January in June

There is much going on. I must remain cryptic for now. This is only a personal reminder.

The above is how I planned to start 2013 with this blog. Six months later, I have no idea what the hell I was talking about. I hope Alzheimer’s isn’t starting to kick in. Everything runs in my family. I think it’s kind of cool.

We’re no strangers to anything.

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Election 2012

In order for the U.S.A. to remain a healthy country, we need TWO, healthy, forward-thinking parties. Republicans proudly excluded women in more ways than one. Republicans proudly excluded “minorities” in more ways than one. Republicans fully endorsed a guy who didn’t, (and couldn’t), make the cut four years ago over John McCain. Republicans lost Ohio and Florida!

As an Independent, I hope some lessons were learned here, concerning the mental health and the degrading philosophy of present-day Republicans. Without a proper and sound competition between TWO forward-thinking parties, it’s only a matter of time before Democrats fall to greed and hubris as well.

For as long as the U.S.A. remains a two party system, it’s imperative to this country’s success that both parties remain healthy. Balance between the differing philosophies is key.

Shift Work

Getting right into it, the hours of our shifts shape our lives.  Goes without saying, I know, but I wanted to touch upon what I’ve learned, post it, and come back to it in a few years to see what might change.

My first jobs were your typical 9-to-5 affairs.  The pros and cons were as easy to list as the shift is “normal”.
Some cons:

  • If you’re a responsible person, there’s not much in the way of partying the night before your shift.
  • Mind-altering substances of either the legal or “otherwise” variety must be curtailed with special consideration to positions of great importance.
  • The weekends off are far too short and far too spaced out according to many.

Some pros:

  • Weekends/days off are so much more cherished.
  • Most people are 9-to-5ers like yourself, so group activities are easily mapped out.
  • The greatest pro might be the fact that, for the most part, you only have to be around people you might not like being around for roughly 8 hours then you’re free of them.

Next up, I worked a 4-to-midnight shift for quite a few years, and obviously, changes to my lifestyle were significant. When 9-to-5ers get home, they’re bedtimes are not usually by 7pm.  There are responsibilities to take cafe of after work, or de-stressing, or what have you.  We all have them, but even if you’re after-work responsibilities do not consume too much of your free time, you probably still wouldn’t be in bed by 7 or 8pm.  As a 4-to-midnight guy, my life was the same.  After my shift ended, I wouldn’t rush home to go to bed.  I became a night owl, and barely hit the sack by 5am.

Socially, my life changed for the worse.  Nothing is open after midnight on a Tuesday other than the type of places your reverend/priest/imam would warn your soul against.  Unless you prefer a life of solitude, enclosed within your living space, your base, humanistic instincts will win, and you will seek out other lifeforms.  These are people who barely see the sun due to a similar work schedule, or people who live just outside of the “normal” grid.  And if you work this kind of schedule, you too will unwilling become one of those on the outside looking in.

Still, I had a few days off to try to normalize my life.  However, unlike the “normal” 9-to-5ers, I didn’t have every weekend off.  I worked on a “6 and 2”, which means I worked 6 days to earn 2 days off.  It worked in a way to have a full weekend off every couple of weeks — you do the math.  And it sucked really bad, for lack of a better phrase.  Needless to say, I wasted my time trying to normalize anything.  This shift, and the dreaded midnight-to-8 shift, (which I’ve also experienced), along with the “6 and 2” schedule made for a very lonely existence, and a test on the strength of my mind.  Looking back, I can’t honestly decide if my mind passed or failed.

Currently, I work another strange schedule.  And it’s strange for two reasons:

  1. I receive a lot in the way of envious comments from friends and relatives.
  2. It’s another test of my mind, (by way of patience and tolerance), and body, (by way of pure, unadulterated endurance).

The envy comes by way of my “1 and 3” schedule.  I work one day, then I’m off for three days.  However, the days I do work are 24hr shifts.  To have three days off after every shift sounds like a dream, but the price to pay proves it is far from ideal.  People on 8hr or 10hr shifts only have to suffer the company of incompatible co-workers for that amount of time.  I have to eat mine for what seems to be an unnatural amount a time.

The after-effects of such a schedule are disturbing.

First off, when forcefully surrounded by any people, those of us whom are more prone to influence, might come to notice certain characteristics rubbing off on oneself.  And it’s rather unfortunate that most of these characteristics are of the negative variety.  I don’t want people to think I work with complete buffoons or assholes — such is not the case.  It’s just that, like me, they too are suffering from the ill effects of having to support the company of other humans far beyond what one would deem necessary, warranted, or desired.

I’m one crabby motherfucker on my best days.  The wind has to be right, the sun has to be setting;  a full moon must not be forming, and I would have to had finished eating something good within a reasonable time in order to put forth my best face.  If the settings aren’t just right, I can be pretty snarky, darkly sharp, or not so euphemistically speaking, and asshole.  Now stick me in a big garage with 8 to 10 other men for 24 hours, and ask me to smile.  Yeah, right.  So it’s important to mention my co-workers are not bad people, for the most part.  Some are just a bit old fashioned, others are just your garden-variety Fox republicans.  (No one’s perfect, right?)

Then, there are the stresses on my mind and body.  At the firehouse I don’t get much by way of sleep, even if I’m awarded by a slow day.  I’m thankful for slow days because it’s a guarantee no one gets hurt and no one has lost their home and belongings.  Slow days are rough in-house because of what I just mentioned.  The cure for all of that bullshit comes by way of a busy day.  Busy days increase camaraderie by leaps and bounds.  The nonsensical boundaries of race, color, creed, etc., disappear instantly, and the remainder of the night flies by with slaps on the back and laughter.

And that’s how this ends… for now.

 

I’m a slave to my ever-changing urges from whence my foundation of basics manifest.

I remember, maybe 10 years ago, when I started playing pool seriously.  A local pool hall became my second home.  I was addicted to the game.  I was at the pool hall four times a week.  I needed to master the game, or at least, reach my highest potential.  It’s an urge that strikes me whenever my interest grows in any craft or game.

I remember learning how to play chess in 3rd grade, but the game didn’t appeal to me until I had long graduated from high school.  A local cafe, where I spent every free moment from work, had a stable of regular players, and it was there that the urge struck again.  I played several games a day against various opponents with the hopes of reaching my highest potential.

I remember falling in love and studying Goju Ryu as a teenager.  A local police station had a sensei who taught us kids for the love of it, never charging a dime.  Three times a week, I broke sweats, shed blood, and strained the limits of my body and spirit.  Work and school got in the way eventually, and changing interests and urges further distanced me from my art.

I remember the spring and summer of 1994, when I spent a weekend rocking out with two friends at Woodstock’s 25th anniversary mega-concert, and surviving off of Miller Lite, Haagen Daas, hot dogs, and music, and mud.  Then later that summer, an algebra professor suggested all his students open up a free email account, and a fellow classmate introducing me to the IRC.  The new urge was writing scripts to crash “enemy” computers.

I remember so many other pivotal points in my life where urges took over to master different areas of what has so far comprised my life.  However, what I remember above all the hobbies, tasks and so forth, were the fundamentals.  I never became the second coming of Willie Mosconi, Bobby Fischer, Bruce Lee, Perry Farrell, nor have I ever mastered rogue programming.  Nevertheless, I can hold my own in the aforementioned, as well as many other areas not mentioned.  

I’m a slave to my ever-changing urges from whence my foundation of basics manifest.  Without the basics, the fundamentals, I would not exist.  Without the fundamentals of everything I take on, I’d have no foundation, no legs to stand on, no form.  

With each endeavor of which I partake, I’m reaching for the sun.  So, I’m bewildered by the myriad of people I come across, read about, see on the news, who claim expertise without a foundation, without having studied the basics, without a firm hold on the fundamentals.

If you’re life is a mess, and you fail to find excitement, success, happiness and/or love;  if you’re having trouble at work, if your relationships continuously fail, if you suck at your own hobbies (and it bothers you), take a step back, take a deep breath, then take a good look to see how you stand on the basics.

Without the fundamentals, you’re nothing.

The key is to never quit quitting.

This little corner of mine on the internet was once semi-popular. I had a lot to say years ago. There are blogs I enjoy to visit where the author updates the viewer daily with snippets, humor, news, or what have you. Sometimes, I’m envious of the ability to just share the mundane. It’s how we get to know each other beyond first impressions, beyond the surface.

My blog has always dealt with some form of depression or suffering, or “radical” realization. Since making a few changes in my life some short years ago, I’ve had very little to share outside of one topic specifically. Hence, the need for this update.

I’m making yet another attempt to quit smoking. I’ve been told many times by They, “The more you try, the easier it gets. The key is to keep trying.” So, for perhaps the 5th time in three years, I’m giving it another shot. In my case, it doesn’t get easier with each attempt. The physical and psychological effects seem to compound with each attempt.

Some might ask, (and by some, I mean no one), “Why are you trying to quit?”  Well, I’ll tell you busybodies why: I’m just damn-straight tired of smoking. I’m tired of smelling it. I’m tired of tasting it. I’m tired of fatigue. I’m tired of dependence. I’m tired of addiction. I’m tired of regretting those first few smokes.

I’m tired of disappointing my wife. I’m tired of having her suffer my smell. I’m tired of my smell. I’m tired of having to go outside in shit weather to feed my habit. I’m tired of my little car serving as both a method of transport and an ashtray.  I’m tired of doubting the force of  my will.

I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.
I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.
I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.
I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.
I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.

…and if I haven’t mentioned it already, I’m tired of doubting the force of my will.