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Friday, October 31, 2014

3 Halloween Hates

As this era of change and tolerance sweeps the nation, there are a great many things that I have finally determined are acceptable to disclose about my personal beliefs.  The majority of these liberating revelations have been kept secret owing to my fear of reprisal and reproach – positions unpopular enough to warrant significant negative responses – and, so I kept quiet.  But through my own personal maturation and these more liberal times, I am finally read to reveal the world: I hate Halloween.  That’s right, you heard correctly – this most jovial of holidays, this celebration of costumed shenanigannery, this ode to horror and all things dark – is an occasion for me to go to bed early, turn off my phone and wait for November 1. There is no worse holiday to hate than Halloween. After all, if you hate Christmas, you’re a grinch, or a Scrooge – each quite lovable in their own way.  But hate Halloween?  Well then you an enemy of children and candy and happiness – good luck surviving that PR hit.  But those are times now past and I can finally spend October 31st dressed in grown up clothes and not making any regrettable drinking devisions.  And with my newfound freedom, I’m please to share with you three reasons I hate Halloween.

1.         Save the Women and Children.  I’m just going to come right out and say this – Halloween is a holiday primarily for women and children.  I’m not saying it’s always been that way – so please don’t send me the Wikipedia entry for Halloween (I’ve already read it) – but today’s version is decidedly immature and feminine.  I also realize this view is gender-normative, which I’m not trying to provide as an exclusive worldview, just my own.  But disclaimers notwithstanding, there seems precious few ways (if any) to maintain a measure of dignity and self-respect as a grown man during this most jovial of holidays.  First, the entire exercise is basically one big drunken game of dress up.  This alone might be enough – after all, I was never too keen on costumes, and as the years went on, the enthusiasm for the event seemed mostly generated by the women I knew (save for the men I knew that wanted to see those women dressed up).  But the fact that everyone seems keen to get themselves just a shade past New-Years-Eve-Drunk combined with wearing silly costumes makes it the sort of thing that I’m comfortable skipping.

2.         Vegas-Goggles. Living in Las Vegas gives one a very unique perspective on holidays.  Being the party capital of the world has a way of taking the “family” right out of most traditional “family” celebrations.  It also has a way of making some holiday seems extraordinarily anti-climactic.  It is nearly universally understood that American version of this is a national excuse to dress up in only your underwear and dance around with strangers.  But what the rest of the country calls “Halloween”, we call the “weekend” – or for that matter, Monday through Thursday, as well.  In fact, if there is a center of the dressing inappropriately and acting absent any regular inhibition, I’m living in it.  We don’t need an annual excuse for this sort of thing, we are the national excuse for this sort of thing.  The majority of women who visit Las Vegas have a section of their closet that they devote to clothes that they would only wear (a) on Halloween or (b) in Las Vegas.  As a result, the only reason I used to have to go out on Halloween (to ladies’ least appropriate outfit, thinly veiled as a “costume”) has now been replaced by… well, every Tuesday night. 

3.         The “New” Scary.  I can remember a time when the Thriller video gave me nightmares, and staying up way too late because I was certain that Freddy Krueger was going to kill me in my dreams.  I have always had an affinity for the horror genre – as it is one of the few truly emotionally evocative mediums left – but, the modern day horror movie is about as scary as a Jem and Holograms episode (which, looking back at it now, is a little scarier than it should be).  Most of what used to be truly scary has been replaced by over-the-top hyper-violence or just straight camp.  And the “new scary” doesn’t need darkness, the supernatural or even the macabre for effect – all you really need is the evening news.  We have become so intimately acquainted with fear these days that we’re almost numb to it.  It’s not a stretch to say that everyone is trying to scare us – especially this time of year… when we’re electing people to lead us.  Politicians are trying to scare us into not voting for the other guy (or not voting at all).  The news is trying to scare us into staying home – and watching more news.  Retailers are trying to scare us into buying things we don’t need and most of us are trying to scare each other into doing things we don’t want to do through the eponymous “fear or missing out” or “FOMO”.  I don’t need a holiday to remind me to be scared – I need a holiday from being scared.

* * *

Look, I’m not trying to diminish anyone else’s enjoyment of this popular holiday. After all, I’m enjoying the day off via Nevada Day, which I’m fairly certain was put into place to accommodate the nearly ubiquitous hangover which this city endures this time of year, and I’m (obviously) putting it to good use.  But, for anyone who’s hoping to “FOMO” me into participating – I know exactly what I’m missing, and that’s why I’m missing it.  I don’t need an excuse to act silly, I definitely don’t need to go far to see pretty girls dancing around in their underpants and I am, damn sure, not going to dress up in an “adult costume” just so that the pictures of it can end up as part of the permanent lexicon which constitutes the results of the “Google me” exercise.  As my regular readers can attest to, there is more than enough embarrassing content attached to my name, already.  So, you all have fun tonight.  Wear your costumes, drink too much and find a safe way home.  I’ll have the light off early, my regular clothes on, and will finish the night with exactly the same amount of candy in my place that I started with.  Boo, Humbug.        

Sunday, October 26, 2014

3 Aging Body Betrayals

The great tragedy of aging is the subtlety of the betrayals  Despite the portrayal, in pop culture, of age milestones as instances of sea changes in your body and mind, the reality is far more subversive and slow-moving.  Like any effective betrayal, you simply don’t see it coming.  The person in the mirror always looks familiar – until they don’t anymore.  To make matters worse, your mind is a stubborn and reminiscent bastard.  After all, identity is far more about who were were than who we’re going to be.  And you’re always the last person to realize that you’ve changed.  I expect that at some point in this long and winding road, my mind will give way to some measure of dementia and reduced cognitive capacity – but until that time, the only part of me that’s really fading is my body, and it’s almost worse than if the whole of me was disintegrating.  Because now my mind and body are in constant conflict.  Despite being in the best position to be aware and apprised of each and every physical limitation I have – my mind seems determined to imagine my physical capabilities as they were in my days of wine and cheese – when I was, at least in small measure, a superhero (or so I would have appeared to my adolescent self).  So, as a reminder to myself (because I appear to need it), here are 3 ways in which my body is betraying my mind:

1. Turn and Cough. The vast majority of physical limitations that I’ve experienced have been, at some point, recited to me by comedians, sitcoms or other columnists – but there is one that has come without any warning: the extended battle now involved in coughing. You see, coughing has always been somewhat innocuous to me – I swallow something wrong, drink something too fast or even just a random mix-up between my lungs and my gut – a few coughs later, all is well. But, nowadays, what starts as a small little hiccup becomes a full-blown emphysemic fit that is measured in quarters of hours instead of seconds. Strangers begin by offering water and end up dialing 911 without pressing “Send” – just in case you don’t pull out of it.  Worst of all, you literally have to stop whatever you’re doing and deal with your body seizing up your breathing mechanism – and by “deal with” I mean endure it helplessly and try to avoid eye contact with strangers.  I have fairly good cardio-vascular health, running 2 miles a day around 4 days a week, but nevertheless, I appear to have the esophageal health of an eighty-year-old man.  I’m scared to think what coughing will look like when I’m 60.

2.  The Morning After Pills.  There was a time when I was convinced that a good night’s sleep could cure almost any ailment.  And I was convinced of this because it was true.  I would go to bed with injuries, illnesses or just feeling a bit off and wake up like I was Clark Kent watching a Metropolis sunrise.  These days I have a strong suspicion that not only am I sleepwalking, but that I’m sleeping into the local Fight Club (please forgive my violation of Rules 1 & 2 if this is the case). This is only slightly more plausible than my original theory that someone was sneaking into my bedroom at night and kicking my ass while I sleep.  Why all this pugilistic paranoia?  Well, I’ve started waking up to a Russian Roulette of sports injuries that simply don’t have any other explanation – and I’ve now got a bottle of anti-inflammatory that I can rightfully consider a fifth food group.  I remember watching television commercials for these types of over-the-counter medications, and wondering why anyone would need to take them every day. Now I just wonder why they haven’t figured out a way to get them into my my morning coffee (can you hear me, Starbucks?).

3. Sweet Little Lies.   I’ve always felt that an essential element of anything you can rightfully call a “lie” is intent.  After all, if you didn’t mean to misinform someone, at worst you’re reckless and the real explanation is likely far less sinister.  As a result, I don’t like to think of they way my mind talks to my body as “lying” – just very well-intentioned misstating.  You see, my body is keenly aware of its current limitations – and as a testament to the wonder of this biological machine, keeps finding brilliant ways to work around them.  My mind, on the other hand, had no idea that my body has changed from say around the turn of the century (no, smartasses, the 21st century).  If I have it in my mind to run or jump, my mind sends the exact same signals to my muscles that it did fifteen years ago – expecting similar results.  Needless to say, while I am very much still capable of running and jumping, I now understand why recreational sports leagues have “age groups” and exactly why pro athletes in their 40s are rare and wondrous beings.  That said, I’m happy to weather a little disappointment if it means not “acting my age” – because I’d rather be carried off the proverbial field for the last time than to slowly skulk into the crowd.

* * *

In the years to come, I suspect that my legs will slow, my arms will shrink and my joints will begin to have more in common with an old house than a powerful engine, but that’s completely ok with me.  Like an old home, my bumps and bruises tell a story than I’m nearly incapable of telling myself, even with my most well-considered prose.  It tells of my triumphs and my defeats, my good decisions and my bad ones.  It is a story of self-destruction, but in the most beautiful and meaningful ways.  Just like the old saw told to encourage people not just to save for savings sake, you similarly don’t get to take your body with you when you “go” and you should similarly endeavor to use it in the best possible ways.  My youth may be gone, but it surely isn’t the past.  My body tells a story – one where I didn’t take shortcuts and how I did the very best with what I was given – stories of which I am immensely proud.  It tells of chances taken and failures endured.  But most importantly, it tells the most important story about me – that then, as now, I’m far too stubborn to listen to my body tell my mind what we can’t do – and that had made all the difference.  

Monday, September 29, 2014

3 Political Party Parting Shots

In 1992, I turned 18 in Lafayette, Colorado.  I had just graduated from Centaurus High School with the one of the most impressive groups of people I have ever been associated with.  And one of the first things I did?  Not a lottery ticket, not Selective Service registration and certainly no cigarette buying.  No – I registered to vote; as a Republican.  Since then, I’ve registered in many different cities and states, but always with the same party – the Grand Ol’ Party.  But, after 22 years, I’m finally ready to re-pick sides – by not picking a side at all.  The typical American starts as a liberal Democrat and ages into being a conservative Republican.  After all, aren’t we all supposed to be more tolerant in our youth than our old age?  But after being raised in a “red state” family, and then leaving for the military, college and then law school – I’ve ended up taking the opposite route.  But it turns out the grass isn’t any greener on the other side.  In fact, it’s exactly the same shade of bulls&%t.  And so, in deference to my very first trip to the voting booth without an easy way to pick all the winners, here are 3 reasons I’m leaving the Republican Party … and not joining another one:

1.  Haters Gonna Hate.  The only thing Republicans used to hate was taxes.  It did seem unfair that money was being taken out of my check, in addition to the sales tax I was paying – and I didn’t appear to be getting much bang for my buck.  After all, the government hadn’t stepped up to help me go the colleges I wanted to, and I had the same affection for the police as your average member of NWA.  But while the GOP still hates taxes – the new GOP hate goes much farther and wider.  To be a “real” Republican these days you have to hate (in no particular order): African Americans, Latino Americans, immigrants, anyone in the LGBT community, scientists, atheists, Muslims, college graduates, climate change advocates, Democrats, gun violence activists, Planned Parenthood, unmarried adults without children and essentially anyone who isn’t a member of a traditional, white, nuclear, Christian family.  Look, I’m all about some hate – especially when it comes to sports, but this much hate is like a part-time job.  I’m not even sure how to keep track of who to hate, let alone why.  Maybe that’s why the modern day GOP doesn’t bother with, you know, reasons to hate all these people.  Call me old-fashioned, but if I’m going to hate someone – I’m going to need a reason.  Besides, when you’re letting hillbillies and rednecks decide what “normal” is – it’s only a matter of time until you don’t make the cut.

2.  Tyranny of the Ignorant.  The Republican archetype I grew up with was Alex P. Keaton.  My family watched Family Ties like it was the news – and I saw myself in Michael J. Fox’s suit-wearing, briefcase-carrying overachieving outcast.  He was short on cool and long on disdain for his parents and sisters.  He was a flag-waving Reagan apologist and was identified by his intelligence and education.  He confirmed my belief that we should be led by the smartest and best-informed among us – and he made being a young Republican an obvious and easy choice.  But since then, the GOP has become the party of celebrated ignorance and fear of information.  Rather than advocating higher education and academic excellence, the current GOP holds that all the important things you need to know you either (a) know already or (b) can find in the Bible.  This is the political party that has given us the Creation Museum (and in case you haven’t lost all hope for humanity, please go check that out).  Republicans don’t just dislike the educated, they distrust and fear them.  It is widely believed that a college education includes some sort of shadow liberal indoctrination – despite the fact that most college students spend their free time trying to chemically alter their minds and/or see each other naked.  The reality is that getting educated means rejecting most of the modern conservative platform – and if I were them, I’d be afraid of that, too. 

3.  Oh, My God.  The only redeeming quality of the millennial generation to date has been their widespread rejection of traditional religious doctrines – many before they get to college.  The ubiquitous nature of modern information has made indoctrination into mysticism exponentially more difficult – and the original purpose of religion, to explain the inexplicable – has become increasingly less necessary in a world with Wikipedia.  Connectivity has made our culture global, and hating, mistrusting or dehumanizing those who simply believe differently (the central tenet of most religions – no matter what they tell you) makes a lot less sense when you can see beyond the city limits of your hometown.  I have believed in the wisdom of the separation of church and state since the first time I heard it – and I believe in it a little more each day.  I’m not a Christian.  I’m not even religious.  In fact, I’m an atheist, and it’s been made clear to me that “my kind” is unwelcome in modern GOP ideology.  Seemingly overnight, the Republican party became a euphemism for the Christian Party – and we are force fed inaccurate truisms like “the United States is a Christian nation” (no it’s not) and “the Founding Fathers were Christians” (no they weren’t).  The best reason to leave is the biggest change the party made – because as history has demonstrated over and over again, those who use divinity to derive influence are those destined to do the most evil – and I’ve got enough evil to deal with (that’s for you all my ex-girlfriends – I told you I’d get you into one of these).]     

* * *

Before the DNC starts celebrating another GOP refugee joining their ranks, please know that I’m not “switching sides.”  The DNC is just as broken, lost and dysfunctional as the GOP.  The only difference between them is that one hasn’t betrayed me.  But my true disappointment lies in not being able to find a political party at all.  We have chased the thinkers out to islands, gated communities and otherwise polite exile.  We have reduced ourselves, at every turn, to the least common denominator – accommodating even the most unreasonable and misguided amongst us, because each vote only counts as one – no matter how much or how little that person knows or cares.  It makes sense, after all - it’s far simpler (and less expensive) to influence the stupid than people who will actually think about what you’re saying.  But for me, I’d rather be a thinker than anything else.  And since that label is apparently incompatible with either of the popular affiliation options, I’m going to sit that decision out.  Because, democracy notwithstanding, politics and parties only really work if you don't invite everyone.     

Monday, September 22, 2014

3 Things Your Lawyer Wants To Tell You... But Won’t

Working at a law firm which serves a large number of middle-to-low-income families is, at once, both tremendously fulfilling and profoundly frustrating.  On the one hand, you get to help people who simply couldn’t get legal help otherwise.  On the other hand, you work with people who have little to no real understanding of the law, and sometimes it’s harder work to simply explain what you’re doing than to actually do it.  Add to this the fact that the overwhelming majority of these individuals have had some exposure to the law – but most of it through romanticized or caricatured versions for television, colloquial anecdotes from family and friends, or, heaven help me, the Internet.  Top it all off with the uncomfortable circumstance of being in a customer service situation with someone who has been irrevocably infused with that most of American of maxims: “The customer is always right.” (NOTE – this is absolutely false).  Lawyers are nothing if not careless with their criticisms, and just because they haven’t said anything pointed to you doesn’t mean they don’t want to.  So, in deference to my sisters and brothers in arms, fighting the good fight with a well-bitten tongue, here are 3 things your lawyer really wants to say to you (but won’t):

1. Leave it to Me.  No matter what you think you know about the law, please shut up and listen to your lawyer.  Coming in to hire me and then telling me how you think it should be done is like going to your doctor and giving him the diagnosis you got from WebMD – or even worse, from one of your friends who had (what they think is) a similar disease.  Just like doctors, lawyers have been to a lot of school – and since then, they’ve been practicing and learning even more law.  Lawyers have a great number of reasons to be right when they give you advice, not including just bare professionalism (e.g. malpractice insurance premiums, avoiding ethical complaints and personal pride) and treating their advice as suspect ignores all of the existing procedures in place for licensing attorneys in lieu of your own marginally reliable “gut instinct.”  The only thing you should be using what legal knowledge you do have for is listening carefully.  The law you see on television and in movies is just as useful as the medicine you see with it.  No one is looking to Grey's Anatomy for a diagnosis - so stop looking to Law & Order for pointers to give us.  It’s not that you don’t know what you’re talking about… nope; no, wait, that’s exactly what it is.

2.  You Are NOT Paying Too Much.  After having now worked at both ends of the pricing spectrum for legal services, I can confidently tell you this: no matter what you charge for legal representation, people will think it’s too much.  Because we all want to believe that if we, or our kids, study to become lawyers, that it will make us fantastically wealthy – after all, this is why we accept the insane cost and inflation of law school tuition.  But once we go to hire a lawyer, we’re suddenly looking for discounts – as though “Lawyer” was just another aisle in our favorite “big box” retailer rather than a centuries-old institution, as old as the law, itself.  Lawyers, like doctors, give themselves to a life of service.  Just because they (the ones on TV and/or the real ones) make it look easy doesn’t mean you could do it if you just had a little time to study up and practice.  I once thought this about field goal kicking – and despite being a pretty solid athlete, holy crap was I wrong about that.  Don’t take our word for it, go try it out on your own – that way when you finally do come in for help, we know it won’t be to ask us just to hold the ball for you to kick.

3.  No We Don’t Want To Help For Free.  You know what they say, once you’ve got a lawyer in the family, the whole family’s got a lawyer.  Unless they don’t have a family, every lawyer you know gets hit up by their family members (no matter how far removed) for free legal advice.  Now, don’t get me wrong, when my dad or my sister (both of whom are responsible for me getting this far, in the first place) needs help, I’m happy to answer the bell – but it’s never just those folks.  Pretty soon, anyone connected enough to make it into your Facebook or LinkedIn roster feels confident enough to sly some advice out of you in the guise of a casual chat.  Worst of all, no one seems to realize that “lawyer” is no more accurate a job title than “doctor” – because like the medical profession, we specialize, and just because the Bar Exam covers all of the law doesn’t mean we do.  So, when we say that we don’t know, it’s not because we don’t want to help you, it’s because we can’t.  And when we refer you to someone else, we’re not just handing you off to avoid the work – we’re sending you to someone more qualified that we are to do it (if we can do it at all).  And finally, because we will always take a few moments to see if we can quickly help – when you to get to that point where you’re wondering if you should really be paying for the help you’re getting – yes, you should.  Do us both a favor and offer.

* * *

Becoming a lawyer was a grand and important moment in my life.  I had never held a position of public trust like it before, and I will likely hold no greater office in the future.  Sure, being a uniformed service member always afforded me a great measure of respect from others (for which I am humbled and grateful), but we weren’t trusted with anything more than the collective safety of the nation – which was important but distant.  We were never the only person standing between you and your enemy - you were as far off to us as the enemy was to you.  Lawyers, on the other hand, are trusted – with secrets, with problems, with unimaginable injustices and impossible situations to help with.  We are only strangers to those who aren’t yet clients – and the line between them is as thin as simply asking for our help.  Lawyer jokes are as ignorantly anachronistic as corporal punishment for children, opposition to gay marriage and criminalizing marijuana use – and should be similarly eliminated from our public consciousness.  But nevertheless, even if the tired old commentaries don’t stop, we’ll still stand quietly by and wait – for that moment when you realize you need us, and the only judgment we’ll offer is the one you’re looking for from the court.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

3 Reluctant Resignations

One of my favorite, all time, quotes is “Discretion is the better part of valor.”  It elegantly holds that time-honored warrior wisdom that sometimes the best decision to make in a fight is not to fight at all.  Ideally, this is a decision you make before fighting at all, but there are times when you don’t realize impossible odds until you’ve already punched your knuckles bloody.  And so it goes for your intrepid columnist, taking on the good fight against all things absurd, ignorant or downright ridiculous, but on a few rare occasions ending up on the proverbial “wrong side of history” – coming to realize that sometimes you must resign yourself to the reality that, thought you’ve fought the good fight, it’s time to recognize that rather than die a hero, you’ve lived long enough to see yourself become the villain.  So as penance for my unwitting villainy, here are 3 fights I’m ready to declare that I’ve lost:

1.  Getting the Skinny.  On dozens of occasions over the past few years, I have ranted and raved against what I then considered to be the most absurd abuse of denim since the “jeans jacket”, the skinny jean.  Much like the A-line dress, not only had I never seen these ill-fitting leggings look good on anyone, I couldn’t even imagine that they could.  But… I was wrong.  It turns out that I, like the song laments, was looking to love these tightest of pants in all the wrong places.  Because, I wasn’t completely wrong.  It is still completely unacceptable for anyone with a Y-chromosome (who hasn’t been in the X Games) to wear them.  It is also, like all other skintight clothing, unacceptable for anyone with a BMI north of 25 to even attempt them (unless you’re going to videotape it and put it on YouTube).  And finally, and this is the one that confused me, skinny jeans don’t look good on skinny girls.  I know, I know… the irony isn’t lost on me, either, but it turns out that the only people they look good on are the ones who look even better with nothing on, at all.  That’s right – it turns out skinny jeans are made for fit girls.  That’s right, the ones with thighs you can crack walnuts with, calves that still look good in flats and the kind of butt that makes you forget your better judgment.  After recently seeing my very first flattering pair, I began to see them everywhere – once I knew where to look.  I stand, skinnily, corrected.

2.  Simply the Text.  I have often lamented the decline of communication skills and the part that technology has played in it.  We have lost the essay, the letter and the note to the text, the Tweet and the Instagram.  In this, I opined, we were losing the soul of our messages – but I was wrong.  SMS messaging (commonly referred to as “text messaging”) has become as ubiquitous as talking, itself.  It crosses nearly all demographic boundaries and is the common language of our post-modern selves.  It is nearly as fast as simply conversing, but with the precision of written correspondence.  It is more available than phone calls, and more accommodating than most considered forms.  It can be long, short, careful or clumsy – but it is who we are, and it is capable of as much soul as the lengthy personal letters of days gone by.  Also, my dad does it.  Like any new form of communication, it’s taken us some time to master it – but it is the perfect modality for our modern selves to share ideas.  We needn’t alter our hyper-efficient lives to participate; these conversations wait for us.  They flow with our day, not in spite of it.  They demand our efficiency and a brevity of wit.  They come complete with photos, emotional talismans and a built-in blooper reel device (the eponymous “autocorrect”) which makes sure we never take it too seriously.  It’s time to admit that texting isn’t just something we do, it’s something we are. 

3. And To the Republican.  I’ve been registered to vote for twenty-two years now, and for all of that time I have been a registered member of the Grand Ol’ Party.  I grew up in a time when Ronald Reagan was a political hero – beyond reproach, and the living embodiment of who we believed ourselves to be as a nation.   In those “feel good” times, it was hard to imagine why the Democrats were always decrying social injustices and persistent, institutional inequalities.   After all, everything was so good.  But in the intervening twenty or so years, something has happened.  Either I’ve changed, or the party has changed – or perhaps a bit of both.  I was more Alex P. Keaton than Duck Dynasty; more Edward R. Murrow than Reverend Pat Robertson.  I joined the party as a path to financial independence, not as a measure of love for a romanticized past.  There’s no doubt that I’ve become infinitely more tolerant as I’ve grown, become educated and matured – but I’m not sure even the 18-year-old me would have joined today’s GOP.  Celebrations of ignorance, violent intolerance and a culture of paranoia mark the part today.  Lower taxes, deregulation of industry and small government are ancillary elements of a platform dominated by anachronistic views.  But perhaps the most important reason I’m abandoning my party affiliation is that while the party’s symbol has always been a cross, ours looked like this: +.

* * *

When I first started to write for public consumption, I wanted everyone to agree, at some level, with what I had written.  After all, I was trying to logically build arguments, even if it was attempted in the most humorous ways.  Public criticisms were privately excruciating and I would often lash out petulantly in comment forums.  But I got an important piece of advice from another writer which changed everything: “The purpose of writing is not to convince people you’re right, but only to get them to think.”  Even more important than the ability to persuade people was the ability to get them to use their minds.  This was the power I suddenly held, and it freed me to write in exactly the way I wanted.  Because that way, I could be wrong.  I could change my mind, do a complete 180, and still be every bit as legitimate as when I had started.  Because writing is immortality – a way of capturing your humanity, and all of its faults, brilliance and other terrible bits to share with others, those you know and those you don’t, now and infinitely into the future.  Yes, sometimes I’m wrong, but I’ll always write.