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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..

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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

 

 

Duck, Duck, Person…

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/30/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

It was another early morning wake up time for me.  The sun hadn’t crept into my room through my open window yet, but the cold air definitely made my toes curl. My blanket had gotten twisted off of my bed, a sure sign that I’d had at least one nightmare.  I’ve gotten used to waking up with my blanket in knots under my arms, or even with my blanket having been tossed to the other side of the room violently.  When I was in high school, I woke up once to serious pain in my right hand, and a knuckle sized indent in my bedroom wall.

 

I groaned as I got out of bed and dragged my computer to me like a willing lover.  I did what I’ve been kicking myself for doing lately.  I checked twitter, I checked Facebook, I checked the stats of my blog, and I checked a couple of other websites.  In truth, I felt hopelessly lost, like one of the Knights of the Round Table in search of the elusive Holy Grail.   I don’t even know what the hell I’m looking for anymore.  Checking the internet just feels automatic now.  I’m up, it’s time to check to see if my life on the internet is worth all the time and energy I seem to put into it lately.  Gotto tell you all, it wasn’t.  And none of my other friends were going to be awake anyway, so there would be no Skyping or instant messaging with them. I was alone again among a different crowd on the world wide web.

 

Once I was done messing around with my computer, I got dressed, brushed my teeth, and got the fuck out of dodge.  My family was asleep.  So were their dogs, thank God.  Those yippie little motherfuckers have a habit of barking and giving away my position when I want to let my family sleep in.  They act like it’s my fault my parents were up late again watching bad television. It’s all I can do not to kick them both before I leave the apartment.  Worse, I’ve been feeling a cold sort of cruelty lately, a disdain for most of humanity that could easily become a dragon’s fire that consumes everyone in my path.  Maybe some of my muses are trying to wake the fuck up again so they can distract me from whatever is making me feel this way.  With my luck with writing lately, I just don’t know that it will happen.  Granted it’s only been a couple of days since my last couple of thousand words, but it’s still another frustration that I don’t want . I’m doing the mental masturbating that I’ve gotten so sick of lately.  My mind’s left hand is going either fall off or get really hairy.

 

But I figured if I was going to brood over something, I might as well go do it over at my favorite duck pond.

 

And it didn’t take me long to get there.  My feet were able to find the familiar path even thought the rest of me was so distracted by other things.  And it was nice to not be utterly surrounded with people at the park on a sunny, 45  day.

 

The pond was definitely pretty.  Morning sun reflects off the water in a different way than the afternoon sun does.  The ducks are lazier too.

 

They were doing something that I have never been awake and out at the pond early enough to see them do.  One duck would lazily swim along, his feet just kind of swishing behind him in the water.  Then without warning, he’d duck his head under the water as his body kept moving forward.  It was a bit like watching a feathered submarine.  When he wanted to see above the water again, he’d poke his head up slowly, like a periscope.  I had to smirk at that moment.  The hunt for Red October was on.

 

But then another duck showed up.  The first duck kept his head but he didn’t see the second duck making a bee line for him in the water.  Their paths were about cross.  It wasn’t going to be a violent collision, but maybe they would have quacked at each other or something.  But just when they were about to collide, they both stuck their heads below water and passed each other with two sets of moving ripples.  They were two feathery submarines with the same mission in mind, and they just missed each other by inches.

 

I love my ducks, but I don’t know a heck of a lot about them.  I don’t know if they communicate underwater using “quack” bubbles or anything like that.  But the sight of two ducks missing each other by inches got me to thinking New York pedestrians, and how many of them I witness each day passing each other like these ducks.  Instead their heads aren’t buried under the green, sunlit water of a pond looking for food.  The heads of these curious “New Yorker” creatures are looking down at their smart phones and their kindles, texting, reading, not looking where they are going a great deal of the time, and still managing to avoid each other.

 

And I find that sad.

 

I am not going to sit here and type out this BLOG post while condemning social media.  My hypocrisy will only stretch so far.  I am an American consumer, and like the rest of us, I’ve somehow embraced the tenets of capitalism and technology’s role in said norms.

 

But I can’t lie to you either.  There are some very interesting people in this world,  and I’m sad to see them looking at their smart phones instead of paying attention to the world around them.  There are teenagers with keen intellect in their eyes, pretty women and handsome, snappily dressed men with stories written all over their faces, old people with tales of their glory days just itching to be shared with young strangers like me.  And even in places like Central Park, they wander around practically Eskimo kissing their smart phones in an attempt to communicate while the world around them continues to exist.  Spring flowers continue to bloom. Tiny robins tweet (and not on the internet). Potential conversations with real people are avoided.  Gothic Architecture isn’t admired. Food festivals aren’t savored for the unique cultural experience that they provide. And even the potential for romance seems to fly out the window, replaced (most believe) by something known as internet speed dating.

 

I’ve done my share of internet “dating” too.  It flies in the face of everything I was taught about love and romance growing up.  Then again, maybe that’s not always a bad thing in my case 😉  Live  with my parents for a month and you’ll think that movie “War of the Roses” was a picture of paradise.

 

I met a special someone on the internet.  It isn’t always easy.  Only time, at this point, will tell me if it will work. I gamble with my heart when I think it’s worth it.  Deep down, despite my apparently cold view toward people, I think she has the potential to be.

 

My parents didn’t prepare me for that one.

 

But what does it mean when the people around you all start to look like ducks who bury their heads underwater looking for something special?  Ducks have a simple reason to “duck,” don’t they?

 

Maybe people have their reasons too, but I am only really beginning to understand what they are. I do it myself, and I’m still trying to understand why..

 

“Duck and cover” isn’t just something people say when fighting breaks out.

 

 

What do you all think out there in internet land?  Why do people lower their heads and avoid the potential for joy and goodness in their lives? I’d love to hear from any of you on this subject.

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