• Spartan Considerations

Or “HyCo” as it is known in the lesser-traveled and perilous neighborhoods of Greater Columbia and environs. Where are the O’Jays when they are needed the most?

“All the time they want to take your place The back stabbers (back stabbers) (They smilin' in your face)”

How can I go about funding a Choose Authenticity campaign? I would much rather see those bumper stickers plastered on every car from Maple Lawn to Long Reach rather than the laughable Choose Civility detritus folks affix to their vehicles. The single greatest deficit facing HyCo is not physical in nature, it is neither schools nor housing; neither transportation nor a sustainable tax base. It is, in fact, the paucity of simple honesty.

Perhaps I was spoiled by growing up in the Great Lake State, where conversational artifice is as rare as a cook-out in January.

[Counterpoint: Kid Rock, but he is far more than exception than the rule, and also a greasy poseur greatly in need of a sound and righteous ass-kicking (Bawitdafuck-you Robby from Romeo, MI).]

I believe one of the reasons why there is so much animus in our political dialogue in HyCo is because there is a fundamental lack of trust in the motivations and intent of the “other.”

Frankly, there is good reason for this. So many HyCo people seem on the make. Or have barely concealed ulterior motives. Or are somewhat delusional.

So, we ascribe the worst to the "other," as a defense mechanism if nothing else. Best to be prepared. Adopt the first-strike capability doctrine now. Especially since far too many HyCo-ians would seemingly accept the consequences of mutually assured destruction. "If I can't win, the 'other' won't either..."

What is to be done? To be honest, I do not know. I identified the problem, is that not enough for Phase One? Phase Three, according to the Gnomes, is profit. Finding and implementing solutions, that is Phase Two. This will be discussed later.

Going to use my old and new taglines and one more: Stay Tuned, as More Will Follow...Reporting from HyCo...In solidarity,

Spartan Considerations

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  • Spartan Considerations

In retrospect, of course, all of the signs were there.

The constant nervousness in the stomach before heading off to elementary school was an early signal.

In junior high, I designed and crafted a highly rudimentary “solar” project involving a cardboard box, tin foil, and some other basic household items. I knew it wasn’t good and I had a minor meltdown about it the night before I had to present it in class. Sort of a rage despair, first focused externally and then, rapidly, internally. Why isn’t this working? What is wrong with it? Why are my thoughts racing? Why am I freaking out like this? What is wrong with me?

The fact that the teacher pointed out, following my presentation, that it looked like something I “put together on the bus this morning” did not help.*

In high school, I would chart the day. I would sit, usually in the first period, and draw a line graph indicating how much stress I would likely experience in each class.

The line going up meant that I would – emotionally – likely be OK (most often a Social Studies or English course and/or if there was a girl I liked in the class). Going down, meant elevated stress (usually math or science or some other subject that didn’t capture my interest). I had other books to read and how dare they interfere with my plans.

But it wasn’t just typical stress. As it turns out, I was actually charting my anxiety levels.

Anxiety can cause you to buy into negative self-perceptions and misinterpret communications, and with its dancing partner, depression, well, the tango is on.

Let me give you one relatively low-stakes but still vividly remembered example:

In English class in the 7th grade, I was sitting at a table near I girl I had a crush on. She asked me a question, “Were you an accident?” (as in an unplanned-for child). Now, bearing in mind the parties responsible for my existence, the honest answer was “yeah, probably.” However, I didn’t get a good read on her tone of voice or facial expression, and the fact that she acknowledged that her lived experience was similar did nothing to assuage the psychic hit I took when posed that query. From her. I took it as a put-down, which reinforced my sense of self as someone who was a geek or nerd or dweebizoid or whatever expression we used in the early ‘80s.

Having the benefit of looking back from the context of a nearly 50-year-old, I realize I took the less-than-a-molehill and turned it into a mountain of angst which I promptly placed upon my head. My very own “empire of dirt.” And my anxiety loves to add to the pile.

So where am I going? Have I lost the plot?

I suppose if one reader says hey, I recognize this, it’s my daughter/my son/my father/my mother/my cousin/my friend/my coworker/me and then takes steps to help that person (even just talking and being there with them), then this article will have accomplished something.

In solidarity.


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  • Spartan Considerations

I remember vividly the late spring/early summer of ’04. The Kerry machine was in high gear. America was just beginning to recover from the loss of Bennifer; and was promptly whiplashed when J. Lo married Marc Anthony in June. Fantasia Barrino won Idol. For some reason, people were flocking to the “movie theatres” to see The Notebook. In February of that year, a punk Ivy Leaguer launched a doomed website known as The Facebook. And the current partner of some 32-turning-33-years-old South African inventor was celebrating her sweet 16th.

Truly, it was strange and unruly time.

As much as we were all vaguely annoyed at the flying habits of the dwellers from below, I am sad to see them go. I can’t help but think of the world into which they will emerge in 2038. Will we be fortunate enough to see their re-appearance in the Above World? Which far-fetched development(s) will come to pass and have us all saying, “the Simpsons did it?” Will Gen Z even get the reference?

I felt for them as their carcasses piled up on my patio. When one would flail on his or her back, I would try to make a point to flip them over so they could stand again, and then soar. Give ‘em a fighting chance, for their lives on the surface are so fleeting. They may not be aesthetically pleasing to many (can you imagine the delights of they were, say, butterflies)? And, at peak volume, their incessant “singing” can be distracting-to-moderately irritating, but, as their number diminish, I have to say…I’m starting to miss them.

So goodbye little friends. If all goes well, I will see you in 2038, from inside my flying car.

In solidarity.

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