(BOSTON/ATLANTA :: 22 March 2009) Writing’s rocky road would be a hell of a lot easier to traverse if I had a clock to punch, regular hours to keep and a clearly defined path to the golden years.
It’d be boring as all hell, but at least I could fall back on the structure of it all.
But that’s not what I’m up to. At least not in this lifetime. As I’ve told many of my readers/friends/family members/stalking victims in the past - and to borrow a baseball metaphor - I’ve been slapping sharp singles to the outfield, with a few gappers, when what I really want is to blast a home run. Not just one that clears the fence, mind you... the type of bellowing bomb that shatters the windshield of the champagne-colored Town & Country in the baseball park’s parking lot. (Soccer mom, sorry... you deserve it for driving that bulbous mobile living room.)
This forthcoming homer, the first of many solid ideas, is my book on emotional intelligence for men, and it’s more than just to prove to myself that, Yes I can... it’s about the impact I know I can have, and to make the “cliched difference” in people’s lives that, let’s face it, won’t be a cliche if it actually sticks to the wall. When I download my idea from the ether and morph it into turnable pages, digestible prose and impeccably sourced, supported theory (the latter, hi, is for sure the slippery eel in an otherwise viewable zoo), I’ll be able to look back on my 9-to-5 days and chuckle. “When,” not “if.” When.
So on I trudge. I recently had the pleasure of meeting and listening to Dennis Palumbo, psychotherapist to Hollywood’s writing royalty (as well as “paupers,” I guess you could say, staying with the metaphor) as their impassioned cheerleader; he’s a comfy suede recliner in a sea of Ikea chairs. He has the gusto, insight and inspiration that we writers, often impatiently, seek within ourselves, and which he delivers with an accessible, impish demeanor that perfectly embodies our erstwhile pursuit.
I shook his hand after his session at the Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism, an event I have promised to myself I’ll attend every year. I’ve also had the pleasure of starting his book, “Writing from the Inside Out,” which might as well be titled, “Living from the Inside Out,” as we writers are always sharing some glimpse of ourselves in the words we craft. Even the most mundane local news story contains a thread of who we are, or more accurately, how our identity shapes our stories.
I write the latter thought knowing the pitfalls (more like rancid catcalls) of bias in journalism; that all media has a left-leaning perspective... yadda yadda. But we tell our best stories when entrusted with the duty, the call, that our own experiences are to merely propel the truth upward rather than somehow manufacture a truth we seek to propel. Conflating liberalism with fairness and sound judgment is an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole. Don’t go there.
So... back to the ballgame. I’m digging in at the plate, doing my practice swings... winking to Brandon in the stands, wiggling like Chuck Knoblach with one foot out of the batter’s box, staring down the opposition like Don Mattingly, waiting for the closer to bring the heat. It’s a balmy afternoon. The sun is beating down on the brim of my cap, illuminating a preview in my heart and mind of the next morning’s sports report highlighting the results:
“Veteran player does the purposeful home-run trot around the bases after the big swing goes yard.”
(ATLANTA :: 24 February 2009) To all those sour, whiny bitches who think liberal-minded folks are reflexively following Obama because he’s a messiah, or that his recovery plan is a Robin Hood giveaway to the poor, or that we are blind sheep getting herded to slaughter, here’s my message. Get the fuck over yourselves. Seriously.
I was asked to give Bush a chance in 2000. I did that. He failed. The most notable failure, of course, is his ridiculous invasion of Iraq and mismanagement of Afghanistan - two shitstorm doozies that continue to throw dookie on a fan that was submerged in it years ago. Where was the financial outrage then?
And then there’s Bush’s presiding over deregulation of the financial system, continuing the themes from the Clinton, Bush I and Reagan eras. We got the rich richer. The Bush’s nominations, minions and underlings were a particular source of twirling. Many of them in Justice came from Bible-chucking Liberty University, drawing from a pool of people he actually derided in secret meetings. Just ask David Kuo, who did an exclusive book treatment in Time magazine. “Evangelicals may share Bush's faith, but they would protect themselves--and their interests--better if they looked at him through the same coldly political lens with which he views them,” he writes. Barely anyone knows how sociopathic and opportunistic the Bush White House was with this particular group of people who elected him. Who helped put him in power, twice.
Now that we know “compassionate conservatism” is a sham, a farcical pretense, we need serious answers to serious issues, and we need someone competent - with usage of complete sentences and a sense of reverence for the job - to oversee this enormous task we have ahead of us. And I trust Obama FAR more than I trust his predecessor, but more than that, the people out in the field who will be executing his orders.
Not all of Obama’s decisions have pleased me - far from it. Look for a post on civil liberties soon... it will surprise you. Even people on his team piss me off, and will continue to do so I’m sure over the next four years.
But this idea that Obama is the left’s “second coming” is just absolute horseshit. It is a waste of time my friends... Why not focus effort on holding the current government accountable rather than using labels to marginalize? We need to spend less effort deriding the relief people feel (with approval of Obama running between 60 and 70 percent, although softening lately) and focus on solving our country’s woes. We’ll be better off. Seriously.
And make no mistake: Bush, Rove, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Hannity and Rush’s perverted version of conservatism is what created the craving, the need frankly, for strong, authentic leadership. So, you are now witnessing the intense feelings of liberation that we, yes, finally have someone responsible at the helm. And it’s about goddamned time.
If our country is the overhead bin on an airplane long suffering in turbulence, we are now seeing the after effects of the shifting contents falling out. And it’ll take time to gather our belongings and deplane. (Image borrowed from Steve Morris/AirTeamImages)
- "...President Jeb Bush is running for a third term as U.S. President." Yeah, not so much. We've had enough Bush for 8 years.
- "...Ivan has been employed at a large Danish abattoir for 26 years." No idea what this means. But I like it better than the previous result.
- "...and mankind has been annihilated, hunted to extinction by a century's worth of alien attacks." Nah, Palin should probably be in retirement by then. Oops! Just a video game teaser.
- "...The workplace has evolved into the 'dynamic and wise workplace.' This has demanded that business and information professionals manage information from a myriad of sources in a myriad of formats, and consolidate it into a tapestry of intelligence." Dig it. A "tapestry" of anything has GOT to be good.
- "...and the United States has elected its first woman as well as the first Jewish president, Susan Goldfarb." Hmmm... maybe someday. Remember how close Lieberman was to VP? Oy.
- "...and the world is changing, perhaps permanently, for the worst. In the rapidly moving city of New York, the problem blossoms and threatens to unfold." Seriously? I know NYC is full of wingnuts, but really... Now that we have all of that disintegrated negativity out of the way, here's the true vision to hold. Thanks again to Gini for passing this along: The Vision: Seeing Obama in Office
The year is 2016. We glance at the television one morning and see Obama having another of his many press conferences. He has now been in office for almost 8 years. It hasn't been perfect, but things are completely different than when he took office in January of 2009. It is almost hard to remember how lost we were in the country at that time and how the world community had lost its faith in the United States.
Now... the sense of promise and pride that has always defined the vision of America has been restored, deepened, and expanded, and we live in a world marked by collaboration, partnership, and respect--largely due to the extraordinary leadership of perhaps our greatest President. You notice that his hair has whitened a bit and that he still has that winning smile and that take-charge/positive energy that he had when he was campaigning way back in 2008. You remember back to how concerned you were about whether or not he would win in 2008 and you feel deeply contented that he has been safely in office for such a long time.
He and Congress have done remarkable and historic work to address and create new economic opportunities, bring into existence the whole world of green collar jobs and a whole new energy matrix for our country and the world. Fossil fuels are no longer dominating our lives and our economic system and the new and clean energy industry has been born and is viably and reliably serving and meeting our needs.
We have completely redefined national security, and halted global warming, health care is available to all for the first time ever, quality education is back at the center of our national agenda, and our schools and teachers are producing results we have always dreamed of for the next generation of leaders. Terrorism is part of history and is no longer a threat. We care for and collaborate with other nations and where people are desperate and in need, they no longer need to resort to desperate tactics because the world community is organized to hold them and help them find their place and their contribution.
In many other areas, what was previous unthinkable is now the reality of our time. We have challenges, yes, and we also have the courage and the resolve and the confidence in ourselves and our world to meet them. We are awake, clear, and our leadership and our nation is inspired, has integrity is trustworthy and trusted.
When you stop and think about the magnitude of the transformation, you feeldeep gratitude for the past eight years and how things have unfolded.
See it... Feel it... Breathe it.... Pass it on.
THE CHALLENGE: Take 30 seconds right now. Close your eyes and imagine exactly what our country will feel like with President Obama. Imagine how good it will feel. Imagine whatever it is about him that you desire. Imagine the pride. Imagine the diplomacy. Imagine the peace. Imagine the wind mills and the clean cars. Imagine the citizen groups. Imagine the earth being healed and revitalized. Imagine being very proud of your country and its leader. Imagine whatever it is that draws you to support Obama. Imagine what your life will look like.
Stop worrying and start visualizing. 30 seconds. Do it several times a day. We can shift and change the vibration of this country with positive visions just like this. It's only 30 seconds.
(ATLANTA :: 3 Nov. 2008) This race is not just about race. Underlying threads of an "Us vs. Them" mentality have been poisoning our politics, our daily lives actually, for decades. In the words of Colin Powell, we need a "transformational figure" to dismantle and permanently dissolve that ideology:
Barack Obama is just that person to bring about dramatic change in our country. Yes, he's only one person and yes, he's just a politician... with the same shortcomings as any of us.
But as I told my relatives out West, it's not just about what he represents - it's about whom he'd surround himself with; the potential pool of those sharp, astute policy wonks - people who can problem solve and not wag fingers (that is, when they're not sitting on their hands). That made the difference for me. We need expert leadership in as many positions in government as possible, and now here's our chance.
Even Andrew Sullivan, a conservative writer and pundit, someone I watch intently, has been blogging about why Obama is the best choice. Thanks to Musty for passing along his post about an essay in the Times of London, talking about how Obama is the sensible salve for "profound national demoralization."
This is not about party affiliation or loyalty for me - this is about who presents the better solutions for our social (Supreme Court), economic (broken credit markets) and other woes.
I've already voted Obama and Jim Martin to defeat Saxby Chambliss, and will be volunteering tomorrow on Election Day. I will bring my camera along with me and record anything of interest.
As I said before... can you imagine intellectual curiosity in the White House again?
(ATLANTA :: 5 October 2008) Step out of the shadows.
That's the message from Deepak Chopra, writing a piece called "Obama and The Palin Effect," for the HuffPost. Chopra argues that Sarah Palin represents the shadow self, tantalizing and luring us into embracing fear and suspicions rather than engaging our more integrated, enlightened and higher self.
"She is the reverse of Barack Obama, in essence his shadow, deriding his idealism and exhorting people to obey their worst impulses," he writes. "In psychological terms the shadow is that part of the psyche that hides out of sight, countering our aspirations, virtue, and vision with qualities we are ashamed to face: anger, fear, revenge, violence, selfishness, and suspicion of 'the other.' For millions of Americans, Obama triggers those feelings, but they don't want to express them." Chopra's piece is a masterstroke in sensible reality creation and understanding where, either subliminally or directly, one can attempt to darken an otherwise bright and optimistic horizon. To turn the fear on its ear, think instead of "the other" as possibly "the one" for which we could be looking. You are not subverting yourself to believe in a single agent of change. In fact, it's the very leadership we need in the face of the three "Es": energy, the environment and our pummeled economy, to name a few.
So, because I believe so strongly in Barack Obama as a catalyst for change in this country, I ask you to stop and look forward:
...It's Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008. It's mid morning and you're into your third cup of coffee. One full month after our general election has passed; we are gearing up for the holiday season - but also, the next administration is conducting transition plans for January 20, 2009. These plans include choosing people for cabinet positions; setting critical policy direction and decisions; and ramping up other important political machinations that will shape our future.
On this day, would you prefer to be anticipating a McCain-Palin administration to take over, with much of the same philosophies and strategies and shortcomings of our current administration? Or, while in the transition, would you prefer to be anticipating a more dramatic change, with confidence that, no matter how scary the unknown may actually be, that by our own action and decisions, our country is going to fundamentally shift to a new tone, direction and priority system?
If you envision yourself on that day, awaiting the transition... which scenario fits with our collective needs as a country?
And in the broadest of terms: would you prefer to install the oldest president ever chosen, an outwardly bitter and angry person, who chose a profoundly unqualified running mate; or would you want instead to be a witness to history - led by a clearly more integrated, connected, reasoned, decent human being, the first African American ever elected? Does that last idea bring up a pang of fear or a feeling of pride?
If you answer "both," you're not alone. No change comes without preceding chaos, and Palin is sure tryin' hard to instill that in us - with a shameful accusation that Obama is "paling around with terrorists." Seriously?
Do not give in to fear. Chopra writes:
"Obama's call for higher ideals in politics can't be seen in a vacuum. The shadow is real; it was bound to respond. Not just conservatives possess a shadow -- we all do. So what comes next is a contest between the two forces of progress and inertia. Will the shadow win again, or has its furtive appeal become exhausted?" I believe the latter.
So... your future self is sitting in the presidential transition, on that fateful Tuesday, Dec. 2, 2008, with the hope that we step out of the shadows as a powerful statement against the sad, manipulative pandering of both the Bush administration and what the McCain-Palin ticket has thus far stood for.
Neither party is perfect. But this year we have a clear choice. Step out of the shadows and embrace progress.
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(graphic courtesy of geeksugar; chopra picture: intent.com)
Update: McCain gestures to Obama during debate last night (7 Oct. 2008) and says "that one," intending to be ironically and heroically dismissive and yet ending up looking like an ignoramus.