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No man, no nation..

Posted in Political Commentary, The Flow and Rhythm of Life, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 06/26/2017 by Angel D. Vargas

So much in our world has changed since the purported “election” of Donald Trump as the President of the United States. The hard-earned civil rights gains for women, homosexuals, black Americans and other marginalized people all appear to be on the verge of destruction. Our understanding of global warming and the impact of humanity on the planet is muddied by the interests of corporate fat cats who sacrifice the fate of the lower classes for increased profit margins. World War 3 may be close at hand, as those with a Christian bent are becoming edgier and edgier regarding the fate of an increasingly bombed-out Damascus. People lose faith in our government as our now limited news media coverage bombards us with headlines regarding the latest gaff, appalling remark, or tweet made by the leader of the free world. Mere months of this man’s presidency have felt like years to many weary Americans.

 

And life was hard before this farce of American government began eating the last crumbs left to us of the American dream. Full time work for the average adult living in the United States is needed for most of us to survive. Yet the promise of higher education is met with a shrinking job market and staggering student loans for many college graduates, more and more of whom are forced to compete for part time jobs that offer no insurance benefits. Some college graduates turn to the armed forces or civil service work to try to make up the difference, but for various reasons, that is not an option for most. Those of us lucky enough to attain full time work struggle for the time and energy to do anything else on the side, and we are met with stoic advice from the older generations who tell us “this is life,” and who welcome us to adulthood with sardonic smiles and knowing head nods. Baby Boomers get older, and they expect us generation X kids to take on the immense burden of their care with such limited resources that we can barely support ourselves. Yeah, thanks but no thanks.

 

I am often forced to make tough choices regarding my dream to become a fiction writer. And because of the nature of my own full time employment, less and less of these decisions ever seem to lead to my sitting down and enjoying the process of writing a manuscript, let alone having the time to research potential publishers for the manuscript I’ve already completed. Real life problems, depression and a sense of loss further complicate things, and I am left wondering if there is a light at the end of this increasingly long and dark tunnel.

 

But the thing that seems to help the least is technology. The Internet has all but destroyed real communication; It allows bullies to employ the cloak of anonymity to troll and abuse other users. Political discourse becomes little more than obsessive fact checking and online name calling, and people would rather “unfriend” one another on Facebook rather than meet face to face to come up with real life solutions to the growing problems in inequity in Western Culture. Finally, the Internet allows users to accept accolades for which they never worked, to claim false kinship to others with whom they’ve never spoken, or to attain misleading or false information about important subject matters that lead to more questions than there will ever be answers. In this increasingly relativist culture, we’ve allowed technology to take away our ability to even look one another in the eye rather than at our mobile phone screens.

 

We’ve allowed quickness of our fingers to outshine the profundity of rational thought. Want proof? Why don’t you look up Donald Trump’s latest tweet. I’ll wait.

 

Where do we go from here, kiddies? I’m typing this now both as an exercise in catharsis, and as a chance to let certain people know both where I stand on some of the issues of modern living, and why I’ve been so out of touch with my Internet “chums.” We’ve seen history being made with this latest president and his impulsive, often reckless decisions. As Americans, we’ve also had a chance to put things right. But we don’t understand the laws that govern this nation. We’ve lost track of what our government officials do to us behind closed doors because we let this buffoon shut most of the media out of his very public office. We’ve forgotten who we are as a nation, and as human beings. Because I love this country, I am terrified that the United States of America will no longer be the great nation that it once was. I’m already not the man I thought I’d be. It would be a shame to see this nation follow suit.

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Rules of Engagement

Posted in Political Commentary, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/30/2017 by Angel D. Vargas

-Friday, January 27th, 2017

“President” Donald Trump signs an executive order re: immigration at 4:42 pm Eastern Standard time. This order “indefinitely barrs” Syrian immigrants from entering our borders. The order also suspends all refugee admission for 120 days, and blocks citizens from seven Majority Muslim countries from entering the US for approximately three months.

The order takes effect. Almost immediately, chaos ensues. At airports around the country, hundreds are detained and questioned. Thousands more are left wondering about friends and family, stranded or turned away before they could reunite with loved ones who were simply traveling abroad. Across the world, millions are outraged.

I am outraged. Aside from the Anti-Muslim bigotry inherent in such a ridiculous order, there is more to be concerned about here. This is in direct violation of the US Constitution’s first amendment. For those who’ve forgotten it, here it is in bold print.

Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

Federal judge Anne M. Donnelly, who used to serve in New York as a Manhattan Supreme Court Judge, challenges Trump’s executive order, granting a temporary stay for refugees and others. In her words “irreparable harm” would be caused by sending the travelers home.

Irreparable harm. Those are tough words. But we are living in tough times. As such, I’ve had to look at those two words and wonder if Judge Donnelly’s countermand was too late not to have caused irreparable harm to the way American citizens must now view their own country. Trust issues, anyone?

If I want proof about how bad things have gotten within Trump’s first ten days in public office, I only need to remember how recent conversations with friends, coworkers, and strangers have gone. Walking down the streets of Harlem these days, it seems that the tension is thick enough to cut with a chainsaw. People don’t look me in the eye here, which isn’t surprising given that it’s New York City, but many of the ones who do look wary or fearful. Many more appear angry.

Words are also a problem. Now it seems, everyone must be careful what they say. The media is being slowly silenced by a man so hell-bent in preserving his fragile little ego, that nothing bad can be said about him without consequence. Kellyannne Conway promises that journalists who say anything pejorative regarding Trump “will be fired.” Trump continues to malign CNN and other networks that express concern over his heavy handedness or his apparent inability to comprehend the consequences of his own actions.

And now, it seems, citizens don’t know how to talk to one another. I know I’m having trouble. I square my shoulders now when I engage in political discussions at work, for there is a good chance that emotions will erupt like Mount Etna. My home life has been invaded by tense discussions regarding Trump’s latest gaff or executive order. My personal life has ceased to be about the pursuit of happiness. Once again, I am pressed into making the choice between taking in the news of the day, or ignoring it for the sake of my sanity.

As a Hispanic American, I know it won’t be long before I am asked to produce “proof of citizenship.” I won’t deny the temptation to smash the face of the person who will inevitably do so, but there is no doubt that person will be an officer of the law. My father was one of those. I will never besmirch the honor of his service. Yet despite my father’s exemplary career, he has already come under scrutiny for being “the other” since Trump’s election. Now, it seems, the closet bigot is free to come out and play among us all, like a demonic bully child on a playground primed to be “great again” as it gets whitewashed with hatred and ignorance.

I cannot allow that.

But there is something else I cannot permit. I will not permit the others who oppose Trump to judge me for the confidence (or lack thereof) with which I pursue resistance. I’m still unsure what form this sort of resistance is supposed to take in the face of such tyranny. I say tyranny because I am sure that this is the monster with which we are faced. An emboldened idiot has taken office, blindly signing away the liberty and happiness of American citizens and immigrants, appointing self-serving bigots with seemingly corrupt agendas to surround him and shower him with inane praise. “Good job, Putin Puppet. Now, let’s release the hounds on these peasants.”

But what will happen when Trump goes so far that there is no turning back? Has he already gone that far? It’s not even been two weeks, and I am already terrified at the prospect of what’s to come. Will there be a KKK rally here in my home city? How many more hate crimes will be committed around the world that mimic senseless Mosque attack in Quebec?

When will I have to consider obtaining a conceal and carry permit?

That’s right. I’m considering it. Some of you same idiots that fight tooth and nail to defend the second amendment while threatening to shoot yourself some beaners are forgetting one simple truth. Not all liberals and Trump opponents are pacifists.

Think on that.

I’m not into marching or rallies. I never was. But mark my words. The true patriots of America have often been the dissenters. Without dissent, people will not have reason to rethink their potential ignorance of gravely important matters.

I wonder if those who voted for Trump are starting to understand how bad this might get. When will they scream to the stars in penance for what they’ve done? I’d invite these fools to wait for the inevitable “I told you so,”but that would be my own hypocrisy shining through. I am deeply sorrowful for the sharp decline of our Nation’s values. International friends and acquaintances are asking me “what happened?” to my own country. I can’t even give an honest answer. The truth is more horrible than any horror fiction I can concoct. Yet I know I mustn’t give into the sorrow. And neither must anyone else. The moment we the people give up our desire to do the right thing, I’ll know to look for the mushroom cloud on the horizon..

Frankentrump..

Posted in Drum Roll, Please...., The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 01/19/2017 by Angel D. Vargas

So. What happens tomorrow?

Whether or not you can accept that the Forty Fifth President of the United States is none other than Donald Trump, truth is, he’s set to be inaugurated tomorrow in what is sure to be both a momentous and contentious event in U.S. History.

If you’re having a hard time with this fact, that’s okay. I’m having a miserable time grappling with it myself. I fought with myself and my poor memory for years old passwords just to regain access to a blog I’ve not written in for more than a year in order to express that.

Than again, maybe that’s not good enough for some people. I’ve heard it all before. “If you really believed, you’d be out there in Washington for the Million Women’s march,” or I’ve heard “well then, you should have put your vote toward Bernie like all the other cool kids.” The best one I’ve heard yet is “man, our votes never counted anyway, fuck all this happy horse shit. Life goes on, bruh. Life goes on.”

Yes, life goes on, and so often, the best lies we’re told are rooted deeply in the truth. All of the things I mentioned hearing from people in the last paragraph are lies. But they are pretty good lies when you think about it. The power of hindsight lets us all suddenly don our wizard’s hats and wax like Albus fucking Dumbledore about our country’s future. But the reality of it all is that every last one of us is scared of losing something deeply important to us in the coming four years. LGBT rights, women’s reproductive rights, access to healthcare, racial equality, and so many other things seem to be up for grabs in this brave new world of uncertainty.

I once heard some advice from a respected writing mentor, and it’s something that I still keep in mind even when I’m blogging. “Your writing works best when you write what you know.” When I heard that bit of wisdom, I didn’t like it, especially as I was struggling to become a legitimate fiction writer. I still read and write fiction, but nobody can relate to a good piece of writing, fiction or otherwise, if they can’t find something that reminds them of their own lives and experiences. At least, that’s how I’ve experienced success in my own writing.

Funny thing about me is that I only know what I see, hear, and feel.

On January nineteenth, 2017, the night before Donald Trump’s inauguration, here is what I have come to know.

People are angry.

I know that because I can feel the tension in the air when I walk past the Apollo Theater in Harlem to get to work in the morning. I hear it in the words of the young black man who accuses me of not shaking his hand because someone who looks like me would “never shake the hand of a black man in a million fucking years.” I see it in the looks of disgust on other people’s faces when I go outside with my girlfriend dressed to kill, and people give us accusing glares. I know what they’re thinking because they’ve shouted it in my face, or whispered it in not too quiet voices to their friends. “He voted for Trump because he’s white.” or “Look at the handsome white man who don’t give a fuck about the black man.”

Would you prefer it I went out and protested? Can I stand next to a crowd of black people and proclaim that “black lives matter?” Because I know they do. I’ve always believed that, even if you can’t see that unless I pull out a knife like a “typical Puerto Rican,” or curse you out in the Spanish you didn’t think I could rattle off with such a Caribbean flair. Only an idiot would judge a book by its cover, but I beg your pardon if I want to dress a certain way, or walk down the street with my head held high because I finally like who the hell I am. Do you know what a struggle it has been for me to even get to that point in my life? Oh yeah, I forgot. You really don’t want to know that, do you?

You’d rather be right than be happy.

But let me share what else I’ve discovered in my own quest for the truth. I’ve been to at least one community meeting that begged the question of “what next?” I’ve signed numerous petitions, written letters to government officials, and plotted out what to do if I witness sexual or racial intimidation or violence on the street. But none of these things are going to change the fact that the Donald is taking office tomorrow. I made my voice heard in my own way. I have two weapons available to me in this fight now. My fists and my words. I can be lethal with both. Unfortunately, it may come to the point in this country where I can be arrested for using either one.

That sound okay to you? It doesn’t sound okay to me.

Here’s something else that doesn’t sound okay to me. Nuclear war.

You can pound the streets demanding rights for every American, legal or not, and none of that will matter when you see a mushroom cloud in the distance, and you begin to feel the heat as a great wall of super radiated air rushes toward you and you begin to shit your pants.

Are we okay with that? Has anyone else been thinking about this, dreaming about it and waking up in a cold sweat? Well I have. So don’t come to me with your judgmental bullshit because of the way I look or dress. I don’t give a damn about Donald Trump, but now I’m forced to hope that he changes his tune rather quickly when it comes to foreign policy because I don’t want to have a nuclear bacon sandwich for breakfast.

And before you ask, I loathe the idea of protesting. I’ve hated it since college, and I went to a liberal arts college quite known for protests. But that’s just not me. I don’t want to pound the pavement and shout until my voice is hoarse. I don’t want to get arrested either. Maybe that has something to do with the fact that my father is a retired law enforcement officer and I already know too much about that side of things.

And who am I kidding? I may not be a pacifist, but I’m fucking scared. I’ve heard enough rumors and seen enough evidence of the tension building in my own city that I can believe that things are about to go from bad to worse. The return of the subtle racist is already underway. I’m not about to ask my gay friends to get back in the closet to protect themselves, and you’re never going to get me to believe that the Donald “didn’t mean that shit” he said about Hispanics coming to this country and bringing their problems, or “not being the best their countries had to offer.” I bet that racist douchenozzle wouldn’t even know I was Hispanic until he read my name on a resume somewhere, or mistook me for a member of the press.

But there’s so much more to this man’s presence that affects me on an everyday level that I can’t even escape when I go home after work. Every night, my girlfriend and I end up talking about what might happen when Trump takes office. And every single time we speak of him, it’s in these harsh and bitter tones, like we created a doomed experiment in a science lab and set him loose upon the world like a fucking Frankenstein. Too bad we all know that Frankenstein hates fire.

Donald Trump can’t even handle a twitter account. How strong could he really be?

That’s just what I know. If I wanted to write another book, I could start writing about the shit I don’t know. But I’m already writing a book of fiction that I’m pretending has nothing to do with what I truly know. Look for it one day. You’ll know it when you read it, I think. And even if you don’t, I hope you like it.

Young Frankenstein – Puttin’ on the Ritz

 

 

What is Real? – Thoughts on Authenticity..

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 05/11/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

There is a word that people have been throwing around for the last decade as part of what might be seen by some as a movement, of sorts.  This word is “authentic.”  There are those of us who seek to reclaim our own authenticity in a society that is replete with the means to defeat that purpose.  The irony that social media is touted as a means to “represent your individuality” as you flit around more or less anonymously from twitter to facebook to your own blogs and then to “klout” is not lost on me.

 

And I haven’t yet become so immersed in all this that I’ve forgotten what I am doing even as I post this comment.  It’s like railing against the “capitalist machine”and then going out and buying a white chocolate mocha at Starbucks.  I’ve seen pretentious beret-wearing motherfuckers do this in New York City, and I do nothing but shake my head and laugh.  I haven’t really got the motivation to point out the hilarity of what they’ve just done.

 

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  My hypocrisy will only extend so far.

 

But what are we trying to do in the modern world when we define our authentic selves?  Is it right to say that the people who read my blog and who share my facebook posts and wall pictures really know who the hell I am?  Is it healthy to feel a sort of rejection at not being “retweeted” or “given klout points” at least once a week?

 

I’m not going to lie to any of you.  I ventured into twitter and the social networking scene with serious trepidation.  I didn’t want some image or caricature of myself to be the only thing that people really understood about me.  I don’t want the darkness of the fiction I write to be the only thing that registers with people every single time they view my profile picture, and I don’t particularly care to see others as one dimensional visages of the night, sparkly vampires, dark lords, or anything of the sort.  The novelty of that wears off pretty quickly for someone like me because I’m the type of person that is interested in the layers underneath the facade.  Maybe it’s because I studied psychology in college and worked in mental health for almost 7 years, but the fact remains that it isn’t easy to sort through all the bullshit to get to what’s real for each of us anymore.  We can pretend all we want to that modern technology has created easier means through which to communicate, but that’s only a part of the process.  I would argue that modern technology has simply afforded more of us a global reach with our words, images, and quirky surface level personalities.

 

But if I was to pick ONE Of my blog or twitter followers right now and attempt to have a real “conversation” with him or her, I would have to start from the beginning with the word “hello.”  I would seek to find out how they’re feeling in that very moment, how their days have gone, and what’s so special about their lives that they feel the need to share it with the world.  And it would not be meant as a means to denigrate or to spew invective about how “eccentric” or pretentious people can be.  We all have those tendencies. It’s almost imperative that we do in order to stand out nowadays in social media…

 

Where do the false expectations from our World Wide Web followers and public supporters come from?  Do we pigeon hole ourselves with the images that we create; the avatars with which we “dance with the devil in the pale moonlight?”

 

Writers seem to have a particularly nuanced way of doing this through their use of social media.  Simply put, social media has become a means through which writers can “show their wares.”  I can think of a few people who simply want their writing to speak for itself, and yet I can think of quite a few others who are so desperate to sell their writing that they would sooner have me follow them on twitter just so that some bot that they took the time to set up months ago will automatically bombard me with their inflated egos.  That bothers me, but not because I am not curious about their writing.  Goodness knows that someday I hope to be shilling my own wares on unsuspecting victims..I mean a captive audience.  But I have to wonder if the author behind the bot really intended for people like me to be turned off or simply bemused by their stunning lack of personal connection with one of their potential readers.

 

And then I realize as I have this thought, my mind circles back to the word “authentic.”  What is the authentic essence of the person behind the bot?  Who the fuck are they, really?  Do they want me to know, or are they trying to evoke an image in order to strike a chord and sell me something?  And how does MY authentic self fit into this equation?

 

Am I buying what they’re selling?

 

No lie, sometimes the answer to that last question is a resounding YES!

 

Can we strive to be “authentic” then in a world that practically demands that we put on airs? Let’s face it, even at our regular places of employment, most of us are busy doing and saying things that we don’t want to be doing or saying, especially nowadays when it is so imperative that we keep the jobs that we have.  It can be such a tiresome process.

 

Yet the few people who truly know the “real” me didn’t garner that information purely from social media.  For those who didn’t meet me before my amusing adventures on the internet, something about the image that I evoked sparked enough of an interest from them that they took their curiosity to the next level.  The reverse has happened to me on rare occasions too.  I’ve attempted real communication with a select few of my slowly growing list of followers on websites like twitter.

 

In the end, the people who really begin to get to know the real me are the ones who can close down twitter, facebook, klout, and all the other internet bullshit and just hang.  I can talk to them about things that have nothing to do with my writing, and have just as much fun.  We can chew the fat about our day to day thoughts.  I can congratulate new parents, ask my female friends why the fuck I don’t understand the sizes pertaining to women’s fashion, and I can even sit with the best of them in comfortable silence and just “be me.”  That is a rare thing indeed, and nothing offered by digitalized personae will ever come close to that.

 

 

I know I know.  I’m posing more questions than I’m answering.  But what’s life without these kinds mysteries?  Are you reading this right now and wondering if this is the real me?  Maybe you should wonder.  Better yet, drop me a line and find out for yourself. 😉

 

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