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  1. I begin to understand.

    When I lived in Berlin, I lived amongst the remains of WWII. Not just the physical remains in the form of buildings and memorials, but in the ideological remains because the job I did there answered to 1950's paradigms. I was one of the last to receive an Army of Occupation medal for my time at Tempelhof.

    I was a kid, in my early 20's. I didn't have the presence of mind to understand where I was and what I was doing there. It was a job, and it had many aspects to it that made me feel like I was doing astounding things, all which was hush-hush, of course.

    The Germans I knew were fun, vivacious, alive, handsome. They were friendly and outgoing. My pal Bob and I would go to clubs and party with Berliners in their homes, invited and welcomed.

    It wasn't possible for me to reconcile this Berlin, these people, with what had happened here only 50 years prior because when you're only 20 years old, 50 years in the past may as well be 500. There was no way for me to canalize the knowledge that I regularly walked along sidewalks where firing squads once mowed people down for their religion. I knew it, but I didn't know it. I didn't have the receptors to engage it and acknowledge it and digest it. I was too young and unformed and tragically egocentric.

    Most of all, there was no way for me to even begin to grasp how that story started, how the first page of that novel could possibly lead to the last page without someone ripping it in half along the spine and yelling NO! You even hear some people say things today like "Well, if the Jews/Gays/Poles/{fill in the dead of your choice} had been worthier opponents, they should have fought back. They died because they were weak."

    You've heard people say that. You know you have.

    I don't care if you're rolling your eyes at my Godwin. Sometimes a Godwin is all that's left. Sometimes it's what's actually happening. And it's happening. And I'm beginning to understand how that novel gets written. I'm beginning to understand how Page 1 leads to Page 10 leads to Page 50, etc. It happens because we let it happen. It happens because the thing feels too big, too far away, too untouchable. It happens because we don't want to believe that we're in that novel until it's too late to deny it anymore.

    It happens because no one ever believes it could possibly happen where they live, where they are, in their life, with everything around them to prevent it. Every time something like this happens, that's a big part of it. It's not possible to happen here. Are you crazy? This isn't Nazi Germany. Stop with the hyperbole already.

    It's a cliché to say those things. You know it is. And as writers, you know how a cliché becomes a cliché.

    I lived in what had been Nazi Germany. I lived in a building, Tempelhof Flughafen, that was the epitome of Nazi Era Architecture. Huge. Imposing. Mythic in its stature. I walked the tunnels underneath the building and was shown where the fighter aircraft were stored and sometimes constructed. I saw the 50+ year-old Reichsadler placards that were still in place from that impossible time. In two places it's carved in relief on the walls, like Egyptian hieroglyphic art, meant to last an eternity.

    The evidence was all around me that this did happen, but I couldn't make it be real in my head. I slept in a room, every night - fourth floor, H2 Long, Room 408 - that was once the office of an SS officer. But that was illogical. My friends were so friendly and kind and educated. These couldn't possibly be the people who would have let something like that happen. Not them. They would never.

    But it did, and I begin to understand how.

  2. First and foremost, this is new for me. I'm not that person. I usually keep my mouth shut when people talk about their trials and tribulations with depression, anxiety, etc. because there's an admittedly ungenerous part of me that is whispering "Man the fuck up and quit your fucking griping". There's a part of my brain that feels people have gotten too invested in shopping around for that one doctor who will diagnose away all their responsibility and accountability with a neat little phrase from the DSM-V and a bottle of Pfizer's latest panacea. It's not a pretty admission, but it's a truth about me. I have a cousin who's got a slip of paper for any occasion you can think of. She sold her adulthood for a life of bottom wrung leisure. It's all provided for her. She doesn't have to do shit. I've got my own baggage, like anyone, and it's the kind of baggage that easily qualifies in most peoples' mind as "Oh, poor thing. Cut him some slack. Just imagine having to deal with that." But I don't let that be who I am.

    But this past week of uncertainty and confusion. Seeing the political red cape being being waved in front of the zeitgeistian snout, knowing that it's a ruse, a feint, misdirection; looking to see whence truly comes the sword.

    Everyone says, "Just wait. Give him a chance."

    Easy enough to say when you have no stakes in what's happening. I'm gay. I'm Latino. This isn't academic. This is very likely going to affect me directly. And not just in an "Oh, I don't agree with that" sort of way, but in an "Here are the new restrictions that directly affect the way you live your day to day life" sort of way.

    You know the feeling if you've ever had it. Just below your sternum, at the top of your belly, three inches into the middle of your torso. That knot of worms that won't let you sleep. That.

    I once had a close brush with the law when I was young, and not in a small way. I lucked out and came away from that event without it hurting me and a whole lot wiser about who I let into my close circle. But before I knew that I was going to be okay, when it was still very much up in the air, it's the only other time in my life that I felt this way, ever.
  3. Last night there was a car accident in front of the condos where William and I live. Our condo is situated close to the entry control point, so when these things happen, we can hear them quite clearly. They happen with unfortunate frequency because people park along the side of the main road that passes in front, blocking the view of those attempting to head out from the complex. It doesn't help that Puerto Ricans are typically balls deep in their cellphones as they drive, even though you can be cited here for doing that. William's gotten three such tickets.

    No one paying attention, distracted, and people blocking the view.

    From my living-room balcony, the accident sounds like America.
  4. I've been fascinated by this guy's videos since first coming across them a few years ago. He is the master of show vs. tell. Not a single word spoken. Not one. There are plenty of other channels with people showing similar skills and they natter on insistently, clearly enamored of the sound of their own voices.

    I have to admit that I find this guy profoundly attractive.

    He's not going to grace the cover of any fashion magazine or walk any runway in this autumn's collection from D&G. He's just a wee wiry lad. Doesn't look like he's taller than five flat. His physique looks work-earned, not gym-gotten.

    His silence is mesmerizing. I am captivated by its rarity. I could spend a week in the woods with this fellah', never speaking a word, letting him show me what he does, and consider it the best therapy ever. I may need to create a character based on him, at least in part.

    Homer Potvin likes this.
  5. "Merry Christmas," said Jane with a bright smile, passing Tom in the office hallway.

    "Thanks, Jane. Happy holidays to you and yours," replied Tom with equal cheer.

    Three steps later, Jane began to mull Tom's response. She had said "Merry Christmas", so why didn't Tom say the same thing back? Does he not like Christmas? Is there a problem with saying Merry Christmas? Jane glanced around, suddenly concerned. Is my religion a problem at the office now, she thought to herself. Am I not allowed to say Merry Christmas? Will I get fired? That's crazy. I shouldn't get fired for saying Merry Christmas. No one should. I can't believe they fire people here for saying Merry Christmas. My rights are are totally being taken from me. These people are crushing me. Jane started to cry in genuine fear for her job. She tapped on the office door of her friend, Peter.

    "Come in," came the response from Peter's office.

    "Peter, you won't believe what just happened to me in the hallway. There IS a war!"