Archive for the ‘Excuses’ Category

And then You Recognize that Homeless Person

Wednesday, August 2nd, 2017

Jogging around a neighborhood park, I realized the homeless woman sleeping under a tree is someone I’ve known most of my life. 

We were 15 once, and proud. She liked girls and I liked outcasts. Her Army buzzcut was black, blue, and brave, her sarcasm like a flamethrower. Pointed at you or not, it was dangerous to be near. She had an enviable wit I tried to emulate, and she could be as prickly and poker-faced as she was fast and funny. Being able to speak to her in ways others couldn’t was great.

All these years later and approaching the tree on my first lap, I saw only a female shape sleeping atop assorted backpacks and grocery bags. That particular bit of shade was usually occupied by sweethearts, fútbol hombres, or shadowboxing stroller-pushers, but I didn’t think much about it other than to mentally note the woman’s (relative) luck for claiming it first.

Staring straight ahead while I run helps me convey ultimate Kenyan focus, allowing me to mask the fact that I hate running and am actually dying inside. But the second time I passed the tree, I broke my gaze and glanced over. This woman was wearing Capri-style leggings, sunglasses, and a driver’s cap over her face. What I could see of it was weary.
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FULFILLMENT BEFORE FURY!

Wednesday, March 8th, 2017

There’s no excuse for getting all angst ridden over the day’s headlines before first accomplishing something meaningful. 

And there’s no excuse for partaking in America’s new national pastime –scratching the outrage itch– without first empowering yourself through personal performance. Fulfillment before fury!

Why? Because we live in a world that encourages us to agree with ourselves every chance we get. Because the strength we get from knowing that we put ourselves first has the power to declutter our thinking and make us feel as though we’ve earned something.

Examine the back end of any hard, successful day and track how much your sense of completion downgraded your anxiety. By comparison, how does a morning of social media feel, or reading articles from your preferred news outlets? (more…)

Time to Stop Making Excuses

Sunday, December 4th, 2016

unfortunate-person-comics_where-excuses-go-to-dieOh, there are plenty of reasons to be frustrated with the world around us. And I do care who you voted for: I’m just not making excuses for letting it live on my shoulder and whisper in my ear.

I’m tired of tolerating increasingly thin justifications from friends and family to be – and remain – outraged. Never mind that I, too, am offended, righteously indignant, morally and socially insulted and feeling betrayed (I mean, Bad Santa 2? Really?). Why contribute to the stream of bitterness that’s become a raging river?

Yes, rationalizing has gotten hyper-stupid. After this year, our cop-outs have developed an overlapping quality where contexts mingle because we offer so many. It’s as though we need Venn diagrams or flow charts to see them clearly.

How many excuses do I make in a day? Well shit, I’m afraid to ask, for fear of being shown self-awarded behavior exemptions I don’t even know I’m making. But whether on a community level, a national level, or by ourselves in line at the grocery store, too many people seem to think they’re entitled to comfort zones in which their irritation reflexes and rude or hurtful antics can’t be called out for the warm-fart coping skills they are.  (more…)

Control Issues My Ass

Friday, April 15th, 2016

HELPFUL PARKING INSTRUCTIONS_Where Excuses Go to DieYours, mine, or theirs: citing “control issues” to justify bad behavior is just another excuse. It’s nonsense, too, because we don’t have control issues; we have irritation reflexes, entitlements, and a need for instant gratification. These form a perfect storm in our compulsion to influence the world around us – an Achilles’ heel like no other. And where do go with it?
Behind the wheel. 

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NO EXCUSES FOR CUBA Pt. 2

Friday, June 12th, 2015

Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die5I may have returned from Cuba a more informed tourist, but I remain a clumsy narrator, for I’ve experienced more than I know how to process at once.

So, with my eye ever on excuses (and a reliance on my iPhone camera for more complete coverage), I’ll just jump right in.

Our casa particular was in Habana Centro, the most densely populated district in the city of Havana, where much of life is spent where the action is: right outside the building in which one lives. Street sports like handball, self-regulating pet and child care, gossip, singing merchants, colorful laundry Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die3being pinned to decaying balconies, inventive refuse repurposing, prostitution, championship dominoes, and, of course, more vintage Chevy tweaking than outside a Barrett-Revolutionary Square_Where Excuses Go to DieJackson auction are daily occurrences, rain or shine. Drivers use their horns in polite little taps to warn pedestrians, slower cars, and ubiquitous bicycle taxis that they’re approaching from behind, because walking in the middle of the narrow streets is necessary – and not because the city lacks sidewalks. This is about Darwinian natural selection: misshapen rebar barely clinging to crumbles of concrete isn’t just a photo op, it’s a reminder that falling chunks of rotting rooftops are common, especially following an afternoon downpour. Our local host was explaining this to my wife when a basketball sized slab of wall proved his point a few feet away.

Habana Centro_Where Excuses Go to Die1

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NO EXCUSES FOR CUBA

Wednesday, May 27th, 2015

CUBA_Where Excuses Go to DieThe Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) named Cuba one of the ten most censored countries in the world. I make no excuses for needing to see what this looks and feels like. 

I’ll be doing so as a woefully under-informed US tourist later this week, so I’m under no illusion I’ll be able to see as deeply into the island’s infrastructure as I’d like or be creased as deeply as I’d prefer the Cuban wrinkle to go. But as much as this Yanqui is eligible to absorb — socially, culturally, and spiritually — is as much as I hope my heart can handle. (more…)

Once Upon a Time in Atlanta Part II

Saturday, May 2nd, 2015

Atlanta-Public-Schools_Where-Excuses-Go-to-Die1Further thoughts on running a school district like a criminal enterprise.

The Atlanta Cheating Scandal (or “APS Scandal” for Atlanta Public Schools) essentially began in 2009 after the Atlanta Journal Constitution published statistical anomalies in state competency tests that showed suspicious numbers of teacher corrections in 58 Atlanta schools.

By 2011, the Georgia Professional Standards Commission had uncovered cheating by close to 178 educators in 44 of 56 Atlanta schools that were investigated. Students were either directly provided with correct answers or teachers changed incorrect answers on tests after they’d been turned in. They did this, in short, to either collect bonuses or keep their jobs, and anyone who tried to shed light on the fraud reportedly lived in fear of retaliation. (more…)

Second Chance Sexy

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

People who screw up but handle it well
are more attractive than those who don’t. 

AVOID PSYCHIC CLUTTER_Where Excuses Go to DieThat’s no newsflash, but why do you suppose it’s true? What is it about second chances, and second chance stories, in which we find inspiration? Aren’t flaws and faults at the center of nearly any second chance?

Here’re a few things I’ve learned about errors and do-overs:

Excuse-makers are repellant. You can’t spend time behind bars without becoming intimately familiar with psychic clutter. Clutter comes in many forms, but people who consistently fall back on rationalizations, excuses, and denial are usually quite guarded, with mental walls of all shapes, sizes, and complexities. If you’ve ever lied to cover up a lie, psychic clutter isn’t new to you, either. It’s just that too few of us recognize how unappealing we become, stressing and tripping when our heads are filled with it.

Let us go forth with fear and courage and rage to save the worldDeniers are draining. We all have friends, family members, or co-workers with good traits, generous moments, and genuine talents, which makes it frustrating and disappointing to accept them fully (or even work around them) when they’re in bullshit mode. I don’t mean your actors and other neurotics, or even dinner guests who show up and start ticking off their food allergies – those are a different kind of drain altogether. I’m talking about blamers, focus-shifters, liars, counter-accusers, and verbal bullies. We might be cheerleaders for the parts of these people we appreciate, but after coming to terms with their weak-ass coping skills, we can’t help but feel betrayed. And while positive character traits may make a person worthy of a second chance, should they get a third or fourth? The more efficient and healthier option would be to move on to a less draining individual, but individual results may vary. (more…)

Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail

Friday, April 4th, 2014

Men's Central Jail_MILLION DOLLAR ROWIt’s hard not to mock Chris Brown’s stay at LA’s Men’s Central Jail

It’s also really hard not to mock Chris Brown.

To paraphrase a web commentator: No one suffers like Chris Brown, just ask Chris Brown.

But Chris Brown at the Men’s Central Jail reminds me of election campaign rallies where attendees are pre-screened for cross-eyed party loyalty regardless of candidate, and at the same time showcased to media as “a diverse array of everyday voters.” Or of how Dick Cheney used to make those surprise visits to Iraq: no way in hell was that man gonna subject himself to real Iraqis or suffering, but gosh those visits were all hearts and minds nonetheless, weren’t they? The parallel in Brown’s case is that the court never intended for him to see the particular Men’s Central Jail he’ll no doubt brag of surviving. I’ll get there.

First, since the LA-leg of the girl-punching celebrity inmate’s tour of custody is over, let’s consider a few of the realities he’s facing that he’s probably been able to sidestep so far. Number one having been diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder, as apparently Brown has. It’s no excuse for beating the crap out of a 90-pound woman – period. (more…)

Heroin Harm Reduction

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014

Do heroin harm reduction policies help create excuses for junkies?

Source UnknownKevin Thompson, 43, a participant in two Canadian clinical studies where patients were given doses of pharmaceutical heroin, says he was given three fixes a day at a downtown Vancouver clinic. The injections, Thompson told a Vancouver journalist, meant he could live free from worry about how and where to obtain his next dose. “It can be a lot of hassle just to get what you need for the day,” Thompson recalled.

As an addict, Thompson says he shoplifted, scrounged for money, and woke up in an anxious state, fearing withdrawal symptoms, for years. The cycle was finally broken when he applied and was approved for two Canadian studies that are part of Vancouver’s longstanding “harm reduction” public policy. The first, the North American Opiate Medication Initiative (NAOMI), took place from 2005 to 2008. The Study to Assess Longer-term Opioid Medication Effectiveness (SALOME) was conducted in 2013. Both provided treatment in the form of diacetylmorphine – a.k.a. prescription heroin.

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