Bracing for another winter

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

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

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

Just wandering thoughts. Superstitiousness never seems to leave me.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Serves us right

Just got back in from heading to the “beach” with my buddy, soaking in some rays until the wind got so bad that after only 45 minutes we decided to retreat. Had sand blasted everywhere! Especially in my scalp. Took two washings to get it all off me.

Anyway, while we were driving back I got to thinking about modern life, as I’m prone to do, and where it’s headed and how we got to this point. He and I had been chatting about automated/self-driving cars during lunch (which the news now refers to as “autonomous cars” — ugh, so much for driver autonomy — nearly everything these days looks to be blatant propaganda). This is all part of a larger ongoing conversation between us. And it dawned on me today that, despite so many claiming America’s fall began around the time of the World Wars, I actually believe it stems further back in time. Perhaps at the Civil War. Allow me to explain.

The Civil War was a major display of power by the (Northern) United States government in refusing to allow the Confederacy to secede from the Union. Now—without getting into details about the Civil War specifically since that’s not the issue here today—what right did the North have to refuse to allow Southern states to go their own way on their own volition? Well, it wasn’t about Right, it was about MIGHT. The North prevailed and the South was kept against its citizens’ collective will. Why? Likely economic reasons primarily. And for purposes of furthering power.

What’s most interesting are the consequences that resulted from that move. Southern states, generally speaking, remain among the poorest states in the Union with two states (Arkansas and Mississippi) boasting the poorest education systems, to boot. And consider this — had the South been allowed to secede, along with the black slaves who lived there, nowadays it would be Southerners primarily blamed for racism, slavery, and likely all other perceived wrongs in U.S. history. It’s highly possible the South would’ve eventually abolished slavery on its own (but how they might’ve gone about it probably would’ve differed from how it actually wound up being done). Slavery was quickly becoming an outdated mode of economics within what were rising to become First World nations. But either way, because the South wasn’t allowed to go its own way and figure out its race relations situation on its own, now the entire country winds up blamed for that historic era. Even the Germans who settled in the Midwest in the 1870s and later, AFTER slavery was already abolished. They too commonly wind up lumped into the generic category of “White People” and are disdained equally as if they too somehow benefited from the black slave’s historic plight.

The ironic point I’m driving at here is that had the power of the (Northern) government left the South to secede, ya’ll wouldn’t be dealing with some of the societal problems cropping up in terms of race relations since the 1960s. The freed blacks (approximately 10% of all blacks brought to the U.S., according to Thomas Sowell) tended to live in the northeast where they were assimilating and doing quite well educationally and financially. The onslaught of Southern blacks with a whole different background of experiences migrating to the North caused all kinds of chaos people were unprepared to deal with, which in turn did lead to a rise in racial hostility (of course, in all fairness, the North wasn’t too pleased when Southern white folks moved up that way either and clearly stated so at the time). Different cultures, as Dr. Sowell laid out so well in his books Intellectuals and Race and Black Rednecks and White Liberals. Didn’t turn out to mesh well. Most black folks had more in common with white southerners than they did with northerners of either race. Different European ethnic groups populated separate regions, as we know. Not a lot of Italians roaming around Alabama talking about how their great-great-grandpas were born on that land.  Heh

Anyway, the major problem of resolving racial tensions could’ve been left for the South to iron out on its own since it had the largest population of black people (and still does). But no. The North meddled and now the whole country is in a tizzy since it’s assumed that all white folks automatically possess an advantage over all black folks (cue the racism diatribe). The North could’ve handled their own affairs and enjoyed the black folks who were successfully assimilating into their New England culture and left the South to handle their population in accordance with their own culture and values (and as these have been evolving in the time since). But no. Oh no. That didn’t happen. And now we see how many Southerners, of both/all races, are dependent on government welfare, both as individuals and as whole states. Mississippi would go bankrupt immediately if it attempted to secede today — too dependent on Federal aid.

When the South lost the war, its culture also took a blow. Southerners were then expected to assimilate and accept Northern values. Never happened. Resistance and rebellion turned more passive aggressive, yet it didn’t go away. Just simmered and stewed ever since. AND the black folks with generational ties to the Southland spread out throughout the nation and contributed what we now know of as the ghetto mentality. Why? Because ghettoism is a spin-off from Southern culture. Sounds strange, I know, but if you look closely enough you can see the similarities (once again, Dr. Thomas Sowell did a superb job of explaining this — way better than I can attempt here). So, in a real sense, had the Civil War not gone as it did and had this nation been broken in two, far-flung places like Minneapolis and Los Angeles might not be home to so many black ghettos today. Why would they be? The Northern blacks were highly educated and rising in power and prestige. They weren’t facing the same obstacles as the Southern blacks were, quite obviously. Jim Crow likely wouldn’t have arisen outside of the South either.

It might’ve been nice to have two social experiments operating simultaneously while influenced by differing cultures and values. I wonder what solutions and/or compromises might otherwise have been reached. But instead people were forced to be hodge-podged together, brewing deepening resentment that became a hallmark of the U.S. South that has since spread to infect the rest of the nation.

And I say all this as someone originally from the South. Through trying to force people’s hand, more trouble was caused for everybody in the long run. Go figure. But that’s the way life tends to go. Problems usually are best solved locally, not from some top-down dictates coming from officials living far away (like in New York or D.C.) who are directly unfamiliar with the culture and peoples in question. But history has already been decided, so there’s not much point in pondering what might’ve been, I guess. Too late now.

Been thinking a lot on racial issues again lately, obviously. Seems to increasingly be a hot button topic, especially within universities (myself also having been a Social Sciences major). I do contest the popular narrative being floated around these days. But I don’t write any of this in malice or intending disrespect. Just pondering is all. Wondering where this story may lead from here on out. Lots of blame being tossed around. Lots of talk of inherent “privilege.” Judging people by skin tone instead of as individuals in their own right. That is unsettling to watch ramp up.

We can’t change the past. None of us can.

Was thinking the other day about how few Southerners owned plantations or slaves. People like to say all of society benefited from slavery, but they forget about the poor laborers who were forced to contend with slave labor in order to survive. Plus the immigrants who moved here after slavery was abolished, as already mentioned above. Yet we’re all just lumped together under the same heading and categorically dismissed (unless one happens to be Hispanic, then a separate category is permitted for their Caucasians). Ralph Nader, to take one example, is actually a Lebanese-American. I am a Southern-born half-Arab. Most people I know up here in this part of the Midwest are of German descent. Or that plus Swedish descent. Yet we’re all chastised equally. Basically, we’re White so we suck. Inherently. Automatically. According to some people, that is.

Just been thinking is all. Now off to do something else.

Life as an eccentric who doesn’t mind journaling to herself out loud…

…isn’t bad really. It’s been nice leaving bars alone over the last year-and-a-half. Saves me money and unnecessary drama. I can smoke in my own apartment, for however long that will last until some law is introduced to nip that too in the bud. Can enjoy dining in (have spaghetti on cooking tonight to share with my companion). Get to mix wine spritzers to my own liking and without paying $6 minimum for each glass (I find it nice to sip a little moscato or riesling over ice with a little ginger ale and water — lets me enjoy myself without going overboard too early in the evening), and I can do it all in comfortable attire, no makeup, with my hair drying.

Now that the internet ate TV through evolving beyond it by making our sedentary experience interactive it’s all the more addictive, especially the “vlogosphere” side of youtube, come to find out.

After years of behaving like an extrovert and feeling the need to be physically in the presence of people, it’s kinda nice taking more time in my own space and spending face-to-face time with others more sparingly. Just the way I feel right now. Heck, I get irritated in the grocery store and you can’t barely get me into a mall. This has been the trend. Not that I intend to shut out my local buddies indefinitely. But it’s been interesting watching and listening to people speak online, where we can move on at will and take in what someone’s saying at our own speeds.

It’s really fascinating. And I realize repeating that makes it sound that much more like I live under a rock—ha—and I do, but it’s just that I truly find the world we’re creating to be a sophisticated oddity of unprecedented proportions. It’s fantastic, but also fatal in ways. Socially-uprooting is one way to describe it. Not to mention psychologically burdensome. Hence why so many seek mental escapes.

Right now I suppose I’m in cocoon-mode, and perhaps phases like this are healthy and needed from time to time.