Welcome! I have started this online journal in the hopes of satisfying 2 goals; One, an outlet for creative expression, whatever may come of it. And two, an online freelance writing portfolio. I have promised myself to put down as much as I can - and here it will be.

I might have a poem or story to share, I might need to vent away on a particular subject or I may have just discovered the meaning of life. Who knows? Some will be serious, some light, some pointless and silly. Some will be writing just to write. But, hopefully each day I can be inspired by something going on. Most entries will be a little of this, a little of that. And most likely, they will not be continuous from day to day, unless I am working on a longer story that I want to break up into daily snibbles.

Like I said, anything and everything in this mind of mine, for good or for bad. It will all end up on here sooner or later!

I would honor your opinions of my endeavor and the pieces that arrive here. Feedback is crucial to my success! If you have any constructive criticism, just want to say you like/don't like, or that it affected you in some way...that would be fine. Quite nice, in fact.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

My Favorite Place

Etched so well into my memory that even the recollection brings me to peace, the imprint is a powerful tranquilizer. It is only summoned in great need of that effect; otherwise it appears solely in my random cerebral slide show, delighting me every time with the recall. This evocation of my favorite place is always a welcome event. Asked to describe it and all I can say is that it is merely a plain room, an old room and nothing more…at first glance. This room is not mine, only borrowed, and I have been there no more than a handful of times. Yet it is as home to me as my own bedroom.

I believe that it possesses magical powers; step inside and you are instantly relaxed. All tension ebbs away with the lapping waves at the shore below, tugged down into the depths, the lake assuming your burden for the week. Imagine a lake that could do all that; submerge the stress of visitors below the calm surface, letting each one become at ease with life again, every ripple a reminder of the troubled currents it holds temporarily contained in its depths.

This place…it is just a room, a plain one in fact; a box of a room really. Old and distressed, the top half dressed in screens with only bare boards for skivvies, it leaves much to be desired in d├ęcor. Scattered remains of a few ill-fated creepy-crawlies litter the corners and sand crunches underfoot. Three pieces of old furniture you would not want in your own home occupy the space. Thankfully, it’s not the inside of the room I am here to see. It is merely a placeholder, a vessel of sorts, in which to experience the magnificent.

Cold description aside, even with the obvious brusque nature of the room, an ambiance exists. It is cozy, yet pleasantly airy, with an expanse of beautiful lake set out before you as a feast for the eyes to gorge upon. Inside, mystery and depth perfume the air with their intense aroma, signifying the presence of so many that have come before you to savor the comfort this portal has to offer. Just as a kiss is not just merely the pressing of lips to lips, this room holds the meaning and promise of so much more.

Standing at the threshold of this gateway, I breathe, and deeply, savoring the pleasantly astringent air. I have heard that one inhalation of this superior cocktail has the effect of a dozen massages; and I am feeling that now. I rest my hands against the timber door frame, feeling the rough hewn wood beneath my fingers and palms. It is a pleasant textural sensation that only adds more character to the rustic room. Another sensation, though this one strange; I feel as though I can sense the two worlds juxtaposed beyond both sides of this threshold. Behind me exists all the stress, anxiety and worry of the world, pulsing as if it had a heartbeat of its own, trying to pull me back in with every palpitation. Before me, the soothing bliss of a world where time stands still or maybe just moves slower than life can detect. The promise of troubles abated, apprehension quieted and broken souls mended; and me as the bridge between both powerfully drawing dimensions, the opportunity to choose which way to go.

Surveying the familiar, I look to the right. Swaying slowly and reverently, in tempo with the sonorous chimes, at times lilting and then deep, the modest bed swing allows for either quiet contemplation or a lulling dream state. It beckons with each arc toward my place at the door. Suspended from four slender chains, so as to not obstruct the gorgeous panorama, it is covered by a thin bedspread which is in turn covered in a smothering Victorian pattern. No matter, it takes nothing away. The curious formula of this screen porch is; that which is added only adds to the ambiance and character. Everything here works in pleasing visual harmony.

The breeze flows as freely through the room as the water down below, smoothing and contouring my state of mind into something beautiful and worthy of collecting.

Turning my gaze to the center of the room, a sturdy pine table hunkers in my vision. On it rests an unfinished puzzle of yet another gorgeous, though anonymous, vista. I am tempted to finish where the last occupant left off, but my psyche craves the current scene available to me, just beyond the framed screen. I need to concentrate on savoring this short-term sedative because its effects will vanish all too soon.

Scanning left, the answer to my need lies in the form of a humble rocking chair, its unintended shabby chic expression the perfect fit for my weary frame. It is in perfect position to accept the best angle of view to the viewer. At once crossing over the invisible line between worlds, I surge into its arms and it welcomes me as an old friend might after several years. Instantly comforted, I rest my gaze to the line of sight before me, letting in the sight of the golden sun glimmering on the rolling and rippling waves. The rocking and the lapping and the viewing all in chorus, I issue a sigh of contentment. The convergence of stress and relaxation in this place always concludes with the latter victorious.

My day is now set; rock, puzzle, sleep… in no particular order.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

As Political As I Get...

Politics are beyond me.

I may lose a few friends with this post, but it has to be said. Considering that it is Election Day, one of the closest and most important in history, I thought it was appropriate to post my First Ever Political Essay. This is as political as I get, people. Please save the scathing comments, I don’t want this to turn into a debate. I will tuck tail and run, just to warn you.

I think I am registered as a Democrat, but I am ashamed and yet somehow relieved to admit that I am truly part of the "Blissfully Ignorant" Party. When one is trying to live a simple and uncomplicated life, as I am, there is simply no room for politics, for it is possibly one of the most complex social games known to man. I never get close to that fire, no thank you, until the Presidential elections roll around and there is simply no way to escape the propaganda, the campaigning and the SNL skits chock full of presidential hopefuls. I jump on the bandwagon; I am a fair weather fan, only every 4 years. I am otherwise a "do no harm" voter (ie, one who does not vote so that there is no harm in swaying the vote to the worse of the two candidates). I would love to change that, but it all starts with the system producing the candidates.

We are consistently presented with the choice between the "lesser of two evils", and for what did our patriots fight, lose their lives and their sons to get us to this point? The corruption, greed and vanity, the waste that is filling up our Political Metropolis is something to be ashamed of, if ever our original founders knew what the system has dissolved into.

I’m not sure why, but people are passionate about politics these days. So not me. I can be passionate, and I think passion is great if you have it, so long as it is not imposed upon your neighbor. That is, unless your neighbor wants it that way. ;)

Take religion. Religion is in the same vein of thought in my book. “Believe what you want to believe, but don’t force me to believe what you believe.” People will believe and follow only if they agree wholeheartedly that this is the way to go, and that is usually by emulating a desired path of action. Make sense? Most people would be alienated from that religion if it is forced upon them instead of being able to make up their own mind and follow on their own. See this as a note to those who would love to see others voting...don't be scathing, overzealous or condescending of those who would not "practice" your same opinion. In other words, treat it as you would a religion. Do not force your opinions on others, for it will further distance them, proving their point that staying out of the "game", as I see it right now, is easier than dealing with “people like you.”

Use politics, then, not as a platform to display only your beliefs or to put down others you may deem as naive or ignorant, but as an objective, knowledge furthering opportunity, a discussion, for those who seek impartial bias and sentient leadership to lead the way to a better tomorrow. Let the lesson be heard in the calm display of knowledge you have collected, not by forcing the "right way" down people's throats. I believe that you are entitled to your own opinion, as opinions are never wrong, even though this one will help to shape the next 4 years of our country's history; there is a lot at stake.

I’ve never had the energy, or searched for the knowledge necessary for a political fight. I am usually in awe and disgust of a heated political fight between us regular joes; awe of the knowledge necessary for the fight, disgust in what they were actually fighting over. What was the point? I want no part of it, to get into a tangle with a venom spitting, passionate political activist - No Thanks. The people I have come into contact with have been way too pushy and ultimately scathing. I believe that we own our opinions, and we should not be chastised or reprimanded for holding them, especially not for letting them out into the open. If we do our research and believe what we have come to believe, we own those opinions.

Aggressive politically-minded people were never a part of my friend roster, and if you found me at a party where the subject came up, you could also find me quietly sneaking out of the room, not wanting to be caught and then reprimanded for my lack of knowledge, and inevitably my lack of patriotism, lack of support for constitutional rights, as if I am betraying those who would fight for that right, slapping them in the face, disloyal to our country.

I get it. I understand what is at stake and what has been sacrificed to get here…but the system those men and women died for is now defunct and corrupt. Put someone in the office that isn’t compromised, slick, favor-trading and narcissistic. Let’s face it, if you have gotten all the way up the D.C. food chain, you have got to be a good politician…and that’s not a compliment. Most are there for their own political agenda, and the perks that come with it. The fake smiles and handshakes, the phone calls to secure your name and place in the favor closet, the banquets to work on your schmoozing skills – how far have we come since the first of their kind? Previously a hardship, taken on by the most righteous of citizens, traveling to Washington with the town’s sacred votes in tow; the representation a necessity in that time of vast space and primitive communication. I can imagine the eagerness and passion back then, all knowing they were there to shape the country for the better, they believed in the system. Honor and sincerity, a personal stake in the changes made. It is all so different today…for example, don’t even get me started on Diplomatic Immunity…But with the technology of the 21st century, are politicians truly needed anymore? With the internet, and therefore information and communication at most everyone’s fingertips, what exactly is the purpose of a “voice for the people” these days? We can now all have our voice heard without representation. The money spent greasing hands can be used to fund an internet connection for all interested, the opportunity always present to participate.

If I sound bitter, it’s because I am. The job has changed, become so far removed from what it was intended to be, the thought actually sickens me. The career politicians enjoy the benefits and keep networking, selling themselves to save their asses. No paycheck or reelection should ever come between what is good for our country and our people, now so far below on the food chain, it's a wonder they ever think of us at all. It's now a high rollers game, them sitting at their exclusive “millions-in” poker game in the back room, laughing while they trade their fortunes back and forth, smoking cigars, while us mortals plink our last nickel in the slots, crossing our fingers and hoping for a miracle so that we can pay our heating bills or maybe even send our kids to school.

Idealists will scream at my defacing of their saviors, but get real, people. They are there because they want the fame, the white teeth, the mistress and the Ermenegildo Zegna suit. They want the snazzy power package; they want it all.

Who sounds scathing now? ;) I'm sure there are some out there that are in it for the right reasons. It can't all be corrupt, I hope. But eventually the system may choke out these do-gooders and send them packing or else join the boy's club; the “Can't beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality. It's become accepted, this new job description, and I for one, am disgusted. If those people truly wanted to be public servants, their campaigns would go quite differently. They are there for themselves, not us. And even if they start for us; gung-ho, with energy to rival a toddler, they will be eventually beaten down by the system, the other career politicians, hell-bent on keeping their positions and prolonging the country's agony.

Career politicians should not exist for they are the ultimate oxymoron; they should never be allowed to put their own success in front of the office/town/state/country they are running "for" because it creates conflicting end goals. How can you put the country first if you are basing your decisions on what would be “popular” enough to get you reelected? That kind of politician garners disgust from me, as do the people behind them who are so passionate, being used to lobby for them, to sell them, and the contempt and condescension in which they view the citizens that want no part of it. Put someone in office that is not a career politician and I will vote; I will do my homework, and I will have passion that matches their own sincerity. I say, stop paying politicians. Make it again a true public servant's job, just the basic necessities, such as a Catholic priest might enjoy (no laughing), and see how many people jump at the chance to represent their people. Only the truly sincere and hopeful will apply.

Now, it's all a salesmanship show, a “performance”. At the last debate, the commenters kept referring to the candidates’ performance and that infuriated me. This simply should not be. We should not be voting based on a performance in a debate or a campaign, there shouldn’t even be a performance…we should be voting on their performance record.

They play the “he said, she said” game, hoping that the busy Average Joe (aka, Joe the plumber, Joe Six pack) will never investigate the claims in true depth. They prey on American's ignorance to the senate voting process, the black and white bill voting packages; making it almost impossible for them to find the truth under the lies they throw around, hoping the current technology (gossip, phone calls, email, etc...) will spread the damage, you know the lies well; the ones that irrationally scare us to our very core, the ones the most ignorant and lazy of voters will base their decisions on. The same voters that will cast their ballot based on the mere name of the candidate, the supposed religion, or the fact that he may look robotic and jerky, even though it was suffered through years of torture.

We see the facade, the performance, and some of us judge as such, good or bad. We see an American Hero, who is also the most emotional, hot button candidate I have ever seen. Do we want that as President? We see a polished black man, an historical sight, but the deep down details of his plan and agenda, some hard to swallow, may be too hard to distinguish through the gleaming polish. Same old, same old.

Yet this election has brought out in me what I have never felt before…excitement. I shiver to think why or how, but it’s there and palpable. I’ve come to realize that it’s because both candidates truly seem to care about our country and us, the little joe. They both have the basic end goals in mind, which is rescuing our country from certain death. I like them both, for very different reasons, and I like their running mates as well. Not one candidacy is perfect, but hey…whose ever are? I have taken the time to research and for the first time in my life, I have held political discussions to learn more. When I look in the mirror, I think “Who is this person?” Yes, this may all be another great performance, destined to fizzle out in the fire hose that is bureaucracy, but I am holding on to my hope, that this time, something is different.

Think of those original fighting patriots and the original representatives of our newborn country….try to imagine the excitement, wonder and hope they felt to have this privilege to help change our lives for the better. Use those feelings and drive to your nearest booth, feeling the awe that comes with this kind of responsibility.

There is no right or wrong in an election, just a better path toward a better tomorrow. And it is our right and responsibility to research the means to that end, even if it is just the lesser evil path, for that is all we can do right now, until the system is bettered. This election is huge, and staring down another Great Depression scares the hell out of me. Our country, our world, is spiraling out of control and we need help. Our vote determines what happens next, to us and our children…so please use it; no matter what “party” you belong to, real or imagined.