Ko-Fi

Friday, May 19, 2017

Get Off My Phone!

Holy shit!  Tonight was a rough night at work.

Most of you know what I do to keep rent paid and no, it doesn't involve me shoving things up my arse.  But sometimes it might as well.

It's call center work.  The wonderful world of answering phone calls from people who think they know what they're doing but really don't.  People who are cowards and bullies and have nothing better to do in their lives but shit on somebody who can't fight back.

Working at a call center is like being tied to a tree with tissue paper while somebody's shithead 10 year-old runs around you after a kool-aid sugar buzz, around and around, laughing and saying stupid shit to you.  He's breathing through his mouth because of all the snot running down his nose and you just want to rip him apart.

I've worked a number of campaigns.  Cable, satellite, newspapers, satellite radio, mortgages.  I've done a lot over the years.  I can tell you that each campaign has a series of categories everybody falls into.

Right now, I'm taking calls for a sporting goods company, and keying orders for hunting and shooting supplies.  What I can tell you about that is this--I'm selling guns and ammunition to people who shouldn't even be allowed to use the phone unsupervised.

I sold a handgun to a blind man.

I sold about $1500 in ammunition to somebody so messed up he could barely speak, never uttered a complete sentence during the entire call, and had extreme difficulty giving me his full name and address.  Yet somehow, his credit card worked, and he was able to buy 2000 rounds of 9mm hollow points, and I forget how many rounds of 5.56.

It's insane how ignorant some people sound on the phone.  I always get a mental picture of what they look like or who they are based on how they sound.  I've had shitheads call in to buy machetes I swear they'll use in a massacre of children later on.  I've had fucktards buy air rifles and you just know they'll shoot their eye out.

People aren't nearly as diverse as we like to assume.  We all fall into some category or another.  We're not snowflakes.  So when some shithead finds his or her way on to my phone, I know right away they'll fall into some category or another.

You people aren't nearly as unique as you think you are.

The spoiled mama's boy who always gets his way or he'll huff and puff and throw a tantrum.  What?  I don't get free shipping?  But I always get free shipping!

I talk to a lot of loners.  Men who aren't married and probably never were or will be.  Or men who were left by their wives because it's clear they had the class of a junkyard dog.  Men who sit in the dark, watching old westerns, and just want to go hunting.

There are men in this country who have their wives call in because they're so incompetent the simple act of having a phone in their hands while talking is just too much.  Half of those idiots tell their wives what to do the whole time, so you hear the shithead in the background while their wives struggle to just get this simple order placed.

I despise people who do that.  Nothing pisses me off quite like trying to talk to somebody while I hear a shithead in the background saying shit to me.  It's rude.  Shut the fuck up while somebody else is talking.  If you have something to say, pick up the goddamned phone, speak into the phone like an adult, be a man about it.

And it's always men who do that.  In all of my years of call center work, I can only think of once or twice a woman behaved like that.  But then again, women have their own quirks.

I have to tell you a story.  Years ago, I was selling cable, and it was an in-bound campaign.  People would call a number on a flier that was mailed out and we'd try to get them to leave Verizon or AT&T for Comcast.  Most of it was New Jersey and Maryland.

So one day, this guy from New Jersey called in.  He had Verizon.  I went through the process and about halfway through, his wife started chiming in from the background.  At first, she was okay with everything, but not really interested.  As the call progressed, we figured out that I could save these people about $180 a month on their cable, internet, and telephone bills.  But the guy's wife had gotten more and more bitchy.

By the end of the call, she was full-on screaming her head off.  She was cussing and raving.  He even offered to hand her the phone so she could talk to me but she refused.  Instead, she just got angrier and angrier, frothing at the mouth, screaming nonsense and gibberish.  I wish I had that call recorded just so I could play it for you.

At the end, the guy couldn't even talk to me, because she was screaming so much.  And so he apologized, which made her even more furious, and she screamed at him to just hang up the phone.

I want you to hear that call.  I want her name boldly plastered on this blog so her behavior could be made public.  I think everybody who behaves like that should be publically shamed and humiliated.

Today, a man called me.  I asked him a simple question:  Are you placing your order from the catalog or the website.  It's simple and kinda something we need to know because it makes a difference in pricing and makes the ordering process faster.

His response?

"I just hung up on somebody for harassing me like that and I guess you're just gonna harass me, too.  I hope this call is recorded."  And then he hung up.

He then called back in, got another agent, and about three minutes later, called me back and demanded to be transferred to customer service.

I want to have a recording of that call and I want to make his name public.  He was obviously a goofy fucker with some kind of mental problem.  Most likely, inbreeding was an issue in his family, and that's why he acted like he needed a beating with a baseball bat.  But laws being what they are, I'm not allowed to do that.  My employer would never agree to something like that and smuggling those calls would most likely get me sued.

This is the problem with customer service these days--there's really no way to get back at bad people. If there was, though; if there was a way to get even with shitty customers who act like fucking morons, the game would change and people would act differently.  They would behave better and no longer behave like mentally deficient inbreed fucktards.

One time, I had a guy call in and get really personal with me.  He wanted to know about options in changing his account.  There weren't many and it would only save him a dollar or two.  He got personal with me.  Very personal, in fact, telling me I was having an off-day and a few other things.  Then, he hung up.

I Googled him after the call only to find he was a Baptist preacher in Oregon.  The piece of shit was supposedly a man of God and yet he was one of the most insulting people to ever call me.  That guy needs to be publically shamed.  He needs his face and name plastered all over, along with a recording of the call, so everybody could hear just what kind of piece of shit he was, and how he treats people.

He was as much of a Christian as I am a bird.

But the laws don't allow it.  Those calls belong to the employer and it would be illegal for me to post them.  I'm certain that if a few of us started posting calls, though, more would gain the courage to do so as well, and we could start a trend.  The grim reality of how pathetic some people are would be plastered all over the interwebs for all to hear.

Two months ago, I took a call from a guy who acted like every single syllable I said pissed him off. Just the act of asking him his name irritated him beyond measure.  He was an asshole the whole way through.  He deserves to be famous.

Call center work develops a healthy hatred of humanity because we're not allowed to say what we really think to people who do desperately deserve it.

Like the woman in St. Louis, who called me, and demanded to speak to somebody in India because when she needed help, she spoke to an Indian who couldn't speak English but when Charter Cable wanted to sell her something, she always spoke to an American.  She was a real cunt about it, too.

I wrote her name and address down.  I want to get even.  It's been nine years and I still want to get even.

Or the asshole cop who called me, bitching about how Charter was maniacally robo-calling people several times a day, seven days a week.  I had no control over that.  None of us did.  Charter is a shitty company with shitty leadership so does shitty things to people.  If you have a problem with that, cancel their fucking services.  Or better yet, file a lawsuit.  Why in the fuck would you call a sales hotline and bitch to them about it?  And the piece of shit kept telling me how he was a cop and blah blah blah.  I fucking hate cops anyways, so why would I care?  And then he played the shitty Guilt Card by telling me he was recently at a funeral for an officer who died in the line of duty and got a call during the procession from Charter.

Why in the fuck didn't you turn your phone off or put it on mute?

But no, Officer Shithead was too busy trying to make me feel guilty.  Didn't work, either.

I could go on and on.  The insanity of a it all, the crazy people who call in, the rude pieces of shit who think they can say what they want just because you aren't allowed to be rude, it all just adds up to a portrait of how this world is a giant manure pit.  Humanity is garbage and many of us deserve to be beaten severely or shot in the dick with bean bags.

There has to be some kind of payback we can do.  There has to be some kind of way to get even with these people.

I'm going to keep working on it.  And when I do, everybody on my shitlist will get their just rewards.

I will have my revenge and it will be glorious!




Saturday, May 6, 2017

Our Daily Sewing


I've got some flower pots outside with sprouts just barely starting to peak up through the dirt.  It's still chilly at night so things aren't growing so much right now.  I'm sure once we're out of danger of having frost at night things will perk right up.

I've got the tiniest of sprouts perking up right now.  Plus, out of all the super-hot pepper seeds I bought, only two are sprouting thus far, meaning these are some seriously expensive plants.  Sadly, none of my ghost peppers are sprouting, just one Carolina Reaper, and one Red 7 Pot Head peppers.

I'm not happy.  The game plan for those pepper plants is to grow as many as I can and use those peppers for jelly and other goodies so I can sell to folks.  I'm hoping to get a month's rent out of them.

I don't like hot and spicy things anymore.  It's no longer interesting to me.  I used to love the feeling of my mouth on fire but anymore it's just not something I want.  Even the smell will make me nauseous.

Somebody asked me to bake a cake for them.  They wanted my special ghost pepper frosting, which is fine, but it really stinks up the kitchen and makes me nauseous.  But they wanted it and they offered money, so I made it.  It's in my fridge right now waiting for this guy to get some time to meet with me.  I really need to get rid of this cake.

I need to do a lot of things.  Writing, to be sure, is among them.  I haven't been writing much lately.  I've been blocked up.  I sit down to write, and what comes out is this boring series of words that just don't have any kind of magic.  No power.

The words don't pop.

I feel like I'm not making the magic that I once was, or so badly want to, and that's making things worse.

The way out of this is to keep writing.  That's the only fix.  Keep writing and keep reading.  Most writers know this but a few don't--writing is 70% reading.  If you're not reading, your writing won't be very good.

Last night, I was reading Hunter S. Thompson.  The problem is, he's fixated on the 60's in so much of his work, that he just doesn't move on.  I'm tired of reading about the Chicago Democratic Convention in '68.  I'm tired of reading about how he ran for Sheriff.

The worst thing about losing Hunter S. Thompson is that we so desperately need him now.  Times are bad and we need him.  But then again, we all really made a mess of things, and a writer isn't going to get us out of that mess.  All he would do is articulate our rage.

We sewed some bad seeds to get us to this point.  Just as I have sewn some bad seeds to get myself to my own ball of mess.

I screwed up.  I screwed up so many things in so many ways, I don't see a way out of this.  I honestly do feel trapped by a dozen different situations.  And every solution, no matter how reasonable and minor, seems like a mountain that needs to be climbed.  Even the tiniest steps in the right direction seem impossible.

I'm so screwed.

I feel like I've gained 20 pounds in the past month.  I am noticeably bigger and my movements are even more restricted because of it.  I need to put a stop to this gain and take control of it.  And even the smallest choices are proving difficult.

This tailspin I'm in has momentum I'm finding very difficult to stop.  The physical issues seem to be growing and becoming worse despite efforts on my part.  Today I tried to go for a walk but the pain in my feet and ankles proved to be too much.

Damn, I screwed up.  I let things get worse and worse.

I sewed the wrong seeds.

Even my chair at my desk, the one I'm sitting in now, isn't right.  It's too short and it has caused me all kinds of painful knee issues.  Yet, I live in it.  I work in it, I write in it, and I do all of my computer activities in it.  I need a new one but I can't afford that just yet.

I will, though.  I'm back to working full-time, which is part of the plan for me to get back on my feet.
That's one seed I'm sewing that is in the right direction.  One out of a bunch.

My sleeping issues are improving.  Because I'm reading more, I'm away from electronics more, and that's helping me get to sleep sooner and sleep better.  Now if I can just stop waking up in the middle of the night wanting to eat my Ruger, because that sucks.  It's a horrid thing to have happen--to wake up in the middle of the night in absolute despair, knowing there is only one solution.

I don't know why this is happening.  When I feel better later on, looking back is horrific.

Everything is connected, I think.  My health, my activities, my sleep patterns, my emotional stability, my writing output--all of it. And no one act of healthy action is enough to change anything by itself.  It takes several choices.  Choices and actions in support of those choices, really.

And every small action seems like climbing a mountain.  Not quite impossible, but close enough.

I really screwed up in letting things get to this point.

I'm pondering starting a new Youtube channel to document my efforts to move forward.  Or decline.  I'm not sure what will happen.  But I figure letting folks know what not to do, not to let yourselves get to this point, is important.  Or maybe it'll stand as a record of just how things ended and what the final days looked like.

That sounds melodramatic.  I feel melodramatic these days.  Everything hurts, everything bugs me, and nothing interests me.  My writing shows it.

So what seeds do I sew to fix that?  I'm sure it has something to do with actually leaving my apartment more and having more face-to-face conversations with people.  There's only a couple in this world I can handle anymore.  The rest cause me great pain.

But leaving my apartment is important.  I don't really have a reason to, or no place to go, but I need to do it more.   Perhaps some more time at the park, or just limping slowly along the trail might help.  I'd like to say "what can it hurt?" but the truth is, it'll hurt my feet and ankles a lot.  And my knees.  And my hip.

But that's needed.  And while it feels like a mountain I have to climb, I realize it's just the first steps.  Those are supposed to be the hardest.  For me, the fourth and fifth steps are the hardest, because I know what to expect by then and I know it'll suck.

Something has to be done.  I can't keep living like this.  I need to sew some healthy seeds in my life.  I've made a few changes but they are minor and isolated.  I need to do a lot more before I can arrest this momentum and stop the decline I'm in.  This tailspin has gone on long enough.

I'm frustrated with how bad it is and right now, the pain of doing something outweighs the pain of doing nothing.  Sure, I screwed up, but I think I might be able to fix this.

I cannot undo the other things, though.  I've been unloveable for most of my life and what I am now is not even fully human.  It's a hard thing to say you're upgrading yourself to "unloveable."  But, I'm working on it.

I will say this--there's a monster in the shadows I have to confront and I'm just not ready yet.  But if I don't, then all of this will be pointless.  Addiction is a hell of a thing.

So, I'm sewing seeds of better choices.  I'm sewing seeds of better actions.

I used to have a ritual for starting my day.  That ritual was a bit of meditation followed by some affirmations.  "Just for today..."

"Just for today, I will make positive choices in what I eat."
"Just for today, I will be clean, and wear clean clothes, and look healthy."
"Just for today, I will not tell anybody I want to shoot them in the face or throat-chop them."

Starting a day off with that those affirmations helped me sew seeds daily.  I'm having a very hard time getting back to that.  But once I do, I'm sure things will begin to fall into place.

Or at least it'll stop this tail-spin.





Saturday, April 29, 2017

This Echo Chamber World

It's 1:36AM and I'm supposed to be writing.  I have a short story that has fought me every paragraph of the way to the end that I have re-written four times.  I firmly believe I have it where I want it but for the last 1/4.  

It's time for the Big Dramatic and Violent End that leaves the reader wondering.  It's time for that twist we all love to read.  

And I'm blocked.  

I don't have a fucking clue how to finish this thing and it's supposed to be sent off in less than 24 hours.  

My brain failing me.  It's not coming up with something awesome.  Sure, it's coming up with all kinds of other bullshit.  But it's just not creating new things.  And I really can't fail this time.  I can't.  

I took a shower to see if that helped and it didn't.  Nothing has thus far.  Usually I make ice cream at these junctures but I haven't done that because the cream I bought is too thin.  It lacks the needed amount of milk solids and the dairy doesn't really give a shit.  

Why not?  They get cream, and they sell it to their biggest client--some butter maker.  The private shits like me buy what is left in the vat.  Since December, the butter maker has figured out a way to scoop up or suck up all of the milk solids from the vat for themselves, leaving behind a thin cream.  That's great for them because they buy the same volume with less waste but it sucks for me.  

It sucks for the little old ladies who buy cream there for their pies.  

That means I have to cook down and reduce the cream base more than usual.  Maybe add more dry non-fat milk, too.  

I can solve that problem but I'm not able to solve this writer's block.  

There's something else, too.  Something most of you don't know.  It's not a secret but it's not something I talk about much.  

I'm a much better poet than I am a fiction writer.  Poetry was my thing from the beginning and one of the first things I ever got published.  I'm a damned good poet when I put my heart and brain into it.  And for some reason I haven't in years.  

That urge is there once again.  It's more than an urge.  Urge isn't the right word.  

The best way I can describe it is when you are with a woman, and she's leaning against you, her back resting against your chest, her head leaning back against your shoulder.  You can smell her hair.  You can smell her skin.  

You put your hands on top of her hands, fingers intertwining.  You look down at her face and it is serene.  She is comfortable with you in that moment.  You.  She wants to be with you.  Of all the people in this world, she has chosen you.  You know all the shit wrong with you and at the moment, you don't want to correct her and tell her she's fucking up.  Instead, you want to lean down and softly kiss her on her neck, just below her ear, just in that right spot.  You want to put your lips to her skin and gently kiss her as she closes her eyes and allows herself to be taken with that moment.  

That is the urge I feel.  The need to press my lips against her skin and make her feel, and know, that at the single moment in time, there is nothing else I'd rather do, no place I'd rather be, and nobody else I'd rather be with, than her.  

And no, I haven't left my apartment in days.  I don't have a reason to.  

But that's not everything.  Not the writing, or the thin cream, or the poetry.  

There's something else.  

When love is drained from a heart it leaves behind a residue.  You can't remove it.  You can't scrub it loose.  It lingers behind.  

So you think of them.  You think of that person you cared about no matter how toxic they were.  No matter how bad of an idea it was.  No matter how badly they hurt you without a care, as if you were a paper airplane on a rainy day just as the sun started to poke through.  Your thoughts still to go them.  And you feel their absence as if it were still the first day of it being over.  

When someone is the first person you think of in the morning and the last person you think of at night for months on end, they leave a mark on your soul.  You know you didn't leave a mark on their soul.  You know you weren't nearly important enough to them to do that.  You were nothing more than cardinal on their lilac tree just outside their kitchen window.  Sure, they saw you, and maybe even watched your for a minute or two, but by lunchtime, they will have totally forgotten you even existed.  
But I haven't left my apartment in days.  People are worried about me again.  I'm gaining weight, my levels are totally out of balance, and I simply don't feel engaged enough in this reality to do much about it.  Other people are just shadows in the fog and they don't see me reaching out to them.  

Six days ago, my heart rate was so erratic it was causing a lot of pain.  I made a mental note to take my potassium gluconate pills then forgot about it.  It got worse.  Finally, there was the fluttering that wouldn't stop.  And the wallops from side to side, as if my heart was a tennis ball inside my chest, and it was trying to get out.  Or a mis-firing motor with crossed plug wires.  

Three days ago, I crossed my arms in front of my chest, gasped for air, and waited.  If it passed, I told myself, I'd take my potassium.  Within just a few minutes of taking it, I felt fine.  Great, even.  But my chest hurt like hell for about half the day after.  

Shadows in the fog.  The smallest light is blinding the and only in darkness can I relax.  

After this short story gets done (and I think I know how to finish it) I'm going to write poetry once again.  It's time.  And I need to.  I can feel it being My Path.  

I'm going to finish this short story before I go to bed.  I think I know what to do and how to do it.  Once that is submitted, things are going to change.  They have to.  

     

Saturday, April 22, 2017

I Believe I Can Crash

Sometimes madness is a warm blanket wrapped around our shoulders on a cold morning after we just woke up.  Or, as it is in my case, afternoon.  My sleep patterns are still all fucked up.

Yesterday, I was able to get two stories sent off to a couple of magazines.  I'd like to say I have high hopes but the truth is my low self-esteem won't allow it.  Instead it's a weird bet with poor odds.

My mind has been racing lately.  Anxiety is like rocket fuel for these thoughts and then suddenly somebody hits the brakes and I crash into oblivion.  

Oblivion, sweet oblivion.  

I need to submit more short stories.  I need to write more good ones, too.  Instead of being cute and trying to be somebody I'm not, I've found my best work comes when I just need to get the shit out of my head.  I haven't been meditating enough lately, either, so there's a lot of shit to get rid of.

So here's what I'm working on right now:

I need to establish a routine.  I'm so bad at this!  Part of the reason is that routines are something adults have and part of me is still a rebellious teenager who refuses to conform.  But I've rebelled so much I'm not even conforming to humanity.  I'm pretty far out there--almost feral.

So I need routines and patterns.  Another reason I refuse to is how I have clung to the teachings of Ralph Waldo Emerson a bit too much, specifically a quote I learned in high school, "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."  That's funny when you think about it, because he preached self-reliance and I'm far from it.  I am, however, unique.  That's one thing I've got going in my favor--I'm not like anybody else you'll ever meet.


A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds--Ralph Waldo Emerson


But I need routines.  I need consistency so I can adapt positive and healthy behaviors.  Because right now, I'm a train wreck.

I have found it is incredibly hard to do positive things for yourself when you do not have a habit, ritual, routine, or pattern.  And I'm all over the place.

So that's what I'm working on.  My entire being is fighting against this and that reaction has been difficult to suppress.  I keep wanting to just go do my own thing.  I don't do well in restrictive environments.

But I'm paying for that now.  Years of doing my own thing, not listening to anybody, not following rules, not existing within the confines of acceptable living protocols, have all added up to a series of problems--a crisis of living.

This is more than just me being an obstinate jerk.  It goes far beyond the usual rebellion and like many things in my life, it has a dark history.

Here's what happened:

I've said this before but when I was a kid, I was confident I wasn't a human being.  Between the abuse and a number of other factors, I was disconnected from myself and the rest of the world around me.  I was so isolated I came to the conclusion that I was not a human being.

Because I wasn't a human being, the rules didn't apply to me, either.  In my clouded mind, I decided that I didn't have to play everybody else's reindeer games, and there was nothing anybody could do about it.  I was on my own already, what were they going to do?  Really, really not invite me to birthday parties?  Really, really not go on dates with me?  Really, really make fun of me?

This was a bad reaction to events many humans encounter.  I realized that a long time ago.  In many ways, I'm not dealing with the effects of my past so much as my reactions to those events.  My reactions to those events created a series of issues and those are the things I'm recovering from and surviving, not the events themselves.

I did this to myself.  And that means I need to fix this myself.

I have no idea how.

They say habits are formed by doing something four times.  So, right now I'm looking at simple choices I can make in order for me to start slow with positive habits and routines.  It is way harder than it sounds.  In many respects it feels positively Herculean and I could use some help.




Sunday, April 16, 2017

Sink, You Bastard! Sink!



Every April, it's the same old shit.  I turn on the television and it's some fucking documentary about the Titanic and how it sank.  At this point, does anybody even fucking care?

I mean, it was a big boat.  It sank.  Big fucking deal.

Yeah, sure, it was a horrible thing.  But life is full of horrible things.  Life is full of atrocities and acts of perverse violence.  Sometimes, these things happen because some captain full of hubris didn't bother to steer away from icebergs in the water.  Other times, these things happen because life is ugly and full of natural disasters like earthquakes, floods, tornadoes, and syphilis.   Horrible things happen all the time yet for some reason we romanticise the Titanic as if there was something magical about it all.

There isn't.

I'm proud to say I've never seen the movie about it--Titanic.  Never.

It was a huge hit when I lived in Korea.  People thought for sure I'd seen it.  When I told them I hadn't, it was like I hit them between the eyes with a 2 X 4.

I would tell them, "I like movies where I don't already know the ending."  The ship sank--The End.

But yet parts of our society are just fascinated by this.  Every year in April, around the anniversary of her sinking, cable television is flooded with lurid shows going over the mysterious details as is all of that post-mortem would somehow offer a better explanation.

The boat sank.  That's it.  It doesn't matter how fast the men in the boiler room were shoveling coal.  It doesn't matter how dark it was.  It doesn't matter who had their wireless telegraph machines turned off for the night.  It just doesn't matter.

Yet for some reason, people seem to act like it does.

Easter is full of weird memories like that.  My grandfather passed away in his sleep at the ripe young age of 93 about a week before Easter.  His funeral was the same weekend as the Chernobyl disaster. What I remember most about that was the lack of information.  It was deep in the Cold War and American news was severely lacking.

My mom and I were driving across Iowa, scanning the radio for something decent to listen to, and while she drove her 1976 Chevy Nova, I turned the radio dial.  I stumbled upon a news broadcast out of Canada.  It was two men and they were getting information--real information.  It was through them we were able to learn just how terrifying things had become.

Those of us who were around back then have a different memory of these events.  It started with a curious but grave news broadcast stating that extremely high levels of radiation were detected all throughout Eastern and Northern Europe.  Norway, especially, and they were stating it wasn't from any of their facilities.

People suspected Russia.  Something had to have happened there but Russia, the Soviet Union, said repeatedly it wasn't them and nothing had happened.

And then they said there was a small accident.  But the radiation levels were so high, it was as if a nuclear bomb had gone off.  Radiation filled the skies.

I remember when the radiation reached the United States.  I remember people going outside with geiger counters and getting levels to register for the first time ever.

I remember people going to the store to buy water.

It's curious what a memory will do.  It's curious what we forget.

When I first came back to the US from Korea, I scrapped together money from the two jobs I worked, and sent care packages to my wife and daughter when I could.  The last one I sent was an Easter basket.  It was as large as I could afford.

It was candy, fake grass, and a stuffed, white Easter bunny.

A few years later, my wife sent me pictures of my daughter.  In one of those pictures, she was holding that rabbit.  It was well-worn and had seen better days.  My wife wrote on the back of the photo, "She takes that stuffed toy with her everywhere she goes.  I don't know why."

So I cry every Easter.  A little girl had only a small stuffed animal from her daddy and she carried it with her everywhere she went.  It kills me to think about it.

Horrible things happen all the time in life.  I try to make new memories.  Happy memories.  But that's been far more difficult than it should be.  And the past just won't fucking fade away.  There are no shoulders.  There are no hugs.  There is no hope.  Only tears and a gamble that maybe our efforts can make tomorrow somehow worth living.

I don't have a reason to wake up tomorrow but I'll do it anyways.  Tomorrow is Easter Sunday and I'll avoid people as I usually do.  My what's left of my family will all be doing their own things.  I'm scheduled to work.  I'll do things to keep my hands busy because that's how I survive.  I'll make ice cream, perhaps, and plant some seeds.

The past just won't fucking fade away.  And how can it when we're making docu-shit-dramas about all of the horrible shit that happened?  We can't fix it.  We can't change it.

The Titanic launched with all kinds of fanfare and hopes.  It sank as soon as it got in the middle of the Atlantic.

Chernobyl is currently having another layer being constructed around it.  This way, it will contain the radiation leaking out of the damaged reactors.  To this day, tends of thousands still suffer from health problems because of it.  You can't run away from radiation.

And you can't run away from memories that won't fade.

I hope my daughter keeps her stuffed bunny.  I hope she never lets it go.  But if she has to so she can move on, I'll understand.  The Titanic wasn't supposed to sink.  It was made with great care by proud, professional men.  Chernobyl wasn't supposed to melt down.  It was supposed to provide power to millions.

It wasn't supposed to be like this at all and yet it is.  Because horrible things happen all the time.

And you can't outrun memories.  




  

Sunday, April 9, 2017

The Church of Do

I have some goals I want to meet in the next few months.  These goals are based on what I can do rather than what I hope happens.  Instead of saying, "I want to get X stories published" I'm simply saying "I want X stories in submission to magazines."

The work is on me.  And I like that better than wishing or hoping for somebody else to do something on my behalf.

Simply put--there's shit I need to get done.  Shit that I'm hoping will somehow magically fix me and all the shit that's wrong with me.  And that list is long.

As I sit here and write this, I can't help but feel like a disappointing train wreck of a human being and I'm struggling to get out of this mess.  I'm not going to list the whole, ugly set of reasons, because it's just depressing as hell.  However, I will say, each and every one of these are self-inflicted wounds that have festered.

This is my fault.  All of it.  And I am so angry with myself for having let it get to this point.  All the while, it feels like I'm rapidly approaching The End.  A stroke or a heart attack, mostly likely, and that's without pondering the other alternatives on the table.

So, no, I'm looking at what I need to do.  The word "DO" being key here.  Do.  I must DO things.

I just went for a small walk and I'm feeling it.  I need to do it again and I most likely will.  More of that whole "DO" idealogy.

Do-ism.  

I haven't been doing enough.  Or, when I do actually do something, I don't do the right things.

So, here's what I'm working on:

I want to have a short story finished, edited, and ready to submit in a few days.  There's a call for submissions that looks rather interesting.  My story took a weird turn and became quite romantic.  I honestly have no idea why.  When I try to write romance it becomes horrid.  I just can't.  My pacing is all off.

So now I need to turn this romance into horror.  Oh how simple that is to do when it's my life.  But in fiction?  This should be interesting.

There are a few calls for submissions I'd like to have things in for this month.  I currently have two short stories and a novella in submission and I can't wait to hear back about that.

As for the video stuff, that's a different story.  I filled my hard drive and so now I'm waiting for an external drive to arrive so I can move some files.  Once that happens, I can go back to making videos.  Plus, I have a new ice cream maker coming in soon.  I'm really excited about that.

I have ice cream projects I want to get to.  Ice cream flavors, as well as configurations, like novelties.  I want to begin making ice cream cakes, pops, coated and rolled confections, and a few other things.
I have goals and this new ice cream maker will allow me to make ice cream faster so I can work on those goals.

There are two projects I have in mind.  Because they are surprises, I cannot say right now, but if they are close to being what I want, they will be my Magnum Opus.  Or at least a crescendo in a body of work that is full of crescendos.

One of the reasons I love to make ice cream so much is the reactions from others are immediate and feed my need to approval from others.  I'll admit that with my self-esteem so low I have become needy as hell for approval from others.  Ice cream gets me that approval.

I'm not going to beat myself up for having that need.  Instead, I will say that maybe one day, that approval with come from within, and I will find a way to value myself for no other reason than I am me.

The next goal I have is to get some seeds ordered for the front of my apartment.  Last year, we had flower pots full of plants and it looked incredible.  That neighbor who did about 75% of the work moved but I have some pots and he's going to help me with some things.  I can't wait!

I'm going to grow all kinds of stuff.  Peppers, herbs, tons of basil again, and a wide variety of flowers.  In fact, I want to have a larger variety than last year.

There is something healing in doing that.  I felt better just for doing that last summer and it meant a great deal to me.  Sure, people used to drive by and look just because it was such a stark improvement over the solid concrete.  But also, people loved how beautiful it was, and we got a lot of compliments.  That offered me approval as well.

So, let's review--I'm waiting for approval from some editors, but while I wait for their approval, I'm making ice cream to get instant approval from folks, and I'll be planting some things soon so I can get approval from people around town.  Because I need approval.  Badly.

One of these days I'll be able to get that approval from myself but for now, I'm at the mercy of those around me.  Of course, who am I kidding?  It's always been that way.  I've never had that confidence and self-love or self-acceptance.  I've always seen myself as less-than everybody else and too much of the wrong things.

But I'm working on it.  I just started reading a self-help book called The Artist's Way by Julia Cameron.     This is the quintessential book for artists who are trying to heal. I read the first chapter last night and it did something.  I was really upset and I woke up this morning just a wreck.  I woke up feeling lowest that I can ever remember.  Never have I woken up in such despair and misery.

I woke up this morning (afternoon) being fully aware of the sum of all of my problems and worse, no hope of fixing them and no reason to even begin.

The reason for this has been an issue for me in recent months.  Is it worth the effort to fix my life?  Am I worth the effort to fix?  Is there anything worth sticking around for?  So much of my life is gone.  So many things have been taken from me.  So many times have passed me by.  So many phases of my life have been destroyed.  And now that I'm in the 2nd half, what could I possibly look forward to?  Is there anything out there for me at this point?  

Will I have to lie to myself until I can gladly allow a baseball bat smash my brains in and tell myself how happy I am to see the pretty colors?  Is that what happiness will have to be for me?  Is that the key to happiness?  Self-deception masked as the acceptance of terrible circumstances?   Admire the pretty pattern of the snake's skin as it bites me over and over, injecting deadly venom.

Is that happiness?

I don't know the answer.  All I know is I'm still alive and I'm still submitting fiction.  I'm still making ice cream and I'm still planting flowers out in front of my apartment.  I have no idea what will come of it.  All I know is that these are the things I'm doing.  


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Just Another Day



Tomorrow is the 23rd Anniversary of my dad's death.

Some of these have passed me by without a thought.  Last year it really bugged me.  This year, it's more like a simple connection.  Oh, it's that day again.  Okay.

It was a suicide.  Dad was on a downward spiral for a long time.  He was an alcoholic and had brain damage from it, as well as a destroyed body.

The funeral was ugly and I'm still angry about the fallout from it.  That's what I remember more than his death.  I remember how my grandmother would corner my sister or myself and tell us how if we had loved him more he wouldn't have done it.  I remember how his sister acted like she had no idea there were problems.  The years of alcoholism weren't a clue.  Him suddenly showing up at my grandmother's doorstep unannounced to live with her wasn't a clue.  His deteriorated mental state wasn't a clue.  His ruined health wasn't a clue.  She acted like this was a huge shock and it was our fault for keeping it from her--lying to her about how great things were.  Actually, she said we lied to her, when we told her at the funeral that things were bad and we let it be known.  She claimed we never did any such thing.

So no, I don't think about how I lost somebody.  I think about how I watched my family unravel, crash, and catch fire.  I think about how his childhood friends came to his funeral and not a single one of them were shocked.

Suicides destroy families.  I've seen it before and I've lived it.  I haven't spoken to my dad's side of the family in years.  I had to divorce myself from them because they were so nasty towards my sister and I.  Every letter was full of venom.

I'll admit--I was a jerk.  I just stopped talking to them.  They sent me checks and I ignored them.  They sent me birthday cards and I ignored them.  I took the money, of course, but I said nothing.  Not a word.

My grandmother sent me a Christmas card telling me about how upset she was and how she just wanted to hear from me and I ignored her.  I was in my own private hell and just couldn't bring myself to contact her.  I was waging my own battles inside my head.

I feel terrible about how it all unraveled and came about.  When my grandmother died, I didn't go to the funeral.  She eventually died from alzheimer's and dementia.  I said nothing to my aunt.  Not even a condolence card.  Even when she sent me a check for my portion of the inheritance, I said nothing. Not a word.

I was angry, I'll admit, but there was something else.  I got tired of being the crazy one in the family. I got tired of being treated like The Joker.  I know I'm different.  I know there's some things not right with me.  But being treated like a violent mental patient all the time gets old.

It's not just my dad's side of the family who treats me like that.  Parts of my mom's side treat me like that, too.  I have two cousins I knew as babies.  I mean, I held them, fed them, and even changed one of their diapers.  Then, I didn't see them for 17 years.

Seventeen years later, they were at a family reunion.   There were other reunions between that time but I never went.  Most of those reunions I was never invited to or even told about.  I'd like to say it was because the family knew I was too broke to travel anywhere but that's not the whole reason.  As you can imagine, I'm a bit of a black sheep, and as I've said before, treated like a mentally deranged nutcase.

So, these two cousins were there.  I introduced myself to them and they both froze.  They froze and a look of terror spread across their faces.  They knew me.  They knew about me and I had a reputation. It was like they found themselves standing face-to-face with a serial killer or an alien in a public place.  They had to play it cool despite wanting to run away screaming.

Despite the bullshit I write on this blog, I've never killed anybody in my life.  Never.  I'm actually a very nice man who makes ice cream for his friends.  I like dogs and babies love me.  To be treated like a physical manifestation of all the horrific characters out of Hollywood really pissed me off. Worse, I knew where they got that fear--other family members.  Somebody told them a series of things about me and they believed them.

It was insulting.

But no, my ties to family are uneasy most of the time.  I'm often not told about weddings and various family events.  If I send them an e-mail, it usually gets ignored.  There are a couple of family members who still talk to me and for that I'm grateful.

But family is complicated and winters/early springs are very hard for me.

It's no secret I struggle with depression.  I have Seasonal Affective Disorder--SAD.  Every winter I crash into a black hole.  It's a tail-spin I cannot pull out of until the seasons shift and I can get more sunlight.

I thought I had a good game plan to handle it this winter.  I damn near didn't make it out of the last one.  But, things didn't go according to plan and I took some structural damage I wasn't expecting.  It happens.

I don't believe in coincidence.  These things happened for a reason.  And now that I'm finding myself at this mile marker, I can honestly say I feel better despite all of the things going on right now.  I'm no longer angry at my dad for what he did.  I'm no longer angry at his sister and mother for blaming me for what he did.  It sucks that elements of my family treat me like a monster but that's just how it goes.

My mom always said living well is the best revenge.  If I keep doing what I'm doing, there will come a day when they will want to admit they're related to me.  Stranger things have happened.  And when that day comes, I will simply smile and let it go.  I'm fighting to keep certain patterns from repeating. I'm not my dad.  I'm trying so hard to avoid his pitfalls and to not do what he did.

The first thing--don't give up.  The rest will sort itself out as the days play out.