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This is going to be complicated, so I expect that I’ll probably forget some details and maybe have to write a follow-up. I also expect that it might make some people unhappy. Fortunately, I’m here for myself and not for others.
As I have written in the past, I have suffered from Major Depressive Disorder [MDD] for my entire life. While I knew that I was depressed, I didn’t know what to call it and had no idea how serious it really was.
All the same, some moments in my life were better than others when it comes to the measurement of the happiness that I got to experience.
When was I the most happy with my life? In my retrospective analysis of my past, there is a four-year window from mid-1981 to mid-1985. This time period spans across a pivotal time in my life, starting with the last two years of high school, and ending after my second year of college.
HAPPINESS FACTORS: THE FIRST HALF
There are many things I can point to, as either contributors or situations, that contributed to this happiness. Remember that this is mid-year to mid-year.
In late 1980, I got my drivers license, which spelled freedom to a high degree. I had purchased my own car. But in the summer of 1981, I also had a summer job so that I could actually afford gas and going out.
Living in a small town of 1,200 people with no internet, no cable TV, and few friends was very stifling. It did force me to spend time on my musical abilities, so I am grateful for that. But being free to go somewhere else when I wanted gave me opportunity to build more life experience.
I did not abandon my musical instruments once I got my car.
A vehicle and money helped expand my horizons.
Having some money and a car also gave me the ability to acquire more music, attend more concerts, and attempt at engaging in social situations, like skating at Star Skate.
HAPPINESS FACTORS: THE SECOND HALF
College got me out from underneath the rule of my parents, as well as the pains caused by having to deal with my siblings. My younger brother and sister did not really like me all that much, so being away from them felt good, as did being out of my old bedroom in the old family home.
It was an adventure.
I went to college, gave it a shot, and pretty much wasted the second year away after coming to the conclusion that this was a racket that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. A degree in Percussion Arts would get me maybe ONE good butt wipe. Then what?
But there were other things that I figured out.
I was able to make a good deal of money with my college band. An apartment off-campus back then was $35 per month. If the band played only TWO gigs per month, my cut would be in the hundreds of dollars.
THE HAPPINESS FADES
The things I learned and the things I knew would end up chipping away over time.
In school, you are taught a lesson and then tested. But in life, you are first tested and then taught a lesson.
The first harsh lesson I learned revolved around the group project, or depending on others. I was attending my T-Comm [Telecommunications] classes. There were two segments: Radio and Television.
I got stellar scores in Radio. But I failed in Television because of the group project, when the rest of the people in my group decided they were either changing majors or quitting school. They didn’t care about the project, so I was left on my own.
I would fail in the Television segment because of this, and my grades in Radio were invalidated by this.
Shortly after this, when the school year ended, I learned the hard way that I was the ONLY one who took the band seriously. Everyone else just left like it was no big deal. Not even a goodbye. There goes the idea of earning a living with that band.
This experience soured me a bit on the idea of bands. Even to this day, I struggle with being involved with bands or jam situations. I might have a unique view of bands and musicianship.
In the fall of 1985, life mostly stunk. I was playing guitar in a band called “The Switch,” which I enjoyed. Even though the band had a manager, I still was uneasy about staying in Indiana. I had always wanted to go to California to give it a shot with regard to being discovered and gaining entry into the music business.
So when my mother gave me a one-way ticket to California for Christmas 1985, I was all over it. I left The Switch and moved to California.
I didn’t really know what it took to live on my own, even though I’d technically done so in college. Student loans paid for everything, so I didn’t see a steady flow of bills. And I paid off my student loan with some of the money that I made from just one gig.
That’s not how anything works in reality.
After a few years of struggling, I met a woman who I thought would be on my side. Instead, she worked against me every step of the way from 1988 to 1998.
Long story short, I got older, gained weight, became unemployable, and now here we are.
TRYING TO FIND HAPPINESS AGAIN
Now that I’m an old fart, and I think that’s the scientific medical term for it, I have been trying to find happiness again. For a short while, I thought that I had found it when I reconnected with an old girlfriend from 1982. But that was nothing more than a lie she sold to me, and ended up being a big mistake on my part.
This showed me that what I have to do is find my own personal self-contained happiness that doesn’t rely on anyone else. This means, of course, that things like being a musician in a band must be regarded as happiness supplements. In other words, they can’t be the primary source of happiness for me.
I will NEVER give another person the power to fuck with my happiness.
I have been taking Wellbutrin for the past month, as I wrote about recently, and I feel like my head is clear enough to take on this challenge.
As I look back on all of this, in an effort to see if I can bring any of these elements back to recreate my happiness of old, I realize that there was something I forgot to add to the list. This thing wasn’t something that I was doing.
Rather, it was something that I was not doing.
That thing, as it turns out, is politics.
Although I would vote, I had never considered myself to be a political person. My suspicion is that this changed for me shortly after the 9/11 attacks in 2001. George W. Bush was president, after he technically “won” the presidency. He spoke like a moron. It was clear that he got his job thanks to his father.
I found this to be very disturbing.
I had been drumming in Noodle Muffin for a few years, when they decided to start making political albums. The bass player, a Republican Catholic as it turns out, decided to quit the band, along with his wife, for this reason.
The “band” was then comprised of three active members, and some writing partners in other places.
It didn’t really feel like a band. Due to the departure of 40% of the band, we ended up doing lots of recording, but not much in the way of gigging.
Our last gig was on the night after President Obama was inaugurated.
Although I like some of those songs, and I am proud of my work on those albums, I seriously doubt that ANYONE is going to want to go back and listen to songs about George W. Bush. I’m going to include videos of the few songs from this time.
I thought that Obama would do a good job. He did in some regards. He wasn’t a buffoon, he didn’t sound like an idiot when he talked.
Republicans would attack him for wearing a tan suit, not having a flag pin, saluting with coffee, and putting his feet on the desk. There would also be conspiracies, like the Trump-led birther conspiracy, the idea that he’ll take our guns and put us in concentration camps. They said a fly had landed on him, meaning that he was satanic. And, of course, the rumor that his wife Michelle was once really “Michael.”
This is when I found myself in a horrible situation, because I knew that Obama had ramped up drone strikes. I knew that these strikes were killing innocent civilians. By “horrible situation,” I mean being alone in my observations and thoughts regarding these drone strikes.
Democrat voters whom I knew didn’t have anything negative to say about any of that at all, and maybe it was because they were trying to avoid criticizing him. That’s utterly wrong.
Republicans didn’t have anything negative to say about things Obama did, like these drone strikes, because they agreed with it.
In other words, most of the people around me and those I would see in media and online had little to say regarding this actual issue. There would be reports on it, and then the story would just go away.
Innocent people killed when their wedding party gets a drone strike? To me, it seemed like nobody cared. And there I was, caring about it, when there was really nothing I could do about it. If Obama hadn’t done it, then his Republican opponent would have done it.
Then we get Trump, and it’s a horrific four years. He is a terrifying monster. We released a song and video about that just before the election.
Now that we have Biden, I’m totally numb. I think the Republicans will continue to obstruct, continue to filibuster, and Manchin is helping them.
I feel NO hope for the world right now. Conspiracies are believed over facts. Trump and Q have infected my mother, and subsequently ruined our relationship to the point that we cannot talk about anything because everything has been politicized, including the public health crisis COVID-19. Beyond that, tens of millions in the country have also been infected by these bullshit stories.
Too many people doubt too many things. They’re believing people who have a motive to lie, and they don’t question it. The news reports something one year, and then takes it back the next year. Their “correction” of the story feels like a Taliban hostage video.
People who aren’t scientists are given more attention and credibility than actual scientists who have dedicated their lives to what they do. A mouth-breathing Karen in Walmart can pretend to talk about something in scientific terms and get believed over actual scientists.
A few weeks ago I found myself in a situation where some rednecks wanted to talk politics, and I had to try to find a way to avoid the conversation and change the subject because they all had guns holstered.
People drive around with flags on their trucks that are intended to invoke fear. Intimidation and threats have taken precedence over actual policy. And yea, I don’t want to get shot. Living in a small town of idiots, I don’t want people to find out that I’m not one of them, so I keep to myself.
The two sides who are supposed to work together for our benefit now view each other as mortal enemies. They get NOTHING done. Our infrastructure is rotting, and there is nothing I can do about it. Those who have the power to do something about it are too busy jerking off on each other.
I got rid of cable television 15 years ago. Now I use primarily YouTube. The majority of what they recommend is political, and I hate it.
IT’S THE POLITICS, STUPID
As I lament the current political state of it all, I think back to that four-year span when I was at my happiest.
The world was falling apart. There were fuel shortages. The Cold War was winding down. AIDS was ramping up, thanks to that idiot Ronald Reagan. Osama Bin Laden was still considered an “American hero” who was doing work for the CIA.
It was the beginning of the end. A vote for Reagan was a vote against your own children.
As messed up as the world was back then, I paid absolutely no attention to it at all. I didn’t watch the news. I didn’t “stay informed.” I didn’t follow any political stories. I didn’t identify by any political labels. I didn’t perform much in the way of political songs. The most political my performances got was when we played the song, “Summertime Blues.”
“I can’t help ya, son, cuz you’re too young to vote.”
A NEW APPROACH?
And you know what? I was fine. I lived. I thrived. I kept my focus on what was in front of me and was resourceful. When something didn’t work, I’d try to fix it. If I couldn’t fix it, then I left it behind. When something did work, I appreciated it.
What am I going to do about this?
It starts by focusing on those things that I can control.
I’m going to stop paying attention to politics, as well as the news in general. Being involved in political and news stories is a case of me putting too much time, energy, and emotion into something over which I have absolutely no control.
I can’t change anybody or anything. I struggle to change myself.
As I gave more thought to this, I couldn’t help but wonder why I need to remain informed in the first place. Informed of WHAT? Something over which I have no control?
And I will admit, I didn’t really vote FOR Biden, so much as I voted against Trump. I don’t like anyone who is currently involved in politics. They don’t represent me, and they never have.
A local politician emails me all the time. “We need your help,” which is code for, “We need your money.” I got tired of it, so I wrote back.
“We voted for you so that you could work on this shit. What are YOU doing about it? Why do you need MY money, when you’re already getting paid WAY TOO MUCH to do this ‘job’ that you have? Why does your position even exist?”
I think these are fair questions. It would be like me getting a job as a coffee taster, and then standing on the street all day asking people to taste coffee, and then emailing everyone in my district about their personal coffee tasting habits.
Meanwhile, nobody knows whether or not I’m actually tasting any coffee at all.
I am absolutely fed up with American politics. I’m also fed up with American religion, which is almost the same thing, since the two topics are now conflated and being merged into one.
I’m tired of hearing about it. I’m tired of talking about it. I’m tired of thinking about it. I’m tired of worrying about it. I’m tired of others trying to inform me on how I should feel about shit.
I’m tired of the lying, the conspiracies, the arguing, the idiocy, the childish behavior, the stupid non-arguments, and the celebrity of it all.
I’m tired of feeling sick to my stomach about something over which I have absolutely NO control at all.
As much as I enjoyed the bands I performed with in the past, it’s still a stupid fucking group project effort. Maybe I’m done with that as well. Who knows.
I can’t go back to the first half of the 80s. I can’t be young again. I can’t go back to college and have the same experience. I can’t get an apartment for $35 per month.
However, if I can get another job, then maybe I can get a better car. Maybe I can sit with music and writing on my free time. Maybe I can cultivate my own situation, where I live my life and keep to myself.
I could find some new adventures in Oregon, since I’ve not really seen most of the state yet. I could get lost in nature. I could find a club that features some interesting musicians.
I could write more. I could do just about anything I want to do. Most of what I want to do comes with little-to-no expense, beyond gas and food money.
I’m already off of ALL social networking, so I have a head start on this. Avoiding the news and getting YouTube set up in a way where I can achieve this will be a challenge. I’m confident that I can figure something out, and I haven’t written off the idea of leaving YouTube behind as well.
I may not know much, but I do suspect that not worrying myself over things that I cannot control will greatly improve the quality of my life.
The biggest thing that I can control is what I think about and what I talk about. My plan is to NOT write about political issues in the bog anymore. Not only does it agitate me, but it might agitate others. Plus, I might think that I’m “informed,” but later discover that the information that I had received was incorrect.
DEALING WITH THOSE WHO WISH TO TALK POLITICS
What do I say to the average person when they want to get political?
You want to talk about politics? I’m not a political expert. I didn’t study Political Science. My guess is that you didn’t, either. This would be a pointless discussion. A person’s political opinions might very well be the least interesting thing about a person. I might still vote, but I won’t talk about it.
You want to talk about global warming? I am not an environmental scientist, and neither are you. I’ll still do my part to cut down on pollution. I just won’t talk about it.
You want to talk about COVID-19 and the vaccine? I am not a virologist, and neither are you. I’ll still get my vaccine [as I did] and wear a mask. I just won’t talk about it.
You want to talk about human rights and marginalized people? I’m not a Sociologist, and neither are you. I will support basic human rights for all, and will do what I think is right to help others who are disenfranchised. I just won’t talk about it.
Do you see a pattern here?
Voting is like taking a shit. I don’t have to right now, but I will later. I won’t talk about it before I do it, and I won’t be talking about it after I do it, either.
I just came up with this. What does IDTAP mean? It means “I Don’t Talk About Politics.” Pretty straight forward.
No, I’m not talking about the IDTAP hashtag, which is sexual shorthand for “I’d tap that.”
I don’t talk about politics anymore. I just don’t. The hard part will be communicating with people who have followed the previous president, because they have successfully politicized EVERYTHING.
If they can’t keep politics out of the conversation, then I leave the conversation. This might be difficult, should I end up getting a job. All I can do is stay strong and stand my ground.
I don’t talk about politics.
IN THE END
This entry may very well be the final entry I make that has any political content. Yes, even talking about not talking about politics is talking about politics, to a degree.
The late, great George Carlin once said that he didn’t vote, stating that voting does not matter, and if it did, then they’d be trying to stop you from voting. As I write this, Republicans most definitely ARE trying to stop certain people from voting.
I have no certainty about whether or not voting really matters. The wealthy who are in charge own both sides of the team, so they will always get what they want no matter what.
I may very well keep on voting. I have never voted Republican, and never will. They cater to the stupid, who are easier to scare. Maybe I’ll keep voting Democrat, a.k.a. “the lesser of two evils.”
Voting doesn’t take any time. Just go down the ticket, pick, and you’re done. Free to get back to your life.
You know, those things that are important to YOU.
In calling back to the shit analogy, it would be silly to talk about what kind of shit you’re going to take for years, then take it, then talk about it for a few years after.
Just politely dismiss yourself, go take a shit, wash your hands [you filthy animal], and then get back to living.
You get only ONE life. Spending it by putting a great deal of time, energy, and emotion into something that you cannot control does not seem like a wise decision.
I’ll feel more healthy. Heck, this could even contribute to me beating Type 2 Diabetes. Feeling better, being more well rested, being more active, and striving to be more social will be positive for me on all fronts.
So that’s it. IDTAP.
I don’t. Not anymore.
As Dave Mustaine sang in his 1994 song “Elysian Fields,” “The world don’t want to be saved. Only left alone.”
And as Paul McCartney once sang, “Let it be.”