Sunday, September 07, 2014

Coming Out is Hard To Do

Kudos to Mark Olmsted for telling his story in the Huffington Post.and in his blog, The Trash Whisperer. Olmsted, who earned a Master's degree so he could become a teacher, is prohibited from teaching in most school districts because of drug-related felony convictions. A recovering meth addict, he shares his story in support of "ban the box" statutes that soften the impact of previous felony convictions in employment. Olmsted appreciates such laws, but argues that they don't go far enough because he could still be banned from teaching.

While I get the reasons for not giving felons access to young, sensitive, impressionable minds, I agree with Olmstead that someone with his life experience has a lot to offer. As an HIV positive man watching friends die all around during the early days of the AIDS epidemic, he lived his life on a "two year plan," figuring there was not much point in planning for the future. I think a lot of addicts live on that plan, and so do a lot of at-risk kids. A teacher who understands that mindset could be a wonderful asset, and could probably even save a life or two. Experience doesn't have to be yours to be educational.

These days, even conservatives are willing to concede that throwing people in prison isn't always the answer; this despite the increasing privatization of the American prison industrial complex. Maybe we're seeing the beginning of a paradigm shift. As people like Olmsted "come out" and tell their stories, maybe we'll see the law follow changing cultural mores. I'm encouraged, for example, by the growing public support for the legalization of marijuana. Someday maybe we'll find the idea of arresting drug users quaintly old-fashioned and counterproductive, like Prohibition.

And after all, who would I rather have teaching my kid: a thin-lipped prune who's lived the straight and narrow all his life but hates children? Or somebody with "life experience" who thrives in the classroom? Yes, I know, that's a false dichotomy. But there are enough shitty teachers out there to make the point relevant. Give me somebody who loves teaching. Even if he's a recovering meth addict with a criminal record.

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

On Getting Older, God, and Cherry Spit

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
Boy, oh boy, am I excited. Tomorrow is my very first colonoscopy! And that means I haven't eaten anything since yesterday. This morning, when I started this colon-cleansing adventure, I took a picture of my fasting diet for the day. Yum!

But I didn't realize the best was yet to come. Since six o'clock this evening, I've been enjoying a seductive and effective elixir: four liters of cherry spit, designed to clean out my lower intestine until it's so clean you can eat off of it.

Four liters. Two 2-liter bottles, to be consumed one glass at a time, every fifteen minutes. Somehow I've got to fit bathroom, uh, duties into this manic schedule, and there's not a whole lot of room for error. Add blogging to that, and you can see I've had one busy evening.

(It's pretty bad when this is the best thing I can come up with to blog about. But I digress.)

Anyway, going through this interesting new process has been something of a reality check, both physically and spiritually.

Physically, it's a reminder that I'm getting older. Actually, way older, because I was supposed to start doing this seven years ago, at age 50. Do as I say, not as I do.

Spiritually, it's a vivid and colorful reminder that I'm terribly ordinary and subject to the same human indignities as everybody else on the planet. If you make me drink four liters of spit-flavored laxative, I'm going to get diarrhea, and all the terminal uniqueness in the world isn't going to quell the urge.

Not to change the subject or anything, but Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, is almost upon us, and ten days after that is Yom Kippur. I'm supposed to fast on Yom Kippur.

You know, if I'd just scheduled my colonoscopy for the day after Yom Kippur, I could be getting God points right now.

So if you're Jewish, and over 50, and you live in Atlanta, don't even think about scheduling your next colonoscopy around Yom Kippur. It's mine. I thought of it, it, and I've got dibs on it from now on.

Jesus fucking Christ.