“Write What Scares You, Part 2”

I recentely shared these words with a friend. Because. I knew my friend was especially disturbed by the events of the last few days, in particular the psychological assault on journalist Kurt Eichenwald (read about it here– unless, of course, your one of the millions who sees the link is to Newsweek, and believes everything Newsweek publishes is a flat out lie).

Humans. *head desk*


Just me. Checking on you once more.

Twitter. Ah. Twitter. The land of “I can scream louder, longer than you.” In many ways, all twitter is is a 140 character limited version of the early BBS and Chat Room systems. And those were cutthroat. There were reasons people had anonymous names. Not just to attack others with, but to survive the attacks of others.

Sometimes, people tell me the ‘net is a bad thing. That it drew out the worst in people. But, see? They’ve got that backwards. They get lots backwards. Think about it. What the ‘net does, what Twitter, and other sites do, is allow the darkness that lives inside a hell of a lot of people to have a voice. That’s not a bad thing, so much as a true and honest thing. On the ‘net, we see people as they really are. Not as they appear at work, or in person.

At work, you have people like those I used to work with. “You’ll never see me angry. I don’t get angry at work.” Ah, really? “This is not a place where you care about others. Keep you nose clean, and do your job.” Ah, really? “You can’t afford to care too much.” All things that have been said to me by people I’ve worked with. I could list thousands more.

So, yes. A Newsweek journalist got attacked on Twitter. And has received a zillion death threats. And, while I agree that’s not a good thing, I also declare it shows the truth of the country we live in. Right there. In black and white. For everyone to see.

The US is home to some of the most hate-filled, violent, petty, heartless, backwards people on the planet.

I am, as you may know by now, a baptized Southern Baptist. My father was a Southern Baptist pastor. My brother is an ordained Southern Baptist minister.

I walked away from a church in 2011. A church filled with normal people. Who all believed, to a person, the universe was only 6000 years old. Who all believed homosexuals were agents of Satan, to the point they agreed with the pastor when he declared he saw a man in a skirt, and wanted to throw up. Who all agreed there was not really anything like depression, and all you had to do was get right with God, and he’d fix your messed up thinking.

I kid you not, my friend. These people are real. And they are everywhere. I first became aware of their presence in 1975, when a fellow student in high school biology class made certain I knew he understood he had to memorize that biology crap, to get a passing grade, even though he knew from the Bible that none of it was true.

It is this kind of person, this “I know the truth, and am willing to fight for what I believe” kind of person that is revealed on the ‘Net. On Twitter.

You’ll notice I killed off my Twitter account months ago. I did that for a lot of reasons. We’re talking about some of them in this note.

Do you have any idea how many devoted Christians actually believe Islam is the religion of Satan? I could ramble on that for days. I’ll stick to one detail. The spreading of religion. See. The Christians hold nothing back when it comes to being Evangelical. “It’s in the Bible! Preach the word of God! The story of Jesus! Save the world!”

The humor? Same damn thing’s in the Islamic faith. Exact same thing. Same “spread our religion, spread our faith” directives.

And when it’s Christians doing the spreading, it’s the work of God. And when it’s Muslims doing the spreading, it’s Muslims trying to take over the world, and erase their religion, and their freedom to believe as they want.

*head desk*

And they can’t even begin to wrap their head around that reality. Trying to explain that to them is like trying to explain quantum mechanics to a concrete slab. Can’t be done. In some ways it’s worse. ‘Cause they’ll chastise you, and tell you how they’ll pray for you, and chase you from their presence, ’cause you’re testing their faith. The list goes on and on.

It’s awful that we have victims, like you shared yesterday. But. I’d rather have the victims, so we can all see the truth of the world we live in, than be blind to the truth, and wonder what the heck happened when everything comes apart.


Humans.

*Head Desk*

“Write What Scares You”

Rachel in the OC always pushes the thought, “Write what scares you.” So, here’s where I write part of what scares me. Something I’ve never said publicly before. See. There are people who really piss me off. That comes from me being able to change perspectives like most people change shoes. And changing perspectives, I have learned, is something most people couldn’t do if their lives depended on it. I don’t know why that’s the case, but it is the case, no matter what perspective an individual seems to have.

Since November 8th, I’ve been called a fucking liberal. You know. One of those weak people who believes everybody deserves the right to food, and a safe place to live, and it doesn’t matter if they can earn a living or not.

Since November 8th, I’ve been told it’s not worth even trying to talk to me, because I will never understand the truth, and will never change. The implication being I should shut up,  and let whoever won the Electoral College and the various congressional elections, do what they were elected to do.

Well. That leaves me fire breathing angry. Because. Unlike the people who blast me with that type of declaration, I can actually understand something other than my own perspectives, and my own beliefs.

Today, I wrote these words, shared with a good friend. I’ve decided to put these words here, on my blog, where anyone can view them, read them, and react to them however they react to them.

Telling me I’m not aware of different perspectives… Jesus. What do you people think I am? Stupid?


Shh. I’m being evil Mark. 🙂 See. I do understand. Better than a heck of a lot of other people realize. And I’ve hammered my brother, and an old friend, on their perspectives, and political/social views.

It’s not hard, really. All you have to do is speak the truth. Which is what I did. And it’s been a week now. And I haven’t heard a peep out of them. Because. They know the truth. Even if they don’t want to admit it.

There are several “bottom line” items for our Conservative friends. These include money, religion, protection of faith and family, and “earning your way” (I say that last one in quotes, ’cause I can’t figure out how to express it any better way).

Money. They can’t live by spending more than they make. Companies can’t spend more than they earn. Churches can’t spend more than they make. A lot of states have “balanced budget amendments” in their constitutions. These people look at the US budget, and go off the deep end. Because. Their government is spending money far faster than it earns it. And that has to change. That has to change, even if it hurts. The debate becomes how to change that. And always, with the Conservatives, national defense is NOT on the table. Period. That leaves Medicaid. Medicare. Unemployment. Roads. Infrastructure programs. Housing. Education. And pretty much, every social program that exists. The math becomes simple. Keep defense. And butcher everything else.

And how do you butcher the rest? How do you cut unemployment spending? How do you cut health care spending? How do you cut education spending, infrastructure spending, any kind of spending?

Take it out of Government hands, and put it in private sector hands. The government stops spending, and the private sector has to take up the slack. That’s the GOP budget in a nutshell. Pray innovation takes hold, and we get oceans of companies doing what SpaceX, Blue Origin, and others are doing. Get the government out of the way, and let private industry respond to the problems of our society.

That’s the plan. In a nutshell. Balance the federal budget. No matter what. And expect the US population to make up the difference.

Religion, the same thing. Let the religions figure out what’s right and wrong. Don’t legislate it. If religion says, “Homosexuality is a sin, and homosexuals are minions of Satan, and should be destroyed,” then so be it. It’s not Government’s roll to tell religion what to believe. That’s the responsibility of the people of that religion, and it’s leadership.

You begin to get the idea now, don’t you?

Education. It’s clearly not free. Look how much the Gov. spends on public education. Since it’s not free, and the public education system is, as we all know, not working, and rife with corruption, and problems, get the Gov. out of the way there. And let the people of the country fix the education problem the same way they’ll fix the religion problem, and the social programs problems.

If your child is disabled, should everyone else carry the financial load of caring for that child?

You get the idea.

I’m certain you get the idea.

This is what the current conflict in this country is all about. And there’s a growing harshness in people that says, “If you are so disabled you can’t earn a living, you deserve to die.” Harsh, but true.

If you look at Exodus in the Bible. There’s passages in Exodus for how the Israelites were to deal with disabled and sick people. Straight out of mother nature. Straight out of animal packs. Put the sick one outside the camp. If that sick one recovers, have the priests examine that sick one, and determine if they can return to the camp. If they don’t recover, they die.

That’s exactly where we’re heading. If you can’t work. If you live in such physical pain that you can’t work. If you are severely autistic, or handicapped, or have any other disability. Tough. That’s life. That’s how the world is. It’s not everyone else’s problem. It’s yours. Deal with it, and don’t expect help. Except maybe from religious organizations, and charities. If they have sufficient funds, and resources.

I could ramble on for days and days about all this. I could. By now, you’ve figured that out.

So, when a conservative tells me I don’t understand, and I’m a lilly livered, liberal. I have to laugh about it. Because. I do understand. Far more than they will ever realize.


There. I’ve written another of the many things I’m terrified of writing. Because. I’m fucking tired of people telling me what they’ve told me throughout my entire life. “You can’t be that way!”

I am that way.

And I can understand far more than most people realize I can.

So, shut the fuck up with calling me a weak, pathetic, blind, liberal, and fucking try to see something beyond the tip of your nose. Expand your fucking limited horizons people!

Jesus!

Fucking  humans!

*Head Desk*

I Never Thought I’d Be Doing This…

Well. I don’t know if this thing works off-line or not. Still haven’t taken the time to verify it does. So, I don’t plan on closing this window until I get home. It’s 2205 hours, on Wednesday, 06 May 2015. I’m sitting at the dining table, or is it better described as the kitchen table, in the Hurricane. I’ve decided that’s what I’m going to call it. The Hurricane. The AC is on (we connected the RV to campground electricity), so we won’t be overheating tonight.

It’s like being in a small house. I mean. If you call a 28 foot long house small. I mean. It’s bigger than a lot of small houses I’ve read about. Pat and I can fit in here quite well. And quite comfortably. There’s lights everywhere. But I don’t have any on in here as I type this. The display on the Chromebook is backlit, so it’s easy to read, and it gives off enough light I can pretty much see the keyboard.

Yeah. I’m a wreck. I’ll sleep. And I’ll probably sleep well. But, I’m a wreck.

We did learn, we need to get a Blu-Ray player to hook up to the entertainment system. That way, we can watch something other than broadcast TV channels on the TV sets. That’s another thing. The TV channels are all digital now. So the picture is either great, or doesn’t show up at all. No more “bad reception” on stations.

She’s in the bed, reading in her Kindle.

I had a rough day. A bad day. But a good day too. I haven’t been sleeping as much, or as soundly, or peacefully the past 2 weeks. As I told my doc, the brain cells are running wide open, trying to process all this new stuff.

What do I mean by new stuff? Well. I can’t really describe it. I don’t know how to describe it. Not yet anyway. But I can give you one example of what’s happening with my perspective on life. Another story Doc and I spoke of today. Washing dishes. See. All my life, I’ve washed dishes, because it’s what you do. The dishes are dirty, collecting in the sink, so you wash them. Black and white. Yes or now. A check box on a checklist called, “how to lead a proper life”. Wash the dishes, check the box.

And back in the days when all I had was my anger, and the energy it provided, this worked well. Because I had to do something with the energy the anger gave me. See. It wasn’t a question of me. How I felt, what I felt, what I wanted or didn’t want, never entered the equation. The dishes were just another part of being a proper person, in a black and white, yes and now, good and evil world.

Well. Now, the anger’s all but gone. I won’t bother you with the details of all the things I’m having to relearn how to do. I’ll just stick with the dishes. And I admit I’m not there yet. It’s a process of discovery for me. Let’s be honest, my autistic nature, with the hypersensitivity of my fingers, means I really don’t like washing the dishes. Getting my hands in that… That… Stuff. Eww. I mean. Just. Eww.

So, I’ve been having a bit of trouble keeping up with the dishes lately, if you call the last 5 months lately, that is. But I digress. I’ve been having problems getting the dishes done, and even getting around to starting them. Because I’ve been learning why. I’ve been learning how I feel about dealing with the dishes.

I told my Doc, and it took me a couple of dozen attempts to get the words I wanted. I told my Doc, I’m learning I don’t do them because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t do them because it’s proper. Or because I’m supposed to. Or because I’m a grown up. I don’t do them for the health benefits of a clean kitchen sink (Do you have any idea how many bacteria are in those suckers? Momma!) I don’t do the dishes for any of those reasons.

I’m learning to clean the dishes because I like having clean dishes, cleaner sinks, and a cleaner and neater kitchen. Right and wrong, good or bad, proper behavior, and all those crappy things we bury ourselves under don’t apply to me doing the dishes. It has nothing to do with any of those reasons. I’m learning about me. About what I feel, and how I feel about the dishes. And as much as I detest dealing with them, I enjoy the feelings I get when I have clean dishes, empty sinks, and a neater kitchen more than I dislike the yuck of having to clean the dishes.

I’m also not a total dingbat on some things. The math is kicking in, and telling me, “If you clean them up regularly, every night, or every morning, guess what? There’s less of them to deal with at any given time! And let’s be honest here. I don’t like putting my hands in a sink full of yucky dishes. I’d much rather put them in a sink that has a few dishes in it, so they’re there less time.

See? That’s something I don’t know how to say yet. I don’t know how to express it in words yet. But that’s what’s happening with me at this time in my life. I’m rewriting all the rules beneath everything I do. And yeah, there will be things I don’t do. They’ll be things I don’t like. Or things I don’t like the benefits of doing. Or some similar reason.

I’ve tried to explain to people around me about right and wrong, good and bad, just and unjust, light and dark, and all those moral, ethical things we hammer into ourselves relentlessly from the time we first start becoming aware of how our society works, and what’s acceptable/expected behavior within that society.

Somehow, it gets turned into right and wrong. Somehow it got corrupted. And somewhere, I lost my way. And forget what I feel. How we feel. And how what I feel ties into what I do. If that makes any sense. And I can’t say if it makes any to anyone other than me, and my Doc.

As with the dishes, so it goes with my walking, my picture-taking, my writing, my exercising, my reading, my watching TV, my listening to music. For every aspect of me, I’m actively questioning why I do the things I do. And I’m learning to do what I like. What I enjoy doing. What I like doing. And even the things I don’t like so much, but do like the benefits of doing them. Like the dishes. And the laundry.

It’s been an interesting five-year journey. It’s been five years since this all started. Since I began to question how things were. Since I first stepped outside the box of predefined, acceptable behavior. Since the days I started to wake up. Five years. And I’m only now getting to this part of my journey.

Well. No one said life would be simple, did they. 🙂

Now, I’m gonna go crash for the night. It’s 2235 hours. She’s already crashed. I’ll try not to disturb her too much as I climb under the covers.

Holy crap. I’m gonna sleep in the Hurricane. Wow. Never, ever imagined this would happen. Have no idea how I feel about it. Other than I feel all kinds of stuff. Yeah. All kinds of stuff. Could take me a while to figure out what that stuff is.

Understanding

There are those who think I’ve turned my back on the Church, on Christianity, on God, and His son, Jesus. Those who pray I find my way back. I’ve tried many times to reason with them, talk with them, explain what I’ve done to them. I’ve learned, it’s useless. What I’ve done, the decisions I’ve made lie outside their understanding of the world, of life. To them, I’ve embraced the ways of the world, the ways of Satan. And I’m lost.

It’s something I strive to understand about the world around me. How people are the way they are. Why they do what they do. What they believe, and how what they believe drives them.

This week, I’ve had to continue growing my understanding of life, and people. This week, I’ve encountered more of news stories of Michele Bachmann. In the past her words would have outraged me, made me laugh and declare how silly she is. But, that’s simple lack of understanding on my part. Lack of reason. She is, like all of us, human. With her personal beliefs, and she does her best to live according to what she believes.

That’s not a reason to laugh at her. Nor is it a reason to pity, insult, or belittle her. She’s a human being, like you, like me. We are all mortal beings, with our own beliefs, our own ways, our own understanding of the world.

So, I’ve decided to examine what Michele Bachmann has said that made so many news headlines this week. But I’m not going to take a critical look at it, with the intent of discrediting her. No. That’s not what I’m trying to show. That’s not what I believe. That’s not who I am.

I want to see if I can understand what she has said, why she has said it, and what that tells me of what she believes, in the hope I can better understand her. So, let me find something she said. I’ll look here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/04/20/michele-bachmann-obama-rapture_n_7104136.html?utm_hp_ref=michele-bachmann

“Any nation that accepts God and his principles is blessed, and those who push away are cursed. That’s what we’re seeing happen to the United States. We will suffer the consequences as a result.”

Now, I have no way of knowing if these are her exact words. I know they are the words attributed to her in the news article identified in the link above. As a Christian, having read the Bible completely, the New Testament three times, and the Gospels countless times, as the son of a Southern Baptist Pastor, as a person who grew up in the church, I do understand what the above quote is saying, and I understand where it comes from.

Ms. Bachmann is being honest. She is stating what she believes. Whether she used the quoted words or not doesn’t matter. What matters is the content, the thought, those words represent. For those not familiar with the Christian Bible, it clearly says Jesus will return one day. Some call it the rapture. Some call it the second coming. It doesn’t really matter what it’s called. It’s part of Christianity. Jesus will return, and when he does, he will gather his children and take them to safety. Those left will endure the apocalypse (for lack of a better word), with disease, famine, war and death. To survive, people will follow a strong leader most Christians reference as the antichrist.

To a devoted Christian this is a serious topic. It is a call to arms, to witness to as many as possible, teaching them of the Christian beliefs and ways, in the hopes they will become one of Jesus’s children, so that when Jesus gathers his children, he will also gather them.

As Christians also know, no one knows when the end will come. No one knows when Jesus will return. All we know are the words of prophecy in the books of the Bible, both the Old Testament and New Testament.

And there lies the problem. Dependent on how you interpret those words, the end times are upon us, or the end times will be much worse than the times we live in now. The difficulty is, there’s not a consensus on what the Bible prophecy says. To some people, it describes today, the world now. To others, it describes an apocalypse, such as a meteor strike, or comet strike against the Earth. To others, it describes a protracted fall of civilization into continuous war, blood lust and greed.

Given the broad countless interpretations of the end time prophecies, and the consequences of not being ready for the end times, I find her thoughts and actions agree with her beliefs. Given my personal belief that no one knows when the second coming will happen, I’m not surprised by her words, or her behavior. I would be surprised if she believed as she does, and said nothing.

I welcome her words, and her actions. I don’t agree with her, but that’s OK. We believe differently. That does not give me the right to condemn her, or judge her. Rather, I should understand her, understand what she believes, and thus understand her actions. I may wish for a compromise with her, but I know, based on her beliefs as I understand them, she can’t make such a compromise. She would have to betray God and His son, Jesus, to make such a compromise.

I chose to let her believe as she believes. I do not chose to humor her, or laugh at her, or call her names, or insult her, or her faith. It is not my place to judge another. Instead, I should be honest with her, and others who believe as she believes. I should seek to understand them, and their faith. And to grow that understanding so we may learn to live together without war, or fighting, or violence, while we wait for the second coming.


It’s April 24th, the 20th day of the A to Z Challenge 2015. This is the 20th of 26 pieces I’m writing in April for the challenge. This one’s for the letter U. Tomorrow brings the letter V. I wonder what I’ll write for that.

I Never Told Anyone

Today, at psychotherapy, I finally said something I’ve never said. And it’s something I need to get into the open. So, I’m going to put it here. My doctor said this is one of those things that older far beyond my years, and certainly was beyond my years when I said it the first time.

I can’t remember if I was in 6th or 7th grade. Yeah. That long ago. Dad had just finished a big project at his work, and I got to see the finished document he’d written. It was a stack of paper, notebook sized, a good inch and a half thick, maybe two. He was proud of it, and I knew to write something that size took a lot of time and effort.

But I heard my thoughts back then. It was years before I finished burying them. Back then, I’d just started burying things. And that day, I heard my terrified thoughts. The work he’d shared didn’t terrify me. Neither did his pride in having completed that work. No. What terrified me was what I saw in him, and the people he worked with.

They were all practically dead. In lives that didn’t change. On career paths. However you wish to define it. Every aspect of their lives matched a plan each of them had made years, perhaps decades, earlier. Many of them were in their 30s. As I watched them, I knew they would never really change. Never really do anything other than what they were already doing.

They’d stopped growing. Stopped changing. Stopped learning. Stopped exploring. They’d grown up, and there was no room in their lives for such childish pursuits. They had responsibilities.

If someone was a Marine, he’d stay a Marine. If Navy, they’d stay Navy. If civilian contractor, or civil servant, they’d always be that. If someone was an administrative assistant, they’d always be assisting someone.

It was the first time I understood how life in our social system worked. That’s what terrified me. And I heard my mind, screaming, “I’m not going to be dead at 30! I’m not going to be like them!”

Of course, I can say this all I want. I can share it. I can talk about it. But sharing it is useless, because, as I’ve said before, no one will understand. Oh, there will be some that understand. There always are, always have been, always will be. But many people will never understand what I saw that day, or how I felt about it.

My doctor and I talked about many things today, centered around that thought.

I told him if you ever want to see the true nature of someone, murder their smart phone. Break it, and watch what happens to them. Watch as they go crazy. “Do you know, there are guys out there, if their phone shuts off, and they can’t turn it on, I wouldn’t be surprised if they throw that sucker through the drywall.” Yeah. I said that.

“Same with their computers. Or their video games. Or NetFlix. Or the Internet.”

I reminded him of the study I’d talked about a couple of weeks ago. The one about 67% of men in the study electing to endure a painful electric shock to get out of sitting still, in a room, by themselves, for 15 minutes, with no electronic devices. Yeah. That’s right. Put a guy in a room with nothing but a chair, and a button that administers an electric shock to himself, and tell him he can leave after 15 minutes, or he can shock the shit out of himself, and he’ll shock the shit out of himself.

And that’s when the lightbulb turned on over my head, and I said, “Holy crap!”

My doctor knows exactly what I mean when I say, “Holy crap!” I’d just had an epiphany. I’d just realized something. Or, as I like to express it, another piece of the puzzle of life finally fit into the puzzle.

“They’re escaping, aren’t they.” It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. I was reciting a fact. “They’re escaping from their lives. That’s why they go crazy when their phones die. Why they spend hours glued to NetFlix, watching streaming media. Why they bury themselves in video games. They’re escaping the misery they live in. And when they can’t escape, and have to sit silently for a while, they can’t. They’ll shock themselves to escape. So they don’t have to deal with who they are. What their lives have become. The truth that they’re all walking dead.”

My doctor and I spent a lot of time talking about that today. About how people try to escape.

I know. I hear the voices screaming, “It takes one to know one!” and “Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!” Yeah. Most people will never understand, I know. I’m flawed. I’m guilty. I’m not perfect.

On my drive home, I listened to my music, playing through the car stereo. I turn it to 24 on the power meter when I’m in the car alone. I can feel the door panels shake in time with the music. I can see the rear view mirror vibrate as the sound waves move it around just a touch. I can feel the music through every cubic inch of me.

It’s my escape. From the misery. My own personal misery. Of dealing with a world I don’t understand, and never made.

But, what happens when that music goes away. In May, 2012, it did. I got dunked in some rapids leading to a waterfall. The camera I owned at the time drowned. It never worked again. The MP3 music player I owned also drowned, and never played another note from any music. It never turned on again. My cell phone took days (at least 3) to dry out. I was without any of those devices for days.

This happened on day two of a five-day camping trip. We had no TV. No Internet. No electricity. And pretty much no cell phone service. It would have wrecked many of the people I know, and have known in life.

I did OK. I was happy to get a new player, a few days after we got home. I was happy when my phone started working, also a day or two after we got home. I was happy when we replaced my dead camera in July of 2012.

I survived without them. And I can survive without them now.

I know people who would shrivel up like grapes turning into raisins if they had to endure such an ordeal. I know people who can’t live without being on their cell phone, on Facebook, or Twitter, or being able to watch another movie on their phone, to kill the time.

Time they can’t face on their own.

Because, if they had to face it, they’d have to face their lives. They’d have to face themselves. They’d have to deal with who they are.

And I see people like them every day. People who will do anything to escape themselves.

“I don’t want to be dead at 30! I won’t be like them!”

I never told anyone.

Until today.

Here’s a link to the study I mentioned.

Study: People Would Rather Suffer Electric Shock Than Sit Silently

The Drive Home

It was a rare day. She let me drive. We rode in my car. By doing so, she learned something about me, and I caught a glimpse of something I feel, although I can’t really explain it yet.

We finished shopping for cat food at BJ’s Warehouse, and headed home. As she expected, I went to the stop light to exit the parking lot and turn left on to Virginia Beach Boulevard. We both knew I’d do that, because I don’t turn left across 8 lanes of traffic. I seldom turn left across a 4 lane road.

What happened next is where things got interesting. I turned right on to Rosemont Road, instead of proceeding down Virginia Beach Boulevard to Lynnhaven Boulevard. So, she asked me why I took Rosemont and not Lynnhaven.

I was able to answer her question. I explained Lynnhaven has 6 to 8 lanes, and lots of big intersections, and lots of cars moving between lanes, and passing through those intersections, while Rosemont only has 4 lanes, and almost all the intersections are with residential streets, and its features limit how much chaos can occur in traffic, and thus limit how hard I have to work to process the driving environment. So, I take Rosemont.

Of course, she would have turned left, off of Rosemont, on to Holland Road. I didn’t. I went straight. Again, for the same reason. Because there are fewer cars on Rosemont at that point, and less major intersections, making it less stressful for me to drive Rosemont, and not Holland.

In effect, I drive a mile or more out-of-the-way to get home, to find a way that works for me.

I share this story because it shows me I am learning about my emotions, about what I feel. I freely admit no one would drive the route I drive because it isn’t the shortest route, or the quickest. It is quite irrational to drive the route I drive to get home from BJ’s. There was a time, just a few years ago, when I would have driven Holland Road, and not Rosemont. When I would have coped with the traffic, and the crazy people in that traffic.

I don’t do that these days, unless I’m pressed for time, or have received a request to drive that path. I work at Best Buy on Independence Boulevard. It’s a straight line South, down Independence Boulevard, which becomes Holland Road, to my neighborhood. There are no turns to make at any intersections.

But that’s not how I drive home. I drive South on Independence. I stay on it when it turns into Holland. But, when I reach the Holland and Rosemont intersection, I turn on to Rosemont, which requires me to drive Rosemont to Dam Neck Boulevard, and then drive East on Dam Neck, until I reach Holland.

Why? Because it works for me. I can drive Holland the entire way, but most nights I don’t. Because I have learned I like to avoid the traffic on Holland Road. I get to avoid the traffic merging from 2 lanes heading south on Holland to 1 lane heading south when it crosses Dam Neck. When I drive Rosemont, I avoid the merging lanes on Holland.

That’s correct. I use the word, “insanity”, because it’s nuts the way people behave when dealing with a merge from two lanes of traffic into one on a road that operates at 135% of its rated capacity. Holland Road is, like many of the main roads in this area, overloaded, with more traffic than it’s supposed to handle.

People go nuts at that merge. Some happily wait in line in the lane that does not go away. Others react as if waiting is something they can’t stand to do, so they get in the lane that goes away, and see how many cars they can get past before they run out of road. I’ve seen more than a few cars fighting for control of the road, driving side-by-side on a two lane road, as the drivers refuse to behave.

By taking Rosemont, I have a right turn on to Holland Road after I yield to oncoming traffic. All I have to deal with is waiting for traffic to clean, so I can make my right turn. I don’t have to battle or negotiate for control of the road with other drivers.

Which is why I drive the roads I drive. It limits the stress I have to endure while driving. It limits the actions all drivers can take. It makes driving a simpler, more controlled process I can deal with more effectively.

It’s not rational. But it is what works for me.

And it’s one of the rare times I have acknowledged anything I feel, and taken what I feel into account in my daily life.

I wonder if I’m supposed to learn more about what I feel, and let what I feel have more influence in the things I do every day.

When Will Your First Book Be Ready?

A good friend asked, yesterday, when my first book was coming out. Of course, I answered with a, “When it’s ready” answer.. Isn’t that what everyone that’s never published a novel answers? “When it’s ready.”

But here’s where things get different. With me, “When it’s ready,” may translate to “Never.” It’s an anxiety and depression thing. It’s a war with myself thing. A conflict I’m all too familiar with, and have struggled with all my life. These days, when I think of writing the 2nd and 3rd drafts of “White Witch”, then getting beta readers, and finding an editor to help me clean it up, an artist to help me with the cover design, and learning what I’ll need to learn to publish my book, I panic.

Yes, I panic.

And until now, this morning, sitting here, writing these words, I’ve never admitted I panic at the thought of completing my first novel. But I do. Every symptom, every signal, shows. My fingers vibrate like the tines of a tuning fork. My left wrist does its “I can’t support any weight” number. My chest constricts, all the muscles in my neck, shoulders, and chest behave like I’m lifting a five-drawer file cabinet over my head. My pulse rate pushes up to near 3 digit levels, and I have to force myself to take full, deep breaths, to breathe normally.

See. I know. I just don’t talk about it. I hide it, and pray it goes away. I pray everything goes away. As I have all my life.

Because I want to fail.

Yes. You read that correctly. I want to fail.

It’s a hard thing to explain to people. A thing that makes no sense to anyone, except me. It’s not a refusal of responsibility. It’s something deeper, much more complex that not wanting to grown up and be responsible. Because I am a grown up, responsible adult.

It’s a fight even I have trouble finding the words to explain. The only words I’ve ever found are, “I want to fail,” which doesn’t really explain what I feel. So, let me explain a bit more.

In October, 2010, my last career came to a spectacular end, with me out on medical leave for 13 weeks. If you’re not familiar with the story, perhaps I’ll explain it someday. My doctor will tell you I wanted out of that job, and my subconscious did what I had to, to get me out of that job.

Here I am, in 2014, back at full-time work status, in another job. One I wasn’t even working to get. It just kind of happened. Like the last job I had. Like things always have. I’ve explained countless times, “I don’t have to look for work. Work always finds me.”

I know why this happens. It happens because I’m good at what I do. I’m not top ranked, far from it. It’s one of those things my Doctor and I have talked about many times (after 4 years of therapy, I’ve lost count of how many times). I’m damn good at what I do. Whatever I decide to do, I do it well. This past week, my doctor explained it to me this way, “Mark, if the best people at this are in the 99th percentile, you’re in the 97th, or 98th. Your not the best, but you’re damn good. Exceptionally good.”

Yeah. That’s the problem. Everyone knows that. Everyone who knows me knows that. And I can’t escape that. I can’t escape people knowing I’m good at the things I choose to do. And it’s not just in the land of computers, and computer software. Things would be far simpler if I had such limits.

I write, too. As more and more people are finding out. I write. And I’m not bad at it. To the point where I’ve been told, and have lost count of how many people have told me, I’m not bad at it, and should write a book.

I take pictures, too. With a $400 (US) Canon point and shoot camera with a 840 mm optical zoom lens. Not even a real camera. A point and shoot camera. A camera a lot of people look at, and laugh at, because it’s not a “real” camera.

Yet, even with that “toy” camera, I take pictures people like. I’ve heard many times, “You’re a photographer, right?”

Wrong. I’m not. I just take pictures. Snap-shots. I’m not a photographer.

I’m not a writer.

I’m not a computer genius.

And I struggle, every day, with the idea, the thought, that I am, and that people think I am.

Could I start a computer services business? Yes. Easily. Would I be successful at it? Almost certainly. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of meeting those expectations leaves me gasping for breath, and needing to take a long walk to make it through yet another panic attack.

Could I write, and publish, my first book? Yes. For me, it would be surprisingly easy. Would it sell? Who cares? That wouldn’t be the point. Do I want to? Yes. Then why don’t I? Because I want to fail. Because the thought of completing my first book, and publishing it, and putting it out in the world, triggers another panic attack. And leaves me terrified of the knowledge I would publish more stories. The first book wouldn’t be the only book. And again, I end up taking long walks to de-stress myself, and beat back the panic.

There you have it, people. What I’m really saying when I answer the question, “When will your book be ready?”

Me. Screaming at life, trying to run and hide, because I know where that next step leads, and I’m terrified to take that step as a result.

It’s not “when will the book be ready?” It’s actually, “When will I be ready?”

And I don’t have an answer to that question. Other than to look at my hands, and scream at them, “Stop doing that!” and then go walk until my heels bleed.

That’s what terror is.

That’s what anxiety is.

That’s what I live with. Every breath and every heartbeat of every day.