All posts by Gregory C

Reddup Your Reddit (Llewdwell 7.5)

Here’s the thing.

Apparently I’ve come to love using the phrase, “Here’s the thing,” which is the newest of conversational fillers I’ve come to incorporate into my speech.  And here’s the thing, I hate it.

Here’s another thing.

Reddit is all the things all the time.  It’s like culture shock on the streets of Calcutta.  It’s like that box from Hellraiser which, if unlocked, gives the user all of the sensory input all at once at maximum volume.  It’s simply…entirely too overwhelming for me.

Here’s one final thing.

4Chan is Satan’s asshole.  I don’t have any evidence of this, except maybe the Trump presidency, but even that is conjecture on my part.

I love you all.  This is a fact.

I’ve included a couple of pieces of wonderful music.  “Come Close” by Common feat. Mary J. Blige, and “Blue’s Music” by G. Love and Special Sauce.

We present to you, “Reddup Your Reddit (Llewdwell 7.5)

-G

(source)

Placebo is Still Magic

My hand writing used to be legible at Times New Roman 8 point font.

Yes, I saved a few pages and compared it.

For reference, the next time you open any word processing program, just change your favorite font, or specifically TNR, to 8 point.  (At any point in my life, and I’m neither proud nor comfortable with this fact, the quexclamation, “Isn’t that exhausting?!” would apply.)

My print, at a time in my life, was as legible as what you’re reading right now.  But, on an 8.5×11 piece of blank paper with approximately 1 cm margins around.  I believe my record (…yes, I counted words too…) was approximately 1,200 words on one side of a page.

I wrote out my papers…even in graduate school, which was 1996 – 1998.  At some point in that window, I purchased my first word-processing typewriter.  It allowed me to type out one line at a time, then hit enter, after which time the motor would take over.  It had correction tape, which usually worked but when it didn’t the situation was rage-facilitating…anyone who’s needed to deal with correction tape knows precisely about which I’m talking.  It also had a bare bones dictionary that was useless for the vocabulary of a speech/language pathologist.  Or most humans over the age of 3, for that matter.  It certainly saved me physical energy…but that wasn’t fully to my satisfaction.  So I still hand wrote most of what needed to be written.

I prefer having what I’m writing laid out fully in front of me.  This is why Microsoft Word was such an amazing thing…but a thing I only used in the computer labs at the University of Pittsburgh, because I couldn’t afford a computer or Microsoft Office.  So, it was Del Duca 8.0 font…through revisions and everything.  Then, after I’d completed the final draft, I would hand write it one more time…THEN travel to a computing lab and type the thing into Word.

You might now be thinking, “What the fuck was wrong with you?”

Or even, “Yeah, that seems about right.”

In any case, this was my life in the late 1990’s.

To this moment, I feel a sense of greater creativity when I hand write.  As if the physical labor inspires more and promotes a deeper dig to the places where word meets thought and emotion, thus communicating messages with greater clarity and depth.  Right now, I’m typing into my laptop from a note book in which the first draft of what you’re reading was written.  Fortunately, I can deal with subsequent drafts within Word because I can see everything as a whole even as I modify the bits and pieces.

When I hand write, I think a bit more about what I’m about to communicate so that I don’t need to redo, scratch that, try this, and whatnot. I usually get it right closer to the first time.

When I type, however, particularly if I have a load of things that desperately need to spill out as quickly as possible, I can dump everything and then move backwards to make sense of it all for you.  And future me.  (This is a critical point.  There are multiple times I read back through words I committed to paper quickly and cannot figure out what the hell I was getting at.  Also, it veers illegible because when I’m spilling a stream of consciousness I shift from printing to cursive.  And upon the read back, I generally curse cursive.)

But think about this.  Within 10 years of the final time I painstakingly printed a 5,000 word draft of a graduate paper, likely near 1999 (…party over, out of time…), technology had become so affordable, so compact, and so advanced that all of us could communicate on hand held devices with exceedingly greater computing power than even the most expensive PC available when Prince’s anthem became nostalgia.  Currently, I have a touch screen lap top that weighs about as much as a smallish hard cover book and takes up no more space than two Sports Illustrated magazines stacked on top of each other.

But paper and pen.  There’s something there, something nostalgic for certain…but also something magical.  It may well be the placebo effect of said nostalgia, but even the magic of placebo is still magic.

-G

My current situation. Under the table and dreaming and whatnot.

Black Card (Update)

I wrote what you’re about to read precisely one year ago.

I carry neither embarrassment nor regret regarding the story or my life.

However, I want to remain sensitive to my audience and respectful to all of the people who supported and raised me…and those who continue to support and raise me.  Yep, I’ve got lots of growing to do and I appreciate each of you who shake me awake a little more each day.

I don’t want my words, in any way, to disrespect the experiences of any individual Black reader or person of color.  I seek guidance at every step so that I can contribute to a better community and society.

So here is a piece of my story, a piece that helps explain my values and passions, and hopefully opens the door for further enlightenment and progress.

==========

I’m white…in case you didn’t know.

Several years ago, while teaching in Atlanta, my friend Jerald gave me a Black card.  No really, he created and then gave me a Black card.  It said, “I’m Black,” and had his signature.  Later that month, Jerald made keys for all of us to access a storage room at the school where we worked.  He put colored plastic rings around each key.  Andrea, another Black teacher, asked Jerald, “Which key is Del Duca’s?” Immediately, Jerald responded, “Del Duca Black.”  She smiled and nodded in agreement.  “Right.”

So how is it that this soon-to-be-forty-two-year-old white guy gets a Black card?

It all starts in 1946.

I know, the math doesn’t work, does it?  Thing is, this story only continues with me.  It started with my Mom.

She was born and raised smack dab in the middle of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and she was into black music from the get go.  She loved doo-wop, then she loved Motown, then she loved funk, rhythm & blues.  She saw Sly and the Family Stone; Earth, Wind, and Fire; and she even grooved to brother James Brown’s, “Black and Proud.”

My Mom was, and is, Catholic…more hip to the new-testament and social-justice Jesus, the rise of the non-violent civil rights struggle, and the spiritual liberalism of the Kennedy clan and Martin Luther King, Junior.

She cared about fairness, judged a man by the content of his character, and  was, by all accounts, pretty fly for a white girl.

On September 16th, 1974, she gave birth to me.

That’s where her story continues and mine begins.

If nature and nurture predict anything, you can see straight away how I earned that Black card.  Really, I didn’t earn it.  Mom did, and I was fortunate enough to inherit it, cherish it and come of age at a point where I could wear a term like “Wigger” as a badge of…if not honor or pride, then at least simple reality; and neither as a scarlet letter nor a threat of bodily harm.

And then, in a simultaneously serendipitous and ironic turn of events my biological father (…who by all accounts had been a full-blooded Sicilian-American racist raised by full-blooded Sicilian-American racists…) married a Black woman.  He moved in with Angie, his new wife, and her teenage children in the Alequippa projects where he became the only white resident.  Except when I visited, which doubled the Caucasian population.

My biological Father was immature, debilitated by whatever experiences he had in Vietnam and, previous to that, his upbringing in a dysfunctional immigrant home.  Ultimately he proved not a good, not even a decent father.  But Angie and her children?  They were wonderful.  They welcomed me.  The enveloped me in love and they protected me from my Dad, particularly when he was behaving irrationally or overwhelming me with his unresolved emotional baggage.  Which was often.

I loved Angie.  I loved my step-siblings.  I loved the Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, and Hall & Oates constantly blasting from someone’s room.

I ate government cheese, stood in line for free lunches, and frolicked in sprinklers, not pools.  I felt like a little part of something; gained confidence.  I projected my inclusion into Angie’s family onto the entire community…and there…was the mistake that would sink my titanic confidence.

It was Summer. 1983.

I’d eaten my subsidized snack, splashed in a stagnant puddle, and began the walk back to our apartment.

I noticed four kids, a bit older than me, climbing the steep, rocky hill that formed a natural amphitheater looking down on the front façade of Building C.  I was intrigued.  They hit a flat spot and they started singing, “Under the Boardwalk.”

This was it.

I tore up the hill…as fast a fat-ass preteen can.

Now sweaty, curly hair stuck to my glistening forehead, shorts riding up my now-chafed inner thighs, nearly out of breath, I reached the flat.  There, next to the bass, was a spot.  For me.  I hit my mark, and I joined in.

And the singing stopped.

Not me, though.

“Un-derrrr the boh-whoa-oard walk…”

(Now I realize the quintet has become a solo)

And one of the Faux-Drifters stepped back and shoved me with all of the anger and frustration he could muster.

They say a rolling stone gathers no moss.

A fat kid, however, gathers all kinds of shit along the way.

As I neared the bottom, their laughing ceased and the chorus resumed.

I stood.  Angry.  Embarrassed.  Sad.  And in unbelievable bodily pain.  I stared back up, and at a distance that now seemed impossibly far the quartet performed to an audience of anybody but me.

I limped back to the apartment, my spirit crushed…and Angie wiped me off and built me back up.  And Shawn, her son closest in age to me, told me to forget about all that mess.  He referred to me as brother.  And William, the eldest, who had Colecovision…let me play uninterrupted until the tears dried and I licked the salty remnants from my cheeks and lips, “Sarah Smile” drifting down the hall from my half-sister Tanya’s room.

(If you feel like leavin’, you know you can go…)

You see…that experience could have pushed me in any number of directions.  But I had my Mom.  And I had the love and protection of one Black family.

I came to love soul food.  I heard Newcleus’, “Jam On It” and was a certified hip-hop head until…well, until this very moment.  I absorbed the art…through music, literature, spoken words, and other media…of numerous Black luminaries.  I served as a Peace Corps volunteer in Kenya and I helped found a KIPP charter school in East Point, Georgia.  I hit emotional rock bottom there in Atlanta and was enveloped in the love of a Black man and his Baptist church.  In 2004, Jerald, and Neriah Baptist Church saved me, just like Angie and her clan did twenty years earlier.

I got my Black card from my brother, Jerald.

And although I no longer have the actual artifact, those words remain in my soul…I’m Black…with Jerald’s signature, the songs of Neriah and the embrace of Pastor Lindsay, and the words of Angie and her family etched lovingly upon my heart; all wrapped in a bow of unconditional love from my Mom.

So if you need me…

…on a blanket with my baby is where I’ll be.

-G

ALIfeRestoredErnieBarnes
“A Life Restored” (Ernie Barnes)

Rain Delays and Sun Rays Always Flip My Frown (Fireside Chat 1)

This podcast might be the pure encapsulation of how much I adore my wife and, when I unpack my suitcases and have a few angst-depleted breaths to simply exist, my life.

Sitting outside with Jen as the sun finds it’s daily nest at the Western horizon, a small but substantial fire crackling between us, the dog relaxed, wine and spirits, old-school soul and R&B playing on a Bluetooth speaker, the temperature purt’ near perfect.

Then…the skies erupt in sheets of unrelenting rain.

Jen works extra hard, my one-person grounds crew, to ensure Penelope and the rest of the recording equipment stay dry and safe…even as her glass of oak-aged Spanish red fills with rainwater, her clothes clinging to her now shivering body wet from the deluge. (Feels like this is going in a certain direction.  It’s not.)

And finally…we have a conversation, albeit brief, in which I come to love her even more than I had just seconds previously. (I dunno, maybe it actually did.)

Come for the company, linger for a laugh, but stay for the music.

Alliteration be damned.

We present to you, “Rain Delays and Sun Rays Always Flip My Frown (Fireside Chat 1).”

-G

Everything I Write is Opinion

Everything I write is opinion.

Everything everyone writes is opinion.

Even facts are facts as I perceive and process them.

Otherwise…opinion.

[Example]

I’m looking out of a window of a Starbuck’s café, staring fairly intently at my white Toyota Camry Hybrid while not looking down at the screen or keys.  I can do that because I had several semesters of typing instruction in 9th grade.  I took the home keys fairly seriously.  No, that’s not true.  I took the grade assigned to my work in class seriously.  To be entirely honest, I needed to be perfect…or as close to perfect as I could get.  This is a fact for as long as I can remember.  I have, stuck into my high school senior year book as a dysfunctional-nostalgic (call it “dystalgic”) bookmark of sorts, the one report card I saved from my entire life.  On that report card, in the grid for third quarter marks, with just the word “Math” immediately to the left, is the only C I’ve ever earned in my life.

That…is the report card I saved.

Not the nearly 4.0 cumulative card for all of high school.

Not the nearly 4.0 cumulative card for all of my undergraduate work.

Not the perfect 4.0 cumulative card for my graduate degree.

Not those, but the singular C I received in 6th grade.  For the third quarter.  The cumulative math grade for that year was an A, because I made damn sure of it.

I’m not bragging.

I’m lamenting.

I spent so many years chasing perfection.

I allocated not one second to defining “perfection,” not even a single, fleeting thought as to why the number 100 mattered so much.

To this day I find myself massively concerned with what others think of me, with how I “stack up” against the opinions of the various communities in which I’ve been accepted, or at least tolerated.

I seek acceptance.  I need validation. Accolade is like a drug, a substance on which I rely, behaviorally and, when the psychology becomes immensely toxic, physically.  Indeed, I’ve made myself sick with anxiety, worry, panic, angst, and self-dissatisfaction.

It’s been here for as long as I can remember, yet I cannot remember why it’s there…and even THAT works into my tendency toward self-flagellation because I can’t make myself better fast enough or completely enough.  I can’t figure me out.  Can’t fix me.

Funny that, because I approach my entire calling as a speech/language therapist with counseling-inspired, individual-centered, relationship-based, culturally-informed values.  I’ve shed the medical model, which was trained vehemently into me, and now [try to] approach every human I serve as a perfectly valid and beautiful being.  My goal is not to repair but to support individuals in their pursuit of love, happiness, self-acceptance, independence, and success in whichever manners they decide.

But when I look in the mirror, so often I only see a broken human who needs to be fixed.  But I can’t fix me, and that makes me further disappointed.

It’s exhausting.

And, as I’ve learned from doctors and other healthcare professionals, it’s dangerous.  It might not kill me tomorrow, or ever…but the consistent intensity of the fight-or-flight nervous system is setting me up for a progressively worse quality of life moving forward.  Spiritually and emotionally, it ain’t so good either.

So, it’s important, perhaps critical, that I inhabit endeavors that help reduce anxiety while increasing my present focus and ability to experience the world with clarity, calm, understanding, and forgiveness.  To put it very simply…I must increase love and decrease that which is not love.

[end example]

Everything I just presented to you is the truth as I understand it.

Facts.

However, as the words tumble out of my brain, through my fingers, onto this page, influenced by my current sensory environment…needing to pee while seated in an air conditioned coffee shop with a lovely cup of single origin to my left and Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks in my ears but wanting to get these words out and not break the flow…they are immediately and indelibly rendered as fiction.  Based on a true story, for certain…but presented through the lens of my brain.

Opinion.

Everything.

My immediate reality is your third, perhaps second person experience.

Your immediate reality might align with my prediction of how you’ll process this, but likely not.

Each human brain perceives the world similarly, as we are all human, but not precisely so, since each human brain develops as a unique functional experimental case study.  I’d venture to write that each brain, at the micro level, functions quite differently.  Like a fingerprint, except with almost infinitely more complexity.

I appreciate that you’ve taken me in, allowed me to reside in your brain for a little while, and shared some of your being with me in return.  Consciousness is a tricky thing, as slippery as faith and malleable as belief.  But it’s what we have here, so let’s use it to increase love…and decrease that which is not love.

If we’re writing the stories of our individual and collective lives, might as well give them happy endings.

-G

It’s a gif. A wonderful gif.

Tom Prigg for Congress, PA-12 in 2018 (pt 2)

Last week, you heard (…or didn’t hear, but if you’re here and are about to hear this, please go back to the first post, which is here but also on Libsyn and iTunes, but now, like right now, here, like right here, is the continuation of…) my conversations with Tom Prigg.  As you remember, or perhaps that last sentence caused you to forget everything, Tom has tossed his impressive hat into the ring to contest Keith Rothfus’ (Pennsylvania’s 12th district) seat in the House of Representatives.  I’m not a Rothfus fan, though I am his constituent.  I’ll do more than just a little bit to ensure that Tom is my representative next Winter.

Here is Tom’s website.

Driven2Drink is proud to re-assert the first unofficial endorsement of Tom Prigg for Congress in 2018.  (That and two dollars will STILL get you a coffee at McDonald’s with a little extra to put in the Ronald McDonald House fundraising bin.)

Please listen.  Please visit Tom’s website.  Please consider, particularly if you live in PA-12 and are not satisfied with the representation of Keith Rothfus, supporting Tom in any way you’re comfortable (e.g. donate, volunteer, post something positive to social media, share this podcast with a friend or family member on the fence).

We present to you, “Tom Prigg for Congress, PA-12 in 2018 (pt 2).”

-G

You’ve Come for a Post…

…but today there is none.

Well, perhaps you might consider this that, as it has been posted and read.

But the truth of the words spilled here on your screen is I’m sharing them just before bed.

Inside I feel an obligation to provide a thing as promised, but additionally I realize that if I only do this for approval, validation, and ego, then what is it but lies.

And yet, here I am.  And here you are.

So yes, this is for me.

But also, it’s yours.

XOXO

-G

(source)

Tom Prigg for Congress, PA-12 in 2018 (pt 1)

Recently, I sat down to talk with Tom Prigg.  Tom has tossed his impressive hat into the ring to contest Keith Rothfus’ (Pennsylvania’s 12th district) seat in the House of Representatives.

Here is Tom’s website.

As my Scotch-Irish & German yinzer (…that’s Western Pennsylvania Vernacular English for people who use the third person plural pronoun yinz, as in, “Hey yinz guys…yinz goin’ dahn tahn ‘nat?”…) ancestors would say, “Tom is good people.”

Driven2Drink is proud to offer the first unofficial endorsement of Tom Prigg for Congress in 2018.  (That and two dollars will get you a coffee at McDonald’s with a little extra to put in the Ronald McDonald House fundraising bin.)

Please listen.  Please visit Tom’s website.  Please consider, particularly if you live in PA-12 and are not satisfied with the representation of Keith Rothfus, supporting Tom in any way you’re comfortable (e.g. donate, volunteer, post something positive to social media, share this podcast with a friend or family member on the fence).

We present to you, “Tom Prigg for Congress, PA-12 in 2018 (pt 1).”

-G

 

The Struggle is the Achievement

In my journey of providing children with positive behavior supports, a critical piece of any success I helped to achieve is the following insight…shared with me by my first true mentor in behavior management.

  1. You cannot make anybody do anything
  2. Nobody can make you feel anything.

These insights required years, nearly decades now to sink in to the point where I mostly understand them.  This is not to say that others need the time I needed.  No, I’m saying that I needed a REALLY long time to get a point where I’m calm and comfortable within my own skin.  So, it’s me.  Not you.

That first insight seems incompatible with the actual endeavor of behavior change…but in fact it’s the key.  Let me get specific.  In your mind, visualize a person with whom you have a particular challenge.  Got it?  Let’s call that person X.  You cannot make X do anything.   Now let me expand, you cannot make X do anything X doesn’t choose to do.  Let me flip the script, X cannot make YOU do anything you don’t choose to do.  I mean, amiright?!  (I’m right.)  So what can/should you do?  Well, you need to figure that out, but here’s a valid goal: set up your relationship, decisions, and behaviors to maximize the likelihood that X will make choices that fit within the social and community boundaries you’ve set in whatever milieu you need to interact with/around X.  (I know, it’s very wordy and specific, but it kind of needs to be.  Specific and measurable at least.)

Now, comes the second insight.  And it’s a tough one.  Nobody can make you feel anything.  Your feelings…are yours.  Mine…are mine.  Surely there are things that I can say and do that you don’t like or prefer, and perhaps I say or do things that push your emotional buttons.  But your feelings are yours.  We so often blame others for our feelings.  “You made me feel X.”  It’s simply not true.  Contemplate that for just a few minutes and I think you’ll see the stark truth embedded.

So, in approaching X…it’s really important to understand that you can’t make X do anything…AND…X doesn’t control your emotions.

The problem almost always is…X absolutely believes X can control your emotions, and to some extent (…perhaps as much as totally…) you’re giving X reactions that prove X right.  Think of it like a video game…except X’s controller isn’t connected to a Wii…it’s connected to you!  X knows X can manipulate your feelings, and so X does.

Here’s another problem…once you endeavor to force X to do things by threat, punishment, reward, or any other seemingly logical means, all bets are off.  Because X absolutely doesn’t want to be controlled. (Do you want to be controlled?)  X wants to control.  (Who doesn’t want control?)  X wants a state of homeostasis in which X can relax and exist without unwanted restrictions. (Sounds great, right?)

The challenge of behavior support, particularly when we meet a particularly bright, particularly manipulative, particularly troublesome, particularly confounding individual is that we have to take some time to think about our own biases, our own theories on development and human behavior, our own emotions and baggage.  Again, I’m not judging or pointing fingers…I’m simply sharing how I came to find peace and success building relationship with and providing service to the Xs in my life.

So what’s the moral here?

Always take a good, long, gentle but honest look in the mirror before you endeavor to influence another person.  That’s one.

Look before you leap.  That’s another.  A classic.

And, as is inherent in the actual insights listed above, accept that each human, including you, has moral, emotional, and behavioral agency.

I still struggle, daily, with all of this.

The struggle is the achievement.

-G

(source)

Château Cishet (LlewDellyn 1.3)

Today, Jim schools me.

No better way to state it.

I learn about SOGIE.

That’s sexual orientation, gender identity and expression.  Now, there’s no great revelation having two fairly straight, completely white dudes discuss things entirely outside of their expertise or experience.  However, what you have here are two fairly straight, completely white dudes who are NOT…as you know if you’ve listened in the past or know either/both of us…stereotypically defensive, hyper-masculine, closed-minded, dogmatically-handcuffed straight white dudes.

Point is, you should listen…and if you have a relevant experience set from a marginalized/oppressed community, please comment.  Hell, I’d love to talk with you.  This is about growth, about learning, about relationship, about waking up and doing something to ensure inclusion and equality.  Really, if you feel compelled to speak, I’d love to sit down with you.

I also learn about Gregory.

That’s me.

Only my wife has been able to communicate with me about my tendency to lecture and preach.  It’s not easy to share insights with another person if that other person is not ready to hear those insights.  Also, it’s impossible to effectively communicate those insights if one is not coming from a place of loving kindness.

Well, Driven2Drink is a safe space for me, and Jim is a friend and guru of sorts in my life.

When I lecture and/or preach…the message only reaches a tiny choir, alienates a large group of people I honestly don’t want to alienate, and demeans others.  I really don’t dig on demeaning people.

I am superior to no person.  Inferior to no person.

It’s a falsehood from the jump, particularly if one’s path is toward inclusion and equality.

I know, in the past, I’ve come off as a hyper-intellectual, social justice warrior bully with a superiority complex.  I’ll likely do it again.  (I’ll try not to, though.  I’m working on it.  On me.)

However, you may call me on all of that bullshit…because that’s all it is.  A cow patty in the middle of a verdant field of possible truth…and I step in it entirely too often.

Anyway, please sit for a spell, or go for a nice hike or jog with us plugged into your ears, and listen.

We present to you, “Château Cishet (LlewDellyn 1.3).”

(oh…the final thing you hear is this totes adorbs kid)

-G

 

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