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. =)


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. =)