Beast Mode, Part 1

So, the first attempt at a fast didn’t go so well. Somehow, I managed to talk myself into thinking a 2-day fast would be just fine, so around about 6 P.M. on the second day, I proceeded fix myself a small bowl of dry roasted peanuts sprinkled in E.V.O.O. (Extra virgin olive oil. It’s on the Genius Foods list, alright). I then proceeded to attack the refrigerator and gorged myself for almost 2 hours. I think I finally started to run out of steam when I polished off the last of the Chocolate Peanut Butter Revel ice cream and, searching for more, had half a frozen ham hanging out of my grill when Kim walked through the door. God bless her, she didn’t say anything and left me to gleefully dunk the ham in olive oil and watch Deadwood.

So today I started over, again with the goal of stringing together a three-day fast. I read an article recently by a guy who did a five-day fast and he detailed how he was doing at certain times of the day. So, I thought I would borrow the concept. Here goes:

6:00 P.M. Thursday night: I ate chicken breasts with garlic and onions and raw peanuts with salt and extra virgin olive oil (It’s on the Genius Foods list goddammit!) No carbs, sensible portions and no ice cream before bed. Went to bed feeling pretty good.

1:12 A.M.: In my usual smoker’s ritual, had one Oreo and half a cigarette before I realized how disappointed I was in myself (about the Oreo. I’ve been getting up in the middle of the night to smoke for 25 years fella, so don’t judge me.) Went to bed marginally miffed.

5:20 A.M.: Started the day with a full a cup of espresso with coconut oil. I was half-way through the cup before I realized that while coffee is beneficial in many ways (among them are diminished risk of developing diabetes, depression and heart disease, “stronger DNA”, whatever that means, and decreased risk of suicide. Of course, to get all these benefits, one needs to consume between 4-8 cups of coffee per day, leading me to conclude that if you get wired enough, you don’t eat so you don’t get depressed because you’re not fat anymore, you don’t have high blood sugar because you’re too busy to eat anyway and you’ll be passing along some rock star DNA to the 11 kids you will most likely spawn because you can’t sleep so you’re just having sex all night long. Sign. Me. Up.) the coconut oil counts as calories. So tomorrow, no coconut oil but still a Truvia because it contains no calories.

 

7:30 A.M. Started work by doing my stretches and deliberately not looking at the sign that listed the lunch items for the day as I walked past it at work. Not that the cafeteria at work has the best food (far from it, actually) but the first time I tried fasting I almost didn’t make it through the first day because curry chicken and turkey burgers were on the menu. I like neither curry chicken nor turkey burgers, but as any fat person will tell you, if an overweight person alters their eating habits just a little, even a little used motor oil drizzled over month-old Pop-Tarts starts to sound delectable.

8:43 A.M. : First hunger pangs of the day. Actually, I kind of enjoyed them as I felt my lemon water gurgling around with the espresso in my belly. Chewed on 2 pieces of Big Red gum, then checked the label. 2 grams of sugar alcohol and 10 calories per piece. Oh well, it’s gum. Even if I chewed up 13 pieces today (which I ended up doing) it’s still a lot better than usual, so I forgave myself that one. No gum tomorrow though. And I made the decision to go to the gym after work for a high-intensity work out. Ted Naiman M.D. wrote an article for the DietDoctor.com in which he said that one can speed up the process of building up your insulin resistance (pretty much the reason I’m fasting for three days in the first place) with a high intensity workout. I’m not sure if “high intensity” specifically means doing the elliptical machine until you’re seeing double followed by 3 sets each of shoulder presses, hack squats and inclined ab crunches, then capping it all off with 20 minutes in the sauna where you’re pretty sure the guy sitting across from you is blathering on about the local college football game yet is inexplicably doing so in fluent German (I think the fasting is already starting to get to me), but that’s what I took it to mean.

2:24 P.M.: My mind is trying to convince me to at least eat the organic avocados I bought this weekend otherwise they will spoil. Look, I have a vehement hatred of wasting food under any circumstances, but, well, I’m gonna have to just buy more organic avocados. See, the difference between the cunning things your mind tells you when your fasting as opposed to, say, quitting smoking is, well, if you keep smoking, you’ll die early. If you don’t eat, you’ll die Thursday. I want the avocados very much. However, I want the fame, fortune and fulfillment that writing a blog post about how bulletproof I am will ultimately lead to a lot more.

 

5:10 P.M.: Got home and immediately brewed myself another full cup of espresso, then went to the dog park for a photo shoot. With another boost of appetite suppressant in my system (no coconut oil this time) I felt great, although consuming any coffee that late in the day is always a crap shoot as it may very well lead to me waking up sporadically during the night (which it did.) Regarding the photo shoot, I’m going to be featured in the Brain Injury Alliance’s annual appeal letter to donors, so I wanted to be sharp and engaging with the photographer who I’ve never met in person. Put my best face forward and whatnot. The photo shoot went fine and when I was done, I went for the high-intensity workout I mentioned above. I went to the convenience store and was very proud of myself for walking right past the pizza and smoked cheddar dogs I’ve been known to indulge in (what did I say about judging? What did I tell you? WHAT DID I TELL YOU?) retrieved a Smart Water from the cooler and left.

7:44 A.M. this morning: Weighed in at 198 pounds. The only time I’ve weighed that little in my adult life is when I was training for a half-marathon 2 years ago and I registered that exact weight for about 20 minutes before I loaded up with pancakes and sausage.

So, as I write this, I lay on my couch and my stomach is making noises that the transmission on my ’75 Plymouth Valiant use to make. Today will be replete with meditation, taking Zimmer to the dog park, more meditation, exploring some new computer software, and still more meditation and probably another trip to the gym for some minor cardio and weight lifting. That should keep me busy enough that I don’t focus on food at all today. Or I may very well be blowing $50 on skeeball at Dave and Busters by 9:45 P.M. tonight only because the food there sucks and I can’t sleep because of the 17 cups of espresso I drank through the day.. I’m doing this solo with only my dog to keep me company otherwise, I’m apt to slip. I’ll check back in with you tonight, dear reader. Pray for me. And the Oreos.

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Getting a handle on my handles

When I was in grade school, there was a kid who always played Four Square with me and my “friends.” I use quotation marks because I was arguably the most socially inept, chubby, awkward kid at St. Dymphna’s Elementary School and I’m pretty sure the kids that allowed me to sits at their lunch table and glom on to them at recess did so purely because somebody has to be the biggest loser in any social group and I dutifully filled that role. “St. Dymphna” wasn’t the actual name of the school, by the way, but Conor Oberst used the name in one of his song titles and I love the song, so I borrowed it. St. Dymphna, if you were wondering (I’m betting you weren’t) was the daughter of a pagan Irish king who eventually murdered her. This stands in the face of everything I thought I knew about the Irish, who I remain convinced were Catholic even before Christ and were just waiting around for thousands of years for a viable excuse to saddle themselves with guilt and drunken rage. St. Dymphna is the patron saint of mental disorders, neurological disorders, runaways, depression and anxiety, which makes her my kind of girl (the mental disorders, neurological disorders, depression and anxiety devotions anyway. Although who knows, even at 42 years old I guess it’s possible I could still run away from home, although Kim would probably tell me to just make sure I come back with the type of milk she likes and chicken egg rolls). This one kid, we’ll call him Brett, singled me out every single time I stepped into the first square in Four Square and devoted himself to either scooping the rubber ball ever so slightly into my square so I couldn’t play it or hammering down the ball so hard that I would stagger back and play it from the cheap seats where the girls had their jump-ropes going (I have no idea if this thought is really accurate. I suspect the girls were up to something and my brain goes to the things school girls do like hopscotch or jump-rope of some other such thing. They may very well have been performing Shakespeare or welding for all I know. It’s not important for the purposes of this excruciating childhood memory.) Brett also called me “Lard Ass” all the time. I wasn’t too heavy and there were kids at the school who were fatter, but Brett singled me out and even told me he only called me “Lard Ass” because he knew it bothered me. Well, Brett, it did. So much so that when in high school, when I heard that your dad died of a heart attack, I was secretly gleeful. Then I proceeded to feel horrible about feeling gleeful and have carried that dark shameful secret into adulthood. Anyway, I carried the scars of Brett and others’ fat-shaming into my 37th year when, after I got sober, I started running and going to the gym religiously, and on into my 41st year when I ran a half-marathon and on into this week.

 

What’s happening this week you ask? I have always been good at fitness and exercise on the front end. It’s the eating right and not indulging in all the crap that’s terrible for me on the back end. I’m almost done with Genius Foods, a book about the evils of the typical Western diet and its obsession with refined sugar and refined carbs and “healthy” grains that aren’t in fact that healthy for you. Because of decades of indulging in this diet, I have chronically high blood sugar. It usually ranges between 115-140 but has been known to spike higher than that on a particular junk food-y day. So, this week, I am embarking on a fast. My goal is to string together a full 3-day fast. That’s precisely 72 hours. I had my last bite of ice cream last night at about 10 PM, so by the 72-hour marker, I am due to eat again at 10 PM on Wednesday. But since I go to bed at 9 PM, that sets the next window I can eat at Thursday morning, which means at around 6 AM on that day, I will be ending an 80-hour fast by, presumably, frying up a spinach/sharp cheddar cheese/sausage/peanut butter/Oreo/Quarter Pounder with Cheese omelet with a healthy dollop of guacamole because its on the Genius Foods list. Extra virgin olive oil is also on the Genius Foods list, so I’ll probably drench the omelet with oil and throw some chocolate chips on that bitch too because with the advent of chocolate chip pancakes, it is now somehow a breakfast food.

I am half-way through the 20th hour of my first day of the fast as I write this and I’m doing pretty well. I have yet to have a hunger pang, I assume because my body is telling my brain, “Well yeah, dipstick. We got 21 pounds of stockpiled chewed bubble gum down here to try to make some fuel out of.” I guess that’s why I have never understood and kind of resent the whole “hangry” phenomenon. In the back of my mind, I remain convinced that even the term “hangry” is a stupid concept invented by overfed Americans who happen to get a little testy when they don’t get their Cheetos.

 

Alright, maybe I’m getting a little testy.

I imagine the first real test will be tomorrow at noon when I take my lunch break. I can get a free lunch at work, and I hear their having grilled steak fajitas.

So, if you’re the praying sort, put in a good word that I don’t Hulk out and cast wheelchairs asunder to get to the front of the line and don’t suffocate drowning my face in an  aluminum serving tray of brown rice,

The Yard

This gallery contains 1 photo.

  Months ago, my Mom and Da were at a St. Mary’s parish auction. My Da is very active in the parish, ushering at Sunday mass and regularly donating to the parish. This year, at the charity auction, the old man was the highest bidder on field box tickets to Wrigley Field. See, the brother […]

Finding the Now

This week, I gave a presentation at the TBI support group meeting on meditation and how it benefits the brain post-traumatic brain injury. Keep in mind, it was my first attempt at public speaking, well, ever. I think I did fairly well.

Before my presentation, several people in the support group expressed frustration at their inability to sit still for more than a couple minutes and even more difficulty remaining focused. Now bare in mind, these folks had no idea I was about to give a presentation about these very things and how meditation can really help in the brain’s ability to do these very things because their minds start racing with thoughts of the future, the past and the present. As I point out in the video, that’s kind of the point. Other than being distracted towards the end by the guy with an inexplicable grin on his face as he rested his head on the shoulder of the woman sitting next to him (!?!), I made it I completed my presentation unscathed.

Anyway, I’m posting the three parts of the presentation on my trial YouTube page and you can see them here, here and here. This is the first time I’m embedding YouTube links in a post. Here’s hoping it works.

 

It’s Hard Getting Started, Again

Well I made it. 6 years sober. As we say in meetings, “How’d you do it?”

 

I almost didn’t.

See, a few months ago, I was reassigned to a new position at work. As it turns out, no matter how much I hate to admit it to myself, my brain damage is real and there’s many things I simply cannot do. One of those things is handle the integration of a multitude of factors of varying skill sets into my poor little brain all at once and expect the seamless integration of all those factors into a finished product called “satisfactory performance of my job.”

This was a problem with HVAC and it’s a problem with being a veterinary assistant. Honestly, it’s going to be a problem with a great many things the rest of my life.

And I simply cracked.

One day, I was waiting to hear if I could start working at a brain and spinal cord rehab facility and was informed that HR at said facility wanted me to start volunteering first, then we would collectively consider the possibility of collecting a paycheck from them.

And when I stared into the abyss and the abyss stared back, in a flash I saw three options:

I could go call my sponsor. I could go home and try to find some sort of solace in my dog and my girlfriend.

Or I could just saunter on over to the sports bar across the way and sit down and get hammered. Then I would go into my old home group meeting the very next day and sit down and introduce myself as a newcomer with one day sober and feel absolutely no remorse about that.

I just wanted the pain to go away, even for a few hours. The pain of having to live under with brain that can’t remember things and can’t process information the way other, unbrain-damaged people do.

The pain of the new normal. Because frankly, the new normal sucks eggs.

But I didn’t.

I kept going to meetings. I talked to my sponsor. I reconnected with a great friend whose been my friend since the day I walked into the ¾ house 6 years ago.

And I redirected.

I am good at redirection. But instead of going to the gym or meditating or walking my dog, I owned up to the fact that for these 6 years, it has felt like I have had the temptation to drink and smoke pot perched on an invisible ceiling right above my psyche. I have tried to go to school to be a veterinary technician and failed. I have tried to satiate myself with the HVAC industry and I hated it (I didn’t fail that one, but I wasn’t exactly setting land speed records either.) So, I went back to animal care, trying my hand at veterinary assisting and I failed at that. I was lucky enough to work for a place that kept me on anyway because of my work ethic.

And I walked to the edge of the cliff and … well …

I read a Zen koan the other day that really summarizes it. A man stumbles on the edge of a cliff and just before plummeting to the rocks below, he sees a tiger come to the edge where he just was, licking his chops. Then the man sees another tiger waiting for him far below the vine. And in the midst of all this, he sees a strawberry growing on a ledge on the side of the rock wall. He braces himself, then manages to pluck the strawberry. And it tasted so sweet!

So that’s what I did, I looked at the amazing life I have with Kim and the Z (my dog Zimmer) and that I have enough food and a roof over my head and all my five senses are firing and I have all my limbs and digits.

And I made an appointment with a shrink. I did a little research and discovered that many, many people who suffer a traumatic brain injury suffer depression for at least awhile. So I talked to my doctor and got a prescription for an anti-depressant.

And I decided to get started on a new project. I’m doing the requisite research and I’m going to take a class and I’m reading books and looking into starting a Go Fund Me campaign. I’m starting a new blog with an adjunct YouTube channel. The content of all of it will be the things I’ve learned through 6 years of immersion in meditation, exercise, nutrition, activism, and connection with other alcoholics. The two principle subjects will be Traumatic Brain Injury and addiction because those are the two things I have passion for and, 13 years after one and 6 years of recovery from the other, I think I have at least an intermediate knowledge of. The two things that have been my worst enemy and my greatest asset. The two things that I live with every day and must make sense of every single day of my life.

Will it bring me monetary reward? Possibly. Will it bring me connection to other alcoholics and survivors of brain injury? Hopefully. But it will bring me peace and give me fire again. It will give me the same fire that drove me to run a half-marathon two years ago and sustain the first year of raising a puppy last year (which I will say right now that, while probably not with the same lasting effects as raising a child in their first year, it’s still pretty damn trying).

So, I will relay the progress of building the new blog on this blog. I will relate the perils of GoogleAds and WordPress and Squarespace and GoFundMe and hopefully my readership, meager though it might be, will follow me into the podcast and the new blog (which I can’t release the name of because you never know who might steal it. I’m watching ALL of you.)

I hope you come with me. Because today I celebrated 6 years sober. Here’s to another 24.

 

 

Oh Hi

I’m back.

I’ve been tossing around this idea of a vlog within a blog. It’s really just been over the last week or so that I came up with the idea of marrying the many seminal moments and resulting life changes I’ve had over the last almost 6 years and the result has been an idea for an all new blog/vlog. So, without revealing too much, I’m going to be starting a new blog with a new name and most likely starting a crowd funding campaign to account for the video equipment I’ll need I’ll basically be providing all manner of things relating to health, nutrition, addiction, traumatic brain injury, sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll.

Does that sound like something that might interest y’all?

Voo Doo Princess

kim-allighator

 

So this weekend was my first weekend get-away with Madeline. We went to New Orleans stayed at a hotel in the French quarter and did all the things tourists do in the Big Easy (which incidentally is named for two things. The overall easy going nature of life in New Orleans and the big, easy swerve of the Mississippi river which I tried to run along (a note to runners: There is no easy going running path along the Mississippi in New Orleans. The only one I found abutted a chained link fence on one side and a musical steamship playing Christmas carols on the other. Hearing Christmas carols in November is jarring enough. Hearing them coming out of steamship while you’re on a run in a tank top and gym shorts is postively surreal for a Midwestern boy like myself.) But I did manage to, with the help of the Map My Run app on my phone, run a little over three miles through the French Quarter with a jaunt along Bourbon Street, which I believe may have been the first time that the concepts of physical exercise and Bourbon Street were in the same sentence or reality in recorded history. We only had 2 ½ days to play with and were operating on a limited budget, which was fine because this was as much a mini-vacation as much as it our first trial of how we coexisted. I am happy to report that we thoroughly enjoyed the whole weekend and only tango-ed on each others nerves a couple times, and each of those times, Madeline deftly decided we should part company for a few hours (to her credit, one of those times were when we were at the World War II museum and, God bless her, she could see I had no intention of cutting my tour short so, at 3 hours in, she bailed.) We united anew later that day and merrily finished out the weekend.

A couple weeks ago, she mentioned to me that she is assuredly not tallying the amount of money she or I spends on each other. She knows that I am just recently gaining some financial footing in my life and told me that, more than a gift bought in a store or even tickets to this or that concert, she wanted a poem. She has spent some time perusing this blog and apparently thinks I’m a talented writer and, as my luck would have it, a decent poet. So, to thank her for the weekend, I started writing a poem on our first full day in NOLA (that’s New Orleans, LA to outsiders and, more specifically, Madeline herself. She didn’t make the connection until our third day there and I realized once again that me and my friends’ tendency to rib each other almost to the point of rage and/or tears is assuredly not how a man conducts himself in a relationship with a woman (I was reminded of an instance long ago when my sister-in-law was 8 months pregnant with my nephew and my friend Tim told my brother to, at all costs, avoid the urge to tell her to suck it up already.)

So, I started writing a poem that can best be described as a sad, sorry, pitiful and, perhaps worst of all, predictable attempt at capturing our time in New Orleans. Here it is:

 

Mojo and juju and voodoo and you

Katrine the hurricane in this Thanksgiving stew

Gumbo and catfish and andouille and grits

Zydeco dancing and St. Louis glitz

Po’boy pleasures and alligator stew

You’re as sweet as praline, my French Quarter lolly

My Mardis Gras balcony –

 

That’s where I stopped and thank God for that. I mean seriously, that one is straight out of Smooch! The Beginner’s Guide to Romance Poetry! I wasn’t doing what I do when I write poetry, what I think I always try to do when I write poetry which is write from the gut, write what you feel and who cares if it makes sense. So, Madeline, try this one. I think you’ll like it:

 

Voo Doo Princess

 

The alligator becomes you

Violins so sweet with back-pack babies

The drum kit buckets and pink float magistrates

Flow down this street with marching band cascades

As school girls dance on these haunted sling blade nights

Hot sauce waterfalls and lollypop slumber

Remoulade balconies for a kiss, and another

Blues club two-step soda pop nightcaps

The stoned grotto lion nods his approval

Of the weeping willows and gentle ponds

And the lonely, broken sidewalk harmonies

 

kim-walking-in-nola

 

Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful weekend Madeline. Or should I say yeah, you right.

 

grotto-kising

Hate, Fear and Other Games Adults Play

So why, suddenly, a blog post you ask? I don’t know, precisely. I mean, I have had this nagging feeling for a while now but I could have sworn it was the bout of plantar fasciitis that pretty much knocked the wheels off my wagon back in May but the truth is it was that part of my psyche that got into blogging in the first place.

I am a writer. Writers write.

It’s like alcoholism in that it’s not something I do. It’s who I am. The obvious difference of course is if I abstain from drinking, meditate, run and things of that nature, I’ll continue to maintain the nice, cool equilibrium that will see me through ordeals like finding a new job and finally quitting smoking. If I abstain from writing however, eventually, my head will explode into tiny little pieces and make a big mess for my roommate to clean up.

 

So, I’m writing the blog again. Not that I haven’t been writing. I’ve been pretty consistent with writing a new essay which I’ll be submitting for a contest next year. See, I have this vague recollection of reading something in the Writer’s Manual or Writer’s Handbook or some such thing years ago that said adding the credential of winning a contest on a cover letter for a manuscript is a great way to get publishers to take you seriously. Considering I had two thirds of an essay kind of already written thanks to the posts on this blog, I was halfway there and so am adding a last third before I straighten its collar and tie its shoes and send it off into the literary world. Then I will resume working on the manuscript, which is its own ball of wax and hopefully polish it enough so that’s ready to submit to agents and/or publishers sometime before the first self-driving car collides with a drone and brings down the George Washington Bridge.

The other thing that’s kept me from writing is Madelaine. Madelaine is this incredible woman I met whose name is not actually Madelaine. That is just the name I’ve chosen as a pseudonym for virtually every woman I write about. Even those who don’t exist. Madelaine is the name of the most prominent female lead in The Back Forty, the fictional serial I started on this blog and abandoned for a lot of reasons. I’d probably hyperlink to one of the Back Forty posts but, since I have no plans in the immediate future to resume writing it, it would be only an enticement to you, dear reader, with a glimpse at what a talented fiction writer I am with no follow-through. Fear not, though. I plan on taking it up again after I publish the essay, then publish the manuscript and it will be like one of those novels by David Foster Wallace or Chuck Klosterman or Jon Katz that my truly loyal readers will voraciously read but not like so much because I am a much better non-fiction writer than fiction writer. Anyway, Madelaine is this incredible woman I met about 18 months ago that I finally got up the urge to ask out about 5 months ago before she totally snubbed me.

Alright, she didn’t snub me. Somebody in the 482 area code totally snubbed me. Which is even more of a bullshit explanation because I just went to area-code-locations.info and there is no 482 area code. It doesn’t even exist. Look, my point is when you text someone and you get no response, check to make sure you texted the right number because I got no response to my first text to Madelaine to go out for coffee and talk about books and the reason for that is I texted the 482 area code and Madelaine and I live in the 402 area code and apparently smartphones are smart enough to have compiled enough information about me that it will suggest I become Facebook friends with a woman from Nebraska Vocational Rehab because it pulled her out of my Contacts app but it’s not smart enough to shoot me a reply saying “Hey asshole, Madelaine will definitely not go out with you if you text a nonexistent phone number instead of her phone number.” I had been tinkering around with my manuscript for about a year and had finally decided to get serious about it when, at almost the same time, I had truly had it with online dating sites and, with no real impetus, decided to ask her out one Sunday morning when she and I were with a group of mutual friends/old-timers who always go to the same meetings to bicker about the Nebraska Huskers and the Ricketts family. We had traded comments before about the books we were reading and I thought … I don’t know what I thought, which is I think why our relationship has worked out well so far (neither of us think about anything too much and when we do, we shove some Chubby Hubby into the other’s mouth and then immediately watch Newsroom or go for a walk in the gorgeous falling autumn leaves.) Anyway, I thought I would ask her out and she agreed, then insisted I text her to decide on a place and time, which I did. Then, when I didn’t hear back from her (because I hadn’t exactly texted her in the first place, but still) I totally had this “Well to hell with her anyway because I’m busy doing the work of the Lord!” attitude where ‘the Lord’ is me and “the work” is writing regularly, sporadically and, sometimes, obsessively. Then my sponsor asked if I had ever texted Madelaine and I said I had and he later asked her and she said I never had texted her and so I checked my text message history and I had indeed texted the 482 area code and that made me feel like a real shit heel so I texted Madelaine at the proper number and now we’ve been going steady (I do so love that phrase “going steady,” especially in describing 2 middle-aged recovering alcoholics. It just has an air of the two of us grabbing hold of some of our lost innocence, y’know?) for about six months and we’re going on our first weekend getaway to New Orleans in a couple weeks because she doesn’t have any family to spend Thanksgiving with and my parents have given me clearance to go and avert a role I have resented every year in sobriety, that of the childless, marriageless middle-aged single guy in recovery who feels vaguely like Cerberus the three-headed dog at the family function.

I should apologize for my lack of a period or even so much as a semicolon in that last sentence. I just felt this need to get a lot of that out of the way and a run-on sentence felt like a good way to string together a lot of thoughts into one jumbled mess so I can get on with the real reason I am writing this blog post. I mean, I started writing this post a week ago and, since the day I started it, the United States has elected a new person to be its/their leader (I wasn’t even sure if I should use the pronoun “it” or the pronoun “their” because I don’t think the State of the Union is much of a “Union” these days.)

 

This country has never felt more disjointed, more fractured, more god-forsakenly dislocated than right now. That really is what it feels like, like America is this collective arm that has popped out of its socket under the weight of misogyny and racism and classism and ignorance and prejudice and fearfearfearfearfear. Personally, I have had this storm raging within for the last several days where the forces of good and the forces of evil give an inch and then take a mile, only to have the other side take two of each in return. I’m trying to avoid that most superficial of pitfalls where I just think way too much about all of this and plunge myself even further down the rabbit hole of hyperbolic despair. But seriously, some of the moves the president-elect has taken even in just the last week (I won’t say his name lest this really is all just a fictional reality that I’ve somehow been inserted into like Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction and actually saying “Donald Trump” might mystically make this whole nightmare … ah shit.) seem straight outta the worst game of Would You Rather you can possibly imagine. Like, would you rather have Sarah Palin be made Secretary of Education and Rudy Giuliani the Secretary of State or have your eyelids slowly pulled off your head by cords tied to pulleys attached to more cords strapped to harnesses fixed onto 50 geriatric 3-legged mice (the answer, obviously, is bring on those gimpy mice.)

 

The last 4 days, Facebook has been awash in articles predicting this won’t be as bad as we think, it will be much worse than we think, and that not a whole lot will change because of the system of checks and balances. There has been plenty of shrieks about how everything is going to change, how the American people are evolving in reverse and that somehow Gary Johnson or Jill Stein are to blame. Really, depending on your source, it’s also the fault of the Democratic National Committee, Bernie Sanders, 100,000 people in Milwaukee, 100,000 people in North Carolina, Bill Clinton, Jim Comey, Al Sharpton, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, Amy Winehouse, Kim Kardashian and Santa Claus. Do I think enough of myself that my rage at every voter who didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton because she wasn’t charming enough or honest enough should play a role in how seriously I take them as a person? I shouldn’t, just like I shouldn’t have to read stories about women and racial minorities and gay people being overcome with fear because they don’t want to walk outside with the wrong fucking hat on lest they be tarred and feathered. But I do and it’s going to get worse before it gets better the more brazen and strident the torch singers of idiocy and ignorance become. That shit infuriates me and the only thing keeping me from going and buying a rifle at Walmart and carrying it into a mega-church wearing a Pennywise the Clown costume, walking straight up on the altar and reciting the Andrew Dice Clay version of Mother Goose nursery rhymes just to get their attention in order to then point out how lunacy has replaced sane public discourse is … um … wait … what exactly is preventing me from doing that? I mean really, anything goes at this point.

 

But then I remember. Respect. Respect and civility and humility and patience and eating with utensils and all the other things that separate us from the apes. The people who voted for Donald Trump who are in their 50’s and 60’s and are really pissed off that there is an ever-decreasing amount of jobs for their particular skill set and that the jobs that do match their skill set are now in Myanmar, along with people who think that it’s okay for men to joke about objectifying women and exploiting fame and money to garner some sort of sexual privilege and, more than that, are perfectly fine with that type of person serving as role model for their children, those people have as much of right to their opinion as I have to mine. No matter how misguided and erroneous and wrong-headed that opinion is because, and here is the tricky part, they think my opinion that is not formed or guided in whole or in part by Bill O’Reilly and TMZ and Us magazine is just as invalid as I think theirs is. Now, are they going to try abolish Obamacare and Roe v. Wade and the Iranian nuclear deal and ensure that the Trix rabbit finally gets some goddamn cereal and shine flood lights directly down the groundhog hole so Punxsutawney Phil never even comes out again and it’s morning in America all day every day? Yes, yes they will. And what I will do is wear a safety pin to tell anyone of different skin colors and sexual orientations and genders that I’m on their side and if they are on the boat and the boat starts to go down, I’ll throw them a life preserver. Hell, I will try and be the life-preserver if I have to.

Look, I’m not trying to paint myself up as a defender of truth, justice and the American way here. I have my own fish to fry and I will not be standing out on the street corner hoping I get that tap on the shoulder. What I will do is continue to stay informed and continue to try and eek out a modicum of positivity and compassion into the universe to compensate for all the hatred, alienation and fear that seems to be fueling the fire for so many people around me.

 

I wanted the occasion for breaking my blogging silence to be the Cubs winning the World Series and America finally getting its first female president after getting its first black president and that the stars and planets seemed to be lining up just right for this country to be entering a golden era unmatched in its history. Instead, this country is surely entering an era unmatched in its history, yet instead of golden, it is an era of the most putrid tarnished rust that could easily progress to inky black chaos should the forces of darkness be given too wide a berth. The most popular statistic in the last 24 hours has been 46% of Americans didn’t vote at all and I heard on the radio two days ago that Hillary Clinton just wasn’t “charming” enough for one particular Millennial to vote for her. Well smack my ass and call me Sally and batten down the hatches because the American electorate seems to have regressed to a level of comfortable numbness not seen since Bill Clinton pimp-slapped Bob Dole and Alanis Morissette captured our hearts. It is with a heavy heart and the sturdy armor of truth that we must once again sharpen our swords and … ah to hell with it. I’m too freakin’ mad and too freakin’ impatient for flowery language and poignant metaphors. Just dawn your spurs and saddle up, kids because as we say in the Program, our enemy is out in the parking lot and he’s doing push-ups.