Bullet Proof

bulletproofThe glass sees both ways
An invitation to stare
But never sight unseen
Hatred thick like smoke
Solidifying the bond
This overwhelming need
To be better than
Instead of inferior
Though I know better
The judgement scales
Finding me light as air
I know she sees through me
Past glass and skin
Through bone and soul
Into those deepest parts
And I only see her smile
So smugly satisfied
But I know there’s more
A time when she cries
Familiar tears of pearls
Behind her solid walls
That strong edifice
Threatening to engulf me
To drown me at the gates
Waiting for her
To let down her guard
Even though I’m not worth it
But isn’t that love
Forgiveness over time
Even when we don’t deserve
To stand here
Staring through the glass.

woman-staring-at-cell-phone-waiting“It turns girls on that I’m mysterious. I tell ‘em I don’t want nothing serious. ‘Cause even on a slow day I can have a three-way chat with two woman at one time. I’m so much cooler online.” ~Brad Paisley

Do you think all this technology — all this social media — has made us more physically anti-social?

There are six of us sitting in a relatively small room but there is no conversation going on. Instead we are all nose-deep in our screens, wrapped up in the small lives and exorbitant lies of people tweeting, or Facebooking, or Instagramming, or pinning deep, insightful memes on their Pinterest walls. Or if it’s not that it’s texting other people who are in the same room.

But too many of us are afraid of public speaking. Or even going up to someone and introducing ourselves. Give us their names, though, and we will friend them, or follow their blog, or however else we can make a connection. JUST DON’T MAKE US TALK TO THEM IN PERSON. That’s just cruel and unusual punishment.

I mean, who dances in the clubs anymore? Who has real-life conversations with real people in restaurants instead of texting them because it’s more convenient? We don’t even have the somewhat social aspect of the internet cafe anymore because our phones have made them obsolete. The phones are smart, but by having them does that make us stupid?

And I’ll admit it — I like all this technology when it works like it’s supposed to, and when it’s in moderation. I find myself checking my phone even when it hasn’t vibrated yet, and I worry that someday I’ll need a 12-step group to wean myself from so much constant reliance on it. I worry that if I don’t have the latest version with the most recent updates I am falling behind the times and others are moving far past me. Technologically speaking.

Hi. My name is Sam. And I like to actually talk to people. Is there something wrong with that?


P.S. – Yes, I recognize the irony of saying that via a blog.

Death By Rotation

spinI knew within the first ten minutes that I would not survive. My body simply wasn’t made for that kind of endurance, or if it was then I haven’t kept it in tip-top shape over the past few years. A few cookies here and there. Some cookies and cream ice cream on occasion. You know how it is. Then I decided to try and get back in shape after several years of neglect, and my body said, “Nuh-unh. No way. Not me.” After ten minutes on that stationary bike, my mind was in complete agreement with my body.

I went spinning tonight. If you don’t know what it is, spinning is the equivalent of old school stationary biking… kicked up a notch, as Emeril would say. It’s an hour of hearing the instructor yell at you as if you’re deaf. And she’s shouting things like “Now turn up the resistance,” and “Go at your own pace, but make sure you hit 100.” Um, yeah. My own pace is a sedate 45, and I was quite proud of it until I noticed everyone else in the class going quite a bit faster. Perhaps they were even hitting 100. I told myself they weren’t, to make me feel better.

It all started five years ago when we had a “health awareness” day at the school I taught at. These folks from the local gym came with eight spinning bikes, and my friend Rebecca talked me into trying it out with her after lunch. That was my first mistake. Needless to say they had to clean up the gym floor after my ride. My second mistake was thinking that it would be a piece of cake. It was not. I did everything the instructor said, but she screamed at us and challenged us to keep going past the point where I wanted to just fall off the bike and fade into the floor.

And I was sore for days afterward. My family went to a water park on the next day and I wanted to just sit in those water tubes and rest my bottom for the whole day. Instead I was chasing after my three-year old as she wanted to go on every single ride available to her. Oh yeah, and hurting with every single step I took. You see, spinning takes it out of your rear end, but also out of your legs. My legs literally felt like jello as I tried to run and keep up with the little munchkin. I told myself never again. Continue Reading »

1/3rd Of Me

two-thirds-pie-chartWhy are we so often surprised when acquaintances prove to be more than we envisioned they could be? When I told a marginal acquaintance today that I was excited to have a third grader in the fall, she looked more shocked than I had seen anyone be lately. Apparently to her I was the sum of what she had seen and heard from me, which accounted to probably about an hour of time spent together in the break room over the course of a year. Yes, a whole year we had worked together and she was surprised to know that I was a father.

That happens more and more lately, even in this informational transparency age. After all, what do we see on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest anyway? We see what the individuals want us to see, which is most often only 1/3rd of who we really are.

1/3rd of me means that when I’m upset over the Eagles losing I can get a temper, almost like I lost myself. If you encounter me during this small period of time (say ten minutes following an Eagles loss) you might think I’m a pissy wanker (to steal a phrase from my British friends).

1/3rd of me means when I’m having a bad day I get quiet, so if the only time you see me is during those days you might always think I’m a quiet person. Which couldn’t be further from the truth, as it stands.

1/3rd of me means if we are tangential friends who only talk about things we have in common, you’ll never know what else I’m interested in because whenever I’m around you we only discuss those specific things. Too many people seem to fall into this shallow category anymore.

10502501_10204551715177993_393315227165358448_n1/3rd of me means if we only talk through text or on Facebook you don’t get the inflections in my speech patterns, to catch the sarcasm when I’m being tongue-in-cheek, or to interpret my smiley faces, which depending on my mood can mean so many different things.

And while you’re only seeing 1/3rd of me, I am also seeing 1/3rd of you. I don’t think many of us could handle having more of us seen by more people. We reserve the 2/3rds of ourselves for our family and close circle of friends. So if you know more than 1/3rd of me that means something, that you’re special to me and rate that opening up. Even on here, when I’m putting these honest words down for the world to see, I’m not giving you much more than 1/3rd of me. It’s just how we’re wired as human beings.

If you were to go way back to the start of the world, even Adam only gave Eve 1/3rd of himself, and she wanted more. She knew he wasn’t giving her everything, which led to her downfall, and eventually to his as well. Instead of dooming ourselves (and the human race) In time we can break down those barriers, but it takes a joint effort, and a combined will of each person, that give and take that inspires more giving and taking.

So if you’re getting more than 1/3rd of me, that means I’m getting more than 1/3rd of you, and that means we’re both worth the effort.


The Race Conversation

raceconversation“Until justice is blind to color, until education is unaware of race, until opportunity is unconcerned with the color of men’s skins, emancipation will be a proclamation but not a fact.” ~Lyndon B. Johnson

I never really cared about race, but race was always concerned with me. Maybe because I was born black, or perhaps because I was born in this country, or probably both. Definitely both. There’s just something to be said about being that “other” that is contrasted with the majority, that absence of color when compared with the presence of all color. I mean, that’s what white is, right? The presence of all color. So why isn’t it all-inclusive? And why should any of it matter anyway?

The United States has been characterized as this great big “melting pot,” where people from all backgrounds and ethnicities are welcome and appreciated, as this giant quilt that stitches people together and creates something new and incredible from each pattern. Yet more often than not it is instead a middle school lunchroom with its cliques and ostracizing behavior. Now, while race isn’t the only dividing line, it is still one of the thickest. And I don’t think I’ll ever understand why.

But that’s a conversation for another time.

What’s important to me at this exact moment is my children having to deal with these issues without really understanding them. Continue Reading »

Writing a Love Story

333477616097008791_1398735618I’m writing a love story. Yes, I know. Me. My own love story was of the unconventional sort, so the love story I’m writing follows a similar pattern, in that it’s unconventional. And yet it’s written in the most conventional of ways.

See, it starts with a girl. Don’t all love stories start with a girl? Well, a woman really. She’s trying to discover herself after a hard breakup with the man she thought was the love of her life.

Then there’s a boy. You knew there would be a boy. Actually, he’s a man. And he’s a bit stunted emotionally, so he’s a perfect match for a woman trying to get her feet wet in the shallow end after coming up for air after a long swim. Or maybe he’s not.

And I’m their best friend, the one who they both call after their dates to beg for insight. I’m the one who defines the lines they will and will not cross in their relationship, and I often wonder why I get to have that much power. But they’re both awkward when it comes to new love, and new people in general.

Speaking of new people, they both have new people in their lives who may or may not be obstacles to their eternal happiness. Any real story can’t be easy from start to finish, can it? There always have to be bumps along the road the lovers have to slow down for, to try and get around. Of course other people aren’t the only possible roadblocks in the path of new love, and there are plenty of others as well, like a possible job promotion, and the doubting of basic principles.

Then there’s deception — some intentional and some accidental, but both with dire consequences. What’s a good love story without some misunderstandings that lead to the lovers “taking a break”? Hopefully they’ll get back together by the end of the tale, and these misunderstandings aren’t monumental enough to shatter their faith in each other. Every good love story deserves a marriage, a happily ever after.

But some love stories don’t have happy endings. They burn brightly for a small period of time, then live on after that as only ashes that get scattered in the wind. And I’m not yet at the end.


This Modern Guilt

guilt-image1An apology between friends
That kiss of words on lips
Seductive in its subtlety
Longing to make things right
When love’s been abandoned
Tossed like so much dice
A startling black on white
Acquiescence of a sort
Designed to mollify
To knit a pattern of beauty
That will stand time’s test
And yet it ends in silence
A span of time that stretches
Uncomfortable in its breadth
A living, breathing organism
That says more than mere words
Shocked into a startled breath
An exhale chased from shadow
To stand in the harsh light
Judge and jury in its gaze
Fresh burning in its blaze
Like so much scorched earth
Between acquaintances
Parting opposite ways
A sorrow in the turning
Words poised on lips
That will never speak again.

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