And How Was Your Day?

 

The surprises life occasionally drops in your lap can sometimes be nothing short of incredible.

 

I drive a shuttle bus five days a week for a particular business. I’ve been driving it for two years, now. In that time, I’ve gotten to know several of the folks who ride it on a regular basis. I know many of them by name, and enjoy talking with them when they ride with me.

We’ll talk about just random stuff: music, sports, the job, the mercilessly hot weather (currently), whatever.

And, somewhere in the conversation, I try to get a laugh or two out of them; maybe make them forget a few seconds about the stress of the day. Some people, I can joke with relentlessly, because we know each other that well by now.

This one fellow, who shall remain nameless, and I are like that, but one day, we got a little deeper in our dialogue. I don’t recall how we got to this subject, but I shared my depression struggles with him, which led to him opening up about his depression, and sometimes thoughts of suicide.

He told me he’s thought about it “logically”, i.e., exactly how he would go about it.

I told him about how I wrestle with those same thoughts, and recommended that he get help, as I did. Because, like I’ve said before on this blog, that’s way too big a dragon to try and slay on your own.

He thanked me for the talk, and we haven’t brought it up since. Which is probably bad; I should have followed up on it with him. But, I don’t see him as much, now; since relocating to the main office, he doesn’t need to go to the other facility too often. Not that that’s any excuse.

So today, when I walked into the office, the lady at the security desk, who I also know, had a card for me from him. Now, we both expected it to be something funny, because he and I sometimes leave snarky little notes for each other with her. She kinda gets a kick out of being the go-between, I think.

Not this time. Instead, it was a thank-you card. Inside was a generous gift, and a note which read:

I really struggled on a daily basis with depression during my old job. Part of the reason I was always on the bus was you. Thank you for making me laugh and smile.

 

I just stood there for a minute, looking at that note, totally dumbfounded. I genuinely didn’t know what to think. I’m still trying to get a grasp of the significance of it.

At the very least, though, it’s immensely gratifying. I have no idea if I’ve helped anyone with what I’ve written on this blog; I can only hope. But, I can take some satisfaction in knowing I helped him.

With just a few jokes. Who would have thought?

I don’t know what this story will mean to you, if anything. Like I said, I’m still processing what it means to me.

But, have you ever been at a point in your life where you never envisioned yourself being, wondering why you were there?

I don’t know for sure, but maybe, this guy was the reason I’m right here, right now.

Which blows my mind just a little.

Love one another, y’all.

 

 

One more letter to my Senators

This has to stop NOW!

Ends and Beginnings

Note: Feel free to use any or all of this letter to send to your representative(s)

So, are you asking yourself this question yet, what does Vladimir Putin have on Donald Trump? And if you aren’t asking yourself this question after the Helsinki love fest my only question to you is why aren’t you? Trump has spent the last year and a half bashing our closest and most loyal allies. People and countries that have come to our defense no matter what the cost to themselves or their countries. Nations that have spent money and shed blood on our behalf. And rather than thanking them for their support and their loyalty Trump condemns them, ridicules them and embarrasses them while heaping praise with the enthusiasm of schoolboy in love on a violent and dangerous dictator.

We don’t need Russia. Trump claims that because they are a “nuclear power” that somehow…

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The Decline and Fall of the United States

Thank you, trump supporters, for all of this.

Endless Bitchen Summer

July 16, 2018: A Day That Will Live In Infamy

We have been attacked by our own president.

The United States is no longer in control of our own foreign policy; Vladimir Putin and the Russian Confederacy are dictating our agenda.

This is unprecedented. All Americans should be highly alarmed.

At this point, if you vote for anyone who supports the Trump agenda, you are voting against the sovereignty (independence) of the United States.

There is no going back. Our president has humiliated and broken ties with our democratic allies, while he embraces the world’s dictators.

Where do you draw the line?

  • As the sister of a brother who suffered from Muscular Dystrophy, the line for me was crossed when Trump mocked the disabled reporter in November 2015. What type of person does this? In a society that decries bullying, our president is the biggest bully in the world.

Trump…

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My Final Year As a Quinquagenarian

 

In other words, I turned 59 today.

Anyone between the ages of 50 and 60 is a quinquagenarian. It’s a word you use all the time, right?

Are you kidding? People that age get worn out just saying it. Who the blue devil came up with that title, anyways?

Never mind, here I am, standing at the threshold of 60. A threshold I thought would take a lot longer to show up. Truly astonishing, how fast life runs when you’re not looking.

It’s unfair, too; by the time you come to appreciate just how precious your days on this earth actually are, they’re mostly gone.

But enough gloom and sadness. The larger point is, I’m still here! And, as that noted philosopher once said, “Any day above ground is a good day.”

(Even with the guy we currently have as President, but I digress…)

Also, considering that I’ve spent the last several years with depression as my constant companion, occasionally urging me to just cash it all in, it’s a small miracle I’m still around.

And, on the whole, I’m glad I’m here. Despite what I try to tell myself sometimes, life actually is worth living.

Especially when I can get in some naps. Us old folks need those, you know.

So, have a piece of cake for me. Heck, indulge; have two.

Just don’t make me blow out any candles. I’m still a little winded from saying that word.

 

 

 

Why Do I Keep Talking About Gun Violence? Good Question.

The problem is guns. Not people. Guns. None of you 2nd Amendment folks will ever convince me otherwise.

Dogpaddling Through Life

Saturday I went to a Pride/ Family Togetherness Rally. Everywhere I looked I saw the happy, smiling faces of people who were enjoying each other’s company while celebrating who they truly are. And I looked everywhere, too, because I was watching for people who appeared out of place.

People like the 30-something white guy (a former high school teacher) that showed up at a rally held in a town an hour away and heckled the crowd while an Episcopal priest offered prayer. When confronted by members of the crowd, he pulled out a gun.

The NRA wants us to believe that all gun owners are responsible and have nerves of steel, but the stories I read daily about our well-regulated militia are enough to make your hair curl. Actually, It’s the Well Regulated Militia that share those stories on Twitter and Facebook (I strongly encourage you to follow this account).

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Live Streaming?

 

I gotta say, you dudes just crack me up when you stare at your cellphone, even while standing at the urinal in the men’s room.

Really, my man? You really can’t break away long enough to simply take a leak? What are you watching, a how-to video?

Frankly, I’m surprised you found the urinal. You could very well be peeing on the bathroom wall and have no idea. Or even found one where someone’s already standing, and right now, you’re ruining his new pants which DIDN’T COME CHEAP, PAL!

Besides, this looks like a dangerous practice to me. What if you drop that phone?

Myself, I think I would just leave it there and go buy a new one.

Maybe you have more confidence in your grip than I do. (On the phone, I mean.)

Look, guys, I know it’s a boring chore but, come on, we’ve done it for centuries without needing the entertainment of a phone. Just pause whatever you’re doing on there and take care of business, for Pete’s sake. It’s safer, not to mention, less stressful. For me, that is.

 

Which makes me wonder something else…

Do you fellas even put that phone down long enough for sex?

I mean, we’re talking roughly the same amount of time, right?

 

The United States

The State of the Union, brilliantly set to verse…

Post-Tragic Life

Anxiety inducing news, everywhere you turn
Old men lighting fires, watch the word burn
I’m beginning to think the people won’t learn
As long as there’s crumbs, we’re dying to earn

The news is real, but it’s twisted to lies
Often repeated, epic in size
By smiling faces in clever disguise
Hoping for change, but nobody tries

Scared, and stressed? There’s a pill for that
Or just buy our product, be happy and fat
But fat isn’t happy, now what do you do
Not to worry, there’s a pill for that too

Scapegoat a race, it’s been done before
Weren’t we against that, in the last world war?
So if not for freedom, what do we fight for?
Just so the rich, can have even more

Children in cages, scared and alone
Taken from the desperate, fleeing their homes
Legal points of entry, blocked by Border SS
Forcing illegal crossings…

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The Last Straw

 

A favorite movie from my youth was one called Billy Jack, the story of a half-white, half-Native American (um, Indian in those days), former Green Beret who, shall we say, has some anger management issues.

In one scene, Billy arrives in town to find some of his friends being bullied by some locals in a diner. After surveying the damage, he offers his heartfelt confession to the chief bully, Bernard, that he really, really tries to keep his temper in check. But when he sees these acts of cruelty inflicted on his friends, and I quote:

”I just go ber-serk!!!

Then he starts some serious butt-kicking.

That’s about where I find myself now.

 

I’ve witnessed a lot of events in our country, and our world, in the last year and a half, facilitated by people in Washington, DC, that have strained my limits of tolerance.

I’ve seen some completely boneheaded, irreconcilably stupid, downright reckless acts committed in the name of Making America Great Again.

And I have, for the most part, held my tongue about it, mainly because I thought the people behind these actions, along with the people who support the people behind these actions, care not one little bit about what I may think.

But, when I see picture after picture of immigrant children – children! – locked up in cages like a bunch of dangerous criminals, having been separated from their parents….

When I hear the President blame Democrats for this whole debacle, when any idiot knows that Democrats are the minority party in Congress, so they essentially have no power to enact or change anything…

And when I hear the Attorney General of the United States have the gall to cite the Holy Bible to justify these cruel and barbarous acts, and the Press Secretary (among others) then defend that Scriptural perversion…

Well, now I just have to speak up, because the next stop is berserk.

 

This is beyond outrageous. It’s beyond shameful. It’s beyond disgraceful. It reveals a country that has given up its decency, compassion, and humanity, in exchange for fear, prejudice, and hatred.

A country that has heard all the same old lies about immigration so many times as to believe them all, without question.

A country that has revealed to the world its true attitude, in all its wretched ugliness.

I don’t know the answer to the immigration issue. Apparently, nobody does, or it would be solved by now.

But I guarantee, there is nobody – absolutely nobody – who can convince me that this is it.

And I think it’s time for us all to just go berserk.

How You Doin’?

 

 

From the Associated Press, 06/08/2018:

“Anthony Bourdain, the celebrity chef and citizen of the world who inspired millions to share his delight in food and the bonds it created, was found dead in his hotel room Friday in France while working on his CNN series on culinary traditions. He was 61.

“CNN confirmed the death, saying that Bourdain was found unresponsive Friday morning by friend and chef Eric Ripert in the French city of Haut-Rhin. It called his death a suicide.”

 

From the Associated Press, 06/06/2018

“NEW YORK (AP) — The husband and business partner of designer Kate Spade, who died in an apparent suicide, said she suffered from depression and anxiety for many years.”

 

From the Washington Post, 06/08/2018:

“Suicide rates rose in all but one state between 1999 and 2016, with increases seen across age, gender, race and ethnicity, according to a report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In more than half of all deaths in 27 states, the individuals had no known mental health condition when they took their own life.”

 

Is there anyone out there who still doesn’t see how serious a problem this is?

We’re dying, folks. By our own hand.

In ever growing numbers.

I find that both terrifying and heartbreaking.

Not to mention, completely unnecessary. This doesn’t need to be happening!

My brothers and sisters, we need to look out for one another. Where are we failing?

Well, I have one possible explanation:

The CDC report pointed out an apparently high number of suicides among people without a known mental health condition, saying: “In the 27 states that use the National Violent Death Reporting System, 54 percent of suicides were by individuals without a known mental illness.”

But Joshua Gordon, director of the National Institute of Mental Health, added an important asterisk to that statistic, saying that, “When you do a psychological autopsy and go and look carefully at medical records and talk to family members of the victims, 90 percent will have evidence of a mental health condition.” So, many of the suicides were completed by people who were never even diagnosed, and consequently, never got any treatment for their condition.

According to the report, a likely reason for that is, most people aren’t asking for help. Especially, men. 

 

And, listen, I understand the reluctance. Mental illness still has a huge stigma attached to it. Nobody wants to admit there’s a problem, because it comes with a great big Scarlet Letter.

So, rather than be negatively labeled, people will just keep killing themselves.

THAT’S why the stigma has to be eliminated. That’s why we need to discuss mental illness as easily as we do cancer, or heart disease, or any other physical malady. It’s an illness, and it can and should be treated. People with mental illness aren’t crazy; they’re sick, and they need help.

And here’s the important part: If you know them, they need you to ask them if they need help.

I know that’s tough but, many times, they’re simply waiting for someone to ask them; they just won’t come out and say it.

Look, I’m no doctor. I’m no psychiatrist. I do have an illness. It’s called clinical depression, and I sure enough need help for it. And I’m getting it. Because I deal with those thoughts that visit me sometimes, and tell me just go ahead and check out, because you’re hopeless, you sorry, no good SOB.

But then, I realize: after posting information on this blog about what some of the warning signs are in someone who may be suicidal (08/31/2017), where to go to get help (08/31/2017), and how to help someone who is suicidal (09/13/2017), and after offering personal encouragement (09/23/2017 and several other dates), it would all ring pretty hollow if I just went and killed myself, wouldn’t it? I’d be the world’s biggest fraud. (Well, second biggest; you longtime readers know who I think has a lock on first place.)

But, back to my point: We all need to learn to be more observant of the behavior of those around us and, if we notice something that’s off with somebody, ask if he or she is okay. That’s not nosy, that’s caring.

And, you never know. It could be the difference between someone getting help, or ending it all. The stakes are that high.

Please, folks, let’s get out of ourselves and our cellphones a little more, and check in on our family, our friends, our colleagues. They may be waiting for us to ask.

But for how much longer?

By the way, how are you?