Rebel flag drama

Okay. I keep hearing about this stuff though I’ve been actively living under a rock and not looked into the news story that has everyone freaking out. Heard the gist of it. Sounds like a situation that has occurred in various forms over the years, carried out by a member of yet another supremacy movement. That much I’m clear on.

Now, people keep coming up to me in public and bringing this topic up, perhaps because they realize I’m a Southerner. Though plenty seem to want to hear me denounce the confederate flag and are of the opinion that its relevancy is restricted solely to extremists and those belonging to hate movements. I staunchly disagree and have stated my case on the matter many times dating back several years since this topic isn’t really new. It’s understood that a lot of Midwesterners accept the victors’ story about the Civil War and refuse to delve any deeper into the subject, which quite frankly irks me, particularly if they’re going to keep coming at me looking to argue the matter. These arguments do nothing for me, so I tend nowadays to just walk away. Nothing really there to discuss, IMO. I feel as I do and don’t need others to validate that stance.

The flag is merely a symbol, and symbols mean different things to different people. A good number of us out here view the rebel flag as a symbol of rebellion and Southern pride and old agrarianism (most of which wasn’t dependent on slave labor since most people could not afford slaves — helps to look into the economic realities for the majority of people alive in past centuries in this country before blowing a gasket and making everything about race relations). If ever I decided to get another tattoo it’d likely include the rebel flag, because that’s a symbol of my Southern heritage, as someone whose maternal side of the family has lived in Mississippi for at least 150 years. I’m not here to debate this matter with others. Their opinions are their own and not of my concern.

Actually did get into a good discussion last night with a couple guys who supported people’s right to appreciate that flag and who were familiar with a lot of the history surrounding all of that back then. Always refreshing to stumble across such individuals who are willing to be open-minded despite lacking Southern roots. But even there I don’t have a whole lot to say on the issue. It’s a symbol, which makes it a highly personal matter so far as one’s preferences go. Shouldn’t be some huge, recurring national discussion, or at least if it must be I’d prefer to stand on the sidelines.

What people don’t have the right to do is ban others from sporting such a symbol. You don’t have to like it, certainly, but we still do not have the right to censor and restrict others over such matters. And I don’t care if the symbol in question was a swastika. Makes no difference. People have a right to free expression and there’s no good reason for this new witch-hunt to go off the rails and to lead to demonizing people just because they happen to see things a bit differently than you might.

It helps to ask a person what a symbol means to them instead of aggressively coming at them and projecting onto them your own assumptions. Ask and listen instead of going on the attack. The latter only creates more unnecessary drama and causes people to feel unfairly alienated.

This situation has gotten dumb enough to where some folks are raising their eyebrows over Southern music even, particularly some of the tunes of Charlie Daniels. Get a grip, people. The history of the South is far more complex than the fact that slavery existed there. Those who refuse to accept that truth I have no time and patience for. Slavery existed damn-near everywhere dating back millennia. And that also includes the Northern states of the early U.S., much as folks like to pretend they forgot that. Our entire nation has a legacy built on slavery, as do most nations. Welcome to human history.

And the Civil War was about more than just slavery. People don’t want to hear that for some reason, probably because that complicates their narrative, and so they dismiss such talk as mere apologetics. No it is not. It was a war fought over shifting economic and political paradigms of that time. The industrialization process embraced by the North called for a large and cheap labor pool. Freeing slaves helped in providing that. But if you think exploitation ceased at that point you’re woefully naive.

As I keep repeating: slavery never ended, it just changed shape. Sit with that for a while and conduct some research and take the time to really ponder how free you imagine yourself to be in this day and age. Or don’t. No skin off my back either way (and no pun intended there either).

Life is complicated. If you’re handed an easy answer you can bet that a whole lot’s been left out of the equation, 9 times out of 10 (if not more so). There are various angles to any conflict, most especially those which lead to war. People didn’t just serve and face death so as to keep slavery going, particularly when you consider how many of those who died were too poor to own slaves. And those fighting on the Union side weren’t doing so purely for humanitarian reasons, no. Economic and political was the name of that game, at the top at least, and then the common people are sold on propaganda so as to be willing to do the bidding of those in power. As normally occurs in warfare, anywhere and at any time in history.

So, people can continue on blathering about a topic that most probably don’t even truly care that much about. Folks just feel the need to align themselves one way or the other when the media drumbeat gets going. And this is why I don’t usually watch the news or hardly anything else on television. Dumbs people down by oversimplifying complex matters and then browbeating us into picking a side. That’s a futile endeavor, so I will leave you people to it.

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“Joe Rogan Experience #634 – Abby Martin”

REALLY enjoyed that podcast. Very worthwhile.

Step by step, walking into the future

Friday night I used a credit on Audible.com to acquire a copy of James Altucher’s book Choose Yourself and then listened to it in parts on through Saturday afternoon. Have a membership on that site but hadn’t actually tried it out yet. Glad to have done so. That book was very worthwhile. Yes, he mentions things he’s talked about on his blog, but it was nice to listen to him bring it all together in audio format. This is one I would recommend to others and maybe even share as a gift. Undoubtedly I’ll be re-listening to it in the future as needed, at least the last portion since that part really resonated with me and deserves to be drummed into my mind so that I continue working toward making positive changes in my life.

The 4 pillars of what he refers to as the “daily practice” are: emotional, mental, physical, and spiritual. You don’t need to read his books to get an idea of what he’s talking about there since it’s all been spelled out on his blog. It’s a simple idea, and yet how many of us have been cognizant of taking care of each of these areas in our lives on a daily basis? I certainly haven’t and seriously need to in going forward if things are ever to improve. Continue reading

“Live Your Life As If Everyone Else Was Going to Die Today”

Read this piece tonight by James Altucher in his ebook The Choose Yourself Stories, available for free through signing up for his newsletter deal. Diggin’ his stuff lately. Some of his writings are humorous, others less so, but they tend to be thought-provoking regardless. Anyway, this story really struck me, having read similar elsewhere on his blog, though this piece I particularly appreciated and wanted to share here:

Live Your Life As If Everyone Else Was Going to Die Today

You ever have that dream where your credit cards and passport got in the salad bowl and are getting salad dressing all over them and your wife is cheating on you and your boss is yelling at you?

Yeah? Me too. Last night.

I’m traveling on business today. Actually, I already traveled. Today I have business to do.

I have one rule: never travel on business. You never make a dime when you travel on business.

The last half of that rule will not be broken today. I will not make a dime. But sometimes it’s good to just put a “face to the name”. I put that in quotes. It’s like I have this big list of names that need faces taped to them.

I’m going to tape some names today. I’m going to say that to a random guy in the hotel elevator later: “I’m going to tape some fucking names today!”

No I don’t know.

Here I am. Helloooo Boston.

If today were my last day would I be in Boston?

No.

But why do people always say that? LIVE TODAY AS IF IT’S YOUR LAST! It’s like a rallying cry for the world. Be happy…OR DIE! An anthem. Like the Partridge Family’s “Take me Back to Albuquerque”, or Queen’s “We are the Champions”. Those are anthems.

I picture the girl in Schindler’s List yelling, “Goodbye Jews!” “It’s Your LAST DAY, JEW!” “LIVE YOUR LIFE LIKE IT’S YOUR LAST DAY, JEW!”

If it were really my last day I would walk outdoors naked somewhere. For the fun of it I would tape two-dollar bills to my stomach.

It was 3am, after my salad bowl dream, when I was thinking of this. I told Dan the other day, “if you wake up at 3 in the morning thinking stressful thoughts tell yourself, “it’s 3am and probably my thoughts are irrational so I’m going to make an appointment with myself to reconsider these thoughts again at 3pm” The idea is that at 3pm those thoughts will seem totally irrelevant.”

Note to self: address salad bowl dream with credit cards sinking at 3pm. Further note: you might die today. Live it up! Goodbye Jew!

Claudia was sleeping next to me. I started to think if we got in a car crash what if I didn’t die. What if SHE died? Now we are talking about something here. Because then I would be alive and I would have to deal with it. I would be sad and cry. I was thinking, “I hope I will be nice to her today just in case we get in a car crash later and she dies.”

So that’s my golden rule today. I’m going to live life as if everyone else is going to die. For everyone I meet today I’m going to really imagine that today is his or her last day.

Then I will:

– Be kind to them

– Try to help them be less stressed

– Try to fulfill their dreams for the day

– Not talk badly about them. Don’t talk badly about someone about to die. Too soon!

– Hug them if it’s appropriate. Or kiss them. Not the people I’m going to “business” with later. That might be too much. But I will be nice to them anyway.

– Really listen to them. I will listen to everyone’s last words today without interrupting them. Even if I can finish their sentence because I am light years ahead of them I will let them finish their sentences without my stupid voice piercing the air with its presumption.

– Learn from them. I will picture as if some universal life force is speaking to me through everyone else. I will listen carefully for clues that I can piece together later. These are the only clues that god will ever give me so don’t interrupt.

– Don’t opinionate all over them. What does it matter if I change their minds today? Do they really need my fantastic thoughts? They are going to die anyway.

I feel like my life will be better if I practice living it as if everyone else is going to die today but I’m going to live forever. Floating in space eventually, with only your last words to cherish.

When you die, can I kiss your forehead? And when you finally close your eyes for the last time, my poor baby, I hope you can return that kiss to god when your eyes next blink open.

 

Hopefully he won’t mind.

James Altucher on radical honesty (plus my thoughts)

An interesting podcast titled “Ask Altucher Ep 81 What Are You Reading Right Now”:

The portion I share for purposes here occurs beyond the 10:00 mark. Radical honesty. Hmmmm… I have ALL SORTS of thoughts on that topic. And I dug where James was coming from there, as someone who’s shared more than I ought to on too many occasions. Yup. The idea of being radically honest with oneself I can get behind, but James is right about putting the burden over onto someone else, particularly the ones we love. Mea culpa there.

Living and learning is a tough process. Heaps of thoughts on the topic of cheating (from all angles) have played on my mind for years. Continue reading

Yes, he is a human being. And so am I. And so are you.

Happened to stumble across this video clip this morning:

He is a human being. Very humbling to listen to his words and to take time to consider how close any one of us is to experiencing that same fate. Many are only a couple paychecks away from possibly losing everything…

Homeless persons have always pulled at my heartstrings, as I’m sure is true for many others out here. They remind us of our shared humanity as well as how rapidly luck can turn, how bad circumstances can spiral and snowball into desperate situations. Puts into clearer perspective one’s own pains and problems.

Might sound cliche, but I’m going somewhere with this.

Ya know, one thing that always comes to mind when I’m confronted with a homeless person, as occurred again yesterday, is what tools are at my disposal to ward off such a fate. Not all have access to the same tools though. It might displease some people to hear it, but I’m going to be blunt here. I got lucky by being born a reasonably attractive female in this day and time. Why? Because I could always trade my sexuality in order to access what I needed, primarily money. Hence why I worked as an escort throughout much of my 20s. Does that come with its own downside and psychological baggage? Of course it does, but I never went homeless for more than a night. Been mistreated and put up with more than I cared to, but I was luckily savvy enough to steer clear of most druggies and dangerous individuals, and there I’m referring to my teenage years, prior to becoming an escort, which I believe the education provided during those years conditioned me to handle. It’s tough out here for young people who don’t have protective families to provide for their needs and to keep them safe, and some of us had to learn many things the hard way. Some of us got luckier than others, if we’re to make that crude comparison.

But that realization can’t help but humble me, knowing I possessed something naturally bestowed that could be honed and used to attract what I needed to get by. And not just tens of dollars but hundreds of dollars per client. And like a lot of inexperienced youths, I took that for granted at the time, not realizing yet how time would take its toll eventually. Though, luckily, another business opportunity presented itself to my imagination and so I transitioned that direction and have remained there ever since, leaving behind that old lifestyle, though carrying forward its lessons, as well as its psychic scars.

Those scars came primarily as a result of how people label you, the words they call you, how they look at and judge you…how some come to see you as less than human (“lower than a dog” is one insult that stayed in my mind over the years). In that respect, I can relate to that man in the video and others like him, though our paths were very different. Words do hurt, absolutely they do. They have power. We can pretend they don’t, but when one’s humanity is denied and you realize some people see you as completely disposable, as irrelevant, as something different from themselves to either be used or avoided, it can’t help but mess with a person’s mind and damage the soul. Thankfully better people exist who do not view others in that narrow of a way, and I was fortunate to have known plenty who treated me fairly decently and noted the potential within me. Not everybody receives such a fair shake as that though, particularly when they’ve grown old and appear physically worn out or belong to a race that some others choose to disdain.

That’s a sad truth in this life. Everybody needs a helping hand from time to time. Every single one of us. And everybody deserves to have their humanity recognized, setting aside all the labeling garbage.

I can be in my worst hours, feeling like I don’t know where to go from here, feeling that rock bottom isn’t terribly far off, and then I come across someone in a worse situation who’s humbled and sad and in need. A look in my wallet tells me I have something that they could benefit from more than I likely will. In my life, money has generally been easy come, easy go. So I share it with others who might hopefully be able to put it to better use. Figure I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to attract enough to cover what I need, so the rest is just a gift, an extraneous offering intended to be shared when paths cross and needs are going unmet. Feels like the right thing to do, ever since I was a young teenager and first confronted on the streets by a homeless elderly woman in Gulfport, Mississippi. We share, because we are human. What else is money for than to provide what we need to survive?

Material desires feel trifling as time moves on. Don’t need so many fancy gadgets or designer brands or decorative furnishings. They don’t bring much pleasure, not usually, not unless received as gifts from people who cared. My life has simplified tremendously since around 2007. I am largely content wearing the same garments until they become too tattered to restore. Have shoes I haven’t tried on in years. Appreciate the jewelry received as gifts along the way, but there’s no real desire for more. All of the art on my walls was either painted by me or received as gifts. Most books I purchase used for cheap, and some of them belong among my prized possessions. Clothing and lingerie hang in my closets that haven’t been worn in years, awaiting the day I might fit into them again. Sometimes I go through phases of buying makeup, but mostly it sits unused, causing me to feel guilty for wasting money on petty indulgences. During daytime hours I ceased wearing makeup anyway.

Most flowers I receive these days are clipped out of people’s gardens, and it really brightens my day when someone makes the offer and asks me to bring by a vase for them to fill. The homegrown peonies on my counter currently mean more than store-bought roses ever could. Because it came from their own garden, which is a product of their own skills and effort and time spent. Same for when people offer to share with me vegetables they’ve grown.

Very thankful that my vehicle is paid off, though it requires repairs soon. Still sad that someone who knew how to fix it led me on and never did so, but that’s on him now, considering I did try to do right by him by buying him nice things and making sure he had some of what he needed to get by, like snow tires for his car this past winter. But we shouldn’t think about that right now. A friend has offered to help me with that instead. And that’s been a harsh lesson right there — expending energy on someone who didn’t truly appreciate it while depriving myself in the process. But whatever. We live and we learn…

And now, lately, I’ve been frequenting bars more often than I probably ought to, wasting money on drinks that only contribute empty calories, in an effort to numb some of the feelings I have inside. Pacing the cage, yes. Using these outings as opportunities to meet and converse with new people, some of whom are in more troubled spaces themselves, others who have wisdom to offer up, while keeping an eye out for those who just wish to exploit and take advantage since those types are everywhere. But it beats sitting at home drinking alone as I have been doing too much of these last two years. Can’t bear doing that anymore. Not even allowing myself to purchase alcohol for home consumption anymore. Because it got to feeling like a slow death. The opposite of living. Isolating myself away from others and our shared human concerns and the ways in which we might help one another. When I’m out I see people, including those in unfortunate circumstances, and a part of me feels guilty for wasting as much as I do and not contributing more. Though I suppose it’s impossible to live within a consumption-based economy without participating to whatever extent as a consumer. Either way, I choose to share. I’d probably just drink that money away anyway. And if that individual chooses to do so, maybe it was their turn. What do I care? If it brings them a little peace for the evening, then isn’t that worthwhile?

We all hurt and we all go through rough times in whatever form it may take. Pain is pain. Sometimes just sitting with a person and listening to them is more valuable than anything else you can provide. Sharing meals is the simplest and most meaningful form of communion. The more greedy I behave as, the more miserable I become…that’s something life’s been teaching me over time as well. My things don’t bring me as much pleasure as interaction with good people does. My day feels purposeful when I am able to offer useful assistance of some kind. And I think that points to what it truly means to be human.

Some say that I am selfish woman. They are correct, but that’s not all I am. Never claimed to be a good person, though I’d like to think I’m not the worst, troubled as I obviously am. But when I share what I do have, my burdens feel a little lighter and my outlook appears a little less gloomy. Because I’m reminded that we’re all in this together, and it can be no other way.

Saturday night in May update

Just finished up a conversation with a Serbian man I’ve met a time or two before (not at what’s becoming my regular bar nowadays). We sat beside one another silently at the bar for about an hour, then began chatting. I’m not one for small talk, particularly when something heavy is weighing on my mind. We wound up outside having a very real conversation about life, and I’m not going to go into the details of it here, but I appreciated his insight. The gist is that one has to find a way to become rooted, grounded, in some sort of way to where he or she doesn’t allow the opinions and claims of others to sway him/her into accepting a false narrative about oneself. And, of course, that’s the hard part to figure out how to implement, which can’t help but be a personal struggle. Either way, he was a nice man only a couple years older than me and wise beyond his years. It’s almost as if fate puts some people in my path to repeat, albeit in new ways, what I need to keep hearing.

Aside from that, I’ve been reading short stories from Harlan Ellison again lately. Picking back up in his book Deathbird Stories, now on the final story. Fiction feels like more of my speed right about now, particularly quality fiction that I can get wrapped up in and let my imagination roam over a reality so different than our own. Feels therapeutic. Just happened to see that book in my backseat the other day and took it with me. Been pretty engrossed in it ever since, having already read a book or two by him before. Glad to have found that author, dark as his writings largely are (which I dig). Watched interviews by him in the past and appreciate where he tried to come from.

What else? Continuing working with my gym trainer, though this past week my diet hasn’t been the best and I believe it shows a little. Gonna try to stay on track in the coming week. Need to. Feels very necessary for me to drop more weight and slim down while gaining muscle.

I have a (thankfully not too) early morning awaiting me, so it’s soon time for bed.

To bitch or not to bitch…

Been reading more from James Altucher recently. Really enjoy his writings and can relate with the stories and tidbits he shares (though not the parts about making gobs of money and then losing it all, over and over — but give me time.  haha).

One point he repeatedly makes that I’m doing my best to take to heart is the need to reduce my complaining and gossiping. Even I tire of hearing myself bitching so much.  lol  Yet, it’s the norm for me, just as it was for nearly everybody I’m related to. And that’s a norm that’s run its course and deserves to die down. Makes me feel wicked to grumble and growl as much as I do, though some of my complaints are meant in a sort of dry jest (not that hardly anyone ever seems to pick up on that). Sometimes it feels like a form of personal entertainment, but nowadays I feel so damned bitter that it’s coming to rob me of all positive sentiments. My Papa was a master at griping, so I followed suit naturally, he being one of my favorite people. Well, there’s a limit somewhere that I’m pretty sure I’ve crossed along the way, as did he, and neither of us were better off on account of that.

Though, it deserves to be stated, I’m more prone to gripe publicly while holding inside my positive feelings because I’m worried about others pissing in my cornflakes, so to speak. So I tend to hide my positive sentiments and instead share my disgruntlement more so. That’s not ideal, but that’s what I tend to do. With close friends I’m much more free with positive sentiments since I trust them to not trash them — it’s strangers I’m leery of. And I work very hard to not complain around my clients about anything either — they get a free pass there, as they rightly should. It’s the rest of the outside world I grumble to and about. Though my close friends do hear more of it than they deserve, admittedly, and I’m ashamed of that fact, especially lately.

But it’s just so darn easy to complain and gossip. Continue reading

“Man plans and God laughs.”

Perspective shifts by the hour…

Some hours I feel very serious and contemplative and mired in. Other hours I feel a little lighter, humored even. Life is crazy, life is mad — that being one of my favorite lines in a song by Enigma. Just is what it is. Nobody’s perfect and we humans love to make a mess of what’s before us. Just prone that way, I guess. Perhaps it’s in our DNA. The need to create is the flipside of the inclination to destroy and to try to control. We like to focus on the one side while trying to pretend the other isn’t a part of us as well, but it most definitely is. Feels to me like the sooner we come to terms with that as individuals, the better off we’re likely to be.

A blog I’ve been reading regularly lately that tends to cheer me up a bit is called Altucher Confidential. That just happens to be the link to the post I’m looking at currently, though I’ve read quite a bit on there so far. Useful stuff. Gets pretty raw in places, which is what I’m able to identify most with. Helps to put things in perspective when we hear or read honest stories from others who are willing to be open and real. Helps one to feel like less of a freak, since, truth be told, we’re all freaks.  ha

Sometimes I do just have to laugh at the absurdity of it all. Mine and everybody else’s. Crazy creatures, we are. No getting around that. Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it — to quote lyrics from Green Day.

Per that blog post linked above, I used to know some daytraders, and yes, they were miserable people, and yes, they lost all their money in the end. They too were playing with investments back around 2003 before going belly up. That struck me as one of the most neurotic lifestyles one could get involved in. The fellow investors they thought were their friends weren’t around any longer once they went broke. I watched it tear up one guy’s family relations as well. He actually had been someone I dated back in high school, though we’re no longer speaking since a few years ago when I grew tired of putting up with his poor treatment. He was a very arrogant man, not a good friend. Flighty and always chasing unrealistic dreams while hanging with cruel people and emulating them. One day I had no more time for that and simply stated I no longer wished to be his friend, and neither of us have attempted to contact one another since. Don’t know what became of him or his brothers and am not too concerned either way. Just somebody I used to know…

Known all sorts of people and witnessed all sorts of bad ideas implode or explode. Everybody’s searching for something…

As am I. Whoever told us there was an easy script to follow toward success in this life lied to us. There are no guarantees out here. None. There’s just you and me and a bunch of other people all trying to figure shit out and find our way through this life. That’s all there really is. Of course the devil is in the details. It’s in the how and the why.

I especially appreciate the Yiddish proverb James Altucher referenced in the blog post linked above:

Man plans and God laughs.

 

One minute we take things too seriously, the next not seriously enough. Full of lofty ideas and ambitions while remaining tethered to and frequently enough dominated by our primal desires, regardless of whether we realize it or not.

The tragicomedy that is human life goes on and on and on…