Liquid Ink

The official website of Gint Aras, Finalist 2016 CWA Book Award


Passing the torch

Today is my last day editing the Marriage section at The Good Men Project. It was a good experience to work as an editor, and I hope to do it again some day, in one capacity or another. For now, I have to focus on other projects, which I’ll be sharing with my readers in the near future.

I wanted to publicly thank the Marriage section’s dedicated readers, and especially those who helped promote the articles, sharing them with their networks. The section is being taken over by the very capable Aaron Anderson, also a frequent contributor to the magazine. He’s a marriage counselor in his other life, and quite insightful.

The Good Men Project has grown in a very short time. It’s happening because of a talented, dedicated staff, savvy leadership and a precise vision. The company took a chance on a relatively inexperienced writer when it hired me. For that I will forever be thankful. I have grown from the experience, and will remember it as an important crossroads in my life, one full of lessons.

I look forward to seeing how Aaron will put his stamp on the section, and I do hope those who read it in the past will continue visiting. Cheers.

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Storytelling is superior to lecturing

My last article points out the obvious: Why Storytelling Has Always Been Better Than Lecturing, Period. It’s a response to another Good Men Project article that argues for parents to use stories to instruct their children.

Hope you check it out and spread the word.

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It has finally come to this

The FOP (fraternal order of police) called looking for donations.

I told them I’d be very willing to contribute to their important cause by donating a few shares of stock. “I own some Frumpin Frunkin stock,” I told the gentle officer, “and I’d be willing to have my broker send that stock over to the FOP in exchange for a receipt I could provide my accountant. Your address, please?”

What is Frumpin Frunkin? It’s similar to McDicks or Burger Ass. These are names I’ve come up with for places that teach us to advertise them simply by talking about them. It’s bullshit and drives me mad. Frumpin Frunkin is a famous purveyor of High Fructose Corn Syrup pastries. They claim America runs on them, thus equating their food to something like petrol—figuratively, they want us to believe we’re eating chemicals when we’re LITERALLY eating chemicals if we consume their “food”. In my neighborhood, 3-6 cops can be found in a Frumpin Frunkin at any time. It’s cliche but it barely bothers them.

I also received a phone call from someone who wondered if I’d like to share my opinion about their product. Here’s my opinion about your product: it sounds a lot like Frumpin Frunkin stock. I lied to the cops about owning that, so I’m going to lie to you about owning yours, whatever it is.

Would you wear Farm and Grammar All Natural Deoderant?

Sir, I must inform you. You smell so bad of bullshit that my mobile phone has begun to reek of summertime barns.

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Anger over other people’s personal lives

As I suspected, the conversation in the comments of my recent article, Equating Love With Possession, centered around the “open marriage” depicted by Capote in his essay, Mojave, one of my favorites. Of course, what strikes me about the essay, and what I tried very hard to communicate in the article I wrote, wasn’t that this couple allows each other extra-marital affairs. As readers, we get offended by their personal business, and reject the possibility that they might love each other more than we love our partners. We reject Capote’s criticism of our hypocrisy because it’s easier than accepting it.

Today, I published an article by Lady Chatterley that appeared in perK magazine. It’s titled One Plus One Equals Three?, and works as a response or expansion of my article. Chatterley was confused about her sexual identity when she met her fiancé. This man—she calls him Jack—was secure enough to give her the necessary freedom she needed to experiment with her sexuality. The essay depicts, albeit lightly, her menage-a-trois with a couple she found on the internet.

In my opinion, we feel angry with Chatterley for only one possible reason: our insecurity is an Olympic monstrosity. Our concepts of control and love are too closely intertwined, so closely, in fact, that we wish we could control Chatterley and Jack, keep them from having their sexual experiments or open experiences. What other reason could we be angry with people for what they do in their privacy. How does it have any bearing on our lives at all?


Air Space

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Map of ever-changing borders

This animated map of Europe has been passed around on Facebook by several dozen people I follow. It’s really an amazing document (the over-the-top music notwithstanding), showing how the borders of nations changed over the span of 1000 years. It reveals the blithe relationship between what is “a culture” and “a political border”. When I saw it the first time, I recalled a story I heard Sasha Hemon tell at one of his readings, about a village in Western Ukraine where the residents changed passports three times over the span of a half century but never left their homes.

Interestingly, most of the people who’ve been passing this map around in my feeds are diaspora Lithuanians (I follow quite a few, as I’m one myself). Typically, many of them comment alongside this map: “Hey, we were so badass in the day!” Yes, for a good portion of European history, Lithuania was a large state. It’s something that Lithuanians are particularly proud of, often to an embarrassing fault. I was taught, while styding Lithuanian history on the South Side of Chicago, in a building across the street from a steel cutting plant, to feel very proud of the size of 15th Century Lithuania, even to believe that the expansion of the nation validated me and my culture in some way.

It’s short-sighted to feel nationalistic pride while looking at a map of ever-shifting borders. The lesson is lost to those people: the map reveals that our nations and borders are impermanent. When you were large once, you will later be small; later still, you will disappear completely. The reason for this is that nations, cultures and borders are human inventions, subject to reversal, erasure, eradication, etc.

To go further: ethnicity is a construct. Yes, we cling, often desperately, to ethnic identity, especially when we are blown across the world by a conflict that shatters and destroys borders. But we do ourselves a disservice when we fail to see the border for what it is: a construct in an ever-changing, constanly shifting political landscape. We were no more badass in the day than anyone else because everyone is subject to the same forces.

To get Zen about it: the Earth is impermanent. So is the sun. The Empire State Building will disappear. This is inevitable. If we cling to the impermanent, we raise our level of suffering, because we start desiring things that are impossible. Why can’t this last forever? Why can’t we be large again? Why can’t our enemies be small and suffer worse than we are suffering? The paradox presents itself. Desire for constructs brings us suffering. Instead of looking at a map and seeing things as they are, we see our own desires and amplify them. We’d feel really great if we got what’s impossible to get. And so, we doom ourselves to misery.


How to survive an active shooter (the patriotic version)

I’m shocked by this Washington Post bit, in which Michael Maasdam, a former Navy SEAL, and currently the chief executive of Move2Safety, instructs us gentle lambs how to survive an active shooter running throughout our American workplace or school. It’s worth investigating , but I’ll summarize it for my busy audience. Here are the steps we should take when the shooter inevitably arrives in our school or place of employment:

1.) Move to safety

2.) Look for an exit

3.) Take cover, stay low

4.) Stay sharp

If you’re like me, you probably want a definition of “sharp”.  Here’s Maasdam’s definition: A sharp person [Realizes] the possibility that [s/he] can be shot and [thinks] through how [s/he] will react to the situation.

Now, although I’ve been threatened by armed thugs, I’ve never been shot. Still, there are several reactions I can imagine. One is that I will die, perhaps instantly. The other is that I’ll be wounded, go into shock, beg for my life, and, if I am spared, hope I can communicate with someone in some way before I die. I will think of my children and wife. Perhaps there are experts out there who’ve been shot many times and could share what other sharp realizations we should have at the moment we’re faced with our death.

Of course, I’m left furious by these suggestions. Quite frankly, they offend my identity as an American. I would like, therefore, to present the patriotic version of how to survive a shooting.

In the event that you are faced with an active shooter in your place of employment or study, you should do the following:

1.) Pull your concealed firearm out of the front of your pants. If concealed firearms are forbidden in your area, please remove your shotgun from your shoulder.

2.) Listen for the sound of the shooting

3.) Head in the direction of the shooting, weapon ready (be sure your safety is not on—this is a good time to check!)

4.) Wait for the shooter to become visible

5.) Yell, “Yippee-kaye, motherfucker!”

6.) Aim

7.) Fire

8.) Sing, preferably in a baritone voice, Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord; He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.  Etc.

It’s absurd that a Navy SEAL, a man skilled in the use of firearms, does not tell us to go shooting when someone else is shooting. What the hell else are our guns for? We should all be fighting tyranny every day, and there’s only one way to be sure we’re anti-tyrants. Guns are simply sitting around when there’s no one around to shoot. That’s why Jesus has blessed us with shooters, people! Like, duh. We’re supposed to shoot them.

I’m sure there are plenty of pussies out there freaking out over my suggestions. Some of you might point out that there’s no practical way for all of us to be armed, to carry our guns on our shoulders or in our pants. My suggestion to you? I actually don’t talk to pussies.

If you think you’re safer in a place like Canada or Sweden where there’s nothing between you and the tyrants, (except, like, fucking laws and shit), you should move there. Why aren’t you? That’s right…because there are NO FUCKING JOBS there. It’s not that Canada and Sweden have fewer shooters and, generally speaking, far less paranoid societies. It’s that they don’t have any fucking jobs. If you want shooters to come to your job—hello!—you need a job first. Without any job to shoot up, the shooters just walk around the countryside with their guns. Don’t give me this shit that there are plenty of schools for them to shoot in Canada and Sweden. More than America? Most Canadians live five feet from the American border where they can totally see Russia, since it’s real close. And in Sweden the taxes are basically, like, high…way higher than Chicago. Also, in Spain, the upenploimin rate is around 106 percentage.

So, you think ur smart. Well, you ain’t. Ur a pussy.

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift M-16

His truth is marching on