Saudi Arabia is no “ally” worth having

Saudi Arabia, as a country and as a culture, unnerves me. But, that being half of my bloodline (so says my mother), I’m drawn back time and again to learn about it. Unfortunately so much of what I’ve seen and heard over time (including what I was told by a Saudi man who had befriended my former husband many years back) isn’t pretty. The VAST majority of it isn’t actually. Not to mention their royal family appears sadistically nuts, yet still is claimed as an ally by the U.S. and European nations.

Before I begin posting up links tonight, it deserves to be stated that I did attempt a positive information hunt on Saudi Arabia and the Middle East in general that went on for a few years, particularly during my time volunteering within the pro-peace/anti-war movement. Back then I really strove to give peace a chance and to open up my mind, hoping I’d come across information that could contradict what all I’d managed to learn about that nation and its people up until then. But no such luck. Even the liberal peace community couldn’t sweep its human rights abuses under the rug despite sometimes trying. That culture’s atrocious human rights record is undeniable, plentiful, and completely unapologetic.

Tonight I’ll showcase a few examples, beginning with a graphic LiveLeak video of a male servant being whipped, hit, and spit on by his purportedly Saudi (Arab of some sort either way) “sponsor”: https://www.liveleak.com/view?i=850_1382853964

Saudi Arabia requires a “sponsorship” program for its immigrant workers whereby a “sponsor” is granted a great deal of control over the worker, including his or her right to leave the country. This was reported in the Human Rights Watch 2012 report on Saudi Arabia:

ScreenHunter_16 Jul. 26 01.07That was a screen-captured excerpt from the HRW link above. And, as you saw in the LiveLeak video linked above, the abuse isn’t confined to female migrant workers only.

Came across this article from the World Tribune (Sept. 22, 2013) titled “Opposition: Saudi king’s son promotes ‘racist policy’ against nation’s blacks“:

ScreenHunter_17 Jul. 26 01.12Hence why I was mistaken in my most recent video where I assumed there were little to no black people even living in Saudi Arabia these days. Come to find out they’re just being kept off the television and treated like second-class citizens (lower even than the migrant workers apparently in some cases) in what amounts to an apartheid setup. Not that that’s any better…

Here’s an article from The Guardian (Oct. 19, 2010) titled “Saudi prince guilty of servant’s murder“:

ScreenHunter_18 Jul. 26 01.19The House of Saud is showing itself to be the House of Sade (Marquis de Sade, that is). Oh, but it doesn’t stop there. It goes on and on and on with these folks…

Here’s an example from just last week, “Saudi royal arrested over videos purportedly showing abuse” (CBS News; July 20, 2017):

ScreenHunter_19 Jul. 26 01.31A “prison for wayward royals”? They necessitate their own prison?? How many frickin’ royals does that country have? Don’t know much about the new king, but I won’t be holding my breath and expecting any real change to occur. Takes time to evolve, and that goes for people and whole cultures. Won’t happen over the course of a few years, most certainly.

I’ll let Abby Martin of the Empire Files tell us a little more:

Appointed to the human rights panel at the UN. Yep, you heard that right. AND Saudi Arabia’s term on that panel won’t expire until 2019 (assuming they aren’t reappointed). Yet some continue to wonder why the United Nations is (increasingly) viewed as a sick, sad, twisted joke.

Am I uncomfortable with that half of my bloodline? No, not really. Though I am grateful to have not been born there and to not have been directly exposed to that disturbing culture/religion while growing up (spoken as someone raised in Mississippi  tongue_out  Imagine that seeming WAYYY better by comparison. Ha!). Guess it’s a good thing that my biological father wasn’t in my life. Might’ve turned out way worse. I’m willing to bet it probably would have, sad as that may sound to an outsider. Sure, that’s really unfortunate to have to acknowledge and accept, but the truth isn’t always a rose garden. I honestly would rather never know my biological father if he is much like many of the Arab men I’ve either encountered or learned about. Chances are great that he too was/is a Muslim (my mother hasn’t offered much information to shed light on who he was). Did he support Sharia Law? Would he have raised me in accordance with that religion had he known of my existence? If so, that warrants a write-off in my book.

That being of their own doing. Apostasy is a crazy concept. Remaining forever grateful to not have been raised up within a society that kowtows to Sharia Law. Color me biased, that’s fine. (Though, by the same token, I’m also very grateful to not have been raised by Christian Fundamentalists.)

So, what does this do to my own self-perception? Not as much damage as one might expect. Fills me with a sense of gratitude to be born an American and raised within an American family. Truth be told (biased as I can’t help but be). Also grateful to know I can’t be deported no matter what I do or so. Heh  Seriously though (and Guantanamo aside). Not even going to take chances with visiting a country like that since someone like me would probably be stoned while exiting the plane.  not_amused  Or kept there in some weirdo’s bathroom and tortured for my heathen (Western) ways…  Oy.

Happen to like my skin tone. Wonder sometimes if possessing that genetic background is why I can be such an emotional hothead. Otherwise, I tend to find the whole situation a bit funny, ironically so. Am proud to be a “sand honky,” since I’m the only one I’ve ever known (meaning specifically a Southerner/Arab blend). And I feel it gives me all the more license to tell it like I see it when it comes to the Arab world. Not self-hating since my problem is with that CULTURE (along with its peculiar religion, or at least the extremes it tends to be taken to).

_________________________________________

One more link I’m perusing and wish to save for future reference, from the Pew Research Center (May 26, 2017): http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2017/05/26/muslims-and-islam-key-findings-in-the-u-s-and-around-the-world/

Big Five Personality Test results

Decided to fill out a Big Five Personality Test today for kicks and giggles. And the results are in…

To begin with, the site says this in regards to the results:

Your results from the IPIP Big Five Factor Markers are in the table below. The table contains a raw score and also a percentile, what percent of other people who have taken this test that you score higher than.

The table follows:

BIG5-graphic

Factor I: Says I am an Extrovert, by and large.

Factor II: Emotional Stability (i.e., neuroticism/”negative emotionality”) — Shocking! Hit that one out of the ballpark.  LOL

Factor III: Says I am Somewhat Agreeable — Kinda surprised by that, to be honest. Figured I’d be on the low end of the scale on that one too.

Factor IV: Low on Conscientiousness — Not too surprised there since I am quite impulsive. However, what conscientiousness I do possess is consciously directed toward my job. I actually do like to be organized and occasionally make an effort to be so.

Factor V: Pretty Open to Experiences (and ideas) — Meaning I am less inclined toward following traditions and conventions. No big shocker there.

Well, that was basically in line with what I would’ve assumed my scores would turn out to be. Though I do wish the Conscientiousness factor were subdivided since I believe many of us compartmentalize our lives and choose to pay much more attention to one area (say, work) over others. Not an all-around schmuck all the time, so it deserves to be clarified, dammit.

So, it’s confirmed that I’m one of the biggest neurotics around. And, in the words of Dr. Jordan Peterson, that’s that.  not_amused

Journaling on a Saturday afternoon in late July

The mother of the kid who batted that rock that busted my car’s windshield just stopped by to tell me goodbye since they have to move out today. Ya know, people have said that she’s probably just being nice now because she wanted my help in dealing with the landlord and whatnot, but today demonstrates that’s not the case. She and her son wouldn’t have stopped by to let me know they were leaving had that been all it was. I honestly do think she’s trying to keep on the up and up. And her son’s not a bad kid despite the property damage occurring.

We exchanged phone numbers and plan to remain in contact so that I can learn of her whereabouts and let the other neighbors know how she and her son are doing eventually. Sad situation. Sucks to witness someone in that position. Don’t know what else I can do at this point though. Out money and still trying to get my own life in order. But if I hear of somebody having a room open up, I’ll let her know.

In the process of uploading a vlog I recorded this morning that goes in on single mothers quite a bit, though I didn’t mean that personally against her. Just sucks to keep seeing women get in a situation like hers, plus it’s tough on the rest of society as a result. Had mixed feelings about sharing those views in a video today considering all that’s gone on this week, and I was wondering at the time if she had just been playing up to me in hopes of us rallying and getting the landlord to permit her to stay on here. But our hands were tied, and I think she knew that deep down.

See, I don’t hate individual mothers in these circumstances, though I do hate how common this trend has become in our society. It sucks to meet so many people dependent on local or state aid and in dire straits financially. The bleeding heart inside of me wants to reach out and help and tolerate our government’s reallocation of funds and resources to help single mothers and their kids, but the tough love side of me also understands that continuing these programs as we are is only encouraging the growth of this trend and obviously in no way disincentivizes it. We have a problem here, folks, and it’s not going to go away on its own. Certainly what’s been tried and even ramped up in recent decades is only exacerbating this mess. So what now?

It’s like we’re in this clusterfuck of a tangled web where there are so many single mothers (not to mention children in poor households in general) already in existence to where we’re in a no-win, deep-shit conundrum. If we cut aid to them we worry that they might suffer—as they likely will—though their visible suffering might also (hopefully) generate a deterrence so that others work harder to not follow in previous women’s footsteps in the these ways. But in the meantime many, if not most, single-mother-headed families would suffer, make no mistake about that. It would become a shit show in a hurry. There’s no doubt that opportunistic or well-intending others claiming to advocate on their behalves would get extremely vocal in an effort to essentially shame us all into reinstating welfare provisions. Don’t doubt that for a second, and we all know how reactive people get when guilted. Guilt does a number on me also, so I’m no exception there.

However, if we can’t find a way to toughen our hearts a good bit, when and how will it all end? When 80-90% of children in this country are being born out of wedlock and raised in single-mother-headed households? That’s not fair to future generations or to the rest of society (for various reasons). Yet this trend does not appear to be losing traction one iota over time. So what then?

There comes a point when we have to accept that a worthwhile outcome won’t always leave us feeling particularly good about ourselves, especially in the short run.  As life likes to teach us: the easiest way isn’t often the best way. If it feels terrific now, you can bet that whatever potential consequences there are are just being delayed. Cynical as that may sound.

Decades back, people let their hearts and minds expand and throughout the process opened the public coffers, only to wind up leaving future generations to deal with the postponed and inevitable consequences (hindsight being 20/20). Like the fact that our society can no longer afford this bloated welfare system, AND that having such a (growing) scheme like this in place only creates an incentive for more and more people to rely on it. Why wouldn’t they? It’s freely available. Up for the taking. Welcome to human nature.

I know that folks like to claim that women don’t go out and have kids with the intention of milking the system. Probably not. HOWEVER, how much do you want to bet that a lot of young mothers-to-be would’ve made different life choices had this system not been in place to provide a safety net to them? If single mothers and their kids were more often than not rendered dependent on private charities or at the mercy of the kindness of strangers or otherwise left destitute on the streets, do you think the single motherhood trend would continue to climb? Really? Outside of the middle class, I seriously doubt it.

But no one wants to be the bad guy and say “NO, that’s enough.” Especially not when there are anti-abortion Christian activists on one side of the aisle screaming about how merciless we are as a society, mirrored by liberals on the other side of the aisle screeching on in nearly the same vein (albeit placing the focus on different demographics) but in a secularized fashion. Weird that it’s turned out this way, considering what bitter enemies those camps profess to be. The rest of us are here, stuck in the middle and being squeezed and pressured and guilted nonstop from both/all sides.. If we outliers to these camps make a case for this not being the right way forward, we’re denounced as heartless by some, as baby-haters/baby-killers by others, as outdated and non-progressive, as sociopathic and lacking empathy and consciences, etc. We’ve heard it plenty of times over by now.

If we make cases for a lack of public financial resources to sustain this setup they’ll then suggest that we should just tax the rich more—voila—problem resolved, right? Wrong. That’s no more of a sustainable solution than what we have already. Want our wealthiest businesspeople to up and leave the U.S. (as if plenty aren’t already planning to relocate to China — a topic for another time)? Beyond that, all the money and assets the rich people possess still isn’t enough to save this nation from its mounting debt. So, for as much appeal as stealing from Paul to pay Peter might hold for some, it’s still not going to get to the root of the matter. AND that approach still in no way creates a disincentive for women to become single mothers.

The problem lies within each of us as individuals ultimately. Nobody else can stop us from making poor decisions. And nobody else can force us (as of yet) to take advantage of the technologies currently available so as to avoid these outcomes. We have options that we’re not taking seriously enough. Plus, we have popular culture that’s beyond toxic in how it actively promotes and defends poor decision-making and those rendered disadvantaged as a result. It’s all backwards, topsy-turvy, and proving fatal in the long run for us as a nation and for western civilization overall.

This is a bigger issue than women’s rights. And it’s a bigger issue than liberalism and knee-jerk sympathizing. I understand that sympathy — really, really do — but look where we’re headed. Some, like Steven Pinker, like to think that crimes rates are declining and will steadily continue to do so indefinitely, but there’s evidence to the contrary to dispute that and there will likely be much more if we continue this trend of bringing in kids who aren’t being raised well due to a lack of energy, time, resources and/or whatever else on the part of single parents (and the government agencies they rely upon). Worse still if these are unwanted children, which plenty of them are. Far too many, if you ask me. What we’re doing currently as a society isn’t helping as intended and instead is only furthering this trend. We see this. Yet no one wants to be one of the jerks to stand up and help cut off the flow to welfare recipients. Makes one look and feel like a major asshole to take it there. Understandably so, considering how much people banked on these policies proving effective. This is a big letdown. The plan did not succeed.

I don’t know. Am super tired today (as well as highly caffeinated) and can’t stay with this topic any longer right now. Just an upsetting state of affairs that I have no idea how to help in making stop. Presumably, however many of my fellows are either afraid to voice (or even further develop) their real opinions on these matters because they wish to avoid being harassed or possibly tarred and feathered, while others actually whole-heartedly believe pouring more and more money into Big Government social programs in the face of this already-skyrocketing trend might somehow eventually win out. The former strike me as cowards and the latter as delusional.

Will resume this topic another day. Today I’m just hoping my neighbor lady and her son are able to find a place to stay very soon. And I’m praying for others to think a whole lot more deeply about these issues and to more seriously consider what they’re getting themselves into BEFORE doing so. Because not all of us are sweethearts willing or able to provide the desired aid and there’s no guarantee how long the public coffers will hold out.

And now I feel like a jerk

Just spoke to the mother of the boy who allegedly accidentally broke my rear windshield. I can’t keep all these kids running around straight and figure which belongs to whom, so just today I’ve finally been shown a photo of her son to see who’s standing accused here. I recognize that boy. He’s actually a pretty nice kid. Not the older one I had in mind and assumed was responsible (that one being the one I caught with his friends spray painting our garbage dumpster). Didn’t know if both of those kids were hers since they look similar, but no, only the younger one is hers, and he’s just 12 years old. Ugh. Actually liked that kid a decent amount and probably wouldn’t have gotten as upset had I realized it was him that everybody was pointing the finger at. The older kid in question is defiant and cruising to wind up in juvenile detention, but not this younger one. I can understand now that it was surely an accident of a young boy who didn’t realize the consequences of his actions.

But, I contacted my landlord yesterday before this conversation had occurred and the ball was already set in motion. The mother received a termination notice instructing her to vacate the premises within 3 days, citing multiple disturbances over time (including noise complaints from other tenants). She showed me the paperwork this afternoon. Ugh. And she had a different demeanor about her today as well, realizing the severity of the situation, saying she had  intended to compensate me (or have her son’s “worker” do so, whatever that means — she stated they receive financial aid from an organization that is separate from and not affiliated with section 8). But I wish she had simply explained that yesterday when I delivered the invoice receipt to her for my damages instead of closing the door on me. I was under the impression that I would not be compensated and so decided to report the incident with our landlord. Other tenants filed complaints to the landlord as well pertaining to this incident and others since they have warned several kids on numerous occasions to stop tossing around rocks in the parking lot. So, the landlord decided to evict her outright as a result.

I told her that when it comes to section 8 at least (being unfamiliar with the organization she’s specifically linked up with), their terms and conditions for renting differ from those of us not receiving aid from such programs. In other words, the rental agreements for those tenants are more strict and evictions tend to be more swift when they are carried out. Not sure why, just something I’ve observed over time.

She began crying a little, asking where she’s supposed to go within 3 days, saying she can’t even get into a shelter in that amount of time. Dammit. And this is why I so rarely report incidents to my landlord or to police or what have you. Makes me nervous to involve the Law where it’s not totally warranted. But in this case I figured I would not be compensated and was hoping she’d at least receive a warning so that she’d tighten the reins on her kid and prevent future property damage from occurring. But there were already complaints filed against her, so the property manager was able to take it to the next step. Didn’t expect it to go quite this far, but here we now are. The mother had on a uniform for a fast-food restaurant and said she’s only making $8.50/hr. at present. Mentioned being in some sort of treatment program and receiving SSI (social security) benefits, meaning she’s classified as at least partially disabled at this time. Not sure what the treatment relates to and didn’t ask.

Ugh. Dammit. I didn’t mean for a family to be tossed out on the streets with nowhere to go. Just was pissed about having to fork out over $300 (part of which was provided by a friend to help me out with these costs) for unforeseen property damages. I really wish she had told me upfront that she would reimburse me instead of arguing over her kid’s innocence since that said to me that I’m going to have to foot this bill without compensation. And that frankly felt frustrating as hell. I do get tired of parents taking up for their kids as though they’re all angels who do no wrong, despite being confronted with evidence to the contrary, accidental or otherwise. Didn’t want to go ’round and ’round with her over this matter, and small claims court was out of the question for this small of a sum (and likely wouldn’t have proven fruitful anyway since they likely can’t garnish wages for earners making under a certain amount).

Not sure what to do now. She said she and her “worker” (I assume she’s referring to a case worker there) and their lawyer will be speaking to our property manager tomorrow, and I told her to let them know that I am fine with her remaining as a tenant so long as we can work out a reimbursement schedule and stick to it. She seemed to want me to call them back, but there’s not much I can say to them. Nor do I really wish to when I’m not yet convinced I actually will be fully reimbursed. This is a tough spot for all involved. I’d like to be a bleeding heart and absorb the costs and tell her it’s all good and for her and her son to go forth and prosper, but life has taught me not to be a sucker who caves when the waterworks turn on or when empty promises are spoken. Been lied to before in the past over being compensated for property damage and always had to foot the bill myself. Always. Trying hard to recall a time (at least where insurance companies weren’t involved on both sides) when I was repaid for damages…can’t think of any.

But, then again, I do feel the punishment meted out in this case is severe. I can’t imagine being evicted and having only 3 days to relocate elsewhere, especially with a kid in tow.

Dammit. It’s no fun being the bad guy most days. Had I realized which kid it was they were all talking about I might’ve been more interested in pursuing the matter informally. But again, I wish she had straight up accepted her son’s responsibility instead of demanding proof that I can’t provide to her. We don’t have video cameras mounted in our parking lot, so we must rely on eye witnesses to tell us what goes on there. She wanted a police report, but the cops took too long, and even there it still would’ve been a he said/she said ordeal just as she’s claiming it is currently.

The lady across the hall (an old bitch with nothing but time on her hands to sit in the yard and watch all of our comings and goings and then to gossip about them) factors into this in a few ways as well since she claims the boy came to her asking whose car his rock accidentally hit. And she also claimed a different timeline for the incident. Plus, I watched her try to get vicious right off the bat toward the mother and boyfriend shortly after I confronted them about the matter. Also just learned about some of the crap she was spewing to them about the time I was leaving Saturday night. She too registered a complaint with the landlord (as she does all the time about everybody) and supposedly has something against the boy. Was she lying outright about what she claimed occurred? I don’t know. So I placed more weight on what the other neighbors said instead.

Ugh…  What was I supposed to do? Just pony up money for repairs and keep my mouth shut and not let our landlord know about the incident? Was I supposed to trust a perfect stranger would come through despite her not declaring she even would? Should I have waited longer before calling in the report? I so rarely call the landlord for anything because I prefer them not to be up in my business either. I just don’t know how I should’ve better handled the situation. I was trying to look out for my own interests since I figured they’d otherwise wind up disregarded. But I wasn’t aiming to render people homeless over the ordeal.

Hooligan kids, shoddy parents, and damaged property

Well, I just got in a little while ago from taking my car to have its rear windshield replaced. They vacuumed up what they could but there’s still glass shards scattered around. The total for this repair, after my discount through Progressive insurance, wound up being $339. Printed off a copy of the receipt and hand-delivered it to the mother of the boy responsible. Apparently I woke her up, and she didn’t have much to say before closing the door. Went ahead and left a message for my property manager to report the incident since these kids have been warned repeatedly by other neighbors to knock off their shenanigan behaviors.

A big problem here is that the mother doesn’t seem to care. I’m out a few hundred dollars and somehow, some way, she doesn’t seem to think she or her son are liable for this expense. And taking her to small claims court for such an amount would prove trifling. So I’m not sure what to do. Her new boyfriend seemed more civil and less ghetto than her in addressing this matter toward me, but he’s not the father of the boy and understandably isn’t liable for the cost either. The mother has lived in our complex for only a few months now, but her oldest boy has proven to be a nuisance when it comes to property damage in our lot. When I called the cops to report the incident, they were too busy at the time to come to our location and didn’t forward me to an automated system to leave a message about the incident, so I doubt it’s on record with them.

Just heard back from my landlord and he says this is one in a string of complaints he’s had against those tenants. About to email him the relevant information and receipts and he said he’ll take action on my behalf. Hope that remedies this ordeal in due time.

$300+ down the hole (journaling on a Sunday in July)

Another day, another dollar evaporating into thin air.

Neighborhood kid was batting rocks in our parking lot yesterday and shattered the back windshield of my car. irked_smilies  Neighbors warned them to quit doing that, but young wannabe-hooligans don’t listen. Shattered the whole fucking windshield. Three hours later I finally found out about it despite being in my apartment the whole time. Downstairs neighbor man said he tried to knock on my door, but I wish they’d knock louder. Didn’t hear him. Walked out last night at 7:30pm heading to the car to go over to my former partner’s place for dinner when the woman across the hall told me of it and which kid was responsible.

Called the police so as to file a vandalism report, but after waiting outside for over an hour for them I wound up calling back and telling them nevermind. Couldn’t wait out there all night for the cops to show. Had a witness to the incident too. Called my insurance company but of course the windshield repair will cost less than my deductible. Set up an appointment to drive my car into a nearby town to have it worked on tomorrow morning. About to head outside soon to knock the rest of the glass out and hopefully keep it all from caving in to my backseat.

Confronted the mother of the kid and her boyfriend last night. Immediately she tried saying it wasn’t her kid and that she wasn’t about to pay for shit. Told her I’m going to have to report this to the landlord since her kids have already been responsible for several other damages (including spray painting gang-related symbols and words on our garbage dumpster — since painted over by the landlord). Told her to come outside and hear from the other neighbors who know more about what happened than I do. They told her what they knew and confirmed it was indeed her kid responsible.

My former partner had invited me to dinner earlier, so I called him and asked him to come over to look at the damage and help in figuring out what to do. Showed up grumpy, per his norm anymore. When he and I were finally about to take off, the mother of the kid started getting into it with the lady from across the hall. Don’t know why, don’t care. Sick of all this drama ramping up around here.

Continue reading

Late-night journaling in early July

Now 3.5 weeks into my commitment to stop drinking and feeling fine. No big problems thus far. The cravings come and go, but they so far haven’t proven too difficult to resist and move past (other than that one snafu night a couple weeks back, but that being the only one — feel like I have to note that for full disclosure purposes — keeping it real, heh). But yeah, so far so good. People drink around me sometimes but it hasn’t really bugged me much. One night my former partner’s beer started beckoning me, so I prepared my stuff to leave and let him know I felt a bit tempted, then I wound up reverting my attention to a National Lampoon movie on the television and forgot about it.

Though the cravings do remain and are very real. Just that they’re not as difficult to combat as I’d imagined they would be or as they were during previous times in trying to quit drinking alcohol. Still do kinda miss a big frosty mug or pint glass in my hands, but not too much. My beer can fetish is easily enough remedied by toting my Schweppes seltzer water cans around instead. Fizzy yet no calories. Goes down easy and keeps me distracted from the barley pop. Obviously lacks any kick, which I do sometimes miss, but I remind myself promptly what all tends to accompany that kick. All it takes is a trip down memory lane (even memories from this year alone) to cure me of wanting a repeat of any of that. So not worth it.

Been spending a lot more time online lately, seeing as how I have a good bit more time on my hands. Watched countless videos by Kevin O’Hara on his AlcoholMastery channel over the last three weeks, all of which have proven helpful. His calm demeanor and Irish accent is very soothing while the information and experiences he shares really resonate with me. Also wandered onto other channels on YT to listen to others’ experiences on quitting drinking, including a few millennials. Good to see so many of them recognizing the problems with that lifestyle so early in life, though I’m saddened to hear the sordid details of some of their tales. Can relate to plenty of that too. They tend to refer to their issue with alcohol as “binge drinking,” but like my former partner pointed out earlier tonight, that’s what older and heavier drinkers refer to as “novice drinkers.” Which is to say that every drinker starts out with bingeing; over the years it develops into a more steady (and generally daily) habit. It’s a progression.

Very glad to have come to my senses finally. Been knowing I had to get to this point sooner rather than later, but I struggled with it over the last couple years and wouldn’t give up the drinking. Not until I got seriously pissed off, at both myself and a good many of my fellow bar patrons. This is one example where getting angry really paid off. If one can harness it, that is. Which I finally did, partly by choice and partly because I was going to blow my lid otherwise. So sick of some of the losers I found myself in the company of at these various watering holes over the years, culminating in me arriving at the worst pub I’ve ever set foot in. But I’m grateful for what major assholes some of those people proved to be — made my decision so much easier finally. Gave me a terrific wake-up call like no other. Showed me what lay in store for folks who give in to that lifestyle and take it too far. Also showed me what a bunch of bitter jerks we can be when our lives wind up reduced to shallow indulgences that do us no good. So, for these reasons, I’m glad I waltzed into that joint earlier this year and took time to get to know those assholes. They definitely made an impression on me, and I’m pleased as punch to keep putting distance between myself and folks like them. Full-on misery loving company there. Good riddance.

Not that assholes are limited to that one watering hole. Assholes abound all throughout the barscene. I don’t doubt I was an asshole too. Kinda goes with the territory.

And I’ll probably remain an asshole-of-sorts. Just glad to no longer be ingesting a chemical that messes up my mind to where I say so many of the wrong things and frequently enough can’t even recall what they even were. Tired of feeling guilty about that. Also tired of dealing with idiots who love to get a reaction out of more emotional folks like myself. Too difficult for me to check my emotions and remain level-headed once I’ve had enough to drink. I tend to get far too reactive and mouthy. Irritated by disrespect and unnecessary bullshit, or I create it. And we’re all so prone to talk over one another’s shoulders and misunderstand each other’s intentions. They react, I react, and all communication bogs down. Hence why they prefer to keep talk so light and stupid, thinking that will stave off reasons for people to argue. But it doesn’t work that way for me. Their attempts at light and stupid tend to grate on my nerves. Just don’t possess enough patience any longer to deal with all of that. Something went snap in me over time and I no longer wish to put up with my fellow barhounds’ bullshit. Went beyond stupid, beyond depressing even. Became downright pathetic. And I do include myself in that assessment as well.

It’s all still on my mind day to day as I adjust to this new way of being. But more and more I find myself thinking about other matters and letting the bad aftertaste of dealing with those jokers slowly fade away. Will take time though. Dealt with those sorts for too long. Became one of them, at least so far as I was able to. And now that’s over and there’s all kinds of new terrain to explore.

Been re-listening to some of my audiobooks lately, including Taleeb Starkes’ Black Lies Matter and Dr. James Hollis’s What Matters Most: Living A More Considered Life. Put the last bit of volume 1 of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago on hold a few weeks back, with plans to finish it soon enough. Picked back up my print copy of Otto Rank’s Art and Artist: Creative Urge and Personality Development now that I have nifty reading glasses to aid me. Already mentioned on another recent post reading Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. A couple weeks back I listened to The Wisdom Jesus by Cynthia Bourgeault, which was just okay. Before that I listened to A Troublesome Inheritance: Genes, Race, and Human History by Nicholas Wade. And also The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds by Michael Lewis, which was an interesting story. And a couple other titles that slip my mind right now.

Yesterday afternoon I rented 3 of the remakes of The Planet of the Apes films, in preparation for watching the newest one coming out later this month. Don’t know much about these movies, having only seen bits and pieces of the originals. The storyline sounds interesting, so hopefully it lives up to the expectations. Thinking of cooking up spaghetti Friday evening and nestling in to begin this series. A friend of mine also wants to see them, and my former partner said he too might try to sit through one of them (not much a movie-watcher usually). Might be fun. (Might also finally break out the new popcorn popper I received as a gift months back.)

What else? Trimmed my hair this evening. It needed it. The bleached tips are drying out and in need of gradual removal. Oiled it up tonight with argon oil (and coconut oil on the tips) after putting my usual drops of jojoba oil in with my conditioners. Managed to create a nice layering effect in the back this time around. Took some time and patience but I like the result. Been trimming my own hair for a couple years or more now and so far so good. Thinking of dyeing it again sometime soon, though I can’t settle on a shade. Went with black with reddish copper tips last time, but the black dye faded all throughout pretty fast. So much for Garnier Nutrisse being a permanent dye. The black dyes I’ve used in the past were steadfast, but not that stuff. So nevermind that brand. Leaning with going for a golden medium brown to slightly lighten my original color a bit. Done it plenty of times before to nice effect. But I’m also toying with going more amber, though it seems everybody is going for red hues these days. But solid black looks flat, and my hair is already dark brown. Burgundy shades are out since they too are all the rage right now. So medium golden brown it probably will be. Avoiding the frosting this time since it’s so damaging to my hair. Been dyeing my own hair since I was a young teen, rarely opting to go the salon route, and I’ve been mostly pleased with the results. Saves money to do it oneself, plus I’ve had my hair botched worse by stylists than by myself.

Little pretties like that make me happy. Still meaning to get around to doing my complete pedicure and possible manicure. Been lazy lately though. Have to stick with neutral shades when I do it myself since I don’t have the skills that the Asian nail tech ladies possess. Best to leave the application of dark and bright shades to them. Someday I’ll be able to afford their services again. Just have to catch up my finances for a spell before indulging in such luxuries.

That’s about it for now. Taking it easy, relaxing when not working, exercising occasionally, still staying up late most nights but aiming to wake earlier, sharing meals pretty regularly with my former partner (he’s been particularly generous lately in inviting me over for dinners — probably part of the reason I’ve yet to lose any weight these past 3 weeks), and keeping the alcohol out of my mouth (in the words of Kevin O’Hara). Oh, and on the 4th of July my former and I went on a walk to observe the local fireworks, which was nice. We rarely walk together much anymore, so that was good. Didn’t bicker too much either.

Journaling in the wee hours of the 4th of July (plus book review)

In a bit of a melancholy mood this evening. I don’t like to hear myself bitch any more than others care to listen to me bitch. But it’s fucking difficult to bottle up my emotions and to pretend they don’t exist, especially when I feel disrespected. And that’s probably a problem I have to sort out for myself since life isn’t fair and it’s never going to be. Just is what it is. Not going to go into any of that on here tonight.

Been a weird week overall. Weirdos abounding. Arguments reigniting. That car crash from last week and its aftermath. Another holiday approaching, which gets people all antsy. And here it is — the 4th of July. Independence Day. A day for Americans to wave around flags and watch parades and scarf down hotdogs and beer while reminding one another how we’re the best country on Earth, bar none. Patting ourselves on the back for what our forefathers bestowed upon us, as if we’ve proven to be good stewards of these historic blessings.

Bah! This holiday makes a scrooge out of me.

I tire of so much propaganda and the guilt-inducing patriotism. Gotta love everything about this country, right or wrong, or else GTFO. So they like to say. How kind we are to our fellow natives.

The_Bluest_Eye_Toni_MorrisonAnother thing that’s bothered me this week is I read Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye. Pretty darn depressing read, though I figured on that before ordering it. Wanted to find out what this supposedly amazing author had to say that’s made her such a literary icon within the black community (as well as favored and applauded by Oprah Winfrey herself). Started out by watching an interview of Toni Morrison on youtube (was it from a Charlie Rose episode? I can’t recall). She came across as pretty darn racist. So decided to order a couple of her books (used through half.com) to find out what all the hubbub is about. Read an essay by her on the writing craft, then moved on to the book The Bluest Eye, published in 1970, this version including an afterword by her published in the 1990s.

What can I say about this book? It was well-written, I’ll give it that. Compelling enough to keep me wanting to read on. Wrapped up in the end as though its completion was being hurried, or at least that’s how it seemed to me. In her afterword section, Toni Morrison wrote on how she wasn’t terribly pleased with the book. But what got me is how she bent everything back toward race and racism. All throughout the book she described black characters who mistreated one another in awful ways, ending in a father raping and impregnating his young teenage daughter and then her mother beating her so badly that the girl went full-on crazy from thereon. The author described black parents who ordered their children around as if they had no thoughts or feelings of their own, who screamed and griped and carried on, particularly after another black man in the story was found out to be trying to molest another young black teen girl. The white people mentioned in the book were treated with scornful envy or reduced to being nasty idiots in need of black folks to care for them and their homes in order not to live in squalor. Aside from the two white rednecks who disrespected the young Cholly (the one who grew up to become the alcoholic who raped his own daughter) as he was attempting to lose his virginity the night of his aunt’s funeral — those two white guys were depicted as being part of the cause for why Cholly came out the way he did. That along with his father’s rejection after traveling to find him after Cholly’s aunt (and primary caretaker) had died. As well as having been tossed on a garbage heap by his mother when he was little more than a week old.

What gets to me about this story is that it showcases degradation within the black community, and Toni Morrison keenly portrayed it in all of its reckless degeneracy. And yet, still, somehow she found the problem to ultimately point back to white society as a whole. Not the choices of the black people written about. Not their poor parenting skills and heavy-handedness without first finding out the facts involved when it came to discipline. Not parents having sex in the same room as their kids, not to mention fighting and beating on one another. Not the drinking taken to the point that lust overcame all decency and familial bonds. White people had nothing to do with why Cholly hated women. Not even those rednecks who humiliated him deserved that honor. Yet Toni Morrison seemed to lay a good bit of the blame at their feet, claiming that Cholly redirected the animosity he felt at white people toward his own people, particularly black women and girls, as if that simply makes sense all unto itself. The mother who abandoned him was rather casually dismissed as assumed to have gone crazy. The aunt who chose to raise and care for him was spoken down about, as if her help had barely mattered at all. This was made clear when Toni Morrison claimed that the character named Cholly Breedlove had had no parenting skills to observe while coming up since he hadn’t been raised by his own parents. So what was his aunt? A nobody? Should she have simply left him to die on that garbage heap as a baby? Seems she received no credit for her sacrifices and love shown, or at least only trace amounts. Why? I think it’s because, for whatever reason(s), Toni Morrison didn’t care to flesh out his character in greater depth. She aimed to depict him as a loveless, broken man who’d given up and turned to the bottle, who hated women because he actually hated white people but couldn’t show it as openly, who came to care about nobody at all — yet the cause for all of this is somehow, somewhere, ultimately rooted in white society. These black people in the tale couldn’t love themselves or one another because of their envy toward whites, hence the fixation on blue eyes.

In the story, the white people mentioned all appeared to have money, whereas the blacks mostly didn’t. As if that’s the realistic split historically — yes-sirree, all white folks from time immemorial were blessed with money while black folks were not. Yep, that’s totally realistic. Right?  BS. But that’s how she wanted to frame her tale, creating a big divide between what she saw as the Haves and the Have-nots. Typical.

The book’s content was disturbing all unto itself without the added doses of racism toward white folks. Was going to loan it to a guyfriend, but after finishing it and telling him about it he stated he was afraid it might damage his spirit. And I agreed. Not loaning this book out to my friends. Not much good will come from doing so. Black folks who read it may very well accept Toni Morrison’s race-baiting antics without further scrutinizing all the black characters involved, and that’d be a shame. I found it to be more of an indictment of the black community itself rather than anybody else outside of it. Just a showcase of one scoundrel after another, some worse than others, but mostly scoundrels either way. The characters who might’ve proven to be fairly decent were mentioned in only a line or two and then left out of the rest of the story. The spotlight here was shined on these three black girls (Pecola, Claudia and Frieda), and it seemed nearly every adult around them wasn’t worth much of a damn. Hardly in any way conducive toward bringing up healthy, intelligent, competent and confident children. And I struggle to understand how that must be the outside world’s fault when so much control does and always has belonged to parents and families. Poverty alone can’t make people beat and rape their children. Hell, poverty is less likely to occur if one doesn’t drink and/or gamble away most of the money brought into the household!

Just kinda sickened me to read Toni Morrison’s afterword on the subject. Personal responsibility appears to mean to little to her since she’s caught up in this victim narrative and can see little else. Or at least that’s how her words came across to me. She stated this story wasn’t based on her own life but rather is a fictional account of an impoverished black girl (Pecola) who was taken advantage of by everybody, leading to the other two black girls (sisters Claudia and Frieda) who had befriended her to feel embarrassment and shame later in life when reflecting on how they couldn’t help her. But what was their primary concern expressed in the beginning and end of the book? That Pecola’s baby, conceived through rape from her father, had not lived. And that right there did me in. Makes me shake my head and wonder what planet we’re living on when that’s the primary concern here.

When I ordered that book I also ordered Toni Morrison’s Songs of Solomon. Hmm. Will wait a while before cracking that one open.