what’s next

Blue Vesper is a year old now. Actually, a little more than that. I’m still feeling it out, and anyone who has read any of it, s/o and thank you.

For the past few months, I’ve been doing these aggregate posts full of articles from all over the internet. Those articles were primarily a coping mechanism for me in the wake of the election and inauguration of #45. It’s a cool thing that I’ve enjoyed, but I’ve been rethinking why I started and what is the best way to accomplish that goal.

Today, I started up a Tumblr at flyover.news. Now, instead of a single post at midnight or whenever the hell I have time, I’ll hopefully be shooting stuff out throughout the day. I’m hoping that a more fluid process will help me stay on it a bit better, and make it all come out in times that people can actually read it. If you’ve enjoyed these posts over here, you might like it over there.

I’m also rethinking what the future is of this blog. I’m finding that, while it’s really nice to have my own hosted space to write and such, platform is lacking. That could mean sacrificing autonomy for more ease-of-access and syndication to more people.

So keep this site in your routine. Or add it to your routine. But check out flyover.news, and smash that follow button.

Requiem for a cap

Almost every sports team I’ve ever followed is red.

Chicago Bulls. Cincinnati Reds (Atlanta Braves for a brief period). Louisville Cardinals.

I wear a lot of caps. I always have. I have very fine hair that never does what I want, and a fairly small head. I rarely leave the house without a ball cap on my head or in my bag. It’s my thing. I wear caps.

Over the years, many to most of them have been red. None of them have ever read “Make America Great Again”, and they never will. But that doesn’t matter.

Now, when I walk into a room, there is at least one person who stiffens, strains to see the inscription, calculating whether or not they may be in an unsafe place all of a sudden. Often these are friends. They know me. They know my political leanings. Yet there is still a guarded, shifty glance. Usually, among friends, it’s followed by a forced, un-funny joke.

Today, it doesn’t matter that I have an “I’m With Her” button on my bag, a Clinton/Kaine bumper sticker, a loud vocal opposition to the prez-elect and all that his movement represents, safety pins covering my body—my red cap screams over the yell, and people are scared. My cap now lies about me to people I care about.

So, I’ve put away my red caps. I’m glad to do it. But the reason for ridding myself of all red-caps is unsettling, for any number of reasons—not the least of which that clothing-named political movements, as a genre, aren’t very nice.

Trump or nah

Honestly, either way the election goes, Nov. 9, 2016 is going to be a release of tension. Elections stress me out. This one is no different. But it is worse.

Since the spring, I’ve been waking up in the middle of the night, my heart racing. I’ve spent whole days in a straight jacket of anxiety and stress. In our house, the name Donald Trump is off limits. I even tore the cover off an issue of the Atlantic, because having his face on my coffee table made me nauseous. The uncertainty of this election haunts my nights and days.

I’m what liberal pundits label a “bed-wetter.” Even as Trump seems to plummet in the polls, I find no comfort.

November 3, 2015, Matt Bevin—a carpet-bagging “Tea-Partier” from Connecticut—beat gubernatorial candidate Jack Conway in a landslide victory for Governor of Kentucky. Almost 9 points. All the way up to that election, he was given little chance of victory. In one year, his inflicted damage has been extensive.

June 23, 2016, the United Kingdom held a national referendum to decide whether or not to leave the European Union. Brexit was a thinly veiled alt-right nationalist movement reacting to a major influx of immigrants and refugees (of varying ethnicities) into the U.K. Its passage was a major shock to most of the political punditry, even if it wasn’t necessarily a problem of polling projection accuracy. Today, the Pound is down as low as it’s been in 30 years, Britain has no Prime Minister, the parliament is asking for foreigner registration, and international business is fleeing as fast as its money can carry it.

Forgive me if I continue my Depends regimen.

The nastier this election gets, the greater my anxiety. The more confident the pollsters, the faster my chest pounds at 4:30 in the morning for reasons. The deeper I ponder the possibility of a Trump Administration, the more the veneer of comic book dystopia becomes a permanent haze. The hope I had eight years ago is shifting into a deep sobriety of the duty I have to do my part in protecting this world from those who seek to do it harm.

So what would you have done in Germany, 1933? Turkey, 1915? China, 1966? What would you have done in Mississippi, 1964?

The thing is, before that time comes, it’s only a rhetorical exercise—at least for those of us who have spent our lives sheltered from such imminent political and cultural strife. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the time in which these considerations, these defining moments of cultural character, will soon be laid bare. In fact, it already has, and for many, it has been all along.

It certainly feels like the undeniable moment of truth will be on that Tuesday. On that day, we’ll know. And either way the election goes, our actions and words will matter more than they ever have.

Until then, I’ll keep waking up at 4:30a not so much afraid of who will be elected on the eighth, but of who I will have to be on the ninth.

wasting time

There’s a span of time in my day that is becoming increasingly hard to fill. As I grow older and less sociable (at least on a daily basis) I find myself often twiddling my thumbs from the time I stop working until dinner. Around 5pm, I shut down my work computer, and wonder what it is I should do now that I’m free from the chains of salary time. Sometimes it’s watching an episode of Seinfeld. Sometimes it’s a hike. Often it’s a drink or two until C gets home.

Productivity is a burden we all carry in a world of capitalism and Protestant Word Ethic. We feel that every minute of our time should be tied to production; time is, after all, money.

I need a hobby. Something that’s fun, relaxing, and shuts off my mind without being a waste of it.

Which means it sure as hell shouldn’t be writing this.

The importance of joy and rest

These past few weeks have been really rough. Bad things are happening everywhere.

This tweet came by me during the attempted coup in Turkey. It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot the past few weeks. It’s something we’re all dealing with.

These things, these awful things, keep happening, and instead of hearing about them on a contained, digestible newspaper page, or on the 6 o’clock news, we hear about them all day, every day. These stories are mixed into our wedding announcements. They’re alongside baby photos, restaurant check-ins and Pokèmon GO screenshots. Everything gets equal weight and evaluating the triviality of any given report is exhausting. Social media brings the whole world to our pockets and that carries with it a myriad of complexities.

The world is statistically a safer place than it has ever been. And that’s because of a more informed and involved public. When we saw the real photos from Vietnam, we opposed the war. When we saw the Holocaust in Nazi Germany, we chose not to stand by idly in the face genocide in Rwanda, Bosnia, Sudan, etc. When we saw the abuse of people of color in the Jim Crow south, we demanded (and demand still) equal treatment and justice.

It’s important to see these things. It’s important to stay woke and informed in order to make the world a safe place for all people and things. But the fatigue is real. And it can be unhealthy and drive us to helplessness and cynicism.

We should do what we can. But we must learn to pace ourselves. We have to know that it’s okay to have joy, even when there is pain in the world.

Today, I’m going to listen to the Reds play the Brewers. I’m going to drink a cold beer. I’m going to be with people I love. I have to.

But tomorrow, it’s back to work.

I suck (not really)

I’m not very nice to myself.

I work in web design for small team at a big company. That carries with it a very complicated set of pros and cons. We have a great deal of flexibility to our work style and agency for what we choose to work on, but the work can often be lacking in diversity or excitement.

I am a self taught web-professional. When I started my current job I was novice in the ways of actual web development, but had been working in web content for a while. Now I would consider myself proficient. The problem is I have no metric by which to measure. Am I proficient? Compared to others in the company, yes. Compared to others out in the world, maybe not.

When I find myself lacking in inspiration, I tend to be much harder on myself. It doesn’t stop with just ‘you aren’t being creative.’ It quickly devolves into ‘you were never good at this. You aren’t really good at anything. Stop wasting yours and everyone else’s time.’

The lizard-brain of negative self-speak has been something I’ve always dealt with—we all do. But it rears it’s head more and more, ironically, as I grow older and more experienced. In some ways, I’m learning what I don’t know and telling myself I’m worthless for my ignorance.

I’m good at things. And I’ve proven that. People depend on me and appreciate the work that I do. Focusing on that is really important. But I’m not very good at mentally documenting the successes.

One of my karmic weights has been that I want to write more and don’t. I often reluctantly excuse myself because can’t think of anything to write. So here’s me talking about not knowing what to write and how I feel bad about that.

And now, I have a success for the day.

pats back

How do I stay woke?

Last night, I couldn’t sleep. I was sitting in my living room watching Seinfeld, and swiping through Tweetbot. My TL these days is consumed by political writers and weird twitter, so it’s a pretty specific area of discourse most of the time.

I came across the video of Philando Castile’s murder, roughly and hour after it happened, via this tweet:

This was the second police shooting (caught on camera) within 24 hours. I hadn’t watched the video of Alton Sterling. Those videos are certainly important to getting people woke, and I know they serve a very real purpose. But I wasn’t in the place to see a man shot and murdered just to be a part of the conversation on social media. These things have a tendency to send me into an obsessive spiral and I was trying to protect myself.

But I couldn’t avoid this one. And it hit hard.

I feel the hurt. I feel the terror. I don’t begrudge anyone. But it’s hard to know what to say; to know what to do.

All I know is that dude was alive. When I watched that video, he was alive. He was moaning. And now he’s not. That man killed him. It was a horrible thing to watch. And I have no idea what to say about it.

Black lives matter.