End of July

Met the new complex manager on Friday morning. They were doing routine spraying for bugs. I had problems with bed bugs a couple years ago. Had to get rid of a lot of my furniture. Had the carpet taken out and replaced with vinyl flooring. But the carpet had needed replaced for a few years anyway. A lot of places in the US have bed bug problems for at least the last several years. I heard that even five star hotels had some issues. But haven’t had problems with bugs since before the pandemic started.

It’s been a cooler than usual July, at least in my hometown. We’ve avoided the droughts and heat waves that hit most of the western states. It’s been hazy for the last couple days, probably from the forest fires.

Keeping in contact with friends. My friend in Denver is looking to buy some land. She sometimes gets discouraged when places she could afford are quickly sold. I guess I really have no desire to be a property owner. I like my apartment, my hometown, and I don’t have to shovel snow or mow grass. That and I like that I can get same day delivery for groceries. And I can get anything within reason from amazon within three days. My town is a few hour drive from any major metroplex, so we don’t have same day delivery. My best friend from college will have to report back to school in a few weeks. Hard to believe he’s been a teacher for almost twenty years now.

Found that I am eating less than I usually do. This has been going on for several months. Most days I usually eat only twice a day, with lunch always being my biggest meal. I think I am losing weight again. Most of my clothes are getting baggy. But I’ve always preferred looser fitting clothing. Tight shirts and pants just don’t look good on me.

Preseason football practice started a few days ago. I’ll be watching football games on Saturdays again in only four weeks. And the college kids will be returning before long. My town always comes back to life in mid August when the college returns for fall session. When I still owned a car, I often went to college events and festivals. Used to go to a few football and volleyball games on campus too. Ten years ago, my favorite hangout was an internet cafe near the college campus. I miss that place.

Got back into reading physical books again. Currently working on a Michio Kaku book and a geopolitics book about what the world will look like once the pandemic passes. Been watching more movies too. Saw Minority Report, Aeon Flux, Jupiter Ascending, and The Mask of Zorro within the last week. Thinking about watching some epic classics next week. I’m thinking either The Ten Commandments or Gandhi.

I can tell the days are getting shorter. Probably only another six weeks of really hot weather. Spring is usually my favorite time of year. But I do like fall for football, baseball playoffs, and now soccer. I try to watch whenever the US national teams play now that I have a niece and nephew who are good soccer players. My nephew plans on trying out for his high school soccer team when school starts up.

Summer is starting to wind down. I weathered it alright for the most part. Looking forward to cooler weather again.

July 27 2021

Spent most of yesterday morning outside my apartment. Just hung out in the complex library catching up with the other tenants. Had some good conversations.

Been having lots of rain lately. It hasn’t been nearly as hot in my hometown as in most places. I’m enjoying it while it lasts. We still have another six weeks of potentially hot weather. Corn harvest will start in six to eight weeks. Football season is a little over a month away.

Haven’t been keeping up with friends like I used to. I imagine most people are busy and stressed these days. I usually spend my days reading books or watching educational videos on youtube.

Disasters and Mental Illness

Staying closer to home again lately. The cases of covid are increasing again. It’s only a matter of time before it hits my hometown again. With the bad heat waves the western part of the country has experienced, we have had more rain the normal. It too is only a matter of time before the heat waves hit my hometown. We don’t have the water shortages that places like California and Arizona have. But I think if my state gets that level of drought, a new Dust Bowl will result.

Being prepared for disasters is extremely important. If wildfires, freak blizzards, and chronic flooding can’t convince some people, nothing will. Growing up in a rural farming community over an hour’s drive away from the nearest Wal Mart and Home Depot, it was necessary to have enough supplies to be able to fend for ourselves for at least a few days in the event of a bad blizzard or flooding. Growing up around farmers, I personally know several farmers who have lost entire corn crops to hail storms and floods.

When the covid disaster relief payments came, I made a point of buying extra food, over the counter medications, and clothing. I also bought a new computer. My old one was starting to die and I was afraid prices were going to go up with the shortage on microchips. And prices are going up. I certainly pay more for food than I did even two years ago. Clothing prices have increased. And gas prices are on the rise. When the Colonial pipeline in the southern states was shut down by hackers, I remember thinking if I was an Uber driver in Atlanta who had a Tesla, I’d probably have more work than I could handle. As it is, I no longer have a car. Sold it two years ago. But, since I can get anything within reason delivered to my apartment and I don’t road trip anymore, it made little sense to keep a car. If I really need to go anywhere, I can hire an Uber driver or sweet talk one of my neighbors into giving me a ride and offer gas money in return.

In addition to natural disasters, many people are more on edge than usual. A friend of a friend had a gun pulled on her a few days ago. My friend in Denver said she’s dealing with far more rude and angry customers than even a few years ago. My brother and his family moved out of their suburb and bought a place with a large lot just outside of the city right before housing prices skyrocketed. I have two friends in Omaha, both college educated, working two jobs each barely just scraping by. Gone are the days when a father could support a family of six kids with a factory job. Lots of people are hurting. And we are turning on each other instead of working together to solve problems.

Our science, tech, medicine, etc. are what’s keeping us afloat. Other institutions, namely politics, haven’t kept up with the changes in tech and world affairs. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be if we still didn’t have vaccinations or work from home options. People who were saying this covid isn’t as bad as Spanish Flu was 100 years ago may have to back track those words. They certainly would if not for the efforts of scientists, doctors, nurses, farm workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, truck drivers, merchant marine sailors, etc.

July 11 2021

Been quiet the last few days. Staying close to home as it’s been really hot when it hasn’t been raining. Looking forward to fall again. Only 50 days until the first college football games. It was so strange last year watching games in empty stadiums. I see the Olympics won’t allow spectators this year. I hope we can get enough people vaccinated that we can open up all over the world again.

While covid hasn’t been as rough for me as most people, it has been quite lonely at times. Glad I can do my psych doctor appointments by teleconference. I haven’t been to a general practice doctor since the pandemic started. I managed to get vaccinated in early May. A home health service sent two nurses to my home, had me answer some questions, and gave me the Johnson & Johnson shot. I didn’t even have to leave my living room. So thankful such people and services are out there. Internet shopping has been a godsend for myself. I can’t imagine how much worse covid would be had this happened back in the early 1980s. As far as loneliness goes, if my grandparents’ generation had to fight a world war, the least I can do is stay home.

Still lifting weights three times a week. Noticing some of my strength starting to come back. I force myself to stand up at least once an hour. If I sit for too long my muscles get sore and I have issues walking and doing chores.

Haven’t read much for traditional books lately. I am watching the Dune mini series that came out in the early 2000s. I’m not normally much of a science fiction fan, but this series is done alright. A friend of mine has been talking up the Dune and Foundation series for years. I read the first Foundation book last summer via audiobook. I have grown to love audiobooks. My college roommate’s dad was a truck driver who used to listen to audiobooks when he was on the road. I can understand why he liked those so much.

Don’t have much planned for the next few weeks. Cruise Night (a rally for classic cars) will be in my town later this month. And one of the main routes run right by my home. Since I’m on the top floor of my complex, I get an amazing view and I don’t even have to brave the hot late July temperature or the large crowds. It should be a huge deal this summer as the country is opening back up. I’ll just watch out my window and have the American Graffiti soundtrack playing, like I do most years. For my Independence Day, I replayed the Revolutionary War on one of my computer games.

I think I’ve finally gotten over my coffee addiction. I’ve had only five cups in the last month. For the first several days I was sleeping more and kind of irritable. I was probably going through caffeine withdraw. I am back to more normal sleep. Most days I’m up for good by 6:30. I usually go to bed around 11pm. Was up until 3 am a few nights ago. Haven’t stayed up that late in months.

I’m doing well overall even if I stay close to home. I usually have visitors in my cleaning lady and a couple neighbors a couple times a week. My neighbor is kind enough to help me with chores like laundry and mail once a week as long as I provide laundry soap and change for the machines. I guess after years of helping out others, I need the help now.

June 26 2021

Been cutting back on caffeine. Had coffee only twice in the last ten days. While I am less prone to irritability, I do sleep more and have more headaches. After having near record breaking heat a week ago, things have cooled off. I usually have my windows open all the time unless it rains.

Still reading lots of online articles from science and economics journals. I don’t watch traditional cable news. Haven’t for years. Most of my family and friends quit watching regular news too. Just too depressing and, unless it happens in my hometown, there really isn’t much I can do to make things better.

Been quite stable mentally, more so than usual for early summer. I do make a point of avoiding conflict, drama, and stress. Most nights I’m in bed by 10pm and up for good by 6am. I usually nap in the afternoons for an hour or two.

June 18 2021

Been sleeping a lot more the last few days. I was feeling quite rough yesterday. Had to reschedule my cleaning lady. I didn’t want to risk having a break down around her or anyone else. I think the older I have gotten, the better I have become at isolating and staying away from people if I think there could be problems. I’ve had maybe three bad breakdowns since March 2020. My worst was shortly after the new year. But, the breakdowns don’t last as long as they did years ago. I also think they are less frequent. I don’t know if the illness is less severe in my early 40s than in my mid 20s or if I’ve just gotten better at managing the problems.

Been real hot this week. We came close to breaking records at least two days this week. I also saw on the news that the EU is opening back up to American travelers. Maybe I should buy a couple shares of airline stocks and see what happens. Most people I know are already vaccinated. I got mine in early May. Didn’t have any side effects. I’ve been watching some of the Euro 2020 soccer tournament the last couple days. They’re usually on in the mornings and early afternoon here in the US. I’m planning on seeing the England vs Scotland match this afternoon. ESPN covers those games. It’s good to see some people in the stands at sports events again.

My birthday was a few days ago. Mom and Dad came to visit. I got a few pairs of pants for gifts. As a kid, I was never excited about getting clothes unless it was something like a Nebraska Huskers football jersey. I doubt my 15 year old self would have imagined getting excited over new clothing as a birthday gift.

Fathers’ Day is this Sunday. I’m not sure what my dad has planned other than Sunday church services. He’s enjoying his retirement. Keeps himself occupied by working on model train sets, going to the grandkids’ soccer games, ham radio, etc. He’s in his early 70s and still has a pilot’s license.

The Reality of Mental Illness

I was diagnosed with schizophrenia and major depression when I was 20 years old. I was covered under my parents’ insurance plan for psych meds. At the age of 25 I applied for social security disability insurance because I was no longer covered under my parents’ insurance and it was painfully obvious I couldn’t handle the anxiety of jobs available (i.e. retail and customer service jobs). My psych meds, without insurance, were $2,000 a month in 2006. To offset this, my parents bought a high risk health insurance policy for me that, to this day, they still refuse to tell me how much it cost them. I didn’t qualify for social security disability insurance until late 2008.

To avoid getting thrown out of the system, I couldn’t make more then $700 a month (after taxes) at any job. I had a janitorial job for a few years that I did well in because I wasn’t around people most of the time. After four years on the job, I finally did the math and figured out that for every one dollar I made in work, I lost 72 cents via increased rent (I live in low income housing), decreased benefits, and taxes. I finally gave up on the job because there was no incentive to keep working at what was effectively a 72 percent tax on a minimum wage job.

I am now 40 years old. Haven’t held a traditional job for eight years due to loss in benefits. I still need the psych meds every day or I would be homeless, in prison, or dead. We don’t even have long term mental health hospitals in large numbers anymore in the US. And if I want to save money in case of emergencies, I’d lose benefits if I ever had more than $3,000 in savings. This is all for a chronic mental illness that I didn’t bring upon myself. I was an honor student in high school who qualified for a $5,000 a year scholarship for college. I was studying to get into medical school. Lost most of my friends, most of my support group, any chance at a family, any shot at a career, etc. so I could keep the insurance for psych meds and treatments that would now, in 2021, cost $4,000 a month. And I receive zero dollars in food stamps. The support of my understanding and upper middle class family during the two plus years I was waiting for disability to get approved (which was faster than normal because we hired an attorney) is the only thing keeping from going bankrupt and homeless. So my case with severe mental illness is actually better than most people in the US. As it is I live on my own in low income housing in a small town in the Midwest and can live independently off my disability pension because I have no debt. Most people in my circumstances are far worse off.

Emerging From Self Imposed Quarantine

It’s been quite awhile since I last wrote. Updates are in order. Got my covid vaccine two weeks ago. So I’m more comfortable hosting guests in my apartment. My neighbor drops in usually every afternoon and we chat each other up. Found out a few of our tenants might have to leave from getting behind on rent. I’m glad that’s one thing I never did no matter how financially stressed I became. Granted, living in adjustable rate low income housing is a bonus.

I’m still mentally stable. I usually go to bed at 11pm and usually wake up for good at sunrise. Been watching alot of science and tech talks on youtube the last few weeks. I have gone easy on the audiobooks for the last couple weeks. I do read alot of articles online from many different sources. The information to be well informed is out there even if I have to spend some time looking for it.

Diet wise, I usually eat only twice a day. My biggest meal is always lunch. I found if I eat a protein rich lunch at 11am, I’m usually good to go until having a smaller meal at 5pm. I almost never eat sugar or carb rich food. Sugar can make me feel lethargic and irritable. As much as I love coffee, I limit myself to only one cup per day. Too much caffeine can make me irritable and short tempered. The only time I eat fast food is when I have family as guests. Fast food no longer agrees with me. It just makes me sluggish and gives me upset stomach. But stomach problems run in my family. My grandma had Chron’s Disease and both my mom and one of my aunts have stomach problems.

I don’t spend much time on facebook these days besides socializing with close friends and a couple cousins. It’s best if I don’t just scroll all evening. I think more people are learning to balance it as opposed to a few years ago.

I leave my windows open all the time unless we’re getting heavy rain or wind. I still wake up kind of chilly in the morning. But it is good sleep weather.

I’m Lonely But I Fear People

I find myself wanting to avoid in person contact most of the time. Yet I still have a strong desire to socialize. I don’t socialize in person much partly because I know only two people in my entire apartment complex who share any of my interests. Sure my neighbor is cool and we help each other out a good deal, but we don’t have much in common interests. It is lonely not having anyone nearby to talk about things like history, philosophy, psychology, literature, tech, science, economics, etc. Social media used to be good for that before it became a toxic cesspool. Social media was fun until about ten years ago. It got real ugly in 2015 and 2016, a time when I was already having lots of personal problems. From October 2014 to October 2015, my three best friends in this complex died, my grandmother died, I had my car accident, and had falling outs with several friends and family members. In short I got tired of hearing negative crap about politics all the time. And I even agreed with some of these people, but they were still toxic about their beliefs. I confronted a few about their toxic behavior. Every one of them told me I could go away if I didn’t like it. I did go away. I have stayed away. I won’t even go to family functions and class reunions anymore. One of my college friends I haven’t talked to in almost seven years. It’s so sad and frustrating I don’t even want to talk about it. It’s sad that many people care more about politics than family, work, religion, and even life itself. I want no part of that.

Cold Weather, Dreams, Decline of Social Media, and Regrets

Been damp and chilly the last few days. I enjoy this kind of weather. People think I’m strange for having my windows open on days like this. But, I’m a warm blooded mammal, not a lizard. I don’t need it be sunny and dry all the time. Besides, I have blankets, can make hot coffee, and turn on the furnace if it gets too cold. I’ve always been more sensitive to heat than cold anyway. Even the seasonal aspects of my mental illness are worse in the summers than winters and springs.

Staying close to home most days. My cleaning lady had to have foot surgery several weeks ago. She said she should be able to work again as soon as next week. I’ll be glad to see her again. My neighbors have helped out some this spring but it just isn’t the same.

Started sleeping less. I’m usually asleep by 11pm most nights and up for good by 6am. I sometimes nap in the afternoons. Been having lots of dreams lately. Fortunately they aren’t scary, they’re just vivid and make no sense. One dream I had was about a world famous conspiracy theorist living next door to the church I attended as a kid. And a few friends and I would go visit him after church services. Make whatever you will of this one. Another strange dream I recently had was about my old college opening a satellite campus next door to the building where my dad had his dental office. Can’t figure that one out either.

I’m growing more disappointed with social media lately. It hasn’t been any fun for years now. But now it’s practically a ghost town. I don’t use it for anything other than keeping in contact with my best friend and a couple cousins. I don’t even get much traffic to this blog via social media anymore. Thankful I don’t own any Facebook or Twitter stock. I just don’t see much activity on there anymore, certainly not like ten years ago. I’m going to have to find some other means to promote my blog.

I’m generally content overall. Even the long periods of alone time don’t bother me. I’d rather be alone than deal with toxic and rude people every day. Socializing is no longer worth it, at least not in person. I guess the older I have gotten, the fewer social contacts I have. But the ones I do have are far more meaningful than they were when I was 21. I enjoy being 40 more than I ever did my teens and twenties. The only thing I miss from my youth is how easy mobility was in those days. Sadly my physical health got sacrificed for my mental stability. Biggest mistake I ever made. Yet, I don’t know how I could have done it much different. I understand why mentally ill people typically have shorter life spans than those who aren’t mentally ill.