Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Paper Skin

I have bled words and blood
In equal measure
Though more often, lately
It is the words that spill from me
Sometimes in shy drops
Or the unfettered torrent of open veins of thought
Pouring a midnight sea of sorrow
Under starless skies
I wrestle with the demons
Of times and places in my before
When there was no guarantee of an after
Longing for a dawn of hope within
I have found it less soothing
To set pen to paper
Than to set blade to flesh
Yet I persist in resistance
Because I do not wish
To have my stubborn mind yield itself to temptation
As easily as flesh once yielded itself to steel
And so I sit
Pulling inspiration from my darkness
Like pulling monsters from the sea
And dragging them ashore to stand triumphant
Bleeding my words
Letting the nightmares spill across paper
As the ink sinks into the blank whiteness
My flesh has borne too many scars
And so I draw fresh trails in words and images
A map to new beginnings
Old endings sprawling from my tender, torn canvas
To the pristine whiteness of a new page
Like tracks winding through the depths
Of the first deep snow
I shall not be defined by the scars
Or the dark sea within my head
Where monsters lurk, seeking to pull down ships and sailors
I have had enough of blood
And of storms on dark seas
So instead, I give the world my thoughts
A more intimate deluge
Smearing dark waters across the light of realization
So that colors may bleed into the contrast
Giving life to a blooming hope
That, though I have not yet come so far from dark seas
Someday, there will be a sun upon the horizon

Wednesday, December 23, 2015


In order to see the sunrise
We have to let the stars fade
Like memories of days before
And colors from still-frames
I doubt the world would notice
If we tore out our bleeding hearts
They'd simply criticize our form and pose
While the blood dripped from our hands
And complain about the stains on their shoes
So I smile pretty
A plastic smile
Plastered on my face
Reminding me of the nights
Drawing shards of love across my throat
When you couldn't tell which smile
To kiss goodbye
My lungs screaming to a stop
As the world stands still
And I was alone in the moment

So we sing a song with meaning
Where the words make you stop and listen
A melody with feeling
Marking the lonely and our losses
Eyes wide open
Clinging to blurred images
Like hearts to dying feelings
Cutting down the final curtain
Before the last lines are spoken
Taking our last bow
As we burn ourselves out
Along with bridges we've crossed over
Casting handfuls of ashes into the past
I would rather burn for the truth
Than live for the lies in their eyes
If ignorance is bliss
I swear these must be happy times
While hearts lie, heavy
In all the sad, somber spaces

I remembered to smile
And wave goodbye
But I can't remember
If you laughed or cried
I found out today
How inspiration dies
We just lose heart
Standing under the gun
For the things we love
A trigger's pull from the end of the line
While all that was going through my head
Were thoughts of tomorrow
The barrel of the gun
Was carved with your name
The bullet engraved with the words
"Love, Always"

Sunday, November 15, 2015

No new thoughts, today

I have no new thoughts today, and really nothing to offer. My family and friends in Beirut and Paris are safe, and I'm eternally grateful for this fact. It is with the heaviest of hearts that my mind allows me, today, to realize that there are people who won't get to share my peace of mind. I don't want to politicize any of the recent events, though they are. I don't want to discuss my thoughts about cause/effect and what we can do. My silence now, is not indifference. It is grief and respect for a world where this happens all too often. The shortsightedness of humanity is stunning.The raw inhumanity of people, is appalling. The strength of will is inspiring.

Right now, I want to just be grateful, and to extend my deepest sympathies and all of my thoughts to those who, right now, can only mourn and recover. I stand with them in their time of need.

There will be more, but for now, I only wish to send love to everyone around the world who is suffering, be it from these recent tragedies, or their own personal ones.

I don't quite recall
If I read the words
Or saw the flashing images
On a screen
But I do recall that my drink paused
Before it reached my lips
And I stared, blankly
With hollow heart
At the world unfolding, darkly
Within mind's reach
As if the dust, and tears, and blood
Were my own
And it was not my hand alone
Reaching for phones or keyboards
Or any kind of peace to be had
As we struggled, across continents
To reach loved ones through the fear of the unknown
A thousand dying fires
Quenched by a million crying eyes
Voices raised
In a threnody for peace
That has been lost
Across the world
Scattered in the shell casings
Bright on the floor
And we all wept
With anger, and sadness
And more than enough fear
To fill the oceans

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

On the Necessity of Faking it

When dealing with mental health, simple things can be difficult. Anyone who has lived with a mental health issue can tell you that. Hell, anyone who has ever had a friend or loved one who has dealt with it can pretty much tell you that. And in current years, with some of the stigma of mental health being eroded, it's more acceptable to have those days... days when you just can't function, let alone with any real modicum of productivity. As more stigma erodes, it becomes more acceptable to be open about those bad days, and to really be able to focus on self care.

But the thing is, giving in to those bad days isn't always a great coping strategy. There is a necessity to slapping on that happy face and forcing yourself to confront the world, even on your shittiest, please-don't-make-me-leave-the-bed days. The day is already exhausting, and it only gets worse when you add in social obligations, professional obligations, and all the crap in between. We see the value of this in parents with depression and anxiety forcing themselves to ignore those feelings when they interact with their children. We see it in those moments at social gatherings where we "use" the bathroom for 15 minutes to catch a break because we're socially fatigued and worn out, but we don't want to be huge jerks to people who thought enough of us to ask us there. We see it in every person who goes to work and puts up with customers and coworkers and supervisors and manages to maintain that professional veneer over their inner core of get-me-the-fuck-out-of-here.

Look, I'm all for understanding and making allowances for people with mental health. I'm all for understanding that there are times when you really need to just tell the world to fuck off for a while so that you can get into a good headspace. The unfortunate truth is that we don't live in a world where you can really afford to d that as often as you may need to. Is that unfortunate? Yes. Is it going to change? Not really. The world won't wait for us, and even the most understanding people won't allow us to make excuses forever. There is a terrible necessity in the concept of "fake it 'til you make it." 

I know, I hate it as much as you do. The majority of the time, I don't even really feel better after I fore myself to do it. Rarely do I come home and relax and say "Wow, I'm glad I suffered through that purgatory of stupid." But that doesn't mean there are no benefits at all. It's about maintaining relationships. Part of faking it like that is to not let your mental health concerns dictate your life. Now, I'm not advocating to constantly make yourself miserable for the sake of maintaining appearances, but it's  two-way street, and being able to even just muster up the energy to smile and pretend to remember strangers' names for a few hours... or sit in a crowded movie theater... or celebrate something with a friend... those things stick out. It's kind of the adult thing to do, pretending. Only instead of imaginary friends and santa you're pretending to want to listen to whatever is being said, and pretending to not be screaming in your head.

And hey, if you need to "use the bathroom" for 15minutes of peace and quiet to regroup, do it. Step outside for some fresh air. Find an adorable pet to socialize with while ignoring people for a few minutes. Most importantly, know your limits, and respect them. You don't always have to push them, but always be aware that if there comes a time when you just can't pretend, don't bother. Call it an early night. Order pizza. Turn your phone off and watch a movie or do a puzzle or dance around in your underwear. Whatever you do to unwind, please do it. Self care is just as important as being willing to take those uncomfortable steps. It's about that balance between getting lost in your own head, and thinking that faking it is a fix. it's not, but it's a good way to regain normalcy. To show effort to the people and things you care about. Hell, even if all it is is a reminder that socializing and obligations can be tedious and exhausting, it isn't a zero sum game.

So go out there, do your best. Have as much fun as you can, and don't get too worried if it takes a while to strike a balance, or if it seems like too much. Take care of yourself, but just don't forget that the world is more than you, and most importantly, that none of us are defined by our struggle with mental health issues.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Real monsters

Samantha had always known the monster as there, even when she was very little. Of course, her parents always told her that there were no monsters in her closet, or under the bed, but she knew better. When the lights were out, the covers would come up over her head and she would lay very still. Sometimes, she heard the soft creak of the closet door. other times she felt the shift of a weight underneath her. She just squeezed her eyes closed very tightly and let silent tears flow. The monster would seem to hover, and in her mind she pictured long, terrible claws running gently down the fabric of the blanket she hid under, as some sort of shield of childish fantasy. Of course the monsters couldn't get her under the blanket. And so it went, with the beast coming rather regularly and Samantha doing her best to avoid alerting it to her wakefulness. It always seemed so menacing, but it never hurt her, and in her child's mind she assumed it was the safety of the blanket.

Growing up helped her forget the monster, sometimes. When mommy and daddy fought, it was especially hard to bring herself to be more scared of her nightly visitor than of the bruises that were left on her skin. It happened more and more since mommy started drinking and daddy lost his job. Now, her nightly tears were more often due to that than any fear. Still, sometimes she heard the closet door open, and with her face buried in the pillow she froze, feeling the familiar lump in her throat. It came less often, and most days she convinced herself the sounds were a dream, and that was all there was to it. Often, there were no feelings of menace, and on the worst nights, while she sobbed and hurt, the sound of the closet creaking open and the shuffling of feet across the carpet made her feel a little less alone. Even as a dream, she sometimes felt the comforting weight of someone patting her back, or sitting on the edge of the bed, the way she remembered her mother used to do when she had had a bad dream.

One night, Samantha found herself cowering beneath the covers, nursing fresh bruises and her wounded pride as she sucked on the swollen flesh of a freshly-split lip. What had been a remarkably tame day had devolved into an argument over under-cooked pasta, or overcooked meat, or something equally as stupid. Samantha had dared voice her own views, and the retort she received was in the form of a backhand slap that had sent her reeling. A few more well-delivered blows had sent Samantha stumbling from the dining room, where she had made a hasty retreat to her bed, slamming the door before collapsing into her blankets. Her body shook with her attempts to conceal her angry sobs, and she tried her best to drown out the shouting from downstairs. As she cried, she heard the creaking of her closet door opening, and the soft shuffling of some form moving across her carpet. She froze as she heard the sound of her doorknob turning, and the darkness was lessened as light spilled into her room. She peeked her head up over the covers, her eyes finding an empty room, and both her closet and bedroom doors wide open. 

As she gawked in confusion, she heard a change in the timbre of the argument downstairs. The angry shouting rose in pitch, and seemed to tremble. There was a shout from her father, and a loud crash that seemed to shake the house. Her mother began a long, high scream, like in those movies Samantha wasn't supposed to watch, but sometimes did when her parents were out. Her mother's scream was suddenly cut off, and the silence seemed to hang heavily in the air. Samantha didn't realize she was holding her breath until she felt the burning in her chest. Slowly she crept from her bed and out into the hall. Turning to look down the stairway, she saw a pair of legs poking out from a doorway, surrounded by pieces of what appeared to be a broken plate and flecked with bright red. It took her a moment to recognize her mother's heels, and she froze in fear. There was a shuffling sound from the room in which the rest of the body seemed to be. Edging out of the light, Sam saw a dark colored hand with long claws reach out and wrap around one of the legs, pulling it into the room and out of her vision. To her horror, only the one leg moved out of her line of sight, leaving a smear of blood across the floor. As she heard a sound like raw chicken being torn apart, she clenched her teeth, letting out an involuntary whimper as she backed up. The sound stopped, and Samantha ran to her bedroom, closing the door and burying herself under the covers. She heard the weight of something moving up the stairs, the creak of the fifth step. She squeezed her eyes shut as she heard her door open. Samantha saw the shadow of something moving across the light spilling from the hallway, and then there it was, hovering beside her bed. She felt the pressure of the monster's clawed hand as it ran slowly from he top of her head and down her back. There was a coppery smell and a warm wetness soaked through the blanket where the monster touched, but instead of sinking its claws into her, it repeated the motion. There was a soft gurgling sound, like water flowing down a drain, and it slowly dawned on Samantha that the creature was attempting to soothe her, while rubbing her back. She whimpered and sobbed, pulling her body into a tight ball, but the motions continued.

The gurgling stopped, and there was a low rumble as a raspy, frog-like voice broke the silence. It sounded like wasps, and sandpaper, and was mumbled as if the speaker was attempting to talk though teeth too large for their mouth. The claws continued to gently stroke Samantha's back as she sobbed.

"No worries, little one. The monsters can't hurt you anymore."

Friday, September 25, 2015

Reaper Dreams

Hush now, love. No more screaming. It’s all over. Now, now, that’s better, right? It doesn’t hurt, and I’m sure you’re thankful. I know you must be scared… they’re always scared, right after. But just try to breathe. That’s it, dear, just slow down; breathe. Look around. You’re safe here. It’s all okay now. Sincerely. It doesn’t hurt anymore, see? And I can’t imagine anything can actually hurt anymore.
That’s good. I know you’re frightened, but take a moment to gather yourself. You can hold onto me, I don’t mind. In fact, I insist. I’m here to help, in my own way. Let me help you up.
What happened? Your brakes failed, and you ran the light. A truck hit your car. Massive trauma to your chest and neck almost guaranteed you didn’t feel a thing, except maybe a flicker of dismay before your spine snapped. Quick and painless, just for you. But you’re alright now, I promise. At least as alright as you can be.
The hospital? No, dear, you’re not in a hospital. Not quite. Look around you. We’re still on the street. And I’m no doctor.
You’re dead. See? No, please, calm down.
Now stop screaming, and don’t look, if that helps. Yes, that’s your body, and no, I can’t change a thing. There isn’t much you can do about it now either, so just bear with me. And try to be quiet, you’re embarrassing us both, and I don’t relish being stared at. No use crying over spilt milk, really. Though, in this case, the milk is your life, and it isn’t so much spilt as smeared across the pavement. Take your time though. We’re still waiting on the door.

Stop screaming, please. Seriously, I know you're pretty worked up right now, but getting upset won't do you any good. You're just dead, and that's honestly not the worst thing you could be. And let’s be honest, at least…
You’re really going to try to run? You won’t get very far. They all try to run at first. Just sit down. Running won’t do you any good, you’re linked to that hunk of lifeless meat the same way I am. Neither of us can get more than a few yards away. All we can do is sit here and wait. Enjoy the moment, as far as I know it’s the last one you get on this world. That’s it, have a seat. Breathe, if it helps, though it’s pretty futile. Old habits die hard, I find. Here, you can use my sleeve to wipe the tears away. Would you like something to distract you? Well, we have some time, why don’t we talk? I’ve been dying to finally speak with you, if you’ll excuse the phrase. Here, come sit with me on this bench. You can ask me anything you’d like, about whatever is on your mind.
Whoa, slow down. One question at a time, please. This isn’t a joke or a prank. You’re really dead. Who am I? Asking what I am seems more appropriate to you. I’m no angel if that’s what you’re thinking. No, I’m not a devil either, so you can get that worried look off your face. You know me, though you may not think so. I'm the figure you see out of the corner of your eye in that dim time between sunset and night. In the twilight, in the times of transition, that is when my world blends to yours. My face may seem familiar to you, and that's because you have seen it your whole life. I am the flickering shadow of your dreams; the eyes and soothing voice that calms your nightmares. In those moments where you came close to death, I sat beside you. That week you overdosed and spent locked under observation? I held your hand as you slept. I stood guard over you. My heartbeat was in the slow ticking down of every clock, gently counting off your seconds as they drift away from you. That’s obviously a metaphor. As far as I know, we don’t have hearts.
Will you please stop staring? You’re making me self-conscious. I know that all came off a bit dramatic, but we have a lot of time to practice our introductions. No, before you ask, I am not human. At least, I don’t think I am. I merely appear human to appease your mind, if what I think is correct. It’s hard piecing everything together when you start over so many times. You’ll notice the subtle differences if you look closely: my skin is a touch too pale; my eyes are black, without distinction. If it was cold today, you’d see that my breath doesn’t frost. This is because I don’t breathe. I was not born, or at least I don’t remember being born. I came into this world beside one such as yourself, long ago, as I stood beside you at your beginnings. You must have felt it, at times. I was the presence over your shoulder, the darkest shadow in the room at night, while you lay fearfully between sleep and wakefulness. It may not always have been comforting. It isn’t meant to be, really. We’re here to protect you, yes, but there is another, more sinister aspect. I can tell you now, because it is already too late, and it will answer the question I can see behind your eyes.
I am your death.
Not just yours, though in this chronology you will only know me. I am the Gatekeeper, and your guardian of sorts. You are born into this world with an allotted time, and we guarantee that this appointment is kept. We keep you safe from the world, and from the monsters in it, and outside of it… but when your time is up, it is our hand on the trigger. You could call us guardian angels, but we’re nothing so concerned with your ultimate welfare. When I say we, of course, I mean that each of your kind has a Gatekeeper assigned to them, whose task it is to make sure they die when they’re supposed to. Me? I made your brakes fail. If you would like to know specifics, I altered probability so that right when I needed it to, your life would end. Nothing personal… it’s just, how do you humans love to put it?
It’s just business.
Monster? Oh dear, please, stop with the histrionics. I am not evil, I’m not here to hurt you, and I do have a name. I am no more good or evil than a thunderstorm, or an earthquake. Only humanity could find a way to attach taboo morality to behavior that existed before consciousness. I am what you would perhaps term a force of nature, though I am beyond nature. You could term it supernatural, but in reality, I’m just outside the nature you can perceive. We… my brothers and sisters and I, are amoral, just like this universe. I am not interested in good or evil. Those are human constructs, and I won’t be guided by your primitive taboos. Your wor… excuse me dear, what was that? My name? You can call me Sam, dear. Short for Samael, but that is far too formal for old friends. I know it sounds biblical, but let me assure you, your mythologies stole the names from us, not the other way around. I am far too honest and apathetic to plagiarize your world’s superstitions when the reality is far more complex than any human theology could express. Now what was I saying?
Ah yes.  
Your world, your reality… they answer to us. My kind and I bend the world around you to keep you safe for a while, until your allotted time is up, because otherwise, there would be a problem. A host of problems really, and none of them you’d like to see. Neither would I. What kinds of problems? I don’t really know, which means we’re all doing our jobs quite well these days. Humanity has always feared us, and always known us. We are featured in your mythologies and histories. I’m sure your more primitive ancestors huddled around fires and grunted their worries about us to each other as they struggled to survive. One thing I’ve always appreciated about you people is that you do so love a good story, especially a scary one. When your myths speak of the grim reaper, they are likely speaking of us. The angel of death, the ferry man of the river Styx, many of your ancient gods and demons and angels… these legends all refer to one of us, or many of us, in variety, or maybe some of our less savory cousins. Look around you, dear. There are more people than you remember seeing on your drive, yes? Well, you’ll notice many of them look like me. Yes, they can see you too. Feel free to wave, but please don’t stare. The end of a Charge is a very personal thing for us, and they do their polite best to avoid watching. They’re not voyeurs any more than I’m an exhibitionist, and it feels positively pornographic to draw their attention to this last exchange. Why do you think I asked you to stop screaming? There isn’t much that happens to us that is more personal than guiding a Charge through their death. That’s why I abhor any situation with high body counts… group goodbyes seem so tasteless and orgiastic.
Now back to what we are. We are the forces attributed to death in your frail human superstition. In fact, many of us gave our names to these myths, and to the names of your angels and demons and other fabled spirits. I personally don’t find it good practice to use these names. I prefer to comfort my Charges in their final moments before they completely shuffle off their mortal coil by being more personal and with the times, as you say. Perhaps these archaic names would have worked centuries ago… and they obviously did, as your cultures have robbed our names prominently… but in contemporary culture, if you tell someone your name is Charon, they look at you like you just sprouted a second head that was mouthing obscenities at them. I consider it good customer service to be accessible to you. I don’t want to be deceptive. Often charges turn to their insipid human belief systems to justify these moments. I’ve never seen God, nor have I spoken with Satan, and I’m not inclined to believe either of them exist. I’ve seen terrible monsters that would crush your fragile psyche, and they are a natural part of my life and reality. To us, it is laughable to watch your little lives pass in a blur of false promises from con artists and fools. If we don’t know where you go, how the fuck do you think any of your ignorant ancestors got it right? Please… they thought pigs were evil and there’s a good chance those tasty little mud-grubbers are smarter than the lot of you. They’re at least much happier in their short time, so who is the more intelligent species now?
You’ve seen us, now, and you know we’re around. We talk and laugh just as you do, though our jokes are a tad darker than most of you humans are used to. We deal death, so your conception of black humor is like knock-knock jokes to us. We’re a social group, out of necessity. Everyone else we know, we have to kill. We follow you from birth to death, watching you learn and grow. It’s a lonely life, so we fill it with each other, since humans are so singularly unaware of our presence. We are also not the only creatures that haunt worlds outside your perception, though I think we’re the most pleasant. Some of my cousins would terrify you beyond what your frail psyche could maintain. Your dreams and nightmares are seeded by these very imaginative creatures your myths have termed, rather uncreatively, Nightmares. There are more sinister monsters, too, which I won’t worry your head with discussing. You were ignorant of them your whole life, though humanity has always found a way to grab snapshots of them for their bedtime stories. Suffice to say that we fight for you, as well, because your lives are important to us, and to the world.
So if I’m not an angel or a demon, who or what I am? Well, I told you. I am a Gatekeeper, though sometimes we call ourselves Reapers out of some perverse black humor. When a human such as yourself has lived their allotted time, I let loose the steady hand of safety, and conspire with the world to snuff your life like a flame.  No, don’t look so sick or upset. Without us, there would be infinitely more death… or, more terrifyingly, much more life. No, we don’t force your hand in the life you live, we merely keep the end at bay, until your time is up. We can’t have you living too long, or dying too soon, and upsetting the balance. We stay in the hidden places of reality, pulling the strings of the world around you. Don’t ask where we come from. Nobody has an answer, and it would be presumptuous to attribute it to anything more than something greater than me. I wouldn’t consider us supernatural. We merely inhabit a nature beyond human understanding and perception. Here is your glimpse of the infinite beyond… or, at least the foyer. My kind live in the world of transitions, caught between life, and death, and the beyond. Once the door opens, your guess is as good as mine.
It’s cute, how you bite your lip when you’re thinking hard. You have a question for me, I take it?
I honestly don’t know why you have a scheduled amount of time to live. We don’t really know what happens in the grand scheme if you aren’t dead at your decided time either, within a certain margin of error. The system isn’t perfect, but every Gatekeeper tries to upset the balance once, and it’s never pretty. Some pretty horrific things happen, and it can really cause a mess for everyone else. Things have to be balanced in some ineffable way. World War One was actually the result of one of us ignoring the rules, trying to give a Charge more time. As you know from the classroom, it wasn’t pretty. World War Two? That was just human error. You people just love an excuse to kill each other. You’ve been doing it since before your ancestors climbed out of the trees. I met Hitler’s Gatekeeper once, you know. Pleasant guy. He always had the good grace to act ashamed. I can’t say much, I was attached to Himmler at the time, and that man wasn’t much to be proud of. What our Charges do in their lives, we can’t help but take personally. To exacerbate matters, it isn’t even as simple as all that. You aren’t born with a strictly allotted time.
Intuitively, we have a sense of your beginning, and your end. From the moment you came into this world, I had an innate sense of when you would have to die. It wasn’t always today, though. You see, you could call it predestination, but it isn’t that simple. Events unfolding in the world, and in the universe at large, can alter the fundamental pattern of things. Your actions aren’t controlled, so if someone had chosen to kill you, our pattern would alter so that we made sure you died, or didn’t. Humans have spoken to great length about the Butterfly Effect, but that only grazes the surface of the relationship between all actions occurring. Humans have only scratched the surface of the patterns we see playing out before us, and we don’t comprehend the depths beyond those. As far as I know, things that have already happened can also influence this. You were still an independent creature at the whims of what you could call fate. The delicate homeostasis must be maintained for the greater portion of existence. We are merely tasked with making sure the machine keeps working. I have never met the power which exercises its will over me, though I know it is there. I can feel it. No. Don’t call it God, that’s just ignorant. If you don’t know, you shouldn’t assume. You’re dead, not stupid. However, I’m not here to enter a philosophical discussion with a corpse. I’m here to open a door for you. It seems, though, that we were a few moments early, and I’d hate for you to pass on with head full of doubts. Some of us consider it in poor taste to converse too much with our Charges, but me? I think it’s only courteous to make you as calm and comfortable as possible before I unlock the door and send you through.
The doors? How the fuck should I know?  They’re doors, like you’re used to, except more so. I hold the keys, I don’t get to go inside. It could be paradise, purgatory, or a caricature of hell. It could be another world, another life. Every time I open the door, all I see is a wall of black, and I’ve never had the guts to poke my head in and look around. It isn’t really my concern, anyway. I just make sure you go through. Remember the surprise party your family threw when you turned twenty one? It’s like walking through that door, except I get to ruin it a little by telling you there is a surprise, and there probably won’t be any chocolate cake. Do I know what happens if you don’t go through it? I’ve never had a Charge refuse, honestly. Most were too in shock to do much else, and frankly I make poor company through eternity. Still, it’s not something I would really recommend trying. I have a feeling there aren’t many loopholes built into the system, and it could be bad for both of us.
Didn’t you quit years ago? Don’t answer, I know you did. No, I don’t have a cigarette. Why would I? You’re dead, not at a gas station. You’ll just have to make do with my company. Besides, I hear they’re bad for your health.
Where was I? Right. The doors. We’re not allowed through. As far as I know, there’s no way back for you either-at least not one I’ve ever seen, which is a damn shame. Ghosts? No such thing. Hell, a lot of things attributed to spirits are simply just us, fucking with you all. It’s pretty easy, you’re all gullible. Shit, look at how many of your species believe in some type of God that would give a shit about any of you. How laughable is that? Any being that could create a universe as vast as this would surely be beyond approaching a minor species on a minor planet of an unremarkable solar system in an average galaxy with some universal truth which was so vastly open to interpretation. The human need to believe makes you all suckers for a good story. Reapers exist in a time and space outside your perception, and I still have my doubts as to the idea of a creator. You’re not exactly a difficult bunch to confuse. There you have it… you can’t stick around. That’s part of our job, you know, and I’ll push you through the damn door if I have to. It wouldn’t be the first time. So here we are, waiting for this door to open up. Any questions?
Oh, that IS a good one! How does human society know of us, of our names? Well, let’s say that just like many human plans, sometimes these ones can change. I already mentioned that there are times when your perception delves into our realm. During the twilight, we can sometimes be glimpsed. When you’re falling asleep you may see or hear us, and in your dreams we can exercise some little power. Sometimes, in the periphery of your vision, or in mirrors too, you will see us. Maybe you’re one of the lucky few granted a reprieve from the overreaching machinations of whatever greater power is calling the shots. You’ve already seen me, spoken with me… but you get to go back. It happens more often than you’d think, but not often enough to make you hopeful. Near-death experiences? Most of them are complete horse shit. Just your brain firing off due to cells dying. There are neurochemicals being released and your get a type of activation synthesis which shows you flashes and images that probably seem spiritual to a dying idiot. Some, though, are times like this, only at the last instant we get a little prompt that you should make a miraculous recovery. Maybe that car didn’t hit you quite as hard as everyone thought. So you head back, and you know my name, and BAM. You can tell your story, though in modern times you’re likely to be branded a lunatic and be committed somewhere.
I’m sorry; I keep saying “you” with this, don’t I? Sorry love, but chances are, the door is going to open any second now. We’ve been sitting here too long. Don’t get your hopes up. I’d hate to see you be dead AND disappointed. I’ve always hated seeing you disappointed.
Oh, no more tears. I’m always shocked that, at this stage, people are still overcome with emotion. I guess when you do this long enough, you get deadened to it... pardon the expression. How long have I been doing this? I can’t rightly tell you, though there are rules we all know. When you are born, one of us is attached to you, and we intimately know how much time you have. It’s the world’s worst form of clock. We follow you your whole life, watching over you. We see everything you do. Oh no, we can’t read your thoughts, or do much to interact. We influence the world in little ways… the timing of stop lights, maybe moving small objects. We amuse ourselves by playing pranks, sometimes. Opening doors, turning on lights; that sort of thing. You’ll remember that you almost never seemed to lose things? Well, it’s a little late, but you’re welcome. Look around us at the other Reapers. You can wave if you want. I’m sure they’ll enjoy it now that you’ve stopped making a scene. We’re as diverse as you humans are. Skin tone, hair color. The trick is in the eyes. I’ve never met one of us that lacks the black eyes. I like to think it makes us look mysterious, and a little sexy. Not that we really know anything about sex, except that you all go through great lengths for it, and look ridiculous while doing it.
Yes, I’ve seen you have sex. I wasn’t impressed.
We see EVERYTHING. We get to watch you grow and learn, and live your own stupid, short lives. Remember when your first dog died while you were away at college? That’s the feeling we have when we lose a Charge, only we have to be the ones to end it for you. You’ve seen Old Yeller, and read “Of Mice and Men” so you understand that sometimes we do these things out of love. You watched your dog grow, and live, and die. We watch you grow, and live, and die too… the difference is, that I had to make your brakes fail so that truck hit you. Does it seem cruel? Well, I suppose I’d need someone to blame too, so go ahead. Rage. Cry. Scream. Hit me. Dead is dead, and we always do our best to make it as painless as possible, though that isn’t always in the cards.
There, dear. You can lean on me still. I know you’re tired and scared. It’s interesting, isn’t it? How we can be so attached, and yet so easily snuff your little candles like a windstorm? I agree wholeheartedly. There’s a trick to that too. From what I’ve put together from others, we have a built in reset which I would imagine functions to keeps us doing our jobs with as much coldly methodical precision as we can muster. After 99 Charges-99 lives we’ve snuffed out-we simply forget. We forget everything about who came before, every life we touched and nurtured and ended. We wake up as the proverbial tabula rasa. We know the rules, and how things work, but we don’t remember your names, your faces, or our love for you. We DO love you, you know. Especially the closer we get to the end of our memories. It’s easy to fall in love with humanity, because you’re so perfect and oblivious, and we’ve spent so long learning to love you.
Have I ever been in love? Of course, I would assume. Likely many times, though I can’t remember. Can you imagine that? I could have loved a hundred times… a thousand times… and I don’t remember them at all. I could have loved with depth and breadth and passion, though it would always be unrequited. We share only these final moments with you, you know. You only know of us, truly, at the end. And when you walk through that fucking door, that’s it. We get no more time together. And, eventually, my time will run out too, and I’ll forget you. The last few are the easiest to love, and the hardest, because you know that soon enough you won’t remember them. Believe it or not, we can feel fear and love and loss as deeply as you humans. We just get to feel it a hundred times, just about. For some, I guess the idea of forgetting what they’ve lost is comforting. You just wake up and everything is fresh, and her loss doesn’t hurt anymore. For me, though, I can’t stand the idea of forgetting… her. Who knows? Maybe love is just a byproduct of our duty. I don’t think the inevitability makes it any less real, or less painful and frustrating.
Who was she? I fear I lack the ambition for subtlety now. That’s a pretty simple question, isn’t it? I think you know the answer, or should. “She” is, of course, you. I was just doing my best to not make our first meeting too awkward. From watching the little song and dance routines you humans go through, it feels like such an admission from a stranger is a mark of instability. Except you and I? We aren’t strangers. You’ve always known me.
You seem surprised at this revelation. I’m sorry you’re so taken aback by this. I must admit, when I first realized it, it struck me as just as ludicrous too. Actually, stupid is probably a more apt description. I never wanted to love you, no more so than I wanted to kill you after I fell in love. Do you know how hard it is to watch people fade before your eyes, year after year? People you’ve watched grow from birth. They are your children, your best friends. You’ve seen everything they’ve been through. You share their weakest moments. You observe their best and their worst. You watch them go from children, to beautiful people, to dust and bones, just like that… to me, your lives pass like the blink of an eye, but we still remember everything. It’s harder, you know, when we can’t forget. It isn’t just you, either. I remember everything, from all of my Charges. Sometimes, the thought of forgetting isn’t so bad. Most days though, the thought of forgetting you... forgetting any of you…it kills me, in a very metaphoric sense. I remember your first steps, your first kiss. I remember your first heartbreak, and the car accident when you were 16 when you broke your wrist and were so scared of telling your father. I remember how you smiled at your college graduation; how proud you were to have that piece of paper in your hand, and how ridiculous you looked when you messed up dyeing your hair and had to live with it being that ugly orange for a few weeks. I was here, and I remember every detail, intimately.
You know, I’ve never visited any of their graves. Of every Charge I’ve had, these final moments were the last we had together. And the first. In the beginning of a Cycle, we have purpose, and so we carry through with a sense of duty. We just wave your lives away, because we know there are consequences if we don’t. But we grow to understand you all… we begin to lose ourselves in human emotions, we discover a new world waiting for us, as it always has, just beyond the cusp of OUR reality. We start to ask why, and question our motivation. Some of us rebel. Still, we lose you, and now we know what that loss means.
I didn’t know we could cry. After all this time, I’m still surprised by how closely we resemble you. Maybe that’s intentional design. Hell, for all I know, I knew how to cry before, and I have forgotten as many tears from before as I’m crying for you right now. Care to give me a moment, love?
What about you? Why should you be so special? It’s simple: you aren’t. Not in the scope of existence, at least. There is nothing exceptional about you, except that I love you. How fucking stupid does THAT sound? I watched you grow, and I learned what love was, and realized that I love you… I spent your lifetime in the shadows, never able to tell you. I saw every failure and success you had, every wound you took to your body and mind. There were times when I sat and cried while you slept, because I knew you were hurting, and I had no comfort to offer you, and I was right there, so fucking close… and helpless. I was in the room with you when your mother died. I watched her have this conversation with her Reaper. Do you know what her real last words were? She asked her Reaper what would happen to you. That was the moment I realized I loved humanity, because this woman was more concerned for your welfare than her own fears. He pointed at me, and told her I was watching over you as he had over her. She came over and hugged me. She asked me to take care of you, to keep you safe, and thanked me. In all this time, that’s the first Charge I’ve seen ask about someone else, and the first time anyone has ever said thank you. Then she told you she loved you, though you couldn’t hear, and walked through that door. I wanted to cry like one of your small, obnoxious human babies. How could I not love someone who had such an impact on someone else? All my Charges have showed fear and denial and selfishness and confusion. Yet your mother showed only love for you… a love which transcended her fear of death. How could I not love someone who inspires such love?
Shit, now we’re both crying.
I tried to show you, you know. I did my best to give you a happy world, even though that’s outside the role I was given. I cherished you, and your time. I tried to keep the Nightmares away as best as I could, and the other monsters you couldn’t see. I dreaded the approach of this moment, because I will lose you. I’ve loved you, with the pure, unrequited love of a stranger who knows you better than anyone else can. I love you still, at the end, and am thankful only that I get to say that. I’ve watched your entire life, and come to love you, always knowing when it would end. I came to dread that moment, because I’d rather have unrequited love than lose you. Do you know how hard it is to pack a lifetime of caring and love into a five minute conversation, knowing you are already terrified and confused? In five minutes, I have to put in a lifetime of compassion and love, which I didn’t even know I had the capacity to feel. I love you, and I hate that there was only a brief flicker of time for me to love you. I’ve watched you love, and lose, and I wish I could give you so much more time in this world, to love and live. I’m sorry I couldn’t keep you safe forever, but we both had an appointment to keep.
I’m not very good at being a person, because I’ve never had to be a person. I’ve seen how they interact, and it’s kind of how I imagine you observe animals in a zoo. I can’t interact; I can’t impact your world in a meaningful way. I made the most beautiful flowers bloom in your garden. I stood watch over your dreams to keep the Nightmares at bay, to keep you safe in the world. Every night, I professed my love to you, knowing that each morning you’d forget it when you awoke. I did little things to help make your life easier. I hovered at the edge of your consciousness, so you’d never feel alone, or hopeless. I always knew you’d never know my name until the day I killed you, and that tore at me. I knew I’d have to. I have a duty, and the universe is more important than you or I, don’t you think? I never wanted you to see me, never wanted us to share this moment, because I think that I’d rather love you forever, hopelessly, than to lose you forever.
You’re beautiful, you know. So beautiful. I’ve always wanted to tell you that, and…look, I don’t know if you’ll forget me like I’ll forget you. I had to tell you, because I’ve waited your whole life to tell you, and now this is my first and last chance. I love you.
I’m sorry, please give me a moment to regain my composure. I didn’t mean to take up your last moments on this world by blathering about my problems, and your door is here it seems. Beautiful, isn’t it? They’ve all been different, and I enjoy the variety. It’s comforting, I guess. It seems very thoughtful to not make this so routine. Well, time to go. I hope you’re a little more relaxed. Be brave, dear. You’ve always been a tough woman, and I’m very proud of you. I know I should have said it earlier, but it’s hard to feel sentimental when you’re not even sure what feelings are. I hope that whatever is on the other side of that door is good for you, I really do. Chin up, and wipe those tears away. That’s my girl. This is no time for both of us to cry, and my face is leaking enough for both of us. Would it be okay if I held you for a moment? I think we’re both scared right now.
What’s going to happen to me? Oh dear, don’t worry about me. I’ll make do. I always have. I’ll carry on the way I have before… and the way I likely have many times before this. Thank you for asking and thank you for this. It’s not often a Charge lets us be so selfish. You are a very special woman.
Well, good luck sweetheart. I hope there is happiness for you beyond this door.
Now you really should be going and…What’s that? Yeah, I guess I have time for one last question. I’ve got nothing BUT time.
…Excuse me? Are you sure you’ll care to know? It won’t make a difference. Nothing ever really does. No, I don’t think you need to know, my dear. Allow me this one vanity, please? Now along with you.
Fair enough. I suppose I owe you this. You’ve been more than patient with me. I still don’t see how it could make a difference. Soon you’ll be through the door and I… well, I won’t be. Do you really want to know? Fine.
You’re number 99, dear. The last memory I will have, will be of you, and I couldn’t imagine a more perfect way for this version of me to die. It’s kind of ironic, that the keeper of your death will be, in a way, killed by your passing. My love for you was mutually assured destruction. Anyway, our time is up. Looks like this is where we both start again. Now through the door you go.

See you never, my love.

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Table For Two, For One

A small diner
A table for two, for one
A man sits
Stirring coffee long ago gone cold
And stares out the window
At the soft yellow glow
Of streetlights in the rain
And at the clock
As it ticks past 3am
Anywhere really, except
For the empty seat across from him
Half-eaten food on two plates
A napkin smeared with lipstick
And the smell of her perfume
Curling through the air, still
Like the faint smell of burnt coffee
And cigarette smoke
The rumble of the thunder
Shaking the loose glass in its pane
As sad hands adjust the cold wire frame
Of glasses
The eyes behind them longing for tears
That won’t come

A dark bus stop
A cold bench
A woman sits, crying
The rain masking the tears
Her shaking hands clutching
At his jacket, around her shoulders
The faint smell of him
Rising from the fabric
The taste of cheap diner food
And burnt coffee
Lingering in her mouth
As bitter as her words had been
Oblivious to the storm
She stares
At the ground
Focusing on the tips
Of her bright red shoes
As the rain falls upon them
Like spurned lovers
Leaping into the sea
The crash of thunder
Felt in her chest
Near the dull ache
Of her regret

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Death is a Kiss Goodbye

Death is no black-robed demon
Or agriculturally inclined skeleton
There are no raven wings
Or beckoning fingers
You shall not pay the ferryman
With those pennies on your eyes
Death is a deeper darkness
Dancing at the edges of your desires
The monster lurking
At the edge of your consciousness
Waving gently
From the shores
Knowing that your ship
Will eventually come in

Death is not a passage to a better place
Or a promise to see those who went before
It will not be the smiling face
Of a sister
Or a lover
Or a friend
The sky will not open up
And there will be no choir of angels
It is simply an ending
The proverbial blown-out candle
Sleep's beautiful cousin
Beckoning from the grave
Death is not grim
Nor is it painful
Pain is the business of dying
And dying is not part of death
It is part of life
A  peaceful inevitability
Death is not a monster
Death is a goodbye kiss
With closed eyes

Friday, July 3, 2015

Finding my Muse

I've tried to speak to you
But your stoic silence gives no reprieve
From the screaming world
Or the ache within me
I hesitate to touch your face
To feel any part of you
But your expression never changes
And there is no warmth in you
So I falter
Trying to find ways to reach you

I would like to write a poem
To tear the breath from your lungs
Like a blow to the chest
And turn your blind eyes
To my sorrowful ones
But you don't care much for poetry anymore
So I'll leave the words
Hastily scrawled, as I eat alone
On napkins
To never be seen
Only to be discarded

Perhaps I could write a song for you, instead
A sweet melody
To ensnare your senses
And let you see the world
Through the ever-shifting key
Of my artistic vision
But I don't remember ever hearing you sing
Even to yourself
Besides, you never have the radio on
When I walk into the room
Or seem to listen to the notes
I've always played only for you
So I'll leave the chords
Unstrummed, unheard, unloved
To never fall upon ears
Which would be deaf to their beauty

So I set brush to paper
And let my muse flow
From my heart to my hand
Handily leaving my head
Out of the picture
So I can't overthink
Instead, letting vivid love
Adjust your focus
To share my perspective
Through the tender strokes of brushes
On canvas as pale as your face
But you never spare a second glance
And the colors look dull
Through your eyes
As if everything around you
Is fading away

So I took your picture down
Understanding that you
Could not see me express my love
Through the glass which protects our last memory
I would take a new picture of you
If you were here
But you're not
And I don't care much for that anymore
Since the last picture of you
Is likely the most beautiful one
I'll ever take
So my camera sits untouched
Among your things
Locked away
Lost in a time when the world could sing

And I go back to set these words to paper
Because I remember
That you loved my words, and my songs
Even my terrible painting
And how you used to love my poems most of all
And I bring you flowers
Because you always loved flowers
Setting them on the ground
Though I know you will not see them
And my hand rests upon your stone
Which I know you cannot feel
And I'm sorry that the world
Lost so much color, and sound, and meaning
But the world was never as beautiful
As when we had you

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Mini rants on current events

Okay, in light of recent events, let's throw out some knowledge and perspective for you

-The flag more commonly known today as the confederate flag has been adopted as a symbol of a historical period and mindset where people of color were seen as inferior at best, inhuman at worst, by a large number of hate groups. Also, nobody cares if you want to use the image personally. However, corporations have a right to choose what they provide for goods, and misrepresenting history AND contemporary symbolism are intellectually dishonest. The flag has no right to be flown on government property, and nobody has an obligation to respect the confederate flag OR what it stands for. More than that, you can't claim ignorance of what the flag is seen to stand for. No reasonable adult can be expected to believe that you don't understand that the rebel flag is seen as a symbol of racism and hate. Everyone knows this. Also, any argument that the USA had slaves longer under the stars and stripes blatantly ignores the fact that it was under the stars and stripes which slavery was abolished. One of those things is progress, the other is the confederate flag. By no means will anyone be tearing these flags off your house, or banning them from your trucks or jackets. But the government has to acknowledge that the symbol is not endorsed by the government, and businesses can recognize their lack of desire to be associated with the symbol. Furthermore, before you try to apply this to not serving LGBTQ couples, remember that ideas have no right to be protected, but people do

-Racism is a systemic issue in our society, and trying to pass it off as anything else is to misrepresent the facts or ignore the big picture. Other factors play into it, sure, but most of these can be shown to be a downstream effect from the years of systematic racism in our current culture and society. There is a huge racial double standard which exists, and we need to, as a society, respond to it reasonably, and with our eyes set on equality. 

-Purity and modesty cultures are super fucked up. Women and girls are not objects, and men are not helpless wild animals. Sexuality should be embraced as a facet of healthy living. It should be done with consent and safety, and enjoyed as much as desired whether it be with a monogamous partner or in a more casual sense. Stop trying to police the bodies of others

-Related note: stop shaming people for their bodies, their clothing choices, their dietary choices, or their interests. Stop creating these false spectra of value, and stop trying to moralize every behavior set so that you can feel self-righteous about it. Nobody needs your vapid bullshit. Stop treating other people like shit just so that you can feel better about yourself. Note: call out bad ideas, and call out people for having them. Criticizing an idea, and vocalizing that to a person who holds the idea is an absolutely necessary option. Being a huge douche about it? Well, the only people who deserve that are the ones engaged in direct harm of other people.

-Gay marriage is legal now, and it is about damn time. Your arguments against it stand only to mark you as ignorant, or a bigot. For instance, marriage as a religious idea is not solely the creation of Christianity, nor any of the Abrahamic faiths. So that argument about "traditional" marriage makes you look both scripturally ignorant and willfully stupid. There is no evidence from reputable sources to suggest they will have less fulfilling relationships, or be worse for kids, or literally have any negative impact. It certainly doesn't invalidate your marriage to know that someone else is allowed to express their love and devotion to their partners. So save your straw men, slippery slopes, and appeals to emotion for something that won't make you look moronic. Giving other people the rights which you claim for yourself isn't being oppressed. 

-Christians need to stop acting like they're being persecuted, because as the largest religious demographic in the country, they are anything BUT. In fact, the way the idiotic American conservatives seek to deny people rights while using their religion as justification is shameful and deplorable. (and rather un-Christlike). Muslims are profiled and mistrusted en masse in this country. Atheists are legally denied from holding office in multiple states. Furthermore, intolerance of intolerance is a necessary facet of standing against the legislation of bigotry disguised as righteousness. Your mythology is not enough to deny anyone their basic human rights, and giving other groups the same rights which you claim for yourself is called equality, not oppression. I think maybe you all need to pick up a dictionary. 

-I like guns. I've always owned them, been around them, and used them. I like responsible gun owners. I dislike the American gun culture. I dislike the people who think that wanting more accountability from firearm owners is a bad thing. It's not just an issue of misrepresenting the 2nd amendment anymore (you're not a militia, you won't protect against a tyrannical government, you just like guns). It's a public health issue now. Deal with it.

-This country is not a Christian nation. Many of the founding fathers were, at best, deists, and understood the need for secular government in a society which is free to worship how they please. Freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. To that end, either share the space with other religions when you erect your religious monuments on government land, or accept that they have no right to be the sole religious monument there. It's that simple. Not understanding history doesn't make you right. Also, it's 'e pluribus unum' not 'in god we trust'

-The Gay Pride recreation of the Iwo Jima flag raising is an homage to the power of that image, and what it meant for the American people. It does not demean the original image. In fact, it acts only to show the progress we've made since then. (Not to mention the fact that the image being recreated to sell beers, etc. never raised a stink, so you are either a huge hypocrite or a bigot masquerading behind something else.) The idea is that this was a major victory for the LGBTQ community. And it was. 

-Same sex relations are a natural biological occurrence, not a choice (unlike bigotry and religion) so take some time to educate yourself before you let your superstitions or prejudices get in the way of facts and human welfare. A number of species (and cultures) practice same sex relations without issue.

-Fanatic patriotism and nationalism is super creepy, and blind hero worship is disgusting and unfitting for adults. Our military and law enforcement personnel have difficult enough jobs without being idealized by he media and the people. They are human beings first, just as flawed and corruptible and dynamic as any other. Furthermore, the systems of these organizations put them in a place where they are under stronger scrutiny. They do difficult jobs, but neither the organizations or their members are above scrutiny. Chris Kyle was a troubled man, and he did a difficult job which very few could hope to do. He was also a racist bigot and a liar. Not all police officers and soldiers are good people, just as not all are bad, and these groups need to internally police themselves. 

-Women deserve the right to make choices involving their reproductive freedom and bodily autonomy. Denying those rights to women is to give them less bodily autonomy than we do to corpses. If insurance can pay for your viagra, it can pay for a woman's birth control. Related note: women are more than baby-rearing kitchen slaves, so why don't you come into this century?

-Refusing to serve a person for their inborn traits is wrong. Refusing to participate in a person's hate speech is not wrong. That's why refusing to bake a cake for a gay couple makes you a shitty bigot and refusing to write slurs on a cake you're willing to make for someone is a reasonable stance. Get your perspective right, or stop pretending like it's anything more than having your feelings hurt by people being aware that you're a douchebag.

-If you think all abortions are murder, you need to tone down the emotional appeals and instead examine the biological facts. (Which, coincidentally, your feelings don't get a say in). Also, stop pretending that it has anything to do with love for the children, because the same people against abortion also have no interest in taking care of children after they are born.

-Alright, a big one for me: Dr. Tim Hunt and his sexist statements. Even if we ignore the questionable nature of the journalism that brought his statements to the spotlight (and the fact that it may not have been framed as anything more than a self-deprecating joke and made clear as such to the audience) let's just look at the abso-fucking-lutely moronic response. So, of course, the media outrage lead to a firestorm and the complete decimation of this man's career and reputation. Even in light of what he said, undeserved. The thing that strikes me as the worst, though, is the faux-activism which arose in the wake of the incident, wherein we saw people in the scientific community rally around the idea of shaming and insulting a human being instead of challenging the ideas they expressed disapproval of. I saw a lot of people bashing Dr. Hunt for being a terrible sexist pig (again, despite the questionable journalism behind the situation) and very few people actually addressing the issue of institutionalized sexism in the scientific community. They took an opportunity to tackle a serious issue and turned it into a bunch of schoolyard bullying

-Vaccines are safe. Fringe 'researchers' and idiotic celebrities will not change the inherent safety and efficacy of vaccines. Get over it and vaccinate your kids. 

-GMOs are safe. If you don't understand the science, educate yourself before you start your insipid fear-mongering. Remember, the more beneficial technologies which are denied to developing nations because of privileged first-world ignorance, the more blood is on your hands, and you are actually awful human beings for denying life and health-saving technologies from anyone.

-If you read a cool headline about science, it the reality likely isn't nearly as cool... more often than not, it's not even close. This applies to a lot of media types, sure, but especially science.

-Climate change is real. Humans are impacting it greatly. We need to do something about it. Once again, educate yourself, or ask someone who actually knows what's going on

-Ditto on evolution.Biological fact. Get over it

-A fringe scientist challenging the accumulation of scientific knowledge is not a rebel, they are a fraud. They are not being suppressed by any system. They're just simply not being taken seriously because they've begun to abuse their apparent "expertise" in an attempt to peddle bullshit. Chopra has an MD. Dr. Oz too. Ditto for Wakefield. Seralini has a PhD. What do they have in common? They sell bullshit to gullible, misinformed people, with the key being sell... the motive is financial, and idiots eat it up because they have the letters after their name... all of this in spite of the fact that orders of magnitude more equally or more qualified people say "no, that's actually a huge load of bullshit"

-Fox news, The blaze, natural news, the food babe, Deepak Chopra, Dr. Oz etc. are not legitimate sources of news or advice. For anything. There isn't an ounce of intelligence or critical reasoning between any of them. Hell, you can barely trust half of the "reputable" media sources

-Monsanto isn't evil. Big pharma is not hiding a cancer cure. Chemtrails aren't a thing. 9/11 was a tragedy, not a conspiracy. Take the tinfoil off your fucking head.

You're welcome. Let me know if I missed any big ones.