[PART TWO] “And so, my fellow Americans, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” – John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States of America

My Fellow Americans (see what I did there?),

I get a lot of views on this blog from people around the world. I just want to clarify that I don’t have a problem with people from other places. We are all God’s children. I admire aspects of other cultures. But I am proud to be an American, and I want to do my part to make it the best it can be. I think that that greatness will in turn make the world a better place. That being said, here are some recommendations for things that Americans can do for their country.

1. Buy American

From what I’ve heard, the most common reasoning for not buying American is the cost. If you buy things made in China or wherever, it may be cheaper, yes, but it still comes at a price. Commerce with other countries opens up the potential for reliance on other countries. I’m all about self-reliance, so I would think it would be better to be able to be more dependent on our own manufacturers, our own workforce as a whole, to generate the goods we need to get buy. Sure, it might cost a little more in the short term, but the nature of supply and demand and the capitalist system in general will drive prices down once we’ve make the investment in and the commitment to American Enterprise.

Also, you get what you pay for. In the triangle of cost, quality and time, you lose quality when you get it fast and cheap. If you’re willing to pay and wait, you can get something that will last longer. I don’t know why, but ballpoint pens stick out in my mind. If you buy a hundred cheapo stick pens, before long you’re going to wind up with a hundred cheapo stick pens that don’t work. If you spend the extra money on a pen and you keep track of it, you’ll spend less in the long run and you won’t have a pile of worthless pens laying around. I don’t know about you, but I hate when I pick up a pen thinking it’ll work and it doesn’t. It’s infuriating. Moving on.

The same goes for just about anything. Meat, produce, clothes. Support American Ranchers and Farmers. A word of caution on the clothes, though. I used to be a Levi’s man. They were the only pants I ever wore. At 6’5″ and 250 lbs. it’s hard to find pants that work, but for a while they were doing the trick. Somewhere in there, they stopped making them in America, or I began to realize that they weren’t being made in America. It was right around the time that the starting splitting in the crotch area after not having them for very long. Like I said, I used to be a Levi’s man. Now I wear Dickies. Born in Texas, made in Texas by Texans. Damn straight. 

Overall, just know what you’re buying, demand more from the producer, and buy American. I understand that you may not be able to buy everything and that nothing happens overnight. I also understand that there are many high quality items that come from other countries (Japanese knives come to mind), but just be more conscientious and explore an American alternative. You may be surprised what you can find. 

2. Complain Less

Nobody’s perfect. European countries aren’t perfect and they’ve been doing this a lot longer than we have. Our country isn’t even 250 years old and we’re still doing a damn good job of making it happen.

I know you probably don’t have everything you want in life. I know that things are hard sometimes and it seems like you can’t get a leg up. Trust me. I know this. But it’s not America’s fault and chances are it’s nobody else’s. Things happen. Choices are made and they don’t always work out. What are you going to do about it? Play the blame game or get back to work? If you get a flat tire, you fix it and get back on the road. Complaining about it won’t take the nail out or put the spare on. Roll up your sleeves and get to work.

I saw some statistic recently about the amount of time the average person spends complaining each day. Like nine minutes. Imagine how much more you could get done if you spend that hour a week doing something productive. You could start a blog. You could do any of the Five Minute Betterment exercises on this blog. Or, if you’re really that unhappy about the way the government is doing something, you could 

3. Become More Active in Your Community

Get out there and vote.  Or if you don’t think the candidate can do the job well, run for office yourself. Get involved in a charity at your church or with a non-profit that services a cause you care about. Or just go meet your neighbors. Build relationships and get to know the people around you. Make a change on a small-scale. The little things add up and you could wind up a part of something even larger. 

The internet (invented right here in America) has redefined what the word community means.  It has enabled us to connect to people great distances away without having to leave out homes or our hometowns. There is information and communication at our fingertips that was unimaginable fifty years ago.

Used correctly and responsibly, the internet can be a valuable tool in helping us to find out more about the people and things and businesses and places around us.  You can use it to find people who feel the same way you do or find out more about something. 

4. Learn More About The United States

The history books aren’t always accurate, but a lot of times the truth is much more interesting. We’ve done so much in our short time as a country, you could literally look up the History of American Anything and spend hours learning about how and why it started, changed, grew, or even failed on this soil.

Find out more about the people that have done the things that interest you.  Connect with others with the same interests in your town, state, or other parts of the country. Take a trip to a local historical site or plan a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been. Learn about the good and the bad. Find out what Americans have done wrong and what Americans have done or can do to fix it.  Most of us wouldn’t completely write someone without knowing the whole story. So learn the whole story. 

If you learn all you can and you’ve done all you can and you still don’t like it here, 

5. Move away

That may sound harsh, but it’s true.  If you truly think you’d be happier somewhere else, then go there.  You’re an American and you still have the freedom to leave. Maybe you’d prefer somewhere where they have Universal Everything. Maybe you’d like a different climate, or Communism, or another language or culture. That’s fine. Go ahead and go. You have that freedom here and it’s a beautiful thing. 

– –

In the end, you deserve to be happy. You deserve to pursue your happiness, but no one’s going to give it to you.  So get out there and do something that’ll make your life better and make our country and most likely the world better if only a little bit.

Use your freedom but take it for granted. Work hard and reap rewards.

God Bless America.

Patriotically

Glass

“I would rather die of passion than of boredom.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Hello Old Friend,

It’s Holy Week again, a time of year that I’ve really learned to appreciate over the past several years or so.  Spring as a whole is a really powerful time of year in the Church, with Ash Wednesday and the Lenten abstention, then the progression of the Passion and Death of Jesus (Palm Sunday and Good Friday) and his ultimate Resurrection (Easter).  Add these traditions to the natural blessing of new birth among both flora and fauna, and it’s clear to see that this is the perfect time to revisit, restrengthen, resurrect one’s faith in God, however He might appear to you.

We went to Mass on Sunday and while I sat next to the three women in my life and turn palm fronds into crosses, I begin to feel something, an idea, an understanding, opening up inside of my mind.  While this blossom hasn’t fully bloomed, I felt like I needed to take it out of mind brain and put it on the page so that I can read and re-read and dissect it and hopefully reach more solid ground with it.

I’m not 100% sure how Palm Sunday goes in other churches.  I don’t remember it when we went to a Methodist, then Lutheran services growing up.  But I do know that when you go to Mass, there is a part where the story from the Last Supper through the Death and Burial of Jesus is read aloud and the congregation reads the part of the condemners of Christ.  We read the words that were used to condemn our Savior to death on the cross.  We play the part of the unruly mob.

It threw me off the first time, but the more I think about it, the more it makes sense to me.  We are the descendants of the people who condemned Him.  They swore His blood upon their hands and upon ours as well.  It was humanity that wanted and needed the death of Jesus.  Not just because that unruly mob hated him and the things he was saying.  Not just because the wanted to silence a rabble-rousing do-gooder that spoke against the status quo.  That’s why they wanted him to die.  They, we, needed Jesus to die because it was laid out in Scriptures.  Our Salvation was dependent on the Resurrection and thereby the Death of Jesus on the Cross.  We, as Catholics honor a crucified Christ because it is in that moment that the Scriptures were partially fulfilled.  There is no resurrection without death.  There is no Christianity without the Crucifixion.

I feel it more and more each time Palm Sunday comes around.  I feel shame and guilt that people would betray and humiliate and degrade and falsely sentence Jesus and that they would try to feed him wine with animal bile and shove thorns on his head and make the whole of the affair that much harder to endure.  It’s hard to imagine being in that position.  Knowing the end result and enduring the punishment in the meantime.  Watching your closest friends deny and betray you.  Listening to the crowd yell for you to die because you tried to teach people to be good to one another and reject the evils of the world.  Enduring the suffering.  Enduring.  Suffering.  The Passion.

That’s what this whole post is about really:  the meaning of Passion.  That’s my Holy Week revelation for 2017.  You see, the word ‘passion’ derives from the Old Latin word ‘passio’ meaning suffering or enduring.  It’s a struggle.  Passion isn’t supposed to be easy or comfortable.  It should be a struggle.  Life isn’t easy or comfortable so the things that matter shouldn’t be, either.  I think that passion implies motion and force.  Passion is a river, not a lake.  It moves and flows and adapts and sweeps and crushes and propels and delivers and hinders.  Or perhaps it’s an ocean.  With depth and mystery.  I don’t know, I like the river because rivers have such a constant and powerful presence in the Good Book.

Passion is the journey more than the destination.  It gets you to where you need to be, where you’re called to be.  It’s the lead-up to the Cross, the Resurrection, the Salvation.  Take that from the Book and introduce it into your life.  Find what’s worth struggling for and embrace that struggle because it will lead you to your glory.  And don’t be afraid because God is with you, all the way.

 

Faithfully,

Glass

“You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.” – Abraham Lincoln

Alright.  I’m back.  Back back.  Back for more.  Back with a vengeance and a bone to pick.

WARNING: It’s not usually like this around here, but I say the word “shit” a lot in this one.

One of the positive things that has happened over the past year is that I got fired from my job.  Wait what?  Yeah, I said it.  Getting fired from my job was one of the better points in my year.  I hated that job.  I worked 55 hour weeks getting paid peanuts to stock beer in grocery stores.  It was long and the company was/is a joke.  When my dad got sick the second time and went into hospice, do you know what my boss told me?  “Remember, you’ve still got a job to do.”  Cold-blooded, man.  The salesman that covered my region said the same thing.  One of the many things that my father bestowed upon was a stellar work ethic, so getting the job done was never an issue, but they chose that route.  It was a bad place to be.

So anyway, I worked Friday-Tuesday.  I came in one Friday and my boss pretty much lays into me because the beer in the cooler wasn’t rotated.  All he ever told me was that the beer needed to be rotated on Mondays and Tuesdays.  He yells at me, my supervisor calls as I’m walking to the back of the store and he gives me hell.  Then I get back to where my boss is and he starts up again, ultimately asking me “do you even want to work here anymore?”

I didn’t have an answer.  I didn’t want to work there.  I didn’t want to not have a job but I definitely didn’t work there.  So I shrugged.  That was enough for him and the end of my time there.

Whatever.  Their loss.  That’s not my point.

Neither is this.  I went for about a week trying to find something, anything to get some money coming in.  I applied for unemployment.  I sold some of my belongings.  I did what I could.  After that first week, a friend of mine that just worked weekends at the beer place calls and says that he might be able to get me on at the traffic products company he worked at during the week (his “real job”).  Traffic products?  I thought.  I don’t know.  But I needed money like nobody’s business so I told him I was in.  So I came in and I busted my ass like I always do at work.  I hustled to learn the products and processes.  I was making less than I did at the beer job, but like I said, I have a pretty damn good work ethic so I got in there and did the damn thing.  Within a week, I went from being a floater to having a legit position.  Within a few weeks, the owner promoted me to Warehouse Foreman.  Over the next few months, I continued to hustle and learn and get the warehouse into shape.  A few weeks ago, I got promoted to Production Manager, overseeing the warehouse and the in-house sign shop.

And that is part of my point.  Hustle is important.  Work is important.  Responsibility is important.

Now that I’m a manager, I get to, well, manage other people.  I’ve got the Production side of it, but I’m not a huge fan of, well, other people.  I’ve got about seven guys total that I supervise and their kind of a mixed bag.  A couple of them are something else and one in particular has proven to be a real piece of work.  He’s been there for about a year.  He stayed around even after a bunch of people broke off and created a competing business.  He stayed even when shit got real heavy and we were overwhelmed with the size and numbers of sign orders coming in. That’s great.  But he also makes a bunch of mistakes.  And he gets stoned a lot of time before work.  And sometimes during work.  And probably always after work.

So he’s gotten in trouble for other things that may or may not have had to do with him being stoned.  I don’t think he’s a bad guy and I could give a shit less what he does after work, but I can guarantee that his personal stuff is bleeding into his professional performance.  He’s had some more issues lately and made some dumb mistakes and we’re also (unrelated) trying to cross-train some other people (myself included) to do the sign design on the computer, a task which, until now, was more-or-less exclusively his to do.  Now, he’s (understandably) worried that he’s training his replacement (not necessarily true).

I’ve been in this situation.  I trained a guy a few jobs back that wind up getting the promotion that I had been training for.  It’s a terrible feeling.  But I didn’t give up and let things fall to the wayside.  I’ve never gotten into a bunch of trouble at work (just fired out of nowhere!) and been worried about someone else taking my job, but I imagine it’s not too far off.  I imagine that I would be walking on egg shells trying to make sure that I didn’t rock the boat or piss the big bosses off.  But what does this guy do?  He rocks the boat.  He pisses the big bosses off.  And now he’s that much closer to actually losing his job.

This blows my mind some, but what really gets me is his response to getting formally in trouble today.  He assumes the role of the victim.  Oh, everyone’s so hard on him (they’re not).  Oh, he’s done so much for the company (not really).  Oh, he was just taking a few minutes to vape in the warehouse (big no-no).  Oh, nobody likes him (not true).  What the hell, man?  You messed up.  A lot of times.  And you got a hundred extra chances.  And everyone coddles you and tries to make it easier for you so as not to ruffle your feathers and you don’t feel appreciated?  Give me a break.

My point in telling you all of this, whoever you are, is that you have to take responsibility for you: yourself, your actions, your life, etc.  No one’s going to take responsibility for a grown man.  No one wants to spend extra time and effort making your life easier at their expense.  Maybe they will for a little bit, but not forever.  And why would you want that?  If you’re unhappy somewhere, go somewhere else.  God Bless America.  40 hours a week is too much time to spend somewhere that you hate that much.  Also, are you giving it your all?  All 110%?  Roll up your sleeves, do it to it, and see if your situation improves.  If it doesn’t, it probably wasn’t meant to be.  And that’s okay.  No one’s going to hate you for wanting to do something else.  No one’s going to kill you for leaving your desk, your office, your job.

Take responsibility, take charge of you and all of your shit and figure it out.  Because no one else is going to do it for you.

That’s all.

 

Responsibly,

Glass

“Strength shows, not only in the ability to persist, but in the ability to start over.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Hello old friend.

It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

I have four good friends, including my wife.  She’s the only one who lives close and out of the four, I’ve known her the shortest, although most of the time it feels like I’ve known her my whole life.

The next closest is the one I’ve known the longest (going on twenty years now, buddy!).  He lives about three and a half hours away.

My next closest geographically, and the one I’ve known the next longest (what is it? 13 years now?) lives about eight and a half hours away.

The farthest lives about seventeen hours away by car and I met him a few months after I met the last guy.  We made that drive once.  From there to here.  It was an amazing experience.  We drank caffeinated beverages and ate No-Doze like they were candy.  We drove through a exaggeratedly-lit tunnel in and under Alabama that I still see in my dreams sometimes.  We skated across the foggy swamps of Louisiana in a fog of our own.  We jammed Tom Waits and Modest Mouse and whatever else the burned CDs and iPods had in store.  It was something else.  Surreal but Hyper-real.  Life-changing to say the least.

We don’t talk as much as we used to.  Life’ll do that.  But he’s still one of my best friends and when we do talk it’s always a treat.   I talked to him earlier today.  I’ve had a whirlwind of a past year or so and I’m trying once again to start over for the last time so I needed some feedback.  Do you know what he left me with at the end of the conversation.  Verbatim:

“.. get the blog back!  Its been almost a year man”

Damn, Bones.  You got me again.  So here it is.

I didn’t know what to write about when I started this.  I just knew that I wanted to get it going again.  Make some changes.  Do some things more and and some things differently from here on out.  Restart.  Start again.

It’s been a rough year.  We observed? celebrated? the one-year anniversary of my Dad dying a few weeks ago.  I’ve dipped in and out of depression and anxiety and anger and fits of manic happiness and numbness.  I got fired from my job for not doing something that I was never told to do.  I got another job and have since nearly double my wages.  My wife and I had another beautiful baby girl, born on what would’ve been my father’s 69th birthday.  I’ve been beaten and lifted and soothed and then beaten and lifted and soothed all over again.  It has been, in my own words, “a landmark year.”  But I’ve gotten through it.  Not flawlessly or expertly or effectively and sometimes just barely.  But I’ve gotten through it.  So far.  I don’t think the struggle will ever go away.  I don’t necessarily want it to.  But I’m changing the way I react to it.  I’m going to struggle regardless, so why now struggle for what I want?  For me, my wife, our family.  I’m starting anew and I’m starting here and now.

My wife, my best friend told me today to “choose my hard.”  She said it’s all hard: going to work, doing the things, why not pick the hard that works for you?  Goddamn brilliant.  So I’m choosing this for her, for me, for us, for anyone and everyone and no one.  I’m choosing my struggle and carving out the life that I think is worth struggling for.

Here we go.

 

Again,

Glass

“The word ‘happiness’ would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness.” – Carl Jung

I’ve been avoiding this post.  I’ve been avoiding this whole blog to be honest, save for the occasional stats-check here and there.  I haven’t written anything in about five weeks, which is along time, even for me.  I’m going to tell you now that this post is not going to be a very pleasant one, at least in the beginning.  It is going to be very dark and then probably darker and very emotional and then it should end on a positive note, if all goes well.

You see, my dad died on March 8th.  I typed and retyped that sentence a few different ways to maybe soften the blow (I hear I can be overly blunt sometimes), but the truth is that my father is dead.  He was diagnosed with esophageal cancer last summer, it was 95% gone by November, then came back with a vengeance and took his life.

My wife and I consulted Betsy Braun’s book Just Tell Me What to Say when we were trying to figure out how to break the news to our four year-old daughter.  We didn’t tell her much during the first round of chemo because the outlook was good and we really didn’t know what all was going to happen.  Then the cancer came back and we felt like we should prepare her for the worst, especially once my dad decided that he would rather stay at home than suffer through another round of chemo.  So Betsy Braun says to be honest and use the medical terminology and avoid euphemisms.  During the first round:  Papa has lumps inside his body called cancer that makes him sick but the doctors have a very strong medicine called chemotherapy that they think will help and they know a lot about cancer so they’ll know the best ways to help Papa get better.  Later, during hospice:  The medicine didn’t work and cancer is making it harder and harder for Papa’s body to work.  Papa’s body is going to stop working soon and he is going to die.  Then:  Papa died today.

This is difficult.  I can remember her reaction to each conversation.  I can remember the works coming out of my mouth feeling like barbed wire but sounding much smoother.  Trying to stay strong for everyone around me.  I think it might be harder now in some ways though, now that the shock is gone, and the memorial service and internment have passed.  I feel like a  lot of other people have moved on and maybe don’t think about him as much as I do.  I know they don’t.  But I think about it everyday.

You see, I’m the one that found my dad.  My wife spilled her heart out to him, we left the room, and when I returned less than five minutes later, he was gone.  I still think about his face.  His eyes.  His hands.  I think about the Medical Examiner coming to the house and the funeral home workers coming to get him in the hearse and how terribly sad it all was and my  through all of it.  I kept/keep thinking it’s a joke and that he’ll call or come around the corner and we’ll all be pissed that he played such a mean joke but so happy that he’s still alive.  I think about all the things he’s going to miss and how I should’ve called more and how I miss him so much that it physically hurts.

My dad is dead and I was not, am not ready for it and each second, hour, dayweekmonth that goes by is that much further from the last time I’ll ever see him alive or otherwise.  I held his hand as the warmth left it and my heart filled with pain and sadness and I sat and played guitar for him while we waited for the official people to come and officially say he was dead and take him away.  I helped the guy take the hospice equipment out of my parents’ bedroom and out of the house so that my mother could sleep in the room again without the glaring reminder that her husband had just died there.

Her husband, my dad, my hero is dead and I keep hoping that I’ll feel better about it if I tell myself a hundred, thousand, hundred thousand times a day, but it doesn’t.  I was not, am not ready for him to not be here.  I was not, am not ready to be an adult without him in my life to provide me with the paragon of what it means to be a husband, a dad, a hero.  There are so many big things coming up that I want his advice on, that I want him to see and be a part of.  I want my daughter to have two grandpas because I didn’t.  I want her to have strong, decent men (and women) in her life so that she grows up with high expectations and standards for interpersonal relationships.  I want my dad around because he was, is the best man I know and I miss him so much it hurts.

It’s almost exactly one day later and I’m glad I stopped where I did.  That train of thought tends to dip into some even heavier stuff that I probably shouldn’t ever put in writing or say out loud.  I talked to my wife last night.  I talked to my mom, too.   I slept better; I feel better.

[My dad’s death is like a semi-colon; a break in the sentence that unifies the pre&post the before&after in all of this.]

One of the biggest thoughts I have about all of this, something that I wrestle with almost every single day, concern the Why’s.  Why him?  Why us? Why now? Why not that guy? Why did the cancer go away in the first place?  Why did it come back?

The truth, The Truth is that our world in its entirety, life  Life as a Whole is beyond our understanding.  I believe in God and Jesus.  My God is not a white-haired old man, but an energy that permeates everything and creates a balance within all of existence.  This thought, this idea of a balance is what keeps me going when the going gets tough.  Faith is a powerful tool in situations like this and situations that aren’t like this at all.  Faith is the current in the river, the warmth in sunlight.  I feel better today, but I don’t feel great everyday.  I have to wrap my head around this and have faith that my dad is in a better state.  That his energy lives on and that his soul is balanced and cleansed and where God intends it to be.

I miss my dad.  I know that it is going to continue to be hard without him around.  But I also know, because he told me, that it’s important to keep living my life.  It’s funny but I appreciate the days like this, the ones where I feel good and energetic and happy? more, mainly because of how sad I’ve been recently.

So, in closing.  I would like to proudly announce that Mrs. Glass and I are expecting Baby Number Two!  We don’t know if it’s a boy or girl yet, but the due date just so happens to be on my dad’s birthday!  We are so very happy and thankfully my dad got the opportunity to see the first sonogram while he was alive.  I now that wherever he is, he’s looking out for us, all of us, and that he lives on in our hearts and our blood and our name and our memories.

I love you, Dad.

 

 

Half-full, half-empty,

Glass

Just a taste

Hello, old friend.

I posted a while back that I had published a collection of short stories on the Kindle store and I sold some copies.  Not a lot, but some.  I stressed in that post that it’s not about money, it’s about getting them out there so I thought I would stir things up a bit and share some samples from the piece and see what you think, Dear Reader.  The first snippet is from the first story, entitled “Volunteer Astronaut.”

Enjoy,

Glass

– – – –

Volunteer Astronaut

    It had been almost two years since Winston’s familiar key had met the unfamiliar lock that his wife had installed in the door of their small, older-than-they-were home.  Under most other circumstances, this might have been alarming, possibly even generating a five step retreat to assess the edifice and ensure that it was, indeed, the right house.  On the day in question, however, the layer of his scattered possessions that coated the lawn had been a preliminary indicator the last straw had, indeed, broken the proverbial camel’s back.  It was shortly after the abandonment of his belongings that Winston had finally gotten off the fence separating him from earth and space.
The Unidirectional Manned Space Initiative (UMSI) had been all the buzz on the radio (that Winston never listened to), television (that Winston rarely watched), and the internet (that had been disconnected days before), but to Winston, the UMSI billboard that loomed alongside the highway, the one that he had passed daily but never really looked at, displayed a proposition that seemed like a message from the heavens.  UMSI was quite literally, a one-way ticket out of a world that Winston felt had given up on him shortly after his arrival in it.

“Four Windows” by David Glass is officially available in the Amazon Kindle store

I have written a collection of vignettes called Four Windows which can be found here for the ultra-low price of $0.99.

#comingsoon

A post shared by David Glass (@thatmanglass) on

The collection is called Four Windows because it gives the reader a peek into four very different scenarios, each one intended to more or less give you the feels.  Please give it a try and share it with someone you know and feel free to comment here or write a review on Amazon.  Thanks in advance, Dear Reader and enjoy!

Briefly,

Glass