My name is Brandon. I'm a writer, cartoonist, husband, and father. This is the online space where I talk about life, family, art, videogames, and anything else that interests me. Disclaimer: a lot of things interest me.

Wake Up

Wake up, Daddy. Wake up!”

It’s not the words that break through, but the light slaps on my cheeks, as gentle as spring rain. I’m not actually asleep. This is something she says to me often when my mind wanders away. Her small hands cradle my face; her blue eyes study my green eyes in a way that’s all too familiar. Then she smiles and it’s like the sun breaking through the clouds. My heart swells and for an instant nothing else matters except that smile. I smile back and she plants a small kiss on my lips and wraps her arms around my neck with a surprising strength that is primal and genuine magic – plain and simple. That hug speaks. That hug says, “I love you. I trust you. You mean the Universe to me.”

We begin to play. She’s talking about her Mini Mouse figures. I only understand one word in every four, but it’s important to her and so I nod along and repeat what I understand. Soon, my mind begins to wander again. It does that quite a bit, actually. Sometimes it’s thoughts about what I’m going to cook for dinner, or what chores I need to do after we put her to bed to help maintain some semblance of control over our household. Sometimes they turn to one of the novels or short stories I’m writing. Sometimes it’s important enough for me to pull out my phone and jot down. Sometimes it’s just rolling over problems that I need to work out. These days, though, my mind wanders to larger, sometimes darker things. I think of Brexit and how no one wants to take responsibility and actually lead the UK through this magnificent shit show fear and secularism has created. The hard part to acknowledge is that I empathize with the fear. The refugee crisis in Europe paired with terrorist attacks that have been executed with horrific success have made it easy not to trust. I understand this intellectually, if I don’t agree with it morally. Still, I’m not so arrogant as to pretend that fear couldn’t take hold in me if I actually lived in Europe right now.

“Wake up, Daddy. Wake up!” Smile. Kiss. Magic hug. My soul sings.

“Sorry, Baby.”

I make it almost five minutes this time before my mind wanders to our own upcoming elections and how truly terrifying a Donald Trump presidency might be; I think about the people who say he’s a lesser evil than Hillary Clinton and marvel at just how fucking delusional that statement is. I’ve never seen a human being spit so much vitriol in front of microphone outside of a Jerry Springer episode. Hillary is no angel, but she stands for some version of many of my interests whereas D-Trumps represents a fat goose egg in that department. I know many people who plan to write-in vote because they just can’t stand the options. Might as well vote for Trump, if that’s your play. After seeing Brexit play out, his presidency is a real possible future. Back to paralyzing terror.

“Wake up, Daddy. Wake up!” Smile. Kiss. Magic hug. My soul sings.

“I’m sorry, Baby.”

She stuffs me into her tent and climbs up in my lap. We sing songs. Well, she sings songs. She gets pissy if I upstage her. I applaud. She studies me with those intent blue eyes, naming the parts of my face while I echo back. I’m multitasking now – still thinking about the world while my perfect little girl reaches into my mouth to pinch my tongue all so she can inform me that this is – in fact – my tongue. How did we get here? How did we get to a place where a Trump Presidency is possible? It’s as simple as it is stupid, really. We got here because of fear. The lizard-brain kind that has ruled our rasher nature since we realized rocks could smash in skulls. The world is so small now that we are so connected. Things seem like they are getting worse, but I don’t know if that’s the case. I think we’re just more aware. That awareness affects us differently. We see the problems, and they are big problems. Problems that can’t be fixed overnight. Problems that will take – at minimum – a generation of concentrated effort to correct. For some of us, that’s not good enough. Not FAST enough. For others it’s too big to fathom, so they’d rather pretend the problems are fabricated.

On Tuesday Alton Sterling got into an altercation with two police officers outside of a convenience store. He was tased, tackled, and then shot to death while prone on the ground. A gun was found on his person after the fact. Last night Philando Castile was killed during a routine traffic stop. The officer asked for his license and registration, while reaching for his information Castile offered the fact that he was armed and registered as a conceal and carry permit holder as a courtesy to the officer. He was then told to freeze and shot when he raised his hand to comply. In addition, last night 10 officers were shot and 4 killed by a sniper at a Black Lives Matter protest.

This week is the shit icing on the shit cake that has been 2016 thus far. So much anger. So much death. It’s the 21st century and the world is so much smaller than it used to be; and yet so much of our lives are ruled by fear. This is not what knowledge is supposed to do, but this is what it can do when it is manipulated. Warped. We live in a culture that says we have a right to protect ourselves from harm. Not only that we have that right, but that we should keep weapons on our person, in our car, in our home. We’re led to believe we live in the wild west where law and order are thin and insubstantial. The only person we can really rely on for protection and justice is ourselves. Lobbyists protect this notion. News encourages it. Peace officers have to operate in an environment that has reduced us all to twitchy primates jumping at shadows and smashing anything that looks different or strange. For the first time in my life, I’m truly afraid for friends, family, and coworkers with a different skin color than my own; that they may fall victim to fear and become another name under a hashtag. A loat soul in a movement. I’m ashamed that it’s taken this long. I’m ashamed that I didn’t realize sooner. This is not the world I intended to make for her. This is not the world I want her to have.

“Wake up, Daddy. Wake up!” Smile. Kiss. Magic hug.

I love you. I trust you. You mean the Universe to me.

My heart breaks.

“I’m sorry, Baby. I am so sorry.”

My call is to the young in heart, regardless of age — to the stout in spirit, regardless of Party, to all who respond to the scriptural call: “Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be [thou] dismayed.”

– John F. Kennedy The New Frontier July 15, 1960

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