Single. Staying That Way. No, You Cannot Change My Mind. End Of Discussion.

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Recently, I announced my decision to take myself off the dating grid for at least a year. I was at the breaking point trying to explain to women that I am in no position mentally to be involved in a relationship at this time, or to date anyone exclusively, or even once, for that matter. The past has not been kind to me and I needed time to lick my wounds and let them heal before I even considered trying dating or a relationship again.

This decision has been met with ridicule and “threats” of “I’ll be the one that can make you change your mind.” Therefore, I felt a public service announcement was in order, because sometimes you just can’t get through to people by normal means.

First, let me explain what brought me to this point. I recently got out of a situation that was so rancid and repulsive that I sincerely thought it was going to be the death of me. The physical and emotional toll were heavy. I put on 80 pounds through stress eating, my hair was falling out, I was sick all the time due to my immune system not functioning properly due to stress, I had stomach ulcers, I had the shakes, I couldn’t sleep, my eyes were constantly twitching and I was suffering from severe migraine headaches that lasted for hours. All things considered, its a miracle I am alive.

Once that was over, I kept most women at arm’s length and took few into my confidence or took much interest in them. But there was one extreme exception to that rule. A girl I met on Facebook caught my eye and my attention and we agreed to go out. We did, spent several hours talking and eating and walking and I started to fall for her fast. We had a second date, and spent some time hanging out at my house and watched a movie. I was completely and totally smitten with this girl.

Within a week of that she started ghosting me and I have heard not a single word from her since July 5. So, the one woman I was allowing myself to fall for was a complete and total flake. This just further proved my point that it was time to walk away.

So, to every woman in the world who isn’t married or engaged or spoken for, no, I have no interest in dating you right now. It doesn’t matter if you’re the lowest form of scum or the most beautiful woman in the world. The answer is no. Period.

Part of this stems from the area in which I live. I live in north central West Virginia, and its just as bad as the national media portrays it. A large percentage of the women here are literally disgusting. I’m talking toothless, cockeyed, covered in meth sores, living in run-down shacks, tripping over rats and carrying who-knows-what kind of STDs.

And most women in this area seem to “recycle” boyfriends, i.e. they make a habit of just trading boyfriends around and infecting each other. That kind of thing makes me sick to even think about and totally turns me off to ever putting my hands on another woman. Thought I would have definitely made an exception for the girl mentioned earlier.

I also refuse to do long-distance relationships because, quite honestly, they’re ridiculous. Why would I want to “date” someone I never see? I’m way too needy for that.

Yes, I have myself in kind of a catch-22 here. I don’t want to date any local trash but I also don’t want to date anyone who isn’t local. Do you see the pattern here?

I don’t want to date.

I want to spend the rest of my summer enjoying myself. Watching baseball. Working. Smoking the finest cigars. Going for drives. Upgrading my office and doing work on my PC and my gaming systems. Working on my baseball card collection. As well as things that are a little more simple, like I want to spend some time not being miserable.

During the month that I was talking to the flake who ghosted me, I legitimately thought I might be able to be happy again with a significant other. I’m not sure how that happened, or why I would have thought something so ridiculous at that point. But now that I know better, I know better than to let chance have the opportunity to do it to me again.

Everyone should make themselves happy before they even consider making anyone else happy. I know at this point that I have been so disconnected from myself for so many years that I just need some time to get used to being myself again. Doing the things I have always loved but couldn’t do. Just being me and not having to do for anyone else.

Now, I need to say, this is not about selfishness. I think that down the road I’ll be a better man than the man I am now and that will, in turn, be better for whomever I eventually end up with, whether that’s next year or a decade from now. At this point, I’m a broken man and I’m not going to be good for anything to anyone. Who would want that?

In closing, I want to reiterate that no, I will not be changing my mind about this decision and no one on this earth is going to tell me what to do when it comes to my dating and social life. It’s not up for debate. It’s my life and I’ll do with it what I want. No one is going to change my mind or make me alter my plans. Only death can do that at this point.

Thank you for reading and God bless.

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My Thoughts On: The Chicago White Sox Rebuild

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As the Chicago White Sox rebuild continues, and a number of potential trades are making the rounds nine days before the non-waiver trade deadline, I take stock of where the team is and where it hopes to be in the future. And I’m not liking the look of things.

Critics will immediately say “the rebuild is right on schedule,” or “we have one of the top three farm systems in baseball” or “the team is flush with cash, we can sign superstar free agents!” Well, let’s start there and address each of these thoughts, then I’ll go further into why I am worried about the situation as a whole, and why the future scares me.

The Rebuild Is Right On Schedule”

For now. The Pittsburgh Pirates began a rebuild in 1993 and it was right on schedule at one point. I remember it was a five-year plan, they were going to rebuild the farm system and have the team ready to contend in five years. Well, they never got that far because they trashed it and started over in 1996. And a new five year plan was put in place. Then a few years later it was trashed. This continued on for 20 years before the team actually started to compete again, and the Pirates became one of the laughingstocks of Major League Baseball.

Sometimes these things don’t go to plan. You might think you have it all laid out and some of the players you are most counting on fail to develop. Or get injured. Maybe they’re just not as good as they seemed. Maybe they’re AAAA players; they excel at AAA but fail at the MLB level, too good for the minor leagues but struggle at the Major League level.

I worry about this as I watch Tim Anderson (.241) and Yoan Moncada (.234), two of our better prospects and the “first wave” of youngsters to hold down full-time MLB positions, fail to reach a .250 batting average. On the pitching end, Lucas Giolito is struggling to a 6.18 ERA. These kids are supposed to be a major part of the rebuild, part of the foundation that we build a winner on. And I don’t think anyone expected them to struggle to this extreme.

So what happens when the foundation doesn’t stand? You have to scrap it and begin again, as the Pirates did 25 years ago. And how much rope do you give these kids?

We Have One Of The Top Three Farm Systems In Baseball”

The White Sox rebuild began at the end of the 2016 season, when they traded Chris Sale to the Boston Red Sox for four prospects and Adam Eaton to the Washington Nationals for three pitching prospects. Of the seven players acquired, six have stuck and still have a bright future as far as their progress through the organization is concerned.

Then several months later, the White Sox traded Jose Quintana to the Chicago Cubs for four prospects. All four of whom are still in the organization and playing well.

Bottom line is, that’s ten players acquired in total, along with a number of players the White Sox have drafted in recent years who are considered top prospects, including catcher Zack Collins, first baseman Gavin Sheets, and this year’s top draft pick, Nick Madrigal.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has said himself that he expects the return on all these players to peak at about 25%, meaning only one out of four will develop into a star at the Major League level. So feasibly, this entire rebuild could produce four or five MLB regulars. Let’s suppose Eloy Jimenez, picked up in the Quintana deal is one of those, along with Moncada, Michael Kopech (acquired in the Sale deal), Reynaldo Lopez (acquired in the Eaton trade) and Dylan Cease, also picked up in the Quintana deal.

And let’s sweeten it a bit further and say Madrigal develops into a star, even though he is technically blocked at both positions he plays (at second base by Moncada and at shortstop by Anderson), its possible a position change for someone could result in all three having a spot in the lineup. And maybe a darkhorse develops somewhere in the minors and reaches stardom beyond what anyone had anticipated for him.

You’re still well short of a full Major League roster that’s ready to compete, but in that event we have thought number three, and that’s the one I dislike the most.

The Team Is Flush With Cash, We Can Sign Superstar Free Agents”

Only twice in the history of this franchise has there been a free-agent signing of a legitimate “superstar.” The first was in 1981 when Carlton Fisk, a future Hall Of Fame catcher, signed after his contract from the Boston Red Sox was mailed to him late. The second was malcontent Albert Belle, who was signed to a five-year, $55 million contract that included an out that allowed him to void the deal if he was not among the top three highest-paid players in the league. Following year two, he did just that, and headed for Baltimore.

Top free agents have never signed with the White Sox. Never. The largest contract the team ever gave out was to Jose Abreu prior to the 2014 season, a six-year, $68 million deal, which he also opted out of and opted into arbitration. So not only have the White Sox never signed a player to a $100 million deal, they’ve never signed a player to a $70 million deal.

In fact, let’s look at the last White Sox rebuild, the 1997 “white flag trade” that ended the Sox short run as contenders in the mid-1990s but did set them up to win the 2000 American League Central title. That team featured a number of legitimate stars, none of whom was acquired as a free agent and certainly none who were paid like it. Paul Konerko (trade), Frank Thomas (draft), Carlos Lee (amateur free agent), Magglio Ordonez (amateur free agent), James Baldwin (draft), Jim Parque (draft) and Keith Foulke (acquired in the “white flag” trade).

In the early 1990s the New York Yankees were flush with cash, and free agents turned them down regularly, including Greg Maddux (who signed with the Atlanta Braves) and Barry Bonds (who signed with the San Francisco Giants), both of whom took less money than the Yankees were offering. Just because you make the biggest offer doesn’t mean players are going to sign, sometimes there are better offers but with less money.

Adding to this issue is the fact that two of the teams that have the most cash for free agent signings also have outstanding farm systems, the Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers. These teams have money to burn but also have a lot of really good minor league talent, on par with the White Sox and maybe, in the case of the Yankees, superior to the White Sox system. So all things being equal, is a superstar free agent more likely to take a $150 million deal from the Yankees, with their history, bottomless cash reserves, MLB talent and minor league talent or a $60 million deal from the White Sox with their lack of MLB talent and excellent minor league system? Mark my words, major free agents (Manny Machado, Clayton Kershaw, Bryce Harper, etc.) are not even giving the White Sox consideration. Not when the Dodgers or Yankees or Cubs or Phillies can offer them four times what the White Sox will offer.

The bottom line is, the White Sox are walking on a razors’ edge, they need to beat the percentages and have more of their prospects reach stardom than the average 25%. In addition to that, they need superstar free agents to look past the weather, the far-below-average coaching staff, the long history of losing and the fact that they can make more money elsewhere to sign with a team that may or may not develop minor league talent into Major League talent. I would hate to be the one assigned to make that sales pitch.

Having said all of that, I still love my team and certainly wish nothing but the best on the team, as well as for myself and my friends who are fans. We all want to win. But I have been a fan of this organization for 27 years and I have four division titles and one World Series win to show for it. To put that into perspective, in that same 27-year period, the New York Yankees have won 13 division titles (and six Wild Card births) and seven World Series titles.

It’s hard to be a White Sox fan and it’s hard to put a lot of faith in anything connected to this team just based on a lifetime of mediocrity and worse-than-mediocrity. The fact that we have one of the most lackluster coaching staffs in baseball makes it that much more difficult to get excited about the future. If this team were truly looking to field a winner, it would start at the top with an excellent field manager and a staff that would teach the youngsters the right way to play the game. We have none of that right now. And its a good place to start.

As I write this, the White Sox are 34-63, 29 games under .500 and 20 games out of first place (and five games out of last place). Some think it will just instantly click for the youngsters, all of the minor league prospects will develop, the team will sign a number of superstar free agents and win several World Series titles between 2020 and 2025.

Some of us would love to see that but common sense says otherwise.

Regardless, I still maintain my South Side Pride. Go Sox!

The Experience Of Love…

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This is a difficult piece to write, but timely, given the fact that it has been the topic of many recent conversations.  Not in specifics, but in the generalities of love.

I have, however, put this blog together in my mind a thousand times.  As I talked with people who tell me they have experienced love, I find it not only fascinating, but I also find it to be baffling.  And I wonder what’s wrong with me that I’ve never been able to experience these feelings with anyone.  It’s like someone is speaking Greek.

Now, when I talk of “love,” I am referring to the love of a boyfriend to a girlfriend or a husband to a wife.  Not love of family, of children or of parents, or even the love of a good friend.  I am talking strictly of love with no prior, or no blood, connection.

This idea amazes me because not only have I never experienced feeling that way about someone but no one has ever felt that way about me.  And that’s the part I had so much trouble understanding.  Love has to be a two-way street.  No way around it.

So as I have talked to others about their concepts and experiences with love, I realize I have literally never experienced this emotion.  Or really anything close to it.

I spoke to someone recently who said when you’re in love, you never want to leave the side of the person you are in love with and when you have to, you cannot wait to return.  You swell up inside when you see them.  You can’t stop thinking about them.  In a way, they become your life.  Or, they become the most important thing in your life.

First, to address “never wanting to leave the side of the person you’re with.”  I can say in all honesty I have never been around a significant other for more than 48 hours at a time and by then I was ready to get away as fast as my feet could carry me.  I believe very much in the old saying, “familiarity breeds contempt” because it is so easy for me to just get literally sick of someone to the point I don’t care if I ever see them again or not.  I can honestly say, in every long-term relationship I have ever been in, all I could think about was getting away, putting distance between us and showering as quickly as possible.

I can’t imagine being around anyone 24/7 and actually wanting to and anyone actually wanting to be around me that much.  The closest I ever came to that would have been in high school, and that was more that she wanted me around to keep an eye on me.

Next, to address “when you’re away, you can’t wait to return.”  I don’t think that far in advance.  If I’m going to be away, I’m away for a reason and that reason will be the point of my focus.  I’m certainly not saying I haven’t looked forward to seeing a woman or two or ten in my time, but I am saying that I’ve never been in a situation where I couldn’t wait to see a woman again.  No woman ever held my interest to that degree.

This idea may have been more of a byproduct of marriage than anything else, and since I have never been (nor ever will be) married, then it doesn’t apply to me anyway.

Next, to address “you swell up inside when you see them.”  I don’t understand that at all.  I do understand feeling panic, nausea, aggravation and stress when seeing someone, as I have experienced every one of those with various women over the years.  I guess you could also say I understand the opposite, because I have felt deflated at seeing some girls.

I have felt a feeling of joy and pride when I see my son, so I am assuming it is some kind of offshoot of that feeling.  I just can’t imagine feeling that way about a woman.  Wow.

Finally, to address “you can’t stop thinking about them.”  I have experienced this, but I am pretty sure its in a totally different context.  I’ve cried, I’ve been sick and I’ve been in a state of almost catatonic depression and been unable to think about nothing else than a few women I have known, but I am pretty sure that doesn’t count.  I think this was meant to say that love means thinking nice thoughts about someone, not “I wish you would go away and never darken my life again,” because that one is consistent for me.

I have had dreams about girls while I was dating them, and that stretches as far back as I can remember, but the dreams themselves were usually based on my getting away from them, so I think even subconsciously I was working from that depressed point of view.  These dreams usually involved me being in a “last man on Earth” type of scenario, which meant the women in question had basically disappeared and I was unable to find them.

Now, understand, I am not saying in any way that love isn’t a real experience and maybe it even lasts a lifetime.  I’m not trying to put the concept of love down, or say it doesn’t exist.  I’m simply saying it has never existed for me.  All of this is completely and totally off base with me.  I have never experienced any type of feelings even close to these.

I’m also not saying its not feasible that I could “fall in love” in the future, but at this point, as jaded and disinterested as I am in this whole thing, as well as the fact that I make myself as inaccessible as possible, I think the odds are greatly in my favor that I will never have to deal with this kind of thing.  But, there’s a chance I could be wrong.

For those who have experienced it, I’m sure love is an amazing thing, because it sounds like it would be.  I just don’t think its for me.  I like to think of myself as the ultimate lone wolf, and I’ve always felt that way.  I’ve been anti-marriage all my life.  That will never change.  I can’t imagine being married, but I guess if you actually were in love with someone who was in love with you, marriage would make sense.  I don’t see it.

So, going forward, I am happy just to feel the love of friends who care about me and family that I still have contact with who care.  It could be worse.  It’s not like I’m an island unto myself or anything.  And as the popular saying goes, you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else, and I’m still kind of working on that part.

And if I never experience what its like to love a woman and have her love me in return, well, I guess that was just God’s will.  And I certainly would not question that.  If a couple of years down the road I meet a woman who fits the bill, then I would be open to it.  I’m not ready to call it a day just yet, though I am for the rest of this year.  And if I miss a chance that comes along in 2018, well, that’s on me.  But I think everything happens for a reason and if I’m supposed to be with someone someday, it will work itself out.

Peace.

Relationships: An Outsider’s Perspective

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As I was visiting with my mom a couple of days ago, she broached a subject I was hoping we would not have to discuss:  Relationships.  The reason I hate discussing this with her is that I don’t need to be reminded that my taste in women is atrocious and that every time I have been in what would loosely be termed “a relationship,” I passed up a lot of better options to settle for far less than I deserved every single time.  I know all of this, and have to live with it, but she feels the need to remind me.

But this discussion was different.  It wasn’t about my poor choices and stupid mistakes of the past, it was about the future.  And I had not given much thought to the future.  I have been living with a day-to-day perspective throughout 2018, and the idea of thinking a day or a week or a month ahead isn’t something I had been doing to any extent.

I have, however, discussed it a bit with my two closest confidants at times.

The last time I was single for an extensive period of time, I had a list of rules to help me weed out the losers from the potential winners.  It wasn’t the type of rules that most people think of (specific height, weight, hair color, etc.) but was more guidelines to separate the trash from the treasures, i.e. “must have a job,” “must have a car” and “no crazy ex’s.”  The kind of thing a nice, middle-class girl should have.

The problem with that kind of thinking is that I looked past the more obvious points I should have been considering, like “is this someone I can stand being around for more than a couple of hours?”  Or, “is this someone I could marry in the future?”

To make matters worse, I not only totally disregarded those obvious questions but threw my guidelines away as well and settled for everything I never wanted.

This time around, I’m smart enough to put everything into perspective.

To put it a little more simply, as I said to one of my confidants a couple of days ago, “I want a woman I can’t live without, not a woman I can’t live with.”  Which means I not only want a woman who fits the obvious prerequisites (mutual attraction, mutual interests, etc.) as well as my own personal requirements (the aforementioned job and car, etc.), but also now fits the questions I should have been asking all along.

Obviously, this is going to thin the herd down to pretty much nothing.  And I’m OK with that.  Because at this point, at 40 years old, I shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than I actually want, and I am perfectly and totally happy as things stand.

So, I sat down again with mom today and said “at this point, given everyone I have met and where everything stands, no, I’ll never be in a relationship again.  Granted, that could change tomorrow depending on who I meet, but right now, no.”

If I don’t see a future with someone, I’m not going to waste the present on them.  It isn’t fair to me and at my age, I’m ready to either settle down with someone, or settle down alone.  And since I am living pretty comfortably right now, I see no reason to change that for someone unless she is going to be a permanent part of my life.

I wish everyone would adopt my philosophy, as a lot fewer bad relationships would result and the dramatics that result from those bad relationships wouldn’t happen.  Of course, I realize some people thrive on bad relationships, as a way of getting attention online or from friends.  Realize that this isn’t healthy or good for anyone.

I am going forward, alone or not, the wheels will roll.  If there’s someone out there that is my “forever,” then eventually I’ll meet her.  If not, I’m going to be happy and enjoy my life anyway.  I don’t need anyone to completely me, I’m a complete person, as is.  But I am not closing the door to anything that may develop down the road.

There is White Sox baseball to watch, fine cigars to be smoked, excellent food and whiskey to be consumed and life to be lived.  And that’s what I’m doing.  I’m not settling for less than the best in any facet of my life going forward.  Ever again.

Peace.

The Best Years Of My Life: A Retrospective

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As I reach what could be considered my “mid-life” point (40), I have been taking stock of my life and doing a lot of reminiscing.  And the more that I think about it, the more I can say, without hesitation, that three years of my life stand out above all others:  1983, 1995 and 2010.  In those years, I turned six, 18 and 33, respectively.

1983

Naturally, 1983 is the most difficult to fully put into perspective, on the basis of the fact that I was six.  But, I can clearly remember some aspects of that year.  I “graduated” from Kindergarten and started first grade.  The most important happening that year took place in the summer, when I discovered He-Man and the Masters Of The Universe.  I saw the cartoon on TV and immediately needed to go to the store to find the action figures, which I saw during commercials.  I can remember this vividly.  Mom and dad took me to a local store and I got the Skeletor figure, though I wanted the He-Man figure, but it was not in stock.  In fact, it would be several months before I finally found a He-Man figure.  But I would spend the following six years as a fan of the franchise, and now I own the entire series on DVD in a limited-edition, numbered boxed set.

I was also a huge fan of The Lone Ranger and The Dukes Of Hazzard.  The Lone Ranger had a momentary resurgence of popularity in the early 1980s due to the release of the film “The Legend Of The Lone Ranger,” released in May, 1981.  The release of the film lead to the old 1950’s TV series seeing air again, as well as the release of an animated series, both of which I remember well.  I can remember going to the store and getting caps for my cap guns and plastic Lone Rangers masks.

The Dukes were another matter entirely.  I was completely obsessed with the Dukes in 1983.  I couldn’t wait for Friday nights.  And then Saturday mornings, when The Dukes, an animated version of the show, was airing.  I had Dukes action figures, posters, cars, play-sets, shirts, pajamas, lunchboxes.  You name it, I had it.

I now own a limited-edition boxed set of The Lone Ranger, which was released in 2013 to coincide with the release of “The Lone Ranger,” a Disney film that was a box office bomb, which lead to the boxed set being pulled from shelves sooner than expected.  I also own the complete Dukes Of Hazzard series, and films, on DVD.

I got my first bike in 1983, for my birthday.  It was, surprisingly enough, a Dukes Of Hazzard bike.  The good news was, I had a new bike.  The bad news was, I had to ride that bike for the next six years, because I didn’t get another bike until I turned 12, and my Dukes bike was so small it barely held me anymore.

I also got my first “personal” TV in 1983.  It was a 13″ color TV with wood-grain housing and no remote, because it had knobs as opposed to buttons.  I got years of usage out of that TV, in fact, I still had it in the late 2000s, when I went HD.

Kindergarten was great, I have nothing but good memories of it.  First grade, not so much but nothing bad.  I would have many betters years in school.

I went on vacation in 1983 with my family and we visited one of mom’s friends who lives in Michigan.  She had the coolest electronic gadget:  A VCR.  I can clearly remember being amazed at the concept of putting a tape in this machine and then watching a movie.  With no commercials and to watch at any time, and stop at any time.  We got home from vacation and went straight to the Magnavox dealer and bought one.

1995

Naturally, what stands out here is high school graduation and starting to college.  I enjoyed high school immensely.  At the time, I was happy in all facets of my life.  And I was looking forward to getting out of high school and moving on.

My home life was great, my love life was great, my academic life was great.  My two obsessions at the time were playing Tecmo Super Bowl on the Nintendo and collecting AC/DC albums on cassette.  I had gotten Tecmo a couple of years previously but my playing really hit its peak in 1995.  I played seven consecutive seasons with the Cleveland Browns, winning three Super Bowls.  And one of my fondest Tecmo memories was an all-night season my friend Joe Nunez and I played, he with the Cleveland Browns and myself with the New Orleans Saints.  We still mention it to this day.

I had been collecting AC/DC albums since 1993 but in 1994 Atlantic Records re-released the band’s first 11 albums, digitally remastered.  So I kind of had to “start over” to an extent.  Then, in September, they released their first new studio album in five years, “Ballbreaker.”  I played the cassette completely out in no time.

One of my favorite memories of 1995 was my TV show collections.  In June, I started taping Three’s Company every day, as two episodes were shown on TBS every morning.  Later that year, in December, I started taping Perry Mason.  I watched those tapes until they were so worn out the sound was pretty much gone and the picture was quite snowy.  I have replaced both with complete series DVD sets over the years.

I was such a fan of these two shows that I wired my TV through my stereo and recorded the soundtrack from episodes of each show onto cassette to listen to in bed or while I was driving.  When I started to college, I would take a cassette with two episodes of Three’s Company on one side and a single episode of Perry Mason on the other.

I LOVED college.  It was the happiest era of my life, bar none.  Life was constantly in motion and I couldn’t wait to get to each and every day.  Couldn’t wait to get up and go to class.  Couldn’t wait for class to be over so I could go home and watch that day’s Three’s Company and Perry Mason episodes.  Couldn’t wait to play Tecmo Super Bowl after dinner.  Couldn’t wait to go to bed and do it all again the next day.

What’s odd is that as soon as 1996 turned over, everything went downhill and 1996 will forever be known as the second-worst year of my life, after 2017.  My girlfriend and I split, my best friend at college just up and quit without a word, my parents lost their jobs when the company they worked for closed the plant they worked at.

But 1995 was absolutely exceptional from the beginning to the end.

2010

Wow.  What can I say about 2010.  I had one obsession in 2010.  Girls.  All girls, all the time.  I had two or three dates every weekend, sometimes two in one night.  At times, it might just be a girl coming over to watch TV.  Sometimes it was a legit dinner-and-a-movie date.  Sometimes it was a straight hook-up.  Sometimes it was a platonic dinner.  Sometimes it was all of the above.  Whatever it was, it was great.

I was made to be single.  This is the life I would choose if I had a choice.  As Benny Hill said, “why make one woman miserable when you can make so many so happy?”  And in 2010, I did my best to make as many women happy as I could.

The only thing that stands out to be in 2010 as far as entertainment goes is that I discovered The Rifleman, and bought a bootleg DVD set on eBay.  And yes, I had a girl over to watch a few episodes of the series after it arrived in the mail.

Speaking of bootleg DVDs, I also found a guy selling a set of Marvel Comics animated shows that were produced in the 1960s, based on the actual comic art.  These programs are well known among Marvel fans but they have never been released on DVD in the United States, though a European release does exist.  So I found a seller who had gotten a hold of the European DVDs and burned them, quite professionally, onto Region 1 DVDs.  We negotiated a price and I was thrilled to get those in my collection.

My average 2010 week was spent at work during weekdays and in the pool every evening, blasting AC/DC and watching the sun set behind the house.  Then on the weekends it was restaurants, movies, shopping and girls, girls, girls.

The only bad thing about 2010 is the way it ended, the last six weeks of the year were nothing like the first 46, which included a broken ankle and several months spent in a walking boot.  But I won’t let that stain the year, overall.

EPILOGUE

I have said on many occasions I would not trade my life for anything or to anyone.  I have had the most enjoyable life, with so few exceptions, and the memories are priceless.  And 1983 (childhood), 1995 (teenage years) and 2010 (adult years) are the pinnacle of each era of my life.  I’m hoping that 2018 will measure up in some way to these three years from my past, and so far, its doing pretty well.

Peace, and God bless.

Your Time On Earth Is Finite… Your Happiness Doesn’t Need To Be

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“Every man is put on earth condemned to die, time and method of execution unknown.” – Rod Serling, The Twilight Zone episode, “The Escape Clause”

It would seem that the concept of having limited time to do everything we want to do in life would make people want to pursue their dreams and wants and desires. But for some reason, from my own experience as well as from my observations of others, most of us are content to just sit around and let life pass us by. If we’re lucky enough to have good fortune, we don’t grab onto it and get all we can, we simply accept that we had a run of good luck and let it go. Then we go back to complaining and doing nothing to try to make our lives what we want it to be. We just go on “living.”

The fact that so many of us have spent time unhappy and did nothing to fix the situation or improve it or get out of it distresses me greatly, and I have been as guilty as anyone in this respect. When I add up the years I wasted, either being miserable or just not being completely happy, it starts to eat up a large chunk of my life.

This is completely unacceptable.

The fact is, as simple as it may sound, there is no need to be unhappy or miserable. I have been happier in the past three months than I was in the past decade. Once I got my head screwed on straight and realized how miserable I had been, I was able to look at my life a lot more objectively than I had before and size things up for myself.

Sometimes we legitimately don’t realize we are miserable.  My hair was falling out, I was 80 pounds overweight, I had developed ulcers and migraine headaches and I couldn’t sleep at night. I think I may have been suffering from a type of Stockholm Syndrome, feelings of trust or affection felt in certain cases of kidnapping or hostage-taking by a victim toward a captor. So I tried to make myself feel like I was just an idiot if I felt unhappy at all.  I just kept going on, day by day, trying to act “normal.”

Well, I didn’t just feel unhappy, words could never accurately describe how miserable I truly was. And once I was honest with myself, I had to start asking the hard questions; why would anyone allow themselves to be miserable and unhappy? What does that accomplish for anybody? When you have dreams and wants and aspirations, what is to be accomplished by just sitting on them?  Who wants to live that way?

Here I stand today, free of all of the misery I was dealing with on a daily basis and I am able to pursue the opportunities I want, that I have wanted for years but was rarely able to verbalize until now.  I am finally able to be myself again.

I am free to pursue the enjoyments of life that are mine to enjoy. I can go where I want, when I want, without having to answer to anyone on this planet. That is a good feeling after years of what amounted to a combination of imprisonment, brainwashing and slavery. I have earned all that is before me.  And I will take advantage of it.

Your time on earth is finite, you don’t have 5,000 years to fix your problems and find your happiness. You don’t have 10,000 years or even 200 years. You have 80 years or less to make your life everything you want it to be. The first 20 of those years are spent growing up. So now you’re down to 60 years. Since I’m 40 that means I have blown over half of my available time, assuming I live to 80. And out of those 40, I was in some level of misery for roughly 1/4 years. Again, that is totally unacceptable.

So, if you’re reading this, please, for the love of God, if you are in some situation that you are unhappy with, do something to change it! There is no excuse on heaven or in earth to not be happy and do everything you can to reach all of your dreams and aspirations.

I know that sometimes it feels hopeless. I know that sometimes we just don’t have the willpower or the mental strength to extricate ourselves from a situation we find ourselves in. I’ve been there. But the feeling of getting away from the unhappiness, and the subsequent improvement in life, both physically and mentally (and even emotionally) is well worth any short-term unhappiness you may suffer from.

I hope this will help someone that needs it, that needs a kick in the pants to either start living, or get out of a bad situation to start attempting to live. Life is too short to waste. There is so much happiness to be had and its there for the taking. Just have the courage to go get it. Or give it your best shot. Sometimes even if you fall short, you at least gave it a try and sometimes the journey is as rewarding as the destination.

In closing, let me try to make you understand that while its never to late to start, the longer you wait, the shorter your happiness will be, and there’s no excuse for that. I would love to have the wasted years of my life back but it doesn’t work that way, so I have to be happy with the 20 or 30 I have ahead of me. And I am, I plan on making the most of them and doing everything I have always wanted to do. It’s just a matter of getting started, and the first step is not only the hardest, but the longest. But you can do it if you set your mind to it and disregard all that’s held you back.

Peace, and God bless.

Misery and Depression… And The Long Road Back To Happiness

from the blog www.stuckincustoms.com
About six months ago, I sat in this very chair and was reading an article about the effects of depression on your body.  As I read, I began to realize exactly where I was in life; in the clutches of crippling depression.  Insomnia, heart problems, headaches, fatigue, weight gain, a weakened immune system…  It was like reading a list of the problems I was facing on a daily basis.  The worst part was, I didn’t realize I was miserable.

I had been programmed by those around me to think that I couldn’t be happier, because it would reflect poorly on them if society knew how unhappy I was.

The mind can be tricked, but the body, not so much.  You can be in a horrific car accident and break every bone, and while you can tell yourself that you’re not in pain or that everything is fine, that body cast will paint a much different picture.

There I was, for years on end, absolutely miserable.  Hating everyone I dealt with, just wanting to be alone, crying myself to sleep at night, my hair was falling out, I was 80 pounds overweight, I developed ulcers and, within the past year, even started to get migraine headaches.  But I kept telling myself I had to be happy.

But inside I knew I was miserable.  You can’t be around people on a daily basis that you hate with every fiber of your being and somehow be “happy.”  You can’t throw your life away and expect anything good to come back to you.  Ever.  It just doesn’t work that way.  If you want good in your life, you have to put it there yourself.

Luckily, circumstance decreed otherwise and those people have been eliminated from my life forever, and in less than three months my whole world is changing.  I have lost 17 pounds, I haven’t had a single migraine headache since early December, I can actually sleep at night and wake refreshed in the morning, my blood pressure is dropping, my ulcers are finally straightening up, my hair stopped falling out and I don’t feel the overwhelming, non-stop feelings of misery, doom and depression that I felt for seven years.  Just by the elimination of people I hated from my life.

From the time I was 15 I always said I would never live to see 40.  It was just a premonition, nothing concrete ever happened to give me that foresight.  But now I realize there was some truth to it.  At the age of 40 years and six months, I actually started to live.  The old me is dead.  The “me” that hated to get up in the morning because my bed was the only place I felt “happy,” that couldn’t function due to headaches so bad I became disoriented, that laid in bed awake every night for four or five hours before a small amount of sleep would overtake me and then I could have nightmares about the unhappiness in my life.  That “me” didn’t make it far past 40.

So, to anyone who reads this, I’m pleading with you, don’t lie to yourself.  Life is too short and precious to be spent being miserable.  Don’t throw your life away.  If there’s anything in your life that is making you miserable and unhappy, get rid of it.  It’s not worth it, no matter what it is.  There is so much happiness to be had in the world today, don’t let anything, and especially anyone, ruin it for you.  You’re worth more than that.  I lost seven years of my life to crippling depression and I’ll never get those seven years back.  But, if I live as long as my grandfather did, I could have 52 years ahead of me to enjoy life and actually be happy.  I plan on taking advantage of them.

Don’t let society, or anyone’s manipulations, make you unhappy.  Don’t allow yourself to be used and abused and taken advantage of just so someone else can be happy.  It isn’t worth it on any level.  Your life is your own.  To live as you want.

I want to say that I thank God for the life I was given, I thank my friends and family for seeing me through it and I thank providence for getting me out of the misery I was in for all those years.  Many a night I laid in bed and begged the Lord to end my life before the sun would rise again.  Now the sun has truly risen.  I wouldn’t trade my life right now for anything or anyone, and I am happier than I have been in probably 15 years.  And a whole lot healthier.  With a lot more support and love than I have ever had.  How many times lately I have said “today was a really good day.”  Those were so few and far between in the previous seven years I could have counted them on one hand and had fingers left over.  Life is what you make it.  And this is mine.

In closing, you are given one earthly life.  What you do with it is up to you.  If you want to get into a situation where every day feels like it would be better if it were your last, then you need to wake up and understand that there’s more to life than that.  There are wonderful people and places and things to enjoy.  Hobbies and food and drink and movies and shows…  Why allow anyone, or anything, to make you unhappy?  Let it go.  Take a deep breath, and walk out into the world.  And enjoy it.

Peace.