2020 – Closing the Books

It’s cold and rainy here in San Antonio today. Not unlike the end of other years here but in perfect irony here, this is like no other year before in my memory. I will be driving tonight as there are incentives on the table I simply can’t pass up. And I can’t pass them up because if the response from Congressional leaders had been better, no one would be suffering financially or in any other way.

I thought my tolerance for conservative ideology died in an elementary school in Connecticut years ago when children and their teachers died in a hail of gunfire and no action was taken to enact policy and legislation to try and prevent that from happening again. But now that lack of tolerance has been filled with anger, rage, and pain at the response to this pandemic. The lies, the hypocrisy, the corruption, and the cruelty that have resulted in genocide, a genocide that won’t end for quite a while longer than it ever had to begin with.

To anyone reading this who identifies as conservative I want you to ask yourself if you believe that suffering is truly justified based on fear, or any other factor that you feel makes a person unworthy of life itself. Don’t talk to me or anyone else about this, just yourself. Ask yourself why you believed in lies and corruption and hatred. Ask yourself why the sight of the dead and the dying, and the pain of the survivors of this pandemic seems to mean nothing to you.

I have asked myself what my own feelings on pain and suffering truly are. And for me they are almost overwhelming, and I feel that’s a good thing. It means the fear I have carried for so many years is not real, the fear that I have shut off or reduced my emotional capacity. I’ve just learned to control it and manage it as best as I can with what little I have to work with. But to the depths of my soul, I don’t believe any form of suffering is justified, especially the suffering of the innocent, the poor, and those deemed unworthy.

In this past year I have been reading more about the life and work of Jesus Christ to try and go beyond my childhood memory of him as just a kind and gentle storyteller. I have learned Christ’s message was to love one another wholly and completely in order to ease pain and suffering in this world. Christ didn’t live among the rich and influential. He lived and spoke among the least of society, the poor, the sick, the oppressed, and the sad and lonely. He lived life as a poor man with no material possessions or a home of his own. He showed love and mercy in ways I can’t begin to understand but aspire to nonetheless. To me, I see Him in the homeless groups under the bridges and freeways here. I see Him beside people in the hospitals dying alone, and in homes beside those turned away from hospitals.

In this last year, I have felt so powerless, a feeling I have felt for most of my adult life and I’m only able to deal with it because of my experience. I feel I am one tiny soul in a huge Universe, one tiny voice in a cacophony of billions. I have struggled

hard to find my worth as a person, to tell myself every time I can that my thoughts and feelings matter.

This was the year I had hoped to get up on my feet and on my way once and for all. Instead, I was knocked on my ass so hard I slid across the floor and hit the wall. But I got up off the floor, stood tall as I could. I voted for the best candidates that I know are compassionate people. I have said and written things I haven’t taken back. I have learned I can truly stand up for myself even if I still feel fear, fear that I will always have with me. Most of all, I haven’t given up on life itself, not just mine, but for everyone else.

I am ready to put miniscule resources into action and make my dreams come true. I have simple dreams: a house on wheels, a self-supporting career of writing and other creativity, and most of all, hope. I have wanted to give up on this world at times but I know I can’t do that because if I do, then I give up hope. And no matter how sad and lonely I have been, that hope has always remained with me. Hope has never given up on me and I will never give up on it.

Hope can come from joy and happiness, even as it can come from pain and grief. Hope is life itself. It’s the light that breaks over the horizon every morning and comes after the darkest and most painful nights. Hope is the calm after raging storms of anger and sadness. Hope is what comes after the pain of loss begins to ease off your heart and soul.

There is no shame or guilt in feeling and believing in hope. And if anyone tries to bring shame and guilt to you, don’t take it from them. Don’t let anyone on this Earth dictate what you think and feel. Because in the end, you have to figure things out for yourself. And maybe you’ll have to go at life alone. That’s okay, it can be done and not just in terms of survival, but in finding a life to live.

So to close the book on 2020 I will say this: we have learned about grief and pain in ways we didn’t know before. And now as we end this year, we have to find our own road to move forward in life. That road won’t always be easy, but it’s always there for us to travel on. Because when one story ends, another one always begins. Make it a good one.

2020 – Looking Back and Truly Letting Go

New Year’s Eve 2020: I hit the road about five o’clock in the afternoon because that’s when the Uber driver incentives started (extra money given to drivers for completing so many consecutive rides). It was chilly if I remember correctly but clear so I had good driving conditions. It was steady till about eight o’clock when I took a break and had dinner at Jim’s on Broadway. Then I hit the road at nine and didn’t get home till about three-thirty in the morning. Everyone was really nice though and thanking me for picking them up (and keeping them out of the clink because the cops were crawling that night – I must have seen at least seven or eight pull-overs that night).

And after that, business was hot. Conventions, conferences, business travel, tourists, locals and the forecast for the next few months was looking really good. But in February the conventions and conferences got canceled and North Star Mall got a good deep cleaning because of a testing screwup and a woman who just had to go shopping.

In March, my Uber business crashed through the floor. I’d been through slow-downs before with this job but nothing like that. I couldn’t get a ride or a delivery to save my life some days because no one was working or getting paid. I seriously questioned my choice of job and my intelligence, and my sanity at times. Luckily in April Congress got off their dumb-asses and started getting money out there. I even got relief money because Uber’s CEO went to Congress and fought for us drivers because we were still working despite the risks we had to take.

Since then, it’s been a struggle. Business is inching back up but just inching. It’s still a struggle some days and I still haven’t really hit the numbers consistently like I did when this year began. It’s a hard hustle but harder than it has to be because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being an A-Number One Dick-Head along with all the other Republicans who honestly don’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. It’s going to be a long, hard, cold winter before the adults get settled in to Washington and start cleaning up the mess from the last four years, and especially this past year. Also, we’ll have a lot more dead to bury.

Seeing the dead and the dying has been the hardest thing of this year. Seeing so damn many people hurting when they didn’t have to. Seeing and hearing so damn much bullshit from people who are the absolute dumbest motherfuckers on this planet has been hard as hell. What that did was burn away any last masks that people put over their real thoughts and feelings about their fellow human beings, when they showed they cared more about property and money than doing everything possible to ease pain and suffering. It was the last bit of proof I saw that too damn many people believe that suffering is justified.

Like millions of people, I’ve lived with fear. Fear of losing what little I have left, of getting sick and dying. But there is one fear I have begun to realize I have truly lost: the fear that someone will come at me for what I say and do. It’s why my attempts to create a freelance writing career have spluttered so badly- the fear that if I put forth an effort that someone will try and derail it hard.

That’s not going to happen. And not just because I won’t let it, but because that fear was never real. If someone does have an issue with what I say or do, they can put on their grown-up clothes and come talk to me about it. If they’re spouting bullshit that I don’t know what I’m doing or that I shouldn’t, I’m not going to listen to that shit and neither should anyone else. Over the last year I’ve thought this through and realized this fear that I’ve carried for so long never came to life.

So if the year 2020 taught me anything it was this: I lived through fear, and I lost the fear I really needed to lose most of all. I know I can’t let anxiety and fear take over like they have time and time again. I know I can’t discard my lists and plans and just let my heart race and do nothing. This isn’t suck-ass timing either or a time to debate and go ‘why now?’

Why the fuck not? That should be the new motto of 2021. Why not take the damn bull by the horns once and for all and rock hard? Why not park my ass in the chair and put hands on the keyboard no matter what? Those are questions only I can answer and things only I can do.

I just wish I’d gotten stoned at a rock concert to lose this last fear once and for all.* Oh well, pot’s still not legal in Texas so I had to do this sober. And I’ll greet the new year sober because I don’t drink or smoke. But I will also greet it without the fear that someone will mouth off and try to take away my goals and ambitions. And hopefully in one year’s time I’ll be writing this from inside of a small school bus in a place that’s warm and sunny.

* I got stoned at the Pink Floyd concert on March 3, 1994 because I was sitting one row from the top and during the second half of the show there was a huge cloud of pot smoke up there so unlike Bill Clinton, I inhaled quite a lot. I lost a fear of heights that night from being high and comfortably numb.

Losing Fear

Yesterday I wrote this:

The old fear that someone will come at me for what I write is pretty much gone, which is a good thing because that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with.

As I thought about those words after I wrote them, I realized that fear is truly gone. It left me like a fear of heights did after I got stoned at the Pink Floyd concert in the Alamodome (April 3, 1994 – found that on Google along with the set list). Now I will freely admit that concert is the only time I’ve ever gotten stoned and I’ve never gotten drunk so I’ve done all my dumb-ass shit in life completely sober.

But as I wrote yesterday, losing this fear is a good thing. Because if someone came at me now and talked shit about me and tried to put me down, they’d get a head-tilt and me asking, “Are you really trying to shit all over me? Because if so, take it and shit it down a toilet where it belongs.” I know I’ll read or hear something for what I say or do some day but I’m glad that profanity-laced head-tilt reaction will be the first thought that comes to my mind when I think about seeing or hearing that.

I think the massive waves of anxiety and fear I’ve been riding for so long have finally burned this away once and for all. Because the fear I feel now is just uncertainty that I tell myself I can work through, or hustle my way out of.

But why did I carry around this fear for so long?

As I’m quite fond of saying, it’s a long story. But here’s the shorter version of it:

As far back as I can remember, I’ve felt like I’ve been singled out for my looks (fat and ugly), my temperament (shy until I found the courage to open my mouth), and clumsy as hell. Conformity is a huge thing in human society and when I didn’t conform to a minimum standard in the looks and temperament department and couldn’t make up for those deficiencies with any physical skills, I became a target for assholes and mean people in general. I won’t excuse their bullshit and bullying or try and justify it in some way by saying they were projecting their own guilt and insecurities. Maybe some of them were but some were just sadistic motherfuckers who I will never forgive. But here’s the big thing here: none of them ever truly followed thru on any implied threat to ruin my life forever or destroy in any way. They were all mouth, even when they mouthed off to my parents behind my back (my parents always had my back and for that I’m forever grateful). But the wounds were there along with the defensive shield I made out of fear and fueled with anxiety.

No more.

I’ve said stuff like this before but yesterday I wrote that line without thinking about it. It just came out of me like perfectly-flowing water. When that happens I know I’ve truly lost something I should never have picked up and carried for so long. This is the end result of working through my emotional shit as I call it and also hustling and surviving this shit-show of a year. I’m not living high off the hog or any of that bullshit. And I’m pissed off as hell at the Republican motherfuckers in Congress who refuse to pass legislation to help people in need even though they’ll give money to rich people who sure as hell don’t need it. I’m not afraid anymore of anyone who will come at me clutching their damn pearls over my language and words here. Why? Because what can pearl-clutching and mouthing off do to me?

Nothing.

And if by some crazy-ass chance something was done, I’d fight it like a demon from Hell.

In the last week, I had two raging shit-fits when I was in my car by myself. I’m talking screaming and yelling all my anxiety and rage to myself. The first shit-fit I had tears in my eyes but in my second shit-fit I didn’t. With the second one I told myself all I can do is my best, find a workaround if possible, and keep going either way. For the longest time, I used to think that wasn’t good enough because I’d hear some asshole-voice from my past telling me I could always do better, and that I should know better.

I don’t have all the answers, but no one else does either. Five and a half years ago I realized that one day and every so often, I’m reminded of how important that realization has been in my life. Now it’s come to this loss of a particular fear here and like that day all those years ago, it feels so damn good even if it’s tinged with a little righteous anger and attitude.

The Human Propensity to Forget

I had a conversation with a rider in my car yesterday and we talked about the human propensity to forget. I quoted Doctor Who when the Doctor has been asked why humans seem to forget being invaded and whatnot and the Doctor replies about the human propensity to forget. I know that’s what will happen after the next year or so because we’ll have only lived through one year like 2020. But as I told my passenger, I remember my grandparents and how they were because they grew up in the 1930’s during the Great Depression then fought World War Two. They had two decades of poverty and uncertainty followed by a world war. They couldn’t forget if even if they wanted to.

And I don’t want to forget this past year. I know a lot of it will be painful but we can’t forget what happened. We can’t forget the best we saw, and the worst we saw. Most of all, we can’t forget how to handle another pandemic because as any epidemiologist says, it’s not a matter of if but when. Hopefully, we’ll have a much better response to the next one but I’m sure there are going to be plenty of people with their heads jammed up their asses in the future, too.

If my grandparents were alive I’d ask them how they got through the Depression and the war years. I’m sure they’d tell me they just put one foot in front of the other and kept going, that they just focused on getting through each day. But here’s the thing, so many people have been doing that for a long time because a recent report showed that fifty years of trickle-down economics hasn’t worked. That extreme-bullshit economic practice only creates a wealth divide that has had people living from day-to-day and paycheck-to-paycheck for too damn long. And if you think people just need to pull themselves up by the bootstraps and get their shit together, go fuck yourself. When you’re in survival mode, you don’t have bootstraps to pull up and no means to get your shit together because you can’t make chicken salad out of chicken shit as my father used to say.

But this is where the human propensity to forget comes from, that once the assholes get theirs they think they have every right to keep others from getting their fair share, too. To me, the human propensity to forget is willful and cruel.

The problem with people telling you to forget your shit and not talk about it at all is that it shuts down a person’s right to think and feel the way they do. Maybe someone isn’t as affected as I am by morgue trucks and kids in cages. I can see that but I sure as hell won’t have someone shit all over my feelings over that because they can’t give a shit about anyone but themselves. That’s where the true propensity to forget shit comes from: just not caring about anyone but yourself or those you deem worthy (but will cut off if you challenge their bullshit).

To anyone reading this here I say this: think and feel through your shit and pain and work through it. And if anyone tells you not to do that, tell them to fuck off and go to hell. We’re all going to be seriously fucked up by what’s happened just this past year with all the fear and uncertainty, and pain and suffering that we saw. I honestly don’t think my grandparents forgot what they lived through but I don’t think they felt too free to talk about it either. We’re not them and I say let’s talk about it. Because that’s what I’m doing here and in my writing in general- talking about things that may make people uncomfortable.

Discomfort and pain are no excuses to deny what you think and feel, or deny someone else’s thoughts and feelings. I’ve always said the worst thing I’ve ever had to work through is feeling I had no right to my thoughts and feelings at all, not just talking about them, but just about having them at all. It’s why I try to keep myself alone in real-life and only share with my writing. This is why I feel so isolated and have a lot of pent-up emotions when I don’t make the time to write. The old fear that someone will come at me for what I write is pretty much gone, which is a good thing because that’s one less piece of bullshit I have to deal with.

I will admit you may need to box some stuff up and put it away for a while because you’ve got other things to deal with. That’s okay but I will tell you this, if you go to that storage unit and start opening those boxes up, you probably won’t stop until you go through everything. I think that’ll be a lot of people in the years to come and I will tell anyone who might think that’s in their future it won’t be easy but it will be worthwhile.

We can’t forget the bad even if we want to, or try to. I think all we can do is learn from it, and put our foot down once and for all and say enough is enough. We need to take a stand and really stand up to fear, cruelty, and oppression. We need to call out bullshit and not stay silent in the face of hatred and cruelty. We need to start thinking and keep thinking and learning, and yes that won’t be easy. I’m glad my mother and father always told me things were going to be hard because at least I never had an expectation of life that wasn’t the reality of how hard life will get sometimes.

Ignorance Is Not Attractive

I’ve wanted to tell a lot of people over the years their ignorance is not attractive, including the still-drunk-from-last-night lady in the car I had this morning. She asked me if I would take the covid-19 vaccine and without a second’s hesitation I said yes and as soon as I could. She goes, “Really? Are you sure about that?” She in turn said she was ‘skeptical’ about the vaccine. When I asked why, she said she didn’t know. Then she started in with some bullshit about being skeptical about how fast the vaccine was developed then the kicker that it was a man-made virus that got out of the lab in China. But when I asked her if she knew how the vaccine was developed and also how the virus was discovered again, she said “I don’t know.”

Okay, if you honestly don’t know something then “I don’t know’ is a valid answer. But if you say you know something but can’t back it up with facts and other information, then your ‘I don’t know’ is total fucking bullshit. It means you have chosen to believe whatever you want to in order to go along with your own life and not give two shits about anyone but yourself.

Yet… people will believe what selfish insensitive clods like this say over people who are not selfish and are trying to save lives like medical researchers who bust their asses creating vaccines.

I have been fascinated by science ever since I can remember. I love science and love learning about it every single day. And I don’t get my information from some yokel on the internet who got his title out of a Cracker Jack box. I look for people who have gone to real schools and done the damn work to earn their titles, and have worked their asses off since to use science for the betterment of humanity, not to grift people out of their money so they can be rich assholes.

I’m not a degreed expert in anything but I work my ass off to educate myself on what’s going on in our world. I consume a lot of information on a daily basis that’s not from some dumb-ass ranting and raving on You Tube or Facebook.

But how do I know my sources are solid? They present facts and figures that have been checked by other people and also their scientific work is peer-reviewed (meaning their peers have reviewed their work and tried to replicate it). Or simply put, information put out by people who are not greedy, loud-mouthed assholes.

So if you think a loud-mouthed asshole has more credibility than a calm and focused professional, your ignorance is showing big-time. The loudest person in the room is usually the biggest asshole. And it’s about damn time we tell them to shut the fuck up and make sure they do.

Most of all, ignorance is not an attractive quality in a person. Not only does it show a fundamental lack of respect for basic knowledge and truth, it’s cold and insensitive and without empathy and compassion. That’s what kills it for me and the reason I’m really finding it hard not to push back against it now. It’s one thing to be a raving lunatic in your own basement. It’s another thing to be a raving lunatic with a microphone convincing people not to take care of themselves and kill people because of that.

I will not blindly follow the loudest asshole in the room, or the asshole who tells me to be afraid but won’t tell me why I should be afraid to begin with and what I can do to protect myself and others (especially if that shit is followed by some sneaky request for money). I will not blindly follow someone who seeks to dictate my every thought and feeling, and says they have all the answers because I personally know that’s not true of any human being on this planet.

So in the end, think for yourself. Challenge the loudmouths and tell them to shut the fuck up if possible. And most of all, it’s not wrong to ask someone why they believe what they do without any way of backing that up.

Ignorance is not attractive. Never has been, and it never will be.

Not Necessarily My Blog – Teenage Angst Versus Adult Crankiness Edition

I’m going to have a bit of fun here because I really don’t want to take this topic too seriously.

Teenage Angst: Thinking almost everyone in the world hated my guts and thought I was ugly and stupid and wouldn’t amount to anything.

Adult Crankiness: Thinking all the assholes in this world should suffer horrible intestinal issues for the rest of their lives even if they think I’m ugly and stupid and still won’t amount to anything.

Teenage Angst: Thinking that if I just fit in somehow everything will be alright.

Adult Crankiness: Assholes who say they want you to fit in won’t let you and because of that, they can go fuck themselves for all I care.

Teenage Angst: Thinking no one will ever love me so I guess I’ll go eat some worms.

Adult Crankiness: Can live without love if it comes with terms and conditions no human could ever meet in full, and I’ll eat whatever I want to (not worms).

Teenage Angst: Thinking a soaring power ballad, like for example, “How Am I Supposed to Live Without You” is brilliant songwriting and something to really ponder.

Adult Crankiness: Thinking that same power ballad is full of shit because of my single response to the question it poses: “Fabulously, you idiot. Get on with your life and find someone better than the asshole who left you high and dry.”

Teenage Angst: If someone treats you like shit give them a chance to make up for it.

Adult Crankiness: If someone treats you like shit, walk away from them because if they’re thoughtless and mean to you, they’re not going to change.

Teenage Angst: Thinking that ‘deep’ lyrics of 80’s alternative and New Wave were really deep and dark.

Adult Crankiness: Seeing that some of those were pretentious bullshit. But still liking the line from the song ‘Blasphemous Rumors’ by Depeche Mode: “But I think that God’s got a sick sense of humor” (songwriter: Martin Gore)

Teenage Angst: Thinking that it’s normal to be so far inside your head you can’t see the light out of your asshole.

Adult Crankiness: Not wanting to get inside your head because of all the boxes of shit and memories that are stacked around there blocking the light from your asshole.

Teenage Angst: Thinking satire and profanity were funny and clever.

Adult Crankiness: Thinking of satire and profanity as tools for survival, not for yourself but for other people.

Basically put, I like being a cranky adult rather than an angsty teenager. But if I could go back in time and talk to my angsty teenage-self I’d say this to her:

“No, most people don’t give two shits at all about you (Dad’s right on that one, kid). And those that do run their mouths at you will forget what they said to you five minutes after they walk away. Don’t obsess over what people think about you or say behind your back. Your parents will always have your back no matter what. And most of all, it does get better because you’ll learn how to let go of angst that’s just bullshit someone dumped on you because they could. And in a homage to the movie ‘The Graduate’ when asked what to invest in for the future, I’ll say this: Umbrellas.”

Not Necessarily My Blog – I Love Essay-Writing Edition

The new blog title is a homage to an old show on HBO back in the 80’s called ‘Not Necessarily the News’, which was a spoof-satire of news shows with such segments as Dixon Dolly and Rich Hall’s sniglets (words that aren’t in the dictionary but should be).

Yesterday as I was out driving (yes, I can drive and think at the same time unlike most of the idiots on the road today, some of whom seem to think that individual lanes on the freeways don’t apply to them), and I had a thought:

Back in my school days in the pre-internet era, I actually loved writing essays and answering essay questions on tests. I felt like essay writing gave me a chance to use my brain and show I wasn’t just a human automaton being trained to just regurgitate facts and shit like the educational system wanted me to. And it was a good thing I knew how to write well because I always got A’s on my essays and on tests with essay questions.

I’ve been blogging off and on for a long time and inevitably I let go up and down and keep trying to figure out how to get a rhythm going on it. I would think I had to be all high-and-mighty intellectual or clever or something. But yesterday in the car I realized something: blogging is a form of essay writing. And because of that thought, I had a memory of loving essay writing in school when I didn’t love much of anything else about those days.

Essay writing is some of the oldest published writing in the English language though I won’t claim a level of brilliance like some stuff that’s survived a couple hundred years give or take. But telling myself I was once good at something is a start, and telling myself now that I can get good at it again if I just put the pedal to the metal and approach my non-fiction writing like essay-writing. And I also tell myself to remember that sometimes I might be under the gun time-wise like I was on those essay tests so long ago so I can’t use that as an excuse not to write now.

I think the reason I’ve avoided this revelation and embrace of it is because it’s not seen as cool by the assholes in this world to like something that’s required of you. I mean, imagine the extra amount of shit I would have gotten back in my school-days if I had revealed my love of essay-writing? Let’s not. But luckily I’m not in high-school anymore and I don’t have to worry about dealing with sniggering assholes anymore thanks to the power of internet unfollowing and blocking if needed. And no, I don’t need to see that kind of shit in my life and neither does anyone else. Seeing shit and getting shit doesn’t make you a better person- working your ass off at something you care about does.

In my school days, I had several great teachers who really taught me how to write well. They taught me how to think through an idea, do the research needed, organize it or free-write and then put it all together and most of all, how to proofread and edit. I’d like to pay homage to them, too here and show that all their time and effort was worth it with me.

I know I’ve never taken the thought of writing professionally as seriously as I should have. That’s something I’ve worked through over the last four years and I think at this point I’m getting close again to a breakthrough. Because I learned back then that if I wrote my ass off I’d get good at it. I know that’s the case now. And I know that I might be under-the-gun timewise sometimes but I don’t need to pick up my phone, doom-scroll on social media, or anything other than putting hands on the keyboard.

The really good part of this thought was I can apply it to the non-fiction projects I’m struggling with. My thought is that I can create a single topic then write it out then fit all those pieces together. With my fiction, I don’t think about writing the whole book at once or even a whole chapter. I go scene by scene and put it all together. And I’ve put blog entries into my non-fiction project files so I’ve already got material there to work with.

It’s about focus and concentration, and if I have to put a time limit on myself I will. But I’m not a teenager anymore and I don’t have to deal with any real or perceived bullshit over proclaiming my love of something that might not seem cool or smart. To me, trying to cater to bullshit is like trying to conform to something I’m not- cool or smart. What I am is full of words in my head along with my feelings. And I deal with those words and feelings by writing about them.

So I will admit it right here and now: I’m an adult nerd who likes to write essays.

Uber Conversations – 2020 Edition

I have multiple conversations in my Uber on a daily basis and I can tell you that since COVID-19 emerged as the Virus-of-the-Year, it’s been the Number One topic of conversation. And at times, it’s not one that I have welcomed.

In the beginning, I had to shut down dumb-ass conspiracy theories about how the virus was created in a lab and then accidently, or intentionally escaped. I learned how to debunk conspiracy theories pretty fast because I honestly didn’t have time for that bullshit. Before this pandemic I would have just listened and trust me, I’d heard some doozies in the car prior to this year. But now conspiracy theories kill people and I can’t be silent with that.

Then as restrictions began, there came the inevitable push-back mostly based on people having their heads up their asses and not giving a shit about their fellow human beings. Again, I couldn’t stay silent on that one so I politely yet firmly explained what the restrictions were and why they were implemented.

Then there are the conversations about rioting and defunding the police. I explain what defunding the police means here in a nutshell: it’s about allocating more resources for teams of mental health professionals and social workers to be sent out on calls they are much-better trained to handle than the police. And as for the rioting, I just remind people our San Antonio Spurs have won five NBA Championships and not one car was overturned and set on fire in downtown San Antonio. Yes, a few windows got smashed here back in May but it turns out that was done by out-of-town right-wing scumbags who got run out of town by our sheriff.

I will freely admit here I am now getting ticked off by people who spout bullshit who don’t live here in San Antonio, or who only live in their tiny little bubble in the city and aren’t out on the streets every day like I am. I’m not an expert by any means but I don’t get my news from screaming conspiracy theorists on YouTube or right-wing blond bimbos and himbos on Fox News. And I certainly don’t believe we’re living in the End Times because if God decides to end this damn world we live in, there isn’t anything we can do about it. But I will say right here and now, the vast majority of people in this world are just trying to get through the day without taking some asshole’s head off because that’s still considered assault-and-battery. Most people are just trying to make a living, get dinner on the table, and have time to hug their kids. They don’t have time to run around and act like fools or spout off like raging lunatics.

Before COVID, most of the conversations in my Uber were about the weather, how the Spurs were doing, local shenanigans and history for the tourists, the latest celebrity gossip, and anything other than conspiracy head-up-the-ass bullshit. I miss that a lot and hope someday COVID will be the topic we don’t want to bring up ever again. I want to have conversations with people like hearing a lady tell me the story of how her sister briefly dated Elvis Pressley in the 1950’s but wouldn’t marry him because he was a little wild. I want to hear conversations with my passengers about shenanigans that rival any reality-tv show (those were always a hoot to listen to on Saturday night after a little alcohol had flowed). And I want to work a Halloween night where I can tell local ghost stories to college kids.

I think my ability to debunk conspiracy-theory bullshit is from the fact that from day one of this pandemic I knew I would be at risk if I kept driving. You can’t socially distance inside of a vehicle. And other jobs aren’t that easy to come by and employers have more than enough people to choose from to fill a position so don’t run that ‘just get another job’ bullshit line by me or anyone else. Luckily so far I’ve only had one rider give me flack about wearing a mask and although he was drunk, I would have canceled the ride in a heartbeat. Then this asshole had the fucking nerve to ask me out on a date, and I turned him down cold and silently cursed his balls to shrivel up and die.

Maybe someday this pandemic will be far back in the rearview mirror and just a story we tell kids someday. But I will tell the story of how most people just tried to survive not getting killed by assholes. I will tell the story of how a pandemic brings out the best in people, and brings out the worst.

In the meantime, I’ll keep having the conversations in my car. And hope for the best. And yes, wish a little ball-shriveling on those who truly deserve it.

Musical Memories

I’m tired of thinking about shit-head idiots and bullies who need to be stomped into a puddle of their own shit in this world so I’m switching gears and writing about memories and music together instead. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do and it makes me feel good so I hope you enjoy this radical shift in gears here.

My earliest memory is of music. I was about three years old and sitting in the backseat of my dad’s Ford Mustang going down the road when I heard the opening guitar riff of ‘That’ll Be the Day’ by Buddy Holly. I remember seeing my dad turn the radio knob when that guitar riff came so that when Buddy started singing, the music was blasting out of the tinny speakers. I still crank that song up whenever I play it now.

One time I was driving around with my dad and I put in a cd with the song ‘Baker Street’ by Gerry Rafferty. The song came out in 1978 when I was about four years old, which about a year after we’d moved to Houston. My dad asked me what my memories of Houston were like and I told him I always associated that song with Houston back then. I told him I remember hearing it in the car as we were going down the freeway heading towards downtown, and how downtown Houston seemed to rise like the Emerald City out of the huge clouds of smog back then. That song makes me think of a gritty, grimy city that people live in but want to get out of like the song goes.

I remember sitting with my brother in his bedroom waiting to hear the new Van Halen song with Sammy Hagar on lead vocals. And I loved hearing the opening thumping sound that opened that song, ‘Why Can’t This Be Love’ and to this day, I still have that feeling of hearing that song for the first time in happy anticipation.

I also remember riding with my brother after he’d bought the first album by The Black Crowes and how we were listening to it in the drive-thru of the slowest Whataburger ever but not minding the wait at all. The music was rocking and sounded so damn kick-ass and fresh like it still does for me today.

Now as a child of the 1980’s, I first heard a lot of songs in music videos on MTV, such as ‘Two Hearts Beat As One’ by U2. They shot that video in the winter in Paris and it looked so exotic and different to the burnt-out hues of Texas I was living in at the time. I also remember seeing Duran Duran’s videos for ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ and ‘Save a Prayer’ they shot in Sri Lanka. ‘Hungry Like the Wolf’ was such a homage to the movie ‘Raiders of the Lost Arc’ but since I loved that movie I loved that video. And the video for ‘Save a Prayer’ is as gorgeous as the song so every time I hear the opening chords I see that gorgeous beach where the video begins.

I’m amazed sometimes I still feel these feelings despite having heard these songs thousands of times over the years. Like ‘Tom Sawyer’ by Rush. I’ve heard that song a million times and I still get into it every time I hear it. Of course it’s brilliant and complex but it’s got a rare staying power. And I wish to God someone would make a video for their song ‘Red Barchetta’ since it has such vivid imagery in the lyrics along with the music to go with it.

In the past, I’ve thought these musical images and memories masked a lot of painful memories underneath. No, these musical memories were a much-needed respite from those painful memories. And that’s why denying myself music gets to me after a while. It’s happened off-and-on since my twenties when my life went totally to shit back then and when I feel like I’m sliding down into that smelly pile of excrement, I still feel that pull away from the music. Don’t let that happen to you because those memories aren’t repetitive coping mechanisms- they’re respites from pain.

For example, the song ‘Running to Stand Still’ by U2 has been painful as hell to listen to over the years because of a lyric stanza that goes: ‘You got to cry without weeping/Talk without speaking/Scream without raising your voice’. I’ve felt like that for a long time but unlike the song’s protagonist, I didn’t numb myself out with drugs (the song is about drug addition according to the U2 autobiography I read). Now I can see that I’ve moved past those lyrics to know I have a voice and that I don’t need to numb it out.

So music and memories aren’t just moments in time. They’re memories you can learn from and in some cases, even reclaim (see how I reclaimed a song and a memory here).

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.