Misc.

No daily prompts that I like today, but I’m up early and I have nothing else to do, so I need to think of something to blog about. Problem is, it seems like everything I think of to write about, I’ve already written about. The other problem is that I just write about everyday life and thoughts, and those get repetitive in a hurry.

In a comment about my last post, somebody said my views about the apocalypse were “abnormal and unhealthy”. The commenter was, I think, afraid I would take offense, but I rather agree with him/her. I am, and the thoughts I have are, abnormal and unhealthy. That’s not just because I have bipolar disorder–it’s because I am an unusual person, or at least I think I am. Once in college my friend and I were at a sports bar, and I was complaining that everybody I met was either a fratboy, a Goth, or a wannabe cowboy. I asked where all the “normal” people were, and my friend quickly said, “Dude, those ARE the normal people.” Barring Alzheimer’s disease, I’ll never forget that comment–it told me a lot about where I stand in relation to society, which is that I am on the outside observing the happenings within. So, yes, I am abnormal and unhealthy. Hopefully, that makes my blog more interesting to read. I think reading “normal” thoughts from a “normal” person would get old fast. Of course, nobody’s really “normal”, but some people are more normal than others.

All that being said, I’m still running low on topics for this blog. Just as some people are more normal than others, some people are more creative than others. I’m smart in my own way, but I’m not that creative. I have a great short-term memory, which made me a whiz in school, but which doesn’t come in all that handy in real life–except I rarely need to write down a grocery list. I score high on traditional IQ tests, but am a plodding thinker in many situations. I have trouble holding images in my mind and visualizing things clearly.

So, since I’m low on topics, here goes nothing: my wife and I had a good day yesterday. We exercised, we meditated, and we ate healthy. I have high hopes for meditation–I hope it will help clear my mind somewhat so I can think more clearly about things. I’d love to be in better control of my own mind. Left to its own devices, my mind wanders to the same worries over and over like a tongue repeatedly checking out an empty tooth socket. I worry about death and homelessness, the same thoughts and images over and over. It’s very bothersome and very distracting, and keeps me from enjoying what’s actually happening in my life. I get especially resentful of my own thoughts when my wife and I are spending quality time together and I can’t enjoy it because I’m worried about something that, in all likelihood, will never happen.

My thoughts go something like this: Trump wants to cut housing assistance programs, so maybe we will lose our government-subsidized housing and become homeless (notice the huge leap there). We have to give our cat away and live in a tent. My worst thoughts are when I imagine that my wife is crying and there’s nothing I can do to comfort her. My second-worst thoughts are imagining that one or the other of us has died, leaving the remaining partner to a cold, empty existence. I picture no more hugs, no more snuggles, no more laughter, and it just rips me up inside. I don’t want to endure that, but I want my wife to have to endure it even less. I want to outlive my wife because I don’t want her to be alone after I die. But if that happens, I’m going to be like Carl from “Up”, a grumpy old man with nothing left to live for. Neither option is good. I just hope it doesn’t happen for many, many years–which is why we need to work on our health.

So, yeah, we meditated yesterday for the first time in a long time. I didn’t do so well–I wasn’t sitting comfortably and my thoughts were all over the place–but it’s a start. My goal isn’t to attain Enlightenment–if I’m going to be a Buddha it’s not going to be in this lifetime–but simply to better control and manage my own mind, so it doesn’t eat me alive the way it does now.

I feel like I’m doing a very poor job with this blog entry. I’m all over the place and I’m not explaining things well. I think maybe it’s because I’m forcing it, so I’m going to stop forcing it and go back to bed now. Thanks for reading. =)

 

Doctors and Whatnot

I’m having a week full of doctors and lab tests and X-rays and the whole shebang. I was having heart palpitations, so they put me on a home heart monitor for a couple days, and of course I didn’t have any palpitations while I had the monitor on. I have a high white blood cell count but no sign of infection. I had low potassium, so my doctor put me on potassium pills. After a week of the pills, my potassium is even lower than it was before. Now I have to take the potassium pills twice a day. Nobody knows why my potassium is low, or why it would have gone down while I’m actively taking potassium. And to top it all off, I pulled my goddam left pectoral muscle folding laundry yesterday. Getting old is hell.

Speaking of getting old, I turned 45 yesterday. I had a good birthday, spent the day with my wife and the evening with a couple of friends. I know a lot of people my age don’t necessarily care to celebrate birthdays, but I figure it’s a good chance to spit in the eye of Death. HA! Beat you for another year, you motherless bastard!

I’m not really worried about my health problems, although maybe I should be. Low potassium can cause cardiac problems, which is about the last thing I need. I think I have a bad case of magical thinking, nothing-will-happen-to-me syndrome. None of this stuff is sinking in. High white count, low potassium, heart palpitations, pulled left pec, back trouble, shoulder trouble, knee trouble…lions, tigers and bears, oh my! It’s all coming too fast and my mind can’t or won’t process it because nothing “SERIOUS” has happened yet. But in my case, the first “SERIOUS” thing that happens may be a heart attack or a stroke that kills me, or worse, incapacitates me.

But, whatever the reason, I’m not too worried about things right now. My wife and her friend (our friend, I should say) are in the other room coloring, and I’m here blogging and listening to music and drinking Four Lokos. Life is pretty good right now, despite the medical shit that’s going on. I’m not freaking out worrying about things I can’t control, I’m not depressed, I’m not manic, and everything is more or less OK mentally. That makes for a pretty good day. I’ve been worrying a lot lately about being homeless, but that seems to have ebbed the last day or two. So, yeah. Not worrying is good.

That’s all I’ve got for now. Thanks for reading. =)

Health, Buddhism and Death

The other night, we watched the documentary The Buddha. I’ve seen it probably a half-dozen times or more by now, and know it pretty much word-for-word, but it’s great to watch because it’s so relaxing. It makes me want to take up meditating again, but we have to figure out what to do with our cat while we meditate. She won’t sit still for us sitting still, lol.

I consider myself a Buddhist, although a very poor one. I also consider myself an atheist. In my mind the two are not mutually exclusive, as you can be a Buddhist without believing in an afterlife or a soul, or much of anything really. At least, you can be a Zen Buddhist that way, and that’s what I consider myself, is a very poor Zen Buddhist. I’m also a pretty poor atheist, since I still pray every night. I guess I’m really just a closet agnostic.

Whatever I am, I have no fear of death. I don’t welcome it, and I hope to be around for a long time to come, but I’m not afraid of dying. Dying to me just means eternal dreamless sleep.

Speaking of death, however, I went to my doctor this week. I’ve been having heart palpitations and he’s putting me on an EKG monitor for a couple days. A couple of my labs were abnormal also, including my white blood cell count. And now tonight I felt a bit short of breath while lying down. My back and my shoulders and my knees all hurt. Tonight it’s mostly the shoulder, but all my joints hurt at times.

I desperately need to lose weight. According to my doctor’s scale, I weigh 411 lbs. and I haven’t lost anything in the last three months. Haven’t gained, either, so there’s that at least. My wife and I have been better about walking lately, and our diet has improved somewhat, but it’s going to take a long and concerted effort for me to lose the weight I need to lose. My 45th birthday is coming up in less than a week, so I’m getting older and losing weight is just getting harder with every passing year. Everything hurts more, too.

I’m very embarrassed by my weight. I have trouble fitting into chairs sometimes, and I’m always worried about how the seating will be everywhere I go because my back isn’t comfortable if the chairs are hard. If I were to have to take an airline flight anywhere, I’d need to buy two seats because I simply wouldn’t fit into just one. All this stuff is very embarrassing to talk about, but if not here, where?

My main worry is that I will die young and leave my wife to face the world alone. I’m not a kid anymore and I don’t think anybody would be that surprised if I just up and had a widowmaker of a heart attack. But losing weight is tough. It’s so hard to be disciplined and eat right and exercise. Some people seem to have no trouble with it, diet and exercise come easily to them, but they don’t for me. I’m a carb addict and I hate to exercise even on my good days. I just don’t like the sensation of being short of breath, I don’t like getting sweaty, I find walking to be pretty boring and I just plain don’t like to exercise. I don’t like vegetables either, or fish that much, which makes the diet part kind of difficult too.

It’s hard for me to find meals that I like which aren’t bad for me. I’m a picky eater, something I should have grown out of years ago but never did. We can’t keep peanut butter in the house because I’ll eat too much of it. I love me some peanut butter. PB&J’s are my favorite food. Jesus, what a mess.

I almost wish I could be manic again–when I was manic, I lost 75 lbs. in 6 months. But the other effects of mania are so bad it’s not worth it. I don’t think I’ll ever really be manic again, I was only ever manic when I was on the Zoloft and not on anything else. Now that I’m on Zyprexa (a med that makes it VERY hard to lose weight) I don’t think mania is in the cards for me. My insurance won’t cover weight-loss surgery since I’m not diabetic (yet), so I have to lose weight the old-fashioned way, through diet and exercise. It’s very, very difficult for me.

I’ve been overweight my entire adult life–the least I’ve ever weighed was 219 lbs.–and I very much fear I will die that way. The number of age- and weight-related issues I’m having seem to be multiplying exponentially year after year. What I really fear is something like a stroke that leaves me unable to take care of myself. I fear that more than death, because I neither want to be a burden on my wife nor do I want to go to a nursing home. I’d rather just die.

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

Weed and Bipolar Disorder

Right now, I can’t smoke any weed at all. It will be that way until I’m off of probation, which is about 17 months from now. After I get free from probation, though, it’s fair game and I will probably smoke daily.

Marijuana is truly a wonder drug for me. It helps with my depression and anxiety, helps with my ever-present worrying, and makes me more social and friendly towards others. It’s a joke that it is more strictly regulated than alcohol. And yet, when I was manic, even weed couldn’t keep me sane. I was smoking all day every day, just trying to keep myself somewhat tethered to the planet, because I continually had this feeling of too much energy. I felt I couldn’t contain it, and the weed was the only thing I had that helped at all. Now, of course, I know it was the Zoloft making me feel that way. One of my prosecutors actually called me a “pothead” and intimated that smoking weed led to me committing my crime, which is the furthest thing from the truth. Of course, these are the people who thought I was faking my mental illness to get off the hook. Funny how they believe me now and insist that I get treatment, despite denying that I was mentally ill when I committed my crime. Hypocrites of the worst sort.

Nonetheless, I have come to believe that weed is best appreciated in some sort of moderation. Wake-and-baking all day every day is a recipe for trouble because you tend not to get anything much done, which ramps up your anxiety because you’re falling behind on everything, which leads to more weed consumption, and it becomes a vicious circle. That’s what happened to me, but I still maintain the weed wasn’t the problem, it was the untreated anxiety that I was self-medicating with weed that was the problem. However, when I do start using again, I will only do so later in the day when things are winding down and I’m trying to relax. There’s also something to be said for letting out both sides of your personality. My unmedicated personality is much different from my medicated personality. I’m more task-oriented, for instance. Things like that tend to help when you have a job or something else you have to do.

All that being said, I wouldn’t recommend weed as a drug of choice for somebody who is manic. It can make you paranoid and can make your delusions more powerful. Weed is much more useful for the depressed side of bipolar. There really–and I speak from personal experience here–aren’t any good antidepressants out there that actually work at lifting your depression. I’ve tried just about all of them at this point, and frankly they don’t work. Weed DOES work. Weed lifts your mood and (usually) limits your worrying. Weed gives a sense of euphoria and well-being that you can’t find in an antidepressant. Now, if you have troubles, real troubles, that sense of euphoria can be fooling you into not dealing with your problems, but if you’re just depressed, it can be a real lifeline back to some sort of stable relationship with the world around you. It can keep you out of the worst of the depression and make you more functional. But it’s still a drug, and a very powerful drug at that, and I have come to believe it is best used in moderation. You don’t want to be smoking away ALL your worries and anxieties, because some of them are probably prodding you to do things that need to get done. But when it’s just pointless worry about things you can’t control anyway, and hopeless depression that robs you of the spirit to fight back, weed can help much more than it hurts.

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

 

Streaming, Vol. 2

Well, my wife is going to bed early, leaving me to my own devices, so let’s see what kind of trouble I can get into.

I take online surveys to make a little extra cash, and I had a survey today asking all about my feelings about Trump gutting Medicaid. That put me on tilt a bit and I haven’t quite been right the rest of the day. I know his budget is not likely to pass, but just knowing that Trump is gunning specifically for disabled people just makes me feel vulnerable. I don’t know what we’d do if we lost our Medicaid. We can’t afford to pay for our meds out of pocket. I guess we’d end up going without meds and just letting the chips fall where they may, showing up at the ER every time we needed to see a doctor. I’ve lived life that way before–I’ve spent much of my adult life with no health insurance–and I’m not eager to do it again.

As a matter of fact, Trump’s entire budget can be boiled down to a series of cuts to the very programs my wife and I rely on for survival. Affordable housing? Gonna cut that. Disability? Gonna cut that. Medicaid? Food Stamps? Heating assistance in the winter? Cut that, that, and that. It’s nothing less than a war on poor people, but nobody’s calling a spade a spade except for Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Well, Jeff Merkley is doing a pretty good job too.

I just can’t believe that in the year 2017 we find ourselves in this kind of shape, with Republicans in control of every aspect of the government. On the other hand, I guess I kinda can. The Republicans have a clear message: we hate change and we hate everybody except for “normal” white people. The Democrats no longer have a message. They take almost as much money from Wall Street as the Republicans do; how can they be the party of average people when they’re all bought and owned by bankers and lobbyists? They can’t, and so they end up chasing their own tails trying to come up with a message that resonates with the American people.

How about this? We believe in fair pay for a hard day’s work. We believe in decent health insurance for everybody. We believe in the right to form a union. We believe we have to start fighting climate change NOW. We believe that the billionaires and the corporations should be paying their fair goddamned share of taxes. We believe in good schools. We believe in free tuition and a $15 minimum wage. And we believe in being fair and just to EVERYBODY.

That sounds about right. That sounds like something that might work for the American people. Sound familiar? It’s practically stolen word-for-word from Bernie Sanders, who, just by the way, happens to be the most popular politician in America right now. And yet the Establishment Democrats still don’t want to listen to Bernie. They are so goddamned stupid and insulated in their own little bubbles that it’s hard to believe. They just don’t get it. And if you’re thinking that in 2018 there’s going to be some miraculous Democratic wave election to save us from these goddam Republicans, then you’re dreaming. It ain’t gonna happen on its own, not unless the grassroots decides, “Fuck it, we’ll just run it all ourselves.” But the Establishment Democrats haven’t hit bottom yet. Trump in the White House, GOP running Congress, a Supreme Court that likely will be killing us for a decade if not a generation, GOP running most of the state governments, and the typical Democrats still just don’t fucking get it. They don’t understand that they are seen as nothing but shills, up for and available to the highest bidder. At least the Republicans are straightforward about it; they’ll tell you with a straight face that a corporation is a person and should have the “freedom of speech” enabling them to shovel money at any politician they choose. The Democrats give lip service to overturning Citizens United, as if we had no problems before 2010. Does anybody remember before 2010? I sure as hell do, because I got suckered by a young man by the name of Barack Obama, who promised to put paid to all these lobbyists and change the way Washington works. Yeah, what a laugh riot that was. I don’t hate Barack Obama, but he was selling nothing but snake oil. Yeah, we’ll change the game by letting Goldman Sachs and Citigroup run the economy, just like they always do. The Democrats let Trump get ahold of the “change” mantle, and he ran with it. Every election, every single election between now and whenever we fix this clusterfuck of a government that we have, is going to be a “change” election, because everybody you meet on the street knows that the government is corrupt, the government has been bought and paid for, and the government is out to help the billionaires and the giant corporations and out to screw the little guy. That sound familiar? More Bernie Sanders. It’s like I’m channeling a 75-year-old Jewish Vermonter. The reason Bernie says all this shit and the reason he’s so popular while saying it is BECAUSE IT’S TRUE AND EVERYBODY KNOWS IT’S TRUE. Trump won because everybody hates politicians and Hillary is the dictionary definition of a politician. Obama pegged her in 2008: “She will say anything and change nothing.” That’s all you need to know to understand why Hillary lost. Hillary is the Establishment, the very embodiment of the Establishment, and your average Joe, whether in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin or California, hates the goddam Establishment so much they can hardly stomach it. My father-in-law practically blows a gasket spewing vile invectives every time a politician of either party dares show their face on his TV screen. And there’s millions more just like him. Most of them didn’t vote for Trump because of his policies, they voted for him because they thought he would throw a monkey wrench into the system. They voted for him, many of them, out of sheer desperation that somebody, ANYBODY but the same old crew be put in charge to see if they could do any better.

Well, we see how that’s turning out. Because Trump is a sociopathic, narcissistic pathological liar, as anybody listening to the better angels of their nature now knows to their core. But next time–and I mean 2020 here–next time somebody gives you a choice between change in the form of Bernie Sanders (or, maybe, Liz Warren) versus the Establishment in the form of Joe Biden, Cory Booker, or God save us, Hillary Clinton again, you better pick Bernie Sanders, because if you don’t you’re liable not to see the back of Trump until January 20, 2025. Or even worse, Mike Pence.

All of that from one little online survey? Jesus, I need a chill pill.

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. =)

 

Depression and Anxiety

I’ve been very depressed and anxious the last couple days, ever since the Trump budget proposals came out. The orange gorilla is attacking every single program my wife and I utilize to survive and avoid homelessness. SSI/SSD, subsidized housing, Medicaid, food stamps, LIHEAP, everything. It feels like he’s coming for us personally. I can’t even look at his ugly stupid face anymore without getting angry and then scared.

Fortunately, according to CNN, this budget is just a Trump campaign rally on paper and has no chance whatsoever of becoming law. But just the idea that the President of the United States wants to rob my wife and I of what little dignity and small income we have is frightening. How is it possible that 40% of the population still supports this man? What the fuck is wrong with these people? Don’t they realize that, if this stuff were enacted, millions of newly-homeless disabled people would be wandering the streets in every town and city in America? Is that what they want? Is that what they voted for? If so, fuck them. I paid my taxes too, when I was working, and now that I’ve fallen on hard times it’s time for all the things I paid taxes for to come my way for a while. I’m not ashamed of my status; I have a severe mental illness and so does my wife. We didn’t CHOOSE this; we don’t ENJOY being poor and reliant on the government for everything we have. Just the idea that we have a President and members of Congress who are so rabidly evil–and that’s what it is, evil–is frightening. I mean, these are the people who want to take away the free school lunch program, for God’s sake! They don’t even want poor children to have a hot lunch to eat! Something is seriously wrong in this country. I don’t know how we got here, when it started or if it’s always been like this, but we have some sick, sick fucking people in this country.

I feel a little better now that I’m up and blogging about this, and after reading that CNN article. It’s good to get some of the poison out. I’ve spent the last few days worrying about being homeless, with no income, no insurance, nothing. This is why I try to avoid most political news these days–it can be very triggering for me. I get angry and scared and depressed and anxious all at the same time. Now, the Trump budget may be dead on arrival on Capitol Hill, but who knows what atrocities those fuckers will approve? So even if the Trump budget is a joke, I still sit right in the crosshairs of these Republican bastards who want to cut every program I rely on. The war on the poor is in full swing these days, and we’re going to need a lot of help and a little luck to keep from losing some of what little we have.

In other news, my prescriber is changing some of my meds. I’m getting off the Vraylar and back on Prozac. I’m also getting off of Cogentin, which I think has been making me be tired all the time. The Vraylar only seems to be good at keeping you from getting manic, it doesn’t seem to help with depressive episodes at all. So I’m back on (basically) the med regimen I was on while I was in prison. I was stable in prison as long as they left my Prozac and Zyprexa alone, so I think I’ll be more stable on them than the other combos we’ve been trying. My prescriber doesn’t really want me on Zyprexa because of the risk of weight gain, but I’ll worry about that on my own. Zyprexa is the only med that helps me worry less during the day and helps me sleep better at night. I’ve tried just about everything else at this point, and Zyprexa is the only thing that really works. But it doesn’t work on my depression, so I need an SSRI, and Prozac seems to be one that works for me and doesn’t make me manic. I was on Prozac and Zyprexa 18 months ago before they started messing with my meds (for no real good reason, I see now) and now after all these med changes that haven’t worked, I’m right back where I started. You keep thinking, wow, with all these meds they’ve got today, surely something must work better. Nope. Once you find a combo that works for you, hang on to it and don’t let them mess with it. Next thing you know you’re taking twice as many meds, having side effects, and your depression isn’t any better. I’m OK with being mildly depressed–that’s my baseline, and I’m used to it–but I’m not OK with not being able to hardly get out of bed. That’s where I’ve been lately with the Vraylar and the Cogentin. That Cogentin is nasty stuff–you feel like a zombie all day, and to top it all off you’ve got the Sahara Desert in your mouth. And the only reason I needed it was because of the side effects of the Vraylar. My prescriber is in love with the Vraylar, but luckily she was amenable to changing things since it just wasn’t working for me.

When I’m depressed like I’ve been the last few days, all I can imagine are bad things. I have visions of myself and my wife living on the streets, or being forced to give our cat to the pound because we can’t take care of her. I wonder, if we were homeless: how and where do you go to the bathroom? Where do you get water? Where do you sleep? I have all these visions of horrible things happening, and I just can’t shut them off. They interfere with my ability to sleep, my ability to spend quality time with my wife, everything. They are all-consuming and I cannot be distracted from them–not for long, anyway. I feel a sense of relief right now that everybody else sees the Trump budget as just as crazy and unrealistic as I do, but those bastards in Congress probably have some tricks up their own sleeves. I trust Paul Ryan about as far as I can spit him. Mitch McConnell less than that. So I feel like I have to stay vigilant, but that wears on me greatly. I find it hard to relax, it’s hard to sleep, it’s hard to stay focused when working on other things. A little bit of my brain is always wondering what’s going to happen and if my wife and I are going to be OK. It’s like I can never stop worrying. It’s going to be the death of me, literally, if I can’t get it under control. I have to stop looking at political stuff, but how do you do that when your life is in their hands?

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

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. =)

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. =)