Beginning of Fall 2021

I’ve been having problems with insomnia lately. I fall asleep but usually stay asleep for only 30 minutes at a time. I usually get my best sleep between 7am and 11am these days. I still go to bed around 9pm most nights. But I usually lie awake for a couple hours before I drift off for the first time.

As far as I know, our complex is still on lock downs. I usually make a point of not talking to people much, at least in person. Most people I know are really on edge. I am too. Just saw in the news that the official death toll from covid in the US is now higher than the Spanish Flu of 100 years ago. Naturally, some people will say that Spanish Flu was a totally different virus and that the US has over three times as many people as we did in 1918. To me, this is a heartless and ugly attitude to have. I’m through with arguing about mask mandates and vaccines and social distancing. I’m convinced some people will never get the idea even if they themselves wind up dead. I’ve had to cut a lot of people out of my life because of toxic and heartless attitudes like this. I’m glad my grandparents aren’t alive to see this mass insanity.

Changes That Improved My Quality Of Life

I’m going to go off subject for this one. I guess now that my complex is back on lock down (everyone in my complex is either elderly, disabled, or both) I’ve had plenty of time to think. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the changes I’ve made over the course of my life. So here is a list of things I’ve done that improved my life so much I wish I had done them sooner. Here goes


Changes I Wish I Had Made Sooner

Learning how to ask for help

Being open about my mental illness

Cancel my cable service

Stop watching 24 hours news channels

Cancel all of my magazine subscriptions

Saving my letters from family and friends

Throwing away my old bank statements

Realizing that I don’t have to be defined by my job

Stop feeling guilty about not wanting to date

Gotten a bidet on my toilet

Getting rid of my music CDs and movie DVDs

Hanging art work in my apartment (most of it is done by my best friend)

Getting rid of my car

Give up on trying to please toxic people and bullies

Stop feeling guilty about wanting to spend most of my time at home

Give up fast food

Get my finances in order

Severely cutting back on caffeine

The Only Constant Is Change

When I was young I was a high achiever. Did really well in school, was involved in school activities year round. Started helping out on my uncle’s farm during the summers when I was ten years old. Had a really good academic scholarship cover a good chunk of my college expenses. Graduated college debt free. May not have been overly popular but had excellent friends anyway.

But, the mental illness really ramped up shortly in the mid 2000s. The illness made it impossible to hold a job for long. Lost many of my friends and family. Had to go on disability. Have to take meds for the rest of my life. Will probably have a shorter life because of the illness. But it doesn’t bother me as much anymore, certainly not like fifteen years ago.

I’ve accepted that my career died before it got started. I’ve accepted that I’ll never have kids. I’m alright with that I’ll never have the big house, picket fence, SUV, and apple pie kind of life. I’ve accepted that I had question everything I took for granted in my youth. I’m even starting to accept that the pandemic isn’t going to end anytime soon.

In some ways I’m glad I have the life I do. I’m glad that I get to spend most of my days reading, writing, and learning things that most people simply don’t have the time for. I spend at least six hours a day reading online articles and journals. Spend a lot of time listening to science, economics, history, and philosophy talks on youtube. It’s almost like being a modern day monk.

I would say I accepted living in poverty, but let’s face it: even living below poverty level in modern America puts me ahead of most people alive today, let alone the past. Will Rodgers was right when he said America would be the first country in the world to go to the poor house in an automobile. Don’t even need to own said automobile anymore as long as you have a smartphone and an Uber account. Sold my car two years ago and my lifestyle hasn’t decreased at all. If anything, I feel less stress because I don’t have to worry about traffic, gas, and maintenance. Things like portable computers were science fiction when I growing up in the 1980s.

I think we tend to overestimate how much can change in only a year or two but vastly underestimate how much can change in ten to twenty years. Just looking in the living room of my apartment, most of the electronics didn’t exist in 2001. I don’t think even LED lighting was available back then. Even my memory foam mattress and shoes came about within the last twenty years I think. I don’t even subscribe to cable tv anymore. Can get all the tv I need on my laptop and game console. If only I didn’t have to buy a new phone or laptop every few years. Even in the movies and tv shows I watched in college in the early 2000s, I chuckle about some of the tech in those shows. Phone booths, land lines, and flip phones were extensively used even in The Matrix movies. Even today, we have many of the tech advances of the Star Trek series. We’re still not close to cracking Warp Drive though. But, what is a 3D printer if not an early version of a Replicator?

I will probably never have much money. But I really don’t need to. Certainly not like I would have 25 years ago. A person doesn’t really need much money anymore if they can stay out of debt. Granted that is a huge task. Housing, health care, and education have increased in cost far faster than inflation. But, even education can be real cheap if you play your cards right. There isn’t much I can’t learn with a few minutes of Google search or a few how to videos on youtube. And trade schools and community colleges don’t cost nearly as much as even public universities. I’ve heard of electricians and plumbers making more than even lawyers. In short, there are more options than even twenty years ago. If only people could stop fighting on social media.

Signs That I Am No Longer Young

My complex went back on lockdown until further notice starting a couple days ago. So, no more mass gatherings unless they are outside. I won’t be able to spend time in the complex library or commons area for awhile. We had a few people in here who tested positive within the last couple weeks, one of whom a close friend of mine. So glad I held onto my extra facemasks and sanitizer sprays.

Yet, in spite of the pile up of bad news, I’m going off subject for this post. I’m going to try to make a light hearted list of signs that I am no young. This isn’t by any means a complete list. So here goes.

Signs I Am No Longer Young

I get junk mail from AARP weekly

The highlights of my week often involve my cleaning lady showing up and appointments with my psych doctor

I get more joy now from a bowl of cheese soup and chatting with my best friends than I ever did going to bars and chasing women

I have zero time for drama but factor in time for aches and pains

I used to drink an average of six cups of coffee per day in my mid twenties. Now I drink maybe six cups per month

I’m not embarassed to talk about mental health issues

I have no problem asking for help

I have no problem with taking people up on their offers to help. You want to help? Fine with me. I’m putting your butt to work and I won’t feel a shred of guilt for it.

I remember when social media was fun

I remember when teenagers were called angsty slackers and not triggered snowflakes.

I remember when the Pepperidge Farm guy was a real guy and not a cartoon meme.

I learned about sex from my buddies’ stolen Playboys and Victoria’s Secret catalogs

I was scared to talk about my mental illness with even my best friends for the first five years of my diagnosis.

I got interested in economics and geopolitics by Ross Perot in 1992

Most of the musicians I admired in my teens and twenties are dead, many of whom died quite young.

I remember when people were freaking about AIDS like they are now over covid

I watched the trials of O.J. Simpson and Oliver North

I was in high school before DNA evidence was considered reliable

I used a firearm before I learned to drive or shave

I was angry at my dad because he wouldn’t let me use the lawnmower until I was eight years old

The only person I know personally below the age of 55 who has worked for the same company for over twenty years is my brother.

I remember when college graduates having over 25k in student loans was a big deal

When people with law degrees or MBAs were not waiting tables or Uber drivers

When gig work was seen as a supplement and not a necessity

When you didn’t have to be independently wealthy to afford a house outside of the ghetto or rural America.

When corporations weren’t considered legal people. I mean, does Amazon have a favorite ethnic restaurant? Is Coors Brewing a big baseball fan and, if so, why do the Rockies stink every year? Are J.P. Morgan and Coco Chanel having an extramarrital affair? If so, does Apple have the selfies and is threating to share them with Twitter and Tik Tok?

Too many parents of today are overprotective of their kids. Same parents (and myself) were not supervised or protected at all while growing up in the 80s and 90s. Balance, people, balance.

I get good memories from hearing the theme songs to “X-Files”, “Daria”, “Cops”, “Resident Evil”, and “Jackass”

I’m old enough to remember when “The Simpsons” was just as good as “South Park”

I remember when crime dramas were as popular as superhero movies are today

A few of my friends thought they could commit the perfect crime because they watched every episode of CSI, The Sopranos, and Cops

I remember when the Bulls and Knicks had great teams

These are just a few. I’ve gone on too long already. I’ll be sure to post more in the future

Hallucinations And Paranoia With Schizophrenia

One of the primary symptoms of schizophrenia is hallucinations. In my case I have auditory hallucinations. I often hear people walking and talking in the hallways who aren’t there. I often hear my phone ring when it isn’t. It’s especially bad when I’m away from my phone in the bathroom or in the bedroom trying to take a nap. I often hear my Facebook Messenger ap chime only to find it was only hallucinations. I often have voices criticizing me when I’m trying to do even mundane tasks like cooking supper, doing laundry, getting dressed, and even when playing computer games and watching Amazon Prime. And it’s always the voices of people I know and they are always very critical and nasty.

As far as paranoia goes, it’s often bad. I always feel like I’m being watched when I am in public. I always feel like when something goes wrong when I have company (things like my internet going down, my computer being slower than usual, neighbors knocking on my door, having too much clutter on my desk and bedroom floor, or even having to get up to go to the bathroom) I’m being silently condemned and criticized. I’ve called my family out on this a few times. Even though they try their best to tell me that they mean no harm, I usually think they are lying and just get even more paranoid. I’m also paranoid that my call box that opens the security door to let delivery men isn’t going to work. I’m usually ready to go to my neighbor’s and have them open the security door. This has been especially bad for over two years as I’m completely reliant on grocery and UPS delivery.

I rarely leave my apartment for I fear that I’m being watched and condemned. I often lose my breath after walking long distances. And people making comments about me breathing hard makes me not want to leave my home. Then I get people telling me I wouldn’t be so short of breath if I got out of the house more often. I catch hell either way anymore.

I’m also really self conscious about my appearance. But, I’m also paranoid enough to think that no matter how good I am dressed up and presentable, it won’t be good enough for anybody. What’s the point of doing anything beyond minimum if it’s never going to be good enough for anyone? People were really critical of my appearance even back in grade school no matter how dressed up and cleaned up I was. I had one general practice doctor who wanted to take me off all of my psych meds because he thought the psych meds were preventing me from losing weight and that I’d be doing so much better mentally if I lost weight. Never mind that I’ve had mental health issues since high school and was physically strong well into my late 30s. Until my car accident in 2015 I’d walk three miles a day, five days a week. Can’t do that anymore. Another doctor flat out told me, and I quote, “Lose the damn weight.” First, last, and only time I saw him.

The whole, get tough, man up, scream in my face, Alpha Male, Marine Corp, hell fire and brimstone, cowboy nonsense never worked with me. It also never impressed me. I guess that makes me less manly, depending on who you ask. I suppose that after twenty plus years of schizophrenia I just no longer want to be bothered with it. Some days I feel a lot older than 41. I have no clue how I made it even this far. I really no longer care if I impress anyone, even friends and family. I’ll do the minimum to keep my neighbors, my landlord, social security, etc. happy and off my case. But I’m no longer going out of my way to impress anyone. It’s not like I was impressing anyone when I was in my teens and twenties anyway. I’m glad I’m not young anymore and can more or less do my own thing as long as I’m not being a jerk to my neighbors or breaking the law. I’m enjoying my 40s far more than I did my teens. As bad as the hallucinations and paranoias are now, they were far worse in my twenties. There are far worse things in life than being on disability and living in low income housing in rural America. Even the last couple years with the pandemic, I have a legit excuse to not leave my house and not get hassled.

Nostalgia and Regrets, Or Lack Of

One of my best friends from college died from cancer a few days ago. She was only a couple years older than I and had two teenage kids. I used to play trivia games all the time and she was one of the few who could actually beat me on our campus. After a couple years, she was the only one who would even play against me. Even though I hadn’t seen her in several years, I will always miss her. Easy socializing with people of similar interests is one of the things I miss about not being young anymore.

I’ve been thinking back on my younger years more than usual lately. I’m normally not nostalgic as I think nostalgia glosses over the bad parts of our past, overlooks what is going on that is good today, and leaves no vision for the future. Maybe it’s the time of year when school is back in session and my hometown, home to a small state university of about 8,000 students, comes back to life. Maybe it’s that after over a year and a half of pandemic and the end of two decades of war in the Middle East (at least for my country), I have found myself reflecting on how we got to the point in August 2021 were we currently reside.

The older I’ve gotten, the more I understand why so many people are nostalgic. I mean, who wouldn’t want to have the health they had in their late teens coupled with the knowledge they have in their elder years? But, health is wasted on the young and inexperienced and wisdom and wealth are wasted on the elderly, frail, and cynical. I just hope I never find myself complaining about the younger generations and fantasizing about a past that never existed anywhere outside of my own mind.

I do have a few regrets about my younger years. Most of them are minor, but the big one I have is that I didn’t do more to care for my physical health while I was fighting my mental illness in my twenties. I don’t regret the road trips, the books read, the college degree earned, the dead end jobs abandoned, the toxic people I gave up on, the failed romances, not having gotten married, not having kids, the activities participated in, etc. I certainly don’t regret having survived to middle age with a serious mental illness. I don’t regret trying to make something good out of a bad situation. I don’t regret being involved in many activities in high school and college. I don’t regret the friends I’ve kept over the decades. I don’t regret staying on good terms with most of my family even if we don’t chat very often. I don’t regret the women I’ve asked out on dates in high school and college even if I got rejected by all but a few of them. I don’t regret going a year and a half into a worldwide pandemic without getting sick and spending most of my time isolated. I don’t even regret selling my car and giving up driving. I always thought driving was overrated anyway. The only reason I learned to drive is that my country has had garbage for public transit my entire life.

I don’t regret not socializing with toxic people. I don’t regret cutting rude people out of my life. I don’t regret giving up on my minimum wage career. I don’t regret not letting other people determine what I think of myself. I don’t regret having unpopular opinions. And I certainly don’t regret spotting trends years before most people I know. I guess I’m not as nostalgic as most people my age and older because I have fewer regrets. Sure it meant lots of heat aches, humiliation, failed jobs, being betrayed, and knowing I’ll never be prestigious, rich, or even a respected member of my community. But it was worth it to become the man I am today.

Thoughts On My School Years

Schools in my town are back in session for fall. High school and college football will be starting in a couple weeks. I was on my high school’s football team back in the late 90s. Since I attended a small high school (My senior class had only 30 students when we graduated), it was easier to get involved in school activities than in most schools. In addition to playing football, I did school play for two years, pep band for basketball games, competitive speech, and a couple years of track. Even though I’ve been out of high school since 1999, I don’t go all Glory Days like the old Bruce Springsteen song. Those four years of high school and five years of college seemed to last forever when I was going through. Time really does speed up the longer you’ve been alive. I mentioned this to my then 90 year old grandmother when she just chuckled and said “You have no idea just how fast it’s gonna get.”

While I may have learned more history, philosophy, science, tech, etc. in binge watching youtube videos for 10 years, would I have desired to do such if I didn’t have good teachers in my youth and parents who encouraged me to read at a very young age? The idea that school can teach something everything they need to know about life and working by age 22 is not feasable. Especially with as fast as science, tech, and industry changes anymore. And these changes aren’t slowing down. I’m amazed at the amount of changes I’ve seen just in the last two years, let alone the last twenty. I can imagine my twelve year old niece chuckling every time her dad talks about the old dial up internet and even land based phone lines. I’m sure my seventeen year old nephew rolls his eyes when he thinks about people like me who have never used virtual reality head sets or 3D printers. I don’t even have a TikTok account. I don’t even make videos on youtube. I probably would get a larger audience doing videos about mental illness issues, but is it really worth the hassle of dealing with more trolls and arguments in comment sections? I still think it’s amazing there are kids on youtube and tiktok making over a million dollars a year and they aren’t even old enough to join the military or vote. I guess the possibility to make a living off anything you are good at is now there. That wasn’t the case twenty five years ago.

If anything, the purpose of school should be teaching kids how to learn long after their last day of high school. I did the math and my youngest nephew won’t hit even current retirement age until the late 2070s. We don’t know what will and won’t be available by then. We might not even need most people to have jobs by then if automation and AI takes off like I think it could. But, then again, some predictions will be laughably way off. Some economists back in the 1930s thought that people would need to work only 15 hours a week instead of 40 by 2030. Hell, I’d be thrilled if we could get the work week back down to 40 hours by then. And wages haven’t even tried to keep up with cost of living and productivity since the late 1970s. No way could anyone working a job requiring only a high school degree can support a house and six kids anymore outside of truck driving, sales, and trades in 2021. Most people I know younger than me are working two jobs and still barely breaking even. Any wonder why younger people are revolting against the current order? I wish my cohorts and I had that kind of courage fifteen years ago.

Knowing Thyself

One of my teenage nephews got his first job shortly after school ended for the summer. It made me think back on the types of work I had over the years. It also made me think back on the career advice my parents, teachers, etc. gave me when I was growing up.

I did lots of chores for my parents from as far back as I can remember. I was mowing lawns for my parents from about age 8 and helping mom cook supper from age 6. My grandma used to let me help her in her vegetable garden. My grandpa and dad used to take me and my brother with them whenever they went out to cut firewood on a local rancher’s property. They didn’t let us run the chain saws, but they did let us stack and store the cut wood even before we started school. When I was 8, my dad gave me an old hacksaw so I could practice cutting on small pieces and limbs. When I was in junior high, I helped out at my uncle’s farm every summer. I usually had to store and stack hay bails, help take care of pigs, clean chicken houses, and things like that. And I loved it. I loved it all. I’m glad my family thought it was good to get their kids involved in chores and family business when we were still in grade school. I even helped my dad organize files and clean in his dental office.

I got my first “real job” as a fast food cook. Got told off by the owner my first day out of orientation. He might not have known it was my first day. I’ll never know. Lost the job a month later when I couldn’t work fast enough to be a cook in fast food. For the rest of the summer I worked on a construction crew at a livestock sale barn. We were in charge of rebuilding pens and fences to keep cattle and pigs in while they were being sold. It was hot and dirty work. But it didn’t bother me as much as working fast food.

Over the next several years, I worked in retail. I hated dealing with customers. Caused me too much stress. I usually did better when I was unloading delivery trucks, organizing the store room, stocking shelves, and cleaning.

There is an underlying theme in all of this: I did much better at jobs that didn’t involve interacting with the public and weren’t really fast paced. As bad as I struggled in retail and restaurant, I would have struggled even worse in sales and in person teaching. Of course, the mental illness made this even worse.

I think in addition to my mental illness, the big reason I struggled at work was I often took jobs that weren’t aligned with my personality and skills. As much as working in crowds and with people I don’t know bothered me, I’m sure more people are bothered by work when they would have to spend entire days alone or with the same people. Most people I know don’t understand how I spend days on end alone and not break. It’s just the way I’m wired and my skill set.

As it is I’m on disability for my mental illness. But because I don’t work a regular paying job doesn’t mean I don’t keep occupied. I read alot. I have this blog, while it may never have a large audience, has several hundred postings since 2013. And I spend my time reading up on lots of science and tech advances that most people simply don’t have the time or energy to research on their own after dealing with work and family duties.

Sure my work probably won’t make me rich, but I have what I need. I may be just below poverty line (at least by American standards) yet I don’t feel deprived. But I do have simple tastes. A good time for me was going to the bar with my then girlfriend and playing darts and singing karaoke. Or having a plate of chicken wings with a few college buddies while playing board games. Or going to watch a couple friends play baseball for my college. Or going to listen to a couple local bands perform at on campus concerts on Friday nights. I may not have enjoyed going to high school sporting events as much as some people in my hometown, but I certainly enjoyed playing football and competing in speech meets.

I guess the only work or life advice I could give my teenage nephews or any teenagers is simply “Know Thyself.” Find out what your strengths and weaknesses are. Try a variety of jobs and activities, especially when your still young, have lots of energy, and still living with your parents. If you don’t like being around people or don’t handle rejection well (like myself), you’re not going to do well in sales or as a business owner. Don’t try to be what your family wants or do something just because it pays a lot of money. Do something you have the skills for. Also be ready if you have to change jobs. Science and tech are destroying and creating jobs far faster than they were even twenty years ago. Know Thyself and keep leveling up.

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.

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

I’m going to be celebrating my 41st birthday next week. A lot has changed over just the course of my life. The fact that I can send out my random rants into something called The Internet and have them available to anyone who has what is essentially a pocket sized super computer that happens to make phone calls is still mind boggling. The subject of this post is the things I wish I knew about life when I was 18 rather than having to learn them through hard experience. So here goes

Things I Wish I Knew At Age 18

In many ways, work is easier than school. At least with work, you get paid for your trouble. And you don’t have to deal with the completely random assortment of jerks, losers, morons, and bullies that you are assigned to just because of your age and where you live. At work, most people are there because they have skills the job demands. And, no, you aren’t expected to make friends at work.

You don’t have to get married and have children to have a fulfilling life. You don’t even have to have a successful career to be fulfilled.

It’s probably best if you don’t get all of your fulfillment from your job. The most interesting people I’ve ever known hate their jobs but made up for it with their hobbies, church groups, community activities, etc.

It isn’t necessary to have a high paying job to make lots of money, especially if you are smart about things like debts and investing. Lots of people make six figures yet are only a missed paycheck away from being behind in their lease or rent. Some of the richest people I ever knew never owned expensive houses, took vacations to foreign countries, or drove anything more luxurious than a new Dodge Ram pickup truck.

Take care of your joints, especially your knees. You’ll miss those when they go bad.

Routine maintenance on EVERYTHING. It doesn’t matter if it’s your house, your car, your physical and mental health, your friendships, your marriage, etc. It will allow you to correct minor problems before they become major crises.

You can tell the truth all the time and some people will still think you’re a liar.

Many people stopped developing mentally and emotionally as teenagers. In fact, I know many adults who have worse morals and make worse decisions then teenagers and college students.

Elders will always complain about the “damn kids.” The only way to avoid doing this when you become an elder yourself is to consciously fight against it on a daily basis. The same people complaining about Billie Eilish and Ariana Grande where the same people rocking out to Rage Against The Machine and Marilyn Manson back in the 90s.

If you want to find out what someone is really like, give them power and money.

Some people will always fight against change. They are usually only delaying the inevitable.

Some people will never be pleased.

Some of your worst critics will be family members, friends, and neighbors.

The only real constant in life is change.