Christian Orthodox Ritual Gone Wrong

WARNING: This is a very difficult story to tell, and it involves a mother dying in front of her children. The accompanying video expresses the terror, desperation, and panic of her children. Please proceed with caution. You have been warned.


INTRODUCTION
I have to be up front and declare that the purpose of this entry is not to mock or make fun of anyone. There is a time for those things, and this is not one of those times.

Orthodox Christians have an annual ritual of the Epiphany Bath. In this ritual, a person will submerge themselves into freezing waters to mark the Epiphany, which was the baptism of Jesus Christ, according to the mythology.

Many participants also believe that the water will wash away their sins, AND that the water possess special healing properties.

What I am about to share with you has no healing. Instead, the video depicts a woman, a Russian lawyer and mother of two children, engaging in the ritual, with deadly results.

WARNING: This is VERY difficult to watch, and to hear the cries of these children as they realize that their mother will die, never to return home.

WHAT WENT WRONG?
There are several things that went wrong here. I am not well versed in Orthodox Christian practices, so some of these things might be part of the ritual, for all I know.

The first issue I see is that they are doing this at night. They have lighting for the cameras, but they do not have a powerful light so that they can see in the water. To be fair, if they all could have seen what had happened, they might have been even more terrified. In the video, you’ll notice that the priest recognizes the problem right away.

Again, I don’t know if this is supposed to be a nighttime ritual. If there is no rigid expectation of time, then I’d suggest that doing this during daylight hours would be preferrable.

The second issue is the relatively small hole in the ice.

The third issue is that there are NO diving professionals present.

The fourth issue is that there is no rope attaching her to something on the surface, like a tree.

The fifth issue is how she jumps in, completely straight with her feet pointed. This move took things beyond a simple dunking three times.

The sixth issue is that they did this on a river that has a strong current running beneath the ice. Combine this with the fifth issue, and you can see how she went down deep enough to be caught in a current and dragged beneath the ice to a place where there is no surfacing.


A PHILOSOPHICAL QUESTION
The question I would pose is simple: Why would a god allow someone to die when they are in the process of expressing respect and worship for said god?

I have a handle on the answer to that, but it’s an answer that most people do not want to accept.


THE HARD TRUTH
I have been on this planet for 57 years, and I have been a non-believer the entire time. Never have I believed in any gods, regardless of whether or not they are commercially available for purchase. I word it this way to include both the gods that are attached to human-generated religions, as well as the possibility of a god who has no attachments to ANY human-generated religions.

Very few ever stop to consider the idea of gods who aren’t mixed up in human nonsense.

During my time on the planet, I have never, ever witnessed anything that would lead me to conclude that there is a god out there who is actively watching over us, taking care of us, taking notes, and then doling out punishment after death.

Additionally, I’ve also seen no evidence of any god who might be the “watchmaker” type. This is the belief that a god created everything and then left it to run on its own, without keeping an eye on it. This type of a god would be a good explanation for why something like this would go wrong. Still, no evidence is present.

I don’t look at a tree and declare it to be a sign that a specific god exists. I don’t look at a beautiful baby and declare it to be a sign of a god, any more than I’d look at an ugly baby and declare it to be a sign of a satan. This fallacious style of thinking is called Cognitive Dissonance.


IN THE END
There are no gods watching over us. There is nothing out there that cares about us. We are utterly alone, and nobody is driving the bus.

Most certainly, this is a position that terrifies the average person. This is because most religious belief is driven by the fear of death, followed by the fear of death being the end of everything.

One purpose of the hard times that the American government is putting us through right now is to push people toward religious faith. This is to help the likes of Trump get solid buy-in from the faithful when it’s time to install his Fascist Nazi regime. My hope is that it won’t happen, because living in a Theocracy is NOT something anyone would really want to do.

Plus, remember that there are over 50,000 brands of Christianity available for purchase, and only a few can take over and run the government. Consider what they will do to YOUR religion and YOUR beliefs if that happened. SPOILER: Your church would be shut down, and you’d be ordered to join the one true Christian faith, read the one true Christian bible, and the government would have its hands in your faith.

It is true that I cannot declare definitively that there is no god. Doing that would mean that I’d be saddled with the burden of proof. I see no reason to believe in Unicorns, but I’d have a hard time proving that they don’t exist.

All I have to go on is probability. Throughout my life as a non-believer, I left a part of my mind open to the idea that I was completely wrong, and that there is a god out there who is watching, listening, and for some reason caring about whether or not it feels good when I touch my pee-pee while I urinate.

That probability started out at a certain size. It got smaller over the years, as I noticed that Christians would make the same old, tired arguments in favor of their faith. These arguments hold no water and can easily be either debunked or dismissed.

That probability gets smaller over time. Any interactive god that is out there has had 57 years to communicate with me directly, to let me know that they exist. This has not happened..

Based on my experience and observations, the idea of ANY gods out there is very, very, very, very, very, very, very small.

Even worse, the idea of a god that is attached to a human-generated religion being out there is even smaller. Both scenarios are small enough to be negligible.

You’d have better luck finding a unicorn.

What we have now is a woman, a wife and mother, who is dead because she was engaging in a ritual to appease a superstitious mythological being that doesn’t appear to exist at all.

And when she was at her most desperate, under the water, terrified, afraid, disoriented, cold, and alone, there was no god with her and no god to save her.

Gods were invented by early man as a way of explaining or understanding the world around us. Imagine being a human 200,000 years ago, witnessing lightning and thunder, earthquakes, and other natural events and having no idea what caused them or why.

Gods were used as an explanation, and those explanations held true until we gained more knowledge and learned about the environment. Today, those of us who are educated know that lightning is caused by static electricity that is generated when clouds rub against one another. We also know that earthquakes are caused by movement in tectonic plates.

There are no gods or demons doing any of it.

Thankfully for me, we know that depression IS NOT caused by demons or possession. We know that beating people almost to death isn’t a cure for any of it.

And now, we have a widower and two orphans who are deep in mourning the loss of their wife and mother, who was everything to them. It’s a tragedy that could have been so easily avoided, by removing superstitious mythological beliefs from our cultures.

That won’t happen in our lifetime, as it’s still a great method of controlling large numbers of people.

It’s tragic, disgusting, terrifying, and so needless.

My hope is that people can learn from this horrific tragedy, and take steps to being more safe when engaging in these rituals, especially the dangerous ones.

I’ve watched this video a half dozen times, to let the reality of it all sink in. Those poor children had just witnessed what may end up being the most horrific event of their entire lives, and it was done in the name of Jesus.

We hairless apes need to do more to take care of one another.


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Sunday Sermon: America, the Christian Nation

“Why can’t you convert and believe after you die? Well, for the same reason that I can’t forgive any of you without death and a blood sacrifice. Look, I don’t make the rules here.” –God, probably


INTRODUCTION
For most of my life, I have encountered self-declared Christians who love to remind me that America is “a Christian nation.” Most of my life, the ONLY evidence I’ve seen that America is a Christian nation was our history of slavery and genocide.

Because there was so little evidence of Christian influence, I was skeptical of this clalim.

But in recent years, I have found a great deal of evidence that, indeed, America is a Christian nation after all. So it would only be fair that I put up the list of things I’ve seen or experienced that show me that America is truly a Christian nation.

EVIDENCE OF CHRISTIANITY IN AMERICA
If Christianity is about nothing else, then it is about the rules, laws, and commandments that one must follow, under threat of eternal damnation, if they are to be a Christian. I’m talking about going beyond the mere label that you get when you say that you believe, and nothing more.

These are things that are supposedly a big deal to Christians.

  • Homelessness: One way in which you can see Christianity in action in America revolves around how the homeless is treated. In America, we do it the same way that Jesus told us to do it. This is through harsh judgment, mockery, and telling them to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. Then we have the police harass them and move them from place to place, like shuffling around garbage.
  • Hunger and Starvation: People are allowed to starve to death on the streets, while megachurch pastors rake in millions of dollars. This classic Commandment of God has since been enhanced, to make it illegal to feed homeless people.
  • Lying, aka Bearing False Witness: Christian leadership, which has recently been extended to Republican politicians, is all about lying to people. They blame the problems of the people on the poor or immigrants, or even people in poor countries who have nothing to do with anything. They tell the lies to promote the Word of God, so it’s okay. God even mentions bearing false witness in his Ten Commandments, from the Old Testament, which doesn’t matter, except for the commandments and passages used to hate gay people.
  • Hatred: There is no shortage of hatred in the Land of God! Whether your a non-believer, one who believes in a different god, or one who simply messed up by choosing the wrong brand of Christianity, you will get hatred. This hatred also gets extended to non-white people, as well as the poor.
  • Judgment: If you feel that your life is lacking in judgment from complete strangers, then America has the cure for you! American Christians are VERY quick to judge. Along these lines, they also gossip heavily, which God is okay with completely.
  • Overthrowing a government and disrespecting the President: American Christian Republicans have no respect for the current American government, AND they have no respect for the current president, Joe Biden. With this one, I will actually reference a Bible passage, so please turn to Romans 13:1 to find out more about this.
  • Public prayer: God was ALL about public prayer. The idea is to do it in front of as many people as possible, and SHOW them that YOU are a good Christian. You can check out Matthew 6 to learn more about it.
  • Siding with the Rich Man over Lazarus: If there is one thing that American Christians can do very well, it’s picking a side in an argument, or in life. In this case, they’ve chosen to side with the Rich Man over Lazarus. You can look that story up in the Bible yourself and see how that ends up. Which one did God like more? Case closed.
  • Interest and debt: The Bible is very clear about how Christians should NEVER carry debt or charge interest. That’s how we’re living right now in America, with NO credit cards, no debt, and no interest. Cool story.
  • Keeping people, poor, sick, in poverty, and afraid: I can’t point to a specific Bible verse here, but every American Christian understands that this is the best way to get the best out of your population. I mean, you wouldn’t want your citizens being healthy, being more productive, having more money, spending more into the economy, paying more in taxes, raising a family, and enjoying life. That would be BAD for the government. Right?
  • For-profit prisons: 2.8% of American adults can be found in America. The police have incentive and permission to beat and imprison anyone they like.
  • Permission to worship celebrities and the wealthy: God was very clear about it when he said that he didn’t want to hog all of the attention. This is why he gave his believers and followers permission to worship celebrities and the wealthy, for the fame and money that they’ve grown for themselves. Because there is nothing more important than being famous and wealthy.
  • God’s Choice for President: Donald “TWO Corinthians” Trump was chosen by God himself to represent American Christians. He knows how to “grab ’em by the pussy.” He pays women for sex. He’s on his third marriage. He hates the gays. He gets an erection for his daughter. He lies constantly about everything, which is a most God-like trait. He places his own money and personal attention above the needs of others, even if doing so will cause them to get sick and die. He hates the poor, the non-whites, and the non-Christians with all that he’s got. There is nobody closer to God than him. Nobody. This is why the golden statue of him was approved by God himself, in the Bible. Graven images and golden idols area a-okay with God.
  • The Exclusive Club: When a Christian meets a non-believer, they do NOT show them the “love of Jesus,” invite them to church, or show compassion. That’s for losers! Instead, they judge and mock as they stand proudly as members of a VERY exclusive club. For, as God once told them, NEVER let the riff-raff into MY house! Stand tall, judge harshly, and kicketh them to the curb. Because you are special. If you weren’t special, then you’d be brown or poor.
  • Black Friday: They say that “Jesus is the reason for the season,” and what better way to express that, than to have a day where everything is “on sale,” and people are encouraged to line up in the middle of the night in the cold weather, waiting for a store to open, so they can beat a fellow Christian to death with their bare hands in order to get that doll their daughter wants for Christmas. Such a celebration of life!

This is not, by any means, a comprehensive list. But it does touch upon the high points.


IN THE END
America is the land where you get told on a daily basis that America is “a Christian nation.”

The sad thing is that they must tell us this, because NOBODY would ever guess it based on what they say and do.


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Autism and Work: To Disclose or Not

INTRODUCTION
With all of the issues that come with a diagnosis of Autism, there is the seemingly unanswerable question surrounding the issue of whether or not you should disclose your Autistic status.

Arguments have been made in favor of both sides, and I’m working on figuring it out. I’ll be posting one example of each, and then a conclusion if I have one.


DO NOT DISCLOSE YOUR AUTISM
I brought this question up first to the therapist who tested and diagnosed me. His answer was short, and straight to the point.

“No, do NOT tell a prospective employer about your Autism. It’s none of their business.”


DO DISCLOSE YOUR AUTISM
I wasn’t really comfortable with what this therapist told me, so I went to talk to a small business owner. She and her husband run a high-end art gallery.

Her answer was more thoughtful and had more detail and nuance.

“If I went through the trouble of hiring someone, and they told me after-the-fact that they were Autistic and needed some special considerations, I’d not be happy. I would be angry, and I would feel betrayed by that person. To me, it’s best to always be up-front about anything about you that might be of concern.”


THE PARADOX
It’s kind of like the boss telling everyone, “You can wear a Hawaiian shirt on Casual Friday… if you want.”

This statement leaves things in a state of ambiguity.

If you DO wear a Hawaiian shirt on Friday and nobody else does, then you’re the gullible rube. But if you DO NOT wear a Hawaiian shirt on Friday, then you’re not a team player.

No matter what you do, no matter what you choose, it will be used against you.


THE CHOICE
I could NOT tell them about it, which would make conversations VERY difficult when it comes time to addressing a performance issue that will inevitably come up.

I could also decide to TELL them directly in an interview. If they need a disability hire to meet a quota, then it will work. However, more than likely, telling them this up-front will result in them telling you, “Thank you for your candid answers. We’ll be in touch.”

That’s code for, “You didn’t get the job.”


IN THE END
I would opt to tell them instead of hiding it, for a few reasons.

  1. I trust that small business owner more than the therapist who tested and diagnosed me. That’s a sad statement, and one of many reasons why I stopped seeing him as my therapist.
  2. Attempting to hide my Autism amounts to masking, which is VERY unhealthy because it is emotionally draining and unsustainable.
  3. They’ll find out anyway, so no need to dance around it.
  4. If they don’t want to hire me because I am Autistic, then I’d not want to work there.

The last one is troublesome because the majority of employers would not want me there.

The hard truth is that employers don’t care about YOU or ME, or anybody. All they care about is the bottom line. With this in mind, it makes sense that they would not care to hire me in the first place, when they can get a “normal” person on staff.

If I tell them, then they’ll thank me for being candid and we’ll be done.

If I DO NOT tell them, they’ll find out and trouble will come up.

There is no winning situation in this for me. This is why Autistic adults like me enjoy a 90% unemployment rate. We have talents and abilities. We just struggle to make eye contact, we’re not good working on the phones, we may not speak up in a meeting, we may say something that is too harsh because we spoke too quickly, or any other issues that are caused by Autism.

We might even have an Autistic meltdown, which is similar to a panic attack, even though it might look and sound like a childish temper tantrum.

Compassion is necessary to get Autistic people into the workplace. The problem is that there is no entry cell on the spreadsheet for waste-of-time garbage like compassion or Humanity.

The only way I can think to end this is to recount a brief conversation that I had with my mechanic in California. I’d taken my car to the dealership to get a faulty airbag replaced. The dealership later called me to say that they installed the “wrong part.” The later tried to say that it was someone else’s airbag.

This lead me to not trust that they had actually done the work. This car was on the road for 15 years with a faulty passenger airbag.

With that, I asked my mechanic if he could check to see if they actually did the work. He said that there was no real way for him to tell, and that he really didn’t want to get involved in it.

He suggested that I sell the car, but I told him that I couldn’t have a clean conscious if I sold a car with a defective airbag to someone else.

He looked at me and said, “You have a good heart. The world needs more people like you.”

To that, all I could reply was, “The world doesn’t want more people like me. We’re not profitable, and kindness is a weakness to them.”

This video is mistitled, because the issue IS NOT the “rejection.” Rather, the issue is that workplaces constantly assault and overload the senses of the worker, as well as the applicant, to the point that it is unbearable.

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Depression: Life, Clarity, and Perception

INTRODUCTION
When one has a combination of Major Depressive Disorder and a very late Level 1 Autism diagnosis, their view of life and the world can be very dark.

Guilty, as charged.

The only way out of this dark hole involves years of therapy, years of hard work, and sometimes medication. In my case, all three are in play.

Before I got on my meds and felt some progress, I had a very dark view of people and the world around me.

Big changes are to be expected. So what helped, and what kind of change did I experience?


WHAT HELPED AND CHANGED?
One thing that helped greatly was psychiatric medications. It keeps rumination away, gives me the ability to shut off negative thoughts, and it allows room for me to decide how I will handle something emotionally.

Therapy brings discussion with a licensed professional to the fold. The therapist can offer up alternative behaviors, alternative views, and help guide my thoughts into a more positive direction.


DID IT HELP?
That depends on what you mean. If you’re talking about helping to remove depression as the default position, then it did. If you’re talking about easing that sensation of something boiling beneath the skin, then it did. If you’re talking about being less of a bummer in general, then it did. If you’re talking about not feeling stupid due to suffering Narcissistic abuse, then it did.

And if you’re talking about bringing the ability to look at the world and interact with it, without depression getting in the way, then it most definitely did.

But what did it not help? What still remains?


Tibo Bat has just ONE job, and that job is to take the edge off of difficult conversations.

MY MORTAL REMAINS
All of these things did help immensely. I am grateful that they were able to provide some positive results. The clarity that comes with it all is nothing short of incredible.

That said, there are things from the pre-help days that still remain.

I will confess that the continued presence of these artifacts surprises me because I thought they’d be gone, and it does not surprise me because these things turned out to be a product of Humanity, and NOT my depression.

For example, American life was turned into utter shit before I even got out of high school. A record number of Americans are suffering and dying, stranded on the streets, left starving and struggling, and there is no help or relief for them in sight.

I’ve always felt that it’s utter shit, and I still do.

Another thing that did not change is my feelings about other people. That is, humans are generally filth. Considering that I constantly push for ideas and systems that will benefit those of us who are at the bottom, this might be an odd take to accept from me.

Of course, I have a few decent friends. There are roughly 5-6 people in my life who are decent, caring, and work to give me hope. But that’s 5-6 people out of 8 BILLION.

What all of this means that, even if COVID were not a factor, I’d still NOT go out to meet new people or to have new experiences.

I still don’t trust authority figures, like police. All they do is write chicken-shit tickets because their boss told them that they need more money. I don’t have any money to give, so I’d be in a real jam if a motivated officer wanted to pull me over for some lame reason and write a ticket that cannot be fought because they block the fight.

Additionally, I still don’t trust humans in general. This is due primarily to the existence of Narcissists, as well as my long history with Narcissists, suffering the abuse that they dole out.

When a Narcissist enters your life, it is impossible to get them to leave. The law seemingly ALWAYS sides with the Narcissist. They never receive any punishment. But if I stand up to a Narcissist, then you can bet that I will get some type of punishment.

This is a typical Autistic observation: Two sets of rules and standards are ALWAYS at play. It’s one set for everyone else, and a special set just for me, that is typically far more punitive and unfair.

More than an observation, it is also an experience. It’s how things have actually, factually worked out.


A BIG CHOICE AHEAD
People who are toxically positive will be the first to tell you their life’s slogan.

You always have a choice.

When I hear that, I think of the people trapped in the World Trade Center on 9/11. They had the “choice” of either dying in the fire, or dying by jumping out of the window.

Some “choice” there.

But this choice that I have isn’t as bad. At least, I don’t think it’s as bad. I’ll bet my therapist will disagree with me.

Choice 1 involves being another turd in the toilet bowl of life. I can plop back into the yellowing waters and mix with all of the other turds, getting more and more filthy, broken, and runny, before getting flushed down the pipes. When I die, chances are good that this choice will be made by someone other than myself, and it will be accompanied by a great deal of terror and suffering.

Choice 2 involves staying home all the time and ingesting a controlled view of the world in an attempt to avoid some of that garbage. I can also avoid people to ensure that NO Narcissists get in. When I feel that I’ve had enough, and that I am ready, I can then take my own life on a day that I choose, in a way that I choose. This exit will be accompanied in a state of peace with no suffering involved.

I’ve been living in a world of Choice 2 since 2016. Most of that was in a horrible state of depression that I’d not wish upon anyone.


WHAT GUIDES THIS?
The way humans in general behave is one factor. But another more powerful factor is my life’s experience with Narcissistic abuse.

My first Narcissist was a person I had labeled as “my favorite uncle.” Fortunately, I cut him out of my life in 2003. Then there was an aunt and her three children, and I had labeled them as “my favorite aunt and cousins.” I cut the last one out of my life in 1993.

There were men, mostly musicians, whose Narcissistic abuse and outrageous behaviors had an impact on me

Romantically, things were particularly horrible My “first” girlfriend was a manipulative Narcissist. She was so bad that I don’t really think of her as my first girlfriend, mainly because she was sleeping with everyone else at school, except for me.

My ex-wife was a VERY destructive Narcissist. There were a few others. The last girlfriend I had was just as bad as my ex-wife, with the difference being that I lucked out when she walked out and never came back. I could only dream of my ex-wife doing this.

There are also those two Narcissists I’ve written about before. The Studio Narc who ripped me off and aided in the destruction of my life as I knew it, and the Cancer Narc who lied to me about having cancer. These two Narcs alone robbed me of 12 years of my life, and over $50,000.

The cherry on top of all of this is the realization and acknowledgement that my Autism attracts Narcissists to me like flies to shit.


WHAT ABOUT BOUNDARIES?
Q: Why did the Narcissist cross the road?

A: Because they thought it was a boundary.

Setting boundaries with people like this does not always work. My ex-wife is the most extreme case. I would leave, and she would follow. I’d tell her that we’re done, and she’d continue. I’d say we’re not talking anymore, and she keeps talking.

Going grey rock worked wonders in this case, and she doesn’t bother me today. However, the problem with the Grey Rock Method is that it’s something you employ after-the-fact, when someone has already violated you and your boundaries, and you’re struggling to get rid of them.

To be clear, I’m not referencing the past for a woe is me response, or to gain any type of victim status. It is imperative that I acknowledge and reference the past in order to prepare for the present and future.

I’ve been setting boundaries for myself during the past year. Boundaries are clear rules that I set, with the idea that I must respect these boundaries, for I was the one who developed them for my own safety and protection. No exceptions.

As I write this, with no influence of depression, I do feel that I have the confidence to put my foot down early on to assert and enforce my boundaries. But if a Narc decides that they’re going to destroy you, more than likely out of sheer boredom, then they will make your life a living hell, no matter how many boundaries you present and enforce.

In the past, I was able to recover from Narcissistic abuse because I was young and had a bit of a support system in my mother. However, my mother isn’t getting any younger, and I can’t really rely on that as much as I used to do.

I am convinced that one more episode with a Narcissist will destroy me to the point that I will not be able to recover, and death will be the only option; the only way out.

Narcissists are like body lice that will never go away. They always pick at you and itch relief is nowhere in sight.

EXAMPLES AND RESPONSES TO POTENTIAL MANIPULATION
There are certain things that Narcissists, Psychopaths, and others will use in order to try to manipulate you. Below are a few examples, along with my responses.

  • Lying – It is possible for them to lie and not get caught right away. The first time I catch a lie, that’s my cue to call the end to the relationship. They probably won’t see it that way and will hound, pester, and pick.
  • Critical, judgmental (pointing out weaknesses) – Constructive criticism from someone I trust is one thing. But with a new person, I won’t accept it. The first time they are critical or judgemental, even to someone else, that’s the end. They will say my standards are too high.
  • Strong emotions (negative & positive), anger, violent gestures, staring – This is where I have to look at them without blinking and let them know that I won’t be putting up with it. Makes me sound picky, but I am, and it’s for my own safety.
  • Appearing desperate – This is when I let them know that they need to find someone who can fulfill their desperate needs.
  • Being pressured for an immediate decision – Well, since you need a decision right now, my decision is No! Don’t complain or challenge it.
  • Use past statements to make you seem inconsistent – When they pull up the, “But YOU said this last time,” that’s my signal to move on.
  • Gaslighting – When they tell me things that start to lead me to question my own perception of reality, it is time to throw them out of my life unceremoniously.
  • Arguing after hearing “no” – See “being pressured” above.
  • Distorting your words – I won’t challenge them. I’ll just tell them to leave.
  • Acting immaturely – Being a big baby and whining about it will go nowhere with me. Go cry somewhere else.
  • Trying to bypass reason – It doesn’t compute. Get the fuck out.
  • “Follow your heart” or “go with gut feeling” – That has caused me problems throughout my life, so no thank you. Now get the fuck out.
  • Unclear answers, evasive – If you can’t provide a clear answer, then you can’t stay here. Go away.
  • Superficial charm – This kind of person doesn’t get very far with me, so they’re easy to keep out.
  • Avoiding surveillance cameras, onlookers – I really don’t know what to say or do about this one. But I did have this one girl who would set her phone up in hidden places and record me, hoping to get some kind of dirt.
  • Oversharing in an effort to gain reciprocity (to use it against you) – Should I venture out, my boundary and demand is to take things slowly.
  • Not reacting to your discomfort or obvious signs of wanting to end the discussion – Oddly enough, this is one that I have committed in the past. Being Autistic, I don’t always pick up on cues. I’m doing better with this, and I get practice. It’s a case of missing cues instead of being pushy. Someone who pushes will get removed and written off.
  • Saying one thing, but doing another – No excuses will be made for this.
  • Not listening – Those who don’t listen have no other reason to be here beyond destruction. They are out!
  • Physical contact when clearly uncomfortable – This is the behavior of a creep. No, thanks!
  • Emphasize a commonality – My last Narcissist actually engaged in mirroring, in an attempt to emphasize that we had lots of things in common. We both breathe oxygen, but I still don’t want you here.
  • Trying to make a connection – This comes from someone who wants to make something happen, or maybe they have other motives. Connections either happen or they do not.
  • Wanting you to do something that is not typical for the kind of relationship you have“If you loved me, then you’d rob that bank for me” won’t fly.

IN THE END
All of this boils down to one big question: Is the risk worth the reward? At my age, in my position, more and more I am thinking that the answer to that question is a resounding NO.

I suppose that my answer to that question might change down the road. That’s fine, because the other thing that has changed is me and my ability to stand up for myself.

My resolve is stronger. The only thing stronger than that is my contempt for humans in general. Because a person can be kind, generous, intelligent, and thoughtful, but people are destructive, mindless idiots.


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From Small Town, to Big City, and Back

Any escape might help to smooth
The unattractive truth
But the suburbs have no charms to soothe
The restless dreams of youth…

— Neil Peart [Rush] “Subdivisions” [1982]


INTRODUCTION
No song, poem, or movie spoke to how I was feeling as a young man in a small town more than this song. The only things that saved my sanity [what little I had] was music, and owning a car.

Me, in November 1982, wearing my Rush Signals tour t-shirt, which I also got in early November. This is the expression of someone who just saw Rush in concert. Great times!

You’d have to drive over ten miles one way to get to a McDonald’s, and a bit further to get to the mall. There was no shopping, no movie theater, or much of anything else.

We did have a bowling alley and a place called Huffman’s Pizza, where we could play pinball and listen to the jukebox. That only gets you so far and is limited by the number of quarters you might have in your pocket.

Remember that there was no internet. We also did not have cable television in our town. Calling most people in nearby towns counted as a “long distance” phone call, so that option was out.

It was almost like being isolated. And I know at least one of my readers lived there, so this can be verified.


GETTING A TASTE
After graduating high school in 1983, I went to college at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. My small town had a population of less than 2,000 people at the time. By comparison, Muncie had a population of roughly 55,000.

The first thing I noticed was that there were people who were not white. After spending too much time in a small town that was almost ALL white, this made things more interesting. I found that I enjoyed interacting with people who not only looked different from me, but who also behaved differently and came from different places and backgrounds.

I considered it an introduction to the world.

This cemented in my mind the idea that I wanted to move to Los Angeles.


THE BIG CITY
By comparison, the population of Los Angeles in 1986 was roughly 8.4 million people. The DMV offered their driving safety pamphlet in 90 languages.

I found so many more advantages to being in a big city. There was a great amount of new food to try, and most of it wasn’t expensive.

If I had to make five recommendations, it would be:

  1. The Pantry, in downtown LA. Great breakfast food, any time of the day. Open 24 hours.
  2. Dr. Hogly Wogly’s Tyler Texas BBQ, San Fernando Valley. The secret to their moist brisket is apple cider vinegar.
  3. Roscoe’s House of Chicken and Waffles, in Hollywood. It’s a great combo! Try the Carol Channing special.
  4. In-n-Out Burger, anywhere in California. They opened one a few years ago about ten miles from where I live. It’s incredible.
  5. Pink’s Hot Dogs in Hollywood. Betty White helped the owner open a second location on Universal CityWalk at Universal Studios, which I never got to try. Order the Naked Betty White, which is a plain hot dog in a bun. Great way to taste the meat.

I have NO recommendations for anywhere in my small town when I was growing up. I have heard that they have a Pizza King, which is amazing. We went to the one that was over 10 miles away. But I’ve never been to it, so my loss.

I’ll have a special Indiana food recommendation at the end.

There were many other things to like about the big city. Lots of options and things to do, on top of cable TV and the internet. There was the beach in Santa Monica, or you could drive to San Diego. There are lots of beach towns.

Universal Studios, Disneyland, and Knott’s Berry Farm are big theme parks.

Lots of movie theaters, restaurants, bars, night clubs, and venues where live music can be found.

You can drive to San Diego OR Las Vegas in a matter of hours.

It was phenomenal to have these kinds of options.


WHAT I LOVED MOST ABOUT THE BIG CITY
As an Autistic person who didn’t know that he was Autistic until recently, I had this feeling in my small town that I didn’t fit in. There were always the same people. Everybody knew everybody, and everybody knew that you were in trouble before YOU knew it.

In the big city, I could go out and be myself. There were so many people that judgment rarely happened. And chances were good that I would never see the same group of people again. I could be myself, and if something went wrong, then it was okay because I could go somewhere nearby and have a fresh start.


BACK TO A SMALL TOWN
A few years ago, when California sadly got too expensive for me to stay, I moved to a small town in Oregon. There are roughly 16,000 people here, so it’s bigger than my Midwest small town.

I can’t see myself ever moving back there. But I could envision a visit, maybe someday. I’m sure there are a few jam sessions out there with my name on them.

But small town problems have arisen.

There are times when I must go to Walmart to shop because there are no other options. It’s that, or Amazon, another option I don’t like.

The number of restaurants are limited. VERY limited.

Most people here are old, which is kind of a drag since I like more of a mix. And the women here are VERY rough and hard, like coal miners.

Much like my first small town, people are VERY religious and don’t like people like me. I was liked more in LA, and that’s just the nature of the numbers. Most of the time I was ignored completely, which is my ultimate preference.

I have to drive close to 10 miles to get to the Guitar Center. They have a SHIT selection of guitars, basses, drums and more. It’s as if they cater exclusively to beginners. There’s also Guitar Castle, which is just some guy with his ancient, dusty old gear that he puts NO effort into selling. Finally, there’s ABC Music, which caters more to beginners and school kids, although you can find a decent G&L electric guitar there, if that’s what you like.


IN THE END
I thought that moving to a place where things are slowed down would be a good idea, but it’s a little too slow for me. It’s all I can afford these days, so it was the right thing to do. Still, I miss California and all that it had to offer.

If I had to name ONE good thing about being in the middle of nowhere, it’s that I am mostly hidden from the world. I may very well be entering my Hermit Phase of life, so it seems appropriate.

I promised an Indiana food recommendation at the end, so here we are.

Markleville is a town of 383 people, so it’s WAY smaller than the town where I grew up. If you ever find yourself in Markleville, then make sure that you order from Stinny’s Pizza. It’s owned by John Stinson, a guy who played basketball at my school. We were in Algebra together and got into some big trouble, which is another story for another time.

Tell Stinny that I sent you, and he might put an extra morel mushroom on your pizza, if they are in season. He picks them himself.

I guess every place has something to offer. Growing up in a small town was painful because I needed more. Much more. But these days, I don’t need much. And it really no longer makes sense to pay big bucks to live in LA so that I can go to clubs that are catering to younger crowds now.

So maybe I am where I need to be in this moment in time.


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Short: When Power is Sold

As an American citizen, I can tell you that ALL of our politicians — both Democrat and Republican — are SO bought-and-paid-for that they fart exact change.

As a result, we get a performance or type of entertainment, where the Republicans want to destroy the country and install a Fascist dictator, and the Democrats pretend to be the opposition. I call it “controlled opposition.”

What happens to the politician when they are bought?

There are a few things that happen. One is that they effectively hand over their power to those who bought them. For example, Joe Manchin is owned by a variety of corporations. This means that he does whatever they tell him. And they’ve told him to betray his constituents, as well as the whole of America, for his own personal financial gains.

Another is we, the people who vote, get a case of taxation without representation, while their corporate owners get to enjoy representation without taxation.

Finally, we, the American people, are effectively living in the nicest Third World slum that has ever existed. We are suffering the petulant greed of those who get paid $174,000 per year, who have the best medical insurance that WE can pay for, they get a HUGE break in the middle of the year, AND they do and achieve NOTHING for the people.

Absolutely fucking nothing.

The point of this short post is to share a video with my fellow Americans and friends who are reading this. The video shows Boris Johnson being mocked and held accountable by his peers.

This is something that we Americans NEVER get to see, and it felt really good watching it, so here we go. And thanks for reading!

Boris Johnson is an utter turd who is finally starting to get what he deserves. It’s not funny. It’s not entertaining.
He’s a dolt who was mucking up progress.

When It’s No Longer Fun

~18 months old, spring of 1966. This was what I did while the band was taking a break.

INTRODUCTION
Music was my first love, going all the way back to when I was 18 months old, sitting in and watching jam sessions with my uncle’s band, The Sounder, as they blasted loudly through my grandparent’s old Indiana farmhouse.

I wore headphones to protect my ears and would sit on my own chair behind the drummer.

The drummer went out of his way to entertain me, by performing with a pair of those GIANT Pro-Mark drumsticks.

They’re utterly ridiculous and you can’t really play well with them. But to this very day, it’s a piece of drummer humor that keeps it all fun.

I think that one reason why I am SO into drums is because of the drummer in my uncle’s band. I never knew his name, as I was too young, but I am grateful for his inspiration.

Drumming looked fun!! He made it fun.

I do remember what convinced me to pick drums over all other instruments. I saw a video clip of The Beatles on television, and I think it was from one of their movies.

They were running from a mob of crazy girls. We see John, running with a guitar case. Then Paul, running with his bass case. There was George, running with his guitar case. And then, there was Ringo, bringing up the rear, running with nothing but a pair of drum sticks.

The way I saw it, you can get away from crazy girls more easily when you only have to haul drum sticks. Never mind the fact that Ringo was the most in danger in this situation.

Pre-schoolers aren’t known for thinking things through.


1987: The singer who discovered me set me up with a new drum set, as well as a studio apartment.

ATTEMPTING TO GET INTO THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
Music got me through my childhood, high school, and college. And when I hitchhiked to Los Angeles from Bakersfield in 1986, it was my drumming and musical abilities that got me off the streets and into an apartment, complete with my first-ever NEW drum set.

I did everything that I possibly could in my attempts to get into the music industry. There were a few close calls, but in this regard, I found no success.

On a side note, I don’t really feel badly about it. I see musicians who I consider to be better than me, and they have the same experience.

All the same, I will admit that I had moments where I felt really horrible about not achieving this goal.

Over time, I decided to flip a middle finger to the industry as a whole and do my own thing in the Hollywood underground. That was the most fun that I had in my music pursuits.


A SWITCH GOT FLIPPED
Life presents us with questions. Sometimes, we end up providing ourselves with the answers.

Such was the case on a warm weekend morning, when I was on a fishing boat at Lake Nacimiento in California. It was relatively quiet, as people peacefully launched their boats to venture out and catch some fish.

As we were motoring over to a spot we wanted to try, I noticed a professional fishing boat. It had a platform up front where the fisherman could stand on it.

He was messing around with a fish radar device and working on some other things. I asked the guy driving the boat about what I was seeing, since he had more fishing experience.

He said, “That guy is a pro bass fisherman.”

There was something different about him. He wasn’t happy. There was no joy on his face. He looked very serious, as if he were at work.

This was when I gave myself my own answer to my own question.

“Look at this guy. He took something he loved and turned it into work.”

Indeed, that’s when it hit me: I was trying to turn my musical abilities into work! Right as a pointed a finger at him, I pointed squarely at myself.


LET IT SINK IN
That evening, as I grilled a bass I had caught earlier in the day, I thought more about what I saw, what I said to myself, and how that hit home.

Clearly, with this new information, it was time to adjust my perspective. It no longer made sense for me to be upset about not getting somewhere in the music industry.

It was bad enough that I’d hear horrible things being said, either directly to me, or about people in my position.

Someone generally had said, “If you don’t make at least $10,000 per year in the industry, then you cannot call yourself a musician.” To that, I declare bullshit. Music is about music, emotion, and community, NOT money.

However, the thing someone said to me directly was by far worse; bad enough that it gets its own segment.


AN IDIOT’S OPINION
For me, it’s not really all that hard to imagine a “friend” saying something horrible to me. Lots of people pretended to be my friend and then later showed that they really were not.

What did this person say, TO MY FACE, that was so bad that it warrants its own segment in this entry?

“You must not be a very good musician. If you were, then you would be rich and famous.”

WRONG!

This opinion clearly came from someone who believes the lie of The Meritocracy. This is the idea that you will get somewhere with your skills if you are talented.

There are those who are better musicians than me, and they don’t get anywhere. Then, there are musicians who are worse than me, or who have NO musical talent at all, and they are in the business making money. Many got in thanks to looks and internet popularity.

So you believe that The Meritocracy is real? Jess Greenberg and her boobs would like to have a word with you. Her views skyrocketed after she changed her look. Her talents, however, did not really increase.

The hard reality is that simply being good enough at something — anything — does not ensure that you’ll get a job or earn money. I’d go off-topic if I write much more about this issue, so I’ll close this segment out with something more accurate that a homeless musician once told me.

“The music biz is all about who you know, and who you blow.”

This was followed up with a dark comment about how sometimes blowing doesn’t even work. I did not ask him to elaborate.

But it’s TRUE! Dolly Parton is VERY talented, but I’d be willing to bet that she wouldn’t have gotten so far if she were more like a regular, everyday woman.


A REALIZATION
All of this got me wondering whether I had been chasing my tail for my entire life, by working to get into the music industry.

The answer, more than likely, is yes.

However, if I hadn’t done that, what WOULD I have done instead? It’s really hard to say.

One thing for certain is that I’d not have had the amazing fun experiences that I had along the way. I moved 2,000 miles from home and set out on an adventure to “make something of my life.”

But my life is already something. So is yours.

Because we are.

I got to meet my music heroes, and some of them even became good friends.

Chad Sexton, of 311, his brother Mac and mother Linda, made Chad Sexton’s Drum City [RIP] my favorite drum store. The drums and drum gear that I have today is thanks to them. Their cover of “Love Song” by The Cure is what put them on the map.

I also got to play every big club on the Sunset Strip as a drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboard player. It’s one of many personal mini-goals, and reaching those goals made me happy. They didn’t serve a purpose beyond that, and I’m okay with it.


IN THE END
There is no way for me to guess how I would feel about it if what I loved got turned into something that I had to do to earn a living. I might have enjoyed it, I might have gotten burned out by it, or it might have ended up killing me.

It could have very well taken away the one thing I loved.

People do all kinds of things to make money. So far as I am concerned, in most cases the things they do for money do NOT define them as a person. I never let ANY of my day jobs define me as a person, with the exception of MySpace. Even then, my identity was more rooted in music than MySpace.

I know creative people who have horrible jobs where they work to earn money to pay for the privilege of living on the planet. We are the ONLY animal on the planet who pays rent. Think about that.

My point being is that I DO NOT judge any of these creative people by the day jobs that they hold. It does nothing to take away from their creativity, beyond stealing time from them. That’s our society’s crime.

The big question involves what you love to do, and whether or not you are doing that, regardless of whether or not it brings in money.

As of this year, I’ve been in Noodle Muffin for 20 years. During this time, I never made ONE cent off of ANY of my efforts. I don’t know if the band has ever made any money, beyond selling CDs and shirts at the few gigs we did. My guess is a resounding NO.

People might ask why I stuck around. The answer is because I loved the music and the experience.

So for today’s entry, I am closing things out with my favorite song from our June 15, 2002 performance at The Blue Saloon in North Hollywood, CA.


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On Feeling Important

INTRODUCTION
I was watching a YouTube video that was a collection of TikTok shorts, where women talk about how awesome they are, and how they no longer need men. Their words were one thing, but their delivery was very peculiar.

Their delivery, facial expressions, and posture told a different story of smug arrogance and a high level of self-importance.

The host of the channel responds to them after their clip.

This was not something that I put together right away. In fact, it was something that I wrote off as immaturity and stupidity.

But then, as YouTube recommendations go, I ended up watching a scene from Terminator 2. This got me thinking about the premise of the movie.

John Connor is a VERY important person, even though he’s a snotty-nosed brat in the movie. He leads the resistance against the machines, which seems to be headed up by Terminators.

So one Terminator is sent back to kill him, and another is sent to protect him.

John Connor is that important to the world, to the future, and to Mankind itself.

The thing is that I watched the Terminator clip while the video posted above was still very fresh in my mind. That’s when the idea hit me.

Everyone wants to feel important. Not just important, but John Connor important.


WHERE IT CAN BE FOUND
This is a big problem on some platforms, such as TikTok and Facebook. In the interest of full disclosure, I do not use either TikTok or Facebook. I did use Facebook at one time. The TikTok videos that I see are compilations on YouTube. Plus, I follow a few YouTubers who share and comment on some of the strangest videos they have seen.

Beyond that, you might see it in the real world once in a while. It’s sometimes harder to detect.


WHEN IT GETS DARK
The video I posted above is relatively light and annoying. But you don’t have to dig very deeply to find some horrific videos. One example is a woman whose baby is sick and she uses it for internet clout.

Who does this? Malignant Narcissists.

Examples can also be found, where they dance in a hospital room while a relative is dying.

YouTube titles are typically clickbait, because the average person is stupid and needs encouragement to click.

No sympathy, empathy, or Humanity is to be found.


I USED TO WANT TO FEEL IMPORTANT
There was a time from late grade school through half of junior high, when I felt a need to feel important. I would estimate the timeframe to be from age 12 [1976] to age 14 [1978].

The only place where I could do this was at school, and my only vehicle for achieving this was in band. Really, band was the only reason why I stayed in school.

But before the end of junior high, there was a shift in my movements and motives. I went from wanting to impress others, to wanting to impress myself. Sure, I’d still put on a show when I was drumming, because the entertainer aspect of it is valuable.

The few times that I got with other musicians in town, I’d not feel important so much as I felt connected. One of my readers is a person I had the pleasure of jamming with during this time. It was just the two of us there and his mom. That is a special memory for me that I will always keep.

I also jammed with my Health teacher and Cross Country coach, Dave Fuqua. Just sitting on the porch where he lived, playing duel guitars. I have a handful of memories like this.

Me [R] with my friend and fellow drummer, Scott. It was the Summer of 1985 and we were at an Agape festival. People would stop by and hang for a while before moving on. This wasn’t attention and importance, so much as feeling a sense of community and belonging.

I just did it more for myself, and less for anyone else. An audience is cool, and is essential especially if you’re selling albums or tickets. But I had almost nothing to gain by garnering external recognition.

Most of the truly important things I did with music in school were important to me, and went unnoticed by virtually everyone else in the school. It was less about people seeing me, and more about how I felt about the performance.

Eventually, I had to please myself and forget how anyone else felt about any of it.

This is called growing up, and growing out of it.

Some people need attention so badly that they’ll turn on the camera while they’re on the toilet and broadcast to the world. Crying used to garner lots of attention, but that’s not really good enough anymore, so crapping yourself it is.

ACKNOWLEDGING THAT YOU ARE NOT SPECIAL
I’d say that, out of all of the lessons that I’ve learned in life, one of the most profound lessons is when you realize that you’re not really all that special in the big picture.

I started being a musician as a child. I thought it was special that I could play trumpet, guitar, bass, drums, piano, and other instruments.

Grandpa, circa 1938. He said that playing guitar back then was as great way to meet the ladies. He certainly charmed Grandma.

What caused me to not view this as such a special thing was when my grandfather played concertina for me. I had never seen one before. In our conversation, he told me that he also played guitar, as well as almost 20 other instruments.

We all knew that he played organ for our Christmas gatherings. But I had no idea.

My grandmother would drive home the idea by saying, “You are unique and special… just like everyone else.” The thing about people who believe themselves to be special is that they dismiss the idea that anyone else might be similar in this way.

In more recent years, the idea of not being special got fortified by the vast amount of young multi-instrumentalists who can do it all. They have the nice cameras, recording gear, budget, crew, and more.

If I’d had all of that and the internet in the 70s, then I might have been one of them. Or more than likely, I’d end up doing something completely different, and keeping my music abilities as something that brings me happiness.

It is also important to remember that they stand upon the shoulders of giants. The learning materials they have at their disposal are incredibly abundant.

In my day, I couldn’t slow anything down without messing up the pitch. There weren’t really any readily-available learning videos, and the best I could do was either purchasing sheet music [which was consistently not accurate] or the Star Licks tapes.

But I digress.

It is easy to feel important when you’re the only game in town, even if it’s a small town full of mostly “simple” people. But when you venture into the world, you learn that not only are you NOT the only game in town, but that others have game that even you consider to be superior.

Going to college exposed me to lots of talented people. By the end of my two years at college, I ended up learning that I might be unique, but I’m nowhere near being special.


MORE PEOPLE, LESS VISIBILITY
The more crowded the world gets, the more we all fade into the background. People get up for work in the morning and sit in traffic with everyone else who is headed out to work.

Then they go into their workplace, and eventually have the realization that they can easily be replaced by another person, or even a machine or software.

As a Quality Assurance Engineer who worked in Silicon Valley Tech for 15 years, I ended up being replaced by a combination of automation and a drive for the “culture of youth.”

It is important to acknowledge my Autistic viewpoint on the workplace. This is where I DO NOT want to be special. I don’t want to stand out. I would much rather blend into the background where nobody will notice.

This is in stark contrast to getting on a stage on the Sunset Strip and drumming. That’s when you want people to notice. When I was younger, my ego drove that. But as an adult, I was driven more by numbers because you have to have a built-in audience to get anywhere in music.

It’s still a case of things not being driven by ego.

I spent 33 years in LA working to gain that kind of attention that attracts agents and people within the industry. While I didn’t find any huge stardom or wealth, I can say that I was more valuable in 1986 than I was in 2006, simply because everyone, their mother, and their cats showed up to the party with instruments.

By 2016, with regard to music, I was gone. Invisible. Nothing. I played guitar primarily for myself and posted a few videos on YouTube along the way.

But I did so in a way where I wasn’t being competitive. This is because I saw so many videos of so many other people doing many things that I could do, and in some cases doing it better. That, or they had better boobs than me.

My ~130 YouTube subscribers are no match for her 1.45 million subs. There are two reasons why her videos do better. Anything to stand out.

Being good is only half the battle. There has to be something that stands out. When you don’t stand out, you fade into the background. This terrifies people. It is especially concerning to those who are working to be pro musicians, because the attention, views, clicks, engagement, etc., is valuable to your future as a professional player.

Is it ego? For some, it is. For others, it’s pure business.


ATTENTION CAN BOOST THE EGO
From mid-2005 to mid-2008, I worked at MySpace. At the time, it was the biggest and most popular website in the entire world. In this situation, I wasn’t seeking attention, but I didn’t have to do that. It was baked into the experience.

That one time at Pipe Camp…

My friends on MySpace knew that I worked there, as well as other followers. I’d get invited to have lunch with Leo Quinones, a radio personality in LA. I’d get invited to all the hot shows in LA. I even got backstage with Weird Al, and he asked me if I could do him a MySpace favor by un-deleting Emo Philips’ profile.

People invited me to go hang out, and I’d do it. I’d walk into a club, and someone I had never met before would approach me and say things like, “You’re that guy who works with Tom!”

I once went to a basement party in Hollywood and got recognized by Steve-O from Jackass. We talked for quite a bit. He was not drinking alcohol at the time. I told him, “I can’t believe you risk your life for money by doing all of those dangerous stunts.” He replied, “I can’t believe that YOU are risking YOUR life just to keep MySpace going. I think your job is more dangerous than mine.”

Probably true.

There was lots and lots of attention, and I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t inflating my ego a bit. I did feel important, because I was doing my part to keep the world’s most popular website up and running.

We were hanging out at a comedy club owned by SNL’s Garrett Morris, watching Doug Stanhope and Sean Rouse perform.

But then, in mid-2008, I got downsized along with 5% of the staff. I was one of hundreds who got let go. I posted on my profile that I was let go, and the first person to contact me to see if I was okay was Justine Bateman.

We talked for about 10 minutes, which helped me not let myself get upset on the drive. It’s dangerous to drive home upset.

This was the beginning of my fade into obscurity, because I knew that once I was no longer useful to people, and no longer connected to the most powerful website in the world, that “friends” would start dropping like flies.

I was right.


IT WAS A RELIEF
For my 3 years at MySpace, I got a TON of attention. I got out of the house and did more social things that had NOTHING to do with music than at any other point in my entire life.

I was also drumming in 3 bands at the same time, on top of being very social, as well as working long days at MySpace and being a father.

In the years that followed, my bands would slowly drop off. My son grew up and got busy doing adult things. My “friends” moved on.

Before too long, all of those activities that got me out of the house and brought me large amounts of attention were gone.

It was a relief, as I felt that I needed to work on personal growth.

I’d had experience being the center of attention at times in the high school band, as well as those moments when I’d take the stage. But I’d never experienced anything like my years at MySpace.

It was exhausting. As an Autistic adult, I’d say that it was more attention than I was able to process at times. It would be almost a full decade before I learned that I was Autistic.

It was a case of getting something, thinking I liked it, realizing I did not, and then being relieved when it was lifted off my shoulders.


SEEING IT EVERYWHERE
While I got a great deal of attention with my activities in the past, there were many times where I did not want to be as important as I felt. This was partly because I had a feeling that it was all about what they could get. People would text, call, email, or send me messages on MySpace, asking for help or favors.

I did it without expecting anything in return. It was a good thing that was my attitude, because I really didn’t get much in return at all, beyond the insane amounts of attention.

The combination of attention and being useful lead me to feel a sense of importance.

Once I got out of it, I started seeing it everywhere. I think most of it was always there, but I just couldn’t see it or acknowledge it because I was too busy soaking in my own self-importance.

For you, the blind who once could see,
The bell tolls for thee.

The most interesting thing was that when I would see it, I’d not miss it. Part of me would want to shake them into reality and tell them that attention seeking to feel important is not a healthy thing.

With regard to my music, I sought attention. But with MySpace, it just came with the territory.

But I would quickly realize that saying anything about that to anyone would not be well received, so I did the right thing by making it none of my business. People are going to do what they are going to do, and I can’t do anything about it.

Some weak and broken people have such a huge need for attention and feeling important that they are willing to do anything to get it. Anything.

The only time it really concerns me is when someone is doing something dangerous to get attention. They’re doing things to fuck up the entire planet, just so they can get praise and adoration. They hold large rallies to feed the ego. When it’s a person like this, and they’re doing things that will impact me or the world negatively, then I will care.


FEELING NO IMPORTANCE
The only thing worse than a false sense of importance, is the false sense of no importance. This is where Major Depressive Disorder can take you if you’re not careful.

When this happens, you’ll forget about family, friend, and loved ones, as you get trapped in your own head. As someone who was trapped in his own head for the better part of 5 years, I can tell you it’s not where you want to be.

This can be highly destructive, and can even be a precursor to “un-living” yourself, to put it nicely.


DISCOVERING HEALTHY IMPORTANCE
When a person doesn’t feel like they matter in the world, it is important to find the healthy importance that one might otherwise overlook. This is especially true with Major Depressive Disorder and other forms of depression.

There was a time not too long ago, where I felt like the world would be better of if I no longer existed. This was because I felt like a burden on those around me. With my MDD in full force, that most certainly had to feel like a burden, as it was a burden to me as well.

In a discussion with my therapist, she told me, “Your cats need you.” I’ve written about this before, in a piece titled Finding Purpose [Is Purpose Necessary?]. I do think that purpose and importance are closely linked.

It’s something that you have to actually sit and think about when dealing with various types of depression. There are family members with whom I have healthy relationships. There are those true friends who are still there even though I’m no longer in a position to do favors for them.

The boys, being chill shortly before they take their afternoon naps.

And, of course, two cats. I feel the responsibility of taking care of them, and there isn’t a day that goes by where I’m not doing things with them or for them.

There was a reason why I did not recognize this as being important, and it was because it didn’t make a difference in the world. This might be what drives those people who make self-important, arrogant TikTok posts.

My first thought as I type this is the young woman whose baby is sick in the hospital. Her being there is VERY important, especially for her baby. But the TikTok video of her dancing is not only inappropriate because it’s seeking validation from the external world full of people who don’t care.

Being there for the baby is important, and should be enough. The needs of her own baby are the hallmark of true importance. Dancing in an embarrassing, Narcissistic, and pathological video to gain attention and “clout” is a problem.

It keeps her from seeing how important she is to her own baby.


IN THE END
There is a difference between loving yourself and being a Narcissist. The Narcissist does not really love themselves, although most people falsely believe that they do. They’re just into themselves and whatever might make them happy or cover up the pain they suffered as a result of childhood abuse.

If you are NOT a Narcissist, then it is important to understand that loving yourself does NOT make you a Narcissist. And if you worry about something potentially making you a Narcissist, then chances are VERY good that you’re not a Narcissist. Narcs don’t even acknowledge that they are Narcs.

Love yourself, and know that you can find your importance in your own life. Additionally, you can make your own importance.

Realizing your own importance or making your own importance is something we all must do. I recognize that my life has no intrinsic value or importance to most of the world. There are over 8 billion people in the world, and maybe a few hundred know of me, or remember me. It doesn’t matter if they don’t.

And even if I did achieve my music career goals, and got rich and famous, I would still be forgotten by the vast majority of the people on the planet. Remember, there are 8 billion people in the world, and yet one million sets of ears counts as “success” in the music industry.

None of it matters in the big picture.

That said, it DOES matter right now.

Nobody cares that I’m taking care of my cats, or that I have family members who are still civil and friendly with me, or that I have a handful of friends whom I sincerely cherish, beyond those who are involved.

My Hollywood rock star days were a ton of fun. This is me, drumming on stage at The Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip for a band that asked me to fill in last-minute. Many of my music heroes performed on this very stage. These experiences and the stories that come with them are important to me. They might be fun to recall and share, but they DO NOT make me any more important than anyone else. It represents a fulfillment of my childhood dream, where I promised myself that one day I’d be in Hollywood playing music on a famous stage. More important than the people in the crowd was fulfillment of the promise that I made to myself.

That has to be enough, because it’s what we get, and it’s SO much more important than most of what we do in our lives.

The hard truth is that internet clout is much like being a rock star on a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of people. It’s so brief that it is fair to consider it to be an illusion. You work hard rehearsing, you set up at the venue, take the stage at your scheduled slot [if you’re lucky], you play your set, hang out with a few people for a while, and then go home and go to sleep.

You wake up the next day feeling like that evening was a dream. And, quite frankly, you feel like shit because it’s over.

It doesn’t have the same substance as getting an email, phone call, or text from a friend. I consider myself fortunate to have a few true friends who are a part of my life. We talk and write on occasion. That’s enough for me.

Right here. Right now. It’s all that we have, and all we ever will have. The past is far behind. The future doesn’t exist. Life is an illusion caused by death, for if we never died, then we’d most certainly not be having any discussions about living at all. In fact, the idea might never even cross our minds.

Be kind to yourself. You might not be important to the world or Humanity, but you are important to someone. It is important for us to remember this.


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A Grocery Shopping Challenge

The grocery stores typically get filled up by around noon. For this reason, I’ll typically go at 6:00am, with an exception being made for when the pharmacy opens at 9:00am.

Being Autistic, and taking the public health crisis seriously, my goal is to go where there are the least amount of people.

Things have changed recently, however.

It seems that the anti-mask/anti-life people have figured out that they can go to the store at 6:00am and there will be fewer people to call them out on their misanthropic behaviors.

For this, it means traversing the store many times over what I would normally do. Like take the next aisle adjacent to the one I need, going to the end, and waiting for that person to leave.

For being pro-life Christians, they sure seem to not care about the health and welfare of others around them. This is why they have to TELL everyone that they’re “good Christians.” Because NOBODY would guess it based on what they say and do.

One work-around that I have easily identified is going to the store on Sunday between 8-11am, when everyone is in church.

As a special needs adult with an immunocompromised system, I find it most disheartening just how many people call themselves “good” while doing such horrific things, without one care in the world for anyone else but themselves.

I don’t want to spend too much time on that. I’ve written what I needed to write. So I suppose it’s time to wind things down with a cat photo or two.

Humans are getting what they deserve, and I am guilty by association.

Jackalopes and Seething Hatred

INTRODUCTION
Q: Why was the young man excited about his job at the gas station?

A: Because he loved the idea of getting paid to “pump Ethyl” all day.

This dad joke was brought to you partially by my late father, and partially by me typing it. Growing up in Indiana, we always had our gas pumped by an attendant. Often times, they would also check the oil, put air in the tires, and more.

And none of it cost extra.

When I finally got a car in 1989 in California, 3 years after moving there, I noticed that everyone pumped their own gas. An attendant filling your tank would cost extra. I never spent that extra, as it was ridiculous and unaffordable, so I would always pump my own gas.

June 1, 2008: I took this picture while taking photographs of the Universal Studios fire, which was 0.9 miles from where I lived. $4.59 per gallon was what you would pay to get “full service.” Catty-corner from this was a 76 station, where the full service price was around $5.50 per gallon.

This is how things were for me until May 2019, when I moved to Oregon. It is against the law for you to pump your own gas, with a scant few exceptions on Native American properties.

Some say that it’s to protect the stupid, but that’s reductive and insulting. Rather, it’s a government jobs program.


THE SCENE
I go to a gas station in town, and the person who pumps gas comes over. He gets my card, types in my phone number for rewards/discounts, and then gets to pumping.

Typically, I don’t really engage in conversation, and most of them are too busy to talk. But on this particular visit, it was just him and me. It was cold out and he was bored, so he decided to strike up a conversation.

Thumpercloud The Jackalope [since 2006]
Valets in LA thought that he was real. They’d ask if he bites, and I’d reply, “Only if you mess with stuff.”
So if you want your car treated with respect by valets in LA, I highly recommend getting one of these.

THE CONVERSATION
“Where’d you get the jackalope?” he asked. I told him that I got it in Death Valley in 2006.

He followed this up with talk about Bigfoot. Apparently, Bigfoot is a big deal here in Oregon, and I suspect that belief in Bigfoot is mandatory if you want to live here. There is no end to the tourist trinkets featuring an artistic representation of his image.

There is even an annual Bigfoot festival, which I know you could find on Facebook. They also get into aliens and other similar topics, complete with guest “experts” on the subjects.

Jokingly, I asked him if there were Unicorns in Oregon. He replied that, “Unicorns are a European thing,” before bringing up the Loch Ness Monster. I threw in mention of Chupacabra so that I could participate. The problem was that I didn’t really want to participate in this manner.

Mike Tyson obliterates a Chupacabra. Everyone has a plan, until they get punched by Mike Tyson.

He then told me, “The only one I really believe in is Pegasus. Those are real.”

And this is where things go off the rails.

He started ranting about the government telling us what we should believe or not believe. Truth be told, I was starting to get more than a little nervous.

He starts to appear agitated for some reason. Possibly because when he talks about certain things it gets him hyped up. I get it, as people like him have been lied to and agitated for at least the past 6 years.

“The government is completely bought by the corporations!”

Things were getting tense from my perspective. The last thing I need is for a camo-wearing, Jesus-loving redneck pumping gas at 6am to figure out that I’m not one of his people.

I knew that I had to say something. Telling jokes is what I tend to do when things get tense, although sometimes it backfires. I had to take a shot, since there was an uncomfortable pause.

“Those assholes are SO bought and paid for that they fart exact change.”

He didn’t laugh, because he feels a sense of despair, most likely about things that he’s told and not things that are actually happening. His life would be so much happier without all of those conspiracies weighing on him.

He continued his rant. “Those jokers [in the gov’t] love telling us what to do. Want to work here? Get the jab. Want to go somewhere? Get the jab. Wear a mask! Wear a mask!!” He was getting rather frothy, and I was out of ideas.

Fortunately, the pump clicked off, indicating that it was done. He gave me my receipt and said, “Happy new year.” I said it back to him before driving away.


IN THE END
I suspect that he realized that he couldn’t rant with me for hours on end, since he was at work, so he just did it until the tank was full.

It is my understanding that people like me are viewed as a threat by people like him. While I don’t declare myself a Leftist, I do happen to agree with many Leftist ideas. I am certain that he believes President Biden is a Leftist, when he’s actually Right-of-Center.

Also, being an Atheist out here is not a safe thing.

In other words, they don’t take kindly to people who aren’t like them.

And so I continue to hide in the shadows, hoping that I don’t get found out. Conversation with the locals is a sure-fire way of getting found out, mostly because I would more than likely out myself in the process. My Autism is such that I have to struggle to add filters to my speech.

I consider it to be a pop quiz of sorts, where I had to perform on-the-spot and under pressure.

It was a close call, but I am fine. I get to live to see another day in Mayberry.


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