do you hear the people sing?

It is the music of the people
Who will not be slaves again

For years, Venezuelans have been fighting to survive. For years, we’ve been ignoring them. We can’t ignore it any more

The largest protest in the Western Hemisphere is happening in our own backyard. This is not a world away; these are our neighbors. Their wellbeing directly affects us. We can’t keep pretending we live in a bubble and unpleasant things are not happening if we don’t acknowledge them. People are dying for liberty in Venezuela; the least we can do is look. 

the very idea

of being aloof and pragmatic in the face of genocide makes me sick. Since the crisis in Syria began, I’ve believed that something must be done. Just like I believed that the world must act after the slaughter on Mt Sinjar. That we should do something on behalf of the North Korean people. That we should at least face what’s going on in our own backyard in Venezuela. There is no one group or leader who has a monopoly on brutality. Extremists bring it every day to every corner of the world. Dictators exploit tribalism to wipe out their enemies. 

And who suffers the most? Children. They don’t ask to be born into war zones, and they don’t complain when playing outside becomes a matter of life and death. They just adapt and learn to survive. Because that’s what kids do. Sometimes they make it through the war, but they come out the other side hollow-eyed and broken. Most of the time, they don’t make it through at all. 

I don’t have any answers. I don’t have any clever plan to alleviate the cost of helping others. I wouldn’t even know where to begin, because if we’re going to pay a price for being powerful, shouldn’t we at least try to do something worthwhile? I know how naīve and idealistic this sounds, but I don’t know how to do dispassionate in the face of all this death. When children are being slaughtered. When concert halls are being bathed in blood. 

I’m tired of the death and sorrow. I’m tired of checking my newsfeed and seeing church floors slick with blood. Blindfolded men lined up on beaches to be beheaded. Dead-eyed young girls who have been trafficked and brutalised beyond anything we can even imagine. Beyond the limits of the human psyche. 

I have no answers. But we should stop avoiding the reality of the carnage and depravity, and be willing to accept the price of doing something. 

for the life of me

I cannot sleep. I’m annoyed at someone, and tired of pretending I’m not, and I can’t sleep for thinking, to quote one of my favourite PJ Harvey songs. 

So how much of life is pretending? Is that what being an adult is? Even at 40, I haven’t figured it out. Does our life amount to pretending we believe in things, that we are happy, that we are fulfilled, that we are content? How much of our dissatisfaction is our own damn fault? I know that I let life happen to me, without making the effort to direct it. This doesn’t mean that many of the things that have happened are not beautiful. I am an impulsive, slightly daft person who has never been good at planning. And I used to be wild and angry and self-destructive, and reaching 40 wasn’t at the top of my to-do list. 

So life happened. And I didn’t think ahead, because I didn’t expect to make it all that far. I don’t think many around me when I was younger expected me to make it either. Being written off as a complete fuck up is quite liberating, but it has its drawbacks. I just don’t know what to do with this person I’ve become. This person who is either content or apathetic. I’m not sure I know the difference. 

Does it matter, really? Readjusting one’s expectations can do wonders for one’s outlook. We’ve got one life, and one shot. So we settle. I guess that’s what we all do, to some extent. 

And the fact that I’m even having this “deep,” contemplative internal monologue is actually making me feel a bit ill. I am so fortunate to live in the First World. I have the leisure to ponder all of this existential bullshit without being preoccupied by things like survival. 

God, I’ve got to get over myself. 

Yes, I’m annoyed with someone. Someone who can be a bit of a gaslighter at times. So what? At least my neighbourhood isn’t being barrel-bombed by some failed dentist-turned-Iranian-puppet. My town isn’t being gassed. My local church isn’t being firebombed by militants. My home isn’t being overrun by homicidal death-cultists with a fetish for beheading. 

My water is clean, I have too much food, I have a cellphone that cost more than my first car. I live in a country that still, for the most part, values freedom of expression and religion, where the cost of living is low, and I have the right to be pissed off and sanctimonious about anything my bored little heart desires. 

Put that way, I kind of want to tell myself to shut the fuck up. 

there are no superheroes to save us.

For six years, Assad’s treatment of his people has sickened and horrified me. But as evil as Assad is, many of those opposing him aligned themselves with evil as well, choosing to work with al Qaeda or ISIS. I was always against arming the “rebels” because proxy wars are pathetic.

Obama did nothing, the UN did nothing, and real people continued to die, either at the hands of Assad or in the sea trying to reach some semblance of safety.

I don’t celebrate death in response to death, but I want justice for the people of Syria. I have never been an anti-interventionist. If we have the capacity, we should always try to help.

It’s too soon to know if the right thing is being done, if justice is being served, but the spectre of those children needs to be in our minds as much tomorrow as it is today.

i have a love/hate thing

with comics. On the one hand, the storylines can be some of the most interesting in fiction. Not all of them, because there’s a lot of crap out there, but there are some innovative ideas in that universe. And on the other hand, I resent having someone else’s vision of characters forced upon me in such detail. 

So I read comics haphazardly, more in love with the ideas and the potential of some of the characters, (see: Wolverine), than the actual arc presented by the different writers and artists. I’m a terrible comic fan. Fan boys/girls don’t like me much, for canon is worthless to me. Tell me a good story – or better yet – give me the words and I’ll supply the pictures. 

The exception is anything by Mike Mignola. I’ve read every single Hellboy and most of the BPRD series. Red is my favourite everything. The art is so perfect, and the storylines are clean. Red is such a wonderful creature. The love the creator has for his creation is apparent in Mignola’s handling of Red. All the way to the end: love. 

With a requisite amount of violence, of course. I want Wolverine to leave body parts and destruction in his wake when he fights, because that’s what he would do. When Batman kills a bad guy, I’m cheering him on. When the Punisher actually punishes without emoting, I’m right there, smile on my face. And when Red kills Satan, I’m in for good. I’m devoted. I’m with him for life. 

Life isn’t fair, and sometimes the people who are supposed to fight for you don’t. Life doesn’t wrap up neatly. Sometimes you die in the middle of your story. Shit always falls apart, and sometimes we do too, and a lot of times we end up with anger and baggage and walls and hate. Hate can be motivational, and surrendering that hate can be cathartic. I crave the stories, in any media, that reflect this. 

There aren’t a lot out there that get it right. So we’ve got to write our own, don’t we?

ignoring advice

I finally watched most of the second to last Wolverine movie. Full disclosure: I hate about 99% of the Marvel universe. I hated the XMen movies. I was not impressed by the standalone Wolverine movie with Liev Schreiber, (which pissed me off, as Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman battling half naked is the shit my fantasies are made of), so I skipped Wolverine Goes to Japan. 

And I was warned when I brought it up the other day. After two tearful, deeply emotional viewings of Logan, I said, “Hey, you know what I haven’t watched?” And the guy who knows me better than anyone – with whom I bonded on our first drunken night together over Wolverine and how completely unworthy Marvel was of having such a badass – looked at me and said, “Don’t do it. You’ll regret it.”

I regret it. 

How was that movie made by the same people who made Logan? Logan broke my heart. The writing and the acting were superb. It fucking destroyed me. 16 year old me was in love with Wolverine. (I hated Jean Grey for years, well beyond acceptable time limits for a grown up.) Watching him die was awful. And especially watching him die when he looked so good. I know he was beat to hell, but the grey in the hair, the beard, the suit, the weariness, the ache, taking care of the ailing Charles – pressed all of my buttons. Every. Single. One. Mmm. Yeah. 

Moving on.

I’m going to have to see it again to get Wolverine Goes to Japan out of my head. Hiroyuki Sanada was under-utilised (as he almost always is), the girl was about two hyperventilating breaths away from passing out, as well as being completely clichéd and useless.  Helpless Asian girl needs big gaijin to save her? I’m disappointed. In everyone.

I’ll stop complaining now and go to bed. Maybe I’ll dream of Liev Schreiber and Hugh Jackman half naked, fighting. That will put me in a much better mood. 

(About Hiroyuki Sanada – that guy is one of my favourites. He’s got such presence and versatility. Love him.)

also,

I’m dying to go back to Australia. I spent my two week visit in Sydney, never escaping the city. Don’t get me wrong, Sydney is lovely. The green spaces, the water, the Opera House, the flying foxes, the funnel webs that almost killed us — all of it was wonderful. The people were even better than I’d imagined they could be. We spent a night in the Rocks at a little pub, drinking Twohy’s, and singing American pop songs until closing. 

But I feel like I should go back. I feel that I could visit Australia every year for the rest of my life and never see the same thing twice. While going to Sydney and saying I’ve been to Australia is technically correct, I don’t feel like it’s true. That’s like saying that you’ve visited New York and have seen America. 

One of the things I loved about Australia was how familiar it felt. I was expecting the “foreign country” experience, like when I visited Mexico or Canada. But there was none of that. The accents were a little hard to decipher after a few beers, and they drive on the wrong side of the road, but even the funnel web spiders didn’t feel all that foreign. (I was born and raised in Arizona; everything there wants to kill you too. Shake your shoes out, keep an eye on the ground when hiking, periodically do a web check around the perimeter of your home. Widows, scorpions, Gila monsters, rattlers — dying in the desert isn’t always a hydration issue.)

I’d like to visit Australia this summer, to Melbourne and then to Tasmania. I’ve been doing some research and Tasmania looks amazing. I figure, go big or go home. I’m already home and I’m a little restless. So it’s time to go big.  

truth from robbie williams.

You can tell me point blank that I’m a narcissist
I’m just needing confirmation that I exist

— “Best Intentions”

This should probably be cut into my headstone. For a long time I denied this, but it’s true. And I think I’m okay with it most days, although if someone else had pointed it out, I’d not be as blasé. I feel silly referring to myself as a “writer” when I haven’t published anything or a “poet” because come on but I definitely need creative outlets. I’m a terrible artist; can’t draw or paint for shit, but I’m still happy if I’m doing something creative, even poorly. 

People need to acknowledge and embrace their creativity, whatever that looks like. Art is the core of who we are as humans because we are works of art. Whether you believe we’re a happy accident or that there is a creator of life out there, we’re amazing creatures. Art is primal and embracing the primal, especially in this age of apathetic conformity, is paramount. It’s necessary or we will lose our way, as individuals and as a civilisation. 

So I’m a narcissist, and I need confirmation that I exist. So what? I’m not going to be ashamed of that. Knowing that something I’ve created has spoke to another person is not trivial. I’ve made my peace with this. 

tension.

“Did you ever know, dear, how much you took away with you when you left?”
— CS Lewis


This is really all that needs to be said. life is a collection of losses, and it is only gathering speed. This is the tension we live with: live life free of fetters and without regret, or live life as if there is something better just over the horizon. 

To believe or not believe. To have faith or to be faithless. Does it matter which we choose?