Yesterday was Thanksgiving here in the USA. If you’re reading this at another time of the year, that’s okay as long as you accompany the essay with some leftover turkey. It can be deli turkey. I know getting an entire roast turkey in June is difficult.
I’m grateful for a lot of things, in both November and June. The rest of the year? I sway between (1) utter disdain for my circumstance and acquaintances and (2) disdain that is slightly less utter. But today, given the crisp fall or drippy summer air, I’m feeling especially reflective. That’s probably just the sweat and turkey grease giving me a healthy sheen.
But in addition to being glossy, I’m also thinking back on the year and all the things for which I’m grateful. I’ll share a few with you here.
“If you wrote something a while back, but haven’t written anything lately, you’re not a writer. You’re someone who has written.”
I heard someone say this online recently. I thought it was odd that this unfamiliar dude would call me out personally in front of everyone like that. Typical anonymous internet sources, always being jerks.
He had a point, though. Writing is like playing a sport. I used to play football, many decades ago when I was young and my thick skull could take the trauma. But to call myself a football player today would be a massive stretch, and let’s face it: my 46-year-old groin isn’t that flexible. It’d be more accurate to say I have played football, in the present perfect tense. I know that’s the present perfect tense because, as one who has written, I have studied the intricacies of English grammar. And, accordingly, I have been fun at parties. Even with my inflexible, aging groin.
“I’m pretty sure no one here has a single clue as to what they’re doing.”
Somewhere between the third and eighth security check, my negativity went from frustration to sadness to anger. It made scheduled on-time stops at “what the fuck?” and “you’ve got to be kidding me!” I’m immensely familiar with both neighborhoods.
I had arrived in Kenya a few weeks earlier with the rehearsed acceptance of an intellectual, tolerant liberal. “Their way is not wrong or right, it’s just different!” I’d tell myself at the first, second, and four-hundredth illogical inconvenience. And I’d traveled enough to know that each one of those illogical inconveniences was lining up in anticipation of my arrival.
I came from the air-conditioned, 246-years-removed-from-colonization Land of the Free. I’m a white man from a country—and planet—where white men historically get their way, and my expectations of “how things ought to be” are often just thinly-veiled privilege.
My name is Rickey, and I’m a garbage person.
You could interpret that in any number of ways. You could think I mean that I’m a sanitation worker. Maybe you’re an elderly Yiddish woman and think I’m a golem.
Perhaps you’re from my old stompin’ grounds and think I’m telling you that I’m “white trash.” Look, just because I do my grocery shopping at a truck stop, and I do my Christmas shopping also at a truck stop, that doesn’t mean you can disparage my people. Continue reading
Let me preface what I’m about to write with a caveat: I don’t have a daughter. I don’t have children at all. At least not human children. I have a four-legged permatoddler (dog) named Lemmy. But you’ll be relieved to know that there are no little Rickeys running around, and for that, you should all take a moment to thank the deity of your choice.
Caveat issued. Now onto the part that will piss some of you off.
Hey dads with daughters, I’d like to bend your ear for a second. Continue reading
“Like a castle in his corner in a medieval game, I foresee terrible trouble and I stay here just the same.” – Steely Dan, “Dirty Work”
Fact 1: Steely Dan is named after a sex toy.
Fact 2: That song is about a guy feeling used, and stuck, in a relationship where he’s the side dude. (Is “side dude” the male equivalent of “side chick?” I am not up with the permutations of today’s lingo, probably because I say shit like “permutations” and “lingo.”)
Fact 3: It’s an apt and poetic way to describe the feeling of knowing you’re doing wrong while standing in to witness the impending doom you’ve participated in creating. Continue reading
Today, I woke up in an apartment that was built by other people. The apartment is owned by a person I’ve never met.
I drove a car built by other people on a road built and paid for by other people.
I listened to news researched and presented to me by other people. I switched over to some tunes, which were written and performed and broadcast by other people. Continue reading
I take it for granted that I have a relatively outgoing personality. I don’t really stop and consider that through a fortunate combination of DNA and upbringing, it doesn’t faze me to stand in front of people and talk. My grandparents and parents did a good job of holding me accountable for making eye contact, speaking at a volume that could be heard, enunciating, and giving firm handshakes. Continue reading
You probably tune out when the flight attendants do their choreographed safety dance about exit doors and oxygen masks. I do, too. As I recently heard a man at 7-Eleven say to his lady over the phone, “Listen, you tell him if he gone kill me, come kill me. I ain’t afraid to die. I don’t want to die, but I ain’t afraid to.” You and me both, sir. You and me both. Continue reading
I rarely feel anxiety anymore, at least not to the level that it affects my day-to-day life. I stress the word “anymore,” because for much of my life, my stomach was in a knot. As a sophomore in high school, I threw up almost daily. It wasn’t because I was physically sick. It was because my stress outpaced my coping mechanisms.