The Number of the Beast

Migraine. What an evil, heinous, totally offensive word. It’s a one-word response to the question, “What’s the matter?” that instantly elicits a wince, a vampiric hiss, and immediate sympathy from ¬†the inquirer. Those who suffer understand. Those who have only had an experience or two get it. Those who have the remarkable good fortune to have never taken this particular ride of pain¬†still get it. They hope never to experience the horror, and so they wish yours away with the fervent hope that it’s not catching.

I’ve got to address Migraine personally, because it’s become apparent to me that Migraine is an entity, not a condition. An entity so dark and pregnant with evil intent that really, we should have trained Exorcists to defeat them with rituals. Except, of course, that there is no tried and true way to drive out the demon. What works this time may not work next time.

Migraine: I am sick of your shit.

You stormed the castle last Friday, knocking down the gates and rendering me blind and nauseous with your white-hot poker of pain inserted into my skull. Two prescribed pills later, you allowed me to pass out, a pile of exhausted flesh and bones. You kept the poker at arms-length that day, threatening me with the tip. I survived. Saturday and Sunday, you toyed with me, reminding me at every turn that you could level me if I pissed you off. By Monday, I could feel the thunder, both atmospherically and figuratively (The way you paired yourself to the three small tornados we experienced that day was sheer brilliance.)

On Tuesday, you released the Krakken. You took my breath away with the force of your attack. I lay, crumpled and defeated, on my bed.0b99216b2a2a637b91a5673c83413958

Over the course of the past 6 days, I have given you every offering which in the past appeased you:

Drugs. A darkened room. Cool pillows. Fluids. Drugs. Greasy pizza. Coffee. The sound of the fan blowing. Meditation.  Drugs. Coca-Cola. Horizontal positioning. A pillow on my forehead. Begging the husband to kill me as blood sacrifice. Different drugs. A Big Mac and fries. Tim Hortons coffee. Cookies. Quiet acceptance of your power.

Nothing worked this time. Oh, you teased me, for sure. A slight calming of nausea here, 30-40 minutes of peaceful sleep there. You occasionally loosened the vise grip you had tightened around my head. The ability to peer at the tv or the phone’s screen or normal daylight without wincing in pain. You¬†played with me, you feckless bastard. And then you tightened down that grip again.

Today, I think you may be packing up your suitcase of medieval torture devices and preparing to take your leave of me. I waved my white flag of acquiescence late last night. The thing is, Migraine? Even Aunt Flo knew when she’d overstayed her welcome. She wasn’t the Kurgin of Middle Age, wreaking havoc whenever she came to visit. She almost seemed apologetic when her stays grew longer and more painful. The fact that I had to completely remove her luxurious accommodations from the weird freakshow that is my body in order to finally bid her farewell is beside the point. You¬†know I can’t remove your penthouse suite unless I blow my head off. Clever, aren’t you?

Being a menopausal woman is no fucking cake walk. You are at war with your body. It takes a gigantic set of lady nuts, an unlimited supply of Poise pads for the times when your bladder laughs at you just as you’re unlocking the front door, lots of drugs, air conditioning, and extremely patient family members who understand that you may be possessed right now, but someday, that demon will be gone. It takes the courage to push through your days when in truth, you really could use 2 power naps just to accomplish anything because your body keeps telling you, “Please, no more. I am¬†soooo fucking exhausted.” It takes tremendous strength of character not to dissolve into tears while simultaneously bludgeoning the first male you see because you just¬†know there’s a man to blame for this bullshit somewhere in history.

All I ¬†know is that my ovaries better shit the bed soon, or the chance that I may spend my golden years furtively digging a hole to freedom behind a poster of Gerard Butler with a shiv I fashioned from a petrified tp tube instead of peacefully rocking away on my front porch with the husband by my side increases with every month. Because I’m capable of violence and¬†someone, somehow is going to encounter me during one such psychotic break if this continues for much longer.

“Woe to you, Oh Earth and Sea
For the Devil sends the beast with wrath
Because he knows the time is short
Let him who hath understanding reckon the number of the beast
For it is a human number
Its number is Six hundred and sixty six”



Detour? Fuck that.

A year is a long time. It passes within the blink of an eye, and when you get to be 50 years old, with lightning-speed. And yet, if you take the time to break it down into months; disassemble the days; a year can encompass many, many things. Significant events, milestones, important moments only identified as such in hindsight, and of course, a great many fuck-ups and fuck-offs and – if you’re like me – outbursts of incredulous “Fuck¬†me“s.

When we are children, a single year passes slowly, and I’ve never been able to figure out why that is. I’ve given up wondering, except to recall with wistful envy endless summers spent outside in the hot sun, the rare “fun event” that YES,¬†lasted all day,¬†and holidays jam-packed with food, fun, family, and my head falling onto my pillow at the end of the day, exhausted but content. When you’re an adult, some of the magic of time just drifts away. It’s probably because adults make the plans and bog down in the details. Kids just experience. Adults create.

I’ve been taking a little time to disassemble the past year for myself, and reading this blog has helped. I began writing again, just over a year ago, because I needed to. Writing, for me, is as effortless as breathing. I do it out of a necessity. It saved me when I was a child and it saves me now that I am doing this adulting thing. It has enabled me to¬†continue¬†to do the adulting thing during times when the low time was so low, I could not see daylight above me. I’ve written in fits and starts, but when I began this “very serious blog” it was to help empower others who suffer from¬†anything that makes it difficult for them to make it through a day. Physical pain or challenge, mental illness, plain old¬†life shit. I vowed to expose myself and my hills and valleys with blatant, raw honesty. I knew that it could help someone, somewhere. I’m seriously fucked up and I own that now. I am not ashamed to say that mental illness has roosted in the dusty rafters in my dark attic of consciousness all of my life. At times, it flies around wildly, knocking things over, igniting fires that threaten my life. That hasn’t happened in a couple of years, but I have the benefit of clarity, truth, and enough drugs to recognize that the albatross is restless again and threatening to come down from its sleep-perch to pull me down with its incredible weight.

I am disappointed in myself for allowing inauthentic, disingenuous things to block me from continuing with this blog and carrying out its purpose. When I began, I had a plan, and it was a GOOD one. It felt real, and attainable, and true. And then Voldemort happened, and I ended up in another dungeon of my own creation. This was not how it was supposed to go. Remember, my lovely, patient readers, when I vowed that I was¬†never going to drink the koolaid? Well, put alcohol on front of an alcoholic enough times and sooner or later, they’ll probably have a weak moment and take a sip. I took a sip, and because I was thirsty, it tasted good. Just like that, I toppled down the rabbit hole. I knew I was falling, and every now and then, I would catch myself and find some solid ground. A couple of months ago, I was on solid ground for a second, and had a blindingly bright moment of truth come to me.


And then I fell again. This time, down some real stairs. Broken toe, sprained ankle and foot. And I had a few days to lay, immobile, and think. And thinking is good, and it is bad, and it is dangerous, but thinking is also an implement of truth which allows for courage. ¬†I laid aside my self-doubt (because I am¬†so fucking¬†sick¬†of that bitch and her whining) and went to my touchstone: my husband. I talked, he listened, and he affirmed everything I was thinking. See, without him, I don’t ¬†do so good. I stumble around when I’m low and I let the bird chase me and beat me with its wings. When I shut him out, life becomes harder than it needs to be. Don’t get me wrong – I do not tie my complete existence to this human – but I recognize that he gets the trains moving on schedule and we are a team in this life. He’s still here with my crazy ass because he may be well be crazy himself, but I’ll be damned: he loves me. And he heard me, and that was the antidote to the poison that had been slowly permeating all the soft tissue of my body. It never reached my heart, it never ate into my bones, and the fog in my brain cleared.

I’m writing again, friends. And I’m continuing with the journey I started when I wrote the first entry in this blog. I have found the last horcruxe, and I am going to smash it to bits. The map took me a little out of the way, but I’ve found the road again and I ‘m firmly on it. No detours, no tricks. I ¬†may be crazy, ¬†but I am going to be¬†happy and crazy.

Oh, you bet your ass.


I have forgotten who I am and just what the fuck was I thinking?

Yes, I have been MIA. An explanation is in order. And then you can verbally assault me with “I told you so’s”. But First, this.IMG_20170314_122300_349

Restless night. A new, throbbing pain settles into my foot, definitely caused by the awkward incident with the 130-lb Male Sibling Unit yesterday. I’ve tried to be good with my Tylenol intake, knowing the consequences of too much over time and understanding that I have definitely pushed that envelope in the past. This though, necessitates three capsules at bedtime and another two sometime around 4am.

Somewhere in the vague fog between dreams and waking, I become aware of an awful, familiar feeling. It seeps into my body first, sliding itself around my limbs and then sinking deeply into the skin and tissue and bone. It is a damp coldness and my mind groans and cries quietly, “Ah, no. Please.” It is relentless, though, bringing with it the inability to move. This must be what it’s like to freeze to death on top of Mt. Everest. The soul-crushing litany of fear overtakes me, with its familiar refrain:

You’re a big fuck-up.
You let down everyone you know.
Everything that goes wrong is because you fucked it up.
Remember, you did this to you. You can’t blame anyone else.
You’re better off alone, so you can’t fuck up anyone else’s life. Or gone. You know it’s true.

My eyes peer out from underneath the pillow I keep near my head at the dim light coming in from the windows. It is a dreary, wet morning. March is only a good month for me because it blessed me with a miracle almost 27 years ago: my daughter. When mornings begin like this, she is a talisman that I cling to in my mind’s eye; I cannot let her down. I cannot let the ones who still, by some twist of fate, still care for me. The terror that has sunk into my very being becomes heavier, like a wet, woolen blanket pressing me down into the mattress.

In the early days of mornings like this, I would blindly reach for my phone and text my husband, who was usually right in the next room. He didn’t leave me alone much in those days. He would come to me, bringing a little, white pill, and then wrap me up tightly in his arms. I would listen to his heartbeat and wait for the pill to clear out the invader. Don’t ask me why a tiny pill has the ability to drive out the demon; I have stopped wondering and researching and have come to simply accept it. I know that it is a chemical reaction that attacks my psyche and yeah, yeah, yeah.

This morning, though, I can’t text him. He’s at work, and I need to pull my strength together and go get that pill. I have rejected keeping them by the bed; it is a stubborn refusal to allow myself to capitulate to the devil I know. My ankle and foot sob as I put weight on them, but the pain is almost welcome compared to the panicky sadness. I hobble out to the kitchen and click on the Keurig; as the machine releases the heavenly, brown ambrosia into the mug, I grab the pill bottle from the cabinet and force my early-day arthritic hands to turn the cap. I dry-swallow the pill and welcome its bitterness in my mouth. You’re okay, you’re okay, you’re okay, I repeat in my mind as I grasp the mug and limp back to the safety of my bedroom. My morning buddies – Katie, Mia, Roo, and Nicolai – rush through the door before I close it and settle upon me after I place the coffee mug on the stand and pull the covers up. Nicolai is my battle buddy. He always senses when he needs to be near me, waiting at the door every single morning and seeing me through morning routines. He will stay close, gazing at me with his soothing, golden eyes. They communicate love and protection. He’s almost as soothing as my husband.

I sip the coffee. I wait. I occupy my hands with my phone, checking email, answering Facebook comments, reading the posts of others. I’m not really paying attention, and later I will return to passages of real interest, able to truly comprehend. I wait. It takes about 20 minutes for the tide of panic to recede, and it does, just like a wave on a beach shore. The shakiness calms and the icy core of fear in the center of my chest begins to melt as the Xanax aims its heat gun on it and melts it slowly away.

This wasn’t the worst one, but episodes like this are becoming more frequent. Like they were in the beginning. Back then, I didn’t have a schedule, so I would stay up late, putting off the need for sleep. I knew what was awaiting me at daybreak and I would avoid it, thinking exhaustion might quell it somewhat. Now, though, I need to barrel through and keep my head clear. In the beginning, when the requirement of immersing myself in human contact was newly essential, I would enter the benzo cloud shortly before clocking in. For a short, blissful time, it was only necessary at night. But now, it’s returning, like a cancer, and I don’t really know if I can be brave. It’s exhausting. It’s a real Hell on earth, and if Hell does exist, this will be mine. It has its claws in me again, affecting every moment of my day. I am short-tempered, paranoid, irrational, and terrified. These minor, incremental breakdowns of my physical body are intellectually endurable. We all get older, and we all degrade. The demon, though: it is relentless in using these incidences to try and persuade me that I should just GIVE UP.

I cannot. I will not. Depression is a liar and a cheat and its sibling is anxiety. I need to remove the factors that leave the door unlocked for the insidiousness to sneak in. Put some better locks on that door. And I will. Because the choices are too clear, and I am not going to lose this fight.


Cue the ominous music.

This is the widely-used, popular term that describes the current social and political climate that has overtaken the USA. 

America. A country founded on the desire to have religious and personal freedoms. To build, with one’s bare hands, a home and a life and a legacy from the ground to the foundation to the structure and to fill it with hard-earned objects. To worship one’s own God with other like-minded people. To be free of tyranny and suppression and the helplessness of watching in both fury and frustration while the rich aristocracy got richer and the poor grew poorer.

America. There is a certain irony that this country, for hundreds of years, based its very foundation on the ideology of welcoming anyone to realize his/her personal dreams. Yes, we became the world’s giant “melting pot”, and yet our founding fathers hunted and tortured and killed this land’s native people. Then they captured or corralled up other cultures and told them, “Yes, you are in America, but no, you are NOT free like us. Now go plant my crops and clean my house and be sure to tell your daughter/sister/mother/wife that I’ll be stopping by the cabin tonight to  grab her pussy. Maybe she’ll get pregnant and add to my stock of slaves.” 

Crude? Maybe. But true? Definitely. 

We haven’t changed, you know. Just look back, through our country’s colorful history. I tend to believe that it isn’t so much an American problem as it is a  human one. Humans have been cruel and short-sighted and narcissistic since day one. Christian? Believe, word for word, what the Bible says? That book is the single-most magnificently written work of horror that ever existed. Stephen King wishes he could craft a tale of stark terror as good. Every awful, horrific, depraved thing that could ever happen to human beings occurs in that book. And we base a religion upon it. 

No, we haven’t changed. We began as single-celled organisms and crawled through the mud to become crude, clumsy animals who stood on two legs and evolved into the creatures we are now. Are we really any better than those first naked, hairy people? I don’t think so. Because cruelty and prejudice and bigotry and racism have all existed since the first human cast the first stone of hatred. We speak of moral codes and doing things the way “they” did “back in the day” and certainly, humans may have evolved from disorganized, barbaric heathens into civilized, mannerly societies, but really….take a look at the current atmosphere in America right now. Tell me we’ve come a long way. 

Technically, we have. Somewhere along the line, however, we looped back upon ourselves. I once sat through 2 hours of a movie called Idiocracy. When it was over, I thought to myself, “Well, that’s 120 minutes of my life that I can never get back.” People could never be that stupid, right? Haha, very funny, motherfucker, but the human race won’t ever be that moronic.

In lines taken from my favorite movie of all time, this is what I think about that now:

Quint: I don’t know Chief, he’s very smart or very dumb. He’s gone under the boat! HE’S A BIG SMART FISH, HE’S GONE UNDER THE BOAT!! 

Yep. ‘Murica has “gone under the boat”. Last night’s Presidential Debate, the second in a series of 3 between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, was proof positive. Who is the very smart or very dumb fish? Is it either one of the candidates? Nope. I don’t think so. I like to think of them as the chum in the waters. ‘Murica is the fish. And ‘Murica has gone under the boat, and is attempting to tear it asunder and sink it to the depths. With every thrash, every gnash of teeth, the boat becomes more crippled. The engine is sputtering and throwing off black smoke and the water is leaking in. In this analogy, the shark has already attacked and brought the Captain to the depths. ( Yes, Bernie supporters, I’m comparing him to Quint.) If my analogy were truly fool-proof, Trump and Clinton would be our Chief Brody and Matt Hooper. 

Except they aren’t. They. SO. Are. Not. And what we desperately need  in order to stop ‘Murica from destroying the boat is Brody and Hooper. The hatred, the division between people who called themselves friends or family before this election, has its roots in the preceding 4 presidential races, when ‘Murica was being roused from its home in the depths of the sea of humankind and the bottom feeders, the plankton, were whispering in its ear that it must rise in order to live. And it is ravenous with hunger and it needs to feed and it loves the taste of humanity. (Which, incidentally, tastes like chicken.) We need to stop it, halt the prejudice and bigotry and racism and hatred and misogyny that leaks from its pores and taints the waters black with its poison. We can come back from this, but only if we kill the shark. Unfortunately, Roy Scheider is dead and Richard Dreyfuss is old and portly and tends to make his living these days portraying the bottom feeders who whisper in the big fish’s ear.

BATMAN. Where are you? Gotham needs you! Save us from ourselves! 

You’re gonna need a bigger boat.

Get off my lawn!

Getting older doesn’t have to suck. There is acquired wisdom. There are the blessings that accompany age, like seeing your children become amazing adults and then being given the ultimate gift of grandchildren. There is the realization that every day is a present that you get to open. Life is so fleeting; it is over in a flash. When we are young, an hour lasts forever, and both the best times and the worst seem to yawn on endlessly. We anxiously rush through high school, eager to “get on with it” and curse every moment we must wait. Suddenly, we’re in our late 40s and we find it incredible that, as 20-somethings, we thought 50 was ancient.

Let me tell you fuckers, 50 ISN’T old. As a 49 year-old, I can assure you that we were wrong. This body has mileage on it, yes. Three babies, more than a few fractures, surgeries, and arthritis have limited me in minor ways. I don’t spring into action like I used to, and there are days when I want to cry, I hurt so bad. But fuck that. I don’t. I push on, because I’ve acquired a belief that if you stop, you might as well die. I pop the pills and break out the heating pad and try to be safe. Mostly. And sometimes, I forget that 50 looms and I stand on a wobbly stool on an uneven surface and I hang Halloween lights and by the grace of God I don’t fall THIS time and break my ass. When I was 25 I did that shit constantly because I was young and vital and if I fell, so what? I could jump right back up. Time was on my side and recklessness was the adrenaline coursing through my veins. Old people broke their hips. Old people had difficulty grasping things and opening jars and pill bottles. Well, “old” is definitely a point-of-view to me, and while I haven’t broken a hip, I realize that the odds are in favor of that if I keep acting like a 25 year-old. The difficulty grasping is already a daily irritation.

My problem is that I still feel¬†like a 25 year-old. Actually, somewhere in my 30s, with enough mileage on me to make me tough but with enough youth remaining to deem me vital and relevant to the rest of the world. 50 year-olds don’t attract the same attention as younger versions of themselves do. 50 year-olds who act the age they feel are laughed at or called “sad” or desperate or thought to be “having a middle-age crisis”.

Well fuck you, judgers.

I understand…..FINALLY…… why old people say they’ve “earned the right” to say what they want. To act how they want. To have no filter. You know why? Because they HAVE. You don’t need any more reason than that. When you reach the age where you realize this, you’re going to laugh and ruefully admit that you’ve become your mom or your dad. When you mutter tiredly, “I’m old”, it will be with a mixture of revulsion and pride. And when you shout “GET OFF MY LAWN!” you’ll realize it:

Fucking shit, it really is infuriating to work so hard to get the grass just so and then to see some little fucker run through it!

What I find to be bullshit is something much simpler: wear-and-tear on the face. The sagging of once majestically pert tits. And the hair color issue. Burns my ass! I have colored my hair since I was 16. I’ve been virtually every shade of red, brown, black, purple, pink, and green. Every so often, I like to return to my natural shade of darkest brown. I begin with black and let it fade. Autumn is usually when I do it, and it makes me feel good to sport that dark shade.

Until this time.

My natural hair color is no more. It has been replaced almost entirely by that harbinger of all things geriatric: white. White is pretty, and dignified on an 80 year-old. White is not so much on a 49 year-old. I hate white. I can’t wear it. It gets dirty too fast and it washes me out. It’s a vicious thing, age. It robs us of our tight skin, our perky boobies, our elastic bodies, and the melanocytes. Here’s the thing about coloring your hair dark when you have white roots: it’s impossibly high-maintenance. It’s a pain in the ass. And that’s another gift that getting older bestows upon us. We simply haven’t got time for all that maintenance. We’re too busy developing our bucket lists and going to the doctor for more drugs and yelling at those little fuckers on our lawns.

And so, tonight, I am giving the husband what he wants ( No, you dirty minds, not THAT. You’re nasty!) and dying the hair red again, with blonde streaks. It camouflages those white roots better. It’s also a younger version of me, which is who I am inside this 49 year-old shell. And that’s the irony of getting older, too. We’ve earned the right to act as young as we want to, even if we could conceivably break a hip in the process.



I like the safer bet of sporting red hair, myself.

Tuck it all away for another day

What do you do with all of the words and thoughts and silly anecdotes that you carry around in your head day after day? If you’re me, you find a place to put them; a catch-all, like a little bowl on your dresser where you keep the jewelry you wear every day. If you’re like me, you find that you’ve added to the collection as time passes, and so you need to decide what stays in the daily line-up and what needs to be archived in the big jewelry box.

This blog is my big jewelry box. When I was a little girl, I would go through my grandma’s jewelry box from time to time, fascinated with the dozens of pieces she kept in there. The box was shaped like a clock and had a music box inside, which was pretty ingenious, because opening it was truly like going back in time and catching glimpses of her life and who she really was. With a soundtrack, albeit a twinkly, tinny version of a song I still don’t know, but can hear in my mind to this day. It was magical, delving into her past and “seeing” her in a different way. I knew a quieter, softer, and more broken-down version of Rhea; a body ravaged by the excesses of her day, before we knew that those excesses could and would kill you. In that jewelry box was a lady, a dazzling, sexy, classy, beautiful lady with impeccable taste. That jewelry box contained the¬†real Rhea. This blog contains the¬†real me. So here I go, archiving things I need to unload, because the weight of them in my mind makes my thinking sluggish, and it’s growing too crowded to move.

I don’t like people. When I say this, I don’t mean every human on the planet. Obviously, there are humans who I love and want to be around, and humans who I like and enjoy talking to. But….but. I love certain humans, definitely, but don’t want to be in contact with even them on a daily basis. My anxiety disorder hums in the background of my consciousness even when I’m sufficiently benzoed. It’s a part of me, always providing a current of electrical energy that, while distressing, is also familiar. With medication, it doesn’t overtake me and make it impossible for me to connect with others. I do feel the need to control how much I rely on medication to quiet the hum, so days of isolation are essential for me. Days where the hum is loud, but human interaction is limited.FB_IMG_1469198437368

I’m still mystified that I’m doing well at work. This is certainly a much more aloof job in terms of human interaction. My administrative jobs were less personal in that they involved more phone interaction than face-to-face. I’m great at that. My nursing home experience was more interactive, but on an intimate basis, with care giving thrown in. I excel at that. This job, though. I worried at first. I was afraid at first. I really, really don’t like seeing people at their worst. It simply affirms my belief that everyone is capable of shittiness.

People are at their worst when they shop. I am lucky, I suppose, to be more in a support position, behind the scenes, than out on the front lines, having to put on a happy face and be accomodating and pleasant even when being screamed at for something stupid, like not being able to honor a coupon. Seriously, people? You find it necessary to insult and tear down a cashier because the register – which has all the criteria programmed into its system – refuses a .25 off coupon that states that you must purchase a 24 oz ketchup, not the 16 oz you are insisting be honored “because I just don’t¬†need the bigger size.” The cashier is “fucking stupid”, the store is “ignorant”, the manager you demanded to see is “a clueless asshole”, and you’re “calling corporate.” Please. Shop online. And go to hell while you’re at it. Cashiering is a brave job. Don’t ever think less of the person cashing you out. Cashiers are warriors on the front lines of a war we call commercialism. Cashiers deserve hazard pay.

I think that I dislike children. Not my own. Not my grandkids. Okay, not kids who behave. The ones who scream, whine, fall onto the floor and throw fits in public, or who race shopping carts and rip apart merchandise? Not so much. Maybe it isn’t the kids I should dislike. Maybe it’s their parents who need smacked upside their heads for allowing and basically supporting such behaviors. When did ignoring your crying child – no matter how loud or how long he/she screams, “I WANT A¬†TOY!” – become the acceptable way for dealing with such behavior? When your child is hysterical, sweaty, and you’ve made the rounds of the store TWICE while ignoring their screams, are you not only doing a gross disservice to the people around you but also committing a form of child abuse?

These people mystify me. Their kids give me a headache. ¬†It also makes me eye every child with suspicion, much like a Clint Eastwood-esque scenario ( GET OFF MY LAWN.). Is this little shit gonna start howling for something? I don’t advocate spanking. Wait. The fuck I don’t.¬†I don’t advocate child abuse. I do advocate discipline. I was rarely spanked as a child. I can recall three times. And you know what? I deserved every single one. I was being a shit, a brat, and openly defying my mother. And I didn’t like those spankings, and that influenced my behavior in the future. It wasn’t about the pain, because it stung for a while and then faded. It was about the shame. The humiliation. Having disappointed a person I loved and depended on. I knew that I had been acting like an asshole. She called me on it. That was not a good feeling. More kids should experience that. Parents are parents. Not friends. Parenting is not a democracy. Somehow, we’ve allowed kids to think it is, though. Before you know it, the world is going to become overrun with self-centered, entitled brats who are, at best, sociopaths.

Which brings me to the presidential race. Come on, be honest….I said “sociopath” and some of you immediately thought, “Trump”. Am I right? I hope I am.

Look, I don’t like our choices. In many ways, it’s the lesser of two evils. But one is certainly more experienced and has the ability to run a country. You don’t have to like her. I don’t. I didn’t like my high school principal, either. But he was competent at the job and had all the qualifications. The other choice? Are we fucking¬†serious? Yes, I guess we are. He secured the nomination despite every card-carrying, notable member of his party denouncing him while ¬†simultaneously accepting him. He has incited a riot of citizens who think he “hears” them. He is certainly saying the things they think. Terrible, mysoginistic, racist, hateful things. And there are enough of them to elect him. This terrifies me. It should you, too. I’m not suggesting that we don’t need help in this country. We DO. The help we are in such desperate need of, though, is not to be found in the dealings of a circus-barker like shyster who has never actually read a book in his life. What we need is bipartisanship. Everyone working together for the common good. Addressing the needs of the country and resolving to link hands in solidarity, roll up our sleeves, and get the job done side by side. I’ve urged this since President Obama was elected. I’ve hoped for it. Now, I despair that it’s ever going to happen. A mob mentality has taken root. And I am afraid.

I don’t like admitting fear of anything. Except clowns and balloons. I am terrified of both. And isn’t Trump sort of an orange-hued clown, with his wife and children bobbing along behind him on strings like helium-filled latex? That’s how I see it. And so, I guess that I am feeling like it’s okay to admit my fear. Certainly, plenty of others are, too. But will it be enough to quash the hatred that has overtaken this country? I welcome your views, because I’m out of fresh ones.

Wow. I tied mental illness, Voldemort, and Donald Trump together in this blog. Can you see why I need my jewelry box?

Just you shut your mouth.

I don’t know where I’m going with this.

I’ve had a compulsion to write for a couple of days now, but between physical exhaustion and a world-weary confusion about my own feelings, I thought it best to wait. Wait until the thoughts were more coherant, organized, and civilized. Yes, I meant to say civilized. “Civilized” is fast deteriorating into a thing of the past in this country. I know, people in other countries have their problems, and we read of them, but I can’t comment or offer an opinion because I’m not living their realities. Brexit? I have to admit: I just don’t give a fuck. The constant chaos and suffering in Third World countries? I’m sad for these people, and I will contribute to charity here and there, but it doesn’t impact my life on a daily basis. It’s not that I don’t care, because anyone with empathy certainly does, but I’ve long since given up on thinking of ways to help.

Same thing with the Middle East. I have very concrete ideas there. They’ve been engaged in war with each other since the beginning of time. Maybe, just maybe…..we should have stayed out of it. Their religion. Their resources. Their customs. It’s never been anyone else’s business. But yes, when they asked for help, we gave it, and just like that controlling family member who helps you out in a time of crisis, that’s when we inserted the condition that “If we’re going to help you, we have EVERY RIGHT to dictate how we help and what you do with the help.” So not cool. And so it began, and now a shitload of the oppressed and ideologically insane in those countries have risen up to say, “Hey, we don’t appreciate your meddling. You’re a bunch of assholes, and the world would be a better place without you. We hate your fucking guts, and we’re going to kill each and every one of you however we can.”

We’ve been so focused on putting out the fires in other countries that the little fires in this country¬†have smoldered, unchecked, for a long time now. The flames of racism, entitlement, power given to the wrong people, and oppression of anything or anyone who doesn’t “fit in” with our ideas of “how things should be” are burning, and they’re getting hard to control. . Yeah, we’ve noticed the smoke, a lot of us have. It was far away though, or it was at least far enough away from our daily grind to not necessitate action. We saw it off there in the distance, shrugged, said, “Not really my problem right now”, and moved on.

As with any fire that’s allowed to move beyond the boundaries in which it has been contained, the smoldering embers in this country have become angry brush fires consuming great swaths of land. Some are reaching the dense stands of trees, and soon, we will have forest fires furiously rolling along, destroying everything in their path. Racism. Religious intolerance. Bigotry. Disrespect of and indifference to anyone or anything who doesn’t follow ¬†your¬†set of rules. That’s a big problem these days. Everyone has their own set of rules. When we don’t like what we hear, we parade out the Constitution and say, “This. This is the law of the land.” ¬†Yes, it was written by the architects of this country in a time when those points were at the forefront of an ideology very much in its infancy. Things were much, much simpler then. Problem is, we’re a complicated, critically thinking population now, and some think the Constitution, well….needs some work. Some revisions that are reflective of a more modern age. And we can’t agree on that. Hell, we can’t agree on anything anymore.

When did we become so intolerant and hateful? When did we decide that it was okay to pass judgment and to ridicule others for their ideas and ways of life? When did it become okay to simply throw out ALL of the rules and adopt our own? The yawning gap between the rich and “the rest of us” has never been as wide as it is today. Has that fueled this fury? The lack of decorum and respect amongst our government officials has deteriorated to such a new low that the current presidential campaigns resemble reality shows and not the actual political process that they claim to represent and uphold.

When everything you read is more tabloid than fact.

When everything you see is bright, plastic, disposable, tacky.

When all the rules are allowed to be thrown into the trash and lit on fire because “We are Americans and it’s our right, goddammit”.

When our looks, how we dress, talk, decorate our homes, drive, think, are fodder for someone else’s intolerance and disdain and the assumed “right” to tell us just what they don’t like about these things.
When skin color, religion, sexual orientation, and gender issues are still being debated and criticized.

Jesus Christ, people. Who the fuck are we and what have we become? Certainly not evolved. There was respect and decency in “the old days”. Sit down and have a chat with an elder. Not everything was better, certainly, but we were on the road to improving. Somewhere along the way, we stopped. Some of us stopped. And when we did, that undercurrent of hate that exists everywhere and has certainly existed in this country since its foundation was allowed to rise to the surface. The events of the past week have certainly proven that. The reactions of many continue to bear this out. Instead of stopping in their tracks and listening to¬†what’s¬†being said, they raise their voices to the cacophony of cries¬†and now we can’t hear a single thing in the noisy din. Everyone is intent on being heard, but nobody is listening.

It is a black thing. It is a white thing. It is a problem with the way people are “seen”. Until we find the solutions to that, until we all accept and realize that we are all human beings who bleed red blood, ¬†and until we respect each other and quit with the fucking judgment, people will continue to hurt each other and people will continue to die.

“Land of the free and home of the brave” has never been more open to interpretation than it is now.