Grief Into Action, Part Two – BREAK YOUR SILENCE

Silence is the tool of the oppressor.

This is a thought I had some years ago as I dug through the wreckage of my heart and soul and that was because the people who hurt and oppressed me demanded my silence more than anything. They lied to me and said if I was silent they would stop hurting me, and that if I was silent I wouldn’t be hurt anymore. But the damage was done and they didn’t care to repair the damage they caused. They were the ones who walked away from me and left me to deal with everything up to and including death and the grief that followed it alone.

During the last few years, I realized how much shame and guilt I felt for things I didn’t do wrong. But that shame and guilt kept from doing the things I should have done so one set of shame and guilt has been replaced by another. Now some may say I shouldn’t feel shame and guilt over being driven into silence by fear and grief and pain, but I feel shame and guilt for my silence. I know how deep a hole inside yourself shame and guilt can dig so I remember what my late father always used to tell me, “The easiest way to get out of a hole is to quit digging and start climbing.”

Digging yourself out of a hole is not going to be a popular decision with some people, whether they be stranger or someone you know. Having you out of sight and silent keeps them from dealing with their own feelings of contempt, cruelty, and lack of compassion. Being silent keeps people from facing their own failures and accepting responsibility for them. But their feelings are not yours to deal with. And another thought I had in regard to this recently was this: no one is responsible for pulling someone’s head out of their ass for them. If someone has their head jammed up their ass and is refusing to take it out, just walk away from them.

If anyone reading this feels like I’m backing them up against a wall, or is feeling uncomfortable, or maybe even feeling pricks of guilt, shame, or remorse, those are your feelings to deal with, no one else’s. Your discomfort means NOTHING in the face of so many people grieving in pain. My feelings of shame and guilt mean nothing in the face of those grieving in pain but I will not drive anyone into silence simply because I’m feeling things that are painful, such as shame and guilt. Instead, I will try and turn my feelings into a plan of action to try and save lives and keep other people from going through the absolute hell twenty-one families in Uvalde, Texas along with thousands of other families in this country whose grief has roared back to life with a terrible vengeance.

To those of you reading this who have felt helpless and full of fear and anxiety over speaking out against the oppressors of this world both near and far from you, I understand your feeling and where they come from. I want to tell you what my father used to tell me: you are so much stronger than you will ever realize. I want to say that you have the courage and strength to break your silence and stand and fight for what’s right and true in this world. I want to say your compassion, empathy, kindness, and love for others are your greatest strengths.

When I first started blogging again recently and became active on social media I had a fear to work through: the fear that I would have to deal with someone coming at me and trying to silence me. But as I continue to break my silence and work through the thoughts and feelings that come with that, my fear had begun to recede. And it continues to recede every single day I write and live my life. Breaking my silence is the best thing I’ve ever done for myself. And I know the day will come when someone will try to come at me over something I say here or elsewhere. But I know I can choose how to respond, from a simple ‘agree to disagree’ to a blunt ‘fuck off’, or silence and block, the choice is mine. And the choice is yours, too.

To all of us feeling shame and guilt over the decades of active-shooter drills for our children and teachers, let’s tell the truth about what these do and don’t do. Break the silence around this horror and let’s work our asses off to end the need for these types of drills and give future generations of children a safe environment to live and learn in. Let’s break our silence on gun control legislation and speak out about it even if someone tells not to. Keep talking, and don’t stop talking. And let’s turn grief into action once and for all.

BREAK YOUR SILENCE

Grief Into Action

Earlier today a gunman walked into Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas and murdered eighteen children and three adults. I will not say the gunman’s name nor ever write it out here, and I will not speculate as to what his motive was. Instead, I will try to address a question so many people asked yesterday: what can we do to stop this from happening again in the future?

The following are based on my own observations, research, and beliefs that I am trying to put into action.

1) Take a stand. By this I mean take a position and stand on it. You don’t have to go public with it like I am. All I ask is that you make your position known in the voting booth. Your vote is now literally a matter of life and death. Choose wisely, and choose well.

2) Vote for candidates for any public office who have solid plans to address gun violence in our country. And if they are rated by the NRA (National Rifle Association), make sure their grade is F for this means they support sensible gun legislation and they don’t take any money from the NRA or other gun lobby groups, groups that are nothing but greedy butchers. The NRA and other groups like them have only stoked fear and outrage to enrich themselves. These groups have no conscience, no empathy, and no compassion for anyone.

3) If you want to give financial support, support organizations that are working for sensible gun control legislation. Two groups I recommend are Everytown for Gun Safety and former Congresswoman and shooting survivor Gabby Gifford’s group. These organizations have been campaigning tirelessly for years to save lives so if you have the means to support them, please do so.

4) In the coming days, weeks, months, and even years, crackpot conspiracy-theorists like QAnon adherents will accuse the families in Uvalde of being ‘crisis actors’ and that the murders didn’t happen. The families of the children murdered at Sandy Hook Elementary School have been battling these monsters for years, so much that some of these crackpots are in prison for threatening the families. If anyone speaks to you like this, shut them down as hard as you can, so badly it hurts. There is no compromise or tolerance for these views.

5) If you are a gun owner, be a responsible gun owner. Know how to safely handle and store your weapon. Keep it away from children and other people at all times. And hope and pray you never have to use it because if you boast that you could shoot someone, know that if you do you will have to deal with it for the rest of your life. Don’t ever speak of being a gun owner in a cavalier way or be irresponsible in any way.

Most of all, be there for those who are grieving now. You don’t need to find words to comfort someone. To comfort someone all you need to do is be there and listen with an open heart and an open mind. Cry and share emotions such as sadness, pain, and grief. But also share emotions such as joy, and remember their loved ones, their hopes and dreams, and the lives they lived, even those lost at such a young age such as the children in Uvalde today.

This evening President Biden addressed the nation and talked of turning grief into action. Before President Biden has talked about turning grief into purpose but we already have purpose in our lives, and that is to live well, love well, and do no harm. Now we have to take that purpose and turn it into action.

I will tell you here that if you take a stand against gun violence there may people in your life who will not agree with you on this. You will have to agree to disagree though in my experience that is not really done. I have been told that if I don’t back down there will be no peace because I have to be silent in order to keep the peace. I say to that: there is no peace in silence. I have also been told if I am too outspoken that people will not want to be around me, or like me, or love me. I have been told if I am outspoken I will come off as hard and cold when I am anything but. To those who would seek to isolate me for my beliefs and my actions I will say this: I am alone here in front of you now, and if I have to live my life alone I will. But I don’t believe that being outspoken will isolate me like I have feared for so long. Because most of all, I still have hope for a better world, and a belief that our world is worth saving.

Turning grief into action will not be easy. Doing this may have you accused of being a troublemaker, of making trouble where there shouldn’t be, and that now is not the time to take action. To that I will respond with a quote from the late Congressman John Lewis:

“Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble.”

– John Lewis, tweet from June 2018

Stand or Fall – Shattered Glass Ceilings

In 2021, I read a book called ‘Ashley’s War’ (by Gayle Tzemach Lemmon) about Lieutenant Ashley White, US Army Reserve who was a member of the first Cultural Support Team (CST). Lt. White was killed in Afghanistan, the first CST to die in the line of duty but her story will always be remembered. This book changed me simply because it made me realize that as long as I don’t give up on myself and focus on my goals in life, I can succeed like Lt. White and all her fellow CST’s did. Because what she and her fellow CST’s did was shatter one of the biggest glass ceilings there ever was in this country for women- the ban on women in combat which was lifted in 2013.

Early on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States military realized they were losing out on valuable intelligence because male soldiers could not interact in any way with women in Iraq or Afghanistan. These countries are Muslim and in strict Muslim society, women are not allowed to interact in any way much less speak to men who are not related to them by blood or marriage. Now women in these countries will talk to other women regardless of their nationality so the US military began pulling female soldiers, most of them in non-combat support roles, to interrogate and gather intelligence from women in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2009, US Special Operations Command began to formulate a plan to create all-female units to embed with combat units specifically to gather intelligence from the women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now they had to take their time doing this because of the ban on women in combat positions. But in 2011, they put out the call for the Cultural Support Teams and thousands of women in the US military responded and answered the call.

The argument against women in combat roles was always this: the American public would not be able to handle the sight of female soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins.

One-hundred and fifty-two female American soldiers have died in the War on Terror since September 11, 2001.

And you know what the reaction of the American people was:

ABSOLUTEY NOTHING!!!

I put that in all-caps to make a point. There were no protests at the sight of female soldiers coming home in flag-draped coffins. There was no outcry to stop women from being deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan. In fact, I will venture to guess that some readers of this piece will not even know how many female soldiers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, or that the ban on women in combat was lifted almost ten years ago.

The reason I’m writing this here is because I see a right-wing conservative Republican movement that will not just replace the glass ceiling the CST’s shattered, but they will create a steel-walled prison for all women. I believe the goal of these motherfuckers is to take away all the rights of every woman in this country, and for them to determine the life-path of every single woman in this country. And for those that defy that, I believe these motherfuckers would torture those women who resist in ways that I don’t want to think about.

I’m sure some readers here may think I’m going off the deep end to even speculate about the future these motherfuckers may want to make a reality. In 1945, the world learned just what the Nazi’s were fully capable of and did, so much so that a new word had to be created to describe the mass-murder of millions of people: genocide. Do I think these right-wing bastards would commit genocide to achieve their goal of total world domination? Yes. And I believe they would start with subjugating women and imprisoning them in strictly-defined roles with a few women selected as evil overseers.

In my forty-eight years I’ve seen a lot of glass ceilings broken and shattered. I’ve seen a lot of battles for women’s rights fought and won. But what I’m seeing now is not just an attack, but a full-out battle being planned to take away all of those accomplishments. It isn’t just a race-war these monsters want, but war against anyone who isn’t white, male, heterosexual, and ‘Christian’ (I put the term ‘Christian’ in quotation marks because none of these monsters are true Christians).

In the book, ‘Ashley’s War’, the women of the Cultural Support Teams constantly wondered if they were good enough for what they were being asked to do. They worried they would fail, not just their fellow soldiers but that if they failed they would destroy any opportunities for other women in the military. So they never gave up, never gave in to those fears and doubts. And in my own small tribute to them, I have vowed to do the same with myself.

To any woman reading this who has ever been told she can’t do something simply because she’s a woman, I will tell you this: do it. And if you want to say anything to these motherfuckers you can say this: “Watch me.” Then go out and take names and kick ass as hard as you can and never quit on yourself, or your sisters-in-arms.

Breaking Radio Silence – Strength Isn’t Cruelty

I was driving along yesterday and got to thinking this: being mean or cruel to someone doesn’t make them stronger. My late father in his manic phases, and especially after he had his stroke and part of his brain got fried, said things to me that I won’t repeat to anyone. The gist of his tirades against me was that I wasn’t ‘strong enough’ or ‘mean enough’ to deal with what life was going to throw at me or had thrown at me. At the time, I just sat and took his shit because I didn’t want to escalate his temper any worse than it already was. And sometimes he apologized for what he said and I wrote a lot of it off to fried brain-circuitry. But hearing from him that I was weak, stupid, and not strong enough to deal with the world like a so-called ‘normal’ person hurt like hell.

This got me thinking about all the shit people have spewed at me simply because I’ve spent my life being as quiet as I can be, trying to be a good person, trying to be kind and encouraging, and most of all, trying to keep my emotions under the tightest control possible. Being treated like shit for being ‘different’, for being clumsy and awkward, fat and ugly, didn’t make me stronger. If someone thinks that silently taking shit is someone who is strong I want to tell you right here and now that’s not true. In reality, words of hate and cruelty create wounds that will never fully heal.

My mother never spoke to me like this. My mother and I were very similar in that we were both quiet and shy, awkward, and got treated like shit because of it. My mother grew up being told she was ugly and stupid and would never amount to anything. She decided to raise me differently and I’m forever grateful for that. One of the very first things I ever remember hearing from her was this, “You are a very pretty girl.” She would also compliment me on doing things well, would listen to me talk, and always wanted to spend time with me. My mother wasn’t one to say ‘I love you’ very often and she wasn’t very affectionate but I understood she wasn’t raised to say to those words or to be affectionate. But she spoke the truth so when she complimented me or spoke to me with encouragement, I knew she meant every word. Even though it’s been twenty years since she died, I miss more than ever sometimes. I miss her because she knew strength didn’t come from cruelty, but from love even if she wasn’t one to say the word ‘love’ very often.

No one really wanted to be around my mother when she got sick with cancer. No one wanted to deal with the ugly reality she lived with every single freaking day of the last seven years of her life. I tried my best to be there for her in every way I could. I doctored second-degree radiation burns. I cut her hair when it started falling out. I let her talk about how awful cancer was. And I sat beside her in a darkened bedroom willing her to stay alive as she battled the depression that was trying to kill her. And I did my best to support her when she sought help for that depression. So when the tumor in her brain robbed her of her ability to speak at the end of her life, my heart broke in a way that will never fully heal.

If I had told my mother to stay strong, to think positively at all times, and to fight no matter what, I would have destroyed my relationship with her. I would have hurt her in horrible ways and truly isolated her. Instead, I worked to create an environment where she could let her guard down, talk shit when she needed to, and just know that I would be there for her no matter how bad it got.

And my mother wasn’t perfect and neither am I, and both of us (if she were alive she’d be saying this right along with me here) would be the first to tell you we weren’t perfect. And we didn’t try to be. We tried to just keep our emotional shit together and not be a burden on anyone. We tried to do what needed to be done and be there for people when we could. Yet we both felt like that was never good enough and we dealt with that in our own silent way.

My mother broke her silence when she sought help for the depression that tried to kill her. And I’m breaking my silence by telling her story alongside my own. One big part of that is this: talking to someone in way that’s cruel, insensitive, and ugly doesn’t make someone stronger. It just drives them into silence more often than not and makes them feel like they’ll never be good enough for anyone. My mother never made me feel like I wasn’t good enough for her, or that I couldn’t do anything right at all. I hope that she knew I felt the same way about her.

If someone ever tried to talk cruel to me in order to ‘strengthen’ me I’d say one thing to them: “Go fuck yourself.” Then I’d walk away and leave them stewing in their own shit. And if anyone reading this has ever talked shit to someone thinking that’s going to toughen then up, stop doing that and ask yourself why you feel justified in doing that. You might not like the answers, but they’re yours to deal with, not mine. I’ve always found my strength without cruelty.

Problem or Solution

Do you want to be a part of the problem or the solution?

That is a question that is being asked more than ever and I can tell you most of the replies to it are silent. Why is that, you may ask. My answer is that it takes more work to be a part of the solution and not just sit and mouth off about the problem while doing absolutely nothing to solve it.

Case in point: This past week one-hundred and ninety-six Republican members of Congress voted against a bill to address the baby formula shortage in the United States. Why? I think the best answer I saw was that Republicans want to campaign on problems and not solutions. Luckily, the bill passed along with the President invoking the Defense Production Act to increase manufacturing of baby formula and organizing an airlift of formula from Germany, too.

Why the shortage of baby formula? A problem that has its’ roots in the previous, Republican-majority Congress from 2016 to 2020. A law passed that banned the importing of baby formula and not addressing the consolidation of baby formula manufacturers in addition to lax regulation of baby formula plants that led to multiple infants hospitalized due to contamination issues.

So why create problems and not solutions? Answer: for people to grab and consolidate power they don’t deserve at all. Creating problems and outrage over them distracts people from seeing these monsters steal from those in need and hurt others simply because they can. Because these monsters want to break people down to absolutely nothing so these people will fall into line and do what they’re told simply to survive.

Does this sound cruel? As a popular saying amongst us leftist-ANTIFA’s goes: the cruelty is the point. And if this hurts anyone reading this, or makes you feel like you’re being backed into a wall, ask yourself why. Ask yourself why people have to suffer when there are solutions available. Ask yourself why you believe that certain groups of people have to suffer when there is no need for that at all. And ask yourself why you listen to the outrage instead of solutions.

One thing that comes up is that us Democrat-Lefties aren’t forceful enough with our message. We are. It’s just not a message with empty outrage. It’s a message about the solutions that are right in front of us ready to be implemented if only conservative assholes weren’t standing in the way. We don’t make excuses why things can be done but instead say, we can do this and here’s how.

Now I’m sure some asshole (and I honestly don’t give a shit who that is) is saying, “Well, what are you doing about this?”

One: I’ve never, ever voted Republican. I’ve never voted for a candidate who didn’t offer real solutions to the real problems in our world. If a candidate is just ranting and raving like a lunatic without any solutions they won’t get my vote.

Two: Doing what I’m doing here. I know I have a very small voice right now but if I get just one person to think about why they think and feel the way they do then that’s more than enough. And I will only grow my voice by continuing to write and publish here because one solution is for people to find their voice and speak out against the problem-mongers and outrage-fanatics.

One of the hardest things I’ve had to work through with finding my voice is being hated and isolated because of it. But then I tell myself I’ve been on my own all my life and also, I’ve had my world crash in on me twice in my forty-eight years and all I could do was shoulder those burdens alone. I’m not asking for sympathy or any bullshit like here. I’m just stating fact that this is not easy for me to do. But silence is a part of the problem and not the solution. So by breaking my silence, I’m choosing to be a part of the solution.

To anyone who feels like they don’t matter at all I say this to you:

If your voice didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your vote didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your kindness and compassion didn’t matter so much they wouldn’t be trying so hard to take it away from you.

If your ability to solve problems and deal with shit as it comes didn’t matter so much, they wouldn’t be trying to take that away from you.

So ask yourself, do you want to be a part of the problem, or part of the solution?

Uber Tales – Frequently Asked Questions, Edition

I’m going to list some of my most frequently asked questions (FAQ) here but if you have any questions for me that are not listed here, just let me know in the comments.

How long have I been driving for Uber?

  • Five years as of this year.

Do I like it?

  • Yes. (If I didn’t I don’t think I would have stayed with it as long as I have because of the freedom I have with this job).

Longest trip?

  • Current record holder is three hours (would have been three and a half if I hadn’t taken a couple of alternate routes around some high-traffic areas)

Biggest tip?

  • Current record is still $100 though if anyone wants to break that record they’re more than welcome to.

Any really strange or outrageous passengers?

  • Nothing totally bizarre or anyone I couldn’t handle.

How much time do I spend at the airport?

  • Enough to where I sometimes call it my home-away-from-home.

Are you from San Antonio?

  • Born and raised, and I’m old enough to remember when things were built, or something else.

When do you drive?

  • Anytime I want to though my bank account pretty much dictates when I work and for how long.

Has anyone ever puked in your car?

  • No, which I am forever grateful for. I’ve reduced that risk greatly by not 2 a.m. bar let-outs though I do get the occasional day-drunks.

Have I been like a bartender-therapist to people in the car?

  • Yes. I don’t mind because sometimes people just need to talk and I’m more than happy to listen.

How many ‘morning after’s’ (formerly known as the ‘walk of shame’) have I done?

  • Lots. And occasionally I get the story. And I call them ‘morning after’s’ because I had a family in the car one night (mom, dad, two young girls) and the mom was up front with me asking me questions. She was about to say ‘walk of shame’ but I stopped her with ‘morning after’ then angled my head towards her daughters in the backseat. I didn’t feel right saying ‘walk of shame’ in front of young kids and I think I also kept the mom from having to explain that term to her daughters.

Extras

  • I was offered pot in lieu of a tip twice in one week. First time was when I dropped this guy off and he said he didn’t have any cash on him for a tip so I told him he could tip me through the app. Then he offered me something to eat or drink (I politely declined) then he went, “Can I offer you a bag of weed?” I went, “Uh what?” because I wasn’t sure if I heard him correctly. He said yes rather enthusiastically but I declined and got out of there. Second time was a couple of days later when I was driving this lady home and she said she didn’t have cash for a tip so I told her she could tip in the app. Then she asked me if I wanted a joint but I declined smoothly by saying, “No, thank you, ma’am. I don’t smoke.”
  • I’ve been asked out several times (declined firmly but politely) though I got a rather indecent proposal from this guy one night. He was drunk and hitting on me then he offered me money for an indecent time and I went, “Excuse me?” in a tone of voice that made it very clear he crossed a line. He apologized all over himself and I let him flop around like a fish on a hook for a minute or so before I told him, “Apology accepted.” He tipped me well so I let it slide.

If you would like to ask me something that wasn’t addressed here, please ask in the comments here and I’ll do my best to answer it. Thanks!

Personal Safety In Modern Times

My father used to say to me, “Nine times out of ten you can think your way out of a situation or react accordingly. There may be one time where you can but hope and pray that doesn’t happen.”

Bad things can happen anywhere, at any time, and to anyone. And I am NOT blaming anyone for being a victim and if you’ve done that, go to Hell. But here are a few things I’d like to share with you that might keep you out of trouble:

Be aware of your surroundings and your situation all the time. When you’re out and about, note where everyone and everything is at. Try not to get distracted by your phone or anything else. Crime can happen anywhere at any time, even in broad daylight on a crowded afternoon. Be aware and if you feel like something isn’t right or seems off, get out of there. I’ve done this a few times and though nothing has happened, I wasn’t going to take chances. I think people have the gift of intuition and that’s it worth developing. Or as my father would say, always listen to your gut.

As an Uber driver, I’ve been asked if I’ve ever had a situation where I didn’t feel safe. The answer is no. But I will tell you I have been in areas of the city that looked rough and are known to be rough. In these places I like to say I don’t stick around for autographs- I just pick up or drop off my rider and move on. I’ve been out in the boonies miles from civilization all on my own and yes, I’ve seen a fair number of horror movies so I know not to stop driving for anything.

In the car I keep a can of Lysol in the cup holder beside me. Perfectly innocuous object, and practical in our germ-filled world. But that perfectly normal object can be used as a weapon if needed. First, it makes a good can of mace to spray in someone’s face. I guarantee if you give someone a full shot of Lysol in their face they’re not going anywhere. Also, it comes in a big metal can that could put a dent in someone’s head if you hit them hard enough with it or bust their nose depending on your aim.

I saw a video recently showing what to do if someone grabs you from behind in your car. Lean your seat back to where they’re pinned down then grab your Lysol and your phone, spray Lysol in your attacker’s face before you hit the pavement and find a good hiding place to call the cops. Most attackers aren’t going to expect you to fight back so use that brief moment of surprise to hurt them enough to get away.

Another thing I do as a driver when I’m picking someone up is having my car in a position to drive off, not facing a dead-end, cul-de-sac, or a wall if I can help it. If asked, I would say it’s just convenience and getting the ride going without having to turn around but in reality, it’s also a safety pre-caution. Because think of it like this: if someone, or a group of people are coming up behind you and you think they’re up to no good, you can hit the gas and get away.

If someone does come at you with a gun or a knife, cooperate with them. Do whatever it takes to keep them from pulling the trigger or coming at you. Things like money and cards can be replaced- you can’t. While you’re staying calm, try to commit every detail about the miscreant to memory, like any scars or tattoos, what they’re wearing, what they’re saying to you, what type of weapon they’re using. These details are important to the police and you might give the cops the one thing they need to nab these miscreants and throw them in the clink. Also, if you are a victim of crime there are resources available to help you through the police department and victims’ advocate groups.

If you watch the tv news, you might think the streets are being overrun by criminals. They’re not. Yes, there are areas with higher rates of crime but the people that live in these areas aren’t all criminals. The vast majority of people in this world are good people so don’t let the bad ones ruin things for you as my father would say.

Just stay alert, be cautious, and always think and focus on keeping your shit together.

Breaking Radio Silence – Yet Another Realization

As you’ll read in ‘Breaking Radio Silence’, the first part of the book is a series of realizations as I call them. These realizations are thoughts that helped me see things in ways I needed to in addition to lifting weights of shame and guilt I had no business carrying around in the first place. But to my surprise, it seems I still have realizations coming to me.

My newest realization came from a memory that surfaced when I was dropping off some passengers about a week ago at a hotel across from a restaurant that was the scene of a memory that surfaced as I looked right at the site (the restaurant where my memory happened was razed to the ground and a new restaurant is being built on the site). I’m not going into any detail about what happened but the conclusion I came to as I worked through the emotions of that memory was this:

My purpose in life is NOT to help someone pull their head out of their ass, nor is that the purpose of anyone else in life. If someone has their head jammed up their ass, it’s their responsibility to pull it out.

For the vast majority of my life, I felt one of my biggest reasons for existing was to manage people’s moods around me. I felt like I had to do everything in my power not to piss people off, or burden them with my bullshit, and worse, not let my control slip to where I came off as an opinionated selfish, know-it-all bitch. That was quite a burden I placed on myself though a lot of that was placed on me by being a middle-child because most middle children become ‘managers’ pretty early on in life. It’s like the expectation of middle children is that we’re the responsible ones who won’t cause trouble for anyone. For me, I felt like I couldn’t be ‘normal’, that I couldn’t be goofy, or do stupid shit, or worse, get into a bit of trouble. I had to deal with people coming to me wringing their hands telling me I shouldn’t do this or that because I was too damn fragile or some bullshit like that.

I know I’m not fragile, and anyone who comes at me wringing their hands and telling me not to do something is wrong. And if someone is in a shitty mood and unwilling to work through it, or put it aside for a while until they can work on it later, I don’t need to walk on eggshells around them. And I sure as hell don’t need to feel like shit about myself if I’m not in a shitty mood when someone else is.

Because I have spent so damn much of my life trying to contain my moods both good and bad. Yes, I’ve held back good moods because I’ve been in too many situations where that made me stand out like a bloody wounded thumb. I felt like I had to try and manage someone out of their shitty mood and now I realize that’s not my damn responsibility. One of the biggest things I’ve been working on for the last few years is trying my best to work through my feelings and personal shit. I have not always succeeded but NO ONE does this perfectly. And I will NOT let anyone make me feel like I have to do anything perfectly when perfection is only something that happens for a brief moment in time.

On that day I mentioned at the beginning of this piece, everyone with me was mired in their own shit and unwilling to put it aside for me. For the longest time, I thought I was wrong to think they should have put their personal shit aside for me and that I wasn’t good enough for anyone to do that for me. Or at least I used to think that but now I don’t. If someone doesn’t want to be around me all they have to do is find their tits or balls and come right out and tell me. Trust me, I won’t make any fuss over it. I’ll just say okay and walk away and be alone. I can be on my own just fine and be happy in the process. But here’s a revelation for you: I like being around people. I actually like talking with people and being in social situations. I just don’t like it when people are projecting their shit onto me and other people and expecting me and other people to just suck it up and deal with it.

And if I had said anything about being miserable on that day years ago, it wouldn’t have gone well. The situation would have blown up in my face and I would been raged at or guilt-tripped into thinking my timing sucked. In my experience, when people get called out on their shit they dig in. I don’t regret staying silent back then but now… I’ll stand by my realization: I’m not responsible for pulling someone’s head out of their ass. And if someone doesn’t want to be around me, all they have to do is say so. And if anyone reading this has dug in instead of listening to someone calling them out on their shit, ask yourself why.

Another Trip Around the Sun

Today begins my forty-eighth trip around the sun (it’s my birthday). As I make more trips around the sun and have more prior trips to look back on, I do get philosophical and write about it but hey, it’s my blog and I’ll write and post on it when I want to (in tribute to the late great Lesley Gore who only cried at her party- no tears for me).

As I write this, I’m listening to The Rolling Stones album ‘Exile on Main Street’ which is celebrating its’ fiftieth anniversary this year. I watched a preview of the documentary about the making of that album and Mick Jagger said they felt like exiles when they made that record (they had left England after getting cleaned out by the tax man and a bad management deal they’d been in). They de-camped to the South of France and set up in the basement of Keith Richards’ villa and recorded eighteen tracks of ragged brilliance. But as Martin Fry of the band ABC said, “People took so many drugs they didn’t remember playing on the record.”

Since I’ve never taken drugs, I do remember more than I’d like to at times. But in the past eight years, I’ve taken a hard look back and although it’s been painful as hell at times, it’s also been liberating without the monster hangovers I’m sure The Rolling Stones went through back in the day. I am exile like they were though not de-camped in a villa in the South of France. I don’t know if anything I ever publish someday will be anywhere near the ragged brilliance of The Rolling Stones album I’m listening to but I’m trying.

A year is a long time when you think about but having a lot of years before this one is a lot of time to think about, too. One thing I’ve learned about looking back is not to think of regrets, of missed opportunities, or kicking the crap out of yourself for not doing things better. My late father used to say regrets were useless because you can’t go back in time and change things. I think the best thing you can do is try and learn from it. I also think you can let go of the past and not live your life to it, too. The most important thing is not to kick the crap out of yourself for not doing things better or in a different way. As my father also used to say, you do the best you can with what you’re given to work with.

The last line in the previous paragraph is one that has been very hard for me to work through because when I started looking back at my life a few years ago, one of the hardest things I had to deal with was thinking I should have done things differently simply because I thought people wouldn’t approve or some bullshit like that. Why would I want anyone’s approval if I handled something in a way they didn’t ‘agree’ with? They weren’t there so as far I’m concerned now, they don’t get a say in the assessment.

To quote from the song ‘Sweet Virginia’ by The Rolling Stones: “You’ve got to scrape that shit right off your shoes.” I think that’s the stage I’m at in my life because I know I’m a mess and far from perfect, but no one else is either. Besides, perfection can be boring.

But I do look back on some aspects of the past, like the 1970’s for example. Because back then before technology creeped in and corrupted so many people so badly, people just set out to do what they wanted to do and didn’t give a shit what ‘people’ might think. It wasn’t about seeking perfection but about finding some bit of truth, light, and love. I think this is what I’m looking for and working towards to. As I said to a passenger a few days ago when I was telling them about my dream of living in a house-on-wheels: “The road is calling me.”

Today I’ll go on the road later and make some money and put at least a dollar aside towards that house-on-wheels (and I’ll start putting dollars towards other things, too). I’ll keep writing because when I write and post I get action on this blog and have been gaining at least one to two followers a week. I’ve got plans for more and now I don’t feel the fear that someone will say something to me about those plans or how I do things. People can say whatever they want to me, but I know I can choose how to respond to them.

I went through so many years thinking I was a failure of a person because I wasn’t perfect in every way that I could have been or was supposed to be. I used to wonder why I couldn’t be that way but then I realized I am who I am supposed to be. Also, no one is perfect even if they shoot their mouths off and say they are.

So as I start my next trip around the sun, I’m going to build on what I do know: I’m alright. Sloppy, messy, mouthy (at least on paper here) while trying to be kind to others and take things as they come. Be kind to yourself because that’s where it all begins. And enjoy these trips around the sun because no one knows how many you’ll get.

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