Thursday, September 6, 2018

My Op on that anonymous NYT Op-Ed

So I read that New York Times Op-Ed this morning on my way to work and I’ve been secretly angry all day. Here is my rant on it, so that it doesn’t keep rattling inside my own head. Happy birthday to me…

You’re a senior official working in the White House and the New York Times has published your Op-Ed anonymously, the first anonymous NYT Op-Ed ever. In it you talk about how you and others like you are are working from inside the Trump administration to “frustrate parts of his agenda and his worst inclinations.”

Clearly this is not working as well as you had hoped. You consider yourself to be part of a “resistance” made up of like-minded officials and aides in the administration. I wouldn’t call this a resistance so much as a passive aggressive pact to annoy someone who refuses to be a team player.

You say that you want the administration to succeed (despite Trump) and that you believe in many of the policies. But that the “the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic.” So you and others have vowed to thwart Trump’s “more misguided impulses until he is out of office.”

Until he is out of office. We are currently only into the second year of his presidency, and look at the damage that has already been done, not only domestically, but Trump has also alienated us with the international community. Until he is out of office. Think of the all the damage that will be done by the end of his first term. God help us if he is re-elected for a second term.

You go on to say:

The root of the problem is the president’s amorality. Anyone who works for him knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles that guide his decision making.

I would say that anyone who has ever heard him speak, who has ever seen him on television, who has ever read any of his Tweets, knows he is not moored to any discernible first principles, or any principles other than what governs his narcissism.

From the White House to executive branch departments and agencies, senior officials will privately admit their daily disbelief at the commander in chief’s comments and actions. 

Much like a group of teenagers talking trash about a mutual “friend” behind her back.

It may be cold comfort in this chaotic era, (cold comfort? Try no comfort) but Americans should know that there are adults in the room. Are you sure you’re adults? Not a bunch teenagers in a petty fight over who should be anointed king and queen of homecoming?

[W]e are trying to do what’s right even when Donald Trump won’t. 

If this is supposed to make us feel better about the Trump presidency, it’s not working. Are we supposed to just trust in some anonymous officials and aides who are not elected, who are not held accountable to the people, and who definitely have their own agendas, to do what is right? What does "right" even mean to you? We don't know, because we don't know you.

There are bright spots that the near-ceaseless negative coverage of the administration fails to capture….But these successes have come despite…the president’s leadership style. 

There it is again. Despite Trump. Then why do we need to keep him around? Can’t someone else do just as well?

Given the instability many witnessed, there were early whispers within the cabinet of invoking the 25th Amendment, which would start a complex process for removing the president. But no one wanted to precipitate a constitutional crisis.

Stephen Colbert put it best: “I want to point out that technically the 25th amendment is not a constitutional crisis. It’s a constitutional remedy.” The 25th amendment is part of the constitution, it is there to prevent a crisis. Use it!

So we will do what we can to steer the administration in the right direction until — one way or another — it’s over. 

Yeah. When everything ends in fire and brimstone. For those of us waiting for Trump to do something so egregious that even your dear old Republican Party would agree to an impeachment, you are not doing us any favors. All you're doing is bandaging up the wound, while the wound itself is already infected and festering and it's only a matter of time before someone loses a limb.

You're published anonymously because you don't want to lose your job. Well, maybe you should lose your job. You're not doing what you were hired to do—that is, to help President Trump realize his goals for the administration. Maybe you should quit if your job is such a frustration to you. You would be better able to undermine Trump by exposing his erraticism and instability. You're clearly just living in your own delusion that what you're doing is for the greater good. And that is the problem with people who act in the shadows, behind closed doors, anonymously, all the while believing that they are working for an abstraction called "the greater good." Nobody can call you out for your mistakes or your misguided ideas. Did you even stop to ask what we, the American public, want?

So what if you're working to undermine Trump’s presidency behind the scenes? His die-hard supporters only hear what he tells them and only sees the results of his administration as his successes. Your silence is not doing anything to pierce the veil of their ignorance. And your shadowy machinations against their president may only fuel their support of his leadership. They'll just point to you and call you a traitor instead of listening to what you have to say about your experience.

The bigger concern is not what Mr. Trump has done to the presidency but rather what we as a nation have allowed him to do to us. We have sunk low with him and allowed our discourse to be stripped of civility.

I agree with you on that. But, once again, you are not doing much to help remedy that situation.

Senator John McCain put it best in his farewell letter. All Americans should heed his words and break free of the tribalism trap, with the high aim of uniting through our shared values and love of this great nation.

It is so high and mighty of you say that we as a people should put aside our differences and embrace our shared values and out mutual love for our nation. That we should work together to make this nation what we want it to be, despite Trump. But those are just bullshit platitudes. People’s feelings and ideals are way more complicated than a simple love for our nation can resolve. We need a leader who can demonstrate that we can reach across the aisle and work together without giving up on personal values. And clearly this leader does not share any of the values that you, that we, hold dear. We will just continue to divide along red and blue lines.

Your piece in the New York Times is little more than a self-congratulatory letter, little more than an attempt to make yourself feel better about being part of this unhinged administration and an attempt to justify your remaining in your position.

To you I say, no thanks. You are not excused. We don’t need your ineffective “resistance.”

Monday, August 20, 2018

The night wrapped itself up in me [poem]

The night wrapped itself up in me,
covered my eyes and whispered
sweet nothings in me.
I shivered in its cold embrace,
smothered in a blanket of
late-night breeze, icy tendrils
reaching through me —
the ghostly touch of death.

How I loved, in my loneliness,
the human feeling of a
stranger’s embrace,  a
momentary encounter of heat,
bodies open to each other.
How heady desperation and desire
gave way to ecstatic release.
No reservations.

When it’s all over, the cold
sweat settles like water on pavement
after a heavy rain.
How that feeling of connection
is broken, lost
to the sightless dark of night,
as we each fumble through the lamp-light
of the moon to go our separate ways.
The silence of the evening
averts our gaze and ushers us away.

The night wrapped itself up in me,
held me tight in its cold embrace
and whispered its loneliness
into me.

{Note: Poem was published in Vol. 2, Iss. 3 of Rigorous, an online journal edited and written by people of color} 

Artwork by dreamersid

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Descent [poem]

Note: This poem was published in Rigorous, an online journal edited and written by people of color, in Volume 1, Issue 2.

Light strikes the eye’s pupils—contraction 
Striking pain in the pinprick fore of the head 
Like lightning colliding with a tree 
Turning it charred 

Of colors—surging red rushing thunderous dome 
            Boom booming of heart drum in ear caverns 
            Angry welts of purple green vision 
            Red hot rage fizzing soda pop 
Vibrating buzz of internal machine like 
            angry hornets’ nest dropped on concrete 

The sour taste of yellow on the flesh 
As lovers peel off each other 
Slicked sweat and sultry 
The piercing A-sharp scream of cat 
            Shaking earthquake vibrations 
            Through bones and up spine, unsteady 
            Juddering arm joints, quaking finger sticks
Thunderous crash of bullet leaving barrel 
Spouse / partner / husband / wife 
No silencer—ringing alarms in ear domes 
Crimson ricochets off the walls and the 
White white sheets splattered 
            Entrails like roadkill sick 
Swimming vision fading orange green blue navy 

Gentle kiss of glowing gold on lids of optical receptors 
Tight hug from belted arms white wrapped about 
            Cold body 
            Of ghost, whiteness like clouds, ephemeral mist 
            Lightness of body floating floating 
Into ozone 
Blissed nap in padded box, dessert pills of happy woozy 
Love love love 
Comfort and hazy drawing closed curtains of gray dark 
            Coming through the other side of shadow
            This descent into madness

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Game of Thrones Theory: The Dragons! [SPOILERS]

This theory is based on the what happened after the latest -leaked- episode in Game of Thrones (season 7, episode 6).

For those of you who have not caught up on the latest season of Game of Thrones… 

First of all, what is wrong with you? Season 7 is by far the most exciting season. Everything is coming together. Everybody who was scattered throughout Westeros and Essos are back. There are more deaths. Even someone I have completely given up hope on many seasons ago makes an appearance in the leaked episode 6! 

Second, you should stop reading now if you are not caught up, because SPOILERS AHEAD. 

So this week, episode 6 of HBO’s Game of Thrones season 7, set to air this coming Sunday, August 20 at 9 pm Eastern Time, was leaked. Of course, anybody who is obsessed with Game of Thrones and streamed the episode online, myself included. 


A quick recap: 

Jon Snow and company, including Jorah Mormont, Tormund Giantsbane, The Hound, Beric Dondarrion, and the newly-returned Gendry-bastard-son-of-Robert-Baratheon, and some minor characters, head north of the wall to capture a Wight so they can bring it to Cercei to demonstrate the existence of the White Walker threat, and hopefully unite the two warring Queens and the Northern houses against the White Walkers. 

In the process, the party end up surrounded by a humongous horde of Wights and their White Walker leaders in the middle of a frozen lake. They manage to send Gendry back to the Wall, who then sends a raven to Daenarys, who comes to the party’s rescue, but not before a fight breaks out between the party and the Wights and a few minor characters and Thoros of Myr gets killed. 

In comes Daeny and her three dragons, blasting fire at the Wights, and Drogon with Daeny lands to rescue what remains of the party and their captive Wight and saves the day. BUT WAIT! At the last minute, Jon (being a stupid hero) charges at an oncoming Wight while the others scramble onto to Drogon’s back. Meanwhile a White Walker lieutenant takes a giant ice spear and throws it hundreds of feet into the air, AND KILLS ONE OF THE DRAGONS, causing it to fall out of the sky and plunge into the icy lake. (It’s not immediately clear which dragon was killed, but I assume it was Viserion. The reason I say this is because Rhaegal is clearly meant for Jon and Daeny is riding Drogon.) GUYS, THERE ARE ONLY THREE DRAGONS AND NOW ONE OF THEM IS DEAD. NOOOO. 

Jon yells at Daeny to take off and she does, and as she flies off on Drogon with the rest of the party, she watches as Jon plunges into the icy lake while fighting off a horde of Wights. 

While the party return to the Wall and prepare to sail (back to Dragonstone? immediately to King’s Landing?), Daeny stands and watches for Jon, hoping for his miraculous return. Back at the scene of the battle with the undead, Jon emerges from the icy depths of the lake, grabs Longclaw and prepares to fight to the death when, out of nowhere, uncle half-White-Walker-Benjen shows up on a horse and rescues him. HOLY ****! Benjen puts Jon on his horse and it brings Jon back to wall and he and Daeny have a bittersweet reunion as he metaphorically bends the knee, acknowledging her as the Queen of the Seven Kingdoms. 

At the end of the episode, we see a group of Wights dragging heavy chains from the lake and we realize, OMG no they’re turning the dead dragon into a Wight… and that is exactly what happens. 

Which leads me to my theory about the riders of the three dragons. There has been many theories as to who will be the riders of the three dragons brought to life by Daenerys. It has become pretty clear that two of them is obviously Daeny herself, and Jon Snow, who is a secret Targaryen. Since season 7 episode 6 revealed that Jon is not a bastard at all and is a true-blooded Targaryen and a legitimate heir to the Iron Throne, there is pretty much no question he is one of the dragon riders. But there has been so much speculation about who the third rider will be, including in some theories Tyrion, and Jaime Lannister (who is also theorized to be Azo Ahai, The Prince That Was Promised). 

Here’s my theory, in light of what happened in the latest episode, that leads to the conclusion that one of the white walkers is (was?) a Targaryen. 

Hear me out. 

We all know about Craster. He was a wildling that lived alone with his daughter-wives and provided information to the Night’s Watch about the wildlings and on the happenings beyond the wall. Craster was also not a full-blooded wildling. According to the story, he was fathered by a member of the Night’s Watch with a wildling woman and who then abandoned them. 

Aemon Targaryen was a maester in the Night's Watch. His timeline and Craster’s timeline coincides. Aemon lived a long time. He could have been one of a ranging party that went beyond the wall at some point and fathered Craster. (Do I remember correctly that in earlier in the series, Aemon said, in his warnings to Sam or Jon about love being the death of duty, that he had never accepted the advances of any women except for one?) 

Craster had many children, both sons and daughters. (His penchant for marrying his daughters and fathering children by them is a very Targaryen characteristic.) He made a deal with the Night King to give up his sons as long as the White Walkers left him alone. As we saw in an earlier season, Jon witnessed one of Craster’s infant sons being turned into a White Walker by the Night King. 

My theory is that at least one of those sons became a member of the Night King's elite group of lieutenants. And now you have a Targaryen White Walker. And now they have a dragon. 

Of course, I can't find any proof that Aemon ever went beyond the wall, but in all his decades of service, he never went on a ranging? That's hard to believe. 

I also can't find anything about who Craster's father is, just that he was fathered by someone in the Night's Watch. He could very well have been fathered by Aemon. 

Craster’s story also goes on to say that his mother brought him to the wall when he was born to show him to his father, but was turned away by the Night's Watch. Who, at that time, needed to keep their honor more than a Targaryen? 

Of course, this would mean that there are far more Targaryens remaining than we previously thought, and that means that Gilly is also a secret Targyen and so is her son. 

But this theory fulfills the three heads of the dragon prophecy, especially now that one of the dragons is a Wight. I don’t know, there are crazier theories, right? 

(I have been told that I am not the only one who has argued this. So, I'm not totally crazy...

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Love story [poem]

Here we are at the top of the proverbial ivory tower of amor. The beautiful facade of sparkling glass jewels, like an ideal — sharp facets, reflecting the blinding sun, the brilliance diverting eyes from the crumbling foundations built up through the decades. The river is shallow, running through the archway, eroding the last bits of sturdy stone. The black is faded near to gray and the white is covered in dust, shabby — grown closer than ever but fading. The snow is whiter than the white. But how does one tell, looking from such a distance. A shadow lurks in the frame of picture perfection. It is there even when not captured on camera. The dull edge of a blade can still cut with intention. Sharp pain can be assuaged by pills while still bleeding out. Paint chips off the fire escape as we stand on the edge, flames obscured, emblazoned by fiery passion.

Come see us in our vainglory. Are we not exactly what you have aspired to be?

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The Disappearances [book review]

The DisappearancesThe Disappearances by Emily Bain Murphy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a digital advance reader's copy of this book through Netgalley. This book will be released on July 4, 2017.

In the town of Sterling, its citizens are cursed to lose something ordinary every seven years and nobody can figure out why. First they lose their sense of smell, then their reflections, followed by colors, dreams, the stars in the night sky, and the sound of music. They are called The Disappearances. Nobody who was a residence of Sterling when The Disappearances began could escape its effects, even if they leave, except for one, Aila and Miles Quinn’s mother, Juliet.

Fifteen year old Aila Quinn and her younger brother Miles are sent to live with the Cliftons, the family of their mother’s childhood best friend, in Sterling after their mother dies and their father is drafted to fight in the war. Aila is thrown into a world of mystery and mistrust as the town’s residences harbor a secret suspicion that her mother was the cause. Aila is determined to clear her mother’s name and, with the help of the Cliftons’ teenage son, friends from the Sterling high school, and her mother’s notes in her old copy of the Shakespeare plays, they work to get to the bottom of the curse. Meanwhile, an unknown menace from Aila’s mother’s childhood stalks ever closer, threatening the lives of not only Aila and her brother, but also those she has come to love, and the entire town of Sterling.

For a debut novel, this was an entertaining and engrossing read. Although the story was fairly predictable and a little slow going at times, it was satisfying. It is a good young adult novel full of the typical teenage angst, first loves, sibling fights and misunderstandings, and the struggle to grow up in a world of loss. Interspersed with the magic and mystery of the Disappearances, it is well-written, the characters are easy to like, and you find yourself invested in finding out what happens to them at the end. In all honesty, I was first drawn to the book’s cover, and then the story’s description was so intriguing, I had to read it. It was overall satisfying read.

View all my reviews

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Stella '17 [poem]

Note: This poem was published in Rigorous, an online journal edited and written by people of color, in Volume 1, Issue 2.

These high piles of snow lining the sides of the streets
has me walking on the straight and narrow, 
starting and ending at the crosswalks, 
waiting for the lights, and looking out for cars,
like you’re supposed to;
no more short cuts between parked cars,
no more jaywalking in the middle of the street,
no more detours through driveways and bike lanes...
I'm left with no other choice but to navigate
thin patches of concrete wide enough only for one person,
single-person meandering walkways,
negotiating with other unfortunate pedestrians
for that precious piece of clean sidewalk
through the white snow, packed snow, dirty snow,
navigating treacherously over brown slush
halfway through the crosswalk, only to be stopped
by a dark gray puddle of melted once-snow,
looking like the cold mush of nightmares,
that you need to leap over, run around, climb past
over the packed slick hills, or risk walking through it
(how deep is it, really?).
I always supposed the straight and narrow
to be the road of least resistance, but now that I realize
it is only full of hidden dangers and unexpected troubles,
I think I prefer my way of clever shortcuts and
shrewd calculations, risking known dangers and
making leaps of faith,
for you are not entirely blind when making your own way;
you are guided by life's experiences.

zig zag