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.

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.

Routines During Pandemic

Been a few days since I wrote.  An update is in order.  Had groceries delivered Thursday afternoon.  Frozen meat is now in short supply.  My supermarket is limiting how much people can buy in one purchase.  I was able to get soup and cheese.  Been craving vegetables a lot the last few days.  I’m probably not getting enough in my new diet.

Got my meds refilled a few days ago.  I hope those don’t get in short supply.  I do have reserves but I hope I don’t have to resort to that.  Been sleeping more lately.  I have been stable overall though.  Maybe the extra sleep is keeping me this way.

I see that some places are starting to reopen.  I understand why places need to reopen, especially small family owned businesses.  But I am still worried, at least for myself, that this could start a second wave of infections.  I’m glad I have the option of staying at home even with the lifting of some restrictions.  I see that some of the big soccer leagues in Europe are reopening.  And there are talks here in USA about colleges being open for in person classes this fall.

It’s been an odd last several weeks for me.  It seems like time slowed to a crawl the day the covid 19 was officially declared a pandemic.  So glad that I and most of my friends and family got prepared early.  I feared this could become a major problem as early as late January.  It is encouraging that restrictions are being eased.  Sadly, I fear there simply is no way to keep mass quarantines in place until vaccines are mass produced.  Either way, we are going to take a beating.  Doctors have warned for years this was only a matter of when.

Been keeping in contact with friends and family more.  I call my parents several times per week.  I talk to old friends usually once or twice a week.  I call my brother a few times a month.  I guess if I can’t see people in person, I have to make do with phone calls and video conferencing.

Easter Sunday, Self Quarantine, and Mental Illness

It is Easter Sunday as I write this entry.  Happy Easter to all my Christian friends and readers!  Even though I haven’t been a regular attender of church services for several years, it just felt odd this year that attending Easter services and then going to my aunt and uncle’s farmstead for dinner and having my cousins’ kids hunt for Easter eggs and candy in my uncles large back yard wasn’t an option this year.  I heard even the Pope delivered his Easter Mass to an empty Vatican this morning.  But we are living in trying times that people will still be talking about even a century from now, much like we talk about the Spanish Flu outbreak of one hundred years ago.

We had a bad ice storm this morning.  The power went down for over three hours.  Luckily, the water still worked.  I wrapped in blankets and read some while I waited for the power to return.  Did some Skype with my mom and dad this afternoon.  Their church hosted Easter services online.  I heard that one of their church’s members died from coronavirus earlier this month.  I called a college friend of mine today too.  He said they had over twelve inches of snow in his hometown in South Dakota.  Both he and his wife are teachers at the local high school.  They are always busy with teaching their students online and taking care of their very active two year old daughter now.  He and I are both missing baseball right now.

With the exception of today, the weather has been pretty decent and typical of early spring in Nebraska.  It’s sunny during the days but still kind of chilly at night.  I usually have my windows open during the daylight hours.  Even though I don’t leave my apartment much besides picking up deliveries, I still get some sunshine through my open windows most days.

My neighbors made Easter dinner for me and a few other tenants this evening.  Had ham and cheese.  I don’t usually cook anything extravagant as I mostly cook only for myself.  I am still good on non perishables like soup mix, peanut butter, honey, ramen noodles, and canned vegetables.  I broke down and ordered some frozen meat through my supermarket.  That’s supposed to arrive Monday afternoon.

My cleaning lady arrived on Thursday.  She was wearing a mask and surgical gloves while she worked.  I wore a facemask while she was at my place.  I wear masks when I have guests or when I pick up deliveries.  So far, I’m holding good on supplies even after a month of self quarantine.  Back in early February, I was talking with my best friend and she mentioned that she was doing early preps in case things got bad.  She lives in Denver and works in an essential industry.  She’s out in this mess most days.  But she keeps a constant supply of hand sanitizer on her person.  A friend of mine who works in a pharmacy had to take a leave of absence from work because she was fighting sicknesses and has preexisting conditions that would have made coronavirus even worse.

I’ve been self quarantine for over a month now.  I am still holding pretty well overall.  While I occasionally have moments of flare ups and irritability, I haven’t had a full psych breakdown since before this mess started.  I still take my psych meds every day.  And I meditate and sleep more these days.  I still lift weights most days.  I eat healthy and avoid sugars for the most part.  I have weathered the last thirty days well.  Looks like I can look forward to at least another thirty days of self quarantine.  Yet, I still feel hopeful overall.  So far, we haven’t had mass unrest or civil problems, at least not here in the USA.  I am also encouraged by how people are helping each other out more.  I suppose the best I can do is stay home, stay sane, and write about my experiences.  Hopefully I can be an encouragement to those not managing as well as I am.

March 29 2020 Self Quarantine

Talked to my brother and my parents for quite awhile this afternoon.  Found out they are having church over the internet during this crisis.  My brother teaches Sunday School and did so over webcam this morning.  Made some barbecue chicken for an early lunch.  Spent much of the day playing computer games.  Haven’t had any guests since my cleaning lady came on Thursday.  Been watching youtube.  Saw a couple movies on Amazon Prime this weekend.  Saw a documentary on the history of the British Navy this weekend.

Been reading more this weekend.  Talked to my best friend over the weekend.  Said she doesn’t get out much other than going to work and walking her dog.  She said she’s going to be working on a new painting in her down time.  Sleeping a great deal this weekend.  I lift weights every other day.  I also do breathing and mediation twice a day.  I’m still holding good on my food supplies.  I get my disability pension in a few days.  I won’t have to really buy much as my supplies are still holding out.

Haven’t left my apartment other than to pick up deliveries for two weeks.  I am so grateful for internet and delivery services right now.  I’d be in real trouble if this would have happened when I didn’t have easy access to internet or delivery.  Saw a video on youtube this morning that said to the effect that had a pandemic like this happened in the 1980s, many people would have already lost their jobs as most places didn’t have the ability to work from home.  My friend in South Dakota is teaching his classes online.  Said he spends a couple hours a day answering emails from his students.  And his wife is expecting their second child this summer.

Overall I’m still holding good mentally.  I’m pleasantly surprised at how well I’m holding up.  This is definitely a time of crisis when history is being made every day.  It’s a stressful and sad time for all of us.  I doubt the world will be the same once this pandemic clears.  I have no idea how long I’ll have to self quarantine.  Hopefully effective treatments can be discovered soon.  Even with a possible vaccine going under trials right now, it could be over a year before it’s ready.  Yet, it’s quite amazing how fast our scientists and doctors have been able to move on this.  The first cases appeared in China in early December and only a few months later we are testing at least one possible vaccine.  It’s amazing what can be accomplished with collaboration and easy communication.

March 18 2020

Been back home for a week now.  Got all the necessary things in the remodel done.  Haven’t left my apartment in two days.  So far I’m doing alright.  Renewed my Netflix subscription and watching some movies and comedy shows I had always wanted to see.  Saw some Monty Python this morning.  Watched some George Carlin skits on St. Patrick’s Day.  I try not to watch the news much.  Sometimes it can get too discouraging.  The best I can do right now is keep my hands washed and avoid large crowds.

I talk to my family at least once a day.  Contact friends on a near daily basis too.  I keep hydrated and take a vitamin C pill every morning.  I started lifting weights again.  I took the previous two weeks off while the remodel was in progress.  I am so glad I got that done when I did.

Overall I’m just preparing to settle in and bunker down for the time being.  Have some money saved up for emergencies.  Hopefully won’t have to go anywhere anytime soon.  Sounds like things are getting crazy out there.  Stay safe and stay calm.

Returning To Stability

It’s been a good day.  Talked to my landlady and I’m going to be having some maintenance work done in my apartment within the next couple days.  I’ll have to be out for a few hours while the work is done.  My neighbors said I could stay with them for the day.  It is work I have been needing done for a few weeks and it is finally being worked on.  One of the reasons I’m glad the holidays are over is that I can now get things accomplished that have been on the back burner for a few weeks.  Holidays are a stressful time for me, partly because almost nothing can get done during the holidays.  This is especially bad in the case of emergencies.

With some of my Christmas money I bought a few cheap games. I also subscribed to Disney +.  Yet most of what I watch is NatGeo.  I did watch Avatar a few days ago.  Hard to believe that movie has been out for over ten years already.

Been sleeping better since I received my new bed.  I also read more too.  I’m currently working on some of the classics I read in my early twenties.  I am keeping myself occupied in spite of the colder weather.  One of the things I like about winter is that I can get a lot of reading done during the long and cold nights.  I’m adapting well to the winter.  Winter and spring have always been my happiest times of year.  Late summers and early fall are usually my toughest times of year.

I’m still lifting weights three times a week.  I definitely feel stronger than I did when I started this routine last March.  I may have not lost weight in 2019 but I didn’t gain any either.  It looks like I have to adjust my eating activities to lose weight.  I want to lose weight, but for health reasons.  I really don’t care about impressing other people that much.  I can do most of my socializing at home anymore.  And my blog I can do from anywhere I can take a laptop and find a wireless internet connection.  I couldn’t have imagined doing what I am doing as a blogger even ten years ago.  Back in the mid 2000s I was still trying to get into writing through literary magazines and traditional publishing.  I probably couldn’t have gotten the audience and platform I have now except via dumb luck before blogging became big.

I still don’t know what this blog can become ultimately.  As it is I try to treat it like a job, even though I don’t make much money at it.  I didn’t know I had much of a talent for writing and story telling until I was in college.  I wouldn’t have figured this out had I never went to college.

Once I get these maintenance issues resolved within the next day or two, I’ll be set for awhile.  Just right in time for the next cold spell to come in.  I enjoy the cold weather.  I love reading with a cup of coffee and reading while under a fleece blanket.  I can hardly wait.

November 11 2019

I’m now beginning day two of adjusting to no social media.  I notice I’m not as easily stressed even after two days.  It helps that I’m not wasting time waiting for friends to respond to my posts.  It’s also good that I no longer see every little post in my former groups that don’t pertain to me or the subjects I care about.  I just got tired of stressing over people I will never meet in person.  Even the college friends I have, I haven’t talked to many of them in person since graduation.  Sure what they are up to is interesting, but I don’t need a moment to moment play by play of their daily lives.  I can easily catch up with them via email maybe a few times a year.  Just because I may not talk to you on a daily basis doesn’t mean I am upset with you.

And in the make believe reality that is fostered by the abuse of social media, that realization can be easily lost.  Most people aren’t going to respond to me within a few minutes simply because they are at work or taking care of their children, etc.  I lost sight of that for awhile when I was spending a few hours a day checking social media.

Since I cut my social media accounts I found I am doing far more writing and watching movies.  I also don’t play as many computer games.  I must have spent four hours just writing down my random thoughts yesterday.  It is far easier to express myself in emails, blogs, journal entries, etc. than I can on facebook and twitter posts.  Besides, it isn’t like my facebook accounts were generating that much more traffic.

At this point in my life I don’t care if I make money off the blog, at least as long as I have my disability pension and can make rent every month.  In almost fifteen years as a renter I haven’t missed a rent payment yet.  I’m not going hungry, even if some days I’m living off hot dogs, ramen noodles, and canned vegetables.  I don’t write for fame and fortune.  I write for a record to be out there somewhere in cyber space.  I suppose it’s like putting a message in a bottle, tossing it into the ocean, and hoping someone finds it someday.  Or maybe like the Voyager probes that will drift through space for ages, silently waiting to be discovered.  It is kind of like my way of saying to the cosmos “I existed for a short while in an average small town with a mental illness.”  That probably is going to be my legacy, if I am going to have one.  I don’t have children and probably never will.  I will probably be forgotten by my own family in a few generations, by my friends and classmates families far sooner.  Yet this blog, this proverbial message in a bottle that is digital driftwood floating through cyber space, who knows how long it will go on.  Maybe in a few generations there will be a cure for mental illness.  Sheesh, in a few generations life today may be completely unrecognizable to the citizens of that time and age.  They may look upon mental illness with as much shock and horror as people today look upon Bubonic Plague, smallpox, and cholera.  Some people live on through their offspring.  Others live on through their work.  A select few are such movers and shakers their deeds and names live on throughout history.  Me, well, if I am to live on after I die, it will be in the words I write in a small blog.

Removing Myself From Social Media and Thoughts on Change

I decided I’m giving up social media.  I cancelled my twitter account and have put my facebook on inactive status.  I spend too much time on facebook and not enough time actually writing and researching.  I have only a couple close friends and a few cousins I really hear from anymore via facebook.  I would have given it up over a year ago if I wasn’t fearful I’d permanently lose contact with my friends and family.  I tired writing more emails several months ago, but got only one response from the dozen I sent out.  I suppose it feeds into my paranoia that my friends and family really don’t like me that much.  Every time I call my parents, the bulk of the conversation focuses on what I can do to improve myself and how to make my apartment more presentable.  I find this irritating.  I really do.  I can’t even just live anymore.  At this point in my life, I don’t care if I impress people or am popular.  I have never been popular, not even in college or high school.  But I had a good time in college because I got to spend time with people even more eccentric and academically oriented than myself on a daily basis.  I know many people condemn academic knowledge, scholarly pursuits, and intelligence.  I have endured this my entire life.  And I have given up on people ever changing their attitudes towards intelligence and wisdom.  I just want to live and be allowed to pursue my goals, which include learning as much as I possibly can about as many subjects as I can.  I don’t give a damn if I ever make a cent off my pursuits of knowledge and wisdom.  As long as I have enough money to make rent and keep my pantry stocked and myself clothed and my psych medications current, everything else is just add ons.  I don’t need a large house, a prestigious career, a trophy wife, lots of kids, a fancy car, designer clothes, or the respect of people I have nothing in common with.  I never have.  I was, like many ambitious teenagers, brainwashed into thinking I needed such nonsense to have a fulfilled life.  It took a serious mental illness and struggling for most of my twenties to realize that wasn’t what I wanted for myself.  And it took a few more years to where I got to the point when I no longer felt shame for not wanting a life I had no say in designing.

I don’t feel shame for not wanting to be rich or famous.  I don’t write blogs every few days with the idea I will get noticed and make a train load of money.  I write for a record of what it like to be a mentally ill man in early 21st century America.  I don’t write just for my current audience.  I write for future generations so there is at least one record as to what mental illness meant in the early stages of the Information Revolution.  And make no mistake, our species and our civilizations are going through a period of transition at very least as profound as the Agricultural Revolution thousands of years ago and the Industrial Revolution hundreds of years ago.  It should be no wonder so many people are afraid and angry.  Afraid of what’s happening and what is going to happen.  Angry that we found that much of what we learned in our youths and what worked well in previous generations is starting to no longer apply.

We are at a point in history when our science and tech is advancing faster than our institutions of government, religion, education, finance, industry, and social norms.  At this point in time (November 2019), the world is far different than the one I went to high school in during the 1990s.  I’ve recently rewatched some of the tv shows that were popular when I was a teenager, and it’s almost quaint looking at some of the tech that was considered cutting edge twenty five years ago.  Even in the Matrix series, there were no smart phones, social media, video sharing platforms, laptop computers, etc.  There were still phone booths in that series and that was made only twenty years ago.  I didn’t notice the subtle changes that were happening over the course of a year or two when things were happening.  But looking at it over the span of twenty years, I am as a 39 year old man living in a world that is foreign to the one I occupied at age 16.  I’m not even sure my niece and nephews have seen a VCR tape anywhere outside of a history show or museum.  I sometimes chuckle when I see older people who don’t research online as much as my cohorts do.  But my teenage nephews would chuckle that I have never run a 3D printer or used a VR headset.  One of my nephews recently bought a VR headset from money he raised working odd jobs for his parents and neighbors.  He set up a VR flying simulator for my father.  As for me, I’m waiting a couple of years for the prices to drop and the tech to get more user friendly.  As crazy as the changes I have seen in the last twenty years have been, I guarantee the next twenty will be even more so.  At this point I’m just content to buckle up and enjoy the ride from my apartment in small town Nebraska.