A Christian Man’s Superiority

INTRODUCTION
Today’s entry is inspired by this story, about a Christian man living in Texas, who burned down a house with people living in it, because they determined that they did not follow the bible.

What the headline misses is that the person he killed in the burning house was his brother, and the other person who he put in the hospital was his mother.

Not only did he set the house on fire, but he also waited outside with large stones. His intent was to kill them with the stones if they lived. While THAT part sounds VERY biblical, I have to wonder about the killing part. I think the Christian god Yahweh had that in his popular Top Ten list.

He felt very righteous and superior when he did this. He passed judgment as if HE were the god, and enacted out punishment with the same posture.

Indeed, the bible he claims to live by has some interesting things to say about what he did. Specifically, that he is wrong.

Oops! Guess he didn’t read his bible carefully enough, did he? To be fair, most American Christians can’t be bothered to read the bible. I’ve read it, but that’s because I’m an Atheist, so I want to have an idea of what I am talking about.


AMERICA HAS A BROKEN CHRISTIAN PROBLEM
The American Christian problem can be traced all the way back to the low bar of entry to become a “Christian.” All you have to do is say that you believe, and say that you let Jesus into your heart.

That’s it.

You don’t have to engage in any significant study. You don’t have to engage in works. You don’t have to live a life of example. You don’t even really have to go to church every day. Many go twice per year.

The worst thing is that you don’t have to learn anything about it, which means you don’t have to become a better person as a result of taking on this religious belief.

It’s like someone who tells you they’re a mathematician. They don’t actually PERFORM any mathematical equations, and don’t use it in their lives. But they waive a math book around and judge anyone who isn’t in their math class, as they brag about their superior mathematical skills, which they don’t really have.

It’s treated more like an exclusive club or a fraternity than it is a place of spiritual development and retrospective.

Church is treated more like a place you go when you have to get forgiven, because you did something wrong that you plan on doing again next week.


HOW AMERICANS APPROACH CHRISTIANITY
Okay, this is not an “all Christians” thing. That said, my points are supported by the fact that the number of American Christians who are broken is significant enough that it is reasonable to consider the idea that this a problem that needs to be fixed.

Americans approach Christianity as if it’s a club membership that magically makes them better than other people. It’s tribalism. So they declare themselves to be Christians, they’re given the label, and then they use that label as a shield to protect them from accountability. They use it as an excuse to look down on others or to cause them harm.

They use it to be better than YOU.

Having a star [being a Christian] makes you better than others. Why? Just because, so don’t ask questions.

They also use it as a political device, which effectively cheapens Christianity. To be fair, it would cheapen ANY spiritual practice.

As a result, American Christians have very little faith. They have so little faith that they stockpile guns while paying lip service to “the power of prayer.” They have so little faith that they will cheat in an election, and accuse others of cheating while they are in the process of cheating.

American Christians will TELL LIES if it means bolstering their tribal club. It’s okay to lie if it benefits god, right?


WWJD?
This is a question that American Christians apparently cannot answer. Or maybe they CAN answer the question, but they’re too lazy or unwilling to engage it.

If you look closely enough, you will find that American Christians are the polar opposite of what Jesus would do, or what Jesus would want.

Here are a few examples.

Homeless People
Jesus: Come to me and I will heal you. I will save you.
American Christian: Look at that lazy bum! Probably a junkie. Bet he’s not a “true Christian.” He’s filthy and disgusting. Hope he doesn’t show up at my church looking for a handout.

The Hungry
Jesus: Come to me and I will feed you.
American Christians: Stop asking for a hand-out, you lazy Liberal Communist Socialist scum! Quit being lazy and pick yourself up by your bootstraps. You should have planned for it.

The Non-Believer
Jesus: The healthy do not need a doctor. I will spend time with the non-believer and encourage them to see the light.
American Christian: Get away from me, you heathen! I only associate EXCLUSIVELY with Christians. I’ll bet you practice witchcraft and worship Satan! And NO, you cannot come to MY church, as it’s only for TRUE Christians.

The Foreigner
Jesus: Welcome, traveler. You must be weary! I have some space for you to stay tonight, and you will dine with me.
American Christian: Those damned foreigners, always coming here! They’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. Those filthy people aren’t Americans, so they don’t belong. Arrest them for being foreigners! Lock them up, then deport them back to where they came from. Only WHITE Christian Americans are allowed here.

There are more examples, but I’ll stop here. If you read the bible and learn about how Jesus treated other people, you’ll find that American Christians generally DO NOT do what Jesus would do. Ever.


WHY IT’S SO EASY
An important question to ask is, why is it SO EASY to become an American Christian? There is no study, no test, and you don’t have to do anything much. Why is it so easy?

What it comes down to is money.

If American Christianity required actual study, work, and accountability in order to be regarded as a member of the faith, then their numbers would be low. Americans would not be interested. They’d go do something else.

Americans are into what I call “fast food salvation.” They can’t be bothered to read a book or actually practice a faith, because it’s too cumbersome or boring, even though they claim to believe that it’s all about salvation from eternal damnation.

Boy, if I believed in eternal damnation, and believed that practicing Christianity was the only way to avoid it, then you could bet that I’d be reading and practicing every single day. I’d evaluate my failures and work to fix them. I’d be afraid of the consequences that would come with NOT reading, studying, and practicing.

Many believe that going to church is enough. They also believe that going to church, or even simply BEING a Christian is what makes them better people. It does not.


MY EXPECTATIONS OF AMERICAN CHRISTIANS
Suffice to say that my expectations of American Christians have NEVER been met. Not even close. I spent the first 21 years of my life as a non-believer in the Midwest, where Jesus is a really big deal.

Not ONE person ever talked to me in a way that was caring or inviting. Nobody ever invited me to church. Considering the fact that Christians are TASKED with saving souls, I would say that EVERY SINGLE CHRISTIAN I have ever met has failed in this regard.

While I have never received an invite [and it’s WAY too late now], what I DID get from American Christians was judgment, condemnation, isolation, death threats, bullying, hatred, and more.

That is NOT how one behaves when they are tasked with saving souls. They are all poor stewards of their faith. You can’t just TELL me about “the love of Jesus” while all that you are capable of doing is hating, judging, and being cruel.

I am a human being, so I REFUSE to be treated like an abused housewife. That kind of treatment of another human being is ALWAYS wrong.

American Christians have never lived up to the expectations placed upon them by their own bible.


AMERICAN CHRISTIANS WANT THINGS THAT ARE BOTH UN-CHRISTIAN AND UN-AMERICAN
Wow, that’s my longest heading to date!

Examples of things they want that are un-Christian include things like obtaining wealth or avoiding caring for others.

Examples of things they want that are un-American include forcing prayer in public schools, installing statues [graven images] of the Ten Commandments on government property, and the abolition of the Secular state, which is what allows the tens of thousands of brands of Christianity to exist in the first place.

They want to be surrounded by people who are exactly like them, because their “faith” is so fragile and shakable.


ROLE MODELS
With all of this, you might be shocked to learn that there are TWO American Christian role models who actually did a good job of being stewards of their faith AND were successful in their PRACTICE of the faith.

Sadly, the ONLY two American Christians who actually get it right.

How did they get it right?

Firstly, they hardly EVER bring it up. They never declare, with pride or indignation, “I’m a Christian.” The thing with American Christians is that they CONSTANTLY have to tell you that they’re a Christian, because you would NEVER guess it based on what they say and do, or how they behave.

Neither of these men EVER told me that I was a devil worshipper, a witch, a demon, less-than-human, or any other insult.

They never told me that I had to be a Christian.

They never told me that I had to read a bible.

They never told me that I was going to hell.

They never had or expressed hatred of “others,” and never engaged in “othering,” which is popular among American Christian Republicans.

They avoided passing judgments.

They cared about others, even those who were not Christians and not Americans.

They have/had a healthy attitude about human beings, life, and Humanity.

They are/were empathetic people who were understanding.

The list could go on. Basically, they didn’t do ANYTHING that American Christians would do.

And yes, there are more than two. These are just the only two who have name recognition. That said, decent Americans who happen to be Christians are a VERY rare find.


A PHENOMENON OF GOOD AND BAD
In America, we have an insane phenomenon happening, where good and bad are not judgments assigned to words or acts. Instead, they are assigned based on tribal affiliation.

To the American Christian, being Christian is what makes you a good person, by definition. Conversely, being a non-Christian, an Atheist, or even being the WRONG brand of Christian makes you a bad person by definition.

It’s what I consider to be a very child-like, reductive, uneducated view of morality.

Does being a Christian mean that someone is a good person? No. It only means that they identify as Christian. Nothing more.

To be fair, this is not just a Christian thing. Republicans are doing it as well. Their idea is that being Republican makes you good, by definition. You know what they think of their opposition already, if you have deductive reasoning.

This brand of tribalism is animalistic, weak-minded, and highly destructive. It is currently being used to install the final nails into the coffin of the country once known as America.


IN THE END
I could go on, but I’m going to cap it off for now with a few thoughts.

I had a personal encounter with some misguided Christians at the end of 2019. I had gotten in touch with a former girlfriend from 1982 who still lived in Indiana. Indiana is in the American Midwest, and it’s a place where Christians are horrible people.

The former girlfriend told me that she didn’t really go to church, and that she didn’t really believe. She also said that she didn’t really know anything about Donald Trump, even though she voted for him and was re-Tweeting him.

Yea, she LIED to me about very important details. But don’t worry, Jesus only harms liars who are not forgiven. After I called her out on her lies, she moved out, started going to church, and voted Trump again [and lied to me again about it].

I know, Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven. When someone LIES, and they keep lying, and they don’t STOP lying, then you’ve got someone who calls themselves a Christian who don’t care about the fact that they’re a liar, or how their lies harm everyone around them. That’s an American Christian, not a good person.

But there was another interaction that came from one of her Christian friends. As it turns out, a good number of her friends were worried about her getting with me because I am a self-declared Atheist, which means that I am an evil satanic monster, by definition. They way they talked, it sounded like they were genuinely afraid.

Some even got confrontational and threatening, as is expected from American Christians.

One of them even started yelling and crying about how “the gays took the rainbow away from god.” This was on the phone, and I heard her son yell, “Mom! Stop it!” That one also sent me a bible.

But one of them asked me a question, and I thought that it was actually a decent question.

“Do you consider yourself to be a good person?”

While I think the question is good, I am certain the person asking the question had some reductive and biased reasoning for asking it. The idea, of course, is that I cannot call myself a good person when I am not a Christian, because only Christians can be good people, and only Christians are good, by definition.

I gave it some careful thought before answering.

“I do not think that it is up to me to make the determination of whether or not I’m a good person. That is for someone who knows me to decide. In my efforts to BE a good person, I do my best to live a life where I do not cause harm to others. I am helpful when I can be. I listen when someone needs an ear. I give to my community. All I really can do is try. And I don’t need to be called ‘good’ in order to keep living that way. I don’t need rewards or prizes, any more than I require threats of eternal damnation from a god in order to do what I think is the right thing at any given time. I don’t have to ‘be good’ because a god might be watching. And I do NOT need membership in a tribe in order to be a good person.”

She was expecting me to blurt out a simple, “Yes,” so that she could ask me how I could be a good person when I’m not a Christian. I gave her a thoughtful answer instead, and she had no idea of how to deal with that.

I understand these people more than they understand themselves. It’s called “The Heartland” because the brain is not there.

I spent the first 21 years of my life interacting directly with these people, so I know where they’re going when they ask these questions. They don’t really care about my answers, because they don’t care about me, because they don’t like me, because I’m not a member of their tribe.

It’s the “good/bad, by definition” problem. It’s called “guiding the conversation,” as they were taught by their preacher, who also teaches them outright lies and horrible things about non-believers.

I have friends who are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Buddhist, Shinto, Hindu, and Atheist. We don’t talk about religion. They don’t try to convert me. I have respect for them.

Why?

Because they don’t pass judgment on me, and don’t try to convert or otherwise change me. They live their lives, and don’t waste time judging others. They’re not mean, vindictive, or hateful. They are not professional victims.

Does being an Atheist mean that I’m a good person, by definition? No, it does not. It only means that I don’t believe in any gods, regardless of whether or not they are commercially available for purchase. This still leaves the door wide open for believing other things, like astrology, tarot cards, ghosts, devils, demons, angels, heaven, hell, etc.

Literally, Atheist only means not believing in any gods. That’s it.

In other words, just as being a Christian does not make a person good, by definition, being an Atheist also does not function in this same capacity.

If it did, or if I suggested that it did, then I’d be a hypocrite.

Being a Christian only means that you declare belief in a god. Nothing more. It doesn’t mean that you’re a good person. Declaring one’s self to be a Christian in America also does not mean that you read the bible, obey it, understand it, or practice it. Sadly, the way American Christians behave, it is coming close to meaning that you’re a bad person, or unstable.

As one self-declared “good Christian” told me when I called her out for not reading the bible, “I don’t need to READ it, when I BELIEVE it.” That statement makes no sense, because you can’t believe in something you don’t know or understand. Christian membership often times relies on a lack of critical thought that reaches this type of depth.

While American Christians whine about being victims in America [they are NOT], they set out to victimize others who are not like them, because those “others” are below them. It’s ugly, pathetic, and sad.

To the point of the story, this is something that happens every day, to varying degrees. We’ve had “good Christians” who put their babies in the oven or microwave, or they drown their children, because “god told them to do it.” We have Christians who will be driving and will get scared and literally “let Jesus take the wheel,” by letting go of the steering wheel and closing their eyes.

We even had self-decalred “good Christian Republicans” engage in an attempted coup, to interrupt a Constitutional election and to overthrow the American government. We also have “good Christians” who believe that they don’t need a vaccination from a virus because they are “bathed in the blood of the lamb.” Sounds creepy!

This is one of the many dangers that come out of comingling one’s religious beliefs with political affiliations, not to mention when they politicize a public health crisis. Where we stand now, Christian Conservative Republicans are the most dangerous tribe in the country.

These people are far more aggressive and dangerous. If they encounter someone they don’t like or don’t agree with, then stalking, threatening, and executing them is not out of the question. Sure, it’s far away from WWJD, but they don’t care.

To give this perspective, if anyone in the town where I live ever finds this and reads it, and then figures out that it is me, I will be lucky if I’m just harassed until I leave town. Christians LOVE their guns, and they love using them on Atheists, Democrats, and those who believe differently. They might draw the line at those who practice a different brand of Christianity.

HERE’S MY PERSONAL POINT: I don’t care one bit about your religious practices, until they start causing harm to others. Once they start causing harm, I’ve got something to say about it. What I DO care about is how your religious beliefs guide your life, how they impact the community, and how they impact individuals.

American Christianity is a sad negative force in our country. It’s dragging us down.

If you are an American Christian, and you practice your faith in a way where it has a positive impact on the community, a positive impact on others, and functions in a way where it passes no judgment or causes harm to me, then I would most definitely welcome you as a friend. It shows that you learned something from it. I would commend you for your efforts and personal grown, while simultaneously lamenting the fact that there aren’t more of you.

I would also challenge you to work toward influencing those who are abusing the label to get right with it or get out. The people who call themselves Christians without learning are making you look bad. Some aren’t even contributing to the tithing efforts. Their presence is allowed because it helps the popularity contest.

But if you’re an American Christian who is a tribal, grunting knuckle-dragger who is reductive, biased, racist, sexist, uncultured, or ignorant of the world, then I would ask you to stay as far away from me as humanly possible. You need to look in the mirror and realize what kind of monster you truly have become. Because you’re the kind of person who would set a house on fire while your brother and mother are sleeping in it, for your god.

So if you hear a voice in your head talking to you, and you believe it to be god, how do you know that satan isn’t tricking you? It’s not like you can recognize thier voices.

But fear not, for that voice you are hearing is not satan. There is no satan, just as there is no god. Notice how this “god” voice in your head always agrees with you 100% of the time.

That’s because it’s not the voice of any gods.

It’s you.


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Music and My Failed Prediction

Since I was a teenager, I would look at the world around me and make predictions.

My predictions were not psychic acts, or a product of mental mysticism. It was just a case of looking at something and telling where it was going.

I predicted many things over the course of my life that ended up panning out precisely in the way that I had seen in my thoughts. Sometimes it was small things, like how my high school years would turn out. Other times, it was big things.

The big things included the success of the internet, social networking, and cashless transactions. Also included in this list was my 90s prediction on how music would be sold, acquired, and shared.


THERE WERE SOME FAILURES
Before I get into my big failure, there were a few failures that I experienced. One prime example is that I failed to see how horrific, negative, and destructive social networking would end up becoming.

Even from 2005-2008, when I worked at MySpace, I did not see it coming. There were no clear signs of it, if you ask me. Yes, I had to deal with some trolls, and most of them were rather violent people. But people like them were the outlier; the exception to the rule.

This is an example of what I had to deal with. Yes, the authorities paid him a visit. Discourse like this has become the norm among older grown adults who truly should know better. Yes, an Autistic man just told neurotypical men and women to grow up.
How low we have sunken.

But forget about this, because today I want to talk about my BIG failure. This is a failure that should NOT have happened. It’s something I should have seen. This big failure can be broken down into smaller failures.

So buckle in, as we set sail on a sea of failure!


Me, at 18 months, drumming on a trash can. Since this point of time in my life, music has held a great deal of importance.

THE FUTURE OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Yes, the future of music, the ONE area that was MOST important to me, my life, and my potential livelihood, was something that I was not able to predict.

I do have an idea of why I failed to have predictions regarding the music industry. I’m saving that for the end. Let’s detail some of those areas where either I had no prediction, or my prediction failed miserably.


FAILURE: THE MUSIC CAREER OF MADONNA
When Madonna showed up on MTV in the 1980s, I had my skepticism firing on all cylinders. My prediction was that she and her career were going to be a flash in the pan.

This was because of a few factors. For one, she didn’t write her own songs. I had always felt that, with few exceptions, artists who write their own songs tend to have more success.

Plus, she was using sex to sell her music, which was something I found to be cheap and pointless. NEVER in my life have I said, “Oh boy, she’s hot! I bet she can sing.” Nope. That never crossed my mind, because I did not associate looks with sounds.

I guess MTV did that kinda well, although there’s a reason why they don’t do it anymore.


FAILURE: GLAM/HAIR METAL
This is one that I sort of saw coming. I didn’t pay it much mind at first. I started caring about it when I had moved to LA in 1986, and was pursuing my music career, only to find out that I wasn’t getting gigs because I didn’t have big hair and wasn’t good looking.

I might have taken it more seriously, had I read about Metallica’s 1985 attempts to get big in LA. They left LA declaring that nobody likes them.

Yea, that should have been a BIG deal to me. But I did not hear about that until decades later.

But I saw hair metal as a joke. Today, it is treated as a joke by bands like Steel Panther, and they make big money from being the punch line.


FAILURE: SEX NOT SELLING IN THE 90s
By the mid-90s, I figured that sex would sell. So when I wrote and recorded an album for a Filipina exotic dancer and trash tabloid entertainer, I just went with it when she suggested herself on the cover, wearing one of her dance costumes.

This scan has WAY too much JPEG because it wasn’t a great quality photo to begin with. I found this cover to be egotistical and tacky. Maybe I was right in that regard, but I was clearly wrong in other aspects.

Not that I had a say in any of it. I could have said something, gotten rejected, and then considered myself to have a positive prediction. But I just rolled with it because I figured it would work.

It did not. For some reason, NOBODY looked at her and wondered what her singing voice sounded like.

Why not?

I suppose it’s a case of the public taste changing. I’d previously discounted this [Madonna] notion that sex sells. When it did, I decided to go with it. When I went with it, then it didn’t work.

It’s probably working again, given the vast number of untalented young women with looks. The music industry has become the underage pervert industry.

Grunge killed the glam/hair metal acts, replacing them with uncombed hair, flannel t-shirs, grandma’s sweater, and a general not caring. I would have LOVED to have been a part of Grunge; however, by the time it showed up, I was already too old.


FAILURE: THE ULTIMATE DEATH OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
This was something that I did not see when I was young, and continued to not see until it started to happen. I thought, at the very least, that the songwriters and musicians who made these record executives rich would be well cared for and would have solid careers.

Nope. I was wrong.

Billy Corgan was told that Smashing Pumpkins was a failed project, as they encouraged him to stab his bandmates in the back so that he could own the whole thing. They wanted him to own it all, so they would only have one person to mess with when it was time to take what they wanted.

To be fair, this isn’t just music. People all over the world are doing phenomenal work, only to have this work stolen from them by corporate interests.

FAILURE: STREAMING SERVICES
I failed to predict the model where streaming services took more money from sales than the artists themselves.

Here are what some of the streaming services pay out per stream:

Spotify: $0.00437
Apple Music: $0.00783
Amazon Music: $0.00402

In the old days, if you sold one million singles, it generated one million dollars, and the artist would get a chunk of it. Even if they got 10%, best case, they would be paid $100,000.

Today, if an artist has 1,000,000 streams on Spotify, they can expect a healthy check of $4,366. If there are other band members and songwriters, then they get a cut of this.


FAILURE: SOCIETY DOES NOT CARE ABOUT MUSIC
This was partially on me, thanks to the great value that I applied to music, as it functions in my life. I assumed that all people loved music cared about it, and so on.

Wrong.

American society, in particular, does not care about art or music very much. It’s something that the wealthy broker, or the broke practice on the streets. The middle ground has gotten smaller over the decades.

There is a built-in function that misguides thoughts away from this prediction, which is what occurs when an artist dies. Suppose Paul McCartney died tomorrow. People would be crying, talking about how great he was, and so on. But the thing is, they didn’t care one way or another when he was alive.


FAILURE: FANS CRUEL TOWARD ARTISTS
This could be included in my failure to predict that social networking would become so hateful and aggressive.

When Edward Van Halen died, what did many people in the public do?

They started attacking his son, Wolfgang. They also attack Edward, as well as his mother, Valerie. These attacks are mean-spirited, cruel, relentless, and can’t be more lacking in empathy and Humanity.

He’s being strong and standing up to them. Maybe I’m crazy, but it feels weird and pathetic to see grown adults attack a young man after his father dies, and then attacking his mother for good measure before they attack him directly.

WHY? What is wrong with people? What is wrong with society?

I remember when Keith Emerson was online while preparing for a tour. He was suffering some pain, probably neuropathy, and would have another keyboard player along with him to fill in the gaps.

He was probably touring because he desperately needed the money, because he hadn’t really had success beyond the 1970s.

People in the forums encouraged him to commit suicide. So that’s precisely what he did. You can read about this tragedy HERE. So far as I am concerned, the horrible behavior of people online contributed to this. Had the internet not existed, then he would not have known about this. Maybe people would have been more kind.

Being anonymous gives people a feeling of superiority, and it allows them to engage in horrible behavior.


FAILURE: MY CURRENT LIFE
I never predicted that I would be in my late 50s, not be a pro musician, and that I’d be living in Oregon. I didn’t predict that it would be so difficult for me to find a job, during a time when employers are complaining about a worker shortage. That’s how little I matter, and I didn’t predict that, either [I did suspect it].

I’m not depressed about it. Sure, it’s sad. The whole world is sad. America has become a pathetic sewer of angry, uneducated paranoia, with people splintered into dozens upon dozens of sects and cults, so they can believe whatever conveniently aligns with their tribal affiliation.

It is VERY disappointing. For most of my life, people have told me that I need to “grow up,” because drumming in a band and being this into music at my age is not “mature” or healthy. Now, here I am, behaving by far more maturely than people who are 20 years older than me. I did NOT see that coming, either.

And when I look back, a good deal of this pathetic world we have today was just getting started in the 1980s. “Greed is good” was a warning, not a guiding light.


WHY DID I MISS MY OWN MUSIC INDUSTRY PREDICTIONS?
I missed these predictions, and did not see them, for the same reason that I made other mistakes in the past. I wanted it to happen so badly that I ignored all red flags and pushed onward.

After all, I was not one to give up.


IN THE END [AND ANOTHER MUSIC PREDICTION]
There is not much left for me to predict. We are living in End-Stage Capitalism, which is a corrupt system where the wealthy redistribute the wealth in their direction, while many people who aren’t even getting paid enough to pay their rent mindlessly fight for the rights of the wealthy, because they believe that THEY will be wealthy [somehow] in the future, and they want the rules in their favor when they join the ranks. That won’t happen.

Climate Change and Global Warming are already impacting the weather in a way where many places will become uninhabitable. “Heat Refugees” will be the new thing, where people flee areas that kill off anyone who lives there with “wet bulb” temperatures.

There will be wars over food and water. Precipitation and evaporation are both more extreme, leaving us open to droughts, wildfires, and mudslides.

Many music venues were killed off by the pandemic.

Venues will opt for DJs or music streaming, or possibly even solo performers, over the expense of hiring bands.

CDs are mostly dead, and will continue a slow death. Only old bands that are out-of-touch will continue to engage in the production and distribution of CDs.

Songwriting will end up being relegated to producers, as they do double-duty [and more] for less pay. Don’t feel badly for the producers. They make more money than musicians and their situation is relatively more secure.

If someone is going to have ANY success at all with music, then it will first start in a local, tribal sense. The people who live near you will be your primary line of support.

A secondary line of support might be downloads, at least for a while. Smartphones are losing their ability to have significant amounts of storage, thanks to the removal of SDCard slots. This will force streaming as the secondary source of income. Given the numbers, I think that it is way too generous to refer to that as “income.”

If you are a solo performer who has a sound that is in-demand, and you live in the right area, and you play at the right places, and you work tirelessly at it without the distraction of a day job, after a few years you might be able to earn enough to pay half of your rent. Maybe.

You might be able to have a hit on YouTube, if you make the right video with the right music at the right time. When you get those millions upon millions of views, you can dream about becoming a thousandaire who gets caught up on his rent and can pay it for the next few months after that.

What is MY future with music?

I play music in my office. I might write or record something on occasion, and I do it for me. Making music makes me happy, even if I cannot earn a living with it. I get together with a few guys for a casual jam, so music is also a social instrument for me.

But, so far as the music industry itself is concerned, it has no future. If you didn’t get rich before, then you’re most definitely not getting one red cent now.


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Joke: A Christian, God, and COVID-19

When I was in grade school, I told my grandmother about how there was a religious kid in school who said they could use prayer to fix anything. I was not raised in a religious home, so I was confused about this. It sounded like a foreign concept.

I asked her if this was true, because I didn’t really know what to think. In response to my inquiry, she told me a joke.

It’s a good joke, and it drives home a certain point. As they say, “the lord helps those who help themselves.” But if I’ve already helped myself, then what do I need the lo… ah, there I go again. Here’s the joke. Enjoy!


THE GOOD CHRISTIAN MAN
One day, a good Christian man was watching the news, when he saw a report about COVID-19. The reporter said that it is recommended that everyone wear a mask. Well, he wasn’t about to have any of that, so he stood up in his living room and declared:

“I have been bathed in the blood of the lamb. I don’t need a mask. God will take care of me.”

Months pass, and once again, the good Christian man was watching the news, when he heard that there was a vaccine for the virus. The reporter said that everyone should go get vaccinated. The good Christian man once again stood up and declared:

“I have been bathed in the blood of the lamb. I don’t need a stupid vaccine. God will take care of me.”

One fateful day, the good Christian man found himself in a hospital bed. His oxygen levels were low and he was going to be intubated. Still upset and angry, he told the staff, “If you don’t have faith that God can heal me over your stupid ventilator then keep the Hell out of my ICU room, there’s no room in here for fear or lack of faith!”

“I have been bathed in the blood of the lamb. I don’t need a stupid ventilator. God will take care of me.”

The good Christian man was intubated, but the ventilator wasn’t enough. He never woke up again. He died in the hospital.

Next thing he knew, he was up in heaven with god. St. Peter told him, “Welcome to heaven. Since you were such a devout Christian, you get to ask god one question; anything you want.”

Feeling a sense of both excitement and disappointment, he approached god and asked his question.

“Dear god, I was a devout Christian for my entire life. I was devoted to you in everything I did and how I lived. But I believed that you would take care of me, since I was such a devoted Christian. Why didn’t you protect me from COVID-19??

God looked at him and replied, “I sent word for you to wear a mask and I made a vaccine. What else did you expect?


The above joke was inspired by THIS STORY. Please don’t be this guy. This isn’t a political issue, or a religious issue. It’s a medical issue. Unlike the words in this post, COVID-19 is NO JOKE! Please get vaccinated and wear a mask to show that you care about your fellow man. This is NOT the time to be selfish, especially on this issue. Exercise your Humanity, before it is too late.

Every Woman is Laura Palmer

Or How Autistic Men Can Protect Themselves from Female Manipulation

INTRDUCTION
Anyone who has been reading my entries for a while may have noticed that I have a framed photo of Laura Palmer on my desk. No, it’s not because I have a thing for Ms. Palmer. It’s there as a casual Easter egg of sorts. Should a new person physically enter my home studio and see it, their comment on it will tell me whether or not they are a fan of the work of David Lynch.

It’s a way of finding out what we might have in common without asking.

But I keep it on my desk for other reasons that are more important.

This image also upset my last two girlfriends. One of them KNOWS why it’s there and likes David Lynch, but is still uneasy. The other one never understood, and probably never will. So if a woman comes over, sees it, and gets upset or jealous, then I know that she’s not right for me. Jealousy is ugly.

It’s really a multi-purpose thing.


MY HYPOTHESIS
Every woman is Laura Palmer, to varying degrees. Within this context, Laura Palmer is an avatar for the duality of humans, but more specifically to women than men.

A woman, especially a young woman, has the benefit of cultivating an image of soft innocence. Their parents and community may know her as the beautiful young homecoming queen who is wholesome and pure, with her star football player boyfriend, her volunteer work, and whatever else people think she’s all about.

Much like someone cultivating an image on Facebook, they will let their parents and the community only see certain things about them. Going to church on Sunday is a great cover for moral bankruptcy, which is why so many hairless primates do it. But I digress.

This image serves a big purpose in a few ways. It leads others to the conclusion that she’s living on the right side of the tracks. This allows her to step across to the other side of the tracks at night, when fewer people are out. She can then party as much as she wants.

If she gets caught, then it will divide the people who know her into three camps. The biggest camp will be those who simply refuse to believe that she would ever do such things. The second biggest camp will be those who can be controlled easily via gaslighting.

Gaslighting is where a person will do or say something to someone else that gets them to question their own perception of reality. So Laura [assuming she lived] or her parents or family can easily say, “That’s just not our Laura. Our baby. Our darling.” Some will go with that and write off any information or facts to the contrary.

It’s image crafting at its finest, complete with plausible deniability.


IMPACT ON SOCIETY
The impact that this has on society can be easily identified. The most obvious scenario:

“Officer, I was speeding? Oh my! I had no idea. I am SO sorry [bats eyelashes]. I promise to be good if you let me go with a warning.”

Manipulation of the system and getting out of trouble is one thing. But I don’t really want to talk about how it impacts society, so much as how it impacts the individual man who interacts with them.


BEWARE OF MANIPULATION
As an Autistic man who did not know he was Autistic until age 53, I went through many instances of emotional manipulation from women, within the context of romantic pursuit. One of my failings related to this is that I am way too empathetic.

Or, at least I used to be too empathetic. I also used to give in to crying, and was also prone to being a rescuer. These are NOT good personal attributes to have when you’re dealing with Laura Palmer levels of manipulation and deceit. I would even go so far as to say that these are not good personal attributes to have when dealing with Mankind in general.

Emotional manipulation is typically delivered in the form of tears.

Sexual manipulation typically occurs in the bedroom. I know, shocking.

Either of these can be used to acquire money, favors, food, shelter, or really anything the little lady might want or need.


A BIG DISCLAIMER
To be clear, this is not a bash on women, and is not to suggest that men are somehow better. No! All human beings have the capacity to lie and manipulate. When it comes to the dynamics between men and women, women have the upper hand with regard to lying and manipulation.

And I know that it’s NOT “all women.” Older women and less attractive women have a more difficult time pulling this off, which makes them easier to spot when they’re messing with you. The younger and prettier she is, the easier it is for her to pull off the wholesome innocence card.

Nothing will stop a woman, or ANY human being, from engaging in manipulative behavior if that is what’s in their heart.

I don’t date men, so I can’t write about how men do this type of thing. I don’t even know what makes a man attractive, beyond money, power, and fame. Hence my focus on women.

To varying degrees of effectiveness, every woman has Laura Palmer’s sensibilities.


DUAL ATTRIBUTES
With a woman who is a Laura Palmer type, they can generate the illusion and appearance of either sweet innocence or ugly ruggedness in a matter of seconds. She can look like a pretty, innocent little flower one second, and a terrifying, raging primate the next.

Again, I’m not saying that men cannot be manipulative. I am talking about how women manipulate men, specifically. I will never say that men do not manipulate. They probably do it differently. Stay focused!

Men who are either married or divorced can attest to this. When they’re in divorce court getting reamed by the future ex and her divorce lawyer, they realize too late that they completely missed this side of their lovely wife.

How could such an innocent girl be so cruel?


IN THE END
I could go on with examples, but I’ll leave it here. The thing that I am writing about is the ugliness on the inside, and how it gets covered up with the “nice” act.

It is very important to remember that this internal ugliness also gets covered up, and more effectively, by external beauty. Women who either have good looks, or who can generate good looks, will use it to their advantage.

Here are some specific pointers to Autistic men, or men in general, when you’re looking to meet women and want to protect yourself:

What is reality? Do we ever TRULY place our real selves on display? Does that even exist?

Never buy the cute girl story. Sure, enjoy it. It’s fun. It is very pleasing. Just know that, deep down, she will bury you in divorce court, if you’re lucky. The unlucky get buried in a shallow grave.

Ditch the belief that pretty = sweet. It does not. If you ignore this or forget it, and she cuts loose with her internal ugly side, you will feel shocked and surprised. Then you will remember that I warned you.

Look beyond the fake beauty implements. Wigs. Hair extensions. Hair coloring. Makeup. Fake eyelashes. Fake eye color contacts. Fake fingernails. Fake shoulder pads. Fake boobs. Fake butt pads. Fake height [with high heels]. Fake flat tummy [control top panties]. These are just SOME of the beauty products designed to improve a woman’s looks. One side-effect of all of this is that it can also cover up the more important ugliness that lives on the inside, which is infinitely more important than the outside. DO NOT be distracted!

Do not believe that she is out of your league. I’ve had someone say this to me before, in reference to a girlfriend who they thought was just too good looking to be with a guy like me. He was distracted by the outside, and did not know the inside.

Never put a woman upon a pedestal. Yes, I know, it’s easier to look up her dress that way. Jokes aside, putting women upon a pedestal means you’re placing them above YOU! This should never be the case. She belongs on the platform, alongside you. Put her on a pedestal, and she will trounce you.

Trust your close friends. If a close friend tells you that he thinks there is something wrong with your lady, then trust what he or she is telling you. They know you better than this person.

Never write off or excuse red flags! I write about this often, as there were many times where I either wrote off red flags or made outright excuses for them. Doing this has consistently landed me in trouble. I could have avoided the trouble, had I paid attention.

Never want the relationship too much. In line with the above warning about red flags, the main reason why I ignored the red flags was because I really, truly wanted the relationship to happen. I wanted it to be a success. And I was willing to do ANYTHING to make it happen, and that includes ignoring red flags. View the relationship as an enhancement to your life, and not a completion.

Take it slow. Don’t rush into anything. Take your time. Do an inventory of your date after you spend time with her. How did you feel? Did anything strange or remarkable happen? Keep an honest journal about the experience.

Treat it like the most important thing you are doing, because it will change your life, either way. If she’s good with you, then you could have a lifetime of positive experiences, along with the highs and lows that we all have.

But if she’s bad with you, then you might have made a bad choice that could ruin your entire life.

Slow and wise, with eyes wide open. Distractions to the side. On red flag alert. Pay attention. Besides, if she’s not right for you, or you don’t make a good couple, then you can be the one who makes that call. You save yourself trouble, and really, you save her the trouble as well.

Best of luck out there.

Remember, guys: Makeup can be used to distract you from the truth. Her external beauty can be skillfully crafted. What matters more than ANY of this is whether or not she has beauty on the inside.

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Finding the Positive Within the Negative, Reacting, and Responding

In school, you are first taught a lesson and then tested. But in life, you are tested first, and THEN taught a lesson.


INTRODUCTION
I have read that it takes FIVE positive thoughts or incidents to offset only ONE that is negative. Our brains have a bias toward the negative. I don’t know why, but suspect that it might be a way of reinforcing lessons that are learned the hard way.

This presents a daily struggle for most people. It seems that it might be affecting me worse, thanks to my ASD.

ARE THE IDEAS OF GOOD AND BAD AN ILLUSION?
Many philosophers have suggested this over the course of human history. The Stoic philosophers seem to suggest that it is important to remove the judgment of “good and bad” from our life’s experiences.

Alan Watts has also suggested the same. I learned from him the story of the Chinese farmer, and I’ve told it many times. This time, you can hear it in his own words, his own voice, and with some neat animation.

It is an interesting notion; the idea of removing these judgments from events that occur. But is it realistic?


THE 9/11 PROBLEM
Shortly before and after the 9/11 attacks, I was working for a commercial real estate firm. One of the brokers kept a sign on her desk, supposedly to inspire positivity.

“You always have a choice.”

My first thought was about 9/11 and choice. I began to think of the people stuck on the upper floors. Did they have a choice? I suppose one could suggest that they chose between staying in the building and burning to death, or jumping out and accepting their fate before they hit the ground.

Choice doesn’t always mean a choice between the good and the bad. Sometimes a situation is shrouded in the illusion of choice.

Maybe the choice is not within the actions themselves, but rather only with regard to how you feel about it. Would it be fair to suggest that we Americans merely choose to view the 9/11 attacks as being bad?

Would it be insane to suggest that anything good came from this?

Could anyone on the receiving end of the 9/11 attacks “choose” to feel good about it? How?

I call this “The 9/11 Problem,” because it’s a situation where I struggle to find the silver lining.

Yes, it brought out the good in some people and brought some communities together. It also inspired the opposite. And then there’s the problem of two destroyed buildings, rubble, chaos, and 3,000+ people dead.

This problem also raises an important question for me. Do I REALLY, truly have a choice in how I feel about things?

Maybe? Kind of? Sorta? Possibly?


CHOICE COMES AFTER YOU ALREADY FEEL
Your significant other walks into the room and lets you know that they are done with you and the relationship. Right away, you feel sad, angry, confused, and more.

Looks like you didn’t have much of a choice there. It’s not like the other person warned you about what they were going to say and then gave you proper instruction on how to best prepare for the choice that was coming up.

By the time you reach a place where you make a choice, you’ve already experienced the feeling.

CHOICE IS NOT ABOUT GOOD OR BAD
What I have written up to now represents how I felt in the past about the idea that we can choose how we feel. The problem with this is that it was focused on the wrong part.

The idea is slightly wrong.

The “choice” is actually about how you’ll allow your emotions to manifest, how these emotions affect you, and how you allow that impact to manifest internally and externally.


ANALYZING THE CHINESE FARMER’S SITUATION
Let’s get back to the Chinese farmer for a minute, with his son who suffered the broken leg.

After watching the video and hearing the story, notice that the focus is NOT on how the son felt about his broken leg. Rather, it was about how the farmer felt about the situation.

Sure, the farmer did not suffer a broken leg, so he did not have to deal with the pain. He did, however, temporarily lose a farm worker. There is a financial angle to this, as well as the personal angle of the victim being his son. This illustrates how the farmer is not consequence-free or feelings-free from this situation.

Now that we understand the farmer’s skin in the game, and we know how he responded to this, let’s consider a slightly different set of players before we continue.


IF MY DAD WERE THE CHINESE FARMER
Considering the idea that my father would be the Chinese farmer, and I would be the son with a broken leg, I can tell you that his reaction would NOT be the same as the Chinese farmer in the story.

First, he would get very angry. Lots of swearing and threatening postures would be the first things to surface. He would have suggested that I was stupid for “messing with” those wild horses in the first place. His voice would get louder. He would complain about the things I wouldn’t be able to work on for a while because of my broken leg.

Basically, he’d be flipping out.


RESPONDING vs. REACTING
As you can tell, how my own dad would have handled this would have been WAY different from how the Chinese farmer handled it.

Notice that I referred to how my dad would “react,” and also referred to how the Chinese farmer would “respond.” There is a major difference bewteen responding and reacting.

Reacting is where a person allows their emotions to overcome them and rule their current state of mind in a given situation. This is bound to happen when someone is not capable of regulating their own emotions.

Reactions typically happen very quickly, and without much thought. Something happens or something is said, and the next thing you know Dad is flying off the handle.

For many people, reacting feels natural. After all, it takes absolutely NO thought or effort at all. Just feel what you feel and let it wash over you and the entire situation.

By comparison, responding involves another step. The trick is that it needs to be inserted between the emotion happening and the typical reaction.

Based on the thoughts and behaviors of the Chinese farmer, it would be safe to assume that he was first focused on helping his son. Some would suggest that this is instinctual, but that is not always the case when someone allows their feelings to run amok.

To the Chinese farmer, this wasn’t a good or bad event. Rather, it was a situation that required his immediate attention, focus, and energy. Instead of expending energy ranting and putting on an embarrassing show for anyone to see or hear, he focused on what he needed to do.

He did not judge the situation. He just responded appropriately.

But that’s just in regard to responding to the situation. The Chinese farmer also had to respond to his own emotions. He may have felt fear or panic upon seeing this happen or hearing about it.

But something happened almost immediately after he experienced these feelings. He paused and acknowledged his feelings. He could do this quietly in his own mind. He could say it to himself. He could say it to someone else.

“Oh no! It seems that my son is in trouble. Right now I am feeling anxiety and fear.”

Acknowledge those negative feelings. Say hello to them. Pause to greet them. After all, you knew that they’d show up eventually. Then, metaphorically excuse yourself from their presence because you’ve got important things happening that require your immediate attention.

Instead of reacting to these feelings and allowing them to control your words and behaviors, he was responding to the feelings by taking a moment to acknowledge them.


PROBLEMS WITH THESE TWO MODES
The problem with reaction is that giving into this mode is way too easy. It can feel justified. And it might feel good in the moment to be utterly outraged and to express that outrage for all to see.

Conversely, the problem with responding is that it takes effort and focused energy. Everything was fine a second ago, and now this. It’s a change of emotion, a change of situation, and a change of trajectory.

These changes do not sit well with an Autistic brain, ever. Considering that the energy it takes for a neurodivergent person like me to engage in niceties [i.e., “Hello, how are you?”], which is equivalent to the energy expended by a neurotypical person when they are taking a final exam, it becomes more painfully obvious that a situation like this could very well require a major energy burst.

The problem is that I may be in a situation where I simply do not have the energy. This is when an Autistic melt-down is most likely to happen.

Only recently have I known this AND recognized it as an issue. What to do about it is a completely separate-yet-related problem.

Allowing the reaction is easy. The negative energy was flowing in that direction anyway. It is always easier to go with the flow of the river.

Engaging the response, on the other hand, involves feeling the emotion, pausing, thinking, acknowledging, and then regulating. This can be done, assuming that the situation allows for it. When a boss is yelling at you, it can be difficult to regulate emotions for Autistic people.

This points back to the practice of allowing judgment to enter the picture.


AN EXAMPLE OF JUDGMENT
I’ve had a problem for my entire life, where I will emotionally disregulate when words are used to suggest that something horrible is about to happen.

One of my “triggers” at work involves a few phrases that a boss will often use.

“Hey, we need to have a chat. Got a minute?”

Whether it’s just one of these phrases or both together, this causes me a great problem. My last boss noticed it when he said these words to me, and I was visibly shaken, with a wobbly voice and everythign.

He got upset. “You need to do something and get a handle on that.”

My response to him was to suggest that he needs to find a better way to start difficult conversations that doesn’t involve signaling that there is a problem.

You can guess who won in that conversation.

When a boss says this phrase, it invokes the sensation of fear. A list of chain reactions happens. How will I pay my bills? How will I pay my child support? How will I find another job? I’ll end up in jail and lose everything if I can’t pay my support in full and on time. OH NO!!!!!!

What it boils down to is that this phrase is judged as being negative. Makes sense. After all, it’s a threat on my life, via my livelihood. This is why it sets off a major chain reaction of negative emotions. And when your life is threatened, reacting is something that easily happens.

It seems that dropping this judgment is easier said than done, by leaps and bounds. How does one dispose of judgment with something like this?

I do wish that I had an answer for that.


ACCEPTING WHAT I CANNOT CONTROL OR CHANGE
I could not change what my boss said or how he said it. I also could not change what he intended to do. When a boss says something like this, their mind is already made up and it cannot be changed.

There was nothing I could do to change anything about that situation. I had as much control over my boss as the Chinese farmer had over the wild horse.

None.

I can’t change it. I can’t fix it. I can’t avoid it.

And yet, here I am, getting very upset over it.

Getting upset also does not fix anything. It also tends to make things worse.

WHAT CAN I CONTROL?
I can’t even control how I feel when certain things happen. So what can I control?

The trick is to learn to respond instead of react. Reacting is a loss of control. But a response is more controlled.

Reigning in my reactions and replacing them with responses might be the only thing that I have any control over. Exercising this type of control is very difficult for those of us who are Autistic.

I don’t want to call it impossible. Again, the difficult in this for Autistic people revolves around the energy that it would take to deal with this unforeseen statement or event.

I’m busy exerting FINAL EXAM levels of energy into basic things that people do automatically and take for granted, and then THIS shows up.

With energy depleted and a change in situation, what are the chances that I can pull it off by responding instead of reacting?

I’d say the chances are slim. This is one of many reasons why Autism is considered a disability. Because even when we KNOW what is required and we know WHAT to do, we may very well find ourselves in a situation where our energy is depleted, our defenses are low, and emotional disregulation will occur.


IN THE END
Knowing what to do in a situation is a part of the battle. For some, it might be the biggest part. For me, as an Autistic adult, knowing what to do is relatively easy, when compared to the daunting task of instantly finding the energy required to engage this remedy.

Make no mistake about it. Emotions show up very fast. Engaging a response requires speed, discretion, and a great deal of energy.

Neurotypicals are quick to recommend the “normal” cures. Some might even tell me what I already know, without acknowledging the heart of my neurodivergent issue, thereby completely missing the point.

The problem is NOT that I have no idea of what to do. Rather, the problem is that I cannot find the energy resources required to make this happen.

I know that the Chinese farmer did NOT get angry with his son over his broken leg, or the manpower and money that ended up being lost by this event. I also know that it would have solved nothing, and even made things worse, had he reacted instead of responding. He didn’t scream or get enraged by it all.

Although it is not stated in the story, I would be willing to guess that the Chinese farmer is a neurotypical person. He may have been created for the story by a neurotypical author. The story may very well be neurotypical allegory designed to guide the neurotypical mind through a neurotypical existence.

None of this is an excuse. It is an explanation. If it were an excuse, then an essential element would involve me not wanting to try to fix anything.

This raises very important questions.

“Is my lack of energy to summon the energy to form a response something that is outside of my control? If it is outside of my control, then why am I worrying about it? Why can’t I accept it as it is and move on? Why is the world so interested in controlling me?

If I allow my Autism to impact my behaviors, and I do not try, then I would be declaring my Autism as an excuse.

If I am trying to fix something, and my Autism is getting in the way, then it is an explanation.

And if I am trying to fix something when I have no control over it, then this would be called crazy.

If I look at this without the judgment of “good” or “bad,” is there really anything that I need to do? Why is reacting bad and responding good?

No doubt, this is an issue that is complicated enough for the neurotypical person. Being Autistic and attempting to deal with something of this magnitude can often times feel like a fool’s errand.

Reaction? Response? On which side of the fence will I fall? Can I achieve this? Will it make a difference? Does the fence even exist?

I guess we are just going to have to find out.


If you like what I write, then please consider sending a one-time donation to me via PayPal. Please use the following link and click SEND to donate, and thank you for reading! https://paypal.me/drumwild

Writing About Writing

Yesterday afternoon, I wrote two pieces. They were accurate pieces about my experiences with certain people from my past.

I posted them and let them sit for a handful of hours. At one point, I paused to reflect on these two pieces. And I wasn’t feeling good about them at all.

There were a few problems with them, some bigger than others. Whether they deserved it or not, what I wrote dragged a few people through the mud over things that happened a long time ago. In at least one instance, the person who was the subject of the piece apologized. They’re still a horrible person, but they apologized.

I don’t want to write in a way that gives the negative people and experiences of my past any staying power. I don’t want to read through old writings and read about that, or them. As I try to move on from the past, I don’t need to keep writing in a way that constantly reminds myself.

Moving forward, I want to take a more positive spin on things, even the negative people and experiences. And I want to write about things that are more current.

The problem with writing about things that are more current is that not much new or positive has happened in the past 18 months. Just as is the case with songwriting, the same is true of standard writing. Experiences feed the writing.

Maybe an editor would be helpful. Maybe topic suggestions would be helpful. Or maybe I can write out a list and pare it down to the positive and more interesting experiences that I’ve had in the past. Find silver linings that existed during the more difficult times and write about them.

At any rate, I want to take my blog in a more positive direction. I want to write things that don’t necessarily need defending, or that open up old wounds. Anyone who has been reading for a while knows that my old wounds have never really gone away, and that is something that is also changing.

Time to post this and give my future writings some thought. Thank you for reading.

Hairless Apes, Empty Restaurants, and Swinging Vines

HAIRLESS APES HATE EMPTY RESTAURANTS
They really do. The idea that “nobody wants to eat in an empty restaurant” suggests that people are less likely to do something if they don’t see others doing it.

Yes, he hired professional crowds to attend his rallies, to make him look more popular. To be fair, this is standard procedure. This creates the illusion of popularity. Nobody wants to eat in an empty restaurant.

Many people do things to remedy this situation. Most of the time, this involves paying other people [typically actors] to show up. This is the case, whether it’s an actual restaurant, a political rally, or a musical performance.

Brian Epstein did something similar when he was managing The Beatles. When they released their first single, he purchased between 30,000 to 50,000 copies of the single himself. This generated the illusion of popularity, which inspires monkeys to take a look and even seek out a sample.

But this happens with everyday people as well.

Women don’t want to date a single guy. But if he’s got a girlfriend or a wife, the woman pursuing him will view this as the man being “relationship material.” The irony is that the minute a married man gets involved with a woman other than his wife, he is no longer marriage material.

Ever hear that “it’s easier to find a job when you have a job?” This is because employers are also hairless primates, and they are no different. If you don’t have a job, then there MUST be something wrong with you, and they won’t hire you. But if you already have a job, they get as excited as a homewrecking woman who sees a wedding ring on your finger.


HOW THIS HAS AFFECTED MY LIFE
My life philosophy has been completely different. I am that rare hairless ape who actually walks on the floor of the jungle, instead of enjoying the relative safety of swinging from vine to vine.

When I had a job, I would never go looking for a new job, in spite of the advice I had been given time and time again that points to the contrary.

For me, I cannot sit in a potential employer’s office and look them in the eye when I am effectively stabbing my current employer in the back, and they are paying me. Yes, corporations DO NOT care about any of us as individuals, at all. But I have to live with myself.


A DATING EXPERIMENT
I did engage in a dating experiment, a VERY long time ago, when I was a younger man. I had a shit job, a shit car, and not much money or anything else to my name.

The problem was that women my age would not talk to me, or even acknowledge me. They didn’t like me and weren’t attracted to me.

Around this time, an adult in my life told me that, “Nobody wants to eat in an empty restaurant.” I don’t know why they said this, but I decided to run with it.

My experiment required a $59 investment. I went to a pawn shop and bought a man’s wedding ring. It was humble; nothing flashy.

Then I would wear the ring, go to a bar, and just sit by myself. I would drink beer and pretend to be watching sports.

All of a sudden, I saw a strong up-tick in the number of women who would approach me. Previously, NO women would talk to me. But when I was wearing the ring, 3-4 women would approach me over the course of the evening.

What was this wedding ring saying to them?

Keep in mind that these were women who were in their 20s, like me. Many were in a rush to find a husband, so they could get married, so they could have children. For women, the clock is ticking.

They could find a single guy, date him for a while, find out whether or not he’s marriage material, and then move forward. However, this comes with the risk that they’ll meet a series of guys who do not want to get married or have children, and then their biological window for procreating would close.

What my ring told them was that some other woman took the time to vet me properly, married me, and probably had kids with me. The ring told them that I was marriage material. The ring attracted them.

It’s like buying a used college book that has already been highlighted, and assuming that the person who highlighted it was both intelligent and correct. For all they know, a woman who was desperate or bad at making decisions married me. They did NOT think of this.

Of course, the moment I would show them any male attention, in the way that a man interested in a woman would do, I would transform into a man who IS NOT marriage material, because I was effectively cheating on my imaginary wife.

This DID NOT concern these women, at all! They weren’t concerned in the least that I might be prone to cheating. This is because each woman sincerely believes that her vagina is made of gold, and that NO MAN would EVER cheat on them. Internally, they blame the man’s cheating on his wife.


PROSPECTIVE EMPLOYERS
Oddly enough, as noted above, employers suffer the same issue as single women who are looking for a husband. They don’t want to vet someone, hire them, and then find out that it’s not a good fit.

But if you are currently employed, it’s as if that employer vetted you and you’re in-demand. This somehow magically goes away when you no longer work there. For the terminated, this is akin to being divorced.

And much like the women in my experiment, they DO NOT care that you are “cheating” on your current employer, at all. They really don’t, and it’s confounding to me that they would have this attitude.


VINE SWINGING IS TOXIC
In the course of my life, be it in regard to a new job or a new romantic relationship, I have NEVER swung from a vine!!! I have never started dating someone while I was still in a committed relationship, and I have never called into work sick so that I could go interview at another company.

To me, it feels dishonest. It feels ugly. And while it shouldn’t bother me, because these prospective employers and prospective romantic interests may not really care about me at all, at the end of the day I still have to live with myself.


MY LATEST VINE SWINGING EXPERIENCE
I was in a long-term relationship that had issues. The problem with these issues was that we spent the first 14 years being way too busy to focus on nothing but the relationship.

Over time, my son graduated high school and stopped visiting. The number of bands that I was performing with dropped down to zero. When my life as I knew it ended in mid-2014, thanks to the cancer scammer incident, there was NOTHING left but the relationship.

And the relationship was in trouble. We didn’t have a romantic connection, and we never stopped to address it. It wasn’t a concern until there was nothing left. We didn’t even understand the issue initially.

It took over 5 years and the interjection of a vine-swinging woman to bring that problem to the surface.

Making the best of it: Catherine, me, and “Jane Doe” at the beach, less than one week after she arrived.

This vine swinger was a woman I had met and dated in 1982. We hit it off and things went well enough. She failed to tell her father about me, so when I showed up, he was so surprised that he tried to kill me with a wrench. It was a terrifying experienc.

There we were, on Facebook, reconnecting and getting reacquainted.

While I was not pursuing her, because I was still living with my current girlfriend, she was pursuing me as she was living with her husband of 16 years.

She wanted to visit to see if we had anything between us. Now, I had been talking about ALL of this with my then-girlfriend, so there was no secrecy or surprise. My girlfriend at the time decided that it would be fine, and said she could visit for a few weeks.

Instead of buying a two-way ticket and visiting for a few weeks, she took $5,000 from her husband’s checking account, bought a one-way ticket, packed as much as she cook, and enacted her solo plan to simply move in.

She painted a picture, where it would be dangerous for her to return, so we allowed her to stay.

When we got her home from the airport, she started unpacking SILVERWARE as she kept saying, “I’m NOT a home wrecker.”

Ahem. Yes. Yes, she was. True, our home was in really bad shape [using “home” as a metaphor for the relationship]. But it wasn’t resolved. I wanted it resolved before moving forward. The problem was that it wasn’t going to be resolved overnight, and definitely not quickly enough for her.

Then I found out that she has been vine-swinging with husbands for her entire life.

She had been married FIVE times. Her claim is that each of these ex-husbands was abusive with her. The one who was the most abusive, her first ex-husband, is the one she married a second time.

She has spent her life swinging from vine to vine.

Why?

Because she is incapable of taking care of herself, probably due to her brain injury. I say this not to shame or judge. It is a statement of fact.

So she goes from one bad relationship to another. When she forced herself into my life, I really didn’t know what to do. All I knew was that her current husband was abusive, according to her, and that it would be dangerous for her to return.

Things magically went bad between me and Jane Doe, after she got her $60,000 divorce settlement. She either pretended to go crazy, or actually went crazy, and made life miserable for me. Fortunately for me, she left one day and never came back.


THE AFTERMATH
I lost a few things, including some of my psychological progress. But that’s what I get for not standing my ground. I should have gotten upset with her about not getting a round-trip ticket, instead of telling her that we’d figure it out later.

She has become good buddies with her last ex-husband, so I suspect she will be returning to him and that financial security. Good for her.

As for me and my situation, Catherine is here and we are currently working together to survive while we figure out whether or not we can or should fix things up. Worst case, we are truly dear friends, so I am not worried about the future.

Either we will fix things up, or we will split up and I will live my life the way I want. Maybe I’ll meet someone, or maybe not. Maybe I’ll get serious, or maybe not. Or maybe I’ll just keep to myself and enjoy what’s left of my life. That’s on the table, and I think it’s a good thing.


IN THE END
When Jane Doe used me as a vine to escape her latest in a series of husbands, it caused me some trouble and pain. At the same time, it uncovered a BIG problem between Catherine and me, which we weren’t really certain existed. It opened up conversation.

While Catherine and I are still working things through as dear friends, I must say that the aftermath of this incident and what it uncovered truly improved my life. I’m doing better than ever.

Now if I could just find that new job.


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How to Spot a Real Friend

INTRODUCTION
I have written many times about the topic of friends. I have at least one piece on friends from the old days who turned out to not really be my friends at all. As I said about that, I could have gone to my grave believing that these people were once my friends. Thanks, Facebook!

I have also written about scammers who pretend to be your friend, only to take advantage of you.

And I also wrote a tribute to my old friends, including ideas on how to make new friends.

I haven’t linked to any of those, because it’s not necessary to send you there in order to understand this. You can go through my writings and read them, if you like.

The one thing I have NOT written about before is how to spot a REAL friend. I’ll be noting these details in the segment headings, and will include examples of good and/or bad friends.


A REAL FRIEND TELLS YOU WHAT YOU NEED TO HEAR
By this, I mean they will tell you the hard truth to your face in a way that is not judgmental or cruel.

The words they use might sound cruel to an outsider. But between us, it involves the friend’s understanding of me, and my understanding of them. This gives their words context, which is valuable.

I had a person who was a real friend in college my first year. He sat me down and told me to my face that my current girlfriend was obsessive, abusive, and aggressive.

If I did not consider him a friend, then I might get upset at the idea that it seems he is “bad-talking” my girlfriend.

As he was telling me about his perspective and perception on my relationship, my then-girlfriend called his phone in his room. He said it was her and handed it to me. She yelled, “You better not be talking about us with anyone!!!” and hung up.

He was right. So I dumped her like yesterday’s garbage.


A REAL FRIEND CALLS OR WRITES ON OCCASION
One of my real friends and I would call each other on occasion to chat. Then we lost touch for a handful of years. After that, we started talking again. Every month or so, one of us calls the others, or sends a text, or writes.

It’s a truly low-maintenance thing, to call someone once every month or so. It is also a VERY thoughtful thing.

Another real friend calls me twice per year, and I call him a few times per year as well.

There is no requirement with regard to frequency. It just has to happen.

And if someone doesn’t write to you in 37 years, then it is very possible that they did not care. I once wrote someone after 37 years, not because I didn’t care, but because she got married so many times and her name changed so many times that I couldn’t keep up. Her family also doesn’t like her, so they weren’t of much help.

Meanwhile, I never changed my name, and I have been searchable online longer than Google has existed. I am probably the easiest person to find online, so there really is no excuse.


A REAL FRIEND CAN LISTEN
Some of my real friends listen, and that’s enough. Others listen, and then have some constructive feedback. It all depends on the person, the connection, the issue, and the context.

When I talk to friends about issues, I’m typically not seeking solutions from them. And I most definitely am not asking them for money. I just want someone to hear about how things are and what’s up.

People want to be heard.


A REAL FRIEND WILL WANT TO HANG OUT ON OCCASION
This one is particularly difficult, as the majority of my real friends do not live nearby.

Because of that, I count spending time on a phone call as “hanging out.” I would also count a video call.

But when I lived in California, I had a few real friends nearby. One would come over to hang for a bit, or I’d go to his place to hang out. We’d have dinner and drinks.

Another real friend would call and invite me to go guitar shopping. We’d drive from Ventura all the way down to Hollywood, just to look at guitars.

Another real friend would give me guitar lessons. He also sold me my guitar collection. I knew he wasn’t in it just for the money, because there were times when he would NOT sell me a guitar because it would be a redundancy on what I already owned. It helped that he had intimate knowledge of my guitar collection.

That said, I do have one real friend here, and we live together. We have been friends since 1999 and we work together in a very respectful way. In that regard, I am very fortunate.


A REAL FRIEND WILL GIVE YOU SPACE
We all have our times when we need to be alone for a while. None of my real friends got intrusive or overly-concerned. They would express their concerns when I was going through some difficult times. They cared. They just didn’t smother me or get overly-involved.

They would somehow figure out that I needed some space, and then I’d have it.


A REAL FRIEND WILL UNDERSTAND YOUR EMOTIONS
I know this will be hard to believe, but I am not a very perky person. I know ust how shocked you are by this news.

Sometimes I come off as depressed. If we were to hang out today, I’d come off as simply being. Not happy or sad, just here. A real friend would know me, and not be concerned or bothered by this.


A REAL FRIEND WILL NOT PUT YOU IN A BAD POSITION
This one is a negative story about someone whom I thought was my friend. As it turned out, I don’t think she even liked me at all.

I took her with me to Mr. Video, my favorite video rental store. We were talking with the co-owner, Mrs. Video about things. She is British.

As an Autistic person, I will sometimes mildly mimic another person’s accent or speech pattern. This is 100% subconscious, so it’s not something I set out to do. It’s also something that neurotypical people do as a way of building common ground with someone else.

This is my context.

So the three of us are talking, and I slipped into a British accent for a few of my words. The female “friend” I was with interrupted the conversation with her statement.

“He’s making fun of you.”

I don’t know if this was an attempt on her part to destroy my friendship with Mr. Video’s wife. It could have been a case of jealousy, since this friend was also considered to be my girlfriend at the time.

The thing is, a real friend would NEVER do that to me, or anyone else. She effectively suggested that I was mocking my friend’s accent, doing it consciously and on purpose, and ended up creating a very awkward situation that threatened the future of this friendship.

Fortunately, the person who did this to me is no longer a part of my life, and I have since repaired things with Mrs. Video.

A real friend will not assume that you have bad intentions, especially when it is clear that you do not. A person who has gotten to know me does not need to ask. They know and understand.

So if someone told you that I’m a cancer scammer, and you ask me if it’s true, then I will know that you do not know me. Knowing who I am means not having to ask about weird accusations like that.

I’ll give one more example.

A “friend” from work was riding with me. I usually lock my doors while I am driving. While we were on our way to where we were going, I noticed that my doors were unlocked, so I locked them. I was paying attention to the road while I was doing this.

This “friend,” however, was looking out the window and saw a few Mexican people on the sidewalk when he heard my door lock.

He turned to me and yelled, “You just locked your door because there are Mexican people on the sidewalk! YOU’RE A RACIST!!!”

He didn’t know that my ex-wife is Mexican, or that my son is half-Mexican. He also assumed that I was paying attention to people on the sidewalk, when I was not doing that because I was driving and paying attention to noon time traffic in LA, which can be intimidating.

A person who knows me would not suggest such a thing. It’s not how I live my life.


A REAL FRIEND WILL ACCEPT YOUR FLAWS
I’m not perfect. I mess up at times. Conversely, some of my real friends have made mistakes as well. I won’t even bother giving any examples here, because I don’t hang onto those things and sit in judgment, or stew in frustration. It just doesn’t happen.

They accept my flaws, and I accept theirs.

A REAL FRIEND DOES NOT BUY INTO GOSSIP
In late 2013, up to mid-2014, there were lots of rumors flying around about me, suggesting some rather horrible things. My real friends know me, and so they didn’t buy into the gossip or rumors.

They didn’t even ask me if any of them were true. They already knew the answer.

So when someone on Facebook wrote to me about these things and asked, “Is this true?” I knew that I was not talking with a real friend here.

To be really clear, it’s not that they are blindly supportive of me, no matter what I do. It’s that they know me. They know who I am, how I behave, and what motivates me.


A REAL FRIEND SHARES THEIR KNOWLEDGE
This is a very fortunate feature of real friends that I have always appreciated. Music, art, poetry, and other topics of the day come up in discussion.

One real friend of mine recently wrote and told me how I could alter the set-up of the guitar I am currently playing, so that I can get better performance out if it. And his advice worked!


A REAL FRIEND WON’T DUMP YOU
Unfortunately, it happens. When it does, you know that they are no longer a friend of yours.

This is something that happens to me frequently, thanks to my Autism and MDD. To be fair, I know how exhausting it can be to interact with me when I’m having a serious bout of depression.

A person from Australia who said she was my friend ended up dumping me. The trouble started when we were writing while I was in a big bout of depression. I wrote something to her, and she misunderstood it.

I can give the benefit of the doubt, that maybe I wasn’t articulate. But when I point back to some of the other points here, if she REALLY knew me, then she would not have misunderstood.

I figured it out after about 3 months, when I realized I had written to her a few times and she had never responded.

I can only conclude that she’s not really a friend of mine. Time to move on.

NEXT!


IN THE END
The list could go on, but I’m going to put a cap on it here. For most of my life, I had no idea of what comprised a real friend, let alone how to make a friend. Now that certain things are coming into focus, I get the sense that maybe I’ll have a less Autistic experience in the future. Hopefully.

If you have a friend who has Autism, then this might give you a slight glimpse into how their lives are going, or how their minds might be working. No two Autistic people are exactly alike, so keep that in mind.

And if you have an Autistic friend, then try to understand them as best you can. Understanding is key.


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Positivity vs. Honesty

ME: We’re fucked.
THEM: You should try being more positive.
ME: Okay. I am positive that we are fucked.

As an Autistic person, I’ve always struggled with the concept of positivity, when faced with a negative reality that forces honesty. This is difficult to describe, so I’ll give you two examples.


1 OF 2: AN ADULT WHO IS BAD WITH MONEY
I was not yet 16 years old, so this was before the end of 1980. We had driven up to Pendleton to visit with my aunt. Up to the fateful day in question, she was my favorite aunt.

A little history is in order, so that the event will make sense.

Her house had a 3-car garage attached to it. This was also where the laundry washer and dryer were located. One thing I had noticed about the garage was that women’s clothing was piling up to the ceiling and filling up one-third of the garage space. I had noticed this and watched it for THREE years.

Of course, I had nothing in my mind telling me that this wasn’t something that I should be bringing up, so I asked her about it. As it turns out, the clothes had belonged to my female cousin, Lammy. She was very pretty and raised like some kind of wealthy socialite.

It was like watching Snow White get raised by the evil Queen.

My aunt’s response to my question was, “Lammy’s friends can’t see her wearing the same thing twice in a row.”

To that, I could only reply, “Sounds like Lammy has some shitty friends.”

But this is NOT the problem. This is just the set-up. Yes, it gets worse.

The event in question involved a discussion that was being had while we were all having breakfast at her dining table. My aunt was talking with my mom about her house being under foreclosure. I might have been a young teen, but I could see the problem from a mile away. So, in an effort to be helpful, I interjected my thoughts.

“If you weren’t wasting so much money on Lammy’s clothes, then your house might not be in foreclosure.”

Yes, I can tell now that this is rather blunt. The look on her face was that of horror. She snapped back, “That’s not funny.” To that, I could only reply, “I am not kidding.”

This was the last time I ever saw my aunt. Bullet dodged.


2 OF 2: ANOTHER ADULT WHO IS BAD WITH MONEY
This event occurred in early 1988, when I was working at a computer rental firm called Computer Rents. The owner was a big, arrogant, cocky, and intimidating man named Don.

Don knew about my experience at McDonald’s. He would sometimes say, “Sure beats the fuck out of flipping burgers, eh?” Other times, he would use that phrase in a disparaging way, to insult someone who was not capable of earning. In this regard, he was a classist.

“That guy’s got a future flipping burgers.”

One day, two men in suits from the Internal Revenue Service [IRS] came in to sit with our accountant to go over the books. The accountant’s office had a picture window, so I could see him in there. These two guys were standing over his shoulder, and he was sitting there with his elbows on his desk, head in hands.

After only one hour, I can’t help myself and comment on the situation. “I have a strong feeling that we’re going to be flipping burgers soon.” My guess is that I was merely utilizing the terminology that was popular in the office.

Don replies, “That’s not funny, Dan.” Once again, I can only reply, “I’m not kidding.”

After six hours, the two men emerged from the accountant’s office. “Attention, everyone. This business is now officially closed. You will not be receiving your final paychecks. Everyone go home.”

I was right.


Yes, I did do that.

MY SELF-ANALYSIS
The second incident closely relates to the first. This is what caught my attention when the second incident happened. My recall was instant.

Oops, I opened my mouth again.

The other thing that caught my attention was that both of the people who were offended thought that I was making a joke of the situation. I was NOT joking, at all. I was merely stating what I felt was painfully obvious.

In the first situation, I thought that stating what was obvious might be helpful, since it seemed that my aunt wasn’t seeing this, or was lying to herself about it, or was in denial. People who live in denial don’t want the truth being told. They actively avoid it.

In the second situation, I was expressing my hard feelings about the fact that we were all about to lose our jobs, because the company would be lost to the IRS. Maybe he was too wrapped up in his own difficult feelings, as the owner of the company. It could have been the case that I merely stole his line.

Both of these people were/are heavy-duty Narcissists.

But what was the most sad about all of this for me was that I liked both of these people. I looked up to them. When people would ask me about my favorite relative — outside of my mother and maternal grandparents — I would reference my aunt as one of the two. The other was my uncle [her brother], but he is also a big Narcissists.

And to this day, if I ever get a job interview and they ask me about the best job I ever had, I will very openly and happily talk about my days at Computer Rents. Don was intimidating, and I know that I frustrated him at times, but I looked up to him.

I hoped to be like him one day; a rich asshole who can say whatever he feels like. After all, I clearly had a problem where I would say whatever I wanted, and it always caused me trouble. In America, being rich makes this problem sort of go away, to a big degree.


HOW DO PEOPLE REMAIN POSITIVE DURING DIFFICULT TIMES?
This is a question that I cannot answer. Are they lying to themselves? Are they delusional? Are they acting like things are fine, in an effort to try to influence things in a more positive direction?

It is something that I do not understand. To me, when things are bad, it means things are bad. In these two situations, I cannot twist any of it in a way that makes it positive.


YES. I KNOW. PERSPECTIVE
There is a story Alan Watts liked to tell, which I will repeat in a way that may not be verbati.

This is a story about a Chinese farmer who has a humble farm with some land and a few animals.

One day, his favorite horse broke out of its stable and ran away. When his neighbors found out, they said, “Oh, that’s such bad news.”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

The next day, his horse returned with a group of stallions. They all walked into the barn. The farmer was able to put each stallion into a stable. His neighbors commented, “What great fortune!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

The farmer’s son was out trying to “break” one of the stallions so that he could put a saddle on it. The stallion knocked him down, breaking his leg. His neighbors sounded concerned, “Oh no! What bad luck!”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

The next day, the Chinese government was going door-to-door in search of able-bodied men that could be sent off to war. Because of his broken leg, the government decided to NOT draft the farmer’s son. His neighbors felt relived, “Ah, you are one lucky man.”

The farmer replied, “Maybe.”

People have explained to me that this story means that when something doesn’t work out, that means something better is in store for you. It’s the, “when god closes a door, he opens a window.”

This is positivity at work, but it is not always true.

The BIG problem with their explanation, which they do not see, is that the story is about the concept of dismissing the idea of “bad” or “good” things happening.

This idea suffers a paradox. If good and bad have been discarded, then there is NO such thing as “better.”

So, as an example, when your relationship doesn’t work out, that does NOT mean that something better is around the corner. Maybe something DIFFERENT will be around the corner. But if there is no good or bad, then there is no better.

There just is. Nothing more.

So when my once-favorite aunt dumped me, there was NOT a new favorite aunt to take her place. And when my favorite boss and favorite job fell apart, there was NOT a new favorite boss or new favorite job.

Those things just ended. They both easily moved on. But I would struggle for decades, thinking about these situations, what I did wrong, why I did it, how I could stop it, why I can’t stop it, and so on.

Being Autistic and not knowing that you’re Autistic is a situation that raises hundreds of questions that are not only NEVER answered, but they raise more questions of their own. It’s like a question family that keeps pumping out more baby questions, Duggar style.

Finding out roughly 3 decades after the last incident has helped a bit. I stopped wondering about what it would be like to be able to call or write with my aunt, and came to terms, accepting the fact that she’s not the kind of person who would be a positive force in my life.

I had written with Don once, about ten years after the incident. He was working on a website service, where you can find businesses, reviews, etc. It sounded neat, at first. But as websites like Google, Yelp, and Angie’s List took hold, I lost all hope for his “too little, too late” idea.


IN THE END
We are all flawed people. Although I have not historically had a use for something like positivity, I can see how sometimes it might help people through some difficult times. No doubt, I was wrong to speak up when I did, how I did. It was all that I could do, because it was part of who I was.

Who I am is why my life has had difficulties that others don’t seem to experience. I see many instances of neurotypical people skating through life like it’s no big deal. I know they have their issues and challenges, so I’m not seeing some kind of delusional pollyanna dream of utopia when I inspect their lives.

They have their problems. It’s just that their problems don’t seem to be caused by a compulsion to speak out, and to speak in blunt, honest terms.

But I am learning how to stop being so brutally and thoroughly honest. I have been learning how to lie like “normal” people. Part of it is understanding that things aren’t literally the things they appear to be.

For example, when someone asks, “How are you doing today?” they don’t REALLY want to know how I am doing. They are not asking because they care. It’s just bullshit that people say before they get to what they really wanted to say.

Could be an Autistic response, or it could be an asshole response. It is nearly impossible to distinguish between the two.

So, in an effort to do my part, I will lie and say, “I am fine, thanks. How are you?” Although I might actually care to know how they are doing, chances are really great that I am NOT doing fine. So I lie and say that I am doing fine.

This lie worries me, because the day might have challenges that require me to be doing fine. My thoughts were that maybe they were asking how I was doing because I was about to meet a big challenge, and I’d best be doing fine and having a good day if I want to get through this challenge and survive.

This would result in the question of how I am doing generating a great deal of fear and anxiety.

I clearly still have a great deal to learn about humans and how they interact. They don’t teach this in school, and most parents assume that it’s something that is natural.

But we humans are a weird bunch. We need classes on how to have sex, so it makes sense that we’d need to have a class or two on how to address certain scenarios and people.


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Wellbutrin Writings

Tibo Bat, looking rather pleased with himself.

It’s a relatively cool Sunday morning in Oregon. The sun is up, Tibo Bat is on the patio with the birds, and I’m thinking about how Wellbutrin has impacted my life over the past two months.


CONCERNS ABOUT PSYCHIATRIC MEDS
There is a great deal of stigma attached to taking these types of medications, which is a big reason for me to write this. If someone sees this and is motivated to help themselves, then it was worth it.

The idea is that you’re weak if you take these medications. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was by far weaker when my Major Depressive Disorder [MDD] was sitting on my back. And with Autism, the effects of things like depression and pain get magnified many times over.

One of my concerns was that it would impact my creativity. This concern quickly went away when I realized that I wasn’t even picking up my instruments to engage creativity, thanks to MDD.

My MDD was blocking me anyway, so I had nothing to lose in this regard when I started taking Wellbutrin. Two weeks and four days ago, I felt like learning four new songs, and then recording and publishing videos. You can read about that here.

Before this, I might make a video, but it wouldn’t be as good and the performances were lacking. In this regard, I feel that Wellbutrin improved my creativity, or at least my interest in music. There was nothing more weird to me than having my instruments around and not even wanting to pick them up to play for a few minutes.


SIDE-EFFECTS
It is very difficult to compare medications. I’ve only taken one medication previously, Prozac 10mg, so this is the only comparison I can make. Of course, my comparisons should be considered a baseline for a discussion with your doctor. You might not experience the same side-effects.

To give you an idea of what is being compared, I had previously taken Prozac 10mg [generic]. Now I am taking Wellbutrin 150mg [generic], which is roughly equivalent to Prozac 20mg.

For me, the side-effects in all cases involved things that happened during the first 2-4 weeks of taking the medication.

Search online if you are curious about the individual medication side-effects. They generally include things like anxiety, lack of sleep, too much sleep, aggression, changes to eating habits, and more.

The side-effect that I experienced with Prozac was a persistent coating of sweat all over me. Think about that time where you sweat more than anything else. I would take a shower, and I could feel the coating of sweat while still in the shower. The second I turned off the water, I felt like I had just worked in a field all day long. That lasted for about two weeks, and was the first two weeks.

The side-effect that I experienced with Wellbutrin was anger and aggression, one time about 3-4 weeks into it. I got upset about something and verbally cut loose as I flung my arms around. It didn’t last long, and really came off almost exactly like this:

I NEVER MISFILED ANYTHING!

I have no memory of what had gotten me upset. After it happened, I paused and said to myself, “Ah, that must have been one of the side-effects.” It did not happen again, and has not happened since.

Of course, in both cases one is capable of having more than one side-effect at any given time. Keep that in mind.


WHAT I DID NOT WANT
I had stopped taking my Prozac sometime in mid-2020. Smack dab in the middle of a pandemic isn’t really the time to quit meds like this. But I did, and had felt that my life was going in a positive direction.

The problem was that I “felt” it was going in a positive direction, and had no idea that traveling that direction involved a major lie that someone near to me at the time was pushing. When that relationship fell apart, I spent a handful of months just dealing with my MDD alone, and was hesitant to go back to Prozac.

The way I saw it, I suspected that the Prozac put me in a state where I wasn’t caring so much about things that were happening, and that this left me open for exploitation. The reality of it all was that it was the re-kindled relationship that had me feeling more pumped than usual, and it was that prospect that left me open to exploitation.

Wimminz folx BE GONE!!! [as the kids might say]

So the discussion came up in therapy, complete with encouragement to talk with my doctor about it. I remember exactly what I said.

“I don’t want to take anything that leaves me feeling like everything is alright while the world burns down around me.”

The thing about that is the world was burning down around me, to a degree, and I was viewing the fire as being way bigger than it actually might have been.

I gave it a try, and found out that I can still see the fires. I can still feel the heat. It’s all there. It’s just not keeping me from moving forward. That’s the thing.

You ever hear that it’s okay to get knocked down 100 times, so long as you get up 101 times? With the combo of Autism and MDD, when you get knocked down, you STAY knocked down, for years and sometimes decades.


WHAT LIFE WAS LIKE WITHOUT THE MEDS
Imagine your worst year of high school. First, think of the shit players in the game, such as most of the jocks and cheerleaders, the rich kids who are full of themselves, the bullies, the horrible teachers, and other shit stains of the day. Next, imagine the worst day possible.

Then, live in a world where that day never ends. Every single day that you wake up is the same shit day. It’s all coated in hopelessness.

It’s the ONLY thing worse than high school, and that is eternal repetition of the same worst day, over and over and over again, for the majority of your life.

THIS IS NOT SAFE FOR WORK. USE HEADPHONES TO LISTEN.

Every morning, you wake up and your first thought is, “Awww, shit! I’m still alive.” What a way to start your morning. This sets the tone for the entire day.

Maybe the worst thing that was happening before the meds was persistent, perpetual, invasive rumination. Scenes would play out over and over again in my head. That time at college orientation in 1983 that went really, really bad? Here, let’s re-live that shit every single day of your life.

There was no such thing as a day off.

This encourages bad habits, like not bathing as often as needed. I’d force myself to shower every other day.

And there was the whole hating life and wishing I were dead part.

The entire experience was ugly.


WHAT LIFE IS LIKE WITH THE MEDS
I wake up without any negative thoughts. I will shower if I need it, or at least every other day, without negotiating with myself about doing it later. This negotiation also does not exist with regard to taking out the trash, checking the mail, or going to the grocery store.

I made this new chicken recipe recently. Leftovers today. Yum!

Instead of getting overwhelmed at the idea of learning to do something new, I will jump and start doing while I am learning. I had some chicken and found a new recipe and tried it out for the first time. This is something I never would have done without the meds.

The intrusive and persistent rumination no longer happens, and I think this is the biggest thing. Right now, I probably couldn’t ruminate even if I tried. Rumination of the past destroys both the present and the future.

I look forward to writing here, as I look forward to picking up an instrument, or running an errand, or just about anything else.

I have the capacity to appreciate the few good things in life, without letting the overwhelming number of bad things get in the way.


WHAT THE MEDS DO NOT DO, AND A TEST
Yes, this medication helps with my MDD, it helps me get out of bed, and it helps me live the life that I need to live.

There are a few things that this medication does not do. One of those things involves my opinions and thoughts on life. I still have a negative opinion of humans in general, contempt for the suffering we have to endure via systemic abuse and horrific leadership.

I used to let these things weigh me down. Now I acknowledge them before moving on.

But the big thing is that this medication does not inhibit or otherwise fix my Autism. It does help with some of the anxiety, but it doesn’t really stop me from being me, which is unfortunate in some situations.

I tested it out the other day by going out to a little shop in town, because I know the little old lady who runs it. I know a handful of business owners in town and stop in to talk with them, for the social practice.

This little old lady had three other little old ladies with her. They invited me to sit down. One of them had heard that I was a musician, so we started talking about that.

Then, for some reason, they changed the discussion to politics, and they ended up saying some rather ridiculous and stupid things.

“My friend had a bad COVID vaccine reaction and wrote about it on Facebook, but they took it down. CENSORSHIP!!! FIRST AMENDMENT! And did you hear what Biden is doing? He’s bringing in the ILLEGALS by the busloads. One million so far, and he’s spreading them all over the country! So much for the border.”

Now, if I were neurotypical, I might hear this and view it as an opportunity to politely excuse myself and leave. But, of course, I did NOT do that. Unfortunately for me, I got comfortable with the conversation, so I threw in my two cents.

“None of that is really happening.”

Oh boy, if you’ve never had four little old ladies get aggressive with you, then you haven’t experienced life. These people are so full of anger, fear, and hatred that it is unsettling to experience in-person.

I did get up and excuse myself before leaving.

This is where things got tricky. There is another issue of mine and that is called catastrophizing. In this case, it sounded like this.

“Oh no. I’ve screwed up! These little old ladies know who I am, and now they have a good reason to hate me. After all, this is a small town with more churches per square mile than anywhere else in the country. They’re going to go home and tell their Trumper husbands all about me, and they’ll be looking for me with their side-arms at the ready. I’m a dead man. Better figure out how I can move. Or maybe just stay home all the time. Or maybe I need to just kill myself, since I’ve essentially ruined my life.”

Now, to me, this is still a very plausible possibility. These people aren’t thinkers, and they have no human empathy or feelings. They also view people like me as an un-American who is trying to destroy the country. If people like this are willing to storm the Federal building to try to overthrow the government, then they’ll not have a problem with shooting me in the back at the grocery store, or even finding out where I live and do the job.

As I was thinking this, there was a hard knock on the door. The knock was so hard that I figured it was either a cop or an angry Trumper ready to kill me. I didn’t freak out.

It was an old lady who was looking for someone and was at the wrong building. She asked me how long I lived here, and I kindly told her to get lost.

If I were not on medication, then I would be in fear still, and this fear would continue until I physically moved to a new location. This is because I am not allowed to make a mistake. So when I screw up, I have to leave. That’s just how my life is. I even almost quit marching band because of someone else’s mistake that impacted me and gave the appearance that I made a mistake. Mistakes are simply NOT ALLOWED in my life.

But thanks to my meds, it is easier for me to find alternative outcomes, where they just talk shit and forget about me. That’s also possible.

But yea, I don’t really fit in with small towns and the small minds that inhabit these places. My biggest mistake was moving here, instead of somewhere else. To be fair, I have no idea where I could live where I would fit in.

I have considered getting myself a red MAGA hat so that I can wear it in town, but I’m not quite at the point of THAT level of masking. In fact, I’d rather avoid masking.

As a result, I am trying to learn how to forgive myself for mistakes, and then move on. It’s something that I have never done before, but it feels possible with this medication.


IN THE END
I’ll always be Autistic. That’s a given. The medication that I have been taking helps with the MDD, as well as some of the anxiety that accompanies every single aspect of my life.

One thing the medication did not change was my opinions on things, including life and death. I’m still okay with dying, and still have concerns about HOW I get there. Part of me wants to pick the least painful way to do it and go for it. Another part of me wonders what will happen next.

It’s a case of me wanting to control how I die, so that there is no suffering or extreme terror involved.

I’m not suicidal. Just interested in dying. At the same time, I’m also interested in living. There is a philosophical complexity to this.


“Marry, and you will regret it; don’t marry, you will also regret it; marry or don’t marry, you will regret it either way. Laugh at the world’s foolishness, you will regret it; weep over it, you will regret that too; laugh at the world’s foolishness or weep over it, you will regret both. Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will regret that too; hang yourself or don’t hang yourself, you’ll regret it either way; whether you hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both. This, gentlemen, is the essence of all philosophy.”-Søren Kierkegaard


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