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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.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Images from Manhattan

A Summer Evening along the East River

(c) 2012 Christopher Blake Carver

Monday, July 30, 2012

There was a Me

There Was A Me

© 2012 Christopher Blake Carver

Sitting nervously—fidgeting at the bar

Looking at each entering face

The way Einstein looked at an equation or that the leper looked at Jesus.

Convinced that my salvation lied inside the touch of their finger or the smell of their cologne

or them telling me that yes- I was desirable.

Yes- my bad qualities and weird qualities and my secret parts and the embarrassing parts- they would not matter.

For after all, we are still both lying here in this place. And your touch says you love me- right?

Even though your too quick departure will say something else entirely.

And even though the words may not come from your lips—

The truth is expressed by your actions.

And a drowning man

Sometimes only needs that hint.

Of a raft-

or only the idea of floating.

To give him just enough hope to survive the cold night and the hungry sharks

long enough for the search party to arrive.

But arrive it did not. No helicopter from beyond the horizon.

No tall dark haired Jake Gyllenhall look alike to drag me from the chat room

or the bar stool

or a midnight cold bed of someone worse than a stranger.

He did not come.

No matter how hard I tried to see his face on so many- he was my own Snuffleuppagus-  but just as imaginary for me as my neighbors.

And, in the end, the unreal selves could not save me.

How could they anymore save me than Santa Clause could bring me love down a chimney in exchange for cookies and milk and some carrots for Donner and Blitzen.

Rather than pull me from the waters they only pushed me deeper.

Till my lungs filled with the brackish water and I felt

Who I was—

Who I could be—

Who I was made to be—

begin to slip eternally beneath the surface.

Pulled toward the bottom by  not a monster of Jules Verne

But by the scariest creature of all— a demon of my creation.

A composite figure made of a job too long held—

A purpose denied—

Dreams too long ignored—

Love too long quested in the manner someone would try on a pair of shoes

and discard the nice fitting pair with the slight blemish by the toe.

At last, as my lungs filled completely with the water,

A part of me died

So that the biggest part could Live.

This familiar sensation. 

A rocky Ohio cliff in 1999 that was to be either my end or my beginning.

This time the choice to go away from what was isn’t quite as easy.

The old days and the old decisions and the old mindset cannot be quite so easily turned away.

The ghosts of those bad choices so many bad for me people- bad for me- me—

try to claw back and offer comfort in their lesser ways and in the acceptance of a lesser me. No greater sin exists than the temptation of the blinded and tuned out soul, full of contentment—and absent of any thing close to salvation.

And few things are as welcome to

A drowning soul as comfort.

But in the moonlight reflection bouncing off the water beside my sinking self

I can see just enough of the outline of my frame to remember the scars hidden by the darkness.

And the Molly Maid skill of a memory that whitewashes and sanitizes the

Crime scenes—

not even the chalk body outline remains so that the visual of that lost figure can  scratch inside your heart and mind a Mount Rushmore view of the lessons learned.

No, the only way past is through.

It is down on the bottom- fully under the black soup that consumes me

and forces out the memory and the air and the fantasy and the wistful memories that are so much better than their subjects were in real life.

The last vision of an easy future with no hard choices—no hard sacrifices—and no fear—collapses in a pile beside me—at least rendered to the pile of the life that may indeed be easy—but that holds no question, no challenge, no growth, and thereby no death. 

It therefore can not be mine—for it cannot be real.

As my final gasping panting falls victim to the new reality,

the new understanding,

the new peace,

The last glimmers of the old ways fade from sight.

The old ways- in an instant- just don’t fit anymore- just don’t make any sense-

And the brilliant glimpse of light and peace and Oneness come into view.

Not the comical bible images of the surface level Christians of departed family and friends welcoming me through gates of Gold handing me keys to a mansion.

But something deeper—more real—and more meaning. 

The feeling of connection with friends known—friends yet to be known—

 a world I am a part of—

 and a world I have a place in.

Welcoming me to an existence I had long forgotten and a peace I had long forsaken.

I was here before, when things were new.

When strangers were potential friends- and not keys to my own self doubt.

A land where I sensed my purpose- where I didn’t doubt what love was-

Or my place in this beautiful world. Taken from me by no one other than myself.

Now helped back there by Strangers, God, and everyone in between.

I fall silent in the still waters

And let myself silently pass back into

To the greatest home I have ever known

And the peace and love a stranger could never provide.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy Birthday America!

Happy Birthday America!  Isn’t it odd how even the particular date is actually a bit of a myth.  The really important part of the Declaration was voted on July 2, 1776.  It should come as no surprise I guess, that this is another part of the American Fabric that, when pulled, reveals something a bit more complex than we expect.  In truth, that is one of the things that unites this nation—the enduring desire to simplify into little sound bites or YouTube Clips who we are, who we have been, and who we may be.

It is as simple as the “American Dream”—the house, the car, the kids.  If you look to your right driving from Niagara Falls to Toronto, you will see a billboard for the Canadian Dream—it looks a great deal like the American one. I suppose that’s more a testament to the geographic diversity of homebuilding associations and mortgage brokers and property developers than any particular American ideal.  In the face of the advertisements and the forgotten history it can be easy to dismiss all that has come before as just more examples of a wannabe imperial nation, or a country of ignorant—morally and spiritually bankrupt people. Easier still it would be to look at the state of our politics and come away convinced that we have strayed so far from anything good that it will be impossible to drag our system out of the cesspool and into something greater.  We look at those DC monuments and, in the shadow of the granite, think if only to ourselves—that no monuments shall be built to the people of our time.  That the American Dream is only about those cars and houses and little pink houses—straight from the playbook of John Cougar Mellencamp.

That is a false assumption.  And the fact that it is false is what makes this country special—magical and wondrous.  Still.  Despite the best efforts of talk-radio hosts and  vapid politicians who claim providence with sacred documents that they so obviously have never read, much less understood.  It is not the less than 1% of 1% of 300,000,000 people who serve in congress, or those that try to pass as journalists, or presumed religious leaders that form the real thread of  the fabric of this country today.  

Fortunately, in all the mix that makes up this nation—countless voices, countless hearts, countless ideas—there is always bursting forth new ways of looking a things—new ways of art, or science, of philosophy.  Ours is still a nation that ferments talent and dreams and hope—yes, even hopes.  Even in the face of such an economic downturn—even in the face of a poisoned political season.  Beyond the pages of the New York Times or websites of Fox News, people still carry on—in the best way they know how.  Still they start businesses, or paint pictures, or write essays.  Still they think about the problems that face us and come up with solutions. 

It is in some ways tragic that the faces of success—of thought—of progress—can rarely be found in the media today.  So many channels, so little inspiration.  That kind of thing doesn’t sell.  Politicians that try to think—be mature—examine problems—develop ways to overcome—they are crucified by a media and too many voters that want easy solutions—want to buy into the myths and the one liners about how and who this country is.  But, thankfully, they are not the majority.  Perhaps, in our two-hundred years plus, the country has evolved from sending its best and brightest to lead us in Washington or the fifty state capitals.  Perhaps we have allowed this to happen because, even though they often make for scary television sound-bites, in many ways they don’t matter.  True, they can pass frustrating laws, they can hold on hard to old ways of thinking or belief.  But they will not hold back American progress—no matter how hard they may try.  It is like trying to replace Hoover dam with a Kleenex box. In our age of information and technology and science there is just too much movement forward.  The laws of Einstein and so many others still apply and demand that we move forward.  Perhaps not easily, or as swiftly as some would like, but the trend is forward.  In many ways, I think the radical conservatives and narrow minded people know this—they sense this—and it explains their hatred of all things progressive. A simple desire to cling to a life-raft of long held beliefs and assumptions while the river of the universe rages on past where they cling to a tree on the bank.  For some this is a very scary time in history—in science, in sociology—in nearly every field long held tenets are being explained away like so much myth.   But in their fear—in their hiding—they fail in their duty to be a part of the process—and sit on their hands to complain about the results—without ever having shown a face in the kitchen while the meal was being made—content only to complain about the menu choices weeks, months or years later. 

The words of the founding fathers and the great American leaders show clearly that these challenges were around even at the beginning of this nation. Listen to Jefferson and Lincoln call on Americans to be one… “..with malice toward none.”  Those words are ever truer today—as this country accelerates towards a future that scares many of our fellow citizens to death.  Too frequently without honest leaders in the political arena—without religious leaders able to ask and answer tough questions—the road will continue to be rocky for many Americans.

But on this day of our Nation’s Birth (sort of) let us be reminded that we are all in this together.  That at times of crisis this nation has accomplished amazing things—with all of its people focused on working together—instead of trying so very hard to find fault with the other side of the street, the pew, the map, or the cable news.  Maybe our political leaders today aren’t Jefferson quality, or Lincoln, or even Martin VanBuren.  But maybe that doesn’t even matter anymore—for what have you done, on this day or any other, to make this nation a “more perfect union”—that is a challenge for all of us, not just the politicians we agree with—or the ones we don’t. And in order to move forward, as changes becomes even faster (compare the time for attitudes on Gay Marriage to change compared to the Civil Rights struggles of the 1950s and 1960s) we must all work harder to build bridges across to those in our midst who cling so hard to the branches of the false, dead trees of the past that they might miss the wonder and progress of this day and the days to come. 

The American Flag arrives at the Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum, Hamilton ON,  June 2012
(Photo by: Christopher Blake Carver)