Mad World and Comfortably Numb

As you can imagine, I listen to a lot of music in the car and with satellite radio my musical choices are much more diverse. And right now, I would say two songs really capture the mood of the world right now.

First up is ‘Mad World’ by Tears for Fears. Written and recorded in 1982 it’s really timely though a bit quaint considering the big fear back in the early 1980’s was nuclear war and total Armageddon. There was so much talk about just blowing everything up and if so, why live in the first place. Today it’s let a virus run rampant then let someone else clean up the mess but not too much so stock portfolios stay fat and happy.

Second up is ‘Comfortably Numb’ by Pink Floyd. Written and recorded in 1979 for Pink Floyd’s album ‘The Wall’, it’s about a rock star numbing himself out from the pressures of fame and just total overload. This song was voted Number One on the Classic Rewind Channel’s Top 500 songs of the Cassette Era by listeners.

I think of the contrasts of both of these songs and not just in titles. ‘Mad World’ would give an image of people running around screaming their heads off then just plopping down on the ground and saying to hell with it. ‘Comfortably Numb’ would just be people sitting in their houses numbed out to the world. I can see both songs as perfectly normal responses to the nutso world we live in right now. I will just say ‘Comfortably Numb’ is best listened to when you’re higher than a kite on good pot.

But I’m going to get defiant and go a bit punk-rock here: no one should have to live in a mad world and get comfortably numb to deal with it. There is NO need to hang the threat of nuclear Armageddon or plague over the world simply because you can and it benefits your stock portfolio. And there is NO need for people to numb themselves out to deal with people’s bullshit that shouldn’t exist in the first place. We need to stop rewarding and tolerating people in positions of power and influence who are not fit for the job. And people need to pull their heads out of their asses and start giving a damn about their fellow human beings, even if they’re poor and don’t have the same color skin as you do.

Over the many years of my life I have heard the really dumb-ass argument that things shouldn’t be dull, boring, or predictable. Not everything should be that way of course though trying telling that to these dumb-asses. But things should work well and problems should be solved with a one-and-done attitude.

Over the many years of my life, I have felt like the assholes of this world would love to just take a shit on me because I care about doing things right and making things work for people. For example, when I worked the phones I took the time to listen to people and try and solve their problems in one phone call. I took ownership as we used to say and a lot of my fellow co-workers did, too. Yet the dumb-asses that we all worked with who wanted their hands held got the most attention and tried to make the lives of me and my co-workers a living hell. I’m sick and tired of people like that- people who are either stupid or just flat-out mean and cruel and don’t give a shit. Tolerance doesn’t extend to people who sure as hell don’t treat you and other people well.

Maybe someone reading this will try to write this off as the rantings of a middle-aged bitch. No, I’m not ranting. I’m telling the damn truth and calling out bullshit and incompetence. And I’ve been so damn reluctant to do this because I was afraid that bullshit-incompetent assholes had power over me. They don’t and that’s because I’m not giving it to them. I’m taking it away even though they probably didn’t know they had it in the first place.

If you think that boredom and predictability are bad, take up bungee jumping or skydiving. Don’t bitch and moan about things going well and working day in and day out. I would climb Mount Everest if I thought it would give me a life where a lot of shit didn’t happen because of some asshole-morons who can’t think their way out of a paper bag. Most of all, I’m tired of that kind of behavior being rewarded. Dumb-ass behavior fucks things up and leaves a mess for other people to clean up.

I want to live in a world where songs like ‘Mad World’ and ‘Comfortably Numb’ are just songs you can trip out to and enjoy and not use as a coping mechanism. Coping skills aren’t positive traits. They’re survival skills that just keep you going but will eventually wear you down because coping doesn’t solve problems. Action solves problems and giving a shit solves problems. And yes, that might piss off some asshole. And to that I say: Good. It’s about damn time the dumb-asses of this world get called out on their shit.

Describing My Anxiety

Introduction:

I wrote this after several days of not being able to write at all. I had a financial issue I needed to sort out along with trying to deal with the news the rising covid-19 infection rates and I just had to keep myself from going into a overload-meltdown. Understanding something isn’t a cure for a problem but for me it brought my anxiety under control enough for me to focus and get through it.

Describing My Anxiety

I have lived with anxiety all my life and I would describe it like my mind is constantly running at a hundred to two-hundred miles an hour. It’s a constant run of thoughts, feelings, simulations, potential scenarios, and a jumble of facts, figures, movie quotes, song lyrics, and my imagination. For me, this heightened brain activity gives me a sensitivity to the world around me. I’m constantly taking in information and thinking my way through it all. It’s why I love routine and order amid the mostly-chaotic nature of my mind because routines can bring about a bit of calm to the never-ending race.

Now anxiety is seen as a burden these days, and a disability, too. But I am going to adopt the philosophy of the young Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg who has called her diagnosis of Asperger’s Syndrome (a form of autism) a superpower. She says her diagnosis gives her a clarity and an ability to see beyond the surface of things in this world. I love the fact that it gives her zero tolerance for bullshit.

I like routines and when my routines get knocked out of whack my mind hits the ‘panic’ button and begins to race like mad. I have tremendous difficulty concentrating on anything and worst of all, a lot of old voices come alive inside my head telling me all sorts of all awful crap.

I’ve been wondering why those old voices have echoed in my head for so long and yesterday morning I had a thought: what if my anxiety was taken advantage of both consciously and unconsciously?

Let me start my answer by saying my anxiety has made me severely adverse to conflict and at the same time it’s also made me a real people-pleaser. This is because any heavy emotion or stimulus can overwhelm me and early on in life I learned if people didn’t come at me hard and were happy with me then I wouldn’t have to deal with that stimulus overload. The problem with this is that people who aren’t sensitive to stimulus can sense others who are and take advantage of it.

Unconsciously people may take advantage of anxiety when they feel a person who is different from them needs to be put into a certain place and stay there in silence. This is done with the best of intentions because they feel it would be best if a ‘sensitive’ person was protected from the harshness of the world. This of course is total fucking bullshit because putting someone into a cage just to keep them from experiencing life itself is wrong. Sensitive people are not weak in any way, shape, or form. I know I’m sure as hell not that weak.

Consciously is when people take advantage of an anxious conflict-adverse people-pleaser to get them to do what they want and to hell with that other person’s feelings. These people will shame, guilt-trip, and gaslight a sensitive-anxious person into doing what they want them to do and to serve them above all others. And if the sensitive-anxious person says no then the threat of the shit hitting the fan is rolled out hard.

So what do you do about this kind of shit?

Establish boundaries and don’t take shit from people. People can mouth off and say and do whatever they want but I’ve learned I don’t have to listen to it, or worse, believe their lies and bullshit. I don’t have to let anyone put me down as overly-sensitive or be told I’m weak and need to be protected.

I believe you don’t really need to announce your boundaries but just put them up and keep them there. Now the only problem with these boundaries is they can create a wall that hides anxiety and sensitivity. And when that wall comes down then it can be seen as pride coming down. That’s not true in any way, shape, or form. Sensitive-anxious people don’t let pride keep them silent. It’s fear of getting shit on that keeps them silent. If you don’t want to help someone, just come out and say that then walk away. Don’t place terms and conditions on help, especially to a sensitive-anxious person because they can take that really hard. That’s where a lot of echoes as I call them come from now.

There’s nothing wrong with having a mind that runs faster than normal or to be more sensitive to the world around you than most people. And most of all, there’s no need to hide your thoughts and feelings from the world just because someone has been an asshole in response to that.

In all likelihood, my mind won’t shut down until the very end of my life. Until then, I just get to ride the racetrack inside my head at high speed. But I’m the driver of the car there, not anyone else.

A Generation X Guide to Staying at Home (if you’re lucky enough to do so)

The demographic known as Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980) has been referred to as a bunch of feral, lazy slackers. Feral because we came home alone and were called latchkey kids. Lazy because when we came home we ate and either vegged out in front of the tv, played video games, sat in our rooms listening to music and reading books, or were just alone with our thoughts. And you know what? We survived and also knew if you put your headphones on and cranked the music up loud enough, you didn’t have to hear your parents raging arguments.

Earlier in the year when the first lockdowns happened, well-intentioned morons talked about learning new hobbies or finally getting things done around the house. Hardcore Gen X’ers on the other hand were like, “Yeah, that’s not going to happen.” Or at least we knew it wouldn’t happen without people bitching and whining about being bored and having their precious freedom taken from them.

It’s not freedom that was taken from you, assholes. It was an attempt to save lives. And for those of us who would have LOVED to have been in lockdown, your whiny shit makes us want to beat the living crap out of you. I mean, if I had the financial means to do a complete lockdown and work from home, I’d have done it in a heartbeat.

How hard is it to amuse yourself? One thing everyone else has that us Gen X’er’s didn’t have back in our day was the Internet. And everyone else is a freaking idiot for not realizing the internet may be the greatest tool for amusing yourself ever invented. I think of the potential of the internet if I was in lockdown like this:

Unlimited music: If you don’t have the original recording you can just stream it to your heart’s content. All those old albums you had to sell in order to eat… they’re at your fingertips now.

Unlimited movies and tv shows: If you were lucky Gen X’er you had cable but even that meant you had to watch what was on or find something else to do. And sadly because programmers back then were morons, we watched a lot of the same stuff over and over. People have choices as to what to binge like we didn’t so if you bitch about too many choices… find something else to do.

Books and stuff to read: A lot of Gen X’er’s are hardcore readers. We love libraries and we miss book stores like we miss record stores and enclosed malls. So imagine an ability these days to read on Kindles or tablets. To us, that’s like Star Trek come to life and we’re totally down with that.

Now, Generation X weren’t totally stuck in the house. Occasionally we decided to see if the sun was still shining and if the sky wasn’t on fire (we lived with a lot of fear of nuclear war and sci-fi dystopia). And if it wasn’t a raging nuclear war outside, we walked around or rode our bikes, or sat outside with our boomboxes listening to the radio or cassettes, or played Frisbee in the street with someone always keeping watch out for cars. Trying doing that today without someone seriously thinking about calling the cops on you or something.

And if you were really lucky and you had a car, you went for a ride. You put on the music and cranked it up with your friends. You grabbed some fast-food and maybe hung out somewhere or took it back home.

So when a hardcore Generation X person hears another generation young or old bitching about a lockdown to save lives, we’re just shrugging our shoulders and muttering under our masks. Because a lot of us haven’t had that luxury of being able to work from home and lock down because of the grinding jobs we have that suck. We are experts on the grind and we know it sucks.

So here’s how to stay at home Generation X-Style (legwarmers not included):

1) Just fix yourself something to eat and not give a damn about what anyone else might think of your food choices. Generation X lived on stuff invented in a lab and we’re still not glowing in the dark or hollowed-out brain-eating zombies.

2) Find something to watch, read, listen to, or play and stick with it. If you don’t want to start something new, then don’t. You won’t turn your brain to mush by watching, listening to, reading, or playing something over and over. Instead, you’ll have an amazing ability to quote huge chunks of dialogue and song lyrics.

3) We’ve seen all the post-apocalyptic disaster movies so we know how this will end if you don’t start wearing your masks, washing your hands, and staying the fuck at home when you can. Spoiler alert: it doesn’t end well even if you survive like Sarah Connor or Mad Max.

Finally, do NOT play Global Thermonuclear War with an AI computer: you won’t win. And also remember Google was invented by two Gen X’er’s.

Dear Universe

Yesterday I was driving along and feeling a bit bummed out because the lunch rush wasn’t as busy as I wanted it to be. Then the song ‘Alive and Kicking’ by Simple Minds came on the radio and I cranked it up (I was in between rides so I was alone in the car). And as it got to the end, I said the following out loud:

“Dear Universe, if you’re trying to tell me something, I’m listening.”

Now I’m not a card-carrying member of any religious denomination and I’m not one to get too heavily into the inner workings of the Universal Powers-That-Be. But if asked, I am a believer in a higher power. And every so often, I think we’re given a glimpse or a look into that higher power and it feels good when it happens.

Personally, I don’t subscribe to the idea of a higher power with God as a bearded old white man sitting on a huge throne playing favorites, hurling shit onto people at random, or being impossible to please. To me, God is a force of good energy that people can tap into because I feel more at peace and free of fear and sadness when I pray for others in need. I tell God I’m fine and that I’ll always figure something out sooner or later. I ask Him instead to help out people in real need, people who are hurting and feeling sad and lonely.

I’m forever grateful that my parents didn’t raise me with a strict interpretation of religion because I think would have turned out even more messed up than I did. My mother was raised to think having an original thought was wrong and that she was never good enough. Instead, she raised me to believe having original thoughts was not wrong and that I was good enough for her.

For me, I believe in not just thinking good thoughts and doing good things all the time, but doing that in addition to reaching out to people in pain and acknowledging their pain. One of the worst things I’ve ever gone through along with millions of other people is feeling like my pain wasn’t worth acknowledging or talking about. When we bury that in silence it can fester like an untreated wound and with some people, that can result in some serious damage up to taking themselves out of the world altogether.

There is NO nobility or need for suffering. It happens but it’s not something worthy or noble, or any bullshit like that. If someone is suffering you do something about it, especially if you’re in a position of power and authority to do so. This is what pisses me off so damn much about the people still in Congress and the White House who haven’t done jack-fucking shit about people dying from COVID-19 and all those who’ve had their economic livelihoods kicked out from under them.

Whenever I begin to feel down and the Universe sends me a pick-me-up, I’m eternally grateful. And I wish those pick-me-up’s on other people who need them. Because to me, the Universe wants you know it’s okay to feel down but that you don’t have to feel down forever. Nor do you have to feel scared and alone. And you don’t have to fear some made-up image of God being a random vengeful spirit that you have to appease constantly. Because I think that’s a human invention and it’s never worked for me. Instead, I’ll tell people it’s okay to feel the way you do but realize that emotions are like the oceans that cover seventy-percent of this planet: there are tides that come and go, storms that come and go, and huge moments of stunning beauty and clarity.

I think my mother felt like her moments of joy and happiness were stolen, and that she paid for them with misery she didn’t need to feel for as long as she did. I’m forever grateful she didn’t raise me like that though even as a child I could sense her reserve when we were doing something fun or something that made her happy and calm. I promise to honor her memory by not letting moments of joy and happiness feel stolen, but are just a part of life itself along with the darker and sadder moments, too. Because one of the biggest things I learned in my life is the Universe likes balance.

So Dear Universe,

Thanks for sharing moments of clarity and joy with me, for the pick-me-up’s that come in many different ways, and for being there with me when it’s dark and cold in my heart and soul. In return, I pray for others to have these moments of joy and clarity, and comfort in the darkness.

Change Is Scary, Hit the Road Instead

The thought ‘change is scary’ came to me this morning as I laid in bed in the dark of the morning. My first reply to it though was, “Nah, really?” I would love to do an Instagram-influencer worthy post of positivity but I that’s not going to happen.

As we come to the end of this year and into the dark of the winter, I’m sure people are looking to put some sort of label on this year other than ‘DANGER!’. I think my label would be the Year of Change. But I don’t think there is a single person out in this world who didn’t experience some form of change that just well and truly sucked.

The question here then is this: how do we deal with this change?

I can think of several ways, such as a big middle finger in the air followed by nothing but the taillights, a muttered ‘same old shit’ as I go along with the changes even though they suck or have a shitty origin story, or just let out a deep breath and say ‘what the fuck’.

As I was driving around yesterday listening to 80’s New Wave and alternative, all I could think was that even though the music was great back then, it was also an escape from the shit-show that was always happening, too. The difference between then and now is that back then we weren’t bringing out the dead, Republican conservative assholes were still mostly harmless, and the real fear was some jackass in the White House or the Kremlin was going to push the big red button and blow us all to Hell.

So how did we deal with it back then? Is there something that can be learned?

I think we dealt with it back then by knowing it was going to happen. I always felt like we knew things were going to crater and bottom out sooner or later. We’d get through school but not really know what we wanted to do after that. We turned inward a lot, especially my generation because we were pretty self-sufficient to begin with.

That self-sufficiency makes you adaptable to a rolling shit-show in a lot of ways but it can grind you down from time to time, too. And I think that’s what I’m fighting against along with a lot of other people. I think a lot of people these days are fed up with bullshit that they’re beginning to realize they hadn’t been a hollow threat by people who said they knew what they were doing. They’re realizing that the assholes of this world didn’t know what the fuck they were doing even though they had the power to shit-can jobs and run off with the money. But what the assholes of this world didn’t realize was how resilient people are, even when they’re dead-dog fucking tired and hurting like Hell. It’s why I feel like there’s a shift in people that will hopefully stay that way after this pandemic is in decline.

It’s this resiliency that gives me strength. I tell myself I’ve been pulling rabbits out of my ass for a long time to keep my own shit afloat and I can do it again. There may be slow-money days on the road but I also know that can change, too. Heck, if you want an unpredictable job do what I do for a living (Uber driving). It wasn’t as unpredictable before this pandemic began but now it’s even more so. But it’s a job that can reward resiliency and tenacity.

Because despite my shitty mood today, I still feel a need to kick some ass. Or at least let the words flow here and do the things I need to do today. Will my day be perfect? Hell no. Perfect days are very few and far between as are moments of clarity where everything comes together in one perfect moment of sight and sound. Both thoughts are okay to have because as long as the music is out there, the road will open up.

There’s a line from a song I love that’s been going through my head for the last few days and I think it’s more than true than ever:

As the road opens up in front of my eyes

The only limitation is in my mind

“The Road” By The Alarm (songwriters Harry Macdonald and Jack Mc Allister)

So if you think change is scary that’s okay. If you want to shut out the asshole-voices in this world who will try to put you down for making changes in your life, or will cheer you as changes put you on your ass, block them out with those lines I just quoted above. It’s not bullshit to say the only limitations are in your mind. It’s the truth of life itself.

Shifting Time

I will say over the last eight months I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when something is eating at me and finding out what it is. In the past, I’d be an idiot and say everything’s fine, and don’t worry about me and all that do-dah bullshit as my late father was fond of saying. Now I’ll say everything is shit, but don’t worry about me because I can figure out what’s eating at me and what to do about it.

In the last eight months since this pandemic began, time has been seriously fucked up. Either we don’t have enough time to do anything, or we’ve had too much time on our hands. Add in an election where the losers are refusing to exit stage left like the majority of the voters told them to do, and it’s amazing we’re not all white-haired, wide-eyed freakazoids.

But one thing I will say I’ve gotten a lot better at is this: not just figuring out when something is eating at me but doing something about it. Sometimes this feels like a graceful turn down the right street. And sometimes it feels like a hard swerve to avoid some asshole coming over on you when you’ve got nowhere to go.

Last night I sat in the airport waiting lot waiting for a ride when I realized that the old days of my Uber driving are truly over. I’m switching back to nine to five days because that’s where the most money has been for me since this pandemic-shit started. Besides, the busier it is the faster the day goes.

What this means for me is getting up at five a.m., which I already do because I don’t sleep much these days. Coffee will go on and I’ll be in front of the laptop typing away by six. Then around eight-ish shower, breakfast, and on the road by nine or nine-thirty. Here’s the thing, I did this schedule over a decade ago and I got a lot of writing done then though the quality wasn’t good enough for publication. Thank goodness for the internet these days and my own personal blog-website.

Why am I writing this to you this morning?

Because last night I felt a shift in my mind and that shift was in a couple of thoughts: my old preferred Uber schedule is not going to work and two, I’ve got to make that big push on my writing career once and for all. I know where the obstacles have been for me, and I know the asshole-voices from my past are just echoes now.

For me, this feels like where I was at ten years ago. Back then I had just quit my highest-paying job because I was on the verge of a total collapse and my father’s health was in an irreversible decline. It was the right decision at the right time but since then I’ve never had that traction like with the job I left. It’s taken me a long time to realize that and accept it.

I honestly don’t think that kind of traction or certainty like I had with that job will ever happen again. And you know what? I don’t want it to. I don’t want to be on the crazy dead-run I was on for so many years and I don’t think anyone else should have to do that either. I think the last eight months have been about blasting that all to hell and despite all the pain and loss, what we’re left with is a rapidly-receding tolerance for bullshit. We may have to work jobs and schedules we don’t want to. But that doesn’t mean we have to stop thinking and feeling the way we do, or think that we have to say everything’s okay when it isn’t.

Most of all, I think we need to realize our time is truly our own. And we don’t need to go back to the way things were. There are no guarantees in life, and everything you thought was a sure thing wasn’t.

So where do we go from here?

Forward.

We drink our coffee, wake our asses up, do our paying gigs, come home and do what needs to be done. And most of all, we need to stand up and say what I said to my father many years ago: “Unless someone is signing my paycheck or paying my bills, they’ve got no say in what I do on my own time.”

I’ve known this for a long time but I want to share it with anyone who needs to hear that and commit it to memory. Time shifts constantly along with life itself. And that’s okay because the world will always keep turning. Roll with the changes, as REO Speedwagon sang so well and to hell with anyone who tries to stop you.

The Road

As the road opens up in front of my eyes

The only limitation is in my mind

From the song, ‘The Road’ by The Alarm (songwriters Harry Macdonald / Jack Mc Allister)

Over the last week or so, I felt like I was sitting at the starting line waiting to take off and write but I knew I couldn’t. I couldn’t because the third book in my non-fiction trilogy didn’t have a title I liked (the one I had was too wordy though that’s now the subtitle) and I couldn’t think of anything shorter that would fit. Then the term ‘The Road’ came to me.

The Road is like the blank page writers face every day. It’s full of possibilities both good and bad. But the reason I needed a title for my writing book that I could use in a shorthand way was to put a lot of big ideas into one place.

My relationship to writing is complicated and that’s how the idea for my writing book began a couple of years ago. It’s a long story with twists and turns and a lot of knowledge that was acquired through a lot of hard work and struggle. Also, writing has been a form of therapy and recovery for me and that’s not an easy story to tell either.

But I think the biggest obstacle I’ve had to overcome is shutting out the dumb-ass voices and echoes of people wanting to berate me for making something much more complicated than it really is. These voices are dumb-asses because they haven’t done the work I have and put in the time and effort. I know not those shit-heads rule my life but like my other two projects in this trilogy of mine, I also know how hard it is to reduce those voices to just faint echoes.

I’ve been writing seriously since I was ten years old. That’s thirty-six years and a lot of things have happened writing-wise. I’ve seen the publishing side of the business go from print to digital and beyond. I’ve seen writing styles change and trends come and go. And in just the last four years alone, I’ve seen a reckoning among writers in real-time and in public. There’s quite a story to tell even from my tiny perspective.

I know I’ll have to work my ass off to tell this story in my own way and hope that it will work for both writers and people who don’t write more than a Facebook post or a grocery list. And I know there are people who won’t sneer at me for writing in depth like I will be doing. These are the people who are interested, and at times fascinated by the writing process. I wish it was all magical fairy tales but my writing experiences are more often than not like Grimm’s Fairy Tales.

The last eight months or so would have been impossible to endure for many people without creative outlets like books, movies, tv shows, and other forms of art and media. We’ve all struggled to get a hold of our racing thoughts and raging anxiety and if we’re lucky enough, we find a book or something creative that we can grab onto and use to pull ourselves out of the storm. I’ve wanted to be a part of that world of creative endeavors all my life and have had to fight the asshole-voices who said I couldn’t do it and was a fool to do so. I have to remember that those voices are in the minority and not in my daily life.

Today I will set out to re-outline the writing book and hopefully get a start on the introduction. With this writing book I hope to be able to explain what writing is really like when you commit yourself to it, what kind of work it takes to make something come together on a page, and what writing can reveal to you about yourself and the world you live in. Since this was the last of the trilogy I came up with, it’s fitting that it’s the last book to come together.

I do want to say this: if anyone reading this thinks that writing is easy… piss off. I don’t just dash stuff off here, proofread for typos, then go out and dance like an idiot or something. I care about what I write and how I write it, and I will not take any kind of shit for that. And for any writer reading this, don’t take shit for doing something you want to do, and love on occasion.

Like the song lyric I quoted above, the blank page is the road I take daily even though I haven’t always been able to put words onto the page itself. But like the song lyric also says, the only limitations are in your mind, voices and echoes and all. Those voices and echoes can fade if you get on the road and get those wheels turning, or face the blank page and get words on there.  

Adult Imposter Here

There are times when I feel like I’m seen as an adult who is trying not to be. Case in point: a few days ago I pick up this couple from the airport, older than me (I’m forty-six and they look about twenty years older than me). They get in and the dude asks if I can go a different way to their house. I say sure because it takes the same amount of time either way. But it made me feel like that they saw me as a ‘kid’, or maybe just some lady not quite smart enough to do her job. So to age-up a little, I changed the radio station in the car from the ‘1st Wave’ channel (playing 80’s New Wave and Alternative) to the ‘Yacht Rock’ channel on Sirius XM. (Yacht Rock for the uninitiated here is music from the 1970’s and 1980’s previously termed ‘soft rock’- nice, non-threatening music about chilling out and being in and out of love).

But this ride got me thinking about how every so often I don’t feel like an adult. There’s a meme that went around saying that you look around for the adult in the room, an older, wiser adult but there is no one that meets that description. It’s when you realize you’re the older adult in the room but you don’t feel wise or comfortable in your knowledge and experience. I think this is the case for my generation, Generation X because we were also called ‘The Slacker Generation’. A generation of lazy, beer-swilling, flannel-wearing morons more interested in listening to music, getting high, or just moping around.

Not all of us turned out to be like that as it was members of our generation that invented Google and helped bring Apple back from the brink. I will say there were a fair number of what were called ‘Young Republican’ types back then- Michael J. Fox’s character on ‘Family Ties’ is a good example (and the only reason that character never made me want to shoot out the tv was he was played by Michael J. Fox, who is a really cool dude). The Young Republican types morphed into the Tea Party-Family Values crew of assholes all blow-dried and spray-tanned with a side-piece or two and abortion pills at the ready. They’re the assholes that did the run-up to the Iraq war, marshalled conservative assholes to de-throne The Chicks (formerly known as The Dixie Chicks) from the top of the country-music charts because how dare those women exercise their rights to free speech. They’re also the ones who brought the white supremacists out and tried to rebrand those motherfuckers as the ‘alt-right’. Luckily, they’re going down with the ship and I’m not feeling one bit sorry for those spineless bullies.

Back to the rest of us Gen X’ers who don’t always feel like the adult in the room even when we are. First thing: the kids love our music, movies, tv shows, and don’t pat us on the head too often. Some of them even think that we’re cool.

But I will say Generation X may be the most cynical generation ever. Why? Well, we came of age in the 1970’s so the oldest of us went from Nixon to Jimmy Carter to Ronald Regan. The second group went from Regan to Bush, Senior to Clinton. But we also went through the Cold War, the Arms Race, and our elected leaders constantly talking about having their fingers on the big red button to blow us all to hell because they thought it was a good idea to blow us to Kingdom Come rather than give the Russians any opportunity to take us over.

Okay, I will freely admit Communism sucked in a million ways, the worst probably being the lack of freedom of expression and the lack of rock ‘n’ roll music. But we knew the majority of people living under Communism were good people who took a lot of risks listening to Voice of America radio and trying to catch tv signals from Western Europe so they could watch ‘Star Trek’.

But I think despite living through all that and living through years of being resigned to being blown to hell or living in a post-apocalyptic wasteland, we weren’t seen as growing out of that. In fact, I’d say we were resigned to coming home alone, rooting around the kitchen for something to eat, and then sitting down to veg in front of the tv or stereo. We wanted to change the world and bring down the Wall (the Berlin Wall), but at the same time, we’re also the generation that’s quite fond of saying ‘same old shit’ over and over again.

In the end, I think that invisibility and resignation to the ‘same old shit’ mantra is why I sometimes feel like an adult imposter. I’m happy as hell that Biden and Harris won and people got to party in the streets. But I’m also resigned to a never-ending shit-show from the Young Republican side, a side so firmly entrenched in their bullshit I honestly don’t think even the strongest piece of heavy equipment could pry their heads out of their asses.

For me, I think I’m seen as an adult imposter because of my really-short hair with the shaved-up sides, my daily uniform of shorts and a t-shirt, and my love of music made before 1990. But I’m happy to be mostly left to my own devices because I know how to feed myself and how to find something to watch or listen to, just like a lot of us were back in the day.

Let the Day Begin

Yesterday, I celebrated along with millions of my fellow Americans the election win of a man who tells us we can turn grief into purpose, and a woman who said there are always possibilities. I’m talking about President-Elect Joseph Biden and Vice-President Elect Kamala Harris. Their words inspire and give me a hope I didn’t realize I’d been searching for the most over the last four years.

Four years ago, I set out to try to use writing to understand why I thought and felt the way I did, and to try to figure out how so many people could embrace the belief that suffering was justified as long as it didn’t affect them in some way. I wrote a lot, most of which never saw the light of day. I went deep inside my own mind and my memories to find the roots of my thoughts and feelings. It was a hard and difficult journey because I battled so much fear that I had lived with for so long.

Until yesterday, I couldn’t write the story of not just the last four years, but of all the years before until I knew what direction this country of ours was going in. Because that direction would determine the course of action I would need to take. I know there is a ton of work to be done now but it’s work for a better world, not more of a battle against greed, hatred, and corruption.

For so long I felt like I had no right to a life of my own, and worst of all, I felt like I had no right to my own thoughts and feelings and the ability to express them and deal with them. I felt genuine fear that I would crumble into nothing if I was told I had nothing to complain about, or talk about, and that I would be forever denied an embrace of comfort.

Now I’m sure some would ask me what have I done to reach out. Not much to be honest. But my main reason for that is fear of rejection, fear that I was truly not wanted at all, and that no matter what I did if I made one human mistake it would all be for nothing. I felt like I was not worthy of being myself, and that I had no ability to be there for someone else.

My greatest prayer now is that I will be given an opportunity some day to be there for someone in need. And that I will find someone who will embrace me, who will tell me I am worthy of friendship, and love. That I will find someone who will tell me it’s okay to feel whatever I feel, to think whatever I think, and that I don’t have to be alone anymore.

But for now, I will focus on my words. Words have been a part of me since I can remember as they’ve always been in my head and all around me. When I was ten years old, I discovered I could capture some of those words onto paper like other people had, and that I could create these marvelous things called stories and share them like others had done before.

So that’s what I’m doing now, sharing my stories both fiction and non-fiction. This blog will become my version of Morning Pages, of what I will use to corral the words that come to my mind as soon as I wake up every morning.

And in time, other stories will come. I haven’t been able to write in earnest because I needed one event to be determined and yes that event was what happened yesterday when this Election was called.

I don’t know exactly what the future will bring but then no one does, even those people who say they do know. No one knows what the day will bring and I can tell you right now sometimes it can be wonderful, and sometimes it can be hard as hell. More often than not, it can be a grind. But as my late father was quite fond of telling me: don’t the bastards grind you down.

What today has brought me so far is after six straight hours of sleep that I haven’t gotten in a very long time is clarity, and hopefully an end to the anxiety loops that have torn through my mind for far too long. This morning I feel like a weight has been lifted off my chest and that I can truly breathe again like so many people said yesterday. I shed tears of joy yesterday, and yes I shed a few tears of grief, too. And I’ll let those tears come when they want to. I’ll let my thoughts of happiness and joy, and of pain and grief come to me when they want to also. And I will always say to everyone:

You have every right to your thoughts and feelings, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And you have every right to deal with your thoughts and feelings in whatever way you choose to.

So let the day begin now.

Truth Wins

Last night, Uber’s Instant Pay for drivers went down. This is a feature that allows drivers to cash out their earnings by putting them immediately onto their debit cards attached to their bank accounts. It’s enormously convenient and since most of us drivers live pretty lean, essential to our survival.

Two years ago, Uber Instant Pay went down for close to week in some parts of the country. And yes, it put the hurt on a lot of drivers including myself. There was a lot of chatter on social media about this but as my late father used to say, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. For this current outage, I found a message on the main website through my laptop saying Instant Pay was down due to scheduled maintenance which I tweeted out to Uber Support. What I didn’t tweet out was this: if that was the case then why didn’t you give us a heads-up in the first place so we could plan accordingly?

In the corporate world, there would inevitably be someone who would take a foul-up like this and try to blame on the people affected by it, even though they had nothing to do with this in the first place. This ‘someone’, aka asshole, would try to make something someone else’s fault when that wasn’t the case. I call this ‘deflection’ and it needs to come to a screeching-ass halt right now.

Now you may ask, why do people do stupid shit like this? Well, I’m going to barbeque a few possibilities in reply to that question.

First, some people are just dumber than a bag of dog-shit and because of that, they can’t take any responsibility for their actions and shouldn’t be trusted with anything other than a rubber-toy hammer. These are people in positions of authority who honestly don’t know how to think at all yet they think they know everything and the price of it. And if they’re presented with evidence of their stupidity and incompetence, they can’t deal with that because they don’t have the brain cells allocated for intelligent thought in the first place.

Second, some people are just assholes who won’t take any responsibility for their fuck-ups. To them, it’s always someone else’s fault even though they were the ones in charge of the fuck-up in the first place.

Third, they honestly believe in their own version of the truth when reality clearly shows otherwise. These ‘true believers’ are dangerous because some of them can get other people to believe in their lies and bullshit right alongside them.

But the worst thing any of these asshole-types do when confronted over their lies, incompetence, and bullshit is to try and blame everyone else. In my previous wimpy-life phase, which I’m pretty much done with, I used to think these assholes were right. That somehow, someway, I should have known or sensed their bullshit was coming.

Bullshit to that. I should not have to be on constant guard against someone’s bullshit stupidity and be afraid of their deflecting that on me. I don’t have to jump up and down and rant and rave like a lunatic to make my point because I know I can be polite and courteous and present the truth. And if that makes someone squirm and wish they’d worn an adult diaper, then I hope they get to a toilet before they really shit all over the place.

If someone has a problem communicating necessary information, they need to be taken out of that position where that is a requirement. There is no need to figure out why they’re like that or if they can be changed. That sounds harsh but no one should have to take a crowbar and pry someone’s head out of their ass.

So what really needs to change here?

Stand up and be firm in the truth of the matter. I had a few seconds where I had second thoughts about tweeting out what I did to Uber. I had a few seconds of tiny fear that I would muck things up. Then I thought: no, I’m posting something I found online that THEY posted, not me. If someone comes at me for something I found I’m probably going to reply with: “Really? I found this. I didn’t post this myself. But that’s not the issue, the issue is a problem that needs to be fixed.” Years ago, I would have been shaking like a leaf in a hurricane over this. Now I’m taking deep breathes and being calm knowing that truth will win eventually.

What we need to do now is stand up and stop every attempt to deflect from the truth and blame someone innocent person for a fuck-up that wasn’t theirs. We need to say in a calm way, ‘No’. I have spent way too many years cowering in fear of incompetent fools but no more cowering. I may have a stray second thought or two but in the end, truth wins.