Friday, January 1, 2016

My Paxil Withdrawal, Part 3: The Side-Effects

So due to a mix-up, as of December 16th I've been off of Paxil for three days. My bad flashbacks have decreased, my brain fog has cleared, and I'm feeling good. I did notice a bit of a heart flutter later in the day.

December 17th brings a lot more heart flutters. And a couple of dizzy spells. Now I normally have dizzy spells, especially over the last year when I started taking various medicines for my diabetes and its related side effects. (Lipitor for cholesterol and Lisinopril for my blood pressure, since I now eat a lot more meats, I guess.) I have to be careful bending over and standing up too quickly, that kind of thing. But this was different. This was a great big "WOAH, what muscle-man just gave the merry-go-round a spin?!?" dizzy spell.

December 18th the heart flutter only happened once but the dizzy spells increased.

On December 19th the dizzyness didn't go away. At all. For ten days.

It was just a constant state of vertigo, where every moment felt like I was standing on the deck of a wobbly ship, and just moving my eyes from one spot to another was enough to make the world spin. I couldn't function. I couldn't focus, I couldn't clean, I couldn't drive. I would spend a few hours trying to get the smallest things done, or giving up and just trying to watch TV or veg out on the internet, and then after a few hours I couldn't take it anymore and would have to take a nap. The nap would usually help me reset and be able to cope again for a short while, but within a few hours I couldn't take it anymore and was back to bed. And since I was napping all day there was no getting a full six hours sleep at any one time; for the first solid week it was just a constant cycle of up for few hours then sleeping for a few hours around the clock.

December 26 was the first day I made it through without having to go lie down again. Things were still a roller coaster for the next few days, but on December 30th I had my first identifiable moment without any dizziness. And there's been less and less of it over the last few says since then.

Joy says she's seen a huge improvement in my mood during this time, though. She says I've started singing around the house again. I've started working on projects (assembling a plan on how I'd like to celebrate Star Trek's 50th Anniversary, for example) and devoting some real mental energy to them again. I've started writing again, first in posts and wow, look at this, I'm even on the third part of a blog! It's been work to stretch the old grey matter again, but the very fact that I can is a huge step forward.

Emotionally I've been very verklempt. I can't tell you how many times over Christmas I quickly became choked up and was trying not to burst out in tears of happiness. Or how many times I couldn't keep it in and started crying over my frustration at the constant dizzyness. And those flashbacks, some bad but now also some good, all making me choke up with each emotional extreme. (But at least they've been at a much more normal rate of three to four a day as opposed to five or six an hour.)

December 28th brought me into a new wave of emotional side-effects. I've been angry again. The slightest thing has been setting me off. I'm getting moodier and moodier. I've been losing interest in everything; I don't care about those projects I started last week anymore, I've abandoned the TV shows I was watching halfway through an episode, I've even abandoned my Doctor Who audio dramas halfway through the last episode I was listening to, and I haven't seen any point in coming back to either of them. I've been pushing myself to try and get people what they need for the household chores, but mostly I've just been apologizing to everyone because it's not done and it's not going to be done by the time you need it, sorry. I used to have an attitude of "Well, this will at least make me feel better for the moment," but that's been nowhere to be found lately. And when I know that nothing is going to me feel any better or any less angry or miserable (let alone happy), then what's the point in it? When nothing is worth it then everything becomes meaningless.

So yeah, that's sucked.

Last night was our annual New Year's Eve party, which also doubles as celebrating Christmas among my group of friends. Normally it's held at our house, but this year Rich has gotten engaged to Lisa, a truly awesome lady who offered to hold it at her house. And thank the gods she did, because there was absolutely no way I was getting my house party ready this time. And I've been so volatile and fragile that I was truly afraid I would go in there and blow up over something stupid and petty like chopped peanuts vs whole peanuts or something and alienate everyone, or I'd start bawling uncontrollably and ruin the night for everyone. But none of that happened. What did happen is I got to spend some time with some great people who gave me the gift of some much needed laughter, remind me that I'm part of a group that has bonded over the last two decades, and I've come out of it feeling stronger.

Joy has been by my side this whole time, reminding me that what I'm feeling is just my body's way of throwing a temper tantrum and wanting the Paxil back, and reassuring me over and over again that this will end, even when I don't believe it. Today I feel rested, recharged, optimistic, and ready to get back to living again.

And still a little verklempt. But that's not so bad. ;)

My Paxil Withdrawal, Part 2: Messing with the Meds

So my psychiatrist felt that the best thing to help get my bad flashbacks under control (and thus hopefully also resolve my ever increasing memory and comprehension issues) was to add on Abilify to work with the Paxil I was already taking. She prescribed it on Wednesday, December 2nd. She wanted to see me again in two weeks to see how it was doing.

I went to my pharmacy to pick it up a few hours later, and was told it needed to receive an extra approval from the insurance company.

On Thursday December 3rd the pharmacy told me it was still awaiting the extra approval, and suggested that I check with my doctor to make sure she had submitted it to the insurance company. So I did, and the doctor's office told me their records showed it had been submitted at 4:20 the previous day. (Which I remember because... well, it's getting my drugs at 4:20, so it gave me a childish giggle.)

Finally on Monday December 7th I got both a call from the pharmacy and a letter from the insurance company telling me I was now allowed to have the Abilify. I'd lost the better part of the first week; I hoped the remaining week would be enough for my doctor to see some results. I needn't have worried.

By the night of December 7th I'd had my first violent outburst, screaming and throwing things at my dog for peeing on the bed. Suffice to say this is not how I normally react to this kind of (admittedly extremely annoying) inconvenience.

On December 8th I set out some chicken to thaw for my dinner while I cleaned. My other dog had managed to pull it off of the counter and I caught her eating it. It was like someone had flipped a switch. I saw red and the next thing I knew I was beating the dog screaming "BAD DOG!" in her face. In the back of my mind I knew this was wrong, but the rest of my brain slammed the door on that part and was completely unremorseful. The damn dog deserved it.

On December 9th I was feeling better. I was still angry in general, but it was in the background and I was starting to feel better and get things done. Okay, I thought, maybe the initial shock to my system was rough but it's balancing out and this is going to be okay.

On December 10th I went to take my morning meds and discovered I had missed my meds completely the day before. December 9th was probably not better because I was adjusting, it was more likely better because I hadn't taken it. Figuring I had to give this a fair chance, I took December 10th's dosage.

By the end of the day I was completely furious at life. I was miserable, my fucking family was always miserable, this world is total shithole and...

On December 11th I woke up, looked at my meds, and felt an overwhelming rage at them, and actually shouted at them "FUCK YOU, ABILIFY! I hate you, I hate the way you make me feel, and I don't give a goddam rat's ass about giving you a fair chance! You just stay the hell away from me!"

...And spent the rest of the day pretty much feeling the same way I did on the 9th. Still a little angry at the world, but better in general.

I should also probably mention that sometime around this time I also started taking Vitamin D, per the recommendations of... well, I honestly can't remember which doctor recommended it, it may have been all of them and/or my counselor.

December 13th was amazing. My brain was sharp but not angry, I was feeling motivated and productive. I was feeling more clear headed than I had for as long as I could remember. I didn't know it at the time, but this was going to be my last day on Paxil.

Because on December 14th I discovered that in all the excitement over getting the Abilify in and approved, my doctor had overlooked refilling my Paxil. In her defense this was really not like her, in the eight years I'd been seeing her I never had a problem. No big deal, I thought, I'll call them and let them know and there will undoubtedly be a refill in by the end of the day.

There wasn't, but I wasn't worried, I've missed one day before with no problems. And I was feeling great! It was like all that mess with the Abilify gave my brain a jump-start, shook it up just enough that the brain fog had cleared.

December 15th and there's still no refill, which is unusual, but I'm still feeling great, and I'll be seeing her on the 16th anyway for that two week follow-up.

December 16th, and my doctor is absolutely appalled that she missed getting my Paxil refilled. There are no messages in the system about my having called on the 14th; they're going through some staffing changes in the reception area so I felt this was understandable. I tell her all about my last two weeks. I'm now far enough removed from the events of that week that the remorse for the way I treated the dogs and what I was finding myself planning is sinking in, especially now that I'm retelling it to someone else and I'm hearing how it sounds. "I know they say that as a society we're only seven days away from savagery, but that was really disturbing to experience that." She replies. "I should think so, you went from being a pacifist to turning violent in less than a week. Stay away from the Abilify."

She refills the Paxil immediately, but discusses with me that since this has snapped me out of my brain fog, this might be a good opportunity to try and get off of it again.  We tried weaning me off of it a few years ago, but it didn't work out. She warns me that going cold turkey isn't easy, but since I've inadvertently already started and am doing all right so far maybe this is the time. She recommends I pick up the refill and keep it with me, just in case.

I'm feeling better than I have in years, so I decide to give it a shot. I can always go back if it gets too rough.

Next up: The side effects.

My Paxil Withdrawl, Part 1: How Things Got Started

After being on Paxil for a solid 8 years, I've now been off of it for about three weeks. The withdrawal process has been difficult and in many ways my behavior has made that pretty obvious, leading to the occasional sheepish or tongue-in-cheek "Sorry everyone, I'm off my meds" post. I feel that's turning into Vaguebooking though, so I'm writing this to alleviate (or justify?) that. Originally I wanted to wait until the experience was completely over and behind me before I got into explaining it, but the process is taking so long and changing me so much that I need to do it now if I'm going to have any luck remembering the process. Plus I've found other people's writings of what it was like for them to go through this to be helpful, so perhaps this will help pay it forward.

To really properly explain this I should probably go back to the beginning. I'll try to keep it as short and to the point as I can. Those who want to get straight to the meds side of the story can skip ahead to the next post.

I had a terrible depression spell in 2006. I started therapy but was very reluctant to use medications, because the first one I was prescribed had me experiencing all kinds of bizarre night terrors full of pools of blood and/or personal dismemberment and generally a lot of screaming, so I was very insistent that I was going to get through this without meds. By late 2007 I decided that nothing any medication could do to me could be any worse than being forced to go on living. So I was put on Paxil this time and it was a good fit.

For a while, anyway. I was happy and productive, then over the years I was at least content and functional, then I was functional and coping, then I was struggling but persevering, then I was having days when I'd win the struggle and days when I wouldn't. Instead of my old status quo being a somewhat silly happiness punctuated by the occasional massive low, I was now on a smooth steady bar that was descending daily, so gradually that it usually escaped my notice.

There was also what I called my "fuzzy brain." My memory has never been great, but I found I was becoming more and more reliant on keeping notes for the most basic things. People would tell me about things I'd said and done and I'd just have to take their word for it. (Luckily the people in my life are all good people who I know have my back.) Just as my mood was deteriorating gradually, my brain fog was increasing gradually.

Over the last year it's reached a new peak. I found I wasn't speaking up because the process of trying to choose the words was too difficult. And I don't mean about expressing my opinions, I'm talking about the day-to-day things, such as "we need to order our daughter a second bottle of chocolate milk, because one doesn't last through her entire meal anymore." I wasn't reaching out to people because conversation was too difficult. I certainly wasn't writing anymore; I'd even given up on keeping a journal. I needed to conserve whatever brain power I had for making it through the day-to-day necessities of interacting with my family.

The third factor was the bad flashbacks. I know everyone has them but I have a hard time understanding how often is considered "normal" for this. I'm not sure anyone really knows what a normal amount of bad flashbacks is yet. But these were happening more and more often and getting more and more severe, being set off with the most remote of triggers. They were strong enough to bring me to a dead stop as I waged my little internal war to deal with the memories and the reactions they were making me feel in that moment, leaving me to then pull myself out of them and get back to the task at hand. My ability to keep this internalized was completely falling apart, with Joy asking me more and more often what was wrong, and I would have to just say "bad flashback" as I tried to shrug it off.

In November 2015 these factors had all hit new extremes. I had no idea what task I was trying to complete. I'd be having a bad flashback every five to ten minutes. Forming basic sentences was becoming a struggle. (My counselor told me "In all the years I've been seeing you, I don't think I've ever seen you search so hard to find the next word to say.") My grandmother has Alzheimer's, so every now and then when I start having extreme memory issues like this I go over this Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer's list. This usually reassures me that what I'm experiencing is just regular aging and nothing to be concerned about, but this time I found that I completely matched six of the ten signs, with a partial match on a seventh.

 I had my regularly scheduled med checks with my physician (for my diabetes) and with the counseling center's psychiatrist (for my Paxil) on the same day at the beginning of December, so armed with a printout of the Ten Warning Signs and with additional notes Joy had helped me prepare, I told them both about what was going on. My physician didn't think it was Early Onset Alzheimer's, but definitely felt something was wrong, and referred me to a neurologist. I'm still waiting to see how that pans out, the earliest they can see me is February.

My psychiatrist felt that the key to all my problems may have been the bad flashbacks; at a rate of one every five to ten minutes she felt this was disrupting my brain so much that it was causing all the other symptoms. This made sense to me. She didn't want to increase my Paxil again, but thought adding a new medication that would work with it might help.

And that takes care of the back story, and leads us to Part 2: Messing with the Meds.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

On Being a Tolerant (and Honest) Athiest

So I read the following article a while back:

Where Are All the Honest Atheists? by Damon Linker

And as I read through the article I found I disagreed with pretty much everything it said on a fundamental level.

So, here's the thing. The article states that to believe there is no God is a tragedy, and to deny that is to be dishonest. Now, these days I consider myself agnostic/borderline atheist. And I can say, with 100% honesty, that it is not a source of tragedy for me.

I find it very reassuring that if I am suffering, it's not because God has chosen not to spare me for some reason that I don't understand. I find the idea that it was just a bad roll of the dice much more comforting. Oh well, bad luck. Could have happened to anyone, and often does. Everyone's turn comes eventually, this one's just mine. Roll again.

And to me the concept of an afterlife in any form is frightening. I find the concept of nonexistence much more comforting. This idea that losing my self is something tragic just doesn't make sense to me. Really, why should it bother me? How it can bother me if there's no me to be bothered by it? If I don't exist, I won't be there to notice the difference!

To my mind, death is much harder on the survivors. The loved ones left behind who now need to find a way to go on living without the person they've lost. All the things you didn't get to do or say together when they were here, and now never will. Knowing you will never see that person again for the rest of your life.

Which is where religion comes in. For many people, the idea that once your life ends you will be reunited with those lost loved ones gives them hope.

And really, what's wrong with that?

And that's why I'll probably always be "borderline" atheist. Because the atheist movement can be so damn anti-religion. When I first started accepting that part of the reason why no religion has ever stuck with me was because I was too skeptical, I started looking in to atheism. The animosity and vitriol I found there just turned me off. Comments like "for every one good thing you can name that religion has accomplished, I can name five bad things."

Yes, religion has been the cause of a lot of atrocities and really bad stuff. But here's the thing I feel the atheist movement misses: That's not their God's fault. Did Jesus lead the Spanish Inquisition? Did Allah hijack a plane on 9/11? No, that was all human beings doing that. Oh, sure, they did it in the mistaken belief that their Gods wanted them to, but here's the key: if you went back in time and removed all religion for the timeline of the human race, those events (or others on a scale with them) would still have happened anyway.

Because basically, haters are gonna hate. Take God out of the equation, and those people will do the same thing in the name of Homer Simpson.

Is that tragic? Hell, yes. (Pardon the pun.) But is religion to blame? Not in my eyes, it isn't.

I guess because I've known too many good religious people, people who actually got the message of "help everyone you can, and don't hurt anybody" that seems to be at the base of all religions. People who lived really messed up lives until the Bible helped them turn their lives around. People who were lonely and found honest comfort in the church.

So if religion can bring some people peace, hope and comfort, and cause them to reach out and help their fellow human beings, why should I consider that a bad thing just because I don't believe there's some supreme deity out there watching? For me to automatically assume that they're selfish, self-serving hypocrites just because they believe in God is being just as closed-minded and selfish. To ignore the good that's come from religions because they've failed to produce only good things strikes me as unfair.

Which brings me back to the "Honest Atheist."  The idea that I should somehow be upset that I don't believe in God anymore is like wishing my exes never got over me, that I was The One Who Got Away that they regret breaking up with for the rest of their lives.  Sure, losing one's faith is never easy, and I spent a lot of time being wrestling with it when it was happening to me. There was a period where I mourned losing my God. But once it was over, I found myself much more at peace with my beliefs.

I don't find the concept "that humanity is entirely the product of random events, that we have no more intrinsic dignity than non-human and even non-animate clumps of matter" tragic, I find it inspiring; we, as a species, struggled, persevered and grew until we became the creatures we are today. We rose above those non-animate clumps of matter, and then we invented the concept of dignity. That's incredible. Linker finds tragedy in the concept that "our lives and loves do not at all matter in a larger sense." Again, I couldn't disagree more. If our lives are all we'll ever experience, if all we've got is the here and now, then the love we share becomes the greatest thing in the universe as we know it. That's huge.

So I can't speak for other agnostics/atheists out there, but I'm being completely honest when I say I don't find the concept that there isn't a God tragic. I think it puts the responsibility for all the terrible things we've done squarely on our own shoulders, and at the same time makes all the wonders and achievements we've accomplished that much more astonishing and something to be proud of.

The important thing to remember is that as individuals, we're not all going to be comforted by the same things. Everyone's got their own belief system that makes the most sense to them. That diversity is what makes us such an interesting people.  As long as what comforts you brings you peace, then you believing it works for me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Don't Invite Trouble

Presenting what may (or may not) be the first in a series of Photoshop Blog Cartoons!
 
(Click Here to view it full size and be able to read it.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

On anti-depressants? Then give up the gun.

Ok, I can't avoid all the gun talk, so here's my two cents.

(Oh, and for the record, I'm stealing my friend Lisa's (buy her book!)
zero-tolerance attitude for this as well. This is my opinion, and it's not up for debate. If I feel like deleting a response, then it's gone. Want to disagree with me? Fine. Go post your own blog.)

It's not violent video games or anything else in our culture that's causing this. It's the anti-depressants.


I'm basing (or biasing) this on experience. The last time I had my meds reduced I had a few days where mass-murder-suicide seemed perfectly rational. Luckily another part of my brain kept saying, "Noooooo, howabout we just go find something to eat instead?" But after that, every time I heard that a shooter was either on or coming off of anti-depressants (which so far has been all of them) I just found myself saying "well, there you have it, that's why."

I'm not bashing anti-depressants. They've done a lot to help me and many others get through some very rough times. But you are MESSING WITH YOUR BRAIN CHEMISTRY. You know, your BRAIN? The thing that tells the difference between right and wrong, acceptable and unacceptable? And I can also say from experience that it's a total trial-and-error process. They pick one that works for most people, and based on your reaction to that decide whether to keep you on it or switch you to something else. Now to be fair, I was monitored pretty closely at that stage, because when it goes wrong it can go REALLY wrong.

But there really needs to be closer monitoring of those of us on these medications to see the warning signs, especially when it's being reduced. You know what my counselor did to help me when I told him how I was feeling? He had me sign a paper saying that I wouldn't hurt myself or anyone else. Yeah, because when your brain is telling you that it's never going to get better ever again but you can't kill yourself because it will affect too many other people, so the only rational solution is to kill them too, and that spiral doesn't stop until you come to the conclusion that really the entire human race really just doesn't deserve to live anymore
and you'd be doing everyone a favor if you wiped everyone out, the only thing that pulls you back off the ledge and keeps you from doing it is remembering that you signed a little digital signature pad saying you wouldn't go there. Right. 


And from there it was "See you next month." You know what, if I'm in such a bad shape that you're making me sign contracts not to harm anyone (and let's be real, that's probably more of them covering themselves from legal responsibility than anything else), maybe that's a sign I should be seen again a little more often during this rough patch. Ya' think?
  
Now for the gun control part of the equation. 

All of you pro-gun people shouting and screaming that only the criminals will have guns and we need more guns to save us from these shooters and Obama better not take our guns-- get real. No one is going to take your guns away. 

And all of you anti-gun people dreaming for a gun-free America-- get real. That's never going to happen either.

The bottom line is that love it or hate it, that genie was let out of the bottle over 200 years ago, and there's no putting it back. This country was founded on guns, the Second Amendment protects the guns, and there will always be guns. So both of you, just chill out.


But to me this is a clear-cut obvious place where gun control is needed. If you're on mind/mood-altering meds, then you should not have access to a gun. At all. Period. Not only should it automatically disqualify you from buying a gun anywhere (gun shows, the internet, all those lovely loopholes), you need to turn in any gun you already own while you're on them. And that also goes for anyone else in the house you live in as well. You should not be able to have access to a gun at all

After you've been off the meds for a few years and have had enough evaluations to prove you're stable again, then you can have them back. But someone has to sign off on it, being willing to put themselves out there and say "yes, I think this person is okay to own a weapon again."
If it's illegal to drive a car when your brain is intoxicated, then it should be illegal to own a gun when your brain chemistry is being altered as well.

I like to think that my own sense of morality, my being able to recognize even in my lowest state that I didn't want to hurt anyone, was enough to keep me from being one of those crazies you see on the news. But you know what? I don't have access to a gun. And I don't doubt that that helped.

Oh, and one last thing.

To those of you who actually think Sandy Hook has any kind of conspiracy behind it... shame on you.

Friday, October 26, 2012

It's Not About Sex

I generally refer to myself as "bi" and not "bisexual."

It's not that I have a problem with the term bisexual per se, but I think a lot of people only see the "sexual" part of the word. And that's a problem.

'Cause I've been in a monogamous marriage since the '90s, see, and here's the thing-- the whole bi part of my identity hasn't gone away. And that's a bit of a surprise for me, because for a lot of my friends who used to identify as bi, it did. They would say things to me like "Ehh, with no [same-sex partners] in my life I never think about it anymore." So I just kind of assumed that when my wife and I settled down and got monogamous, it would go away for me too.

It hasn't. Arguments over LGBT rights still hit very close to home, even though no law is going to be passed invalidating my marriage since it's an opposite-sex marriage. I still notice the occasional cute guy in a movie or walking past me in the mall. I still feel the need to talk to people who are in tune with me and understand who I am and not just accept or tolerate the fact that I'm different. And I still feel the need to break the stereotypes. (ie, Bisexuals are promiscuous, bisexuals can't be faithful, bisexuals can't be trusted.)

And with all this hetero, married, monogamous sex ruling my life since the late 20th Century, you'd think it would have gone away by now. It's almost like how the first twenty years of my life were, when I kept trying to deny it was there in the first place and it wouldn't go away then either.  What's up with that?

Oh, that's right-- it's a core part of who I am.

It's not about sex. Yes, sex does start with attraction, but I can honestly say I have no desire to have sex with the attractive people I meet. Yes, relationships often lead to sex, but not always. But when you tell some people you're bisexual, they think you're telling them, "I like to have sex with men and women." They hear it as "bi-SEXUAL."

They don't hear "after years of being called a fag I finally made peace with who I am, and I don't ever want to hide that again." They don't hear "I feel like my government and most religions are persecuting me, and it scares me." They don't hear "I'm bi, married, and monogamous, and I need you to understand that I'm not the only one, I'm just one of the few trying to change your preconceived notions about that being the exception to the rule."

They don't hear you saying "I just want you to honestly love me for who I am, because I love you and your opinion means the world to me, and it hurts me when you tell me to keep it to myself."

Telling me to keep it to myself is like someone saying "Would you please dye your hair? Porn stars have blonde hair, but you insist on letting everyone see you have blonde hair. I don't need to know you have porn-star-colored hair. If you won't dye it, you should at least keep a hat on, because I don't need to know about that."

I'm not talking about my sex life when I talk about my orientation. My orientation has nothing to do with my sex life any more. I'm talking about something as basic about myself as the town I grew up in or the church I went to or the pet I own. I'm talking about my civil liberties. I'm talking about not having to hide who I am, and not feeling like who I am is something to be ashamed of.

I'm simply saying "Yeah, I'm bi" in the same way that I say "Yeah, I'm Italian." A simple statement of fact about myself, my history, my identity, and yes, a touch of pride.

So I only refer to myself as "bi." Not that I have anything against the term "bisexual," but because there's more to it --and to me-- than the sexuality.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I know! Let's Bring a TANK!

Since I've given up on my "Dreaming in Emotion" blog, here's my latest crazy dream:

I was at a science fiction con, and some guy just strolled into my room.

"Can I help you?" I asked.

He peered at me over his glasses and smiled. "Don't you recognize me?" Well, no, I didn't, but I don't recognize people who recognize me all the time, so I just smiled and let it go. So he just went and made himself comfortable in the next room and went to bed.

I looked at my buddy. "Who is that?!?" I asked.

"Beats me." Hmm... I think I've been had.

I walked out to see him, and he was all curled up in a bed. "I don't really know you, do I," I asserted.

"Nope."

"Okay, you need to leave."


"Nope."


"No, seriously, this isn't cool. Get out or I'm calling the cops."

"Zzzzzz....."

I picked up the phone and made a big production of actually calling the police, to the intruder's complete indifference.

And soon enough, someone did show up, but it wasn't the police... it was the Army. Soldiers came rushing in through the door, with a giant tank making its way through the room and out onto the balcony. Luckily, it was a great big balcony on the roof, with stairs leading down to a giant landing with a swimming pool. Although the balcony doors were wide enough for the tank, the stairs were only the width of a person, so the tank got stuck.

And all the while, the intruder was still sleeping blissfully away, indifferent to the madness around him. Unfortunately, the madness was also indifferent to him, as none of the soldiers ever thought to look in the bed, and now they were all scurrying around trying to figure out what to do about the tank.

Well, that did it. I had had my fill and finally lost my temper, and started stomping on the landing and shouting at the soldiers in a perfect Lewis Black rant. "What a genius idea, bringing a tank up to the thirtieth floor! 'Hey, we've gotta go catch one guy on the top floor of a building! What should we bring?!? Oh, I know! Let's bring a TANK!!!"

The next person to knock at the door was a guy who looked a lot like the intruder. Turns out he was here to meet up with the first guy, so the intruder just casually got out of bed and strolled out, leaving the mess of the Army behind him. Soon the Army themselves moved on, leaving the tank wedged on the stairs with a green wide-headed antennaed alien slumped up unconscious against the tank.

Then Frank showed up wearing a Greatest American Hero neck tie. The dream got a little bizarre after that, so I'll stop there.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Got Your Class Warfare Right Here [Updated]

Before you read my ranting, it might help if you watch these videos. They only take about 11:20 total, not counting the 30 second Kashi commercial you have to sit through before each one, which makes for a total of 12:20, which is almost a quarter of an hour which now that I think about it is rather a long time so on second thought never mind.

And if you can keep up with that line of catastrophising thinking, you'll see the state my mind is in right now for the real topic.



I still want to believe in the human race. I want to believe that deep down, in their hearts, people understand that other people are people too, and not just a commodity to be bought and sold, to be used up and thrown away.

But I'm losing that faith. It dies a little more with every headline I see, every news article I read, every "news" story I watch.

I used to feel that slavery was something in the past, something we knew had been a horrible mistake on the part of the human race, a lesson painfully learned that we would never make again. But no, oh no no. We've just learned to play around the rules, to find new ways of making sure that there will forever be a Ruling Class and a Serving Class. Masters and slaves by new names.

"Demonizing the rich?" Are you kidding me? The only ones demonizing the rich are the rich's defenders. The more they protest the more obvious the greed becomes. Neil Cavuto says at the 1:37 mark in the first video that Warren Buffett needs to "stop assuming the rich are all billionaires." Oh, those poor poor millionaires who may never see their first billion! Why are they being persecuted? No, instead Cavuto says "before you start demanding that one group pay more, maybe get everyone [the poor] to put skin in the game." (Second video, 2:17.) Yes, that's it, those damn freeloading poor people, clinging greedily to their lower 2.5% of the nation's wealth. How dare they.

It's not enough that the rich and the politicians have been destroying the middle class. No, now that the end of the middle class is in sight, it's time to turn our sites on the poor.

Who can we count on to watch out for us? Not the politicians. They make more money than we'll ever see, so they're part of the rich as well. Their only job is to protect their jobs, and they do it well. The human decency of those running the corporations? Don't make me laugh. With the phasing out of unions (and corruption of some of the unions that are left) they've learned the best way to save money is to get rid of the workers they've had the longest who are at the top of the pay scale and replace them with someone at minimum wage. "Get me another monkey for the press," as a boss of mine once said.

Fox News will have us believe that Warren Buffett is enacting Class Warfare. They need to shut the frak up before they give the poor ideas. Because thanks to the NRA, the one thing the poor do have left is their guns, and thanks to the right keeping them uneducated they may not realize that a "class war" doesn't involve shooting.  And really, what good would it do them? Let's say the Lower Class does rise up into an all-out rebellion against the rich (which will never, ever happen, because they're too busy watching Jersey Shore). Then the politicians would have to start sending in the military to deal with these Poverty Terrorists, which would undoubtedly lead to less civil rights and a stronger wall being built between the rich and the poor. Maybe even a literal wall. And then there we are, with the elite living in luxury and safety inside their castle while the rest of us live in tents in the wastelands outside watching our government-provided televisions with no off buttons, until one day a group decides to gather up 4400 people from various points in human history, augment them with special powers and then drop them all back in time to try and prevent what happened, but of course the rich won't want that to happen so they'll try to sabotage it...

...Maybe I should just get my meds checked.


UPDATED: I got together with two friends of mine after I wrote this, and they helped talk me off of the ledge. One of them pointed out to me that I was being prejudiced towards all rich people, forgetting even Warren Buffett. And he was right, I was letting generalizations fuel my paranoia. He also helped me put things in perspective. We have a friend who is considering joining the Marines (I'll call her Betty). When I started saying that the military was going to round up all the poor people and put us all in labor camps, my friend said "Good, then maybe Betty won't get sent to Afghanistan, she'll just have to shoot hobos." The absurdity of which made us all laugh, and gave me a serious reality check. I considered pulling the post, but I've decided to let it stand as an experiment in creative writing. So don't take it too seriously, and I'll try not to either.