My Wish

I remember, way back in my early childhood, a dream I had of a black Knight, on a black horse, surrounded in a room of nothing.  A cape of hope hung around his neck and he looked at me, straight at me, and in the raspy echo of his helmet said, “Come to me.  Come get it.”

I have to share this.  I have no choice.  At some point it has to come out.  It will hurt people, and I’m sorry.

I’m not one who pushes God.  It’s a taboo subject, and I think God is something people come to on their own accord.  Belief or not, I don’t judge.  I don’t judge people’s religion.  God is an experience, and everyone has a different perspective.  It’s as individual as staring at a table.  My vantage point has me looking in one direction, seeing what I can see with my eyes, feeling what I can feel with my hands.  Your vantage point is different than mine.  Maybe an inch above, to the left.  You see more than I can see.  For me the table has legs.  You can’t see the legs, so for you the table has none.  

And for those who cannot see the table, whose vantage point has them too far away, or turned around, that doesn’t mean the table isn’t there.  That doesn’t mean your perception is wrong.  You’re experience is different than mine, but we are all experiencing the same thing.  Because as much as we see a table, science says it’s mostly empty space. Nothing.  So, even non-believers are staring at the same thing, just differently.

I’m trying to put us all on the same page here, if you haven’t noticed.  Believers and non.  Because I want everyone to keep an open mind.  I’m not here to convince anyone of God or Religion.  I just need to tell my story, and I just need you to listen.  There is no point of a story if no one listens.  But I have to say it, I can’t keep quiet any longer.

A friend of mine convinced me to write this, in his own special way.  Actually, he doesn’t even know.  He just asked a simple question.  He wanted to know what sparked my curiosity.  And then there is my therapist.  Who asked how.  Actually, many doctors have asked how.  How am I alive today?

I have been through so much, survived so much, and yet I persevered.  I did it and I can laugh.  No matter how much I have been hurt, no matter how much I have been angered, I still have love and not hate.  I refuse to give up on my family and friends.  I refuse to be swallowed in misery.  It’s not an easy road to take.  Most wouldn’t.  But, I’m a survivor. And I truly believe there is a reason for it all.  I truly believe in the end it will mean something.  Because it does.  Because I want to leave something of me behind to help.

So here it is.  My soul.  My curiosity.  

In college my life fell apart.  My mother had a botched surgery on her shoulder.  It left her in more pain then she went in, and caused her to be disabled.  My mother was always a strong, independent woman.  She worked hard to give my sister and I a life where we weren’t rich, and weren’t poor.  We got everything we needed and then some.  And when she applied for disability, all on her own, no lawyers, no nothing, the government agreed with her.  It’s rare, most people get denied their first try, even with a lawyer.  But, she was truly unable to work, the pain too great.  We all knew it.

And it broke her heart.  Here, a woman who worked her whole life, a woman who relied on herself for everything she needed, who in the 60s was told she could be only this or only that; defied her father, married the man she would happy with;  who gave her life to her children so they could get everything they needed and wanted and grow up independent dreamers.  And she was told by the US Government that she was no longer able to support herself.  That’s how she saw it.  She told me in not so many words.  She felt useless.  I watched a woman who I admired shatter.  And I wasn’t the only one who felt the repercussions of our strong family matriarch give up.  The glue had withered, as glue does with age.  

I don’t want to discount credit to my father here.  He is strong in his own way.  In my house, my mother ruled.  She held us together and she held him together.  He never denied that, and wouldn’t.  But there is something to be said for a man who stands behind his woman.  Who supports her 100% in every decision she makes, and agrees with her whether he truly agrees or not.  Both my parents took the anti-establishment of their times to heart.  Gender roles meant nothing, religion was control, God was a word, the “Joneses” was an illusion, and money came in from both sides regardless of a “breadwinner.”  Now maybe for the tradition of what makes a man, “a man” it makes my father look weak, but for us it was strength.  Because the outside world could see what it wanted, but the inside… we knew the truth.  

My mother was glue.  Strong glue.  Any crack was quickly filled.  And it wasn’t a dictatorship.  Believe me, my parents loved both my sister and I dearly.  They weren’t perfect, no parents are, really.  They made mistakes, some catastrophic, but they are human.   So, “dysfunctional family”?  Sure.  Name me one family that isn’t.  

But the glue snapped.  My family crumbled quickly.  My mother’s despair sucked the wind out of everyone.  I don’t blame her for that.  It was unfair of us to rely on her so much.  And I could make excuses.  I could say I was a child, I didn’t know any better not to.  I could say it was my sister who took every advantage she could to break the sanctity of the inside and threaten to expose us for what we were.  I could say my father shouldn’t have put that much pressure on my mother, should have been stronger, should have better prepared him and us for that moment.  

But where would that leave us? Blaming and pointing? Accusing and name calling? Hurting and anger? Nothing to solve the problem, just watching it grow and fester.

Hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it?  Because that’s exactly what happened.  Blame, pointed fingers, everyone knew what everyone should have done and it became a big mess.

As college was coming to an end, so was I.   My mother was injured, and then my father rolled his ankle, and became injured as well.  My sister was getting married.  Then divorced.  Everywhere I turned I had injury, heartbreak, and chaos.  

And I became depressed.   I felt my mind regress back to my childhood.   I reached out for help.

It’s amazing, when you sit in a hospital full of depressed people, how many people turn to God.  Or, well, actually away.  Everyone seemed angry at God.  Everyone felt abandoned by him.  I asked one of the nurses about this, why is it everyone talked about God?  She told me that most people, like me, were at the end of their ropes.  Facing the darkest corners of their minds, facing the choice of their own mortality.  They felt rejected, and angry.  I did too.  But not by God.  I didn’t believe in God.  I couldn’t put hate into a thing that didn’t exist.  But I knew I existed.  And I knew who to be angry at.  Everyone else.

I was angry at my mother for shutting down; angry at my father for not standing the ground and taking over; I was angry my sister had an escape through drugs; I was angry my friends didn’t have to feel what I did; I was angry my parents threw money down the drain; I was angry I had to keep going; I was angry I had to go out into the world alone;  I was angry I had to keep public perceptions up;  I was angry that I couldn’t tell the truth; I was angry that the truth brought both fear and change. 

They say people who make the choice to commit suicide don’t really want to die.  I think back to that time, and, yeah, I really wanted to die.   So whoever “they” are need to understand.  We want to die.  I even had an after-plan.  I wanted my energy and anger to haunt what was around me.  I wanted the blame to be cast on those around me like a curse, to punish all generations.   It was about revenge, hatred, and pain.   I would watch the catastrophe happen as a final middle finger and laugh and say “I told you  so.  It wasn’t my fault, I tried to tell you and no one cared, no one listened.  And now look at what you did.  It wasn’t my fault at all.”

 I tried to die by running my car into a tree (missed).  I tried swallowing hair spray (yuck).  I tried standing in a tub with the shower running and an electrical cord plugged in (thanks Hollywood).  There was even a time I seriously considered making a sign that said, “I hate black people,” and  driving down to Camden, NJ, standing in the middle of the street with it, letting the gangs kill me, for me.  Yes, I got that from a movie.  That’s how depressed I was.  I watched an old Die Hard movie and actually thought it was a cleaver way to off myself.  Death becomes an obsession when you are depressed.

One  night  there was a fight going on.  Typical fight.  My sister in one of her lucid moments, denying something she did in her comatose drugged state.  Screaming, throwing things in the bedroom.  My father hiding upstairs.

I just walked out.  Unprepared.  A total compulsion.  I didn’t stop to put on a jacket in the cold November air.  I didn’t stop and think about shoes.  I just walked barefoot down the road to the park being guided by some sort of peace of mind.   A comfort, calling me there.  I felt united with the world.  For some reason I felt so at peace, like something guiding me.  I felt one with the earth, free, and alive.  Suddenly I felt the whole purpose of life, the whole connection, the design of everything.   And there it was.   Some kids must have tangled up the swings, but I swear it was like a perfect noose.  

And as I stared at it, the rain began to fall.  All of it made sense at that very moment.  The connection.  The world was crying for me.  Nature was mourning me, I could watch it in these few moments and it was beautiful.  And peaceful.  And freeing.  I imagined me swinging back and forth in the wind, like the end of Huxley’s novel, “Brave New World.” How poetic.  A family refusing to show emotion, a singular revolution of hatred, how meaningless it had all become.  That’s how I imagined me.

I tried to climb up the pole, but the rain, the light mist that had passed during my peace… I kept sliding back down.  I tried stepping on the other swing but it wouldn’t stay still long enough for me to get my head through the chain and snap my neck.  Eventually the mud on my feet, the slickness of my skin, with the dampness of the rubbery swing and wet iron got me nowhere but landing on the ground.  God won, and I cried my eyes out, and went back home defeated.  I cursed it.  I had a new thing to hate, and it was God.  It mocked me with its humor  and I screamed, “Is this your way of getting me to believe in you?”

Now it was personal.

I told my mother I would get help for my depression.  For my problem.  I wanted to give my family some sort of hope.  As sick as this sounds, it was so I could dash it away.  Because I was so angry.  I wanted them to feel as miserable as I did.  I let my sister convince me to call this private hospital and check myself in over the phone.  The guy listened to me, he really wanted me to come then and there, but he didn’t have a room.  I lied to him.  I told him I had no plans to kill myself.  I begged him to let me come tomorrow, put my name down for a room.  That I wanted to die, but I promised I wouldn’t do it that night.  He called it a verbal contract.  Sure, bud, whatever you say.  

The stage was set.  MY stage.  In MY room.  In MY walls.  MY energy, MY haunting ground. The last thing to do before I drank my pills was the suicide note.  I wrote it all out, every word.   The hate, the misery, the blame, the isolation, the selfishness, the pure unexplainable pain.  The noose.  God.  I wrote it all down.  There was nothing left for me to do but die.

And it was like I saw outside of myself for a moment.  Like suddenly I didn’t belong in my own body.  It’s deafening.  I can’t hear anything.  Or I don’t remember hearing anything now.  And I brought up the thought of “they”.  What “they” say.  “They say people who are suicidal don’t want to die”.  Did I want to die? Was this it? 

I thought about where I would be buried.  Could I have a burial? Would I go to a graveyard? Suicide is a crime by the church, would they let my mother bury me? I wondered what the end would bring me? Peace? Is this a sin? What did I really think would happen? Would I float above and watch the suffering? Would I really be able to watch the wrath of my anger? Do I just enter a void and all is over in an anticlimactic event? 

I poured a bunch of Aleve in my hand, and stared at it.  I saw all my past attempts to die.  I realized I won.  This was going to work.  I beat God at its own game.  I would join it now.  I smiled at my victory.  Who else can beat God? Surely God understood how miserable I was, how desperate I was, it was trying to save me,  kept trying to stop me, but it couldn’t… it wasn’t… it..

A realization hit me.  All those suicide attempts, all those times wondering why whatever it was wouldn’t let me go… It wouldn’t…

Something beyond me wasn’t letting me die.  Something believed in me, or needed me, for something beyond what I could see.  And I see two hands before me.   One filled with pills, one not.  I could win and die, beat God at its own game.  Or I could trust in God that I was meant for something.  That this was a test of some sort.  I took a deep breath, clenched both my fists, one around the pills, the other empty, and with tears in my eyes I whispered to the energy around me, “You love me.  YOU love me.  You’re fighting for me.  I promise I won’t take my life.  I swear to you I will not take my life, but  please, please, make this better, please.  If you make this better I won’t kill myself.”

A leap of faith.  As Kierkegaard had put it, a “Theological Suspension of the Ethical”.  I put my hand out to something.  At this point, I didn’t know what.  Just something.  Something that had kept me alive all this time.  Something that refused to give up on me.  Something wasn’t LETTING me die.  I felt loved.  It had been a long time since I had felt love.  Especially the love I felt at that moment.

But the pink cloud  doesn’t stay.  Life doesn’t work like a fairy tale.  And my soul came crashing back down to my body eventually.   Only this time I had no escape plan.   

I clung to the hope I felt that night I tried to die.  I clung to that desperate will to live for something.  And as each empty day passed, as each challenge rose and fell, I started to question what I did.  What had I trusted? Why? What life was this?

I put my faith and belief in… what? Was it just my own human will not to die? My mind? I started questioning everything I learned.  I still wouldn’t break that promise I made to it, but I was beginning to think it was some sick joke all over again.

Days of desperation turned into weeks, into months, into years of waiting.  What was my purpose? Why was I alive? What was I meant to do?

Any hope withered as no answers came to the questions.  Every route I tried to get out of this despair left me at a dead end, circled me back to the same dark place I was.  I lived like a ghost.  There was no anger at this point.  There wasn’t anything, it was all a void.  I didn’t even think I was worth the trouble to die.  Yeah, there is a beyond to suicidal depression.  Being so depressed you don’t even deserve to die.  

 Months passed.  The world swallowed in darkness around me.

“I can’t go on like this anymore.  I need you to hold your end of the bargain or I’m going to die.  I don’t know what to do, God.  I will break my promise if you don’t help me. “

Deep black misery coated my consciousness

“I can’t do this any longer.  I give myself to you.  I said I won’t kill this body and I won’t, God.  But I am already dead in spirit.  So I will wait for you to take my body from my soul.

 “Oh God, oh God, why have you forsaken me?”

And then everything shut down…

…And I Broke

Not a break, not a snap

But a shatter.

A shatter of shards around me.


Was a mind once


Now it lay in prickly pieces

A painful process of peculiar patterns

Possibly never pasting right.


And it hurts

Apparently a day went by.  My body did stuff, disconnected to me.  I have flashes, disconnected clumps of time.  I apparently did a lot that day, but I have no memory of any of it.  Just brief attempts of my mind attempting to gain back control of reality, to fall back into the obscure safety of the subconscious.  

My understanding, from what I have pieced together from those around me, is that my anger boiled over into something I could no longer control.  The bleak sadness just put me to sleep.  I really did become a ghost.  Dead, with just an energetic body moving, talking, pretending among the conscious.  

God had given me what I wanted most in those years I waited.  Something I was trying to will into truth.  I was beyond wanting to die.  I wanted to cease existing.  I wasn’t worth the trouble, the misery death would cause.   And for a day my soul did just that, ceased. Leaving nothing but the shell, an angry energy disjointedly hung in the present.  

A reprieve.  

When I awoke from this trance, this break, I lost everything.  Independence, autonomy, freedom.  I woke up where most do when faced in a psychological break, a state mental asylum.  Hidden from society like a thrown away piece of meat past its use, as if I might poison those I meet.

I was told by anyone who mattered that I didn’t belong there.  I wasn’t them.  I had a psychological breakdown brought on by depression, environment, drug addiction by myself and those around me, and a complete injustice done to me by the mental health system.  “A Disassociative Fugue.” Where most people are swallowed by that hell for their eternal lives, doctors in the hospital with the help of an outside organization rescued me.  

But I sat in hell for three long months.  A place where the criminally insane, homeless, and hopeless cases of mental incapacity come to rest.  It was violent, scary, and unpredictable.  Some of the staff might have well been patients, some of the patients would have made much better staff.  It had it’s terrorizing moments, and some of the most beautiful acts of humanity and friendship I’ve ever had.  But throughout all of it, I hung on to my hope.  This serene promise that had been made.

Dante had to go through every circle of hell before reaching paradise.  This was my final circle before reaching life again.  I spent my whole life trying to find God.  I yelled at it at age 7 to show itself or I would not believe.  In fifth and sixth grade I was angry at it for not doing what I wanted.  In high school I had such a traumatic fear of death and what happened afterwords that it would keep me up all night.  I read the history of God, religion, death, afterlife, to discover what it was all about to the times of man.  And there were so many Gods and religions to pick from I couldn’t chose.  Ever.  

I told you this started in college.  One of my more happy memories was when I was with a friend of mine in Lake George, NY.  The sky was gorgeous, and the night was clear.  We were having a great time as the sun set over the water.  And just as night fell into the sky, a star twinkled.  And yeah, I’ll admit, I thought of the little children’s poem.  So, I made a wish.  I wished to be happy.  And something instinctively struck me.  Like time stopped for a second.  A thought whispered, “What would make you happy?” I remember really considering this question.  Maybe even to the point my friend thought it was a bit weird.  And I thought about what was going on at the time: my sister’s addiction, my mother’s disability, my father’s isolation, my friends moving on, college life ending, jobs, careers, the start of adulthood and responsibility  and the fear such a transition involves.  I thought hard, and looked back up at the single star and I said quietly to the night air, “I want to know God.  That will make me happy for the rest of my life.”

In the end, what I should have known at the beginning, is that this isn’t going to change.  I can’t change people.  They are who they are.  And I am me.  I can only speak for me.  This was my journey, with all the wrong decisions.  But, I learned.  I learned about me and about others.  I learned about people and life.  I learned mistake are just that, mistakes.  They can be fixed, and we can move on.

I opened this by stating that I don’t want to prove to you God exists.  I just knew I could not exist for me.  I had to reach out to something intangible.  And whatever that was saved me.  So I believe.  It is part of my journey for survival.  If I didn’t, I’d be dead.  You wouldn’t be reading this.  I wouldn’t exist in this moment.

And in my spiritual quest, I got my wish.  I got what would make me happy.  And I’m a better person for it.  So, I alone, have to believe.  I owe my life to it.

Whatever “It” is.

The Thanksgiving Curse

I’m beginning to think Thanksgiving is a cursed holiday for my family.  The earliest Thanksgivings I remember were great, sure.  Snow, sledding, learning to cook the meal.  The tradition passing down from my mother to my sister and me.

And I remember the first Thanksgiving it all went wrong.  Just, everything, went wrong.  My sister was back home without her husband, it was the first Thanksgiving without her boyfriend- turned- fiance- turned-husband around in a long time.  Wow, since High School for me I think.  And I was in College now.

I just remember no one was happy.  My sister was sleeping against the wall of our eat in kitchen, occasionally waking up to eat before slumping back down again.  My mother had enough at this point.  She cooked all day, really hard, and no one was eating her food and she pointed to my sister and said, “and you won’t even wake up.”  

And yeah, she didn’t.  So my mom went to vent her frustrations outside and I ran after her.  My mother demanded a cigarette out of me.  I had never seen her smoke, but I knew she did before she had kids.  Out of shock, or just dumbed silence, I gave one to her, with a light.  And we smoked.

And that was the Thanksgiving that started our curse.  Where it picked up.  Every year after that, Thanksgiving is one of the worst holidays our family has suffered through time and time again.  The year after the Thanksgiving I just described we had invited friends over.  It was kind of fun, and most definitely awkward as my sister had holed herself up in the basement and refused to even greet them, more or less partake in festivities, cooking, and dinner.

 

Each Thanksgiving followed one from the next.  Some small inconveniences to major catastrophes always  kept Thanksgiving lively for us.  There was one year when our oven only cooked ½ the turkey.  No, literally, one side of the oven had stopped working and our turkey, therefore, sort of melded between completely done to still defrosting.  But, that was better than when the entire oven caught on fire so I guess one can’t be too picky.  Illnesses sometimes cancelled the Thanksgiving holiday, or a death of a pet.

I’m beginning to see a pattern here.  Maybe a curse? I’m Italian, was one of my original ancestors somehow involved in the “first” Thanksgiving? I mean, the real thing, not the happy one they taught us in school.  Perhaps it picks up when adulthood hits, as, no one wants to punish children, right?  Some kind of Karma from the sins of the… Eh, just something I think about.  There certainly is a pattern I see, but probably reading way too much into.  

But, I have come to determine, this year, we have a cursed holiday.  So let’s rejoice in our curse, celebrate the holiday we know will fall apart, and laugh as we make memories.  And let this be a start to the tally of many Thanksgivings down the line, to watch the curse continue through the family. This is the start, the realization.  The documentation starts here.

I mean, everything stays on the internet and can be updated, right?

Thanksgiving 2016: Maggie dies on the eve of Thanksgiving.  The family has moved so has no money to celebrate.  The parents and one child stay in their new house, the other child is in her apartment, all mourning the loss of their beloved dog.  This is the second thanksgiving they didn’t celebrate together as a family.

Thanksgiving 2017: Not bad. Does a realization of a curse and calling it out somehow disipate power? So much my yearly documentation for generations. Maybe that’s the curse: haha, we decided to make you think you are crazy. So, with the typical “no shit” family quibbles, and the forgotten vanilla ice cream for our pie, all seems ok. We did have the defective turkey, as though the legs were prebroken tied only to the bird by the raw skin, and our accidental forgetting to remove the bacon, it still cooked and tasted fine. I hope it’s not extra for next year. Premptively, I see it as a good holiday. But extra fear for next year. We’ll try to be positive.

Hollywood has Taken the White House

How did Hillary Clinton lose to a Reality TV Personality for President of the United States?

It’s a question I see on every TV station I turn on.  How did she lose? What went wrong? And I’m sure all the political pundits and polls can show us exactly where and when and every media outlet will pick apart her campaign.  But the truth is, Hillary lost because no one ever wanted her to be nominated to begin with! So how do you win with a candidate that people told you, over and over again, that they didn’t want?

First of all, she tried to run already as the nominee, and lost to President Obama.  One might think that would be enough.  One might think that the people had stated their mind.  She had her chance, she was a great contender, but the people wanted one over the other and that was that.  She took her position as Secretary of State and would presumably go on into political history, much like what happens historically with other candidates that run and fail in the primaries.  

Except that didn’t happen.  

And here is where I, and most other Democrats, see the problem in the campaign.  Not the e-mail scandals (though, let’s face it, we have impeached presidents for much less), not because of her reputation in the White House or even the suspicious activity in her charity.  

She was promised to run in 2016.  And most of us Democrats agree that she was most likely guaranteed the nomination.  Now, of course, one could view this as simply a conspiracy theory, and frankly, it is.  But, it has merit.  Hear me out.

I’m sure everyone knows of Bill Clinton’s reputation in the White House, and some of us older voters even remember watching Bill Clinton publicly announce on television that he cheated on his wife, and lied about it.  And don’t tell me the thought did not cross your mind, as you watched Hillary stand by her husband and be supportive, that the support did not come with a price, or a promise, from the party.  Let’s face it, he was impeached, the first president to be so.  If she did not stay with him, he would have been thrown out of the White House before his term was over.  And even though the Republicans won the next election anyway, to have him step out of the White House would have been a gift to the Republican party.

It takes time to build a campaign of course, and, the fated first run came and went.  I don’t think she expected to lose to Obama, but as Obama gained in the primary polls, I remember the news stories.  I remember her conceding and giving her support to him.  I remember whoever the political names on CNN at that time were stating that she will accept the Secretary of State position, and run again in 2016.  I remember that.  Promised and slated.  She will run again.

Now, we can’t have her run against nobody in the primaries.  That would look strange, of course.  And would be perfect fodder for Republicans to use, a woman who is running only because she is promised, not because of the people.  So, who do they put against her that they figure is a guaranteed loss? As we go further and further broke as a country, the ever popular Libertarian ideals growing, and the already tense situation with Russia? A socialist seemed like a great idea to ensure Hillary’s nomination to the Democratic party.

And here is my conspiracy theory.  The people spoke, and the people wanted Sanders.  The democrats WANTED the Socialist,  and that wasn’t supposed to happen.  But here you have a woman who was promised the nomination twice.  And twice the nomination rejected? Yeah, I believe some underhanded dealing went down, and the primary was rigged in her favor, and Sanders was forced to step down.

Quite frankly, most Democratic voters I knew didn’t like Hillary all through the campaign.  I am a Democrat, and I did not want to vote for Hillary.  I did not wear the “I voted” sticker.  I was ashamed.  I was ashamed because I really believe that Hillary did not belong there to begin with.  That many underhanded dealings went behind that nomination.  And when people ask me who I voted for, I say I didn’t vote for a person, I voted for the party I agree with more.  Because quite frankly I think a reality TV personality and real estate mogul is the most laughable resume to have when applying to run a country.  But he won.  And he won because the Democrats refused to listen to what the public wanted.

The problem with Hillary’s campaign was Hillary.  We didn’t want her.  Not the first time, and not the second.  And because of some promise and underhanded dealings, Hollywood has taken over our presidency.  You know, Kim Kardashian once said she was the American equivalent of royalty.  And most of us laughed at how self delusional she was.  Who’s laughing now?

The American Dream

I was recently hanging around with some friends of mine, and we got on the topic of families. We were talking about our status in life, how we got where we are. Him, being a first generation of Chinese Immigrants, me being second generation, totally Americanized. We talked about politics, jobs, and somehow, as I stated, our families.

Inadvertently, I brought up my cousin. I say that because as he was talking about how his family became who they were in this country, the story reminded me so much of him. Not that my cousin immigrated here, but, just how in this country one can start with humble beginnings and become something great. As I reflected on the conversation I had with my friend, I remembered how much I admired my cousin, even growing up.

My cousin does not know I’m writing this, so obviously out of respect for his private life, I will leave some stuff out. I am also going to give him the random name of “Jim,” again, for his private life and his unknowingly becoming a subject of a blog. Also, typing “my cousin” over and over again not only will annoy me, but I am sure you, the reader, as well. Jim is significantly older than me, so I did have the opportunity to see him as an inspirational adult figure, and have much respect for how he got where he is. Even the friend I mentioned above, had great respect for a man who could come from so little, and gain so much.

I don’t know much about Jim as a very young child, as, I wasn’t born. I can’t comment too much on his socioeconomic status growing up either. He went to public school in New York City, lived somewhere in the 70s in Manhattan during the 1980s. I wouldn’t say he was poor, but from my understanding from my mother, money was tight. Then again, when isn’t it?

I wish I could say I remember Jim when he was a teen, but, for the most part, it seems all my memories are of him as an adult. Perhaps it was because I was so young, and me being so small that even a young, teenage Jim would tower above me much like the rest of the tree like people looking down.

But, I remember always loving Jim. Something in the way he perused what he wanted to do, an independent spirit, like my grandfather. Every year I saw him he was involved in a new interest or hobby, and good at it too. One year he charmed me with magic tricks, speaking of becoming a magician. The next year he wasn’t a magician anymore, but found a new passion. He kept going and going and following wherever his dreams took him. Eventually that spirit took him to computers, networking, coding, website design, and a bunch of technical words and terms that I don’t understand.

I get it, I get it. This is titled “The American Dream” and I’m talking about my cousin. I guess the point is, my cousin reminds me of what I actually love so much about this country. Here, a man from a modest beginning, dropping out of HS to follow where his heart leads him, and becoming one of the most successful people I know.

Oh, wait. I didn’t mention that? The man who followed his dreams and heart became so successful that he has a mansion in an exclusive neighborhood in New York state and married a beautiful woman who, for all intensive purposes, can trace her heritage to Romanian Royalty?

THAT, my friends, is America. That is what I told my friend, whose parents saw that when they came here. When people ask me what the “American dream” is, I bring up my cousin. Because, none of that is exaggerated. I love my cousin, and I love my country. It is why my grandparents immigrated here, and it is the dream. And if anyone doesn’t know what it means to live in America, just tell them this is the only country where you can grow up in a blue collar neighborhood, drop out of high school, follow your dreams, find your passion, become wealthy, and marry royalty.

Everyone’s American dream is different, everyone’s story is written differently. There is a lot going on in the political infrastructure of America right now that makes me unsure of where my country is going. It may have always been this way. I just want to say right now, no matter where you stand, left or right, pro or con, black or white, religion or not…

This is a great country. We have great opportunity. Let’s not forget what we are all about.

Resolutions?

Am I the only one who doesn’t believe in making New Year’s resolutions? I just think it is such an exciting time, and we are so full of hope, we often, in the moment, commit to changes we aren’t really ready to make. Two weeks later, we realize our lofty goals, and then sometimes just give up entirely. The motivation we felt when everything was fresh, exciting, and in the moment with friends is gone, and reality sets in.

Some one once told me of this old Celtic ritual, the Shamanic Fire Ceremony. According to her, this ceremony was often done in Spring, after the harsh winter when life was born and beginning a new. Makes sense, as the Celtics didn’t follow our modern calendar creations.  Their passing of time and years centered around the harvests.  Spring indicating that the old is dead and gone, and life is starting once again. For them, it was a new year, time to replant, re-spawn, and whatever else they wanted to do. The fire ceremony was often done during the May Day festivals.

Our modern calendar is not so much correlated around the solstices as they were in the days of antiquity. So, I incorporated the Shamanic Fire Ceremony as my New Years tradition.  For us modern folks, January 1, is the New Year, not the start of spring.

Anyway, it’s quite simple. I write down, draw, or create/find representations of the things I want to let go of in the New Year. They can be people, habits, beliefs, anything. Anything I don’t want to hang onto and plague my fresh start. Anything I want to let go of and change.

And one by one, I toss them in a fire, let them burn, release them out of my head, body, spirit, and into the world, into the ashes, to burn away and forever end. I think this is a better way to end the old year, and start the new one. Clean, fresh, and ready. Not demanding expectations we may not keep, or are not even remotely ready to commit to, but rather letting go of the things we want to be rid of. Getting ready to face the experiences of the new year by shedding and destroying the old skin.

Maybe next year you should try it too. It’s very liberating, and you don’t need a big pit. Heck, I do it with a candle over a bowl (just make sure you do have water handy) next to an open window, in my sink. You can do it before, or after the stroke of midnight, alone or with people. You can add a religious element to it, or you don’t. The ritual is entirely up to you, and it’s something everyone can do.

I recommend maybe next year trying this. Sure, you can still make your resolutions. Maybe add this to your ritual, or maybe make it your only ritual. It’s your choice.

As for me, I’m happy a new year has started, and look forward to all it brings.  I’ve shed what I hope to get rid of, and start off fresh faced.

The Stages of Drivers

0-1 years old

What are you doing? What is this? I was sleeping, in my crib, and now you dolled me all up in this… stuff… and.

What is that? It’s a seat.  You got me out of my bed and changed all my clothes to put me back in a seat? WITH BUCKLES?

Where are we going? This isn’t my house.  Where are you putting me? Great, more buckles? And what am I looking at? A seat? Another seat? Some gray blob? Great.  And a big noise, what was that big noise? Wahhhh… big scary noise and I can’t see mommy.

Wait, are we moving? I can’t SEE anything!!

WAAHHH.  This is awful.  The movement is making my chair rock.  It feels so rhythmical.  And it’s boring looking at this overstuffed chair, from my own chair.  Tied into my own chair, so… safe… and……. warm….. and…. rocking…. and……zzzzzzzzzzzzzz

2-4 years old

Oh, I get to sit in the car!! The car!! A ride!! Weee!!! I get to go to the store with mommy.  I love going to the store with mommy.  All my toys, maybe I can throw them at mommy.  Mommy.  Mommy get off the phone, I’m trying to play with you!! I will just… Oh mommythatdogisbrowndidyouknowsomedogsarebrownjohnninclasssaidtheteacherhasabrowndogjohnisfunnydidyouwanttohearasecrettheteachersaid…………..

5-10 years old

NO! I’m a big kid now! I WILL NOT SIT IN THAT BOOSTER SEAT.  If you try, I will make your life hell!! NO.

Mommy, I have to pee.  I know you said to go before we left, but I have to pee NNNOOOOWWWWW.

Mommy, I’m thirsty.

Are we there yet?

Mommy, I’m hungry.

Mommy, Baby Hippo is thirsty.  And she has to pee.

Are we there yet?

Mommy, Chris is touching me.  Make Chris not touch me.  MOMMY, HE’S LOOKING AT ME!! He wont’ stay on his side.  Make him STTTOOOOOPPPPP.

Oh, a toy store.  Mommy, can we go to the store? Mommy, why are you going soooo sllllooooooooowwwww. Are we there yet?

What does that sign mean? What is that lady doing? Are we there yet?

I’m bored.  Are we there yet? Let’s sing a song.  Are we there yet? I’m bored.

11-13 years old

I want to sit up front!! Why does Chris always get to sit up front?? I don’t care that he is older, why does he get to sit up front? Ugh, this is so unfair!

Turn on the radio.  No, I don’t like this song.  Not this song either.  Moooommmm, I don’t care that you like this song, I like this song.  NOOOOO CHRIS.  MOM, tell Chris he has to share the radio.

Can you turn it up? PLEASE MOM, just a LITTLE LOUDER?

Dad lets me play it as loud as I want.  And he lets me sit up front!!! Why can’t I sit up front, I’m not a baby, I want to sit up front!

13-16 years old

Sit in front? Then some one might SEE me with you!! I don’t want people to think we are on speaking terms.  It’s not cool mom.  But, you can drive us to the mall on Saturday?  And we have a game on Sunday and you are taking me Chrissy and Jenny.  But first we need to go to Jenny’s aunt’s house cause she has her cleats or whatever.  Okay?

No, I am not sitting in front, this car is embarrassing.  You know, just drop me off a block away from the school so people don’t know I’m related to you, or would come out of something as horrible as THIS car.

16-18 years old

I GOT MY LICENCE!! Mom, you don’t need to take me anywhere anymore.  You just need to get me a car!! Oh, let me tell all my friends and we can go out and pick them up.

Yes mom, I”M driving.  No one else is driving your precious car mom, I promise.  Only me.  But I need to borrow it again tomorrow night.

But I don’t like my car, you’ve got the better car!

VRRROOOOOOOMMMM.  Come on teachers, there was traffic or what not.  Dunkin Donuts cup? Well, yeah, I went for coffee.  Cause that’s what we do in the morning, we are adults.  I have proof, I have a licence.

VRRROOOOOOMMMM.  OMG this person is going so slow!!! Come on!! <BEEEP> Is that Tom? Tom is so cute.  Let me wave to him.

OMG old lady.  MOVE IT <BEEP>

No one can tell me to turn the radio down anymore.  I can listen to it as loud as I want.  Everyone wants to listen.

VRRROOOOOMMMM

Is this person seriously doing the speed limit?? Speed limit is for pussies.  MOVE IT <beeeeeeeeeeeeeeep>

Stupid cops.  Don’t like me cause I’m a teen.  Always pulling me over for nothing.

19-24

Got to get to class.  Come on.  LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING ONLY AND YOU ARE GOING TO SLOW TO BE IN THE LEFT LANE ASSHOLE!! <<<BEEEP>>>

I have the right of way.  What are you doing, are you BLIND? Seriously, what an asshole!

Did you just cut me off.  Well, fine, I’ll cut you off, see how you like it.

VVVVVVVRRRRRRRRRROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOMMMMMMMMMMMMM

<BOOM BOOM BOOM> AWESOME NEW SOUND SYSTEM GUYS.  NOW EVERYONE CAN HEAR OUR SICK BEATS? WHAT? I CAN’T HEAR YOU!

Jeez, OLD LADY.  MOVE IT.  Can’t even see over your effing mirror.  People shouldn’t be allowed to drive. AT LEAST PULL OVER AND LET US PASS.  For chrissake DO THE SPEED LIMIT. AT LEAST DO THE SPEED LIMIT.

God… another ticket???  WTF!!! I had to go to class!!! They need to make parking so we can get to class.  God, thank god for that party tonight.  I need some relaxing.

“Yeha I cn drive.  Just a lit-tl buzzie.  I good drunk drive swear to drunk.”

Ohhhh… I’ve never seen the backseat from this position before……

25-30

Okay.  My little snuggins all in tight? Here we go.

Why are you crying? Stop crying!!! OMG, please stop crying. I’m not having anymore kids.  No, can’t do this.

What is with that maniac on the road? Don’t these kids know people have KIDS in the car.

Well, Johnny, leave your sister alone! I know she’s crying, but poking her won’t help.  No, you can’t go to the bathroom.  You just went to the bathroom! We are NOT stopping at McDonalds.

30-40

Ugh.  Traffic.  Why is my whole day nothing but sitting in traffic.  And what is this crap on the radio? OMG, don’t they play anything good anymore?

Keep that up back there and I will turn this car around and we will go home.  So help me…

No, we aren’t there yet.  Stop asking.

John, stop touching your sister.

Turn that radio down.  I can’t think with that crap blaring at me.

40-45

Do I look like your damned chauffeur? Get in the car.  IN THE FRONT! I am not driving you around in the backseat.

No, my car is fine, you don’t need to get out a mile away from the school.  God, you’re so dramatic.  And I’m your mother, not your chauffeur, and you can sit in here and have a decent conversation with…. WHAT DID I TELL YOU ABOUT TURNING UP THAT RADIO.

OMG, these kids drive so crazy.  What is the hurry?

45-55

No, you can’t borrow my car.  You have a car.  I don’t care if it doesn’t go fast and the radio doesn’t work.  What do you need the radio for? You need to DRIVE not listen to that… JUNK.

Come on, get out of the left lane.  I have to get to work.  BEEP.  Oh my god, why is this guy just pumping music next to me? Does he really think we ALL need to hear his crappy song?

That guy just cut me off.  Why did he cut me off? And why is he giving me the finger?

55-65

Oh God, this grandma can’t be driving can she? I’m stuck behind her.  Great.  She can’t even walk.  I watched her NOT walk to her car.  She can’t see over the wheel.  These people shouldn’t be allowed to drive.

Jeeze, have these kids ever heard of a speed limit? Why are you wizzing by me at 40? It’s 25.  Where is a cop when you need one?

Oh, my favorite morning talk show is on.  I like this nice leisurely drive to work.  Come on buddy, I know it’s the right lane, but seriously, 65.  <sigh> Fine.  I’ll pass you.  You gave me no choice.

65-75

Oh, the highway is just too fast for me.  I like the streets.  I get too nervous driving at such high speeds.

Oh, I have to take the highway.  I’ll just stay to the right and do what is comfortable for me.  Okay, we are approaching.  Oh, let me just stop and wait for traffic to go by before I merge.

Oh, I hate driving at night.  I just can’t see as well.  Oh, this darn guy behind me.  What’s the rush, I can’t see!! Flashing and beeping don’t help.  Pass me.

Good.  I think I got his plates.  “Hello, police.”

75-up

Driving is my privilege, and no one can take it from me.  Why is this kid on my butt? What is the rush? 35 is the MAXIMUM you can go.  Some of us just don’t like to go that fast and you will have to wait.

Oh, my favorite commentator from NPR.  I love this guy! You get ’em.

Why is that young jerk giving me the finger? 35 year old boy thinks he’s a somebody.  Some big shot in a rush.  Should know better.  And look, he has kids in the car.  Shouldn’t let these idiots on the highway.  Fine, I’ll move over a lane.  Happy?

WOW.  Look at that little kid go.  Shouldn’t give out licences until you are at least 25.   I DON’T CARE THAT THE SPEED LIMIT IS 35.  I can barely see the signs! Should make them bigger.  Doesn’t give that young kid.. kid I tell you.  A teen! The right to pass me like that.  I’m doing 20! That’s fast enough.  Back in my day…

Odd Answers to Government Surveys

I kind of like the company I work for.  It’s perfect for a person doing what I need to do.  Boring, tedious, but they make it fun.  I do government surveys: health, political, or sometimes for a college or other non-profit.

So, while these survey’s are on telephones (and most people hang up on me), I’m not telemarketing.  I’m doing work for legit. causes.   Things that will possibly make this place better.  SO FILL IT OUT PEOPLE, THIS IS IMPORTANT!!! (You’d be surprised at how many people curse me out).

I love doing political surveys (we don’t call within our state, because we may bias the survey, so we have no stake in the issue).  They give me a good, overall, mindset of people.  Plus, of all the survey’s we do, those are the ones that allow us to have a say in their government.

And I get hung up more on by those, then anybody.  And then I hear complaints, “Well, if anyone ever asked me, I would tell them to do this….”  Well, we are calling, and you are hanging up on us.

Anyway, the high folks give the funniest answers.  Usually, they give the answer to the question you asked 4 questions ago, not to the question you are on now.  The drunks just talk.  Talk and talk.  And you have to guide them back to the survey, as much as you want to hear all about how much the question reminds them of some story as to why they think that way.

But hey, they are answering the questions, (and thus, influencing politics) and I am really patient.

Then…. the weirdos….

I divide this into three kinds.

1- The perverted:

Somehow they confuse a government survey with a sex line or dating service.

2- The “Oh my god I can’t believe s/he just said that” guy/girl:

These people have answers that are so out there, (for those of you that get this reference: Think “Deliverance”), they are either messing with you, or you really wonder if Deliverance still exists.

3- HUH?

More on these in a minute.

So, the perverted.  That needs no examples.  You can imagine them on your own.

So, the guy I chose to represent the (2) “Did s/he just say that????” category comes to us from a state I won’t reveal, on a subject and reason I will not share with you.

On a topic about education, I person told told me s/he thought one of the problems wrong with schools was, “the fact we don’t beat the kids enough.” Because, sure, nothing fixes a problem by just beating everybody into making it better.  😕

Amazingly, I’m able to keep a calm tone.  I record their answers as they say them.  Because, s/he’s the only one that hasn’t hung up on me in two hours, and s/he’s taking the survey.  It’s his/her right, and your’s.  And… yet YOU have probably just yelled at me and hung up.

Anyway, I record their answers, as they give them, whether I think they are wrong or just stupid, I put it down w/o influence.  Because I think it is their opinion, and they have a right to express it without judgement when asked.  Technically, just because I may not agree, doesn’t make it less valid.  Facts and opinions are two different ballgames.

Then there is (3).  The “Mother Ship has landed people”.  The one’s I promised you.

I’m going to give you two examples in this.  Because this one person gets the cake for a refusal to take the survey.    I think s/he was messing with me, or possibly “on” something, (sigh) at least I’d hope it’s one of those two.

When asked if s/he would like to participate, the answer was, “No, I’m not home right now.  I’m a figment of your imagination.” and hung up.

Now, I’m really patient.  Those are normal.  People find interesting ways not to participate.  And even the perverts and the foot-in-mouth diseased Americans, with patience, and anonymity, you learn to bounce it off you and get through the survey.  Even if it takes a little longer.  Because… they…. are….. taking…. it…..

Did I mention that these survey’s are important, and yet you are hanging up on us?? And THESE people are answering!!!

So, okay.  This example is from a health survey.  I think I can say that without trouble.  And just to stop having to type “his/her” and “s/he”, we are going to assume this is a male.  That does not mean he was, and it doesn’t mean he wasn’t.

That was the first time my indifference waivered.  This guy was one of those people you knew were completely serious, and the more you spoke to him, the more you realized that even Mother Ship rejected him.  The more I tried to keep him on the survey, the more “creative liberty” he took in his interpretation and ideas.  He never crossed the line, and it wasn’t my patience faltering.   I just couldn’t do anything with him.  I tried.  But, I had to let him go.  When asked an insurance question he told me (paraphrasing) his insurance is of the godly kind, where none is needed.  “Because God is my insurance,”  Yeah, okay, time for you go to go now.  I politely stepped out, as his answers were so obscure at this point I couldn’t.  But, later on, when I got home, I thought… well…. he has a point.

NO NO NO… STAY with me here.

There is a Buddist saying that says “There is a fine line between pure enlightenment and mental retardation.”  (C/P one of the 200 names from Google search here)  So, the statement, “God is my insurance.”  Genius or insane? I think it is a valid point, comes from a very obscure reasoning, but, the point is valid.

Okay, throw god out of your head for this.  WHATEVER “this” is, (God, Jesus, nature, energy, Allah, Buddha, health, unity, science, laws, circle of life, whatever you Scientology people do (some alien guy, right?) and whatever other form/name/power/label you want to put here that I didn’t mention) it is a form of insurance.

Okay, too genius to answer on a basic level, and too….. whatever he was dealing with that made him, “off”…… to realize at some point “god” and “money” don’t collide when it comes to the science you have available to save your life.

But maybe ignorance IS bliss.  Maybe not knowing any better, and the knowledge of nothing but peace from the idea of, essentially, something makes us alive, and something makes us dead.  Money can reverse the suffering, for a time.

Of course, it will lead to unnecessary problems of diseases, and needless, needless suffering that doesn’t NEED to happen.  (We used to rely on only God.  That was when the Black Plague was around).  And, money force doctors to put the bottom line over human life.  Because the oath is noble.  The mortgage, kids, student loans, and kid’s college fund doesn’t give a s*** about your oath, and, in this economy, you HAVE a job.

I wanted to reply to him, “But God gave you the way to pay, to offer people the gifts of healing.”

But I had to be indifferent on the survey.  I had to let him go.  He was suffering needlessly, and maybe one day will read this before it’s too late.

Odd answers to a survey.  And these are the people who take it.  There are more wierdo’s then actual answers.  SO STOP CURSING ME OUT AND TAKE THE STUPID SURVEY!!

Conversation of a Drunk

Setting: Outpatient Rehab Center

Al: I went out and drank last night.  I didn’t mean too.  I love karaoke, and the only place they have it is in the bar.  I love going.  I know I can’t drink, but before I walk in I pray.

Eb: Pray for what, exactly?

Al: That God will remove the temptation to drink while I’m in the bar.

Eb: And he doesn’t?

Al: No.  Everyone is drinking.  My friends, the people I go with, the people in the bar, it’s too much.  So I wind up drinking too.

Eb: So why do you walk into the bar?

Al: I like karaoke.  I shouldn’t have to give up something I love just because I can’t drink.

Eb: So what do you do to prevent yourself from drinking?

Al: I pray.  There’s a passage in the Bible that God will remove all temptations if you pray for him too.  I don’t know what I’m doing to prevent him from working.

Eb: You’re walking into a bar.

Al: But I pray before I go in.

Eb: But, it’s not working.  Time to try something else.

Al: Well, I guess I could pray harder.

Eb: Or you can NOT walk into a bar.

Al: But then I can’t have fun.  God should remove the temptation to drink.  I keep praying.  I pray harder.

Eb: <sigh> Are you Catholic? Or some derivative, like Protestant, Methodist.  You’re not Jehovah Witness, Baptist, Born Again, Calvinism are you?   You quote the Bible, so I know your not Islamic, Muslim, or anything like that.  <eyes the room of people> There’s a reason I’m asking.

Al: I’m Catholic.  Proud Catholic.  And I know I have to pray.  I have to pray harder.

Eb: I believe you walk into the bar without the intention to drink.  I believe you pray to God to help before you walk in.  I believe you.  I believe God answers all prayers.  He does.  But sometimes the answer isn’t what we want to hear, or how we want to hear it.

Despite the fact you drank last night, you came here.  You drink every night, but something compels you to get up, come here, and open your mouth and tell us you drank.  Some people, when they get hungover, won’t get out of bed.  Or they’ll come and lie because they don’t want to change.  Something compels you to come here everyday.  And everyday you say the same thing.  And everyday we tell you not to go into the bar.

God is giving you the answer to your prayers.  Just not the answer you want or the way you want to hear it.  He’s telling you, through us, through this support group, NOT to walk into the bar.

Al: But why doesn’t he do anything while I’m in the bar.

Eb: Because that’s the answer YOU want, not the answer you NEED from God.  I asked what religion you were for a reason.  Do you think Jesus WANTED to die that horrible, horrible, horrible death? In the end, he even asked God, why are you doing this to me.  Why have you left me? But, for salvation, that’s what NEEDED to be done.  He had to take on all the sins, suffer for them, and die in the pain of them, for us to have salvation.

Even Judas didn’t WANT to turn Jesus in.  He killed himself, remember.  He didn’t WANT to do it, but he NEEDED to.

You don’t want to drink when you walk into a bar.  But for now, you do.  What you NEED is to not walk into the bar.  The harder you pray, the louder we get, did you notice that?

Al: So I can’t ever sing my karaoke again? I love my karaoke.  And they only have it at that bar.  They don’t have it anywhere else, I swear.  I looked.  I want to sing, I want to have fun.

Eb: No one said it’s forever.  Until you build up the resistance to the temptation you need to walk into the bar and not drink, you need to avoid going in there.  Have karaoke at home.  Right now, in this moment, God is answering you.  He’s telling you that you need to NOT walk into a bar.  It will work itself out eventually Al.  But right now, no bar.

Now that we got religion out of the way, because it’s hard to defeat religious principal, I feel I can say what I really want to say safely.  Religion has a place, it’s a philosophy, way of life, common interpretation of whatever God really is.

But do you see the insanity of this? Insanity is doing the same thing, over and over, and expecting a different result.  You walk into a bar, pray not to drink, but wind up drinking.  You do the same thing the next day.  The next.  Just praying for the removal isn’t working.  At some point you have to make a change.  At some point you have break the cycle.  Praying harder is not change.  You’ve been doing this for months now.  Prayer alone isn’t working.  It’s time to change the strategy here.

And maybe God is telling me to tell you that.

It’s Impossible NOT to Pay For Candy Crush

At first, I never wanted to try the game.  I’m a little late coming in, I know.  But I would watch the annoying screen shots, see the commercials, and get initiated by Facebook ads every time my friends joined, leveled up, or wanted to bug me to give them some bonus for a game I didn’t have.  I got about 20 alerts from friends A DAY just to play this game.  And just watching the ads gave me a sugar high.  I refused.

Then, one day, I was bored.  I wanted to see what this was all about.  Now I’m a Candy Crush addict.  What I didn’t know at the time of joining that this “free” game is impossible to stay “free.”  I thought I could do it.  I mean, on principal, I feel if you pay for a game just once, that’s fine.  You own it, it’s yours, entirely.  But this idea just to pay for bonuses, bombs, cheats, etc… to me it’s just stupid.  I mean, sure, sometimes you have to give money to make money.  But I’m not making money, I’m matching candy.  I figured I was on to them.  I was going to play this game without ever having to spend a dime.  It was my mission.  I wasn’t going to pay a single cent.  Because I figured once I started paying, I would never stop.

I played for hours, weeks, maybe a month.  Patiently going through lives and doing every free way to earn bonuses, lives, candy, bombs, and whatever other fun shaped sugar high colors they gave me.  I never bothered a friend for anything, never paid a cent.  I made it through whole worlds.  I thought I was smarter than they were.  I found the glitch.  Patience, not payment.

Yeah, well, they designed for people like me too.  I got to some point in the game where you had to “buy” a ticket on a helicopter to take you to the next world to continue.   This was the second time I reached such a place, but the first time all I had to patiently do was wait the next day to board… I think it was a bus.  So, I turned off my game <gasp> and waited patiently for the game to reload my lives and cross over in 24 hours.

Only it didn’t.  In insisted I either pay for my ticket, or bother friends for one.  I refused to pay.  I thought about asking friends, but Candy Crush kindly reminded me that I only use Facebook for product coupons and discounts by liking pages.  And since I didn’t want to invite friends to a page solely dedicated to corporations that talked to one another offering more free discounts if they signed up as friends, according to Facebook and Candy Crush, I am friendless :/

I admit, it’s a little embarrassing that the people who make Candy Crush think I’m a cheap friendless loser.  However, they are kindly willing to exploit that friendlessness by now offering me no choice but to find SOME friend, or pay to continue to play.

Of course, I have friends who have Facebook.  It’s just not an app I find particularly useful in my life right now.  Okay, I think Facebook is down right stupid, old, and a bunch of trolls, catfish, and invites from people I don’t know and old friends that upon reconnecting… I find out all the reasons I STOPPED talking to them IN THE FIRST PLACE.  Not to mention the merit of Facebook is based on exactly how many friends you have, and since I’m not inclined to be friends with strangers who could be a myriad of any person in history besides the person they really are, I tend to only be friends with REAL people.  Meaning, people I’ve met and spoken to at points in my life.  That doesn’t give me a huge total.  Then, some one who saw that small total said, “Well, it makes you look like a catfish.  Unless you have thousands of “friends” people think it’s bogus.” So, being my own self makes me bogus.  So, Facebook went to coupons, likes, and anything else that could get me 20% off + free shipping.

Now, I could create a Candy Crush Friends Facebook page if I really wanted too.  Sure.  That’s the beauty of Facebook.  But, when calling in favors of good friends who really want to help you out, Candy Crush is really the least thing I would want to bother my friends about.  And Candy Crush bothered me all the time (see, 20 plus posts per day per friend that posts).  So, I’m a good enough friend to know that when I need a favor, I better make it good.  And my request for a ticket, candy bomb, or other sugar crusted cartoon treat, is not exactly the favor I have in mind when it comes to getting things I need in life.

Unfortunately, I think I’m addicted.  I close my eyes and see the little candy colors.  I almost cried when I had to uninstall the game because without a ticket, my Candy Crush dreams of finally seeing if there is, indeed, an end to the game were ruined.  I want to play.  I tried Candy Crush Soda, but I can’t stand it.  The little bottles are too hard to see, the concept of the game is lost.  Too much going on for a game I want to relax and think just enough through, but not strategize how the soda effects what direction the candy falls from and how it will impact the next 20 moves.  And, by the time I figure it out, I’m out of lives.  At least on Candy Crush, I had the chance to play and it was fun.

So, I’m writing this in what feels like real Sugar Crush Withdrawal.  I may need rehab, or some kind of 12 step meeting.  I have downloaded the game twice again so far just to see if it would give me another life by patiently waiting for it.

I guess it would be easier to go out and find a life.  Or just pay the .99 cents for a ticket.  But, I found in the play store, if I click “Find similar apps” there are a whole bunch of other rip offs, just like Candy Crush.  Of course, just like Candy Crush they want your money, your friends, and whatever else they can exploit to keep you paying for your addiction.  Like any drug dealer, there’s always another one down the street willing to take your life away.  But at least it can keep me playing a game, although slightly different.  It FEELS like a different Candy Crush level at least.  Hopefully I’ll get bored of this addiction, and move onto something else all together.  In the meantime, writing this has taken me away from my new addiction: Ice Crush.  I must get back to that now, I think my lives have refilled.