It’s 825am this morning and I’m staring at a blank page. The dog is lick-licking herself behind me. It is the background music to the click-clicking of my laptop keys. I don’t know what the hell to write, but I will say as I read the news this morning – I felt like things were all about me. I often read the NY Times and the Huffington Post, pretty much everyday. I read them at the end of the day when I know what I’m going to write first thing in the morning. When I don’t, I read them first – the stalling and the reading often helps to churn up new ideas.
Today, it felt strange like someone took my snapshot of my life collage and used it to formulate the topics for today’s news. I hit tmz.com first. Not really news, but the best and quickest source for all things celebrity and I like to make fun of celebrity. Really, celebrities in this country are our kings and queens and in my humble opinion writers and comedians were born to make fun of the royalty. That’s our job. I like to quickly scroll through that site to see if anything jumps out at me like it did here and here.
But, there was nothing this morning. Some news about Kim Kardashian and her he said/ she said annulment proceedings. (Nothing makes me want to vomit more than ANY news about Kim Kardashian.) The dog is licking the crap out of her arm and I’m remembering somewhere that dogs do this in order to comfort themselves. Is my dog not comfortable? Does she have anxiety? These are my thoughts. But, no, she is a dog. The one with the anxiety is probably me. I glance at the tmz site again and something on the leader board catches my eye. It says something like, “Kony 2012 Jason Russell Caught Naked Masturbating in the Street”.
Whaaaaatttt? Jason Russell is the leader of a group called, Invisible Children. He’s also an incredible filmmaker. For well over 10 years, his non-profit has been trying to draw attention to Joseph Kony in Uganda. Joe Kony is an a-hole, plain and simple. He manipulates kids, makes them kill their parents, disfigures them, and puts them in his army. He has basically set fire to a reign of terror throughout Uganda. Today, Kony has been pushed back into the Congo. The Invisible Children guys and Jason Russell are extremely dedicated to this cause – fanatically so.
I know a lot about them because they almost hired me as a writer. I went about 2-3 rounds with them. First, they read my writing sample and liked it, then they interviewed me, and then they had me write a company-specific sample. Eventually, they passed on me. And – really – I was okay with it. The company is located in San Diego and it would have been a b*tch of a commute. I mention all this because before I applied for the job, I had no idea who Joseph Kony, Jason Russell, or Invisible Children were. No idea. I don’t get the job and about a month later that very company creates a video that goes so viral – they’re on every major news outlet in the United States. I mean, every, single, one. Strange.
And now, now, the stress has become so severe that their head guy, Jason Russell, lost his marbles – momentarily, we hope – and started running up and down the streets of San Diego naked, screaming things, pounding the pavement, and maybe even masturbating??!! Jesus Christ. The downside of exposure, to say the very least.
What is it about exposure that can push sane, compassionate, smart, and fair minded people – right off the deep end? Not that she’s compassionate nor smart, but it reminds me of the movie Game Changer – the story of the McCain political campaign that introduced Sara Palin to the world. Sara Palin THOUGHT she knew what being part of a national presidential campaign would entail. In reality, she had no idea. She was wholly unprepared, woefully under-qualified, and exposed, as such, nationally. Thank god we were spared her running down the street naked and pounding the pavement with a McCain/ Palin poster.
I don’t know what to make of the Jason Russell story and I still have no idea what to write, so I switched over to the NY Times, a more reputable paper (Jayson Blair not withstanding). One lead story was about Dharun Ravi, the ex-Rutgers roommate to gay, suicide victim Tyler Clementi. Dharun spied on Tyler and his lover with a webcam. He was found guilty of a hate crime and, I believe, bias intimidation. A young guy of Indian origins found guilty of a hate crime on a young, white guy. My, how technology has changed things. It’s made us all a-holes. Now, I went to Rutgers. So, the story makes me think about my time there. It makes me think about my freshmen year roommate. We got along okay. Yet, we couldn’t have been more different. Neither of us had webcams though. (Thank god.) Maybe that made all the difference?
I pulled out of the Rutgers story and my eyes shifted to the feature on the African-American-Jewish boy who is the Irish dance champion of IRELAND. He’s so good that even the Irish have crowned him number 1 – in the world – in his age group. He was bullied so much in school that his mother had to pull him out and give him classes on the internet. He’s such a good and passionate dancer that he once won a competition with seven of his toes broken. He loves it when the Irish say he looks like a young Barack Obama. He loves Obama so much that his mother let him campaign for him in a very Republican enclave of the midwest. He called and called voters, trying to get them to jump ship and vote for Obama. Until, he called one man who vehemently railed against Obama and then closed his “argument” with a racial epithet. A racial epithet when talking to a 12 year old biracial boy exuberant in his effort to help his American hero. His American hero who looks just like him. I can not tell you how much I want to find that guy and throttle him. Find him, throttle him, until he understands what pain is. I’m very thankful that the news doesn’t print the locations of its sources because I have enough to do today (like clean my house) and maiming a bigot would take a lot of time.
And it goes on and on like this today, as I peruse the news. There’s an article about tourism in Curacao. What are the chances? An Irish dancer, sure, it’s St. Paddy’s day and I’m part Irish, so, of course, I’d find a way to be drawn in. The Rutgers issue – a gay roommate problem turned devastating. Sure, I went to Rutgers, I’m gay – but, that could be just a coincidence. Couldn’t it? But, Curacao?
Curacao is an island off the coast of Venezuela where it just so happens my Portuguese ancestors started the first Jewish Synagogue in the entire western hemisphere. Yep, I’m Irish Catholic AND a Colombian descendant of Jews. My triple great grandfather, Naphtali, started that synagogue on Curacao with his father and 9 brothers. Naphtali means “my struggle” in Hebrew and yes, it’s my writing struggle that started this whole train of thought today. Maybe it’s because I’m the proud owner of a vagina, but I can’t help but feeling like EVERYTHING is connected today. The news is all about me. And there’s something deeper in there – that we can’t see – that connects these seemingly unrelated things. There’s something in there that connects all of us. It has something to do with a naked activist running through the streets, Rutgers and gays and technology, a beautiful black boy who happens to be the best Irish dancer in the world bullied for nothing, Curacao – where my Jewish-Portuguese ancestors first put down roots, the dog lick-licking herself for comfort, and the rain thwap-thwapping against the window in front of my laptop. It’s all connected and I don’t know how or why. Maybe it’s estrogen, but then again, maybe I’m right. Today, that’s all I’ve got.
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