420.To Blog or not to Blog.


Why do I blog?  There is no fame or fortune, no status or glory in the blog business. I have refused all pay that has not yet been offered. So why do it?  Uh, why speak to the new barrista at the coffee shop?  Let’s see– because you want to connect, maybe share some of your presence with someone else. Tenderize a brain or two. Learn something in return maybe. Though I don’t know all three of my blog followers, I’m sure they are nice folks with great tolerance and compassion. Why? Because I write some odd things in this blog, mostly for my own entertainment. My devoted followers have not cut me off yet. Maybe this will do it. However, if I’m laughing while typing, that’s usually a good sign. Furthermore, if I find just the right picture on my Google search, that’s even better.

Blogging beats billing or getting my accounts in order. You see, I write on my office computer 90% of the time. Like right now as Leon Russell sings through his nose, “There’s a slow train comin’.” It’s an enjoyable distraction after a few intense therapy sessions. Some days clients don’t show so I click on Pandora and zoom along with Van Morrison, Lou Reed, Dylan, Neil Young, or any of the 100 artists on my shuffle. Music is a big deal for me; it seems to free up ideas and help my stream of consciousness flow. Good therapy needs good therapy, I think. Otherwise the therapist blows. Blogging is one of my coping strategies that ease my blood pressure and stress. I’m not a fan of stress though I willingly engage it daily. Therefore, I need an outlet after ferrying anxious folks across troubled waters.

It used to be running a few miles back when I was young enough to absorb all that pounding. Nowadays my back and hips cry out in protest to jogging. I still hunt groundhogs for fun in the warmer months. Cold-blooded murder of vermin, so it is. And I enjoy it. Every so often I will draw or paint something, usually in watercolors. Chess, too, is a beloved activity when I can find a willing and capable partner. These are all healthy distractions and stress relievers. We can all use more distractions these days, don’t you agree?

The new administration is whirling forward in a dizzying blur. Not sure how things are going to play out. I do find it fascinating and terrifying how the media have been demonized. Sure, some are prima donnas, but the biggest prima donna of all is the Prima Donald.  And sure, he is being demonized as well. There has never been another Prima Donald to my recollection. His panties are in a wad over the silliest and vainest items. Don, buddy, you won. It’s true. Why the conspiracy theory to suggest that not dozens, or scores, hundreds or thousands voted illegally for someone else. No, for a man of your stature, the fraud must be millions. And those millions must be illegal, brown, unwashed criminals loaded down with diseases, eager to rape white women.

If you have ever talked to someone who is delusional, you will find that the delusions are never mundane, garden variety issues. If someone is stalking them or tapping their phone, it can’t be a local marketer or traffic cop or a disgruntled neighbor. Nope. That’s just not good enough. Delusions of persecution need to be big– the Mafia, the CIA, the FBI, the NSA, Interpol,  or the KGB. It doesn’t sound fierce enough if the delusionoid says, “The PTA are after me.” Or NASA. Or AARP. Or the SPCA.  These latter acronyms lack the dramatic serrated edge of the former referents. Go big, my schizophrenic friends, or don’t go at all.

So, why would a sane man want to entertain a conspiracy that undercuts the system that just elected him president? I can only speculate. The Donald has been a magician over the past two years. He has managed to toss firebombs  left, right and center that distract the public and media from his last firebombs. He’s good at this sleight of mouth. But even the Donald has to step back in awe of the verbal tornado woodpecker that is Kellyanne Conway. She is masterful at deflection and redirecting any narrative. She spews more cooked noodles than any Chinese restaurant ever could while breathing through her ears.  Please, folks, you were legally elected by the system . Believe it. No need to gild the outcome into something of an intergalactic victory of our species over the Death Star of the Leftist/ Media/ Demoproglibs.  Act like you believe in the outcome. It is impressive and historic. Stop talking like the prom king is a drag queen who needs an alibi. The new truth in our post factual world is that she looks fabulous, and that’s all that matters.

Oh, oh, oh. But controlling the truth is not the same thing as seeking and speaking truth. Whether that truth is your promised tax returns or climate change; emoluments or fraudulent universities; seeing jihadi Muslims dancing in Jersey City or millions of worshipful audience members on the national mall; there are ways of determining the truth via an abundance of proof. We do this in court and in science labs. But in the big stage of what was once known as news, our anchors, experts, and talking heads allow greasy soundbites to pose as truths. What results is a  paranoid environment of mythical beliefs and alternative facts. Hocus pocus hoaxes.

Instead of seeking and speaking truth, our society seems to have become allergic to truth. We break out in partisan rages rather than calmly putting forth the known relevant facts. So many tricks are used to move the tone over the substance. Today’s soundbite is that 3 million illegals voted not for Trump. Unidentified polling places all over this country were fooled three million times. And the evidence is… missing.

What will next week bring, I wonder? A new Sharknado that Kellyanne will explain away.

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419.The Thaw

Image result for girl in flip flops in public street in winter

It’s 60 degrees Fahrenheit in Central PA on Jan. 13, Friday by the way. A January thaw is in the air. I’ve seen these before. A brief glimpse of spring that is so contrary to what has been and what I know from 35 years of Franklin County experience is bound to come. And then the hammer of Thor comes down on all the villagers– freezing rain mixed with wet snow and howling wind hounds from weather hell. It will bring facial penance for weather fools who smile in ignorance today. Yesterday folks were tromping about in flip flops, frivolously tempting fate to deliver frostbitten toes tomorrow. They want what they want and naively tip toe through the plastic  tulips pretending that it is spring. It’s not. This is a weather bubble about to burst. Put on your woolies and long underwear before it’s too late.

Denying meteorological history dooms one to repeat it. I blogged on False Springs and Genocide a couple of years ago, post 209, as a matter of fact. I referred to the horrible spring snow storm of 1888 that killed 200 New Yorkers by quick freezing them, like free range chickens at Perdue Farms. C’mon! You can’t believe pajama bottoms and sandals are proper winter apparel!  Demonstrate you are smarter than a chicken. You are just asking for a beating in a tank top in January. Winter weather is like an abusive boyfriend; he’s going to hit you again. This pause with flowers and sweetness is the false pat down of you guard. “I’ve changed. Really. This time it’s forever. I’ll never hit you again”, whispers the lying south wind.  Tomorrow brother Boreas will blow the frozen bloody skin from your frigid bones.

Denying interpersonal violence dooms one to repeat it too. Just because a guy smiles and says he is sorry does not outweigh his history of misogyny. Making excuses does not make it better or go away. Years ago I met a woman who had driven through the night from a Midwestern city to escape her cretin husband. Her eyes were glazed as if she had taken narcotics. She spoke of a horrible man who isolated her and endlessly accused her of infidelities with male coworkers.

“But I know he loves me. It’s my fault, really.”

“How is that??

“I make him mad. That’s why he punches holes in the walls and throw things.”

“And you are responsible for this how?”

“My husband told me he wouldn’t do this stuff if I just listened to him and didn’t make him mad. I apologize and fix the walls.”

“Do you ever blame others for your actions?”

“No. I don’t have that kind of temper. Keith does.But it’s because he loves me so much.”

“Uh, did he have a temper before he met you?”

“I guess so. He was dishonorably discharged from the Army for fighting and getting drunk.”

“I see. So his temper preceded him knowing you. Is that right?”

“Right. I met him about a year later.”

“I’m having trouble equating having a temper with loving someone.”

“Keith says that he loves me so much that he gets jealous if another man shows any interest in me. That’s why he picks out my clothes and does not let me dress slutty. He cares so much. He knows how men think about young women. So he checks my phone and anything on the computer.”

“I’ll bet he does. Does he isolate you also? Keep you from having friends?”

“How’d you know?  He pointed out my friends’ flaws, you know, so he tried to protect me from their drama. Plus he can’t stand to be away from me. He’s really romantic.”

“Yeah, I’d call it controlling and insecure.”

“No, it’s not like that, is it?”

“Let’s see… you work, he stays home and plays poker on the internet.”

“That’s his job.”

“How’s it going?”

“Sometimes he wins, but usually he loses. And that…”

“Makes him mad?”

“Well, no one enjoys losing. He works so hard. Sometimes I’ll bring him a sandwich so he doesn’t have to stop a hand. Sometimes he wants sex during a good hand. He says it brings him luck. He has stayed up all night before playing his poker job.”

“Meanwhile you go to your medical job at the hospital for ten hour shifts.”

“Yep, I pay all the bills and Keith takes care of the house and the dogs.”

“Nice arrangement for Keith.”

“He likes it except when I don’t answer his phone calls when I’m at work. He’s so protective.”

“How about possessive?”

“I guess so. He puts me on a pedestal.”

“Let me guess: he idolized you at first and found all your eccentricities cute and adorable.”

“Yep. It was such a rush to find my soul mate.”

“Then over time he began to correct you to keep you perfect.”

“Something like that. You know, I did need to lose some weight, and he said a boob job would be nice for my self esteem. I, I, I felt a lot better after doing that.”

“What did he correct next?”

“It’s silly, really. How I chewed my food. How I spoke at times.How sloppy I was with housekeeping.”

“Anyone else ever point out these flaws in your behavior?”

“No. But I’m not allowed to have company until the apartment is spotless.”

“And you’ve never gotten it spotless, have you?”

“Not yet, and I know that makes him madder than a hornet.”

“Meanwhile you have never asked him to change, right?”

“No, he’s perfect the way he is….”

“Even when he threw his coffee cup at your face?”

“I made him mad. It was my fault.”

“And you ducked or else you’d need stitches in your face.”

“I know he loves me.”

“Uhhh, I’ve not heard love in any of these examples, Cheri. Abuse, control, blame, yes. Love, no.”

“He tells me he loves me.”

“After he beats you?”

“Yes. I mean, no. Other times too.”

“Cheri, you’ve been programmed to serve him like a robot.”

“Well, it’s my choice. And I’m going back. He has called me 34 times since I left and it’s going to be different this time. He promises.”

“And the Statue of Liberty is made of green Jell-o. I promise… on a pedestal.”


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418. Gratitude

Image result for free bulging bellies picturesAs one year bulged its way into the next over the food and drink and presents and party people, I realized that I had not blogged in a couple of weeks. That tells me something: I must either be content or constipated. I know the latter is not true, but I need to ponder the former. Am I content?  I think so. I am full on many levels, fulfilled even. Maybe even overflowing in the sense that my cup overfloweth.

Lacking anxiety as well, because anxiety cannot be contained in contentment; it is a psychological gas that presses against the space it expands into. Anxiety is the steam of an overheated mind; brain sweat from the racing rat wheel of worry. This deformed child of worry makes one’s eyes squint; pulse tick up; sweat seep; capillaries squeeze shut. Symptoms go on and on– the nauseated stomach, gas, reflux, insomnia, etc. All traceable back to the drip drip of adrenaline into a worried and worn out body. Raw fear.Image result for anxiety images

And what motivates the rat wheel, you ask? The endless game of “what if?” that’s what. Since there is no definitive answer to the “what if?” game, the cognitive rat brain simply runs faster and faster in order to keep up with its self imposed pace. “What if this spot on my back is cancer? What if  I can’t get insurance? What if there is no after life?  What if there is and I wind up in Hell? What if I die on my next birthday? What if the country implodes? What if …?”Image result for rat on a wheel picturesThe rat is exhausted.

Oh, but the antidote to all this angst is the peace of mind, body and spirit that gratitude delivers. Truly, it is a gift that expands in melting paraffin waves of relaxation and fulfillment. Gratitude is a word derived from gratis, Latin for thanks. Thanks for what? Well, for what is; what has been; and what may likely be. Gratitude collects one’s thoughts and feelings like random pieces of laundry. Gratitude washes the negativity out of each garment and sets it out clean and fresh again. Sort of like forgiveness. And whom are you thanking? The Gift Giver, of course. Image result for grateful images

A young man once surprised me with an unexpected mini-lesson on gratitude. “Yeah, I’m doing okay with the lithium. This is the longest I’ve ever stayed compliant, you know. I do counseling twice a month, and that helps. I work out every day for an hour, no matter what. Overall I have a lot more activity in my life with more relationships. I can see that I was hibernating two years ago, but now I’m crawling out of that badger’s den. But you know what is the most important factor?”

“Well, I’m guessing it’s not one that you have already mentioned, yes?”

“Of course. I think gratitude is really powerful. More and more I see it in my life. When I am able to look thankfully at what I do have, I am filled with joy. And the funny thing is this: the facts of my life really haven’t changed. It’s my perspective. I knew this all along, but I thought there had to be more factors. But in theses last six months I’ve been focusing on the good in my life, my blessings, my living friends, what I can still do. And it’s enough. Way more than enough. I can’t easily get depressed when I am full of stubborn gratitude.”

“Nice!  I agree. Gratitude is thankfulness for what you do have and who you are instead of moaning about what you lost or never had to begin with. It’s coming to peace with who you are. Gratitude has no room for envy of others and how life should be ideally. Instead, the grateful look at what is and give thanks. It’s living in the world you are in, in your own skin, and enjoying it.”

“Yeah. I don’t have a career anymore because of my bipolar, but I still have a family that loves me. I have my daughter, though her mom and I are divorced. I can still ski and play golf, work out, do manual labor. I have to do vigorous exercise some days to check my self, usually to force the energy to flow. If I don’t pull the blanket back in the mornings, then I’m inviting the ticks into my brain.”