Legacy Insurance

I’m lucky enough to be a full-time employee at a county-funded institution. They take good care of us, and in return I like to thing we provide a valuable quality service. A few days ago, I was sent a reminder email that my insurance benefits needed annual renewal.

Nothing stirs the existential anxiety quite like renewing insurance benefits. There’s health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and life insurance. Paying money into these things begs the question: What happens if I get sick? What happens if I die? Obviously, my biggest concern is for those I love. The heartache and turmoil of those who depend on me for emotional and financial support. But also, what happens to my memory? What happens to my footprint?

It’s rather humbling to know that billions of people currently exist. Billions more have existed before us. And yet, we only remember a handful of them through the ages. As generations fade, we don’t remember even those in our bloodline. I know the name of my great grandfather… but I don’t know his hopes and dreams and fears. I don’t know if he was happy with his life, and what he did to cope if he wasn’t. I don’t know if he would be happy with where his lineage ended up… with a chubby man typing on a blog and eating Chewy Chips Ahoy cookies. Hmm, maybe it’s a good thing I opted-in for that life insurance.

You know what I’d like to see? An option for Legacy Insurance. I’d pay quite a bit of money to encapsulate whatever it is that makes the holistic¬†me, and have it available to my progeny. A guarantee that your work in this life… the long nights, the stressful days, and the calloused hands… was worth something. That it benefited not only your children, but also your grandchildren. And their grandchildren. And so on. Insurance that, years from now when humanity is exploring the farthest depths of space in galaxies I can’t even begin to comprehend, they can look back at their Great Ancestor Billy and appreciate that he worked so hard to continue the family tree’s growth.

Yeah, I’d check that option. Legacy Insurance. It would come with an option for Domestic Partner, too. And if I click that option, it costs more money, but my descendants can also see how much my wife and I love each other. They’d appreciate the arguments we resolved, the pride we surrendered and the compromises we forged, in order to grow this family tree’s canopy. They’d know that their Great Ancestors cared for them before they were born… before they were even an idea.

I’m scrolling through the benefits page again. No Legacy Insurance. It makes sense, after all. We’re human beings. We mostly concern ourselves with the here and now. We’re a few steps in the future, a few steps in the past, but mostly planted firm in the present. I suppose that for now, my Legacy lives in whatever genes I’ve inherited and whatever values I pass down, no matter how they morph and adapt with the ever-shifting modern thought.

Still, it’s not a bad idea to consider.

Of Rot and Love

In the wake of the recent election, I have seen a war begin to brew. Not in the streets, nor in the air or the sea, but rather on modern estates of ownership: Facebook.

I fear I have witnessed the end of our civilization. Not by war, by bullets or bombs, nor factions and violence. But rather, by a fungus that threatens us from our very core. After all, a society isn’t a physical thing that can be destroyed. They bombed London, but she still stood proud. They took out our towers, but we still stood strong. Our modern materials are strong enough to withstand the greatest blast, but our hearts and minds are still vulnerable to the primordial rot of fear and non-sense. A rot that spreads to others. A rot that grows stronger within us. A rot that eats at our logic and destroys our sensibilities until we no longer seek to be community, but instead prey on each other for validation.

And the inoculation to this disease? Compassion. Understanding. Love. Even now, I can see you recoil, not unlike the way bacterium recoils when it is attacked by your leukocytes. And I understand. You don’t want love. You want safety. You, the war-worn and cynical reader, whose mind is riddled with wounds of confusion and whose heart is riddled with scars of betrayal. You, the reader who has grasped so tightly to your reality and its facts that it dismisses the simple notion of love as a bygone fantasy best left in the literature of a high school English text book.

Instead of understanding the other person, the other human soul who stands before us (if not in our very household, under the branches of our family trees), we justify our hatred. We set rhetorical traps, flaunt our ideologies, and taunt their responses behind an impenetrable armor of righteousness. All this is enabled by an incomprehensible amount of factors, varying in reach and severity, of which include: A media driven by profit and fueled by advertising time, philosophies which have taken to swords and shields in lieu of scholars’ caps, promises by charlatans with laurels on their head and the feet of vagabonds, and our very own insecurities.

We (the collective “we” including all my brothers, sisters, and variations thereof) are not soldiers on the battlefield. We are soldiers marching to it, dehydrated and parched and yearning for nutrition. Should we be flanked, the enemy will win because our core is compromised. How can we stand and fight for our beliefs if our own legs are weary from the journey? If the left leg and the right leg are at war? How can we expect this frail human form to house this precious soul if the very cells that make up the body squabble and bicker over their position in the body!? We are dooming ourselves before we even lay sight of the enemy, because it is this rot which has taken hold and made us nothing more than a self-loathing mass ready to self-destruct at the mere mention of an opposing view!

Unless…

Unless we inoculate ourselves with love.

San Diego Chargers

I had been a Chargers fan since some members of the team lived next to my family when I was a child. My mom tells stories of how they would play with me, or how she would talk with their wives about the massive dinners they would eat. I cheered for the Bolts through rain and shine… and the team had a lot of rainy seasons. But for the last few years, Spanos has alienated me from my team.

I understand the decision. In the end, the Chargers are a business. Spanos doesn’t own the Chargers for pride. He owns them for profit. But maybe that’s the problem. Maybe their revenue would have opened up if he appealed to the die hard San Diego fans. Maybe San Diego would have invested in a new stadium if Spanos had invested in San Diego. If he thanked us for our unwavering devotion, instead of scolding us for not approving a stadium. Maybe we’d have the SoCal version of the 12th Man, Raider Nation, and Cheeseheads… instead of everyone mocking the decision to leave.

Look, it’s no secret that San Diego doesn’t have the best sports teams. But we attend games anyway. We attend because we love our beautiful city. We’re the ocean, the beach, the mountains, and the desert all in one wide patch of land that makes the best damn California Burritos in California.

Chargers, I hate break-ups. I cheered for you. I cried for you. I sat in the seats of Jack Murphy before it was Qualcomm. I remember the hype in ’94, when I was in third grade and we had Chargers’ themed arts and crafts (we made lightning bolt decals). I’ve been there for Humphries and Brees and Rivers… and yes, even Leaf. I’ve watched LT run, pass, jump, and fly. I’ve stomped my feet with Merriman after a sack while screaming “Lights out!” I’ve watched Seau make ’em say ow… while eating Hawaiian-themed burgers at his restaurant in Mission Valley.

And I always marked out at the powder blues.

The last few years were rough. I had lost faith. But we can’t put it off forever. Move to a new city. It’s a beautiful city. I was born in that city. I lived for a year in that city. It’s a city of hope and promise. I hope you treat it well.

For the last thirty years of my life, I was charged up.

But now, it’s time to power down.

Thank you for the memories.

#SanDiegoChargers

The Rock

I just watched The Rock’s “Year in Review” on Instagram. I don’t have an Instagram. I don’t understand Instagram. Instagram is like Facebook without words… just like Twitter is Facebook lite. Maybe it’s an artifact of my age, but Facebook is the gold standard for me right now. Well, Facebook at this blog (I only said that to not hurt this blog’s feelings).

The Rock had an amazing 2016. Movies, performances, and promotions. Meanwhile, I’m sitting at a messy desk contemplating if I should do my whimpy 15 minute workout (which consists entirely of Just Dance on the Wii U), or buy groceries (we need butter to make cookies, which is in direct contradiction to my whimpy 15 minute workout which consists entirely of Just Dance on the Wii U).

2017 just rolled around, and I filled myself with optimistic promises. I would come out of the gate swinging. I would charge forward and make this year a better one… a more successful one… the Year of Billy. But here I am, watching The Rock on the internet and contemplating what type of butter I should get. I like Land o Lakes, but my wife likes Kerrygold.

It all makes me feel so… unaccomplished. The dreams I had as a kid are remaining dreams as an adult. I blame a lot of it on “peaking early.” 2013-2015 were an exciting time for me. I traveled the world. I got published for the first time. I achieved my doctorate. I was on top of the world. I was popular… a veritable Rock in my little circles. But now what? I need to pull a Robert Downey Junior or a Shawn Michaels… come back and be bigger than before.

It’s hard to do that when you’re contemplating butter.

Well, I need to get to the grocery store. The people-taking-our-parking-spot to people-being-civilized ratio goes up as night falls. I really want to end this post with some sort of optimistic send-off… that I’ll make 2017 my bitch or something.

Instead, I’m going to tell you the truth. I’m going to buy butter. I’m going to come home and do¬†my whimpy 15 minute workout which consists entirely of Just Dance on the Wii U. I’ll sit at my computer and write a few chapters of a novel or screenplay… not for success, but to push away the creeping thoughts of inadequacy. Of Not-Being-The-Rock. Of everything being downhill and never achieving the modest level of notoriety I once had.

I’ll go to sleep.

I’ll wake up.

I’ll go to work.

Then I’ll repeat the process again.

(Except the buying butter part. We don’t need that much butter).