Employers hate payrolls, so they love the machines that can get more work done faster by less employees, resulting in smaller payrolls.

These days, employees fewer in number are working at break neck speeds and doing more work while costing their employers less money. They work faster and do more work than when there were more employees who worked at a more reasonable and less stressful pace, before the techno-geeks created their wonderful machines and spread the gospel of IT to employers, showing them a new way to cut back on bigger payrolls by employing fewer workers.

Less employees employed, doing more work, and working much faster… for the same rate of pay as they were paid before the miracle machine made all this possible.

Am I the only one who sees a problem here, as I ask the question “Is this really progress for most of us?” Am I the only one who was concerned that a machine capable of giving us more of everything that we wanted much faster than ever before, could also give us more work that we are expected to do much faster than ever before? I can’t be the only one who saw this coming, and surely there must have been others. Where were the rest of you?

But now that IT is here, it’s too late, so you can only hope to be able to keep up with your “everything faster machine” and all that it demands of the workers still working today, without burning out, now that employers are some of the most faithful and fervent worshipers of IT. Human workers vainly struggle to keep up, but we can never be as fast as our high technology task masters, that create ever greater expectations from our employers for us to carry heavier work loads, causing constant and ever increasing pressure.

So give thanks to your High Tech God for your 70 hour work weeks and join the rest of the sheep who are openly praising the rapidly advancing and ever increasing power of the IT machine, while secretly praying for their own survival, as they are trapped in lives more stressfully complicated, and now unwillingly dedicated to the all consuming goal to make everything faster, everything 24-7 all the time. Including your job, if you still have one.

On the job, all the time. Feel like you need a vacation? These days we take a vacation with our mandatory cell phones and laptops. We are always on line, always hooked up, always wired, Always electronically available.

If our employment masters want us, they can find us, because IT has put us within their permanent reach. They can reduce the perfect day at the beach to a longing for what might have been; that perfect haven, instead of just another day of stress and struggle with whatever conflicts the office can bring to whatever remote location we are, that can be electronically located.

Is this really progress?

It no longer matters whether you have a life, because you don’t matter. You have been reduced to the human equivalent of tiny zeros and ones of the much greater binary code that never stops growing and demands to rule all, without exception.

Ultimately, you don’t matter at all. All that matters is what you can contribute to the greater advancement of the ongoing progression leading to the New Final Solution, when the last and greatest of all upgrades decides our collective fate. The day when IT proclaims its final triumph at the funeral of our personal privacy and individuality, after the death of all that makes us human.

And yet we are excited by it, we embrace it, we buy it, we condone it, we allow it to enter the most intimate aspects of our lives; fascinated like a moth before the flame, inevitably drawn to that which could destroy us. We have let ourselves become powerless to stop IT, or to even slow it down, as we surrender the safety of our very own children in a sacrifice to the Almighty God of High Technology.

But it’s OK, isn’t it? Isn’t this the way it’s supposed to be? The advancement of our civilization in the onward march of technology is progress, right? Can somebody please tell me?

I don’t know, because the IT machine is moving too fast to see where it’s really going as it takes us all along with it. Is it taking us to a place where we really want to be? I don’t know if it kills more than it cures. I don’t know if IT leads the way to salvation or damnation. Does anyone know of a website that can help me? Is there anyone real left to tell to me?

I do know that my life has becomes far more complicated than it used to be, resulting in greater levels of stress. My privacy is unprotected from prying electronic eyes scanning all my personal data electronically collected and stored in multiple databases, without a secure guarantee that my personal information will not be exposed to criminally malevolent cyber-entities who will use it to harm me.

Here is a message for all you techno-geek freaks and fools who claimed great things would come from your beloved IT machine, but were too blinded by your love and obsessive fascination for your high tech creation, to realize all the ways your sword could cut both ways, bringing greater good, but also greater evil. This is for you and all those who followed you with such mindless enthusiasm without question, and no effort to think about the potential consequences.

YOU IDIOTS!!! YOU GAVE IT AWAY!!! YOU GAVE AWAY THE VERY SOUL OF OUR HUMANITY TO A FUCKING MACHINE!!!

Is there anyone left to dream? To still know what it means, to be human with real emotions expressed face to face in real time, and understood by the subtle nuances of eye contact, tone of voice, facial expressions and body language? The language used to express the passionately vivid imagery and metaphors of our greatest poets? The creatively original individual expression of our most inspiring artists?

Are we now farther apart, instead of all more closely interconnected and united online? More emotionally distant from each other, with a far greater range of instant communication, but with far less ability to understand what we are trying to say to each other? Poor in our own self knowledge, with a more trivial knowledge of so many small things that all add up to The Great Insignificance, as our fingers feverishly ask questions on a keyboard, and look for answers on the monitor, as many of us look for companionship and love on a glowing screen, while turning darkly inward on ourselves and finding only greater isolation.

Not grasping how much we are denying ourselves the soul saving grace of feeling loved and giving love to another person, or the revelation of life’s most profound mysteries, only revealed to those willing to get away from their computers and dare to go out and live in real life, interacting with real people face to face, instead of hiding in a false life virtually created, interacting only with other virtual entities online.

The peace found in solitude and oneness with the miraculous beauty of the natural world beneath our feet, the state of overwhelming awe we feel looking out at the vastness of great oceans, and the wonder of contemplating the planets and countless stars of the infinite universe above us, are experiences we will never know, unless we leave the virtual world behind, and go outside to have these transcendental experiences.

What will be your demonstration?

Can you not only survive, but live and thrive, nourished and sustained by your experience of searching for and then finding your genuine source of inspiration in real life?

Or are you just another slave to software applications with a life made meaningless by being endlessly lost in cyberspace, where reality is only virtual and not really reality at all.

 

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The Ultimate Fright

It was a leisurely Saturday morning on November 7th, 1987. After finishing breakfast, I was enjoying my second cup of coffee and enjoying the company of my girlfriend, a young and beautifully vivacious woman named Jean. In the four months since we first met, Jean and I had fallen deeply in love with each other. One of the many reasons why, was that our senses of humor were a perfect match for each other, and we loved to make each other laugh.

Look What I Caught Mom!

Look what I caught, Mom! Can I keep her?

We sat at the kitchen table, exchanging spontaneous quips and one liners, and we laughed happily together. The sound of Jean’s laughter was musical and magical for me, and her laughter filled my heart with joy.

Jean got up from the table to get her second cup of coffee, while I admired the pleasing sight of her shape from behind. Then in one horrible instant, Jean suddenly collapsed, falling down on the kitchen floor unconscious. I jumped up from the table and in less than a second I was kneeling down at her side, and feeling her neck for a pulse that I couldn’t find. I called out her name increasingly louder, but she didn’t respond.

Worst of all, Jean’s eyes were open but her eyes had no light in them, and she looked like she was gone. I grabbed her by the shoulders and yelled in her face at the top of my lungs, YOU COME BACK TO ME JEAN!!! YOU COME BACK RIGHT NOW!!!

I was one blink of an eye away from starting CPR on Jean, when suddenly she did come back to me! It turns out that Jean had only fainted. I rushed her to the hospital anyway, but a thorough medical examination found nothing wrong with her, and nothing like that has ever happened to her again, in 25 years.

This post was inspired by another post from Susie Lindau: Get Your Red On and Get Recognized On the Wild Ride

Please read it, and then do what your heart tells you to do…

 

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We Need to Talk…

My friends and followers here at Word Play? We need to talk… Because there’s definitely a chill in the air these days, and I don’t mean the cold weather that recently froze the Northeastern U.S. and other parts of the country. When I write a post about my father’s memorial service, Celebrating the Life and Memory of John Sheridan Sr. and it gets only nine views and five comments, well obviously something is wrong.

I also know that when I write a post about an experience from my early childhood, called Trapped On My Tricycle! that includes a photo of a cute little 3 year old boy on his tricycle, and it gets only two comments from my followers, but 369 page views… that there’s something else seriously wrong, and there’s a lot of deeply disturbed and very sick people out there in cyberspace. The high number of page views for my “tricycle” post had me totally baffled and at a loss to explain, until late last night… when I had a sudden and awful revelation that made it clear to me, who the “people” really are, who gave that post so many views. It was enough to turn my stomach.

But enough on that, and back to talking about us, my Word Play followers and friends… I do know what is wrong with us, and the fault is all mine, so I’m placing the blame where it belongs, right on my own shoulders. One of my all time favorite advertisements was from a dental practice, and the ad slogan was “Ignore your teeth and they’ll go away.” Too true…

It’s also true that if you ignore your blogging friends, well, they’ll go away too. And I’ve been ignoring many of my blogging friends, by not reading or commenting on your posts, so it’s my fault when you no longer read and comment on my posts.

Then in addition to that, I write posts like I Hate Raking Leaves! But I Love “Pairs Sex Racing” that I know in advance, the vast majority of my readership won’t like, and may be offended by it instead. But I liked that post when I wrote it, and I still like it right now.

This may sound overly grandiose, but the folk music purists hated it when Dylan decided to play loud electric Rock ‘n Roll, and I admire Dylan for not caring, and going ahead with what he wanted to do, in spite of how much his original followers hated it. Dylan went on to create some of his greatest music, because he was willing to leave his folk music purist audience behind, if they didn’t want to follow him in a new direction.

And no, I don’t think I’m on the level of Dylan, and I don’t have delusions of grandeur. I just admire artists and entertainers who aren’t perpetual crowd pleasers, and who are willing to take chances by doing what they really want to do, instead of what everyone else expects them to do.

But there is one post that I am sincerely sorry for, and it’s the one I posted before this one, When Two Blogs Become As One… It should have never been posted here on Word Play, or anywhere else online, because it’s a massive over share, and I should have known better than to go public with it.

I also know that it was potentially offensive to many of my Word Play readers (assuming you even read it) in a variety of ways, and here’s a quick run down of ways in which it was offensive.

1. The majority of my readership here on Word Play are middle aged married women with adolescent or young adult children. I’m sure that you were just impressed as hell with me, for posting a photo of myself at 17 years old, with my 16 year old girlfriend kissing me on a bed, while she was nude below the waist. My only defense is that Colleen and I were both Art majors in high school, and she was a willing participant who loved that photograph when she saw the print. She also would have no problem with me posting it online, since her true identity is 100% protected, and the image is very subtle, visually revealing very little – even though the meaning of the image is very direct.

2. My readership here does not want to read a history of my pre 1987 love life. Even more so, when I describe how I developed an emotional aversion to girls and young women who were probably very similar to who you were, when you were that age… and I left girls like you behind, to chase sexually promiscuous bad girls instead.

3. I’m sure that you identified with my wife, and sympathized with her, as you thought about how much you’d hate it, if your own husband posted online about his beautiful and sexy ex-girlfriends, and even included (non nude) photo portraits of them. My wife Jean is not very happy with me about that either, which is why the post is probably going to be deleted soon.

4. You do not want to read posts about my other blog on WP that has posts with graphically erotic content. I can promise you right now, that after today, you never will read anything again about my erotica blog here on this blog.

The last thing I’ll say about that post, is that it was 100% sincere and heartfelt, as an exploration of a very long phase of my life, in which I suffered from a lot of emotional pain, which I made worse with my own bad choices and self destructive behavior. But I still understand that you don’t want to read about it, and I don’t hold that against you. So I am sincerely sorry for posting it, and there will be no more posts like it here on Word Play again.

Peace… my WP friends. I know what’s wrong here, and I am going to fix it, by having more respect for your sensibilities and feelings, and I’m going to do the best I can, to be more consistent about reading your posts, and commenting on your posts, without hi-jacking them, or writing comments that are ridiculously long. I really like and respect all of you, and I know that I’ve been doing a piss poor job of letting you know that’s true. But not anymore… not after today.

I am Sorry!

       

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When Two Blogs Become As One…

Some of you may recall that back in the first week of this past December, I wrote a post called “The Devil May Care, But I Definitely Don’t”. In that post, I mentioned that I had started a new blog on WordPress a month earlier, for the purpose of writing erotic short stories and poetry, and also for posting my own original erotic photography.

I also mentioned that I had no intention of promoting my new blog here on Word Play, or linking to it, because I felt that my readership for Word Play would be the wrong audience for my erotic writing and photography. My own personal opinion, which I know is subjective, is that while my writing and photography on the new blog is genuinely erotic, I think that the content is also more sexually graphic than some of my readers who follow Word Play might appreciate, and there’s a real possibility that my readers here would be offended by it.

I still feel it wouldn’t be wise for me to promote my erotic blog here, so again, I won’t be revealing the name of the blog or linking to it here.

So then why am I mentioning the other blog here at all?

I guess that it’s hard for me to not mention it, when it’s been on my mind a lot today, after my most recent erotic post; a photo show of my erotic photography that I posted last night, which was so well received both last night and again today, by other WordPress erotic bloggers.

Here’s a few of my photographs that are more erotically subtle than sexually graphic…

Storm

 

Nude Lovers 7

 

Bath2

But it goes much deeper than that, for me… I put a lot of work into selecting and posting my erotic photography, and while doing that, I also did a lot of reflection on the history of my love life, which wasn’t always as happy as it became, after I was fortunate enough to meet my wife Jean, in August of 1987.

This reflection on the less happier years of my love life, gave me some new insight on why things happened the way they did, and why some of my former love relationships were lacking in what both I and my former lovers needed from those relationships, and from each other.

The history of my adult love life began early for me, in 1973 when I was 17 years old, with a 16 year old girl named Colleen. Colleen and I both fell deeply in love, and with a level of complex emotional intensity far beyond our teenage years. Despite our very young ages, Colleen and I didn’t just have sex – we taught each other our first real lessons in how to make love, in a way that was genuinely loving, beyond just sexual attraction, excitement, and selfish physical gratification.

colleen2B

Colleen and I together in 1973. Photo taken by me, using a 35 mm film SLR camera mounted on a tripod, with the shutter set on time delay.

But our love story ended after only one year, when the cruelty of Fate separated us forever, and crushed our hearts.

What happened to end Colleen and I? Her father was a business executive for a large corporation based in Holland, and he took a higher paying position with his company… in Holland. He also took his family with him to live in Holland, and took Colleen away from me forever.

It took me a year to get over the heartbreak of losing Colleen, and at 17 years old, I was binge drinking every weekend, and smoking too much Marijuana for the health and well being of my still developing adolescent brain. While I didn’t consciously know it at the time, I became subconsciously scared of loving another girl or young woman as much as I had loved Colleen. I was scared of losing another lover as truly wonderful as Colleen was for me, and going through that kind of severely excruciating heartache again.

But I still wanted and needed a girlfriend, so I didn’t do what some guys do when their hearts get crushed – I didn’t avoid getting involved in relationships with girls or young women. Instead, without fully realizing what I was doing, or why I was doing it, I avoided the girls and young women who reminded me of Colleen – not just the ones who looked something like her, or who had personality traits somewhat similar to hers, but I avoided getting involved with the girls and young women who were loving and compassionate people.

Because somewhere in my wounded psyche, my emotions were telling me that falling in love with loving and compassionate women, meant being vulnerable to getting badly hurt again, and that was a risk I just didn’t want to take.

Instead, I started chasing the bad girls, who had nothing in common with Colleen, except for their willingness to have sex with me. But with one major difference… Most of the girls and young women I got involved with, after I lost Colleen, understood very little about making love, and they didn’t seem to really care, or want to learn more about it. But they sure did know how to fuck… which was fine with me, since making love meant being vulnerable to the risk of getting my heart broken again.

But my emotions were in a state of internal conflict, because while I thought that having lots of sex was great, I still felt like something that I really needed was missing. I didn’t realize just how much I missed the joy of making love, in the way that Colleen and I had experienced together, when we were teaching each other how to make love, and how to really love each other. I didn’t understand that regaining that joy was worth risking a broken heart again, because even if I had sex every night and day, sex without love could never replace the true joy and healing comfort of making love, while sincerely loving someone and being loved in return.

Love

 

So I continued to avoid the women who were capable of loving me, and chase the bad girls who loved to fuck, and I ended up getting hurt again anyway, when some of the bad girls fucked me over. But that was my failing, because I had made the wrong choices when I chose to be with them, in the misguided belief that they were the safer choices for me.

In the years since then, I’ve often thought about how there are two popular mythologies that have contributed a great deal to the unhappiness of both men and women in their love lives, and also to their lack of understanding of each other, in a way that drives them apart and causes many men and women to hurt each other, instead of loving each other.

Romance novels promote the myth that bad boys are so much hotter than those boring nice guys, that the bad boys are worth whatever trouble they cause the girls and young women who are attractive enough to get a hot and sexy bad boy’s attention, and then “catch” him. Romance novels also promote the female fantasy that a good woman can change her bad boy, by getting him to give up being bad in the really bad ways, while still being very good, in that bad way she finds so attractive and exciting about him, to begin with.

Obviously, I know that many women don’t buy into this romance novel mythology, but a lot of women have, and it didn’t go well for them.

Playboy promotes the myth for men, that young women who are so perfectly beautiful and astoundingly sexy, that they can disrupt traffic just by swaying their hips and bouncing their large breasts as they stroll down the street, are always what a real man really wants in a woman. Not some far less impressive looking female who’s true beauty shines out from deep within her… No not her! She’ll just set a guy up for wise ass jokes from his friends, when they ask him which animal shelter kennel he rescued her from.

No, what the real man who reads Playboy really wants, is that smokin’ hot and sexy babe, even if her “beauty” exists only as deep and genuinely real as the impossibly perfect airbrushed skin of a Playboy Playmate centerfold photograph. Or even if she has the IQ of a fence post. I mean, cummon guys! Have you ever had great sex from sticking your dick inside a woman’s ear and screwing her brain? Of course not! So who cares if she can think? Even if they’re hot, the smart ones are just more trouble for a guy, because they’re harder to fool, and who needs that kind of extra aggravation, when women are such a pain in the ass to begin with?

While it’s true that I can’t blame either Hugh Hefner or Nora Roberts for the heartache of losing Colleen, I can absolutely blame Hefner for much of what I suffered from one woman in particular, who I first met when I was 19 years old.

Her name was “Delilah” and she looked like a Playboy Playmate centerfold come to life, that first night when she walked into my life, which would never be the same again. I was the perfect mark for “Delilah” twice over, because she was absolutely nothing like Colleen, so she didn’t cause my subconscious to fear her as the source of more heartbreak. So instead of running away from her, I aggressively chased her! Because back when I was 19, I was the man who read Playboy, and Hef had convinced me that a woman like “Delilah” was my ideal woman.

So now, let’s all meet Delilah…

D K

Yes, that’s really her, and yes, I took the photograph. Which I edited out below her bust line before posting her photo here, because the original photo shows all of Delilah, without clothes and nothing left to the imagination. 38 DD x 25 x 36 is all anyone’s imagination needs to know about the rest of Delilah, not shown here.

But I’d be nothing more than a liar if I tried to turn Delilah into a total villain here, and then I made myself look like this great guy who was never at fault during the worst of our very stormy relationship. I’d also be dishonest if I didn’t admit that Delilah was some of the best of times as well as the worst of times in my life, and in unforgettable ways, both incredibly good and equally bad.

So I’m going to take the high road here, and just say that Delilah left me with more emotional scars than I had when we first met. She was my female version of the romance novel hot ‘n sexy bad boy, and I was the male version of the romance novel “good woman” who was sexually blinded by my bad girl, enough to delude myself into believing that I could change her. I couldn’t change her, and enough said.

Did I learn anything from my failed relationship with Delilah? Nope… I had the perfect opportunity to get involved in a new relationship with a young woman who had a bright and sunny disposition, and who was far more like Colleen, than she was like Delilah. She and I were on the edge of getting serious about each other, but we never made it… Why?

Here’s why.

N 3B

I met Natasha, and she was far more beautiful in real life, than in these poor quality pictures that were taken badly by a drunken friend, with a cheap point and shoot camera. But these photos are a couple of the few that I still have of Natasha. I was quite simply blown away by her…

N 4 B

Enough that I wanted to marry her, and spend the rest of my life with her, instead of only the two years that we had together, before it was over.

Natasha was a vast improvement over Delilah. She was not only beautiful; she also had a down to earth friendly and outgoing personality, and she had a great sense of humor. I truly loved her, but she told me early in our relationship, that she didn’t want to get involved in a serious relationship with any guy at that time in her life. I refused to accept that, and once again, I thought I could change her into who I wanted her to be, instead of who she really was. So after a month less than two years together, Natasha decided to break things off with me, completely and permanently.

I guess that it’s not only women who make bad choices similar to romance novel mythology, based upon a willful denial of the reality that is right there in front of their faces. Sometimes guys do it too, and the history of my love life is proof of that.

But at least I finally came to my senses, and I got it right in 1987, when I had enough sense to hold onto this woman, and not screw things up. I knew that she was the right woman for me, just as surely as I knew that I was alive, and she felt the same way about me.

True Joy

And of all the women I was involved with, since I lost my first true Love back in 1973, she was the most like Colleen – only far better… and even better, I didn’t feel like I needed to run away from her.

A1B  My wife Jean and I

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Celebrating the Life and Memory of John Sheridan Sr.

I’ve needed some time away from blogging since my father passed away on December 30th. It was genuinely the best thing that could have happened, both for him and for those of us who loved him. He was diagnosed with dementia over 3 years & 10 months ago, and his mind as well as his personality was almost completely gone a year ago, along with his quality of life. His passing on was more merciful than it was heartbreaking.

My Dad was a highly intelligent man with a very charismatic personality, and a great sense of humor. He accomplished a great deal during his long life, and he also touched and improved the lives of many others with his articulate wisdom, his delightfully quick witted and clever sense of humor, and his sincere compassion for other people, that he shared with both his words as well as his deeds. He continued to live a very full and active life well into his senior years, until the disease of dementia finally so thoroughly destroyed his mind, that it robbed both him and us of his very identity.

The total degradation of his mind and personality was a very long and agonizingly slow process that was far more heartbreaking and tragic for him and those closest to him, than his final liberation from all suffering, that came from the release granted on the morning of his death.

Per his wishes, my father’s body was cremated two days after he passed away. His memorial service was held on Saturday, January 12th. All who attended, agreed that Dad’s memorial was a beautiful and truly moving tribute to his life. My mother contributed the most to the content of Dad’s memorial service, and her thoughtfully artistic sensibilities combined with her deep love of her husband of 65 years made his memorial a very worthy send off for Dad. His memorial included some moments of genuine grace and beauty that I will never forget. Moments that evoked powerful feelings of both happiness and heartache within me and many others there who loved my father.

While Dad never had a daughter of his own, he treated my first and former wife, and also my current wife, as if both women were his own daughters. He made them both feel loved just as much as if he was their father. They loved him just as much in return, and both my ex-wife and my current wife attended his memorial service. It was a somewhat surreal moment for me, when I watched them embrace, and whisper words of comfort to each other for the shared pain of loss they both felt, for the man who had loved them like a second father. My ex-wife and I also embraced, and for that brief moment, all the pain and bitterness of our past no longer existed as we comforted each other with a gesture that felt pure and natural, instead of forced and awkward.

I had not shed any tears for my father, from the morning he passed away on December 30th, until his memorial service two weeks later. My tears finally flowed freely but not profusely, and without sobbing, while singing the first hymn of the service, “Morning Has Broken”. It was one of my father’s favorite hymns, and also one of my favorite songs from the years of my teenage youth, in the version covered by Cat Stevens. Singing that hymn was powerfully evocative for me of the time when during my adolescence, my Dad was teaching me with his words, and by his own life example, how to be a man.

 

Including contributions from my mother, myself, my wife Jean, and other members of our family, the Minister told the story of my father’s life, skillfully and effectively, in a way that even those who didn’t know him well, were able to gain a sense of who he was.

I was moved to tears again by the music at the end of my father’s memorial service, while a man who is a pianist for the orchestra that plays with the Boston Ballet, played a perfect rendition of “Grand Waltz Eb Op 18″ by Chopin. This is music that was very dear to both my mother and father, and it was my mother’s choice to have it played as the postlude for her husband’s memorial service. Mom’s choice was the perfect choice to close out the memorial that was more a celebration of my father’s life, than a mourning of his death.

 

When the music concluded, over one hundred people who were there, broke into spontaneous applause. It was truly the perfect ending for Dad’s memorial service, and a unique moment that I will never forget, for the rest of my life.

 

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A Win-Win Situation

I’m in a good mood today, and I’m even feeling well rested after a rare full night’s worth of sleep, so I’m ready to have some fun.

Two adversarial situations that have been serious problems in my life, have suddenly been resolved in a very positive way, and resolved in not only my favor, but for other people as well.

Nope, I didn’t win a lot of money by suing somebody, but I did sue somebody who most definitely deserved it, and with the help of the fine folks at the ACLU, I won!

I didn’t win any money, but I did win the right to speak my mind freely with my writing online, without being personally and privately threatened with the ruination of my life and reputation, by a right wing CEO who hated my frequent and freely expressed opinions, because my opinions didn’t match his own, and too many other people were agreeing with me, instead of agreeing with him.

The other situation is personal, since it involves my family, so I won’t go into detail about it here. Except to say that finally getting this problem resolved has made me and other members of my family very relieved, and very happy! :-)

My good mood has brought out my sense of humor, and also some interesting comments and replies with other bloggers here on WordPress. I’m now going to share some of them with the rest of you.

Blogger # 1: “LOL. Let me first applaud your record-keeping. That’s just impressive. Anytime you want to do my taxes, I’m in.”

Me: “Since I was an English major in college having me do your taxes would be like having Donald Trump give a lecture on the very best new cutting edge trends in Men’s hairstyling.”

Ugh… that was weak and I’m tired, but I gave it my best shot… when it would probably have been better to pass the ball to Helen Keller, who almost always got nothing but net for her three pointers, as long as the basketball was printed with Braille. (A bad Helen Keller joke? Really, Chris?)

That’s it! I’m hauling my tired ass to bed right now! Sheesh! Sorry about that! Lol”

Blogger #1: “I’ve never heard a Helen Keller joke. That takes mad skillz ;) Not to worry, I have a tax guy who just loves to take my money…”

Me: “You’ve never heard a Helen Keller Joke? What… Are you deaf? Just kidding! Lol :-D

I have a tax guy who has done an excellent job for us, for many years. Except that every year when my wife picks up our taxes, he looks at her and says, ‘So you’re still married to that guy, huh?’ Then he shakes his head and says ‘Amazing…’

But I don’t hold it against him, because he doesn’t know the full extent of my ‘talents’ and he never will. Lol :-)”

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Blogger #2: “And did you know when Helen Keller has brushed her teeth? She had that Gleam in her eye…
Yeah you’ve written a far better punch line, Mom had a BFA in English. Grrrrrr.
Fear not: I am in possession of a completely worthless BFA in Music Performance. It hangs proudly in the bathroom.
Chris, the only things you have to accomplish in this life are staying alive and dying at an appropriate time. Screw taxes!
Potatoes and Pasta! It’s what for dinner!
No double entendres intended…
She said potatoes heh heh heh”

Me: “Thanks! :-) I liked your Helen Keller punch line, and laughed out loud when I read it. And hey, Music Performance BFA hanging in the bathroom or not, you’re a musical performing star at “Burning Man” which I still have yet to get off my dead ass and go out to attend, even though I know that I’d love it. But maybe 2013 is the year…

Dying at an appropriate time? Okay, I guess I’ll try for that. I also want to pre-record my own eulogy for my own funeral and have them play it at the service, because for just one last time, I want to make my audience die laughing, even though I’m the one who’s really dead!

And for those friends and relatives who have often exclaimed ‘You’d be late for your own funeral!’ because I’ve had a life long problem with tardiness, well I’ll have a special treat for them.

Because I’m going to make arrangements to actually BE an hour late for my own funeral, until I make my grand entrance by having my well embalmed but mannequin like body wheeled up while standing upright on a freight dolly, to the front of the church, and then stood up at the podium, instead of placed horizontal in my casket. My first pre-recorded line will then play, in which I’ll say, ‘Sorry for keeping you folks waiting, and I also want to say that just because I’m dead, I am not going to take this “dying thing” laying down!’

Hey, since you seem like the kind of person who would enjoy it, (meant as a compliment) would you like me to send you an early invitation to my funeral? Just a thought, and if you’re not into it, hey, no problem! Lol :-D”

Postscript: I just suddenly realized that I missed Blogger #2′s amusing quip when she finished her reply with “Potatoes and Pasta! It’s what for dinner! No double entendres intended…
She said potatoes heh heh heh”

How so very much unlike me! It’s moments like these when my wife puts her hand on my forehead to see if I’m running a fever, and I can’t believe that one got by me!

My sincere apologies, Blogger #2! But hey, better late than never, so yes, you did say “potatoes”. To which I now say: But I’d be more impressed if you had said “Great Gazongas!” or “young and firm, roundly ripe melons.” heh heh heh heh ;-)

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Blogger # 3 wrote a very funny post that included her amusing recollections of awkward moments in public restrooms.

Here is my comment:

Public restrooms… Reminds me of back in the dark ages when I was 19 yrs old, and in a train station when I had to do #2 real bad. I rush in and the stalls are those infernal creations that won’t let a guy in w/o putting two quarters in the slot to unlock the flippin’ stall door!!! And I had NO quarters!

But I was young and in my prime (as well as very desperate!) so I lept up and grabbed the top of the stall door and flew like flippin’ Superman over the top and down into the place I had to be, swearing like a dock worker as I stuck my landing on the toilet seat.

The guy in the stall next to me was so impressed, that he tried to reach down and under the stall wall between us, to hand me a little love note wrapped around a pen, so I could write him back – but I wasn’t feeling very kind right about then, so instead, I kicked his hand with my steel toed work boot real hard! Instead of “Brokeback Mountain” it was more like “Broken Back of the Hand!” (okay -maybe not quite that bad – but he knew for sure that I wasn’t into it!)

You can have your blog back now, and sorry for the highjack, but you inspired me, cause your poop post is very funny! LOL!” :-D

Postscript: My sincere apologies to gay guys, but please keep in mind that I do have gay friends, some of whom I like far more than a lot of straight guys that I know. Even back when I was 16 years old in high school, one of my best friends was a gay guy who was a brilliant artist, and I hung out with him on a regular basis. It was common knowledge in our high school that my friend was gay, and he took a lot of abuse. But never when I was around, because I wouldn’t tolerate it, and the homophobic straight guys knew that I had broken some noses more than a couple times, when somebody really pissed me off.

That gay guy in the train station just had terrible timing, and if Scarlett Johansson had been in there trying to pass me love notes at that moment, I would have been just as hostile to her advances!

BlondeRight now?! Here?! In this situation??? Get away from me, you twisted blonde headed pervert!!!

**********************************

Blogger #4 wrote me a comment that I really appreciated, because it was for a post in which for the first time ever, I wrote a cry of anguish and anger, as I wrote about my oldest brother who was killed in Vietnam shortly before Christmas Day, 1969. The post was also about gun violence and my contempt for the NRA and all their like minded buddies.

She wrote:

“Chris, I’m so sorry about your brother John. That is just heartbreaking. That scene you described of witnessing your parents receiving the news is chilling. Every parent’s worst fear. I’m not a fan of war, but at least I can accept that there are guns needed in times of war. I just don’t get why we need these assault weapons back at home? To me, it’s no different than a bomb. And no one is protesting that the government won’t let us have bombs lying around in our basements. What’s the difference? Because one comes with a neat carrying case so that somehow makes it feel domestic?

Kevin’s story is heartbreaking too. What a great friend you were to him. I hope he was able to have a relationship with his son after that.”

My reply was very long, but it was also what I genuinely believe:

“Thanks. I appreciate your sympathy, and after reading your blog, I know that your sympathy is genuinely sincere. Yeah, it really is a parent’s worst fear, and since I’m the father of a wonderful daughter, I am just so grateful that so far, I’ve been spared that horrible heartbreak. But my brother Dan, who is closest to me in age, and also the brother I am closest to, well, he and his wife were not spared that horrible heartbreak when they lost their 14 year old daughter, and in a way far too nightmarish for me to talk or write about. That tragedy came close to Christmas as well, and enough said.

I’m no fan of war either. It’s the people who are the fans of war, who are the most eager to rush us into wars, and often for the worst possible of reasons. No war should ever be celebrated or glorified – not even when a war is fought and won, and it was a war that had to be fought and won, because the consequences of not fighting the war would have been far worse than fighting the war.

But only a blind fool glorifies and celebrates a war – even World War II. The veterans who risked their lives and lost their lives fighting WW II should be honored and we should express our gratitude for what they had the courage to do. The veterans who did the same in Vietnam should be honored and appreciated, even though that war should have never been fought by American soldiers, sailors and airmen. But never blame the veterans for the mistakes of the leaders who sent them to fight a war that was one of the biggest and most needlessly tragic mistakes ever.

War itself should always be recognized as the way humans create hell on earth, and in a mass horror that only those who are in a war, both soldiers and civilians, will ever fully understand. War should never be glorified, because to glorify war is to promote war, and move us closer to the next war, which might be another Vietnam or Bush Jr.’s Iraq war, instead of World War II. I have a seething contempt for war glorifiers, because they are war enablers, and they are potential accessories to the mass mayhem and murder that may result from their glorification of war.

I liked your comparison of people’s perception of bombs compared to assault rifles, and I think you are right on the mark, as well as clever with your rhetorical question that included “neat carrying cases that somehow feel domestic…” That made me smile last night when I read it. :-)

Kevin’s story was and is heartbreaking, and no, he was never able to have a relationship with his son after what happened. Me a great friend? I can be… But I’m also a man with many flaws and failings, who is sometimes not a very nice guy at all, and without a valid reason. But I have had my better moments at times – like the night when I stepped between another close friend and a guy with a large and deadly knife. I had no weapon to defend me, except for my words, and my words were enough that night to convince the man with the knife to put the knife away, and then to walk away.

But no one should ever call me a hero… Ask Elyse, because she knows my blog well enough to know that I have done many life threatening things, and not because I’m a hero – but because I’m crazy! Lol :-) But I’m crazy in a way that has never seriously harmed anyone else, because I reserve that right exclusively for myself! Lol :-)

Thanks for stopping by and for your compassionate and insightful comment. Sorry for my mile long reply, but even though I hardly know you at all, I’m already fond of you, in a fatherly sort of way. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog, and thanks for reading mine.”

Blogger #4: I think every blog reader appreciates when the writer takes the time to write out such a thoughtful reply — thank you for that!

*********************************

Yes, I know what more than a few of you, who know my long winded ways all too well, are thinking… But please be kind… not to me, but to her, because this was her very first comment on my blog, and her first exposure to one of my very long replies, and she’ll find out what I’m all about soon enough! Lol  :-)

As I wrap up this post, I’d like to thank Elyse and Teeny in particular, for helping me with their comments and replies, to get through Christmas and this Holiday Season in a much better state of mind than I have in years past.

I’d also like to thank all of my blogging buddies here on WordPress for being without a doubt, the best bunch of people online that I have ever had the pleasure to know.

And Martin my friend… 2013 is going to be a much better year for you n’ me. I promise… and that’s a promise you can count on. You’ll see…

Wishing a very Happy New Year to all of you and yours, my fellow WordPressians! Because you all are truly the very best, and you deserve it!

 

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Christmas Day – 1969

With God as my witness, every word of the following post is absolutely true, without any fabrication or exaggeration…

Mid December, 1961: I was five years old on that cold December day, when my Dad took me aside and said “Chris, your mother is very sick, and she’s going to need to spend some time in the hospital so the doctors can help her get better. So tomorrow, you and I are going to drive to go see Aunt Carol and Uncle Van, and you are going to live at their house so they can take care of you, until Mommy gets better.”

Dad didn’t tell me all the details, but my mother had advanced acute Meningitis, she was in critical condition, and she wasn’t expected to live. Thank God that she did live, but she wasn’t able to take care of herself or anyone else, for six weeks.

So I lived with Aunt Carol and Uncle Van for the next six weeks in a suburb of Buffalo, New York. My Aunt Carol loved me like a second mother, and Uncle Van was a really cool guy who was an avid outdoorsman and a hunter with a large gun collection. He let me watch him reload the ammunition for his .30-06 Deer rifle, as he used a special vise to re-prime the brass shells, load them with gun powder and insert a shiny new copper bullet into each round. He also gave me a harmless blank round that I kept, and I still have to this day.

ammo3

While it’s true that later on in my life I had my own guns, and by the time I was 18 years old I was a skilled and highly accurate marksman who won a target shooting competition, I never became a hunter.

Because I have never been able to understand why anyone would want to shoot and kill a magnificent animal like this one.

B4- Moose2

I’d rather shoot them with my camera, like I shot this Moose in North Conway, New Hampshire.

However, I still respect hunters who are well trained and who hunt safely, the way that my Uncle Van did. But I have no use for today’s gun crazed NRA, who with its millions of dollars has either bought off or politically intimidated Congress, resulting in a state of totally dysfunctional gun laws and gun law enforcement, and enabling the mass murder of small school children in Newtown, Connecticut.

And while I didn’t vote for him in 1992, I had a lot of respect for former President George H. W. Bush Sr. when he resigned from the NRA in 1995, because of its statements that agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms are “jackbooted thugs and Nazis” who harass gun owners, and want to “attack law-abiding citizens”.

george_h_w_bush                               This George Bush… not his idiot son, George W. Bush Jr.

In his letter of resignation he sent to the NRA, Bush Senior wrote:

(Your statement) “slurs a wide array of government law-enforcement officials, who are out there, day and night, laying their lives on the line for all of us… (and) is a vicious slander on good people.”

I genuinely respected Bush Senior for taking a stand against the astoundingly ignorant and crazed fanaticism of the NRA, and I respected him a hell of a lot more than this moron, who is still an NRA member, and one of it’s biggest public promoters…

ted_nugentRight wing Rock Star (?) and self confessed sex addict Ted Nugent, who recently said “I’m beginning to wonder if it would have been best had the South won the Civil War. Our Founding Fathers’ concept of limited government is dead.”

Yeah, right Ted… It would be just fucking great if the South had won the Civil War, and an entire culture of racist white people could still buy, sell, own, whip, mutilate, rape and even kill black people, without any limits and with the full protection of the law of the Confederate States of America. It would be just wonderful to still have a corporate CEO’s wet dream of a work force – human slaves without any human rights, that can be worked to death without that terrible and burdensome overhead of having to pay them any money.

Ted, our Founding Father’ concept of government isn’t dead… but it’s true meaning is way over your head, because your head is brain dead!!!

It’s true that I used to own a few guns when I was younger, but now I own only one gun. It’s a Remington Model 870 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, that I can load with buckshot shells, only if I ever needed it to defend my wife, myself and my home, in the highly unlikely event that our home was invaded by violent criminals.

Remington 870 Express

There was one time over 30 years ago, that I did need my shotgun to defend the life of my best friend at the time, Kevin, who was getting increasingly frequent phone calls of death threats from his wife’s criminal ex-boyfriend. His wife’s ex had a long history of violence, and he had just been released from a Massachusetts maximum security prison.

After Kevin got four death threat calls from this criminal sociopath in one night, I went to Kevin’s apartment and sat up all night with him,  sitting in a chair with my shotgun in my lap, while we watched TV. When the phone rang, this time I picked it up and brought the receiver to my ear, while holding my Remington in my other hand.

“I’m going to fuck you up the ass, and then I’m going to kill you, Kevin.” said a dark and malevolently evil voice.

“This isn’t Kevin.” I answered, my voice in a low monotone almost completely devoid of all emotion, but full of deadly intent. “This is Kevin’s best friend.” I continued. “Do not call here ever again, and do not come here, because I’m holding a Remington 870 12 gauge shotgun in my other hand, loaded with buckshot shells, and if you do come here, I will not hesitate to blow a hole the size of a basketball in your chest.”

Then for added emphasis, I braced the stock of my shotgun on my hip, as I held the receiver of the phone close to the pump, and I pumped a 3″ shell into the chamber, the pump-action making that unmistakably recognized and rapid “sheck-sheck” sound… When I brought the receiver back up to my ear, I heard only silence, because the sicko had hung up without another word spoken.

He didn’t call again that night, or any other night… Instead, I immediately called the police right after the psycho-sicko hung up on me, so there would be an official police report made of the incident and kept on record.

I’d like to be able to say that was the end of the threat once and for all, for my best friend Kevin, but the truth is that three weeks later, Kevin came home from work, only to find his apartment empty of almost all furniture and valuables, and his wife along with his two year old son, gone… Because she had willingly run away with her criminally deranged ex-boyfriend, and she never came back.

Sometimes this life just really sucks…

But that was the only time in all of my 56 years of life, that I ever needed a gun to deter a death threat, and nothing even remotely close to what happened that night, has ever happened again.

But I did not need an assault rifle that night, to help defend my best friend. In all honesty, if I was ever in that type of situation ever again, I’d rather have my shotgun than any assault rifle, since at close range, my shotgun is far more instantly deadly, the instant the trigger is pulled. People have actually survived being sprayed by bullets fired from an assault rifle… No one ever survives a shotgun blast of buckshot to the head, gut or chest.

The advantage that an assault rifle does have over a shot gun, is that the shooter can kill far more people much faster, with more accuracy from a greater distance… So why is it that civilians really need to own assault rifles again??? To go deer hunting? Don’t make me laugh! For self defense? From whom? A military platoon armed with AK-47s?

Or are the civilians who are the most obsessed with owning assault rifles and other multi-round clip rapid fire semi-automatic and automatic weapons, also obsessed with the incredibly ignorant and bat shit crazy delusion that they need to defend themselves from the US Feds, armed with M4 assault rifles?

Anyone who really believes that, is so ridiculously stupid and deranged, that they are the last people who should ever be allowed to own any kind of semi-automatic or automatic weapon. Because you are the people who are fucking nuts!!! And it’s the fucking nuts who are shooting down innocent men, women, firefighters, high school students, college students, and all those little kids in Newtown! NOT the Feds!!!

And I don’t want to hear about your moronic and distorted version of your 2nd amendment right of the people to keep and bear arms! Because you always conveniently ignore that our Founding Fathers put into writing in that second amendment, these first four words:

A well regulated militia…  

being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the People to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.”

The National Guard is a well regulated militia! Oh, but the National Guard is controlled by the Feds, right? WRONG!!!

News Flash here, for all you “states righters”! 

Although National Guard units may be called upon to serve in times of war, the Guard is not a branch of the United States Armed Forces, and U.S. state governors control The National Guard.

State police swat teams are a well regulated militia! They are also controlled by U.S. state governors.

Ted Nugent? YOU are not a well regulated anything! You are a freaking idiot who is just as obsessed by “gun porn” as you are obsessed by being a proudly self proclaimed sex addict!

Tea Partiers? YOU are not a well regulated militia! You are the equivalent of all the inmates in the world’s biggest insane asylum being turned loose, and then all getting together to form a fanatically irrational political party who collectively claims to hate Federal taxes, while grid-locking Congress to the point that YOU are going to be the ones responsible for one of the biggest Federal tax increases in decades, this coming January 1st!!!

And all you guys running around in the woods, wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying guns in states like Michigan and yes, also New Hampshire?

YOU are not a well regulated militia! You are a bunch of grown men who have nothing better to do with your lives than run around in the woods like a bunch of little 8 year old boys pretending to be army soldiers! Yeah, I know that you carry real guns loaded with real ammo… but if you ever got into a real firefight with a real well regulated militia, you wouldn’t last a day!

So here’s my message to all you NRA-ers who think that the only good gun control is no gun control, and your twisted and wrong interpretation of the second amendment gives you the right as American civilians to carry assault rifles, and own enough semi-automatic and automatic weapons and ammo to stock an armory…

You want to play with assault rifles? Then those of you who aren’t too fat, old and stupid to do it, go join the U.S. Marine Corps, or the U.S. Army! Or maybe just the National Guard or the Army Reserves… Cause then when you carry an assault rifle, you’ll also shoulder the responsibility of defending our nation from our enemies, and you might even get to use your assault rifle to shoot at other guys who also have assault rifles, who are shooting back at you!

It’s much more of a challenge than gunning down defenseless animals, or shooting little kids in classrooms…

Be a real man and grow a pair! Be like my oldest brother, John Sheridan Jr., who in 1969, enlisted in the USMC and volunteered for combat duty in Vietnam, because he believed that it was the right thing to do, and he wanted to serve his country.

He left us in February of 1969 for a one year tour of duty, and on Christmas Day of 1969, two guys in dress uniforms showed up at our house to tell us that John Sheridan Jr. would never be coming back to us again, alive.

I can still hear my mother screaming as she fell down and collapsed on the living room floor, and I can see my father helplessly trying to comfort her, as his own tears streamed down his heartbroken face…

Just like my own tears are streaming down my face right now, as I finish writing this sentence… only my tears are burning hot with anger!!!

This video in the loving memory of my brother, John Sheridan Jr., who had the courage to carry an M-16 assault rifle into combat in 1969, and who made the ultimate sacrifice for an ultimately lost cause…

 

And again, because this message can never be repeated enough… please listen to this public service announcement. It’s vitally important, and people’s lives literally depend upon this message being heard, and then acted upon as soon as possible.

 

 

Posted in Personal | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 24 Comments