Archive for personal

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.

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

 

 

In The Thick of It

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life, The Writing Process (How do I Come up These Beats?) with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 09/28/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

Ok. I’m going to get to the heart of the matter.

Life is weird. Life is hard. I don’t know why, but I’m going through a blue period.

It isn’t as though there’s any reason that I can discern for it. Life may be hard, but I am living my dreams. I am writing for the masses. I hope to make some money at it someday. My work is being read by more and more people. I am having fun losing myself in the universes that I create.

I also feel alone even when I am surrounded by others.

I somehow don’t know how to react to the taste of success. It could be seconds away from my fingertips, and I would have an attack of nerves. I’d get cold feet  if I had to give a speech in public. Maybe I should just read it in someone else’s voice!

I’ve gotten colder. I’m not going to lie. My inner warrior took over. My mind has been on nothing but self defense and survival for so long now, that I can’t seem to shut it off and just breathe. I can’t put down the sword.

How often does one receive an anonymous gift of flowers?

And how did I forget to breathe when I got that gift? It doesn’t seem right to me.

Plainly, I’ve more work to do in learning to accept friendship, gratitude, love, admiration, and respect. I somehow got the impression that I didn’t deserve any of those things. I’m not going to delve into my past. I’ve already been there and done that. It’s time to move on.

I made a video tonight with new free editing software. In truth, I’m not at all sure how I did it. I didn’t add any effects. I didn’t speed anything up or slow anything down. It just sort of came together and turned out pretty well. My writing is the same way.  I don’t know where the fuck the next sentence is going to come from, but I plunk down one and than another. Before I even realize what I’ve done, I’ve amassed more than a thousand words inside of an hour.

I feel like my life has been that way. I don’t have a plan. I just get up, suit up, show up and hope to goodness that something good comes from my efforts.

Life often fucks with me when I make too many plans. So I have to tread with some care, it seems.

I’m awfully tired lately. I have a short fuse. People who waste my time become nothing but irritants.

And I’m worrying everyone around me. Co workers shake their heads and wonder why I go silent. Friends ask me what the matter is. My parents cock their heads and furrow their brows.

I feel like telling them all to back off.

But I won’t. It isn’t anyone’s intention to get under my skin or to try to make me admit to things that I don’t want to talk about. But the only answer I have for such a question is “don’t give up on me.” I can’t speed this along. I’m obviously in it. I’ll figure my way out of it. I always do.

Though I wonder if I’ve spent my entire life living with such a pattern. Perhaps these mood swings are seasonal in nature. It might explain why I brood so much during the fall.

Then again, maybe I brood because I haven’t yet learned to recognize my own progress.

It’s a lesson we might all need to be reminded of. It pays to take stock, but to focus too narrowly on one single detail can be toxic.

I’ll hold onto my flowers. I’ll keep writing my stories. I’ll keep blogging, recording my voice and making my vids.

I’ll keep trucking. With some better rest along the way, even I might learn to see the bright side of life.

Until then, maybe it’s best if I just get through the obstacles in my way and move along until I give a damn again.

Anyways, enjoy the vid. I made this bad boy myself 😉

 

 

 

 

The Ever Elusive “Job…”

Posted in The Flow and Rhythm of Life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/17/2012 by Angel D. Vargas

 

Things got interesting for me this morning when I woke up at around 10 AM.  I realized I hadn’t been putting my name out there  for potential jobs.  It’s a hell of a thing to wake up to, especially with the change of season upon us all.  There are goals to meet. There at so many things to do.  There’s all that damned Spring Cleaning I’ve been putting off (mostly because it seems other people have left ME in charge of it for the whole family).

 

But having been home for about year, I’ve noted how pathetic everyone seems to think the economy is out here.  In a place like New York City, one doesn’t normally expect that to happen.  I know I sure didn’t when I made me way back here from a town in Illinois where I was living at one time with an old college friend.

 

But then I had to try to find a job out here.  That was when I found out how bad things really are.

 

I’ve developed a routine for how I do it now.  There are websites I’ve bookmarked just for the express purpose of the search.  Search engines, resume engineering, cover letter writing, phone calls, and the use of family connections have all been a part of my arsenal for the claiming of mount JOBMORE in the name of my Spanish relatives.  I hoof it from time to time, walking the streets.  I do it to get away, but I can’t help but think of the new structures that are being built around this place, wondering if I can land at job with any of the companies that hire workers for high rise residences.  It’s crap work, but I’ve got bills to pay.

 

There are indeed tons of things to be frustrated about in today’s job search, but the one thing that has really started to aggravate me are the words “previous experience required,” particularly when it comes to minimum wage jobs that a Cocker Spaniel could do blindfolded.

 

I don’t mind hard work.  In fact I often find at the jobs that I have held that I have been the one to step up to do the work that nobody else wanted to do.  That all stopped being worth it at the last shit job that I held at some publishing factory in Oregon.  All I got for my hard work there was tennis elbow and a serious grudge against the temp agency that refused to help me find a better job.

 

But nowadays, clicking on any type of minimum wage job ad on places like “craigslist.org” or other websites often gets you into the description of the job followed by the words “previous experience required” or “At least 5 years experience preferred.”   And these are all for ENTRY LEVEL positions.  Come on, really? Do I need 5 years worth of experience saying “you want fries with that?”

 

Yet when you hear the news reports and read the internet articles, you begin to realize that for every one job out there, there may be close to a thousand applicants who all think that they’re qualified.  What are the odds that many of them DO have more experience than I do “selling shoes” or “cashiering?”  With lay offs being so wide spread across the country, the chances are pretty high.  It makes me wonder why I should bother to try.

 

But I literally cannot afford to give in to that despair, especially not now.

 

Getting back into the hunt felt a lot like being a pro wrestler that’s come out of retirement.  I wonder if I’ve still got the strength and speed I need to land my moves.  I ponder whether or not I’m still in decent enough shape for the camera.  I wonder, most of all, if I can still sell myself as the bad ass that everyone needs to see, that everyone wants to be like.  I wonder, if after all this time, anyone wants to hire me at all.

 

Sitting in front of the computer and typing in “craigslist.org” in the browser section of “google chrome” was one of the slowest-going things I’ve had to do for a while.  I just dreaded that it would mean more the same endless drudgery that burned me out in the first place.  The computer screen felt like it was disappearing further and further into the distance the longer I sat there, waiting, willing myself to press “enter” on my keyboard.  I just didn’t want to start this all over again.

 

But start it I did.  And then I continued it.  I filled out two online applications and that was all I could stomach before I had to quit 4 hours later.

 

I’ll try it again either tomorrow or the day after.  There are plenty of other things to do.  A book needs to be written.  Cleaning needs to happen.  A family needs to be subtly taken care of from the shadows

 

 

I need a  vacation – previous experience required.

 

After having held job after job after job that I’ve hated, I just want to do something I can tolerate until I launch a career as a writer.  Let’s face it folks.  Life is not worth living if you have to lie about what or who you love.

 

 

Adios, my  fine feathered friends.

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