Trace (Daily Prompt)

Gonna try today’s Daily Prompt, Trace.

I can trace my problems with mental illness back as far as kindergarten. I hated kindergarten, oh God how I hated it. I cried and screamed every day I had to go. I’d cry so much I’d make myself sick.

I was always afraid my parents were going to take me somewhere, leave me there and never come back, and for me the place that I feared that the most was kindergarten. I don’t remember participating in normal kindergarten activities, although I guess I must have or they woulda kicked me out. What I remember is that, come the end of the day, they let us all out in the yard to play. But I didn’t play. I stood at the fence and watched the road, waiting for my dad to come get me.

My dad, recognizing my plight, gave me a pocket watch, and told me that when the little hand was on the 4 and the big hand was on the 12, he was on his way and would be there soon.

I have an actual memory after that. Me standing by the fence, watch in hand, waiting for my dad. There were two little girls behind me. One asked the other, “Why does he stand there like that every day?” The other said, “I don’t know, but at least he doesn’t cry anymore.” So I can surmise that I was crying every day I watched for my dad until he gave me the watch.

I wish I still had that watch, but I don’t know what became of it. I’m not sure how I got over the problems I had in kindergarten. We moved from Mississippi to Indiana, and I started first grade up there. I went through fourth grade without incident before we moved again–but that’s another story.

My dad and I grew apart as I grew up, and I’m not really sure why. He died in 2008, and we weren’t on speaking terms–at least, not on my end. I think about kindergarten and the watch and how he used to do little cartoons for me–dad going to work, dad coming back home, stuff like that. I don’t have any of the cartoons either. I don’t really have much of anything that belonged to my dad or that he made or anything. My family’s not a big one for heirlooms, I guess. It’s a shame, really, but what can you do? Things turn out how they turn out, and sometimes they just take on a trajectory of their own that you either can’t, won’t or don’t change until something big happens.

That’s all for now, I suppose. Thanks for reading. =)

Survive (Daily Prompt)

Today’s Daily Prompt is: Survive.

 

 

In my mind, there are two forms of survival: ordinary, day-to-day survival, as in keeping a roof over your head, food on the table, and gas in the car, and then apocalyptic survival, where you are trying to survive some calamity, whether it be a major earthquake or a worldwide pandemic disease.

I worry enough about day-to-day survival, and because of my dire financial situation, I can’t make many preparations for calamities. A few gallons of water and a dozen cans of Spaghettios are, so far, the whole of my disaster preparations. I can’t really do much better because I can’t afford to. But for those of you who CAN afford to do more, I would advise you check out a blog called The Automatic Earth. It’s a huge blog and a bit intimidating. I would start with the following two posts: The Automatic Earth Primer Guide 2017 and How to Build a Lifeboat. Those posts will get you up to speed on what you need to know and what you can do about it.

Now, I’ve followed TAE for quite some time, and thus far, the financial system hasn’t collapsed (as they predict it will). But there is no doubt that we are in another giant bubble that is just waiting to burst, and the banks are even bigger than they were in 2008. I doubt the ability of our government, particularly with the idiots currently in charge, to be able to “save” the financial system again like they did in 2008. If you trust Trump and the zealots in Congress to handle another, bigger worldwide financial collapse, then brother, best of luck to you. The rest of you, check out TAE. I can’t spend a lot of time on there because worrying about the end of civilization is another big trigger for me. I worry about day-to-day survival enough that I don’t need to worry about the apocalypse too–it’s just too much and there’s nothing I can do about it anyway. But I feel the apocalyptic fears even if I don’t think about them much. I feel like a rabbit caught out in the open who can’t go to ground. There is no safe harbor for me, but for you, dear reader, there may be something you can do to protect yourself.

Just writing this much about survival is starting to trigger me, so I’m going to stop here. 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. =)