Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Because, Dogs.

Dogs. Am I right? I love animals in general, but dogs man. To me, they're the greatest creatures on earth. And I've been lucky enough to have a few of the best ever in my life over the years. 

We always had a dog growing up. Crispy was the first one I can remember. We were little then, so I don't recall a ton about him. I think he was a him. Whatever, doesn't matter — he/she was a good dog. He'd sit with us at the top of the driveway while we waited for the school bus every morning. And be the first to greet us when we got back home. He sadly became the first victim of the busy highway we lived by. That was my first experience with death and loss. I was a kid, so I recovered fast, but it's a feeling I'll never forget. 

Then there was Scamper. He had the greatest smile. And so loyal. Almost every sunny day in the summer I'd ride my bike to a fishing hole about three miles from the house. That darn dog would follow me the whole way. No matter how hot it was he was right there, tongue hanging, legs never stopping. I'd tell him to go back home so he wouldn't overheat, but he always insisted on running alongside me as I clumsily tried to balance my 65 pound body on a bike with 20 pounds of fishing gear in tow. 

He too met an untimely end on the busy road. We found his lifeless body when we walked up the driveway to wait for the bus. I cried the rest of the day. He was a good, good dog. 

After Scamper, Jessie. She was Jessica, aka Jessie, because my youngest brother was supposed to be a girl. When he came out a Justin, we decided we still wanted a little sister, so Jessie it was. 

My parents brought her home as a surprise from the humane society, our first true rescue pup. As soon as she walked in the house, she shit on the shag carpet. We fell in love with her from the get go. The sweetest, kindest, most loving living thing I've ever met. She had the biggest heart, but was fiercely protective. She lived a good long life. Had a few litters of puppies. After too many puppies she went to the vet to get spayed. They botched the procedure. Morons. She suffered a major infection from the surgery and had to be put down. Again, broken hearts all around. Even my hard-ass dad had a tough time. But as much as it hurt to lose her, it was worth every second we got to spend with her. 

Boomer was next. If I've got my story right, he was named after Boomer Esiason, my brother's favorite NFL QB back then. Boomer was a Blue Tick Healer. Strong and wide. Built like a truck. But sweet as could be. I moved out of the house a few years after he showed up, so I didn't get as close to him as I would've liked. My dad, aforementioned hard-ass, was an old-school thinker who thought dogs were outside animals. That meant Boomer lived in a barrel filled with hay in the back yard and spent a major portion of his life chained to a tree. (My blood pressure is rising as I type this.) I hated my dad for chaining that dog up. So many years wasted staring at a fucking tree. When my dad passed, Boomer found his freedom. He never spent another day with that tree. But as strong as he was, he was just as dense. His life cut short by taking his freedom too far and losing a battle with a car. Three out of four dogs lost to the highway. There was no such thing as an invisible fence back then. Knowing Boomer probably did just as much damage to the car brings me some peace. My brother, now the man of the house, buried Boomer in the woods. And if there's a doggie heaven, I hope he's still running today, fast and free, no tractor chain around his neck, not a care in the world. 

Enter Patch. A stray who found his way home in 1999 or 2000. (That part of my life is kind of a blur, so not exactly sure when he showed up.) Again, I didn't live at home, so although I loved the little fella, I wasn't as close to him as I could've been. Until 2005. That's when that dog saved my life.

I hit rock bottom around the end of May that year. Anything and everything that could've gone wrong, did. I was going through some major life shit, lost my girlfriend, lost my job, lost my entire sense of self. It wasn't pretty. It was a deep, dark, hopeless time. I don't wish that feeling on my worst enemy. Not trusting myself to live on my own, I holed up on my mom's front porch for what seemed like a month. I was stuck to the uncomfortable couch unable to do anything other than stare out the window and take long naps. Patch never left my side. He would lie right next to the sofa, always there to make sure I was still breathing. We'd go for long walks in the woods and sit together on what is now referred to as "Jason's Hill." He knew I was hurting and wasn't about to let me try to get through things on my own. He was my best friend, by far. He never judged me, never gave up on me, and he took his role seriously. He knew I needed him, so he made sure he was always there. It's not even a question — I owe that dog my life. 

I eventually got through the bullshit and came out the other side a better person. At least I think so. And Patch lived another 10 years. The bond we had stayed strong. I'd call home several times a week and the first thing I'd ask was "how's Patch?" I drove home to visit him almost every weekend. It was nice to see my mom, too. 

He taught me so much about life. He was a fighter and survivor and put others' needs before his, every time. He lived to be about 16 and stayed around as long as he could — I think he stuck around so long because he knew how much we all needed him. The day we put him down is one of the worst days I've ever been through. But it was his time. He had his subtle ways of letting me know it was going to be ok, even with him not here. Miss you buddy. Every day. 

Now, there's Belle. 

I was in a much better place when I met her. I had fixed some things about myself and been though the stuff I needed to go through. And it lead me to where I needed to be at exactly the right time. I stopped by to pick up my now wife for our second date, and there she was, staring at me with an uncertain look in her eyes through the open door of her little crate. I think she barked when Melanie introduced us, a little jealous maybe, but we warmed up to each other fast. It's been nothing but love ever since. 

Belle was a rescue, abandoned and left to fend for herself on the streets of Milwaukee. (Melanie found her at Underdog Pet Rescue in Madison. I highly recommend that place if you're looking to adopt.) She's little, but she's tough. And there's not much that can keep her down. A scrapper with a heart of gold, she loves almost everybody. If she doesn't love you, it's you, not her. And her sometimes goofy, often annoying, always persistent personality can make you laugh and yell profanities at the same time. But again, I think it's the traits in our dogs we wish we had more of in ourselves that make us admire them the way we do. 

She's a professional beggar. And a lover of long walks. When she wants something, you're gonna know about it. An aggressive push of the snout into the side of your leg means get off your ass and get me a treat. A non-blinking staredown means I gotta poop. A kick of the back legs post poop means I'm the boss around these parts. And a gentle nudge of her nose at about 9 p.m. every night means I'm tired and it's time for everybody to go to bed. 

She has a vice-like grip on my heart. And I can't imagine life without her. 

I never had kids. I chalk that up to choices, chance and circumstance. But she's like my child. She relies on me/us to stay alive. She counts on us to keep her safe. And she puts her faith in us to give her the love and respect she deserves. 

Belle isn't a spring pup anymore. And with age comes a long list of ailments and medications. She's officially in heart failure according to our vet. But what does she know, right? She coughs a lot because her enlarged heart is pushing on her other organs which in turn put pressure on her esophagus. And she's about 90 percent blind, her eyes clouded over by cataracts. But she perseveres. She's still the best beggar I've ever known. She still jumps halfway up the door when it's time to go outside. And she still somehow knows exactly where she is no matter where we are on our walk. She's pretty incredible. And doesn't care who knows it. 

I mentioned this to Melanie just the other day — when I look at Belle, my heart is happy and hurts at the same time. I'm filled with gratitude for these last several years with her. But I know our time together gets shorter with every passing day. I can't even think about how empty this house will feel when she's gone. I piss and moan when it's my turn to take her on her 27th walk of the day, but can't imagine a day when I don't get to walk with her. She's such a little thing, but she's filled so many peoples' lives with so much  big joy. Sappy, I know. But true. 

When Belle does decide her job here is done, we'll take time to grieve and give her the respect she's earned by waiting to adopt another dog. But we will certainly adopt again. Because even though life will never be the same without her, it just wouldn't be right without a dog around. 

I admit it, I relate to dogs more than I relate to most people. I say that not to come across as a disgruntled old man who can't get along with his neighbors (although there might be some truth to that.) I say it because it's a fact. Dogs love unconditionally. They're always honest, never fake. They're loyal. They listen. They don't have shitty opinions or screwed up beliefs. They don't talk behind your back. They stand up for what's right. They don't judge. They love you even when you fuck things up. Their main wants in life are love, food, walks and naps. And they take their responsibility to be there when you need them seriously. People with all those traits are few and far between. But dogs with all those traits are pretty much the norm. 

So, if you have a dog, tell him or her how much you love them. If you don't have a dog, think about getting one. A rescue of course. They'll change your life for good. I just wish they lived as long as we do, because the pain of losing your best friend never goes away. 

Here's to Crispy, Scamper, Jessie, Boomer, Patch, Belle, Koda, Chewie, Pearl, Pickle, Seamus, Boo, Bailey, Alex, Aspen, Dubs, Thome, Benny and every other dog everywhere. Thank you all for everything you do. 


Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Anxiety rules. (But it doesn't have to.)

How do you always get the best of me? 
I'm out here living in a fantasy. 
I can't enjoy a goddamn thing. 

Why am I never were I'm supposed to be? 
Even with my lover sleeping close to me. 
I'm wide awake and I'm in pain."

It's the opening verse of a Jason Isbell song. And it explains anxiety better than I ever could.

Outside looking in, everything is all good. But inside, it's a mess. Sound familiar? 

I've lived with anxiety for as long as I can remember. I was a nervous kid. From kindergarten through high school, I don't remember a day without that queasy feeling in my gut that something was about to go horribly wrong. 

I thought maybe it would get better as I got older. It hasn't. Prescription drugs, therapy and ongoing attempts at a "don't-give-a fuck" attitude help, but it's still there — watching and waiting for me to be happy about something or enjoy a minute of peace so it can swoop in and take over. 

For me, there doesn't have to be anything stressful going on for the anxiety to kick in. Something as mundane as a midday drive to KwikTrip might be the only trigger needed to flip the switch. I assume it's part of my brain's wiring by now. It's who I am and probably always will be. I've learned to shove it down, do my best to put on a happy face, and move along. It works some days. On the days it doesn't, I'm not a whole lot of fun to be around. 

I say all this not for sympathy, but to let those who deal with the same shit know they're not alone. Living with daily anxiety doesn't make you weak or a freak. It just means you've got a little extra work to do to make your way through everyday life. 

Anxiety is part of the deal. And dealing with it in manageable portions can be a good thing. Fight or flight is in our DNA. And a little stress can be motivating. But when anxiety prevents us from enjoying the little things in life or negatively impacts our relationships, that's when it's time to do something about it. 

The current state of things definitely doesn't help. There's a shit ton to worry about these days. We're surrounded by so much uncertainty, unrest and unbelievable bullshit. And when this present bullshit is over and done with, there'll be a fresh steaming pile of bullshit around the corner. It's best to keep your shovel handy at all times. 

That's why learning to manage anxiety is such a big deal. Because no matter who you are, where you live, or how much money you got in the bank, there will never not be something to get anxious about. I think accepting the fact that anxiety is here to stay is one of the best things we can do to manage it. 

Meditation, exercise, walking the dog, music, writing in my blog — all things I do to help ease the burden a bit. Social media, watching the news, sitting around and overthinking — all things that pour gasoline on an always smoldering fire. 

Maybe you're thinking "So what if you feel a little nervous all the time, deal with it." If only it was that easy and the consequences weren't so harsh. Constant tension can lead to a long list of bad stuff: A quick anger trigger, irritability, high blood pressure, chewed-up thumbnails, eating too many Big Macs, drinking too many big beers, alienated spouses, inability to focus on anything for more than 30 seconds — oh, and early death. I often wonder how many years of my life have been cut off by overthinking every situation I've ever been in. Yeah, no. I don't want to think about that right now. Let's move on. 

Fortunately, it's not all doom and gloom. If you struggle with anxiety, you probably always will to some extent. But you can make things a lot easier on yourself. The first step is admitting when it's just too much. Don't be afraid to reach out for help. Give yourself a break. Take time for you. Walk your dog. If you don't have a dog, get a dog. Listen to more music. Fill your prescriptions. Go for a run or lift something heavy. Watch a good movie. Hang out with somebody you love. Write down the stuff you're thankful for. 

The list of anxiety-inducers might be long. But the the list of good things in life is longer. 

Completely controlling anxiety might not be in the cards for all of us. Don't beat yourself up. It's ok to let some of it happen. But it doesn't have to get the best of you. You're more than the nervous, noisy monsters in your head. Get out there and let the good stuff be louder. (And don't forget to take your meds.)

Now, time to go practice what I just preached. The dog needs walking, the bullshit needs shoveling, and my noisy brain needs a break. I should probably call Walgreen's and get some more happy pills too. Running low. 

Take care of yourself. 


Thursday, July 29, 2021

Only so many fucks to give.

Editor's note: Fuck it. I need this blog. I've been away too long. I don't even care if anybody reads it. I need it. So here's a new post. 

I'm tired. 

Seriously. It's been a rough go for too long now. And when you're an overthinker, all the noisy bullshit is extra loud. Conspiracy theorists, insurrectionists, pandemics, anti-vaxxers, talking heads and dumb asses in general. It gets to be too much and eventually wears one down to an emotionless nub. 

I'm angry and sad and anxious and scared. But at the same time, I'm running out of fucks to give. 

I want to do so much to make things better but instead of taking action another day passes and I do nothing. Partly because I don't really know what to do. Partly because it's easier to sit back and bitch about things then it is to get off my ass and do something about it. But mostly because I'm starting to not care nearly as much. 

Because I can't. 

It wears me out. 

Those who overthink will understand. We can't let things go until we've fixed them. But not all things have a fix. So, we end up running in place and punching the air, draining our soul in the process. 

In my case, I end up spending too much time on social media, pouring fuel on an already raging fire. I want to physically fight every meathead online who believes whatever they're told except the stuff that's worth believing. 

It's literally unbelievable. 

I think I'm smart enough to figure out that a majority of these dildos online aren't even real. They exist to rile up the crowd so the crowd keeps coming back to the site where all the ads are. But, I throw verbal haymakers anyway, thinking it'll make me feel better if I let them know how fucking dumb I think they are. It doesn't.

It's the very definition of insanity. 

I thought things would get better with a leadership change. They did, but it's still bad. The far right is even more fired up now. "Stop the steal!" "Fauci lied!" "What about my freedoms?!" 

It's killing me. 

My friends list is much shorter these days. That's not necessarily a bad thing. Sometimes cutting your losses is the best move. But it still hurts. Because I know I can't go back to where things were. It's about values. And respect. Once you lose respect, it's over. 

It's sad. But necessary. 

We sacrificed most of 2020 to give ourselves a chance at a better 2021. We stayed home. We wore masks. We stopped going to Pizza Ranch. We listened to science. And it worked. At least for a while. Now, because almost half the country is either selfish or foolish, or selfishly foolish, we're headed back to where we were. 

It's maddening. 

And exhausting. 

So, what now? 

Here's what I think: Never stop fighting for what you think is right. (Unless you think it's right to be racist, you're certain JFK, Jr. is still alive, you believe the vaccine is jam-packed with microchips, or you're adamant the election was stolen even after 275 recounts proved it wasn't. If you believe any of these things, knock it off. Stop being an asshole.) 

The key: Keep fighting, but pick your battles. Give yourself a break, but don't give up. Decide what to give a fuck about. Too many and your bucket overflows, drowning you in fucks. Not enough and eventually your bucket will empty. And an empty fuck bucket is an empty life. 

I'm gonna go take a nap. Then maybe pick a few fights on Twitter.



Monday, September 21, 2020

Don't worry. Be angry.

I need to get something off my chest. Again. Times likes these call for two blog posts in one week. 

A friend told me that somebody asked if I was "okay" last week. Apparently, after reading my latest post ripping the president and asking some legitimate questions of his supporters, this yet-to-be-named individual expressed their "worry" for me because I "seem very angry."

That made me even angrier. 

To insinuate that something is wrong because I don't sit back and shut my mouth while the country goes to hell, is infuriating. I guarantee if I shared the political perspective of the concerned party, there'd be no worry at all. 

Am I angry? You're goddamn right I am. If you're not angry right now, you're either not paying attention or you're ok with how things are. I'm not sure which is worse. But I can assure you, I'm okay. At least as okay as one can be right now. I might say "fuck" and "goddamn" a lot, but I'm good. 

In fact, I'm more okay than I've ever been, because I finally know what side I'm fighting for.  

Worried about me? Come on. Those that really know me, know I couldn't hurt a fly, literally. I see a spider in the house, I scoop him up and let him outside. I'd stop traffic to help a turtle cross the road. Babies and dogs love me because babies and dogs know things. The train station scene at the end of Planes, Trains and Automobiles makes me weep uncontrollably every damn time. I know right? I sound like a guy somebody should be keeping an eye on. Hurry, call the angry-old-man hotline, we got a live one here!

I might be outraged right now, but not enough to raise any red flags. And I'm certainly no danger to anyone else, including myself. For somebody to "worry" about me because I speak my mind and use a few off-color words when referring to the douchebag in the Oval Office, is irritating beyond explanation. 

Whatever. The point of this post is not to talk about my perceived anger issues or point out that I'm pissed off about what somebody else thinks. The point is to fuel others to speak up for what they believe, even if they know it might trouble somebody else. Because it's only gonna trouble those who don't see things the way you do.

(And yes, I'm talking to those who don't think the way I do, too. Go ahead and speak up. I can always just shut you out.)

Lastly, I want to thank the person who voiced their concern. You have inspired me to voice even more of my angst. I appreciate you. And I'd probably stop traffic to help you cross the road, too. Always know that I'm here if you need me. Because if you support the divisive incompetence currently in the White House, it might be you we need to "worry" about. 

Have a great fucking day! Dammit, there I go again with the rage. My bad.  

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

America, I have questions.

I'm tired of it. I'm done. I can't do this anymore. This is bullshit and most of you know it.

If you follow me on social media, you're well aware that I've never held back when given the opportunity to share an opinion. It's who I am and how I deal. I've pissed people off. I've lost friends. I've gained new ones. This post will probably alienate the already alienated even more. Sorry about that. Kind of. Mostly, I want to understand some things better, get some of your wheels turning, and maybe even change a mind or two.

But if none of that happens, at least I'm getting some stuff out. It's the therapy I need right now. It's been four years of this horse shit and I've had enough!! I never thought I'd let politics dig its claws in this deep. But it has. And I blame Trump. Which really means, I blame us. Because we did this to ourselves. But I know we can do better.   

Spoiler alert: If you're a true Trump lover, you might want to stop reading right now. Because I'm gonna let some shit fly. This ain't no Facebook post. This is an all-out, no-holds-barred rant and release.  

And here it goes.

For the ever-fucking life of me I can't figure out how 40% of the American population can still support the assclown currently sitting in the oval office. I'd have a hard time figuring out how even one person could, but 40 fucking percent?! Come on! What happened to us? Are we so tethered to our personal, political and religious beliefs that we can't be human long enough to see more than two inches in front of our own faces? Are we really this biased, racist and empty of empathy? Are we really this dumb? Or blind? 

I believe in a two-party system. This country needs both Republicans and Democrats. I'm not here to belittle anybody for their support of a particular party. Both parties have their issues. And both parties have their share of lifelong politicians who either stopped giving a shit or never really did. This rant isn't about which end of the wing you choose to live in. This rant is all about Trump. 

So, without further ado...

Trump has zero — and I mean zero — redeeming qualities. He lacks any and all leadership traits. His incompetence is mind-boggling. He can't string a coherent sentence together much less come up with a plan to lead a country. He's a bully. A narcissist. A racist. And quite possibly, a sociopath. He's crooked as the day is long. He's a con who will do whatever it takes to benefit his own. He's incapable of the job he's in. And what's worse, has no interest in becoming capable. He's a horrible businessman who tries to run the country like a failed casino. He's a pathological liar, a chronic cheater and shitty golfer. And he tweets too much.

And that's just the stuff they can prove. He's shown us time and time again who he is and what he's willing to do to get ahead. 

So what is it? Why are there still so many, some whom I've always considered good human beings, still planning to vote for this asshat?

Seriously. I want to know. 

Is it all about the 401K? Are some so concerned their retirement might take a slight hit that they're willing to throw every ounce of human decency and integrity out the door? Does the stock market really mean that much to them? Do these people even know how the stock market works? Will money really matter if we give up who we are just to have a little more? 

Sure, taxes might change under a Democrat. That's how it works. But are enough of us really that impacted by those changes? If you make over $400,000 a year, congratulations. I mean it.  You deserve every penny. Especially if you worked hard for it. Sure, your taxes will go up, but you're still gonna make a shitload of money. Are you so afraid of losing a few bucks that you're ok with four more years of this shit? Maybe if I was one of the one-percenters I'd understand. But I'm not. And neither are most of you. 

Is it about abortion? I get it, it's a tough issue. Even for the non-right-leaning crowd. But is supporting a misogynistic pig who's probably paid for several abortions himself, the answer? I'm not big on religion, but I did grow up in a God-fearing household and went to eight long years of Catholic grade school, so I know a little bit about what being "Christian" means. Treating others the way you'd like to be treated is one of the biggest tenets of being a good Christian. Pledging your loyalty to a guy who is anything but Christ-like, feels more than a tad hypocritical to me. Besides, the abortion laws aren't going anywhere anytime soon, even with a Republican in office. So, help me out here. How can you follow Christ and still vote for this douche? Makes no sense. 

Is it about patriotism? Am I un-American because I don't support the POTUS, even if the POTUS is a shitty human being? I don't think so. I appreciate everything I have, and I realize I might not have these same things if I lived somewhere else. But goddamnit don't tell me it's my duty as an American citizen to respect the office. Fuck that. I was brought up to respect those worthy of my respect. Trump isn't even close to worthy. Come at me with something else, because that one ain't gonna fly. And please, stop with the "my president" bullshit. It's embarrassing. 

Are we even more racist than I want to believe? Do we really think that white people are superior? Do we seriously want to do whatever we can to make sure that privilege stays intact? How do so many of us not see, or care about, the bullshit that goes on around us every single day? We're all just people living on the same big planet in an incomprehensibly massive universe. We all matter. And at the same time, none of us really do. It really is that simple. You, me, nobody, is more important than anybody else. We're all in this together, like it or not. It is what it is. Someday, every single person on the face of this floating rock will be dead and gone. Shit, some day the floating rock will be gone. If you think you or your country are superior in any way, you're foolish. So stop it. 

Is it an anger thing? Do some voters want him in office because they like the way he stirs shit up? Would they be lost without that anger? I know I'm guilty of wallowing in my own mire now and then. I've occasionally been too comfortable with my own pain, and there have been times in my life I thought I needed that pain because at least I was feeling something. Letting go of that "something" isn't easy. Maybe the way Trump fuels the flames is reassuring to the really angry. Maybe he justifies what they feel. Or, maybe some people are just big enough assholes that the only guy they can relate to is another big asshole. 

Are we dumb? Maybe a big part of our population isn't that smart. I have a feeling that a major chunk of his base has no idea why they support the guy. They probably couldn't tell you one thing he's done for this country, or for them. The sad part — so many of those standing behind him are exactly the people he cares the least about. The guy with no teeth, no job, a truck that doesn't run, living on a paltry disability check because his left leg went south, and sporting a MAGA hat over his flowing mullet, is the last guy in the world Trump cares about. But that doesn't seem to matter. Trump is his man. Maybe the confederate flag hanging from the front of toothless Tom's trailer is the only answer we need.   

Is Biden the problem? We went through this in 2016. Let's not do it again. I get it, Joe's not a perfect candidate. There's no such thing. And I realize most people vote along preferred party lines. But can't we make an exception this one time? I happen to believe Joe will make a pretty decent president, because he seems like a decent dude. And he's temporary. I had a friend put it perfectly: "Joe isn't necessarily the vehicle of the future. He's just the guy driving the car out of our current hell." That's it! Can't we all just get in the damn car, get out of hell, and hope for better down the road? Joe might be boring and predictable. But boring and predictable sound pretty fucking good for a while. He won't fix everything exactly the way we all want it, but he certainly won't continue to break shit at an alarming rate. 

Are people just shitty? Maybe more of us are just bad human beings than I care to admit. Nobody's perfect. Especially me. But I want to believe that most of us are good. Good people can't really want more of this, can they? Is it just me, or has the number of shitty people gone up the last few years? Maybe Trump gives people an excuse to be the shitty person they've always been. There has to be more of us than there are of them. I refuse to believe anything else.   

What else am I missing? I truly don't get it. I want so badly to understand. Support who you want, but tell me why. There's gotta be something in you that makes it ok to vote for another four years of this. If this comes off as self-righteous, so be it. I want to believe that all decent human beings know what a decent human being is. And Trump ain't it. Simple as that. And stop with the "But Joe did this..." Nope. Not even close. And save your "I don't need my president to be my moral compass..." Also, nope. I think the last four years have proven that a leader of an entire country needs to be a good human because they set the tone for the entire country. Period.  

I can tell you with every ounce of who I am, that I don't think we'll survive another four years of this. And that's not hyperbole. Now, I'm not saying the world will literally end. (At least I hope not. The Brewers haven't won a World Series yet.) But I do believe the country as we've come to know it, or always hoped it could be, will end. Another four years of this brokenness might not be fixable. I don't care which side of the fence you're sitting on, none of us should want that. 

Let's do better, America. Please. The way things are right now, better shouldn't be that hard to do. 




Wednesday, April 1, 2020

I know I'm scared. You?

I’ve never been through anything like this. Most of us have never been through anything even remotely like this. This is a big deal. A life-changing-big deal. And I’ll admit it — I’m scared. 

I’ve been scared before — 9/11 and the day Trump got elected immediately come to mind. (I’m just talking world events here. There are plenty of things in my own life that have scared the shit out of me, but this isn’t about just me. This is about the bigger picture.)

Like both of those events, this one will have a permanent impact. The world is never going to be the same. People you care about could die. The way we go about our daily lives will change. Forever. That’s not hyperbole. That’s reality. 

But what’s really setting off my panic buttons about all this? That’s a good question we should all be asking ourselves. If nothing else, knowing what we’re scared of can make a little bit of the fear go away. At least that's what the shrinks say.

Here’s a quick list of what’s keeping me up at night:
  • I’m not so much scared of getting sick. I’m still young-ish. If I get sick, chances are good I’ll recover. I’m more scared about losing people who might not be able to recover.
  • I’m scared about losing my job and living in the streets. With no Netflix.
  • I’m scared by the mind-boggling thought of hundreds of thousands of people dying in a short span of time. Those stats just don’t make sense. Maybe because I won’t let them make sense. 
  • I’m scared to think about what the world might look like once this is all said and done. If it is ever all said and done.
  • I’m scared Chipotle will shut down and never reopen.
  • I’m scared I’ll never be able to go to another rock show or movie theater.
  • I’m scared by people who hoard toilet paper. Seriously, toilet paper? The last thing on my mind in the middle of an apocalyptic meltdown is wiping my ass. Hoard some goddamned baked beans or canned meat for the love of survival! Who cares if you die with a dirty ass?! Stop it. Right now!!!! Thank you. There, I feel better.
  • I miss sports. A lot. 
  • And I’m scared shitless by the lack of leadership at the top. Now more than ever we need the reassurance of a steady hand at the wheel. What we’ve got instead is an egotistical bully incapable of feeling an ounce of empathy and he's driving a crazy train off the rails at full-fucking speed. I don’t know about you, but I’d feel a whole hell of a lot better if we had someone in charge we could trust. Or at least somebody who gave a shit about something other than his own re-election.
But it's all gonna be ok. Because like a lot of people, when I get scared I get a little angry, too. I get stubborn and pushy. I get what I call an “edge” to me. That edge—probably more like a defense mechanism—is what gets me through. It gets me out of bed every morning when I know the day ahead will look and feel a lot like the day before. And the day before that. 

That edge provides a buffer between what’s going on outside my door and what’s going on inside my head. I need that edge to survive. Without it, I’d go insane. Literally. Some days I wonder if that’s exactly what’s happening. 

That edge has gotten me through a lot in my life. I hope it’ll be enough this time, too.

I think what’s got me so uneasy is so much of this is out of my control. Sure, I can stay home and wash my hands 398 times a day, but other than that, I just have to sit back and watch this thing run its potentially catastrophic course. The best thing I can do is hope for the best. 

Maybe it’s not as big of a deal as my overthinking brain thinks it is. But I tend to believe the medical experts and scientists who say it is. 

I was telling my wife the other night that I’ve felt something big coming on for a while now. I’m not a psychic or a conspiracy theorist, just an overthinker. For the past few years there’s been something in the air saying something isn’t right. The world has been way out of whack. The uncertainty is almost tangible. Maybe this is our wakeup call—a brutally blunt warning that we better do some reevaluating. Maybe this is the world’s way of correcting itself after being so off course for so long. What goes up, must come down, right? The boiling point has been reached. It’s tragic that so many lives will be lost while the planet tries to right itself. But that’s what it feels like is happening. At least to me. 

So, where do we go from here? Great question. My plan is to do my best to take things one day at at a time. I’ll stay home and keep washing my severely chapped hands. I’ll have good days and days void of all hope, but they’ll even themselves out. I’ll keep my edge and try to stay strong. I’ll make more of an effort to be more positive, if for no other reason than to make it easier for my wife to live with me. I’ll do what I can. Because that’s all I can do. 

And even though this is all scary as hell, I truly believe we’ll get through it. And I hope we’ll be better for it. Eventually. 

I encourage you to find your “edge” and do what you can to get you and the people you care about through this. And remember to be nice to each other—from a safe distance of course—because we're all in this together. Like it or not. 

Stay home. Stay healthy. And stop hoarding all the toilet paper. Assholes. 

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

What If?

What if we stopped trying to be somebody we’re not?

What if we didn’t give as many shits about what people think?
What if we realized that people don’t think about us as much as we think they do?

What if everything we’ve ever been told to believe in never existed in the first place?  
What if right here is all there is?

What if dogs could talk?

What if we stopped trying to make everything so black and white?
What if we all moved just a little bit closer to the middle?

What if it wasn’t all about the Benjamins?

What if we wasted less time on the things that don’t really matter?
What if we realized only a handful of things really do matter?

What if we turned off the nightly news now and then?
What if the internet was broken and we didn’t know how to fix it?

What if Elvis was never born?
What if Elvis is still alive?

What if we reminded ourselves more often that this is all temporary?
What if it was all gone tomorrow?

What if we weren’t so fucking scared of what we didn’t know?
What if we asked “why not?” instead of “what if?”

Just wondering.