the power of youth

I am a conservative, words hardly uttered on the blogosphere or social media in general. Conservatives have it hard these days, we find our beliefs and values under fire, even under attack in today’s left-leaning society. I’m ok with it, I know that I’m neither a bigot, a Nazi, a Xenophobe or a racist and I really don’t have time or the desire to defend or explain myself. My blog has likely suffered, however, because I stay away from current events for lack of desire to be attacked as all of the labels listed above. Having said that, I am going to say something that may surprise many of my fellow conservatives and say that I don’t entirely believe that climate change is a myth.

Climate science is not an exact science. In fact, the term “alternate facts” comes to mind. About 2 years ago a debate erupted after Kelly Conway defended Donald Trump and used the term “Alternate facts” and a brouhaha ensued along the lines of factuality. “Alternate facts” was touted as a means of promoting falsehoods and I found it entirely disingenuous. Alternate facts actually refers to the existence of different sets of arguments or evidence. And that is where climate science breaks down for me. For every scientist that presents evidence that the earth is warming/cooling/changing there is another with a set of conclusions that says it is not. Especially when you read a story about a Arctic expedition heading to the North Sea to study diminishing ice and have to turn back due to too much ice. As a layperson I don’t know what or who is correct.

But, unlike my fellow conservatives I don’t deny that there is a problem. There certainly is.

Is the earth cooling or warming due to manmade activity? It’s possible. Is the earth going through a natural cyclical adjustment that may or may not involve eventual rising sea levels and massive weather events that may extinguish a large portion of the population? Also possible. It happened before and it was called an Ice Age. Another one is also possible. Whatever you believe, it is difficult to deny that animal methane emissions, fossil fuel consumption and rampant pollution are having a severe impact on our beautiful planet.

We only have one.

Enter Greta Thunberg. Never heard of her? You’re the only one. Greta Thunberg is a 16 year old, angry Swedish teen with Asbergers syndrome who has become the face of climate change through her fiery speeches lashing out in particular at boomers for destroying the planet for her generation. She has become so famous that Time magazine named her “Person of the year” (much to the dismay of Donald) and just today the prominent British Magazine Nature blessed her with her own issue for the awareness she has raised for environmentalism.

I have a lot of problems with Greta. None of which are her own fault. She is a tool of the left, likely backed by notorious leftist George Soros. It wouldn’t be the first time youth and the disenfranchised were exploited by the left, it wasn’t that long ago that caravans of “broke” people crashed our border after traveling thousands of miles in mere weeks and somehow had transportation, iphones and all of their meals and other expenses miraculously paid for. I also feel that she is being exploited by her parents who are undoubtedly making a small fortune off of their angry daughter. She is also woefully uninformed in environmental science as AOC is regarding basic economics and the accolades thrown the way of this angry little waif as a “expert” are misguided and borderline comical as she and the Bloomberg’s of the world lecture us about our “footprint” and tell us to use public transportation as they crisscross the world on private jets and jump their privileged asses into limousines.

But again, it doesn’t mean she is entirely wrong and as much as I dislike her and her angry rants she is energizing her generation and spreading awareness. Maybe boomers will reevaluate their rampant consumerism and millennials will use less plastic Starbuck’s cups full of complicated coffee drinks and be a little nicer to this planet. The miles wide patches of plastic floating in our oceans and killing our sea life will thank them.

There is a problem folks, even this conservative (one who is confused how conservatism somehow became synonymous with climate non-believer) knows it. So if it takes a angry little puppet’s scowling face posted everywhere to make us love our Mother then I will gladly watch it happen.

I can’t stand her, but she may be doing some good. Youth gets our attention. Youth is good. Youth is powerful. Embrace it.

where were you on that fateful day?

17 years ago to the day
I can’t see the world
quite the same way
disgusted by how far
some will go
to destroy those
they don’t even know
it escapes me
it really does
the hatred and venom
their twisted cause
For some the anger has faded
not me
I’m eternally jaded
where were you?
on that fateful morn
when buildings fell
and hearts were torn
I still look to the sky
I stop and ask myself why
airplanes staying in the air
are no longer a given
our only crime?
our way of living
lives changed forever
innocence was lost
the widows and orphans
such a tremendous cost
if broken spirits were the goal
the bastards failed
Old Glory’s still on her pole
It brought out the best in us
the tables were turned
we rose to the occasion
as the buildings burned
First Responder’s responded
with soldiers and regular Joe
reacted with a fierce resolve
that we had yet to show
for a short, glorious time
we were all brothers
put aside our differences
respected each other
came together as one
hatred can only conquer
if you choose to let it
hang your head today
and always remember
The weight of your heart
on this day in September
mourn for the lost
the brave and the strong
celebrate those that fight for us
all the year long
on this anniversary
of an event so heinous
may faith, hope and charity
always sustain us

Home sweet home…conclusion A Mike Valentine tale

Mike got up, his swollen legs screaming in protest, and moved to the sofa to sit beside his son. Lady dutifully followed and plopped down at his feet. He wrapped his arm around the boy and they watched TV. It wasn’t long before his wife appeared in the doorway and told D that it was bedtime. Mike looked at his watch. It was 9 already. He reminded himself that that’s what happens when you sit in a bar, dreading coming home. He told his wife that he would take care of bedtime. She gave him a sarcastic “thanks” and went back to the kitchen. He forced himself off of the sofa and motioned for D to follow him, told him to brush his teeth and put his pajamas on. He didn’t put up a fuss, he was a great kid.

He went upstairs with the boy, poking his head in his oldest daughter’s room. She was lost in a book. He went into her room, leaned in and gave her a kiss on the forehead.
“I didn’t hear you come home” she said.
“Next time I’ll make more noise” he joked. He kissed her again. She gave him one of her famous smiles, the gap between her front teeth front and center. He loved that gap, it was cute and reminded him of her as a toddler, mugging for the camera. She was such a happy child. He also observed that she would need braces soon.
“Good job on your report card” he offered. “I’m proud of you.”
“Mom went ape on the boys.”
Mike could only imagine. Yet she took them out to dinner? It must have been her friend Lisa’s idea. Lisa’s kids probably got shitty report cards as well but she didn’t believe in disciplining her kids. She wanted to be their friends. Mark hated that she and his wife were so close. He thought Lisa was a terrible influence, but his wife fucking loved her. Almost to the point that he wondered if she switched teams. He chased all of that out of his head and returned his attention to his daughter.
“Jeez” he said. You couldn’t have saved the old man a chicken finger?”
She laughed. He kissed her again on the forehead and walked down the hall to the boy’s room where he found R at his desk, furiously scribbling on a notebook. He looked miserable.
“Hey bud” he said. “That’s enough for today, nothing will change overnight.”
“Mom is pretty mad.”
“I know. I already bumped into her. See the burn marks?” he said as he showed his bare forearm. It was a bad joke but Ry laughed. He wasn’t trying to denigrate his wife. He just wanted to cheer the kid up. It seemed to work. He sat with the boys as they went through their nightly routine of procrastination. Fearful of his wife getting angry at the time, he went to the banister and listened for signs of life. She was talking to Lisa, the toxic friend. No doubt talking about what an asshole she married.

He went back into the boy’s room and said goodnight. He made a couple of silly faces, drew a laugh and turned the light off. He went downstairs looking for his youngest daughter. He poked his head in her room, she was fast asleep. Shit, he thought. I didn’t see her at all today. He sat on the edge of her bed and just watched her breathe for a while. She looked so peaceful. She was the unplanned one but immediately shot up to I can’t imagine my life without her status. She was cuter than a duck wearing a hat. His heart welled. He got up and closed the door behind him and headed for his comfortable chair. He had to walk through the kitchen in order to get there and he ignored the glare of contempt his wife shot at him as she babbled into the phone.

As he sat down. Britt appeared in the doorway.
“My asthma is acting up. Can I do a treatment?”
Mike got up, went to the closet for the Nebulizer and a capsule of albuterol. He set it up, placed the mask on his daughter’s face and sat down beside her. The hum of the machine soothed him as he watched her, glued to the TV as the mist gently wafted from her breathing treatment. He had changed the channel to Nickelodeon and had found Spongebob. Perfect.

He let her stay with him for about 15 minutes after the treatment was done. He didn’t want the moment to end. He knew, whether she knew he did or not, that she wasn’t really having an asthma attack. It was her sneaky way of getting an extra half hour with her dad.

This, Mike Valentine thought to himself, this is the good stuff. The rest of it doesn’t matter. He squeezed his daughter tight and waited for her to fall asleep.

Home sweet home…a Mike Valentine tale

Mike Valentine pulled into his driveway a bit too fast. He heard the scraping of the undercarriage as it met the small dip at the end of his driveway. It was just another moment in his 15-minute drive that he was reminded of how reckless it was for him to have driven home. He was half in the wrapper. It occurred to him that he was driving a company vehicle, a DUI would equal no job and no car. Smart. He put the car in park, popped an Altoid in his mouth, took a deep breath and walked to his front door. Every night he tried to ignore the crumbling masonry adorning the walkway and the ugly door that desperately needed a coat of paint. It was his daily reminder that he lived in a house that he couldn’t afford to maintain. He was in over his head. He went in the house.

Right on schedule, his hyperactive Springer Spaniel tore around the corner and jumped all over him. He enjoyed this part of the day. A dog always loves you unconditionally. If only other people in my life were this happy to see me he mused. After Lady (named after the Disney dog of course) calmed down a bit Mark took off his shoes, stumbling slightly and went into the kitchen. His wife was sitting at the kitchen table, a stack of envelopes before her. Her face said it all. He was about to have the money talk. Mark reevaluated his condition and decided that he may not have drank enough.
“You could say hi, you know. You must have heard me come in” he said.
“We need to talk” she replied.
“Not now”, Mike said with a defeated tone. “I know where this is going. Talking about it isn’t going to make a money tree grow in the back yard.” He regretted his snarky tone as it left his lips.
“If not now, when?!” she yelled. He knew what was coming, She was boiling and she wasn’t in the mood for the verbal foreplay. She wanted to fight.
“I’m doing the best I can.” He knew she didn’t believe it and he wasn’t sure if he did either. “You don’t know what it’s like out there right now.” He tried to change the subject. “Anything for dinner?”
“We went out.”
“Of course, you did. After all, why would you eat any of the food that is in our fridge, we only spend $200 a week on groceries after all.” He immediately realized that he was a raging hypocrite, he was just out himself. And she hasn’t asked where he was and why he was late. Is it possible she doesn’t care? Yeah, he didn’t want the answer to that one.
“Fuck you.”
“Nice. Where are the kids?”
“In their rooms doing their homework. Report cards came out today and with the exception of Britt, the boys are looking at a long time in their rooms. Don’t bother them.”

Mike dutifully obeyed and left the room. He walked into the family room, plopped down on the plush cushion of his chair and turned the TV on. He peeled off his socks and put his feet up. His swollen ankles hurt like hell and without rolling up his pant legs he knew that his legs were swollen as well. As if he didn’t have enough shit to worry about, his condition was getting worse.

He noticed a change of light in the room and he looked to see his oldest boy D, in the doorway with a Miller Lite in his hand.
“I got you a ‘water bottle’ Dad” he said as he tucked the can under his arm and did his famous quotation fingers.
“Don’t you have homework to finish?”
“I’m done. Did mom tell you about the report card?”
“No specifics but she didn’t paint a rosy picture.”
“It wasn’t that bad. Mine, I mean. I can’t say the same for Ry.” He sat down next to his father, handed him the beer and said “The Sox lost.”
“Yeah, I saw.”
“Weren’t you at work?” Mike hated lying to his son.
“Between you and me I knocked off a little early.” He and D were close. D rarely told mom much of what he said when she wasn’t around. He wasn’t proud of that, he didn’t encourage it. The kid just favored his dad and somehow knew the politics of the household. Mike wished he didn’t. He also wished his kids didn’t bring him alcohol and joke that they were water bottles. He was some fucking example of a father. Yet his children loved him. Despite the fights they witnessed between he and their mother, all of the hurtful words that can’t be taken back, they seemed to understand him. He hoped the same for his wife, he didn’t want to be the favorite, he just wanted their love.

to be continued…

the Lake Walk…conclusion A Mike Valentine tale

this is the third and final installment in a series. I hope you enjoyed it. To catch up, you can here and here.

As he got closer he could see that it was a boy, maybe 8 years old standing near his car. He must have seen Mike approaching yet he made no move to retreat or even acknowledge his approach for that matter. He could feel the hair on the back of his neck standing up, something seemed off about this kid.

“Hey kid”, he called out when he was less than 20 feet away, “can I help you?”
The boy was gazing intently at the sky. Without looking down or away he replied, “no Mike, I’m just fine thank you.”

Shocked, Mike Valentine could only respond,” how do you know my name?”

“It’s not important”, the little boy replied, still not moving his gaze from the sky. Mike looked in the direction of the boy’s gaze and all he could see was the setting sun.

“What are you looking at like that, kid. You’re kinda creeping me out.”

The boy, without shifting his gaze, said, “I’m looking at the sky. Do you ever just look up at the sky? It’s quite beautiful actually. The clouds, the birds. The sun, the moon. Did you ever look at the top a tall tree and just wonder what it’s like to be a bird looking down?”

“That’s a lot of questions kid. And yes, I suppose I have. Well, I know that I used to.” Mike was reminded that he was talking to a stranger, an unaccompanied minor at that. “Are you lost? It is getting dark.”

“No, I’m right where I’m supposed to be.”

Stunned and at a loss for his next move, Mike leaned against his car to stretch his legs and assess the situation. It was more than just a little odd. He studied the boy. His clothes looked like they were from another generation. His hair looked like the “bowl cuts” his mom used to give him. It then occurred that the boy must have parents looking for him. But he sure didn’t seem scared or lost, he looked oddly comfortable.

He decided to play the quiet game and see who made the next move. He continued to stretch his tired body. Minutes passed and the boy said nothing. Mike was tempted to leave but his curiosity instincts were piqued and instead walked over and stood next to the boy. ‘Ok”, he said, “I give, what are you looking at?”

“Í told you, I’m looking at the sky. It’s quite beautiful isn’t it?”

“Yes”, Mike replied. “We’ve established that. But you haven’t looked away once. Aren’t you bored looking at the same thing?”

Without hesitation, the boy shot back. “Bored? That’s what kids today are. Always need to be occupied and entertained. Not me.”

Kids today! The statement resonated with Mike. Did he just say that!

“Aren’t you part of ‘kid’s today’?” There was something really strange about this kid. He was tempted to end this and take off. His phone had rung two more times since he got to his car and he knew that every ignored call was throwing logs on the shit bonfire that awaited him at home. In spite of this, he remained glued to his spot.

“Let’s just say that I’m here, but I don’t belong here” the boy deftly replied.

“Then where do you belong?” Mike replied, despite feeling that he was better off not asking.

“A different time”, the boy exclaimed as he lowered his fixed gaze for the first time, turned his head and stared directly at Mike. Mike felt as if he was staring directly through him. Spooked but insanely curious, Mike pressed further.

“OK, what time do you mean?”

“I asked you if you ever looked up at the sky a few minutes ago. I asked because I wonder if you looked up once during your walk. Did you even  notice what a beautiful evening it is?.” He studied Mike’s face.

He then continued, “I asked you if you ever wondered what it was like to look down from a high tree. You had no answer. Why is that?”

“Because I don’t know who you are, where you’re from and how you know my damn name!” Mike Valentine was getting angry. He almost felt bad about raising his voice to the young, albeit creepy kid.

Unfazed, the boy continued. “I asked you about the trees because from the height of the tall tree you must look small. We all do. Minor. Insignificant. Yet all you are focusing on right now is how big your problems are.” He paused.

“See, the world is bigger than the size of the screen of your phone or laptop. If you looked around you would see that. But you need the phone and the computer to make money. To buy stuff, stuff that you will put in your house. The one you don’t want to go home to. That stuff will further take your attention away from a beautiful day. It’s just stuff, but it’s ruining you.”

Mike was beside himself. What the hell is this kid talking about? “How do you know this?!”

The boy sat down in the grass Indian style. “Did you ever sit just like this?  Playing with Matchbox cars in the dirt until your mother called you? You hated to go home, right? Just like now. But then it was because you were having fun. That’s not why you don’t want to go home now, is it Mike?” His tone was less inquisitive and slightly sarcastic.

The matter-of-fact look on this kids friggin’ face was killing Mike. He was looking right through him again. Yet he had no reply.

The boy continued. He was on his back now. “Did you ever lie on your back like this for hours looking at the sky? Wondering about the clouds, the stars at night. The possibility of a Heaven. About God. Do you think about God Mike?”

“Not as much as I should.” Mike was powerless to question the utterly bizarre nature of this conversation.

The boy was standing now. “You used to be a happy kid, right? Lots of friends. You knew where they were without Facebook. You would look for the yard with all the bikes in the yard. Your mom knew where you were because you called from a phone in that house, a phone mounted to a wall, right? A phone that you didn’t feel the need to have in your hand all the time. The streetlight was your curfew, or maybe you were close enough to home to hear your mother call you.” He paused and looked at his feet.

“It’s not too late, Mike”, He continued. “There’s still time to be that happy kid again. Look up, look around. Chase butterflies, smell the flowers. Find happiness like you used to. Remember the view of the bird, to him you are small. Look down on your problems as the bird looks down at you. Small, insignificant. It will work out.” With that the boy turned and began to walk away.

Mike Valentine, who had been at a complete loss for words for what seemed like forever, finally blurted out what he had wanted to ask all along.

“Kid, How do you know this? I mean me. I mean, this is impossible! How can you possibly know all of these things about my childhood? Is this mere speculation or a theory of yours? Do you think or do you know all of this!”

The boy, turning as he walked, said, “I know it. Think about where we’ve met before”. He then winked at Mike and continued walking. For the first time, Mike Valentine noticed that the boy had an old-fashioned Slingshot in his back pocket.

He used to have one just like it!

He looked down at the ground, he then gazed to the night sky. It really was a beautiful evening. I’m going to get into a brawl when I get home. I may be out of a job tomorrow. I’d have to get two promotions just to be a broke asshole. But I do have this beautiful evening.

The kid was right about that much.

He got in his car and turned the engine on. He bathed in the AC and observed that he felt a little better. Despite the Episode of the Twilight Zone he just starred in. The conversation played out over and over in his head. The kid was weird, but in a non-threatening way. And he looked vaguely familiar. Shaking his head in disbelief, or to make sure he was indeed awake and conscious, he put the car in gear.

It suddenly occurred to him that he had some old school pictures to go home and look at.

He pulled out of the parking lot and headed home.

Enter Sandman

sandman

I was inspired to write about my nightly “battle of the Z’s” after reading this great post by Andrea. She’s got a great blog if you haven’t checked it out yet I recommend it. You can read her article here

Ugh
It’s 11:00 and I’m wide the fuck awake
You shouldn’t have napped in the afternoon dumbass
But I was tired…
The house is quiet, too quiet
If I stay downstairs I’ll keep them awake
If I go upstairs I’ll still keep them awake
those wood floors betray my every footstep
I’m overthinking this
Just go upstairs and watch Netflix on the laptop
But if I stay down here I’ll fall asleep in the recliner
You’ll get leg cramps in the recliner dummy
I’ll get leg cramps upstairs also
30 minutes go by, I’m sleepy.
Begrudgingly, I climb the stairs

I climb into my supposedly comfortable bed
The sheets aren’t right
The pillow’s not right
I’m getting annoyed
Fuck, I’m wide awake
Of course you are
You do this every night
I fire up the laptop and load Netflix
Need a show I’ve seen before
One without a laugh track,
it wakes me every damn laugh
But you’re awake anyway, aren’t you?
Yes, but I plan on falling asleep at some point don’t I?
One episode down, still wide awake
Guess I’ll watch another
It’s only sleep after all
What do I have to get up for?
The credits roll on another episode
Now I’m getting annoyed
Should I make a sandwich?
How about a nice glass of Scotch?
Oh yeah, I don’t do that anymore. Shit
And you don’t sleep anymore since you stopped, right?
I don’t have any Scotch
A turkey sandwich at 2 AM it is

I wake in the recliner
TV on low
crumbs in my lap
The sammich did the trick
What time is it?
3 AM?
This has to be a joke
I stumble upstairs again
Crap.
My water bottle is empty
Downstairs I go again to fill my bottle with water and ice
Did I actually drink a liter of water since I went to bed?
Knowing that I’m going to piss ten times makes me more awake
I’m thirsty and my kidneys don’t work
what am I supposed to do?

I’m upstairs again
I turn Netflix off
Now it’s too quiet
It’s back on again
Dammit.
I have to piss
This is getting old
Back in bed, taking deep breaths
I need to unwind or I’ll never sleep
I start thinking about every stupid thing I’ve done since 1st grade
That helps nothing
At some point, I fall asleep

I snap awake with a searing leg cramp
Practiced at this, I scream in pain on the inside
I throw the covers off
Force my locked, screaming foot to the floor
The calf muscle finally relaxes
I sit on the edge of the bed
Staring at the dark
I’m wide awake again
and I have to piss
Crawl back into bed
The absurdity has worn me down
I finally sleep

The first of 3 alarms go off at 7
No fucking way
I shut it off
I was having another of those dreams
About a person I knew, at a job I no longer have
I wasn’t having fun
if memory serves
I try to shake it off
When my head hits the pillow
It starts again, I can’t turn it off
I sit up and try to chase it away
Exhausted, I sleep again
I pick up where I left off
How is this possible?

My last alarm goes off at 8
I need to get up
Why?
You’re unemployed
Where the hell do you have to be?
Good point
I put my head down again
I wake again at 9:30
That was the best 90 minutes of sleep all night
and now I have to get up

Downstairs I go
Coffee is in order
The aroma pleases me
but does not wake me
I’m more tired than when I went to bed
I ponder over my steaming mug
the knowledge that in 13 short hours…

I get to do it all over again

Instant regret

I don’t know why I bother, I truly don’t.

I was on Facebook yesterday and Boston.com, along with every news and pseudo-news outlet ran a piece on the firing of Roseanne and the cancellation of her show. It certainly was the topic of the day.

Against my better judgment, I posted a comment about the firing. I strongly feel that the way bad behavior is handled is extremely uneven in this country and I felt compelled to voice that sentiment. So, without weighing in on the content of the remark or “tweet” in question I remarked that it is hypocritical to cancel the show but not to cancel or censure certain shows like The View, Late Night with Jimmy Kimmel and Samantha Bee, who routinely say horrible things about Conservatives and our President in particular. My comment was very to the point and politely stated, my point is that it is handled differently depending on what side is being attacked.

You, as my reader may disagree with me but I’m pretty comfortable with my statement.

I was immediately attacked as a racist, a Nazi, a “Trumpite” and a “Snowflake”(If you can imagine that). It became immediately clear that of all of the vitriolic responses were as if they never actually read my comment. I never endorsed her comment, it was despicable. I never said that it’s ok to liken African Americans to Apes. I simply stated that it’s a different ball game when someone attacks a conservative.

I am proud of myself for not lowering myself to the level of the commenters. I didn’t devolve into name-calling or the exchange of insults. I implored my commenters to read my comment again and finally turned off notifications.

I’m disgusted with the whole thing and I’m even more upset with myself for not refraining. See, I forgot that we no longer live in a country where reasonable discourse and civil conversation are allowed, even encouraged. We now live in an age of butt-hurt, overly sensitive and overly opinionated people who never learned to open their ears and eyes before growing “keyboard balls” and calling anyone who doesn’t agree with them names.

I am so glad to be a part of the blogging community. The people I encounter here are rational, tolerant and capable of disagreeing without long-term consequences. You all are truly special.

As for Facebook? I think I may have made my last comment ever on that platform

the continuing saga of the misplaced morning wood

I’ve posted a few times about my Mom’s boyfriend. I’ve had some fun at both of their expense. I try to keep it light but it’s actually a pretty sensitive subject for me because I have some concerns.

If you have been following me you know the story. My mother has a boyfriend. He is a decent enough guy, my mother likes him and that is what should matter to me. After burying 2 husbands in a matter of 3 years I encourage her to be happy by any means, including a dating website. After enduring several lunch dates with many men who hadn’t updated their profile pics in 10 years, dodging “I love you’s” via email and politely declining very inappropriate advances she settled on Dave. Not knowing, of course, that he carries more baggage than a Kardashian on a day trip.

It didn’t bother either of them that Dave lived almost 2 hours away. They hit it well enough that Dave was invited to stay the weekend when he came over, because of the distance. I warned my mother, perhaps uninvited, that this was a terrible idea. Once the guy had stayed at your house, you have just gone from a casual, “let’s see where this is going” situation to something else entirely. I was right, the shine is off the apple and she sees it. His issues are coming to the fore.

He makes cracks about the “ghosts” of my father and her second husband. He is very “handsy” and touchy-feely. He doesn’t like her wearing her wedding ring. He constantly makes subtle “jokes” about moving in. 2 weeks ago he tried to lay the wood to my mother at 6 am, prompting a big argument and the impromptu packing of his shit and leaving. I was almost happy, although I kept it to myself and focused on my mother. Historically, she suppresses her emotions and I couldn’t tell if she was ok or not. I was hoping that Mr. Grab ’em by the p*%^y was gone for good. In the days that followed, Mom confided in me her issues with him. She was concerned about the groping, the lack of boundaries, the jealousy and, here’s a new one, her lack of physical attraction to him. I told her that she should take advantage of the break they are on and assess how much these things really bother her. What did she do? She made a lunch date with a persistent fellow she had met before she settled on Dave. She likes him a lot.

And then Dave called, begging for a second chance. And she gave it to him. Now she’s confused what to do and I can’t help her.

He is being better, I will give him that. He is less handsy and more careful with the morning wood (at least so I am told I personally stay away from that topic unless it is brought up). But the underlying issues are still there. Mom is still concerned that there isn’t much of a “spark” (they’re 72, compromise will you?) and he is pressing to make long-term plans with her such as traveling and buying property together and making subtle cracks about moving in. Mom wants none of these things with him and refuses to say something. I want to. I know something is up and when I see him I almost want to tell him what she won’t, it’s only fair. Every time I see him I think to myself here comes Mr. Dead Man Walking. I don’t even want to get close to him because I know it’s temporary.

Of course, there’s another reason that I have cooled off on him. Last month he and my Mom went to California. He wanted to visit his son and my mother’s family is concentrated in the same area so it was a good opportunity to see them. They got along well by all accounts and had a good time. When they returned, my mom was curious what her cousin, whose opinion she respects deeply, thought of Dave. The response was staggering. Apparently, they liked him at first, they later found him to be whiny, selfish and a bit petty. One nugget that my mother regrets relaying to me is that he made a point, when mom left the room, to mention that he’d like a little more privacy but her son (me) is always there. I admit, I fixated on that. Mom heard all she needed to hear to decide that he’s not the one and I was just plain pissed.

Apparently, I’m just a 240-pound cock-block to this guy. Excuse the fuck out of me!?! Forgive me for standing in the way of him walking around our living room at 2 in the afternoon swinging his dick like a yo-yo but yes I do live there so fuck you, buddy. I’m sorry that my life collapsed and that I am sick with nowhere else to go but I do live here so deal with it. This revelation has changed how I act around him. Of course, I’m not supposed to know but I am colder than my ex-wife’s side of the bed to this guy now. I wonder if he know’s that it’s actually my house, per her will. Maybe I’ll work that nugget into conversation over coffee someday.

I saw mom earlier today and asked her what she was up to. She has a lunch date with another guy. I’m just going to sit back and enjoy the show for now.

 

 

Kicking the can down the road

Six and a half years ago I came out of anesthesia to find myself in a room draped in plastic, many beeping machines, looking up at a Doctor wearing enough protection to make me think that I had been exposed to Miley Cyrus. Through a mask, he asked me when the last time I had worked.

I clumsily and foggily replied, “what day is it?”

“It is Tuesday evening” he informed me.

“Monday.” It was coming back to me. I had worked until noon on Monday, my donor and I received a huge sendoff (we worked together) and we were at Tufts Medical Center at 6:30 AM the next morning. Deb and I had sat with our families, who made nervous small talk until we were called in for prep. Soon we would be counting down from 10 and hoping to open my eyes again in about 6-8 hours.

“Admirable”, he said with an obnoxious sarcasm, “Have you ever been on dialysis?”

“No, thank God.”

“Sir, we have guidelines for dialysis. A number, if you will, that determines how due, or overdue in cases such as yours, a patient is for dialysis. A typical number would be approximately 10. For conversation’s sake would you care to learn what your number was?

“Sure, indulge me.” His snarky attitude was pissing me off.

“110.” He paused for effect. “I’m glad to see you doing so well sir but your behavior was nothing short of reckless. Please be more careful in the future.” He then patted me on the shoulder with his gloved hand and left the room.

Other people may have been concerned, maybe even felt bad. But what I heard was a chorus of soccer hooligans yelling “YEAH, you pulled it off you wanka! Good job mate!” I had avoided dialysis. Reckless or not, I didn’t give a shit. I did it. His dire warning wasn’t even the first for me. Approximately one month before my surgery I received an email from my doctor. Most doctor’s don’t send personal emails.

Your lab work suggests you may be in danger of a heart attack. Please, Bill if you feel chest pain, shortness of breath or light-headed admit yourself immediately.

I read it and dismissed it. I assured myself that I will make it. Repeat after me, I told myself, Death before dialysis. I was kicking the can down the road and I didn’t care.

I have had Kidney disease since I was a teenager. I have met every single challenge with enough denial and/or bravery to move on to the next obstacle. I always knew that a transplant may be in my future and I even prepared myself for the possibility of death. One thing I refused to entertain was dialysis. The snarky doctor, despite his attempts to minimize my accomplishment, had actually validated it. I had vanquished my enemy.

Until now.

After yesterday’s appointment, my Doctor’s best estimate is that I am 3-6 months from dialysis. My transplant has finally reached the unpleasant milestone of failed. The moment that I have fought, nay, railed against since my diagnosis is upon me. I can’t wrap my head around it.

I am an exceedingly logical person. I believe that when you do the work you reap the benefits. I believe that if an expert says A + B = C then I will do my best to add them properly. In this case, A and B were to strictly follow my Doctor’s orders regarding nutrition, sodium intake, alcohol and caffeine and exercise. C would be the result, C would be extending the life of my transplanted kidney another 3 years (we had this conversation 6 months ago. I did it, all of it, and it accomplished fucking nothing and now I have to finally accept that my life is only going to be as long as the extension cord in my dialysis center.

joke break…

A man and his wife are discussing end of life matters. The husband loudly declares
“when it’s my time, I refuse to be glued to some machine living off of a bottle!”
The wife unplugged the TV, threw his beer in the trash and left the room.

I used to love that joke. It’s dark and twisted and completely inappropriate just like me. It also played into, or to be more clear downplayed, my crippling fear of dialysis

I don’t fear a lot. I always look to the bright side. I haven’t dwelt on the number of years and instead have focused on quality of life. Dialysis represents to me the end of quality of life. It is forcing me to (finally) accept my limitations and to admit that I am finally sick and, to touch on a familiar theme, I’m going to look it.
It represents a complete lack of freedom and independence. I may not have plans to spontaneously pack my shit and just go somewhere but in 3 to 6 months the fantasy is just that. I will need to plan everything based on that extension cord.
I can look forward to infections, setbacks and more hospital stays because dialysis patients always get sick from treatments.
I view it as death’s waiting room. Sit, listen to the machine whirring, wonder where you are on the transplant list (if I’m even eligible), read a book about how it’s not so bad and wait for the next shoe to drop.

I’m not ready for that shoe to drop. Despite how wrong I may be wrong about a lot of what I just said, I can’t change my mind about it. I hate it and I’m scared.

I know that I’ll pull through this as I have everything else. But I’m not there yet. Right now, I’m mad and scared. I know myself enough to know that I have to get this out of my system, regardless of whether my blog has read like a Sylvia Plath poem lately. If I don’t get my anger out of my system I will be unable to move on to fucking dealing with it and moving on with my life. See, I know that overly dwelling on the future only cheats me out of the present but at the moment I don’t see the future in a bright light. I need to finish this blog, go outside and scream with clenched fists some FUCK YOU’s to the universe for kicking me in the ball again and then, and only then, move on to what I’m going to do next.

If you have made it this far, this is not a post fishing for sympathy. I don’t need anyone to offer uplifting sentiment. I just need to get this off of me because I want to move on, get back to a position of strength, loosen up and find Superman again. Before the Kryptonite of Dialysis defeats me.

Thanks for listening…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Labels are for boxes

Superman is about to delve into previously unchartered waters…Politics. I briefly touched on it in a piece I did about civil war, inspired by a wonderful post by Bojana about her experience in war-torn former Yugoslavia. It’s amazing by the way check it out. here https://bloggingwithbojana.com/2018/03/07/welcome-to-absurdistan/

I have largely stayed away from politics in my blogs. After 9 months and almost 200 posts I now feel that I have established myself as a reasonable, civil guy and I have a confession to make. I am a Conservative…of sorts and I voted for Donald Trump. I believed in enough of what he wanted to accomplish to give him my vote. Immigration reform, crime reform, smaller government, a balanced budget, a secure border and the future of the Supreme court matter a great deal to me. On those, he secured my vote. Let the unfollowing begin. Or let cooler heads prevail. If you read to the end, you will likely agree that I am not a typical Conservative at all. Here’s the kicker, I’m not looking for your approval I’m just going to stimulate some conversation here.

I know some beautiful, smart and compassionate people that voted for both Donald Trump and Hillary. I love them all and I don’t judge or hate. I am in the minority. Our country is hopelessly divided. We have always had an ideological divide, but it has become intensely personal. If you are on FB you will see nothing but Vitriol spewed on both sides of the spectrum and it is so unhealthy on so many levels. My generation taught me that there are certain subjects never to discuss, but I disagree. Religion, sexuality, and Politics can be discussed if we were also taught the art of rational, intelligent discourse. Repeat after me, “I disagree but I respect your opinion.” Instead, we close our ears and raise our voice. We rear back on our heels and defend, for fear of losing, when instead we should be chin on hands, listening to each other. Tragically, we care more about “our side” than we do about real change.

“My side” is traditional William F. Buckley and Ronald Reagan conservatism. I revert to that point in history because if you use the word “Conservative” now you will likely invoke the iconic MAGA hat worn by the “Trump Supporter.” The very words ”Trump Supporter” are hissed by liberals in the same manner that the Pope may utter “Contraception”. The words have become synonymous with Racist, Xenophobe, Nazi, Fascist and Bully. That’s not me, I’m happy to report, but it is a reality that a lot of Trump era conservatives live up to it and it’s a shame. I am tolerant, empathetic, polite and educated enough to agree to disagree with someone without shouting them down, closing my ears when I should be listening, or ignoring or exaggerating “facts” in order to win one for my side.

I am saddened that I have to avoid the subject of politics altogether for fear of being attacked. I’m actually pretty liberal on social matters. I believe in love between two people regardless of gender; I believe in immigration if it is done legally. I believe in law and order but not martial law. I believe in concealed carry but see no reason for anyone to own an AR-15. Go ahead and try to force this square peg into a round hole, you can’t do it. Criticize me, I can handle it. Just do it constructively, don’t shout and pay attention when I speak. I deserve that courtesy.

Roughly 24% of Americans identify as Republicans, approximately 30% identify as Democrats. What is left is the Independent voter. I identify as an Independent, despite the federal govt’s alternate term of “undecided voter”. I share this political distinction with approximately half of the country and I would like to think that we are independent because of our insistence on thinking for ourselves. We reject party politics and hate labels. But labels are all we have now. Whether it is driven by the media, George Soros, Hollywood, a basic lack of education, short attention spans or the absolute lack of critical thinking but we are mired in labels.

Republican, Democrat, Progressive, Liberal, Tea-Party, and Right-winger. Labels, Labels, Labels. Despite the numbers I stated in the previous paragraph, I see 15% of the country at the very far right, 15% at the very far left and 70% right in the middle, forced to pick between two candidates that seem to satisfy enough of us. But the extremes have defined Republicans and Democrats and forced those willing, not me, to be forcefully compartmentalized. Those unfortunate voters are the true Republicans, the true Democrats, and the Independents. The 15% on each side quarrel over extreme ideology and the rest of us vote our conscience and our wallets, the order of those 2 is up to you.

At the end of the day, it is all bullshit. Neither party of our broken two-party system stand for what they used to, the lines are so blurred and the aisle dividing the houses of Congress is as wide as the ocean and it doesn’t matter because no one is reaching across it. Fulfilling campaign promises and getting reelected take precedent over real legislative accomplishment. There used to be moderates, who believed that there was a compromise to be made for the better of all. They’re either gone or too afraid to stand up for fear of reprisal. If you watched the SOTU you clearly saw that when the President had his applaud moments, entire sides of the rooms respectively stood or sat with their arms crossed. Some Democrats were so resistant to standing for anything the president said they sat even when families of murdered children were honored. It was disgusting, and it said it all. Fear of breaking labels, that’s all it is.

What is a typical Democrat and Republican after all? Where does being a Democrat end and a Progressive begin? Where does a Republican end a Tea-Party Conservative begin?
Democrats, commonly known now as “Liberals” have always considered themselves the party of the working man. They opposed corporate greed and the Industrial Military Complex, and strongly focused on social issues. Today, the Democrats have become the party of bloated government, high taxes, massive regulation, and throwing tremendous amounts of money at problems in hopes that they go away. The focus of some extreme modern democrats on trans-gender bathrooms, abortion, open borders, the suppression of speech that offends their beliefs and the eschewing of religion has earned many to the far-left the label of “Progressive”. A progressive believes in social engineering, “hug-it-out’s” for terrorists, legislating income redistribution and, generally speaking, dwell on utopian ideals. I find great hypocrisy in the Democrats of today. Example, how can you champion yourselves the party of equality, while at the same time propping up Muslims who routinely deny women the most basic of rights, subject underage girls to marriage and stone homosexuals to death?

Republicans were traditionally known as the party of “family values”, believed in a strong military, a market economy, personal accountability, and were strongly aligned with the Evangelical Christians. Republicans are no better than their Democrat peers in their obstructionism, failure to reach across the aisle and to adhere to their core principles. I contend, despite my own identification as a Conservative, that the Republicans have drifted farther off course than the Democrats. Today, the Republicans are completely off message. They are trying to solve the complex problem of immigration through massive arrests. They are as guilty of allowing jobs to flee this country as the Democrats. Their alliance with the extreme-right Evangelicals is shameful. Their refusal to stand up to their major campaign donors, the NRA and the Pharmaceutical industries and their lobbyists have left them ineffective and blatant hypocrites who are blocking even the discussion of real reform on major issues. Also prone to hypocrisy, they lost me when they cut benefits to Veterans while touting themselves as the supporters of the military.

Instead of fixing the problems before them, the powers that be distract us by telling us what to hate and who to blame for it. Hence the labels. I for one am tired of it. I am a Conservative that was forced to vote for Donald Trump. It took every fiber of my body to do it, I almost skipped the vote altogether. I find that he cares about some things that matter to me while Hillary represents nothing I believe in. So I again voted against a candidate and not for one. I am not a Nazi, a Fascist, a Racist or a Sexist. But I stand to be labeled as one.

https://endsandbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/ a blogger I admire, posted recently about a reaction to Conservatives and their bad behavior, in particular, being called a “typical liberal.”
https://endsandbeginningsblog.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/typical-liberal/
I commented on the post, not realizing that I was having a visceral reaction to the post. I do disagree with a lot of what was said, but I felt like I was being called out. That wasn’t the case and I gave a balanced response along the lines of what I have written here. At the end of the day, I wanted to convey that  I am not a “typical conservative”. Even if that was the case, why do I care?

Because we are living in a fractured, divided culture and we are all on edge. Half the country is yelling at the other half and nothing is being resolved. The big picture is that the division in our society, as manifested in our behavior towards each other is based on all of us feeling that we are not being heard, so we speak louder.

My mother always said, “when you are speaking you are not listening.” I would further extrapolate on that and say if you are shouting you aren’t helping. Step out of your comfort zone, step out of our compartmentalized belief system, question what you’re being fed by the media, embrace another’s opinion. They’re not wrong, they’re just different. No one is smarter and no one is dumber. At least it looks that way until we speak. The way I see it, if we reshape our ways of communicating, it’s possible our leaders will find their lost direction in our new one.

Labels are for envelopes, not for people. We’re better than that. One love, baby.