Geek Chic

IMG_1903I guess you’d say I was a late bloomer; I hung onto my childhood vices of reading comics, watching and reading science fiction films, programs, and books, and playing role-playing games well through high school and into my 20s.  In fact, I’m not a great artist, but I’m above average, and I credit comic books for teaching me most of what I know about drawing and anatomy.  But this was something you didn’t divulge back then in the ’80s and ’90s….unless you wanted to be even more publicly ostracized than you likely already were and make those teenage years of being an artistic geek rather than a football player even more of a living Hell.

Flash forward 15 years, and I was driving past the comic shop I used to frequent, and, out of a sense of nostalgia, I picked up some comics to read while on vacation. The next thing I knew, I was back to reading them regularly.

The difference is that now the universe has turned on its ear, and geek culture is about as mainstream as anything can possibly get.  There are gym rats working out in Captain America t-shirts, adult-sized hoodies that look like superhero costumes, sci/fi and superhero movies are the hugest box office hits, and people don’t think twice about any of it.  Target, Old Navy, and various stores at the mall sell Star Wars and comic book t-shirts, hats, and accessories.  Somehow, inexplicably, even the British cult television show Dr. Who has made a major surge into American popular culture and acceptability.   Would a show like Big Bang Theory have had such popularity and such an impact on merchandizing 20 years ago?  Would Game of Thrones be the best thing on T.V., viewed, discussed, and anticipated by so many?  I can’t honesty see either as having happened, but somehow escapist fantasy has taken over.  It’s so weird to see the things for which I worried about getting beaten up becoming ‘the new black’, to see Geek Chic become the norm.

But I want to be clear that I’m not too bitter about this development.  I think it’s wonderful to be able to wear an Iron Man t-shirt, or say that I loved Guardians of the Galaxy, without being looked at as an immature man-child.  It’s relieving to see things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life finally becoming something everyone loves.  There are folks that like to play at being some rebel, liking a band when hardly anyone knows them, but resenting that band once they achieve a measure of success.  I think that’s a pretty pathetic mindset, and I won’t have that attitude about the Realm of All Things Nerdy opening its portals to the masses.  I instead choose to rejoice in the fact that my childhood and teenage loves got their due.  I even got back into the role-playing games 2 years ago, and hardly anyone bats an eye when we meet in the food court at Wegman’s to play.

I suppose that it’s all because Star Wars as a franchise has thrilled so many despite the terrible ‘prequels’.  Or maybe it was that, as later generations picked up on the Star Wars franchise, they also had their imaginations piqued by Harry Potter, the fantastically written and portrayed series (I consider it the Star Wars for their time).  Maybe it’s just the fact that so many of the superhero movies are so entertaining.  Perhaps it’s because of a major confluence of all these things, and more.

I’m not sure how it happened; I’m just glad it did, that things I’ve enjoyed for most of my life are finally getting their due and being enjoyed by so many.  I love that NERD is the word, and that GEEK is chic.  You know what?  Maybe this means that I was actually an early bloomer after all….

You’ve Gotta Fight

NFLparody-bannerI must confess to being overly emotional of late.  My father has cancer, and it’s pretty bad.  He’s successfully beaten cancer before; in fact he had two types at once and beat both.  But this latest case is going to be very invasive and, I imagine, turbulent.

But there are other factors impacting my mood as well.  It’s football season, and of course that means seeing all the mike vick t-shirts and jerseys and eagles logos in general since I live in the killadelphia area.  Never an inspiration for positive thoughts where I’m concerned.

But the National Football League is now alleged by Peta to have spent $10 million on researching injuries by inflicting catastrophic damage upon dogs’ knees and driving pneumatic pistons into rats’ skulls and spines.  The animals that survive the testing are still euthanized (and who knows how humanely) because they’re messed up, and ‘no longer of service’.  When I put Peta’s petition to the NFL to stop this testing on my anti-vick Facebook page, someone gave the perfect response.  They said, “What do expect from an organization that welcomed vick back with open arms and open checkbooks?”

The NFL responded to Peta’s claim with a legalese-riddled reply that speaks of “board-approved methods” and “acceptable parameters”.

Bleacher Report, an online sports news medium, reached out to the NFL for comment and received a statement that:

“Grant recipients must follow existing industry ethical standards for medical research established by the scientific community. All grant requests have to be approved in advance by the institutional review board of the participating institution.  In addition, we require any proposal to have been submitted for approvals by the institution’s animal care and use committee prior to applying for funds.”

 

It is in NO way a denial.  To me, it essentially says, “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain”.  Incidentally, dripping corrosive substances into rabbits’ eyes and attaching funnels to a bunch of Beagles’ heads through which cigarette smoke is blown until they get lung cancer are also “board-approved methods” that are “within acceptable parameters”.

So, in addition to the fear of losing my father (he’s 73, and there will be several major steps at which anything can happen during the removal surgery, reconstructive surgery, and radiation follow-up), I am  considering no longer watching football again.  I love this sport, and giving up watching it is seriously depressing.  Arguably, I should have done this when they first readmitted vicky into the league.  I’m tired of losing things I love because it’s the right thing to do.  But taking the stands that I do is more important to me than being a fan of something.

I’ve made so many changes, excised so many types of things from my daily life.  Giving up meat and dairy has made eating unenjoyable.  Again, I know it’s the right thing to do, but eating, once a fun thing, almost a celebration, is no longer so.  I put it off as long as I can sometimes because I dread it.  Additionally, all the vegetable-based things wreck my insides a lot of the time.  And then there are all of the cleaning products and hygienic products I’ve been getting rid of because Proctor and Gamble also tests on animals.  It’s a constant fight to do what’s right.

But giving up everything leads me back to my opening sentence of getting overly emotional about things.  I’m worked up over many things right now (including some other personal issues I haven’t mentioned here), but I’m wondering if it all matters in the end.  Animal testing and consumption is going to continue long after I’m gone.  Wars are still going to be fought over religious or political differences.  In fact there are wars going on within political bodies such as Congress just because one party doesn’t like the other and wants to block any potential progress because it’s on the other party’s agenda.  Innocent animals are still going to be beaten, burned, abandoned, and neglected, and judges and legislators still won’t consider these important enough to institute harsher penalties.  People will still rape, murder and steal from each other well after I’m dust and my name is remembered by none.  People are still going to contract awful disease, and even if we find cures, new maladies or strains are always popping up.

So I’m wondering what the point of constantly fighting for change is when the odds seem insurmountable.  Some would say that faith is what gets them through and that I need to have some of my own to escape this spiral.  But that’s not my way.  I’m too much of a scientific mind to cross over into the realm of spirituality.

But I can’t stop the fight.  I want to give up but can’t.  Maybe that means being unhappy and struggling through all the things I must give up.  There’s a saying that once you’ve seen the bad things, you can look the other way, but you can never again say that you didn’t know.  I DO know, and learn more all the time.  Can’t turn back now.

And as much as I doubt my father’s chances against all of the medical trauma to come, I have to fight to stay strong and positive for him, too.

 

Peta’s petition:

Tell the NFL to Stop Funding Sports-Injury Experiments on Animals secure.peta.orgThe National Football League Foundation is funding horrific and deadly sports injuryrelated experiments on animals. Ask them to stop!

 

For those that care to check out my anti-vick page:

Vick-timized: Giving Voice to the Voiceless OnesCommunity · 595 like this

 

(Photo used is from the Peta petition.)

Love and The Loss of the Lost

Some of you that have been around my blog for awhile will recall my involvement on Facebook with sharing profiles of pets in shelters to spare them from euthanasia.  This happens by either having any of my page subscribers be a potential foster/adopter or be able link any given animal with a rescue that may be willing to pick up that animal.  The people with whom I network in this process are all over the world, and we have many different group pages on which we share information.

It is about a woman in this network around which today’s post is centered.  She and I hadn’t officially become “friends” on there, but I had crossed her path many times over the last 3 years, and I’m sure we must have conversed on several occasions.  I was very familiar with her name and the icon she had been using for that entire time.  Many people change their profile pic all the time, but hers was constant, and instantly recognizable.

A few weeks ago, we got the news that she had taken her life.  I went numb when I read that.  I feel guilty that I never did “befriend” her on there.  She even lived within 2 hours from me.  But the fact that I didn’t “know” her has not diminished the sense of loss and amount of sadness I feel.  I’ve heard bits and pieces about what led her to this decision, but in the end these don’t matter.  This was a caring, giving, loving person who sacrificed so much to help others.  She rescued several animals herself, and was an incredibly respected woman.

But we never know what someone’s limit will be.  We never know what burdens another may have that might finally crush a person.  Depression is so often not a sign of weakness, but a sign that someone has had to be too strong, through too much, for too long.  Some will (and have) been outspoken about what they feel is a completely selfish and irresponsible act on the part of individuals that have come to making the choice she did.  I choose to see (and encourage you to as well) that a person must be in an incredible amount of pain to come to that decision.

I understand quite a bit about depression and what it can do to a person.  I have suffered from it myself through many stretches of my life.  I have had so many people close to me suffer from it as well.  In fact, some of those that are closest to me at present are so because we’ve bonded together over our experiences, sharing them, and supporting each other through them.

I will even volunteer here that I tried to end my own life once myself, in 1995.  I’m not going to discuss the details of that here, but I know how low a person can get.  Everyone has a breaking point.

I  had a CD playing in my car which has 2 songs which remind me of this woman’s loss, one of those songs possibly describing the thoughts that may have gone through her head in the days preceding her death.  The other one speaks to me of the story of those that loved her having to let her go.  It was just coincidence that this disc was playing in my car at the time of her death, and I suppose I hadn’t really thought of the lyrics in question in this way before.  But I was driving, the songs played, and as I listened to the words, the correlation hit me.  I continued to drive, crying all the way to my destination.  I’ve included links to videos of these songs which include the lyrics.

What I want to close this post with is just to say that please don’t judge those dealing with depression.  Please be observant of your loved ones, and try to be aware of the warning signs.  Even if you see a coworker to whom you’re not especially close that seems in distress, or a stranger that seems upset, does it cost you that much to say, “Excuse me. Are you okay?”

I worked with a guy once that said to me, “All we ever have is each other.”  I asked him if he was talking specifically about me and him, dealing with a boss that was not fun to work for, to say the least.  Or was he talking about something broader, more universal, between people in this world.  He said, “Both”.  And he’s right.  In this chaotic universe, dealing with tragedies anywhere from personal to global, all we ever have is each other.

And those people that you love?  Please let them know it.  You never know when you will have spoken for the last time.

images

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=LeRB14kt3II

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=Yipca8hYce0

(This photo was found on the site http://www.dawnoftheunicorn.co.uk)

Hospitals

Hospitals. What a horrific word. When one thinks of hospitals, he or she probably thinks of the sick, the broken, the dying, the dead. Some may actually think of them in a positive light, as a place of healing the infirm, aiding the impaired, curing the ill.

Hospitals aren’t always for the physical, however.

In my own life, I’ve had loved ones, the most important people in the whole world to me, suffer from trauma and other wounds on the INSIDE. THAT’S what I think of initially. Inpatient facilities, outpatient step-down programs, psycho-therapeutic drugs, depression, shock therapy. The complete cessation of a once-normal life.

I’ve watched these loved ones become unable to go to work or school, sometimes unable to get out of bed. I’ve had loved ones unable to be at home for their own safety, as well as others’.

This is what the word “hospitals” conjures up for me.

I know I could look at them, in these cases, as the places of healing, and don’t get me wrong; I do. I am so very grateful for all of the programs out there that you never knew existed until they were needed. I’m thankful to every single soul who chooses the profession of helping the people in need. Thank God above (or whatever entity or force may exist) for all of this.

For the foreseeable future, though, horrific is how I’ll describe them.

I’ve logged so many miles driving more than an hour to visit my loved ones in these facilities, sometimes leaving from one place to visit someone else in another. Afterward, I’d go home, sleep, go to work, and do it all over again.

I’ve logged so many miles on the NJ Turnpike that, if you check out the details of the many included in my New Jersey tattoo, there is an outline of the Turnpike (the green strip going diagonally up from left to right). This was, in fact the impetus for the design. I’ve earned that detail, like a badge. A medal in fact, since there were times, as the last one of my family “on the outside” I called myself The Last Man Standing. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Thank God (or whatever entity or force may exist) the hospitals are there, but I pray to God (ditto) you and yours will never need them.

fox71j:

I’m envious of the quality of writing in this article. It’s a few years old, but I just came across it. In light of all the fuss over alleged death threats against vick and the subsequent cancellation of his book signing tour (as if he wrote the damned thing–he can barely conjure a credible sentence), I think all of the facts presented here are as staggering a testimonial to truth and decency as I’ve seen with the exception of the book “The Lost Dogs” by Jim Gorant. In response to his tour cancellation, vick asked why animal activists still feel the need to bash him after all these years. This article answers it perfectly, and then some.

Originally posted on Chris Durant's World:

Michael Vick was Wrongly Convicted!

Since this past Monday and more specifically for the majority of the Philadelphia Eagles sensational season, I have heard so many people touting Michael Vick. Oh yeah, “Michael Vick has really turned it around, “ etc.

And now, Barrack Obama, the President of the United States, the de facto leader of the Free World, thought it would be a good idea to chirp in and toss a little praise his way as well by taking the time to make a phone call (while on vacation in Hawaii) to the owner of the Eagles and commend him for giving Vick a 2nd chance.

REALLY!?!?

(Here’s your class act role model Mr. President)

I think anyone who thinks that Michael Vick has paid his debt and is a reformed individual needs to take a little walk down memory lane and remind themselves just what this so-called man…

View original 1,872 more words

My Writing….

I’ve been encouraged to share more of my writing, and even to get published.  I don’t know about the publishing thing, especially because of cost and the fact that in order to sell books as a poet, one needs to be 1. Maya Angelou, 2. Nikki Giovanni, or 3. Deceased.  But I thought I’d share something I wrote that’s very personal, and I consider it one of the most important things I’ve ever done.  The story is true.

 

 

 

This Was Not                                                      10/29/09

 

 

Standing at the work table,

I’m off drifting in my brain.

My body knows what it’s doing,

And the mind has its own way

Of passing time.

I remember many things

While standing at my table.

My hands have done these tasks for years,

So the memories flow unbidden

Into the waiting silence.

 

I remember buying you cheap toys

For your eighth birthday,

Your first back in Jersey.

It was all we could afford

After eight months of medical bills

And your mother out of work.

One broke that very evening,

And I was so scared you’d be upset.

It didn’t seem to faze you,

But I’d wanted so much more

For you

After the SHIT

That had become of that year.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I leave my table, the work abandoned,

As I need to dry my eyes.

But my synapses decide

Upon my return

That they’re not done just yet.

 

I remember being asked

In one of the Fairmount family groups,

What my biggest fear for you was.

You hadn’t been HOME,

Residing in centers

For traumatized children

For most of the year.

This was where you’d spend

Your NEXT birthday.

My answer was that all this

Would still be going on

And you’d lose the last years

Of the closing window

Of your childhood

Without getting to have

A normal one.

 

I remember helping you move

From there to your third center,

And eventually to your fourth,

All within two years.

It was at the fourth one

Where you’d turn

The ripe old age

Of ten.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I remember the times before this,

When you told us

Things,

Things your biological father did to you.

We decided that

When you came off the school bus

You would be given dinner,

And some things would be packed

For you and your mother.

I’d stay behind to pack our things

And arrange for the movers.

I watched

As you were driven back to Jersey that night

In a February New England blizzard

To save you from your father.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I remember when

We had just reunited

After the midnight run out of Rhode Island.

You were uncontrollably

Acting out, as we now know

Abuse victims will do,

Because of what your father did to you.

The  daily and nightly rages,

Triggered by flashbacks,

Would eventually require

Restraining you

Because of the harm

You’d cause

To yourself,

And to others.

This became

Your daily experience,

And it was a miracle

When you were actually able

To make it to school.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

I walk away from my table yet again,

Knowing someone will see me

Soon enough.

I tell myself,

“Endure!”,

Wanting desperately to hold it together.

 

But then I remember

Your mother and I

Reviewing the options given

By the prescribing therapist.

You needed help with the feelings

And the images

In your seven-year-old head.

THIS drug may cause

Kidney failure

After six months of use.

THIS drug may cause

Seizures,

Or other loss

Of motor function.

 

You have had your

Blood polluted,

Your chemistry FUCKED with,

Because you were worse off

Without these poisons

Meant to help you heal.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

You will soon turn eleven,

And you’re still not home.

You are still not able

To handle the rage,

The flashbacks of your father,

All of the emotional damage,

And I know that window,

That precious window

Of time

Called your formative years

Is gone;

What I feared for you

Has happened,

And I can only cry

At my work table.

 

This was not the childhood you were supposed to have.

 

©2012 Jordan Fox