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The Only Thing We Have To Fear...


Last night I had a very disheartening conversation with a dear friend.  She’s frantic and scared and near heart attack levels of stress over the incoming President.   The reasons for her fear were easy to ascertain; she had been reading every anti-Trump screed put out by the left wing press for the last few months.  Among the lies and innuendoes she had been subject to were the bits about Trumps dad being KKK (never proven) and Mike Pence supporting electrocution conversion therapy for gays (disproven many times).


I’ve got another friend who’s having nightmares about Trump invading her house and turning it into a reality show.  It would be amusing if it weren’t so indicative of the rabid fear so many Americans have over our new President.  I worry, not about Trump, but about what that fear could do to our country.


Now, I want to make it clear that I’m not a Trump fan.  I didn’t vote for him and I think there were a dozen people more qualified for the office than him.  Sadly, most of them didn’t run and, no, Hilary isn’t one of them.


I consider him as unqualified to be President as Barack Obama was when he ran.  I am, however, willing to give him a chance as I was when Obama was elected.  I hope I’m not as disappointed in him as I have been in Obama.


The crux of the problem was laid bare to me many months ago as I followed the media coverage of the election.  Much like both times Obama ran, Republican issues were trumpeted from the hill while Democrat issues were whitewashed over.  If you were to believe the main stream media, Republicans are evil bastards while the Democrats are the plucky do gooders, attempting to rescue us from our own stupidity.  It’s no wonder Trump has little love for them.


A perfect example was the dissection of Trump’s Inaugural Address by Katie Couric and her team at Yahoo news.  It took about twenty seconds for them to march out the Nazi meme and deride everything the new President said as naïve and jingoistic.  There was a little “devil’s advocate” played, but it was mainly to pop up such arguments so they could be quickly knocked down. 


I was darkly amused, though, when they accused Trump of living in a bubble.  Apparently, the lessons of the election have failed to penetrate their own bubble.  I turned it off after about five minutes and it began to disgust me.


I’ve got problems with Trump’s speech, the main one being his invocation of God about every minute or so.  I know he rode into office on the religious right wing vote, but I wish he would quit pandering to them.  I really don’t like religion in my government.  I also wish he wouldn’t invoke crime as a problem since we’re at historically low crime rates and I think he’s simply using it, like many pols before him, as a scare tactic.


There were things I liked about the speech.  We do need to spend money on our infrastructure, we do need to fix our school system, we do need to remove ourselves from many of the entangling and expensive alliances we’ve gotten into.


I doubt, though, you’re going to hear such equanimity from our press.


Our mainstream press, you see, with a couple of exceptions, leans decidedly left.  If you doubt me, look at the difference in coverage of the last two administrations.  Bush, it seemed, could do nothing right while Obama, in spite of continuing and even expanding some of Bush’s policies, could do no wrong.  Invading Iraq was bad while droning wedding parties was somehow okay.


And we can’t forget the far left outlets like the Daily Kos or Mother Jones or a dozen other left wing websites that spout innuendo and the occasional outright lie.  I see my liberal friends post this crap on social media every day and I really want to grab them by their metaphoric lapels and shake them.  “How can you swallow this bullshit?”


Not that the far right websites are a lot better.  Like their counterparts on the other side, they specialize in inflammatory rhetoric and half truths.  I just don’t see as many posts from them from my conservative friends as I do left wing posts from my liberal friends.  It’s almost as if the far left has won the Internet.


Like I said before, I’m not a Trump supporter.  I just read a synopsis of his agenda and there are things I dislike as well as things I like, but, on the whole, I don’t like him as President.  However, I would rather the press, if they’re capable of it, report on him honestly.  No more straw men and ad hominem attacks on the man.  Report on his policies and how they affect the American people and try to keep your personal feelings out of it.


So far, I’ve only seen two outlets that try to maintain a bit of journalistic distance from their subjects.  One is the Wall Street Journal, which, in spite of being owned by an evil gnome, seems to have its head on straight.  Never a Trump supporter, they seem to be at least fair in their coverage of him.


The other is the No Agenda podcast, the main goal of which is to separate the wheat from the journalistic chaff.  Twice a week, the NA team takes apart the news of the world and tries to find out what’s really going on.  Sometimes they dive into strict weirdness, but if you can get past that, you can get to some eye opening information.


I, in the meantime, will do my best to promote research and fact checking.  Some of you may not like it, but I live in hope that you will at least open your minds to it.


It’s going to be an interesting four years.


A Bird In The...

I'm not posting this in my Tunnel blog since it's not strictly medical in nature, though the incident damned near gave me a heart attack.

Whenever I go down into the basement, I'm used to hearing something scrabbling along the walls.  The basement is pretty much open to the elements.  I've had frogs, squirrels, and snakes take up residence in my basement and, when it rains, the place becomes a lake.

So, I wasn't surprised to hear something running around behind the furnace.  I was surprised when the bird came out of the shadows and aimed itself like an arrow for my head.

It was a manly cry of battle I let out.  I will swear to that 'til my dying day.

I ducked and the bird swung around for another pass.  It was not a cowardly act of shielding my face, but a quickly thought out stroke of genius that caused me to raise the net laundry basket.  I will swear to that also.  The mad bird flew right into it and I quickly flipped it over on top of the washer.

I took a moment to consider my options and maybe to slow my heartbeat, then carefully folded the basket flat to trap Birdy McCrackhead therein.

I carefully walked him upstairs and out to the breezeway, avoiding Bogie and Dru, and opened the basket.  For a moment, Birdy McBeakface lay there unmoving and I was worried that I'd somehow killed him.  Has his little coked up heart given out?  "Bird!" I yelled.

Like magic, his wings flapped and he, once again, headed straight for my face.  I ducked and he damned near hit the celing of the breezeway.  He flew a couple circles as though he couldn't figure out which way was out, then finally swooped off intothe night, hopefully to live happily ever after.

Or the stupid fucker flew out into Eastchester and got hit by a semi.  

I like to think that he flew off to his nest and his now regaling his wife and kids with the terrible tale of how he got caught in a dungeon and a nice human freed him.  Maybe I'll find a few worms on my front step tomorrow morning as a thank you.

Hey, it's a nice thought.


You Hate The Things You Do


“I hate it when he ignores me!” she says.  “It’s hours before he texts me back and he never answers when I call and there’s always some excuse!  He’s working or his phone is broke or he was sick.  How sick do you have to be before you can’t send a text?  And I’m supposed to be important to him, so why won’t he tell me when he’s not feeling well?”

Have you heard this refrain before?  Maybe she’s a friend who’s dating a dick or maybe she’s someone you’ve just started dating who’s telling you about her last boyfriend.  And she’s right.  The guy she’s talking about is a douche-canoe and doesn’t deserve her love and respect.  Which is why she’s calling it quits.

I fall into the second category, much to my chagrin.  I end up dating her after she breaks up with Mr. No Response.  And then she starts pulling the “no response” on me.

It all starts off great.  There are phone calls and texts and instant messages all the live long day.  Of course, you expect that to taper off, but if the relationship is even semi-serious, you expect the communication to continue.

But it doesn’t.

Maybe you don’t expect an instant response when you text, “How’s your day?”  And maybe you don’t expect an instant call back when you leave a voice mail because you were thinking of her.  But you do expect a response eventually.

And after a couple days pass, you send the text or leave the voice mail that asks if everything’s all right.  That’s when the excuses start.

“Oh, I’m sorry!  I’ve been so busy!”  or “I haven’t been feeling well,” or “My phone’s been acting weird!” or “My (insert relative here) is sick and I’ve had to take care of them.”  And you accept these excuses because you’ve got no way to know if they’re true or not and she starts communicating with you again.

For a couple days.

And you're trying to be a good boyfriend.  If she texts you, you text her back as soon as possible.  If she calls, you answer.   If you have to let it go to voice mail, you listen to it as soon as possible and call her back as soon as it's feasible.

Then it stutters to a stop again.  And after a few days, you might get a message with another excuse or an apology.

Amidst all that are the broken dates.  She’s supposed to come over or you’re supposed to meet her somewhere and she never shows.  Maybe she calls you to break the date and maybe you’re hanging out at the restaurant, waiting for her, like the schmuck in a bad romantic comedy.

The thing is that you really like this woman.  She’s cute and funny and likes a lot of the things you like and is willing to try things she’s never tried before.  You seem to connect.  You can see this relationship going somewhere if only she were willing.

But she doesn’t seem to be.  She seems to want so simply string you along with just enough interest that you keep coming and in a moment of clarity, you know that this isn’t what you need in your life.

So you stop.  You move on with your life.  You really like her, but she obviously doesn’t like you enough to respond to you.

And a couple weeks go by and she texts you out of the blue.  “I miss you,” or “Are you mad at me?”

How do you respond to that?  Do you ignore her like all your friends tell you to do?  Do you get mad and send a scathing response telling her what a nitwit she is for thinking she can just keep going like nothing ever stopped?  Or do you do what I do and send a passive-aggressive reply, “I didn’t go anywhere.  You disappeared.”

And then the excuses start again.  “I’ve been going through a lot,” or “Work’s been getting me down,” or “I’ve just been so depressed.”

So, you start talking again, knowing that the cycle is just going to repeat itself every couple months.

Until one day you find out the horrible truth.  Maybe a mutual friend tells you or you see an errant Facebook post or she spills her guts amidst rivers of tears.  The real reason she’s been ignoring you is because she’s trying to get back with Mr. No Response.  Or maybe she did get back with him for a little while, but he blew her off again, just like she’s blown you off.

Those times when she was talking to you?  That’s when he wasn’t talking to her.  That time she just showed up unexpectedly?  That was after they had a fight because he wasn’t paying her enough attention.

So, that girl who you once thought you could have a healthy relationship with?  Yeah, not so much.  You’re left sitting there, feeling like a fool.

And guess what?  You were.

Because there’s no reason on this green earth why she couldn’t have found that minute to text you back.  “I’m at the hospital with Mom.  I’ll call you later,” or “I’m not feeling well, sweetie.  I’ll text you after my nap.”  And you knew all this.  You knew her excuses were excuses.  You just chose to let them pass in the hope that she would come around.

She didn’t and she’s unlikely to.  It’s time to move on.  The next time she texts or calls or e-mails you, just send it to the trash.  You’ll be a lot better off than waiting for something that’s unlikely to happen.

At least that’s what I keep telling myself.


The Toy


A friend of mine recently asked my advice about what to do regarding a man in her life.  This was a guy that, according to her, only wanted her when he was horny or when she talked about breaking off the relationship.  In her heart, she seemed to know she needed to get away from the guy, but wasn’t sure she could do it.

This is what I said to her:

When I was a kid, I collected HO scale military models. I got them from my 7th and 8th grade history teacher whenever I scored 100 on a test and I scored a lot of 100s.

I loved those toys and played with them constantly... until my interests started turning to other things. But the models were safely stored in a paper bag in my closet so I could play with them whenever I wanted.

One day, when I was about 15, I decided I wanted to play with the models after a couple years of not. I went to look for them and they weren't there. It turns out my mother had given them away about a year before. "Well, you never played with them anymore and your closet was too full. You needed room for other stuff, so I gave them to the boy across the road. He loved them!"

Do you get where I'm going with this?

Do you want to be the toy that never gets played with until there's danger it might get taken by someone else?

I can't speak for all men. One of the things I've found is that I see things differently than most men. I don't like the things they like, I don't act the way they do, I rarely hang out with other guys.

What I can say is based on what I've seen my fellow males do through the 5 decades I've been on the planet.

There are men who are basically children. They like toys. They like to collect things, like cars and bikes and girls. They won't ever play with all the toys they have, but woe to anyone who tries to take or even use one of their toys.

And there are men who are basically sociopaths. They only care about what they want. They're very good at faking emotions and, because they have no empathy, are geniuses at getting people to do what they want. The only reason they maintain any sort of relationship is if it's of benefit to them. The minute they get no benefit from the relationship, they abandon it.

And there are the abusers. You know the ones I'm talking about. They abuse and degrade the women they're with and get violently angry whenever that woman tries to get away.

What I'm trying to say here is that this isn't about you. It's about him. You're not doing anything wrong. It's just that he only needs you as someone to occasionally play with. The only time he's concerned is when his toy might be taken away.

Does he have other playmates? Other women in his life? It wouldn't surprise me if he did.

You've got to decide what you want to do. If you're okay with being his occasional play toy, then that's all cool. If you want more than that out of a relationship, you need to break it off with this dude and never look back.

Move forward.


Strong Enough

It’s hard being the strong one.  

I’ve seen this meme on the Net recently about how nobody knows when the strong ones have needs and it really hit home with me.  It was pretty much the entirety of my last relationship.  I tried to be strong for her, to be there for her issues, and never let her - or anyone - know about my own needs and issues.  In the end, it hurt the relationship more than it helped.  I pretty much shut down, expressing as little emotion as I could get away with.  She thought I was withdrawing, which I was, because I couldn’t deal with the emotional roller coaster anymore and I couldn’t express that to her.

But that was then and this is now.  It’s been more than a year since we split up and I’ve spent that time recovering.  As I told her recently when she broached the subject of us getting back together, it’s like the last couple decades have worn me down to the bone and I need time to build that flesh back up.  I’ve also needed to figure out who I really am.  For the last fifteen years, I’ve been someone other than myself, someone who did what was necessary to take care of other people.  And I went from relationship to relationship, not because they were my soul mate, but because they needed me.  Somewhere along the line, I lost who I was.

Recently, I figured I’d recovered enough of myself to dip a toe into the dating scene again, but I’ve encountered a number of roadblocks.  Firstly, I don’t get out a lot.  To be quite honest, there’s no where I want to go.  I’ve done the bar scene (boy, did I ever), and I don’t want to do that again.  There’s something about being the lonely guy sitting at a bar, waiting for that one girl drunk enough to want to go home with me that depresses me more than I can say.  I’ve tried dating sites, but they mostly cater to a younger crowd and the women who are my age seem to be looking for something I’m not, and I don’t feel like changing myself at this point in order to make myself more likeable, and I’ve got to admit that some of my hobbies are not exactly mainstream.  And let’s not even start about dating in the workplace.  Though there are some women there who I’d like to get to know better, the fallout from an exploding relationship is not something I need where I make my money.

There have been a couple times when I’ve come close to meeting someone I got to know online, from one site or another, but that’s when my personality starts getting in the way.  I don’t chase because I don’t want to seem needy and they eventually stop talking to me.  If it were a party, I’d be that guy in the corner, talking to the pretty girl.  She goes away to get a drink and never comes back because she gets stopped by the player at the bar.  He’s interested enough to make a play.  I’m interested, too, but I’m not going to chase her because that goes against everything I am.

It’s a strange mix of ego and insecurity.  My ego says that I should be interesting enough for her to stick around.  My insecurity stops me from saying the things that might make her stick around.

And then there’s still the whole thing about being the strong one.

The women I do seem to attract seem to want me for what I can do for them.  I can take pictures?  Great!  They want to start a modeling career.  I’ve got a place where they can live?  Fantastic!  Their roommate’s about to kick them out.  I’ve got a job to support them?  Outstanding!  They want to go to college to become a dermatologist.  Apparently, I give off this vibe that says I’ll take care of them.  I don’t want to take care of anyone anymore.  I don’t want to be taken care of either.  

I want someone to share a life with, not someone who wants me to take over their’s.  Yes, I will do for you, but I want you to do for me, too.  Relationships are supposed to be a two way street.

I guess it’s all part of figuring out who I am.  I’m finding that the things I thought I needed in a relationship aren’t really things I need at all.  I need someone who’s going to give as well as take, someone who will take care of me as much as I take care of her.  I just don’t know how to express that.

Maybe I’m just not strong enough.