Know Your Enemy

OK, this isn’t a Daily Post prompt…my wife suggested I listen to one of my favorite songs and come up with a blog post based on that.

So, my blog post is based on Green Day’s “Know Your Enemy”.

Do you know the enemy? Do you know your enemy?

Who IS your enemy? Is it the cop trying to contain a protest? Or is it the billionaire lobbyist forcing that cop out onto the streets to contain you?

Sometimes I fear we’ve become so inundated with the teachings of Gandhi, John Lennon and Martin Luther King that we no longer know how to construct a violent protest.

Don’t get me wrong: non-violence has shown its worth in dealing with civilized oppressors like the United Kingdom of the 1940s or the United States of the 1960s. But is it enough to overcome the Trumps of the world? What if Mahatma Gandhi had been facing not the British Empire but Nazi Germany during his protests?

I know people like to quote him: “First they ignore you. Then they laugh at you. Then they fight you. Then you win.”

The first problem with this is that there’s no evidence that Gandhi ever said it. Check Snopes. This attribution actually started with Donald Trump!

The second problem is: how does this quote fit in a world in which they don’t just laugh at you, they claim you are being paid by George Soros to protest? In other words, how does your protest work in a world in which it isn’t taken seriously?

To use another quote from Green Day: “Another protestor has crossed the line, to find the money’s on the other side”?

What do you do when it’s not an INDIVIDUAL you’re protesting, but it’s the entire SYSTEM which that individual represents? How do you protest the SYSTEM?

Will signs and marching do it? I don’t think so. These people only understand one thing, and that is power. “Power concedes nothing without a demand.” That’s from Frederick Douglass, and is a real quote. It finishes by saying, “It never did and it never will.”

So, since Trump was inaugurated, we’ve had the Women’s March on Washington, the Scientist’s March on Washington, and others. What effect have these marches had? I would argue they have done nothing other than make the marchers feel good about themselves for “doing something” about the Trump administration.

I freely admit I have not been a part of any of these marches, but you tell me: What’s different because of these marches? How has the Trump administration or their lackeys in Congress taken note of these marches? What’s different? What good have these marches accomplished?

I would argue that they have accomplished nothing. What we really need is a million people with pitchforks and torches along the National Mall. People ready to be arrested, people ready to do whatever is necessary to take back our government. Now, that! That would get something accomplished. It would scare the shit out of the cops, that’s for sure. With luck, it might scare the shit out of the people actually in power. Don’t think a million is enough? I agree with you. What about ten million? I’m in Oregon, so I can’t exactly make a trip to DC, but I could sure do the state Capitol in Salem, if I thought that marching and holding a sign was going to make a difference. If it’s a new Battle in Seattle that’s about to happen, I’m down.

I’m not arguing for anyone to hurt cops, or to destroy property, but at some point we have to get past the point of just having a march for a march’s sake. The enemy no longer takes us seriously, and they don’t care if we’re marching. We have to make them care again.

That’s all for now. Thanks for reading. =)


Notorious (Daily Prompt)

Today’s Daily Prompt (for us slackers who can’t think of anything better to write about) is: Notorious.

I am notorious to a degree. I committed a crime in 2012 that made national headlines, and if you Google my name, you can see my mugshot and all sorts of articles about me. It was my 15 minutes of fame, but in a bad way. And no, I’m not going to tell you my crime or who I am!

I’ve done my time. I did 15 months in prison for my crime, and I’m still on Federal probation for another 18 months. But why did I commit the crime in the first place?

I was manic, so there’s that. I had been depressed in the summer of 2011 and went to my family doctor, who put me on Zoloft. After that, I slowly lost my mind over the course of several months. I had delusions and became paranoid, particularly about cops and the government. I thought all the cameras at busy intersections were watching me. I felt continually that I was being observed. I didn’t realize how crazy I was until they caught me and put me in prison. I attempted suicide when the FBI was breaking down my door, then again after I was first in prison. Everybody thought I was faking being mentally ill, so I didn’t receive any treatment until my lawyer saw my state and demanded that I be taken to a hospital. By the time I got there, my kidneys and lungs were failing. I was in ICU for five days and very nearly died. Thank God for my lawyer, who I won’t name but who I love and respect greatly.

So my mania and a really loosened grasp on reality contributed greatly to my crime. I was paranoid about the government, and my crime targeted the government. I had further plans, but luckily I got caught before I could do any real damage. The FBI busted me outside my dentist’s office. I pulled up, got out of my car, and there was a dude with the sunglasses and the mustache and an FBI badge, saying, “put your hands on the hood of the car.” I knew right then and there that it was all over and I was going to prison.

I think our culture and media do a very poor job of showing us what prison is actually like. You think you’re going to get raped in the showers every day, but it’s not like that at all. The place where I went to prison, there were more Dungeons & Dragons players than anything else. The idea of being raped or even threatened is a joke. All prison is, is boredom and bad food. I’ve looked at posts about my crime, and people in the comments actually seem to be rooting for me to get raped in prison. Talk about sickos. I’m lucky in that I went to Federal prison, not some state joint. The Feds are pretty strict about rape and living conditions and whatnot. That’s part of the reason I hate to see Jeff Sessions as our new AG–I imagine he’s going to make prison conditions worse instead of better. He’s going to do all he can to keep the private-prison racket going. I was in a private prison for 29 days, and while you still don’t have to worry about getting raped, the food is awful and there’s like 72 guys in a barracks-style dorm. The private prison I went to was called CCA, and they are awful. The food was wretched. I mean, you expect prison food to be bad, but this was beyond the pale. Sometimes they gave us beans & rice for breakfast. Now, most of my dorm was Hispanic illegals waiting to get shipped back to Mexico, so maybe they liked the rice & beans, what do I know? Maybe it’s comfort food for them. Myself, I wanted a PB&J or two. Fat chance of that happening though.

So, I’m mildly notorious. Not Bonnie and Clyde notorious, or Billy The Kid notorious, but notorious nonetheless. After they arrested me, when I was fully manic and having hallucinations, I once thought I saw a sign on the wall saying, “To Hell” with an arrow. The US Marshals were having to carry me, but once I saw that sign, I thought they were carrying me to hell. I freaked right the fuck out, and they had to set me down on the floor. Three years later, when I checked in to begin doing my real prison time, I gave the US Marshal my name and told him he’d probably heard of me. “I’ve heard the stories,” is what he said. Lol. After I went to the hospital and got straightened out (by being put on the right psych meds), I heard one of the US Marshals telling the rest of them, “You won’t believe it. He’s completely down to earth.”

And I WAS down to earth, because after I attempted suicide twice, once at home and once in prison, and they finally put me in the hospital, the doctors there put me on an anti-psychotic. They started with Haldol and then moved me to Zyprexa, which I take faithfully to this very day. See, the guard thought I was faking, so nobody lifted a finger to help me. It was only when my lawyer insisted I go to the hospital that things got straightened out.

The moral of this story is this: If you or a loved one ever get arrested and you’re bipolar, watch out because the guards won’t lift a finger to help you. You need a lawyer or some family on the outside to insist that you go to a hospital. They tried to play around with my psych meds while I was in prison. It wasn’t working, and I had my wife and my mother call and complain. That actually worked. Now, I don’t know how well it would work in a state pen, especially a red state pen, but it worked for me. One time they took my off my Zyprexa and I just couldn’t sleep at all. I had songs going through my head all night long. I had my wife and my mother call and bitch at the prison psychiatrist, and lo and behold, my Zyprexa came back! I think the minute I saw that little pill in my evening meds was my happiest moment in my 15 months in prison. I still take Zyprexa to this day. It causes weight gain and gives me Restless Leg Syndrome (RLS) but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.

So, I’m notorious. When they write my obituary, there will probably be some reference to my crime (btw, RIP Chris Cornell), but I’m OK with that. I had my 15 minutes of fame, and I don’t care to have any more. Unless it’s for doing something good. Who knows what can happen? Maybe I’ll run for City Council or something. I don’t really think I know enough people to do that, but I’m alive, I’m kicking, and the world is full of strange possibilities.

That’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. =)


Precipice (Daily Prompt)

Today’s daily prompt is Precipice, and oh brother, are we on one.

It feels like things are wheeling out of control. Every day is a new Trump scandal. Now we have a special counsel, former FBI head Robert Mueller, to investigate Trump’s ties to Russia and his attempts to obstruct justice. Everybody should note that Mueller is a special COUNSEL, NOT a special PROSECUTOR. He serves at Trump’s pleasure, and Trump could conceivably fire Mueller just like he fired Comey. Nixon fired a bunch of people on his way down, so don’t be surprised if Trump axes more people as he gets more and more freaked out. In my opinion, we have not only grounds for impeachment, but may have grounds for actual treason, which last I checked still has the death penalty as the listed punishment. Trump may–oh the irony–do time in prison before this is all over.

So what happens after we impeach Trump? Well, assuming he’s clean of wrongdoing, we get Mike Pence as President. While not the comic-book villain Trump has become, Pence is every bit as bad. Well, maybe not every bit–at least we could probably trust Pence with the nuclear codes–but when it comes to pushing a conservative agenda, Pence would probably be much better than Trump at actually getting things done. Of course, by this point the whole administration will be so galactically unpopular that they may not be able to get anything done anyway. The GOP’s Congressional delegation is a bunch of rats who are figuring out that the ship is sinking. They will eventually come flying out of their holes to scramble to a lifeboat, and that will be the end of the Trump/Pence administration for all intents and purposes.

What if Pence is dirty too? Then, God save us, we get Paul Ryan as President. So it just doesn’t really get any better. Again, the GOP may have lost so much credibility by that point that Ryan is practically a lame duck by the time he gets the Oval Office. But either Pence or Ryan could conceivably stop the Republican bleeding and get them back with their shit in one sock. We have to stay vigilant, and keep working through groups like Indivisible to resist the GOP agenda at every turn.

But, back to the prompt of Precipice, it feels to me like the country is on another precipice, and that is this: what is holding our economy up these days? Manufacturing only employs like 8.5% of the population. I feel like we’re the town where everybody makes money by doing their neighbor’s laundry. We’ve got trillions of dollars floating around out there somewhere, but who does it belong to? The large corporations and billionaires. And the next time we have an economic shock (because the banks are still up to the same tricks that got them in hot water in 2008), all that money is going to get sucked right out of the system.

In America today we seem to have two classes of people: those who order Starbucks, and those who serve Starbucks. It seems to me that the latter class vastly outnumbers the former, and quite frankly, that’s not going to work, economically speaking. The whole system is built on Americans being good consumers, but when you have no money to spend, you cannot consume. More and more of America is having to divert its money to paying off student debt or credit cards or whatever else it may be, and less and less of America has any money left at the end of the month to consume much of anything. The iPhone 23 will be great, no doubt, but by then who will be able to afford it? For instance, I look around at the small town I live in, and what do I see? I see a Walmart, a Safeway, a bunch of fast-food joints and convenience stores, and a couple bank branches. How much consuming do you think the people working at these places can really do? Where’s the money? All these jobs are minimum wage or maybe a little more. There’s a mill a few miles out of town that may have a few skilled laborers, but that’s about it. I look at the price of houses in my town and all I can think is “where are the people who can afford this?” Hell, aside from subsidized housing like I live in, I don’t know how people afford rent around here.

I feel like we are on the precipice of another financial/economic disaster, where the bubbles all burst at once and we are left looking at each other wondering where all the Monopoly money went. The stock market has been booming since Trump took over, but what happens when he goes down and his agenda goes down with him? Who’s going to be the FDR that pulls us out of the Great Recession of 2018? Who? Mike Pence? Don’t make me laugh.

The fact is that America is running on fumes, and it’s just a matter of time before everything unravels. And when I say unravels, I mean Great Depression levels of unraveling (or worse). There is a great blog out there called The Automatic Earth that does a better job of explaining where we are and what’s going on than I ever could, and gives advice on how to survive the coming collapse. I’m not in a position where I can take advantage of most of their advice, but if you are, you should check out their site and educate yourself. The link above takes you to a page of TAE primers that will show you what’s going on and what you can do about it. It’s very sobering and not for the faint of heart. I don’t claim to understand all of it, but what I do understand scares the crap out of me. Inside me is a closet survivalist who wishes he was in a bunker on the side of a mountain with some guns and ten years’ worth of non-perishable food, but that’s not the fate I’m meant to have. When the collapse comes, I will be right there in the middle of the rubble, trying to claw my way out.

Well, that’s enough cheerfulness for one day. Thanks for reading. =)

Sixteen Tons (Daily Prompt)

Today’s prompt is called Sixteen Tons and it’s about work. More specifically, it’s: how do you feel about your job?

That’s an easy one for me. I don’t have a job right now, and I hope to never have a job again. I’ve worked my entire adult life until the last five years, and I hated every minute of it. My anxiety and depression go through the roof when I have to go to work somewhere. It wasn’t so bad when I was younger and had simple jobs like bagging groceries or delivering pizzas, but as I got older, and especially after I became an ICU nurse, my anxiety about going to work just got worse and worse.

You know what I hate the most about working for a living? Clocking in. I walk up to that clock, and all I can think is “Man, I’m gonna be hitting this clock every day for the rest of my life.” It’s so fucking depressing. And the worst thing of all is that, even as a nurse, I couldn’t get us anywhere. We weren’t going to own a nice home on my nursing wages. We weren’t putting by a ton of money for savings, or going on nice vacations. I was working like a dog and we were just getting by. Now, we had a nice apartment, and we paid a grand a month for it, true, but any houses in our price range were ones we didn’t want to buy. So I always used to think I was working for nothing, really, since we weren’t getting ahead.

With the benefit of hindsight, though, I can see this wasn’t true. When I was working I was keeping food on the table and a nice roof over my wife’s head. Now that I CAN’T work because of my disability, I have to depend on the government to do that for me. The fact that I don’t trust the government, especially Trump’s government, to deliver in that realm, only adds to my anxiety and depression about our situation. So it’s almost as bad now as it was when I was working. I’m still worrying, I’m just worrying about different things.

Might I go back to work someday? Possibly, once I’m off probation. I may re-apply for my nursing license, but there’s no guarantee I’ll get it back. And I may just never be able to handle doing that again because my bipolar has gotten so much worse over the last few years. So has my back, and you know what they call a nurse with a bad back? Unemployed, lol.

Nursing is the only thing I could see myself doing again–it’s the only thing I’m qualified for that’s worth doing, paycheck-wise–and I’d need a nursing job that was easy on my back. Maybe I could work on a psych unit. I’d be able to relate to my patients since I have my own psych issues. Other than that, the only thing I could see myself doing is telecommuting from home. I just can’t do a normal full-time job, I can’t handle the stress. But not working at all has stresses of its own, as I have learned.

So basically, I hate working but I also hate being poor and dependent on the government for everything I need to live. It’s a moot point for right now because I can’t get my nursing license back until I’m off probation, and that’s 18 months away. Right now I’m focused on getting my Social Security Disability (SSD) due to my bipolar depression, anxiety, and back issues. Once I get a final determination from Social Security and I’m off probation, we’ll see about going back into nursing. I don’t WANT to do it, but I feel like I may HAVE to. We shall see. I need to lose a lot of weight, too, that I gained due to my psych meds. If I don’t do that, my back will never get to the point that it can tolerate working. Right now I can sit in a chair for about an hour, maybe a little more, before I have to flop on the couch or lay down in bed. I can only stand and walk around for about half an hour at a time. Jobs that require a lot of standing and walking are right out, and that includes an awful lot of nursing jobs. So I don’t really know where I go from here. Getting SSD will give my wife and I some breathing room so we’re not one car repair away from complete destitution, but it’s not going to get us rich. But at this point in my life, it’s no longer about being rich, it’s about getting by.

There’s an idea floating around out there called Universal Basic Income. Basically, everybody in society gets a check each month, enough for them to live on. People who want more than the minimum are welcome to work, and the basic income phases out for those who make more money working. Some of our more progressive European brethren see this as a viable option in the face of continued automation of jobs. As robots take over more and more jobs, what do the people do for a living? Well, they get the “basic” income. I don’t know if this would ever work in the United States, given our collective hatred of the poor, but it’s an interesting idea. Of course, for this to work, you have to tax the rich and the corporations, so we’d basically need to overhaul the government beforehand. It’s nothing I’ll probably ever see in my lifetime, but maybe the Millennials can make it work.

Eh, that’s enough for now. Thanks for reading. =)




Qualm (Daily Prompt)

OK, I’m doing such a rip-roaring great job of thinking about things to write about that I’m going to do a post using the Daily Post’s prompt of the day, which is: Qualm. So here goes nothing.

I immediately think not of personal qualms I may have, but qualms we have as a society. For a country as diverse as America, we seem to have a great number of qualms about people who don’t look like us. I find this odd. I would expect that countries like Denmark and Norway would have greater qualms, for instance, about accepting Syrian refugees than we do, because aside from refugees the people in those countries all look the same.  I mean, they have a very homogeneous population, you’d expect there to be some friction when you add a new ethnic group to the mix, right?

But here in the US, where we have millions of Muslims and millions more other people who came here as refugees from somewhere else–like the Pilgrims, for instance–we have this big problem accepting any Syrian refugees. Not only that, we don’t want any Mexican refugees either. We have made this clear by electing a President who is promising not to take in any refugees, and indeed to kick out the ones we have who aren’t citizens yet. These things are cheered on by his rabid base, which is overwhelmingly white Aryan types.

Speaking of Aryan types, if you’re still a Trump supporter at this point, after everything he’s done, then at this juncture I have qualms with you. I think you most likely are racist, sexist, and not too bright. In other words, you’re a perfect fit for the GOP to run for Congress next time. Go for it, Billy Bob!

But back to the qualms. So you have these really overwhelmingly white countries who are taking in great numbers of refugees with little problem, but here in the US, it’s a big huge hairy deal.. Why? The obvious answer is that the US is more racist than other countries. Or rather I should say we have a larger population of racists than other countries, and they’re more vocal about being racists. Did you see the group of torch-wielding white people who came out to defend a Robert E. Lee statue in Virginia? If that’s not the next best thing to the Klan, I don’t know what is. I get defending the statue–for better or worse, Southern whites have their own cultural heritage that places great value on Confederate icons–but what’s with the torches? It’s obviously an attempt to intimidate people and stifle opposition. And, as such, it cannot be allowed to work. These types of people are being emboldened by Trump and the systemic racism coming from the White House (and Congress) these days. The sad thing is, even if Trump gets himself impeached, which seems more likely with each passing day, these people will remain emboldened. Trump has like a 40% approval rating at this point, which in one sense is abysmal, but in another sense is remarkable. 40% of Americans think this clown is doing a great job. I don’t know if they’re the most uneducated 40%, the most racist 40%, or what, but the sad fact is that there’s a lot of them. Having to drag 40% of the population along on every single issue is going to be very difficult. It’s depressing to think about.

OK, so that’s the blog post on qualms. Thanks for reading. =)


My Father

My dad never taught me much, in the traditional sense. We didn’t have father-son chats where life lessons were imparted. Hell, we hardly had any chats at all. He never talked about himself, his life, his parents, his childhood, anything. I know he was something like 16th out of 17 children, and his older sisters practically raised him. He was a child of the Depression, and it left a huge mark on him and his worldview.

My dad was both the hardest working and hardest worrying man I ever knew. He usually worked six days a week, and I’ll be damned if I can remember him ever bitching about it. His primary worry was that he would lose his job (usually through getting laid off). He was a carpenter and a machinist by trade, and during Reagan’s recession of 1981-82, he DID get laid off. We had to move from Indiana to live with my mom’s parents in Mississippi. He took this very hard (we both did–that move fucked me up too), and he was never quite the same after that. He and my mom slowly drifted apart, and they divorced when I was 14 or 15. I lived with my mom after that, and I think my dad saw that as me choosing sides. He never trusted me after that, and I think he thought I saw him primarily as a source of money. Well, I WAS a teenager–both parents were sources of money at times.

I had a strained adult relationship with my dad. We lived with him for a couple years to take care of him after he was diagnosed with heart failure. He didn’t need that much taking care of, really, but it was during this time that I went to nursing school. It was a difficult time, especially for my wife, because my dad was a hard man to please and a hard man to love. He wanted everything done his way. By the time I graduated nursing school we couldn’t handle it anymore, and we moved out into our own place. My dad went to live with my half-sister. At the time he died I hadn’t spoken to him in over a year, which breaks my heart a little. A lot actually. I think my dad died thinking I didn’t love him. That bothers me every day. It will probably bother me until the day I die.

My dad never complained about working. He never begged out of a game of catch with a bad back or bad knees or just being tired after being on his feet all day. He wasn’t a talkative man, but he treated my mother well and kept food on my plate and a roof over my head as best he could. I regret now that I didn’t see the value in that the way I should have, the way I do today.

I didn’t get my dad’s working man’s gene, but I did inherit the worrywart gene. I recognize now why my dad was always afraid of losing his job–because it meant that we’d be on the street (without some family charity, at least). Now that I have lost my own ability to bring in an income, I worry about the same thing. If not for federally subsidized housing and my wife’s SSI check, we’d be on the street too. And that is a terrifying thought. Luckily I didn’t inherit my dad’s fear of death. I’m not sure what his religious/spiritual beliefs were–he never talked about them–but I think they included a heaven-or-hell dichotomy that he feared. He apparently died in his sleep, which is good, but he was failing fast at the end and he knew it was coming. I wish I didn’t know that much. He kept asking about me up until the end, and my half-sister kept telling him I didn’t want to talk to him. That hurts, bad. I wish she had called me during the final days, but I don’t blame her. I had made myself pretty clear that I didn’t want contact.

My dad could imagine the worst of any scenario. I worked for Walmart in college, and after I’d had the job awhile, I asked my dad to co-sign on a new car for me. He didn’t want to do it, but he didn’t have a good reason, and he ended up saying, “Well, Walmart could burn down and then you’d be out of a job.” Well, yeah. I could get hit by a meteorite too. I think the truth is that he didn’t trust me to make the payments. He finally co-signed, and I never missed a single payment for the next 5 years. Three weeks after I had the damn thing paid off I flipped it over on a wet road while delivering pizzas and totaled it, but by God I never missed a payment.

I thought his worries were absurd at the time–of course Walmart wasn’t gonna burn down, for Christ’s sake–but now that I’m an adult in my 40s, I find some of my worries aren’t much less absurd, but that doesn’t help me worry any less. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this anywhere in this blog, but I’m on Federal probation for another year and a half. I worry that Jeff Sessions, little weasel that he is, is going to find some way to make my probation harder. Luckily I think most anything they can do to me has to go through a judge first, but some of these judges are crazy too. Who knows what might happen? I tend to worry the most about low-probability, high-impact events. What if they find some reason to send me back to prison? What if, what if, what if.

All of which is by way of saying that I understand my father better now than I ever did while he was alive. I’m sorry, Daddy. I wish I had figured it out sooner. I’m glad you don’t have to worry anymore, wherever you are. I love you. And I always did.

Thanks for reading. =)


Changing My Mind

Ever since the other day when I got that traffic ticket and decided to sell off all my Funko Pops, I’ve been depressed and down. I already sold off a couple of my more expensive Pops to pay for “traffic school” to get out from under the ticket. But tonight, after realizing why I was depressed and talking things over with my wife, I’ve decided not to sell off any more of my Pops.

It’s a silly thing, really, collecting. Mostly you just buy stuff and it sits there and collects dust. Every now and then you look at it or maybe rearrange it a little, but it doesn’t really qualify as a hobby because there’s so little of a time investment. But for whatever reason, my Pop collection is very important to me. I think it’s a little island of normalcy in this world of mine that’s been turned upside down in so many ways. I get excited when I have a new Pop coming in the mail. It doesn’t take but five minutes to open it, put it in a protector, and put it in its place in the collection, but those are five nice minutes. It’s a ray of sunshine into my usually dark and dreary world.

So anyway, the rest of the Pops stay. By the by, I get money for Pops by taking online surveys. Talk about a fucking grind of a way to make a little bit of money. But that survey money does build up, 50 cents or a dollar at a time, and eventually you have enough money to buy something. So we aren’t “wasting” money on Pops, it’s money I would never have had if I didn’t have a strong motivation to earn it in the first place. Theoretically I could earn that money and put it into savings, but that’s too boring to sustain my motivation. If ever we get in a REAL crunch, I can sell my Pops then, assuming they haven’t turned into Beanie Babies and lost all their value.

I’m still a little down over the Pops that I did sell, but I know that eventually I’ll be able to get them back again. Overall I feel much better. I’m doing a stupid thing by letting my emotions overrule my brain, and I recognize that. But sometimes in life you have to go with what your heart tells you, and my heart just wasn’t into selling off all my Pops. I have so many that it feels like I just got them, and I have some Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Pops that I haven’t even gotten a chance to display at Christmastime. Hopefully we’ll still be solvent come Christmastime and not broke or homeless. Yes, I’m an atheist who celebrates Christmas. So shoot me.

My worries about homelessness continue unabated. I got triggered hard-core by the House passing TrumpCare, and I’ve been reading too much political stuff in my Facebook feed. Gotta stay away from that. It’s partly good because I get to see what Bernie’s up to, but on the other hand not a day goes by that I don’t see something in my feed that depresses me as we slide ever closer to the edge of the abyss. But I don’t want to delve too far into politics today. Why ruin a good mood?

It’s funny how so often it’s the little things that can sustain us in hard times. My Pop collection is small, and in the grand scheme of things I should have no problem giving it up. It’s a luxury in a poor man’s world that doesn’t have room for luxuries. But giving it up was just gnawing away at my soul. It might have been the smart thing to do, selling them, but it just felt so wrong that I just can’t do it. Hopefully I won’t come to regret this decision, but for tonight I’m happy I changed my mind.

Thanks for reading. =)

The A-List

For today’s WordPress “everyday inspiration” assignment, I’m supposed to make a list, so here goes nothing: my five current favorite songs. The links will open a new tab to the video on YouTube for each song.

  1. “Royals” by Lorde
  2. “Pompeii” by Bastille
  3. “Wake Me Up” by Avicii
  4. “Know Your Enemy” by Green Day
  5. “It’s Time” by Imagine Dragons

I know they’re all older songs, but I never listen to the radio. We use Pandora pretty regularly, but they seldom play anything brand-new on the channels we listen to. But anyway, if you wonder what I’m listening to when I’m typing away on this blog, those five songs are a good start. I lost access to my main iTunes account about five years ago when my life fell apart, but I’ve slowly been building up a new account, and I have 260 songs on my main playlist. I mostly listen to a smaller playlist of my real favorites, though.

Music is therapy for me. I will get on to a new song and just listen to it over and over. I will listen while I read the lyrics off the Web until I know the words by heart. Lyrics are very important to me–if a song doesn’t have something to say, I don’t care to listen. I’m getting too old to listen to bubblegum pop anyway.

Speaking of therapy, I went to a group therapy session yesterday. It’s a weekly men’s group that my psych prescriber has been nagging me to go to. I’m not much of a group therapy person, but I surprised myself yesterday. They went around the table sharing how their week had gone, and when they got to me (last, thankfully) I actually shared. I told an abbreviated version of how I got diagnosed bipolar and everything that’s happened since, ending with the invisible motorcycle cop who bagged me for a ticket on Tuesday. I wouldn’t say I really connected with anybody in particular, but they seemed to welcome me into the group after I shared my story. I’ll probably go back next week. I have a lot of social anxiety, and I’m uncomfortable around strangers, but overall it wasn’t too bad for me this time.

I see the GOP is gearing up to try to repeal Obamacare again, and they may succeed this time, at least in the House. It will be interesting to see what the Senate does, though. I’m not sure the bastards can pull it off, but I’m sure they’ll keep trying. God forbid that people should have access to affordable health insurance. Makes me sick. If I didn’t have a felony on my record, my wife and I would be moving to Canada. The U.S. seems to be going straight to hell in a handbasket. The rot and corruption run so deep, I swear we’re going to need a new Constitution just to fix all this shit. At the very least we need an amendment that says corporations aren’t people and can’t lobby or donate to our politicians. These goddam billionaires trying to run everything need to be put in check, too. Sigh. I’m tired of beating my head against this problem. I’m with Bernie Sanders, we need a political revolution to fix all the shit that’s going wrong with our government.

I’m particularly worried about the Republicans taking over the government because my wife and I live by the government’s good graces. We have federally subsidized housing, SSI, Medicaid, food stamps, and heating assistance in the winter. We are basically the kind of people Republicans hate. But by God, I paid my fair share of taxes throughout my adult life while I was working. If I can’t count on some help in hard times, what the fuck good is the government anyway? It’s past time we busted out the torches and pitchforks and put a stop to all this corruption. But people are so busy just trying to survive, who has the time, energy and money to take on the government?

Sigh. Better not thought about. It just makes me worry.

What else? I’m drawing a blank. Feel free to comment with your favorite song–I’m always on the lookout for new music!

Thanks for reading. =)


French Defense

OK, I’m better now. Teach me to blog drunk and feeling sorry for myself. I’m still listening to angry music, but I’ve calmed down a good bit.

Problem now is it’s 1AM and I can’t sleep. I fell asleep drunk at 7:30 and woke up sober at 11:30. I sold one of my most expensive Funko Pops and the sky didn’t fall, so I guess I’ll be OK getting rid of them. It still makes me sad though.

As if we needed more trouble, our printer isn’t working. It won’t connect to our Wifi network. I dunno what the hell is wrong with the damn thing. You know, I used to think Samsung was the way to go with electronics, but between this printer and a smart DVD player that continually forgets it’s connected to the Internet, I’m not so sure anymore. The printers they sell in Walmart are all garbage anyway–they sell you a cheap printer so they can bend you over with the ink. Maybe with my Pop money I can get us a new printer too, sigh.

It never ends. There’s a saying in my family: “It’s always something.” And I’ll be damned if it ain’t true. You never get ahead, you never get to relax, there’s always something going on or hovering over you, something that could cause you grief. If you’re lucky it’s a nonfunctional printer and a traffic ticket. If you’re unlucky it’s cancer or a death in the family. I should count my blessings.

Atheist that I am, I say a kind of prayer when I go to bed to remind myself of all the things I have to be grateful for. My wife and I are alive and safe and healthy (reasonably), and that’s the most important thing of all. We have a roof over our heads, food to eat, clothes to wear, and a solid, working car (knock on wood). We’re a lot better off even than a lot of people who live in our building. Our building is for the elderly and disabled, and a lot of these folks can barely take care of themselves. Thank you, God or Flying Spaghetti Monster or Universe or whatever, that for today my wife and I are OK in spite of having a kind of shitty day. Thank you that I’m capable of sitting here and typing on a magic machine that sends my little thoughts out into the world. Things could be so much infinitely worse. If all I have to worry about is selling off my toy collection to pay a traffic ticket and get my wife a new phone, I’m doing pretty good.

am doing pretty good. My bipolar has been fairly steady over the last couple weeks, the depression hasn’t been too bad, and I’m not suicidal at all, not even really thinking about it. I would never commit suicide while my wife was alive–my two attempts were in unique circumstances that I won’t go into–but sometimes I ruminate about it. I’ll imagine the worst nightmare I can come up with, put myself in that situation, and picture myself committing suicide. But the ruminating hasn’t been bad lately. I still worry about being homeless, but the more I see the orange clown and his team of idiots in Congress fucking up left and right, the less I fear his agenda. It’s not going to be that easy to tear America apart. They’re going to try–they ARE trying–but we have a good bunch of people ready to fight them. I’m not talking about the Democrats in Congress, most of whom are useless corporate shills. I’m talking about groups like Indivisible, whom you can thank for the defeat (so far) of the GOP’s attempts to repeal Obamacare.

Well, I’m going to try to get some sleep. Thanks for reading. =)


Fool’s Mate

I’m taking some of the online “classes” offered here by the WordPress site, and the assignment today is “Why Do I Write?”, but I kind of covered that yesterday, so I’ll talk about something else.

I showed this blog to my wife last night–I admit it, I can’t keep a secret–and she was saddened by my comment about only having 15 or 20 years left before I die. I didn’t mean to upset her, obviously, but for both my wife and I thinking about our partner’s death is a huge trigger for some very heavy emotions. I used to just take it as a matter of faith that I would outlive my wife just by sheer willpower. I now recognize this as magical thinking. The real situation is this: I’m the man and the man usually dies first. Plus, I’m very overweight–what the doctors call morbidly obese–and if I don’t shed some pounds, I might be lucky to make that 15-20 years. We could all die tomorrow, of course, and nobody can read the future, but there aren’t many 90-year-olds with my body size. And if I make it that far, I may not be liking life much. I’d rather die than rot in a nursing home.

Actually, I can think of a lot of circumstances where I’d rather die than go on living. The reason for this is because, a few years ago, I lost my fear of death entirely. Now, that doesn’t mean I want to die–I’m not suicidal, don’t worry–and it doesn’t mean I’m not afraid of the PROCESS of death. There are some very ugly ways to die, cancer being an example. I don’t want to die slowly. I want it quick, bam, knock me out with a heart attack or kill me in my sleep with a nice big stroke. Or have a bank robber shoot me in the head. Getting shot in the head has got to be one of the best, easiest deaths there is. But once I met a kid who got shot in the head and didn’t die. That, ladies and gentlemen, is no fun. The bullet wrapped around his skull and came out by his ear and left him weak and shriveled on one side. But I digress.

Anyway, I may be scared by the PROCESS of death, but I’m not scared at all by death itself. I am a combination of atheist and non-practicing Buddhist, and I simply don’t believe in an afterlife. I think when you die, that’s it, you’re done, you cash your ticket and you’re gone to an eternal dreamless sleep. And when you think that way about the afterlife, death gets a lot less scary. Now, I used to fear the idea of non-existence itself. This is a very common fear. But I would posit this: you didn’t exist for billions of years before you were born, and it didn’t bother you a bit. If you don’t exist for another several billion years after you die, what’s the big deal? The Big Sleep is just that. There’s nothing to fear but fear itself, as it were.

What about suicide? There have been many times in my life when I was suicidal, and I have actually attempted suicide twice (and, obviously, failed miserably). It’s a lot harder to kill yourself than you may think, especially when you don’t have a gun. Even guns can be fraught with peril–I met a chap once who unconsciously jerked his head away when he pulled the trigger, and shot his own face off. Again, not fun. And while I don’t think there’s any afterlife and I don’t believe in hell, that little sliver of me that isn’t quite sure about the whole non-existence thing tells me there may be special rules for suicides. I don’t know what those would be, and I wouldn’t let it stop me if I was seriously intent on killing myself, but dying by your own hand is a serious matter, and, if the universe cares about such things, there might be some sort of downside to dying by suicide. I don’t believe in souls either, but if we have one, suicide might not be the way you want to go out.

I have told my wife, however, that if I outlive her, I am very likely to die by suicide. Right now our only form of income is my wife’s disability. I’m applying for mine, but if she died tomorrow I would have no way to keep a roof over my head. I view being homeless as one of the great terrors of modern life, akin to rotting in the nursing home, and if I knew that homelessness was to be my fate, I would certainly check out ahead of time. That upsets my wife, too, and we’ve had several conversations about it that I won’t rehash here. She doesn’t share some of my spiritual beliefs–perfectly okay!–and I think she worries about my soul if I kill myself. She’s a sweetheart that way.

OK, enough about death and suicide. In other, potentially brighter news, the GOP is still having trouble repealing Obamacare. There is serious doubt as I write this whether or not they have the votes to do it. I hope they do not, and that they again fail miserably to pass their own rotten legislation. If they do fail, I will enjoy the remainder of my day, full of schadenfreude (sp?) and glee at their misery. I don’t hate Republicans, but I do hate Republican lawmakers (with high disdain for most Democrats aside from the Bernie Sanders/Elizabeth Warren/Jeff Merkley wing) and watching them fail will be a highlight of my week. If they do manage to pass it, it still has to survive the Senate, and blah blah blah, who knows what will happen. But I’d love to see Paul Ryan with some more egg on his face, that smarmy bastard.

Not much planned for the day today besides a trip to the grocery store. I’m going to talk to my wife about this, but I think we need to buy some emergency rations that don’t need to be heated up. Everything we have is electric, and should the power go out for any extended period of time, we won’t be eating anything. We have stocked up some water, but no food. I’m a very poor survivalist–I don’t have the money to be a good one–but the least we can do is have a few cans of spaghettios and some peanut butter on hand in case of an emergency. So our grocery trip may be a bit more expensive than we’d like, but that’s neither here nor there I suppose. Stocking up, gotta be done. Never know when North Korea may lob a nuke into Portland or Seattle. Given Trump’s penchant for diplomacy and grace, nothing will surprise me less than seeing a nuclear bomb go off somewhere on the planet in the next three-plus years. I just hope it’s not more than one. Dying of radiation poisoning isn’t on my bucket list any more than homelessness is.

OK, kids, this article’s long enough. Thanks for reading. =)