A Glimpse Into My World

So I used to do this thing pretty regularly. I thought the prompts had ended, but I just found out they’re still going to I figured I’d post one up real quick while I’m waiting on a script I’m running to finish….

The premise is pretty simple, Melanie over at Sparks of a Combustable Mind posts four usually non-invasive questions, and I get to answer them. What a fun game!!

QUESTIONS

Do you ever feel more excited about getting the package in the mail, rather than the item that’s in it?

Depends on what I ordered on Amazon the day before. If it’s a present for myself, then I’ll get excited. However, if it’s just a couple more bottles of toothpaste, like it was yesterday, blah…

What is the difference between your ideal self and your real self?  (i.e. what attribute or physical feature would allow you feel the ideal ‘you’?)

Well, my ideal self is much skinnier than my real self. My ideal self also has a better handle on his emotions and knows how to cope with them, good or bad. But I guess my real self is okay most of the time.

If you found $2,000 on the ground and there were no witnesses, what would you do with it?

Pocket it. I mean, if it’s not in a wallet or anything, it’s free game, right? RIGHT???

Are you ever morally obliged to take action? Under what circumstances?

Not sure how to answer this one. If you’re asking if I feel morally obliged to take action, then yes, in certain situations, I feel a moral obligation. That’s the trick, though. Everyone’s morals are unique, so defining moral obligations is difficult. I could spend an entire day listing possible circumstances in which I’d feel morally obligated to take action on something, but to be purposefully vague and intentionally brief, I’ll just say that I generally feel morally obligated to act if I know I can do something to prevent another person from getting hurt.


GRATITUDE SECTION

Please feel free to share how last week went for you.   Bright or not-so-bright spots?

Oh, last week was an emotional rollercoaster for reasons I’d rather not delve into right now. It’s the beginning of the school year here in backasswards Indiana, so work has been crazy, and I’ve been working…a lot.

That being said, there was one thing that is equal parts bright and not so bright….Baby C started 6th grade today. I don’t know what I’m more upset about: that C’s now old enough to be in middle school or that I now have to get up an hour earlier to get him off to school. HOW IS HE IN 6TH GRADE ALREADY???

Mirror, Mirror

Mirror, mirror on the wall
Who’s the worst person of all?
Is it he who I see
Through this lens of apathy?

We all have opinions of ourselves and have a certain image we see when we gaze upon a mirror. Some people have a fairly high opinion of themselves while others…not so much. Some folks are fairly cognizant of their self-reflection, and others are blissfully ignorant. Some people see what they want to see.

Some folks think the way we talk to ourselves influences our mental health. “Think positive!” is sounds like great advice, but in practice doesn’t make a bit of sense. I’d love to have a head full of positive thoughts and to view the world through rose-tinted glasses, but I can’t control the thoughts that pop into my head. I suppose I have complete control over all following thoughts, and that is where I struggle. 

They say self-love is important. They say you must love yourself before you can love others. I’m not sure that is true. Or where “they” got that idea. While I don’t hate myself, I certainly don’t love myself, either. I’m sort of in this weird limbo where sometimes I think I’m an okay guy to be around and other times I feel like I’m just the annoying guy some people tolerate out of necessity. But I’ll be damned if I don’t love others. I love fiercely. Perhaps even unhealthily. I’ve latched on to those I love like a morphin drip, as if they were the only thing keeping pain at bay. Losing my mom destroyed me. If something happened to one of my children I’d shatter like ice in a blender. My second divorce gave me withdrawal symptoms (according to my doctor) and left me decimated. Perhaps some of my love is meant for me, but I’m not sure how to funnel it my way.

There are things about myself I like. I’m pretty smart. I’m a hard worker – at my job, anyhow. I’m hilarious (just ask me, I’ll tell you – wait, I just did). I’m sarcastic. I’m witty. I’m loyal. I’ll always help if I can. Despite those qualities I fail to understand why anyone ever cares about me. What could anyone possibly see in me that would make them love me? I feel unworthy. I’m constantly doubting myself. Am I a good father? A good friend? A good person? I always second-guess myself. If I had done that one thing differently would things have been better? Why did I make that stupid decision? Why did I put myself out there? What is the point of anything ever?

When I finally realize what I’m doing I bombard myself with even more questions. What is wrong with me? Why do I do this to myself? What is broken in my brain? Why do I fuck every…single…thing…up?

It’s been awhile since I’ve gone and fucked things up, just like I always do.

Staind

Think positive. That’s hard to do when your imbalanced brain chemicals control your moods. It’s tough to notice the beauty in life when you’re busy walking around trying to go unnoticed. There is no room for positive thoughts when you are perpetually fending off the negative ones.

I don’t even know how to think positive. I’ve never seen the glass as half-empty or half-full. I simply see a glass with some shit in it. I definitely don’t believe I’m a horrible person, but I also don’t see myself as a great person. I’m just a person. With flaws, jokes, and skeletons in the closet.

My immediate reaction to almost every compliment I ever get is to cringe. It’s involuntary, but I defend it still. Unless you’re telling me I’m hilarious (because I totally am). I’ll never believe I possess any qualities that make me worthy of loving.

I wish you could see yourself the way I see you. I’ve said that to a few people. People who hate themselves. People who think they’re unworthy of love. People who think they can do nothing right. For some reason, it’s easy to look past another person’s flaws and see the goodness within, but it’s impossible to do so when gazing into a mirror. At least, it is for me. I’m disgusted by what I see in the mirror. I’m sickened by my physical appearance. I’m appalled by things I’ve done that hurt others, intentionally or not. I’m vexed by how tough it is to break unhealthy habits. I’m outraged by certain life choices I’ve made.

I don’t know how to change my self-reflection from revolting to radiant. I’m no transformer. There’s no switch I can flip to reverse my mental polarity. There’s only me, my self-deprecating thoughts, a complete lack of will-power, and the voices in my head.

Self-image is far too powerful a thing to ignore . If you think too highly or lowly of yourself it can be toxic to both you and those who love you. I know what I see in the mirror isn’t what others see when they look at me. What I have yet to figure out is how to adjust the focus on the lens through which I see myself.

Perhaps my mirror is simply dirty.

Out of the Darkness

There are certain moments in life for which no amount of preparation can ready you. Moments that leave a nuclear shadow on your memory. Some of those moments are wonderful. Others haunt you, coating every future decision you will ever make with fear. One of those moments is another person attempting suicide right in front of you. No amount of time will erode the scars left by such a memory. 

The event is seared into my mind as if by a branding iron. There is a photo montage that I cannot rid myself of no matter how I try. I see a river of tears threading their way down from the outside corner of her right eye. I see the relief of finality written upon her face. I can see the empty bottle in the wastebasket. And I can clearly hear the words she spoke through light sobs, “When you wake up you won’t have to worry about me anymore.”

When you imagine yourself in a situation like that you always think that you’ll know just what to do. That you won’t break under the pressure. Even now I feel confident that I’ll react appropriately in an emergency situation. I was just a kid, though. Twenty years of age is legally an adult, but, to be perfectly honest, I probably wasn’t ready for adulthood until I was 30 and by that time I had eight-year-old twins and another ten years of experience under my belt.

At 20 years old the shock of what had happened paralyzed me. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t speak. I don’t even know if I was breathing. I could only stare at her, dumbfounded and numb.

There are a million things that I know, in retrospect, I should have done. I should have called 911. I should have called her mom. Her sister. Her aunt. I should have urged them to have her committed. Or, at the very least, to encourage her to seek help. I could go on and on about all the things I should have done, but I could manage none of them. I just laid there watching her through tear-filled eyes, wondering if she’d be alive when I woke the next morning. Eventually, I cried myself to sleep. 

Suicide has impacted my life as no other thing has. Everything that has happened to me in the last 25 years has resulted directly from that night. I began the night intending to end a relationship in which I was unhappy. I ended the night enslaved by the threat of suicide. I became fearful. I was afraid of telling her no. I was afraid any misstep might send her into another abyss. I walked on eggshells for years. I became a proficient liar for fear the truth would trigger another attempt. Fits of rage turned to wild accusations, throwing random objects (sometimes at me), and her in a shower with the water as hot as it could possibly be because the pain calmed her.

Despite my misery, I did get two amazing sons for whom I would happily shed every tear and endure every abuse again. 

Just after I escaped that marriage, I began dating a young woman who, after our first date, was leveled by the death of her brother, who had taken his own life.

Words cannot describe the torment she suffered. That her family suffered. The what-ifs. The what-could-I-have-done-to-prevent-its. The anger for hurting them. The grief for losing him. The drugs and alcohol consumed to numb it all.

I did the best I could to help her through it. Throughout our years together, she never really got past it. I mean, how could she? Her brother died. Not due to an accident or natural causes, but by choice. All she wanted was the one thing she’ll never, ever have. An answer.

Why?

Years ago, I began supporting the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. I initially joined to be supportive of the young woman whose brother was lost to her, but since then I’ve come to terms with my own issues. I was diagnosed with bipolar when I was 13. I’m not sure that man was the most competent psychiatrist ever to have a couch to lie on because I’m not bipolar and that same doctor is the one who gave my mom the meds that led to her arrest. But that’s neither here nor there. I do suffer from depression and anxiety. I have had some extremely low moments in the last ten years. I have never felt a compulsion to end my life, but from rock bottom, I can see how some would think that death is the only way out. The fear of what that would do to my children keeps me grounded.

Most people who commit suicide have a diagnosable and treatable mental illness. Yet mental illness is this thing we’re supposed to discuss in the shadows and publicly disavow. Like if we ignore it, it will just go away. I don’t know about yours, but my demons thrive in the darkness. 

I walk at the Cincinnati Out of the Darkness event every October. I donate and try to raise funds. I’m not an extremely motivated person, and I’m definitely not a person to join causes, but this foundation is that important to me. I walk with my children because I want them to know that they can talk to me if they begin to feel the void inside that depression carves out. I walk with others so they know they are not alone in their grief or their fight. I donate to help fund psychiatric research. I donate to get treatment for those affected by suicide. I support AFSP for me. For my children. For anyone who hears the whispers of demons or the echoes they leave in a tormented head.

If you’re so inclined, please consider donating to AFSP. This organization is doing as much as it can to normalize acknowledging, discussing, and treating mental health.

Click on the image to visit my page and maybe leave a donation.

out of the darkness
and into the light
demons will vanish when
dragged from the night

Change My Mind

The rise of social media has had a detrimental effect on humanity – even more of an adverse effect than humanity itself has had. Anyone anywhere can post anything for the entire world to read. Could be real. Could be fake. Could be an opinion. Could be hate. It doesn’t matter. Social media sites rarely filter these streams of consciousness from misinformed, self-important people who share their sometimes ignorant opinions on, well, anything.

One thing I’ve been seeing more and more is someone posting an opinion and then ending their opinion piece with the simple sentence, “Change my mind.”

So this random guy posts a random opinion on Reddit about how he thinks the Iron Man suits looked less realistic the older the MCU has gotten. Great. He has an opinion. He has shared it. It’s not inflammatory. Then he ends his little post with “Change my mind.”

Maybe it’s my lack of sleep. Maybe I’m just having a bad day. Maybe I’ve just finally had enough. All I know is those three words irritated the hell out of me this morning.

What is the end goal here? Are you looking for an argument? Is this some weird flex in which you are trying to assert your mental prowess? Is your opinion right and anyone with a different opinion wrong? My dude, I don’t care that you have an opinion, so I definitely don’t care enough to try to change it.

Social media is a great place for sharing ideas, civil debate, and hilarious memes – when actually used for that purpose. What annoys the piss out of me is when comment threads devolve into flame wars. At that point, civil discourse disappears and the keyboard warriors come out and begin insulting each other’s mothers – just like Al Gore intended when he created the internet. Like watching two people without arms trying to slap each other, it accomplishes nothing and just isn’t entertaining.

Yes, I realize the tone of this post is ironic given its content, but I’m slightly annoyed. Let’s all stop being idiotic and asking for arguments over pointless shit, shall we? Have an opinion you’d like to share? Great! Do it without inviting more negativity into the world wide wastebin. There’s enough vitriol in the world, I don’t think we need to go looking for more.

American Pride

pride – the state or feeling of being proud

proud – feeling pleasure or satisfaction over something regarded as highly honorable or creditable to oneself (often followed by of, an infinitive, or a clause)

dictionary.com

Pride is a feeling I’ve often not understood. To me, having pride in something means you’ve contributed to its current state. For instance, I’m proud of my children. I’m proud of who they’ve become and who they’ve become is a reflection of the work I’ve put into raising them.

When I was in high school (way, way, waaaaay back in the day), we often had school pride days or school pride rallies. Even at that young age, I was confused by these events. Why should I have pride in a school when all I’ve done is attend it? I had no effect whatsoever on anything (good or bad) that happened at that school. The only reason I went to that school was that my home was located in that district. I didn’t choose that school. Why should I have felt pride in that school?

As I grew older I found others’ feelings of pride even more absurd. People were proud of “their” teams. Or the company they worked for. Or the country they live in.

And I’m proud to be an American, where at least I know I’m free…

Lee Greenwood

American pride has always puzzled me. For multiple reasons. First and foremost is that most of us did not choose to live in this nation. We were simply born here. I feel neither pride nor an obligation to slap an American flag on anything I own just because, by pure happenstance, I was born in this nation.

The majority of us have not contributed to the current state this country is in. Elected and appointed officials shape our policies and write our laws. We the people do not. Our elected officials have always dictated our actions. Elected officials decide when we go to war. When to topple foreign governments. When to bring “freedom” to a “marginalized” populace. Despite that many Americans still mount flags on their homes or vehicles as if they have done something worthy of feeling American pride.

Putting aside the fact that most Americans have had no hand in the way this country treats its own citizens or its global neighbors, exactly what has our country done for which we should feel pride? This nation sits on a foundation of atrocities. We stole the very land of this nation from the people who inhabited it. This nation’s infrastructure was built by enslaved people. Women were not allowed to vote until 1920. Black people weren’t granted the right to vote until after the Civil War, but suppression measures were put in place to prevent them from voting that weren’t repealed until 1964. Native Americans couldn’t vote until 1924. We fought a civil war because half of the nation believed it was their right to own other human beings, and to this day people still fly that odious flag.

Furthermore, the capitalist nature of this country has made life challenging for its less affluent citizens, requiring the formation of labor unions just to get basic things like a living wage and safe work environments. Corporations still have more influence than citizens in this country because they can just make “donations” to a politician to sway their votes.

I could go on and on about this nation’s shortcomings, but I don’t have all day. Just a casual perusal of the news, however, is enough to question the sanity of anyone flying an American flag proudly these days. Women’s reproductive rights are under attack. Citizens are gunning each other down in our city streets. Children are endangering themselves just going to school. Black people are being mass murdered by white supremacists who feel like they need to protect the white race. From what, I don’t know.

Meanwhile, one political party has adopted a mentally challenged narcissist as its de facto leader and has spent the last two years trying to subvert our democracy. Or rather, what’s left of our democracy. That party’s followers are so indoctrinated they dismiss any evidence to the contrary as doctored. They still show up to these rallies and cheer him on as if he’s some kind of god.

Sad, but true.

Today is the 4th of July. Our Independence Day. The day we told England to fuck all the way off. The day we declared all men were created equal (although the fine print excluding pretty much everyone but white men has yet to be discovered by historians). The day we claimed life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness is the right of every American citizen (ya know, as long as they’re white). The day we claimed it is the duty of the people to throw off a despotic government (unless that government is led by an old tyrant with strange, orange-tinted skin, who grabs women by the pussy and America by the flag without consent).

Had this nation actually followed the ideals of its founders I think I could probably understand someone who flies an American flag proudly. Instead, I immediately question the intelligence of someone who blindly supports this nation. Or worse, sees this nation for what it is and supports it anyhow.

An Abortion of Rights

I’ve been trying to put this off until I could calm down and maybe get my thoughts together, but every time I start thinking about it I begin to fume.

The news leaked some time ago, but was made official on Friday: the Supreme Court has reversed its ruling on Roe vs Wade, and abortion is now no longer protected by the Constitution.

While this decision doesn’t explicitly ban the practice, many states have “trigger” laws, meaning that abortion would immediately be illegal in that state if RvW was overturned. Some of those states have exceptions for incest, rape, or danger to the mother. Some of them don’t, which is horrifying.

What this all means for our country is anyone’s guess, at this point. My opinions on abortion are complex, but ultimately I think this is a massive mistake.

I remember opting to write an editorial on abortion in 7th grade and concluding that abortion should be illegal except in cases of incest or rape. I can only assume at that point in my life I was unaware that other legitimate cases could be made for abortion, such as birth defects or the potential for a pregnancy to end a mother’s life. What can I say? I was 12 and extremely naive about such things.

As a father, I’ve heard the beating hearts of my children from within the womb. Having heard these budding lives it’s unfathomable for me to imagine even the slightest consideration of terminating a pregnancy. Not every pregnancy is wanted, however. Nor is every pregnancy intentional.

You can take all the precautions in the world, but sometimes nature just…happens. In those cases, is it really fair to expect a woman to endure a 9-month pregnancy? To endure morning sickness? To suffer through labor? To miss weeks’ worth of work they may not be able to afford? To incur crushing medical debt? All for a child she doesn’t want? Shouldn’t she be able to choose not to go through that?

What if a pregnancy puts the mother’s life in danger? What if a fetus has a physical defect or genetic disease? Shouldn’t the option of terminating the pregnancy be an option in those cases? It sounds horrible, but in some cases, life with certain diseases or deformities isn’t worth living.

Let’s say you’re of the opinion that the woman made her bed and now has to sleep in it. Perhaps you believe she needs to see the pregnancy through and have the child because “life is precious”. What kind of life is that for the child? What trauma awaits an unwanted kid? What if the parents can’t afford food or rent? What if the parents are too young to care for a child? Or too old? Or handicapped? Or addicts? Or criminals? Is that a precious life? Or is that another life that will end up in an already overtaxed foster system?

“Too bad,” you might say if you’re pro-life, “Put the child up for adoption.” Sure, kids who are adopted don’t have any problems. Plus, adoption is a lengthy process not a lot of people will want to go through. Or can even afford. In my home state, the licensing requirements can take anywhere from six to twelve months. And the legal fees can add up to thousands of dollars.

What about children who are already born and need help? Who will care for them? There are an estimated 440,000 kids in the foster system whose mothers already gave birth and had them taken away. Why would we, as a society, want to add to that number? Why would we want to lessen the odds of adoption for a child who has already been a victim of neglect or abuse?

Pro-life folks will paint those who support abortion as Satanists or murderers, but the reality is no one wants to have an abortion – it’s just the best choice sometimes. Kind of like when those same “pro-life” folks laud the death penalty for murderers. The logic may seem cold and practical, but there are already 12 million kids going hungry in this nation. It makes absolutely zero sense to toss gasoline on that already raging inferno by forcing the completion of unwanted pregnancies.

Criminalizing abortion will force women to look elsewhere for an abortion, and that can be lethal. In certain states, women who need an abortion to save themselves from an unsafe pregnancy will die because the procedure that will save their lives is illegal. Worse, some women whose pregnancies fail naturally will be investigated and/or tried for murder, and that is fucking insane.

The reality is we just took a giant step back in the US. Not only will this reversal lead to more suffering for women and children alike, but it may also serve as a gateway to other rights being taken away. Justice Clarence Thomas (the personification of moral integrity) has suggested that the precedent used to reverse RvW could also be used to reverse other protected rights, such as interracial marriage, gay marriage, and even contraceptives. Apparently, Mr. Thomas would like to hop into a Delorean, fire up his flux capacitor, and zoom back to 1955.

Conservatives confound me. They are always crying about their religious rights being infringed upon when something doesn’t go their way but will not hesitate to turn their own beliefs into laws that violate the secular rights of others. If you think abortion is wrong, then don’t get one. But don’t go swinging your religious moral compass around and expect everyone to fall in line. Remember that book you guys thump everyone with? You know, the Bible? It says God will judge us, not you. This country was founded on religious freedom and separation of church and state. Your religious views have no place in our laws, so leave it be and let God sort it all out.

If you want to be pro-life, great! Start with people who already have lives. Shelter the homeless. Feed the hungry. Assist the poor. Support gun and police reform. Donate to heart disease and cancer research charities. Normalize good mental health. Those are all things you can do to support lives that already exist. Banning abortion is pointless, counterproductive, and removes one of the most basic of freedoms from women: choice.

What is normal?

Normality is subjective. Almost everybody considers the things they like and do to be normal. And anyone who likes or does something else is different. It’s a rare human who acknowledges they just don’t fit in with the rest of society and that the things they’re into are just, ya know, weird.

Most of us tolerate these differences with grace and understanding. Others of us, not so much. I know that not every person is the same, so the term normal really shouldn’t apply to anyone. After all, you’re unique. Just like everyone else.

Normal, to me, means routine. When I wake up in the morning I take my Synthroid because some crazed doctor with a modified scalpel stole my thyroid a few years ago. Then I take a walk along the Ohio River to get my exercise in for the day since I spend my work day with my ass parked in a chair. It’s a comfortable chair, for sure, but it’s not helping me burn any calories.

The view from the River Walk.

Once I’m back at the house I grab a steaming hot cup of Columbian elixir and sip contently while I peruse the interwebs to catch up on my daily dose of negative news, attention whores on social media, and memes.

Normal, to me, also means blaring my music and singing along while driving – or wherever it is that I’m blasting out my tunes. It means an occasional blog post. It means putting my children before all else. It means gulping pharmaceutical cocktails before bed every night. It means having difficulty deciding whether I want to play a video game or read a book in my limited free time. It means making extremely inappropriate jokes in the group chat with my coworkers. It means looking in the mirror every morning, realizing that I need to shave, and then deciding I’m too tired to do so. That’s why I have a beard now. Well, kinda…

These things that are part of my normal everyday existence are probably not normal to anyone else, but I couldn’t imagine things any other way The normalcy. That sense of familiarity. It’s good to know that while some things change, some things stay the same. Normal, if you will.

Audience Participation Time!

What does normal mean to you, friends?  Is normal a good or bad thing?

No Prophecy

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

There is no prophecy
No meant-to-be
There is only
Empty destiny

You’ll find on your own
Fate is unshown
Do not bemoan
Your path is unknown

The future is pliable
A fact undeniable
Only you are liable
For moments transpirable

The power you possess
Can author success
Let no one suppress
Or curb your greatness

Pointless Inquisition

It’s been quite some time since I sat down and subjected myself to a dazzling array of pointless questions, but for some reason I love doing these. Maybe because it gives me a chance to flex my sarcasm muscles. Or maybe I’m just a masochist. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

1. Last beverage:

Photo by Toni Cuenca on Pexels.com

2. Last phone call:
Was entertaining, to say the least.

3. Last song you listened to:
Red Cold River – Breaking Benjamin

4. Last time you cried:
A few weeks ago. I was going through old home videos and some videos with mom came on and…well, you know….

5. Have you dated someone twice:
Ugh, yes. C’s mom. Evidently, I’m an idiot. (a recurring theme from these answers for some reason)

6. Have you ever been cheated on:
I don’t know for certain, but I would not be shocked to find out it happened.

7. Kissed someone & regretted it:
Absolutely. Something about my kisses brings out the crazy in some people, apparently.

8. Have you lost someone special:
Aunts, Uncles, and grandparents, but the hardest was mommy.

9. What are your three favorite colors:
1. I
2. Don’t
3. Know
Seriously, I don’t have favorites of anything. Well, probably most things.

10. Met someone who changed you in the past month:
I haven’t worn diapers since I was like 2, so no….

11. Kissed anyone on your friends list:
Well, yeah…

12. How many kids do you want:
I love my children and the bonus children I’ve helped raise over the past 25 or so years, but no more, please. I can’t handle any more.

13. Do you want any pets:
Aside from my children? No. I like dogs, but not a fan of cleaning up their crap, so I’m good.

14. Do you want to change your name:
Why would I do that? I’ve gone 45 years with this one so I’m dug-in at this point. If I changed it I’d probably forget to answer to it, honestly

15. What did you do for your last birthday:
Tried to go to a hibachi place only to find out it was closed. There was a sports bar next to it I hadn’t tried, so went there instead. To my great surprise, there was a drag show planned that night to celebrate pride month. It was…interesting.

16. What time did you wake up today:
Right after my alarm went off. Twice.

17. Name something you CANNOT wait for:
Bed time. Sleeeeeeeeeeepyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy…

18. Last time you saw your mother:
A few days after she passed…

19. Most visited webpage:
Google, duh. All knowledge is held there.

20. Nicknames:
Dad, daddy, hey you, dumb ass. You know, it depends who’s addressing me.

21. Relationship status:
All alone…

22. Zodiac sign:
Gemini.

23. Male or female:
I refuse to be defined by my genitalia!

24. Height:
With or without my shoes on? This is important, ya know.

25. Do you have a crush on someone:
What is this, high school? Should I be passing notes in class? Is that even a thing anymore? I guess kids just message each other on Snapchat these days. Check yes or no…

26. Piercings:
Confuse me. I’ve never looked at any part of my body and thought, “You know, this skin here needs more holes in it.”

27. Tattoos:
Look great on other people…most of the time. Not for me, though. Permanent choices have yet to end up permanent for me, so if I did get a tattoo it’d probably divorce me.

28. Strong or Weak:
Me? My coffee? My will? My desire to throat-punch stupid people? Please be more specific.

FIRSTS

29. First surgery:
2nd grade to remove excess scar tissue from my half-recovered lost fingertip.

30. First best friend:
Southern Comfort, tbh.

31. First sport you joined:
Teeball, I think. I don’t know. I was a kid and that was a long time ago. I have trouble remembering what happened 40 minutes ago, let alone 40 years.

32. First vacation:
Erm, either Tawas City or Sunset Beach. Unless you count trips to Grandma’s house. If you count those then, you know, that, obviously.

33. First school:
Some preschool near Toledo whose name I probably couldn’t guess with 100 tries.

34. First pair of trainers:
Erm…wtf are we talking about here?

WHICH IS BETTER

35. Lips or eyes:
Depends on whose lips or eyes we’re referring to.

36. Hugs or kisses:
Why does one have to be better than the other? I like them both equally. Remember? No favorites.

37. Shorter or taller:
Like, are you asking if it’s better if I’m shorter or taller or if someone else is? Let’s just make everyone the same height so we don’t have to worry about this question.

38. Older or younger:
Younger may be more physically fit, but older has more experience. That probably doesn’t really answer the question, but that’s what I’m going with

39. Romantic or spontaneous:
Spontaneous. Romance is a day-dream of the selfish.

40. Sensitive or loud:
Sensitive. Loud hurts my ears.

41. Hook-up or relationship:
Relationship. I don’t want anything as superficial as a temporary place to, erm, sheeth my sword.

42. Shy or outgoing:
I’m extremely shy and reserved and that makes it harder to form connections, so outgoing is definely better in most cases.

HAVE YOU EVER

43. Kissed a stranger:
Define stranger. I mean, I’ve kissed on a first date. Are they still a stranger at that point?

44. Gotten a speeding ticket:
I maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay have a bit of a lead foot. When I first got my license I got so many speeding tickets that I nearly had my license suspended. I’m not quite so aggressive a driver these days.

45. Lost glasses/contacts:
Not yet. Don’t jinx me!!

46. Sex on first date:
Uhhhh….does not compute….

47. Broken someone’s heart:
Unfortunately. It’s a shitty feeling, too. I don’t ever want to hurt someone, but when it’s not working it’s not working.

48. Been arrested:
Not yet. Does that mean I’m innocent or that I just haven’t been caught? I’ll let you decide.

49. Have you turned someone down:
Yeah, that’s not fun, either.

50. Fallen for a friend:
Not that I recall. Oh, wait. Yeah. A long time ago. When I finally got the courage to say something to her I was shot down. Oh, well. Probably for the best anyhow.

51. Moved out of town:
I’ve moved out of several towns. I’m sort of a pro at it.

BELIEVE IN

52. Miracles:
Not really. Things may seem miraculous sometimes, but really it’s either coincidence or fortune…or both.

53. Love at first sight:
Not in a romantic sense, no. However, I’ve loved each of my children since the moment I laid eyes on them.

54. Heaven:
I honestly have no clue what to believe in that regard. I was raised in church and as hard as it is for me to admit sometimes, I don’t feel like I live in a world created by a god I was raised to believe in. I’d like to think there is and that mom is watching me from among the clouds, but I just don’t know.

55. Santa Claus:
I’ll keep the facade going until C stops believing. Until then Santa is real.

56. Kiss on the first date:
I mean, I’ve done it before so….I guess so.

57. Angels:
See the answer to 54.

58. Yourself:
In some respects. I believe that, professionally, I can achieve anything I attempt. In my personal life I question everything. Am I a good person? A good father? A good son? A good friend? When I try to convince myself the answer is yes to those questions something deep inside me tells me I’m not. However, the opposite happens if ask myself if I’m an awful person. So I guess I’m just floating around in the middle of everything, unsure of anything.

ANSWER TRUTHFULLY

59. Had more than 1 girlfriend/boyfriend at a time:
Hell no. One woman is more than enough to deal with. Why would I stress myself out like that?

60. Been in love with someone you couldn’t be with?:
Yup. It sucks ass.

61. Ever cheated on somebody:
Nope.

62. If you could go back in time, how far would you go?:
I’d go back to last night and make myself go to bed on time. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz….

63. Are you afraid of falling in love:
Yes. The sudden stop at the end is excruciating.

64. Was your last relationship a mistake?
I wouldn’t say that. It didn’t work out in the end, but there were a lot of good times. Things just…changed.

65. Do you miss your last relationship?
Not really.

66. Who did you last say “i love you” to?
My little man.

67. Have you ever been depressed?
Damn near daily. Been a battle since I was a teenager. Like a horrifying roller coaster that doesn’t stop.

68. Are you insecure?
Absolutely. I am extremely insecure about my appearance and personality. I can’t see any of the good qualities others see me. Except for my sense of humor. I’m fucking hilarious.

69. How do you want to die?
I don’t, duh. Why would I want that?

70. Do you bite your nails?
Nope, only my food.

71. When was your last physical fight?
A few days ago. It was an epic battle, but in the end that fly never stood a chance.

72. Do you have an attitude?
Everyone has an attitude. Whether that’s a good or bad thing is up to interpretation, though. My attitude is sarcastic, perhaps even caustically so, and somewhere between positive and negative. I consider myself a realist.

73. Twirl or cut your spaghetti?
Yes.

74. Do you tan a lot?
I don’t go to tanning booths or anything stupid like that, but if I’m outside for a day or so I’ll brown.

75. Ever eaten food in a car while someone or you are driving?
Yes, I’ve been on a road trip before…

76. Ever made out in a bathroom?
Well, yeah. When there are kids in the house you sneak those moments whenever you can.

77. Would you take any of your exes back?
Uh…no.

78. Would you go back in time if you were given the chance?
Didn’t we already ask this question? I’d go back to the first time I answered this question so I can see what my answer is.

79. What are your plans for this weekend?
Hell if I know. That’s a long time from now.

80. Do you type fast?
Fast enough. Did you see how quickly I typed that answer up?

81. Can you spell well?
W-E-L-L. What do I win?

82: What are you craving right now?
Nothing in particular, but my tummy just grumbled at me so I suppose I should eat something.

83. Have you ever been on a horse?
Sure, but it just sat there. I didn’t have any quarters to put in it.

84. Would you live with someone without marrying them?
Why would I marry anyone I lived with?

85. What’s irritating you right now?
The fact that I have lived with someone without marrying them. Did I miss the memo on that?

86. Have you ever liked someone so much that it hurts?
I think if liking someone hurt I’d do whatever I could to, you know, not like them.

87. Does somebody love you?
My children do. I think…

88. Have you ever changed clothes in a car?
I don’t think so?

89. Milk chocolate or white chocolate?
Chocolate!! White chocolate is kinda gross…

90. Do you have trust issues?
Absolutely. Once you’ve gotten a hamburger from McDonald’s that’s actually just a condiment sandwich (no meat) you learn not to take things at face-value.

91. Longest relationship?
9 long years.

92: Do you believe your most recent ex thinks about you?
I hope not. She should move on and work on making herself happy.

93. Have you ever walked outside in your PJs?
Well, yeah. To pick up a delivery off the porch or something. I don’t go out places in my PJs because I’m classy.

94. Do you believe everything happens for a reason?
I used to, but not any more. There are just no good, logical reasons for some of the awful shit that happens to some of us.

95. Did you have dream last night?
If I did it’s been scrubbed from my memory. Perhaps my subconscious is trying to protect me from itself?

96. Have you ever been out of state?
I’ve been out of several states…

97. Do you play the Wii?
This must be an old list of questions….

98. Do you like Chinese food?
Absolutely. Who knew you could prepare chicken in so many different ways?

99. Are you afraid of the dark?
Not the dark itself, only what’s hiding in it.

100. Is cheating ever okay?
NO. If you wanna sleep around then don’t get in a fucking relationship.

101. What year has been your best?
Erm…idk. I guess a toss-up between 1999 and 2011. Duplicates of me were born in both years.

102. Do you believe in true love?
Yes, I’ve had pumpkin pie before.

103. Favorite weather?
Chilly fall weather so I can wear hoodies, drink coffee all day, and eat chilli for dinner. And watch FOOTBALL.

104. Do you like the snow?
Abso-frickin’-lutely. I will hit you with as many snowballs as I can make.

105. Do you like the outside?
Not in the summer when it’s sweltering hot and there are pesky bugs everywhere.

106. Is it cute when a boy/girl calls you baby?
Uhhhh….idk. I don’t think I’ve ever been called that.

107. Have you ever made out for more than a half hour straight?
Well, yeah. Why do you wanna know, you perv!

108. What makes you happy?
Seeing my children happy and laughing.

109. Ever been to Alaska?
I wish! I’d love to move to Alaska and get away from these stupid-hot summers.

110. Ever been to Hawaii?
Nope. Tell me what I’m missing.

111. Do you watch the news?
Nope. It has a negative impact on my mental health.

112. Do you love MTV?
I did when I was 12 and they actually played music videos. I haven’t really given a shit about it since 1994, though.

113. Do you like subway?
Spicy Italian, FTW!

114 Would it be hard to kiss the last person you kissed?
Not in the slightest.

115. Your best friend of the opposite sex likes you, what do you do?
Well, I get over my shock and ask this kind lady her name since I had no clue I had a best friend of the opposite sex.

116. Why did you decide to do this quiz?
Cause I’m waiting for updates to finish on this server and I’m bored…

117. Have you ever seen someone you knew and purposely avoided them?
All the time. I’m awkward in public and don’t know how to interact with people I randomly run into.

118. Do you have a friend of the opposite sex who you can act your complete self around?
Yeah, there’s a couple at work who get my irreverent sense of humor.

119. Who was the last person of the opposite sex you talked to?
A coworker.

120. Who was the last person you had a deep conversation with?
Uhhhhhhh….I haven’t the slightest clue. Probably my psychiatrist, I guess.

121. Ever bought condoms?
Nope. My ex-wife did that for me if/when I needed them.

122. Ever gotten pregnant?
Well, I’ve given birth to several food babies….

123. Have you ever slipped on ice?
Of course I have, I live in the midwest.

124 Have you ever missed the bus?
I’ve never even thrown anything at the bus.

125. Have you left the house without money?
Every day. I don’t keep cash on me.

126. Have you ever smoked cigarettes?
Nope. I’ve never understood the concept behind seeing something burn and thinking, “I need to inhale that.”

127. Have you ever smoked a cigar?
See the previous question, please. Stop repeating yourself.

128. Did you ever drink alcohol?
Oh, shit. Way too much over the past 10 years, off and on. I’ve used it as a coping mechanism far too frequently.

129. Did you ever watch “The Breakfast Club”?
Nope, but what about Second Breakfast Club?

130. Have you ever been overweight?
Since the 4th grade. I guess it’s partly genetic because I was an active child but still got chubby. Granted, as an adult I haven’t always eaten healthy or exercised properly, but yeah….

131. Ever been to a wedding?
Yes, I have watched people willingly give up their freedom.

132. Ever been in a wedding?
My own (twice – I’m an idiot), my brother’s, and a former friend’s.

133. Have you ever been on the computer for 5 hours straight?
I work in IT. It’s my job…

134. Did you ever watch TV for 5 hours straight?
When I’m sick I always, always put on the original Star Wars trilogy. It’s a silly tradition I’ve had since I was a kid. Also, occassionally on days off I’ll binge something on Netflix.

135. Ever kissed in the rain?
Probably, but I don’t recall a specific instance.

136. Did you ever shower with someone else?
Yessum. I mean, I can’t reach/wash every part of my back, ya know?

137. Did you ever fail a driver’s test?
Hahahaha, yeah. So, I took Driver’s Ed in Ohio where they do the maneuverability test instead of parallel parking, but took my road test after I had moved to Kentucky. I went in the wrong way….

138. Ever been outside your home country?
Nope. I’m boring, I guess.

139. Ever been on a road trip longer than 5 hours?
Oy, yeah. Did a 17 hour drive from Palm Beach a few years ago. That. Was. Awful.

140. Ever been to a professional sports game?
Oh, yeah. Pistons, Bengals, Falcons, Braves, Reds, Cyclones…

141. Have you ever broken a bone?
So, as impossible as it may sound, getting hit in the nose by a baseball can break a bone. Always wear protection, kids.

142. Did you ever win a trophy in your life?
Uh….I had several soccer trophies when I was a kid, but I don’t know if I won them or if they were participation trophies.

143. Ever get engaged?
For some idiotic reason, yeah.

144. Have you ever been on a diet?
Several. My weight has fluctuated wildly over the past 20 years…

145. Have you ever been on TV?
We were on some educational cable program when I was in 2nd grade, but I can’t remember what the hell it was all about.

146. Ever ridden in a taxi?
Hmmmmm….you know? I haven’t.

147. Ever been to prom?
Hell no. I don’t do dances.

148. Ever stayed up for 24 hours or more?
Yup. Sometimes I’m an insufferable insomniac.

149 Have you ever been to a concert?
Yup. Most recently I saw Seether, Starset, and Breaking Benjamin. Great show.

150. Have you ever had a crush on someone at work?
I once married a coworker. Learn from my fail, folks. Don’t do it.

151. Have you ever been in a car accident?
A handful, but luckily none resulting in serious injury.

152. Ever had braces?
Negative, ghostrider.

153. Did you ever learn another language?
I took 3 years of Spanish in high school and was fairly fluent at one point, but then I forgot it all…

154. Do you wear make-up?
Why would I do that?

155. Did you ever have your wisdom teeth taken out?
Nope. My wisdom is still intact.

156. Did you ever kiss someone a different race than yourself?
Nope. I’ve always been curious what it would be like to date outside my race, but just never lived in many areas where there are different races.

157. Ever dyed your hair?
Nope. I just take the clippers to my skull now so I don’t even have to mess with it.

158. Did you ever wear someone else’s clothes?
I’m sure I have, but I can’t recall a specific occurrance.

159. Ever ridden in an ambulance?
Nope, I’ve never enjoyed that most expensive of taxi rides…

160. Ever ridden in a helicopter?
Does a helicopter in a carnival ride count? If so, then no.

161. Ever caught the stove on fire?
I haven’t, but it runs in the family… I have burnt/melted kitchenware because I turned on the wrong burner, though. Does that count?

162. Ever meet someone famous?
I’ve ran into a few Bengals players around the area.

163. Ever been on an airplane?
I’ve been in one, but I feel like getting on one is not going to end well.

164. Ever been on a boat?
Several times. Family in Michigan have boats and live on lakes and it’s awesome.

165. Ever broken something expensive?
My car? My nose?

166. Did you ever kiss someone before you were 14?
Yeah, but just little smooches. Nothing inappropriate.

167. Did you ever find something valuable on the ground?
I found a money clip with about 70 bucks in it once.

Have you suffered any trauma?

About three months ago, I was nearing a mental breakdown (or, at least, that’s what it felt like – you ever feel like your lungs are gonna pop and your heart beat right out of your chest?), so I got on the Google machine and searched for a shrink.

Side note: Why are they called shrinks? What gumped-up algebraic equation turned psychiatrist into shrink? This is what happens when you mix the alphabet with math.

After the massive search engine purposely skewed my results by filtering out any conservative shrinks (hey, that’s that big tech does, according to the fair and balanced talking heads at Fox News), I found a number to call. I punched the digits into the dial pad of the 6.2″ pocket computer I carry around with me and, after struggling through the stupid-ass auto-attendant, I finally got to a human who scheduled an appointment for me.

Another side note: Why do I have to press numbers to speak to a human? Why can’t a human just answer the damned phone to begin with? Every one of us spams the 0 until a subpar human actually answers.

That appointment was today. Good thing it wasn’t an emergency, huh?

The appointment consisted of light interrogation. I say light because, hey, at least I wasn’t waterboarded. I had to go through my family history of mental illness and basically a condensed memoir of my life so that she could get some semblance of the road that led to the broken human before her. Then she hit me with the question about trauma.

Have you suffered any trauma?

My immediate thought was, “No, I haven’t suffered any trauma.” I mean, I’ve never been seriously injured. I’ve never had any near-death experiences (that I know about, anyhow). No traumatic events ever happened to me. I was never abused…

Wait.

I started turning things over in my head, which was rough because I forgot to spray with Pam first. Trauma, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. Different events affect people differently, so what may be traumatic for one person may not be traumatic (or as traumatic) to another. Humans aren’t made with cookie cutters, after all.

I thought back to my 7th-grade year, which was pretty traumatic for me then. My mom was arrested and placed in a mental institution. Her arrest was due to events that occurred at my school, so all the kids bullied me. Okay, not all, but enough so that my teacher assigned me a buddy specifically to keep an eye on me and my mental status. I ended up seeing a shrink, in group therapy, on medication, and nearly institutionalized myself.

So, I did suffer through a traumatic event.

I thought ahead a few years to when I was 20. It wasn’t physical abuse (at least, not until I tried to leave several years later). It was emotional abuse. I tried to end a relationship I didn’t want to be in – several times. Each time I tried to tell her I didn’t want to be with her anymore, she threatened suicide. I finally stopped trying to leave when she shotgunned an entire bottle of Benedryl one night. I endured her emotional abuse, suffered through her bipolar episodes (she didn’t seek treatment until after I finally left 9 years later), and was physically assaulted in later years – many of those instances after I left and occurred when we would exchange custody of our children. Traumatic? Probably. I’m sure all of that broke some pieces off of my mind.

How about that? I was abused.

Near death experience? Honestly, I don’t know how close to death, if at all, I ever really was when I had thyroid cancer. But cancer is always carrying a death threat. Like American Express, it never leaves home without it. All I know for certain is they dissected my neck to get my thyroid and cancer cells out of my body. As a result, I have a scar across my neck that required 16 staples to close and makes it look like I survived a hanging. My body hasn’t been the same since then. I’ve still yet to regain the physical stamina I had before the surgery. Maybe I never will. I also went through radiation therapy, which permanently damaged my salivary glands. The loss of my thyroid seems to have triggered a case of gout in my right foot. Often times when I take the meds required to treat all of this shit at night, I feel like I’ve eaten an entire meal. Traumatic? Maybe. Maybe not. Sure felt fucking traumatic to me, though. Sometimes, it still does.

It’s weird. All these things happened to me, and I’ve never really considered their impact on me. Or how others may perceive them. It was just crazy shit that happened to me. I never considered anything that happened in my first marriage abusive until I wrote about it, and everyone who commented expressed how abusive it really was. I mean, I never really knew emotional abuse was a thing. Sure, she assaulted me, but never really hurt me. I was kicked and punched, but she wasn’t physically strong enough to injure me. The one time she could’ve seriously hurt me was when she threw a picture frame at me, but luckily, she missed.

Before today I never really stopped to consider whether or not the events that took place during my 7th-grade year were traumatic or how they shaped me (or de-shaped me). It’s just something I recall sometimes and think, “Yeah, that year sucked.” But how exactly did it shape me? Are those events and how I was treated by so many people the foundation of my misanthropy? Who knows?

I’m not sure where exactly I’m going with this anymore. I’m not sure how to end it, either. I guess after I stopped to ponder everything I’ve endured I was shocked to find that, yeah, I have gone through some traumatic events in my life even if it doesn’t always necessarily feel like I’ve had a traumatic life. It was surprising that my gut reaction was to deny anything awful ever happened and I had to actually analyze these events to see them for what they truly are.