New Resources Page

We are proud to announce the arrival of our new Community Resources page.

Everyone hopes that you will help us add to the resources presented here so we could update this page constantly.

Our dream is to see this safe haven with phone numbers, web sites, blogs, and social media links filled from every country and valuable resource on the web.

If you have a community resource or organization that you know of, belong to or simply think will fit in here at STMND feel free to contact us via our Share Your Story page or our Stories Twitter.
The links and numbers given will be submitted to the site page and updated here as a sort of community hub.

We look forward to these organizations reaching those that need it.

The Coward at the Door

This post originally appeared at The SisterWives site.  Please leave any comments, questions, feedback, etc… over there, and take your time in visiting with the other wonderful moderators and contributors there as well.  They are also building a fantastic community of support and understanding.

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I once had a friend admit to me that they wished they were more like me.  He and his fiancé had been woken abruptly the night before by a large man, obscured by the darkness beyond the peephole, knocking, pounding, forcefully on their apartment door.  My friend told me that he felt inadequate as a man and as a potential husband as he backed away from the door and went to hide back in the bed, hoping the man would disappear back into the night.  His voice quivered slightly as he recounted his tale and then claimed that he knew I would have handled it differently, I would have been brave enough to answer the door or at least call out to see what they wanted, see if they needed help.  My friend saw me as an ideal of braveness to live up to, an ideal he had fallen woefully, ashamedly short of.

I told him he was right.  I would have at least called out to the man to see if he needed help.  I wouldn’t have gone scampering back to my bed with my tail tucked between my legs.  Because I am brave.  Because I am a man.  Because it was the good thing to have done.  The right thing.  The human thing.

I lied, of course.  To my friend, at least.  I knew the words coming out of my mouth were bullshit.  I knew I would have quietly snuck back to my bedroom and laid shivering in my bed until enough time had passed that sleep might once again claim me, though that wouldn’t be likely to happen as my imagination would turn every shadow and bump in the night into a looter, a pillager, a raper, a murderer come to dispense their brand of mischief and evil on me, on my family.  As I lied, I realized that not only was I cowardly because I wouldn’t have answered the door but I was more cowardly than my friend because I didn’t have the courage to tell him the truth.  He could at least admit his cowardice to me.  He was braver than me.

My mind, not wanting to admit my cowardice, tried to rationalize my desire to remain quiet, to call out to the stranger, to keep the door firmly closed between us.  I would be doing it in the best interest of my family, I couldn’t risk their safety even if it meant possibly helping someone else.  Who doesn’t have a cell phone these days, if they truly needed help they could have called friends, family, the police in an instant.  Who knocks on a strangers door in the middle of the night, only hooligans, only the worst members of our society.  I would be doing the safe thing, the smart thing, by keeping my presence on the other side of those two inches of wood a secret.

I know that doesn’t make any sense.  Those men and women who use the cloak of darkness to hide their nefarious actions don’t announce their intentions by knocking loudly, firmly, confidently (urgently), on doors.  Who does that?  Surely only someone in need of help.  Surely someone who was hoping a kind soul would open that door and be able to help them make a phone call, or jump their dead battery, or spare a gallon of gas to get them to the nearest station, or…  They knocked, bravely, hoping to be rewarded by another brave person answering their hour of need.  They didn’t find one in my friend, and they wouldn’t have found one in me either.

My rationalizations about safety and risk don’t make me feel any better about it.  I am a coward.  I know it.  I don’t embrace it.  I don’t actively try to change it either.

Society glorifies bravery and demands that men rise to the examples set by the heroes of the past.  Children are raised on stories of knights leading charges, soldiers defying odds and rallying those around them, and astronauts risking everything to explore the final frontier.  Who wouldn’t want to live up to those ideals?  But then life happens.  Responsibilities.  Bullying (for some).  The shine of those heroes becomes tarnished by the truths of our present realities.  We compromise.  We deflect.  We hide.  Until, one day, we wake up and find ourselves lying to our friends about how brave we are.

I should call him, tell him that I lied, admit my fear matched his own and tell him it was okay to be afraid.  We don’t have to live up to those ideals of what it means to be a man anymore.  We don’t have to compare ourselves to what society deems it means to be a man.  Yes, I should call him, but I won’t.  I don’t want to admit the truth.

In my mind there is still a sliver of hope that I will grow up to be as brave as those knights, those soldiers, those explorers.  I’m just waiting for the right occasion to come along and test me and then I will rise up and prove that I am brave, that I am a man, that I am everything I should be.

I’m fooling myself, of course.

Apparently I’m a fool as well as a coward.

A Funny Thing Happened to Me on Saturday

djmatticus:

If all you can do is send some positive thoughts and energy her way, than that is all that we would ask of you, and it would be enough. If all you can do is write her letters so she has them as reminders of the RawrLove circling the world she created and that can now come back to her, than that is enough and is greatly appreciated. But, if you can do more… Now is a great opportunity to send even more Love Rara’s direction.

Originally posted on rarasaur:

I still have a coupled post to transcribe from Rarasaur, but I thought I’d post this since it’s a little time sensitive.

As I’m preparing to put out my new book this month, I do as I always do, and head to Panera to focus and caffeinate.  But before hand I swung by my mailbox and picked up a letter from Rarasaur.  So after ordering coffee, I sat down to read.

Every quarter prisoners are allowed to receive one large package of good (sent through a special service).  You can buy for them all manner of things.  There are basic supplies that you might assume prisoners are provided; shampoo, toothpaste, etc.  And there are things you would never thing of; nice shoes, earrings and tablets (yes, as in little computer).  Well, she sent me a list of things she needs and things she wants (I’m stewing over the fact that…

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What Good Will Hunting Can Teach Us About Men, Shame, and Suicide

Robin Williams

“Shame, fear, isolation, addiction. Shame, fear, isolation, addiction. After a few hundred times through the spiral, men will do anything to get off the ride, including suicide.”

 

Last week, I re-watched Good Will Hunting for the first time since Robin Williams’ suicide. I’ve always felt that Williams’ portrayal of Will Hunting’s psychologist, Sean Maguire, was one his most powerful performances on the big screen.

What really struck me watching this film again was the isolation and loneliness of Sean Maguire. The healing in Good Will Hunting was shared by both the patient and the therapist. Unfortunately, this connection with others did not transcend the film into Williams’ life in a lasting way.

When Will Hunting first meets Sean Maguire, Hunting says, “I think you’re about one step away from cutting your fucking ear off,” after analyzing a painting of Maguire’s. Matt Damon’s character then brings up the term “Any port in a storm.” For Williams and so many other men, the only port they find in the storm of their life is suicide.

Why is it that men like Williams felt so isolated and unable to connect with others? The film offers insight into this dilemma through the life of the main character. Will Hunting is savant who grows up on the wrong side of the tracks. As an orphan, Hunting suffers horrible physical abuse.

When Will falls in love with Skylar, a wealthy Harvard student played by Minnie Driver, he lies to her about having 12 brothers. This clues us into the shame he feels about being an abused orphan.

As the love between Will and Skylar intensifies, so does the commitment. When Skylar asks Will to come to California with her where she will attend med school, Will acts out all the classic avoidance strategies of someone who fears rejection due to shame.

He expresses his fear with a scenario of moving out to California with Skylar where she might “find out something” about him that she doesn’t like and not want to be with him anymore. He then makes up excuses why he can’t go to California. As I stated in an earlier article, fear and loneliness often go hand in hand. In this case, Will fears rejection, commitment, uncertainty, and vulnerability to the point that he is willing to let go of the love of his life.

Skylar presses him and asks, “What are you so scared of?” Hunting launches into attacks on Skylar as a “trust fund baby” who is just using Will so she can tell her rich friends how she went “slumming too once.”

Will then tries to leave when Skylar pushes him to be honest with her, but Skylar blocks the exit. This is where things get violent.

“What do you want to know, that I don’t have 12 brothers? That I’m a fucking orphan?…You don’t want to hear that I got cigarettes put out on me when I was a little kid…You don’t want to hear that shit, Skylar,” Will screams at her.

Once the shameful elements are public, men like Hunting will do anything to avoid the embarrassment. In this case, Will tells Skylar that he doesn’t love her which leads to isolation and loneliness.

The next level of this death spiral is addiction to anything that will numb the feelings of shame and isolation. In the 1997 film, Will’s addictions are cigarettes, alcohol, and physical violence. In his early stand-up routines, Robin Williams used to mention snorting cocaine in the 80s.

Thus, the cycle continues: shame, fear, isolation, addiction, shame, fear, isolation, addiction. After a few hundred times through the spiral, men will do anything to get off the ride, including suicide.

Suicide has been an answer to shame for centuries. In Japan, culturally sanctioned forms of suicide in the forms of seppuku and hara kiri were offered to samurai who “lost face.” Perhaps this is why present day Japan has one of the highest rates of suicide for young people who fail out of the education system.

In Palo Alto, California, a male student from Gunn High School just committed suicide by jumping on the Caltrains track. In the past 12 years, there have been 7 suicides by students in this area, mostly boys. Local media likes to point out the pressure of going to high achievement schools like Gunn, but not too many people discuss the shame of underperforming in these academic environments.

Reading the manifesto left behind by UC Santa Barbara shooter, Elliot Roger, one can easily see the chain of shame, fear, isolation, and addiction that lead to the suicidal attack. Roger was ashamed of being a virgin and ashamed of being Asian. He feared rejection from beautiful women. He isolated himself through addictions to video games and lottery tickets.

 

One of the saddest parts of the manifesto narrates how Rodger would drive alone from Santa Barbara to the Arizona border to buy lottery tickets that he envisioned would make him rich and, therefore, attractive to women. The shame of finding out that he had spent all his money on losing lottery tickets was tangible.

So what can we do to break this cycle? As the father of two sons, I think about this a lot The only answer I came up with is I don’t know.

Maybe the film can offer some insight. I was never a big fan of the “breakthrough” seen in Good Will Hunting. It seemed too tidy and unrealistic to have Will heal from years of abuse when Sean simply repeats over and over, “It’s not your fault.” But on this viewing with perhaps wiser eyes, I see some guidance that might prove essential.

First, the healing takes place between men. I’m not saying that this couldn’t happen with a woman therapist or a female spouse, but in my experience women have a hard time hearing about men’s shame without judgment.

In Daring Greatly, shame researcher Brené Brown tells the story of a man who approached her after one of her talks. “We have shame. Deep shame. But when we reach out and share our stories, we get the emotional shit beat out of us,” confessed the man.

An uncomfortable Brené Brown was about to comment on how hard men are on each other, when the man told her about his wife and daughters: “they’d rather see me die on top of my white horse than watch me fall off. You say you want us to be vulnerable and real, but c’mon. You can’t stand it. It makes you sick to see us like that.”

Men need to be able to help and ask for help from other men. In the men’s group I run, I see the power of this non-judgmental brotherhood every meeting. Men confess deep shame to the other men in the group, and instead of judgment, they get empathy, understanding, and support.

Second, Sean Maguire is persistent. Will Hunting like many men wears a lot of armor. It takes time and persistence to break through the barriers and reach a man’s heart. At one point, Will shoves Sean, but Sean keep closing the gap and repeating, “It’s not your fault.”

Third, Will cries. The cleansing and transformative effects of crying for men cannot be underestimated. Part of the reason we have so much shame, guilt, loneliness, and anger built up is that we rarely get to release it in the form of tears.

Also note how when Will Hunting does start crying he says, “I’m sorry.” Even though Sean was telling him over and over that it is not his fault, Will takes responsibility for everything. The tears wash away all this unjustified guilt and shame.

I can’t help but imagine what would have happened to Elliot Rodger or Robin Williams if they would have been able to cry in the presence of caring, supportive men who kept repeating verbally and non-verbally, “It’s not your fault.”

I do realize that half of my research comes from Hollywood, but so does a majority of the codes of manhood that trap men in shame, isolation, and addiction.

This article originally appeared on The Good Men Project.

photo: Hot Gossip Italia/flickr

Loving Darth Vader: Embracing Contempt and Anger

One of the greatest gifts the Star Wars Trilogy has given me and my sons is Darth Vader. From an early age, my sons always wanted to know who was the good guy and who was the bad guy. Darth Vader was both.

Anakin Skywalker was a good guy who becomes Darth Vader because of hatred and anger. When Darth Vader finally takes off his mask in The Empire Strikes Back, we see who he really is: a loving, imperfect father who sacrifices for his children. Luke Skywalker’s acceptance of Darth Vader can be seen as an acceptance of the dark side of men—hatred and anger.

Now, when my sons ask me who is the bad guy, I always reply, “There are no good guys or bad guys—Only good people who make bad decisions.” This makes me feel better inside because, like Anakin Skywalker, I’ve made bad decisions in my life, often in rages of anger and hatred.

When I was a young boy, I screamed at my next door neighbor’s mother, “I hate you.”

She screamed back, “I hate you, too, you little shit!”

I can still feel the shock and pain in that statement. How could an adult hate an innocent child like me? Was I really a “little shit”?

Just recently, when I wouldn’t go out and buy my 7 year old son bacon for breakfast, he screamed, “No, Daddy. I want you to go away. Stupid Daddy.”

I almost lost it when I heard this. Anger and hatred rushed through my body. Luckily, I was able to clear it before I took the wooden spoon I was holding and broke it over my son’s backside.

The lesson I’ve learned from Star Wars and life is that we need to have the capacity to embrace hatred and contempt. Jesus said it clearly, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In the instance with my son, these words were literal—I, as a father, needed to forgive my son for he knew not what he was saying.

Punishing, shaming, or reacting to my son’s anger would have only driven him towards the Dark Side of the Force. He might have felt the same unworthiness that I felt when my neighbor’s mother called me a “little shit.”

The ability to embrace contempt serves us in all relationships. Marriage expert, John Gottman argues that contempt is one of the “Four Horsemen” that can predict divorce in a marriage. Contempt often leads to criticism, defensiveness, and stonewalling—the other three horsemen of divorce.

To be honest, my wife has a lot of contempt for me. She hates the financial bind I put our family in; she hates the mistakes I made before we were married; she hates my cooking; she hates my mother; she hates what I do for a living.

I used to confront this contempt with righteous indignation. “How dare you criticize my role as a father. Don’t you know how much I do for you and the boys each and every day?”

What I found is that the more I confronted her on this contempt, the more she became Darth Vader. She even breathed loudly while stomping around the house complaining about all the things I did wrong.

My new strategy is to embrace this contempt because I know that deep below my angry wife is an innocent Jedi who just wants to be understood and loved.

When my son screamed out, “Stupid Daddy,” he was just trying to be heard and loved in the form of bacon for breakfast. When I told my neighbor, “I hate you,” I was feeling unloved and misunderstood. When Anakin killed all the Sandpeople, he was mourning the loss of love in the form of Padme Amidala.

Hatred and anger are rooted in a need to be understood and loved. Embracing contempt gives back the love that is lacking. Like the song says, “Love is the answer.” Or in the words of Martin Luther King Jr., “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

I’m not sure if this is a lesson I learned too late to save my marriage, but I do know that it is the only response to contempt and anger that makes any sense. I invite you to try it in your relationships—intimate, social, and political.

 

https://www.flickr.com/photos/st3f4n/

I should be in jail…?

Several arrests have been made recently across the United States related to high school kids who were allegedly plotting to launch violent attacks against their fellow students…

The kids kept detailed journals where they idolized the perpetrators in mass-shootings that came before them.  They had amassed stock piles of weapons and ammunition.  They had, in some instances, procured the items needed to assemble pipe bombs.  And, a few had even picked dates with which they hoped to carry out their assault.

Innocent lives were saved.  The suspects were caught in time to perhaps turn their own lives around through intervention and rehabilitation.  This is a win-win.

So, why is it, then, that these cases don’t sit well with me?  They make me nervous.  They make me uncomfortable.

Part of it is that I currently know someone in jail who has written to me about the conditions there.  The inmates are treated like criminals.  They are disrespected.  They are abused.  They are thrown into a cycle where the system actually makes it harder for them to turn their lives around.  So, rather than these kids getting the help they need, they are actually being taught they can’t be helped, they will always be criminals, and there is no hope for them.  What do we expect to happen when they are released?  What kind of lives will they lead?

I have no qualms with saying our prison culture is part of the reason we have such a high rate of repeat offenders.

Is sending these kids to jail really the right thing to do?  They haven’t actually hurt anyone yet.  Are we perhaps actually turning them into criminals by putting them in that environment…

But, that is only part of what makes me uncomfortable.  A small part.  An afterthought.  These stories hit close to home, because I could have easily been one of those kids.

Per California Law:

“CALCRIM 600 — Attempted Murder.  (“The defendant is charged [in Count ] with [violating California’s] attempted murder law. To prove that the defendant is guilty of attempted murder, the People must prove that: [1] The defendant took at least one direct but ineffective step toward killing (another person/ [or] a fetus); AND [2] The defendant intended to kill that (person/ [or] fetus).”)”

That’s it.  Two steps to be charged with attempted murder.  Take one action towards killing a person (have access to a firearm) and have the intention of carrying through with the act (the mental preparedness to actually take a life).

That seems overly simple.

But, that’s the law.  So, okay, take 14 year old me, lock him in prison and throw away the key.

I had access to two guns in my home.  I knew where they were stored.  I knew where the ammunition was kept for them.  And, I had been trained to a high degree of accuracy on both from a very young age, from my family and through the Boy Scouts.

I had a list.  It wasn’t brief.  It was long.  On that list were the names of all the people who had wronged me and wronged the people I loved.  When the day came that I couldn’t take it anymore I planned on killing everyone on that list.

I took a step towards killing and I had the intention to do so should the right circumstances arrive.

How am I different from the kids that have been arrested, tried, and jailed?

Is the only difference that I never told anyone about my plan?  That there was no Facebook or Twitter or blog journal where someone could see my rantings and alert authorities about my frame of mind?

Obviously, the day never came.  I survived the terrible years of being bullied in junior high and high school.  I went to college.  I got a job.  I got married.  We started a family.  I’m a well-adjusted contributing member of society.  I pay my taxes!

So, what’s the right solution here?

Obviously we don’t want any innocent lives to be lost, but are we dooming other innocents to a life of crime by incarcerating them simply because they had a plan that they may or may not have carried through with one day in the future?

Do you think I should have gone to jail as a 14 year old?

Fear and Loneliness

On Friday, I planned to attend a conference, but my son’s school had a staff learning day. So I arranged to have my son stay at my mother’s house on Thursday night.

When it was time to go to grandma’s house, 7 year old Jett freaked out.

“I don’t want to sleep in that scary room all by myself,” he cried.

“Grandma will sleep with you,” I consoled.

“No, I’m not going,” Jett screamed.

When my wife intervened and said that Jett didn’t have to go, I flipped my lid.

“He’s 7 years old. He needs to be able to sleep by himself,” I yelled.

“You should have made better arrangements,” my wife chided.

Thoughts flooded my mind about how my wife enabled my son to be a wimp by sleeping with him even though he was in 2nd grade. I almost grabbed Jett in order to force him to face his fears at Grandma’s house.

At the workshop the next day, Dr. Paul Gilbert explained how fear and loneliness are often tied together. He showed an example of a patient who was beaten as a child then forced to sit in his room alone. When this boy grew up, he became depressed due to overwhelming feelings of fear and isolation.

Another example came from a suicidal patient who revealed that he had been forced as a child to sleep in the bedroom where his baby brother died. When he cried out at night, his mother locked the door and never came to him. Later, the mother admitted that she was comforted by his cries since they reassured her that he was still alive.

Fear doesn’t have to be suffered alone. Fear can often be a bonding experience. I think about looking for ghosts with my grandfather in the pitch black darkness near Hawaiian graveyards. Gripping tight to my grandfather’s hand and my brother’s shirt gave me a sense of safety and community. But if boys are forced to face fear in isolation, the effects can be horrendous.

One of my clients felt trapped by a “shell of fear.” This imaginary shell prevented him from connecting with others. He was struggling with commitment in relationships and intimacy with his children. While delving into the shell of fear, my client revealed that when he was 14, he cried in front of his father who ridiculed him for it. This event caused many of his feelings of fear and isolation.

Another client who was bullied in high school felt like he couldn’t tell anyone about his trauma. He was afraid of telling his parents or school faculty since he knew they couldn’t protect him, so he suffered the whole year alone.

Veterans with PTSD often feel the same isolation when they come back from duty. Not only do they experience the traumatic fear from combat, but they also feel alone since they are no longer with the only people who can empathize with them—their fellow soldiers.

Why do we force boys to face their fears alone? That is like taking someone to a scary movie and making them sit all by themselves. When boys who wire fear and loneliness together become men, they refuse to ask for help or share their fears and concerns. This leads to isolation, depression, and anxiety with no way out.

Thank God, my wife prevented me from forcing my son to face his fears alone. I’ve learned a powerful lesson: Fear demands connection. If we continue to force boys and men to face fear alone, we increase the likelihood of depression, isolation, and suicide in men–men like the veterans who commit suicide every 24 hours; men like Robin Williams; men like Elliot Rodger whose fear and loneliness turned to rage and aggression last year in Isla Vista.

I’m going to implement the Golden Rule. When my sons get frightened, I’m going to hug them and comfort them because that is what I would want someone to do to me if I was afraid.

Supernatural?

Not too long ago, I received a letter from Rara. She admitted to being down. She missed reading everyone’s blogs and said she would lock herself up for months to catch up. She asked how Stories was doing and couldn’t wait to read each post.

In one of her posts, Rara found a tarot card site. She did a reading for herself and invited us to play along. Sadly, I don’t remember the site, but it did bring back memories from my past, where I, and some family members, went to psychics or had experiences which mwy be considered supernatural or the result of too much alcohol. In the spirit of Halloween, I thought I’d share and invite you to do the same!

The first story involves my aunt. She was a devout Catholic but her friends convinced her to see the crazy lady in the crooked house on the hill. This was in the 1950s. My aunt had recently married. The lady took one look at my aunt and said, “you have the gift”, which immediately freaked my aunt out. My aunt sat down and the reading began. The lady told my aunt that she and her husband would have financially difficult times. She also said that she saw a lot of feet under my aunt’s table. My aunt laughed and said that she came from a family of 12 kids, so yeah, there were lots of feet. The psychic grew angry and boomed, “I said YOUR table.” That was enough to send my aunt running out the door, but she did have six kids. My aunt seemed to have a hightened sense of intuition. In preparaton for her son’s wedding, my aunt set carnations out for the uncles. One of my uncles was very sick. His perfect carnation fell apart and within months, he died.

My dad had an experience with a Ouija board that he never told us about. He allowed me to play with tarot cards but was adamant that the board was never to enter the house. I respected that. When my dad died, the microwave fan went crazy for 10 minutes, as if he was saying goodbye.

My mom took me to a psychic at a place called Canturbury Village. This psychic told my mom that Annie was watching over her and that Mary was jealous. My mom freaked because my Grandma’s name was Mary and she was always jealous of my Aunt Ann, who could provide materially for my mom. This psychic also predicted that my sister was pregnant. Four days later, my sister broke the news.

This same psychic told me that the guy I was with was not good for me. I had just been engaged and hid my ring in my pocket. The ring was loose and didn’t leave marks on my finger. Little did she know that his demeanor had changed from someone who was loving to controlling and I was trying to reconcile that. She also said that I would be moving west. I laughed because I was looking for places on the east side.

Years later, she did another reading, this time at her house. Canturbiry Village didn’t renew her contract. She said people called her a witch and it wasn’t good for their business. In this reading she insisted I was moving west (two years later I moved to Chicago). She also said that people will underestimate me but it would always be my choice to react. I’m still trying to figure that one out.

My final story involves my mom’s house. My niece swears that it is haunted and that she sees a little man. I haven’t told her about the time a dark little man-thing gripped my arms so tightly that I thought I was going into shock. I fought and broke free to see it disappear into my mom’s armoir. I attributed it to a night terror. The next morning, the latch on the armoir wouldn’t close.

So now that you’ve been scared/bored/amused with my stories, do you have any to share? How do you feel about supernatural occurrences? Are you able to predict or see future events? Please drop them in the comments, or better yet, contact us.

A Tradition That Must Die

Halloween is my favorite holiday. In three days, many countries in the world will be celebrating this wonderous occasion. Children and adults alike will donne costumes in fun, while others will solemnly usher in a season of death in preparation of renewal. Still, others believe the veil between the living and those who have passed is thin and will try to communicate with their loved and not so loved ones.

Like many major holidays, the night before holds significance. The night before Christmas has a man in a red suit breaking into houses with the purpose of depositing gifts. Easter has a bunny. New Year has the drop of a ball and plenty of drinking. Halloween has Mischief Night, or if you live in Detroit, Devils Night.

I moved back to Michigan when I was 9 years old. As we held our pre-Halloween celebration,.one of the kids asked if I knew what people did on October 30. I laughed and replied that they egged and TP’d houses. With a deadpan face he said, “on Devils night, we start fires”. I didn’t believe him until I watched the news. Because our house was brand newly built, i stayed up all night to protect it. This practice continued until I moved to the Chicago area. The worst year was 1984 where we had over 800 fires in the three day period between October 29 and October 31. The national news had a field day. Eventually, the city coined the term “Angels Night” and members of the community patrolled the street in search of mischief. The numbers of fires decreased. Last year, Detroit elected a new mayor who seems to have the city’s nest interests at heart. While I visited, I was dismayed that the call came out for Angels to protect our city. When will this destruction end?

I live in the Chicago area and only those who have also transplanted from Detroit know first hand of this travesty. I’ve also travelled to major cities where the people are dumbfounded that anyone would use Halloween to purposefully destroy their city by arson. At a time where Detroit is trying to rebuild its reputation, a perfect start is killing this practice.

This is a story of a tradition that MUST die.

Karma is a Poopy Bed

This story is going to be short and not so sweet. When Rara was arrested, I was shocked. When she was imprisoned for something she didn’t do, I was, and still am, furious. Those cowardly slugs are allowing her to pay for something they did. Those cowards are able to go home to their loved ones, eat good food and sleep in nice beds. This brings me to my story.

When I was in Grade 6, our teacher sat us alphabetically by first name. In my row, the order was Jaded, Jason and Joe. Jason had a gassy problem and while I wasn’t thrilled to sit by him, my dad told me to be tolerant, because I didn’t know if Jason had any medical problems. Fair enough. To Joe’s point, I didn’t sit behind Jason.

As the year progressed, Jason did his thing and was teased about it, as well as other things. The treatment bordered on bullying and I felt bad. I told the kids to lay off and even took blame for some of the gas. Jason seemed grateful. Then came camp.

We were put into groups. Jason was in my group and appointed the leader. We had a number of popular kids, as well. They weren’t fond of Jason’s leadership and mocked him behind his back. Again, I told them to lay off.

One of the leader’s tasks was to make sure the dinner table was set perfectly. The winning table received a prize such as 15 extra minutes in the bathrooms, which was huge. One night, the counselor checked our table and a straw was our of place. The popular kids were fuming. Jason looked for me to help and I told him that we’d just have to do better next time.

That evening, I couldn’t find my tennis shoe. I looked everywhere. A couple of kids helped me and Joe finally found it at the edge of the lake. It was sopping wet. I thought it was retaliation for defending Jason and was livid. Turns out, Jason was the culprit. When I asked him why, he said I should have checked the dinner table for him. What??? I lit info him and avoided him the rest of the night. The kids teased him until the teachers told them to stop.

The next morning the boys cabin was alive with gut spliiting laughter. We heard it through our windows. It turns out that Jason’s stomach was particularly active that night and he pooped his bed. While I didn’t join in the laughter, I couldn’t help but think, “what goes around comes around”.

I know the cowards who are letting Rara take the fall won’t read this. On the chance that they do, I hope they think about karma every night they hop into bed.