I feel her pain

Let’s get one thing out of the way. All things being equal, it hurts way more when it’s my body doing the hurting – as opposed to someone else. My superpower is not empathy.

That said, sometimes I’d prefer to be the one in pain, rather than watching.

Chronic pain can feel mighty helpless but there are some ways to cope – and I’ve logged A LOT of hours in therapy and counseling over the last few years. I’ve been trying to overcome feelings helplessness in relation to MY pain. There can be a feedback loop to pain. You hurt, feel anxiety/stress because of the pain, which amplifies the pain. It’s much more complicated than that – and that’s only one component (of many) to pain, but breaking that loop helps.

And if you’ve ever heard me say something dismissive about meditation, you’ll never hear it from me again.

That’s not to say I don’t feel pain, but I rarely feel helpless anymore. I feel a certain amount of control. It’s not like I can flip a mental switch and make it go away, but I can do something about it – I can somewhat manage it. If nothing else, a bit of meditation helps take the stress/anxiety (at least partly) out of the equation, and the more tools you have to work on something, the more empowered you feel – and thus not so helpless. 

I can’t say the same thing now, with Cheryl suffering some pretty severe, somewhat debilitating, back pain. Now I feel helpless again. Feeling helpless leads to stress. Feeling stressed triggers more of my own pain, which is always in the background… and garsh-darn-it-all, in a way I think I AM feeling a bit of her pain.

No más

I can’t take anymore Facebook. I’m out. I’ve been beaten.

My intention is not to pile on Facebook while it’s fashionable. Well, this post might be – but not my behavior leading up to it. I’ve poked my head in to check on a couple of folks I knew were going through a rough time. I’ve tossed in a few random thoughts I figured might amuse a few people. But all of my recent incursions have been surgical – in with a specific goal in mind, and quickly back out. I don’t linger. I don’t browse. The app no longer lives on the home screen of my iPhone.

There are two reasons for this. First, Facebook doesn’t make me happy. As in, EVER. And second, I don’t feel like I accomplish anything there. I’ll try to explain, but first…

“Who in their right mind goes to Facebook to accomplish something?”

Well, if you’re really asking, I’d ask if you’ve ever shared or reposted something from the news that was AT ALL political. If you have I’d ask you: why? Simply to express your support? Again, I ask – why? Did you expect to change someone’s mind, or even plant a seed of doubt? My hunch is one of three things happened. A bunch of friends gave you an amen chorus, friends who didn’t agree with you ignored you, or friends who didn’t agree with you didn’t ignore you… and you’re not friends anymore.

I don’t know about you but I don’t take a whole lot of pleasure from any of those possibilities. In fact, I find this self-segregating aspect of Facebook pretty depressing. So in November 2016, in a misguided attempt to deal with this depression head on (insert dramatic theme music here) – I decided to focus my commenting energies on Facebook posts I didn’t agree with or support. I figured the world didn’t need another amen in the chorus, so I went out with high minded thoughts of engaging neurons (both mine and others), and offered a voice of civil and reasonable dissent.

Ask your doctor if poking a bear is right for you!

Yeah, it went about as well as you’d expect. No wonder Facebook wasn’t making me happy – all I was doing was going around picking fights. Well, I didn’t mean to pick fights. I could try to ignoring or blocking certain posts, but does the world need another Facebook echo chamber?

A few common themes kept coming up, and beating my spirits down.

Some folks were quick to say they’re angry about the tone in politics. They polished their independent bonafides by decrying the behavior of “both sides,” then shared a string of inflammatory posts… from one side. Did they loose their sense of irony? Didn’t they see THEY WERE PART OF THE PROBLEM?

Some (of the same) folks decried a biased (and therefore corrupt) “mainstream media,” then shared stories from some of the most blatantly biased corners of the internet. I’ll be damned if I was gonna read another post linking back to Ben Shapiro, Breitbart, Right Side News, Allen West, Gateway Pundit, or… crap, I think I’m gonna throw-up (my apologies to everyone I left out).

“FOUL! John, you only named right-wing offenders! What about the left?”

If you’re really asking you’re not going to like my answer. “They were doing it too…” has got to be one of the all-time worst excuses for bad behavior. What would you say to your child if they told you this after getting caught throwing rocks into traffic?

So that’s it. I’m done. I was barely strong enough to raise my own children. I’m not strong enough for a world of them.

See you back there next week?

Go Bold or Go Home

Outside it’s gray, overcast, and gloomy.

The air feels damp, like it’s itching to shed some of its load.

And yet, my Wundermap says there’s a 0.00% chance of rain.

Now in rich, glorious HTTP over SSL!

3W forever!

You don’t have to check the date on the last post to know I haven’t been spending a lot of time writing for this site. It’s an off and on hobby that’s mostly been off, so I decided to cut back on my expenses and migrate to a cheaper host. Yes, I know what you’re thinking. You’re asking yourself, “Wait? LESS EXPENSIVE? You mean to tell me you’ve been paying good money to maintain this site? You’re STILL paying good money to maintain this site?!?

I’m nothing, if not dedicated.

… well, sometimes anyway.

Now picture me: sitting on a beach with a MacBook in my lap, happily clicking and typing away for hours on end, working on migrating this site to a new host. Now eliminate the beach and replace it with a cool, dark, and quiet upstairs bedroom. Now you know I how spent free time last week.

A few days ago, I got to thinking. I was waiting for some bargain-barrel, over-burdened, shared-hosting servers to upload another batch of files, and it hit me. “If I’m already migrating to slower servers, why not tax ’em a smidge more with some security?!?”

Check your browsers, friends! Look for that glorious lock that tells you you’re browsing a secure site! Ask yourself if you’ve EVER known me to use so many exclamation points! Know that whenever you want to do a deep dive into all things John, no middle-man will be snooping on you, revealing just how banal you tastes in reading can be!

Kuro is a cat

Have you seen a black cat around these parts? Have you heard me, Cheryl, or Adam mention the name Kuro? Well, I’ve burried the lede – but we got a cat.

Not very interesting, eh?

Maybe this part will pique your interest.

Our kids have been asking for a pet for years. Beth wanted one, and she never got one. Adam wanted one and we consistently told him he couldn’t have one. We had a good reason: Cheryl and I have a history of allergies… pet allergies.

So no pets.

Then Beth left home. I can’t speak for Cheryl, but I felt bad for Adam. Beth was his best friend. He’s got friends at school but no one close to home. And he’s shown a love of animals. He wants to be a veterinarian when he grows up. I did too until I found out it was harder to get into vet school than medical school.

This summer Cheryl was around a lot of cats on vacation, and decided it might be something she could live with. I was around cats for most of my childhood, so I knew I could live with ‘em. What’s a little hay fever between loved ones?

So for Adam’s last birthday we threw him a curve. We hit him with a whopper of a surprise – something he wasn’t expecting. We got him his pet.

He named him Kuro.

Kuro is a cat.

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Happy Birthday!

Our oldest child turns 20 today. I’m tempted to get all reflective and tell you what this means to me. But you know what? It’s not about me so much anymore. She’s a strong, smart young woman. It’s gratifying to think I may have had a role in her growth but she’s been opening her own doors for a while now.

Have a Happy Birthday kid! You deserve it!

(Don’t mind the old man getting a little weepy over here)

Me and Beth

Why do I do this to myself?

I spent 15 minutes this evening reading Ted Nugent quotes. You know, to see if it was fair to call Kathy Griffin the Ted Nugent of the Left.

But I had an epiphany and stopped. It occurred to me that I don’t care if what he said is equivalent to what she did.

Neither are worth that much of my time – especially not when I’m already depressed.

I could be doing something more productive like counting the threads in my sheets, to make sure I wasn’t overcharged.

Keeping your yard work

Hi all! Your favorite Floridian here! Well, at least top 50, right? Maybe/definitely inside your good fortune 500 at least… right?

RIGHT?!?

It's hot here in sunny (-er than it has any right to be) Florida, and I've come across a bright side to selling our house.

OK, it’s been three years. No one said I was perfect.

Yesterday and today (Saturday and Sunday) I was riding through the neighborhood, past single family homes that surround our block of townhouses. I noticed a number of folks doing yard work. I know there are people who enjoy yard work. There’s decent chance you’re one of those (uh-hum… incomprehensible) people. But if you were one of the folks I rode past this weekend, you’d have a hard time convincing me. In the blurred moments that passed riding by, I saw a lot of sweat-soaked brow mopping, grimacing, and I’ll say it: despair.

One thing you’ll never read on my lips (unless I’m joking): “Man, do I miss mowing the yard.”

Socks: innocent undergarment or covert killer?

The scene of the crime
The scene of the crime

Freaking socks! Who knew?

Well, apparently you knew.

Dammit man! Why was I the last one to know THAT useful nugget ‘o wisdom?

Actually, socks are a handy suspect right now. The alternatives – and there are a lot of them, especially if you have an anxiety disorder – are not so easily fixed. Socks? Heck, you take ‘em off or you put something else on over ‘em. Problem solved. But the alternatives….

I’m careless on stairs. Well, we can throw that one out right away. That’s something a careless person would do. My mommy always said I was perfect, so that can’t be true.

It was a fluke. I like this one. It means I didn’t do anything wrong. However, this was the second time I’ve failed to stick the landing since we’ve lived here. You know… fallen, taken a bad trip, used unconventional means of descending, suffered from deceleration sickness, failed to yield to gravity, or yielded when I should have stood my ground. Yeah, left that important piece of information out of the last post, didn’t I? I might have even implied or outright lied about it being a rare occurrence. In my defense, it was rare, if you count the other forty-odd years of my life. But, twice in a few months (possibly even weeks) sounds a bit more like a pattern. Finally, we all know chance is everyone’s favorite patsy, and… DANG GUMMIT, IT WASN’T A FREAKIN’ FLUKE! (Like I said, I liked that one.)

I’m not as physically gifted as I thought. I don’t like to brag, but I tend to be better than average at a number of things (sports, etc). I’m not great, or even particularly good, mind you. But if you plucked folks at random off the street and picked a sport out of a hat, there’s a good chance I’d at least hold my own… or not embarrass myself. How’s that for a humble brag?

We interrupt this post for a little bit of bragging

One area I tend to excel: anything involving endurance. My lungs can move a lot of air. One of my primary care doctors, years ago, wouldn’t take my complaints about wheezing seriously because I’d blow the needle all the way to top of his peek flow meter (the furthest a plastic arrow would travel in a slotted track), and hard enough that it would make a little clicking sound. Two doctors later I learned a couple things: 1) a single measurement of peek flow doesn’t mean much, and 2) even when my lung capacity (as measured by a more complicated device) is down 1/4 to 1/3 when I’m having an allergic reaction to something, it’s still WAY above average. There’s a lot more to endurance than how much air your lungs can take in and out (your body has to be able to do something useful with that air), but by most indications it hasn’t hurt me.

We now resume this post, already in progress

Wow, this is beginning to sound like I’m rationalizing. Maybe I am just clumsy. Coordination is something that gets worse with age, but I don’t think it’s something that goes quickly. That brings me to the last item on my list…

There’s something else wrong with me. I’m not sure I really want to talk about this one. My mind goes here naturally, all on it’s own. I’ve noticed more falls lately, but I don’t know if I’ve actually been falling more, or I just notice them because of the pain in my neck/back/head.

For the time being, I’m going blame perception – and socks.

That said, I’ve got a doctor’s appointment coming up (several, actually). This topic will come up. I’m not really worried. I don’t know why. This is exactly the kind of thing I normally worry about. Maybe the therapy I’ve done was more useful than I thought – that or my mix of meds hit a sweet spot.