“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.

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

Another day, another dollar evaporating into thin air.

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

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

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

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

Tuesday evening turmoil (journaling on the recent wreckage)

Still thinking about my loved one’s son’s car accident I mentioned in my last vlog:

And the boy is still avoiding his father as of this evening. Probably best to let his father settle down and cool off a bit.

Drinking and driving and crashing. I wonder what the consequences for him will prove to be in the end. Still haven’t driven out to see the accident scene. Will do so by Friday at least. Curious to see what wall he hit and how he managed to do so.

Could’ve really hurt himself, which, in turn, would’ve crushed his mom’s and dad’s hearts. Could’ve hurt somebody else too, which also would’ve been a huge tragedy.

I wonder if he’ll learn from this. Or if he’ll keep on until he has to learn in some harder fashion on down the line…

Don’t know the kid well enough to say. We never became close. Just were around each other a few years back and now rarely run into one another in passing. Not really certain what all he’s up to these days. Didn’t know he was drinking already. Also learned that some bar downtown I’ve never heard of before had been serving him alcohol despite him being underage. And I have half a mind to go say something about that out in public. Shouldn’t be allowed to keep your liquor license if you’re knowingly serving minors, though I know of other bars that occasionally do so. Ticks me off. Yet another reason for why I have grown so damned disenchanted with the barscene. Most bars and bartenders only care about money — to hell with all else. Witnessed this type of bullshit in many forms over and over and over again.

Tough love is on my mind right now. Not because I like to see young folks punished but because I don’t wish to see this behavior tolerated. To me, he’s not proving himself mature or responsible enough, so I see no reason for his parents to continue paying for his college costs, especially now as he’s about to set off to the university an hour away this fall. Perhaps he needs to go to work to save up money to pay his own way until he can get back in his parents’ good graces. My cousin has had to work his ass off to put himself through a university program without his parents’ help, and he didn’t even do anything wrong to receive that sentence as a punishment. My aunt and uncle just believe he’ll respect his education more if he funds it himself. I have mixed feelings on that, knowing how high the cost of education is currently, and also knowing my cousin is a competent young man who could’ve used more family support, both emotionally and financially. But he has still managed and done well for himself, and I’m proud of him. Perhaps this other young man who feels free to crash his car into brick walls while drinking underage would benefit from a similar sort of treatment. Or, more accurately, why should his parents spoil him if he’s only going to take their help for granted?

But that’s the way my mind works. And I don’t have kids so they say I’m not at liberty to tell everybody else how to raise theirs. So be it. Knowing his daddy and mom, they’ll continue to finance his schooling because they want better for him than they had. But I’d caution them to not let themselves be taken advantage of or to inadvertently bolster bad behavior by seeming to tolerate it. Does nobody any good to go that route.

Either way, I have little power in this situation other than to share my thoughts with the father. Wouldn’t dream of mentioning anything to the mother since undoubtedly she’d consider it a private matter that doesn’t pertain to me. Fair enough, though I am still around and likely will remain. She’s upset enough right now and has heard the father’s input already. None of them spoke with one another today.

I wouldn’t know how to raise a kid in this day and age. Would’ve likely screwed it up had I attempted to do so since I was drinking my damn self. But I know these two parents care a whole lot about that boy and want no harm to come to him. They want nothing but good things in his future and tried to give him what they could throughout his life. He has a big extended family and is well-loved. And yet, he’s acting up now. What can be done about that? I’d personally like to see members of the family speak up and address him directly with their thoughts and concerns, though I doubt they will. Too private of people most likely. Hard for me to understand that since my own family likely wouldn’t hesitate to roundly chastise me from all angles if ever I had been in a similar situation, as much good as that might’ve done. Would’ve hurt coming from my grandparents and embarrassed me coming from my uncle or stepdad. But I still got into the drinking lifestyle despite their disdain.

So what can one do? I don’t know. How do you talk sense to an immature youth about responsibility on this level when we can barely talk sense into people 30 and over? Like myself up until recently. Can make us feel awfully guilty, and yet we still don’t act right consistently. Not sure what can be done about that other than what’s already in place (e.g., the threat of being locked up and charged, DUI/OWI fines and penalties, license revocation, etc.). If that, along with the threat of winding up mangled and/or mangling somebody else, isn’t enough to scare people straight, what is?

Alcohol is a hell of a drug. No joke. I’m wrestling with its influence everyday still and will continue doing so for likely many moons to come, reflecting on the past experiences and now committing myself to ending all of that. Then this young man picks up the habit and runs with it. Lost one, gained one. Sad as that is…

Maybe he’ll learn his lesson. Maybe looking upon the wreckage that his car became will jolt him awake. Totaled. Not worth fixing. And so shortly after his father bought him new rims to replace the ones damaged in what he claimed was a slide in the ice over the winter. Not that his father believes that story any longer.

When his father went to look at the wrecked car, he said the first thing he did was inspect the brakes to check out his son’s claim that they had gone out. Confirmed that wasn’t the case immediately. The man’s a mechanic — why tell a lie that he can so easily inspect to confirm or deny? Explained to me how the rotors would show a marking on them had the brakes locked up. He fixes wrecked cars all day, every day. Said he can envision, based on the damage, how the car hit and how it likely leapt up in the air a little bit while going sideways over the curb. Can approximate the speed based on the damage since it’s a former cop cruiser and built to handle more jarring (and repeated) impacts on certain parts than ordinary civilian cars. He’s reconstructed the accident in his mind and has a good idea of what happened, and he’s very angry, for which I can’t blame him. Was a very stupid stunt for his son to pull. Could’ve really hurt himself had he hit that wall straight on. We’d be visiting him in a hospital most likely had that been the case. He better know how lucky he got that evening. Because Lord, his father would’ve fallen to pieces had his son been seriously injured or hurt somebody else. That fact, along with all the rest, really unsettles me this week. I hate to imagine it.

If I could say something to him, I’d tell him this: Kid, you’ve had a good life. Had so much given to you by two parents who love you dearly, plus the rest of your family. They aren’t perfect, but they’ve cared tremendously for you. And now you’re fucking up, which is like a slap in the face to them and to all the others out here who’ve given a damn about you. You’re in school, said to be making good grades. You’re working. You want to have fun, I get that, but this is no good. This is dangerous to everybody around. If you continue down this path, you’ll have nobody to blame but yourself. You really have been afforded so many opportunities in life. Why waste them? Why piss them away? Nobody wants to see you hurt or to see you facing charges in court because you hurt somebody else who didn’t deserve it. You’re supposed to be a smart young man, but that’s not how it’s looking this week. Do better than this. You know you can, and we all know it too. You didn’t come from the muck, you weren’t abused and mistreated, so why the apathy? Going to hurt yourself the most in the end. There’s no upside if this lesson doesn’t burn into your mind and steer you in a better direction. Want to be reckless and act a fool? Then don’t be surprised when others start treating you as such. That’s the way life goes. The sooner you can learn this and take it to heart, the better.

Not that he’d probably listen to any of that, and not that I’m likely to run into him anytime soon. Just thoughts that come to my mind. Wishes really. A prayer.

______________________________

Update on 6/29/2017: Drove by and saw the boy’s car yesterday. Was worse than the pictures I’d seen. The entire front end is destroyed and the passenger-side front tire is completely bent. His father said the wreck snapped the tie rod or ball joint (or whatever all that is, I can’t keep up with these mechanical parts). Looked really bad. Surprised on seeing the wreckage that his son walked away unhurt.

Saturday afternoon journaling in June 2017

Now on day 4 of my commitment toward change. Arm muscles are finally back to normal. Can extend them fully once again. Had dinner with my former partner last night and he said I had just awakened muscles in my forearm that probably had never been stressed so hard, then allowed them to get dehydrated and fatigued the day afterward, so there’s nothing really to worry about there. That’s good. Was nervous for a couple days there that I had damaged a tendon or ligament or something. But all is fine now.

Of course I’m still thinking about what all has transpired recently and why and how I feel about it. That last night out (Monday the 12th), the one where I mentioned the older lady bartender at the calmer bar seeming slightly nervous toward me, keeps running through my mind. The bar was dead that evening. A couple here or there would roam through but otherwise I was sitting in there alone, drinking and playing music on the jukebox. Wasn’t being rowdy or anything, just didn’t want to go home. And it’s that fear of going home that keeps perplexing me. Felt it so many nights while out and about. Like I’m afraid to be with myself, to sit there with my troubled thoughts and ideas and ruminations. That’s been the driving force for me in the barscene for as far back as I can remember. Just didn’t want to go home and be alone. And once it came time for me to return home, I’d want to be “set” to where I’d go to sleep shortly. Put myself out. If I didn’t drink enough at the bar to do the trick, I’d drink more once I got in. And I recall doing just that in my early 20s and here I am in my mid-30s still attempting to do the same thing.

That’s a lot of years of running from something. But what gets me is that I do look at my past and examine it in as much detail as I can. Always have done so. And I do look at what I’ve done wrong and let myself feel it deeply and acknowledge it for what it is. Just because I think about it, though, doesn’t make it go away. Worked it all out as much as I could hope to and yet here it always remains. Back another day to remind me. My thoughts are there when I drink though too. They don’t disappear. Might go under the radar for a while when distracted by others, but they crop back up as the night wears on. Not uncommon that by the end of the evening I’m actually fairly depressed or melancholic (as I prefer to call it). In other words, I didn’t remain a fun drunk for long many nights. I know that. Others knew that too. Told me so on occasion.

So the alcohol didn’t even fix what it was intended to fix, not even temporarily. Not even throughout the full evening of drinking. The thoughts always rise back up before all is done and said. And I believe it’s those thoughts I’ve been aiming to escape from all these years. I don’t know what to do with them. Don’t know how to tame them. But it’s clearly evident by now that adding alcohol to the mix not only doesn’t sufficiently eradicate them for long but also provides breeding ground for new reasons to be upset with myself.

I see it. I understand. More now than ever.

Not sure why I seem so afraid of sitting alone with myself for too long. Why it makes me stir-crazy and uncomfortable. I’ve known me long enough by now to recognize that these are simply thoughts, memories, and that they can’t do much more than pester me. Seems they wish for some sort of expression, some outlet, some way of being concretized, so to speak. And actually, if I’m honest with myself, I have known this for a long time. Guess I haven’t wanted to do it. Didn’t want to have to sit with them so intimately and try to fashion them into something else. Maybe it feels too personal, too sorrowful, too impossible to remedy. But they’re just emotions, and life could’ve been much worse. Not dealt the worst lot here. Just an awfully emotional person who feels these things so deeply that that worries me. Made me think these emotions might capsize my little ship eventually if I took up too much time with them all. So instead I opted for a “slow death” (as I call the drinking lifestyle), which is no better. Not one bit better. Very likely much, much worse. Dangerous for myself and others and completely unproductive in the big scheme of things.

So there’s no choice here right about now. This is what it is, and this is calling for what it wants. Maybe taking up these concerns and finding a way to make use of them will eventually satisfy that internal “gremlin” a bit too. I always return to what Erich Fromm wrote about our options as people: we can either find a productive path or wind up becoming destructive (whether toward others and/or ourselves). I’ve always known his words to be true, and yet I ran anyway and created this situation for myself. Reasoning alone apparently isn’t ever enough.

But I hear it now. Understand more than before, now that there are so many more memories added to the heap, generated within the last several years. New forms of destruction and chaos that were sparked by my hands and my words this time around. Teaches me about the dark side to one’s being. Our capacity to cause harm, whether we deliberately set out to do so or not. And that’s been a valuable lesson. Gotta thank something out there for showing that to me in the ways it has.

Seems to be true that we start to really strive toward heaven once we have reckoned with hell. Otherwise we don’t know what we’re even striving for. But, then again, most roads to hell are paved with good intentions. Maybe dealing in our own versions of the abyss is what helps clarify what’s actually better, more worthwhile, truly healthier, less idealistic and more real.

I can’t regret these years fully since they’ve provided a treasure trove of opportunities to observe others and myself. Lots of shocking material there. Parts of myself I wouldn’t have believed existed had I not witnessed it directly, and same goes for plenty of others. We humans are far more complex than we can imagine, because life is far more complex than we are capable of imagining. Consciousness is a trip, to say the least.

It is what it is. And I’m here to explore it amongst all of you. No one’s perfect, nor is it worthwhile to expect anybody to be. Not even sure what perfection really entails anymore. Just no longer want to toss chance to the wind and act like I’m not responsible for any outcomes when that’s so obviously not true. Such a strategy is an attempt to hide from reality. But we know how that goes…we can run on for a long time, but sooner or later we will be cut down…

True. And it’s okay. I know these days that I can take the pain. Besides, there’s nowhere else to run. And so be it. This is a blessing in disguise, I do know that and appreciate it as such. Just a transition period right now is all. Gonna take time to get my bearings and to form new habits and whatnot. Still, this is FAR better than the road I’ve been on, even if this winds up being treacherous for a spell. So far it is not, but I am preparing myself for that possibility and will accept it if it comes. Because it’s just life. This is how it can roll. Still better than the alternative I had been pursuing. That was monotonous and nihilistic and was tearing me apart. Turning me into something I didn’t want to be. Don’t want to go back there ever again. Not like that. Too pointless and painful and chaotic and uncontrollable. Became useless. Frustrating and saddening and pitiful and not much else.

Why do we fear life and living? Why do we try to hide out and not be seen for what we are? And why have we humans been attempting this since the dawn of time? What are we so afraid of? Rejection? We’re going to be forced to deal with that regardless. Pain and suffering? Same deal. Failure? I think that hits closer to the mark. Existential guilt and confusion.

Anyway, time to move on to something else.

Observing people on a Sunday afternoon while at the “beach”

Always strikes me as funny to refer to anything in this land-locked Midwestern state as a “beach,” but that’s what the locals call their riverside recreational area. Nice spot actually. It’s where my best guyfriend likes to go to lay out and catch some rays, so I accompanied him yesterday as I occasionally do.

Loads of families were there, as to be expected. Several couples also. What was interesting to me was the diversity of the crowd. Considering this “flyover state” is known for being white bread, most probably wouldn’t expect to see such a wide spectrum of colors and ethnicities all intermingled. Likely not the case outside of this metro and in the more rural areas, but here we all are in the big city.

A large group of Africans were there, playing in the water off at the end. All seemed pretty friendly. Watched them interact while we were wading in up to our thighs, taking a break to cool off. They have a dramatically emotional flair to them, which I find interesting as a highly emotional person myself. And not a one of them seemed concerned about getting their hair wet, that being a stereotype associated particularly with black women. But these were people of direct African descent, not our stereotypical black Americans.

Speaking of which, farther down the beach I noticed a good-looking black female with a good-looking Asian male. She too didn’t seem concerned about getting her hair wet, which leads me to assume that must’ve been her natural hair. Was very pretty.

A group of Hispanic people were out there too, though I only saw their kids get in the water while the adults remained clothed and chatted amongst themselves near the periphery of the “beach.”

Nearer to our blankets were a black American couple, both middle-aged and very attractive. He was reading a book in his chair while she got in the water. She too had her own natural hair and had no hesitation about swimming or getting sand in it. I like to see people’s natural hair rather than the “hair hats” that Tommy Sotomayor makes such a big deal about. He’s right — weaves have a lot of downsides and not enough upsides to make them worth it. Not being free to swim or even scratch one’s scalp sounds incredibly unappealing.

I bring this up because once it grew time for us to leave about 6:30pm, the parking lot was filling up with black Americans who had arrived. And to be honest, I was glad we were leaving by that point. The weave-wearers had shown up, along with sporting the attitudes many of us have to come to expect from them. Some might say it’s racist to simply state it like that, but I don’t care. The word racist has been played out and rendered meaningless anyway. My main point is that there was a distinct difference between the black folks (mostly African but also a handful of black Americans) who were there in the afternoon versus the black Americans showing up as evening approached. You could see it in their body language immediately.

Each day I ponder on the direction society is headed in, and while I acknowledge that racial identities can be complex and that plenty shouldn’t be judged in accordance with a stereotypical mold, I observe those who epitomize such stereotypes as well. Am not color-blind and won’t pretend to be so. Stupid to expect that from people. We all do notice, whether we’re willing to admit it.

Laying there roasting in the sun, I got to thinking about the Africans I’ve known and how many of them openly disdain our American blacks. Don’t see themselves as belonging to the same in-group at all. They don’t wish to be lumped into that shared category because they see themselves (and their varied nations of origin) as being distinct culturally and unaligned with the American Black narrative. They get frustrated by them. So they opt to self-segregate away from our black Americans. Interesting. I wonder if they too left when the weave-wearers showed up. Perhaps. And would anyone accuse them of racism for doing so?  lol

Nothing wrong with avoiding unnecessary drama.

A part of me feels a bit bad for the (stereotypical) black American currently seeing as how so many of them appear to be ruled by an inferiority complex that leads them to behave and act out in ways that only further confirms the stereotype in the minds of others, resulting in increasing social tensions. It’s set up a conundrum that can’t easily be remedied at this point in history. The past can’t be allowed to fade away since so many feel deeply invested in it, yet ruminating over the past is proving to be bondage in a new way as it’s carried forth into the future. While I can understand the habit of lamenting the past, there’s no way forward if you look out upon all others as racists unceasingly aiming to hold you back. And others don’t care for being viewed that way either, hence why we might walk away. But we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. If we leave you to it, we’re racist. If we stay and stand our ground, we’re racist. If we tell you what you want to hear, we’re racist. If we speak openly and plainly without putting your feelings first, we’re racist. Surely if we just sit there mute we’re probably still regarded as racist.

People tire of that shit. It’s exhausting to deal with. Feels like mental loops and traps. A rigged game. No longer about individuals interacting but instead an obstacle course where if the right things aren’t said or the right demeanor isn’t displayed, we’re going to be called out, nevermind what’s actually going on in our minds or how much we aimed to not offend. I can’t stand for my motivations to be assumed based on some ridiculous narrative. If you want to know why I say what I say or do what I do, just ask me. Pretty good about speaking straight. Yet this is what we constantly hear these days, these assumptions that everybody out here is motivated by racism. Couldn’t possibly be that we just wish to avoid unnecessary drama that we’ve come to associate with certain types of people. Often it isn’t based on race solely, as demonstrated by people’s openness toward the Africans.

In short, it’s not skin color alone that is the focal point– it’s the attitudes and actions that stereotypically accompany them across however many persons. Yes, white folks can be assholes too, and nobody would claim otherwise. Since some wish to ascribe motivations to those of other races, I’ll feel free to do the same in pointing out what appears to be an inferiority complex among too many black Americans. Inferiority/superiority complex since it swings to wild extremes, even within the same individual. On one hand loudly protesting assimilating into the wider “white-dominated” culture and its laws, while simultaneously wailing about people avoiding them and/or not including them. But when you show up to say that we’re all a bunch of shits who inherently look down upon you, yes, you become a bummer to be around. And when you act as if your feelings should matter more than all else, you’re setting up a one-sided situation where either people won’t be honest with you or, if they are, will only offend you. Which then can turn nasty in an instant.

You tell me who’s got time for that?

We just wanted to enjoy a relaxing day at the “beach” among others doing the same, sans dealing with bullshit and loud attitude problems. The Africans were all cool. The interracial couple were cool. The middle-aged black American couple were cool. All the various shades of “white” folks lying on their towels or playing with their kids were cool. And then…who showed up and brought tension?

It’s not racist to state it plain. If people wish to be perceived differently in the eyes of others, it’s on them to make some changes. But I know too well how hardheaded humans tend to be, particularly those who pander to a grievance industry, so I assume tensions will just keep escalating until greater problems arise. Don’t wish to see that unfold, but how can it be prevented when people don’t wish to take personal responsibility or to compromise? Concessions have already been made, and many of them. The ball is in the other court — can we upgrade this game finally or should we just keep allowing our society to grow divided and hostile?