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Welcome to my site and thank you for reading. After many times thinking, if only I had a blog, well-- here we are. This blog will feature writings on a variety of topics from roadside food, to leadership in the fire service; politics; culture- gay, straight, and indifferent, my experiences in Ohio, New York and beyond; and much much more. It's my hope that you will find it interesting and that it stirs at least some thought and discussion. I am certain you wont always agree, but that is what its all about right? Oh and one more thing:

The views expressed on this site are entirely my own. They do not reflect in anyway the views or positions of my employer (s) and should not taken as official policy of ANY organization with which I am associated. Reading or sharing any post from this site shall be taken as an indication that you have read this disclaimer and understand it.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Monday's Poem

June 26, 2008
 by: Christopher Blake Carver 

It was the greatest gift I gave
The sacrifice that I didn’t pause to make.
It was never a question of if
            But how much
Never a question of when
            But how often
Never did I batter you with the word no
Never did I force you to bear
            A single unwanted, undesired moment
There was no burden of yours that I did not happily carry
No cut that I did not make every effort to heal
I followed behind, walked in front, and paced alongside
Protecting, providing, reducing and easing.
At each and every dimmed moment
            I cast my light with every bit of energy I could summon.
After all the weight of you I chose to carry,
A weight you so happily transferred,
Is it any wonder, that in this solitary night,
When your head finds a different place to lie
I feel no emotion as strongly
            As exhaustion

Lessons in Letting Go and Thanksgiving

Some people can stay close friends with their ex's for long periods of time.  Sharing their lives with them, partners new and old, in much the way a glacier keeps with it what is passes over until, one fateful day, heat and exhaustion cause it to let go of one giant pile of stuff, creating fertile farmlands or valleys in the process-- where so much good may grow from all that was.  The other operative word for these people, other than glaciers, would be lesbians.

My relationship with my ex's is somewhat more complex.  Some are simply contacts on facebook, like so many old photos in an album.  Others, most in fact, are more like scars that are visible in just the right light, at just the right angle.  The source of a story that I find the need to share once in awhile, too often with just the wrong person. 

For this reason I do not try to be close friends with them.  Its just too hard.  I think.  It complicates things.  And my crazy analytical Virgo brain too often begs the question.. if we can be friends, then why the hell aren't we still together? Perhaps its a sign of some emotional immaturity on my part, but regardless, its just not me. 

This brings me to breakfast Saturday last.  I can still remember how this ex ended things.  as though it happened this morning at breakfast and not Pride Sunday, June, 2002.  We were supposed to meet for brunch.  He never called, never showed.  Im sure my OCD attempts to reach him (now we have an I-phone app to tell us that maybe we shouldn't dial for the 38th.. 39th... 40th... time.  Or at least we should have an app like that).  It culminated a bit after midnight when I finally saw him at the dance club.  He walked over to me without saying a word, handed me the spare key to my apartment, turned and walked away.  What happened next is too embarrassing to share.  But it became a game-- of chasing, begging, and pleading, and shedding my self respect on that dance floor and many others as I tried to understand, to accept, and, mostly to beg him to come back. 

That bizarre process would go on for over a year.  As I tried to win the love of someone who, never having known love themselves, had no idea what I had wanted or needed, and certainly no idea of what to give me then.  There was no closure.  The lava just cooled eventually, it created an ashen grey rock.  And I was left that way.  Over time I have moved on.  Thankfully.  But this even remains a big one for me.  For many good and bad reasons. 

"I Don't remember doing that".  That was his reply from across the table at breakfast.  After all these years I had finally mustered the courage to talk about it with him.  Address that pile of magma in my relationship history, trying to at least climb over and beyond it but including him in the event.  And he had no idea he had ever done it.  Took me three times of explaining.  I then just gave up.  And at that moment one of Dyer's lessons became crystal clear.  It never is about the other person.  Its about us.  Our reaction.  Our Memory.  Our tired fingers clinging to a hurt, or a memory, or a love that has long moved passed us.  The Glacier gives no thought to the items it drags a long.  Maybe we should be more of the same. 

This is the week of Thanksgiving.  Of saying to God and others and ourselves how happy we are with the good things in our lives.  But at this moment i want to give thanks for the bad ones.  Or at least the ones I thought were bad after they were good.  James; James; Jason; Anthony; Toby; Alex; Steven; Frans-- all of you offer that lesson to me now. Even though you are all mostly light years away.  I thank you for what you showed me, for the times that were magic and for the times that weren't.  And for the lesson I could have never learned otherwise. 

In the words of Julia Kasdorf from the poem First Gestures:

...Think how a particular ridge of hills
from a summer of your childhood grows
in significance, or one hour of light--
late afternoon, say, when thick sun flings
the shadow of Virginia creeper vines
across the wall of a tiny, white room
where a girl makes love for the first time.
Its leaves tremble like small hands
against the screen while she weeps
in the arms of her bewildered lover.
She's too young to see that as we gather
losses, we may also grow in love;
as in passion, the body shudders
and clutches what it must release.

It is the release part that is the hardest, but the most important. I see that now.  More every day.   

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Thursday Poem

Thank You

It is said that a mother always knows her child.
One of those great truths of the animal kingdom.
I can't help but wonder if it's true--
for I can't imagine I have never passed you by.
A crowded street,
a Christmastime mall.
One of those countless faces has to have been yours.
Did you see me, did you feel me?
Would you have had the strength to say hello if you knew?
Would I have had the courage to say anything back?
Or would you just slip by,
like a playground memory.
Knowing that-- if given the chance--
I would only say-
Thank you.

Christopher Blake Carver- 2001

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Sharks, Twinks, and 70s Music

It started out with him like most of the others.  Younger, but he was blonde, blue eyed-- an early 20s raver boy who I would later see at the club complete with pacifier and glow stick gyrating on top of the boxes at the smoked out edges of the dance floor.  Whitney Houston, Madonna, early Mariah Carey and the like, rattling the walls and driving them all into a fury. There in the trendiest place between the Ohio River and Lake Erie.  I have often wondered what a Gordon Lightfoot song would sound like, this modern day wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, with the bell replaced by a siren and the lifeworn and knowing cook replaced by the shirtless, glitter covered guy selling jello shots off his tanned sculpted navel.

It was hell and I loved it.  Ex-boyfriend dancing and all.  It wasn't yet a pattern when he ended things with the line "I don't know what I want but I know it's not you.".  It still wasn't a pattern when I chased for an entire summer the man of my dreams who, for whom, I was only a footnote, or, worse a friend. Even then it was still fun, meeting people and "hanging out", mostly in my local bar.  Not quite ready for love yet, but somewhere along the way my intentions changed.  I remembered my parents were married at 19 and I started to feel I was missing out-- that my path was not complete without someone to share it with. The deadly combinations of lack of experience; being a dreamer; and being probably more than a bit desperate, impatient, and thinking I didn't deserve the best led the numbers to begin to pile up.  I made up for the lost years that most people called their late teens and early 20s, convinced that I could earn a person's love by my actions, my efforts, and my hope. Thinking in my control freak chief fire dispatcher A personality way that I could make it happen.  Mistaking too often single nights of fun for the first nights of something much bigger, when in truth, they were often simply crimes of opportunity. In the words of Jackson Browne, "What I was seeing wasn't what was happening at all
Although for a while, our path did seem to climb..."  For me that often referred to one night, not the several months or years that should be required in some sort of dating constitutional amendment before you being to think "those thoughts"  

Not wanting to be a quitter I tried and struggled-- convinced, like some sort of Gay Quaker Apprentice that It would only take effort-- trial-- chance-- intentions-- opportunity-- and he would come into my life.  Some sort of cosmic reward for putting up with the drama, smiling at getting stood up, and giving of myself so freely in so many ways as to prove to them and myself that I was a nice guy-- and worth it. 

Upon arrival in NY the pace quickened.  A faster and deeper river.  One that holds more fish-- and more sharks.  Some would last a month or two, one lasted four years; one broke my jaw; more than one exhausted my emotions-- and my bank account.  And all the while I got more angry at the sharks.  Hurt and stunned that they did exactly what they were supposed to do.  s each encountered confirmed not only my worst assumptions about the sharks- but about myself.  But it was all misdirected.  It may make you wince when watching those Nature shows.  You know, when the cute puppy seal becomes just one more triscuit for the Great White.  No cheese required thank you.  But even the most adamant seal lover knows that this isn't a hunter in search of the pieces of a Madison Avenue Fur Coat, no this is nature-- and the shark is doing its job.  It is surviving in the way it knows how. There is no more a reason to be angry at the shark than there is at the seal.  Or at us for watching.  This is the way of things-- all for a reason, all part of something bigger, and all there to teach us something, normally about ourselves. Including that swimming with sharks, once we can do so, is best avoided.  Whether you are a seal, or a guy from Ohio with the best of intentions who learned, finally, what was there all along.

 It has taken so very long too see that for so many days I had the wrong end of the stick.  I was angry at the shark for being a shark- and convinced that the way to overcome it was simply to try and find a better shark.  Rather than try and find a better me.  I held onto the scars from their bites, a few leftover teeth and prided myself, even while immersed in the bitter memories left behind, that I was so willing to move right into the jaws again.  Perfectly willing to forgive them, perhaps to show them I was the better person.  Probably more to prove it to myself.  I would show off the trophies to visitors, full of false pride that I had moved on, recovered-- when all my trophies showed was my failure to learn and appreciate the lesson. 

But now, as I look down at my arms, and legs a funny truth lies on the surface.  There are no marks there.  No outline of the Great White's nibble.  The pain, the reaction, the memory and the responsibility are all my own- and lie in a place that no shark, or boyfriend, or one-night stand can ever touch.  No matter how determined.  They were never in need of my understanding, my acceptance, or my forgiveness.  No, the only person who deserved these things-- who needed these things-- was me.  As I have grown to see that its not about them, it never was.  It is about me. 

Am I on the right path, doing what I feel to be true, answering my highest calling, not falling into the traps, and knowing that I deserve beauty and wonder and happiness, not because I surviveded the bites-- but just because I am human and I am here.  Part of this amazing thing that is life-- and love-- and God.

Oddly now I am thankful for them.  All that they showed me and taught me.  Each and every one.  For without them I would not now know the feeling of climbing out of the river where the sharks lie in wait.  I think for now I shall walk along the bank, pause in the autumn sun, gaze at the fall leaves, and forgive the only person who I really truly need to forgive-- myself. Knowing that this is all part of a plan-- that my thoughts create my realities, and that searching for sharks led me to more sharks.  Not surprising at all is it? 

But now, with the words of Emerson, Bach, and Dyer rattling around my head I am excited in the knowledge that better lies out there.  The bells of the Maritime Cathedral will not toll for my wrecked heart-- not any more.  I will give love and peace to those I encounter, moving quickly on if my instinct tells me too-- but, for most, stopping to give the best of me-- and likely getting the best in return.

I may even stop by the aquarium.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Brokeback FBI

Every once in awhile you see a movie that truly hits on all cylinders.  The combination of script, direction, acting, and score reminding you why you decided to give up a few hours and $13 hard earned dollars.  J. Edgar, sadly, is not one of those movies.  But it could have been.  And that's what makes is so very sad indeed. 

Its a noble feat to try and nail down such a larger than life figure as J. Edgar Hoover, while also in some significant way telling the story of the closest thing he had to a child- The Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Its also no small feat to try and tell a love story.  Particular a somewhat imagined love story between two men of questionable intimacy and connection who may or may not have been lovers while leading the aforementioned FBI. 

The same affliction affects both parts of the story arch.  First, any love story should contain at least some minor explanation of where the love comes from.  Perhaps it is a conversation, perhaps a chance meeting but there has to be some connection that weaves two souls together if the story of their multi-decade affair is to be believed.  This movie offers no explanation for the connection-- only that there was one.  It almost suggests they were together simply out of opportunity.  That would explain a hook-up, but not fifty years.  As a reult there is a failure to answer an obvious and fascinating question. If they were lovers, then what about this one man, in the face of a time, a mother, and a self that was not accepting of anything close to gay-- what about this one man was enough to bring this desire to the surface.  Where was the spark that lit this smoldering flame in a way that defied even Edgar's own mother's stated interested that she would prefer a dead son than a "Daffodil".

The other arch is equally left to whiter, half completed on its vine.  Did the FBI offer J. Edgar something to build his own imagine in to prove his independence from his mothers long and demanding shadow, or was it  a tribute to her faith in him.  Was at his core, J. Edgar the exact opposite of all he seemed to be--and was expected to be, or was his life a testament to it.  We are offered no glimpse of honor in his soul, only a wimpish naivete that is reflected in childish behavior at every turn-- and every age.  This is simply unrealistic for a man such as Hoover.

There had to be at least some ingratiating moment-- quality or action.  The loyalty is there--in his proposed lover, in his life long secretary-- from where does this come. No matter what his faults, no man remains at the helm of any entity (federal or private) for so long without doing some good.  In this way Hoover is like his contemporay-- Robert Moses, and this film could have used much of the total prosepctive found in Caro's Power Broker.  In the words of the theme to the Facts of Life-- "You take the good, you take the bad".. and you end up with any figure who is front and center in public life for an uncommonly long time.  Again,  we are left without clues as to the spark except in a negative blackmailing way--as though the only source of his power and longevity were the infmaous files in a way more reminenscent of the Lord of the Ring than a public servent passionate about the service of his agency. Instead, we are encouraged only to stare and gawk at an angry little man and wonder how in god's name he obtained any love or any power at all, much less held onto it.  

Certainly he was a contrast-- whether between the public and the private of himself, or of his agency, or both, but this contrast is best examined when we are given both sides.  Not just one and left to assume or guess or just take at face value the other.

Given the level of creative licence taken with the historical record in this film, it would certainly not be a stretch to ask the director and writer to fill in the greys with just a bit more color from both sides of the prospective.  Doing so would have made much stronger case--and left us with a more convincing portrait of a man who I understand even less today than I did before I saw the film-- and that is even sadder still.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

To those in Ohio.

I wanted to take some time out and congratulate my Ohio friends and family on their successful efforts to overturn the Ohio Law limiting collective bargaining.  Perhaps the best indication of what occurred is in that only six of Ohio's 88 counties voted in favor of the measure, a resounding defeat for Governor John Kasich-- a man who maybe know begins to understand that he was not voted into office because of a statewide embrace of his policies, but because of the fear of Ohio residents weathering an economic crisis most had never seen in their lives.  I take a great deal of pride in the fact that my home state is largely one of moderation, despite the best efforts of some to make it otherwise.  Maybe now, the Governor will focus on tasks that would help save Ohio money, improve services, and increase jobs.

To help get him started, here are some suggestions

1.  Partner with local governments and unions to develop a plan for reducing the number of Ohio Township's and island villages in urban areas.  These unnecessary layers of bureaucracy still exist in many places where they shouldn't.  Franklin and Hamilton county, for example, should long ago annexed all land into cities-- which are designed and intended to be the form of government for urban areas.

2. Partner with Ohio universities and colleges to match enterprising students who want to start businesses or engage in the creative arts with communities in need. By using available public and private space in these communities partnered with the creative and entrepreneurial spirit of those starting out-- poorer communities could become incubators of young talent and economic innovation.

3.  Partner with the existing top 500 employers in the state to determine what local and state governments can do to encourage these companies to expand their workforces.  Through job sharing, working from home, internship programs and similar programs, it is much easier to grow what already exists, at least in the short term, to improve economic opportunity.

4.  Focus on the State's educational system, in partnership with local communities and unions, to bring best practice's models of teaching to Ohio's schools at all levels.  Match the efforts of Vocational High Schools and two year colleges on the industries with demands for new employees and the skills that are required of a modern-workforce.  Companies such as Honda, Boeing, and other manufacturers need a specialized workforce-- one that many other states do not have-- in order to do 21st Century Manufacturing.

5.  Local communities must be supported in all efforts to reduce crime, blight, and other issues that are affecting Ohio's cities. People will not live in communities that they do not feel safe in. Partnerships between government, law enforcement, public safety unions, and community groups should develop an immediate action plan to decrease crime in all of Ohio, especially its urban core.

6. Develop legislation that allows the unemployed to be utilized for public works projects across the state for reduced wages in addition to unemployment benefits.  Even at 20 hours per week, getting people back to work on projects that benefit the community also benefits the worker.  Combined with twenty hours a week attending classes in a state university or an employment training program, the unemployed could obtain valuable skills and training while working in their local communities to address significant needs.

7.  With land and construction costs currently low, labor costs low, and the state in crisis-- now is the time for Ohio to invest in critical infrastructure needs-- even if it requires debt financing.  The long term borrowing costs will be incredibly low as will the outlays.  Therefore, a state needs bank, based on counties, should be developed.  By identifying the ten most outdated facilities or infrastructure items in each county, limited funds could be directed to fund these critical projects.  Public Safety; Education; and Bridges/Highways could be addressed at a starting amount of, for example, $5 million per area per county.  If communities are encouraged to use matching funds on a one for one basis, a total of $30 million per county could be put to use improving critical needs, increasing jobs, and saving money in the process.

8Ohio must again become a State of tolerance for all persons and a symbol of the moderation that used to be so common in the Midwest.  Efforts must be taken to remove the 2004 anti-gay marriage amendment from the state Constitution.  The young people of the state who graduate from its high schools and universities are not in favor of anti-gay measures. statistics show that these young people- those who will be the new innovators-- are leaving the state in droves.  This is not a recipe for long term success and does not encourage a climate of growth and new ideas.  This issue must be addressed- and soon.

9Ohio Law should be changed to encourage new development to be more dense and in-fill in nature wherever possible.  One of the most significant elements to the rising cost of services in Ohio is that so much growth has occurred in areas where services from sewers to waterlines to schools to firehouse had to be built from scratch.  Encouraging development in already developed areas rather than in a "sprawl" fashion, allows existing resources to be better utilized and costs and services to be more easily maintained.  This is reflected in lessened capital costs, less personnel costs, and, in the end, reduced taxes for local residents. 

10.  Immediately begin an effort to reduce costs in two critical areas: Health Care and the Prison population-- together these two areas are critical pieces of most states budget problems.  They are also, in many ways linked.  By getting all residents of Ohio access to affordable quality health care and focusing on juvenile crime prevention and rehabilitation-- the impacts on local and state budgets are lessened, crime is reduced and communities are safer.

11.  Listening.  The people of Ohio are a smart, creative, and pragmatic bunch.  They have the ideas about how to make better their local communities and how to involve their neighbors in a process of solving problems.  To solve any problem-- Ohio has to again become a state where the opinions of all are valued, and people of a different political stripe, or a different church, different age, or different orientation are looked to as part of the solution-- Not part of the problem. If this is where Ohio starts on it's newday, then all things will truly be possible.