The Difficult Art of Effing Chill

Going for a walk is something that I have to make myself do, even though there are many times where I have enjoyed going on a walk in the past. It’s kind of like going to the doctor to get blood drawn. I’m nervous, get it done, think it’s no big deal, and then get nervous again the next time.

It is as unreasonable to consistently not want to do something you like, as it is to be consistently afraid of something that ends up not being a big deal.

On this walk, I stopped to watch some leaves blowing in the wind. They started flying to the north, before heading west, then north again, then east, then south. The wind, it seems, was incapable of making up its mind which way it would blow.

Within the context of this completely natural event, I did have a preference in that the wind should NOT be blowing any leaves or dirt into my face. Anywhere else, but not my face.

Every so often, I would get some dirt in my eyes, and would have to stop to get the dirt out. The changing wind would sometimes get in the way and make it worse.

“Boy… if only I could control the wind…”

The thought got interrupted with the wind delivering more delicious dirt particles into my face.

I returned from the edge of this little forest, back to my humble abode. I went inside, locked the door, and washed my face and eyes.

After drying my face, I looked out the window and watched the wind as it whipped up the dirt. It was so bad that my car, which I had washed yesterday, was already dirty enough on the outside that it looked as if I had done absolutely nothing, beyond wasting $7 on something that didn’t even last 24 hours.

I stood there, and began to appreciate being indoors.

If only I could control the wind.

In a way, by going indoors, I seemed to have done just that. At least, it might look that way at first. The wind still existed. It was still vicious and dirty.

I didn’t control the wind at all. What I DID do was control myself, by moving myself indoors.

Concerning myself, albeit philosophically, with controlling the wind got me nothing, except more wind and dirt in my face. Changing focus and concerning myself with controlling me made all of the difference.

I have concerned myself with things that I cannot control for a very long time. It’s not healthy. It is, however, something that lots of people tend to do. I do think that my Autism magnifies this issue for me, as it does with other things, like fear and pain.

Around this time last year, I was concerned with surviving in a situation where wildfires and horrible air quality was threatening life in Oregon.

In fact, it was precisely one year ago today that things started to get bad in that regard.

It got difficult to breathe at times. I had to keep the doors and windows shut and kept the air purifier running on overtime 24/7, hoping that it wouldn’t burn out or we would lose electricity.

There was a great deal of fear regarding what would happen. As everyone knows, this was ON TOP OF a deadly pandemic. There were tensions leading up to a very contentious election. Looking for work was horrible, and I had one interview that fell apart via video.

And earlier in the year, I had broken up with my girlfriend of 20 years [we’ll call her “C”], and had an old girlfriend move in [we’ll call her “A”]. THEN, C called and asked to move back. She did so with A’s approval.

As The World Burns: A, me, and C drinking white Russians. The view out the patio door tells the story of the outside.
Photo taken September 16, 2020.

With the bad weather, the living situation, and other stressors present, A eventually lost her mind, walking out one day and never returning.

The election went crazy, the job situation never got better, and the people who supposedly help people with disabilities find work are now complaining that my disabilities are getting in the way of them helping me. Oh boy!

What do I do about all of it?

Effing chill, dude.

I have complained on my blog before about certain things, people, and situations. Why isn’t this happening? Why are they doing these things? Why couldn’t this situation be better?

My complaints were many. What they had in common, besides being complaints, was that they were about things that I could not control.

Let’s take my job situation, for example. I’ve been struggling to find work. When you struggle to find work, and it doesn’t come about after a while, you tend to believe that maybe there is something truly wrong with you. You start to doubt yourself.

I stopped being upset about it, so that I could look at the current situation.

100,000 new jobs popped up in Oregon last month, and yet tens of thousands of adults are struggling to find work.

That’s when I realized that I’m not at fault. It’s not just me. It’s the situation. It’s the broken system.

Could something bad happen to me as a result of not being able to find work? Maybe. My situation is mine, and their situations are theirs, even though it seems that we are being blocked by the same problem.

I cannot control my work situation. I can keep looking.
I cannot control other people. I can be the best version of me.
I cannot control American Capitalism. I can control my spending and participation.
I cannot control the broken American work situation. I can keep applying.
I cannot control the mental health of “A” or anyone else. I can take responsibility for my own mental health.
I cannot control what someone thinks of me. And I shouldn’t care, as it’s none of my business.
I cannot control the weather. I can put on a coat, or go indoors.

While I have NO control over many of the things in my life, the one thing I can control is ME.

One of my big struggles, as an Autistic adult, is responding to situations, instead of reacting. Reacting involves allowing feelings to flow freely, most of the time in a negative way. It’s like cursing someone who was driving poorly, when that changes nothing.

Instead of reacting, the best thing to do is respond. Responding means pausing and taking the time to acknowledge those negative feelings that bubble to the surface quickly. After that, it’s about having a thoughtful response instead of an emotional outburst.

The emotional outburst actually clears up or fixes NOTHING. It does achieve a few things, including adding stress to my life, as well as making me look bad.

Some of my outbursts are actually Autistic meltdowns. Some say that these are temper tantrum fits, but this is highly inaccurate. Rather, an Autistic meltdown is more closely related to a panic attack.

They only happen when a bunch of stress is added to an already difficult situation.

Being able to control my reactions, replacing them with responses, and gaining a handle on potential Autistic meltdowns will further help me to participate in a more challenging society.

As I write this, there are way too many “adults” who don’t behave like adults. They whine about wearing masks, about vaccinations, and other things that are not only OUT of our control, but that are also ADULT RESPONSIBILITIES.

Instead of being responsible adults, getting vaccinated, wearing masks, adhering to guidelines, and behaving like adults in society, they do things like what is in this video.

The human embodiment of childish arrogance.

Getting vaccinated was an easy decision for me, because I decided to view the pandemic as a public health crisis, instead of a stupid political fight. Only Fascists, such as Republicans and The Taliban, are politicizing this virus.

Wearing a mask was difficult. It might be my Autism, but wearing a mask felt like I was trapped in a coffin. At first, I could do it for maybe 5 minutes before the panic would set in.

I practiced at home and kept practicing. Today, I can wear a mask for over 2.5 hours, or maybe even more. I might be getting to the point that I prefer masks over having someone else’s germs ejected out of their face and onto mine.

I’ll close with this: The pandemic, the work situation, and dealing with society in general has not been easy for anyone. There are some people who have decide to make things worse for everyone else, while making themselves look like childish idiots.

I do not know the story of these people. Are they Autistic? I seriously doubt it. Regardless, they still have a responsibility to behave in public, in society.

I actually AM Autistic. Some professionals have also indicated that I may very well be frozen in time, at around age 16.

So, as a 16 year old with just over 4 decades of experience, my opinion is that grown adults should know better.

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When You Finally Get The Girl

So many adults seem to have forgotten what it is like to be a kid or a young adult. Fortunately for me, thanks to the power of Autism, I haven’t forgotten. I can recall the sensation rather easily, and I remember how I felt about certain things and people.

For a young boy, there is no greater sensation than being 11 years old and seeing that 13-year-old girl who lives down the road. I encountered sensations that I’d never experienced before.

So far as I was concerned, this was the precise moment where I lost my innocence.

I went with my brother down the road to hang out with him and a friend of his. As luck would have it, he had an older sister who was roughly 18 months older than me. We’ll call it 2 years for ease of conversation. Back then 2 years was a BIG gap in age.

We were in his room, and he and my brother were messing with some action figures, when I looked to my right out his bedroom door. There she was, in her bedroom, stretching.


Now, I didn’t always hang out with this friend so that I could gawk at his sister. It was something that happened on occasion. And to me, it was no different from him coming over and watching my mom sunbathe out the kitchen window. I wasn’t offended, and I doubt he was offended by me, either.

As hairless apes, it’s what we generally do. There’s a genuine curiosity and great sense of wonder when these things start to appear. At the same time, it’s absolute torture, because you get these feelings but cannot take them to a true conclusion. This means a simulated conclusion will have to do, but this blog isn’t about to go there. I have to be a gentleman about it.

This went on for years.

In the spring of 1980, I was walking home when a guy twice my size who threatened to “kill me” outside the gate after school showed up with his own mob of about 40 kids who wanted to see him fight me.

She was in the crowd, and was rooting me on. This might be why I felt so confident to throw the first punch.

This was a life-changing event, not only because the bullies never bothered me again, but I think it changed how she viewed me.

In the summer of 1980, I was 15-1/2 years old. I had a summer job that paid pretty well, and earned enough to buy a car, as well as have a great deal of spending money. I couldn’t drive the car yet, but I could fix it up and make sure it was ready when I got my license later that winter.

As it was in the past, I continued to spend time with some very personal friends. They have familiar names, such as Insomnia, Autism, and Puberty.

I used to be so restless that I’d head out around 4:30am and meet up with my friend on the road. From there, we would cross Main Street, climb a HUGE hill, and make our way to the edge of the stone quarry. There, we would sit on the edge, dangle our feet into the void, throw rocks, and talk about life.

This tradition fell to the wayside, as they do when we grow up. My friend had some other things to do. As it turns out, I did as well.

I would get dressed and then start to quietly open my window in a way where it would not make noise. I’d hang outside the window of my bedroom [it was a bi-level house], drop to the ground, and start walking. Sometimes I would run.

But I wasn’t going to meet up with my friend at the stone quarry. No.

I had found out that his sister was a waitress working at a little restaurant called “The Lapel Inn.” It was your typical diner setting. Nothing fancy.

I’d head out with my wallet full of money and walk to The Lapel Inn to have coffee. I’d do this every day during the summer. Sit at the counter, drinking coffee, getting refills, and just hanging out.

It was an excuse to be near his sister. I was quickly approaching 16, and she was a senior who would be 18 soon.

She never once questioned why I was there, drinking coffee. It wasn’t exactly something that the 15-year-olds were doing. In fact, I was the only one doing it.

I would drink way too much coffee, and then run home in time to catch a ride with my mom to Indianapolis to tackle my summer job. I’d be tired all day sometimes, but it was all so worth it.

The world changed quite a bit after that summer. John Bonham died. John Lennon was killed. Led Zeppelin announced that they could not go on without Bonham. And the year ended with a big of hope for the future that could be found in AC/DC’s first release with Brian Johnson, “Back In Black.”

After Bonham’s death, and one week before Lennon’s death, I got my drivers license.

By this time, my friend’s sister would be running around with her friends, doing their thing, and setting out into the real world. I had a few years before I’d have to do this, so I moved on and got a girlfriend who was about a year younger than me.

It is so weird to look at it in a timeline.

In the summer of 1980, my world was all about her. But by the end of 1980, not only was she no longer part of my world, but we had both moved on. I would not see her again for many, many years.

In 1982, my friend’s mom set me up on a blind date with her half-sister. This girl I had a crush on knew about it, and helped her do her hair for the date.

I picked up my date at my friend’s house, which is where she was staying for the summer.

I ever-so-briefly saw that girl, now a woman, when I picked up my date. In my mind, it was the difference between my friends sister — a rather unattainable girl, so far as I was concerned — and her aunt, who was a year younger than me.

I was so excited about my actual date that I didn’t give even one thought to a potential date with the sister. In a way, this felt like moving on.

I won’t say when this happened, as I don’t want to step on her privacy. One day, after high school was far, far behind us, she contacted me.

I couldn’t believe it.

We ended up talking on the phone. It was the first time that we’d had a conversation. Before this, we had almost nothing resembling conversation of any kind. She didn’t know much about me, beyond the fact that I fought a kid twice my size.

Conversely, I didn’t know much about her, beyond wanting to get to know her better and to spend time with her.

And that’s precisely what we did. We got together and spent an amazing week together. On top of our alone time, we spend time with her brother [my good friend] and her dad, who was sick. We also visited her mother’s grave.

We talked about getting together, which was wild when I look back on it. We barely knew each other, although we did have a rather lengthy history of familiarity.

Due to circumstances, as well as personal situations that I won’t divulge, our plans to get back together fell apart. Surprisingly, it was I who called everything off.

She cried and cried, as I let her know that I loved her, but that things weren’t going to work. Things wouldn’t have worked, and for a series of complicated reasons that I may touch upon here.

As I am writing this, she is married to someone else. For this reason, we don’t talk anymore. It’s just too risky. Besides, we already tried. We had fun, even though it didn’t work out. At least we know.

All the same, I still think of her at times, and often reminisce about those old, old, old days, when we were kids who were running around trying to figure out the world that we had been unceremoniously dumped into.

This story, which started in the mid-70s, got me thinking. What would my memories be like, had she and I never gotten together?

I spent literal YEARS fantasizing about her. And when we finally got together, it really lived up to my expectations, in a variety of ways. It was a literally boyhood dream come true to be with her.

In the background of every fantasy is that little nagging stream of reality. It’s the mess of relocating, re-establishing, finding work, the cost of moving, and all of the other things we adults have to think about.

When we hit a point in our lives where our responsibilities get too heavy to carry around, it has an impact on the decisions we make.

I did not yet know that I was Autistic, but I did know that something was different or not quite right. While she retained her Midwest sensibilities and charm, I had been re-molded by living in California for long enough that I never wanted to go back to the Midwest.

By the time we got together, we were from two different worlds.

I could see the writing on the wall, that things weren’t going to end well if we put more effort into it. We’d had our week together, which was incredible. None of it seemed sustainable.

I veered a bit off-topic in the previous section, where I asked what my memories would be like, had I not gotten together with her.

It’s a strange thing, because I got back with this dream girl’s aunt back in late 2019 and we spent the better part of a year together. Things between the aunt and I ended, and not in a positive way.

I don’t want to detail it, to protect the aunt’s privacy. She had some serious problems and we couldn’t be together. It was a split that was the product of some horrible details of our situation, and I’ll leave it at that.

Because of HOW that connection ended, I don’t have any fond memories of the Aunt anymore. I don’t think about her, except when I’m writing this right now, and I have no desire to ever talk to her or see her again.

But with my friend’s sister, it’s different.

In that situation, I probably could have been selfish and proceeded to up-end my life and go move in with her. We may very well had ended up getting married. But where my life is now, I’ve got my own struggles to deal with. It would not have been fair to put her through all of that.

As I noted earlier, when we broke up, I did not yet know that I was Autistic. This is something that has gotten in the way of the majority of things in my life that would have been good.

It’s as if I had to let her go, so that she could have a better life. I do care about her that much.

I do feel like I did the right thing for both of us by breaking up.

Since I did the right thing, I have been able to keep those precious memories in a way that is healthy, positive, and secure.

It’s a good thing.

What had started as a curious fantasy that may have very well kicked off my puberty, turned into a situation where reality stepped in and brought things to a close.

It gets me wondering. Did she feel this way about me, too? The fact that she was the one who contacted me indicates that maybe she had a some feelings, as well as a genuine curiosity. I suspect, more than likely, it was nothing more than a case of familiarity. I did have a strong presence in the neighborhood and at her house when we were young.

It could have also been a mid-life crisis for her.

How weird to suspect that she also felt a certain way, as I did, and we never broached the subject. It is a question of timing. Did she feel that way after watching my big fight? Was it on down the road? Or was it something else?

It may not matter, and maybe I don’t ever want to know. It happened, and we got to experience it. That’s what counts.

I don’t dwell on it, or ruminate. I wish her well.

We live 1,000 miles apart, so the chances of our paths crossing again are slim. But what would I do if we bumped into each other?

I would invite her out to a diner. We’d sit at the counter and I’d buy her a cup of coffee. We’d talk about those old times more, and I’d get more questions answered.

She was our school mascot one year. While she was on the floor during basketball games, I was up in the rafters, either drumming or playing guitar. School spirit was something we handled separately, yet together.

Even though the relationship aspect of it did not work out, I do not have to wonder “what if.” I get to avoid old man regret, so far as this big life story is concerned.

We actually got together, gave a relationship serious consideration, and then we did the right thing by leaving it all be. It was a difficult thing to do, but it wasn’t a negative thing, a destructive situation, or a horrible ending.

Rather, it was bittersweet and necessary.

If “future me” had shown up when I was 11 years old and told me this story, there would be no way that I’d ever be able to believe any of it.

When I think of her, I feel like a kid again.

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Time, Money, and Experts

There was this woman having coffee in a cafe in France, when she noticed a world-famous artist. Without hesitation, she quickly approached him.

“Please sketch a picture of me!” she asked. He was happy to oblige. Two minutes later, he had created a cool sketch of the woman.

She offered to buy it from him, but scoffed at the price when he told her what it would cost.

“Why should I pay $5,000 for this, when it only took you two minutes?”

The artist replied, “It did NOT take me two minutes. It took me a lifetime.”

Flash forward to our modern times in America. An agency gave me a spreadsheet job to do for a company. They estimated that the job would take 7-10 days.

Being a young worker and wanting to impress them, I got the job done in 7 hours. I thought that maybe I’d see a bonus payment, or they might even want to hire me.


It was basically, “Thanks for the fast turn-around. Here’s pay for 7 hours.”

They paid for my time, but NOT for my skill and knowledge. I would have been better off taking my time, getting it done in a few days, and then twiddling my thumbs for the rest of the week as I lie to them about how it’s coming along.

There is something seriously wrong with a system that approaches everything in this way. I understand that you don’t want to be on a low-budget project and then spend months on end working on it.

Time is money, so they say. Time, much like money, is a human construct.

But if someone is able to get something done faster, then why should they be punished for doing so?

When I was a teenager, I worked as summer maintenance help at an apartment complex that was owned by a huge management company.

The company was very interested in saving money, so they decided to hire some Time Efficiency Experts out of California, at a price of $2 million, to find where they could cut corners and save time.

It didn’t take me long to figure out that these people had NO idea what they were talking about, and I was only 17 years old.

My first clue came when they asked me their first question. One of my duties was to walk around the complex in the morning to pick up trash, as well as put tape on light sensors to check outside lighting and replace bulbs that are not working.

“We noticed that on Monday you spent approximately one hour on this task. On Tuesday, you got it done in 54 minutes. Today, it took you almost two hours. Why the time difference? Why can’t you do this consistently with the same amount of time?”

I had to explain it to them.

Monday, as it turns out, was a regular day. Average, so far as I was concerned. That’s one hour. The second day, at 54 minutes, was because there wasn’t so much trash to pick up. As for the third day, at TWO HOURS, was because a few light bulbs were burned out, so I had to walk to the garage, get bulbs and the ladder, and go around changing those bulbs.

Fine. I figured they are learning. But it got worse.

“We are evaluating your air conditioning call tickets. In all three calls, the complaint was that the air conditioning was not working. This first call took you 15 minutes, the second call took 2 hours, and the third call took 8 hours. Why the large differences in times?”

I can explain that.

The FIRST call was just a case of the renter NOT knowing how to operate their thermostat. So I showed them how to do it. Minimum billing time is 15 minutes, and it took about that long.

The SECOND call ended up being a bad thermostat, so I had to drive to the warehouse, get a new one, drive back, and install it.

The THIRD call was a situation where the central air unit need to have a Freon recharge. This is a process that takes 8 hours, and there is nothing that can be done to speed this up.

I thought that maybe they were starting to get a handle on things. But I was wrong.

One day, I walked out of the bathroom. There was one of the Time Efficiency Experts, standing there with a stopwatch and a clipboard. Of course, he had questions.

“Earlier today, when you went to the restroom, it took approximately one minute. But just now, it took you a bit over five minutes. Can you explain why you don’t spend the exact amount of time in the bathroom for each visit?”

Wow, really? I have to explain THAT to a grown adult?

I’d had enough of their nonsense, so I took my yet-to-be-diagnosed Autistic self straight to the headquarters. My mother was the Assistant to the Vice President, so I felt a bit of power in the organization. In looking back, I probably could have gotten my mother easily fired.

I walked into the building and went straight to the President’s office. He knew who I was, as he had met me five years earlier, when I was 12 years old.

I told him what they were asking, and how their questions were getting weird. I let him know how their questions indicated to me that they knew ABSOLUTELY NOTHING about maintenance work, at all.

He said, “We’re paying them two million dollars for this evaluation.”

I replied, “Two million dollars? Certainly you could find someone who knows something about maintenance to do this project for half the price.”

Then I told him about their bathroom usage question, followed with, “Would you like to guess just how much of my time they waste in one single day with their questions?”

That was enough. He called the Time Efficiency Experts and terminated the project immediately. He had to pay a fee to cancel, but he ended up saving a bit over one million dollars as a result.

I went back to the maintenance shed, told these “experts” to expect a call to let them know that their services will no longer be needed. Then, I went to the refrigerator, cracked open a 5:00pm beer a bit early, and put my feet up on the boss’ desk to have a sip.

The sip was followed with, “Ahhhh, the taste of success.”

When I look back on this story, it kind of scares me how easily it was for me to walk straight into the president’s office, take a seat, and just start talking. I didn’t ask if he was available, and I also did not talk to his assistant.

It’s probably not something I would do today, given the experience that I have with being in a situation where I DO NOT have a connection to power. And I do think that it was a valid use of power that would not be deemed abusive. These experts really were wasting my time, and the time of everyone else.

Then I see how the world is now, where workers at Amazon warehouses get TIMED for their bathroom breaks, and get FIRED if they go over. Their drivers are also peeing in bottles and crapping in plastic bags, so they can meet their unreasonable goals, which I suspect were written for robots, and not humans.

That’s the depressing side of our world, which is in a state of End-Stage Crony Capitalism in America. Our K-shaped economy is killing people, and I could very easily end up a casualty in all of this.

What my time is worth is one question, and it seems to be the ONLY question that matters to our Corporate Owners. There are also skills, abilities, and education to consider.

Tom Hanks, in “Big,” reminds me of myself during my early years working in an office. I’ll bust out that spreadsheet for you!

All of it gets me thinking about that spreadsheet that I got done in 7 hours, when they thought that it would take 7-10 days.

Did I really get it done in 7 hours? I started typing in 1971, when I was in first grade. During that year, I also learned about proofreading, and would get paid $0.25 per page to proofread legal documents while my mother typed in her home office. I spent years teaching myself how to use computers, how to create spreadsheets with Lotus 1-2-3, before moving to Excel.

When I told them that it only took me 7 hours, I wasn’t really being honest with them, or myself.

It took me a lifetime.

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Big, Big Lies

This is not about that big lie that Trump told, and that his minions keep alive.

As big and dangerous as that lie has been, and will continue to be, I’m thinking about lies that are so big that they become the fabric of our society.

Hard work pays off: Sure, it can pay off. But when it comes to things like work, this lie gets told to us by bosses, managers, and even co-workers.

The hard truth is that there are no guarantees in life. I have learned the hard way, first hand, that you can work really hard at something and get absolutely nowhere.

The cream rises to the top: This saying can be applied to different situations. While it might be true in things like sports, with regard to work, this is simply not the case.

This saying is in support of another lie that is sold, known as The Meritocracy. In this concept, those who are talented will always rise to the top and “succeed.”

You may have a proper education and experience, and other things that give you merit. However, you can also not be connected, or not play office politics well. Whatever the case may be, your merits can, and most probably will, be rendered irrelevant.

Intelligence is power: Intelligence can be helpful and useful. These days, it is best to hide your intelligence, lest you be confronted by someone who is anti-intellectual.

But within the context of work, your intelligence does not matter as much as who you know and what connections you have.

These are just some of the lies that keep the wealthy and powerful in their positions. They count on everyone believing these things. This is why our American educational system is so horrible. It’s no accident. Keep people stupid, so they are easier to scare and control.

I could go on with a bigger list of this, but after a while it begins to feel redundant. This is not just because these lies come from humans, but also because they all revolve around the concept of money.

Money is a mutually-agreed-upon mass delusion, that is similar to the tuning of musical instruments. That’s to say, we all have to agree on certain terms. In the case of music, we will generally tune to an A440 for maximum results.

In the case of money, consider a dollar bill. We all must agree that it is worth a dollar in order for it to have any value. So when you work, your boss gives you that dollar. You accept it, because you believe in its value.

Your landlord, local grocery, and other service providers also view that dollar as being worth a dollar. The Stock Market might decide that dollar is worth $1.03, or that it’s worth $0.72, so the value slips and slides here and there.

Almost all of us believe in that delusion.

What would I consider to be the absolutely biggest lie of all? One might guess that I would offer up religion. Truth be told, that’s a really close one, because it utilizes and promotes an even bigger lie that all of us buy into. Even me.

It’s the lie that permanence exists in the world.

Religions promote the idea of “forever,” which is a difficult number to envision. Considering that we live a mere 70-100 years, on average, forever doesn’t really have much meaning.

When people get married, they talk about it being “forever,” as if their current state is permanent. Maybe they are in that place where, if they were both frozen and never grew as adults, it might be the case. “Forever” would come to an end the minute one of them dies, best case.

But adults grown and change. Not only does each person’s wants and needs change, but their ability and willingness to meet the needs of others change as well.

For this reason, the promise of “forever,” in regard to anything, is a fool’s errand. And yet, some people still demand and require the promise of forever, if they are expected to live their very temporary lives.

Circling back to the idea of marriage, it is suggested that a marriage is not successful unless it lasts “forever.” There is that other phrase, “’til death do you part.” This kind of works against the “forever” sentiment.

How do you know that your marriage was successful? When you wake up one day, and lying next to you is a cold corpse. That is, assuming that you weren’t the one to die, in which case you’ll never truly know if your marriage was successful.


When my life would be in a good place, I’d think, “Yeah, I finally made it. I’ve achieved something.” And then, it gets yanked away quickly.

Then I find myself in a bad place and think, “Ah, crap, my life is screwed and I’ll never get out of this.” Then it would get a bit better, usually when someone helps me out.

I have believed that my various states in life were achievements where I could sit and stay, at least for a while. But even a moment is too much to ask. Things keep changing and happening.

The concept of permanence is something that feeds a sense of security. It might be why people find comfort in the idea of being in a place like “heaven” forever. I suppose it helps if they don’t believe they’ll end up in “hell,” but I digress.

When I was a kid, I thought that certain powers would be in power when I grew up. This includes things like the music industry. Today, the music industry doesn’t have nearly the power it once did.

I also believed that my parents would always be powerful people. My father died in 2003, so not really all that powerful today.

Even temporary permanence brings comfort. Any friendship or relationship I have will be temporary, given the temporary nature of human life. Still, I want them around.

With all of this deception revolving around the illusion of permanence, it makes sense that humans want to believe that they are also permanent. If not physically, then spiritually, with the idea being that your spirit lives on in a spirit world forever.

There is no evidence that this is something that factually happens.

What will become of me?

The thing that I call “me” is an illusion that the brain generates to create a sense of self. That sense of self is used to participate, negotiate, and otherwise maneuver through life. Without the illusion of the self, one would not think, “I need to find shelter,” or any other thoughts. Instead, they would be left in the cold, accepting the way things are, until death.

Survival without this illusion might very well be impossible.

The wild thing about this illusion is that it works even if you acknowledge that it is an illusion. It’s the lie you believe, even if you know it’s a lie.

But for an eternity before my birth, I did not exist. At least, I have no conscious memory of an existence. Before my birth, there certainly was no brain in the picture, whipping up the illusion of the self.

Then, I was born. The brain in this body began to generate a person, or “ego,” by taking in the reactions and responses of others to this self. Those reactions and responses from others were based on their limited and biased view of the being that my brain inhabits.

Since the brain in this biological entity is Autistic, it presents in a certain way that puts others off. They react and broadcast this reaction. This brain receives the reaction, misconceives all of it, and creates a “me” to get through life.

It’s not an effective or efficient thing. Not at all.

As it is, I have bandied about through this life, doing what I thought needed to be done and living the way I sense is best for my being. And after a while, this body will cease to work. Blood will stop flowing, and stop delivering oxygen to the brain.

The brain will die, and so will that illusion of “me” that it created in my formative years.

What happens after that?

Many like to believe that they enter a spirit world. I see no evidence of this spirit world, so I do not cling to that idea.

What I think happens is that thing I call “me” goes away after the body goes away. I do not believe that I have a spirit that will live on. If I am wrong, and there is a spirit, then it may very well return to the state in which is existed before I was born.

This is a state of nothingness. No fear. No punishment. No earthly or humanly emotions, responsibilities, or concerns.

Just nothing. Forever.

Was I even alive? If I don’t exist, then that is not possible. I’d not think about being alive, if it weren’t for that pesky concept of dying. And dying is the only thing that we can prove at this point. Or can we?

So far as I can tell, life is an illusion caused by death.

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On Ageism and Growing Old

It wasn’t all that long ago that I used to always be THE youngest person in the office. I was “the kid,” as they’d say.

My change from this status to one of being old happened virtually overnight. I would notice it when I’d talk about things, like past work experiences, and the person I was talking to would have no idea about some of the details.

What’s DisplayWrite/36? I’ve never heard of THAT before.

At some point, I had to accept that I am old.

On April 13, 2016, my age was driven home when LinkedIn decided to fire everyone at the HQ in Calabasas, CA, who was under 45 and NOT in a management role.

Since then, I have not been able to find substantial work, and have relied heavily on the support of others in order to survive. Being forced to live this way can rot a man’s brain, not to mention his self-esteem.

Last night, I was watching Jimmy Snow on YouTube. He is a guy who started out as a YouTube Atheist content creator, and morphed it into something more. He’s 31 years old, so he’s in the Millennial category.

At one point in the video, he lamented getting older, as he acknowledged how American society treats [and abuses] older people in our society.

He should be VERY concerned about this. I was deemed “old” by the time I was 50. He will be labeled as such before he is 35 years old.

It’s as if the rest of the world is mimicking the music industry, and how music executives were worried that Avril Lavigne was becoming “long in the tooth” because she was going to turn 17 years of age.

Before I was let go from LinkedIn, I was able to acknowledge the culture around me. There was a game room, with an XBOX and ping pong table. There was a cabinet full of Manga anime videos that could be borrowed. There are “puzzle stations” at various locations throughout the office, so you can just stop and work on a puzzle for a while if you want.

And they even had a monthly day of “mandatory fun,” which they un-creatively called “InDay.” This was where you went out and “had fun” with your co-workers while bonding with them.

As an Autistic adult, I didn’t do much bonding on those days. Also, I saw those days as a trap. Here’s how the trap works.

Everyone has work that is always piling up. Nobody ever has a clean desk when InDay hits.

If you GO with everyone for InDay, then your manager can berate you for going on InDay when you probably should have stayed at your desk.

Conversely, if you DO NOT go with everyone for InDay, then you will be labeled “Not a team player,” and you will be punished.

It’s no different from the “Hawaiian Shirt Day” in Office Space. Same trap.

When Jimmy Show lamented how old people are treated in society, I had to perk up and agree.

I’ve talked with many adults in my family, who are from the generation before me, and they ALL consistently admit that they felt that old people were a waste of time who needed to be pushed aside and shoved beneath the rug.

This got me thinking about how I treated older people throughout my life.

My favorite “old person” of all time was my grandmother. I used to say that the stork dropped me off at the wrong house. It wasn’t until my 2017 Autism diagnosis that I learned WHY I felt this way.

Grandma E inspired me to play drums and bass, and encouraged me being a musician.

It was because she talked with me like a human being and listened to me as well. No other adult who was directly involved in my life ever did that with me as a kid.

We would often times sit at the kitchen table and talk about ANYTHING and everything. Sex, rock music, politics, social attitudes. Anything and everything I wanted to talk about, I did it there.

My mother one time picked me up from my grandmother’s house, and she heard us going at it before we wrapped up. She asked me, “Why do you enjoy antagonizing your grandmother so much?”

And yes, I knew what “antagonizing” meant when I was 8 years old.

I replied, “We’re not fighting. We’re having fun.”

When I was 11 years old, I went to my friend’s house about a block away. He wasn’t home. As I walked out, I saw an old lady sitting on the porch. Her name was Barb Yeryar. As it turns out, her name was a big name in town. But I did not know this.

Wanting something to do outside, I walked over and sat with Barb. She told me stories about the poetry that she’d had published, and even brought out a few books. She also brought out a magazine that showed a Maytag commercial, featuring a letter that she wrote to “the lonely Maytag repairman.”

Later, Barb invited me and other kids who lived in the immediate area to swim in her pool. She had a HUGE indoor pool where one would expect a 3-car garage. It was like a mini-Olympic pool of sorts that got up to 10 feet deep, and was an IN-GROUND cement pool.

She wasn’t messing around with her pool.

After we got out to dry, she came over and said, “When your parents used to come over here to swim, I would give them a quarter so they could go to Owen’s to get a snack.”

Owen’s was a gas station in town that was also a convenience store.

Barb continued, “Today, a quarter will not do!” And then she handed each of us a silver dollar.

Barb Yeryar definitely had an impact on my life.

I would sit with my friend’s mom, Stephanie, and sit at the table to talk with her, just as I would do with my grandmother.

My neighbor, Joan, would oftentimes be alone after school, so I’d go by there and sit at her kitchen table as well. She always had lots and lots of dirty jokes to tell. Like Stephanie, she wasn’t really “old” in social terms. She was just old to anyone who was a kid.

Still, I was the only kid who would hang with these super-old people. At least, they were super-old to me.

Dave [in the Lapel jersey], beating my uncle by 0.1 seconds to win the County in 1969.

I also hung out with my health teacher named Dave. He beat my uncle in a race in 1969, to win the county.

He was not only my health teacher, but he was also my Cross Country coat. He was rougher on me when he learned that he had beat my uncle in a race. But he did it in a caring way.

He also was my teacher in Sex Ed, as well as my driving instructor.

I would sometimes go to his house and we would play guitars on the porch.

No other kid was doing what I was doing.

When I ask myself if I am ageist, or engaging in ageism, the answer is a resounding NO! And that goes in BOTH directions. I watch content creators on YouTube who are my son’s age, if not slightly younger. Some of them are surprisingly savvy with regard to political or philosophical concerns.

I don’t dismiss or disregard someone because they’re older than me, OR younger than me. It’s about the person, not the age.

But, to those who are all about age, and who believe that old people should be swept under the rug and ignored, I have a message for them. This message is on top of the obvious message above, which is that there is SO MUCH to be learned from those who have had more life experience.

If you are lucky, then you will get to spend 5-10 years being the young person in the office. But after that, if you are lucky, you will get to spend at least half a century being old.

This is why people need to get over ageism, and focus more on the person and what they have to bring to the table. In my case, to be precise, it’s the kitchen table, where all the really good talking happens.

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I Want to Take YOU on Your Ultimate Journey

Too many people are angry, upset, afraid, alone, and are coping with various situations. Mental illness and distress are killing people.

It does not have to be this way.

I want to take you on your Ultimate Journey. The cool thing about this journey is that you don’t have to leave your house, you don’t have to consume any questionable substances, you don’t have to spend any money, and you don’t even have to leave your seat.

Plus, the journey takes 45-60 minutes, depending on how fast you read this.

All you have to do is consent to the journey, and then we will start the process, after I answer a few questions that I am certain you will have.

To go on this journey, you will have to trust me.

I know. That’s a scary proposition. We barely know each other.

What are the risks?

This journey is comprised of a few questions and commands, followed by a video. The questions are simple enough that ANYONE who is capable of reading and understanding what I am writing can use their own critical thinking skills to answer the questions.

As for the commands, this is not a case of me wanting to tell you what to do, because I’m better or smarter, or insert other nonsense here. Rather, my directions serve to guide you through this journey.

It’s a journey that you’ve taken many, many times, for years on end. The problem is that you forgot HOW to take this journey.

If you have read this far, then I assume that you consent to the journey, and that you are willing and able to follow my directions.

At this time, please secure your perimeter. If you are NOT at home, then please save this for when you get home. Go to the bathroom, have a drink of water, and then have a seat in a comfortable place where you won’t be interrupted with life.

Temporarily mute your phone and all devices.

Okay, let’s get started.

Right now, I want for you to forget the things that are bringing stress into your life. Forget about your work for the time being. Forget about politics. Forget about the problems of the world.

Forget about being an adult, and discard all adult-related concerns.

Do not worry, for this will be temporary, and you can return to your previous state of consciousness after the journey, or at any time you want, should you not be comfortable with it.

Once you’ve forgotten or set aside the above mentioned items, I want for you to remember a time before you became an adult.

Remember a time when you had no political affiliations, and did not care about such things.

Remember a time when you had almost NO care in the world. A time when your biggest concern was which game you were going to play, or who you would go visit.

Remember a time of minimal responsibility.

Think way back to a good, happy moment in your childhood. Go back to this time when you felt really, truly safe.

Imagine that you are safe in this moment in time.

This is a 30-minute video that shows our Universe from current day, with the passage of time doubling every five seconds. It’s a journey from where we are right now, to the literal end of time and everything that exists.

After the video, return and read below.

Time eventually becomes irrelevant…

If you are reading this, then I will assume that you’ve watched the video posted above.

At 19:16 in the video, or 55 million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years from now, when the evaporation of black holes occurs, and they look like fireworks, the first one explodes.

It does not fizzle out until 71 million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years.

That means it took 21 million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years for the evaporation of that one black hole to happen.

In the animation, we see it happen in a matter of a few seconds.

Considering the fact that we only live about 80-100 years, realize that if humans were alive to witness this phenomenon, that you would live your 100 years, and literally not see ANY of it moving, at all.

If these facts are altering your perception, then congratulations. You’re on the journey.

When we are children, we have a great deal of perspective regarding the world. We are curious, and to varying levels, we are free to explore the world around us.

But as we grow up, we lose our way.

Our brains get filled with religious dogma, work culture propaganda, judgment, hatred, fear, greed, lust, and our behaviors change to fit those ailments. Even worse, our brains change to accommodate these things.

Then those states become our norm.

It puts us in a situation where we look rather silly.

She’s like lots of my former friends and co-horts, who used to know how to have fun and enjoy life. Now they’re angry, miserable, political, and missing out on what makes them happy in life.

But we certainly do not FEEL silly. We feel sickened by the anger, fear, and stress that we tote along, like a snack to feed a beast that is growing by the day.

Humans have become too self-important.

Humans place value on the wrong things.

Humans hold tightly to arrogance, and the idea that they have eternal souls and that they were created by a god, resulting in a loss of humility.

Humans are more interested in their tribal affiliations than the welfare of their neighbors, travelers, and immigrants.

Humans are more interested in stockpiling money, than they are tending to the needs of their own children.

Humans are more interested in working their lives away, than smelling the flowers and playing with their children.

Nobody who had the luxury of lying on their deathbeds ever regretted not spending more time at the office. They do not wish that they had been “more productive.”

Anyone who has been reading my writings, or anyone who knows me, understands that I am an Atheist. I say this NOT because I think you should be one, but because I want my thoughts to have some context.

Whatever you believe, so long as you are not harming others, keep at it.

I hold NO interest in your deconversion. At the same time, I DO hold an interest in living in a more positive society, which starts with YOU and ME.

My perspective on all of this is that we are NOT special and were NOT created by a god of any kind. Again, I tell you this so you can have perspective.

I have not sat back and arrogantly held this position. I have searched for evidence of ANY gods out there. I’ve read the bible and other documents considered to be sacred. I even read an encyclopedia set about the religions and rituals of the world.

I have been searching for over half a century, and I have not found even ONE small piece of evidence to support the idea that there are any gods out there watching over us. My door is open to any gods who want to talk. I think that they should have the power to do this.

What this means is, so far as I can tell, we are utterly alone in the universe. Nobody is driving the bus. We are on a giant rock, hurtling through space around a nuclear explosion, all alone.

From my perspective, if more people felt this way, that life is fragile and a special event in nature, they might value their lives more, and they might be more kind to strangers.

My struggle involves being kind to myself. No matter what you believe, or don’t believe, this can be your situation as well. This can also influence how you treat others.

Right now, people are screaming and yelling about things and getting hyper-emotional, instead of stopping, breathing, and listening to people who are there to help them.

They are not thinking.

Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and morgues are being pushed to their limits right now. Some have already been pushed too far, and have simply given up.

At any time, you can contract a deadly virus that will more than likely kill you. This is on top of everything else out there in the world that could end your life.

Once your life ends, so far as I can tell, that’s it. No heaven, hell, gods, devils, angels, demons, etc. None of it. I just see no evidence for any of it. Even if you believe in an afterlife or reincarnation, one day your body will be gone and life as you knew it will cease to exist forever.

Once you’re gone, that’s it. You exist no more. Or rather, the thing that you believed was you that existed is no more. That’s another existential crisis for another day.


Whether you agree with me, or whether you hold some type of religious beliefs, the truth is that our societies are at the early stages of a socio-economic collapse.

It has nothing to do with “heathens” like myself. Discarding of that flawed logic would be a healthy thing. It has everything to do with our owners, their greed for money, their thirst for power, and their desire to not only maintain these things for themselves, but to make them bigger. Because they never have enough.

No, that gay couple that got married isn’t destroying society. Neither is that immigrant who lost EVERYTHING and are running from the only home they’ve ever known, into the vast unknown.

These are the powerless, and the powerful love pointing at them and blaming them for everything. It’s a distraction.

Right now, you’re here. You might not be here in ten minutes. Whether you go to heaven or hell, or simply return to the state that “you” were in before you were born, the fact is that your physical being is gone, and it remains gone forever.

What are you doing with the tiny spec of time that you have on this planet?

If it involves hate, fear, stress, an excess of politics, too much work, too much debt, and the “othering” of people who are not like you, then it seems that you’re wasting the one-and-only life you’ve got.

I would encourage you to try to be kind. Try to have empathy, sympathy, and Humanity for those who are not like you; those who have it worse than you.

Try to avoid demonizing people who aren’t like you.

Stop. Close your eyes. Breathe. Then think.

We have people who are dying out there because they’re afraid of the “other” political team, who has been demonized. They fear the educated, who have been demonized. They fear science, which has been demonized for centuries.

They fear “losing their rights,” instead of doing the right thing, which ironically takes away the rights of all.

Worst of all, they might be too proud to admit that they were wrong, change their minds, and do the right thing. They fear being cast out of their tribe, or otherwise losing their tribal affiliation.

This means they would actually lose friends, respect, and their social standing if they change their attitude, change their course, and get vaccinated and wear a mask.

That’s the kind of pride that kills.

The world is becoming more intense. People are becoming more angry and aggressive.

Anger and aggression are the bodyguard of fear and sadness. They won’t show fear and sadness, because they believe that to be giving off signs of weakness. The truth is that only the weak need to mask their true feelings.

The purpose of this journey was to get you to think back to when you were more than likely a better person, and you probably had less stress.

This might not always be the case, but for many it might be. My childhood was VERY bumpy, but I did have some moments that were good, and I gravitate toward those times.

Examining your life. Is something stressing you? Causing anger? Generating fear? If so, you can investigate and see if there is something you can do about it.

For example, if you are a member of a tribal Facebook group that is all about hatred of the “others,” then please consider quitting that group. Shutting off those voices allows YOUR OWN voice to be heard. It’s that voice in your head that belongs to you, not someone else.

Some people refer to that voice as “god.”

And do not feel ashamed about getting a professional to help you. There are good therapists out there who can guide you toward the best version of you.

When life gets too overwhelming for me, I stop and go on this journey. Yes, that includes the video, which I have watched dozens of times.

After that, I realize that life is an illusion caused by death. And suddenly, my problems don’t seem so overwhelming.

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!

RIP, Charlie Watts

I had just read the news that Charlie Watts has passed away at the age of 80.

The last time I saw The Rolling Stones live was in 2015 in San Diego at Petco Park for the kick-off to their ZIP Code Tour [May 24th].

I have two stand-out memories from that night.

The first was a Stones fan who told me a joke when they reached the segment where Keith Richards plays a few of his own songs.

“You know what Stones fans call it when Keith Richards starts singing?

“They call it the bathroom break.”

My OTHER memory has to do with their stage set-up. They have HUGE screens behind them where you can see everything larger than life. We weren’t even sitting all that close, and could still see great detail.

At one point, the cameraman focuses on Charlie Watts while he is drumming. And in that moment, he accidentally dropped a drumstick, on the HUGE screen, for all to see. He grabbed another stick nearby and moved forward, without even blinking.

My favorite Charlie Watts anecdote is about one night in a hotel, after Mick has said something like, “None of this should matter to you because you’re only my drummer.” This was during an interview in 1978.

Charlie kept his anger bottled up until he got to his hotel room. As he tried to watch TV, Mick kept calling Watts, asking him, “Where’s my drummer?”

Watts turned off his TV set, got dressed all proper, and went down the hall to knock on Jagger’s door.

When Mick answer, Watts punched him right in the jaw.

“Never call me ‘your drummer’ again!”

Damn straight!

Below are some photos from that show. Rest in peace, Mr. Watts. No drummer in history pauses their hi-hat motion to strike their snare drum quite like you.

Getting set up
Gary Clark Jr. opened, and later joined The Rolling Stones on stage for a few songs.
Full swing.
The place went nuts!

Memories, and Sorting Through the Boxes

I was originally going to kick this off by comparing memories to things that are packed away in unmarked storage boxes. But then I realized that this isn’t completely accurate. Also, I’m not up for changing the title, so we’re going with a different analogy.

You’re making a beef stew in a crock pot. You add the tomato paste, carrots, potatoes, celery, onion, garlic, corn, cabbage, and meat. But then you notice that something doesn’t smell quite right. It could be the old cabbage, or the meat might be slightly beyond the window of safe use.

So you decide to “un-make” the beef stew, and proceed to remove each piece of everything so they can be washed and put away for later use elsewhere. Every piece of corn, every carrot, etc.

This would be ridiculous, and it wouldn’t take anyone long to realize that this approach will not work out.

The ONLY viable solution, it seems, is to throw ALL of it away.

Now that your appetite has been ruined, let’s look at the different types of memories that we all have. Some of them spoil with age, while others get better.

The Bad Memory: Remember that time in the Fall of 1983, at college orientation, when things went horribly wrong and it resulted in everyone avoiding you for the day? Remember how it inspired over half a dozen people to either change dorms or schools?

This memory has no real-world consequences beyond that day, and yet that memory keeps replaying. It stays alive. The only thing to keep it at bay is proper medication. It most definitely is a memory that should not exist or persist, as it is not useful at all.

The Warm General Memories: These are memories that invoke specific feelings that are more positive. Because of their positive nature, it can be more difficult to invoke them. They aren’t really specific, and are more geared toward a general sense of safety or well-being.

It’s sitting in the bean bag chair in the basement, watching television while having a snack. No worries about bills, appointments, work, or anything else. Total freedom.

The Good Memory Gone Bad: It’s the good memory you have of someone from high school or college. But then you make the mistake of trying to talk with them on Facebook, and you end up learning the hard way that they’ve become a horrific example of a human being.

This effectively destroys all of those good memories.

The Bad Memory That Got Better: This is the after school fight outside the gate that made people stop treating you like an easy target.

I was terrified of that fight, but it was one of the best things to ever happen.

The Good Memory That Got Better: These memories involve the people who were decent enough back then, but who later became an actual friend. It’s a seemingly rare thing, but I think that I have a few.

There is one, for sure.

The Closed Chapter Memories: These are memories of family, friends, or loved ones who are no longer living. These memories can become frustrating if questions arise, because you cannot ask them.

The Music-Linked Memories: I wrote about this recently in my entry about music on physical media. On August 1, 1981, I took my brother and sister to my dad’s place to catch the launch of MTV [we didn’t have cable where we lived].

Whenever I hear the MTV music theme, or “Video Killed the Radio Star,” I can see and smell that little apartment, which was a converted cave. Yea, a freaking CAVE!

The Painful Memories: These are events, such as loved ones passing away, that become a bit dull with time, but never go away.

Some of you may be wondering how the present can change the past.

Let’s interrupt a three-word statement: I love…

What does that MEAN? If your third word is “carrots,” then that’s one thing. But if the third word is “you,” then the “I love” got changed a bit, didn’t it?

I royally fucked up a fond memory I had of the past, which involved a girlfriend from 1982. I had some great memories from that summer. Going to see Poltergeist in the theaters. Playing Stairway to Heaven on guitar. Jumping into the photo booth at the mall and getting those four pictures. I can still see those photos, even though I haven’t seen them since the mid-80s.

Those memories end with her father trying to kill me with a wrench, because he had no idea that I existed until he found out the hard way when I showed up to pick up his daughter.

All the same, these used to be good memories. And I could have taken those good memories to the grave with me.

It’s like that game show, where you could go home with the $5,000, OR you could give that up in exchange for what’s behind The Secret Door!

I went for the secret door. It didn’t end well.

As a result, that once-warm memory has been destroyed. This memory was once very similar to the one I wrote about in the “music on physical media” entry from two days ago. But now, it joins a special place with memories of my ex-wife and college orientation.

Of course, with my stew analogy, like all foods, it will either be consumed or it will go bad and need to be thrown out.

The above anecdote about the past isn’t a one-off, either. I’ve ruined the past many times, simply by looking up the person with whom I had shared this past.

What happens is I contact them, we start to talk about the old days, and I find out the hard way that they didn’t really have the same appreciation that I had. In some cases, I find that while I viewed them as a friend, they viewed me as an annoyance or in some other negative light.

This observation got me wondering how I think about the past, as well as how I think about those people from the past.

Since I keep referencing the blog entry from two days ago, I’ll link it HERE. It’s a warm story and a highly fond memory. It’s the kind of memory that could have easily been killed like the others, because I had talked with her briefly.

Fortunately for me, she has a solid head on her shoulders, so it did not cause any damage.

Since that memory survived the present, I decided to look at it to figure out how I see these memories.

As I gave sincere attention to my pondering of this time, I realized that, so far as I am concerned, she is still staying in that home, house sitting, waiting for me to return.

Yes, I know people change. Logically, I know that she left that house once the owners returned, and she returned home. I know she left home, got married, and moved to another state. I know all of these things, and yet she lives in my mind in that house.

MTV: Thank you for 15 years of music.

When I watched and listened to this just now, I was back in that converted cave, watching this on my dad’s television with my brother and sister. My sister passed in late June 2017.

I can smell the old remnants of a scent of carpet glue, along with that cave smell. It basically smells like rocks. I remember it being the coolest place on earth for a while.

When I have this memory, I envision my dad still alive, still there, and ready for me to stop by after school. Logically, I know my dad died in early 2003. But in my mind, he’s still in that converted cave, just as that girl is still in that house sitting situation.

I’ve established that when I think of something, I am transported back to that time, as are the people who were involved.

When I catch up to people from my past, decades later, my mind transforms to a place where the past is very fresh, almost as if it’s scheduled to happen later this day. While I’m in that mindset, the other person’s mind is not. They might be thinking about something they’ve got to do today, or some recent concerns of some kind.

Maybe they have a vague memory. Maybe they’ve forgotten it completely.

Or maybe they DO remember, but they remember it through their perspective, which might not be so kind to me as mine is to them.

This type of memory happens for me, regardless of whether it is positive or negative. I can only imagine that people who go through horrible situations feel this way when they recall their trauma. Their minds take them back to the scene, and they can see, smell, hear, and feel everything.

Memories become very real when they manifest in this way. I suspect that a horrific memory with these types of recalls are representative of PTSD.

I do have some memories like that, and I won’t go deeply into any of them. I can still smell the Miller High Life on my carjacker’s breath, as he shakily pointed a 9mm pistol at my face.

This is my ultimate question. My suspicion is that everyone else has this issue, where they have memories that they want to keep forever, and memories that are either bad or rotted that they want to discard.

I do know that having new experiences and making new memories does nothing to remove these bad ones. There seems to be infinite storage space for these types of memories.

It’s a question that I’d like to explore further.

An important question to answer for myself involves whether or not my perception is over-inflated. Is my recollection of them accurate, or are certain attributes and feelings being inflated?

What I wonder is whether or not certain memories can be taken down from their pedestal and put into a more accurate context.

Yes, most definitely.

One of my uncles was a major influence with regard to my musical pursuits. In the summer of 1985, we went on a bicycle ride through the countryside.

It was a rare opportunity, as he had moved away when I was still really young. This was my chance to finally have an adult conversation with the man who put music on my radar in the first place.

We went on this bike ride, and I felt that it could be a significant and monumental bonding moment. I was partially right, and not in a good way.

I ended up telling him about some experiences I had in college, that were similar to experiences he had. I’ll leave it at that.

Throughout the ride, he smiled as we talked, and I felt like we had adequately bonded.

But I was wrong. Apparently, after he had HIS experiences, he developed a sense of regret. He bought into propaganda that informed him that his experience was really bad.

So what he thought was a good idea would be to walk into the house, into the kitchen were EVERYONE was sitting, and just blurt out what I told him to everyone while I’m standing right there.

As everyone stared at me, I looked at him and said, “Wow, I never had you pegged as a fucking dick. Go fuck yourself.” [For the record, grandma agreed with my assessment.]

I haven’t talked to him since, he hasn’t reached out to me, and we will never be talking again. His musicianship was solid, but his personality was very broken and disrespectful.

He only taught me the F major scale on a six-string, by writing it down. A few people reading this have taught me more about music than him.

This bad memory most definitely gets in the way of any attempts I might have considered making for reconnection. I saw his page on Facebook, and I could have easily taken a chance and sent him a line.

But I did no such thing. For all I knew, he could be just as crappy as his older brother or his sister. I don’t talk to them, either, and it’s because of my heavy-duty bad memories that prevent me from attempting to contact them.

Are bad memories getting in the way?

My memory may very well be protecting me, because none of these people had my best interests at heart. It’s difficult when so many people in your own family are monsters.

In my original idea of equating memories to boxes in storage, I imagined myself in a giant room that was so big that the walls cannot be seen. There, I would sit on a low stepping stool, reaching down to a box on the ground and removing the lid.

From there, I would pick out each and every dusty piece and inspect it. Things I’d want to keep go into a new plastic container, and the rest gets pitched in the trash.

Every so often, a box would be rotted, and it would be obvious to me that the entire thing needs to get chucked. And every so often, I’ll have the urge to just torch the place and walk away from it all.

There is a day that I remember that is NOT a specific date or time. Without reliving it in too much detail, I was very young sitting in the bathroom, looking out the window watching my brother crawl around the back yard. We had moved into this house to accommodate my sister.

My brother was crawling under a big steel half-pipe that had ridges. It was like he was crawling under a tunnel. It was the early afternoon, so the shadows were in specific places. My mother was hanging clothes on the line to dry. It was a very sunny day.

Then I looked away, into the mirror at myself, and said, “I am going to remember this moment forever.” So far, I have.

There is absolutely NO point to this memory, at all. There is no significance beyond my very youthful promise to remember it.

This memory ranks up there with something I had called “The Penny Game.”

Every year, my paternal grandparents would have a Christmas party at their trailer park, in the community room, connected to the laundry room.

There was a HUGE stone fireplace, and the stones stuck out in a way that created ledges. Some of these ledges were higher than I could see.

The Penny Game was something I played alone. Nobody else knew about it, because I didn’t want anyone sabotaging the game.

What I’d do is bring a penny to the Christmas party and place it up on a ledge of one of the stones, up above where I could see. That’s the first half of the game.

The next year, I would bring another penny to hide. Before hiding it, I would have to FIND the penny that I’d hid the previous year. Note that the Christmas party was the ONLY time I’d ever spend in that community center.

Points were added or deducted if I could recall where I left the penny on the first try. Extra points if I could remember the date and mint on the penny, and extra points if I could remember if it was placed heads or tails up.

The challenge was not only the passage of time, but I would also be taller than I was the year before. So it wasn’t a matter of just reaching up and seeing how high I could reach.

I did this every year, until they stopped having these Christmas parties in 1978.

Assuming that the fireplace is still there [the community center is there], one would find a 1968D penny, heads up, on the 4th stone from the left, 12 stones above the beginning of the top of the fireplace hole.

Why do I remember this? Habit, probably. I may very well still be playing the game in my head. But I have no practical reason for remembering this.

Maybe this memory keeps my childhood alive in my brain?

As the title suggests, I initially wanted to approach the issue of bad and ruined memories like they’re in filing boxes in storage, needing to be sorted and dealt with individually. In doing this, the idea would be to sort out the good and bad, with the good sent to safe keeping, while the bad get sent to the shredding facility.

But memories are simply not this clean and easy. Some stay hot for a long time, while others cool. This idea lead me toward the stew analogy. The cynic would say that, over time, the stew will go back, and then the entire thing will have to be dumped into the garbage disposal, to be seen no more.

As I approach my late 50s, I am starting to realize that they ALL might start fading way, thanks to aging and how the human brain works. One day I will forget that moment that I told myself I’d be remembering forever. One day I’ll forget about that 1968D penny on a stone in the fireplace in the community center from 1978.

Someday I’ll forget about the people who did me wrong and caused me harm. Any good that comes from that will be countered with forgetting those who made a difference in my life.

I might forget how to play music, or how to write. I might even forget my own name, where I’m from, and how old I am at that time.

While I don’t mind losing the bad memories, I do have some difficult feelings about losing the good memories. This may be why I write some of them down.

The most difficult thing for me to accept is the fact that I may not only forget about those good memories, but I might not even be able to know that I forgot them in the first place.

If you don’t know that it’s missing, then does it even matter?

I know that my memories mean nothing to the world, in the grand scheme of things. They have meaning only to me. Even when they involve good times or good memories with others, it will still only mean something to me.

People I think about from time to time may not have thought about me at all in almost half a century. And you know that if I ever found one of their phone numbers, I’d be calling them and talking with them as if it had been ten minutes since we last saw each other.

But I won’t be finding any phone numbers, because I won’t be looking. I think that it’s time for me to keep those from my past who wish to be involved, because they’re already here, and ditch the rest.

Over time, the bad memories will become irrelevant. This is fine.

Still, I have a hard time imagining my most cherished of memories leaving me.

I thought that I was ready to end here, but I have one final anecdote to tell.

Owen is one cool guy.

On St. Patrick’s Day 2010, I went to Mel Gibson’s church for a St. Patrick’s Day mega-bash. It wasn’t anything religious. They had a phenomenal buffet, and Mel Gibson’s nephew, Owen, taught me the fine art of dancing with four women at the same time.

I was going through the buffet line with Catherine, when she noticed that there was no utensil available to dish out the green beans. As luck would have it, Mel Gibson was right there, saw the problem, ran and got a big spoon himself, and apologized for it.

Just seconds after that, I looked over and saw someone I noticed. It was a woman named Marie. Marie and I worked together for 5.5 years for a healthcare consulting firm, as Admin staff.

Marie was a bit older than me. She was a really fun lady who never acted her age, which might be why we got along so well. She always dressed in a fun way to reflect her goofy and outgoing personalith.

I went over to talk to Marie. I could tell right away that she was NOT her bubbly self. When I asked her if she remembered me, she told me that she did not, and she apologized for that, because she’d had a series of strokes that destroyed her memory.

I told her about how she was back then, and some of the good times we had. With a straight face, she told me that she had no memory of any of it, but that I seemed like a nice guy, so she would take my word for it that things were that way.

I left Marie’s table, and went to sit with Catherine and Owen. While they were speaking with voices that showed how they were enjoying the party, I couldn’t help but feel sad about Marie. I successfully kept that sadness to myself. Nobody called me out on it.

We will never know what we will remember and what we will forget until it happens. Shortly after that, it will all go away when we die. None of my memories will exist, beyond what I’ve written.

Ultimately, my memories are as much of an illusion as I am. That thing I call “me” is just a series of neural network connections that created a “me” based on my ill and limited perception of the reflect sent back to me by others who also have an ill and limited perception of this being.

The brain in my skull gets informed of who and what I am, based on what happens inside other skulls. And then they proceed to fuck with each other, maybe out of boredom or stupidity.

Life is an illusion caused by death. Why should any other aspect of this be any different?

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Update: Intro 2021 / I Want You 2021 Recording

I just finished rendering a draft WAV for Intro 2021, and sent it off to a trusted musician friend for review, critique, and ideas.

My initial thoughts are that I’m somewhat pleased by how it turned out. I think it needs some proper mixing, which will take some time.

The piece got slowed down to 66bpm, which is almost half of the speed it was originally played. In re-learning this song, which I only played once in 1985, I realized that I was a better guitar player back then than I give myself credit for.

Plus, any negative judgments I had about the song were due to the rushed and rough draft nature of the recording. It definitely was not radio-ready.

Going to spend a few more days taking in notes and refining the mix. After that, it will be time to start rehearsals for I Want You 2021.

A Very Personal Argument in Favor of Music on Physical Media

It’s pre-Spring 1984 in the Midwest; still cold, snowy, and within blizzard season. I’m almost wrapping up my first year of college. This girl in the dorms liked me, but it really wasn’t mutual. She chased me around for a while.

Later in the year, she introduced me to her sister, and something magical happened.

To protect her privacy, I will not be mentioning any specific locations, and will not be mentioning her name. Those details are also not important to the point of the story. All the same, this is in my top 3 cherished moments from the 80s.

I would end up driving to a house where she was house-sitting while the owners were in Florida. We went out just long enough to catch one of those Friday the 13th movies in the theater at the local mall.

I’m bad. I’m bad. Sha-mon. Ya know it.
The white tape on the left side is “1984” by Van Halen. I threw that cassette away recently, because the plastic was starting to degrade, and the info on the tape was almost unreadable.

Then we went to the house, and got there just before a MAJOR blizzard hit, snowing everyone in.

We were trapped and alone. Although we were trapped, I had never felt so free.

She recommended some music, and pulled out a record by NENA from the previous year [1983]. She told me that it was in German. This really piqued my interest, being of German descent.

Of course, I had my trusty boom box. I never went anywhere without that boombox, at least 8 blank tapes, RCA patch cords, 16 rechargeable D cell batteries [and the charger], and the power cord with an extension. I took my music media seriously.

So before she put it on, I asked if I could tape it. She said I could, so I got my patch cords, boombox and everything set up in under 2 minutes. The little stereo she played it on was in the laundry room.

We watched the record spin and the tape roll by. We danced. We played in ways that gentlemen never detail. We talked. It’s one of those very treasured memories that I hope to never forget.

I messed with the brightness and contrast so that you could read the cassette contents. It’s got other loose tracks after the end of the NENA album. We filled the entire tape. Those songs were the soundtrack for our extended weekend.

To be anti-climactic, because I just happened across that tape again.

I still have it. Made in 1984, found in 2021.

I don’t need it anymore, really, since I have solid MP3s [which I made from the tape].

I can’t tell you how it survived and kept up with me.

Fortunately for me, this typically happened with cassette tapes. These days, I tend to digitize tapes right away. These tapes are old, and who knows how many more plays they’ve got on them.

I know. I sound like a hypocrite because I am digitizing my tapes as I find them, recognizing that they’re not much longer for this world.

I suppose it would also sound and look bad for me to admit that I have approximately 83 GIGABYTES of music on an SD card in my phone. It’s how I play stuff on the car stereo.

Now that you’ve read my story, and have received the proper set-up, I want to refresh your memory on one important part of the story.

Ich Bleib’Im Bett, translated to Engish is “I’ll Stay in Bed.” Who could say NO to that?

It’s the part where she tells me about the record while I’m looking at the album, and tells me that it’s in German. The way she says it gives me shivers. She let me copy it, which is very special to me. I got to look at the record sleeve, and copy the names from that to the tape cover.

Sharing music can be a very intimate thing. And for those who are wondering, I did later purchase a CD in the 90s, to show support for the artist and love for the album itself.

Now that you’ve been refreshed, let’s give that romantic scene a major update.

We’re snowed in the house, all alone. She says, “I got a Spotify playlist you should hear.” She puts it on the stereo from her phone via Bluetooth.

Okay, this situation would have the conveniences of today, but would still occur in pre-Spring 1984.

Stick with me.

Now, here we are in 2021. What would be different with regard to my memories of that wonderful event? I’m sure that whatever music she had picked, it would have been really good, so there are no issues with regard to music choice.

Given that I had an appreciation for her musical taste, the same mood would have been set, and we still would have had the same experience, to a degree.

But a few things would be missing.

One of those things is the physical sharing of the music. She showed me the record sleeve and told me all about the singer and the band. I’d heard 99 Luftballoons before on MTV, but then gave them no more thought. I was reminded that there was more to them than just that one song.

Letting me tape the record was a piece of intimacy that is very important to me, and that would not have existed without the music on physical media. Texting me the link later just doesn’t have the same impact as holding the album, looking at it, asking for consent, and talking about it.

As a follow-up question, what would I stumble across in 2021 that would prompt me to think of her and recall the time we shared? I do have one photograph, which will not be posted online, ever. I’d remember our fantastic time together, but in the modernized scenario, there would be NO music attached to that memory.

The audible element must be linked to the physical elements. With streaming, this cannot happen.

Remember, we went and saw a Friday the 13th movie together. As I write this, I am struggling to remember the precise title of the movie itself. “Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter” was released in mid-April 1984, which is too late in the year for a blizzard. So it must have been a previous release being shown to ramp people up for the new one. It’s my only guess.

I link music to experiences. It made the memories stronger, because to me they become interwoven with the sound waves of the music.

The handling and exploring of the physical media added to the entire experience in a significant way, as did the sharing / taping of the record.

This song always reminds me of her, and the brief time we shared together.

This is clearly an older person’s concern. Young people don’t miss it, because they’ve never experienced it. But for those who relate, we can remember going to buy a record and reading the liner notes in the car while waiting to get home.

The existence of music on physical media enhances the human experience by bringing audio waves into the physical world.

Thanks to the existence of music on physical media, I am left with this incredible memory that has been forged in fires that melt steel, hammered and folded, recalled time and time again, with a complete soundtrack to cover the entire event.

You can hear the entire NENA album HERE. I have also made a YouTube playlist for the rest of the tape HERE.

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!

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