Sunday, April 1, 2018

Just Another Marker

Twenty-three years ago today, my dad drove his car as far as it would go until it ran out of gas in  some remote section of  Sevier County, Utah, where he rolled it to the side of the road, and shot himself in the head with a shotgun.

Some years this day passes me by and I don't even realize it.  Some years it hits me and I deal with a rolodex of emotions.  One year I'm angry, the next I'm depressed, and the next I'm upset.

This year, I'm scared.

I feel like my dad's life had some kind of groove or gravitational pull that was just too strong for him to escape and no matter what actions he took, his life was going to end the way it did.  Somehow, I've repeated the patterns in his life only faster, and with a greater sense of urgency.  I can see the same abyss that claimed him and I'm hurling toward it at twice the speed.

But I don't want to die alone in a car on the side of the road.  It's bad enough statistically I'm going to die in this apartment and nobody will notice until they smell something.  If it happens in the summertime, my window will be open, and people will walk along the sidewalk and there will be this stench...

My weight is back up to where it was when my friends had their intervention but I'm making changes.  I've made changes.

Made.  Past Tense.

I generally don't like "I'm gonna" or "I'm doing" statements because it always feels like a con.  It's as if I've given myself enough wiggle room to somehow cheat they system.  And cheating is how I got myself into this whole mess.

I got back into writing.  I actually put words on paper.  Granted, they were shitty and hollow, and clearly missing something, but that's to be expected when you scramble your brains up like I did for months at a stretch.  It's almost as if I have all new brain cells and I have to whip them into shape so they can perform the way they're supposed to when I tell them to write.

But that's not true.  Brain cells don't write.  Fingers do.  Fingers connected to an ass in the chair and eyes that aren't downloading crap.  Lately it's been a lot of Youtube videos.

At least I'm out of the habit of watching people get mangled on Liveleak.  I no longer need to see that.  I've moved beyond emotional numbness so profound I need to see the extremes of humanity just so I can feel anything.

I got word a few weeks ago that I sold a short story.  I really sold one.  For the first time ever, I will receive payment in the form of money in exchange for a piece of fiction I wrote myself.  They're even going to publish a picture of me and they didn't specify that I have to wear clothes.

I might even get my first nude photos published, too!

I've been making ice cream again.  This is important.  Ice cream is how I reach out to people.  Ice cream is how I extend myself towards others and how I show love, gratitude, and affection.  For me to make ice cream is a big step because it's just not something I do when I'm isolated and depressed.

It's something my dad never did.  He never reached out to anybody that I know of and he didn't have friends.  That's one of the biggest things I've done and it's what has made all the different. 

I have the best goddamn friends in the world.

I have people who hug me and tell me not to give up because I'm important to them.

And as I write that last sentence, I try not to think about how I could have done that for my dad and if I had, would that have even made a difference?  As he sat on the side of that road in the middle of nowhere, over 50 miles from the nearest town, he wrote his suicide note.  It was about eight pages, that I can remember, and the only thing he said about me was "Ted always wanted me dead."

I didn't.  But at the time I was just too angry at him to say much else.

My dad was a drunk who fried his brains.  I hardly ever drink.  Granted, I have my own monkeys to feed, but I'm dealing with them.

My dad destroyed his family.  I try to tell myself I didn't destroy mine.  Based on what I've gathered from so many others it is clear our fates were to be separated and nothing I could do would have changed that.   It is now clear to me there was a very specific path they were to be on and my job was to get them on it.  But they had to walk that path without me.

Dad killed himself a week after his divorce from my mother was finalized.  I've lost so much over the years and had so much taken from me, but somehow I still wake up in the morning.  Maybe that's the key to all of this--just wake up and show up.  And hug your friends when you can.  Let them hug you and tell you how you are important to them because even though you don't believe it yourself, it's hard to deny the memory.  You can't tell yourself that never happened and therefore, you can't tell yourself nobody cares.

Hugs are important like that.

My dad rode his fate to the end without fighting.  I'm fighting.  Some moments I win, some I lose.  But I take it moment by moment instead of day by day.  A day is a huge chunk of time to throw in the garbage.  A moment can be ignored.  A moment is something you can just crumple into a ball and throw away, never thinking about again.

This way, when I get cravings for deep fried dough covered in sugar, and make a bunch of funnel cakes, I can avoid beating myself up over it. 

Or when somebody goes into details about their sex life and triggers the fuck out of me until I'm anxious and ready to implode, I can unplug.

I'm not healthy but I'm not falling into the abyss anymore, either.  I'm pulling up on the reins but there's a lot of momentum here and sometimes it's like I'm sliding on black ice.  My dad didn't do that.  He did the bare minimum needed to stay alive.

My future is in ice cream and fiction.  The rest will work itself out in time.  If I'm meant to die alone, then so be it.  It sucks but some things just can't be fixed.  All I can do is keep writing and keep making the ice cream.  Whatever is supposed to happen after that will unfold. 




Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Sending My Resume to the White House



I swore I'd never again work in politics.

It was a mutual decision because I just don't fit in that culture very well.  I tend to make bad jokes at all the wrong times to the wrong people.

One time, I was in a campaign meeting with some of the highest ranking people in the State of Illinois.  The conversation drifted off to fine cigars.

"I found some great cigars out of Miami," said one elected official, who oversaw several powerful committees.

"I like those better than the ones I get out of Cuba," said another, even more highly ranked elected official.  He was so high on the food chain, he could openly talk about getting illegal Cuban cigars.

"Yeah," said another.  "I'm not a fan of Cubans."

Seeing my opening, I turned to one and said, "I don't like smoking Cubans--they scream too much when you light them up."

And their jaws all dropped as I walked out of the room.

So yeah, I didn't belong there.  Not with those people.

I can tell you, when the indictments came down, and the men from the Secretary of State, along with George Ryan's other people, were charged with all kinds of corruption, the men in that room were so highly ranked they were untouchable and none of them had their names come up in the newspapers.  Not a single one.

When the campaign was over, I wasn't offered a job in Springfield and I was glad.  I shudder to think of what I might have turned into had I taken that job.  I simply didn't belong and it took an internship to make me realize it.

But with the current administration in Washington, there's a chance for redemption.  President Trump is going through staffers like tissue paper and I'm sure I could get in as an aide, advisor, or even as some kind of key staffer.

This is my chance to get back into politics and use that degree in Political Science for once.

The President would totally love me, too.  I just know it.

I already know what to say in my interview, too.

"So, Mr. Theewen," they would ask.  "What can you offer us here at the Trump White House?"

"I can offer you amazing service and excellent production.  I would be so amazing, you would tell your kids about me.  I would be incredible.  So incredible, the President would tell Putin about me when they play golf together.  I would be incredible.  So incredible, you wouldn't believe it.  You would be amazed at how incredible I'd be."

I would make a great advisor to President Trump, too.  In the two weeks I would work there, I'd give him stellar advice about Russia, aliens, Area 51, and coming apocalypse.

And then he'd fire me.

That's just it--I wouldn't have to move to Washington.  This would be a temp gig for sure.  They wouldn't even bother with the security clearances because by the time they got them done, I'd be long gone.

Which is a good thing, when you think about it, because you guys know me and lets' face it--I couldn't get a legit clearance to take out the garbage at the White House, much less get close enough to offer advice on nuclear proliferation in the Middle East or why Russia should be ignored because they're our friends.

In fact, I'm still shocked and amazed I'm not on the Domestic Do Not Fly List.  I checked for my name and sure enough, I'm not on there.  Unless I'm on the secret one so many of those pesky brown people are on.  I'm sure if I changed my name to something menacing like Muhammad they would give me the stink-eye but for now, good old Ted seems to have them totally fooled.

I'll admit I have a shitty past but since they're not doing security checks, I'm golden.  It's like when an employer doesn't do a drop test and pretends to not see the track marks on the inside of an arm.

Bugs.  I got bitten by bugs.  Nothing to see here, move along.

I'd be a shoe-in for the Trump White House.  I've never been to Russia, I've never been charged with sexual assault, sexual battery, sexual abuse, sexual har--well, okay, there was that one time.  But she made that up.  And those witnesses were lying.  And I never sent those emails.

But that was a long time ago.  I mean, who cares?  It's not like I grabbed any woman by the pussy.  And if I did, I certainly wouldn't brag about it.  I've got some class.

Plus, I've never been arrested for domestic abuse and no woman has ever accused me of hitting them.

Note to Porter:  Get a van and some duct tape, you moron!  How in the hell does somebody move up the food chain as far as you did without knowing how to cover your tracks?  If you're going to be a violent abuser, at least know how to keep from getting dragged out in public and labled what you are.  I mean, sure, I'm a sociopath, but it's not like I walk around with a sign that proudly proclaims it and I certainly don't let people who won't stay with me forever (wink wink) know about it. 

So now that the White House is hiring people as fast as they can fire them, this is my golden opportunity.

Why?

Well it certainly isn't because I actually believe in them.  It would be a bit of an embarrassment to admit you even work for them.  But the White House?   That's something completely different.

If you work for the White House, you get to add that to your resume forever, and it impresses a lot of people.  So the next time I apply to flip burgers at some shitty fast-food place because I can't find a decent job anyplace else it'll totally impress the 20-something high school dropout doing the interview.

Who knows?  Having that on my resume might actually help me get a job that doesn't involve getting kicked in the nuts daily for minimum wage.  Just as long as it is something they can call to confirm, I'm golden.

I'm fairly certain that I would be fired within the first two weeks anyways.  Number one--they seem to fire everybody.  Or they "resign."  That's a trick Ross Perot used to do.  Everybody signed their Letter of Resignation on the day they were hired so when he fired them, he would just accept their resignation.  That way, he didn't have to fire anybody, which always looks bad on a campaign.  Or at least, it used to look bad, but in today's climate you can fire all the people you want and it doesn't matter.  We've come to accept a lot of crap at this point in our history.

Quitting is bad, too, but not so much.

Another reason I'm sure I'll get fired is that I don't speak Russian.  I'm sure that's important with this White House administration for some reason.  I can drink vodka.  I love to drink vodka.  But I just can't speak Russian.

The other reason I'm sure to be fired is that I'm broke.  I have no money at all and most people who work at the White House seem to be rich and born into money.   People who are born into money carry themselves differently and you can just tell by their demeanor they have wealth.  Poor fuckers like me always look like thieves and pickpockets whenever we stand next to them.

Whenever I'm around a rich person, I feel like they see me as a carnie, and the best they can hope to get out of me is cheap weed and ways to rip off people they don't like.

Now that I think about it, maybe that's why from time to time, people offer me money to kill people they want to make disappear.  It totally makes sense now.

The biggest reason why I'll get fired in a couple of weeks by the Trump White House after being hired is that I have a hard time being nice to people who piss me off.  There comes a time in this life when you simply cannot handle the company of fools and you need to let them know.  My years as a writer and a telemarketer have honed my verbal skills into a weapon.

I can strip flesh from bone with just a few words and I'm not afraid to do it.

Should I be hired by the Trump White House, it would be only a matter of time before I snapped on somebody so hard they would run home to their mama in tears.  It's happened before.  I enjoy it but it's ugly for other people to see and it scares some folks.

With my luck they'd hire me to be the White House Spokesperson to step in for Sarah Huckabee Sanders when her eventual nervous breakdown manifests.  You know it's just a matter of time before she collapses into a delirium mumbling "fake news motherfuckers..."

I have a lot of respect for her because you couldn't pay me enough to do that job.  Not if you wanted me to do it with any kind of class or respect, anyways.  I mean, I have no problems getting up there behind the podium and ripping each one of those people a new asshole.  It would be fun, even. 

I think working for this White House would be a whole bunch of running around from person to person, asking what we're doing, and then constantly monitoring Twitter to see what we're supposed to be working on.  I also think it would be the perfect environment to hide and play video games in because nobody seems to know what's going on or who is supposed to do what. 

An environment like that, one could get away with anything, like checking out their own FBI files unredacted.  That would be a blast!  I'd love to see my own FBI files without all of those black marker streaks across them.  That way, I'd finally know who ratted me out. 

I'm going to title my resume "Amazing Staffer" and in my cover letter, I'm going to say how amazing I am and how I'll do amazing things for them once they hire me.  But I am going to say I'll need a parking spot for my van.  And assurances the Secret Service will stay out of it.  Plus, whatever they do find, know that it isn't mine and I have no idea how it got there. 

I can't wait! 




Sunday, February 25, 2018

A Matter of Soul

Today is the Chinese New Year.  This year is the Year of the Dog.

I haven't told many people about this but the entire reason I went to live in Asia for three years was because of a vision.  I saw a Foo Dog as bright as a projected image on a screen.  I was wide awake.


In my vision, he was emerald green and facing to the right.  He was brilliant and ferocious.  Stunning.

He hung around for a few seconds and faded away.  That's how I knew I had to get to Asia.

Foo Dogs are guardians.  They are most often seen at the front of buildings, one female and one male, protecting the building from negative spirits and emotions. 

The cycle has come around again.  Three days ago, I was wondering about my spirit animal.  Two days ago, I was drawn Tarot Card reading, pulling cards for friends at their request.  These cards I pulled were incredibly accurate and nothing about them was vague.

I just knew.

Today is the Chinese New Year.

Somebody is trying to tell me something and I just don't know what.  It's maddening sometimes because I don't believe in coincidences.  I just don't.  I've seen too much shit and too many fucked up things to believe in randomness.

It's 3:10 AM and I can't sleep.  Again.  Withdrawals are a bitch.  My legs are twitching and I keep getting cold chills that get me to the bone.  Then my skin starts to burn.  My body can't get comfortable.

I'm fighting this monster with everything I have and I'm winning.  It's been a long, hard road, but I'm winning.

It's a matter of soul.  All of this life is, really.  Everything I've done in this life has been dictated by how I view my soul, and the path it is supposed to take, or be on.  Maybe that's why I fall for women so hard.  For me, it's not just about having fun.  None of this is.  Life is serious business to me and always has been.

That mindset goes against just about everybody else's outlook on life.  I can't help it, though, because I was born serious.  I've been around the block too many fucking times and I've had too many lives and my soul is too fucking old for games.  Believe me--I wish I could lighten the fuck up.  I have no idea how.

I've been angry and agitated all day today.  Every little thing is pissing me off and I've snapped on more than a couple of people.  I've had to keep my distance from others because I don't want to shit on them.

Maybe I need a pair of foo dogs to block out the negative spirits.

My apartment has been too quiet these past few months.  I'm no longer being woken up at 3:33AM like I was for so long.  Things aren't moving around my apartment at night.  I haven't had a single appliance turn itself on and off in almost a year.  I haven't heard the harbingers laughing and chatting amongst themselves in almost as long.

I miss it.  I dearly miss the feeling of having somebody watch me or standing behind me.  It's too quiet and it bugs me.  A few months ago, something pulled my hair from behind.  I was sitting at my computer and somebody gave my ponytail a tug.  But those days are gone for now and it bothers me.  I feel abandoned and left behind.

Again.

I swear I'm the only guy in the world who misses his ghosts.

Next week, I start a new job.  I get the equipment on Monday, on Thursday we do the pre-flight stuff to make sure it's all connected right, and the Monday after that training begins.  I still haven't gotten my unemployment because the State of Illinois is broke and drags its feet anytime it has to pay somebody.

So I do what I can to avoid losing my mind.  It hasn't been easy.  I can't write for some reason.  I try and my brain short-circuits every time.  It's annoying.

But now something is changing.  I can feel it.  Something spiritual is happening.  The Universe is moving at all times and I can feel its focus on me.  I'm either being put in play or aligned for something.  I can feel it.

When I say "aligned" that usually means a big foot is getting ready to kick me like a football through a goal post.  I'll end up with a big boot print on my ass a long distance from where I was.  It'll be chaos and will hurt like hell while I'm tumbling through the air but the landing is usually soft but confusing for a while.  "How did I end up here?  Where am I?"

That sort of thing.

But there's a problem with living your life with faith The Universe (or some asshole deity) is going to watch your back.  Sometimes, the answer to your prayers is "Go fuck yourself" and sometimes you will get dropped on your head.  I've been dropped on my head a few times and having any faith whatsoever feels like being a codependent victim in an abusive relationship.

When you're an abused person in a relationship, you make excuses for the abuser, and say things like, "they did it because they love me" or "they know better than I do."  People make the same excuses for Gods.

"God knows best" or "God did this because he loves me."

Abuse by any other name is still abuse.

So I don't go by faith.  Instead, I look for paths, being mindful of opportunities as they present themselves.  A soulful path through life is much better than being pushed and shoved around by somebody who sees you more as a mindless chess piece.  I'm a person, not a function. 

I'm getting really agitated right now I'm going to wrap this up.  I feel like my skin is crawling and I want to tear it off, or slice it off, just so I can get out of it.  I'm sweating but cold and I have the urge to shave my head but I wish I had hair down to my butt.  It's like that all the time these days, too.  Like I want to scream but I just don't have the energy for it.  Everything everybody says is stupid and wrong but I don't feel like correcting them because it just won't work.  Nobody cares about any opinion but their own so I just ignore them. 

It's probably too late to put up a pair of foo dogs anyways.  The damage has already been done and now it's just a matter of time.  

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Et Serpentes Incipiunt Cantus

When I was an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in Korea, I taught the kids the "pull my finger" game, and it didn't go so well.  They kept pulling their own fingers and trying to make themselves fart.  It was something lost in translation and no matter what, I just couldn't teach that game, but oh I tried.

It's the curse of language.  Writers will always try to get a message across and half the time it's muddled up in convoluted wording.

I've been a wreck this past week.  For a guy as lucky has I've been you would think I'd have learned gratitude and all of those other noble attitudes but no.

I'm going to say this right here--I'm the luckiest fucking guy on the planet right now.  I've got people watching my back and helping me through some seriously arduous times.

To give you an idea of just how lucky I am, my car died.  Bad enough, but my neighbor pulled apart the motor to replace the head gasket, which isn't an easy task.  I've never done that kind of work before but he does it for a living.  So, work all day, come home, and do your job for somebody else.

After all of that and putting the motor back together, he figured out my heads were warped, and that's why the gasket failed.  My car was a dead horse.

But wait!

He finds a guy who just happens to have a car that runs but needs work and he gives it to him.  Free.  Along with the replacement part it needs.

So, my neighbor, in the dead of winter, in between working full-time hours, puts this car on a trailer, drags it back here, and fixes it.

Once we get the car off the trailer, drive it, and check some things he hands me the keys and says, "how do you like your car?"

When was the last time anybody has done that for you?

But it gets better.

Somebody sent me a prepaid Visa gift card out of the kindness of their heart because they knew the State of Illinois was screwing me on my unemployment.  I didn't ask and they offered because they knew things were tight.

I have people watching out for me.  I have people helping me.  The universe, the Powers That Be, are taking good care of me right now.

I even got a short story submitted.  This story was commented on by some amazing people and I used their notes to make it awesome.  I'm certain the place I submitted it to will be kind when they reject it.  I'm afraid of being more optimistic than that, lest I curse myself, and make things even worse. 

What's the difference between now and then?

I asked the universe for help.  And I did it in plain English with simple words.  I was careful so nothing was lost in translation.

A couple of months ago, I stood in my apartment at 2:00 AM, shaking and shivering, twitching, chilled but my skin was on fire, and unable to sit because my legs had ants crawling in my muscles.  I made my intentions clear.

A soul can scream out into the ether if the will behind it is strong enough.  And I was so very tired of the bullshit.  That always simplifies language.

"I need help!"

I was done.  I was done with a lot of the bullshit in my life.  I was done with how things were going.  I was done with the choices I'd made and I was working on cleaning up a very large mess.

When you put that sort of message out into the universe, and you drive it out with the force of iron will, it resonates.  It makes things very clear to anybody who is listening.  The Powers that Be, the Gods, or whatever you believe in, and they will respond.  That's when it gets ugly.

In the past few weeks, I've gotten knocked around a bunch.  Choices have been made for me, things have ended I would have preferred to keep going, and people have entered my life who are incredible.  They say you don't want to see sausage or laws being made and when you ask the Universe for help, it's the same way.  It's ugly and brutal.

But it's right.

This feels right.  I feel like I'm on the right path.  It's been a long, hard road, but I know it's the right one.  For the first time in a very long time, I can honestly say I'm headed in the right direction, and not be full of shit when I say it.  I don't have to lie to myself and I don't have to lie to anybody else.

When you put that sort of message out there into the Universe, things change in ways you never imagined, like opportunities.  Nothing gets done for you but the way is clear for you to bury your shoulder and drive with your legs forward into the unknown.  Keep your head up and feet moving, Bubba--don't stop until the ref blows the whistle.

I know not to mess with the Universe too much.  Simple questions, simple needs.  This is why I'm alone.  I can't imagine the horror of dragging somebody else along for the ride through this roller coaster that went off the rails a long time ago.

Once again, I'm lucky.

I'd feel horribly guilty if I had somebody who made me a priority in their life as I dragged them through this hell-ride with me.  It's better to be on my own for this.  Sure, hugs are nice, but knowing you're dragging somebody too dumb to let go through this stretch of emotional broken glass is just too much.

The look of disappointment on the face of someone who cares as I relapse and lose this war is just something I could not bear to witness.  Once again, the Universe has stepped in, so that won't be an issue.

It's a great night to write.  It's snowing and there's nothing on television.  I'm working on a novella that was missing something important until I figured out it needed a Little Timmy.  Sadly, Little Timmy isn't going to make it, and his death will weigh heavily on our MC.  I'm not sure how exactly I'm going to kill him off and how it will connect to the MC yet, so I've been playing around with it, waiting for Little Timmy to speak up and tell me how he buys the farm.

I'm writing because that's what the universe wants me to do.  It's the only thing in my life that feels like forward progress to me.  As many of you know, I feel a kinship with Darth Vader, and I always have.  This week I found a video about his character that solidified this connection for me even more.  It is only through my writing that I can find any glimmer of light.   

If this is what the Universe wants then I guess I'd better go with it.




Monday, January 15, 2018

Anxiety: The New Super-Fuel for 2018 II


I had high hopes for myself in this new year.  But really that's another way of saying I put a great deal of pressure on myself to do amazing things suddenly and without build-up.

You know, just be awesome and let the rest of the shit work itself out magically.

Being awesome and getting awesome results aren't always the same thing.  To get awesome results, you need to work hard for them, and often for a long time.  I'll admit I haven't done shit.

Not a goddamned thing.

Today's Grand Accomplishment has been putting on pants and updating this blog.  That's it.  Oh, and I totally fucked up a pie crust.

I love to cook when I'm under stress.  It's a thing with me.  I throw some dough around, make a mess in the kitchen, and come up with something wonderful.  Most of the time I pawn it off on my poor neighbors as a sort of consolation prize for having to put up with me.

Let's just say I don't close my drapes as often as I should and as many of you know, I'm very much adverse to wearing pants.  I figure, if watching an old fat guy in his fudgies (if you're lucky) is what does it for you, then God bless you!  Throw me a few bucks and I'll strike some poses while I'm at it.  You know, a few provocative stances, showing off my unique physique.

And then there's the random curses shouted at hours just before dawn, the insane things that come out of my mouth randomly, and how I always seem to know exactly the wrong things to say at the right times.

Living even near me is an adventure.  Next door?  There had better be something in it for them.

So, I cook.  I bake.  I make all kinds of delicious goodies and I share.

I've been under a lot of stress so far this year.  My car died two days before Christmas (blown head gasket).  And then my job fucked me.  I was working for a mail-order company and I was looking forward to some OT hours during the busy holiday shopping season.  Instead, I was lucky to get half my scheduled hours.  It's a long, stupid story to explain that one.

I say "was" because the day after Christmas, we were all fired by a group email.

So I'm now unemployed.  I filed for unemployment but the State of Illinois hasn't started sending my checks yet.  According to one website the checks are supposed to start 1-3 business days after I certify, which is their term for calling in, or logging into the website, and refreshing the claim while telling them I've been looking for work.  I certified on the day they told me to and that was 6 days ago.  Still no check.

I'm trying not to freak out here.  I'm trying to just admit that Illinois is slow because the state employees have been scuttled down to a skeleton crew and now the average state worker does the job of a dozen people.  I get it.

I'm trying not to freak out.

But the anxiety is thick.  The anxiety has been building daily.

So, I bake.

Times like these, I turn to friends.  But each and every one of them have been going through the same thing.  Each one has something in their lives that's got them going through all kinds of stress.

Healthy framing means I acknowledge what's going on in their lives and show some empathy.  Instead, it's triggering my abandonment issues.  I feel like everybody is leaving me behind. 

I'll admit I'm a handful.  I tend to dump some horrendous stuff on people by the truckload.  And dealing with somebody who is as close to the edge as I am can be stressful.  Plus, most of my friends are women, and there is always the danger I'll get too close.  That's happened a couple of times. 

That is the worst kind of unrequited love, too.  You burn.  Inside, you are on fire, tormented by emotions you cannot express while they talk about how lonely they are or how they have needs.  You want to be "the one" and you know you never will.  So you keep quiet and silently burn. 

It's a terrible feeling when a friend pulls away.  You feel like you're a broken engine in an old car.  Or a machine that suddenly started making defective parts, and you want to try to fix them, because if you can only go back and fix them, they'll come back and things will be as they were.  If you could only go back and undo whatever it was you did, even if you didn't know what you did, then they would come back and stop ignoring you. 

But life isn't like that. 

None of us have a time machine to go back and fix whatever we did wrong.  Plus, sometimes people move on and it's not even about us--it's about them and what they need.  Or no longer need. 

It doesn't make things feel any better.  With all of the stress I'm under and how uncertain my future is, I would love to not feel like somebody who used up all of their talk time with a friend, and now they're on their own. 

I should be writing.  That's the truth of it.  Instead of baking and farting around online, I should be writing.  But for some reason, it's been an incredibly difficult thing for me to do, almost painful. 

The mental version of bone-on-bone grinding. 

I'm going to say something here that is as close to the truth as I can come:  Writing is the only solution to most of my problems in life.  Job, career, money, self-worth, emotional contentment, self-improvement, and spiritual healing. 

The only way I will ever move forward is through writing. 

So why is writing so difficult for me? 

That's a question I've been asking myself for a long time.  I've been beating myself over the head with it, actually, trying to find an answer.  When I figure it out, I'll let you all know. 

Until then, I'm going to continue baking amazing crap I shouldn't eat to give away to people I annoy the shit out of because I'm terrified they'll leave me.  Wow, that sounds healthy. 

Monday, January 8, 2018

The Anti-Vax Rabbit Hole

I always said I wouldn't get into politics on this blog but there is something that needs to be said. 

So here it goes...

The first time I heard about vaccines maybe being unhealthy was back in about 1994 when I was in college.  I double-majored in English and Political Science and at the time was taking a class in regulation and regulatory protocols.  The entire class was about how regulations begin and are administrated and adjusted.  It was actually something I found interesting.  Back then, I was a bit of a policy wonk, and loved diving into public policy issues. 

As a project, each of us had to pick a topic regulated by the government, dive into it, and give a presentation on our progress.  Obviously there were several throughout the semester.  This way the professor could keep tabs on who was doing the work and who needed some help staying focused.  It was a graduate-level class and it was so easy to flood the poor prof with information that the core essence would get lost. 

My topic was on the growing interest in, and eventual reality of, internet regulations.  Three of the students were mothers and the smartest of the group had chosen the regulations of vaccines since her child had just recently been given one and had plenty more coming. 

She didn't go into this project thinking she would find people saying vaccines were bad.  She didn't go into the project with that sort of bias.  For her, she was focused on whether or not she was doing what was best for her child.  It felt like she was killing two birds with one stone:  First, she was educating herself as a parent and second, she was doing the easiest topic for her to get through this class. 

In her first presentation, she went over some of the basic information she had found but at the end, she pointed out she had just found a series of articles and some information stating vaccines might not be what we're told.  She said there were people arguing against the need for vaccines.  It was clear she was looking forward to diving into those articles and whatever she had found because she was a parent worried about her child. 

A few weeks later, her whole demeanor had changed, and she was going through all kinds of stats and information and connections.  She had entered The Rabbit Hole.  As a person who loves Rabbit Holes, I can tell you nothing quite compares to that high you get when you realize you've picked up the scent of something new and interesting.  Sure, she was excited, but there was something else. 

She had The Fear. 

The Fear is that unshakable thing that grabs onto you and refuses to let go.  For her, The Fear was stated in one simple, terrifying sentence:  "Did I just put my child in danger?" 

In recent years, the scientific and medical community has fought back against those who speak out against vaccines.  I'm not a member of either community and I don't even remember what information she found all those years ago.  All I remember was how afraid she was and how other mothers in the classroom were hearing her and they, too, were beginning to feel The Fear. 

The professor suggested she talk to some people in the science department.  Perhaps they could offer some perspective.  I thought that was a great idea and I did the same on my end, in my own social circle, amongst people I knew to be knowledgeable (one was a biology major and another agricultural mechanics). 

The next week, all of us reported similar results:  We were scoffed at, laughed at, and spoken down to like we were idiots.  There was a lot of eye-rolling and our heads were patted and we were told that while the science was obviously too complicated for us to understand, we were wrong and we should just know that.  Then we were dismissed. 



It was at that time I learned a valuable lesson about life--never dismiss somebody who has an emotionally-driven question about something you know about intimately.  They came to you with a question and that means it's important to them.  Be patient.  Take your time.  Explain it until they get it. 

Dismissing a terrified mother because she doesn't understand something complex the way you do will only fuel her distrust of what you say and further her efforts down the wrong path.  We call it "mansplaining" now, which is a terrible word because it really doesn't convey the arrogance as well as it condemns 47% of the population because of their chromosomes. 

I will say, with all sincerity, that the dismissive and arrogant attitudes of the scientific and medical community when answering the concerns of these parents fueled the anti-vax movement into something it should have never become. 



Nobody likes being talked down to and nobody likes being treated like an idiot.  When somebody has a genuine fear of something they don't understand, you have an obligation to help them understand, and not dismiss them with a shrug and a roll of the eyes.  It's rude and it makes a person question the legitimacy of your answers. 

This student I was in the class with was shaking.  Her hands were shaking.  Back then, they were just starting to question if autism and vaccines were connected somehow and she was asking herself, "What did I just do to my child?"  The other mothers were afraid, too.  As one said, "I feel like we're not being told all of the information and it pisses me off." 

That's was patronizing, dismissive answers will get you. 

This was before Google.  This was before much of the scientific data was put online.  Back then, a few of us had Netscape Ver 1.0 on a floppy disk, and that's what we used to get on Lycos and look for stuff.  So it meant library time and complex data many of us just didn't have the scientific understanding to comprehend. 

At some point in the last five or six years, things changed.  Members of the medical and scientific communities both realized that in order for this anti-vax movement to be stopped, people need to understand the science behind it.  And in order to communicate this information effectively, you need to be able to address people as human beings with empathy and kindness.  Instead of blowing them off as crazy or stupid because they don't have the education in science you have, take the time to explain things in a way they will understand. 

This pattern has fueled a lot of the various things labeled "pseudo-science" and "snake oil"   Is it any wonder why so many of these fields of alternative medicine are lead and practiced by women?  Often the patterns of patriarchy are reflected in the fields of medicine and science so no wonder patronizing sighs and pats on the head just don't reassure anybody. 

Homeopathic remedies are often rooted historically in the practices of women who were once burned at the stake for witchcraft.  Once again, the same pattern is repeated over and over again.  These so-called witches were known as "Wise ones" and were educated better at healing for centuries than the best doctors of the day.  It's only in the last 100 years or so our species has seen a change to where those educated in medicine reliable people to look to for healing and recovery. 

And it's clear modern medicine still has a long way to go.



The homeopathic practices are still challenging the medical field.  I have a good friend who is struggling with a thyroid condition and she's had to educate herself on some very complex subjects.  Part of the reasoning is just how expensive medicine and medical treatment has become and the other is just how successful homeopathic remedies can be, when administered properly. 

Sure, I don't agree with much of what Gwyneth Paltrow puts out there, and it seems a bit like snake oil mixed with cultish devotion, but some of the attacks on her fans comes close to misogynism. 

I'll admit I questioned the validity of vaccines for a while.  Part of it was how I simply do not trust those who dismiss others when they come with honest questions.  It often felt like I was a kid again, telling my dad about a problem with the car.  He would nod his head and go back to drinking his beer, then a week later I would be stranded someplace, because that problem got worse and nothing was done about it. 

The other reason I questioned vaccines was because of how much I knew the pharmaceutical companies manipulated our government.  As I said, I was majoring in Poli Sci.  I knew how much money these companies were spending in Washington and I knew how much money they were flooding into elections.  I also knew the underhanded tricks they employed against anybody who questioned them.  How can anybody trust information coming from somebody like that? 

I've noticed how recently more and more people from the scientific and medical communities have come forward with more personal and editorial articles about the need for caution when seeking out alternative treatments.  Instead of flooding the articles and videos with facts and stats, they've put a personal face out there, and stopped treating the public like a bunch of potatoes. 

These people are still demeaning anybody who uses homeopathy but at least they're not calling all of us stupid, which is a nice start.  

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye, 2017. Please Kiss Me First, 2018

We should all get Participation Trophies for 2017.

You know, one of those generic trophies that says "As long as you had fun, you won!"  But that wouldn't really cover shitshow 2017 was, would it?

Perhaps a Golden Turd.


It's important to reward those who so richly deserve to have their efforts recognized.  This year sucked.  Normally I'd personify the year and come up with some kind of witty dialog to illustrate just how badly it sucked but honestly, at this point, it's just too much.

Perhaps we should offer other awards for this year.


A lot of us deserve that award.  So many people had it coming, too.  It was hard to get through 2017 without stabbing somebody because it seemed like every day somebody new made the list.  



This year was so bad, I feel like I can't really speak the words but instead I have to use a doll to point at the places where 2017 hurt me.  The problem is, so much of what happened this year was self-inflicted.  

I did a lot of it to myself.  I wish I could say it was all "them" or "that" but no, I'm self-destructive.  




I'm starting to feel like crap.  I'm thinking somebody gave me their bug.  Because it's so damned cold out, and I don't have a car to drive anywhere, I'm kind of stuck here.  And I don't have a job, either.  I lost that a day after Christmas.  The car died two days before Christmas.  

What this all means is I'm sliding into 2018 ready for some serious changes.  I'm ready, too.  I'm ready to blast into 2018 like a 10 year-old shithead on a sugar rush in Walmart on the day they put out the toys for Christmas.  Come at me, bro.