“Gulag ArchiCanado: Free Thought Under Siege” (plus my thoughts)

Truly terrifying that it’s come this far this soon. Grateful to not be a Canadian, though I recognize the threat in the U.S. as well and hope that prove more rebellious and less willing to silence ourselves in the face of batshit ideologically-driven craziness. Hopefully enough of us out here are willing to tirelessly defend our freedom of speech and to explore ideas, including the ongoing search for scientifically-backed truths. To allow ourselves to be pushed around and shut down by wannabe-communists would be a damned (unforgivable) shame. Especially since what these Far Leftist types desire to bring about is purely idealistic and will ultimately prove unrealistic to implement in the real world.

Such has been tried already, as we now all know, and it’s always failed miserably, racking up great body counts in the process. To assume that primadonna campus feminists and outspoken trannies and lesbians and their indoctrination-pushing professors are going to lose this battle in the short run strikes me as naive at best. We’ve been watching this trend gather speed all of our lives — it’s not dissolving despite the Far Left appearing to eat itself at times. If anything, it’s becoming more deeply entrenched and powerful within academia, both in the U.S. and Canada (though Canada appears especially off the hook at present — and should serve as a serious warning to us Americans observing what’s happening there).

As a Social Sciences major myself I am well aware of how slanted the information presented could be (depending on the professors in question), but it appears to only have gotten worse since I graduated nearly a decade back. Some of what I learned at college has taken me years since to reckon with and call into question, not realizing the narrative for what it was until much later. I continue to have very mixed feelings on that curriculum and have had to struggle against its claims in more recent years. Because so much was presented as fact, as indisputable reality, as ground-level critiques and resistance to the corporate monied interests and those made rich off of it. Some of what they presented was indeed worth considering, but it’s wrapped within a greater narrative that attempts to remold how we view life and country. And some of those added trappings are themselves conveniently adapted to bolster the grand narrative, though further scrutiny shows that what was presented rarely was the full story. Such educational programming can send one down a rabbit hole of questioning everything, including the curriculum itself, which turns out to be the best possible outcome in such a scenario since all does indeed deserve to be reexamined. But in doing so you wind up unable to trust your lying eyes and all that’s ever been presented to you from all directions, at least for a spell while you try to make sense out of what you’ve been taught. There is no “listen and believe” in that world. Can’t be. Not when all winds up looking like various forms of indoctrination and truths must be teased out from them. In that regard, I can’t help but value my education in the end, though not its price tag. Though, with that said, I cannot in good conscience encourage others to follow in suit and sign up for social science majors, especially not nowadays. Better to learn about it on our own (via textbooks that we all have access to) than to continue padding the pockets of professors and administrators who apparently wish to see our societies irreparably divided, believing that that somehow serves their cause. In short, students should not be used as ideologically-programmable fodder for older professors with axes to grind. Especially not when we wind up drowning in student loan debt in the end as a result.

They’ve been using us. And by now they’ve used enough of us that they’ve effectively undermined the general sense of national pride predicated on protection of individual rights. Back to tribalism — that’s what’s occurring. But those calling for tribal divisions tend to be the weakest among the weak, those who contribute the least to society and who depend on our collective funding in order to remain in power. Truly parasitic, if you ask me. They appear to be angry at The System that they feel they cannot compete competently within, and their words hold most appeal for youths who fear the same thing (myself included back in the day). Rather than learn to play the game as it stands currently, they’d rather flip the entire gameboard and start anew, as if it’s ever that easy. Their own fears and frustrations fuel the words they preach and are intended to sow seeds of doubt and worry in the minds of youths who otherwise might fare reasonably well in our societies. The goal has been and continues to be to divide, to find groups to blame, and to destroy the game as it currently operates. But what they will actually accomplish is the formation of a new game with a new class rising in power, most of whom aren’t competent enough to assume such positions, and the whole project is destined to fail once more. Of course these people cannot and will not accept this reality, so attempting to get them to see it winds up being an exercise in futility.

I’m not a particularly successful person out in the crowd (depending on how one chooses to define success) and I too had been filled with enough propaganda (from all possible sides) to sate me for a lifetime. Has driven me away from people over time and hardened my heart toward all things political. I say this in order to explain that I haven’t necessarily discovered bootstraps and have therefore changed my opinion accordingly. No, I’ve grown critical of all of it, all sides in these debates, all claims of truth and all peddlers of ideologies. Because all appear interested in using us to further their own causes and aims. And I don’t take kindly to being used for someone or something else’s purposes, especially covertly.

I must say, though, that some of what these Leftists point to is indeed worrisome. The Game is rigged in ways, though not to the extent nor in the fashion as they like to claim it is. Everybody has their own pet theories about reality and why it functions as it does. Some prefer the oppressed/oppressor model, which is the weakest dichotomy to operate under. My life has brought me to finally seeing that so much is an accident of fortune, of era and opportunities, but also that some are better poised to take advantage of whatever arises at any given time and to profit from it as a result. And many others out here seethe with resentment in kind, believing that they’ve been shut out from effectively competing by those who proved successful. But that is not really the case. Oftentimes we shut ourselves out of the running due to our own mindsets and irritation with the Game, which is fine if that’s the case but let us not fool ourselves or others into believing otherwise.

Again, I continue to have a lot of mixed feelings about what all I’ve learned from all sides of the aisle. There are truths and falsehoods peddled by all sides. BUT there are also principles that truly do matter much more than all else because they’ve given us all a shot at living as free as one could hope, freer than any people at any other time in history. And at the end of the day, my loyalties have to go toward that, regardless of whatever else I might quibble over. It’s the principles themselves that matter, not any groups or ideologies or narratives. So, I find myself in opposition to some of those who once taught me and to others who now feel emboldened to silence academic freedom and inquiry. And here I will remain. Always have been here, come to find out, but it’s become so much more clear with each passing year. The benefit of the doubt that I once extended to those who pushed such narratives is now being revoked since they will not reciprocate the tolerance and understanding that they’ve requested. What once appeared to be simply be an alternative way of looking at things nowadays appears to me to be an obfuscation, a dramatic pack of lies intended to confuse us so that we would do their bidding and destroy what we didn’t yet sufficiently understand. That’s pretty crummy, if you ask me. Pretty horrible thing to do to naive young people who lack the life experience to know better.

But I’m no longer that young and it all looks very disturbing at this juncture.

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.

White nationalists worry me too

Just finished watching a couple videos by the youtuber Braving Ruin where he was discussing identity denialism and critiquing how individualism went wrong. He’s a smart guy with a different vantage point who offered up plenty of food for thought. But as I keep looking into videos like his and those from Millennial Woes and similar, and also read the comment sections, I’m left with a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. Especially when folks get to talking about how mixed people can’t understand their positions and are basically left in outfield in these discussions. Indeed, I do feel as if I’m unwanted by all who take such positions. Such talk makes me nervous, very much so, because they speak of those of us who happened to be mixed with a type of degrading pity, as though we don’t belong, as though we’re somehow not real Americans who care about Western cultures. And that’s neither fair nor accurate.

That right there is the type of shit that has always boiled my blood when going up against white supremacist types. I’ve met them down South in the past and on a few occasions up here in the Midwest. They’re the ones who felt it was perfectly legitimate to call me out (when I was much younger) in front of people and state loudly that I am not “all white,” as if that were a putdown. I recall one such episode when I was a teenager in my hometown in Mississippi very clearly. But it didn’t get to me much at the time since most folks didn’t treat me poorly, so I chocked him up to being some random asshole. Now I’m seeing these random assholes appearing regularly online and chiding others in similar ways. Their message invariably is that because we’re not “all white” that somehow that means we’re defective, unwanted. But where do they imagine we’re supposed to go when this is our home and all we’ve ever known too?

Someone in a comment section tonight brought up a few good questions pertaining to this inquiry, asking why mixed people would want to support nationalistic agendas framed in this sort of way when it’s pretty obvious that eventually we’d be discarded by such a movement. We don’t fit their demographic criteria, no matter what’s in our hearts and minds, no matter how we may choose to live, no matter how much pride we might feel for this country (despite criticizing its shortcomings). Someone like me would be a FOOL to support an ethno-nationalist agenda — I’m well-aware of that fact and always have been.

But then I also get torn because all of my family is white (with a little Native American mixed in for good measure) and most of my friends are also white. And since I care about them I want to see them be okay in the end ultimately. That pits me and my own interests against those of my loved ones, though I know that none of my loved ones support an ethno-state and don’t believe in such divisions according to race. But this sort of ideology itself aims to pit loved ones against loved ones, don’t you see? It’d be asking my Grandma to turn her back on me, which she would never do. And it’d be asking me to separate myself from my closest friends, which I’d rather die than experience. Absolutely serious on that point. My friends and family mean the world to me, they are all that keeps me sane and I would completely lost without them. So to think of some crazy ideology wishing to separate people based on something so arbitrary as race alone is just sick. Deeply disturbing.

Yeah, I’m getting emotional on this topic tonight. Been emotional the last couple of days already, but this one really hits a nerve. It’s been tough enough coming up the product of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, born to a woman who wasn’t really suited to motherhood, and thereby winding up being raised a good bit by my grandparents. I’m very grateful for the sacrifices they made in taking me in when I needed them most. Hate to imagine how life might otherwise have gone. My Papa and my Grandma represent what blood and soil means for me — and understanding that cuts straight down to my core, needing no explanation to strangers. My love with them has always been fierce and I pity the son of a bitch who’d ever aim to divide a family’s love just because somebody isn’t “white enough” according to their standards. Ya know, I grew up feeling like a burden and it’s given me a complex that I haven’t been able to shake to this day, and it makes me awfully sad to think that there’s a growing number of people out there who’d agree with that sentiment based purely on some blood differences. Not even cultural differences, not national differences. Just some fucking blood, some genetic material that only ever can lead us to generalized assessments of groups, saying very little about each individual therein.

I’ve told myself over the years that I ought not feel like a lesser person than others, that I have as much of a right to walk this earth as any of them do. And it’s true. Just as it’s true for all of you (save for those who forfeit that right by exterminating others unlawfully). We were born and we’re now here whether folks like it or not. Regardless of how much some might like to wax poetic on topics of ethnic pride and homogeneity. Sure, we do differ, but that’s true intraracially as much as interracially. Go read about it. I’m sure Dr. Charles Murray could explain it you.

Then I get to thinking about my best girlfriend (American of German and Swedish descent) and her Mexican husband and their mixed kids. They have a good family, and may they never be parted. To look upon them as a union that should’ve never taken place sounds to me like blasphemous thoughts. How dare you. Seriously. How dare someone concern themselves with matters that are truly none of your fucking business. Love trumps such nonsense. As it should. Thank God for that!

Yet these same people so often call themselves Christians. That hypocrisy is one reason I prefer not to live down South anymore. Yeah, I said it and I meant it. Though I recognize the Midwest has their fair share of jerks and tools too — at least up here people are more inclined to keep their opinions to themselves on such matters. Keep it behind closed doors and among close friends at least. Unlike some of the loud-mouth Southerners I’ve encountered who just can’t control themselves when it comes to blabbing about shit that doesn’t concern them. From other people’s religions (when it’s not affronting your own), to their sexual preferences (when it’s not impacting your own), to their family situations (as if you all came up perfectly!), to their race and the race(s) of their loved ones (which in no way directly affects YOU). I’ve long since been sick of it. And it makes me feel guilty still after all these years when I get irate at my fellow Southerners over this age-old bullshit, but oh well. Sometimes it needs to be stated aloud. Seeing as how they’re so notorious about not keeping their damn mouths shut, then maybe they deserve to get an earful back every once in a while.

But this isn’t about Southerners specifically…those are just my own past demons flaring up. Living among them just taught me originally how sick I am of such mindsets and solidified why I refuse to join suit. Not that it would make any sense if I tried. Because here’s the thing: when it all boils down to blood, there’s absolutely nothing you can do or say to change the situation. Can’t erase one’s genes. I could probably lie about mine, but why do so? Why should I have to? For what? Shouldn’t have to lie just so as to live in peace without being harassed by idiots and assholes over matters that shouldn’t concern them.

Though I can hear it already, from the peanut gallery that is emblazoned within my imagination, that these people DO see themselves as affected by persons like myself and unions like my friend has with her husband because we’re all part of this society and can’t help but be impacted by its decline. To which I’ll argue that the decline isn’t a result of people loving one another. Quite the contrary. Seems to me a big reason for the decline is all the divisiveness being sown. Which politicians just adore partaking in. Which we idiots on the ground can’t help but lap up.

Sure, there are real general differences among groups of people. And some perhaps will deem it impossible to live together, to which I say “bye.” Go wherever you’re going then. But that doesn’t entitle you to try to remake this entire society in your idealized vision. No. Certainly doesn’t entitle you to speak of doing violence against people just because you think the races ought to all be kept separated. Such talk is bananas and will be fiercely resisted. For all the wannabe nazis out in the crowd, there’s a whole lot more reasonable and sane people. The latter just happen to have better things to do than engage in battles of the wits with dumbasses online. People like to talk down about the so-called centrists out here, but I’d say don’t sell them short. They’re the many, and while they don’t get as crazy about politics as the nutjobs tend to, that doesn’t mean they’re a bunch of timid lambs waiting to be led to slaughter. Most of my closest people don’t care all that much about politics, but they do care about self-defense and they care a WHOLE BUNCH about their families, friends and neighbors.

I really shouldn’t let this junk get to me, but more and more people keep speaking as though they take these narratives seriously. As if they’re waiting for severe enough economic problems to arise so that they can take advantage of the situation like the opportunistic cockroaches that they are. America was never a white nation. We are indeed a melting pot. Hell, you’d have a hard time finding a white American who isn’t mixed with various European ethnic lineages. Not as if “white” were some sort of monolith. No. We’re all a bunch of mutts. And I imagine this trend will only continue, much to the white nationalists’ dismay. So be it.

If they were really serious, they’d focus more on preserving Western cultures, histories and ideals, instead of placing so much emphasis on race alone.

Race alone doesn’t tell you much about a person. As if we all haven’t met retarded jackass white people. Or retarded jackass black people, for that matter. Or retarded jackass native American people. Or retarded jackass Hispanics. Or retarded jackass Arabs. And I’m willing to bet there are even retarded jackass Orientals as well. ha

As if we don’t know this. As if somebody’s skin color alone is enough to make us want to have something to do with them, no matter how poorly they behave or how they treat us. Because someone’s white doesn’t guarantee they’ll behave loyally toward you any more than it guarantees a non-white won’t. Some out here like to say that individualism has become a problem, that we’re all off living in our little unsustainable bubbles but will eventually be made to recognize the importance of group identities. OK. But there are FAR better bases for forming group identities than race. Or sex/gender, for that matter. Whatever happened to those principles conservatives claimed to care about??

Just gotta remind myself that life is a shitshow sometimes. Not much can be done about that. And we humans aren’t as evolved as we like to think we are.

Shit like this gets me feeling like a misanthrope, like I can’t identify with any of the options being presented, nor do I want to. Want to love the ones I’ve got and do my little part in not horrendously fucking things up so far as I am able, and then not leave descendants to have to deal with this nuthouse.

“The Donald Trump video every Jew MUST watch!” (plus my thoughts)

Interesting that Trump and Hillary were ever friends. Perhaps I’ve misjudged him a bit due to his past association with the Clintons. But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either Trump or Clinton in our latest presidential election.

The internet is abuzz with people discussing “the Jewish question” these days. I don’t have a firm position on all of that, still learning as I go and never having taken issue with Jews as a group. But I do recall the pro-Palestine position strongly pushed by the very liberal peace-building organization I once belonged to. In fact, our local chapter here in the Midwest had as its primary mission to be pro-Palestine, a position I questioned our program coordinator about since we have very few Arabs in this state (at present) and a growing number of Jewish people are relocating here from the east coast and contributing to our local economy. Didn’t seem like a good use of our financial resources since there are so few Arabs here to cater to, and she said that the decision that we be pro-Palestine was handed down on high, meaning it was a position assigned to us from the national offices of our (multinational non-profit) organization. Huh. Okay. I didn’t understand much of that then and still barely do so now. Seemed like a good way to alienate our organization from the locals, considering we were already underfunded and paid little attention by the media or the general public. Our program coordinator assured me it was an important humanitarian issue, and repeatedly the name of Rachel Corrie was bandied about (believe I even saw her parents at one event) — our martyr for the cause. For four years while I participated with this organization the talk of Israel vs. Palestine was ongoing and unchanging, which seemed a bit strange to me at the time since we’re supposed to be about peace, yet we relentlessly sided with the Arabs when it came to all Middle Eastern matters (including anything to do with Iran). When I spoke out against Saudi Arabia (as I’m fond of doing), it was met with crickets. Pure silence. Even as they castigated our U.S. government over oil dependence and consumption, and blamed all the wars in that region on us, claiming them to be little more than power grabs. Being nervous of the U.S. military at that point in time and highly critical of government corruption, I decided to listen and try to learn from them. But on and on it went, even where it made little sense or showed blatant contradictions in regards to the values we claimed to promote.

Four years I stuck around to hear that message and to participate in their rallies and to try to help raise money for what, I don’t know. Probably to hand over to Democratic candidates since that was their explicit bias. Why a libertarian type would stay around for that remains a mystery to my own self. Maybe it was my way of trying to connect with the Arab blood inside me, to try to grasp that perspective though I’ve only ever known American culture and interests. And try as I might, my involvement in the end only cemented my dismay for partisan politics and led to more questions than answers on the Irael/Palestine conflict. Not sure what I learned through my time volunteering with those folks aside from recognizing that the supposed underdog isn’t always and automatically deserving of sympathy and support. And that I hate movements and groups who blindly follow political candidates and act as if they can do no wrong, even when the candidate in question repeats the very sins you were losing your mind over in the presidency that came before.

The politics of Democrats have left a bad taste in my mouth ever since. Something’s happening there, and what it is ain’t exactly clear… Indeed. For all of our appeals to tolerance and community-building and inclusion, there were no other non-Democrats among us. I, as an independent, was the only one. And I was needing to be educated apparently, to listen and take in what they were saying and to support what they were doing. When I first envisioned what a Quaker organization would be about, I didn’t expect it to be so one-sided and biased, but perhaps that was naivety on my part. That they thought our feminist ally groups would gel with the pro-Islam sentiments expressed continues to baffle me. Yet there we all were, a bunch of mostly white and beige people out in the Midwest, uniting over matters that don’t immediately impact us and therefore can’t help but be theoretical in nature. This idea that we can all come together as One, as if our conflicts in interest will melt away in the face comradeship. Didn’t happen. Much lip service was paid but the distrust remained. Seemed to me more like people trying to use one another to get what they politically want in the short-run. I don’t doubt for a minute, now looking back in hindsight, that those disparate interest groups would eventually turn on one another once they had successfully suppressed and disarmed the groups they jointly took issue with. Don’t doubt that for a minute. All this talk of peace, yet power still remains the name of the game underneath it all. Sad to come to that conclusion in the end, but c’est la vie.

That was and will be the last organization I align myself with. Groupthink is for the birds.

Wasn’t a Trump supporter, but I believe in judging a man on his merit and actions. So I maintain an open mind about him and what he’s actually about, ignoring the media’s hysteria. In person I’m not hearing much talk against Trump, even from those who aren’t a fan of him. Though I’ve heard plenty of people express disdain for Hillary Clinton. Didn’t take Russians hacking anything for that woman to lose the election. She lost because she’s wildly unpopular, despite what the media might try to tell you. People are uncomfortable about her judgment capacity, and rightfully so IMO. Yet all day, every day, the narrative being spun in the news these days is that Trump is a horrible person, a racist, a sexist, a homophobe, an anti-semite, etc. None of those claims appear true. Doesn’t stop Democrats from relentlessly repeating them though. The Democratic Party is shooting its own self in the foot and can’t seem to come to grips with that reality. So it blames it off externally. Must be the fault of us racist, sexist jerks out in society who just need to be better educated and who need to sit down and be quiet, right?

I don’t even find the matter funny. How people are losing their minds these days (including, I imagine, many of those I once volunteered with) is actually kind of embarrassing. And lying in order to promote a specific narrative will only ensure that your own credibility will be destroyed in due time. Doesn’t take a Republican stance for one to feel that way either. I’d be thrilled if both political parties were erased and replaced with more sane options.

“Addiction – Reconsidered” (plus personal thoughts)

Liked that video and want to share it with others. Often lately I think about the notion of being cleansed by fire, which is to say purified in some sort of way through trials and struggles.

This past weekend was the first time in months I’d talked to my (ex-step)dad and brother on the phone. Told them that I had quit drinking, which I’d been holding off on sharing with some folks until I had more progress under my belt. Today marks the beginning of week 11 since my commitment to stop drinking. Dad asked if it’s been difficult, if there were physical side effects like shakes, and I told him this time around it’s actually been surprisingly easy, as it has. Though it’s been perplexing me as to why it’s felt so comparably easy.

When I think on it, I believe the reason is that the process actually began a little over 2 years ago. Back then I did get shaky at times due to going through spells where I’d drink entirely too much and hurt my body. Drinking on that level was often concealed at home where I could be alone. And that’s an awful way to become. Then when I did start heading back out to bars once again I’d wind up having problems with people over social matters, which were the sort of issues that drove me to staying home more and more in the first place. My behavior and attitudes became increasingly volatile as a drinker. I was severely unhappy — depressed really. Frustrated with myself but at the time feeling too weak to make real and lasting changes for the better. Dreamt of changing all the time, but struggled to do so and keep with it. So there was a lot of yo-yoing occurring within the last couple of years. And I guess that time period was in itself a slow-motion bottoming out. Actually I know it was and knew it at the time too. But I kept thinking I wasn’t on total rock bottom yet…not that I wanted to land there, but there’s some stupid little measure of comfort in believing you’re not there yet.

Humiliated myself many times. Numerous bad nights pepper my memories over the last couple of years (and before). Nights when I’m lucky to have made it home in one piece and not harmed anybody else in the process. Nights where portions of the evening are completely erased, blacked out, only known through what others later told me. Bad thoughts and bad decisions had me in a tailspin for a long time there, culminating in those last two years of suffering because I knew the jig was up but yet couldn’t seem to lay it all down and walk away. That was a very frustrating time in life, to say the least.

And then something happened inside that allowed me to say I’d had enough. Don’t believe it was any one event, just a broad collection of them that finally broke the camel’s back. And I got really angry, at myself and the others surrounding me and the lifestyle overall. Had been angry about it many times before, though, so I still wonder why this time something stuck and I was able to walk away. Didn’t feel like the change was completely due to my own will power alone considering how much that had failed me in years prior. Hard to say why the shift occurred so abruptly and how I’ve been able to stick with it this time around. Too much water under the bridge? Too many bad memories generated? Too much money wasted to where I was facing dire straits soon enough? Too many embarrassing episodes spanning back longer than I care to look? All of the above and then some.

But that had been my lifestyle all throughout my adulthood and it was my norm. Though, some part of me inside was never content with it, always critical about it. Maybe it was that inner voice that finally took over the helm when I was weak enough to allow it to do so, and through doing so I’ve gained a measure of strength and determination that I didn’t know I had. It’s kind of queer to think about really, how it’s unfolded and where my mind has been and how something inside became so damn enraged that it simply refused to live like that anymore and therefore took over operations. So, in truth, I did save myself, or at least a part of me saved the rest of me. And that’s a strange thought since so much of me had fallen down and I figured might not ever get back up and stay up. Most of the people I surrounded myself with on a day-to-day basis were heavy drinkers themselves who saw no problem in our lifestyle choice, taking every opportunity they could to defend it. Sometimes I’d debate with them over what we were doing, hypocritical as that always felt (in a bar setting, no less). But in the end, none of them or any of their empty excuses mattered one iota, and I was able to walk away.

Does it have to do with one’s personality? Has my stubbornness saved me once again? Or my fear of complete and abysmal failure? Or worries over becoming a devastatingly negative force for change in the lives of some innocent people who happened to cross my path at the wrong time? Or concern over potential destroyed and wasted? Or humiliation over the (repeated) results of the toxic mix of alcohol and emotional volatility that undeniably damaged my character? All of the above, I assume. But it still seems so strange to me that someone can be that entrenched in a way of life and that deeply steeped among others of like mind and still break free. But I did. Still coming to terms with that and am so grateful for my internal levee to finally give way, generating enough force to propel me out and away from that addictive trap.

More on Charlottesville chaos

Styxhexenhammer666’s take on it:

Exactly! I hate seeing those damn nazi flags, especially at American rallies. Southern heritage has absolutely nothing to do with Nazi bullshit and doesn’t deserve to be conflated with it. Sends the wrong message and tarnishes what protection of Southern monuments is supposed to be about. Ugh! Seriously not a fan of that tactic and will be SO GLAD when so-called Alt-Right supporters wake up and kick out those racist extremists who preach about being pro-Nazi and broadly anti-Semitic. THAT HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH AMERICAN SOCIETY, nor should it. Makes a complete mess out of the whole situation when all are tossed in together, and it gives an incredibly bad impression to onlookers in the general public. Hence why I personally cannot align myself with a movement like the Alt Right on principle — being critical of culture clashes and race relations gone wild in the U.S. has fuck all to do with nazi propaganda, and it should remain that way! Makes me sick. We’re not Germany here, thank GOD. So why lump yourself in with those who support such bigotry? It’s nonsensical and only hurts your cause, providing additional fodder to those you claim to oppose. Bad tactic all the way around, plus it lowers what reasonable support you people might otherwise garner from your fellow Americans who don’t wish to affiliate with Hitler-worshiping bullshit.

Fly the American flag. Fly the rebel flag. But to hell with Nazi symbols. That is NOT a product of our culture nor in any way representative of Southern heritage and it has NO PLACE in our American protests. Fucking period. Shouldn’t have to say that. Quit making American conservatives look like fools in this way.

Agreed with Styx on disliking David Duke as well. Truly whatever that man endorses turns to shit. He’s an unabashed racist who winds up polarizing any movement he involves himself in. Not a fan. “He’s the white Al Sharpton.” Precisely. Just a complete charlatan. If he’s winds up on my side of the fence, then I have to pause and wonder where I’m fucking up, because I don’t want to be lumped in with asshats like him. And I say this as someone born in Mississippi who has appreciation for plenty of aspects of Southern culture and heritage. But the KKK? That’s an organization belonging among historical relics that doesn’t deserve to be resurrected. May better (higher) principles prevail in going forward.

Have we all gone fucking insane, Styx asks? Unfortunately it appears so.

Carrying on, Lionel Nation’s coverage of this ordeal:

I can see what he’s saying about such events being used to bolster government-backed agendas that we the people really don’t want and won’t benefit from, as in limiting what we can say by ushering in “hate speech” legislation and censoring more and more of the internet (gee thanks Google!).

This is a “controlled demolition,” a “controlled implosion” of a society…hate it but I know it’s true. Disaster Capitalism rolls on. And so many of our fellow Americans buy into it and believe what they see on the ground is real and organically produced. This is the deployment of a divide and conquer strategy orchestrated from on high, and the sooner we recognize that, the better. Lionel is right that this ball has been rolling for a long time now, and plenty of us began paying closer attention in the aftermath of 9/11. It’s still going and it will get worse. Because some big wigs desire it to be so in order to promote their own globalist agendas that have ABSOLUTELY NO CONCERN FOR THE WELL-BEING OF OUR NATION. Period. THEY DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT US. Not one bit. Never have and never will. This is their power grab and their game, and we are just pawns to be used and abused as seen fit. Not to say that we don’t possess any power here, but more often than not people are playing right into their hands by letting petty grievances divide us. None of us will be better off on down the road as a result, no matter what they might promise your interest group. THEY ARE USING YOU. And they will continue to do so as long as you let them, angry black people and your white Leftist “allies,” Muslim and Hispanic immigrants, white nationalists and other “identitarians,” and all the rest who parrot their MSM-advertised talking points and who tolerate how the game is being rigged. It is not being rigged in your favor, no matter what you might wish to think at any given point in time. One “side” of the political divide isn’t winning or losing — down here on the ground it’s all a losing game.

This is a fascinating and terrifying time to be alive, folks.

Journaling on a Friday night in mid-August (on my friend’s mortality, plus an update)

So it’s been 8.5 weeks since committing to stop drinking. That’s really good, and I’m proud of myself on this. Demonstrating my will power to choose to do better, for all those out there who, for whatever reasons, like to downplay the significance of will power. Can’t claim to comprehend what those folks are talking about there, seeing as how we’re always presented with options and even people with a whole lot working against them that one might imagine would never succeed have proven they could rise on the right occasion. When they made up their mind to do so and backed it with determined effort. I take inspiration from such people.

Yesterday happened to be my mother’s birthday. Decided to send her a text today, to which she replied saying she’d received flowers from the man she’s dating now. We haven’t interacted via text in several months prior to this exchange, per our norm. Yesterday also marked the day I decided to give up smoking herb for a solid couple of weeks. Hadn’t been partaking in it much since quitting drinking, but I still worry about replacing one crutch for another. So I simply decided to take a hiatus from that as well. Will be good for me. Might bore me into going to bed earlier and actually working out more than twice a week.

Hadn’t been inside a bar in about 2 weeks until today (where I ordered iced tea, of course). There I ran into a female friend and her ex-husband (those two remain close friends), having not seem either of them in months and him specifically since long before his last heart attack back in May. Might’ve been before Christmas since he and I last spoke. So I asked questions and he shared what all he’s been going through with that, plus he filled me in on details about his last heart attack 12 years ago as well as his mini-stroke 11 years ago. Also, he had underwent having a pacemaker put in back in March, which is what likely saved his life during this latest heart attack. Though when he collapsed he managed to fall and hit his head hard, resulting in a concussion that caused periodic bouts of dizziness for a month or more. They say he might live another couple of years at the rate he’s going. He’s now 61 years old, thankful to have healthcare coverage, currently living off the remains of his 401k while waiting for acceptance on disability coverage, with plans to file for early retirement next year so as to collect social security benefits. He had always worked up until the events of this spring, but now he’s unable to fulfill the duties of his job.

He spoke of the medications they have him on and their side effects, the doctors visits and body scans, and the insomnia he’s now plagued with. But what really struck a chord with me was when he talked about their young grandson and how he’s spending as much time as he can with him and letting him know how much he loves him. Says he can’t take anything for granted anymore. I got pretty misty-eyed listening to that portion of his story.

Mortality. The hardest part seems to be knowing that your days are numbered. His father and grandfather both suffered heart attacks and died relatively young, so he’s not counting on outliving them by much. Not that I can blame him there. He has to reckon with this to the best of his ability based on the information he’s being confronted with.

He’s a good man. Very sweet and caring. A good provider and overseer for his family, despite the divorce. Told me that he’s always adored me as well, and the feeling is mutual. A part of me does love that man, just because he has a good spirit. He will be missed, but like he said, we shouldn’t mourn him when he’s gone, we should celebrate life and living.

Wish I could make it to his eclipse party later this month, but I’ll be busy working like always. Will think of him when that eclipse does darken the sky midday on August 21st, knowing how excited he is to experience it during his lifetime (said it’d been 99 years since the last one that was viewable from coast to coast). He does love to watch the heavens for activity. In fact, he and his ex-wife were the first ones to point out to me the space station moving past overhead a couple years ago. I’d probably have never noticed otherwise.

Does make me a little sad to see him still drinking despite his heart condition. He said he knows he probably should quit, but he’d also like to enjoy what time he has left and drinking is a big part of their lifestyles. I didn’t say much to any of that since it’s none of my business. Just worry for him is all, but I don’t need to state that out loud to him. It’s his life, and who knows what the future holds. Conventional wisdom doesn’t prove correct in every individual case, so sometimes you just gotta let the dice roll.

Their family has been through a great deal this year, from his failing health to their son’s apartment burning down due to an electrical fire, etc. She said their son is taking his father’s health problems pretty hard. I imagine. It’s a sad situation. But nothing can be done about it. Death is unavoidable.

Something else this man said that troubled me: he’s not worried about dying so much as who’s going to have to be the one to find his body. He’s worried for his family members being put through that trauma. Yeah, that’s heart-wrenching to deeply consider, knowing all of them and imagining how hard it would hit them inside. All I could do was just pat his leg on that since there aren’t words to comfort somebody wrestling with such thoughts. Then he broke into a bit of a joke about dying on his riding lawn mower. He’s a truly sweet-spirited person who thinks about everybody else first. Couldn’t change his nature if he tried.

We told one another to not be strangers, and I do hope to see him again sooner rather than later. Told my female friend goodbye and I left. That’s all the heaviness I could sit with in that hour.

I didn’t mean to walk away, but it felt like I needed to once all had been said that needed to be said for one day. I miss him a little bit already. Only met the man a couple years ago but he’s one of those sweet souls who leaves a positive mark whether he means to or not. We got along right off the bat, which is saying something since I’m not known for being compatible with just anybody and everybody. Told his ex-wife, my friend, that she can call me whenever she wants to talk and that I’ll be here for them. And I mean it. That family was really good to me when I met them by random chance a couple years back during a particularly bad depression spell. They befriended me and have remained kind toward me, even when I wound up pulling away over the last year so as to tend to my own matters. Now is a good time to reconnect and to find ways to help out as needed. I do need to make an effort at that, to not let it slide as if there’s always enough time. Time runs out. People grow old. Health declines. The only thing that really matters in this world are our people, however we might define that. Our relationships are what matter most. Everything else just winds up fading away without a second thought.

We just kept hugging each other. Communion in its truest form. He didn’t seem scared about all of this, but I know he’s afraid of leaving people who love and depend on him. But he’s likely still got time, maybe another year or two or more. Never know. But I know I need to step up as a friend and be around more instead of retreating to my home. And I’m going to. Been wanting to for a long while and now it feels very necessary.

What I really ought to do is make them dinner or snacks to take over sometimes. And we really ought to do game nights again like we used to. Those were always fun. Make a few more good memories while time permits.

Spoke to my former partner on the phone tonight and told him about all of that. He’s met them a handful of times in the past. Then I cooked spaghetti with a side of steamed green beans for dinner. Worked out earlier in the day with my gym trainer. Have an early morning tomorrow, so for the rest of the night I intend to relax.

The latest audiobook I completed (coincidentally) and really appreciated was Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking by Oliver Burkeman. A very worthwhile book. Currently re-listening to A Guide to the Good Life: The Ancient Art of Stoic Joy by William B. Irvine.

Sunday afternoon conversation with Grandma (on farming, past race relations, and our changing times)

Just got off the phone with my Grandma. From time to time she gets to tripping down memory lane, telling about her life while growing up out on the farm. Listened to her tell of all they work they had to do back then, from tending to the hogs and plowing the fields, to picking cotton and growing a wide variety of vegetables. Plus caring for the chickens and milking the cow, churning butter, picking figs and peas and butter beans, etc. She told about how for several years her father would recruit black men looking for day labor positions to help pick the cotton and how a black woman named Mrs. Annie helped facilitate it so that all the men would be ready to be picked up on the day of hire and how she’d also oversee when wages were paid out later in the day for the amount of cotton collected, ensuring all was accepted as fair so no disputes could arise later on (and they never did). That would’ve been back in the 1940s-1950s. Grandma reflected on it being a good working relationship between all involved, with her father viewed as a fair man in that respect who paid well and treated people decently. And his wife was known as a good cook who was generous about feeding people. And the black folks in that area (a poor county by most standards and still to this day) were happy for the work, showing up on time as requested, content with the wages offered in an era before minimums became enforced. She spoke of people sharing their crops with one another and helping each other out as needed on one another’s farms.

Not that she always had nice things to say about her father. But he was by all accounts a sober man and a hard worker, and he treated people with friendliness and direct firmness so that they knew what he expected from them. That being back in the time when people had many kids so as to have low-cost laborers for their farms. My grandma was one of 6 kids, all girls except for one brother. I only knew my great-grandfather past the age of 70, he later living with my grandparents until he died at age 98. But during those years he was so old and worn out by life that I never had much of a relationship with him.

Grandma spoke about her mom and how her mom’s mom had died early on, leaving her mom to be raised by her aunt mostly. Apparently that woman wasn’t too nice of a person. Said her mom worked hard all her life. That being the running theme among nearly everybody worth mentioning in my lineage. Workhorses is what I’ve always referred to them as. The kind of people who wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if left idle. They find work to do since that’s all they know. Funny how things changed so abruptly for us younger generations who know nothing of that sort of lifestyle and can only listen to these old stories with wonder at how they managed all of that year after year, incapable of relating to their daily struggle to earn a living.

Sounded like a lot of drudgery, like the kind of life my contemporaries and I cannot relate to. We rely on a grocery store to provide everything we need today, whereas in Grandma’s time the only items they purchased at the store were flour, salt, black pepper, and occasionally lard (when a freshly slaughtered hog wasn’t available). She speaks of the wells on the property and how beef couldn’t be preserved as long as pork meat in the smokehouse. She tells of her mother sewing clothes for herself and the kids, though they sometimes went to the store to purchase church attire. And she tells of how they’d sweat in those churches, that being years before the advent of air conditioning. I don’t doubt that unto itself would prove to be hell in the Mississippi summer heat.

Hard to imagine life back then. While not so long ago, it might as well be centuries ago. So I keep asking her questions and pondering on the stories she shares. I asked her about race relations in her time, and she says it wasn’t like how it’s become these days, that people worked together then more than now because they all had hard lives. Amazing the difference a few decades and the emergence of material conveniences has made. Nowadays it’s as if some people are trying to rewrite history, pitting one race against another and pretending as though they’ve never been anything other than enemies who’ve never been able to see eye to eye. It’s a shame really that it’s come to this since many of us are rooted for generations in that same red clay soil, under the same blistering sun and its humid heat, contending with the same climate and conditions in trying to eek out an existence. Those were my ancestors just as they were some of yours too. And looking further back to pre-abolitionist days, I’ve read of the first indentured servant with my Papa’s last name to land on the east coast only to die during his servitude. Our histories aren’t as wholly separate as some like to pretend these days.

It’s as if we’re all becoming detached and divorced from history to where we’re prone to repeat generic stories passed down from those pushing an agenda, nevermind the truths of our actual lineages. That saddens me because it’s like watching something real get swept away as if it no longer matters. As if the new narrative trumps the truth. And with that, we can no longer appreciate what bonds we did possess in common, including a shared culture, for better or worse.

When I listen to her it feels like grains of sand being poured into my hands that then trickle down between my fingers and disappear into bottomless space where they might never be retrieved. Going, going, Gone. History made and history abandoned. Life’s work retold but then forgotten. Communal bonds established once upon a time, only to later be denied by future generations who care not about what came before. The past is being disposed of, like an inconvenient truth that defies the new narrative being woven. And I sit here and watch and listen as the conflicting tales pull in opposite directions and tear at the very fabric of (Southern) U.S. culture.

In a few more years all that will remain is the new retelling of racial injustices with no mercy shown to the many decades of the late 19th century and early-to-mid 20th century where progress had been made. That’s deemed obsolete, if not outright denied as a fairy tale, by those who wish to capitalize on a perpetual sense of victimhood. But they ought to see that their retelling of events isn’t accurate, that it leaves so much out, and that unto itself creates a new form of injustice that we’ll all wind up suffering from as a result. But people don’t think like that usually. Instead, they don’t look far enough ahead and like to cherry-pick the past to suit themselves. But what are you trying to suit nowadays? A grievance industry? A monopolization on righteous indignation? A false belief that only one sort of people were ever taken thorough advantage of, or, in reverse, that only one sort of people ever universally escaped hardships? It’s untrue. All might not be equal, nor would I claim that to be the case, but it’s not as unequal as some would have others believe.

So, when people go on these days talking about our roots and bloodlines and heritages, I can’t help but feel like mine has died. Perhaps never to be resurrected except in libelous narratives that attempt to rewrite history in order to bolster divisive modern political pursuits. That’s a damn shame. But I suppose this is just the way life tends to go. What once was tends to be forgotten over time. And what is here today might disappear tomorrow as well. Not sure what good it would do to try to hold onto that other than to keep it in my heart and let it inform my senses in the face of what others now wish to bring about. Not sure there’s anything else that realistically can be done.