You get what you deserve

Friday night I had two of my closest friends hang up on me. Did I deserve that?!?

Well… yeah, I probably did. After publishing my last post I continued drinking and needed social interaction so I started a mad rampage of drunk dialing. I called everyone I could think of. Some didn’t answer. That’s fine. That is well within their rights. Many did and I am grateful to all of them. Do I deserve to have so many people that I can call upon whenever the mood strikes me. I think so. I’m usually not asking for much and I offer everything I have.

With the friends who hung up on me I asked for more than they had to give and gave more than they wanted. ¬†That’s a common situation with the people closest to me. Thankfully, the people closest to me know how to deal with that situation. There really is no negotiating with a drunk person so the appropriate recourse is to just hang up. It’s not an easy thing to do but it’s far better than feeding into the reality of a person in an unencumbered emotional state with a highly encumbered cognitive system.

I woke the next morning feeling better than I had felt waking up in a long time. I knew I had a couple apologies to make but physically, I felt great. Did I deserve to feel so fantastic after such a full on night of poisoning my body? Probably not!

We don’t always get what we deserve. Life offers no guaranties. All we get with life is life and even that is only offered on a temporary basis. Every day that we are alive is a day to be grateful. Every day that we are alive we have the only thing that life has to offer. Everything else is gravy.

But we are human beings. We are a superior life form. Certainly we deserve more that just life. Certainly we deserve more than a single celled amoeba or a freaking banana. And of course, some human being are superior to other human beings. Some people obviously deserve more than others, right? I mean, take you and me for example. Since I’m the writer and you are just the reader, I deserve more than you.

Oh, I’m sorry. Did I lose you with that last statement?

Whenever we start comparing ourselves to others we are going to run into problems. My daughter informed me this evening that she has a more stressful life than other people. And you know what, she is not wrong. I tried to assure her that I would do everything in my power to reduce stress in her life but the fact is we all take on as much stress as we can handle. The real problem is when unexpected things happen that add stress we didn’t choose to take on. That’s when it’s probably a good idea to hang up the phone. ūüôā

The other fact is that we live in a society that is based on comparison. It’s really the only way that we can evaluate anything. This is bigger and that is smaller. This is stronger and than weaker. This is better and that is worse. Yeah, the only thing we are guaranteed is life but it is still up to us to survive. To survive, we need to be able to make these judgement calls. As a result we live in ¬†a very judgmental society.

I spent the day car shopping with a good friend of mine. Her very sensible mom car, the minivan, is on it’s last legs. It’s time for a new vehicle. ¬†Now this person is more than just a mom, she is a smart, classy, outgoing sophisticated woman who belongs in a more suitable vehicle than a minivan. This was a relief to me. I’ve bought three minivans in my life and it’s not the most exciting shopping experience. We were on our way to get a sweet ass ride!

Of course, in this society you can’t just go out and pick the car that suits you. You have to be able to afford it. Well… no you don’t. There is always credit. But you have to be able to qualify for credit and the poorer you are the more it’s going to cost you. In this society, poor people pay more for the same thing than rich people. But that’s okay. Poor people are inferior to rich people and so they deserve less.

Apparently, there is some doubt about that. There are some things that are only available to you if you are poor. I went out tonight with a friend who works for the county and we spend a lot of time talking about programs that are only available to the poor. I’m sure that these programs came into existence because of some idea that people deserve certain things out out of life but no one has to prove their worth as a person to receive them, only their financial worth. This is the system under which we live.

You can fight it, and take down the entire capitalist system, or embrace it and go get the benefits which this system has to offer. I don’t understand why people complain about those receiving government benefits but I also don’t understand why people keep giving all of their money to the rich. Both of these things seem stupid to me.

But then I think that we are all in a symbiotic relationship.

There would be no rich without poor.

There would be no writers without readers.

There can be no cops without criminals.

There can be no human beings without the amoeba and the banana.

There would be no living without those who have died.

We are all in this together and we can keep fighting for supremacy but in doing so we are fighting that which creates us.

Perhaps one day we will stop fighting ourselves. Perhaps one day we will get what we deserve.

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Really?!?

Well I made it through my ten straight days of driving pedicab and am now giving myself two days off. There is much that I could be doing to keep myself moving forward but I really want to see what I come up with if I give myself nothing to do.

So far I’ve found myself writing stupid shit on facebook, listening to crappy dance-pop and drinking cheap wine. Hmmm… I’m not sure this in an improvement. At the very least I thought I would want to write about my stressors but instead I’m bopping my head to Ke$ha. It may be time for an intervention.

Naw… sometimes I just need a day or two to not give a shit.

By the way… did I hear that the government is shut down? Way to go fuckheads – you’re playing right into my hand! I’ve always said, “If you can’t do anything good, at least you can serve as a bad example.”

Keep calm and pedal on

I’ve just completed five straight days of pedicabbing. That may not seem like a big deal to people who work a five day work weeks every week but for me it’s pretty unique. I haven’t done the same job five days in a row since 1999. Also, I’ve scheduled myself for the next five days as well. That may be a bit crazy but it’s crazy with a purpose.

I’m doing this because it is something that I can do. The parts of my life that are out of control are out of my control. There are many things that I could be stressing about but all that it would give me is stress. So I’m focusing on what I can do. It’s a little bit avoidance, a little bit escape and it’s not a permanent solution. It’s just a way of biding my time while the rest of my world sorts it’s shit out. In the meantime, I’ll continue to get in better shape and save money so that I can survive the winter.

I’m also trying to accomplish one thing each day that will move my life forward. I still have a long to-do list but if I can do one thing each day it will help. Somethings are bigger than others but they all help me carry on. In the past week I have caught up on laundry, changed the sheets on my bed, dyed and trimmed my hair and beard, checked in with my band leader, set up my new phone and gone grocery shopping.

Pretty boring stuff, huh?

I suppose that’s part of why I haven’t been writing as much. I have been working on an economics article. I’m halfway through but I may not be able to finish it until next week when I finally give myself a couple days off. Until then…

Stress is a part of life

I have four chronic illnesses. All are exacerbated by stress. As a result, I put a premium on reducing the amount of stress in my life. Still, not all stress can be avoided. Not all stress should be avoided. Some stress is actually beneficial. Sometimes a crisis is just what we need to move forward. Picking and choosing what stress to take on and which crises to entertain can be a challenge and is stressful. Today is a day of that kind of stress. I don’t mind that kind of stress because I know if I handle it well it will mean less stress in the long run.

 

To the limit

I receive a lot of commentary about the way I live my life. Perhaps everybody does. It seems to be in our nature to give advice to others and share our insight about how they could be living their life better. Without a doubt, my life is a struggle and it is my daily goal to find ways to make it work better so I welcome their input even if sometimes I wish that they would focus on their own life; even if there is hardly an issue I haven’t already addressed, I do have blind spots and they can sometimes offer a fresh perspective.

One critique that I seem to get fairly often is that I don’t have healthy boundaries. ¬†Sometimes this comes up when actions I take make another person uncomfortable because I am pushing their boundaries. Hey, that’s what boundaries are for, to indicate when you are reaching the limits of your comfort zone so that you can react BEFORE going into a panic. Boundaries are going to be pushed. But they are are not universal and everyone’s comfort zone is different. Sometimes the critique comes from the belief that I am too open, too free, too trusting and that may be true but open, free and trusting is something that I aspire to be.

The truth is that I do have boundaries, I just have as few as I can get away with. The truth is that I do respect other people’s boundaries but I am probably going to push them from time to time, especially if they have not communicated clearly. Boundaries are products of fear. Respecting them may be an act of love but establishing them comes from fear. I’m not saying that is necessarily a bad thing. Boundaries are like a demilitarized zone that keeps two formerly warring states safe from each other. ¬†Establishing a boundary is like putting up a fence on the approach to a cliff that keeps people from falling to their death. These are good ideas.

My point is that boundaries are different than limits. Limits are real. Limits are not arbitrary and exist whether you establish them or not. Limits are like military conflict or falling off a cliff. To be clear, speed limits, by my definition, are boundaries not limits.

I have always been one to push my life to the limit. I want to see just how far I can take things. I find that the most interesting discoveries are made between the fence and the cliff.  I believe that my life gets better not by creating stronger boundaries but by extending my limits, by pushing myself beyond what is safe and forcing myself to become stronger. How can I feel like I am living life to the fullest if I know that I can do more?

This method of living is not without consequences. This past week has really seen me test my limits. As I am sitting here writing this I am frustrated, irritable, and in a lot of physical pain.  It would be one thing if all this pushing myself to the limit was of my own volition but that is rarely the case. There are always factors beyond my control which contribute to me pushing myself to the breaking point.

A big source of unnecessary stress this week has been dealing with the University of Morris over my son’s financial aid and work study eligibility. My son absolutely qualifies and we did everything that we were suppose to do in applying for the program but his application got “flagged” for further verification. ¬†The verification that they need is information from the IRS about my tax return. I filed my tax return in March but it also got “flagged” for further verification. This has delayed the processing of my return to this date. We can’t get the verification needed from the IRS because they have not processed my return yet. Nothing is going to change regarding my son’s eligibility by this bullshit, unnecessary added verification. The school knows this and believes me but are unable to take me at my word and will only accept the word of the IRS. Personally, I think that I am a lot more trustworthy than the IRS but apparently that doesn’t count for anything these days.

So I’m going to search through my bag of papers to be shredded (good thing I’m not on top of shredding papers) and try to find something from the IRS stating that my return was being delayed. Then I’m going to go rent a lawn mower so that I can mow my lawn because the grass is now too long to do with my push mower. Hopefully I won’t throw my back out. It has been killing me since delivering the big Summer edition of City Pages on Wednesday… well actually since delivering the Best Of edition over a month ago.

Perhaps if I had better boundaries I wouldn’t find myself in this position so ofter. If I created more of a buffer I would be able to better handle these unexpected circumstances. The problem with that is that it would mean cutting out some of the things that I love doing; the things that give my life meaning and purpose. Also, when you have come back from a place where just getting off the couch to go to the bathroom is a struggle, setting artificial limits seems like a step backwards. At least when I hit my limit, I KNOW that I am doing the best I can.

El Dorado – Part 2

So I’m finally back home after a week on the road. I’m feeling sick as hell; don’t know why. I felt pretty good the whole time I was away from here. I hope it wasn’t the egg salad sandwich I grabbed during our last stop for gas. My band mates got me feeling kind of¬†nervous by discussing their bad food experiences in graphic detail – WHILE I WAS EATING. Anyway, I need to get to bed so that I can get up early tomorrow and go do my delivery job so I want to hammer this out and finish my tour entries.

I actually got a good night’s sleep at Jule’s in Albuquerque. We wanted to get on the road early. It’s a long drive and the last stretch through Kansas is a real bitch in the dark. There are no lights what-so-ever and the lane¬†dividers¬†aren’t even reflective so it’s really hard to see. I hate to say this because the people I’ve met in Kansas are wonderful but for a while now, Kansas has been my least favorite state in the union.

We pulled into the horse ranch in El Dorado, KS around 8:30 at night. By the way, Dorado rhymes with potato not with the Eagles song Desperado like I always thought. Not that it matters; it’s just always bugged me. Another reason why Kansas rubs me the wrong way. But like I said, it’s not the people. Peter and Liz are absolutely amazing. Their¬†generosity¬†and hospitality is unbelievable. Not everyone would let a crazy rock band crash at their house, but they do so much more than that. They feed us, probably the best food we have the entire trip. They always have beer, a big plus for me. Seriously, the way they take care of us I would take over any five star hotel in the world. Peter even took the night of work so that he could be there when we¬†arrived.

I’ve done the “crashing at punk house” touring. I’ve done the “staying in hotel” touring but the kind of touring I am able to do with Venus de Mars, where we stay with friends who just want to make sure that we get something to eat and get a good nights sleep is something new. I like it. I need it. I just want to make sure that the people who are caring for us are getting something out of it. I hate feeling like a pariah (sorry, I’m sure there are racist implications of that term but I can’t address everything in one post), but my bigger concern is that people aren’t feeling taken advantage of. I believe that our band is doing something good, really good; and I believe that we are all in this together. I’m just wish that I took more time to understand why people help us. It’s really and incredible thing.

Liz came out early this morning and checked on me sleeping on the couch. She was concerned that I might be cold. I was fine. I was in my footie pajamas so all was good but I did half wake up. You know that feeling where you wake up from an intense dream and you’re not sure if it’s a dream or reality. It was kind of like that, but kind of a lot worse. When I woke up I didn’t know where I was, how I got there or what was going on in my life. It was shear terror. I felt completely lost. Things like this can happen when you are sleeping in a different bed¬†every night¬†but this was beyond anything like that. I seriously felt like I was loosing my mind. I chalk it up to my crazy brain rebelling on the last night on the road. Luckily when I woke up for good a little while later I was feeling like myself again.

I had stayed up later than everyone else, writing and researching Venus’ IRS situation. I was still up and about before anyone else. To clarify, I think they all woke up before me but I was the first to be moving about. It was around 8 in the morning and my understanding of the plan was that we were leaving at 10 am so we could get home at 8pm. I was really looking to get some writing done this morning given that we didn’t have to get on the road quite so early.

Apparently I was wrong; or more¬†accurately,¬†I wasn’t the only person loosing their mind today. Venus came out apologizing that we would be waiting on her today. Confused, I let her know that we still had a couple hours before we needed to leave. She insisted that we needed to leave by 8 am to get home by 10 pm. Now I’m frustrated, “No, it’s a ten hour drive we leave at 10 am and get home at 8 pm”. This didn’t go over well. She still wanted to leave as soon as possible. My hope of getting writing done was dashed and I was annoyed. I felt cheated. I could feel my heart rate rise and knew I was beginning to loose it.

I voiced my emotions. I said I was upset and really stressed. Venus said that she didn’t mean to stress me out and that she though she had made herself clear the night before. Yeah, communication is a bitch. I never heard anything like that and in fact the last conversation I had with her about it was quite different. The conversation she was¬†referring¬†to I wasn’t even present for; not that it mattered. I just said, “I’m just putting it out there, not putting it on you.” These were my emotions to deal with. I just wanted the people around me to know what I was dealing with.

And I knew Venus was under a lot of stress too. I knew that she was worried about the weather, heading back into the snowy¬†Midwest¬† I knew she was worried about driving at night. I knew that her biggest worry was about this tax audit that could end the band. We spent much of the trip home in silence¬†separated¬†by periodic discussions of what it means to be an artist and how this is not a hobby. It has really got me thinking and I hope that I can write an essay about this¬†distinction. I’m trying to figure out if I have any¬†hobbies¬† The only thing that I can think of that might fit that description is masturbation.

We got back to Minneapolis and dropped Jazz off just as the tenth and final disc of Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was concluding. This is seriously and amazing book and the reading performance by Martin Jarvis is absolutely phenomenal. Accept for a little David Bowie, Le Tigre and Rasputina plus This American Life and Radiolab podcasts, this was our main form of entertainment during the nearly 70 hours we spent together in that Toyota Corolla.

 

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