2020

Hello again! I hope everyone has had a good holiday season and an excellent New Year so far! I took a small hiatus from the blog for the holiday, but I resolved to come back after New Year’s Day. My wife and I spent some time together off work, plus we spent some time with friends. Basically, I’d say the year, and the decade, have been wonderful so far; 2020 is off to a positive start!

I started the 2010s in a very different state than the 2020s. To be honest, I did have the exact same job and apartment as I do now, but I was single and a lot less secure in my financial situation. I’m certainly not totally financially secure now, but my wife and I are better off now than I was then. I also didn’t have transportation in 2010, if I recall correctly. My hindsight in 2020 is 20/20: looking back on my life in my mid-20s, I’ve definitely grown a lot since then. It makes me wonder what the future could still hold for us. Hypothetically speaking, if we have a child this year, that child will (obviously) only be 10 in the year 2030. The child would be in elementary school and would still have their whole life ahead of them — middle school, high school, college, and beyond. So much can happen in a decade.

The start of a new year and a new decade is a major symbol of change, growth, turning over a new leaf. Of course, the universe doesn’t keep calendars; we do. Sure, we use celestial bodies such as the sun to determine the length of years and the moon to determine both months and some religions’ liturgical years (like Judaism and Islam). Ultimately, though, we’re the only ones who can determine how we spend however many revolutions around the sun allotted to us. To me that means we need to conceptualize ordered time; after all, time is relative on a cosmic scale.

The start of a new year is therefore a great time for us to conceive a resolution to put in the forefront of the mind for the rest of the year, something to help us grow and be more content with our lives. I’ve resolved to dedicate more time to learning in the coming year, but I’ll admit it’s a rather pretentious subject — I’ve resolved to study Latin. I want to make this a serious pursuit in 2020; I’ve taken French and Spanish (frankly, I could use some refreshers in both of those languages) and would like to learn a language that would go on to become the foundation of our modern jargon in the areas of science, law, religion, etc., at least in European culture and its past colonial derivatives. I hope to gain a deeper understanding of what makes our culture tick by looking at some of its foundation — probably not, honestly, but it’ll be fun to learn nonetheless.

I will also continue to hold my wife and our loves ones close this year, as well as hopefully make new friends. I wish the same for all of you and hope the year finds you in good health and happiness. Take care of yourselves and each other! Have an excellent 2020!

Gifts

Good morning to all! I hope everyone has had an enjoyable December so far. My wife and I have had our Christmas tree up since the day after U.S. Thanksgiving (yeah, we have this weird tradition of taking a tree and decorating it to celebrate the holiday), but we should have looked at how tall it was before we bought it; it’s only 4 feet tall! We’ve made the most of it, though. I’d like to touch on a topic that is dear to everyone’s hearts this time of year that isn’t thought about too deeply.

It’s the holiday season in many parts of the world, and here in North America, that generally means it’s the time of year for customary gift exchange. We give the ones we love gifts, we get some in return, and hopefully everyone gets something they want and goes home happy!

I think the point (separate and apart from any religious aspects of the custom) is to provide something for your loved ones that they may not have had otherwise. It shows how close to your heart the recipient is. I used to enjoy gift-giving when I was younger because it meant I could put a little bit of myself into my gifts, while also keeping in mind what my loved one generally enjoys. This has always been important to me since being autistic has proven to be an impediment with regards to communication and keeping friendships alive.

That, in my view, should be the goal of gift-giving: for each gift to be a piece of yourself that you give the other person, to show how much you care and know them — and no, monetary value has nothing to do with that. It’s part and parcel of a healthy community to ensure people are able to build solid relationships between each other, and gift-giving goes a long way toward that. Limiting gift-giving to only several times a year on pre-planned occasions also gives the event significance and makes it special.

I hope you all send and receive the best gifts this holiday season! Happy holidays to all — merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah, happy Yuletide, and any other holidays I may have missed!

5 Years

Hello, everyone!  Hope everyone in the U.S. had a happy Thanksgiving full of joy!

It’s a rainy night here at home so I decided to write a blog post.  Friday, November 29, 2019, marked my wife and my 5-year wedding anniversary.  I’m incredulous that it’s been 5 years already.  It seems like the years are flying by.  I am grateful that she agreed to share her life with me; she has made these past 5 years so much brighter.

I sometimes like to reflect on all that’s transpired over the past 5 years:  all the successes and failures, all the trips we’ve taken, all the friends who have come and gone, all the additions to the family, and, most importantly, how our days have been filled with love.  No matter what vicissitudes life may have brought, love remained a constant light to brighten our path.  I hope the same for everyone:  that they may know love, in any and all forms.

I am in awe of everything that has happened since the day 5 years ago when we decided to found a new life with our love.  I don’t have too much more on my mind that won’t sound cornier still so I will end with a reminder to hold those you love dear, and remember to love yourself — they’re counting on you to see why they love you.

Pallbearers

Good evening, everyone!  I told you I’d be back!

Considering the holiday season is just around the corner, — here in the U.S. we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving — tonight’s topic will be a bit morbid so . . . sorry to all 2 of you reading this.  First of all, I hope you’ll indulge me by allowing me to provide some backstory to tonight’s topic.

An old friend of my family who watched me grow up recently passed away.  She was advanced in years and lived a long, full, and virtuous life.  Various circumstances have happened over the course of the past several months, and as a result, my wife and I don’t get along with a few members of the family.  We do get along with another part of the family, however, and it is that part of the family who asked me to be a pallbearer at the funeral.

I accepted the offer, of course; I owed it to her to carry her to her final resting place beside her husband.  It will not just be her coffin I bear, though.

I will bear my sorrow that this day has come at last, the day when I must bid her farewell and safe voyage on her Everlasting Trip.  I will bear her life, the things she did, her love for her family and friends (including my grandmother), her worries, her joy and sorrow.  I will bear my own memories of her when I was growing up, seeing her and her husband at church, helping decorate the church at Christmastime, all the Halloweens trick-or-treating over there and she was the only one who didn’t give candy — she gave popcorn, and I liked that because it was different.   Those who carry the deceased are a vehicle of the grieving process, pushing it along further to its natural completion and helping to keep the memories of the living from going away with them.  We see the deceased being carried away — what that means differs based on funeral ceremonies and method of disposition (burial, cremation/funeral pyres, etc.) — and it reminds us not to let our memories and our love for them go with them. I daresay I will carry everyone’s memories with me as well to her, and their, final resting place — her resting place in the ground, and the memories’ resting place in our hearts, there to remain as long as we do. 

Maybe this post sounds a little pretentious and morbid, but that’s what was on my mind today.  I just wanted to reflect on the grieving process and the funeral ceremony, how we hold onto our memories of the deceased even though they’re gone, that they still help make us who they are.  Hell, if you want the truth, this is far from an original idea — Mexican culture beat me to it by a long shot with el Día de los Muertos.  In fact, I’d say they’re just more open about it than most.  Whether we make it more apparent or not, I think it’s important that we realize what our deceased family and friends mean to us.  Their deceased loved ones helped make them who they were, and they in turn helped make us who we are.  This realization has helped me grieve for many loved ones and family over the years and has cemented their place in my heart.

I hope to have another topic for discussion in the coming days.  Until then, take care of yourselves and each other!

A post

Ummmm . . . hi, everybody!  It’s Hefnuts again!

Hope you had a good Halloween/Samhain/All Saints’ Day/Day of the Dead!  If you celebrate it, hope you had a good Diwali!  My wife and I have been doing well, and in fact, our 5-year anniversary is coming up!

If you couldn’t tell from the God-only-knows-how-long it’s been since I’ve written, I gave up on making posts for a while.  I just didn’t feel like there was anything worth writing about, nothing anyone would want to read.  Also, there was the chance that what I really have to say would end up being controversial, not to mention I feel as if my cerebral cortex is atrophied and I’m hardly capable of independent thought these days.  I decided to take it up again (hopefully for good this time) because I simply feel like it would be a good use of my time.  A lot of what I say may not be fully informed, but I keep feeling my industry vs. inferiority conflict nagging at me, this Springsteen-esque urge to . . . I don’t know . . .  do something.  I don’t think I’m comfortable enough to write about controversial topics or get into verbally violent altercations with people who disagree with me just yet, but I feel like I want to type  something. 

Since I don’t quite have anything to type just yet, I may as well clue you in as to what brought this on.  Well, as I mentioned above, I feel unindustrious.  I do work full-time, I have a loving and supportive wife to whom I do my best to convey my own love and support, yet I feel like I don’t contribute enough to society at large.  Like most writers (and no, I don’t consider myself a writer), I guess I’m just doing this to boost my self-esteem, or ego if you want the more pejorative term.  Anyway, the story of what had brought me back is typical:  I had applied for a promotion at work, someone else got the promotion, you know the drill.  Don’t get me wrong; the person who got the promotion will be great for the job so I don’t disagree with the decision, but I can’t lie — it has left me feeling pretty empty.  I do feel like I have nothing to offer.  If anyone says I shouldn’t feel that way (I get that a lot), then keep in mind I’m not telling you how to feel so CAN IT!  Hahahaha!

Wait, guys, it was a joke!  Don’t leave!!!

Oh, well.  To all 2 of you who are still reading, my wife has been encouraging me throughout this time to start the blog again, and I just always found something else to do.  I wanted to stay out of the thick of all this conflict going on in society — Twitter’s become a veritable cesspool these days.  Ooh, there it is — my first controversial opinion!  I feel electrified already.  To continue, I discussed my recent shortcoming with a friend, saying that I felt like I should be doing more but didn’t know what to do since I’m 35 and a college dropout (and before you say it, I agree that that shouldn’t be a reason anyone seeks a promotion — hindsight is 20/20).  She suggested, among other things, that I start a WordPress.  I said, “Um, yeah, about that . . . ” and directed her here.  She started following the blog and also encouraged me to start it back up.  When I expressed my concerns at the possible conflict, she told me, in summary, that being true to yourself requires bravery, but self-knowledge and being true to yourself is its own reward.  That was several days ago, and here I am.

Annnnnnnd here it is!  I just thought of something to write about!

I had made a post about civility much earlier in this little blog.  I’ve been worried for the state of civil discourse in America, and the world at large, for a while now.  With that having been said, I’ve been paying attention to current events in the world, and, as bad as things may be in America, I thought I’d put some things in perspective compared to the rest of the world:

  •  There is civil war — not just unrest, actual war — in the following countries:  Yemen, Syria, Libya, Somalia (since 1991), South Sudan (itself a young country), Mali, perhaps more.  War is a day-to-day reality in these countries; it is very close to home for these people.  My point is, no matter what anyone posts on Facebook or Twitter, we don’t have a civil war (well, at least not yet).
  •  The clashes in Hong Kong between the Chinese government and anti-mainline protestors have ramped up considerably.  Read about those, and see if that sounds like the U.S. yet.
  •  I love talking about religion, perhaps too much.  Therefore, it makes sense for me to mention anti-religious discrimination and religious conflict.  Anti-Muslim sentiment has been horrible since 9/11 and continues to grow, also branching out to Sikhs and other groups who are mistaken for Muslims (oh, and happy Nanak’s birthday to all the Sikhs out there!).  However, as bad as that is, keep in mind the various conflicts against Rohingya in Myanmar, the anti-Muslim sentiment following the Easter Sunday bombing in Sri Lanka (to those unfamiliar, think of it as their 9/11), and the conflicts between Uighurs and the Chinese government.  The Rohingya in particular are still a stateless people.
  •  the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  ‘Nuff said.  Especially with the recent airstrike on Gaza Strip being fresh in the news, along with the fact that there have been three wars since 2008 between Israel and Palestine.

What am I trying to say here?  I know there’s a lot I’m missing in the above list, along with the fact that there is U.S. involvement in most of these items, but my point is:  take heart.  It’s not this bad yet.  Don’t get me wrong — we need to stay vigilant and take care of each other.  Those of us who are fair-minded need to keep a spirit of cooperation and civil discourse alive.  However, as far as I know, those things aren’t a reality in this country, nor are they a reality in many countries still.  Count your blessings, and do what you can to help those affected if you have the time and means to do so.  I also realize I’m running the risk of sounding insensitive to the conflicts; that’s certainly not my intention.  I only want to put things in perspective regarding my previous post on civility, to bring it full circle.

In any case, I hope to keep writing.  I’m thinking about changing the blog title; it does sound a little pretentious, if I’m honest.  Maybe I’ll write about something entirely different next time, something more personal.  I haven’t decided yet, but I hope to have it up this weekend!  Until then, I should return the favor to the friend who encouraged me to start writing again; she has a blog site herself, obviously.  Her site is Share Bear Crochet; she’s very creative and has a lot of insight on crocheting.  Feel free to pay her blog a visit!

Thanks for reading (whoever the hell you are)!  See you again soon!

 

Love Letter

The following is a love letter I’m writing for my wife Abby for Valentine’s Day.  (If you can’t handle mushy musings, feel free to skip it.  Don’t worry.  I’ll understand.)

Dearest Abby,

I realize this letter is long overdue, but I wanted to express my feelings for you and let you know what a difference your love has made in my life. You have made my life so much more than it was before you came.  I never thought I could find someone as wonderful as you with whom I could share my life.  I was cynical that anything like this could ever happen to me.  I have had the joy of getting to know the past several years, including our 3 years of marriage thus far, and the meaning behind our love grows clearer as I think about who you are.

When I first met you, I saw your vibrant, vivacious personality.  You are confident in yourself and gorgeous.  Your beauty fills me with passion.  You’re more intelligent than you know.  You have a fire in your eyes that burns even more brightly when we’re together and I look into them.  You take pride in your work and in yourself.  When life seems to drag me down, you give me a reason to press forward.  You’ve made our apartment from a mere habitat into a home.  With every day we live, I feel how strong our love is. In the precious moments we spend together, I realize that, now that I’ve found you, without you I’d be lost.

I remember the days when we were dating, before our marriage.  Because of our jobs, we couldn’t spend nearly as much time together as we do now.  I see those times as a reminder of how precious our time together is, no matter how much or how little.  I remember how we made the most of the time we did spend together, and how happy we made each other even then.  I remember the joy and anticipation I had when I would drive a little over an hour to see you after you worked when I had a day off.  Now that we’re married, we get to see each other everyday, and it is no less a special occasion than it was then.  I remember how your dog didn’t like me at first and tried to bite me, but eventually she grew to love me.  She’s lying down on the couch right now, content that I’m home with her as I type this.  Most of all, I remember how you messaged me and told me I was handsome on Plentyoffish, and I decided to reply, not knowing my reply would lead to such a happy life with you.

You have brought the light of love to my dark and secluded corner of the universe, and for that I owe you so much.  I love you, and I hope I’ve done the same for you.  I can’t imagine how much darker my life’s paths would be without your beautiful smile to light them.  Whether it was Providence or pure serendipity that brought us together, I’m so glad we met and have now built a life together based on love.  I love you with all my heart.  May we celebrate many more Valentine’s Days together!

With deepest affection,

Mike

Civility, Pt. 2

Hello again!  I hope everyone has had a great year so far.  I realize there’s been a long lacuna between posts, but it was a busy time between the holidays and work.  However, I think I’m finally ready to make an attempt at tackling the topic of the cultivation of civility in discourse, as I promised in a previous post.  If you’ll recall, I feel this topic is of the utmost importance in society — especially American society — before we see anymore casualties from the culture war.  I’ve already covered why I think it’s of such great import so here are several ways to cultivate civility so we can keep the exchange of ideas constructive and felicitous instead of destructive and slovenly:

  1. In civil discourse, you will often find that giving someone the benefit of the doubt will go a longer way than giving into knee-jerk reactions toward the other side.  Hurling exaggerated caricatures at each other tends to drive each person further apart.  In order to foster more constructive debate, it is necessary to hear each other out.  Speaking of which . . .
  2. Listen to each other.  This can be a hard thing to do, especially in a society where it’s considered cool to complain.  This is because those who feel the need to kvetch often are seen as those who are constantly noticing something or other in the various facets of their lives that needs improvement.  Such people, when actually doing so constructively, are certain to help make lives better in their societies, and as such, I’d imagine this trait was propagated in past generations to the extent that it’s fairly commonplace now.  However, we all have gotten to the point where we just complain to hear ourselves complain and imagine we’re doing something worthwhile.  This means that sometimes we tune each other out.  That being said, if we listen to each other instead of just writing each other off wholesale, maybe we’ll learn what’s really important and what actually needs improvement in society and our own lives.  In the past, this has often led to an uncomfortable realization for me:  that problems I saw as externally-based were more internally so than I had realized.  I imagine it is as hard for others to admit they need self-growth as it is for me.  We may never come to the truth unless we listen to each other and keep an open mind.  Why do people try to avoid listening to each other?  From personal experience, I think it’s because it may scare people.  They may be afraid to hear something that could challenge their worldview or make them uncomfortable.  It is, however, up to us to build a great society, and this won’t happen if we stay inside our comfort zones, our “safe spaces” (and yes, everyone has a safe space, no matter your political orientation).  I’m not judging anyone, though; we can all be a bit “snowflake”-ish at times.  Calling each other “snowflakes” brings me to my next point:
  3. If you’ve ever taken a class on logic, you learned of the various logical fallacies in argument.  One of these is argumentum ad hominem, which alludes to a debater using personal attacks as opposed to countering the actual point his/her opponent is trying to make.  I think this ties into the previous point because oftentimes people do this to avoid having to listen to each other.  As I pointed out (satisfactorily, I hope), this type of behavior doesn’t help anyone.  It is junk food for the ego.  Focusing on each other’s viewpoints instead of personal character/appearance and exaggerated caricatures (usually known as straw men) will help us focus on improving society instead of merely spinning our wheels pretending we’re going somewhere.
  4. I think this one could very well be the most difficult:  knowing oneself.  Doing some deep introspection and figuring out who you are and what your values are can be a daunting task, especially with so many external voices making suggestions.  However, as the old saying goes, if you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything.  You have to have a foundation yourself if you want to be constructive.  This will instill inner confidence, which will carry you where you need to go.  People who are unsure of themselves sometimes feel the need to tear someone else down to bring a false sense of self-worth.  On the other hand, knowing who you are means you’re sure of yourself, and your confidence will come from within.  How does this aid civil discourse?  Won’t two people who are sure of themselves just stay rooted in one spot and not willing to meet anyone else halfway?  To the contrary, someone who knows him/herself would be more apt to listen to someone else and look for any commonalities they have.  This kind of person would be more open to change his/her mind when presented with an idea that more closely represented his/her values.  I’ll admit that my explanation was a little weak, but the fact that knowing oneself is the foundation to being a more constructive person still stands.

The individual and collective practice of these four ideas should help promote civility in our society.  This is by no means an exhaustive list, and it is certainly open to criticism also.  I have no academic credentials except my high school diploma.  This is merely the product of my own hindsight and introspection, but I feel the ideas are sound and could go a long way toward building a society that improves each other’s lives.  Here’s hoping I’m right, but if I’m wrong, here’s hoping I learn and grow, and in turn help you to do the same!  I hope to post again much sooner than last time.  I am sure something will come to mind in the near future.  Until then, keep love alive.