Thursday, December 31, 2015

Good riddance, 2015

Good-by, 2015, and good riddance. I am relieved to be shed of you.

Good-by to all the grief that came in this year—the deaths of two beloved cousins, the anger and fear of a cancer diagnosis in someone I cherish, the stress-related illnesses that attacked two loved ones with a vengeance. Go away. Expecto patronum! I hereby summon the patronus that will block and defeat you. (For anyone wondering, I have no doubt that my patronus is a California black bear.)

Good riddance to the first semester of my last year of teaching (well, in three more weeks). I thought you would be great. You sucked. Hit the road.

And let me bid a fond and highly sarcastic farewell to the words of a parent, a teacher and an administrator who suggested, at various times about three separate students, that the student in question would be more successful in a male teacher’s classroom. Yeah? I’ve got your male teacher right here, pal. Do you really think genitals and hormones make a difference in managing that spoiled child’s behavior? Bite me.

Good-by to all the lost days I spent on the couch, first with pneumonia, then with C. Diff. You may be lost forever, but I can still make up the time in productivity in the new year, so go ahead, slip away. I refuse to obsess on you.

And as of this day, a huge and heartfelt good riddance to the worst publishing company in the history of the planet. Our contract has expired, thank heavens, and I can now take back the rights to my book, my author persona, my destiny as the independent publisher of my own work. Adios, you greedy bastards. May a class action lawsuit find its way to you soon.

Hallelujah. The countdown begins!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

To the daughter of Syed Farook and Tashfeen Malik

You are still a baby, just six months old, but my own daughter and I have already discussed your plight.

At this writing, you are temporarily in foster care, having been taken from your family on the day… on the day your parents died.

But your aunt and uncle have pledged their love and commitment to you, and they are doing everything necessary to reunite you with your family so that they can raise you as their own child, keeping you, as your aunt stated, from ever knowing the truth, if they can.

Is that even possible? Your parents made choices that resulted in their deaths—and the deaths of many others. Will this truth follow you, haunt you, all your life? For now, you are innocent, blissfully unaware of the grief and sadness surrounding you and your surviving family. But as you grow and learn, will your aunt and uncle be able to shield you from those who may seek to punish you for the acts of your parents by piercing your heart with the knowledge of those violent and bloody moments on December 2, 2015? It may be impossible.

But how are you culpable? You are not. You are simply an innocent child, your heart a pristine vessel untouched by those who would taint it with fear and hate.

And this is why our hearts—mine, my daughter’s—this is why our hearts hurt for you. Because there is anger and hate on the side your parents chose… and anger and hate on the side which opposes them. No one will win.

No one will win.

No one can. This is not a war of territory or boundaries, or even a war of oppression, though some will say it is. This is a war based solely on fear.

Some will say I am too sympathetic. Others will say I am not sympathetic enough. My words will be interpreted according to the reader’s predetermined mindset. Do you see? There can be no logical reasoning here, no resolution reached after thoughtful consideration of the facts on both sides. Because with all our centuries of accumulated knowledge, we have failed to establish a world that moves forward based on love and mutual exchange. We have created a world entrenched in rhetoric and based on greed and jealousy.

I see little to indicate that this world will change much by the time you are old enough to understand it. Indeed, I see only a worsening of our fear, our greed, our jealousy in the coming years, because few are willing—as yet—to say enough is enough, to blink, as the expression goes, in this stand-off, to back down and give ground and ask, “How can we make peace between us?” Perhaps—and I realize this is much to hope for—perhaps it will be your generation that turns the tide. Perhaps, in learning of your parents’ deeds, you will be the first to say enough is enough.
Or perhaps you will never know any of it. If your aunt is successful in keeping you from this history, you may never know any of it, and your life can be lived without the burden of knowing the events of that day. I would envy you that oblivion.