Breaking Down the Roadblocks to Self-Care

Warning: My streak of posts without any profanity has ended at one (yesterday’s).

In the last four years, I’ve read about the term ‘self-care’. It’s about taking care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally. Like eat right, drink plenty of water, get some sleep, and try not to let shit get to you too much. Yet a question comes up in response to this: why is something so good so hard for people to put into daily practice? Why would it be seen as wrong to take care of yourself?

Well, as I’m fond of saying, it’s a long story. So I’ll summarize it in a short sound-bite: for me, it’s learning how to stop beating the shit out of myself sometimes because other people have done it to me in the past for no damn good reason other than the fact they were being assholes. It’s me feeling like I have no right to be happy or even to relax and take care of myself because if so, then I’m an egotistical failure.

But I’ll tell you a bit of my story here in order to show what roadblocks are thrown up in the path of my self-care, and how to get around them.

In my twenties, I was a caregiver to my mother who was dying of cancer. Her treatments were as bad as the cancer cells rampaging through her. Her energy levels were destroyed and it was a constant battle for her just to get up and do what she could. I took on as much responsibility as I could and yes, I will freely admit I turned into a bitch at times about it. But in my defense I will say this: things had to get done. And I learned I had to take care of myself just enough to stay on my feet. Luckily I had a considerable store of fat reserves to draw on (as I still do now) so I could survive on barely eating and drinking, and function on four to six hours of sleep. I knew if I went down I would prove to the world that I was a useless piece of shit and I wouldn’t be able to help anyone, especially the person who needed my help the most, my mother. It’s not pride that kept me on feet, but need, not my needs, but the needs of others. I have no regrets with how I lived back then and what I did, and I don’t see as a sacrifice.

But the cost of that was horrible and enormous, and I’m still dealing with a few lingering effects of it. The worst thing wasn’t the physical demands made of me, but the mental and emotional isolation I endured back then. Back then, I felt like my thoughts and feelings didn’t matter to anyone, and that I had no right to express them or talk about them. I felt like I was told, ‘fuck your feelings’. I will freely admit I became a closed-off bitch who seemed cold and unemotional as hell. I got that way because I thought that was what people wanted of me, to be seen but not heard. Also, it kept people off my ass more often than not.

This is the biggest roadblock to self-care I’ve had to work through: taking care of myself mentally and emotionally. Telling myself I have a right not only to my thoughts and feelings, but the right to deal with them. If no one wants to sit down with me in person and listen to my bullshit, I can deal with that. I write about it to help others, not myself.

You have the right not just to take care of yourself physically, but to take time to sit and breathe, to ease tension from your body. You have the right to find something that makes you smile, and laugh, and feel happy. And you have the right to look at your life and see what you can do to make it better. You have the right to find your place in this world, and to find your own path.

So if someone throws a roadblock to taking care of yourself, remove it. And if they piss and moan about it, walk away without a word. I’m sure you’ll have the urge to say ‘fuck your feelings’ but that won’t accomplish anything. Instead, take care of your own feelings along with your physical needs. You may have to go it alone but that’s okay because I’m living proof that can be done.

Here’s my self-care guide in three simple sentences:

You don’t have to engage in an endless hustle of tension and bullshit.

You have the right to take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally.

You have the right to make your life better in any way you can.

But I will also tell you:

Remember to eat before you get light-headed, stay hydrated, try to get some form of exercise if you have a job that requires you to sit on your ass all day, and try to get at least six to eight hours of sleep. And most of all, take care of your feelings and keep your mind from getting jammed up all to hell.

And if anyone says shit to you about doing anything in the above paragraph, just tell them to go to hell and fuck their feelings in the process.

What Unites Us?

In today’s blog title, the question mark is all mine.

Right now, there are calls for unity and for people to put aside their differences to work together for a greater good. The problem is, these calls are ringing out in a very hollow way. They ring out in a hollow way because this call for unity is disregarding accountability and justice for those that broke the law and committed murder, and continue to call for violence and killing.

Even if people renounce violence and hate, even if they express and show genuine remorse and take full responsibility for their guilt, it still won’t be enough. At least not in the present. The only thing that eases pain is time, a lot of time. And even after a lot of time, the pain is always there. Worst of all, the pain comes back up no matter how time has passed, and sometimes it comes back up like the wound was just inflicted yesterday.

Can there be unity without trust?

My answer to that question is this: for me, I can’t be truly close to someone who has hurt me before when I did nothing to deserve that. Because as I think that thought, I hear what my mother said to me: if they’ve done it once, what makes you think they won’t do it again?

For me, the only bridge of unity I can think of is this: to ask those who are truly repentant and remorseful not to hurt anyone else like they did. The damage is done to me and nothing will take it away. But if my pain can save someone else from going through what I have, then I will find peace and healing.

Another thing I think can build a bridge to unity is people letting go of revenge though this would mean people would have to take full responsibility for their wrongdoing, and for causing pain to others by embracing lies and cruelty. It means they would have to accept their loss of power was caused by their own wrongdoing and the pain they caused to others. This would mean taking responsibility for wrongdoing and committing to a life of not doing that again. They would have to realize this commitment is not a loss of pride, but of going onto the right path in life. There is no pride and dignity in causing pain and suffering.

Now I look to history for answers to my question on unity:

After World War Two, the first war crimes trials were convened in Nuremberg, Germany and Tokyo, Japan to bring the perpetrators of the war and mass murder to justice. It was the first time in human history perpetrators of war and genocide were brought to justice and the full extent of their crimes against humanity were shown to the world. This in turn showed the world was done, and that it couldn’t be done again. In the decades since, the people of Germany and Japan have confronted their past and sought to educate the world in order for it not to happen again and so that others wouldn’t to suffer and die like so many did before.

In 1987, US President Ronald Regan stood at the Berlin Wall and said to the Soviet Russian Leader, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” In 1989, the Berlin Wall came down. I honestly thought I wouldn’t see that happen until I was the age I’m at now (46) and not the age I was in 1989 (15). I didn’t expect it because I thought the wall was so much higher than it really was even though I knew there were people behind that wall who didn’t want to be there and were just imprisoned by fear and lies.

For there to be true unity, walls built on hatred, fear, pain, and suffering must be torn down. Perpetrators of crimes against others must be held accountable and brought to justice. History must be taught in truth, and the stories have to be passed down from generation to generation. Most of all, we have to let go of the desire for revenge, and learn to trust enough to move forward to make life better for future generations. People will have to learn that every single person on this planet has to find their own place in this world, and that if that journey is not causing harm to others, that they can’t be held back from following their own path and living their own lives truly, freely, and without fear.

Most of all, I believe unity comes from accepting that each person has a right to their thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And that they have the right to deal with them in whatever they choose.

What Divides Us, Part 2: Never Good Enough

A few days ago, I wrote about what I feel divides us as a nation right now. Not just a difference in ideology and politics, but of facts and truth. But there’s more to that as I’ve come to realize.

All my life I struggled greatly with feeling like that no matter how much good I did, how hard I worked, how much I tried to learn and be a good person, that it was never good enough. Worst of all, I felt like that whenever I made a mistake, even a mistake that I took ownership of and fixed as much I possibly could, I felt like that mistake proved that people were right about me: that no matter what I said or did, or how I lived my life, I would never be good enough.

Luckily, five years ago this April, I stopped thinking that way. That’s a story for another time but on that fateful day in April when I was told I should have known better, which is just another way of saying I would never be good enough to succeed at anything, a thought came to my mind:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am sometimes, but that doesn’t mean I’m a bad person.

What this means is I’m wrong sometimes and I make mistakes. But so does everyone else and no one has all the answers, nor has the ability to be perfect every second of their lives. And to expect anything like from someone else is wrong, and incredibly mean and cruel. I know. I’ve spent the last four years working through that and unloading huge amounts of shame and guilt I should never have taken on because of that.

But to narrow my discussion here, I will say this: if presented with verifiable facts and unaltered visual proof and someone says that’s not good enough, then I think you have to walk away from people who say that. Because if someone says that facts and truth are not good enough, you can’t get through to them. And until that person lets go of their belief in lies and cruelty, there will be no unity with them.

Right now there are calls not to impeach the President of the United States for what he said last Wednesday. There are calls not to prosecute those who broke the law simply because it might further inflame tensions. To say that I say: no way in Hell. Justice must be served because without it, the actions of the guilty will continue. Even those who renounce their beliefs and apologize for the word and actions must be held accountable for them.

Being held accountable for your words and actions is not the same as being told you’ll never be good enough no matter what you do in life. If your words and actions were wrong and caused pain and suffering, then you must answer for that. And if someone chooses not to forgive you, or trust you, that doesn’t mean you’ll never be good enough for that. It means that you were never good enough to be trusted to begin with. When someone knowingly and willingly chooses to do wrong, they will suffer the consequences of their actions sooner or later, in this life or the next. Those of us who have been hurt have to work through the pain and find ways to heal, learn that is good enough even we’re told to forget, or deny, or minimize the wrong that was done to us.

I believe in our system of justice in the United States, that a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. That they are afforded legal representation even if they can’t afford it. They have the right to remain silent, and not to incriminate themselves if they choose not to. I believe the burden of proof is on the State. But in the face of facts and hard evidence, I don’t believe you have the right to say that’s not good enough and never will be. That’s not justice. Justice is truth beyond a reasonable doubt, and punishment that fits the crime.

So until we live by the idea that truth and evidence must be accepted, and reject the belief that will never be good enough, we will be divided.

I’m going to close out with something I saw today from Bernice King on Twitter:

We cannot unify around injustice and lies in an authentic quest for healing and peace. Healing requires honesty. Peace requires justice. May God, who is Love, be with us.

Fiction and Truth

“Truth is stranger than fiction.”

“You can’t make shit like this up.”

First, fiction writers get shit when they write stuff some asshole says is too outrageous and could never happen in real-life. The mystery writer Carl Hiaasen said this happened to him and he replied that nothing he’d written even came close to what he reported on as a newspaper reporter in Florida. Because of that, I think fiction writers may be discouraged from writing about truly outrageous and crazy-ass shit that can happen. But after this week, hell after this past year, I think all bets are off in the fiction-writing world.

Second, books about racists taking over the world through violent insurrection is in  books have been put as propaganda by governments, such as ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion’, or books written by known racists such as ‘The Turner Diaries’. I will not provide links to either book, especially ‘The Turner Diaries’ as money from that book is still being funneled to white supremacist groups. ‘The Turner Diaries’ was also what was found in possession of Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, who is now burning hell for the mass murder he committed.

I think most fiction writers though are on the side of good, especially those who write for mass-market success. This is why I believe superhero movies have become so popular, not because they’re awesome and well-made, but because we need heroes more than ever. We need to see good triumphing over evil more than ever, especially after the events of January 6, 2021.

I write fiction about people winning against the odds, kicking the shit out of the bad guys, and finding love and hope. I make no apologies for that and instead if anyone does come at me I’ll tell them to fuck off. And because I chose to write in the romance genre, I’ve gotten shit for what I write as have all of my fellow romance writers. But since 2016, we’ve taken a stand for what we write and what we believe in and now, you don’t come for us unless we send for you.

My father once said to me the world needs happy endings. Because we all know too well that we don’t get to live forever. We will watch loved ones die. We will watch innocent people die. We will watch bad people rise to power. We will lose connections to those we care about when their choices become clear, and are turned against us as weapons of pain and cruelty.

Fiction does tell the truth, even in genres such as science-fiction and fantasy. Many science-fiction and fantasy authors have denied the allegorical nature of their work but I don’t see a need to do that anymore. Fiction writers create fictional worlds to work through things in a theoretical or experimental environment like a scientist does in a lab. We publish our results as scientists do for peer-review so I believe this is where the camaraderie between scientists and fiction-writers comes from. We come up with a premise, or hypothesis in the case of a scientist, then we observe, experiment, and write up our conclusions.

Truth is only stranger than fiction when a fiction writer doesn’t restrain their imagination. We’ve known about the rise of white supremacy over the last four years yet we’ve been told to deny it or minimize it, or worst of all, rationalize it to a harmless state. I believe as fiction writers we need to use our imaginations and the truth we are living through to hypothesize, observe, and through the writing process, experiment and find conclusions and answers. Most of all, we need to be brave and courageous in sharing our words in the face of those who will deny our truths and observations.

In some ways, I believe we have begun to talk about the infiltration of radical hatred as in the show ‘Star Trek: Picard’ which was about the infiltration of the Romulan cult that believed artificial life would destroy the Universe. Their belief was so intense they led the attack on the efforts to rescue their own people from their home-world that was about to be destroyed by their sun going super-nova. Luckily, since this is ‘Star Trek’, heroes rose up and saved the day.

I know there are many heroes in this world today: doctors and nurses on the frontlines of this pandemic we’re still living through, poll workers and voter registration organizers, frontline workers, law enforcement and military who uphold the law and serve and protect. Good, kind people of all walks of life.

I’m proud to write about heroes and heroines, good over evil, happily ever after, love and hope. And maybe I won’t write anything stranger than what happens in real life, and maybe I never will be able to. That’s okay because I don’t need to justify what I write, apologize for it, or defend it.

There is truth in fiction, just as there is truth in reality.

Never Again, Never Forget

In 1945 survivors of the Holocaust emerged from concentration camps and said one thing to the world:

“Never again.”

These words became the foundation for the modern Jewish state of Israel. The Jews who founded the state of Israel vowed never to be rounded up and exterminated again. They vowed to fight and die like their ancestors did on Masada two-thousand years ago. I have issues with things the Israeli government has done over the years and continues to do now in regards to the Palestinians, but I fully support the right of the state of Israel to exist. The dwindling number of Holocaust survivors can tell us their stories of evil are real and that anyone who talks of doing evil has to be stopped.

What we saw with the domestic terrorists who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6, 2021 was not a surprise to anyone who has watched right-wing racists in action. I’ve believe every word that comes out of their mouths, their views, their goals, and their intentions. This isn’t just shit-talk no matter how many times they try to walk it back like some are trying to do now.

Words matter. Words matter because words can become actions. In 1933 the words of the Nazi Party became action that culminated in a World War and genocide.

On April 19, 1995, the words of right-wing extremists culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing in which one-hundred and sixty-eight men, women, and children died. I was watching tv when it happened and one image was burned into my mind forever: a group of nurses were running towards the building but then were told to turn back and go get body bags. There were the horrible images of children dead and dying being brought out by first responders. Today a memorial of chairs, including child-size ones is there to show the world the loss of life.

After that terrible day, we saw exactly how the threat of right-wing extremist violence was real. And I’ve been afraid ever since, and more so in the last four years. Yesterday was a dress-rehearsal for what these bastards have been telling the whole damn world, and because of modern technology, we have a record of their words in sight and sound. What more proof does anyone need these bastards are for real and have to be stopped?

President-Elect Biden announced Merrick Garland as his nominee for Attorney General. Merrick Garland’s nomination to the Supreme Court was thwarted by now Senate Minority Leader McConnell in 2016. Merrick Garland was also part of the team that prosecuted the Oklahoma City bombers. I said this nomination was poetic justice for the Supreme Court nomination denied to him. I want to see him lead a team at the Justice Department to do to the bastards who stormed the Capitol yesterday, and others like them, what was done to the Oklahoma City bombers: investigated, tried, and convicted in a court of law.

Using the system against these racist bastards is the best thing we can do to live by the words ‘Never Again’. Record voter turnout in November and just this past Tuesday brought in candidates of worth (Joseph Biden/Kamala Harris, Rev. Raphael Warnock/Joel Ossoff). And we have to keep doing that no matter what happens, no matter what violence happens. We can’t give up. Ever.

Most of all, we can’t minimize it, argue it away with ‘both sides’ bullshit, or ‘what about…’ bullshit arguments, or just not talk about it at all. We stop talking about it, we stop speaking out against it, it rises like steam from a warm pile of shit. This is why I have vowed never to stop talking about it. Hopefully when I’m very old it will be just mostly stories of decades before, like my father told me. But even if it’s just stories, stories always need to be told so we don’t forget. We have technology to keep the stories on record long after their storytellers are gone from this Earth. And we have our oral tradition, and memory.

Oh, and choose your damn side once and for all. Don’t talk about solidarity with Holocaust survivors and then try to lie about white supremacists who storm the Capitol wearing shirts that say ‘Camp Auschwitz’. There is no middle ground with racist evil. There never was, and there never will be. I chose my side as a child, and have affirmed it as an adult, and will stay on my side until the day I die.

I’ll tell the stories, say the words, and vote like my life depends on it.

Never Again

Never Forget

The ‘Both Sides’ Argument Is Invalid

I’ve been wanting to write this for a very long time and now I’ve got the guts, the raging fury, and the words to do my dead-level best to try and blow some ‘both sides’ arguments to Hell and back.

First, comparing liberal and conservative ideologies is like comparing apples to oranges. They are so different now there is very little common ground to meet on so trying to make them equal or alike in any way is an invalid argument. The basic tenet of liberal ideology is that every person has the right to live freely, without fear, and to have every opportunity available to them regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, religion, or ethnic origin. The basic tenet of conservative ideology is that everyone has their place and has to stay in that place even if causes them pain and suffering.

Before I continue on with my comparisons and contrasts, I want to say this: I condemn violence in any form. Violence is never the answer to any problem. Yes, there was violence from left-wing protestors last summer. But that violence was quickly condemned and a non-violent approach to protests was implemented, in addition to adherence to public health advice with masks and social distancing.

In the last week, liberal or ANTIFA (which stands for anti-fascist) protestors were told to stay away from Washington D.C. because right-wing protestors were threatening violence. And after last summer, we saw how right-wing protestors, now domestic terrorists, were more than willing to commit acts of violence. They did yesterday in the United States Capitol. And in response to the argument that those domestic terrorists in the Capitol were ANTIFA protestors in disguise, I ask this in return: then what about all the social media calls to violence from the right-wing side of the house here? Are you saying these right-wing domestic terrorists don’t really exist and are nothing but ANITFA protestors in disguise? Because I’m sure if you said that to the Proud Boys, a known hate group, they wouldn’t take that too well because they don’t lie at all about their racist and violent shit.

Now, about the argument that these domestic terrorists are angry at the results of the election and have the right to express their anger in public. Okay, they have the right to voice their opinions and shit. They don’t have the right to trespass, threaten, or harm another human being. Do you agree with that or do they get a pass on that because they’re racist white motherfuckers?

Okay, now I’m sure some of my readers might be a bit ticked off at me using the term ‘domestic terrorist’ for right-wing racists. I’m not backing down on that term because these bastards have been calling for another civil war, arming themselves to the teeth, carrying their guns in public, and talking about murder. They haven’t been sitting around in a circle singing ‘Kumbaya’ so the argument that their harmless is invalid. See the pictures from the Capitol yesterday if you want to see what they’re capable of.

Another argument I’m going to blow to hell here is this: a person of color has more rights than a white person. Like that person of color got the job instead of me (the white person) simply because that employer wanted to meet a quota. Did that employer come right out and tell you that? No, and not just because they don’t have to or choose not to at all, but because it’s their freaking choice as to who to hire, not yours. You’re not special because you’re white, and you’re certainly not special if your black, brown, female, gay, transgender, or anything other than a lily-white ass. White privilege is real and a white man especially doesn’t live in fear even if says he does.

Yet another dumb-ass argument I’ve heard over the years is that both political parties are corrupt as hell. Okay, smart-ass, why do the number of prosecutions add up higher in the Republican column than they do in the Democratic column? I’m sure the response is that Democratic administrations prosecute more than Republicans. Then if that’s the case they must have more to work with, right? Both sides have had people in their parties caught with their pants down and yes, Slick Willie (aka Bill Clinton) managed to not get convicted of lying about it. But in the last four years it hasn’t been about pants down. It’s been about treason and now as of today, sedition.

But none of this means shit to a conspiracy-theory Q-Anon, anti-vaxxer, flat-Earth believing dumb-ass. The cognitive dissonance is too strong with these people. But to anyone who is offered their Kool-Aid I’ll say this: if someone wants you to drink something but won’t tell you exactly what’s in the cup, you might not want to drink it at all.

I only wrote this because I wanted to shoot my mouth off and drop a few truth-bombs. It won’t change minds because I can’t do that. But if I plant a seed in someone’s mind with these words… well, that’s not the same as changing a mind, right? 😊

What Divides Us

I’m currently reading the book ‘What Unites Us’ by Dan Rather and Eliot Kirschner and I’ll be writing about it when I’m finished reading it. But today I want to talk about what divides us in this country. It’s not simple terms of politics or issues, it’s what we choose to believe in and support.

As I’m writing this, a racist group of motherfuckers called the Proud Boys and their supporters are trying to stage a coup on the United States Congress. The President of the United States is doing nothing to stop this. Congress is in a two-hour debate over the Electoral College results that will result in no changes to the outcome of the Election and the coming inauguration of Joseph Biden as the forty-sixth President of the United States. The majority of Americans do not support this attempted coup or attempt at establishing a dictatorship. Yet the minority who voted against democracy and justice have to answer for this attempted coup.

Why?

Because this is what the Republican Party and the conservative movement have become. This nightmare has come to life and silence only fuels it even more.

But what if you don’t agree with the other side? The positions on healthcare, the economy, social justice, and this pandemic were still living through? Ask yourself why without answering in a soundbite such as a wrecked economy, my guns being taken from me, and being vaccinated against a disease that has killed over three-hundred thousand Americans.

Here’s a news flash for the sound-biters: the economy’s totally fucked with a multi-trillion deficit, no significant gun legislation has been passed in decades, and if you want to go on killing your fellow Americans, prepare to be stopped.

Am I being ugly and harsh here?

No. I’m just telling the truth.

What has fueled the Republican Party and conservatives more than anything is fear-mongering that is nothing but a smokescreen carefully designed to keep people away from the real issues facing us all, and worst of all, enforcing the belief that suffering is justified.

That belief that suffering is justified is the root of all evil in this world. The belief that people have to suffer because that’s the way of the world, and that they’re not worth saving, or believing in. That if we alleviate suffering we will suffer in return.

No. That’s not how it will work.

Alleviating pain and suffering is the heart of the teachings of Jesus Christ and other great religious leaders and prophets. This is why religion is twisted into evil because it takes the message of suffering but tries to destroy the rest of the message of hope.

For so long, I hesitated to write about anything ‘political’. I was told I knew nothing and that I was a foolish optimist. I reject both of those things and say instead: despite the pain and suffering in this world, I believe in a better one. And I am committed to trying to make this world a better place in any way I can. I do so by how I live my life, how I treat people, and how I speak out against what is wrong in this world.

My core belief now is that pain and suffering are never justified. We will never be able to take it all away but we can work our damn asses off to alleviate as much of it as we can, and provide comfort to those at the end of their lives.

Supporting a political party or an ideology that perpetuates pain and suffering is wrong. Not speaking out against racism, injustice, poverty, suffering, and needless death is wrong.

And I’m not a foolish optimist to believe that we can work together, but only if we unite in one cause: to make this world a better place and do everything we can to alleviate pain and suffering.

Racism, violence, and hatred perpetuate pain and suffering. Poverty, hunger, homelessness perpetuate pain and suffering.

This is what divides us. And ending it as much as we can is what can unite us.

Expectations

Expectations

This word has been on my mind for the last few days and I’ve been thinking it through and about what it means to me.

I feel like all my life I’ve been trying to live up to, deal with, and sometimes fight expectations that are real and stated to me though most of them have been unspoken and probably were never real to begin with.

It was busting an expectation almost six years ago (April 30, 2015 to be exact) that put me on the road I am now. On that day, I busted an expectation that I wasn’t allowed to make a simple mistake even though I’m human even though I fixed my mistake and set everything right. I didn’t say this out loud but in my mind, I felt the snap as I called it then and have been incredibly grateful for it ever since.

One expectation I have struggled for many years is the expectation I should only be miserable and wrapped up in anxious bullshit. This came from being told that I shouldn’t be happy about something when my life was so full of shitty things going on. The expectation I felt for me was I was to only focus on the shit and not on anything else. I felt like there were people who didn’t want me to be happy at all because they felt like I didn’t deserve that because I had a specific role to play and if I smiled I was breaking character.

My late father used to say, “You don’t have to walk around feeling sad and sorry for yourself all the time. You have the right to be happy.” That statement comes to me whenever my mind tries to wrap itself up in sad-and-sorry for myself. There’s an expectation in our world, both spoken and unspoken that says if people are in misery they should stay that way and focus on working their way out of it. This nose-to-the-grindstone or endless hustle in modern parlance is wrong because it stifles joy and happiness, which is a much-needed respite from pain and misery. Feeling guilty for happiness in the face of misery is a universal human condition, one I believe is born from mean-ass people who deserve to be told to take their shit and shove it back up their ass where it belongs.

For so many years I felt like I had to hide my feelings from the world both good and bad. I felt like the expectation of me was I wasn’t allowed to show any feelings at all unless someone deemed them acceptable. I lived to other people’s expectations for far too long. But the good news now for me is this: that’s burning away like frost on a roof under a hot sun.

We live and labor under expectations but I have come to believe the most important one is what we expect of ourselves. And that expectations for ourselves are really our goals and dreams, hopes and fears. This is why I believe in what I am committed to writing about this year, the breaking of silence once and for all. The first thing that I use to break my silence is this:

You have every right to your thoughts and feelings no matter what they are, good, bad, ugly, or anything in between. And you have the right to deal with your thoughts and feelings in any way you chose to, including in silence.

I can’t say that enough and I won’t stop saying it. I also tell myself this when I a breaking silence, the thought that came to me on that day in April 2015:

Everyone else is just as full of shit as I am, but I’m not a bad person either.

I don’t have all the answers and neither does anyone else. And we never will. That’s okay because life is an endless quest for answers, for truth, and for me, a way to think and feel without restraint.

I believe in expectations of good, of kindness, and hope. I believe in expectations of truth, honesty, and justice. But I also believe in the expectation that we can learn by doing, and by living.

My goal now is not to live to the expectation that I can’t find joy and happiness, or that I can’t follow my own path because I must give all my energy to alleviating my misery. I can only do what I can, and what needs to be done. Once that’s over, I can move on to other things, including things that make me happy, like writing for example.

2021 – The Year Without Resolutions

The New Year traditionally brings out people who make resolutions, such as being healthier, wealthier, though not wiser. None of them really talk about being a better person or being less of an asshole. But so far in this year of 2021, I’m not seeing those resolutions at all. And that’s because 2020 proved that most people couldn’t stay home when needed, or not go out and not be assholes.

The endless days and nights of activities, work, school, sports, drinking, and socializing were total bullshit in my opinion. But then I’m a lazy good-for-nothing anti-social slob so that was never my scene to begin with. Yet why do people think they have to try and maintain it, or scream and yell to get it back? My answer: I think there are a good number of idiots in this damn world who honestly think if they decide not to go along with the loud-mouth asshole crowd they’ll meet some god-awful fate.

To them I say this: the world doesn’t revolve around those assholes so therefore it doesn’t revolve around you.

Those of us who have always been outsider-losers have known this for a very long time. I’ve known it since my age was still in the single-digits. Though I will admit I’ve had a few times where I’ve gotten into sad-and-sorry-for-myself over my lack of social life-history. But since most people treat me like I’m invisible or something they scraped off the bottom of their shoe, I think I was screwed from day-one on that.

And maybe people are realizing they can’t change the asshole-mentality of some people so they’ve stopped trying. They’ve stopped trying to keep up with their butt-hole neighbors and not cut their grass every five minutes, or go out every weekend, or drink till they pass out. They’ve decided if they don’t like kale then they won’t choke it down. And if they don’t want to do CrossFit and grunt like a sweaty hog then they won’t.

I think peer pressure drives so much bullshit in this life, including New Year’s Resolutions. But last year people saw all their good intentions go to Hell due to a severely-mishandled pandemic. They lost jobs, and lost friends and loved ones. Some had, and still are, dealing with relentless death and suffering in the hospitals. Others are on edge all the damn time trying to hold on until the adults take over in Washington DC again.

I was never into New Year’s Resolutions to begin with because my body has been fucked up since I can remember so exercise is mostly out of the question. I’ve wanted to do better personally and professionally, along with creatively but always slid back when I thought about what other people might think. I pulled back rather than deal with condescending bullshit if I did manage to pull myself out of my shell and do something I really wanted to do. Now I realize no one really gives a fucking shit whether or not I pull myself out of my shell because if they had before, they sure as hell didn’t tell that to my face.

If you want a resolution to live by this year here it is: don’t live your life fearing what some asshole might say to you. I can tell you with many years of experience they won’t come up to your face and shit all over you. And if they talk shit behind your back, ignore it. And if someone believes their shit over your truth, walk away from that someone and call them an asshole as you do it.

When I was much younger, I would get to be friends with someone and then that someone’s friends wouldn’t like that and they would talk shit about me to my friend. Sadly, those friends didn’t believe my truth and they cut me loose. I never really knew what it was about me that made that happen as I was never given the opportunity to find out. This is why I have such huge issues with trusting people.

But because I believe in finding something to work on is this: working through my issues in my writing and maybe learning how to trust people if there is someone out there who does want to get closer to me. I’ve spent a lot of years since the leg-warmer decade (the 1980’s to the youngsters reading this) pushing people away or just staying away on my own. It’s something I regret a lot and am trying to work through now.

If you made it through 2020 with your sanity intact and still breathing, you’re doing fine. And if that’s your only real goal or resolution for 2021, that’s great, too. But there’s more to life than just surviving as my father once said to me.

There’s living to be done. And that’s the ultimate resolution: to live.

Uber Tales: The Subdued New Year’s Eve Edition

Subdued

That is the word I would use to describe last night on the road. A year ago as we rang in 2020, on the road it anything but subdued. There were massive parties, gatherings, and fireworks galore. On the side of the town I was mostly in last night parking lots were mostly empty, a lot of restaurants closed before midnight, and the few places there were open after midnight weren’t nearly as full. This was a good thing as COVID-19 cases are surging pretty badly here in San Antonio. I hit my financial goals before two a.m. though I made about half of what I made last year.

But I did get my first ‘what’s said in my Uber, stays in my Uber’ bit that I haven’t had since all this crap began back in March:

I go to a pickup just after midnight and I get to the house and this guy walks out with this chick who takes a couple of selfies with him then gives him a kiss goodnight. Now she doesn’t come along with him but this dude starts telling me about her. He said he’s known her for about ten years and that she’s an actress (I’ve never heard of) and he was pretty blown away by how lovey-dovey she was with him. But then he started talking about how she’s out of his league and deflated his own happy bubble. I just listened because I really wanted to tell him if he had feelings for her and if they were both single then he should tell her he cares about her and would like to spend more time with her. Alas, like a good bartender or Uber driver, I kept that to myself.

Last night was the night for not giving relationship advice on my part because earlier in the evening I picked up this lady and after she got in and we got rolling, she called her boyfriend and based on her side of the conversation it didn’t sound like he was listening to her too well. I almost thought she was going to say that out loud but instead after she hung with him she said to me, “Boyfriends are such jerks.” I would like to have said if he’s that much of a jerk and won’t listen to you then why are you with him in the first place? Instead, she changed the subject and asked me about having cats as pets because her son was asking about a cat. I told her I’ve had cats all my life and they make great pets and are pretty low-maintenance for the most part. Unlike boyfriends…

Then just before midnight I picked up these three chicks from a place and they were really quiet in the car and when I dropped them off at another place, that place looked sad. Barely any cars in the lot and all I could think was that a year ago the parking lot would have been full and there would have been a line of people out the door. Just because I’m not a bar-hopper or bar-goer doesn’t mean I’ll poo-poo anyone who has done that. Bar-hopping was always good for my business.

The loss of money has been tough as hell but I also have missed the loss of energy. I miss my Saturday night conversations that sounded like a bad reality-tv show. I miss the ‘what’s said in my Uber, stays in my Uber’ conversations. And I miss sometimes actually being able to give advice when people come right out and ask for it. I miss seeing people out and about even if I’m just on the outside looking in.

I never really thought about the energy in my job as an Uber driver. For me, it was just a part of the job and a mostly pleasurable one at that, especially on Saturday nights. I got to live vicariously through my passengers and be grateful I got to do a job where I wasn’t chained to a desk getting my ear chewed off for eight hours day while supervised mostly by mediocre idiots.

I think in this year 2021 eventually we’ll get this damn virus under control and pull just enough heads out of enough asses to get things back up and running. But it won’t be like before. The memories and emotions will always be there, hovering over the present for many years to come. I think the initial rebound as it’s being called will probably be pretty strong but I won’t forget this last year.

We should never forget what we lost, who we lost, and our pain and grief. And most of all, we should hold those responsible for this shit accountable. Vote them out of office, investigate them, charge them for breaking laws they did, and send the rest of them into exile. And most of all, never let these bastards forget what they did even if they never take responsibility for it.

I’ve been trying to put into words what I’ve been feeling for quite some time and the word ‘subdued’ has clarified those feelings. It’s a quiet word that shows a lack of energy and vitality and it recognizes pain and loss, too. Many years ago I once said the silence after a battle is just as loud as the battle itself.

We’re not done with this battle and things will be subdued for a good while longer. We’ll try to reenergize ourselves when we can but I know it won’t be like before. And before wasn’t perfect, far from it. But before there was energy and possibility, and hope. I’ve been able to hold on to the hope. Now I want the possibility and the energy back, and we need to fight like hell to hold on to that no matter what.