Category Archives: personal

A Year in (of?) Review

calendarAs I pulled my blog up this morning, I realized it is only a few days short of a year since I last posted. A year. Incredible. Not because it’s been a year since I have added something here but because of how 2017 changed me. Without getting into too much detail, I lost the person in my life who I thought would be there forever. She was, in my mind, elastic and ever patient. It turns out she was not and was more than willing to give up an intricate and challenging friendship without much explanation other than about a forty minute conversation without much of a warning. We had been joking around in text in the hours leading up and I’d sent her some URL’s through email which she responded to.

If this sounds bitter, it is not. I made her departure very easy. I was not in a good place and that had nothing to do with her but I put a lot of it on her so when a knight in shining armor came into her life and immediately started painting me in a bad light (again, I made it easy), then she was more than willing to drop our friendship and run. “He made some valid points.” was her response when I asked her if this was her decision or if he had given her an ultimatum. I had my answer but it didn’t make watching her walk away any easier. To his points, I’m guessing they were pretty spot on. I was in a horrible place and unknowingly I was probably taking her with me. She did what I could not, she got out.

In the months that followed, I had a few unpleasant moments. I couldn’t go into downtown Dallas and avoided it at all costs. I nearly ran into her one day in a mall and had to pull out old stealth moves to avoid her. I’d break down at random times and cry like a hungry child. I was a mess but I hid it well from everyone including my fiancé. Well, most of the time. She knew what was wrong because I’d come home from that “last meeting” and told her everything about what had happened but in the coming days I’d tell her I was fine and she accepted it. I went on to deal with the hole alone.

I kept a six month journal because that was the time my ex-friend had told me she needed to sort things out. I figured a journal of daily ramblings might help and it did. It turns out that six months was just a buffer and that she had no intention of returning to our friendship and trying to figure things out. I bought it though and kept that journal faithfully with the intent on giving it to her when we met in six months. It now resides in my safe.

If this all sounds melancholy I apologize. It was to be honest but things got better. I am part of a Ren Faire for two months a year and while it was still difficult in those months, the fair was a fun distraction. I had also met someone at work who has since become one of my good friends. An unlikely friend but a good one. Summer is a blur to be honest.

August came and was a turning point of sorts. I had some kind of silly hope that I’d at least get a Happy Birthday from my old friend. That day came and went and I began to accept that she wasn’t going to call, that I wouldn’t wake up to another friendly text or get an email saying “look, I just need more time, I’m moving, big things are happening, I’ll give you a call someday when I get settled.” Anything would have been better than silence. Instead, her family slowly started dropping me from Facebook.

It began with her sister, after I posted “Have fun!” on a trip she was taking to San Diego. I imagined my friend and her sister talked and that she told her I was nuts, or that I was some horrible person and so she removed me. In reality it probably was not that dramatic.

As fall came and wedding season picked up (I own a DJ business), I had plenty of distractions. Between fall weddings, lifestyle events, planning a trip, Help Portrait and other things, I was pretty occupied and Christmas came quickly. We planned a trip in the new RV (the old one was stolen in July) to the Grand Canyon which turned into 10 days and six National Parks, meeting a new friend and joining up with some other friends on the road and a night in the desert on BLM land. It was an epic adventure.

When I came home, I posted a Throw Back Thursday picture of my old friend on my photography Instagram with a message of understanding and support. Her two cousins, one of which I’d seen not four weeks earlier at a volunteer event and even talked to about my friend, her cousin, were the first two people to “love” the post. Less than two weeks later both would delete me from their profiles and block me. I imagine at the request of my old friend. Where a year ago, I would have immediately assumed anger, I did not, instead choosing to believe that seeing my comments or posts on her cousin’s profiles might be difficult for her. Whichever is true, I accepted it instantly and there was little of that gut wrenching sensation I would have had previously.

So what did I learn?

If you made it this far, congratulations because that is some depressing stuff above. It was depressing to be sure but here I am, still breathing and that is the point after all, isn’t it? Breathing? Continuing on.

I learned that it was possible for someone who no longer wanted me in their life to continue to affect mine nearly a year after they departed. I learned that I can never let that happen again. I learned that I can sink into a pit of depression at levels far deeper than I had ever thought possible. I also learned that sometimes it takes a jarring life event to wake someone up and make them realize who they are.

In the end, it’s very possible that even had our friendship been pristine, she would have pulled out of it anyway. One thing my old friend was unfortunately prone to was manipulation in the name of love and love is what happened. I’m almost certain that if her new love had said “I don’t want you to have any male friends” that she would have complied. This near certainty is bolstered by something one of her family members mentioned to me earlier in the year when they reached out perhaps feeling sorry for me.

I learned that my belief in open communication is a good path and because of the events of 2017, my communication has gotten much better with those I love. I rekindled some friendships that had gone away due to lack of communication, ended some that were detrimental to my life and my relationship with my fiancé strengthened beyond belief.

I learned that I should support my friends no matter what I believe and then be there to celebrate with them or hold them as they cry, whichever the outcome. I failed horribly in this with my old friend and it absolutely contributed to the outcome. Even had we split due to the possibility mentioned above, it would have been an easier departure for both of us.

Most importantly, I also learned that I can change. Without trying to sound like an “old man”, people my age are usually set on a path they established long ago and do not want to change. I went the other way. Over the last year I have gone from an angry, “screw everyone who doesn’t like me” to  someone who values input on who I am and someone who would rather say “You make a good point, I should take a look at that about myself.” Many things have changed. My political leaning even changed which, honestly, beforehand I really didn’t lean either way and was happy in the middle but as I began to actually stand up for what I truly believed in, I realized I lean more to one side than the other.

Something I am still working on is trust. If anything was damaged by the events of the last year, it was trust. When someone jokes with you like nothing is amiss in the hours leading up to their sudden departure, it takes a great deal of trust out of you. This has manifested in not getting to know people like I once did. I used to want to know someone inside and out as soon as possible, I craved their story. Now I tend toward staying with those I already know and trust. My work friend was the exception, she told my walls to f-off. I also have become somewhat of a recluse. Depression has that effect on people but though I’m on the other side of it these days, I still prefer to stay in my house working on projects, hanging out with close friends, my fiancé or the dogs. I’m sure in time that will level out as will other small details.

All in all, I can say as I write this that I am happy. I miss what is lost but I’m thankful for what I’ve gained from the outcome.

Personal Crossroads

d64912afea_2012-originalWhen I was about 19 or 20, I moved to Longview, TX. It was my first apartment along with my first real “job” on top of being 120 miles from home. It was a new adventure. I turned 21 and another first happened; I bought my first handgun and later, my CHL.

I’ve been around guns all my life thanks to my uncle, who not only taught me to respect them from a young age but also how to care for them, when to use them and when not to use them. I credit him alone with recognizing that I was very interested in firearms and instead of hiding them away, invited me to handle them and later to shoot them. He passed away many years ago but he will always get the credit for giving me a proper respect for firearms.

If you know me well, you know I enjoy the right to own firearms and add another level of protection to myself, my family and my home. If you know me extremely well, you know I am proficient in using them when the need arises. You rarely see me advertising this right on Facebook because I don’t believe it is something that needs to be advertised. You will also rarely see me join a gun debate because, again, I don’t think that kind of thing needs to be argued. I don’t check in from the gun range, I don’t post pictures two-fisting Glocks. The occasional shot of Celeste holding an M4 slips into my Facebook album on occasion because, honestly, that is just pretty (and she is proficient with it which is even more pretty to me).

Although I’ve had my CHL from nearly the day it became a law, I rarely “Conceal Carry”. I keep firearms in the cars most of the time, in the house all the time and I make sure I carry one on long trips. I rarely carry into Star Bucks or Walmart (I know the hardcore are going to balk but that’s ok) and I have not exercised my right to Open Carry even though I fully support it and enjoy the option.

Until recently, I haven’t felt like I “needed” to carry into Walmart, Starbucks or anywhere else like that. Part of this is my training, I feel I can handle myself in hand-to-hand combat well enough not to need to carry all the time. Even in a gun situation, I’ve trained and trained over the years on how to disarm someone whether they are holding a knife, a bat, a small child.. or a gun.

But… Things are changing.

I was downtown, maybe five blocks away the night five officers were killed during a protest. I was armed. I was happy to be armed but I was also happy I didn’t get caught in the middle of it and that my biggest inconvenience was getting out of downtown due to road closures. I keep reading about random acts of violence against minorities by bigots. I keep reading about racist epitaphs left at schools and little girls raped by entitled college white boys.

I keep hearing about hate.

I don’t hate much personally. There are few things in this world I will affix that title to but it seems like those things keep cropping up more and more lately. Rapists, murder of innocents, abusers of women, etc. More and more I think “Man, I should be carrying just in case”.

Perhaps it would shock you to learn that I’d prefer peace over carrying a gun. Hell, I’d prefer legalized sword carrying over a gun but we do not have either and the criminals have guns. Utopia is not possible but a better class of living is in reach if we can come together as a nation and decide to work toward it.

There is a famous and way-overused Ghandi quote; “Be the change you see in the world”. It’s splashed on meme’s, t-shirts, number stickers, tattoos and everywhere in between. It is also true.

For now, I’ll keep looking around, taking in my surroundings, remaining aware and do what I can as one person to make my place in the world a better one. I hope you will do the same and then perhaps, one day, our children, or their children will enjoy a time without war, without hate, without bigotry and with more understanding and respect of each other.

Where does it end.

hate-mail-2I’ve been watching the news on and off since early this morning. Fifty dead in a nightclub shooting. Terrorism has once again found it’s way into American streets. Those who are fond of saying “It won’t happen here”; who have faded memories of 9/11 or even those too young to remember that day are now reconsidering.

I’ve watched Facebook too. The current political campaign immediately jumped on this tragic news to further their own agenda. Personally, I am a gun owner. If ISIS suddenly unleashed thousands upon thousands of sleepers in the United States, as has just happened in Orlando, I’m not going to be taken from my home or dragged from my car and beheaded in the street without some kind of fight. The people who are trying to buy your vote do not need to worry about being attacked, they are surrounded by guards at all times. Yes, even Bernie. Gun issues are a tool for them to stand on or reject based on what their campaign managers see trending in the American public. Mass shooting? “We hate guns.” Gun owner defends a kindergarten? “Guns are good in responsible hands.”

This is more than guns however. This is where we have arrived as a people. There have always been mass shootings. The difference is, there was no CNN blaring it over your Apple Watch, phone, computer and digital signage on every corner. A great quote from a bad movie comes to mind:

“Come on! How many innocent victims splattered across a window would it take to have the city reverse its policy on hostage situations? And this is 1976; there’s no CNN, there’s no CNBC, there’s no internet! Now fast forward to today, present time, same situation. How quickly would the modern media make a frenzy over this?”

While it is true we have had gun crime since the dawn of firearms, they have not changed all that much. What has changed is people. Our patience is shorter because we have become used to instant gratification. Our tolerance of others has been tested by the media splashing imagery of death and destruction and blaming it on an entire religion when really, only a small subset of that religion is responsible. If ISIS represents all Muslims then Westboro represents all Christians… Right?

We have let media choose what we believe. Consider the below infographic which shows how six companies control what you see. (Click image to enlarge.)

six-major-corporations-control-media

 We have allowed the television in the living room, in the restaurant control us. We have allowed the Internet; which was supposed to bring us closer together, drive us apart.

What can be done? Isn’t that what everyone is asking? Likewise, everyone seems to have an answer and so I’ll throw mine into the pot.

Education.

Perhaps we should stop teaching our children to hate. Perhaps skin color matters a lot less than you were brought up to believe. Maybe your god is just as good as someone else’s or… Maybe they are the same yet remembered and celebrated in different ways. Maybe we need to stop taking money away from schools in order to build football stadiums and start funding a better people rather than a better football season.

Headaches from Hell

MigraineSince my early 20’s I’ve been plagued with nearly daily headaches in one form or another and occasionally several forms at once. I’ve been diagnosed with ocular migraines (painless but annoying), Migraine with Brainstem Aura (Usually reserved for young people and mostly girls), Chronic Migraine and Tension Headaches. On occasion I also get hit with Cluster Headaches which make the rest look like child’s play. Sinus Headaches are nearly a daily occurrence for me Spring – Summer, which, in Texas, is nearly all year.  Normally only those closest to me hear me bitch and complain about these and because I have lived with them nearly half my life, I’ve just become accustomed to them. As I write this I have a Tension Headache.

Over the years I’ve tried a variety of tricks to combat these annoyances. I don’t like taking medication and especially narcotic painkillers which usually do not do much in the way of relief and tend to make me nauseated.

I decided to write this today after trying yet another approach which I’ll get to later.

Treatments I’ve found to work

Below I’m going to list treatments I’ve personally found to work for various headaches. Unfortunately some of them I’ve never found relief from aside from time in nearly 20 years.

Cluster Headaches – These bastards have no treatment. They come on fast and thankfully last only an hour or less. Less than 1% of the population suffers cluster headaches. They are debilitating to the point of near paralysis due to pain and I often faint when they come on. (Driving is fun!). Also thankfully they are rare and I can usually tell when one is about to hit. Time is the only thing that kills the pain. I’ve tried everything from morphine to NSAIDS in high doses.

Tension Headaches – These are usually at the cerebral cortex (back of the neck high up near your hair-line). These are a squeeze type pain and pulse at times. Tension headaches can last for hours and can be caused by sinuses but also by tension in the shoulders and neck. One of the more recent (today actually) treatment was to use a TENS unit for an hour. This dulled the pain immediately until the NSAID’s kicked in. Ibuprofen also tends to help as do muscle relaxers (The TENS does something similar in the area of muscle relaxation through stimulation).

Migraine with Brainstem Aura – Narcotic painkillers knock these out after while but I hate taking them. Normally a dark room and high humidity (hot shower in the dark) help these. Vision is affected with this type as well and can last after the pain resides (Ocular Migraine).

Chronic Migraine – About the same as above although dark room or a blinding mask of some sort usually help the most in these cases.

Sinus Headaches – I saved the “best” for last. Sinus headaches are something I’ve lived with the longest and most frequently. Daily for months at a time. So much so that at times I’ve been black listed from buying Pseudo-ephedrine based medication (The ones that are OTC but you have to get from behind the pharmacy and give your license for). These can trigger tension headaches as well. The pain is everywhere; back of the head, sinus cavity, under the eyes and the worst, for me, pressure in the ears that causes a similar pain to that of perforating and ear drum. Hydration is probably the number one treatment I’ve found especially when it comes to clearing the pressure in the ears. OD’ing on water during these times cleared the pressure within a couple hours. Pseudo ephedrine based treatments like Advil Cold and Sinus or almost anything with a “D” in it (Claritin D) also relieves the pressure and pain. Wet Heat also works well. I’ll usually soak a hand towel and then microwave it for a minute, let it cool a bit and press it into my sinuses. Sinus washes also help.

Summary

The above is based on my own experience. I’m obviously no doctor. Hopefully something above works for you as well.