Keep Them Tools Sharp

 

So, the reason I started seeing a therapist again last year, after a nine-year hiatus, was the hope that said therapist could perhaps provide me some tools to help me cope with my ongoing depression.

And she has. She recommended some sites for me to visit online, that gave me some practical steps to apply, and I thought the information was very valuable.

Yay, I’ve got some tools, now!

But, as any skilled craftsman will tell you, one good way to keep your tools sharp longer…

Is to not use them.

 

Why don’t I put into practice the things I’ve learned? Maybe, for a few reasons.

One, making a habit out of anything new is tough. Especially, anything good, right? We’re settled in to all our bad habits and, even though we know they’re bad, we’re kinda slow to let go of them, aren’t we? How many times have we declared ourselves on one diet or other, only to fall in those familiar traps on the path? How many newly started exercise regimens have we abandoned, not because we really wanted to, but we just couldn’t bring ourselves to get up and run today, or whatever?

Maybe it’s just me.

Two, on the subject of exercise, you know how it feels when you do something physical, that works muscles on your body you haven’t used in a long while? (Stop snickering, I know what you’re thinking…) It’s not comfortable, is it? And, the next day, maybe you’re a little sore in those places. ( I said, STOP it!)

Well, I guess the mind and the emotions are like that. Let’s say, for instance, I have a “self-forgiveness” muscle, that’s pretty much atrophied at this point. (Hypothetically, of course.) When I ask it to try and function, chances are, it won’t be comfortable. Might even hurt.

Then, how ready will I be to try it again?

Three, I’m the kind of guy who likes to mark time, to hit the Pause button, get everything set up like I want it, then press Play, and continue on.

There is, of course, no Pause button. You would think a fifty-something-year-old man would have figured that out. We’re stuck in Play, all the way to the end. (Feels more like Fast Forward, though, gotta say.)

I guess I just have to do this thing on the fly, which I’d rather not.

 

Four, and this one may be the hardest to explain:

In a weird way, part of me likes being in this condition, fancying myself the classic Tragic Hero in my own, personal Drama: a somewhat virtuous fellow, nevertheless doomed to suffer. In its own twisted, perverted way, it gets me more attention which, as anyone who knows me can tell you, is a particular lifelong craving of mine.

Now, how screwed up is that, folks? The problem with that is, I’m not the only one who suffers. Which sucks for the other people.

I guess that’s partly due to the artiste in me, grouping myself with the Van Goghs and the Hemingways and the Kurt Cobains of the world. (Not that my work approaches theirs; I’m not claiming that.) Also, my uncle, bless his heart, who was a writer that had depression for years, and ultimately killed himself.

There’s something else, though: the gnawing feeling that the tragic life is the life I deserve. This is what I have coming to me. Nothing good; only bad.

I don’t know why. At least, if I do, I’m not telling me.

 

Mind you, I don’t like admitting any of this. It’s more than a bit embarrassing. But, it’s the unfortunate, ugly truth.

Dr. L, if you’re reading this, (yes, she has permission) just know that I’m holding steady. I know what I need to do; I know what I want to do.

I don’t know. Maybe I need some tools to help me get started using my tools.

That’s sorta funny, but really not.

Those “Mentally Ill” Killers

 

I know I’ve dwelled on the subject of gun violence of late, but it’s really been on my mind. Way too many people, especially kids, are being shot to death; it’s an epidemic.

Our beloved leaders in Washington, however, are rendered impotent by their own partisanship, not to mention their allegiance to the National Rifle Association’s money.

Which is why, after this latest horror scene in a Florida high school, the focus is again not on the proliferation of and easy access to guns in America, but on mental illness.

I would simply ask the President, members of Congress, and anyone else who would seek to blame mental illness for all the gun violence, to at least consider the findings of an article published by Psychiatry Online entitled, “Mass Shootings and Mental Illness.” Here’s the link:

https://psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.5555/appi.books.9781615371099

Among the points it makes are:

“Mass shootings by people with serious mental illness represent less than 1% of all yearly gun-related homicides. In contrast, deaths by suicide using firearms account for the majority of yearly gun-related deaths.

“The overall contribution of people with serious mental illness to violent crimes is only about 3%. When these crimes are examined in detail, an even smaller percentage of them are found to involve firearms.

“Laws intended to reduce gun violence that focus on a population representing less than 3% of all gun violence will be extremely low yield, ineffective, and wasteful of scarce resources. Perpetrators of mass shootings are unlikely to have a history of involuntary psychiatric hospitalization. Thus, databases intended to restrict access to guns and established by guns laws that broadly target people with mental illness will not capture this group of individuals.

“Gun restriction laws focusing on people with mental illness perpetuate the myth that mental illness leads to violence, as well as the misperception that gun violence and mental illness are strongly linked. Stigma represents a major barrier to access and treatment of mental illness, which in turn increases the public health burden.”

Now, don’t you think, if psychiatrists were convinced that mental illness actually was the problem, they wouldn’t be presenting all this evidence to the contrary?

Gun violence is a public health crisis, but please, let’s not be so quick to brand it as a public mental health crisis. I’m fully aware that a lot of you will disagree, but the problem is, and has always been, the guns.

Period.

 

 

“Fuck you, I like guns.”

I know this won’t sway any of the gun lovers, but this is, by far, the best argument I’ve read for why assault rifles shouldn’t be available to just anyone. Look past the occasional dirty word; just focus on the big picture. This is the most important issue our country faces right now. Ask any student.

Anastasia Writes

Edited to add: I can’t thank you all enough for interacting with this post. I am actually surprised that it’s become this popular. This is the first time more than ten people have read anything I’ve written here. I’m probably going to turn off commenting soon because everything that can be said already has been. In general, I’d like to point out that this is an opinion piece. I wrote it on a 15 minute coffee break and posted it unedited. It’s raw, and that’s the whole point. The tone, the language, and the style are intentional. This was written for people like my mostly conservative Army buddies who will never click an article that is titled “Gun control is your friend”, and tend to assume those who support such legislation have never seen a gun before. I’m not a professional writer, nor a particularly prolific blogger until about three…

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Guns In the Classroom

For all the “Arm the teacher” advocates out there in the wake of the Florida school shootings, let’s hear from a recently retired teacher:

Endless Bitchen Summer

After dedicating 18+ years of my life to teaching high school before retiring this year, I can say with authority that arming teachers with weapons is a very bad and dangerous idea. While some of my former colleagues may disagree, I assert that only more tragedy will occur on an armed-and-ready-to-shoot campus.

Most people who propose arming teachers have not set foot on a high school campus since they graduated. So let me enlighten you. Schools are over crowded. My last teaching assignment was at an at-risk school – the largest Title I school in Nevada. I had 230 students. Most classes exceeded 40 students. Desks were jammed so close together that in an effort to assist students, I had to squeeze between desks. In that type of proximity, a motivated student could have disarmed me in seconds.

While most of my students were great kids, I had legitimate gang…

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Wendell is Smiling

 

All right, let’s hear it for Darrell Wallace, Jr.

Which is who, you ask?

Oh, he just finished second in Sunday’s NASCAR Daytona 500 stock car race. In only his fifth ever career start, no less.

Second? Big deal, you say.

Well, it is, and here’s why: It’s the highest finish ever at Daytona by an African American driver.

Not that that list is a terribly long one. Anybody know the last black driver in the Daytona 500?

Answer: Wendell Scott, in 1969.

Yep, you read that right. 1969. Forty…nine…years ago.

And Sunday, Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. made a little history in Black History Month.

Congratulations, Mr. Wallace. This is a well-worn cliche, but even though you finished second, you’re definitely a winner.

That’s all I got today. Just wanted to shine a little spotlight on this man.

Take some time this month, or any month, to read up on some important folks whose lives we commemorate during Black History Month. Their history is very much part of ours.

 

Fire, Bleed, Repeat

 

Really, is there any point?

Any point at all in discussing the school shooting in a Florida high school on Wednesday?

The one that left seventeen people dead, at the hands of a nineteen-year-old former student? With a rifle?

That filled our TV screens with crying students and crying parents and SWAT teams and somber reporters?

That rang the bell for Round Whatever of the great Gun Debate?

Really, is there any point?

When we all know the end result will be…nothing.

And the story will disappear from the news cycle in a week or two.

And the whole f####ng scenario will play out again. And again. And again.

I honestly don’t know where to go from here. I can’t offer any hope. I can’t offer any rage. I think it’s all a waste of my breath.

So, I’ll just offer this:

To those of you who lost people you loved in this tragedy, I am so very deeply sorry. My heart is broken for you.

But, just as heartbreaking, is that you’re likely just the latest in a never ending line.

Because our attention span is just too short to allow us to care.

That’s the truth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Say, Your Ties Are Loose

 

But, last night, I thought, what is a family, anyway? They’re just people who make you feel less alone, and really loved.

Mary Richards (Mary Tyler Moore), “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”

 

So, when was the last time you spoke with certain members of your family? The ones you’ve been meaning to contact, but time just got away from you?

Yeah, it’s been awhile for me, too.

I have tried, in the past, to reconnect with some family members I haven’t spoken to or heard from in years, with very little success. It seems, at times, like I’m the only one trying to reach out. Nobody wants to reach me.

That’s how it feels, anyway.

Now, please understand me. I don’t blame anyone for this condition. I fully realize, we all have our own lives to lead, with our own schedules and activities and appointments and such. We’re all busy; I get it. And that’s good. We shouldn’t just be sitting around, watching weeds grow.

And I’m sure, in some cases, we simply don’t know how to get ahold of each other, or we surely would.

Besides, trust me, I let the time get away from me, as well.

But…I don’t know, I just wish we were all closer to each other. Maybe with age, there comes an undercurrent of urgency, a keener awareness of the sands of time running out, and a greater need to connect.

Plus, doggone it, I miss these folks. They’re blood, they’re family. I’m tied to them. Part of all of them is in me, and vice versa.

And, I’d prefer to not wait until someone’s funeral to catch up with them. That’s how it usually works, sadly.

Is it like this with your family?

If it isn’t, if you’re all in close contact with each other and the ties are strong, bless you; I admire you. (And envy you, a little)

If it is, perhaps it’s time to ask yourself, as I am, “What am I doing to get us closer together? Do I need to just quit waiting for someone else to take the lead? What if I keep waiting until it’s too late?”

That would be a crying shame. Literally.

So, I’m just going to have to work harder at this. I can’t help but think it’ll be worth it. Whether they want to hear from me or not, if I can help it, they’re going to. And hopefully, I’ll hear back from them.

 

One other thing: Even when we don’t correspond as often as we probably should, I still know I’m extraordinarily lucky to be part of a family that I love, and that loves me. If you’re alone, and have no family, or you have the kind you’d just as soon never hear from, my heart goes out to you. I can’t even begin to imagine how that must feel. I can only hope that you can find a family somewhere, a group of loving, caring people you can be a part of.

The essence of why we’re all here, I believe, is to give and receive love. Don’t cheat yourself out of it.

 

Love Me Do

 

“THE FIRST DUTY OF A LEADER IS TO MAKE HIMSELF BE LOVED WITHOUT COURTING LOVE. TO BE LOVED WITHOUT ‘PLAYING UP’ TO ANYONE – EVEN TO HIMSELF.”

Andre Malraux, French author (1901-1976)

They were like death. And un-American. Somebody said treasonous. Can we call that treason? Why not? They certainly didn’t seem to love our country very much.” 

donald trump, U.S. Fake President, on the Democrats not clapping during his State of the Union address

 

There you have it, folks. If you don’t applaud trumpy’s every word, if you don’t go “crazy wild”, as he said the sycophant Republicans did, then you are being un-American, even committing a treasonous act.

Well, you certainly couldn’t accuse trump of being un-American. The guy even applauded himself, for crying out loud.

I wonder how much clapping he’s done in the last couple of days, as the Dow Jones fell over 1,100 points Monday, right after falling over 600 points last Friday.

Now, you and I know, the President has little to do with the stock market’s rises and falls, but if donnie’s gonna take all the credit for the good news, as he has, he better be ready to take the blame for the bad news.

Has he? Not that I’ve heard. Now, the official line from the White House is all about the “long-term economic fundamentals.” Convenient, huh?

 

But, back to the bull$#!t about the treasonous Democrats.

trump has made it clear, America has no room for un-Americans, such as Mexicans, Muslims and, I guess, now Democrats. And the penalty for treason is imprisonment, perhaps death.

So, my takeaway from all this is, if you didn’t go “crazy wild” for donald trump’s SOTU address, you should be thrown out of the country, locked up or killed.

Land of the free, right? We’ve already seen this administration’s attitude toward protesters, accusing them of “terroristic acts.” It’s George W. Bush and, “You’re either with me or against me,” taken to an insane new level.

One other thing: Let’s imagine for just a second President Hillary Clinton was giving the SOTU address. Would the Republicans’ likely tepid response be just as un-American and considered to be treason? Just askin’.

As crazy as it drives you to hear this, donnie, everybody doesn’t love you. And, as much as you want to, you can’t punish everybody who doesn’t. That’s not how this works, bubby.

The above quote from Andre Malraux was the Quote of the Day in my morning paper, today. It immediately made me think of trump, and the kind of “leader” he has been. How he demands that everyone love him, lest they be punished.

You know what, though, donnie? I do love America. Very much.

But not you. Not at all.

 

A Phabulous Day phor Phootball

 

Well, well. It phinally is sunny in Philadelphia.

Congratulations to the Eagles, sworn enemy of my Dallas Cowboys, on their phirst ever Super Bowl victory, led by their superstar backup quarterback, Nick Pholes, er, Foles.

I did not watch the game. I heard it was pretty good, though. I recorded it, so I can watch all the commercials at my convenience.

Not being a phan of either team, I really didn’t care who won. Phrankly, I was hoping that, by some once in a lifetime miracle, they both lost.

Oh, well, at least, it’s someone besides the New England Patriots this year. Sorry, New Englanders, but the rest of us were getting ph***ing tired of you guys winning all the time. You were becoming the New York Yankees of the NPhL.

But, I’ll give them their due. Since quarterback Tom Brady and coach Bill “This IS My Excited Face” Belichick have been a partnership, they have been to eight Super Bowls, counting yesterday, and won phive of them.

Incredible. You’re not likely to see as successful a run as this ever again. And, it will continue, as long as the Brady-Belichick tandem remains intact. So, appreciate the standard of excellence these guys have set.

And then, if you still want to hate ‘em, go ahead.

 

Meantime, phill your glass and toast the Philadelphia Eagles. The top of the mountain rightfully belongs to them, now. They earned that real estate, thanks in large part to the magnificent work of Mr. Foles who, as I mentioned earlier, is the Eagles’ number two quarterback. Their number one, Carson Wentz, had performed at MVP-caliber all season, until an injury in early December put a cruel and abrupt end to that, and everybody counted the Eagles out at that point.

Not so phast, pholks!

Veteran quarterback Foles stepped in and took them the rest of the way, like they never missed a beat. So now, phor the phirst time, the Lombardi Trophy resides in Philadelphia, PA.

Do yourselph a phavor. Eat a Philly cheesesteak sandwich, in their honor.

They’re phantastic!