You’re not supposed to look a gift horse in the mouth. It’s rude. It reflects a lack of gratitude. It’s the calling card of MAGA TROLLS, spoiled white women who vote for MAGA TROLLS and me. To flip the script, I’m kissing a gift horse on the mouth.
I’m expressing gratitude. I’m relinquishing beef. Yes, I must confess, I’m from the north shore of Chicago, Highland Park, the land of spoiled brats, which means I have no edge and so I have no business using the language hip hop, it’s cultural appropriation for me to use beef, a street word used to underscore rivalry. I’m grateful for my rivals, looking all the way across my life, stretching all the way across time, every time I got my ass kicked, every time I reached for something and was denied, every failed audition, every ill-advised stock tip, every lawyer who picked up the phone and began charging me $512.00 – to you more than anyone else, counselor – I have to say this, thank you.
I’m grateful. You made me better.
When I can’t sleep, Emily Anne rubs my head. She talks to me sweetly in the darkness, “Take a deep breath. Relax your neck. Take a deep breath. Relax your toes. Take a deep breath and release. Release the need to win, the questions you have about why you’re not where you think you’re supposed to be, the fantasies you’re carrying around of people you’d like to put in jail.”
My cousin, she should be in jail. My cousin’s boyfriend, he should be in jail. Their attorney, he should be in jail. You don’t get to play with my freedom. You don’t get to lie to the state’s attorney. You don’t get to use the threat of criminal prosecution to push a civil settlement. You don’t get to stand before a judge in the Waukegan Courthouse and perjure yourself, to put me in peril. That is to say, you get to do all of that and more and for that I’m grateful. I know who I am. I know what I stand for. Do you? Rest easy out there in the world. I don’t have to make a move until I decide to make a move.
Lesson: never let criminals set the timeframe.
“Take a deep breath. Relax your ears. Take a deep breath. Relax your crack. Take a deep breath and release. Release the news of the day, the criminal insanity of those in the white house who conspired with a hostile foreign power, the lack of will on the left to do anything about it.”
Vinny Vegas is my college roommate. We don’t see each other very much anymore. But we talk pretty much every day. I’m grateful. It would be nice to see him on a more regular basis, but you have to make the most of however you stay tethered to the people you’re lucky enough to love. His daughters just got back from camp. They’re headed back to school. We were talking about MAGA TROLLS, of the insanity of people who punch protesters in the face, of people who distort the poem on the Statue Of Liberty by stepping on the huddled masses for lack of an American Express Black Card. Vinny Vegas told me about the kids he sees hanging around with his daughters, “They’re so much smarter than I can explain. They don’t see gay and straight. They don’t see black and white. They’re connected to each other. They listen to each other. The girls are unstoppable on the basketball court. They play team ball. The people we tell ourselves are at the top are scared. This president, everyone around this president, everyone who voted for this president, is scared. You’re seeing fear. You’re seeing desperation. The world has changed. The world has left them behind. This is their money grab. This is their power grab. It’s over and they’re angry. They’re really just scared but acting out is the only emotion they know how to express.”
I know how to express my emotions. I have a relationship with my feelings. Do you? If the only thing you know how to express is anger, if the only thing you know how to awaken in others is fear, then I say this to you: grab what you can while you can. I don’t have to react to your fear unless I decide to react to your fear.
Lesson: there are sick twisted children playing sick twisted games and the rest of us are letting them get away with it, so we’re complicit.
“Take a deep breath. Relax your eyes. Take a deep breath. Relax your amygdala. Take a deep breath and release. Release the unearned advantage you were handed by being born white in America, being born male in America, dreaming the dreams you were told to dream, following the followers you were told to follow, blaming your parents, blaming your teachers, blaming the bubble inside the bubble inside the segregated bubble of the community of your Hitler Youth Group.”
There was a children’s movie playing at Millennium Park called “Inside Out.” So we made a couple sandwiches, packed a couple lawn chairs and hopped the red line to the fancy part of town. Emily Anne invited her 6 year old nephew, Spider Man. I have been granted access to the day-in and day-out of raising Spider Man. He’s my bestie! And while I know through the eyes of Spider Man, his daddy is his bestie, his grandaddy is his bestie, through my eyes, Spider Man is my bestie. I can’t help it. I’m grateful for the opportunity to love this little boy more than I love myself. I can’t imagine anything I’d rather do more than take him to a movie, in the middle of the day, in the middle of the week, in the middle of summer, while his mommy works, while his daddy futzes around the house.
“Inside Out” is the story of a little girl who moves from Minnesota to San Francisco when she’s 12 years old. She’s happy go lucky but the move disrupts her life. So the happy go lucky girl has a flood of emotions. You’d think it’s the story of a little girl coming to terms with her new city, but it’s really the story of her emotions: Joy, Fear, Anger, Disgust and Sadness. Of course, Joy is played by Amy Poehler, who’s the living embodiment of joy and Anger is played by Lewis Black, who’s unhealthy relationship with anger is more delicious than a warm cookie bottom sundae at Lou Malnati’s.
We have no relationship with our emotions. We’re moving between fear and anger with the flip of a channel. Last week there was a Mass Shooting Trifecta: El Paso, Dayton and Chicago. No one covered Chicago, since it’s an Ongoing Mass Shooting in Chicago. Shame on us! The day after Chicago, in Baton Rouge, there was a Walmart Mass Shooting. The day after Baton Rouge, in Missouri, a guy walked into a Walmart wearing body armor with a semi automatic rifle strapped to his back, and while he was arrested it begs the question: wasn’t he really the only one there dressed for the occasion?
Lesson: instead of dealing with the mass shootings, we’re simply changing the channel.
“Take a deep breath. Relax your trigger finger. Take a deep breath. Relax all the places on your body where a semi-automatic rifle can rip you to shreds in 32 seconds. Take a deep breath and release. Release the finger from the trigger, the bullets from the chamber, the anger, the fear, the sadness, the disgust – and allow yourself to tap into joy – tap into the vulnerability of loving the people you’re lucky enough to love, tap into the sweetness of leaving the last bite of warm cookie bottom sundae to Spider Man, see the dreams you were told not to chase, see the numbers you were quoted to show you the statistical improbability of chasing the dream you were told not to chase, drift away from authority figures who are really just broken people trying to turn you into a broken person so you can pay the dues to join the miserable broken person club, drift away from the idea you should already be there, drift away from the people who kneecapped your irrational fantasies of singing songs with John Lennon on a cloud, drift away from the MAGA TROLLS, the Waukegan Courthouse, the sick twisted children overdosing on the unlimited credit of their American Express Black Me Out Cards, drift toward the hug, drift toward the kiss, drift toward the sweet scent of hair on a pillow, of drool on a pillow, of sleep.”
Who do you love? Tell them. Goodnight.