A Dearth of Reference Points, February Funk, and Wisdom from Dante

 

winter miseryIt’s February again.  That shortest month of the year, and the month in which the most people die. I think people just give up in February.  Christmas is long over (not that I am a great fan of the holiday hype,) and winter seems to just keep hanging on.  Most people are still paying for the crap they blithely and wantonly purchased for Christmas, that the kids have either broken or gotten bored with already. If you’re going to go, why not now? All hope abandon, ye who enter here.

That is a morbid thought, and I am no stranger to morbid thoughts.  I am always pulling worst case scenarios out of my imagination.  I should write horror movies, or at least get to narrate a guided tour of the Mütter Museum.  (I should get to actually go to Philadelphia to see the Mütter Museum…it’s on my bucket list.)

This morning’s drive was particularly sucky.  40-50MPH winds combined with temperatures in the low 20s and snow squalls meant that not only was the car being blown around, but there were little patches of ice hiding beneath that blowing snow.  I got here OK and with little incident, but some jackwagon in a Jeep Wrangler bought a trip to the ditch, likely arising from the erroneous assumption that 4 wheel drive makes one invincible.

Days like this remind me of my own fallibility and mortality more than I would like. Yes I know I screw up (a lot) and that every passing day I’m (to quote Pink Floyd’s song, “Time”) one day closer to death.

Days like this remind me of how not normal I am too.  Maybe it’s the overwhelming fatigue, or the inevitable joint pain that accompanies a low barometer, but I suspect it’s something deeper than weather. I went to the Dr. just the other day and my labs and such are mostly normal, so I probably don’t have any additional health failures. Even so, I am so tired I could sleep for weeks.

Maybe I am still guilt tripping.  Call it survivor’s guilt or maybe worse.  It’s not right to feel as if a weight has been lifted from me.  I feel like I don’t deserve a normal life…and maybe it’s not.  I don’t have a clue what “normal” is, nor have I ever had an accurate frame of reference and it scares me.  I don’t know what I am supposed to feel.  Then again, feeling anything always seems foreign to me.

I needed an extended sabbatical a long time ago but for various reasons that wasn’t able to happen. So I have to take bits and pieces of mental rest and reflection where I can get them.  Sometimes drive time is good for that.  Not lately, because driving is stressful when the weather sucks, but sometimes. I should have a Cougar Nap Saturday coming up and I will take advantage of that if I can.  If I take a few hours to just nap and watch reality TV (Botched is a good one, or The Incredible Dr. Pol, if I am in the mood for watching farm animals) on a Saturday, who can blame me?

I do need to set up a time (probably next Saturday) to get my oil changed and tires rotated, or I might arrange to drop the car off one day next week and drive the truck.

I am not looking forward to my birthday, which I hope most people I know will overlook. Usually they do because it’s at the end of February, when the winter funk and the it’s-not-quite-winter but-definitely-not-spring blecch season is in full swing in Ohio.

I think I might decide to set up some sort of weekend getaway sometime soon.  Maybe.

And it is quite OK to forget my birthday.

 

 

Calling Evil “Good” and Vice Versa, the Ongoing Toxic Legacy of the “Great” Society

 

lyndon johnsonLyndon Johnson has a legacy.  Of course “progressivism” (read: liberalism, socialism, Marxism, Hegelianism) didn’t start with him.  It didn’t even start in the United States with him.  Woodrow Wilson (under whom the federal income tax was established) was the first true progressive (read: liberal Democrat) president in US history.  FDR is probably the most well known of the liberal Democrat presidents, under whose watch much of the current nanny state was established.

Johnson’s term was a tipping point in that the already pervasive nanny state collided with the civil rights movement (which began, like women’s suffrage, as a noble cause) and the decay of traditional morality and ethics in society. 1968’s “war on poverty” continues on, but poverty marches on as if there had never been any sort of meaningful battle waged against it.  If one follows the trillions of dollars extorted from American taxpayers, one will find that precious little of it, save for in the Gucci purse of the occasional welfare queen who has learned how to put the screws to Uncle Sam, has ever found its way to the poor. There are, however, many suspiciously wealthy career politicians. They are suspiciously prominent on the blue side of the aisle…

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Today in 2019, civil rights have morphed into an irrational, untamed and ravenous monster.  Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King have given way to such fools as Rashida Tlaib

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In the name of civil rights there are endless taxpayer sponsored entitlements for everyone under the sun, especially for illegal immigrants and pet minority groups- but nothing but a big middle finger for those who are legal citizens who work and pay taxes.

In the name of civil rights there is discrimination- but only for those of northern European descent.

In the name of civil rights what was for thousands of years considered to be perversion and debauchery is celebrated and given legal preference over heterosexual marriage and family.

In the name of civil rights wicked people “celebrate their abortions” and encourage and promote abortion on demand.  Let’s call “abortion” what it is, murdering a human being-in spite of scientific proof that human life begins at conception.  Never mind that “a woman’s right to choose” begins with the word NO, unless she is willing to accept the potential consequences of her sexual behavior.

The definition of civil rights has transformed from the essential right of a human being to be regarded as equal to other human beings to that pithy dictum from Orwell’s Animal Farm: “Some pigs are more equal than others.”

We shouldn’t be surprised by what’s happening.  Even the framers’ best attempts to keep our government honest and balanced haven’t been entirely effective, and they won’t be, because there is no such thing as a 100% honest person. I am not a Calvinist, but I agree, John Calvin was completely correct in his assessment of the total depravity of man.  The current corruption and debauchery of those in American government at all levels are living proof that Calvin was right on that point. (I would argue with him on limited atonement and irresistible grace, but I am a Lutheran and that is a whole different issue.)

We have been warned.  I will give a brief disclaimer before I get into what I’m going to say.  I am a Christian.  I am a confessional (meaning I accept the teachings of the Book of Concord, i.e. the Lutheran Confessions, as being a true witness to the veracity of Scripture) Lutheran Christian which is not a popular form of Christianity here in the US.  Confessional Lutherans do not adhere to the “Left Behind” style of eschatology(eschatology is the study of end times) that is popular in apocalyptic action movies.   Rather, I hold to the confessional Lutheran stance of sola scriptura, which means: Scripture alone.  My eschatology (amillennialism)is derived from what the Holy Scriptures have to say about the days leading up to the return of the Lord and the end of days.

Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter! Isaiah 5:20 (ESV)

I am not going to presume to set dates for the end of the world.  I think it’s funny when people try.  Jesus told us pretty much what we need to know about the end of the world in Matthew 24:36-51.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Beauty and Scars, Sacred and Profane, Meaning and the Depths of Faith

I find it hard to imagine the innocence and the uncertainty of being a child bride. Both times I got married I had that horrible sense of what the hell am I getting into and both times my instinct was right. I should have ran both times.

Granted, ball and chain #2 was an improvement over #1 but not by much. Jerry was an alcoholic. Admittedly he was functional, and could be a great guy- when he wasn’t butt drunk. Most of the time when he wasn’t at work he was butt drunk. Then the games began. He could be destructive, verbally abusive and I did way too much enabling and covering the consequences of his drinking and irrational behavior connected with it. To make it more awkward and regrettable, Jerry spent the last four years of his life terminally ill, which didn’t do much for his outlook, his behavior, or for me wanting to be around him. He was unpleasant, demanding, clingy, and often nasty before he got sick, and the sicker he got the nastier and more clingy he got.

It sounds cruel but it got creepier and creepier being around him. He wheezed and coughed constantly and gagged all the time- the unfortunate side effect of pulmonary fibrosis. What breath he could get he spent barking orders at me. Sometimes he was downright cruel and went on and on calling me bitch and other foul epithets. Toward the end he couldn’t drive anymore. Just going to the bathroom or showering was a major accomplishment for him.

The sucking sound of the oxygen box was creepy- I didn’t have the heart to turn it off even when I knew he was dead. I asked the paramedic to do it. The room smelled like an unwashed old man. I sort of felt like the little kid in Stephen King’s short story “Gramma” where Gramma died when the kid was alone with her, and Gramma was demon possessed.

One fine morning – like I knew I would-I wandered in his room and found a corpse. The worst part of that is I didn’t know how I would react when that happened. I didn’t want to touch him out of fear of…well I read way too much Stephen King in high school… but my major irrational fear was that the cops would think somehow I killed him. Sins of commission? Omission? Should I have called the squad the night before when he wanted to come home from the Moose early? I sort of anticipated it, and something had told me his time was short that night, but it was still surreal at 5AM just dialing 911 and telling the dispatcher, “I think my husband’s dead.” That is a bizarre thing to do.

I never felt so alone. Usually I am fine with solitude and prefer it, but not in the same space with a corpse. Waiting on cops and paramedics. Because paramedics are the Ones Who Know Dead. They even have special equipment to verify death. Who knew? Who wanted to know?

Do I guilt over sighing a huge sigh of relief that it’s finally over? Sometimes I do. Not much so far. I wonder long term if I will handle it the way I usually handle things emotional- with a 20 year delay?

In a lot of ways I feel guilty because I stayed with him long after the love had gone- and his illness (over which of course he had no control) made being around him even more repulsive. I do feel bad about that. I went through the motions. I tried to do the right things for him but it was sort of like when little kids hold their noses when forced to eat things they find to be gross. I served him from a sense of inward duress. Love is indeed a choice but when love is gone only duty and guilt remain.

I think he knew I was only there for him out of pity and duty. I was, and I feel bad about that.

Mourning is a weird thing. It seems pathetically selfish of me to mourn the 20+ years I spent with a man who loved me- albeit in a twisted and sadistic way at times. Yes I mourn wasting the better part of 20 years being treated like trash and living in fear of the next tirade. And I feel guilty for admitting it.

All this comes back to faith. Did I fail? Yes I did. Was I perfect or even good? No. I have no right to complain and every obligation to confess my sins and lack of love to God. I can only thank God for His mercy.

By faith I know God forgives me. The scars remain. The fear persists. Even though I know I am forgiven I still have anxiety. I still believe…but I call on God constantly to help my unbelief.

Sometimes I feel guilty because my life is better now. As if I should want to put on a hair shirt and attempt to do useless penance.

Is there beauty on the other side? Yes. Am I still cynical and scared? Yes. I am still learning that what I once thought was normal is anything but.

It’s been almost two years and I am still getting past the trauma. I am still trying to rediscover life.

God have mercy.

The Dismality of February, and This Will All Thaw Someday

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Oh, the dismality of February yet again.  There is a reason why February only has 28 days (at least for three out of four years,) and that’s to put a lid on the number of people who die in February.  If February were 30 or 31 days, half the damn population would die in February, and that would just be weird.  We have to spread the death throughout the year better.  Not that everyone should die from heat stroke in July, but jeez.  I can understand losing the will to live when it is 90° and 100% humidity if there’s no air conditioning, perhaps a bit more than most, because I am not at all equipped for high temperatures.  I can abide cold a far sight better than extreme heat.

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But at least in July there is sunlight, and Ohio winters are notoriously dark and sunless. I can go all week without seeing sunlight save for maybe a ray or two on the weekend-  unless there is a damned blizzard going on.  And even if the damned blizzard is going on and it’s 4° below, Target still has nothing but bathing suits, tank tops, sandals and sleeveless dresses on display.  If I need a parka, I will have to wait until July when they put them back out.

Here in central Ohio we have been enduring a rather harsher than normal winter.  Oh, yippee skippy, because I just adore driving in ice and snow.  I’m all about those below zero temperatures too.  There is simply nothing like one’s ass freezing to the toilet seat unless I break down and turn on the space heater in the bathroom.

“Spring” will arrive someday. Probably sometime in May there will come a day when my back yard will transform from frozen tundra into Dog Shit Lake overnight.  Oh, the smell of Spring in the air.  Temperatures will go from -4° to 90° and 100% humidity within the span of about 12 hours.  There is really no Spring in Ohio. There is just arctic cold and wind, followed by stygian heat, usually accompanied by torrential rain.

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This is Brutus, the Catahoula^ (Catahoula Bed Hog Dog)

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This was Clara^ (God rest her sweet soul) the Malinois

Note to self: the 80# Catahoula shits according to his size.  For those unaccustomed to dogs, for an example, a 65# Malinois has the strength to overpower a 300# man.  The 65# Malinois consumes, and disposes of about the same number of calories as a 300# man every day. Imagine that kind of waste load deposited in your back yard every day for six months from October until the May Thaw arrives.

In all fairness, since a Malinois is an ultra high energy, high metabolism dog, a 65# Malinois and an 80# Catahoula are pretty much identical in strength, energy consumed, and waste put down.  My paradigms have been pretty much the same for awhile.

There’s going to be a lot of dog shit to deal with.

Sensitive Snowflakes, Making Perverts Out of Nothing at All, and Follow the Money

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I find it a bit ironic that poor people are almost never accused of inappropriate groping, sexual harassment or any of that twaddle. Now it seems that affluent men across the political, financial and celebrity spheres have all become perverts overnight, some for alleged behaviors committed 30 years ago and more. I’m cynical, yes, but the veracity of many of these allegations is dubious for even the most trusting of souls.

I have worked in a male dominated industry my entire life. I have supervised automotive technicians. I have heard (and probably repeated) every sexual innuendo known to humanity. In the course of my long and illustrious career I have been called everything but a fine upstanding white woman. Big whoop. I have been known to be a tad bit on the raw side, at least language-wise, when dealing with assorted idiots myself.

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I guess my mentality is more old school. I don’t care what you say or how you joke with me (or even not joke) as long as you keep your hands and other body parts to yourself, and refrain from stalking me. As a person who is generally not cool with physical contact, keeping one’s meathooks and other appendages off of me (unless I explicitly approve of such activity) means a lot. As far as commentary or innuendo, I could give a flying flip less. I can verbally parlay with the best of them. Just don’t touch me, physically threaten my person, or be found on my property without permission, and I can deal. Verbal sparring, joking, teasing and flirting are all part of the experience of being a human being. Unless of course one of the parties involved has cash or clout. Then it becomes a feeding frenzy for any money hungry attorney who capitalizes on character assassination.

I am not talking about legitimate victims of sexual assault. Rape is a serious crime- one of the few that I believe should warrant the death penalty- and it should be taken seriously and prosecuted with extreme prejudice. But true sexual assault is far different than casual banter, comments, or jokes. Sexual assault or rape is not an allegation to toss on an ex-lover or a regretful (but consensual) hook up for revenge for sex from a failed love affair or favor for hire gone sour. To call regretful sex– sex one wishes one had not consented to after the fact- rape is to lessen the severity of legitimate sexual assault and rape. If you made your bed with a scumbag in exchange for a favor, that’s on you. If you thought that sleeping with a tomcat would make him leave his wife for you and he didn’t, that’s on you too.

I am talking about women who go back twenty or thirty years digging up old skeletons such as “so and so said something suggestive about my butt back in 1986” or “I gave so and so a BJ in 2001 because that’s what you had to do to get an audition.” Too bad so sad…NOT. Choices have consequences. A bad decision does not give one the right to seek revenge.

Let’s call it for what it is. When a woman voluntarily exchanges sex for money, favors or career advancement, that makes her a whore. When a man exploits women and takes advantage of their willingness to spread their legs in hope of being granted money, career advancement or favors, that makes him a tomcat and a lecher. Consensual sex is just that. If two people decide to play the sex and power game then the emotional, spiritual and physical consequences lie on them both equally.

This being said, neither party is more or less culpable than the other for the fallout of their behavior.

Unfortunately there are too many women jumping on the “he groped me, etc.” bandwagon. The sad thing is that legitimate victims of sexual assault are being overlooked because women who played the whore are trying to capitalize on their regretful sex and poor choices.

Human beings are male and female, and sex is part of the human condition. As much as society tries to deny the reality of gender and the role of sexual attraction, the elephant is still in the room.

You Know Who You Are, and the Past Should Stay There

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Every now and then I entertain myself with a game of “what if,” even if that game simply reinforces the feeling and the thought that I have spent the last year walking away (relatively unscathed) from a 20+ year long train wreck.

Perhaps I have some “survivor’s guilt” and maybe a panic attack now and then, but even a necessary amputation is going to leave a scar.

I wondered if the 1 year anniversary of Jerry’s death would be traumatic.  Not so much. I spent a rather lovely day with family, and the date didn’t cross my mind until someone brought it up.

I do wonder if my experience of grief (or the lack thereof) is cold and heartless- because I don’t really miss him. He had managed to kill any affection I had for him long before he died. Between the alcoholic rages, browbeating, name calling and other indignities, I had gotten beyond angry and went straight to numb. I can’t say I have felt much of anything except maybe relief.

It used to be common wisdom (though we know better now) that children were born as tabula rasa, or with a clean slate- no experience, no biases, no predispositions.  In some ways I feel sort of like that, as if a weight has been lifted off my shoulders, but then I feel as if I should have some kind of sadness.  Maybe I do feel a bit melancholy for years wasted or opportunities lost, but not what I would really call regret or even mourning.

I don’t think I am a heartless bitch.  Maybe numbness is a lot better than unforgiveness or just plain rage.

 

 

Gunfights vs. Knife Fights, and Killers Will Be Killers

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Oh, let me play devil’s advocate today.

Nobody is ever going to hear gun control horse hockey coming from my mouth, pen or keyboard.

First of all I am a card carrying member of the NRA. I am all about 2nd Amendment rights, and even more so in the wake of senseless mass shootings.  As far as I am concerned, the average citizen should be armed, everywhere and at all times, so that it can safely be assumed everyone is packing heat. I believe there is no greater deterrent to gun crime than having the knowledge that a law abiding gun owner will return fire.  I carry and I will continue to do so.

The issue is NOT gun control, or who can have what weapon. It’s obvious that criminals don’t obey laws or there would be no murders, no thefts, no rapes, and we would all hold hands and sing Kumbaya. The fact about legislation is, laws only work for law-abiding people.  There is no way to legislate crime out of business.  If such a thing were possible, then as soon as God sent down the Ten Commandments to Moses all would have been good with the world.  Sadly murder is as old as Cain and Abel, and it has always been a part of the human narrative. It’s something called original sin, or to borrow from one of my favorite theologians- John Calvin (though I am not a Calvinist- I am more of a confessional Lutheran/ Molinist, I am with him on this one)- the total depravity of man. Given to our own devices, apart from the grace of God, human beings are intrinsically evil.  Anyone who doubts that, go to a daycare and watch a room full of two year olds interact, or go to an automotive shop and secretly observe the technicians’ behavior for a day.  You will see more depravity of man than what should ever be allowed.

One can make weapons more difficult to get, but ultimately it’s not about weapons. Deny the nut job his AR-15, and he will find a way to make a box truck and some fertilizer a weapon of mass destruction.

In the UK, where guns are banned, killers substitute knives like they are some kind of twisted Early Cuylers. Death and injury are easy to inflict on the fragile human body, and as those who work in corrections will attest, criminals are adept at creating their own weapons using anything from underwear to plastic spoons.

So do we ban box trucks or fertilizer or underwear or plastic spoons simply because some depraved jackwagon can turn these things into weapons?

Some will argue that guns are made for only one purpose, which is to kill. I am not going to argue with that, nor am I going to argue that one needs an AR-15 to go out and shoot a deer.  However, the 2nd Amendment was never about procuring venison, regardless of how tasty venison can be.  The 2nd Amendment was and is about the individual’s right to defend one’s home, family and property.  This means that an individual has a right to use deadly force if his or her life (or the lives of his or her family) is threatened. We have the right to self-defense.

The role of the gun as a deterrent is often overlooked, but whose house would a criminal plan to rob? An organized killer (one who thinks and plans ahead) is going to try to avoid those homes with guns and/ or dogs, because killing defenseless victims is a lot easier than fighting armed ones.

Gun laws or the lack thereof would have had absolutely no impact on Stephen Paddock or his carefully planned assault on the Las Vegas strip. Enacting knee jerk motivated gun control laws now is about as effective as closing the barn door when the horses had never been in the barn to begin with.