Funk rejection (an update)

Pulling up out of the funk I’ve been in the last few days. Was kind of rough for a minute there. Very likely hormones played a role. Not much can be done about it other than to wait it out. Might make some folks uncomfortable to even hear about, but so be it. It comes and goes, but always it will return. Figured out by now that to expect to live without the funk’s repeated interruptions is a pipe dream. Certainly helps to pull out of it when my loved ones and I are getting along. And I’ll leave it at that for now.

Went in for a massage yesterday, courtesy of a gift certificate received by a lady I work for. Had the masseuse lady work mostly on my left arm and back since those are my problem spots currently. And she did an amazing job! Haven’t had many professional massages (maybe 3 now total), and that was the best so far. Confirmed that I probably do have a mild case of so-called tennis elbow from strength training, so I have to take it easier on my triceps for a while. Need to pay better attention to my form too. But then she said it seemed to her that I have a disc problem in my lower back, which I figured has been the case for years. Can’t afford to see a doctor for that, so my only option is to strengthen my back and core enough to manage it, as I’ve been doing. There will be no surgeries in my future, no MRI scans, nada. Only physical therapy on my own and with my gym trainer. Been knowing this has been a problem for a long time already, perhaps since teenagehood when I first began experiencing acute lower back pain, but regular exercise has helped immensely in reducing the pinched nerve pain down my left leg over the last 3 years. It returns occasionally, but I’m doing a lot better these days than I was about 4 years ago. So, in short, strength training has helped, and I intend to keep it up for the rest of my life in order to maintain the feeling of relief.

We humans weren’t designed the greatest when it comes to our backs. Becoming bipedal messed us all up apparently. Ha!  But c’est la vie. My best guyfriend has been suffering major back pain again lately also, and he went in to see the doctor this past week since it got to where he couldn’t stand. Already had a surgery many years ago for discs in his back, and now other discs are acting up on him. Unfortunate. Difficult to enjoy living when your back hurts too much. He’s always been an active guy, but still he has to go through this. Not sure what to say about it other than to expand his exercise regimen since biking doesn’t really help build the muscles to support the back. He has medical insurance so they’ve provided him with pain pills and an exercise plan, with the option to undergo another surgery in the future if needed.

Told both him and Former that they ought to go in and see the massage lady I met with yesterday. Might do them each some good. Of course Former will have nothing to do with it, for whatever reasons.

Been cooking a decent amount lately, per my new norm since I’m trying to improve my diet. Fell in love with roasted brussels sprouts (who’d a thunk it?!). Been eating on leftovers of a beef mac-n-cheese with broccoli cuts tossed in — came out terrific. Made avocado/banana brownies again a week back, which were delicious, but I forgot to freeze them so they went bad pretty quickly. Today I whipped together an olive oil-based pasta salad with zucchini and mozzarella chunks to take over to Former’s house later since he’s cooking up a turkey dinner tonight. Looking forward to all that. Throwing caution to the wind in terms of carbs today so as to enjoy his spread. Last night I experimented with zucchini hasselback, which was just a notched zucchini filled with pepperoni slices and mozzarella (and seasoned with red pepper flakes and garlic powder), baked in an aluminum foil tent until fairly tender. Turned out good. Not a bad alternative to pizza.

What else? Been listening to a couple new audiobooks. Recently I finished The Hacking of the American Mind: The Science Behind the Corporate Takeover of Our Bodies and Brains by Robert H. Lustig. An excerpt from his publisher’s summary of the book:

While researching the toxic and addictive properties of sugar for his New York Times best seller Fat Chance, Robert Lustig made an alarming discovery – our pursuit of happiness is being subverted by a culture of addiction and depression from which we may never recover.

Was a pretty good book by a pediatric endocrinologist. Would recommend it to my peers.

The book I’m currently listening to is Ryan Holiday’s Ego Is the Enemy. It’s so far covered a lot of what I’ve already read elsewhere, but I do really appreciate his delivery style and am planning to check out his book The Obstacle Is the Way in the future.

Haven’t been taking time with any print books lately, preferring instead to listen along while going about my day.

For the record, it’s now been over 21 weeks since embarking on my commitment to quit drinking. No slip-ups, though I did have some strong cravings last weekend for some reason. Former was drinking a strawberry margarita in front of me and I damn-near reached over to sample it. Then he’d partaken in a big sale at some local grocer that marked their alcohol way down, dragging home a crate full of bottles including Captain Morgan rum and wine and some blue stuff. Kind of tripped my trigger for a minute there, but then I refocused my attention and forgot about it. Gets easier and easier to leave alcohol alone. Already know what kind of a beast that particular drug can turn me into, not needing to reconfirm it. Moderation never worked for me, so the only option now is to simply leave it be. And so I do. But the cravings still come and go, as they perhaps always will. That little gremlin in my brain likes to try to remind me of the positive side to drinking, but thankfully I remain well-aware of the downside to it too. Can’t recall one without the other. Any substance that causes me to act like a fool and quit liking myself is no friend of mine.

An old man bar pal called up the other day out of the blue. Might be what initially set my mind to thinking about alcohol again. He asked where I’ve been, said he’d heard through the grapevine that I’d quit drinking, and then suggested that I should still come to the bar and just abstain from drinking while there. Not too interested, frankly. Especially not so as to visit with that particular grabby old man. Told him off a number of times already for groping me and saying perverted shit. Wish he’d lose my phone number (which I gave him a couple years ago when he gave me rides to and from the bar a couple times, before he turned as gropey). But of course everybody out at the bar likes the guy, thinks he’s swell and makes excuses for his behavior toward the younger female clientele (of course we’re all younger than him there). People used to say that I was “being mean” to him when I checked him, that he’s an old man so I should be more tolerant and forgiving. Ugh. Sometimes I really loathed my fellow bar patrons. They liked to make excuses for the sorriest shit. And I wound up looking like a bitch for not going along with the program. Oh well. So be it. I am a bitch. And I don’t like 70+-year-old men pawing at me while I’m out. He’s not entitled to do that. They can all put up with it if it suits them, but it bothered me, so I said so. And yet he still adores me, still considers me special and tries to get me to communicate with him. Says I remind him of his wife when she was younger. Lovely. I gave him a bunch of chances, but now I prefer to avoid him. Sure, it does make me feel kind of like a bad person to be so bitchy toward an old man, but then again, I also am really perturbed to see all these old men out in society demonstrating themselves to be such crappy role models. Don’t teach us anything; just prefer to act like perverts. Just here to get their jollies off messing with the (relative) youths. Gets old. Makes me feel queasy inside. I put up with such nonsense for years from a number of guys in trying to appear easy-going to those I was surrounded by. Well, they’re not worth it. Bunch of loser drunks with skewed consciences so far as I can tell anymore. Not saying that against all of them, but plenty of them, yes. Besides, those who aren’t like the rest still do tend to behave as they do so as not to rock the boat, so how’s that really any better? They enable one another.

So, yeah, I still have a decent amount of animosity toward the barscene. Probably partially because since leaving it I find myself a lot more isolated, yet I know this is for the best. Better than hanging around with a bunch of people who only concern themselves with hedonistic escapism. Gotta keep that party rolling on and on and on, lest they be forced to reckon with real life and how they’re failing at it. Fucking depressing. Depressed me about myself when I was a part of it too. Fifteen years is a long time to devote to such people and places, so I’ve paid my dues. Don’t owe any of them anything anymore. Their lives are their own, and they can poison and ruin them if they so desire. Not my problem and I don’t wish to belong among them. Been there, done that, and damn-near wrecked what I have in the process. And all for what? So as to lose yourself within a crowd? To try to tune out reality? Well, reality has proven to be awfully persistent regardless of how much alcohol I tried pouring on it. Better to just face the facts than keep on dallying until you wind up losing more.

I met so many characters in that lifestyle over the years. But when I sit back now, a few months removed from the last batch, with a sober perspective, I’m unable to grasp what the great appeal really was. Wicked women and stupid men like to populate bars. Myself included in that assessment. What makes us wicked? Remaining immature, which alcohol aids in by allowing us a repeated escape. Keeps one’s thoughts dulled, along with our reflections and introspection. Plus, it puts us in contact with others doing the same thing who are more than happy to pat us on the backs and tell us shit’s not our fault and to lay blame elsewhere. Because every regular in such taverns is looking to escape personal responsibility and negative thoughts about their own past choices and behaviors. Hence why we regularly drank — to escape something. To delude ourselves into believing the problems didn’t lie in us, that we were unfortunate victims of circumstance. That life is largely about luck so all we really need to do is wait around for that stroke of fortune to come our way (no active work required on our parts). To cry in our beers over past loved ones and heart-breaks and questions we can’t find answers to. To drown out the past instead of finding a way to forge through its remnants. To meet up with sexual partners to add to the hedonistic experience and provide an outlet for the mounting tension within. To await death, partying in the meantime, telling ourselves that you only live once and that there’s no point focusing on the things that bring us down. Etc. I’m very familiar with how that lifestyle operated.

Sometimes I get to feeling like I was put here so as to provide an example of what not to do. But now I’m taking steps toward better directions, so perhaps now I can redefine my personal purpose as a striving toward redemption. Lounging around in the muck with those perfectly content behaving as swines doesn’t help one’s soul one iota, especially not when that path is embraced for years on end. And now I stand a mere 5 months removed from it. So I’m still finding my bearings and trying to figure out where to go from here. Figure my Papa is probably proud that I gave it up too, and that gives me some peace. But I am still angry at what that lifestyle represented to me and how I let myself go within it, plus how much jeopardy I placed myself in by dealing with the wrong sorts, as well as what unnecessary drama and jeopardy I created.

It’s very difficult to forgive others, but I’m finding it especially difficult to forgive myself. Though I know I have to let that go eventually so as to move on, the bitterness that realization produces still has a strong hold on me. Makes me angry at myself along with all the others who aided and abetted me. Looking back on them all, I’m having trouble accepting them for who they are. Yes, sure, they’re a bunch of fallible humans like myself who are destined to learn things the hard way, as is natural. But damn. The severity of our blindness and how that spills over onto others is astounding. Willful blindness in many cases. Advantage-taking motivations and raw selfishness. Like not only did we lose our ways, but then we came to encourage others to follow in suit. We spread it around and lured others in so as not to feel lonely in the games we played. To feel validated perhaps, instead of shunned like we very probably deserved. But I was shunned regardless, before then, during, and still now. Gives me mixed feelings there since it felt like the shunning was what I initially (as a very young adult) was aiming to escape in the first place. And you don’t feel like such a misfit when you’re surrounded by a bunch of other misfits.

Too bad it was all an illusion. Didn’t fix a thing and instead created quite a few added problems. But here we are. Onward and upward. Can’t change the past.

There are some very painful aspects from the last few years that will continue to trouble me for many moons to come undoubtedly. Things that I succumbed to. Ways that I behaved. Surprised myself with how cruel I could be. And the reminders are always around. I’d love to blame the drug, but alcohol is only part of the equation. An important part, no question, but only one aspect. The rest involves reckoning with my own human potential, which, come to find out, isn’t so rosy and innocent. People say that you’ll bog yourself down in thinking about all of that, spinning it around in your head, that you’re just at risk of developing a new victim complex of sorts. Hmm. I can see where they’re coming from with that, and I am being careful in this stage as a result. But I have mixed feelings on such claims. You really have to see yourself as you actually are, not what you wish you were, not what you pretend to be, right and wrong. That stage in personal exploration is undeniably important. To try to skip that step is likely to wind one up seeking out another addiction to hide within. And that I cannot tolerate or allow. I’d rather be hard on myself and get it over with than treat myself with kid’s gloves and not ever get to the bottom of this situation, thereby risking history repeating. I understand why others shy away from such talk, as they’re so prone to do, but I am not them nor do I wish to pretend to be like them any longer. I can take the fight and I’m not so scared of myself and my capabilities. Seen enough of my own dark side that I can’t help but be well aware of it. Can’t force a genie back in a bottle once it’s out. Gotta learn to live with it. So that’s where I’m at presently.

So yeah, this is how my days go. One foot in front of the other. Try to keep steady, accepting that sometimes that’s not possible but putting alcohol in my mouth will most certainly only make things worse, as the past has proven. Don’t plan on staying in this state of mind forever, but this remains where I’m at right now. Life doesn’t always (or often) unfold the way we think it should or wish it would. And there’s no shortage of people out there willing to pat us on the back and help in deflecting responsibility elsewhere, but that’s not actually helpful, nice as it might feel at times. If it feels good, question it — that’s become my motto. Because we tend to be weak in the face of comforts and pleasures, though it should be evident by now that a lot of those lull us into a false sense of security. Which certainly doesn’t make us stronger and more competent in managing our lives.

All is a bunch of lessons to learn, and plenty winds up being learned the hard way. Such is life. Hop over one trap only to find ourselves mired in another we didn’t see. That’s just the way it often goes. But that’s also what makes life so interesting and perplexing. If nothing else, it keeps us busy in trying to make heads or tails out of what’s going on. Some days I’m up to the challenge, while others I’d rather hide my head, wondering what the hell this is all for. And that’s precisely the wrong question to be asking. THAT is where we succumb to seeing ourselves and others as victims of circumstances instead of as fellow travelers in this journey we call Life. Giving in to nihilism and destructive tendencies is too easy to be of much (if any) value. Counter-intuitive as it seems, it’s almost as if trying to carry the toughest and heaviest load we can bear winds up bringing greater life satisfaction, as well as provides a better example to others so as to lessen their fears. But I’m still sorting all of that out and won’t make grand claims. I just know that we’re capable of a lot more than we typically give in this life. Sitting up in a bar is for laborers after a long day working, not for commonfolk running from reality.

Bracing for another winter

Feeling kind of down today. Not sure why. Feeling very sensitive.

Finished listening to the audiobook The Chimes by Charles Dickens and before it ended, it had me crying. It’s an emotional day. But at least it had a happy ending, unlike a lot of the books I typically read/listen to.

Grandma called this afternoon, and we had a nice chat. Was good to hear from her since we haven’t been talking as frequently over the last year or so. My best girlfriend tried beeping in too, but I texted to let her know I’d get back to her another day. The timing in their calls, one after the other and both directly after the audiobook went off, had me kind of wondering. As if we can sense one another sometimes despite being many miles apart…

Just wandering thoughts. Superstitiousness never seems to leave me.

Didn’t get to go to the shooting range today as scheduled since Former had a long, bad day at work. So probably for the best for both of us that we skipped today. We went out for Mexican food instead and then lounged around until my late-night appointment called me across town. Promises to be a busy weekend with several scattered appointments throughout, plus a meeting with a new client, plans to meet for coffee with an older lady friend, then plans for dinner on Sunday with my best guyfriend. Maybe we’ll  find time to go to the range later tomorrow afternoon.

Discarded my diet the last couple of days. Had bread last night and tortillas today. Ah well. It’s highly doubtful it’s a food plan I can reasonably expect to adhere to daily no matter what. Life just doesn’t roll that way. But it has been teaching me a lot and I intend to go forward with an eye toward reducing carbohydrate intake most days. Though probably not as low as the keto diet calls for. One issue I’ve had with that low of carb intake is that it’s left me feeling weaker when doing strength training, I’d be doing a set that I’m used to doing but then need to pause after a few reps, then continue, then pause again before finishing out. That kept happening throughout Wednesday’s training session, and Former blames the lack of carbs. So I’ll look into it further.

Had all kinds of things on my mind lately. Many societal concerns, plus private worries over my loved ones and myself staying safe. Though we live in a pretty safe area, I do get nervous in wondering how long it will remain this way. Seeing as how the crime and homicide rates have been ticking upward in recent years. Paranoid? Maybe a little. Mostly just concerned since the close men in my life have a habit of being very helpful toward strangers, and I really hope the day doesn’t come when someone tries to take advantage of their hospitality. Like, for example, on the side of the road when they’re claiming to have car problems. Hell no, I don’t trust people. Well, I do to a point since we have to, but that doesn’t mean I’d put it past a few of them running a scam or acting a fool on the bike trails (as some already do) or trying to break into houses (as already happened at Former’s place a few years back). I trust people to be what we humans tend to be, which is a bunch of opportunists. Until I know you I can’t help but be a bit wary about you. And I sometimes wish my menfolk would be a bit more so as well. Which is sad since it dampens a person’s spirit to have to walk around worrying about who might be trying to work an angle. But we hear the local news and should be aware that things are shifting in this relatively calm city as it continues growing and experiencing so many newcomers from other states. I don’t trust the suburban kids either — too many of them are up to no good also.

LoL  So yeah. In my own little misanthropic mood over here today. Just journaling it out of my system for a spell, like usual. I think it’s all of us aging that’s getting to me. Gets to realizing how vulnerable we all are (and probably always have been, though it was nice feeling blissfully oblivious in our youth). Car accidents. Workplace accidents. Asshole opportunistic people to look out for. And now that fall is creeping toward winter and it’s getting colder outside, there’s the upcoming snow and ice to brace ourselves against.

Now that I think about it, I likely get melancholic around this time every year. Winter’s approaching, and that alone always makes me nervous. Winters here can be so harsh, much harsher than anywhere else I’ve ever lived. But this is the new home, so I try to adjust and get on with it. But when your car starts sliding on ice and the others around you are doing the same, you can’t help but get nervous. Especially if you’ve ever gone off-roading as a result before (as I have once many years back — was pretty scary). Then people get stuck and need to be pushed to get started, so the guys get out to help, but there’s the worry about another car coming along and sliding into them. Scares me straight every winter knowing this going on. I’m not strong enough to help much with pushing, so I don’t usually stop for people other than to call help for them. They say I’d only get in the way otherwise. This place just turns into a big ice rink every winter (except last winter, the mildest on record in a long time). Gotta be careful out walking (my guyfriend fell on his driveway once while out trying to get the mail and smacked his head and back — I’ve fallen on ice several times but usually manage to land on my knees, a big reason why they’re so jacked up). Been rear-ended twice because of ice. I sincerely wish everybody would put snow tires on their vehicles since they help SO MUCH, but they’re pricey ($150/snow tire for a midsize sedan).

The cold itself takes a lot out of you. That chilly air blowing hard in your face, especially in the suburban areas where there aren’t enough trees and tall buildings to break it up. Fingers feel frozen even when inside super-padded insulated gloves. Gotta dress up like the michelin man just to leave the house, padded from head to toe. Long johns on underneath, three layers of shirts, thick Carhartt coat, skull cap plus ear muffs plus scarf, super-thick socks with snow boots with deep treading (and yaktrax for when even more grip is necessary). Hence why it’s no fun going to the gym in the winter — takes a while to change out of all that. Wish I could wear a ski mask so as to keep my nose warm, but then people would look at me funny and probably think I’m trying to rob the place.

Winters are just daunting. We all tend to worry about its approach, though I try really hard not to until it is here since it’s a waste of energy worrying about what inevitably will come. But then here I am, worrying anyway. By the end of this month the snow will have started falling, and it will continue to fall until March, maybe April, maybe even early May. Can’t blame the gods for picking on me in sending me here since I could’ve moved elsewhere by now. This is where the economy is good, and this is where I’ve made a couple close friends.

I tell myself that it’s all a trade-off and that these harsh winters are more bearable than Mississippi’s hot-as-hell summers. And I believe it too, up until around February. That’s the hardest month out of the year, every year. Makes me wish I had more tolerance for heat and bugs and snakes. Causes me to question the locals on why they’ve remained here all their lives. Somewhat amuses me to observe newer transplants trying to cope with all this blusteriness. It’s not fun, not when it gets down below 20 degrees Fahrenheit. But I will say this: I can’t tell much difference between 10 degrees F and zero degrees F. Both suck equally. Especially when prolonged for days on end. And the sun comes out less, and it grows so dark so early. And I’m at the mercy of ambient heat funneled into my apartment — not much way to adjust it other than to either open or close the vents.

Some years we put plastic on the windows to help reduce the draftiness. Thinking this seriously needs to be done to one of Former’s bedroom windows since its outside pane still hasn’t been repaired. While over there I can feel the coooold swirl of air drifting down across my face at night. Have to hide my nose under the down covers to keep warm while I sleep. He doesn’t mind it, but I threaten to freeze to death.

But it’s also the time of year when it’s nice to bake since the oven helps to heat the place. And a lot of us sleep better when it’s cold out (albeit not too damn cold). All that time spent indoors trying to get warm and baking leads to chubbiness though. lol

Ugh. Oh well. Another winter approaches. Nothing can be done about it. Just have to be careful. Could be worse — we could live in Alaska. So gripe, bitch, complain, fret away…changes nothing. Simply is what it is. Year in and year out. Like clockwork.

Preemptive worry never does me any good, but it’s hard to avoid. On a brighter note, Former says he’s thinking of roasting a turkey next weekend. So that will be nice. An early Thanksgiving this year. I need to figure out a veggie side dish to bring along.

If it were only weather that worried me then it wouldn’t be so bad. But when you toss in fear over others acting a fool and worry about technologies not operating as expected and then also wonder what’s going to happen to our nation on a societal scale when there’s all these divisions being sown — then worry transforms into dread. Hard enough to stomach a lot of that when Mother Nature isn’t actively draining you.

Guess this is my way of bracing for at least one inevitable set of circumstances. Maybe we’ll get lucky and experience no blizzards this time around. But as for the rest…I still am unsure how to brace for where that may lead.

For days now the song “I’d Love to Change the World” by Ten Years After continuously plays in the back of my mind…

Time for another update (journaling in late September)

Can’t complain much these days. All has been going pretty well lately. Other than my car eventually needing some expensive repairs, life is pretty good.

Been saving up so that I can finally pay the IRS their blood money. Oh joy. Extensions make life easier in that department.

Have been working out regularly lately, typically 4 times a week at the gym and most of those days with my trainer. Was sore as a mofo the other day in my hip flexors/inner thigh area, so probably wandered around town looking like I just dismounted a horse. Ah well. It happens. Comes with the territory. Slightly injured my left elbow a week or more ago and so have been trying to let that heal up and focus on other muscle groups in the meantime. Didn’t do as much cardio this week; maybe next week I’ll feel a bit more motivated. Also got in some yoga after one workout with my trainer this week, so that was nice.

As mentioned on here previously, I put back on about 20 lbs. since the winter due to getting lazy for a while there (though it was a milder winter by Midwestern standards, winter conditions still make hitting the gym a PITA). So I got back up to a whopping 174 lbs., unfortunately, and my weight has stubbornly hovered in that range, particularly after I quit drinking alcohol and began craving other carbs as substitutes for all that beer my body felt deprived of. So…that’s been an irritating development. But it’s kicked me back into gear in terms of working out more and trying to watch what I eat a bit (at least some days). I’ve managed to drop back down to 170 lbs. (once again) and hopefully this time can keep the trend heading downward instead of yoyo-ing as has been the case for the last few months. I blame sunflower seeds and birthday bon-bons for some of this stagnation and have notified my former partner that I am no longer open to receiving big boxes of chocolates on future holidays. Can’t do it. Keeps my butt too big. Heh

Part of its muscle gain though too. Can’t discount that. My arms are looking better defined once again, which is wonderful. Just love seeing definition there, though the overall layer of fluff tends to obscure it. Was down to 152 lbs. last summer and miss that. But I was working out a lot more vigorously back then when my trainer’s own gym was still open. Oh well. We adapt. The new gym he’s now working at is a comfortable atmosphere, so I’m growing more bold there now too. Just gotta waltz in and act like I belong there and not let the super-muscular guys intimidate me. Not that it’s their fault — just that one can get self-conscious in their presence. Get to feeling like a dweeb playing with my little dumbbells in the corner sometimes.  lol  But c’est la vie. There’s a wide array of people at this gym, of all ages and skill levels, so there’s really no reason for any of us to feel out of place. And I love how much cheaper membership is there.

Wednesday I stopped by the local shooting range and signed the necessary waiver and watched the video required prior to gaining access. All of that is now taken care of so I am ready to finally officially start training with my handgun. Yay! They have a really great lady’s night special on Wednesdays that I look forward to taking advantage of, as well as 2-for-1 pricing on Fridays. american_smilie  That will go a long way in making that hobby more affordable. The place looked nice and the staff were friendly and helpful, so soon I will give it a go. This has been a goal in the back of my mind for a long time that I finally can take part in and check off of my list of things to do.  I consider it a reward of sorts for knocking off the drinking habit: allowing myself to go shooting at the range and exploring further weapons training. Really proud of myself for making this transition so that I can responsibly improve my marksmanship (wouldn’t allow myself to do much of that back before, and for good reason IMO). So yeah. Yay!  Good times.  biggrin_green  Already own ear and eye protection and ammunition and a carrying case for my firearm, so I’m ready to go.

Also been considering eventually purchasing a semi-auto to accompany my revolver, but that’s a ways off into the future. Have car repairs to worry about before then. Might even have to buy a different car since this one has such high miles that it’s really not worth dumping too much money into. And that might mean taking on car payments once again.  Oy.

What else? Been learning about the ketogenic diet lately. Not sure if I’m interested in going that far, but I definitely see the benefits in reducing my carb intake. Recently listened to the audiobook The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung and appreciated it. Would recommend it to others! Also discovered several YT channels that offer HIIT (high intensity interval training) workouts, which are reminiscent of the types of workouts we used to do in classes at my trainer’s former gym. Had a lot of success with that form of cardio before and look forward to trying it out again. Though I’m sure my downstairs neighbor won’t be too thrilled by what sounds like a water buffalo romping around overhead.  Ha!  Ah well. He’ll get over it. Will try to time my in-home workouts around his baby’s nap-time if needed. Will be good for me, especially once winter hits for those days I don’t feel like driving through snow and ice to get to the gym and then having to change out my snow-boots once there. Too easy to blow off going to the gym under those circumstances.

Feels good to remain active. Actually been in better spirits for a while now. Even my Grandma commented on that. She’s sooooo glad that I quit drinking. It’s now been 14.5 weeks. So that’s cool. Once I began working out again more regularly back over a couple of years ago my mood began to improve, and now it’s improving even more. SO nice not waking up with a headache and feeling ran over right out the gate. So nice saving all that money and no longer having to worry about DUIs/OWIs. Nice also to have more free time on my hands to do other things and in a functional manner. Like doing my nails (not worth attempting while buzzed or drunk). Been less grumpy overall, and it’s become really obvious over the last few weeks. Notice myself laughing more. And that also has contributed to getting along better with my former partner (as I refer to him on here since I don’t know what else to call him anymore). I haven’t felt as sensitive about the stuff he might say or as reactive, which is good. If he annoys me, I manage to laugh it off (at least more often) instead of getting hot-headed or feeling insulted or whatever else. That’s worth its weight in gold: improved relations with my people. And when I don’t get snippy or over-reactive, he then is less prone to do so as well, and contentment becomes possible. Obviously he still drinks a good bit and he did have that bad night back in July where he decided to be an asshole for no particularly good reason, resulting in us taking a few weeks apart. Since then he’s come back with a better attitude, and so I’ve decided to let bygones be bygones and to just roll on. Upward and onward. Bad days happen. Less drama = less stress = less opportunities to create further drama. Glad to see us in a better cycle for a change. Reminds me of what we originally enjoyed about one another’s company. He seems to be in much better spirits as a result too. Says he has no desire to tempt me back into drinking again, that he’s proud of me for recognizing how volatile it makes me and for letting it go. I agree.

Though, he did make a comment this week about how eventually he expects me to be able to handle drinking moderately. Told him I don’t really want to, that I think I’m better off leaving it alone in going forward. That’s maybe not what he wants to hear, but he’ll learn to accept it over time. Not all of us are cut out for continuing the drinking lifestyle. Lots of downsides to it, and increasingly so as time rolls on. We discussed the matter and he expressed feeling badly about being a bad influence on me over the years we’ve known one another, but I told him that I don’t regret meeting him and likely would’ve taken drinking too far even without his presence in my life. Was mourning the illness and then death of a family member and didn’t handle it well. Besides, I’m grateful to be where I am now, so whatever had to come before to teach me important lessons was likely necessary to create this outcome in the end. So I can’t really regret what all has transpired. Just glad to be moving forward.

Am also glad to be less of an emotional drain on my best guyfriend since he’s the one I talk to on the phone the most. Lord knows I’ve probably stressed him the hell out over the last few years with all my crying and struggling with my lifestyle. But he’s remained by my side as a solid friend regardless. Gotta love that guy. Wouldn’t know what to do without him in my life. Looking forward to going out with him to a movie and dinner on Sunday.

The book I’m currently listening to is Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature. Owned a print copy for many years (courtesy of my Dad) and never got around to reading it, so decided to order the audio version instead so as to have it read to me while I go about my day. Am enjoying it. Much more interesting than I originally thought it would be.

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Journaling on a Wednesday evening in August 2017

Been a good week so far. Hit the gym hard the last 3 days with plans to continue doing so tomorrow and Friday, in hope of making this a regular M-F routine. So nice having my trainer stationed at a nearby gym once again, plus I’m now saving money in not needing to pay him for training on the side. Determined to lose several pounds since I put so much back on over the last year (particularly the winter) after his gym closed down. Slowly but surely I am doing so, though now I’m kicking my activity up a notch, once again. Feels good. Nice and tiring. Haven’t lost my strength gains either, which is wonderful. And, come to find out, I haven’t lost any balance and flexibility either (demonstrated during last night’s yoga session). So…onward and upward there.

Currently in week 10 of my commitment to stop drinking. All is going well there. It’s gotten easier with each passing week. Less often do I drop into my favorite local watering holes nowadays, and when I do I’m only there for a short spell. Still nice to run into folks I haven’t seen in a minute and to chat and catch up. And I do like playing the Megatouch machine — got a rolling competition with a couple people across a few locations that’s been going on for years. Waste of money, sure, but I’m spending $5 or less usually when I do go out now (a far cry from what my outings used to cost me!).

Been successfully squirreling away money once again. Most of it is earmarked already, but it’s great to see my finances improving. Amazing how much money one saves by not blowing it in bars. Also picked up a new business contact whom I start working with tomorrow, so that too will help in giving my finances a boost.

Went grocery shopping for some healthier meal and snack options today. Not been doing terrible in that department lately, but wanting to tighten up on the reins a bit when it comes to carb intake. Still preparing pasta regularly, and that will likely never change, but I’m turning my attention more toward veggies and leaner meats. A couple nights ago I whipped up a Mediterranean-style omelet with cherry tomatoes, feta cheese and spinach. Delicious. Plan on having that again tonight.

Cutting down on my coffee intake since that made me jittery. It helped for right after I quit drinking alcohol, but then it began creating an interference of its own. Even caused me to post up a couple videos on YT where I was visibly hyper. Ha! So I switched to part-decaf and reduced the amount I drink each day. Feeling fine with that decision. Tea is typically more my speed anyway. Still drinking the heck out of seltzer water…good stuff.

Was invited over to my former partner’s place for tacos last night, which went well. We went 5 whole weeks without seeing one another after our last fight, but then we started back talking on the phone and last weekend decided to get together once again. Guess we’re fated to deal with one another indefinitely, and that’s fine, so long as we manage to get along better. He’s been sweet lately so I can’t complain. Wish we’d get our shit together so that out friendship isn’t so rocky, and hopefully we will. Obviously enjoy one another’s company when we are getting along.

What else? Oh, I stopped by a local independent bookstore on Monday and picked up a copy of Saul Alinsky’s Rules For Radicals. Why? Because I want to know what protesters are being taught out there. Doesn’t strike me as wise to employ the same methods, but I’d at least like to learn about them. Currently resuming listening to Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s The Gulag Archipelago, Vol. I — one long-ass book. Interesting to learn about Soviet Russia though. The other print book I’m still reading in when time permits is Otto Rank’s Art and Artist (another long-ass book). Actually sat outside yesterday afternoon for about 45 minutes reading it, allowing the dog a little extra time to run around in the yard.

As of today, I’m working on training a puppy to walk on a leash. So far, so good. He’s a fairly fast learner, aside from his terrible teething phase. It’ll help the owner to get his energy out since it’s difficult for her to walk him far. Learning to heel on the right so as not to trip her up is the current challenge. We’ll get it — just takes time.

Sorted more of my books a few days ago and redecorated one of my bookcases. Improves the feng shui up in here.

Headed out to catch some rays at the “beach” with my best guyfriend on Sunday. We also dined at a Mexican restaurant we both like. Was a nice afternoon.

Not much else to report on at this time.

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.

Productive Saturday afternoon

Just got in from working out with my trainer. Told him about how my nerve pain is back in my left hip and calf, probably due to not exercising enough over the winter months, so we did some yoga stretches at the end of our session. Gonna start doing those at home again as well. Only thing that seems to reduce that pain in the years that I’ve been experiencing it. So that all went well.

Just put in a load of laundry, bedding this time around. Removed all the empty cans and bottles I’d bagged up. A Bosnian guy drives through most weekends to pick these up so as to collect money for recycling them, so I typically set them out in front of the dumpster for him. He’s a nice guy. Been coming around here for a few years now. Gotten to where the neighbors invite him to sit for a beer on their outdoor patio area when he does arrive. I’ve always kept him well-supplied with empty beer cans, but nowadays he’ll have to settle for Schweppes cans and La Croix bottles. Not that it matters any to him. He’s remarked on my drinking in the past, due to the amount of cans I’d haul out. Back then my partner stayed at my place a great deal though too. Been dwindling the last couple of years since I returned to the barscene. But now it’s picking up again since discovering the joys of seltzer water.  cheeky_smiley

Sorted my shoes a bit since they’re taking over my spare room. Most of which I haven’t worn in years. Should probably donate a good many of them to the Salvation Army.

My best guyfriend bought me another vacuum cleaner yesterday to replace my old one that gave up the ghost finally. Amazing how a cheap Dirt Devil under $50 lasted as long as that one did, so we found a similar one to take its place. No use spending a lot of money on a machine like that. A more expensive Sears brand vacuum cleaner I bought many years back wound up having the shortest life out of all of them. Anyway, nice gift from him. Appreciate his help.

Last night I ventured down to a bar I rarely get out to. It’s the one that was taken over by one of the former bartenders from my old bar (the one that closed back in March of this year). She’s a nice lady whom I’ve worked for in another capacity last year when serving legal documents. Very ambitious woman. Anyway, she hired on my favorite bartender from the old bar for Friday nights, so every once in a while I like to mosey on down there to say “hello.” Drank a couple glasses of orange juice before they informed me that they had fresh brewed unsweetened tea with free refills. Switched to that for the rest of my time there and wound up highly caffeinated to where I was up all night watching youtube videos, but ah well. Was worth it. Had a nice time. Listened to music and saw some folks from the closed bar that I hadn’t seen in quite a while. Was a peaceful, easy evening. My favorite bartender is a really nice guy, very funny and takes good care of us. He actually quit drinking for nearly 6 months a year or more ago and was a positive influence on me wanting to follow in suit. And he comes from a whole family of heavy drinkers and has told me his story about growing up with them. Plus, he’s always worked in restaurants and bars, so he had a lot of pressures working against him. Yet he still prevailed for as long as he did and proved to be a good example. I’ve met a few of his family members over time and can attest to how much they can put down. Wooh! Serious drinkers. He also became a vegetarian years back and lost a good amount of weight as a result. Told him about the videos I’d come across by Kevin O’Hara (AlcoholMastery channel on youtube), in case he’d care to check out his stuff.

Probably doesn’t sound smart to put myself back in the belly of the beast so soon, but I knew I’d be in good company there. That bartender has observed my struggle with alcohol over the last couple of years and we’ve talked at length about the whole process he’s struggling with as well. He congratulates us when we cut down or quit, unlike most bartenders out there. Because he knows we’ll come see him and tip regardless. He’s just that popular. Good guy. Also showed me some photos of his expanding gun collection, which I’m rightly jealous of. Will have to catch up to him one of these days. He shoots at the shooting range I’ve been looking into joining, soon as I complete the courses and background check needed to attain my concealed carry permit (must have either that or permit to purchase to use that range, and my permit to purchase has already expired — might as well pony up a little more money eventually for a 5-year permit instead). He’s a libertarian too, so we’ve always gotten along well.

I’ve been holding out on going down the gun-toting route because of my struggles with drinking and the money that’s zapped from me. But eventually I will have my affairs in order and be able to finally engage in that activity instead of just pining to join in on the sidelines. Still haven’t been out shooting since last year when I was down in Mississippi. Been coming around to the idea of someday purchasing a semi-auto handgun for carrying purposes since they have a slimmer profile. But time will tell. Nice to think about though. Keeps me looking forward to a sober future, shooting being a fun hobby I’d like to become more involved in. Just have to get myself right before I can allow myself to partake in it. For safety’s sake and all else. For now I’m content with my revolver expressly for home protection purposes.

What else? Ran into a buddy of mine last night who was walking down the street when I was driving by. Pulled up and chatted with him for a few minutes. Been taking time away from him due to needing to get away from alcohol and everybody in the “raunchy pub” barscene (as I refer to that little bar nearest to my home). He says he’s been avoiding it too, mostly because he’s working so much lately, but also because he’s tiring of that environment. They truly do run off a good many women up in that joint. It’s a boys club basically, or at least that’s what the aging men in their 40s and 50s who frequent the place like to treat it as. Tired of them and haven’t set foot back in there in at least 2 weeks, and won’t. Fuck that place. Worst bar I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve been to plenty of seedy bars over the years. No wonder most folks I know refuse to go in there, including nearly all the patrons of the closed bar who drifted elsewhere, like to the place I visited last night. What shall we refer to last night’s joint as on here? Hmmm…  Let’s call it the “G bar,” because it’s a good bar with familiar and good people in it and also because it’s actual name begins with a G. Simple enough. (And that’s not to be confused with the third bar I refer to as the “calmer bar” that is also in my direct neighborhood, where the older lady works whom I like to chat with sometimes.)

Bars have been a part of my life for so long that I almost don’t know what to do without them. They’re a gathering spot, a place to re-find old acquaintances and hear about what’s been happening. But I’ll be careful in my dealings with the two I’m still interested in occasionally frequenting. Both have orange juice and sodas, now that I know to stay away from non-alcoholic beer. And both places will let me be without putting any pressure on me to drink along with them. If that changes, I’ll cease stopping by. But I know I’m welcome on Friday nights at the G bar, which is nice since it helps me to still feel included among people I’ve grown used to being around.

And it was nice. Didn’t even feel much temptation to drink alcohol. Was perfectly content with my iced tea, a favorite beverage for me anyway. Was just good to be back around people I hadn’t been around much in the last few months. Though, there is a lot of truth in how drinkers can become annoying really quick when you’re not drinking along with them. Mostly because they can get so loud. But I also saw another buddy of mine I hadn’t seen since March. Helped him to get in touch with my former partner to have a belt looked at on his truck. That man’s still drunk as a skunk, as to be expected, but he says he’s been working more lately. An electrician. Always been friendly toward me, but it’s sad to watch him go down. He says he got to drinking badly after his wife passed away, and then his mom died a year or so back and that too devastated him. Doesn’t have kids so I think he feels set adrift, as if nothing really matters, so he turns his focus toward perpetual partying. In his 50s now, so I get to wondering how much partying he has left in him. But he has a big circle of friends and family members who care about him. Hopefully he’ll be all right in the end.

There’s the upside but there’s always the downside too. Bars might seem like more fun when you’re in your 20s and around people near your age. But then we all grow older and life takes a toll on us as the years pass. Hard to watch it all play out sometimes. I only wish to observe that abyss on occasion these days, not too often as I had done before. Because it’s no good past a certain point. Just drags you down with it. For all the talk of people wanting to quit drinking, it’s the rare individual who actually does in that scene. I know this. Been watching it all unfold for many years now. And I’m not getting any younger either.

Anyway, time to tend to laundry.

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Update a few hours later: Saturday productivity continues. Finished three loads of laundry (remembering to put dryer sheets in this time). Tidied up a bit in the kitchen, including cutting those 6-pack plastics people worry will strangle ducks and geese if left intact (my former partner got me started on doing that). My lazy ass had accumulated a pile of them awaiting being scissored. Carried out ALL of the bags of cans and bottles to the parking lot. Not most but all this time around. Took a relaxing shower and then oiled my hair with olive oil (haven’t done that in a long while). Gave myself a bit of a mini-pedicure (not a complete one since I didn’t feel like polishing today), then rubbed my feet with an emollient lotion and put a pair of snuggly socks on to lock in the moisture. Then swept the floors and loaded the dishwasher.

Oh, and found a mattress topper I’d purchased in Mississippi last year that was still in its original wrapper. It’s like Christmas when I get to cleaning — rediscover all sorts of stuff I forgot I own. Since all the bedding is nice and freshly laundered, I even made up the bed. Nothing fancy, but it looks nice. At least a change from how out of sorts it usually looks. My cat adores playing in freshly laundered sheets, so she’s probably still back there rolling around in the warmth of the bedding. Poured her fresh cat litter too.

And I sorted some of the mail that’s been gathering on my kitchen table, throwing out most of it. Found my most up-to-date proof of auto insurance cards while at it.

Simple stuff, yes. But I’ve been putting a lot off in recent times. Been doing the minimum to get by in a lot of cases. Why? Because I never felt good. Haven’t in a long time. Would regularly wake up and look around at the chaos that is my woman cave and then hurry up so I could leave it for the day. Sad but true. Doing dishes and the minimum amount of laundry necessary to function day-to-day was typically my gameplan. Hence why my laundry has piled up. Yep, not a domestic goddess.

While putting away some of my winter clothes I also rediscovered a stash of tupperware containers in a box in the spare bedroom. Hmm. One of these days I shall return these to my people! Heh!  Eventually. Hopefully. My home is where other people’s tupperware comes to die.

What else? Been putting a cream on my face the last couple of nights that really feels nice. Owned it for a while now but had neglected to use it. Also dusted a wee bit. Need to do a lot more of that soon. And need to try out the new vacuum too. That can wait until tomorrow.

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Next day update: The new vacuum turned out to be junk. Spit out more than it picked up. Have to return it to the store and find a better one.

Another evening of existential reckoning (oh joy)

Was actually perusing a Sam Harris clip like I so very rarely ever care to do. Never been much of a fan of the guy. But found a segment where I agreed with him how people are factioning off into political tribes. Guess this is what Religions dying can morph into. Gotta put that energy toward something, somewhere. And now politics is the name of the game. The new beacon on which to direct our religious devotion.

Human beings are religious by our very natures. Have always been inclined toward religiosity and still are. Evolved this way. So even though we like to think we’re dropping all that and turning our attention toward the formation of a secular society, that inclination still resides within us, whether we’re conscious of it or not. Expresses itself in various ways. Political tribalism to whatever degrees. New herds to lose ourselves within.

Lots of things to lose oneself in nowadays. So much freedom we barely know what to do with it.

Freedom to make all sorts of (good or bad) choices too. That’s one of those natural rights granted to us by Nature. Some call it Free Will, though it can’t help but come with limitations.

Still. Pretty darn free in the U.S. currently.

Free to buy an assortment of delicacies and enticements. Free to partake in a number of legal drugs, including alcohol (and marijuana in some states). Free to think whatever we want. Free to vote for whomever we want, assuming our nation’s voting apparatus is even trustworthy any longer, and assuming you’re not barred from doing so due to certain felony charges.

Free to read books. Tons of libraries around for folks who lack funds. Inexpensive entertainment as well as educational if we push ourselves to seek and explore. But that’s a choice. Comes back to exercising all this Freedom we’ve been blessed with.

Choices. Attention paid to where? Habits. Options. Alternatives. Decisions. Backed by actions.

Come to find out, it’s very easy to get lost in this 21st Century. lol  True story.

Values. What matters most?

What were the seven deadly sins again?

SLOTH

ENVY

LUST

GLUTTONY

GREED

PRIDE

WRATH

Good to keep in mind. As I sit here tonight as a sloth, once again, pondering while wandering around the internet. Satiating my legal vices. Ever look at that list and wind up having to check every box? Whether past or present, all the same we are afflicted by excesses that can prove destructive, and not only to our own selves. Obviously.

So then what? Wait for motivation to come and sweep us along on our way? Doesn’t work like that.

Some good books I’ve been contemplating on over the last several months are:

Thinking of canceling my Audible subscription for a spell so I can just refocus on these and other titles. Those books there are really informative and thought-provoking. Not needing to continue on in my studies until I get re-oriented with the aid of those books. They do help. But of course it ultimately comes down to one’s individual efforts. Application of lessons learned.

Journaling on Sunday night in late January 2017

I’m all over the board lately. One hour looking into black criminality, the next sitting with cases of Muslim rapists attacking American and European women, the next listening to politicians here and abroad debate on topics of national interests, the next trying to make more sense out of what the fuck the American Left is up to. And on and on and on it goes. For weeks and months on end. Never stops. And I never stop in my attempt to witness what all is going on out here in the world.

Years can go by… They have before and it looks like they will again. My friends like to say I’m like a dog with a bone, I just won’t let go. Don’t know how to. Violent criminality fucks with my sensibilities. Can’t tolerate it or ignore its occurrence. And I understand that the media plays up on that psychological drive within so many of us to pay close attention to news of danger and mayhem. Hence why I don’t subscribe to cable television in my home and haven’t in years. If I’m going down into the abyss it will be according to my choosing and in relation to topics that particularly distress me.

As one American woman out here I must say that I pray this shit doesn’t go off the hook too far beyond what it has already. Some of you are strong, solid men who don’t fear other men, and good for you. I don’t personally comprehend that feeling as a 5’2″ female who lives alone and goes about my life at odd hours, dwelling in an apartment complex increasingly populated with African and Hispanic immigrants who barely speak English. All have been friendly and decent toward me thus far. Only ever had problems here with one black man who used to live across the hall who once tried to barge into my apartment while evidently high on something. Got the door pushed closed and locked it and called my landlord, leading to that man being evicted shortly thereafter. But that man had caused other problems in the building beyond that. Still have to deal with hooligans leaving used condoms in the hallway and parking lot occasionally, but at least they ceased hanging women’s panties on people’s Dish Network satellites. We’re kinda like a tiny ghetto-ish enclave within a reasonably nice residential area. People sometimes tell me to move but I like cheap rent. Always have and always will. Plus, my landlord has been fair and decent with me and only gone up on the rent $50/mo. over the last 8 years.

But I do keep various sorts of items to use as weapons around the place, plus in my car. You learn to be vigilant and to pay attention to your surroundings when you live as I do. You learn about body language and what it signals and how to not come across as an easy mark. But this place truly isn’t so bad, at least not yet. Better than it used to be, so I give my landlord credit for ridding the worst elements from this place. But we do cater to Section 8 and apparently are welcoming to immigrants. But, again, thus far most of our immigrants from various nations have conducted themselves all right. Had a few break-ins in the apartment beneath mine and actually caught one Hispanic guy kicking their window in one time — told the police that when they arrived later, but what could I say? Dark evening hours, brown guy, nothing really distinguishing about him. Hollered at him out my window, but he didn’t care. Usually I just come home to seeing one of their windows boarded up yet again. People love kicking in the windows of that particular apartment for some reason. Hence why it has an especially high turnover rate for renters, though many units in this complex do. Only a small handful of us choose to stick around here for more than a year.

When it comes to my job though, I’m all over the place, traveling from residence to residence throughout the day. Many of them live in upscale areas, but still. I don’t trust suburban kids either. Learned about them already in the past, having lived in a suburb for a little while as a young teen. I don’t trust ’em either. In fact, I’m almost more nervous of them than others precisely because they can be so spoiled and lack empathy and think everything’s about their own entertainment. So I watch myself wherever I go, aiming not to lapse into a false sense of security just because I’m visiting wealthier parts of the metro.

Mostly I worry about my friends. My guyfriends especially. One is so helpful toward strangers that I worry about him getting taken advantage of or robbed, though he likes to dismiss my concerns. (His house was actually robbed several years back.)  He’s strong, but it’s a matter of whether he sees it coming at the time. Another close guyfriend has a good many health issues and can’t take a punch in the face as a result. Would fuck up his world to do him like that. And he’d probably be even more of a target due to being kinda shy and sweet and appearing to have nice things and basically assuming the good in people. I’ve grown paranoid about their safety in recent years. Truly have. Not sure why. Probably because I submerge myself in crime-related information on a nearly daily basis and, in one shape or form, have done so forever. Mostly because I worry about this area changing someday, though it’s still pretty safe as of right now. Still, I worry.

A local development website I looked into recently predicted a 5.1% increase in population in this metro by 2020. I’m wondering where they’re going to come from. Hopefully not Chicago. Please, dear lord, don’t let rough elements move here from Chicago! We don’t need that. Too many people around here are soft, unexpecting, trusting — at least from what I can tell. The ones out in the gated community might not have much reason to worry, but it’s a bit unnerving how so many of the rest are kinda oblivious to crime, as though it won’t happen to them, lulled into a sense of security thanks to this area being so crime-free (or at least not crimes typically horribly violent in nature).

Then a couple cops were killed here locally a few months back. By a middle-aged white man who was known to be a hot-head. Ambushed them in their cars. In my neighborhood. One right down the street from me. One of the police officers was relatively new to the force; the other had been serving a while and has a family and kids and was very well-liked, so people say. Very sad situation. The man who murdered them reportedly got mad at a high school sports game when his rebel flag was snatched by fellow attendees. Doesn’t make sense, I know. Nobody comprehends this. But he had a youtube video up about it where right afterward he was talking to police and fussing about his property being stolen. Then about a week or so later, he killed two cops unrelated to his former incident. There was some mention of him being pissed off at Black Lives Matter, but that may just be a rumor. His crime didn’t make any sense even if that was the motive. He killed two white male cops he didn’t even know. In two separate jurisdictions. Lived with his mother and had a teenage daughter. Only videos he had up on youtube were of her recitals and playing with his pup before that altercation video where he was arguing with the cops (and the cops were being very reasonable with him in response, not antagonistic. Our cops around here are usually pretty nice and helpful.)

He killed them for whatever reason. And he had just written in a week prior a letter to the local police department commending them for being heroes who serve our community. None of it made any sense in the end. He’s alive and in jail currently, but we still don’t comprehend why this all happened. Doubt the dude even knows. I wonder if he’s on any drugs, prescribed or otherwise. We have no choice but to accept that this occurred, wrong as it was. I’d love to learn more about the criminal if information becomes available, but he basically appears to be not too bright and highly emotionally reactive. Hence probably why he never proved successful in anything, according to those who knew him.

Ever since, though, this town has bathed itself in blue ribbons. Little by little, they keep creeping up, strung around tree trunks and light poles, tied to antennas and shrubbery. Blue lights on the occasional front porch. Blue tape strips across back car windshields. More and more of it is materializing, which is what’s really interesting to me. Initially when the cops died there were memorials placed on the street corners where they were each ambushed. Lots of balloons and signs showing support and leaving spiritual sentiments — I’d see one of those displays everyday on the way to work. Then, little by little, the ribbons and tape and lights began emerging across the whole city. Slowly. Plus the occasional yard sign expressing support for the local PD. By now I notice the blue all the time as I’m out walking and driving each day. And honestly, I’m grateful for it. It’s actually a comfort to see that much outpouring of support not only to the officers whose lives were taken but also to our police departments in general. Even folks who aren’t cop-lovers around here at least seem to show them respect and reasonable deference most of the time. And it works. Our cops here are the best I’ve ever known in terms of temperament and helpfulness, from what I’ve gathered about them over the last 11 years.

We’re lucky. And I guess that’s what reading these horrible crime stories from all around the country, and having lived in Mississippi half my early life, has me nervous about. How we might not remain lucky for much longer. How we’re surrounded on all sides by other states’ major metros with a lot bigger crime problems than us. And we don’t want any of that. We’re reasonably good, let us remain good. And yet I understand that sadly life doesn’t like to roll like that. Shit rolls downhill. People here are maybe too nice for their own good. Too polite and trusting. I’ve witnessed it in my own ways and have remained perpetually surprised by it. Like, I lock my own doors no matter what. All the time. Obsessively. Car doors, home door — locked. And I believe in owning a gun that is always loaded and ready to go. Do they? Because I already know too many of them leave doors and windows unlocked, and I aim to rectify it when I see it. We’re getting too lax. Life’s too comfortable around here. We’re getting complacent. Hell, I am and I’m not even a native!

They probably consider me a little paranoid. I’d argue it’s for good reason. But whatever. In 3 years time we might experience an influx of what? Approximately 16,000 newcomers, at minimum? Transplants like myself who may or may not choose to assimilate. And I get it, assimilation isn’t easy. Hell, I still feel like an outsider in this town. But ah well. They’re pretty good about leaving you alone, so I deal with it. But I didn’t come here with a family and a community and a totally different culture from another nation. Wound up coming here alone as a cantankerous “vagabond” seeking greater economic opportunity, and I am content with what I’ve found for the most part, despite some of the locals ticking me off (a topic for another time). Finally starting to feel like this is my adopted home, like it’s worth standing up for and protecting. Can’t complain too much since it’s largely been good to me. Beats the hell out of conditions in that small-ass town in Mississippi where I originally sprang from.

Don’t want to see these people become sitting ducks who don’t see shit coming. And I’ve got a feeling that serious problems are on the horizon. Don’t believe any place will ultimately prove immune to facing it. Coming from various directions. Not too cool with shipping a bunch of Syrians here or to other U.S. cities. Already mentioned that it’d be best if aggressive Chicagoans stay where they are. Don’t want none. Just pondering what the future may hold in store…  Who really knows?

As a Southerner, there is a part of me that feels a bit queer about bonding with and sticking up for a Midwestern city, but perhaps that’s just evidence that I’m finally maturing.  Ha!

Seriously though, I’ve witnessed New Orleans crime and been involved in a car accident because a black woman intentionally slammed into us. She was mistaken since my friend’s mom didn’t have barely shit for insurance, but either way, she made a go for it. And I witnessed how all but one of the black people in the local businesses poured out to immediately side with her (one old man came to us — the only one out of a crowd of maybe 50 to even check on our condition), despite her getting out of her car and marching around ranting before getting back in her car and having the paramedics help her out when they arrived, complaining about her neck and back. The three of us sat there on the curb as teenagers, my friend’s mom’s car having been totaled, and just witnessed this. My boyfriend-at-the-time had the car door crash in on his hip (luckily he was not seriously injured). I didn’t have a seatbelt on (yes, bad 15-year-old me) and was just cut on my face by the glass shattering. Our driver was physically okay but shaken up. Either that black woman drives worse than the absolute worst Asian driver imaginable, or she was aiming to scam somebody. Appearances at the scene of the accident point to the latter conclusion.

Also listened to cops in my hometown in Mississippi describe having to give chase during what starts out as routine traffic stops, usually involving black men, who then take off through the treacherous woods and make you run after them. There’s barbwire all over the woods down there, just so you know. Private property and all. But it’s not uncommon, according to that lieutenant who springs to mind, that they made him chase them. Just wouldn’t take a ticket or face a warrant without a fight. He seemed to hate his job. I don’t forget that man or his stories from during the short time we interacted.

Or the asshole cops in that section of Omaha who didn’t give a damn about response time and wouldn’t respond at all for vehicle destruction by thieving thugs. Deferred people to an automated system where you could just tell them about how your windows are broken and your dash was ripped out and the hoodlums in question are known to neighbors. No follow-up ever occurred. Twenty minutes response time when non-fatal violent crime is occurring but then don’t want to take down witness statements, acting like they already assume relevant charges would be dropped by the party/ies involved (and they usually were).  Despite driving by 13 times in about an hour (we sat outside and counted them once, out of curiosity, entertaining ourselves). That was back when I was 21-23. Met a pregnant hoodrat there, which I told about elsewhere on this blog. And she wound up being one of the final straws that led me to move away. I still recall discarded needles tossed into our yard and empty beer bottles left in the back of my truck. Was a rude place to live. Made a couple friends and remain in contact with one from there, but otherwise I chalk that time up to a sociological experiment and highly recommend all other social science majors (and their intellectual ilk) to live somewhere like that for at least a full year, while also ACTIVELY and REGULARLY engaging with your neighbors. And LISTEN to them. Interact and observe. It’s an eye-opening, educational opportunity to learn more about long-time welfare recipients and EBT cards (and how those funds can be spent and used to obtain groceries for others in exchange for non-EBT-qualifying goods and services), and criminal activity and how snitching is frowned upon. It’s an opportunity to observe scrappiness/fighting capabilities even among the short and slim and to learn to gauge how drug users lie (as if they can’t even help themselves). Forces one to reckon with the notion of dignity, that much is certain.

That and my hometown are whole other worlds from where I live now. And I’d like to not see this area turned to shit like so many other big American cities. I worry that our relatively strong local economy and nods from Forbes magazine for being a great place to raise kids will also have the unfortunate effect of luring in elements looking for social welfare assistance and to take advantage—in the worst way—of what we have going on here. Makes me a bit nervous. Can’t pretend otherwise. Most of the black folks here currently are decent people, work hard and are friendly. Chat with plenty of them at my local watering hole and typically enjoy their company. Then back on Christmas I ran into a couple homeboys originally from northern Mississippi who now live up this way.  Always give my fellow Southerners a chance and take up for them a little, but these dudes I don’t know about. Can’t say that I could trust them. One spoke about Islam when I pried, and the other was sketchier in the thug sense. Not pretend thuggery like suburbanites like to try to pull, but actual thug jackassery. So I took off and called it a day. Too potentially emotionally reactive. Too likely to do something stupid and create an unnecessary situation. And it’s sad to me to feel that way about folks from my own home state. But it’s true.

And the Muslim Bosnians…  Hmmm…  Another time.

Anyway, journaled enough on here for one evening.