One Step at a Time

For the past fifteen minutes I listened, mostly. Someone whom I’ve talked to often at work, spoke to me to me today. It was catching up time. It seemed like months, but realistically a week or three, since we have sat down, chewed the fat and caught up on things going on in our lives.

Truth be told, I’m not very forthcoming. My life is a boring, open book. There aren’t very many changes in my life, and when there is occasion for something new to happen it is quick, simple and resolved. She has the drama of a children and of a significant other, which leads to all sorts of insights and emotional currents in her life.

I like listening to her because, on the one hand, I can thank my lucky stars I don’t have that much drama in my life! Considering my house is a right bit messy right now, and for the occasional crazy cat action, my life is boring, routine and I’m more or less happy with that. When I hear the drama she faces, and rides it out with style and gusto, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t handle things with the same calm style.

On the other hand, she has a shoulder to cry on, someone to share the joy of her children. She has friends that she can let loose with, people to talk with. That is something missing from my life. I think I push people away more than being a social pariah or a naturally distant individual. I’ve been so guarded in my life, it’s difficult to be me. Look, I’m trying to rein in a lot of emotions because of the incident in April and the few months leading up to that. For now, that’s how I have to roll.

But, as a friend, it was good catching up on her life. It was good to feel what it was like to have a friend. Not to be maudlin, but my people skills of late have been imperfect. I’ve been scared venturing out, meeting people and opening up. That’s the real skill for me. I’m not going to promise anything, and more than likely most people won’t see a change, but I will try to open up, a little. Baby steps, it will take baby steps.

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Trying to Save and The Need to Replace

I started off the morning getting email saying that my website hosting is up for renewal. It comes up every two years and it seems every two years the company has a reason for increasing the fee close to $100, meaning every year hosting goes up $50. Honestly, this time I’m paying under protest and I’ve made a note to myself on my calendar to seriously look at alternative options in May. I’ll have to years to decide if I want to stay with my current hosting, and I will make an attempt to discuss the issue with my provider at the end of the week.

The timing for this is bad, considering the personal issues I’m dealing with. I did place an order on Amazon for a few items which I probably will need soon. I’ve had them picked out soon after the theft I had last year and they are replacement items that were taken. I would have waited later to get them, but if there is need for me to travel suddenly, the items are getting are necessary. The bright spot, kind of, is because I worked overtime yesterday, I have “extra” money to buy the items.

So, by next week I will have a replacement for my travel TSA approved backpack. Here’s something funny/sad about that. The original one I had was black/red and when I searched Amazon for the replacement months ago, I wanted to try another color scheme and picked black/grey. This morning I figured I should change back to the black/red, because the red really stands out in a crowd of backpacks and would be easy to spot in an airport baggage claim line. Well, apparently many people like the black/red because that price is FULL PRICE. I’m sorry but paying twice as much for red (the grey is half the cost) isn’t worth it.

I hadn’t looked at my missing items list in a couple of months and wow, it floors me how many things I lost when the backpack was taken. There were so many little things that made my life easier in the pack. I keep telling myself, and it is true for the most part, that the replacement items will be superior, but the time and cost of replacing them is daunting. The urgency of needing money saved has complicated the replacement.

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Is The Day Over Yet?

This might jinx things but there hasn’t been a whole lot of stress at work today. I need to have mellow the rest of the week. Well, I’m hoping for no stress and I think if I can make it to Friday, when the next shipment of Star Wars Miniatures arrives, I should be OK.

OK, well so much for non-stress. I knew putting it out there would screw up the mojo. It looks like the rest of the work day I’ll have to be the adult at work, in a room full of adults who want to stress about things they can’t control, obsess about what other people are doing and messaging me, telling me, or otherwise wanting to gossip with me about junk. I tell them all the time it goes in one ear and out the other. I have no power here and you aren’t dropping coins in my cup so I’m not your therapist.

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It’s Getting Real to Me Now

It has been difficult to keep my mind off of the health of my parents. I’m jumpy because I’m the next phone call will be the call I will dread. What worries me, even though my stoic attitude is the best way for me to cope with the issues, is at some point I’m going to lose it and I’m going to hate myself for doing it.

Today at work, just to keep my mind off of it, I started cleaning up after the St. Patrick’s Day pot luck they had yesterday. I didn’t have to but I didn’t want to sit down at lunch and have nothing to do. I’m feeling guilty about purchases I made on Thursday because after I got the news on Friday I realized the few dollars I spent could have gone to funds needed. Walking to work all I could think about was how messed up it is that the company, if I worked for the company, gives only three days off for bereavement, then I got angrier that as a temp employee I get nothing.

I have been living in segments since I got the call Friday from my mother. The days when I work are going to consist of getting to work without a phone call, then surviving the day without a phone call, then getting home without a phone call, then waking up the next morning and hoping there isn’t a phone call. Even though I’m stressed right now I’m in a place I can handle the stress. I know I’m going to have to call my mother before Wednesday, which knowing my mother she will call on Monday.

As I was telling someone today, I’ve been through this situation with my mother before. For the past three years between three to six months there is a crisis that has happened with either her or my father. I get bits and pieces of information, and at the end of the day the issue that is a huge crisis isn’t as big as it was made out to be. That’s why part of me is in kind of denial because I keep thinking this will be another false alarm, however, because I’ve treated the previous issues as false alarms I don’t find myself prepared for this one.

I know there have been a convergence of events that are making this time so urgent and close to the edge for me. I really don’t want a Florida Evan’s moment. I don’t have a punch bowl at home so I can’t smash it dramatically (actually I remember I do have a punch bowl but it is flimsy plastic and would bounce around more than shatter). I don’t feel hungry so no fancy experimental meals. I’m just strained with the stress of scrapping up the money for a trip I don’t want to do.

My hope is, within a few weeks this crisis will be diverted. I used diverted because I have to face the reality that my parents, my father especially, aren’t well. I can’t get caught unprepared when another crisis comes up. So I’m going to be doing a lot of calming Zen meditations and lots of cat talking.

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Well, I Can’t Put This Off

I have a lot on my mind today and it is hard to focus. Like a bunch of other friends I have in RL and through social media, I got hit yesterday with some unsettling news. I have to get focused on some decisions that aren’t going to be easy to make, but I have to adjust some things in my life quickly, probably, so the inevitable results of the news I got can be met with as little pain, psychologically, physically and financially as possible.

OK, so there’s no surprise that my parents are old, and my mother has done the Fred Sanford this is the big one Elizabeth line with me a lot of times, so much so I’m numb to it. I got a call yesterday, with the usual drama I’m used to. It was about my father and her worries and concerns. Like most discussions on the death subject, which aren’t discussion as much as they are promises to talk later which never materialize, this non-discussion hit a bit closer to the mark because the anniversary of my sister’s death is in two days.

I’ve realized I’ve put off, or have conveniently have pushed aside, the arrangements I would need to make in case one or both due die and I have to the my favorite place (sarcasm) in the world; The South. I had the pleasure of heading home yesterday on a bus filled with extras from Night Court, trying to work out how to arrange finances so I can have money set aside for a plane ticket, car rental fees as well as figuring out if my job has funeral benefits (BTW, I found out and its not a lot of time off)

Yeah, lots of fun things to ponder on this week.

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Getting into Sync Before Work

I’m at work right now and I’m feeling a little off. I got what I thought was a good amount of sleep but I’m tired; a little dragging. Riding to work I got a message on Facebook about a friend that troubled me. From someone else, I found out there has been some acting out behavior with my friend. I can’t say it surprised me because I’ve seen signs of possible issues weeks ago. I thought the observations I had were just over interpretation of behaviors since I was going through my own struggles. I thought I was projecting my issues onto them. Seems my concerns about my friend were correct.

I don’t want to go home and rest or anything like that. On days like this, especially slow Sundays, sitting at home watching reruns of Leverage isn’t exciting, the Sunday bus schedule is too restrictive to go anywhere exciting, and right now I’m so low on funds going to a local watering hole wouldn’t be cost effective.

Unfortunately I know there isn’t anything I can do to help my friend. It’s not that I don’t want to help, I probably could offer help to them, but that’s not how we roll with each other. My friend is going through stuff that I can empathize with but I can’t fully understand. I’m not in their shoes and any advice I could give probably would help me more than them. We both know the best we can do for each other is be a sounding board, not an advice station.

Once the calls start coming in I’ll get into efficient cold mode and will be able to deal with the day. I still have a lot of planning to do for a number of upcoming projects I need to revamp, update or start. At some point I’m going to hunker down and get my house cleaned. I get parts of it done, then stop and when I try to go back and start again the place is messy again. It’s discouraging but I’ve been scatter-brained and have been looking for reasons not to clean up. With the projects I have lined up I have focus and I can’t do that in a messy place.

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Drawn to Comics Knowledge

1740 – Bus just picked me up and I’m doing an experiment on myself. If I go to the comic shop, I’ll probably hunker down for the next two days, considering events that will happen early morning my time on Friday. I plan on doing some marathon planning and will be in my skill set mode of all night work like I did in the good old days.

If I go straight home, I’ll start on the projects but it will be on a normal pace. I’ll probably break for a trip to the shop, which will take half the day. It might sidetrack me.

I have two points on the route where I can head home or to the shop. I haven’t decided which place to go.

Yes, I’m thinking way too much about the choice but that’s part of the experiment. I know going to the shop and back I’m going to be tired, but I know once I get home I’m going to start on something and that energy going to kick in and I’ll hit the euphoria zone. I’ve missed that slightly manic energy.

Its the Matrix pill conundrum. I want to see how deep the rabbit hole goes. What I am now wants to go home. Who I used to be and who I want to be again wants to take the plunge.

Well, I missed one point where I could have gone home. At the end of the bus route I hit the light rail. One platform will take me home; the other to the shop. I will have to choose soon.

1830 – Had two trains heading home before the comic shop one came. Probably was inevitable I would go to Drawn to Comics, but I had to do the little test for myself. Waiting on the platform I had time to think of what I’m trying to regain. I told someone today that the years during the 80s and 90s, because of the social and political climate, I felt empowered to fight the power. I’ve gotten lost over the years in finding a purpose and focus on how to use my skills. I allowed myself to use my skills sparingly and maybe I haven’t enjoyed my work as much as I should have. I retreated into my space, comfortable as it seemed and didn’t realize how much it was hurting me.

This silly, seemingly routine trip to the comic shop may help me find something. One thing I do know, the me that I know I am and who I want to be again would do this trip just for the joy of adventure. Going out and doing something is exciting.

2015 –  Now I understand why I had to hit the comic shop today. Ken, the owner of Drawn to Comics, is diabetic like myself. Like me he’s struggling to maintain the new lifestyle. We ended up talking for about a half hour, boosting each other over the setbacks we had over the holidays. Of course, we talked a bit about comics. Talking with him, sharing ideas about different ways to make meals and how to fight the struggles diabetes puts on your body and lifestyle made me realize the projects I plan to introduce in the next few months really could help people. Ken was very happy that I was getting my groove back into writing.

So the trip to the shop, an especially long trip, was worth it. I’m more inspired than I’ve been in a while because I can see a goal where what I’m doing can help people in a positive way.

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The Me is Me

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking, reflection more than anything else, and I haven’t been happy with what I’ve seen. Since moving to Arizona I’ve felt out of control. When I lived in San Diego, I knew how to handle some of the chaos going on because I had a network set up. I knew people, institutions and I had familiar surrounding that could help ground me when things went off-kilter.

When I was exiled to Arizona, I hung onto the idea of coming back to San Diego the way I have dealt with a lot of personal issues in my life; I assumed at some point things would get better. I assumed I would return back to California. I assumed Arizona would be a temporary stopping point. Now, here I am, close to ten years and I’m still in Arizona and I’ve held onto the idea of returning to San Diego for so long that it seems like a lot of time here has been wasted because I assumed I wouldn’t be here long.

That’s just how my mind works. I get things stuck in my head and I wait for the salvation that will never come. By the time I realize my error, time that could have been better spent seems to have been wasted. The part about wasted time; that’s me being hard on myself. It’s another ‘loveable’ trait I have, where I am way too hard on myself.

“No matter where you go, there you are.” I used to quote that line a lot and why I’ve forgotten about it, I don’t know. Maybe I thought I was grown and didn’t need it anymore. Even though I bought a house and have a cat, I just don’t feel here. The thing is, the only thing keeping me from being here is me, which I knew all the time. I just wanted someone else to take responsibility for my position; some outside person to emerge from the curtains and say yes, I am the nemesis that has been the torment of your life.

Well, I went through some trials, and just like the last episode of The Prisoner I went into the missile silo and when I removed the monkey mask from Number One I saw myself laughing at me. It’s hard to admit I constructed my own prison. It’s hard to admit, and maybe again this is me judging myself too much, I have been the one who doesn’t really want to be free. I have prevented myself from escaping because deep down I don’t want to escape. The jail, perverted as it is, was a known coping device and allowed me to be safe but it prevented me from being resilient and standing strong.

The thing I have been realizing for over a year is I have been trying to be accepted by myself to be a person I didn’t want to be. When I first came out here, there was a moment where my parents offered me a chance to move to South Carolina. There was a moment of weakness there, because I felt my judgement had been off by stuff with the Professor. I knew going to South Carolina was wrong for me and I was so sure I was going to get back to San Diego I set myself up to shift and twist myself to fit ‘for the moment.’ I was going to do what I had to do, change myself however I had to do, until I was able to get back to the way things were.

Looking back I can see all I did was a very poor way of coping. As weeks and months past, a little of myself, my real self, started chipping away. Last year, when I got the weird sick, when I lost a lot of my things and a few months ago when some long term personal issues got altered (no, I’m not going to talk about them, that’s why I said personal) the malaise I felt was something I couldn’t define. I was in a funk but didn’t know why. It’s been the past month as I’ve been digging deep into myself have I seen the problem has been me and I’ve been building this ‘protective’ emotional wall for years.

Understanding what has happened is cool; trying to get me back to being me is going to be rough to do. Unfortunately this is a journey I have to do on my own. I can’t call on friends or loved ones for support because I have none. I don’t mean to sound cruel but a lot of you who might read this, people who have known me for years, haven’t bothered to reach out. Look, I put a lot of the blame for that on myself, but I haven’t received many personal phone calls, emails or other communications. I think my isolation of friends was a way for me to cope with the confusion I was dealing with, but now I can’t rely on the people I would call friends to lend a hand, to be an ear I can sound ideas off of. I’m in a different place from where you guys knew me and I honestly have a hard time relating to normal stuff now. I can’t talk about the kids or how the spouse is doing. I honestly can’t get my head around all those things.

I have to get back to the old me to evolve from that. I was always the odd black kid who freaked out most people because I didn’t fit with the box constructed by outside forces trying to categorize me. I’m the mad, bad and dangerous to know guy who is very quiet, very observing who is a mix of Spock, Avon and Number 6.

I’ve got a lot of work to do to get back to me, to stop feeling sorry for how I am and embrace being me.

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Christmas Day

Most of my holiday plans got reconfigured. That’s the best way I can describe it. I had a plan to give digital present to the bus driver and one guy I ride the bus with. I couldn’t get the file before Christmas but now the files are on a lot of sources I frequent so I can give it to them a few days late, but now it will be a good quality version and not some first try bootleg version.

I was hoping to have a nice marathon Christmas TV viewing session but the Dr. Who holiday special comes out, crazy enough, Christmas night! I did see the Sense8 special is available and I think I can access the Alastair Sim version of Scrooge, so you can’t go wrong with that version of the tale. (Wow, better luck than I thought! There is a HD version that will take some time to acquire, but a good version for viewing is wonderful)

I had a set up a meal I was going to make for a friend but they decided to spend with family instead of work (a good choice) so I didn’t have to slave over a stove all day and I can relax. Well, I relaxed a little too much, didn’t take out the meat as early as I should, and now there is a race to see if the meat will thaw in time to cook.

If this season has taught me anything, it has been not to settle and assume what happens in the moment is the only moment. A seemingly bad thing one moment can change the next. A few months ago, I lost a lot of my stuff and I didn’t feel like I could bounce back but slowly I have. The tough part I find is you can’t assume what happens in the moment is the settling point. You don’t necessarily need to believe that clapping or clicking your heals will bring you back to a reset happy time, but you cannot assume the difficult event that hits your life is the most traumatic thing in your life. The change in life could just be a slight detour but the overall goal is following the right direction.

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A Quick Observation on Election 2016

When I planned this trip to Tijuana, I let some people assume I did it because if Trump won I wanted to leave the country. That was never going to happen. I have a cat and my comic collection to keep me anchored in America so I can’t be like Robert DeNiro in HEAT and leave when I believe things are rough.

I woke up this morning listening to liberal radio and there is shock over the outcome of the election. There is concern about how wrong the polls were. Some have compared this to the recent British election. Some have agreed with a comment Van Jones made on CNN, calling this a whitelash response to the liberal changes in the country. 

The excuses are all over the spectrum and it has been hard to come up with a rational explanation as to how Trump is President elect. Yes there are models and statistics that can explain the victory. What is a mystery to me is how someone who presented themselves the way Trump did during the primary and general election convinced voters he is the best person to lead? His victory cannot be exclusively explained as angry white men’s angst. There are factors in the equation that haven’t been gleaned.

I’m going to invest in lots of books for a year and a half because there will dozens of books written explaining what happened in this election and what the results say about us as a nation and as a people.

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