The Other Side of Life: Our Pumpkin Patch

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

For the past few years, in the time between the Epiphany and MLK Day, the pumpkins we set out in the yard after Thanksgiving finally deflate, broadcasting seeds into a corner of our yard for the next year’s patch of potential jack-o-lanterns. We watch as those vines yield breathtaking, bright orange flowers and then, lately, as the next Halloween tricks by us, wither without ever yielding pumpkins.

For two years now, our patch has been quick to tease and slow to yield. Despite the fact that male flowers and female flowers live on the same vine, they have been unable to pollinate each other. The swollen stamen remain unsatisfied by the pistils just inches away.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side Of Life: Working out Libertarianism

By : Jason LeClerc
Comments: 0

If you ever want to understand why Libertarianism, the political belief that weak government and strong markets best allocate resources and protect rights, doesn’t work in practice, spend an hour at a semi-public gym with Tim Tebow.

Here you’ll witness a cross section of citizens—most, far more ordinary than Tim Tebow—who expect equality. Here you’ll see members who, regardless of ideology or religion or income, represent diverse gym-communities: meatheads, moms, wandering first-timers, lean-queens, college kids and earnest elderlies.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side Of Life: Hashtag Amity

By : Jason LeClerc
Comments: 0

I was recently honored to be a guest of Pulse founder Barbara Poma for an intimate talk and tour of the interim #PulseMemorial organized by Equality Florida. As regular readers of this column know, I’m Watermark’s token conservative columnist: a red soul in a sea of blue, even as I have advocated for a just-right-of-center, nuanced approach to political discourse that I call Radical Centrism.

Arguing from a position of empathy and fact-driven rationality in favor of such positions as climate change resiliency, justifiable local taxation and the Florida Competitive Workforce Act, I have riled members of my own Party. In the age of Trump, I’ve become a bit of a #RINOsaur. While there are members of the current Republican power structure who are ready to revoke my membership card for some of my #RadicalCentrist positions, my attendance of an Equality Florida event would likely push them further toward apoplexy.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: Jane Castor and American Exceptionalism

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

LGBTQ is not a qualification. Woman is not a qualification.

These are genetic characteristics, inscribed on a human’s chromosomes at conception (or, in a religio-metaphysical sense, since the conception of the heavens).

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: Standing with Kneelers

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Another football season is upon us. Thank God. Thank America.

I stand for the National Anthem. Even at sports bars, if the sound is turned up, I’m that guy who feels compelled to slide off my stool and remove my ball cap while “The Star-Spangled Banner” plays. I’m, admittedly, obnoxious that way. For the dozens of other people around me who don’t partake in this symbolic ceremony, I have no judgment. This, though not hidden, is a private act: a moment of reflection. I know that for those in fields and stadiums and parks and for other hoppy-fruity patriots in other bars, the moments that precede kickoff—including humming or mouthing along to this sonorous anthem—are as important to me as touchdown dances, chest bumps and the high drama of red zone defensive stands.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: Join or Die

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Dear Self,

If 2017 was the worst year of your life, bookended by incomprehensible tweets about Inauguration crowd sizes and climate change, I invite you to look beyond your cynical hysteria and forward to 2018.

I invite you to reflect on the future in light of history’s—recent and less so—actualities. Whether you want to attribute the actuality of Trump’s inertia to lack of vision, to political ineptitude or to strategic design, most of the doomsday scenarios predicted by a combination of #NeverTrump Conservative purists and #NotMyPresident activists still remain in the realm of circumstantial allegation.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: The Other Hands, The Other We

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Hands, it seems, are the new eyes: tools for feeling our way through the many ways we see our America.

Given the flurry of historical reassessments we are currently experiencing, I find that many of my conservative friends are torn between seeing and feeling, between their commitment to their ideals and their short termer’s allegiance with political expediency.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: All That Freedom, And a Bag of Chips (eh?)

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

“We don’t need two bags of chips,” I scowled, “but, I reckon they’ll keep.” Who was I to turn down a Publix BOGO sack of Ruffles. I expected full well that they’d be devoured in time for the next week’s grocery trip; all we had to do was pay full price for the first bag.

We started with the All-American Classics then scoured the shelf for the gimmicky “get-one.” Four curious eyes zeroed in on the maple leaf-decorated ‘All-Dressed’ flavor. Since our autumn visit to Toronto, we were open to things that our northern-nation neighbors had to offer. We joked, right there in the snack aisle, about poutines-as-fake-nachos. We laughed about how a kilometer was only two-thirds of a mile and how a loonie was only three-fourths of a dollar. Even their easy-on-the-eyes leader is a scaled-down version of our own odd, party-sized POTUS.

Continue Reading >>

The other side of life: Intersections

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Over the past year, we’ve tread the intersection of Kaley Street and South Orange Avenue as it’s become a crossroads swollen with mourners, with meaning. It meets the intersection of Christopher and Seventh. It meets the intersection of Pride and unity, where the Rainbow Flag meets an ongoing aggregation of initials. It meets the intersection of politics and partisanship and guns and economic equity.

Even as we make these intersections into hallowed spaces, each carrying the foot traffic of omnipresent ghosts, we are obliged to recognize that history is a gift from the past to the present – another intersection where the crosswalks are overwhelmed by facts and their pedestrian interpretations. The past lives alongside the present.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: ARC of the Covenant

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Remember when, in Raiders of the Lost Ark, the NAZIs found the Ark of the Covenant and thought it would make them invincible? Remember that scary scene when they opened it and out came a host of spirits that eviscerated the evil warmongers, stripping them of their skin down to bare bones? I was seven when that movie came out and that scene was so frightening that I was escorted from the theater in a trail of horrified tears.

I was a sensitive child.

Continue Reading >>

The Other Side of Life: Co-opting love

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Third grade can be tough for husky-gened boys with dual penchants for strawberry-scented redheads and other boys. Elementary schoolyards can easily become home base for meanness and reductionism, two proclivities that inhabit most eight-year-old bosoms.

Those same third graders easily immerse themselves in the rhetoric of love: in the clear and unambiguous enunciations of who is and is not deserving of one’s love. Implied in such proclamations is ownership of love, that it is somehow off limits to those not included in the normative society of lovers. In my 1983, love and hate coupled and grew alongside the concepts of “opposites” and “revenge” with as much ferocity as long division and times tables.

Continue Reading >>

The other side of life: Kittens And-Also SpaceTime

By : Jason Leclerc
Comments: 0

Jason Leclerc

When I was commissioned for this article, I was clear that I wanted to put the election behind us; my topic would be kittens.

So. Kittens.

With that settled and with smiles on our faces, let’s proceed.

Continue Reading >>