Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year!

A New year's Eve post? Shouldn't I be out partying or something?

Nah. My partying days are far behind me. If we had a greater circle of friends, we might be celebrating with them, but the most Becky and I have encountered at this point are good acquaintances. We came close to making true friends of our neighbors...until they were evicted. So, yeah...not doing so great socially.

Still, Becky and I have one another. We've been officially together for over a year and a half, which is quite the accomplishment. I say this because I don't believe myself to be the best choice when it comes to potential mates. Still, Becky seems happy with me...until we have the occasional falling out. No, life isn't all non-stop bliss here. We have our problems. But we keep working on them, and I think that's why we haven't killed one another...yet.

Looking back over the year, it's been quite a trial for me. Charcot arthropathy has really done a number on me, and the loss of a toe is starting to cost. The remaining toes are realigning themselves to compensate for the loss, and those toes aren't taking the extra workload very well. Thus, it looks like 2012 will have more trials for me.

My current state of being...? Well, it would seem that a recent trip to the market had me also buying a virus. (Actually, I think I got this one for free.) It's depressing to be sick on New year's Eve, and yet, once again, I look forward to my time with my beloved. We really don't have to do anything special. Just having her here is enough. Of course, with me currently being under the weather, I'll likely be declaring that I'm dying, with her scoffing the idea each time. (One day, my love, I'm going to be right! =P )

My one major regret for this past year...? That I seemed to have curled myself into an existential ball and hidden from the world. I stopped working so hard to actually face my issues, and simply let many of them wash over me, allowing me to wallow in self-pity. I guess exerting myself emotionally all of the time has paid a price, and this year was the year for me to settle part of the bill. My emotional crisis helped me to run from GitP. It helped me to shut the door on the last of my family with which I communicated. It's turned me into more of a hermit than ever before, and that's not a good thing in any way.

So...Changes? Perhaps a New Year's resolution? No...It doesn't take one night to see that changes need to be made, and it's not wise to use only one night to make a commitment to make said changes. I'll work on my problems as they come, addressing each as I am up to tackling them.

And so, with the midnight hour approaching, I want to wish all of my friends a happy, healthy, and prosperous New Year. The short form, as I often say it...? "Be well, and DFTBA!" =)

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Shadows in the Rain

Woke up in my clothes again this morning
I don't know exactly where I am
I should heed my doctor's warning
He does the best with me he can

Ah, but I wonder what he'd tell me to do with my right foot this morning. Gods above and below, but this HURTS! I awoke to a rather common call of nature, but immediately discovered the most uncommon pains - plural! - coming from the sole of my foot. It felt like it was being burned, broken, and stabbed all at once. I'm still feeling these terrible sensations. As a kind of bizarre bonus, it also feels wet, yet is completely dry.

The call of nature could wait a minute or two. I needed to get painkillers on board, and I took EVERYTHING! That is, I took a 60 mg. MS contin., 30 mg. of oxycodone, and 100 mg. of Ultram. (Took my antibiotics, too. I figured, "What the heck. I'm taking plenty of pills. Why not one more?") Then I headed for the restroom and found that applying pressure help to an extent.

He claims I suffer from delusions
I'm so confident I'm sane
Can't be no optical illusion
How can you explain
Shadows in the rain

I never quite understood that bit of human behavior. When a part of us hurts, we grab the spot as though our hands have some magical power over the unwanted feeling. It really doesn't do anything to make the painful site feel any better, yet I find myself grabbing spots of pain all the time. The best is trying to hang on to my hip when it aches. The pain is so deep that the Lidoderm patches I have can't penetrate it. But there I am, placing a hand on my upper thigh as though I were a paladin with "lay on hands." I've also noticed that "gripping the site" is part of the description on the pain scale. You've probably seen it at the doctor's office or in hospitals. It depicts a face going from a smile, (a rate of 1 on the 1 to 10 scale of pain) to a distressed face that's in tears, (that would be the 10 rating). With each face is a descriptive line, and somewhere along the way, "gripping the site" is included. It's instinct...but it seems to be a silly one.

I mean, I can understand why we might OCCASIONALLY hold a hurt area. When my cousin helped to break my wrist when I was five, I cradled the arm as a way of protecting it from further harm. Placing a firm hand over an open wound might also help to slow or stop excessive bleeding. But a heart attack victim isn't protecting or helping by putting a hand over his/her chest or left upper arm.

If you see us on the corner
We're just dancing in the rain
I tell my friends there when I see them
Outside my window pane
Shadows in the rain

About as equally distressing as the amount of pain I'm experiencing this morning is the fact that sleep has been an issue for Becky and I. We've been going to bed between 1:00 and 2:00 AM. I've tried making a case for going to sleep earlier, and pleaded with my beloved to take some Benadryl earlier in the evening, as it helps to knock her out. She argues back that she doesn't want to have to rely on pills to sleep; a nice idea, if she could put otherwise into practice. Personally, I MUST take something to help me sleep, and it's been that way since the attack at 2:30 AM on 2 July 2002. I can sleep during the day, (although I prefer darkness to help me get to the land of Nod). My subconscious probably thinks I'm safer during daylight hours. But when night comes...? If I'm not taking SOMETHING for sleep, then I'm not sleeping. Not for long, anyway.

So many pills taken each day; it makes me debate the strong possibility that I'm now addicted to many of my meds. I only ever take my "breakthrough" pain meds when required, but it seems to be required too often. Am I truly that broken? Or is it my brain that only THINKS I'm that broken? If I could only be pain-free without the meds, I'd stop taking them to see how my body reacts to doing without.

Woke up in my clothes again this morning
I don't know exactly where I am
I should heed my doctor's warning
He does the best with me he can

I'm constantly questioning my existence, especially since I moved in with Becky. And my cognizance of my psych issues makes me question my questioning. For example, I'll have the thought, I'm never going to get better; the most I can hope for is "status quo." If Becky won't have the presence of mind to leave me, then I should leave her to save her the future heartache. What follows such a thought are many, many questions. Do you really think running would save her? Why would you hurt her like that? Aren't you deserving of happiness of some kind? Are you basing this thought on facts, or is this the depression taking hold of you? If it's the depression, is there a problem with your meds? If so, what's the problem?

It goes on and on, doubting my every decision and action. I told myself when my father had his open-heart surgery in the mid-90s that I would try to live my life as regret-free as possible, yet I've managed to make plenty of rather large mistakes, leaving me with plenty of regrets along the way. (Mind you, my initial thought was, I'm going to live a regret-free life! Only later, when I realized that was impossible, did I add, "as possible.")

Woke up in my clothes again this morning
I don't know exactly where I am
I should heed my doctor's warning
He does the best with me he can

So what mistakes am I making now? How do I avoid those mistakes? CAN they be avoided? Always worrying...always questioning...always doubting myself...always feeling inferior. And yet, in the eyes of a few, the mere fact that I do any questioning of myself and my actions at all is reason enough to consider myself a better man. Like Socrates's wisdom of ignorance, "I am a wise man because I don't consider myself a wise man."

*sigh* I don't know. But at the moment, my pains have abated, and that means I can rest my restless mind and go do something else. Perhaps War needs to shed more demon blood on Darksiders. Yes...Yes, I think he does.

He claims I suffer from delusions
I'm so confident I'm sane
Can't be no optical illusion
How can you explain
Shadows in the rain

The lyrics mixed into this post have been "Shadows in the Rain," from Sting's Dream of the Blue Turtles. It's actually a much jazzier rerecording of a track from the third album of The Police, Zenyatta Mondatta. While I couldn't find any concrete facts about it, the song is rumored to be about tripping on heroine. I think of it as more of a questioning of personal mental status. Having heard both versions of the song, I find the jazz/jam version after Sting went solo to be superior. =P


Be well, and DFTBA!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Am I an author now?

Y'know, I used to hold it as an axiom that I was only a writer. AUTHORS get published. The thing is that I've now been published not once, not twice, but THREE TIMES at NotAlwaysRomantic.com. To an extent, this post is only here for me to show off. The first post comes from long ago. The second is fairly recent history. The third actually took place before the second, but was only remembered recently. (If you click the links and read, be sure to give the stories a thumbs-up...Please?

The thing is...I've been changing my mind about the whole "becoming an author" thing. My view is slowly turning into, "An author is someone who's not only published, but gets PAID for it, as well."

Ah...but who needs money. I have a relationship that is not only filled with lots of love, but plenty of comedy, too. =P

Saturday, December 24, 2011

X-mas & Befuddlement

Today was spent in Becky's home town with her family. This included numerous nieces and nephews I don't have quite yet, but Becky spent the day referring to me, when addressing them, as "Uncle Rob." Not that I plan on making a hasty exit in the near future, but I'm not quite their uncle just yet. Perhaps I should have shouted from the next room, "Stop smothering me!"

No...Shouting wouldn't have been a very good choice. We had plenty of children to do that, pumped up on sugary treats of the day and adrenaline from receiving gifts.

TOYS!

Yes, even I got "toys." After giving Becky a list of things I would like, she decided to get me the three main core books for D&D 3.5. I can see a difference just glancing through them, so I look forward to entirely too many hours reading rules for a game I probably won't be playing in the near future. Distant future...? Who knows?

Before we sat down to eat a monstrous meal, I made a decision. Actually, the decision was made weeks ago. I had it in my phone calendar and everything. The decision: to call my father and wish him a happy anniversary. My thought was that if I called around noon, I'd miss a potentially messy phone call, as they'd be down in the dining hall, but I'd still get to leave my message.

To my utter astonishment, my step-mother answered, and...she was glad...to hear from me?!? o.O

Okay, what's going on? I was shouted at on 16 August and told to "have a nice life," at which point she hung up on me. Today, both my step-mother and my father acted as though it had been MY decision to stop talking to one another. I wish I could blame senility, but they've both held on to most of their mental capacities. My father being forgetful later in life is no different than when he was younger. (On more than one occasion, with his reading glasses perched atop his head, my father would ask, "Have you seen my reading glasses?")

I made small talk. It was the best I could do on short notice, what with being shocked that my call was welcome at all and everything. Then I ended the call swiftly, as there was "other-family madness" to attend to.

While Becky and I went the route of toys for the kids, other far more responsible parties decided to buy them clothes. This didn't go over so well with Becky's eldest niece, all of five years old, named Riley. The look on her face at a new pair of jeans said, "You bastards dare to come here and kill my puppy, then expect me to cheer happily?!? GET OUT!"

"Uncle Rob" to the rescue! I took the jeans, designed for a girl and so small my arm probably wouldn't have fit through the leg, and said, "Well, if you don't want it, I do." I held the jeans in front of me. "I think I'd look cute in them." The kid knew I was just being silly...but wouldn't you know it? The moment I expressed even my nonsensical desire for the pants, Riley demanded she have them back. She was even upset a couple of hours later, when it was realized they were too small for her, and that they'd have to be returned. "No! Don't take them back!"

Count your blessings, mortals, that I only use my powers for the good of mankind. =P

Once again, Turk and I were at it, with him announcing that my Jewish butt was going to Hell, while I insisted he was like every other Muslim in the world, just sitting at home, building bombs in his basement! There was even an exchange that I'm simply not going to put here. Instead, I'd submitting it to NotAlwaysRelated.com. >=P

It was a good day, with Becky and I eating more food than we should have. We were also up entirely too early due to the cats fighting pre-dawn again, so come late afternoon, we were ready to pass out. It seemed like such a long drive home, and we looked forward to collapsing once we put away leftovers.

What did we do instead? Went online and forgot to be tired. But we're getting back to that point as fast as possible.

I hope all my friends and extended family out there have a wonderful holiday season. You should all be well, and DFTBA! =)

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

I was taking WHAT?!?

So...I had moved to AZ to chase a woman, Robin, and we promptly broke up. But at least I had a job...until the accident. What accident? The one where I was pulling into my apartment complex and was rear-ended. Various x-rays and tests didn't show what was going on back then, but there was an incredible amount of pain coming from my shoulder. Like, along my back...that part of the shoulder. In an effort to treat me, my doctor prescribed all kinds of meds, most of which I don't remember the names of.

But there was one pill...It was prescribed to help me sleep. I couldn't remember the name of it, but have always wanted it again because it truly did the trick. If I was having difficulty sleeping, one of those tablets knocked me on my butt for an entire night.

Like the one time I traveled with new-found friends to a seminar. Some of us were a little too juiced to get to sleep right away, and it was strange to be crammed into a motel room, with 10 people spread out on the floor. So the few of us still awake went down to the lobby. I had a portable Chess set, and we intended to play a few games. Before leaving the room, I popped one of those tablets, assuming that it would kick in after about an hour.

We set up the board. My opponent and I made a few opening moves. Then I was waking up the next morning, a little stiff from having slept on the floor. According to those that were with me, I was still conscious, but somewhat unresponsive. It was almost as though I'd gotten stuck while daydreaming. They packed up the Chess set, escorted me back to the room, laid me in my spot on the floor, and that was it. It was lights out for Rob.

Since then, as I've had some serious sleep issues, I've wished for those mysterious tablets again and again. Alas, when discussing my insomnia with any of the doctors I've seen over the last five years, the only thing I could tell them about the pill was that it was green.

With a PCP visit rapidly approaching, I finally had the presence of mind to look it up before the appointment. The drug I discovered was called "chloral hydrate," and it looked just as I remembered it. I made a note of it in my cell phone without really reading up on it at all, intent on asking my doctor about it. When I finally got to ask, as the appointment was today, my doctor's initial response was, "I'm not familiar with that drug." So he pulled out his little pocket computer of drugs and typed it in.

The verdict is that...Yeah, I won't be having that drug again. Not right now, anyway. It's a MAJOR sedative that's often used prior to surgery. While it would be nice to have a medication that would unquestioningly put me to sleep, we don't want a drug that will make my ability to wake up a mystery, especially with all of the other meds I take. In fact, the doctor was pretty sure that the drug would knock me out...permanently.

What shocks me is that chloral hydrate was prescribed to me at all. My issue was shoulder pain along the back. While the pain was bad, it wasn't anything the likes of which I deal with today. And to have that doctor write for the drug and casually tell me to use it for sleep, when the reality is that it was one of the more powerful sedatives he could prescribe...Wow. Just...Yeah, wow.

I'm off to argue with my beard. I've been growing one for the last few weeks, and some of the hairs on it are growing in odd directions. I'm hoping that a chat will bring it into line. If not, then I'll have to use clippers as part of my argument. >=)

Be well, and DFTBA!

Monday, December 19, 2011

Dreams for sale!

Okay...You need to take yourself back to 1989. I was all of 20, and usually heartbroken because "the love of my life," Tara, wasn't interested in me in any way. Much of my life was a shambles. Adding to this, I was wandering the world with undiagnosed depression. Very SERIOUS depression. Somewhere amidst the darkness of my life, I still found it within myself to write creatively. While I would eventually take to fantasy and science fiction, the one piece I seemed dedicated to was a murder mystery. Mixed in along the way was the occasional short story.

I don't remember the month it was released, but Lou Gramm of Foreigner fame released a solo album, Long Hard Look, from which the radio stations seemed determined to play "Midnight Blue" to death. I bought said album on an ancient audio device called a "cassette tape." (You kids in the crowd may have to Google it.) And on this recording was one song that I mentally latched on to..."Broken Dreams."

Did you listen to it? You really should listen to it. The whole thing. It's important to this post.

At the time, my father still owned his 1987 Pontiac Grand Am. In what seemed to be something of a mid-life crisis, he bought the two-door version; the closest thing to a sports car my father would ever own. He even had the dealer tint the windows. Not much of a tint, but a tint nonetheless.

Now to describe the full scene. Me, locked in one of my darker moods, cruising around in my father's car, "Broken Dreams" being played over and over, and me brooding while I listened and drove. There were moments when I would start crying, despite the music itself not being terribly depressing. It was the lyrics, specifically at the 4:16 mark.

Now I've climbed this mountain high
But it won't stop my heart from burnin'
I got dreams for sale!
Tears and rivers running dry
But it won't keep the world from turnin'
Ohhh, broken dreams for sale!

To me, with my home life so miserable, and my unrequited love, and just alone in that car...The lyrics were telling my story. The story of a guy trying to find peace atop a mountain, perhaps where the wise guru awaits. But once he's reached the top, his heart still aches for that one true love. And while he might cry enough to form a river, the world would remain uncaring. Thus, with little or no empathy from those around him, he might as well sell his dreams of love.

The song would often run through my head, and I found myself sitting at the cafeteria at the community college I attended. Based on my interpretation of the song, I wrote a descriptive passage about a man who appeared to be in existential conflict. He's handsome, with his hair neatly combed, but in need of a shave. His expensive suit is wrinkled, but his shoes are impeccably shined. He carries with him what appears to be a suitcase, but it's the kind with legs that fold out from under it. As the city streets begin to fill, and various street vendors set up shop, he does the same with his suitcase. Passersby notice it's empty. And in a clear voice, he starts calling out, "Broken dreams for sale!"

The passage I wrote was longer, with much more detail. I sat there one day, simply dwelling on what I'd written, when the girlfriend of an acquaintance sat down and started reading it. She was amazed by it, and asked if she could include it in the college's literary magazine. I agreed that she could take it.

A part of me was proud that I'd finally been published. I hadn't been paid, so I still didn't consider myself an AUTHOR, but one of my pieces was in print...with many, many typos. (I think at one point my nameless character ended up with suitcaseS, and he later unfolded the leG beneath it (them?).)

And all of this has come to mind because of my recent emotional crash. One thought keeps running through my head: This is not how my life was supposed to go. And with that comes the thought that I seem to have officially come to a time of my life when I have entirely too many broken dreams for sale.*

*Keep in mind that I now have a new set of dreams. They are different from those of my youth, but they are pleasant dreams nonetheless. And with my beloved Becky in my life to make them come true, perhaps I'll have less to sell in the future.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Something I'll never have

So, I'm catching up on this season of Bones on Hulu. I missed most of last season, and I often find myself wondering how that show remains on the air. I mean, some of the murder scenarios are so desperately stretched that I shake my head in disappointment. It's not like Law & Order, where they get to tag an episode, "Ripped from today's headlines!" It's more akin to, "Ripped from the minds of our murderous writers while they were tripping on magic mushrooms."

I just finished an episode, and as part of the ongoing dramatic story that runs alongside the case, Booth's abusive, alcoholic father dies. He gets the news at the start of the episode, and Booth's reaction is one of cold determination to just focus on the case. And, of course, Booth is forced to confront his feelings about his past with "daddy dearest." One of the things mentioned is that Booth would never get to have closure with his father.

Well, it occurred to me that I'll never have such a thing with my parents, either. It was my step-mother, of all people, who shouted into the phone, "Have a nice life," and promptly hung up on me, without me hearing so much as a complaint from my father. My father, who's been oh so good at criticizing my every decision in life, finally had nothing to say, as he's made no effort to call me. I would call him, but...Well, I was told to have a nice life. I'm trying, but I don't think it'll be so nice. But that's a post for a different day.

My brothers...?

Well, Barry simply faded into the background, and his view of me having no value to him certainly made it clear how he wanted things. Mind you, during my very first suicide attempt, he arrived at the hospital in tears. You'd think he was afraid of losing me. Somehow, I think he saw himself in a similar emotional state and was afraid for himself. Honestly, someone filled with that much hate for so many ethnic backgrounds doesn't belong in my life. Odds are he'd have a racial slur for every one of the people whom I've befriended over the years.

Stu...Well, he got stuck somewhere between childhood and adulthood. He managed to learn all about responsibility to one's self, but never to another person. He cares for his son the way people care for pets; until they're directly within sight, they're fine on their own. Hence, his son being reared by a television set. And his wife seems to have an entirely different lifestyle from him because Stu doesn't know how to connect to anyone but himself. So closure with Stu...? Yeah, that's never going to happen.

Finally, (and I saved the best for last), there's my biological mother. There's a list of questions I'd love to ask, and expect no reasonable answers. "Why didn't you LOVE your children? Why did our cries for help fall on deaf ears? Why is it, when the whole world seemed to be complaining about her, did she not sit up and wonder if the problem wasn't HER? How is it that she was perfect and everyone else was flawed?" And the greatest questions of all time: "How could you want to see your son dead on the streets rather than call for help when he needed it? Why did you only summon the police when you felt YOU were in danger? With your eldest living child hurting so badly, how could you be so damnably selfish?"

How could she possibly answer any of those and not seem like an idiot? How could she see herself as anything other than the abusive harpy that so many psychologists warned her about when I was still a child? I was taken, you see, to a number of psychologists when I was so much younger, and a variety of therapists saw how fearful I was of my mother. Instead of seeing a problem in her behavior, she became insulted, forcing my father to accept how "wonderful" she was, and shopped around until she found a therapist whose diagnosis she preferred. She waited until someone said, "It's not you; it's the boy." That was...What? Psychologist number four or five?

Today, I carry the scars left by my family, along with some of the ingrained behaviors. My first instinct when I feel the need to argue with Becky is to diminish her...make her cower...belittle her so that the expression of hurt in her eyes is TRULY felt by her. I mean, if she's going to shed a few tears, why not make sure she's wailing in agony, as well?

Instead, I grab that beast with both hands and hold it back as hard as possible. No one, not even a misbehaving dog, deserves to be treated like that. I believe myself blessed by the fact that I somehow grew up to recognize how people should be treated. With kindness...with loving...with caring. I tried to treat my family in these ways, and they didn't know what to do with it. Stu glossed over it and moved on to things far less emotional. My father brushed it off as foolishness or...

When my father lived in FL, there was an almost daily ritual of visiting the nearest Dunkin' Donuts. There, a regular group of seniors would gather, and I went along while visiting my father. One woman was complaining about her relationship with some other woman, and I sat calmly, listened, and then distributed what I thought was the best advice I could muster. I spoke of the needlessness of anger, and how, if this other woman was being as spiteful as she seemed, she wasn't worth the complaining woman's time.

When I was done, my father wanted to know what was with the spectacular act I'd just put on. It wasn't an act. I was being myself. And my father didn't even know who or what I was at that point.

I'm the only one who grew up with a heart. I'm the only one who did his level best to hang on to anything positive in life, despite the horrors of diabetes thrust into my lap as my own doing. For this, I am lazy. For this, I am foolish. For this, I am an actor.

I'll never have closure with my family. And for that, I'm very, very sad.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Happy HOLIDAYS!

Y'know what? Take your "Merry Christmas" and shove it up your -

No...That's not me. It's not in my nature to be that rude during the holidays. In fact, the holiday spirit tends to strike me more throughout the year, and doesn't require a specific date for me to be giving. When the opportunity arises, I try to do good deeds. Just the other day, while Becky and I were shopping for no-bake cookie supplies, I told a cute child to go find her parents and stay with them, as I'm still trying to be the protector of the young and innocent.

But I'm a bit annoyed with the hypocrisy of the season, especially when it comes to those who declare that people should keep the "Christ" in "Christmas." Even I, the nice Jewish boy from NY, knows that Christ, in an historical context at the very least, preached kindness, forgiving, and charity to those less fortunate. Yet those who point out the whole "war on Christmas" thing tend to give only on specific occasions. Kindness, forgiveness, and even tolerance go out the window as these "righteous" human beings demand that others say "Merry Christmas" openly and freely...

...and to Hell with all other cultures and religions!

I can't tell you how many cashiers I've made squirm with one simple line. As they wish me a merry X-mas, I simply say, "I'm Jewish." Suddenly, in this world where entirely too many people strive to be politically correct, these poor cashiers find themselves wondering if "Happy Holidays" wouldn't have been the better thing to say. If I were truly malicious, I could then file a complaint, saying that I was personally offended by the fact that my beliefs weren't being respected. But...no, that wouldn't be very nice, would it? Those poor cashiers already look confused at the idea of someone NOT wanting to have a merry Christmas.

The reality is that I DO want to have a Merry Christmas. Or, to be more generic and cover the multitude of those who celebrate this time of year, I want to have a HAPPY HOLIDAY SEASON. (There's absolutely nothing wrong with being generic.)

I hope my readers - all two or three of you - can forgive my grumpiness, but this hasn't been a good day. Both my right knee and ankle have been aching. I think it's a weather-related event, as it seems to be getting much colder. I've not only taken the appropriate pills, but have Lidoderm patches on both areas.

And then there was the brilliance of Dell customer service, straight out of India, and their undying desire to see my surprise gift to Becky not be a surprise at all.

You see, Becky has had a laptop hiding under the bed for some time now because the power cord essentially snapped at a point where it can't be repaired. For months, she's been saying how she needs to buy a new cord so she can not only get some old files off the computer, but to also have a computer that she can use to bring to school and work on various projects between classes. Well, with us putting our gathering of money for the wedding fund on hold for this month, I thought I'd splurge and buy her the cord in secret.

I called Dell, the manufacturer of her laptop, last week and ordered up the proper item. It wasn't the most expensive thing I could buy, but it wasn't cheap, either. While talking to the customer service rep, I specified that this was meant to be a surprise gift. So he took my e-mail address and phone number, put them on what is actually Becky's account, and then...Well, he said that the address I gave him wouldn't come up as a legitimate address on their system. It was the apartment number that was screwing everything up. To get past this, I simply told him to ship it to the address on the account, which is 'Nita's address. (Becky's mom.) After this was all set up, I called 'Nita to tell her the gift was coming to her, and eventually also asked that she wrap it so it would remain a surprise.

Skip to today, when my phone rang with a mysterious 800 number showing up on the little screen. When I answered, it was another guy from Dell, looking for Becky to find out if she'd received the power cord. According to their records, it was delivered on the 13th. "You're looking to talk to my fiancee, whom I bought this thing for as a surprise gift," I said vaguely, as Becky was sitting near me. "Well, I'll have to make a call to see if it arrived. I'll call back if there's any problems." Mr. Customer Service Guy said he understood, and apologized for almost ruining the surprise. We hung up and, as far as I knew, that was the end of it.

I then went into the kitchen, gathered up the trash, and walked outside to put it in the trash bins.

When I came back in, Becky was finishing up a phone call. My immediate thought was that she'd called her mother to at least ask if my surprise gift had arrived. I was fine with that, so long as she wasn't trying to find out what it was.

But...No, that wasn't the case. Instead of her having made a call, I found out that it was THE SAME GUY I'D JUST SPOKEN TO, calling the other phone number on the account, trying to get a definitive answer as to whether the power cord had arrived. After being told he understood it was a surprise...after saying he understood that I'd call if there was a problem...after apologizing for almost ruining the surprise...he went and made another phone call anyway, essentially ENSURING that the surprise was ruined.

Here, in a few brief lines, is how I imagine a job interview at Dell goes...

Manager: Can you push buttons?
Applicant: Yes.
Manager: Do you speak in an accent few Americans can understand?
Applicant: Yes.
Manager: Do you, yourself, understand English?
Applicant: Not really, no.
Manager: YOU'RE HIRED!

I'm so glad such people weren't in on the engagement scenario I pulled off over a year ago. I can just see it now, as Becky gets a phone call two weeks before I asked her to marry me, with the customer service rep asking, "We just wanted to know if you received the engagement ring your boyfriend ordered from us in secret and if you're happy with it?"

True genius, I tell you.

With that bit of venting, I'm off to relax and perhaps read some holiday gifts I recently received from an old friend. Be well, and DFTBA.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eight hours straight...please?

Just one night - JUST ONE - I'd like to be able to sleep the night through without interruption. Instead, I have nights like last night.

It began around 10:00 PM, when I was lying in bed, reading, while Becky was playing some Zelda game on our newly acquired Wii. She and her mother bought it together some time ago, and her mother decided she no longer wanted it and gave it to Becky. So Becky is on the bed, playing, and I'm on the bed, reading...and I'm slowly losing consciousness. I might have drifted off to sleep right then, but when Becky had to fight off some baddie on the game, she would shake the whole bed.

Even with all of this movement, however, I started falling asleep...and then I had one of those things. You know...that sensation that you're tripping, stumbling, falling...and your whole body jerks to catch your balance, which you can't possibly lose while lying flat. (It's actually called a myoclonic jerk. Oh, the things I learn on House.)

So I find myself awake, and Becky finds herself having a hard time getting to sleep. We both get on our respective computers to try and engage in activities that will tire us out. Becky also popped a Benadryl; G-d bless her and her lack of need for narcotics to get to sleep. Unless I receive Benadryl via an IV, it doesn't make me tired at all. Instead, I pop 5 mg. of Valium.

Come midnight, we decide to give sleeping a shot...except that I'm not quite as tired as Becky is at this point. We cuddle for a bit. I relate a story from a Twilight Zone episode I saw many, many moons ago, and Becky eventually starts wanting to drift off...while snuggled against my shoulder. Well, that's not going to work, as when she falls asleep in such a position, she usually ends up snoring directly in my ear. After a bit of a lovers' conflict over the situation, she rolls over...

...leaving me still to awake to sleep. So I open my 3.0 D&D Player's Guide and try a bit of reading to knock me out. It usually does the trick, and was working while she was playing on the Wii...but now it's not having much of an effect. I finally decide that reading might be keeping me awake, close the book, turn out the lights, and lie in the dark, trying to think of nothing so sleep will come...

...and that's when the cats decide that NOW would be a good time to have a fight. They take turns antagonizing one another, but Raine always fights in silence. It's Nike who we hear during all such scraps. Thus, I find myself sitting up in bed and heatedly whispering threats to a pair of beasts who don't understand a word I'm saying. What they DO understand is my tone, and they run for cover, knowing the water bottle that we use to spray them can't be far behind.

Sleep eventually comes to me, only to be interrupted two hours in by the call of nature. When I WANT to be asleep for an extended period, my bladder starts complaining at a regular two-hour interval after finally getting to sleep. But when I want to use my bladder functions as a kind of alarm clock, it fails me. Like the other day...I felt the slight need to use the rest room as I laid down for a nap, and though, Good. In about two hours or so, my need will be that much greater, and it'll wake me up, thereby keeping me from sleeping the day away. Nope. My body allowed me to stay asleep for six hours, to which I awoke with Mother Nature screaming at me to get to the bathroom.

Okay...So I relieve myself, head back to bed, and notice in the darkness that Becky has thrown off the covers. She's too warm. This is actually unusual; normally, she's too chilly, as my own internal thermostat is broken. (It's a diabetes thing.) So it is that I ended up turning on the air conditioning in the midst of winter. Our place tends to get incredibly warm, and I run the fan on the AC unit almost continuously, but last night I actually turned on the AC itself. Then it was back to bed...

...and I fell asleep on my back. This isn't always a terrible thing, except that on occasion I will start snoring, and said snoring wakes me up. Yes, my own snoring will wake me up. How scary is that? And that's what happened about an hour after I'd drifted off.

The next time I awoke, it was because I was too cold, and seemed unable to get myself covered up properly. Now I'm out of bed again, trying to adjust the AC so it's "fan only," and get back to the Land of Nod. I toss and turn, trying to get comfortable on the sliver of bed that Becky's left me in her own sleep. This results in me bumping into my night stand, usually knocking something off in the process. As if that noise wasn't enough, it was the collision of my elbow against the corner of the night stand that caused Becky to wake and ask, "What was that?" I explained that I'd smashed my elbow, which seemed to satisfy her, and she rolled over to sleep again...

...which FINALLY gave me a little more room and allowed me to do the same. I might have actually gotten some decent sleep after that, except Mother Nature woke me again at 6:30 AM. I answered the call, went back to bed, and this time slept until alarms started going off around 10:00 AM.

And now it's after noon, and Becky is still asleep. I'm gonna have to wake her up, which I don't look forward to. I like to let her rest, as I believe she does so much more than me in our home. But I can't let her sleep the day away.

I just want a night of uninterrupted sleep. Alas, I'm probably asking too much.

Be well, and DFTBA.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Two down, six to go

Have you seen it yet? Rick Perry's "Strong" video? Here...take a look.

What amazed Becky and I was the like/dislike bar. Neither of us had seen one as red as that. And by the time I'd gotten around to viewing it on YouTube, comments had been disabled, probably due to the epic amount of arguing and trolling going on.

But we don't need no stinking comment section to troll such an advertisement. No...we have video responses! So many, in fact, that I couldn't pick just one favorite. Like this one with the alternative voice-over. Or an "original" video like this one. And for all the mensches out there, we have this one.

The internet has seemingly exploded over this one, incredibly stupid commercial. All you need to do is look up "Rick Perry Strong Parody" on YouTube, and you'll wind up with plenty to watch. Some are funny, like the ones I linked. Others are quite bad. And many, sadly, are just rude. The comments are an insane flame war, with people, even more sadly, trying to defend his message.

In my opinion, he sunk his very own battleship. For me, it started when he had the 30,000 strong prayer meeting before announcing he'd run. The price he charged to get into it was enough to start a campaign. He then dug one of the deepest holes imaginable when he revealed that he couldn't debate worth a damn. (Really..."Oops?") And now this commercial, where he basically says, "I'm a religious zealot who's also a bigot."

Mr. Perry, if you'd just join Mr. Cain over there on the sidelines, we'll allow you to answer a few questions before disappearing into obscurity.

My guess at this time is that it's going to be Newt Gingrich vs. Barack Obama come next November. Because Newt is a familiar face and he has the experience. All other contenders are unknown or buffoonish, and...

Y'know what? Screw it. I'm moving to Canada. =P

Be well, and DFTBA!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In today's adventure, the terrorists win

Yesterday marked the day when a defense appropriations bill went through the senate. It passed at a vote of 93 to 7. The crowd can cheer, as we will be able to continue defending our nation. There is, however, a little attachment to the bill that should have every American not cheering, but quaking in fear. As I understand it, it states that anyone suspected of terrorist activity can be detained by our military and held indefinitely without a trial. I'm not talking about suspects on foreign soils. I'm talking about American citizens.

Now, look...I know we have our villains here. "One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter." And there are those who would sympathize with various terrorist groups. But this law is going to end up catching a number of people who have no interest in such things; they just happen to ACCIDENTALLY fit the profile of what officials would deem a terrorist.

Watching Jon Stewart, there was a clip of one senator discussing those things that would constitute a potential terrorist. Waterproofed firearms. (So any cop with a waterproofed weapon in a rainy spot of America - say Washington State - is probably a terrorist for protecting the weapon he lives by.) Hands with missing fingers. (My landlord must be a terrorist, then.) More than seven days of food in one's pantry. Heck, on that last one, Becky and I, as well as probably a few million homes in America could be suspected of terrorism. (When a microwaveable meal goes for $1.50 less at Wal-Mart than at the market across the street, we try to stock up.)

There was this commercial after 9/11. (Watch it! It's only 30 seconds.) When watching it so shortly after 9/11, my heart would swell with pride in our country. We DID change. I felt we'd become stronger; that we'd bonded over our mutual tragedy. I was simultaneously made sick when it seemed so many Arab-Americans were targeted for hate crimes, simply because of their national origin or religion. We're better than that...or we could be.

But then, over the years, slowly but surely, we started seeing various freedoms taken away. I was all for the extended wait at airports while my belongings were searched. I even tolerated the limited amount of toiletry chemicals I was permitted to bring on a plane. And we were almost instantly hit with the PATRIOT* Act, which was passed less than two months after the attack. To almost every eye watching, it seemed to be rushed through the legislative process, and signed into law with almost NO ONE reading it. As per John Conyers, Jr., via Michael Moore's Fahrenheit 9/11, "We don't read most of the bills. Do you know what that would entail if we read every bill that we passed?" It's scary, and misinterpreted or not, many people felt that the FBI having a blank check on wire tapping was terrifying in its own right.

Then this new agency popped up, the TSA, and it started making headlines that they were getting carried away with their searches. I mean, is patting down the seven-year-old girl really necessary? What about the eighty-six-year-old grandmother in a wheelchair? Once again, every eye on this agency seems to think they have entirely too much power, with virtually no oversight.

Along with the TSA came new technologies, which allowed total strangers to see what was beneath our clothes. Leave it to one woman, Tammy Banovac, to use methods to get past and around the screenings of the TSA, who said of a previous experience, "If it happened anywhere else, it would have been sexual assault."

Now this new law, which would allow anyone SUSPECTED of terrorist activity can be detained without so much as a word permitted in defense. No trial. No lawyer. No nothing.

But don't worry. President Obama plans to veto the bill. Why? Well, Jon Stewart put a spin on it, making it sound as though the White House will veto it because it doesn't grant the President ABSOLUTE POWER. From what brief reading I've done, it's because such powers already exist. "The authorities granted by the Authorization for Use of Military Force Against Terrorist, including the detention authority, are essential to our ability to protect the American people...Because the authorities codified in this section already exist, the Administration does not believe codification is necessary and poses some risk."

Oh good. I feel so much better.

That commercial, where it claims the terrorists changed America...? They succeeded, alright. They've helped to turn us more and more into a police state than any other effort made before. "Land of the free. Home of the brave."

Well, mostly free.

Be well, and DFTBA.

*Edited after I was "Targeted." =P

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Learning old things

I got curious. You see, I've been putting off writing my book about diabetes. The irony being that my writing it was interrupted by the dramas produced by the complications of diabetes. It's time to focus and get back to work.

But there are things that I simply don't remember about my past, and one of those things is the interaction with friends in the outside world. Outside the hospital, that is. In a way, it's sad that I had friends inside the hospital. They should have been fleeting acquaintances, at best. Instead, I knew many of the chronically ill kids by face and name, some of whom have died from their illnesses, like my beloved friend Sandra.

So what of my friends outside the hospital? What did they think was going on? Did they have any understanding of what was happening? To find out, I wrote to the only guy I'm still in touch with from my teen years, Terence. His response was both amusing and frightening.

You see, he claimed that I was able to make such statements as, "I'll be going into the hospital next Tuesday." The way that sentence lies, without further information, makes is sound as though I was able to plan my hospitalizations at least a week in advance. Mind you, the process of entering diabetic ketoacidosis, DKA, can take only a few hours. Take no insulin and ingest some sugar, and I could be puking my guts out in short order, as was accidentally proven just days before I returned to AZ.

Not sure if I told this story, so I'll tell it now. I'd just received all of my back pay from Social Security, and was feeling wealthy. Thus, I decided to get a new pair of glasses. The only place that could do it in one day was next to the nearest mall, which was about two hours away by bus. I made an early start of it, had an eye exam, and the glasses were being put together while I wandered the mall.

While I wandered, I started to feel my blood glucose rising. I reached into my pocket to get my insulin out, and discovered that I'd brought everything I needed to take my meds...except syringes. Well, I figured I could make it home in time to take a proper dose before things went badly for me...but I was starting to experience polydipsia, or excessive thirst for you uneducated, non-diabetic types. =P

I got the glasses, then went to get a drink at a bar and grill near the bus stop. Since it was mid-day, they were slow. I approached the bar and asked for the largest diet soda they had, to go. I was served the drink, popped the straw into it, and took a HUGE swallow of it...and noticed that it tasted very wrong. I asked if it was diet, to which the bar tender said, "No. It's a Coke." In that moment, I had a sense that I was doomed, all because this idiot couldn't take my order correctly.

Two hours later, stumbling up to the boarding house where I lived, I knew I was beyond a simple dose of insulin. I needed a hospital. I tossed together a bag of clothes and toiletries and was taken to the ER, and was admitted for being in DKA. When asked how I came to be in such bad shape, I told the doctors of the tragic comedy of errors that brought me there. One of the doctors, who'd cared for me when I was there months before with osteomyelitis, simply shook his head in amazement, especially at being served the wrong drink and the consequent swallow that I took.

Back to my machinations of my youth...Terence wasn't as close to me back then as would eventually become. Most often, we would bump into one another at the comic book store, and then end up hanging out for a bit afterward. This was pretty much a weekly event, and my guess would be that it happened most on Friday, when the new comics were in each week. That was my regular day to head to the shop, and...

Wow. And that's not a good wow. I would be planning on Friday my hospitalization at least four days later. I was incredibly STUPID!

And that's all from me. Be well, and DFTBA. (That last of which I obviously forgot in my youth.)

Monday, December 5, 2011

When I was young and stupid...

...Y'know...a few years ago. Someone shouted amidst my blog comments or some such that I should run for President, and I took it to heart. I started another blog and everything, in which I decided to open up about myself and my political ideas.

That blog is now thoroughly and completely dead, as is the concept of running for office. No one is going to run out and vote for a guy who is tempted to call in sick while running the country. Sure, I could probably take care of everything from my bedroom, but the nation wants to see it's leader up and about, physically making a show of running things.

Aside from the fact that my potential annual Presidential physical would come back as, "He could have a diabetic stroke at any minute," there's also the fact that I had a lot of goofy ideas that wouldn't mesh with the idea of keeping America running.

One of those things was to become as close to an isolationist nation as possible. (Keep in mind that this comes from someone who calls himself a "backseat president.") My idea of isolating the country would be to tax imports more heavily than they are. That is to say, if someone wants things made outside the country, they're going to have to pay a lot more for it. The reasoning behind this is (was) to push American manufacturing harder. Give the jobs to OUR citizens. Entice companies to establish factories here, so that we'd see "Made in (usually some Asian country)" less often. Put our people back to work, and start having some pride in that old phrase, "American made." Those companies that moved outside the U.S. might save money on labor in their sweat shops, but they'd lose it all, and then some, when it came to paying to import their products. Again, the incentive was to keep the work here, in the States.

Then there was our military operations. Perhaps it's a military secret known only to those in office. Perhaps it's just known to people who aren't as lazy as me, who bother to Google it. Perhaps it's something known by people with more brain power than I...but I can't help but wonder why - for the love of G-d, why? - do we have military bases scattered across the globe? We "tamed" Japan in WW II. We whipped Germany into shape in the same war. And I could understand why we'd want to leave bases there for a decade or two to keep an eye on things - make sure they played nice with the rest of the world. But bases still there after well over six decades? Are you insane? This is a sore spot in our debt that I simply don't understand. (Don't explain it! My ignorance feels quite blissful, thank you very much.)

And then there are these wars we're involved in. We've become embroiled in too many conflicts, and it almost seems as though someone at some time after WW II said, "Hey...War is big business. We should make sure we're always fighting with someone." Since then, it seems as though we've either been at war or preparing to be at war with one nation or another. And while there are those politicians who think war makes for good business, what with various manufacturing contracts spread out all over the U.S., it's the blood of our young men and women that's being spilled on foreign soil. Bring them home, and stop meddling in every affair that we THINK we can meddle in.

As to the idea that we readily start fighting in nations with heavy oil reserves, I think we'd be able to kick our own butts into gear on alternative fuel sources if we would just learn to let go of foreign oil. I believe it could be a much larger industry right here at home if we bothered to put the resources behind it, and probably for a lot less money that it takes to support an army overseas.

Spurring the economy...keeping our military fingers out of so many pies...these ideas, in my head, would eventually start supporting various entitlement programs, instead of us living under the threat of them being bankrupt in just a few decades.

But the idea of cutting ourselves off from the world? No, I'm afraid George Washington would be out of his mind if he were to suggest such a thing today. I don't think there's anything wrong with the concept of "partial isolation," as my ideas might suggest, but we are also part of the global community, and must remain so.

Of course, I also thought running for President would be a great way to FINALLY get decent medical care, instead of having to juggle visits between one doctor or twelve.

And it troubles me that our nation is in such disarray at the moment. That's what all of these political posts have been about. It only seems to get worse as each day passes. (At least Herman Cain seems to have dropped out. That's one silly choice out of the way. NEXT!)

(Oh...if you're wondering why I used the "stupidity" tag, it's because I don't believe myself to be the brightest bulb on the tree when it comes to politics.)

Be well, and DFTBA.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Just this one

As should be well known, by now, I have lots of aches and pains. The ones coming from my hips have been curtailed to an extent by the removal of the cast; my hips are no longer at a perpetually odd angle, but still ache now and again because of the tissue reduction there. My ankle hurts because of the numerous microfractures in the talus and, because it's new, I can only assume it's the cold causing the pain to flare up.

But there is one pain that is slowly making me more and more insane as time goes by. It's somewhere between the very end of the 1st metatarsal, the medial cuneiform bone, and the intermediate cuneiform bone. Somewhere in there, and I'm not sure where, is an old break that I'm blaming for all this pain, as it doesn't seem to be a good fit with the Charcot arthropathy.

How'd I break a bone in the middle of my foot like that? I broke it...over a girl.

I've mentioned numerous times that Perlin and I broke up because she was cheating on me. From what I can tell, I haven't told that story in full. I probably still won't do that, as I'm only going to cover that event up to the break in my foot. So here goes...

When Perlin and I got together, she was dating someone else, but was flirting heavily with me. Flirting eventually led to much, MUCH more. She broke up with the other guy, started dating me, and all was well. Or so I thought. I had it in my head that I would be the one to change her cheating ways; I would treat her so well that she'd never want to run off with someone else.

In other words, I was a fool.

There was this guy at our community college whom she started spending more and more time with. I not only became extremely suspicious, but insanely jealous. There was a point where he and I were in the college quad, surrounded by many people, and I shouted threats at him so loudly that I could be heard inside the administration building on the third floor. (Yeah, I can be quite loud when I want to be.) I didn't mind Perlin having new friends, but I saw her getting entirely too close to this guy, and told her to stay away from him. That he would visit her at work was even more distressing.

One day, Perlin walked me to class. She gave me a kiss goodbye, and then left for work, as she had no other classes that day. As she walked off, I was about to enter the classroom, when something in my head told me to follow her instead. I did, all the way out to the parking lot...and into a loving embrace with the other guy.

I lost it. I mean, I was undiagnosed with any mental illness, and not medicated in any way, and I exploded with rage. When I become that angry, I don't hit people. I hit things. And while venting my rage, I kicked the door of the guy's car. The car door dented...and then popped right back out.

But my foot...things didn't work out so well for it. Because of the way in which I landed the blow on the car, the bones in the middle of my foot collided, and one of them chipped. The pain at the time was so bad that I went to my PCP of the time, and he took an in-office x-ray which revealed the break. Upon telling my father of the broken bone, my father insisted I see a specialist...because, you know, specialists know more. But when the orthopedic specialist took an x-ray, there was no break to be seen. I then had to run to my PCP, get the copies of the x-ray, and show them to the specialist, who "competently" scratched his head and said, "Hey, there IS a break!" (Genius.)

(Shortly after the break was discovered, and I was retelling the tale of how I broke it, many people wanted to know why I didn't beat the crap out of the guy with whom Perlin was cheating. My repeated answer was this: "The human foot can withstand a great deal of abuse. From what I understand, you can slowly run over a foot with a car, and while it'll hurt, it won't break. So imagine how much force I had to exert to break the bone that I did. No imagine if I'd kicked the guy Perlin was cheating with. If I'd kicked him, my foot would have gone THROUGH him, and I'd be in jail for manslaughter.")

This part of my life was a complete mess. My psyche was shattered by the illusion of love becoming undone. I made one of my more serious suicide attempts over the next few weeks. At one point, I went to shower while I was in the hospital, and they gave me a flimsy plastic bag to cover my cast. The cast became soaked, and was so uncomfortable that I eventually hacked it off at home using an EXTREMELY sharp knife. The bone that was broken only had a brief time to heal - only three or four weeks - and probably didn't heal properly.

Now, years later, it's haunting me as one of the most agonizing pains on Earth. Seriously, it feels like there is a jagged shard of glass that's been shoved in there. The pain is sharp and perpetual, and none of my pain meds seem to be cutting through it. Among other things, it's terribly distracting, and brings about a fear in me of standing and walking. It's that bad, and the brace doesn't really help me with this particular pain.

I believe I'll be seeing the pain specialist in the near future. When I do, I'm going to inquire into the possibility of another nerve block. There has to be a solution to this pain without there being some kind of surgery or more narcotics. Or so I'm hoping.

And now that I've had another whine session, as well as another trip down "Amnesia Lane," I bid you all to be well, and DFTBA.

Friday, December 2, 2011

A brief clarification

My last post...It's receiving quite a bit of criticism, which I don't mind, as the aforementioned critiques are intelligently argued. The thing is, I slipped in a kind of disclaimer toward the end that is being glossed over. It's the third to last paragraph, in which I state that I was skipping a lot of history. So allow me to clarify that...

I skipped A LOT of history! Lots of it. There's no way I could have covered everything I would have liked to, and there are instances where Washington's ideas would have been oh so very wrong.

The one that comes to mind most strongly is America's involvement in the European side of WW II. I'm surprised we stood on the sidelines as long as we did before we got into the game. To remain an isolationist nation in the face of such an evil as Nazi Germany would have been wrong in so many ways that I can't begin to count. And, really, Adolf Hitler presented a threat to the U.S., as he would have tried to conquer the world had we not stepped in. Could he have done it? We'll never know, thank G-d. But had we taken Washington at his word, putting every suggestion into absolute practice, our world might be very different in countless, negative ways.

We've become "the World Police," which is very much so against the thoughts of our first President. We also spend far more than we have, which has led us into this nightmarish debt the nation now holds. So much time has been spent in the Middle East that I'm surprised we don't simply OWN the nations there. And our political parties are no longer drawing party lines, but digging battle trenches.

My point of my last post was born from a fear that our country is entirely too broken. Governor Bush was a failure at every business his daddy bought for him. It only stands to reason that he would run this country into the ground and leave the mess for someone else to clean up, which is what happened. When/if I have them, my children will be the ones paying off the absurd amount of debt that Bush started and Obama added to. And the political arguments, with everyone pointing fingers and trying to lay the blame on everyone else...It just makes me that much crazier, as no one seems honorable enough to stand up and take responsibility for it.

I skipped A LOT of history. Lots, and lots, and lots. So try not to beat me up too much...Okay?

Be well, and DFTBA!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

When we stopped listening...

No, this isn't another music post. Too many people thinking there's real music out there now. (Kids these days! =P )

No, this is going to be another one of those posts where I discuss politics and history, and Becky will hate it. (She much prefers when I spew a love note in public.) Sorry, my love, but I've been learning things, and now I must vent!

In my post last Saturday, where I was mostly addressing Zeb, he replied with a comment that ended with a few words about our very first President, George Washington. (I mention that in case someone out there thinks our first President was Abe Lincoln or something.) Washington had no party. (Lewis Nicola made a suggestion that Washington become king of a new State, but he was the only one to really make the suggestion. Thus, the idea that Washington was offered to be made king of the United States is a myth. (My source.)) He was unopposed in the election. The framers of our Constitution simply assumed he would take the job, and when he agreed to come out of retirement to take the office, everyone basically said, "Good!" And they left it at that.

Zeb linked a summary to Washington's Farewell Address. It was a nice read, but I wanted to see what was actually said. So I read that, as well. (The man used the word "umbrage" in a sentence without the word "professor" before it! No one speaks (or writes) like that anymore...that I know of.) Having read the actual document and the summary, I have come to the realization that his words fell upon deaf ears...and still do. The House of Representatives stopped reading it back in 1984, but the Senate still reads it on Washington's birthday...and not a single Senator, as far as I can tell, understands a word of it.

But let's back up from our modern day and go all the way back to the election after Washington left office. Washington, having expressed that political parties were a bad idea, was followed by John Adams, a member of the Federalist Party. A member...of the Federalist...Party.

Right. Here's my interpretation of how this went down:

Older, Wiser Parent: See this? This is fire. It burns. Don't touch it. Understand?
Child: Yes, I understand.
Older, Wiser Parent: Are you sure? Because I don't want to see you get burned. If you get burned, it'll hurt. Do you like being hurt?
Child: No.
Older, Wiser Parent: So what won't you do?
Child: I won't touch the fire.
Older, Wiser Parent: Why?
Child: Because it'll burn me, and it'll hurt.
Older, Wiser Parent: Right. Very good.
Child: *immediately puts a hand in the fire and starts screaming in pain*
Older, Wiser Parent: Why'd you do that?!?
Child: I was making sure you were right.
Older, Wiser Parent: ...

Here was a man who'd invested everything he had, including his very life, into the creation of our nation, and then gave his later years into running said nation. On his way out the door, he made a gentle plea, as it were, that those who would follow him to take great care in how they conducted themselves in running the country. Washington had learned from that goofy thing we call EXPERIENCE. And you'd think that these men from another time - men almost certainly WISER than we are today - would heed his warnings. Nope. Human nature seems to dictate that we only learn through our mistakes, and so they had to do exactly what he said not to do in order to prove he was correct.

Okay...now that we've established when we decided to be a stupid nation, let's move forward to 1860, when our first Republican President was elected. (NOW we're at Abraham Lincoln.) Under the misconception that Lincoln was going to ruin their way of life, the Southern States secede. Why? Because of all of the personal discourse that Washington warned about. "False patriots," as Washington may have called them, screamed loudly enough to bring about a shattering of the nation. (Well done, gang.) And we paid for it in blood. This early version of the Republican Party was for a strong central government that would keep the country in one piece.

Today, here in the States, we have these things called "Red States." These are the States that tend to vote Republican most often. In a radical twist, it seems that many Southern States are the ones to vote that way...for the same party that "that heinous Lincoln belonged to." Why? Because modern Republicans are against big, centralized government.

Wait...What?

Y'know what? Let's get away from the whole political party thing and move on to Washington's urging us to stay out of foreign affairs. Oh, the occasional alliance to support a peaceful world was all well and good, as far as his address said, but let's not choose sides all the time...unless the other nation presents an imaginary threat to our way of life, like with communism. "They're over there, and we're over here...but let's make sure they stay over there and crush them while we still can! And while we're getting involved with such nonsense, let's also attack anyone who won't easily share their oil. And once we've established a presence in these other nations, let's not leave for a few dozen decades."

Oh, but I absolutely LOVE the part where Washington warns against debt, proclaiming it a necessity in times of preparation of war, but otherwise unnecessary. "As a very important source of strength and security, cherish public credit. One method of preserving it is to use it as sparingly as possible, avoiding occasions of expense by cultivating peace, but remembering also that timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it, avoiding likewise the accumulation of debt, not only by sunning occasions of expense, but by vigorous exertion in time of peace to discharge the debts which unavoidable wars may have occasioned, not ungenerously throwing upon posterity the burden which we ourselves ought to bear." In other words, "Don't screw up the national debt unless we absolutely have to in order to stay free. And if we DO have to extend our credit, let's not leave the mess for future generations; let's clean up our own messes."

Thanks for the advice, George, but as an advanced society, we now have it in our power to park the country down the street so China can't repo the nation.

I have an idea. Let's erase all of the history books, and call Washington our first and ONLY President. After that, all others will be called "Ringmasters," as they've led this circus in some of the dumbest ways possible. It seems that all of them ignored the wise man atop the mountain, and we've paid for it ever since.

Okay, I'll be fair. I'm leaving out a lot of details in our history, mostly because I'm not trying to write an entire book on the subject at the moment. But I'm wodering what our nation would have been like - would be like - if we'd heeded George Washington's advice. No debt...No squabbling over petty differences...No Fox "News."

Perhaps one day I'll tackle the task of going over George's address, point by point, and exemplify how we handled each one. Or maybe I'll save it as a book idea. Or maybe - just maybe - I'll get over it and worry more about personal matters. =P

Be well, and DFTBA!