Tag Archives: America

My Privilege

A friend of mine recently accused me of being privileged for my being white. Here is a list of things I am privileged for:

  • I am privileged for being forgiven in the eyes of Christ, because I do not deserve to be.
  • I am privileged for being born in the greatest country in history, because some are not.
  • I am privileged for being able to look beyond the color of skin, because some cannot.
  • I am privileged to have been raised in a family that loves, because some are raised hating.
  • I am privileged to have been an alcoholic, so I may appreciate sobriety.
  • I am privileged to have been homeless, so I may appreciate shelter.
  • I am privileged to have gone bankrupt, so I may appreciate money.
  • I am privileged to have known loneliness, so I may appreciate friendship.
  • I am privileged to have known heartache, so I may appreciate healing.
  • I am privileged to have been incarcerated, so I may appreciate freedom.
  • I am privileged to be single, so I may appreciate relationships.
  • I am privileged to know failure, so I may appreciate success.
  • I am privileged to have traveled the country, so I may appreciate liberty.
  • I am privileged to have been a dishwasher, so I may appreciate good jobs.
  • I am privileged to have been kicked out of school, so I may appreciate learning.
  • I am privileged to know how to read, so I may appreciate history.
  • I am privileged to know how to write, so I may appreciate the written word.
  • I am privileged to have health, so I may appreciate my body.
  • I am privileged to ride my bicycle, so I may appreciate my driver’s license.
  • I am privileged to know hard work, so I may appreciate a paycheck.
  • I am privileged to have gone hungry, so I may appreciate food.
  • I am privileged to have gone thirsty, so I may appreciate cold water.
  • I am privileged to have slept in subways, so I may appreciate warm beds.
  • I am privileged to have known mercy, so I may appreciate compassion.
  • I am privileged to have prayed with the hurting, so I may appreciate peace.
  • I am privileged to have known destitution, so I may appreciate my blessings.
  • I am privileged to have understood death, so I may appreciate life.
  • I am privileged to ride the public bus, so I may appreciate cars.
  • I am privileged for my meager possessions, so I may appreciate the less fortunate.
  • I am privileged for my talents, so I may appreciate my weaknesses.
  • I am privileged for being born, so I may appreciate the world around me.
  • I am privileged for understanding hard times, so I may appreciate victory.
  • I am privileged to have known brokenness, so I may appreciate wholeness.
  • I am privileged to be able to read my bible, so I may appreciate religious freedom.
  • I am privileged to be able to speak my mind, so I may appreciate free speech.
  • I am privileged to be mental, so I may appreciate sanity.
  • I am privileged to stop writing this post, so I may appreciate free will.
  • I am privileged after all.
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Here’s to the Greatest Speech.

Trifecta week eighty-nine: Write a 33-333 word story using weak as your prompt. Authors note: Please read my story before watching the video! I do believe this old clip is one of the most inspiring speeches I have ever heard…it’s worth watching. 

My friend Charlie brought hope to millions that day. I call him friend but in reality we never met. I happened to be sitting a few rows behind him when he stood nervously and gave the greatest speech my ears had ever heard. Sometimes when the burden of life and lust swarm the confines of my heart I will close my eyes and think back to those years long gone, years that are dissolving from my memory like ink on paper, slowly fading with age. I smile when I picture that little fella standing on trembling knees with the courage of a lion coursing through his bloodstream.

Before entering the arena I overheard pompous aristocrats call his arguments weak and his ideals outdated. They called him foolish as they smoked their cigars and drank their brandy. They mocked his stature and with forked tongues they poked fun at his appearance.

I watched him with hope. I had just returned from the front lines and my morale was desperately low. I was tired of witnessing hatred and listening to evil men spew wickedness from the depths of their rotted mouths. He was sitting patiently for his turn to speak. His head was bowed slightly and his eyes appeared closed, as if praying for the strength to declare to the world what he felt in his soul.

My friend took the stage and silenced the naysayers. My friend walked bravely up the platform and melted the crowd with his first sentence. His words echoed out of the speakers on that crisp afternoon and if I listen hard enough I can still hear them, I can still see tears falling from blank faces, and when my memory does not fail, I can smell victory over gunpowder.


Life as a fictional character.


I don’t know which is harder to endure, sitting still and watching life fly by in a haphazard whirlwind of confusion or getting on your blistered, war ravaged feet day after day and traversing towards that mysterious goal you set out to accomplish. I don’t know which is more heartbreaking, remaining stagnant where you stand, hoping for something to come your way to lift your spirits or leaving what is familiar, what is safe and what you know will be there when you open your eyes the next morning. I cannot bear to stand these quandaries.

Sometimes I wonder if every human is confronted with perpetual crossroads, if the decisions we have to make are merely a cosmic joke told by the Grand Jokester to keep things interesting, or they actually mean something important and are not to be taken lightly. I always felt that my life is akin to a never-ending maze of sharp corners and wicked speed bumps followed by tumultuous alleyways and finally rounded off by a series of burning rings that I must jump through. I don’t mean to be dramatic. I don’t mean to sound as if my life is harder than anyone here in the audience and to be honest I am not even voicing a trivial complaint. I think it’s alright to question the cosmos once or twice. Hell, the only bad question is the one that’s never asked.

I guess it would be nice to saunter down that smooth, cobble-stoned walkway once every few months or so, just to be reminded that life doesn’t always have to be a sharp kick in the ass. The first twenty-nine years of my life I convinced myself that hard times make you tough, make you strong and that it will put hair on your chest. I usually welcome those moments when I go face-to-face with the gods and clash my sword against their shields and listen to the metallic ring of victory. But there are times I don’t wish to do battle because I do not want to put up a fight.

I am thirty now and I am tough. On a good day I am strong, and there is too much hair on my chest, I shave it once and awhile but it grows back thicker and will itch like something else so I let it grow ginzo style because I know women love hairy men.

Please do not misunderstand where I am trying to come from. I don’t want an easy life. I never wanted the path of least resistance because without some of the trials and tribulations I would not be the man I am today. Personally I don’t envy those boys and girls who never know what it’s like to have hardships. It certainly gives you a much better perspective on adulthood and you’re more apt to appreciate the things you do have in this world.

They say it’s about choices. It’s all about choices and nothing else. What about circumstances? What about luck? What about all that bullshit I hear about parents abandoning their children? What about poverty? Disease? Handicaps? Addictions? Are not all these factors somewhat involved with the so-called choices we make? I can’t sit here and write to you people and tell you I have stood my ground and avoided stupidity like one avoiding an avalanche. Because it would be untruthful and it would contradict the mission that has been ingrained in my heart to help those suffering.

I make dumb decisio’s every day.

My point is I want to be at peace with myself. Even for one week. For one week I want to roll out of bed with gusto and smell the flowers and all that malarkey. I want to throw open the bedroom door and inhale deeply and whistle my ass into the shower. I want to have breakfast with a beautiful woman who thinks I am the greatest creature in the universe. I need the life that Lyle Lovett was singing about when he croaked over cream in his coffee and flour tortillas and Sunday mornings and how his chick knew him better than anyone else. That’s the life I secretly wish for.

But I am a fictional character. There is a curse to those of us who sit down and scribe our thoughts and musings and tell tales of grandeur. When you spend most of your time inventing worlds of make-believe and the entire goings on involved with said world, you can accept your talent and bask in the god-like glory of being the mastermind behind every masterpiece your nimble fingers create…or you can become depressed because the lives you invent are not reality. They are figments of another place and another time, and if you dwell on them too long, you may wind up sitting in a padded room while brutish nurses feed you horse tranquilizers and your hair grows old and grey. By that time no self-respecting American women will have you.

Yet there is a certain glory to it all. There is a sense of accomplishment and peacefulness. There is a part of me that loves to create and to fantasize and to make pretend. I guess this is what helps me stay young and sane and in-tune with my Zen-like nature. As someone who fabricates stories I have many characters running around the confines of my skull and they are all pushing and shoving and vying for position. Each one serves a purpose, each one was created at a certain low point in my life, and sometimes they cannot be found when I am in dire straits to help assuage those hard choices I mentioned earlier.

I think this is where most of us writers go awry and become unfulfilled. We spend hours upon hours pretending to live in the stories we write. We daydream about living out the lives we give our protagonists and all the while neglect our own realities. I won’t speak for all of you, but I know that when I come to a proverbial fork in the road, I will shut my eyes and seek advice from someone I created, yes I am fully aware of how it sounds, but I don’t care, because I know some of you will understand where I am coming from. I think most people do this type of meditation but are too afraid to admit it.

I travel often. I am what they call a drifter, a hopeless wanderer, a man who searches when his heart cries out for something new. I drove across America last year and spent three months on the road. I loved it dearly and managed to come up with several wonderful ideas for novels. Adventure makes me feel whole. When I feel my feet sinking into the sands of monotony I pack my meager belongings into boxes and move on. I will be leaving my residence shortly to regain something I had lost over the past several months. I will take those characters with me and they shall comfort me when darkness creeps over the vastness of earth and eclipses the sun.

Forks and crossroads.

They can be friend and they could be foe. But it’s just a matter of perspective. Isn’t it?    


Trifecta challenge: The Ring between her fingers

Trifextra week seventy-seven: Write a 33 word story based around these words: ring, water, stage.

Anna twirled the diamond ring between her fingers before dropping his token of lust in a glass of warm lemon water. She would marry him-but her true love waited hopelessly behind the stage.

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Trifecta Challenge: Jonathan’s cane

Trifecta week eighty-six: Write a 33-333 word response using the third definition of the word “crack” as your prompt. *This story was nominated as the Second Place winner for the week! 🙂

Haunting echoes of plastic striking wooden floor beams reverberated throughout Jonathon’s humble abode. Each step was taken in doubt, every inch he progressed was a shot in the dark, it was the blind leading the proverbial blind.

Sofa on the left, chest on the right, move forward three yards and it should be there. He had to remind himself where everything was placed. His aide, a young woman with a soft angelic voice, explained the layout. The sight was gone, but the memory, that wickedly deceiving memory was sharp as the Nautilus. Three, two, one…bingo. The starched cuff on Jonathon’s flannel retreated from his wrist as he leaned forward to grab the window frame. Using his sense of touch he carefully searched for locks. When his arthritic fingers located the small mechanisms he unlatched them and opened the window. Fresh air hovered around his face and he inhaled the scent of wildflowers and pine needles. He inhaled deeply. Invigoration took control and memories swirled about his brain.

With a great sigh he bowed his head and imagined walking out of rehab and into the world below his room. Smells like urine around here. But out there, deep in the wilderness, smells like freedom. Go ahead, who’s going to stop you?

He couldn’t. He had made a promise to her.

Keeping his hands on the chilled glass he felt the crack in one of the panes. Have to stop losing your temper champ because it doesn’t do you any good to get upset. It was dull to the touch yet threatened to slice skin if one prodded too much. Jonathon ran a thumb over it hoping to feel something familiar. He was desperate for anything to remind him he was alive. He pressed down harder and waited for blood to flow.

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The Trumpets of Jericho: The first letter

Authors note: On September 1, 1939 Adolph Hitler thrust the world into World War II by advancing his armies into Poland. Two days later Britain and France declared war on Nazi Germany. This is a fictional account of a woman from Kansas who was called to help the Jewish peoples residing in Poland. This is the first of many letters she wrote home. Music to Read by: “Barber: Adagio for Strings, Op 11” David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra.

2 September 1939

My Bartholomew,   

   Hello my love, I wish I could bring you wonderful news of my stay here in Poznan, but darling I cannot do such a thing, at least in these dark times. The Germans have done the unthinkable and have entered our beloved country. Last night they came across the border unannounced and certainly unprovoked, Although miles away, we heard planes diving through the sky. The people here are fleeing for safety and I am so very terrified…my Polish is limited, but horror in the eyes is a language anyone can understand. And most of the locals are filled with it, including myself. Oh! How I wish you were very near to me right now my sweet, sweet Bartholomew! I need your strong arms wrapped around my waist, I need you to pray for the safety of these poor creatures. They are still scarred from the first war, I am afraid all the progress they have made these past twenty years is all for naught. The men in  the village have been up all night discussing ways to defeat the invaders without the aid of their own army! They are very brave, but I don’t think they are talking practical. I believe it was a rather serendipitous time for the Lord to send me here to help, the small villages on the outskirts of town are filled with old men and young boys, one young man, the same age as our Thomas, rode all night on his horse to bring us news from the border. What I gathered from my translator is the Nazis have monsters made out of metal (I assume he meant tanks) rolling across the landscape, thousands of heavily armed troops, and blood, oh Lord, how he described the blood and destruction! Those poor souls, my heart is breaking as each hour passes, the boy, Jedrik is his name, is weary from his travels and the women are feeding him bread and sausages. But he is talking in a fury, the peasants are smoking pipes and listening with rapt attention. I cannot bear to look at their downtrodden faces, their eyes are empty, and I think so are their hearts. Some are drunk and yelling retribution, but many men are already defeated knowing the might of Hitlers military. Many Jews are here with us and how I love them so! Bartholomew, they are the most fearful. There is a man here by the name of Ezekiel, he received a letter from a relative in Munich last month, telling him of the dreadful things being done to his people in Germany. They cannot buy bread, or soap, their synagogues are being razed to the ground! Bartholomew can you imagine that happening at home in Kansas? Why, Mrs. Leroy would run those thugs out-of-state herself! But I am afraid it is happening here darling. What can I do for these people other than comfort and pray and bake pies? I know nothing of wars and armaments and peace treaties. If they were to hand me a gun I would be liable to shoot myself, or worse, my host family.

My love, I had to stop writing because we’ve moved from our house to a farm ten miles east. I am scared. Never in my life have I known such dark terror. We had heard horses galloping close by and Mirka and her twin brother Mirek went out to see what was happening, the Germans are coming Bartholomew, they are drawing near quickly so we have fled to a small church. I have come to the realization that you may never receive this letter of mine, you may never see me again my precious husband and how that hurts me so! What will become of my Thomas? Was it foolish to come here to help the Polish resettle? I am not so sure, but as always, I believe His hand will guide my little group. My mind is playing tricks on me, I think I hear gunfire in the distance. Little children are crying, men are dying because of the wickedness and greed of mankind. Innocent boys will go to their graves fighting for this small nation. Pray Bartholomew, tell our friends back home what is happening to the world…now I know I am not going mad, planes are flying overhead, dropping bombs! The noise is hell. I am looking at the people huddled around the dark tables, they are exhausted due to our long journey today. I don’t know where we are, I am too skittish to ask our translator. I feel very much alone now. What was I thinking love? I am a homemaker from a farm in Kansas, I thought I could change someones life. But maybe I am. There is a little girl sitting next to me  Her face has dirt smudged across her forehead, she is wearing a brown dress with a white apron. There’s a blue handkerchief in her hair, she must be no more than four. She is a Jew. How could anyone want to hurt such a precious child because of their heritage? This is madness, pure and simple madness! You know my anger is nonexistent, you know I wouldn’t hurt a fly, but now I want to hurt those Germans. May our Lord forgive me, but I am looking at this child, watching her watch me and I would risk my own hide for her. Do you remember the stray cat that managed to find its way into our chicken coop last year and caused all that trouble? Remember the broom I used to chase it away? That is how I feel now Bartholomew. I want to chase those horrible Nazis away from my roost.

They are such a peaceful people, farmers and bakers and homemakers like myself. They don’t want trouble anymore than we would want it at home. Things are quiet at the moment, but things are very tense, no one wants to make a sound and it is dreadful. The silence is downright dreadful, not that it matters because I could not communicate even if I wanted to. My rudimentary skills would not be appreciated at the moment, I am just waiting and listening. Waiting for someone to tell me what to do, listening for inevitable gunfire to erupt. You know how I bake when I am nervous? It sounds so silly but I wish I could bake something right now. Anything to keep the fear away from this small sanctuary. The men are arguing now over something, I think it has to do with us just sitting around. Luckily the women here are talking some bit of sense into them. I keep hearing the words “Jews” and “Nazis” and “death”. Oh, I think they want to banish the Jews from here! Bartholomew! This is such a devastating travesty! They’ve done nothing wrong! I must go now sweetheart. I must do something because things are quickly getting out of hand and I will not allow this to take place, not while I am here. I love you with all my heart, tell our son that I love him too. I will write as soon as I can…

      Love forever, Gracie 


Trifecta Challenge: Chasing Benedict

             

 Trifecta: Week Fifty-Nine write a 33-333 word essay/poem/story etc. using the word Intention as your prompt word. This short action/suspense story is my submission for the week, it is exactly 333 words. I hope you enjoy!

“Well sweet one, this is what we Americans call the last hurrah and I believe a toast’s in order! To those with perfect lives, or those under the illusion of perfection, I drink to you. But we must not forget the other creatures that grace the landscape of this planet, those bottom feeders, and those aptly titled plebeians. Their battle is for survival, they’re the lucky ones because they’ve unknowingly escaped the bewitching spell of vanity! I drink to fat stomachs and greedy souls who marginalize the poor and shove them into corners. I drink to you sweetheart. Your beauty is refreshing among all the ugliness in the world. Cheers!”

The belligerent man shot the warm tequila and wiped the remnants on his cheap windbreaker. He wrapped a fatty arm around the Spanish cupcake to his right, the one with the olive skin and nice legs, but she rebuffed his advance with a piercing gaze. Her rum and coke began to sweat through the glass, causing small drops of water to cascade down her fingers. She wiped her hand on a cocktail napkin and pretended to ignore his nonsensical diatribe.

“I’m sorry mi amor. I have no ulterior motives, no hidden agenda. My intention with you was nothing short of noble. I’m leaving this tropical nightmare tonight and you’ll never see me again. I was a good man once. You wouldn’t know it now, but there was a time… I understand you have no idea what I’m saying and that’s for the best. No one knows I’m here. They think I’m buried six feet underground talking to worms.”

She shrugged her shoulders without blinking and gave him a confused smile. He looked down at her large chest and was caught in the act. But she didn’t care; if he wasn’t the target she would let him have his way with her. He had stolen millions from her employers, and they had sent her to do the dirty work everyone else wanted to avoid.