Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Who are you?

This is a big rant... sorry. I am probably opening a can of worms here, but I am so utterly disappointed when I read pages like what I am going to describe.

I am not going to name the person who inspired this, but I have seen plenty of sites that have done this, so in some ways it is not really aimed at anyone in particular. Whenever I visit this particular Facebook page--or those like them, 99.9% of the posts are like this. 

Almost.every.single.post is anti-President Obama, anti-Democrat, anti-liberal. Each meme is pure snarky hatred. So I have to say, "yes, I get it, and so does everyone else who reads your page." You don't like the President. But don't you think we'd like to know more about you than this?

And yes, I am a big boy and can take it. That is not the point I want to make.

What bothers me most about this and other similar pages are that I know this person (very well, I might add) and know he is so much more than this. Instead of seeing all this hate, I want to know about his/her hobbies; I want to know about his family; I want to know what's going on his life. What I do not need, want or need to see is all this dripping pure sarcastic hate. It bothers me how someone could focus on nothing but hate.

Mind you, far be it for me to tell someone what they can, cannot or should or should not post on their own page. And I suppose some would say this is me "calling the kettle black" as I have posted my share of memes addressing the ills of today's society.

After all, there is no doubt when reading my page how far left I lean or how much I detest how the Tea Party has hijacked the GOP in the past 15 years or how the farthest right of some religious denominations have come to believe their faith supersedes the rights with those whom they disagree.

AND I do not think I am wrong about this. I have two very good friends--one that I have known for 20 years, the other for more than 30, both were lifelong staunch Republicans who today lament and pine for the party they once loved and supported. In fact, today when I read their words espousing beliefs closer to mine, I almost suspect they are "pod people."

Frankly, all this hate bores me.

Where I think my pages differs is that yes, I have no problems posting views of mine and of those are similar and invite intelligent discourse. I don't permit people thrusting their finger in the proverbial eye. But in the pages I have described if I post anything that challenges them, I instantly am attacked for it... and yeah, again I am a big boy. A famous actor (from "Star Trek," no less) for whom I used to hold in the highest respect runs a page that makes my blood run cold. I have never seen so much hate in my life.

I think the difference between my page and those that I describe is that yes, I post all things politics, but I also post all things science, all things science fiction, all things humorous, all things of dirty birds pelting parked cars--especially Toyotas (grin), all things Ford. all things modelmaking, all things education, all things tropical fishkeeping, all things moviegoing, all things RMS Titanic, all things Star Trek... well, you get the idea, right?

My point? I do not think anyone can say my page is boring... AND no, I am not trying to pat myself on the back for "job well done," but when I visit a page that is so one track--and one so filled with hate, I have to ask why? And is this the image you really want to present of yourself? And to the point, especially when it is someone I admire or love, I really want to believe they are better than that. I guess sometimes it hurts when some people let you down.

Of course, I suppose some could say "mind your own business." AND I could but here I am, doing exactly the opposite. Have a great day... to those I agree with and yes, even to those I don't!

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Katie Mappin, a life of love, laughter and dreams

Three years ago today a special, funny beautiful girl left her family behind. Unwittingly, unwillingly and way too early, you went on a journey that we have yet come to understand.

Two days earlier (on the 27th), my sweet niece Katie Mappin was found passed out, lying on the floor of her shower.

She had been ill for the past few months and this final event was but the opening of the door that would take her from her fiance 
Brian, her parents--my brother Bryan and wife Dawn, and Katie's sisters Brittany and Tonya and her brother Levi. 

While in the hospital, Katie's doctors prescribed a course of action that we would later learn run contrary to her illness. Little did we know that Katie had a rare genetic disorder that would lead to her passing. 

We would learn that one in two million people suffer the condition that Katie did. The staff at the hospital told us they had not seen someone with her condition in more than 15 years.

On this day in 2011, I was at work. It was a partly sunny and warm spring day. By all rights, it should have been a perfect day but for those of us in the family,no--we were all on pins and needles. We knew Katie was fighting the battle of her life and when I received the call at work, I think I felt the world had come to an end.

But I am not writing to lament Katie's loss. We would shed more tears in the coming days, but now I want to remember her for the little girl who, like her sister Tonya, would run to sit in my lap when I came to visit. The girl who always had a smile on her face and quick to laugh or to show me her newest toy and to give me the biggest hug when I had to leave for home after a visit.

Katie was the girl who loved life and had big plans. After she graduated from high school, she moved to South Bend to attend Indiana University. Originally, her course of study was anthropology, a fascinating if not a bit useless degree. But who was I to decide her future? 

We all must follow our dreams. I have long ago given up on telling young people they must study for a high paying career in favor of pursuing what makes us soar--what makes us happy.

Somewhere along the line her passions led her in other directions. She loved to cook and she decided to pursue a career in culinary arts. 

And about this time, she would meet a wonderful young man, Brian. Brian, who would become her fiance. These two were so good together and anyone could see how much they were in love.

A side I did not often get to see was of Katie, Katie the aunt. Katie's older sister Brittany had a daughter--and later a little boy... and Katie LOVED the earth that those two walked upon. 

Katie spoiled them, played with them, loved them and they loved her. It saddens me that Katie passed when Merc, her nephew was barely out of infancy. I doubt he will remember the great Aunt Katie he had but oh, how Aunt Katie loved them both. 

Katie loved to have fun. Looking through her photo albums and one cannot help but laugh. She could be such a goof!

In the years since her passing, Brian created a foundation to raise money to study the rare genetic condition that took her from us---and especially to raise an awareness.

I think of Katie's parents. I remember Bryan and Dawn living the unfairness of  those last days. I remember Bryan, at her funeral, telling us solemnly of the sadness he and Dawn felt... and how a parent should never outlive a grown children.

Katie, I miss you but not just for me but for Tonya, for Brittany and Levi and for your Dad and especially for your Mom. I sometime think that your Mom looked at you as one of her closest and dearest friends. AND your Dad,  who under his gruff exterior, one could always tell just how much he loves/loved his kids.

Today, we wonder (and mourn) about the could have beens, the would haves and the should have beens.

Katie, you should know, every person you touched is a better person for it. If anything good can come from something so sad, so unfair, is that with your passing you have inspired all who knew you. 

Your passing reminds us to hug our our children, our loved ones, our parents and friends and tell them we are proud of them and that we love them. 

Katie, wherever you are, I know you are smiling down on us. I love you... I always will and so will the rest of us.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Love and affirmation

People are pretty amazing!

Last night I posted a line on my Facebook page that apparently confused some people... and I guess I played a part in that. I basically wrote "I'm coming out (and yes, I just heard Diana Ross in my head and if you are gay, you probably heard it too)."

The support I received was astounding.

Mind you now, folks, I have been an out gay man since 1982 after my wife of seven years and I divorced. I became a little less open, officially anyway after joining the Navy in 1994. When the government abolished the military's policy "Don't Ask Don't Tell," I think I came out again, pretty much full force... and with a vengeance.

The line that started this whole thing was a joke. Here's how it goes. One of your friends posts a line and if you "like" or post a comment you get a private message instructing you to pick one of the 14 somewhat outrageous choices and post it on your page and then sit back and wait for the fun to begin. To entice us to continue this viral thread's instructions mention that the joke is meant to raise support for women's cancer victims. How? I don't know.

One of my favorite Navy Chiefs posted a line last night and I fell for it hook, line and stinker.

For mine in turn, I chose the most obvious one (but I really wanted to post the one that said "I am out of tampons! Help!" I think that really would have confused the hell out of some people. LoL!).

What I did not envision was all of the wonderful reaffirming messages I received.

I want received some pretty wonderful things, some humorous, some endearing, some hilariously naughty. And all were welcome--all but one. Hold on, I will explain in a bit.

Some responses made a lot of sense and mentioned things I had not considered.

My friend David Gerrold--and one of my favorite authors, fell for the joke too and I privated him. I already knew he would not play the game and he kindly responded he doesn't play games like this. I do understand his feelings on the matter. Another favorite science fiction author, Robert Sawyer, brought up a great point. He wanted proof that this joke could help the cause... a similar comment came from a few other friends.

I do understand their concerns. I had them too, but I decided to go with it, just for the heck of it.

In the aftermath, what I appreciated most was the outpouring of love and support. A few of my friends who fell for it responded in kind when they passed along this viral joke.

But I do have to admit, I was a bit taken a-back when one FB friend unexpectedly unfriended me over this with nothing other than "sorry, I have to unfriend you."

Frankly, I am still scratching my head over that. I wrote back, apologized and waited for the explanation that never came. *sigh* I could be flippant and say "Oh well, it's his loss." But it was mine too.

This all goes to prove, and woe be to us all, if we do not recognize that not all FB friends are really friends. For me, in the case of this friend, I did think he was more than just a FB friend and was saddened by his actions since I don't understand them.

But back to the point of this posting. I really want to thank those who wrote warm words of support. A good deal of those were Navy folk, which to me was great seeing too. We, those who serve, have always referred to ourselves "as family."

The responses I received last night made me feel exactly like that... family

I greatly appreciated it! Big hug!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Companions on the journey

These gentle souls make my life worth living. 

First, my son Wes! Wes will be 37 in just over a month. How'd that happen so soon?

And my two housemates. They're like two little kids, always loving, always entertaining!

Wes plays a mean volleyball with his employer the law firm Fagere Baker Daniels in the summer.

Oreo, my baby! He is a lover! Oreo joined this house this summer. I love him dearly.

Aiden, my buddy is getting a bit up there. He is 12 years old now. He was the king of the house until Oreo's arrival this summer. It was dicey at first, but now they are buds in crime. Watching these two chase each other around the house is like watching two kids at play!

Happy Holidays as 2013 nears its end

Merry Christmas to all!

What a year this has been and where, oh where has it all gone? Time certainly does fly as one ages. It has been a year with many personal ups and downs.

My family has seen some very trying times these past few years starting with the death of my niece Katie a few years back, my nephew's death about this time last year and health issues facing my Mom and Step Dad as they age. In the spring, my Step Mom's home was under water for about a month when Kokomo and the surrounding area suffered from the worst floods on record.

For myself I have found immense gratification volunteering at my church's food pantry. Overall, I have found this rewarding beyond any personal gains.

In September, I celebrated my 19th year in the United States Navy Reserve and I am beginning to gear down with retirement in mind. I think it is time. I dearly love the Navy. Service has afforded me the opportunities of many lifetimes, but now I would like to focus on personal concerns that require my attention without the many distractions of Navy life!

Politically, this has been a trying year too. The government shutdown left many, me included, less and less trustful of our government's ability to lift this country up from the quagmire it has been slogging through for the past six or seven years. 

I have been, however, very excited by the apparent acceleration of marriage equality in this county. Yeah, I am single, (*sigh*) but with the continued movement of state after state passing pro-gay marriage equality laws, I am finding much to be optimistic about. When I came out 31 years ago I never dreamed this country would have moved to where it is today.

2014 promises more changes. As the economy improves, it is my hope to find a better job that will permit me to dally in a few personal vices and hobbies. Just last week I interviewed for a job opportunity, and while I did not get the job, I am confident this is my year.

With my friends, my son and extended family, I look forward to an exciting year ahead. So, 2014... come and get me!

So with that, happy holiday, happy new year!