I’ve Seen Some Things.

I try to walk every single day. Yes, it’s good for me, gets me out of the house, and gives me at least the occasional dose of natural vitamin D. As a person who now works from home, it’s important to try and force myself to interact with other humans, lest I turn into Smeagol, the nasty little hobbit-turned-Gollum in The Lord of the Rings. I can see me, peering suspiciously out of my cracked-open front door, muttering angrily, “Peoples. We don’t likes them, do we, Precious?” It could get that bad if I allow it. No matter how badly I would like to take a flame thrower to the human race on my worst days, I nevertheless gingerly immerse myself in their presence just to remind myself that I am still “one of them” and that maybe some are bearable.

When I walk, though, I am reminded that people? Well, they just ain’t right. I encounter strange objects thrown, abandoned, carelessly cast aside, everywhere I go. Let me prove this to you, because I take photos. At first, I thought this could make a really strange, interesting coffee table book, these photos; and then I just thought nah. You’ll see why.

Yes, those are men’s skivvies. I encountered them in front of a church, which led me to post them on Facebook with what I considered to be pretty good possibilities for them being there.

When you’re walking past a church and you see that a man has apparently lost his underdrawers. Could this be a new religious movement?

“Get Naked For The Lord!”

“Moon If You Love Jesus!”

“Mother Mary Says ‘Never leave home without clean underwear!’ ”

“Shake Your Willie For the Holy Trinity!”

“Nude Christian Men For God ”

“Commando For Christ!”

I’m here all week. 😁😁😁😉

Yep…..Commando For Christ won, hands-down.

Upon closer inspection, I discovered that this was, or at least had been, a plush sort of jacket. I think it may have been purple at one time, but the elements really did a number on it. Why it was just laying, discarded, on a sidewalk? I have no idea. The date I took this was September 11. Guess what? It’s still there. Way to go, City Street Department!

By now, you might be noticing a couple of trends. People in this town don’t like their underwear. They don’t like their gray underwear. They don’t like gray (looking) things in general. What’s the most natural thing to do when you don’t like something? You throw said undesirable item away!

You do not throw them out in front of a church, or in the case of this sad pair of cast-off womens’ panties, in a drugstore parking lot. There was a gray flip flop, too, but I neglected to photograph it. One. Gray. Flip flop.

I don’t know if this is better or worse. Apparently there was some sort of bondage-gone-horribly-wrong scenario with these two bungee cords. Maybe not, you say? Maybe it was just a furniture moving mishap? You’re ruining all my fun. There are scantily-clad, underwearless people running amok in this town, so obviously there must be some sick, sex slave bondage going on. Look, we just elected the first Orangutan President, so sex slave bondage with underwearless churchgoers who do their dirty stuff in the CVS parking lot is not beyond the scope, okay? And by the way? The bungee cords were ACROSS THE STREET FROM THE CHURCH. The church where the mens’ skivvies were. Conspiracy? Collusion? My mom always told me those Baptists were crazy as hell and highly suspect. Of course, we were Catholic and we all know the Catholics have nothing to brag about either, but bungee cords and discarded underwear? What do those priests wear underneath their cassocks, anyway?

This tale does have a redeeming, miraculous discovery made on one walk. This handsome man accosted me in front of the DMV, where he had been unsuccessfully lobbying for either his driver’s license, or, I suspect, a meal and a cuddle. He gratefully accepted a ride home in my arms, where he ate and drank voraciously and promptly fell asleep. I advertised him, hoping that such a beautiful boy could not have just been discarded, like those dirty, gray underwear. After two days of no response to my feelers, he told me his name (they all do; you just have to listen hard and be able to hear them) and Viscount Angus Martin became a cherished, spoiled member of our family. He IS our royalty, as befitting his name.

Walks. You see the unexpected, the dirty underbelly of the world sometimes. You see bad behavior and things that defy explanation. Usually, you return home, grateful for the ability to shut the insanity out.

And some times you encounter exactly what the Universe needs you to see.

Oh, you have OCD, huh? Well, I have ISD (Irritable Sibling Disorder).

The Male Sibling Unit has caught a cold.

This in and of itself is twice as bad as any man catching some mild virus. 99% of the male population suffers throughout mild maladies as if they are going through a severe and chronic illness. They are convinced that they have the Bubonic Plague and what’s worse than that is if they had a doting mother who took awesome care of them when they were sick little boys because now they have unrealistic expectations about how the females in their lives are supposed to treat them. Excuse me, but Fuck you, all you Donna Reeds of the past. You’ve made it way more difficult for the women of modern times to manage your precious little boys. You were supposed to have our backs and teach us how to be fearless, warrior-like and strong, but you raised man-pussies who can’t handle getting the sniffles and who think they are dying when they do. They groan. They mope. They whine. They turn into 6 year-olds.  Was this all a part of your plan?  Are you passive-aggressively getting back at us for the inequalities of the past by raising your sons to think they married nurses? You’ve greatly disappointed me.

Anyway, The Male Sibling Unit is a man, but not like all men. His disabilities make him unique in the most infuriating, exasperating ways. This, of course, is not his fault; the blame lies within my impatience and inability to just deal with it. I am, by nature, not a patient person. I am, however, mindful with him and I try….oh, how I try. I’ve got a higher threshold for it than our mother did; she of the saintly demeanor with everyone who knew her except for her own children. We knew the real person, and that real person had ZERO coping skills where the Male Sibling Unit was concerned. Hell, she barely had half a nerve where was concerned, and I was a pretty average kid. She moved him into assisted living when he was 21 and never looked back. He was taken OUT of assisted living nearly 20 years later, when she passed away, because I made a solemn vow to always be his protector when he was little and it was time for me to do that. I don’t regret that decision for one second but I do wish that I had a few more ounces of patience when he really gets going.


The Male Sibling Unit has many little OCD tendencies. He is a narcissist by nature, which again is not his fault. It’s all a part of the disability. He simply does not have an empathetic bone in his body. Everything in the world that occurs around him is met with an “How does this affect me?” attitude. If I’m sick, he worries about himself. If there’s a natural disaster in another part of the country, he will listen to the little soundbytes about travel and maybe delivery routes being interrupted and worry that the trucks won’t be able to get to us and replenish the peanut butter at the grocery store. He is that self-absorbed. This can be hard to take, and some days, I’ll admit that I am not very good at letting it roll off my back. Some days, I vent on Facebook or I just lose myself in music or I piss and moan to the husband, who has a longer fuse where The Male Sibling Unit is concerned but who doesn’t have to handle his shenanigans nearly as much. See? Men. The fuckers.man-flu2


On an occasion when The Male Sibling Unit is sick, though, it becomes much like when a kid is sick and has a big field trip or a special occasion coming up and they are afraid that they might miss out because they are ill. They tell you constantly that they feel fine or that they feel totally better and then you take their temperature and it’s 103.6 and they are sweating and coughing their little fool heads off and you have to make them get back into bed. That’s what it is like with The Male Sibling Unit, except that there usually is no special occasion. In his case, the special occasion is LIFE. Getting up, going to work, coming home, doing his chores, getting ready for the next day, having his dinner, watching tv. Mostly in that order….except when he has social outings. Then it is way worse, because he has to fit all of that and his social activities into the day. Asking him to skip part of the routine is cause for distress. The OCD takes over and before you know it, he has asked 10,000 questions and wrung his hands in worry and on an occasional instance, thrown an actual tantrum. He simply cannot deviate easily.

Tomorrow, he has the day off. That’s good, because he sounds like a cross between a bullfrog and a bleating goat. He is pale, tired, and irritable. He does not like to take medication unless it has been prescribed, and he has an abnormally high tolerance to pain so it is very hard to get him to admit to any discomfort. A few years ago, he had a painful bout of shingles. I have never had them, but those who have relate a pain so awful it is truly distressing to even contemplate. This was back when he was still living apart from us, and so he didn’t bother with telling anyone that he had a terrible rash on his back and sides and stomach. One day, his house parent noticed and took him to the doctor, who diagnosed the shingles and prescribed him painkillers to go with antibiotics. It was so widespread and angry looking that the doctor felt that The Male Sibling Unit must be in agony. Except that life just went on for him and he went to work and did his thing. On a dreary, freezing Saturday afternoon, we were driving home from getting groceries and saw him out walking. We stopped and asked him why he was out, what with having the shingles so bad? He shrugged, said, “I’m taking a walk,” and insisted that he was not in pain. He never took one painkiller, either. This high threshold for pain can be great, but it is also equally bad. I simply have no idea when he is really sick or not. He will insist he is fine, but he won’t be. If being sick means he will have to deviate from his routines, he will lie to me and say he is fine. I really have to be hypersensitive when I hear him cough or sneeze or make an odd noise.


Thankfully, he agreed with me easily when I asked him if his throat was sore, and he took Tylenol with no resistance. Now, though, the worries are assailing him and he is in turn assailing me with them. In a bullfrog goat voice.

“I’ll feel better tomorrow, right?”

“I’ll take a hot bath, okay? That will help.”

“Should I drink all my tea while it’s hot?”

“I hope I can go to STEPS (community center) tomorrow.”

“What if my throat is sore tomorrow?”

“What if I can’t go to STEPS? What will they say if I am not there?”

“Should I take more Tylenol?”

“Should the tea make me feel better?”

“I drank the tea and now I feel great!”

*Cough cough*  *Throat clearing*

20 minutes later, after I have popped a Xanax, wished for some rum, dug my nails into my palms, and asked him to please please PLEASE just relax in his recliner and watch some tv, I wonder why he is quiet. (Yes. It’s that Mom reaction I will never be able to set aside.) I tiptoe into his room. He is fast asleep, his mouth hanging open as he snore-honks, the tv droning quietly in the background.

Ahhhhh. Peace.


Requiem for a blasphemy.

I am an Atheist.

There. I said it. Okay, I wrote it. It is in print, and soon to be published, and then it will be floating out there on the internet for anyone to see.

I have not yet been struck down by a lightning bolt, because, see? I am still writing. If this does make it to published content, it will mean that I managed to avoid the Wrath of God. Which would negate my belief, or lack thereof, if The Wrath of God did strike me dead for making this pronouncement. This is a steep hill I am climbing, right? It’s confusing. Let’s move on.

When did I become an Atheist, you ask? I have to be completely honest about that and answer that I always have been. I have fronted a lifetime of lies to myself and others about what I truly believe, deep down inside, because it was necessary to do so. Call it self-preservation, or call it a journey. I don’t care at this point. It is what it is. When I was growing up, it was not popular, or even “edgy”, to refuse to believe in God, or to refuse to follow the flock into church. It would have been dangerous, even. Not only would my family have been angry, but society would have shunned me even more than it already did for being a poor, fat, homely bastard. I did what I needed to in order to navigate the murky waters of life back then.

When I was little, I feared God every bit as much as I feared The Devil. They both seemed to be filled with anger and punishing acts for those who disobeyed. We were taught that The Devil liked it when we were bad but that God would punish us. I always thought that this tactic was a double-edged sword, because if we were bad, wasn’t the threat of Eternal Damnation punishment enough? Why did we deserve to be punished by the Creator of All Things as well? I spent my childhood both cowering when I was bad and quietly gleeful when I was bad and didn’t get caught. Sure, the threat

God sees all

was always in the back of my mind, but if I did something bad and nothing came of it and life went on, well, what the hell did that prove? Either that God didn’t necessarily see all because there were too many people doing too many things, or that God was a big load of hogwash. And no, you don’t need to know the bad things I did and got away with because fuck you, that’s why. You can take your judgment and tuck it right up your pooper. You’ve been bad, too. Oh yes, you have.

But oh, the guilt. I was raised within the confines of the Roman Catholic faith. Hold your apologies, because it wasn’t all bad. The church was pretty. The stained glass, the flowers, the breathtaking statues and art, the incense; all of it was heady in the sensory overload department. I loved all of that. I loved the ritualistic way Mass was said. It pleased me. I loved the Latin and the music. It gave me peace.

That’s what I loved about religion. End of story.

I did not love the exclusiveness. I did not love the threats of peril if one did not follow the teachings of the church. I did not love the begging for money every Sunday so that the church parking lot could be replaced or that a bunch of young men I didn’t know wanted to make a pilgrimage to some Third World country to organize the natives. Most of all, I did not like how we were supposed to take the Bible seriously. Like, all that shit really happened. Give me a fucking break.

As I’ve gotten older, it has dawned on me that I have made a ton of mistakes, thought a whole lot of bad thoughts, and sinned my ass off. And yet? I am still blessed with a multitude of good things. I am blessed with wonderful people in my life. I am blessed with the ability to see all of this and to also understand that the sum of my actions add up to the cost. God didn’t figure that out for me; I did. By myself.

God has never spoken to me. Neither has the devil (although during one very specific, vivid dream, he did appear as Dave Grohl to tempt me mightily, but you nevermind about that, okay?) And I am positive that we don’t float around in Purgatory, atoning for all the little, white lies we have told. Here’s the thing: bad stuff happens. Something or someone is the cause of them. Usually, we can draw conclusions from what happens. There’s science, and logic, and pure emotion. When you use one or all of these tools at your disposal, you can almost always find the root of everything. It’s not some Eternal Being, pulling the strings. It’s, well…..it’s probably YOU.

PLEASE. Don’t tell me you’re going to pray for me. Don’t try to change my mind. I believed this a long, long time ago but it was reactions like that which kept me quiet. I’m going to go on sticking to my convictions because really, so fucking what if I am wrong? No one has ever returned to tell me that, though. Unless my lilac bush out in the front yard spontaneously bursts into flames and an ominous voice speaks from the depths of the fire, I think I’m okay, alright? You do you. I’ll keep doing me, because me is kind, and good, and caring. Me is who I want to be, and no religion can enhance that which is perfect: perfectly flawed, perfectly human, perfectly myself. In a world that has gone batshit crazy with religion and politics and outrageousness, I’m good. It’s all good.