Eaten by Sally

I haven’t posted here in a long while, but I felt inspired to share this rather unimportant snapshot of my youth. This was a writing exercise from what I’d guess was my freshman year of high school, (’96-’97) but may even be from earlier.  My only alteration in the transference is in my addition of a title.

 

 

 

Eaten by Sally

 

 

Sally eats salty pretzels as a snack.

The snack Sally eats are salty pretzels. [sic]

Sally’s snack of pretzels is salty.

Salty pretzels are Sally’s snack.

The pretzels that make up Sally’s snack are salty.

Sally’s salty snack consists of pretzels.

Sally’s snack is of salty pretzels.

The salty snack of pretzels are Sally’s. [sic]

The salty snack of Sally’s is pretzels.

Pretzels, which are salty, make up a snack for Sally.

Sally’s pretzels are a salty snack.

The pretzels that Sally eats are a snack that is salty.

A snack of salty pretzels are what Sally eats. [sic]

Pretzels eaten by Sally are a salty snack.

Culture to chidingly

Here follows a long-overdue reflection of my travels arund the UK and France last May, on the gentle, if not persistent prodding, of one Clayton Cameron. thank him for it, if you enjoy reading this.

 

Scotland! (and England, Ireland, France!)

 

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The Loneliest Telephone Box, somewhere between Fort William and Oban. Decommissioned, but willing to be reconnected if someone wants to adopt it and fund its maintenance.

In the fall of 2011 my sister dropped the line to her general social circle about accompanying her to Glasgow to see Elvis Costello in concert. She had gotten the tickets through a serendipitous turn of coincidence. By December, I was seriously considering that bait, and by January, it had occurred to me that this is the kind of thing tax returns are designed to pay for, and I bit.  And so, it was settled. And if you’re going to Glasgow to see a man perform, be it only for one night, well, you might as well stick around the area and see what else is around, right? Such logic is only flawed in that it begets itself and begets yet again and again, until you’ve decided to go on a mad-cap bender of single-day visits to most of the major cities and country-sides in your area of choice. We had the resources: A spirit for adventure, freshly minted couchsurfing.org accounts, and a willingness to bear most, if not all of the  hardships of constant travel with good humor.

The first compromise came quickly, as our international funds availability became clearly much less convenient that we had anticipated (even with research & planning). Emily had better access to her funds, so she fronted the brunt of the first half, while I scrambled at various internet cafes to find a way to make my own digital currency accessible to me. Kind of makes me wonder what good these invisible lines which define and separate countries (and the governing forces which maintain them) are doing. But, I choose not to digress.

Less a compromise, and more of a straight hang-up, were the unbearably indecipherable bus schedule signs. I really, REALLY wish not to come off as an arrogant American tourist who feels an unwavering sense of entitlement regarding any and all inconveniences thrust upon him. But, it was interesting for me to be dealing in what is functionally the same (and only) language I speak, (and arguably most similar culture) and to have so much still lost in translation. I’m tempted to say that the similarities were more deceptive for these reasons, than were I truly visiting to a more extrinsically different culture/country, where differences would be more expected by my ignorant eyes than the place where my forebears hailed from. In this sense, it’s all about perspective: minor differences in many ways can make a greater impression in some ways than grand, sweeping differences, which are so in-your-face at the outset that they are more easily accepted for what they are. (All this from a bus schedule? Jeezus, don’t get me started, apparently)

A quick realization and compromise we came to, also, was that spending one day-night only at a string of locations was just not enough. We spent 9 hours in Dublin, on a layover, and then about 26 hours in Manchester, all according to plan, before we ventured north to Glasgow for a two-night stay there (in favor of ensuring that Mr. Costello get his due, and we get ours as well).  This two-day approach was clearly a better plan of action, and our experience with buses so far convinced us to drop the loftier ideals of the thrift-minded, and rent a car (and learn the art of other-side-of-the-road driving). North of Glasgow, roughly speaking, are the west highlands, which are as gorgeous as one would expect, at 50 mph. Upon finding our host Piotr in Fort William, he quickly asked us how long we were planning on staying (we were only planning on one night, but quickly persuaded ourselves to make it two, at least, given his congenial openness to it) and so set the tenor of the trip: if memory serves, all of our following hosts either were asked, or offered, to keep us for a day longer than planned. Even extending each visit as such, I’ll draw on my experience in the American chain restaurant culture to chidingly refer to our trip as largely an “Appeteaser” of the sights, sounds, smells, savories and sensations of our destinations (and the travels in between). I’ve said it before: regret is for those who could have done better – and as a first-time international travel, I’m confident I did my best – but I will also say that future travels will involve more immersion, and less variety of saturation. In my experience traveling the states, this has been a preferable state of exploration.

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“Over the years elevators have had their fair share of ups and downs in popularity, but thankfully the idea has not been shafted.” – in Edinburgh

 

Here’s a quick breakdown of things which are notable to the trip but don’t need much in the way of overzealous narrative: 1) It rained every day in the UK. I brought leaky, crappy shoes, fully expecting to discard them quickly in favor of buying some while en route; this transition couldn’t happen soon enough. 2) there was virtually no time spent stationary in the countryside anywhere, unfortunately. The smallest city visited was Oban (not a city at all, but for our purposes, purely the location of the single-malt distillery visited there), the largest was London. [Spending less than 24 hours in a string of historically and aesthetically interesting cities, all of which one has never visited before, gets a bit numbing. Our method of exploration wasn’t all bad, but it became annoyingly routine, in a certain sense, even if 98% of travel-time was still spent wide-eyed in wonder at the varying majesty of specific locals.] 3) Half-way through travels, we had unpreparedly planned to mail back to the states a good deal of what we had collected for souvenirs; this quickly proved cost-prohibitive, and so instead we ended up lugging horribly large amounts of stuff around, everywhere. Too bad. 4) France, I was told, has the second-highest population of smokers in Europe, (Turkey is first) and compared to my northern New-English upbringing, I can empirically, if not anecdotally, verify that 100%. It seemed like everyone was smoking. 5) As predicted, the more tourist-attractive the location, the smaller the thrill upon seeing it. Case in point: Stonehenge, unfortunately. I don’t mean to douse the excitement for such an interesting and important relic, but there’s something about bus cavalcades of package bus tours that really kind of completely destroy the mystique of visiting a place that could mean so much more, in a different context, than it did.

The standout of the trip for me was the unexpected cultures, and, secondarily, that we encountered. Here’s where I become a beaming billboard for what I feel is easily one of the best things the internet has yet to produce, couchsurfing.org. I don’t necessarily mean to isolate the couchsurfing website, itself, but the concept, and its current execution, has more restorative power in one’s faith in humanity than pretty much anything else I’ve encountered. It is a very well constructed system, and possibly the best use of social networking that’s in effect. Our hosts in the UK and France were only three times actually locals: Others were Spanish, Polish, Iranian, and Turkish, respectively. And they were all wonderful, warm, welcoming hosts, each a unique joy to experience and share experiences with. [A brief side-note, I have of course, striven to return this karmic good nature to folks traveling around my own home area, to equally satisfying results.]

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Spotted while walking the streets of Paris.

 

One of my most brazenly intended goals for the trip was to be a food-tourist as much as possible. Eating things I had not eaten before, or which were better than ever before, owing to varying degrees of perceived authenticity, or proximity to source of origination. Here’s another list: Dublin – Guinness, Moroccan grill; Manchester – Teas, Ciders, Homemade dishes which sadly elude my memory at this point; Glagow – Curries (Americans call it Indian food), Ginger Beer (the soft drink, imported from Australia), ginger Beer (alcoholic, from Scotland), Scottish Breakfast (incomplete, but what the hell); Fort William – home made open-face melts on home baked (and leavened) sourdough, Haggis, Blood Sausage, Neeps and Tatties; Oban – 14-year single-malt scotch, paired with crystallized ginger; Edinburgh – Un-American Chinese food, More Tatties, Hendrick’s & tonic; Paris – antipasti spread, and “beer” (no more specific – light, tasty), Croissants, Cheese plates w/ baguette and Avocado mousse, home-style 6-course Korean cooking for a dinner (a contender for best Korean available outside of Korea), and of course a “Tous fondus de son fromage: Royale Cheese”; Angers – more meat and cheese spreads, more croissants, pastries, etc., oh how delightfully the French seem to tend to consume; London – A Full English Breakfast, more curries; Marlborough – Fish and Chips, with mushy peas and brown sauce; Manchester once more – more home-made delights.

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Buddha has a bright idea – eat at this Korean restaurant.

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Bread, Cheeses (Butter, too), Avocado Mousse

The food was all good. I won’t go into many details, because words, in this case aren’t just, (at least not mine), and a better option for anyone reading this would be to go over there and get some their selves. I have a very high gross-out tolerance, so the blood sausage and haggis didn’t faze me much, though I understand for some it might. The sausage definitely has an unusual texture (based on my experience), though not an unpleasant one. Haggis is a psychological gross-out. If one didn’t know there were sheep organs involved, they could easily dismiss is as a less-offensive ground lamb or pork offering mixed with oats and some tasty spice combinations.

Here’s an anecdote: On the flight from Boston to Dublin, I was sitting across the aisle from a 70-year old Irish man who proceeded to consume all of a fifth of whiskey on his own, and attempted to engage me in conversation about 3/4 of the way through. He interpreted my admittance that I am mostly of British descent to mean that I was in fact British. He has this to say: “How far does our hate go when the plane drops? You’re British, I’m Irish, we hate each other. You don’t agree with a word I’m sayin’. But I love ya, and I’ll shake your right hand.” And so he did. And then the Flight Attendant gently asked him to quiet down.

To sum up, I can say most confidently that my wanderlust has become elevated, from being a mere suspicion, to a true-blue goal of life. The toughest question now, is whether to return or push onward. I’m sure both will end up happening. That, and who (if anyone) wants to be my travelin’ pardner in future endeavors.

 

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Castle Doune, which bore the brunt of the castle-y duties in filming of Holy Grail.

 

 

The Inevitable

This isn’t about politics. This isn’t about the journalist’s opinion – I don’t agree with everything he says. This isn’t about the reasons for the protests, or the targeted causes for the protests. Those can be debated, until we’re blue in the face – fine. So be it.  This isn’t about anything, except for  the assault on peacefully acting people.

I don’t protest. Never have. Maybe I will, someday, but not right now, and most importantly, that’s not what this is about.  This is about immorally appointed authority, and the INEVITABLE abuse thereof. I say wrongly, because no amount of training, education or personal desire can possibly legitamize the authority of any person to use force on another. Self-defense may; this wasn’t self-defense.

Discuss.

Head-first into the cut-throat.

I recently owned up to the fact that my straight razor is suspiciously dull (for a razor that is, thought it remains quite a bit sharper than your average spork), and bought a new one. It was partly out of frustration with my average-to-good closeness of shaves, and partly because I knew that when I initially dove head-first into the cut-throat world, I did so on one hell of a tight budget.  Even with my most earnest desire to stop wasting time and resources, as a consumer, on disposable razors and their paraphernalia, to learn what I could do and do so without breaking my bank was essential; so, I got what I felt would be the best value for my allowance, but no more. And I learned A LOT.  I never wavered, steadfast to ascend the learning curve, with more patience than I have had to use on nearly anything else. It’s been three years, and a few months. I just got the new one in the mail. Just shaved with it. The difference is astounding. I don’t regret these past years, waiting, passively, to upgrade to a finer blade. But I’m glad I have. I’m glad I have.

 

These past few months have been pretty dry for my blog, for those who may not have noticed, and I intend to put a swift and painless end to that. In the meantime, here’s proof that I haven’t forgotten.

The Earth is flat/But I know that.

Recently, I was engaged in a spirited debate on the subject of Atheism v. Agnosticism v. Spiritual/Religious beliefs. It started over some craft bier at one my preferred locations for intellectual stimulation. First there was the quote of Magellan’s, which I have brandished on a tee-shirt: “The church says the Earth is flat, but I know that it is round, for I have seen the shadow on the moon, and I have more faith in a shadow than in the church.” Last Call came too soon, as usual, and the discussion turned digital. My friend, who had been less vocal as yet offered up some articles he had found online, ranging from the sacred to the profane.  One, in particular, generated the responses which follow.  ( I have oh-so-slightly edited the conversation from their original form, in minor grammar and punctuation areas (’cause I’m that dorky),  and I have left out the less significant peanut gallery responses that happened along the way, with no disrespect to any of the peanuts involved.)

Sherwin: This author seems to have no faith in humanity to govern itself; he asserts that without moral law and absolute truth, the mass of humanity would drag itself into an abyss of death and destruction. Therefore, he maintains, God must exist because without god we would all kill each other and chaos would reign supreme. Without getting into it, I have to disagree with this argument. His further claims that as when we see a painting we assume there is a painter, when we see a building we assume there is an architect, and so the universe must also have a creator, namely God. First, paintings and buildings are known creations of humans; the assumption of a creator in these examples is based very much on observable fact and easily gained knowledge of human creativity and history, and also need not require belief in a contradictory being to have been any creator of such things. Second, I would never misuse scientific theory to assume or suggest that there “must be” a creator, or even architect, unless I can prove it. Without proof there is nothing, which is what I like about scientific method; there needn’t be an answer for everything, the unknown is allowed to exist, as a theory or as a true unknown. The real issue arrives when anyone asserts the existence of something (God) without proof.

Bill: “God was invented to explain mystery. God is always invented to explain those things that you do not understand. Now, when you finally discover how something works, you get some laws which you’re taking away from God; you don’t need him anymore. But you need him for the other mysteries. So therefore you leave him to create the universe because we haven’t figured that out yet…” – Richard Feynman. This quote has been traveling in my head for a few days, simply because I look around and see all the things that God doesn’t get credit for any more. You say “Creator” and people know you mean God; not so much “Man Who Makes Fruit Fall to the Ground” or “Sun Riser.”

Orion: For me, any debate about the existence of God is mostly meaningless without first asking what is meant by “God.” And I do have to say that, although I have some sense of the existence of something that I call “God,” I don’t agree with the author of this essay on the basic attributes of God. For me, the existence of a creator of the universe is open to question. For that matter, the existence of the universe at all is open to question. The Feynman quote above says “God was invented to explain mystery.” I also disagree with that. I think that mystery and paradox are essential parts of reality, and that God is perhaps a celebration or embodiment of that mystery. A world that could be fully explained and worked according to rational understanding lacks something to me. Rationality and order are vital elements of existence, but only part of the whole. To think that human understanding can encompass all of existence is a vain wish, and severely limits the scope of what can exist. I like to imagine that we humans, our universe, our consciousness, and all we call reality are only a small fragment of what exists. At the same time, I feel that we have some connection with the infinite possibilities of existence beyond our usual confines, and that we are thus part of something that can take us beyond ourselves to new levels of awareness. All this, to me, is part of what I call God. Trying to prove the concrete existence of God, then, is beside the point. The reason that I say there is a God is that I want something larger than myself and larger than all the insanity of our human existence to look toward and reach toward. For me, there needs to be some deeper reason that I am alive than a simply scientific explanation of how our reality came into being.

Sherwin: So, your choice to use the word “God” is perhaps for lack of a better term, or a word used to make the conversation easier to flow and comprehend? Given the world that we all live in, and our participation as members in this society, I would that the word “God” has very specific connotations and meanings. America and the west is dominated by Judeo-Christianity, the east by Moslem, and Hindu beliefs. If you’re speaking English, and you say the word God, your personal definition is not implicit. What is implicit is a being that even in the most abstract (and thus all-encompassing) definition that a believer would comfortably agree to involves contradictions of measured existence, whether of an eternal nature, omniscience, omnipotence, consciousness without physical form, and so on. The attributes that make God contradictory to our world around us make God not exist, according to science and reasoning. Perhaps God will be perceivable at some point in the future, but if that is so, God will also at that time become a measurable, observable entity, and cease to have the qualities which so many apply to the term God.

To your second statement, I would have to respectfully disagree a bit, and further quantify my point. I really like the unexplainable aspects of life. Those are the parts that get me excited. I would indeed suspect that God was invented to explain mystery. I’ve got no proof, but it certainly seems that there is a fair amount of historic and current evidence of otherwise unexplained phenomena being explained (or really, NOT explained) through the claimed existence of God, which, God being an unknowable, contradictory entity in the universe, seems to me like a cop-out, an answer when there needn’t be one. I use science to explain what science can, and when it can’t, I say, “I don’t know” rather than “The sun moves across the sky because it is actually a flaming chariot which the God Helios drives” or worse, “God took my child’s life because He wanted to.” Both of these examples show a situation in which a person cannot explain, or cannot logically understand, and is thus filling in the blank with God. The scientific method, using reason and evidence, rightly, I feel, leaves the unexplained alone, until (or if) it can ever be explained. There may be theories, but they are under constant scrutiny, and are readily overturned in necessary. If human understanding could encompass all of existence I would be dumbfounded, I don’t think that could ever happen; I don’t expect it to. But, there are many people (yourself not included, I think) who would claim God’s will for it all. This is the view that severely limits the scope of what can exist. I, too, feel that we humans, our universe, our consciousness, and all we call reality, are only a small fragment of what exists. But until something has qualities that we can perceive, that thing does not exist. In fact, and as I’ve said before back when this whole discussion started, one does not need evidence to prove non-existence. rather, though, and absolutely, the reverse is entirely, necessarily true. This final statement, I feel, allows completely for the infinite potential of anything that may come about into being or into our perception.

You also said, “The reason that I say there is a God is that I want something larger than myself and larger than all the insanity of our human existence to look toward and reach toward.” I also want what you want, and I feel that we both already have it. I think humans are an incredibly unimportant part of the universe, and beyond. But I would never use a word, so absolutely wrapped up in assumptions, presumptions, and has books of nonsense and antiquated moral laws attributed to it, to explain the unexplained. A word that instantly conjures up the image of a bearded man living in the sky surrounded by winged humans (or other dominant religious descriptions), and in fact has its origins in such descriptions, and has always meant that, I feel should probably be the less used, the better, when describing the wonder of the Earth, Universe, and beyond.

Orion: It seems to me, then, that we are basically on the same page here, and the argument is mostly one of semantics. I am not terribly attached to the word “God” to describe the unknowable aspects of existence, but use it as you said, as a convenient term where other words could do as well. You are right that this usage necessitates further explanation to separate my intention from the commonly inferred meanings of the word “God.” However, I do think that very many other people share this more open perspective of spirituality, mystery, and meaning, and I suspect that many people use the word “God,” not having another good word for it. Why let narrow-minded people monopolize the use of a good word, if it can be claimed for broader meanings?

Sherwin: As we both agree, it is surely convenient. But is it in fact good? If its origins, and even modern uses, are still so dominantly detrimental to an open discussions such as this, why bother? I don’t feel empowered to use the word “god,” but there are many who rely heavily upon it for dastardly means. I think taking away their power, however insignificantly, in a way that enables greater discussion of all the known and unknown wonders of the universe is a greater benefit than to pander to their own terminology.
Here’s my final, final word (since this is my blog, and that’s how it goes) –
I am familiar with most of the arguments submitted by the great thinkers of our time on this matter.  I am obviously atheistic in my stance. but what I rather prefer is the terminology as such, which leaves less  to debate, and removes the word “atheist” which in its formation requires a god to be against, in theory at least, and in its suffix, generally implies belief more than it probably ought to. “I accept the proof that science has to offer. Further, I do not accept that which has not been proven.”

Progress at hand. (also of note)

Here is a quick update on my pianistic repair saga. I’ve made a second pass at her, and I still haven’t managed to bring her all the way home yet. She’s at a much more even temper, however, and I hope to have her 99% up to pitch at the next adjustment. So far she is holding steady at 66% of where I found her. In the video I played a simple C major scale, rather than chromatic, which I feel allows for a greater appreciation of the progress at hand. Also of note – this tuning was interrupted about 3/4ths of the way through, so rather than the whole thing in 4 hours, I’m less sure about how long it took. And, tuning the second half of the soprano and all of the bass section to an already-falling-flat treble didn’t really help my case. But it sounds alright.  The chord at the end (accounting for my noodly finale) is a C13 #11.

This tuning was actually done more than a week ago, but given the previous hullabaloo of the time, I opted to let this minor post sit until things had settled a bit.

Keeping my mouth shut

I’ve spent most of my 20s trying to keep my mouth shut, except for when I’m certain of something. I think that, by and large, I have succeeded quite well in that goal. There’s no other reason people would praise me for possessing wisdom and thoughtfulness as consistently as they do, unless I was succeeding in keeping all the dumbass shit in my head right there, where it’s better off.  I don’t intend to start spewing hasty decisions and half-thought ideas & concepts all over the place, but it’s also true that there are some people, whom I recently ended my working relationship with, who think I did just that. I hope to explain a little better what prompted me to take the action that I did. That is, of course, just in case you, dear reader, haven’t already figured it out for yourself. (And for those of you compeletely in the dark, my “Open letter” is the post on this blog immediately previous to this one; it’s what I’ll be referencing. I’ve anonymized it for the sake of some decency, and because I feel at this completely public Internet level its many specifics are irrelevant, but that the content as a whole still stands.)

I do think a lot more than I speak, generally, but I still don’t feel that such thought alone gets me the wisdom I’ve gotten credit for. If anything, what I’m best at is recognizing when I do(accidentally or not) say or think something worth repeating, and then stick with it.  The theme of the previous blog entry, the “Open Letter,” regards the behavior of my boss, [Mr. X], and my voicing of what I felt was a majority opinion of disapproval of his actions in the past, and up to the present, at [The Company]. I feel I was in the right – but the response of agreement to my letter was from a smaller majority than I anticipated. Many people, including some dear friends, thought my actions were cowardly, irresponsible, and hurtful; that I had lacked compassion and sensitivity; perhaps most repeatedly, that I had crossed a line.

It saddens me to know that I’ve lost the respect of those people. I hope it isn’t fully; I hope it isn’t permanent. I can’t fully agree with their perspective on what I did, but I think I can appreciate it on certain levels, and I have tried my best to defend my own position without dismissing their points or further offending them in some other way. Such offense was never my intention and certainly isn’t now. Even so, I stand by my words, and my actions.

I don’t feel life is worth living, without holding certain ideals.  My Open Letter was about [Mr. X] and the many ways in which the ideals, which I feel myself and many others hold, were egregiously overturned, disregarded, and wilfully ignored by him, time and again. And that’s one interesting distinction that I will make now – of all the detractors and all the words I’ve read from them, not a one has attacked the content of my letter. That makes sense to me; [X]’s behavior, as I described it, is undeniable. So, I feel this is very largely a conflict of what I would call  “Style vs. Substance.” I think both are important. Substance, is, of course, what it is, and Style, by which I mean, the method of delivering my letter to [Mr. X] and my co-workers in this case is paramount. I spent a good deal of time quibbling with myself over what would be the best way. I now know that there are more than I expected who disagree with me – but, I still feel that it was the best option.

Part of what I pointed on in my letter, is [X]’s playing of “favorites” and “not favorites.” I’d like first to be clear that being within the circle of “favorites” must have been nice, and I don’t blame anyone for their position there. It is inevitable, with a boss behaving as such, that one is either in, or one is out. I have worked for others in the past and been a “favorite.” There are a lot of good, hard-working, decent people on the “in-side.” For me, their presence there doesn’t detract at all from their earnest, good nature. But, I wasn’t there, ever, despite my ultra-hard, expert work, perpetually-lauded by coworkers, customers, and certain managers alike. [X] and I were never close. I suffered many verbal abuses from him, most of which were typically, but not limited to, unnecessary and frivolous (if not completely misled) attacks and criticisms. These instances best exemplify how I feel I kept my job as long as I did; by keeping my mouth shut. I tried my damnedest never to speak back at him, ever.  It was my opinion then, as it still is today, that open debate, if not outright arguing and disagreement (in front of customers), is completely out of place, especially in those break-neck busy season restaurant weekend nights, in which they occurred; not now, I thought; save it for later, I thought, if it’s so important. It often struck me that he was almost trying to pick fights with me, despite my silent, respectful tongue. This was a difference between us that I considered irrevocable. I know because every one in a while, I would lose a bit of control, and say something back. I don’t think these instances ever would go down in [The Company]’s history of great fights, of which I’ve seen a few, but I will further say that this is largely because, if I let slip a bit, and offered a contrary position, I would shut myself back up all the quicker, and as a result, it never led to much. Such was his and my dynamic. When I ever initiated a conversation of any import at all, he would completely dismiss me, if not actually, with his mannerisms and wilful forgetfulness. So, for these reasons, of course, on a strictly social level, we had no real relationship.

I know that what I wrote in the letter represents [X]’s actual, despicable actions, towards myself and others. When I hit my “tipping point” over an incident involving a customer and friend, I realized I had been compiling, for some time, a laundry list of complaints about [X]. It took me months to find a new job that satisfied my needs, partially because I knew that, while on the one hand, I was fed up with [X], and his presence especially at [The Company], I also had endured it all long enough that there seemed no reason to storm out, at that moment, in some ineffectual hissyfit of disgruntled rage. While I sought out a new job, I had plenty of time to think about exactly how and when I should initiate my permanent departure from [The Company], and air my grievances.

Speaking with many co-workers, and witnessing even more misbehavior over the years, I knew that if any attempt to try and cease the perpetual decline of employee suffering and mistreatment would succeed, even slightly, calling out [X], publicly (or at least within [The Company]), would be one of the few, if only, ways to try to force his acknowledgement of such behavior. Based on my experiences with him over the years, I was all too ready, and I feel rightly so, not to bother in figuring a way to address him personally. My countless experiences had shown how that would’ve been a lost cause; and what else can one rely on for knowledge than experience? He and I had never had a healthy, respectful conversation, despite what I considered to be my best efforts, so why should I expect one now, at the end, when I’m finally coming to terms with him over a rather large amount of grievance, which had been building for some time? I certainly wasn’t going to orate the whole thing for him in any event, even if I did hand-deliver the letter; so, I left a sealed envelope on his desk. That way, he could read it privately, and take time in his initial actions following, to decide what, if anything,  to do.  I also knew [X] has been very dismissal of me in the past, so the “public” postings were my solution. I put “public” in quotes, because I feel this has all been a lot less public than most realize. There were two hard copies placed within The Company’s walls, but only in places where employees could read them. From what I’ve been told, they came down almost immediately. I did post it further on facebook and here on my blog, but the facebook post was restricted to its severest privacy levels (only my “friends” can read it). And, let’s be glaringly honest here: mine is not a very popular, well-read blog. When I post something, some of my facebook associates read it, if any. I know there are three (3!) subscribers to it, also of the facebook variety, and thus redundant, in most senses.

In fairness though, my biggest lapse of judgement was posting this using all proper names and places without a thought, if only for my own legal protection. That, too, has been fixed, fewer than 24 hours after the initial posting. There was, to me, a surprisingly large clamoring for me to take it down entirely, that I wasn’t being respectful or sensitive of the situation. I will address that last bit momentarily, but I did agree, after a wise suggestion from The Sister, as I believe she prefers to be called, that I could keep it up if the names were down. And I agree fully. After all, the point had been made, and the people who needed to know, knew. While I did feel it appropriate to keep the post up, there was no strong need to keep naming names. Those who I wanted to read it, still could, reading between my lines, understanding it fully. Those who were unaware of the situation at large, could read my letter, and either agree that I was righteous in my choices of actions and letters, or that I had crossed so many lines. In either opinion, however, they would not know the personal specifics.

Now, to discuss the varying degrees and definitions of “cowardice.”  I think what some of my detractors and I differ on is what defines cowardice. To them, it seems, (and if you’re reading this, please, correct me if I’m wrong) that my weakest action was in not hand-delivering this letter, face to face. I’ve already talked about why I felt rational in my decision not to do that. I hold different meanings of the word in my head. For me, the most cowardly thing to do would have been to say nothing at all, to “chicken out,” as it were, and stay at a job with a boss I can’t bear to look in the eyes because of the ways he has crossed me. For me, cowardice would have been leaving the job as I did without writing any letter, or ever letting him know how he had wronged me, or how he had wronged anyone else. (I do believe he has some awareness of his actions, but this awareness is clearly not enough to curb any of his behavior.) For me, the most cowardly action I took was the same one most everyone else takes too: I didn’t address any of this with him as an employee. Even I was afraid, essentially, if not prudently so, to do anything but wait until I was no longer his employee to comfortably call him out for things in a way I think should have happened long ago. Such is how I perceive cowardice.

What about unprofessional, which I’ve also been described as being? It’s true, I think personally addressing it with him behind closed doors would have been the most “professional” way to handle things. But I also think this situation became extremely unprofessional long before I got involved. Please pardon my vindictive stance if you think it’s worth disagreeing over, but the behaviors described in the letter don’t warrant much respect from me. After all that has happened, and all I’ve described, which no one is refuting, does he deserve one last chance? Not in my opinion. [X] threw out my forgiveness long ago. Unprofessional, for me, would have been walking out in the middle of a shift the moment after he finally broke my spirit and fully enraged me, those few months ago. For me, unprofessional would have been not giving two weeks’ notice, quitting on the spot when I found a new job. For me, unprofessional would have been not working just as hard, if not harder, on my last days leading up to my departure, not giving as much of my all as I always did at that job. Such is how I perceive unprofessional behavior.

One of the final criticisms I want to address here is that of the line I crossed, which I believe concerns my allusions to [X]’s status as being “married” or not, “monogamous” or not, and the potentially dubious behavior I mentioned, but did not at all specifically describe,  in my letter. I actually assume the “rumors” I mentioned to be true. The sources I know are many and trustworthy. I think if anything, my less than constant presence at [The Company] most recently, due to my schedule and generally busy life, has kept me further out of most gossip circles than I would normally be in touch with. So, when I alluded to those rumors in my letter, despite my confidence in my sources, I chose to let them remain “rumors” rather than facts. I have also gotten a few responses from people out of touch with the entire [Company] circle, and when asked about that section, it was very much agreed that to an outside reader, I had succeeded in being so vague that the subject matter was nearly lost entirely. So, alluding to a rumor has garnered me the judgement, from some people, of having crossed a line. I think, honestly, that that part had some of the more finely and exacting sentences I could have composed: for those who knew, most likely even more than I did, the message was clear. For those who didn’t know, the message was lost. The truth does hurt, but only when you know it. “It’s like telling a joke in which the punchline is an innocent phrase; the listener only ‘gets it’ because they understand the implied subtext.” — That’s what she said.

So, unprofessional, cowardly, and over the line? I think the different definitions are valid. But I’m going to stick with my own for now.

If there’s any room for humor here, is this it? I think at worst, this is a Lebowski moment – “You’re not wrong, man, you’re just an asshole.” Maybe that sums it up best, since no one is refuting what I’ve actually said, just the way I’ve said it. Fine. Maybe I am an asshole. What about the asshole I’m talking about in my letter? I hope I’m not beating a dead horse here, but honestly – If I were making this up, my methods wouldn’t matter, and I would be quickly ignored, and dismissed, by everyone. If I were telling the truth, (which I feel I am), is my “method of delivery” really so repugnant as to allow the content of my letter to be glossed over completely?  Some think my biggest flaw was in not delivering the letter personally. I wonder, if the only difference between how I dealt with this were if I had in fact brought the same exact inflammatory comments to light, and to [X], but did it, initially, face to face?  Would my critics suddenly be singing my praises as a rightly acting, moral and ethical individual, the way others already are now?

As one comment put it, “I think we ALL can agree that Sherwin is too ballsy … or not ballsy enough … wait, what?” I like that. I’m just not the proper degree of ballsy. Once we can figure that appropriate level, it’ll all make sense.

Then again, there is that old saying about me being an ass.