Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Carburetor And The Paint Job...

Once upon a time, as I drove down the street, I saw a nice car next to me, chugging along, driver frowning with dismay.  Being that I’d seen a few cars acting as this one did, when I got to the stoplight, I kindly said, “Hey, you might want to have your carburetor looked at”.  The driver looked over, still frowning, replied, “Eh, fuck you, buddy, mind your own fucking business, there’s nothing wrong with my goddam car, AND, your paint job sucks!!!”.

This is precisely what happens when a person hears something he or she doesn’t want to hear.  In the case of an addict – and let me tell you, addicts come in all shapes and sizes, and an addiction can be to just about anything – this is the M.O.  A particular personal case of mine involves a 30 year old who is addicted to online video games.  He and his girlfriend will spend 8 – 12 hours a day in front of their computers, eyes bugged out, cussing, swearing, ignoring their infant daughter, the house being a mess, and not spending one red hot second trying to better their life.  The girlfriend feeds the addiction, and has absolutely no ambition of any kind – other than to spend countless hours trying to satisfy her voracious appetite for online gaming.  She is controlling, manipulates him into doing what she wants.  Yes, he can make his own choices, but we all know how easy it is to fall into the habit of letting another person pull the puppet strings without realizing it.  The guy has been talking, for no less than five years, about becoming a professional writer, and a professional graphics tech and website builder, but has not made any significant effort towards pursuing either interest – in spite of his claims to the contrary.  He has a full time job managing a video store, but still makes time to spend countless hours, not to mention, countless dollars, on this mindless and expensive habit.  BTW, this is a guy who was trained in the Air Force to build aircraft, and spent approximately seven years or so working for private aircraft companies, including Columbia Air and Lockheed Martin.  He happens to be a family member of mine, and, I stayed with him at his apartment for about four months just a short while back.  I cannot begin to tell you what I witnessed in that short time, things that I find unmentionable.  The actual things they did, the things they neglected, is not the point I want to make here.  The thing that is causing great harm, not only to this little family, but to millions of people, is that most, especially when confronted with something personal – as in a shortcoming of some kind – will deny to the death, they will excuse, they will attack, they will insult, and they will lie.  First, when one denies, then excuses, then pleads guilty to a lesser charge, he, in essence is saying, “NO, I DIDN’T DO THAT”, then, “Well, I did it because _______”, then, “Well, I kinda did it”.  This telegraphs the lie – while the person thinks he or she is fooling everybody else.  Next, when the person does, “Your paint job sucks”, he is employing still another cheap, dishonest tactic – the objective being to divert attention from the facts at hand, hiding behind the launching of personal attacks – in this case, the facts being, “I have an addiction, and my girlfriend is feeding it”.  All the cheap insults, the name calling, the “Your paint job sucks” only serve to show the person for what he is – dishonest.  I went through this once before with this same person a few years ago – it didn’t take him long to resort to vulgar filth, gross namecalling, and some of the cheapest, most disgusting insults I’d ever heard.  This particular time, I stopped before it got to that, it was to the point of vague, behind the back insults, and I didn’t see any benefit for allowing it to get the point that it did the previous time.  P.S.  Narcissism qualifies as a sickness.

My question is, why is it so difficult for so many people to just be honest?  Why do they try so desperately to hide from the truth, and to hide from themselves?  In my experience, it’s so much easier to take a look at myself, assess the situation honestly, and act accordingly.  If there realistically is something wrong, I’ll try to fix it, and, if I had offended any person with it, I would hunt them down and apologize; AND, I would make damn sure I didn’t make the same mistake again.  If the guy in the chugging car would have said, “Ok, thanks, I’ll have it looked at”, that would have brought only good results, but the sad fact is, I don’t recall ever hearing a single person reply that way – and I’m not just talking about my own situations – for one thing, I don’t make it a habit of telling other people what’s wrong with them or their lives; and for another, I’ve witnessed quite a few situations other than my own.

To drive the point home, I’ll mention that it’s likely most of you have had dealings with an alcoholic, drug addict, or a gambling addict.  An addiction is an addiction is an addiction, and the symptoms are always the same – denial, defensiveness, excusing, and attacking.  I, personally, don’t relate to addictions, because for whatever reasons, I don’t have an addictive personality.  That’s not to say I don’t have other issues to deal with, other shortcomings, it’s just that addiction happens to not be one of them.  From where I sit, addiction is a choice, not a disease.  What I mean by “not a disease” is that there is no bacteria, no virus, no gene, no single celled organism, that causes addiction.  It’s not some little amoeba that makes you pick up that bottle, light up the cigarette, or sit in front of the computer for hours on end, doing god knows what.

So, as with most things of the world, I have no answers.  I must admit that this kind of situation does cause me some amount of grief – mostly because that’s how I react to dishonesty. I also don't do so well with personal attacks.  It's not the content of the insult that I have a problem with, it's what's behind the attacks - it's the attempts at bullying, the attempts at pushing my buttons - now THERE is one of my shortcomings.  While I am far from perfect, and while I don’t claim to be all that smart, one thing I will never do is bullshit anybody.

All for now.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Since I Was Knee High To A Pissant…

People have been trying to take away my sense of self worth.  From parents, to “friends”, to Little League baseball coaches, to teachers, to High School basketball coaches and referees, to business owners I had the misfortune of working for when I was a young adult, to people in the music business of all ranks and positions, to girlfriends and wives, and it continues to this day.  As if that’s no enough, people seem to like to push me – they seem to see me as some wimpy little mouse that they can talk to with gross disrespect, who they can bully, taunt, and whatever else – until I start belting people.  Seems that’s the only way I get any respect.  Does that mean that people define a person by the power of his right hook?  I sure goddam hope not, because that would be pitiful.  If a person is seen as kind, unassuming, non confrontational, non contentious, and soft spoken, most will see him as a fool, and will treat him accordingly – and this has been the story of my life.  Funny thing, the times I actually did knock some smartass off his feet, it was, “Oh my god, what a nasty attitude”, and, “Geez, this guy is violent”.  Isn’t verbal abuse violent?  Isn’t emotional abuse violent?  Isn’t bullying blatantly violent?  Even when I get into verbal boxing matches, I’m labeled as harsh, angry, and with a bad attitude.  People have tried to bully me into submission, they have reported to authorities, they have gone all over town, telling anybody who would listen that I’m some kind of monstrous, ill tempered dragon that needs to be slayed.  Add to that, if the person does dare to debate me face to face, they try the guilt, the shouting down, the bullying, the distorting of what I say, and every cheap debate tactic known to man and then some.  I always say, “If you start by hiding behind bullshit, you’re gonna lose”,  and I have made more enemies than I can begin to count because of this.  I won’t debate or argue unless I have facts and truth behind me – I don’t see any sense in doing otherwise.  And yes, people hate that.

One of the things I promised me when I was young, was that I would never get into any kind of debate – whether verbal or otherwise – while trying to hide behind untruths, and that I would never employ sneaky, underhanded, or otherwise cheap, manipulative tactics – and I’ve kept that promise.  When I played Little League baseball, I was the skinny kid with the goofy smile and the rifle arm, and I’m still that guy.  I always shook the other team’s hand after the game, and I meant it.  Same when I played basketball in high school – I was a sportsman, and when I congratulated the players on the other teams, I meant it.  Yes, there were times when I had to bend the rules – when some big bullying ass would try to push me around when the referees weren’t looking – my dad taught me an old elbow trick – which I used on occasion – and let me tell you, it worked every time without fail – thanks for that, Dad.  Funny thing, though, I always hated it when some knuckle dragging numbskull would put me in the position to do stuff like that – and it’s the same even as I speak.  After going about my life, having to occasionally put a bully in his place over the years, an incident occurred about ten years ago, on a pier in San Diego, and I’ve since had to walk away from the bullies of the world – mostly because I fear for my freedom, and in many cases here more recently, I fear for my well being.  As the world becomes angrier and angrier by the day, I cross paths with some horribly angry people just about every time I leave the house, and I know they’re not out there acting like idiots while being unarmed.

I’d like to elaborate on that last piece there.  We American boys are taught from the day we’re born, that we must be Clint Eastwood, Chuck Norris, and Superman all rolled into one – that we must “Kick ass”, that we must handle every situation with brass ones, and with scripted verbal perfection.  One sad circumstance is that with every day that goes by, the laws are slanted more and more towards protecting the cowardly and the manipulative.  In other words, being that none of us has a policeman in our back pocket, when a situation requires that we “take the law into our own hands”, we are vilified, crucified, and in quite a few cases, we spend time in a prison cell.  This goes for defending our own life in our own house, in the street, in public places, and wherever else – you dare defend yourself and cause a badguy harm, and you’re screwed.  Meanwhile, when an innocent person dies at the hands of a lowlife, everybody is crying and saying how sorry they are that said lowlife murdered an innocent person.  Where are the laws, and where is the personnel, to protect us?  And, on the subject of defending our own life and/or well being, what’s worse, spending anywhere from 3 months to life in a prison cell, or being dead – is that even a choice we should be forced to make?

I’ve been hearing a lot lately, from the female population of the world, that Hollywood, along with printed media, is causing girls and women to have bad “self esteem”, by putting out an unrealistic standard for all to see, as in, “We can’t possibly compete with the 5’6”, 100 lb. model with the perfect figure, perfect face, and perfect skin”.  Well, same goes for the Chuck Norris syndrome – not to mention, if Mr. Norris were to handle a situation in a public place the way he did in any of his movies, he’d likely still be in a prison cell, or dead from gunshot.  I’m beginning to smell a conspiracy here.  It’s been said that almost 50% of the American population suffers from some degree of depression and anxiety.  How is this possible?  We’re all walking around with our heads all screwed up, making it damn near impossible to see what’s right in front of us, to deal with other everyday stresses and problems, and most of all, we can’t see what and who is causing most of the dissent in the world.  I don’t have answers, only observations.  I’m among the almost 50% that fights with depression and anxiety – not to mention my ongoing disgust and grief that is caused me by all the unfairness and injustice in the world.  From where I sit, there is but one thing left that the universe, the Powers That Be, has not been able to take from me – and that is my sense of self worth.  For whatever reason, I never doubt me, I deny nothing, I don’t pretend to be something I’m not, and I’m ok with all my shortcomings.  Oh yeah, and I sleep very well at night.

So, I continue to dread leaving my house, I dread getting in the car, I even dread getting on the internet – because I am so beat down from witnessing so much anger, hatred, unprovoked resentment, bullying, and other such violent behavior, while not being able to do a thing about it; and, while I watch the law continue to protect the cowardly and the dishonest.  Again, no answers, just observations.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

So, What Do We Do With The Rinds And Seeds?

There is nothing more negative than pretending that a problem doesn’t exist. To remedy a problem, you must first acknowledge it. With so many people hiding behind clever cliches, and grossly overused words such as“positive”, the problems of the world become exponentially worse.

We hear, “When we’re served lemons, make lemonade”. Ok, but what do we do with the rinds and seeds? What we’ve been doing is, we pretend they don’t exist, and the result is the ever expanding mountain of rinds and seeds, that is fermenting, and rotting everything around it. So, drink the lemonade and enjoy it, but we gotta quit ignoring the rest. We need to quit the cowardly practice of needing to be socially acceptable, we need to bring problems to light, and figure out what to do about them.

So, the next time you start pointing fingers at a person for mentioning a problem, or for showing his or her disgust, and before you start throwing around words and terms such as “Negative”, or, “Bad attitude”, think about what you’re saying, and think about what to do about a problem, instead of pretending it doesn’t exist; and instead of trying to squash the messenger.

One more thing, all the denying, excusing, defending, manipulating of facts, smartass retorts, and bullying in the world will not change the fact that problems exist, and that they need to be stated, acknowledged, and dealt with.