Friday, April 27, 2018

A Tale of Two Micies

Mouse Story Number One: As Told By Josh Barkey

Sunrise was still an hour away and the clouds were blocking out the waxing, near-full moon as I drove my parents' Honda Fit down a tree-shadowed stretch of unpopulated highway, on my way to pick my folks up at the bustling Charlotte airport. They'd been off in California for nearly two weeks, spending time with family. The entire time they were gone, their car had sat idle.

[insert ominous thunderclap]

A car that is not regularly driven begins to die: Inside the engine, the gas slowly turns to varnish. Rubber seals dry out and crack. Oil settles away from where it's needed, and rust begins to bite. And sometimes, if the proper precautions have not been taken, dark spirits move in as well―at least, that's what I was thinking when I saw the shadow of some unknown creature flit past my left shoulder. It ran along the sill of the window, up to the dashboard, and then back again. Was it a trick of the light? A weird shadow cast by the headlights of an oncoming vehicle? I did not know.

Reason told me not to fear.
Reason told me it was nothing.
Reason is a liar.

Monday, April 16, 2018

Why Young Americans Don't Think Older Americans Deserve a Medal for Being Rich, or "Mirrors are for Everyone!"

Two days ago, I found out I had to pay more taxes than I wanted to (I knowcrazy, right?). 

I was annoyed and also a bit scared by this (because money's tight right now), so I posted a rant on social media. Upon reflection and after being told as much by my brother and some others, I decided my post was an incomplete, poorly-considered representation of what I really do believe. And I deleted it.

Before I could do that, though, someone I know had copied and pasted my rant to his Facebook wall. While I wasn't pleased about that and asked him to take it down, I've decided to take his subsequent request that I explain my position at face value.

But first...

Saturday, April 14, 2018

How to Be Kind on the Internet:

Yesterday I made some people angry at me on social media, and it got me to thinking about kindness on the internet. So here are some principles that I think are important:
  1. Be careful little fingers what you type. Kindness is hard, but retracting unkindness is even harder. Think/breathe/relax before you grab a pitchfork. 
  2. Just because someone says something uncool on the internet, doesn't mean you have to respond to it. You are not the Final Arbiter of Justice. You are not the one who has to Make All Things Right.
  3. Don't waste too much energy trying to be perfect. First, because you'll fail and everyone will laugh at you and second, because humility is awesome. Be quick to admit when you've made a mistake. If you've hurt someone's feelings, apologize for that right away. You didn't have to mean to hurt their feelingsheck, at this point there's probably not much you could say on the internet that won't hurt somebody's feelingsbut the kind thing is still to apologize that their feelings got hurt and that you had something to do with it, even peripherally. By then the internet lynch mobs might have found you and you'll have lost your job and your home and your car, but hey... you're a champ in my book.
  4. At the same time, don't be so afraid of hurting someone's feelings that you won't ever tell anyone what you think. Your voice is important! Share it (kindly)!
  5. If someone hurts your feelings, tell them right away. Don't let it simmer, and don't make it about the thing they said that hurt your feelings. Chances are fantastic that they had no intentions of hurting your feelings at all! So just tell them that the specific thing they said hurt your feelings, and leave it at that. If they apologize, be gracious about it. 
  6. If the person who hurt your feelings is not a safe person and you know that about them and you know they won't be kind and will use your vulnerability against you... cut ties. Life is too short to waste it on being hurt repeatedly on the internet by people you can just as easily avoid.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Different Pulses

When I first met my wife (who has a degree in Jewish studies and spent two summers in Israel and is also amazingly creative) she introduced me to this song by Asaf Avidan.

At the time I didn't pay it enough attention, but lately it's been stuck on loop inside my brain. This is because it's part of the soundtrack for the yoga practice that this selfsame wife has been putting together for her yoga instructor training program ― a practice I have been guinea-pigging every day for the past week.

It's in my head now, and that's a good thing.

There is a reason this music video's got over eight million views on the youtubes:

Actually, there are a lot of reasons. There's that aching voice, described by a prominent critic (I mean, my friend Jonathan) as "wonderfully androgynous - kind of like a punk Billie Holiday." There's the mashup of musical styles, so perfectly wedded to the voice. There's the mystery and beauty of the images.

But even beyond the brilliant fusion of the aforementioned elements are the lyrics themselves. Easy to miss while getting caught up in the listening experience, they are an oblique poetry all their own.

Friday, March 23, 2018

when i die

When I die,
I want the people standing over me
hefting their final,
(as it turns out)
unnecessary stones
to be forced to admit
(although not out loud, of course)
that I have made the world a little more beautiful
as I've passed.

Not just in the languid way
my life-blood will have splayed out into the cracks of the riverbed
where we'll have congregated around
what might by then have been
the very last puddle,

And also not only in the clever turn of phrase
by which I will have reminded them of the ways in which
their once-upon-a-time maxed-out credit cards
had most likely led us there
to that final,

No, I want them to remember
how I once arranged letter-marks into clumps like this—
defiant, sanguine little protests against
(as it turns out)
our inexorable,



Saturday, March 17, 2018

I'm Going In Pieces

Not to, but in,
as craggy bits of memory slough off like icebergs,
slipping beneath the waves and drifting
when my back is turned,
edges rounding,
sometimes glinting one last mockery of a distant sun-flash
before turning slowly and sinking,
at last,
into the slushed and warming sea.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


"For that matter, what can a first impression tell us about anyone? Why, no more than a chord can tell us about Beethoven, or a brushstroke about Botticelli. By their very nature, human beings are so capricious, so complex, so delightfully contradictory, that they deserve not only our consideration, but our reconsiderationand our unwavering determination to withhold our opinion until we have engaged with them in every possible setting at every possible hour."

- Amor Towles, in his novel A Gentleman in Moscow

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