I Wish I Never Went to Pax Christi in Lexington, KY

pax christi lexington

On the Fourth Sunday of Lent, I visited Pax Christi Catholic Church. Unfortunately, I don’t believe I will ever go back.

When we moved to Lexington, I wanted to find a place to call home. I was hoping to find a Catholic church that would welcome me as I came. I had opportunities to attend services where that was true, but growing up Catholic, I always felt a sanctuary when inside of a church. From early on as an altar server to a law student who went to lunch masses at Old Saint Patrick in Chicago, it created a calm for me. I began to look for a Catholic church to call home and I began by searching the web. Pax Christi Catholic Church in Lexington was the first that appealed to me based on where we moved.

Researching Pax Christi

2016-01-14 07.51.30I researched every Catholic Church in Lexington and found the bulletin for a Advent service. On the cover was exactly what I was hoping for. It looked like words that Pope Francis would have written. I felt very happy. They welcomes “those born with sexual ambiguity or differing orientation.” I knew that this would not mean that they would be fighting for my right to get married but I took this as a sign that they weren’t going to be overly political. And in my many years of attending services in Chicago and Milwaukee, I never heard one political homily that I felt uncomfortable with. On occasion, there will be a prayer regarding abortion or gay marriage or divorce, but they were generally in broad terms without specific examples.

Before I got to church, I noticed that the gospel was supposed to be the Prodigal Son and I took that as a sign. However, I was looking at the wrong year. Strangely enough, so did the bulletin – which had a message from the Pastor regarding the parable that I hoped to her. Instead, they decided to not follow the Liturgy and instead read the Gospel of John Ch. 9:1-41.

The Man Born Blind

“The power of what John does is that when we hear the story, if there is not a name, any one of us can step into that story.  We can see ourselves as a woman given living water, a man who is healed of blindness, and we can picture ourselves as a disciple loved by Jesus.” In the end, “The man in this Gospel received, not just his sight, but a gift of healing, wholeness and peace. He has a new understanding about the world, about life and about Jesus.”

I felt like it was the perfect Gospel for me to attend as I was entering a new place and trying to find some of that wholeness and peace. However, instead of finding that, I became incredibly uncomfortable. A few weeks earlier, Justice Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly. Though not really relevant to this post, I enjoyed reading his opinions, even if we disagreed on issues. However, the homily on this Sunday was about what we were blind to and what his death meant. The focus was on the Supreme Court and how they will destroying religious freedom in our country and our blindness to this fact is what is making us separated from Jesus. He called out marriage equality specifically as a main cause of our blindness and that to truly heal and become whole with Jesus, this destruction of marriage needed to end. I wanted to leave right then and there.

I’ll be honest – I don’t expect the Catholic Church to ever let me get married within their church’s walls and that is fine. But I have a problem with Pax Christi having an “Attitude of Welcoming” that says that I would be welcomed and embraced by Jesus’s love regardless of my sexual orientation and to then have to listen to how my loving relationship is in need of a cure.

I was blind for a long time – that is true. I was blind to the fact that I could be happy at all. I did not feel whole or at peace. And then I accepted who I was and allowed love to enter my life. And I believe that if you asked people who didn’t know me before I met Brian if I was ever blind, they wouldn’t believe me, just like the Pharisees. Yet, here I stand. And although I am still in search of a church, I know that I don’t need to be blind to false words of welcome and instead can embrace Jesus’s love elsewhere.

Trickle Down Politics

politics

When I walked into the voting booth in 2008 as someone who spends too much time thinking about politics, I was incredibly excited to vote for Barack Obama. And when he received a majority of the vote with the largest margin in my political lifetime, I thought we would actually be changing the American system in a positive way. I felt we were making strides as a nation to acknowledge the changing economy, the aging of our population, and the more-in-focus-today stagnation where my generation thinks it will not be better off than our parents in any way. However, that all ended when Sen. McConnell stated that his goal was to make sure that President Obama was a one-term President. Now, I live in the state he represents and I will say, I don’t believe the President has (or should have) all of the power.

In the last eight years as Congress has become more conservative and less compromising, the President has had to take drastic steps to enlarge executive power. As someone who hated the executive excesses of President George W. Bush, I have a hard time accepting the executive power grabs by a President – even if I agree with the President. However, I do not believe my liberal peers have the same feelings anymore. Many seem happy that President Obama – and a potential President Clinton or President Sanders – will take these steps. But turn the idea around: see what the Republican Senate is doing to judicial nominations after the Democrats fillibustered and slowed down President Bush’s nominations. I believe a Democratic Senate would be playing the same Supreme Court games if a liberal justice died in 2008. I believe that power grabs and politics are the problem. Instead, we need a bottom-up revolution, not a top down.

The Politics of a Presidential Election

Right now, we are in the midst of another Presidential campaign. However, most people would be hesitant to ask who their state representative or state senator is – and if that person has an opponent. Here is a tweet from one of my new political feeds, Bluegrass Politics “Amazing. In one-third of Ky’s US House races, no Democrat is even running this year. That’s a healthy political party for you.” This is the problem. The same thing was true in Illinois – generally from the other side. If you don’t start creating down-ticket candidates who are potential party leaders, you will not have a party. Just like I don’t believe in trickle down economic, I don’t believe in trickle down politics. I do not believe that a President’s philosophy will infiltrate the rest of the nation. In fact, I believe it is the opposite.

This is why I back progressive people running for office at state and local positions. To begin to shift the conversation, you need to have a bench and you need to have others to support you. You need to be able to speak out to Governors and state houses to implement ideas and to create the incubator of democracy that states were created to be. Today, all of this incubation is regarding conservative ideas. I can name one state initiative that progressives have gotten passed in state legislatures: $15 minimum wage in California and New York. Now, try to name all of the conservative actions – ranging from denying Medicaid expansion (the map is too large), LGBTQ laws (NC and MS), abortion restrictions (TX, AR, among others), right-to-work (WI, OH), tax breaks for the wealthiest (Kansas, Louisiana)…the list goes on and on. This image from the Washington Post is why. Which of these “blue” states are not blue? And which of these “red” states are not red?

The two candidates running for President on the Democratic side are in their 68 and 74. Name one potential Democratic contender (Martin O’Malley doesn’t count because he isn’t a contender) who is as young as Marco Rubio or Ted Cruz. Can you name a 40 year old Democrat? I follow politics very closely – and I cannot.

My Theory of Trickle Up Politics

What the Republicans have done in the last eight years is to create a base – not a political base, not a politician base. They have a large bench where 17 people thought themselves ready to be President and before the Trump crazy train took over, people called this the most powerful GOP candidate pool in the last 100 years. They were able to do this by having their Super PACs and the Koch Brothers and all of the people that liberals love to hate spend most of their money on smaller elections. They know they cannot win the Presidency with their current beliefs. But they can win a lot of state races. So, over time, this will trickle up to the Presidency – as it did from Goldwater to Reagan. There has not be a liberal Goldwater since Obama and honestly, he dropped the ball. He won and may raise money for downballot names, but he has not done a great job of building the party.

I’m glad many people support Sen. Sanders. But none of this enthusiasm has trickled downballot. Politics is all local, as Tip O’Neill said.  In Ohio, Ted Strickland won the primary handily against a more progressive opponent with 65% of the vote. Hillary won 56%. In Wisconsin (which Bernie won), 25% of the people who did vote for Bernie did not vote for a progressive WI Supreme Court justice. These are problems that Bernie will never be able to fix if the people who support him do not begin to follow trickle up politics. Not one of Bernie’s proposals will come close to fruition if the state government, the Congress, or the people do not believe in his proposals. Sorry to burst your bubble – but just like trickle down economics created the economic bubbles we have seen in the last twenty years, this bubble is bursting now. It’s up to those of us who likes these policies to work together to get them done. It means we need to not just follow Presidential elections but actually care who sits on our school boards or park district boards; who is our coroner or sheriff. We need to be able to name our state representatives and discuss those politics with our friends and neighbors because those friends and neighbors are probably affected far more by his or her decisions than by anything that President Obama, Clinton, Sanders, Cruz, or Trump would do. Well, maybe not those last two, but you get the point.

Let’s Start Writing Again

As the spring and summer start, I want to start writing again. I miss being able to just verbalize my thoughts and get a few stories/political views/comic reviews/etc out of my head. I post something like this every few months but I need an outlet and I own this one. So here we go again!

Sneaking and Being Proud

StoryWorks is an interesting concept that every once in a while produces a short story that hits me. For obvious reasons, this one was close to home.

It’s funny because I have a similar story. I remember one day in middle school I was at cross country practice and my teammates began making fun of me. And they used a word that I was unfamiliar with: “gay”. I had no idea what it meant or why anyone would call me that and after practice, I headed home. As was par for the course, I cried on the way home. But I didn’t really know why. And when I walked up the driveway, my dad was in the garage and he could see I was upset. He asked, “What’s wrong, Danny?” And I told him that they were calling me names. “What names? What did they say?” “Gay.” He stopped for a second and then followed it up with, “Do you know what that means?” I shook my head and he walked around the car and looked at me and said, “Don’t worry about it. They don’t know what they’re talking about.” He did not explain it to me or try to tell me anything else.

I learned what the word meant and I also disagreed with their assessment of me for a long time. For a long time, I felt ashamed that there seemed to be something different with me. In fact, I’m really only getting to the point where I am good with myself in the last few years. It took a long time and a lot of work.

And this is why it is very difficult to see my life being used a political weapon. Anyone who looks at this blog or my Facebook page or has ever talked to me knows that politics have always been close to my heart. I try to watch the debates and read as much as I can. But this is why there are several candidates who scare me more than anything: Ben Carson, Ted Cruz, and Mike Huckabee.

Don’t get me wrong – I wouldn’t vote for any of the GOP nominees but I don’t feel like my safety or my family is in danger under a Bush, Rubio, or even Trump presidency. However, the hate speech that those three use to describe me is exactly why I came home crying at the age of 11 and why I couldn’t accept myself until I was 30 years old. I am a people watcher. I love seeing how people interact with each other but there is one thing I will never have that most people take for granted: universal acceptance. If you put your arm around your husband/wife at a movie theater or hold their hand on the street, you never have to worry about what others will say; you never have to worry that you will be kicked out of the theater. It must be a nice thing to feel. Yet with three men running for the highest office in the land with such hate-filled hearts, I know that it will not be a possibility for quite some time. Put their economic or other policies to the side (because none of them stand out with ideas different from their Republican colleagues on those topics) and you see exactly what they want to do – tell me that my family will not matter and that I do not matter. And their supporters are focused on those same issues that want to make me a criminal.

It took me a long time to “not sneak” and be happy with who I am because there is nothing wrong with who I am – but three possible leaders of the greatest nation on Earth disagree. At the end of the day, that hurts more than those words that eleven year old boys say.

The Day I Was Afraid of Judy Dench

Philomena is not a scary movie. It’s a heart-warming tale about a woman discovering what may have happened to the son that was taken away from her in Ireland. I wanted to see it as Steve Coogan is one of my favorites. And my mom wanted to go.

I rarely go to the movies with my mom, so this was going to be a fun outing. She had nothing to do and my dad was at a fishing show. She was going to go to my Aunt and Uncle’s house afterwards where she would meet up with my dad, so I could just drop her off and then she didn’t have to drive by herself home.

We headed out to Barrington and got our tickets. I’ve been to the theater many times. It’s a big theater, but a lot of these art house movies will play there for a while due to the 30 screens.

When we walked into Theater 12, there was a man standing at the end of the long hallway that led from the door into the auditorium and he had a backpack on a seat in the front section. My mom and I passed him and sat down near the top of the theater. I figured he was waiting for someone.

But for over ten minutes, he paced back and forth and kept touching his bag and then returning to leaning against the wall at the end of the hallway or block the entrance so people had to go around him to get to their own seats. As more people came in, he continued just to lean against the wall and I became very anxious.

The lights went down and the previews were going to start. It always reminds you to put your cell phone away as to not bother anyone and then AMC reminds you that if you see anything suspicious, let someone know. Those words rung in my ears as the man continued to lean against the wall and then look at his bag.

I told my mom that I was going to go say something to the people at the front and asked if she wanted to come with me. I said I’m sure it is nothing but I was not comfortable. I told my mom to just keep an eye on him and then I walked down the stairs right past him as I tried not to make eye contact.

I ran to the front after exiting the theater and while stuttering mentioned to the young woman who took our tickets that there is a man leaning against the wall and that I assume it is nothing but it is making me anxious. She said she would send a manager to check in and I went back to the auditorium.

I came back into the theater and he was still there. He looked right at me as I returned to my seat next to my mom as the previews were running. I whispered to her that a manager was coming and she said that was good.

A few minutes later, the manager walked in and began talking to the man. After the conversation, the man grabbed his bag and left with the manager. But then a few minutes later, he returned and sat in the row behind us.

I had to assume the manager checked everything out and he was harmless but the rest of the movie, he would get up, make noises, and rustle in his bag. I kept one eye behind me for the entire movie and we left as soon as the credits began.

I hated that I had to sit in a theater and be scared of what the other people around me may do, but that is the society we now live in. For some reason, people believe if we all live in fear, that is better than a life where we trusted one another. There has to be a warning at the beginning of a movie to ask you to be suspicious of your fellow movie-goers.

This is the hardest part for me to comprehend and truly what I believe the NRA is designed to do. It is not about gun ownership in a responsible manner. It is about scaring people that they are going to be hurt and need a defense tool. It is about scaring people that someone is going to take their gun and therefore they need more guns to protect their other gun. It is about fear and making money off of that fear. And as much as people say that we lived in a better time before, it is because we had a sense of community where we were not scared of our neighbors. There were horrible people then and there are horrible people now. That never changes. But how we react to these horrible people is the problem.

So instead of enjoying a movie with my mom, I have to be afraid of a random man who may have just had leg issues or diabetes because I have no idea who is armed or when someone who had easy access to a weapon will decide to use it.

Two innocent people trying to watch a funny movie were gunned down last night because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. We know the reactions we will hear: they should have been armed; crazy people do crazy things; it’s not the gun that killed them, it’s the person who killed them.

Nothing will come of this. More people will be afraid to go to the movies. More people will be afraid of people in their community. More people will assume the worst of their common man.

That’s why I don’t think I can ever see Philomena again.

A Wall

Bill needed a walk. The wet spring breeze that entered his car as he drove home did not provide enough clarity. He needed a lighter air to encompass him.

Without even stepping foot inside his parents’ home, he started down the street. A few neighbors were outside but none of them were familiar. He waved nonetheless.

Standing on the corner, he saw a face in a car stopped at a four-way intersection. His eyes quickly moved down so that the top of his head could be visible. The cars wheels moved past through the top of his vision. His head returned to its upright position with a deep breathe.

Even though they had not spoken for ten years, Bill recognized Harris. They spent too many days together for him not to.  But the only thing left from high school was a few books he didn’t return to the library.

Bill turned around and headed back to his house. The neighbors were still outside and he could see his mother in the doorway.

When he got within earshot, she said, “I thought I heard your car but I couldn’t find you.”

“I needed to stretch my legs.”

“Good to be home?”

“I suppose so.”

Stranger Danger

I went for a walk this afternoon. I enjoy fall days and for the last few weeks, I have went out to the Des Plaines River Trails and walked at least seven miles. Since I don’t have the ability to run that far anymore (yet), walking that far is all I have. I put on my headphones, grab a bottle of water, and just walk. I have a whole list of podcasts that I need to catch up on so I can stay up to date with the political, scientific, and just fun news. Two hours of walking works perfectly for that.

My mind wanders as I walk through the brown leaves. I think about work; I think about life; I worry about things; and I listen to the stories in my ears. I find it incredibly relaxing, but also enjoyable. There is something perfect about walking alone with a slight chill in the air and nothing to stop you.

I passed about ten people all morning. Most people walked in pairs, some with dogs. Some rode bikes. And one man was running. There was nothing unique about the path or anything interesting besides a large number of deer running around. Overall, it was uneventful.

But as I got closer to my car, I saw a father walking with his son. They were walking towards me and I smiled. The father’s immediate response was to put his hand on his son’s back and move forward. It was a very defensive gesture and when I was about one-hundred feet away, I turned around and noticed that the hand was no longer there.

I probably shouldn’t read too much into things like that but it always troubles me when people just assume a stranger is a danger. Of course there are bad people out there and I would be lying if I didn’t think at least a few times on my walk that someone could be in the woods, grab me, and I would never be heard from again. But there are also casual interactions with people that I will never understand why we become defensive.

If we were at a mall, the father would not do that. If we were at a Chipotle, he would not do that. But in an open forest preserve, people assume that there is a likelihood, this person I don’t know will steal my child or try to hurt one of us. I have experienced the same gestures in parks.

Maybe it is because I don’t have a child of my own that I don’t understand this reaction. I would like to believe that I would not have that knee-jerk reaction to someone I don’t know and honestly, I don’t think I would as I like to assume that another person is naturally good unless shown otherwise.

We all experience strange behavior based on who we are. One reason I don’t like giving away candy on Halloween, for example, is that I have gotten strange looks from parents in the past, as if I am some sort of leech. Or some sort of Boo Radley.

I wish we didn’t live in a world where a father would see a random person just minding their own business and smiling and didn’t think that this person could come after my child. I wish I understood why people always jump to the conclusion that a solitary person is trouble.

As strange as it seems, for over two hours, I was in a peaceful and pleasant piece of mind, but the minute that happened, it ruined it for me. I felt bad. I felt bad for this father for being so untrustworthy. I felt bad for me because as a childless, unmarried man in my thirties, people make assumptions. And I feel bad for our society where we fear everyone until they have convinced us that they are okay.

We don’t talk to each other on buses or trains. We don’t make conversation when we walk or run by ourselves. And maybe it was the headphones – I know those things are a menace to social interactions.

Brian always smiles when I wave at someone on the street when we walk somewhere even when I don’t know them or how I say hello to anyone we pass. I try to smile at strangers because I like to smile. And in return, we always seem to meet interesting people who like to talk to us. We talked to a couple as we ferried across Lake Champlain. Some old ladies showed us all their favorite spots of a toy train showcase in Madison. We met a woman from St. Louis who traveled by herself to Salem, MA to relive her youth. And each of these encounters enhanced our experiences. We may not stay in touch with any of these people but they added something to my life for a few minutes and will always be in my head as people I have met. I have lots of stories of people doing this and making conversation with me and maybe it is because I try to be open to that possibility by not showing defensive maneuvers.

I guess I just wish more people would try that. Most people are good. And you never know what you may find out about someone. It could give you a whole new perspective on life.

So, though, this hurt me, I know it won’t change me. There are too many interesting people out there for me to change how I act based on people who live every day in fear. I hope others move past fear as well.

2014 Midterm Election

Vote-CountsBecause I occasionally opine on politics on this blog, I feel it prudent to display my affiliations and for whom I voted. With the election only a few days away, here is how I plan on voting. Things can change between now and then but I will outline why I am voting for the individuals below. If you are currently researching candidates, google “Sample Ballot”, type in your address, and get all the major races. In addition, look up the judges on the ballot and go here. I won’t discuss uncontested races – unless I’m not voting for anyone.

U.S. Senate – Richard Durbin (D)

There are few politicians who I believe honestly stand for something and work to get things done. You may disagree with his politics, but Sen. Durbin does his job. He has been elevated through the Senate to the whip position, which is incredibly important for a party, especially for one with divergent views. He was instrumental in getting the Affordable Care Act passed. He has spent his career in Washington fighting for issues that I believe in. There is no reason to kick Sen. Durbin from his position.

U.S. Representative – Janice Schakowsky (D)

Unlike Sen. Durbin, I believe Rep. Schakowsky is too partisan and a bit disconnected. She definitely fights for what she believes in but I am not a huge fan. There are a few things recently that I have liked that Rep. Schakowsky does. She has reached out to my community and meets with constituents each Wednesday at the public library. Mt. Prospect is notoriously conservative and I give her credit for making these appearances. I just wish she would use her seniority to push issues a little more and try to reach across the aisle a little better. Her opponent, Susanne Atanus, is unqualified for office and even if I didn’t agree with Rep. Schakowsky, I would be completely disavowing my patriotism to support her. I do hope that another Democrat runs for this seat to challenge Rep. Schakowsky in the next election though.

Illinois Governor/Lieutenant Governot – Pat Quinn and Paul Vallas (D)

GOV. QUINN
Governor Pat Quinn

Like Rep. Schakowsky, Governor Quinn is not on my list of favorite politicians. I don’t believe he has a back bone or that he can stand up for anything. I also would like to support his opponent, Bruce Rauner, but I cannot for three reasons: the recent Sun-Times story, personality, and guns. First, the recent story that a Sun-Times reporter was put on leave when he wrote a negative story about Rauner prior to the newspaper reversing a recent decision not to endorse political candidates to endorse Rauner makes me question the ethics of Rauner. If this story is even slightly true, we have had enough egomaniacs in the Governor’s mansion. The reporter has hired a respected former prosecutor as his attorney in this case and I have to believe this attorney would not take the case if there wasn’t at least a decent amount of support. This moves in with the personality aspect. Rauner seems to fit in with Governors Scott Walker, Rick Scott, Paul LePage, and Chris Christie as strong-willed Republicans who don’t care what you think as long as they get their way. I don’t go for that Machiavellian approach to government, especially in a state where we already have a megalomaniac running the state house. I don’t like his answers to questions regarding what he will do or his themes. I have read his issue pages on his website and besides getting rid of the tax increases and hoping for increased productivity, he doesn’t have a plan. And the plans he does have, haven’t worked anywhere else. No one likes tax increases, but this state has no revenue currently and the lowest income tax rate in the area. If the income tax was better structured, the other taxes could be modified to encourage businesses and homeowners to stay in Illinois. Last, I believe that the states are the best arena to honestly enact rational gun control. I want an assault weapon ban and a high capacity clip ban. Rauner supports neither of these and Quinn does. My vote is mainly against Rauner instead of for Quinn. In the last two elections, I voted for the Green candidate, but this year the Greens didn’t put anyone on the ballot – and I’m not voting for the libertarian when even the Chicago Tribune said not to waste a vote on them.

Attorney General – Lisa Madigan (D)

Not my favorite family, but she has done nothing to warrant an expulsion from her position. This will be a common theme in the next few.

Secretary of State – Jesse White (D)

Including with his tumblers, Secretary White appears to do a good job. There is no reason to change this politician.

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Judy Baar Topinka

Comptroller – Judy Baar Topinka (R)

She seems to have done a good job and though Sheila Simon seems like a good person, I don’t see a reason why Topinka should not be re-elected. I also saved her from hurting herself at the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee back in 2006 when she tripped on a stair.

Treasurer – Tom Cross (R)

This is an open seat because current Treasurer Dan Rutherford tried to run for Governor, lost the primary, and had some weird sexual harassment allegations brought against him. This is the race I have done the most research on because both candidates seem very qualified. This is also the only race where my vote may change in the closing days. Both want to close the office of treasurer and merge it with the Comptroller, which I believe to be important. I watched the forum. And it is close. I like both of them, but I think Cross has a bit more experience in Springfield, and I believe that to be a bonus. I hope Mr. Frerichs runs for another statewide office soon. He seems very bright and I would support him in my other roles, but unfortunately for him, I have to support his opponent. If Cross does not work to eliminate his office in these four years, he will be out of a job.

State Senator – No vote

Although Sen. Matt Murphy is running unopposed, I am not voting for him for one main reason. I wrote a very personal letter to him regarding marriage equality asking him to consider his vote carefully. I did not expect him to change his vote but I expected a response. I have written letters to many politicians, most recently: Sen. Kirk, Sen. Durbin, President Obama, and Rep. Peter Roskam. I voted for three out of the four of these people when they first ran, but after Rep. Roskam responded to my letter, even though we disagree on just about everything, I believed he, at least, tried to response to his constituents, no matter what they believed. I respect that. I have no respect for Sen. Murphy.

State Representative – No vote

Similary, I wrote a letter to Rep. Harris, who is also running unopposed, regarding marriage equality. I also received no response. I have no respect for Rep. David Harris and hope that someone runs against him and Sen. Murphy in the next election.

Assessor – No vote

Joe Berrios is everything that is wrong with Chicago politics and Illinois politics, I have never voted for him and even though I don’t live in the district, gave money to the opponent running for a state house seat against his daughter. The opponent won – I was happy. I will never vote for a Berrios.

Commisioner, 9th District – Peter Silvestri (R)

Commissioner Silvestri appears to be a good person to have on the board. He knows the county well and though I may not agree with him on everything, it is good to have divergent voices on the county board. I see no reason not to re-elect him.

Commissioner, Water Reclamation Districts – Avila (D), Santos (D), Schumann (R)

This is always just a crap shoot. I usually look at endorsements and any questionnaires that candidates filled out. One rule I have: I never vote for anyone who doesn’t fill out the questionnaire. So though the Tribune endorsed Tim Bradford, he didn’t respond to the Daily Herald’s questions, so he’s out. Otherwise, it looks like Santos, Avila, and Schumann are the endorsements in the papers and all three seem like fine water people.

Judge, 12th Subcircuit – James Kaplan (D)

According to the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, James Pieczonka (though I have seen lots of yard signs) is not qualified. His opponent is qualified. Seems simple.

voteJudge Retention – Cook County

I use voteforjudges.org.

Any judge that has any NO, I vote no. If any group believes that an individual is not qualified, I don’t want that person as a judge. So I will will vote no on:

Thomas E. Flanagan

Themis N. Karnezis

James L. Rhodes

Laura Marie Sullivan

Joan E. Powell

Pamela Elizabeth Loza

Annie O’Donnell

But I Got New Glasses

I wanted to get moisturizer, not new glasses. I had dry skin over my left eye, which by the end of the morning became the least concerning part about my left eye. While at Walgreens, I also picked up a birthday card for my cousin and a tea I like. I still need to mail the birthday card. And I feel pretty lucky that I get that opportunity.

I usually am incredibly cautious because people drive too fast. I sometimes turn right instead of turning left. But I didn’t on Thursday. And I was never more scared in all my life. I remember seeing the car right before impact and it did look just like it does in the movies. I remember screaming but I have no idea if I blacked out for a period of time.

I remember seeing a woman in my doorway with a second person behind her and a man sitting in my passenger seat. All three were yelling at me to not move. They told me I was in a really bad accident and the other guy was going really fast. But that the police and the ambulance were on their way. I could hear the sirens, so I knew they were telling the truth. It all went by very quickly.

I couldn’t see.

I wanted to call my parents, I wanted to call Brian, and I ended up calling work to tell them I wasn’t coming in. I remember saying, “I need to hang up – the police are yelling at me.”

I had a neck brace on and was carried out of my car. I had no idea what it looked like. I just knew that the car I bought fourteen months ago may not live to see another birthday, but that it allowed me one. I cried a lot. I was incredibly scared. I am still incredibly scared.

I’m still here. I’m okay. A few bruises.

And new glasses where I look like Woody Allen in Annie Hall and the tall guy Nelson mocks in an episode of The Simpsons. My new glasses keep my identity as Superman a secret. I cannot play the guitar like Buddy Holly because of the new glasses.

 

I’m having a rough time with all of this still, which is why I’m typing this. My biggest concern is that I never, ever get into another car accident. If you are driving behind me and you are wishing I would go, just slow down. You have nowhere to be. No one cares if you’re a few minutes late. Second, I need to focus on the things I enjoy doing and actually work on my novel. Third, continue to put the things that are actually important ahead of those things that are not. Fourth, stop making excuses. Fifth, be really really careful in a car.

Thank you to all my friends and family that sent messages, called me, or gave me thoughtful presents.

I hopefully will be putting more on this. See you here – with my new glasses.

 

 

 

Game of Thrones – Swords and Sandals Soap

I have not watched all of Game of Thrones. In fact, I end up falling asleep during most episodes due to its pacing. But when I do stay awake, I notice a similar set of beats. Brian wasn’t happy to hear it but I compared Game of Thrones to All My Children and other daytime soaps. The biggest difference is the language, nudity, violence, and the setting. But though they seem like big differences, they are not.

Let’s start with All My Children or As The World Turns, which are the two soaps I watched before they got cancelled. They have similar set-ups. There are groups of powerful families that are in powerful positions or run portions of the town. The Martin family in Pine Valley runs the hospital. You had the Chandlers, who were led by the patriarch Adam, an entrepreneur who had more money than he could do with but the sexual appetite of a 19 year old boy up until the end. You had the Kanes, which had a tie to acting and Hollywood, but over the years, Erica became the matriarch who wooed just about every person in town and married about half of the powerful men. But the marriages were not always about love. They generally revolved around revenge and power and intrigue. Because that is what people like to watch. Think of any soap opera you want whether it be primetime or daytime. Dallas had family fighting. Dynasty had family fighting. All for power. For control over something that really doesn’t make any sense except to the characters in the piece. Don’t get me wrong. This is drama generally. Shakespeare used all the same tropes, so I can’t just say family power struggles and end the argument.

My next point is more storytelling focused. Soap operas have to run five days a week, so they have large casts and multiple storylines. Usually in one episode, three or four storylines will get screen time cut into two or three minute segments and then the next day, one or two of those storylines may take a day off while we check in with other characters. Game of Thrones must hire all of England to be on the show. There are so many characters. Unlike soaps, it only has thirteen episodes each year so you would think with such a broad cast that they would be giving short shrift to characters (and they do). In the episode I watched last night, there was about six storylines, half of them basically got one or two short scenes with the other three getting the remainder of the episode, as if to remind you that these characters exist. There was brooding and sex and blood and more brooding. Lots of whispers that entailed blackmail. Lots of anger towards other characters. But I think the biggest fault of the show is that they rely on you to do some research and get outside knowledge. There are reasons that some of these characters are acting in certain ways and I can’t tell you what they are. I can assume the books, which are about 1,000 pages each, help with that. But the motivations sometimes feel petty – which is how all motivations seem on soaps.

Game of Thrones Cast
Game of Thrones

My next point is strange character developments and reveals. Maybe it is because I have watched so many soap opera episodes, but every time they introduce a new character on Game of Thrones, I try to figure out who they are related to. All My Children would try to introduce characters who were not family members but they rarely stuck around. But if you brought in a mysterious character who turned out to be someone’s son! Jackpot! For example, back in the 1970s, Erica Kane had an abortion. This was a huge deal at the time because abortion was not a television topic. So, what do they do? In the early 2000s, they introduce a dark brooding man and his father, who is the doctor who performed Erica’s abortion. And low and behold, despite science not making this make any sense at all, the dark brooding man was actually Erica’s son. The child was not aborted! Make any sense? Of course not. But you didn’t see that coming! And you were able to tie that person to the history of the show. In the episode of Game of Thrones I watched with Brian last night, there were two characters who were revealed to be related to other characters. There were more characters trying to make sexual advancements that involved siblings. Mind you, there was a little weirdness between Erica’s newly found son and her newly found daughter (the child of when Erica was raped that she gave away for adoption but who came back) that seemed a bit incestual but that all went away once they knew they shared blood. But incest is basically one of three types of relationships on Games of Thrones.

I will call this a digression…And with that, let’s talk about rape. Soap operas love rape storylines. No idea why. Very few characters seem to not be raped on soap operas, so when I saw headlines a few weeks ago about how a character could never be redeemed because they raped someone on Game of Thrones, it tied to this piece very easily. Rape also is popular amongst comic book writers. And it is all disgusting. I have no idea why any writer wants to use this trope so often but they do. There are very few things as brutal on television as rape. Even death can be taken back on television. Murder can be taken back on television. But rape cannot. Downtown Abbey did rape this year – another soap that parades as high drama. So, besides the fact that here is another similarity – can we move past rape storylines or at least use them to teach a lesson and not just shock? Back on topic…

But in conclusion, since I have not seen all of the show, here is a list of soap opera tropes that are very familiar to me. Help me figure out if they are all used on Game of Thrones or add more tropes if you can think of them.

  • Amnesia
  • Evil twin
  • Dead but not dead
  • Coma
  • Wrecked weddings
  • Fake pregnancies
  • If you’re shown in a car, you’re wrecking said car.
  • Blackmail
  • In love with your partner’s sibling
  • But I’m your son/daughter!
  • Murder mysteries
  • Underbelly crime syndicates
  • Horrible natural disasters that affect parties

None of this is to judge the quality of the show. I love soap operas and wish All My Children was still on TV. In this article from Wired, they looked at demographics of Game of Thrones. It has a sizable female audience, with a 50/50 split in regards to social media presence. Yes, it is violent, but it hits a nerve in regards to emotion and drama and intrigue that soap operas and melodrama has used for a very long time. So, there is something about the structure of this show that appeals to men and women. People have always loved melodrama. And it is really interesting that Game of Thrones looks and feels like a soap opera. It actually makes me more interested and maybe less likely to fall asleep…just try to get Susan Lucci to guest star.

Check out the DVD opening versus the opening to All My Children. It’s pretty funny how similar they are: turn, stare, stand, walk, leaf, background, wealth.