Monday, November 28, 2016

My heart is like a stallion. They love it more when it's broken.

How was everyone's Thanksgiving? I hope you all enjoyed your meals, your family... or at least your four day weekend.

I'm thankful for all of the thoughtful and encouraging words you guys left on my last blog post. Jennifer, Mich, Stephen, Sammy, Janie, Mr. Shife...you are all greatly appreciated. I wanted to respond individually but this past week was a mess. 

I took Monday off but my wife had to work all day...so I watched the girls from 7am to 7pm. I got out early on Wednesday.. but my wife didn't. So I had no blogging time then, either. I got caught up in sports card-related Black Friday sales and didn't finish that until Saturday night. Sunday was going to be my blogging day...but the fam and I went to some winter festival thingy downtown, where they have Christmas things and free food and whatnot. We were there for two hours, and ended up at the in-laws until 8pm.

Next week isn't any better. My daughter's 7th birthday will be celebrated on Saturday (family party) and Sunday (friends party). And then the weekend after, I'm going to visit my family in CT for at least one day - and perhaps as many as three days. Here's hoping I can catch up on blogging by Friday afternoon :/



 
I haven't watched TV since the election. Okay, that's not entirely true. I watch if someone else has turned it on, but I have not turned on the TV myself in 3 weeks. Haven't read the newspaper, either. Full media blackout. I'm going back to not giving a shit about politics or world events like I did when I was a teenager.




This might decrease my day-to-day stress (I have been going to bed earlier) but it means that the only news I hear is whatever my in-laws decide to discuss... or if my wife has the news on in the background. I heard about Fidel Castro's death are we going to celebrate like that when our dictator dies? and I read that Hillary Clinton co-signed on Jill Stein's push to recount votes in key 'tipping point' states like Wisconsin. 

Lemme tell you why that's a terrible idea... with hockey analogies. 

In 1999, the Dallas Stars defeated the Buffalo Sabres and won the Stanley Cup. Stars star Brett Hull scored the winning goal. The players celebrated, the fans celebrated, handshakes and hardware were handed out. And while the triumphant Stars passed around Lord Stanley's Mug the dejected Sabres staggered to the locker room and got a look at the replay. Wait a sec...Hull's skate was in the crease. That goal shouldn't have counted!

Too late now. What are you going to do, take the Cup away from Dallas and order the players back onto the ice? You can't reverse the results of the election now, it would be more chaotic than the original clusterf*ck election of 2000.  

It's over. We lost. Did your ass get enough wings?



A much more likely scenario would be this: 

When a goal is scored (one that doesn't decide the Stanley Cup champion) the players celebrate and the fans cheer. The opposing team might call upon the referee to review it. Was the scorer's skate in the crease? Was the puck touched with a high stick? Was there goaltender interference? 


When there is no infraction, the referee announces his findings to the fans and declares a "good goal". Then the fans and players get to celebrate again. 

Do we really need to hear all the talking heads make sexist comments about the "sore losers"? Do we really want Donald Trump to be declared the winner twiceNo thanks.





A short time ago, I asked my wife if she would want to know about my new 'celebrity crush' or not... she didn't seem to mind, and told me I could just say that I like someone. I explained that "I didn't want you think I was crushing on some random blogger girl." 



So I told her about Taryn Southern. After a brief sidebar about how similar our names sound - and how often people are tempted to spell mine with an 'o' - she asked me what Taryn does. "Good question." I replied, as I can't quite explain it myself. Apparently Taryn has been asked that same question of herself, and here is how she answered it:
I always have a hard time explaining to people what I do, but it’s best summed up by a term John Green coined – I’m an “internetainerpreneur.”

She described herself by quoting John Green.


I frickin love this woman.


As for that 'random blogger crush' that I definitely don't have anymore... I checked her Instagram over the weekend, and saw that she is advertising her (company's) products there. Didn't check her Tumblr since she hasn't posted there in a while and I didn't have it pinned to my start page.

My first thought was it's about time.
My second thought was ...annnd we're done here.


I think I mentioned a while back that in order for me to successfully and completely get over a crush I need two things: a new crush (check) and an ending to the story of the previous crush. That could be an engagement announcement, a new job, or some other major life event. She's got a job and a boyfriend, and she's not sharing anything personal anymore. That's all I needed to know.

That night I had a dream about her. She was either on a Big Brother type show, or taking social media sharing to the next level. There was a camera perched at the top of a long wooden staircase, and through that angle I watched as she sat cross-legged on the couch, reading a book. Then she got up and did a few of those exercises where you hit the floor in a push-up stance and then spring up to your feet as quick as you can. (What the heck are those called, anyway?) Then she paced around the room while eating an apple.

As I started to awaken and contemplate just what the heck that was all about.. I heard her voice in my head: You're not done with me yet.


Yes I am.








~




Sunday, November 20, 2016

Southernland


It all started about a year and a half ago...when I first put on a VR headset I was in a really challenging place in my life..waking up feeling depressed or anxious most days..and I realized, when I put on the headset, it was the first time in months where I felt transported to a totally different world..where all of my negative thoughts had  melted away...

Pause.

It always amazes me when someone who seems so perfect shares the same afflictions as someone as unremarkable as myself. She's intelligent and talented and stunningly beautiful...she gets to travel the world and make videos for a living...she has a thousand friends and a million followers. What could she be have been depressed about?

It's so easy to believe that everyone else has it easy, but we are only looking at a tiny sliver, a moment, in everyone's lives.

Point taken. But it still doesn't answer my question.

My last heartbreak, which happened as my “adult self” was probably the most difficult thing I’ve ever been through. I had been positive that he was “the one,” that we would get married and have kids within the next five years. It’s a hard thing, to lose someone, but to also lose the happy future you imagined together. Coming out of that relationship made me question everything in my life. Despite the tremendous pain I felt after my last breakup, it’s inspired shifts in my life that previous breakups didn’t. I really re-assessed a lot of my choices and what makes me happy, and I think those changes will produce everlasting results. So yeah – hard to believe I’m even saying this, but I think some of the most painful stuff can also produce the most good.

...which explains the world travel and charity work and passion for virtual reality technology. Got it.

Continue.

I've had the privilege of documenting some amazing stories...people like Shirley McClure, who is a 72 year-old who was finally able to see her lifelong dream of driving a professional race car come true. I traveled to Mott's Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor, where I got to see how their child care specialists have pioneered the use of VR technology to improve the quality of life for kids with life-threatening illnesses. I've also taken my 360 headset into hospitals and senior homes and homeless shelters... and more recently I've been stopping by the neuroscience lab at universities like USC and UCLA to learn about how VR can positively impact depression, anxiety, PTSD...

Well, don't I feel like an asshole. She's thought of all these amazing, life-changing ways to use virtual reality technology; all I'd use it for is to transport myself into her world.


 ----------------------------------------------------------------------------


When you realize that your life is spiraling out of control, you can do two things: you can end it - or as MFFG often says, you can "choose life*".

*This often refers to being anti-abortion, but in her context it's about finding ways out of the darkness. 

How many times have you seen or heard or read inspirational stories about people who had reached a low point in life and felt lost, hurt, heartbroken? Addicts who chose the path to recovery and worked hard every day to stay clean and sober. Cubicle dwellers who broke free of the rat race and started their own small businesses doing something that inspired and fulfilled them. People with disordered eating habits who changed their diet and adopted a fit, healthy lifestyle that resulted in an improved physical and mental state, compliments from friends and family, and maybe even a new career as a personal trainer or nutritionist.

It happens all the time. Even if you're young and fit and attractive and not ensnared in addiction or a dead-end job... you can still hit rock bottom, and you can still find your way out. And maybe it's easier for them, to latch on to faith or fitness or future tech. Maybe because they have money or connections or a support system that encourages them. Maybe they can take risks in their lives because they don't have a spouse or children who depend on them for stability and that meager paycheck that's somehow enough to keep a roof over their head but not enough to afford a gym membership or a therapist. 


I have come to the conclusion (much too late, it seems) that I am in dire need of such a change. And I have discussed this many times with my wife. But either she doesn't get it or she cant help me, and trying to convey the urgency of my need is futile. I can fight her, but she'll always win. She can say "NO" a million times, and I'll have to back down. What am I going to do, divorce her? Who else would want me? 

And I couldn't possibly afford child support. Plus, I love my girls. I really do. They stress me out sometimes (because I'm already frazzled from work and my physical/mental health is in freefall) but I know that right now, today, I'm a better father to them than my father was to me. Admittedly a very low bar, but still...I have his genes. I could have easily repeated his destructive behaviors. I have a steady job (though it's only part-time), but I've never had ambition or a useful skill set. I am an addict, if not an alcoholic. I have anger issues, and the only reason why I'm able to control them is because I hit a kid with a hockey stick when I was 14 and nearly got arrested. Lesson learned. 

I can't move back home. My mom is elderly, and she will have to leave the house I grew up in soon - either due to eminent domain, or because she'll have to enter an elderly care facility. She's losing the ability to walk. Right now, she's able to get around on her own in short bursts. She wanted to go to an HRC rally, or an anti-Trump rally...but she cant stand/walk long enough. We went apple-picking last time I was in CT, and I had to help her up and down the small but steep hill to the orchard. Then, after a few minutes of watching her grandkids pick a hundred apples (we've still got two bushels full) my mom had to sit on the dirty, apple-stained ground because there were no benches.

I'm deathly afraid of getting old. I've never been in any real physical pain, never had a major illness or disease - or even a minor one. I guess you could say I've been lucky, but I know I'm way overdue for bad luck to happen (as in the Bundy Curse), and I tease fate by failing to address my issues. I recognize the warning signs - and dismiss them.

Andso I'm fascinated by the stories of people who can not only make a positive change in their own lives, but in the lives of others. It all seems like fiction to me, but it warms my heart regardless.

I can acknowledge that a certain someone has certain physical features that I find appealing (while tacitly admitting that an "average looking" person with the same qualities might not have found their way onto my radar) but I'm not writing thousands of words about a woman I've never met (and never will) simply because she's slender and sexy. That stuff just opens the door. What she does with those built-in advantages determines whether or not I want to stick around.




I can't afford a VR headset, but I can watch her videos. I can dream. I can transport myself to a totally different world, where all of my negative thoughts melt away... for a few seconds. 

And then... 


Fade to black.



 ~

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

We'll be okay. Lisa Simpson will save us.


I had planned to do the A to Z blogging challenge in April, but not anymore. I had a dope theme picked out - animated shows. Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Archer, Beavis and Butthead, Family Guy, Futurama, South Park, SpongeBob SquarePants... and of course The Simpsons.



It's been a rough week for me. The election results were disappointing, to say the very least. I could spill my own personal thoughts here but I really don't have the energy anymore. All say is this: Pennsylvania, you're dead to me. No more cheese steaks, no more Hershey bars. No more... whatever Pittsburgh does. And don't get me started on Wisconsin. Cheese head wearin' mother f...




Anyway, I promised I wasn't going to discuss the election - or the personal hell that my (wife's) family has put me through since last Tuesday. Don't want to talk about that. Too traumatic. Retail therapy ensued, though I won't get my goodies for another few days.

Sometimes I really dislike internet shopping. I prefer shopping in brick and mortar stores - especially around Christmas time - but they rarely have stuff I like. I have very specific and eclectic interests - not a gadget guy or a fashion guy or a handyman. I'm more of a 'buy an almond crunch pretzel and walk around the mall for an hour' guy.


The leaves are finally falling from the trees and there's a crisp chill in the air, especially at night. For as long as I can remember I've always loved that first sign of winter, the smell of hickory. Sweater weather. Hot chocolate, fresh baked bread, flannel pajamas... curling up on the couch with your sweetheart, falling asleep with a warm blanket (or a dog/cat) on your lap...

But those things are just fantasies for me. And so it's much harder to enjoy the simple pleasures of the changing seasons. The holidays are not pleasant, they are not enjoyable. They're six weeks of stress, financial and emotional. My brother makes a lobster pot every Christmas eve. I haven't had it in years. I'm stuck with the in-laws and their overcooked ham/turkey, artichoke crap, deviled eggs, and generic store brand soft drinks. (As an added bonus I get to hear regurgitated Fox News bullshirt about the "war on Christmas") Sigh... no wonder I spend so much time sleeping and dreaming.



Which reminds me... My (former) Favorite Girl resurfaced. She'd been suffering through some more health problems (poor thing) and apparenlty quit her job to become a sales rep for one of those Multilevel Marketing schemes recently discussed on John Oliver's show. I'm disappointed. That girl has sooo much potential, so many talents. I hope she doesn't regret this.
 
I've always wondered about her political leanings, because she never publicizes her thoughts (another reason why I <3 her) I know she's an Evangelical Christian, and four years ago - before I knew her - she said she disliked President Obama (-3 points) but once the 2012 election was over she was saddened by how politics makes friends and neighbors turn on each other so quickly and wished we could be more civil and understanding of those on the other side (+2 points). I think she also mentioned her parents are strict conservatives (-1 point) but that she's more center-right (+2 points.)

Can't imagine which candidate she supported in this election - and tbh I probably don't want to know. But she posted this the morning after the election:





It's soooo much harder to do that when surrounded by people who treat you with contempt and derision, but I admire anyone who has the ability to project such kindness. 

I need people like her in my life. Right now I only have Mom, and she's not going to be around much longer. What will become of me then?



~