Journey

We had our minivan for 2 years. When we first got it, it was perfect for our family with two itty bitty kiddies and all their gear.  Even though I had some post purchase guilt (I don't deserve anything nice!), I liked my new ride right off the get-go and felt quite happy with it even though there are certain stereotypical views that go along with minivans.  I gave the middle finger extended from a tattooed arm to all the stereotypes and drove that van with pride.  Ok maybe not exactly pride, but at least with some indifference to any negative opionions.

But two years after buying it we now have a toddler and a preschooler. I no longer require the space needed to accommodate rear facing car seats, a double stroller, bouncy chair, a baby swing, and two full sized diaper bags loaded with diapers, wipes, 6 changes of clothes and enough stored breast milk to supply a 3rd world country with enough milk to not only supplement their infants but their young livestock as well.

Over the past few months I’ve been considering the fact that our mini-van no longer suits our needs. Or rather, it is serious overkill for our needs. Not to mention the cost of fuel to run it being not so economical.  Also, it was getting to that stage in a vehicle’s life where more things go wrong and less things are covered by warranty. In my eyes it was time to make some sort of a change.

So I planted a little seed. Mentioned my feelings a few times to Steve.  He was reluctant at first but eventually he came around to the same place that I was and we decided it was time to trade the van in on a smaller, more efficient, yet still family-friendly vehicle.

We are now the owners of a new Dodge Journey.


It took us a total of 4 hours from the time we arrived at the dealership until we drove away in the new vehicle.  In those 4 hours I started out really excited about it and by the end I was almost sick to my stomach, full of anxiety.  There were so many big decisions to make that involve a lot of money.  Financing things is stressful. There are so many options and additional packages thrown at someone buying a vehicle, it's hard to decide on the spot what you need and what you don't.  Everything sounds so necessary but adds cost to the monthly payments!  And I would hate to think that we might be "taken" for anything we didn't need. And then there was the the final "goodbye" to the minivan and unloading our belongings from it and then walking away.  How can I feel sentiment towards an inanimate object - it's a van for Christ sake! 

I was completely on edge after the Journey became ours.  I was upset and mad and ready to cry at the drop of a hat. (I don't deserve anything nice AND I probably screwed up SOMETHING involved in the purchase - maybe the whole thing was a bad idea??!! WHAT HAVE I DONE!?)

I didn't want to drive it once we had it home. I didn't want to show it to anyone because I'm embarrassed that we have this nice new thing and I would hate for people to think we're flaunting it or that we actually have the money to buy it. (Thank goodness for financing?)

That night I lay in my bed almost vibrating with anxiety, several hours after the fact, tossing and turning until I finally had to take an Ativan to help me fall asleep.

Who has this sort of reaction to getting a new car?  And when will I be able to enjoy it? There's no turning back now, can I please just have fun with it now? Why must I over-think everything until there is no fun left? This has to be the worst case of post purchase guilt ever.

Taking Chances & Skating' On THIN ICE, Ladies!


The US Woman's Soccer Team is playing N Korea in the Olympics this afternoon and in the 58th minute has a 1-0 lead. Frankly they look awful...they are not playing with any urgency and letting N Korea hang around is quite dangerous.....it is true they have already lock up a spot in the Semi-Finals but this team needs to go through this tournament like a raging bull and destroy  everyone they play. This is not good at all...they are setting themselves up with lackadaisical play just like in the World Cup, which they Lost, by the way by getting lazy and acting indifferent just like they are playing today!


I can't help but wonder how much of this is because of Hope Solo shooting her big MOUTH off on Twitter...one of the dumber (of several dumb) things she has done. Don't get me wrong, I love her as a player and competitor. I was a goal tender for a decade on my youth teams and worked my tail off to make all the available All Star (they equivalent of AAU Basketball Leagues for youth soccer back in the 1970's in Ohio). So I know she is a great player but she can also be a lousy, selfish teammate because she can't control her mouth. That draws attention to her and distracts her teammates/coaches from the task at hand: Winning the Gold Medal...


People on and around the team will say she is a great teammate, she is popular, well liked and she was defending a teammate while Tweeting. Yep...but by distracting everyone she is HURTING her team &therefore her teammates. I also believe everyone is too afraid  or intimidated of Miss Hot-Head to get in her grill and tell her to shove her phone in 'er YAP and SHUT-UP. ESPN reported this morning that the coach did not and was not going to ask her to stop tweeting...DUH, how gutless...and stupid.


The players/coaches will say after the game that this controversy had nothing to do with their ragged play and I'm calling BS on 'em because it obviously is the cause of some distraction. Last game they were Ultra-Focused and  today they collectively look like they would all rather still be at the Mall.


Hopefully they can pull out this win and move on from it but they still have to work this out.


The game ended 1 to Nil so they played like CRAP and won, which is what great teams do.          

50 beautiful wishes

there is nothing like a surprise party to make friends come together, laugh and celebrate. my friend kim celebrated her 50th this past weekend, with our bammie sisters during a 24 hour friend-fest only achievable thanks to her fantastic husband and kidlets, now in their last year of high school. the years slip away but frienships like this only get better over time. i love these ladies! the imagery won't win any awards, but i'm thankful for the ease and simplicity of the ipad camera. party hats by the uncompromising gina gabriell of Tangerine. 

isn't she cute?? that right there is my favorite librarian. ever.

Big BOOMERS, A THUNDEROUS WAKEUP-CALL


3AM This morning I was greeted by very high winds, thunder and lightening and a different sound that instantly had me really concerned: a loud cracking sound which sounded to me suspiciously like a torn boat cover snapping crazily in the high wind. Well that is exactly what it was...and it sounded like a cosmic whip cracking in the sky as if God wanted to take a moment to demonstrate his displeasure for this sick world we've created....Jerry Sandusky's and Aurora Movie Shooter, Thanks you Jack-Asses!


In a  brief 10 minutes the yard is covered in downed branches....at one moment those leafy beauties were falling like the rain itself!


Well that was my unique wake up call (I was already awake of course but it sounds more interesting then the actual TRUTH, eh) this morning, off to town for a little literature study with my buddy Dave...always one of my favorite 90 minute periods of each week.

Photo KT


A Bad Moon Rising



It has been a day where things have not gone smoothly at all, let's just put it that way. Even the most routine efforts have become tedious, bordering on the over-whelming. Common, everyday discussions at home became disagreements or arguments...I don't know, it just feels like a Bad Moon's A-Rising. Ever feel that way? Things just seem to be taking a more serious tack, a turn to the macabre...now they just seem to have a much harder edge to them today. Not sure why but it certainly does feel that way.                                     


Perhaps some of it is the heat. After a couple of days respite with cooler, breezier temps, it is heating back up and I for one am a bit cranky about it because I don't feel the greatest when it is hot and humid like this and I am struggling physically to keep up my typical fast & high energy pace. I just feel like something is about to "hit the fan" if you know what I mean. There is a bad spirit in the air or so it seems. Again we will have to see if it is real or just ME....


Maybe the Bad Moon stuff is just a figment of an over-active imagination...and maybe then it's totally REAL...I guess we'll just have to hang in and find out, huh?!




   

Nodding' Nonsense


I am once again in that terrible pattern of "nodding off' from exhaustion...usually when I am by myself and often when I am reading or writing a post for this blog. I wake up with the imprint of my keyboard on my forehead....


I am not getting enough sleep and I have tried everything...nothing is effective on a consistant basis. I used to take melotonin and that was working well but now it doesn't and I end up feeling dried out when I take it then end up not able to fall asleep. It is frustrating to say the least.


I have to end this post because it's taken me over half an hour to writ this...Good Night People


Photo:KT

A "Holy Cow!" Sunday


Holy Cow! Do I ever happen to have a major case of the Sunday afternoon "Sinking Spells" going on (that's what my grandma called those sudden periods of low energy)...I feel so freaking  lethargic right now....All I feel like doing is laying around or sleeping...perhaps sipping a large iced tea, haha. But in a way...that's what Sunday afternoon's are for, right?!


I will inject a thought and a memory in here right now. Last year about this time and on a similar kind of Sunday afternoon, K-Sue got herself baptized and it was really cool...I had gone and done the same thing 6 months before in the Spring. The reason I thought of it is that they are doing baptism's today at a church members house in their pool. Then everyone goes swimming which I find really cool.


I never thought I would be a "believer" in God but in all reality, I didn't really have anything to do with it...it just happened, no kidding it was just like that. It really just happened on it's own and honestly I couldn't be more grateful....

Photo:KT

Shred The Dread


Yea let's do it...let us chop into tiny little (figurative) pieces any semblance of a notion that one can coast through this life without giving it any thought or effort. No way that happens though people act as if they don't try and are just going through the motions. Even if they were able to succeed they would lose 'cause that is NO freaking way to live, period.


No this life can ONLY be deemed worthwhile if someone embraces it, lives it and even smothers themselves (I know a rather unfortunate use of the language where a former suicide attempt is involved) in it. You must jump in it with both feet and go all the way...half-assing it, well that won't cut it in this big bad world. Playing it "safe" will just get you hurt MORE in this scenario....I just believe that...I truly do.  Experience was a very good teacher in THIS regard!


The issue that was and potentially IS difficult for me is living the very FULLEST kind of life, pushing the envelope as it were for me, always...and I mean ALWAYS involved drink and  drugs. It couldn't be done sober as far as I knew...I didn't know how. Odd though...I have no physical craving today for booze, etc. But I can and sometime do have an intellectual craving for a drink...actually the craving isn't for a drink...nope, it's for OBLIVION. That ia the draw... OBLIVION, total chaos...pushing it until it cannot be pushed any more.


This illustrates my point...the neighbors a few houses down from us are having a huge, casual get together right now...dozens of adults with their children in tow have gathered, they are boating, throwing the all around listening to music, swimming, etc and drinking of course. I look at that and it looks fun. I do not automatically switch my mind over to what drinking realistically looks like for me. It has a darker, harder more sinister edge to it. It usually is invisible to others as well....meaning it would look like I am having a good time just like everyone else is but inside something completely else would be going on.


I drink like a forest fire burns... uncontrollably UNTIL it runs out of FUEL (booze). Except I would then pick my drunken ass up and move to another, untouched patch forest and start burning uncontrollably again. I suspect that when a true alcoholic gets a DUI...he is trying to do just that...move to another forest to keep the party "burning" awhile longer. Somehow in our minds we can't EVER let a good party  END...no way.


Not sure how to live life to the fullest SOBER but that has been what the last 6 years have been about...learning how to accomplish that and other tasks. And to a certain extent I have. It 'tis a work in progress, I shall admit and there are times that the "learning" is part of the adventure but there is some truth to the old adage that: "Adventures SUCK while you are having them" and that can be so true because learning to live w/out booze often feels like work (or punishment).


To find out how one's life changes in recovery and developing new routines and finding activities that don't include drink are an absolute necessity to having a successful life in recovery. I have seen far too many people stumble on this aspect of their sobriety. They either try and live their old lifestyle and just not drink (no chance this EVER works because they are way too miserable all the time, their love one's eventually are begging them to drink again!) or they just aren't willing to try new things and they start feeling sorry for themselves.


I think I was fortunate that things were SO BAD when I quit because I never honestly believed I would be able to drink again...I knew what I was so I never thought about it any other way...it was purely a matter of survival for me and it still is. And so far...one single day at a time that has been a successful formula for this alcoholic/addict.

My Best

It has always been my goal to try and be honest with myself about my writing here on Shell Shock Serenade...how good is the subject matter, how well written is it, how colorful, is it entertaining, informative, etc, etc. I like to think I do a pretty good job but I'll be honest...I read some pretty good blogs and these folks can really write. It can be a bit intimidating at times but I like to think I can hold my own out here in the blog universe.

I still have been sticking to me original plan of writing whatever comes to mind and posting it as quickly as possibly. I don't plan on modifying that but it means that the original posts often have typos and have to have some re-work done to them after the fact.


Unfortunately some folks read less then finished posts but this works best for me and what I am trying accomplish here...which is to capture those thoughts/feelings etc in real time, fresh as they occur. I just think it is neat to see that happen.

Silence KILLS so THEY SPOKE UP




Another "news morning" dominated by the Penn Sate Story and how severe the NCAA Sanctions are. Frankly this story is getting as much if not more play then the Aurora, CO Movie House Shooting...which I find shocking. Only because it is an older story and having 12 people gunned down in a movie theater is so unprecedented, I thought it would dominate the news.


Originally I thought of the PSU/Jerry Sandusky Story as mainly a sports story. I now see how far reaching the implications are and the potential for impacting a huge segment of our society is quite great. This is going to be difficult to state with out it sounding contrite or as if I am minimizing the damage done but as tragic as this story is, the long range impact of all this exposure generated by these 10 victims coming forward might actually achieve something really positive out of this great tragedy.


What I mean is this has changed the way average Americans react to rape and in particular male on male rape and molestation...it has been that powerful of a LESSON. Men molesting boys is now out in the open and no longer just a dirty little secret. It is no longer the exclusive domain of a few sex-starved priests and their Church covering up for them.


This may very well have changed forever how these type of events are handled by institutions, the workplace and in schools in the future. Perhaps no one will EVER be able to "look the other way" about abuse or rationalize away rape again...what an amazing legacy that would be. But, no amount of positive change that may result from this event will ever change what happened to those 10 boys...it will NEVER make it  worthwhile....But they can rest assured that by speaking up they have changed how America and it's people will deal with these kind of situations in the future...they forced the hand of the BEAST...and won. THEY most definitely have made a DIFFERENCE by speaking out.


Believe me, I have questioned myself many times over whether I should be so open about my own experience's but in the end I could not get over the fact that by speaking up...I may actually help someone heal or get help or file chargers or better understand what has happened to them or have a wee bit of HOPE that they too can live through THIS...that they can survive.


Because that is not a sure thing to a person who has experienced this...it feels as if the whole terrible, nasty experience will devour one from the inside out. Because a person's head can play some mighty sick tricks on them and a rape victim can actually start to feel responsible for what happened to them....that they somehow CAUSED this to happen. Most of us go through a stage where we at the very least question our actions. 


This can be especially true when boys are raped or molested by men because it seems so implausible in this 'macho" American society...Males aren't supposed to let this happen to ourselves. We should be able to fight our way out of it, stop it and fight the good fight, so to speak....even as boys.  But instead we are over-powered and raped. It feels so dirty, so incredibly wrong and there is no one to turn too because people do NOT want to believe this is true. They assume that there HAS to be some misunderstanding.


It often happens that people suspect that you are gay and actually wanted it to happen and then got upset after the fact....they look for reasons to excuse the behavior. That was particularly true for me because of circumstances of my sexual assault but in actuality was the farthest thing from the truth.


What happened in Happy Valley is the Norm folks, not an exception to the rule. Company's, schools and yes CHURCHES wiggle out of this kind of thing all the time...ask the Catholic Church...they've become expert at protection and deflection...using scape-goating as a last resort. 


In these situations SILENCE KILLS...BUT THESE GUYS SPOKE UP AND SAVED LIVEDS.    

DENIS PRESTON: 'a smooth operator'

He's largely forgotten now, but in the 1960s Denis Preston (1916-79) was Britain's pre-eminent jazz producer and entrepreneur. He recorded innumerable albums at his own expense in his Lansdowne Studio in Holland Park, then licensed them to EMI and others through his Record Supervision company. Without him, there would probably be no albums by Rendell-Carr, Mike Taylor, Joe Harriott, Stan Tracey, Indo-Jazz Fusions, Amancio D'Silva, Guy Warren, Neil Ardley and many others. The same can't be said of any individual in any other genre, as far as I can think. There's barely info on him available, so I thought I'd post a couple of rare Melody Maker articles that fill in a bit of background.


First, a tribute by Ian Carr, published on May 18th 1968:




Second, a profile by Bob Houston, published on September 14th 1968:


NODDING OFF



It is a little on the late side tonight to be writing and truth be told I have been struggling to write posts this late at night because I keep nodding off due to exhaustion from lack of sleep.I'm doing it as I write this.


This sleep "issue" is the main reason the reader here at THE SHOCK has begun to see more very short and to the point postings. There is nothing wrong with "getting to the point" when writing but I think my work has suffered because of this phenomena.


I have written many times before about this issue so I am not going to delve into it again...I am not sleeping but 20-30 minutes tops a night and I am slowly losing my sharpness and abilities to function at a reasonable level.


Because I really don't want to spend another 90 minutes writing, at most another paragraph...perhaps two between nodding off I am going to shut this down right now...

Making sense of the Penn State scandal...

The reason why you haven't heard from this blog about the Penn State sanctions is that we didn't know what to think.

Firstly, the NCAA should NOT have made the decision without consulting the families of those who were raped by Jerry Sandusky. To be 'judge and jury' reminded us an awful lot of the judge character in the new Batman movie, who offers 'the guilty' death o exile as a choice of what sentence to accept - none of which are very nice. So, Mark Emmert's got a role in a new movie.

'Victim 4' 's lawyer told WGAL News: "The victims were not Penn State or the NCAA, the victims were the young men who testified in the courtroom and I think NCAA and Penn State owed it to them to at least consult with them before rendering a decision. I think you at least owe it to these young men to hear what their positions are regarding Joe Paterno and the statue, regarding whether Penn State should be sanctioned from participating in athletic events. Instead Penn State and the NCAA took it in their own hands to play the role of judge and jury in this case without hearing from what could be construed as critical witnesses."

He added that Victim 4 'loved Penn State Football'. Yes, it's OK to still love a program despite what's happened to you, people.

Anyway, some other points:

1) We think this was the 'death penalty' without the death penalty. Penn State is going to get screwed without the bowl game money and TV money, as well as the lack of media attention after September. People will be referring to it as the 'The School That Was Penn State' rather than 'Linebacker U' or anything cool like that.

2) Joe Paterno should have done more. He said that before he died, and that is evident from the Freeh Report too. We wish Mr Freeh had had the time to interview Paterno. The taking away of the wins as well as the Big Ten titles as well the statue makes complete sense to us - you had to punish Paterno - so why not the whole time from 1998 to 2011? We only wish that he HAD reported things in 1998, which means that Sandusky would have been rotting in a jail before the millennium turned.

3) This brings us to thinking that the NCAA has now opened a Pandora's Box. But we still have some pre-Pandora questions. For an organisation so effective on Penn State, how come they waited ages and ages and ages after the murder and cover-up in Baylor's basketball team? Why did they simply follow the school and add a kick of their own, instead of being active from the start? And a Pandora-for-the-future: What's going to happen to Montana with the gang rapes and cover-ups? And on a lesser note, will the University of Miami football?

4) Penn State is going to suffer, and suffer badly. Silas Redd, the school's premier running back, is going to transfer. He's not 'waiting to see', he's waiting for the best offer - and we believe that he'll go to USC. Why? He might win a National Championship at USC, and get national exposure over and over again. And good luck to him. Khair Fortt is also being 'recruited', and we hope he'll go to the University of Georgia. Him and Bacarri Rambo could be quite a good pairing in the 'D' for the Dawgs...when Rambo gets out of his own trouble. Oh, and the scholarships? Penn State is going to get savaged by the recruitment vultures, and there's going to be a lot of blood in the water. Penn State will only recover in 2015....maybe.

A Lesson in Irony

"Humor brings insight and tolerance. Irony brings a deeper and less friendly understanding."       ~Agnes Repplier


Last weekend our dishwasher broke. Again. It’s been a piece of shit since the day we bought our house, even though it was brand new. (Brand new, bottom of the line.) Steve is handy and he has repaired it numerous times – once holding together an internal part with a band-aid because that’s the only adhesive we had on hand at the time.


But this time, try as he might, all the band-aids in the world couldn't get it going again.

It was bitter-sweet really. I have had a hate on for the dishwasher for some time. A busy woman such as myself does not have time to pre-wash dishes, then run them through a 3 hour dishwasher cycle, and then wash them again (and dry them!) when the dishwasher cycle is done.

I was not sad to see the old dishwasher go but I was sad that I would have to part with a bunch of credit on my new American Express card in order to replace it.

Steve and I argued over discussed the most economical way to get a new one. A friend suggested I go to the discount appliance store where they sell appliances that have small flaws in them – a small scratch or a little dent in some place that likely nobody would notice, at a reduced cost. I was good with that. Steve was not. He didn’t want some dinged-up piece of junk! He wanted something new with no flaws.

So off I went to Lowes one afternoon, selected a middle of the line dishwasher, bought it, had it loaded in the van and brought it home.

That night, Steve got to work taking the old one out and installing the new one. However, when he removed the packaging from the new one he called me into the room to tell me there was a dent in the kick plate (plate at the front/bottom of the dishwasher). Just our luck!

I was really quite disappointed. What to do? I told him that he would need to package it back up and we would return it.

He said, “No, it’ll be fine. Nobody will notice the dent.”

The irony completely lost on him. And in order to avoid an argument, I chose to shut my trap (for once) and not painstakingly explain it to him.

I would have felt the same way (nobody will notice it!) if we had bought it from the DISCOUNT appliance store! But since I paid full price on MY credit card, I was not going to have a dented kick plate installed on my brand new dishwasher.

So he phoned Lowes and and it was arranged that they would take the kick plate off another dishwasher and I just needed to bring in the dented one and we’d trade.

The following Monday I entered the Lowes with my dented kick plate and asked for the one they had set aside for me. The customer service girl retrieved the replacement kick plate but had an odd look on her face when she brought it out. We both looked at the replacement and saw that it, too, was dented!

I then spoke with the gentleman that sold me the dishwasher in the first place. He said that they could order a new dishwasher and when it came in (in two weeks), they could take the (hopefully undented) kick plate off and I could come in at that time and pick it up.

Or…

They could give me a 10% discount on the cost of the dishwasher and we could be done with it.

I said I’d likely take the discount but just had to quickly check in with my husband to make sure that would be OK with him.

I phoned him and told him our options. He burst out with, “Take the discount! That’s a great deal!!!”

I say nothing....

Thankful


In early September my son is getting married...he is the youngest of my two children. Both of my kids will be married then...though he pretty much is already in practice since he currently lives with his future wife and they already have their own home, several dogs and have really established their life together as a partnership.


To tell you the truth I do not feel old or weird at all about having grown children and two grandsons...in fact I actually really like it. I am comfortable growing old and consider it a gift since there was a time I was doing everything in my power to end my life. 


So living to see my kids grow up, meet my grandchildren is a privilege and one I will never take for granted...
                                    

March 1981



I Just watched a very interesting documentary on the Military Channel about the assassination attempt and medical treatment of President Ronald Reagan after his shooting on March 30, 1981 in Washington DC. It was fascinating stuff, some of it was done through re-creation with actors which I usually do not like but it was very well done here. Then there were extensive interviews with many of the key players in Government, Secret Service, Law Enforcement, Media and finally the Medical Staff from the lead Surgeon on down.

The doctors and nurses were fantastic and it was incredible how close Reagan came to dying. At the time if I recall clearly, they must have downplayed it a bit because it seemed serious then but not life threatening. The real story is quite different...he very easily could have died.


Then again perhaps I wasn't paying attention...I was just about to graduate High School and had other stuff on my mind...just a month before 3 close friends were killed in an auto accident, driving drunk when they hit an innocent old man head on while driving on a country road. I was newly sober, fresh out of drug treatment and supposed to be with them. But I got nervous because I knew they would be partying and I didn't want to drink so I lied to them to get out of going. I felt responsible for their deaths (especially the old man) for decades...


But I recommend this documentary to anyone who is interested in history. There was a great deal about this event that I didn't know before and I found it absolutely fascinating. I am sure it is on DVD. This documentary should appeal to ANY American, regardless of your political affiliation. As one of the surgeons answered in the OR before putting the President under anesthesia when Reagan joked that he hoped they all were Republican: "We all are TODAY, Mr President". Well we are all AMERICANS when watching this movie and he was our President who was seriously wounded while serving as our Country's Leader.


To this day President Reagan is still the only President to be shot and survive while in office...

UNCOMFORTABLY NUMB (For NOW)



I am all but numb to the news anymore. I have just noticed it really but there have been two GIGANTIC news stories in the last few days...the shootings in the movie theater in Aurora, CO and the continuing Penn State story. I just sort of feel nothing...


It's interesting that in this new "Electronic" world we have been brought closer by technology. News for example travels almost instantly. And for a long time that was really an intense experience...watching the Challenger explode live, President Reagan being shot, the Oklahoma Bombings, 9/11 and so on and on. TV literally has brought the news, nearly raw and uncensored right into our homes and now into our pockets/purses (via smartphone).


For a person who has witnessed violent death personally, heard gunfire aimed in my general direction this phenomena was shockingly intense but I have noticed a change now. The electronic devices that bring me the news straight from Happy Valley or a courtroom in Aurora, CO now create a sense of detachment as if this stuff I am seeing is in reality just a show and not actually happening.


I remember when the shootings happened at Virginia Tech and a fellow used his phone to shoot video outside the building and you could clearly hear the pop, pop, pop of gunfire and see people throwing themselves out of a 2nd story window. I recall how chilling that was....now I am detached from it.


Movies, TV, the Internet and video games, etc. are now so graphic, so real and so instantaneous that it is very difficult to distinguish FACT from Fiction...reality from fantasy. People no longer shrink away from true blood and guts...they are numb to screaming in the night. Violence no longer shocks the civilized among us. We have all been reduced to our basic animal instincts.


I can totally see how they looked the other way at young BOYS being RAPED...can you even believe I just wrote that sentence? And actually mean it? But it is true. Some people will deny that this "numbness" is even possible saying that no compassionate human being could get this way. Well I would like to think that I am compassionate and I am here to tell you that I have been able to detach in my mind from my own rape...there are times where it doesn't seem real anymore though I can snap right back into reality in a second on demand. I can still smell the place where it happened...I can feel the cool, damp tile floor and hear the way sound echoes.


Bu the key is I can detach at will and I think society is doing the same thing with all the sex, violence and tragedy we digest from the media. It strips of of our humanity and turns us into nothing more then inhuman witnesses to this crap and we have begun to stop caring. For each person OUTRAGED at the Penn Sate debacle there are just as many people who don't care or are not surprised or think the NCAA is picking on there favorite team...they have become NUMB.

Melancholy Middle-Man


The word melancholy has always been sort of a favorite of mine. Not because of what it is or what it means...no it is because I find it to be a word that sounds like it feels and for some odd reason that has always amused me when a word represents themselves in that manner.


I also find it somewhat impressive that it accurately describes what it feels like: "A deep, pensive, long-lasting sadness". Well that also describes the way I feel at the very core of my being most of the time. But please don't assume that I am now a permanent sour-puss...I'm not but I just feel a deep sadness at the very heart of who and what I am as a human being. Call me "Soul-Saddened" for lack of a better description...


I believe that sadness is a direct result of being raped and frankly I now believe that it is not an unhealthy thing to feel a long and deep seated sadness about something so life-altering...it is impossible not to, actually if I am being honest about who and what I am. Since the horror of that day has settled in...it has always just been there. And again, I do not see it as a total negative because I don't always show it and it isn't like that sadness manifests itself openly every waking moment of my life. But it is a part of who I am and I am not afraid to let it show or shy             about it....yep...it IS what it IS. Funny when that phrase first started to be popular that is the first thing I applied it to...being sexually assaulted:  "I cannot change that this happened...It IS what IT is.".



I guess at this stage in my life that deep seated sadness has become like a well-worn, favorite, most comfortable sweater...it's familiar, very comfortable and it IS home. 


Sadness does not dominate my mood or my life and I feel a full range of other emotions. I somehow believe that it's acknowledging and accepting it's constant presence is how I eventually healed from that horror and it is a familiar and steady protector that in it's own way provides a sense of security to me...for whatever that's worth.


I realize this may all sound a bit crazy but let's face facts...there is nothing freaking normal about RAPE, right?! Nothing about it ever makes real sense....so if there is anyway one can find some solace, a sense of peace  or just be able to live with it for awhile without blowing one's brains out, then it is most definitely a very good thing.


So those are my thoughts and feelings about the word melancholy...

BLACK & (Bleu CHEESE)


I am a connoisseur of stinky cheese...sorry, it is what it is or in the case of this last salad...what it WAS. Yummy crumbles of mold spread over fresh lettuce and very little oil/vinegar to boot, perhaps a bit of fresh onion, shredded carrot and a dash of basil...deeee-lightfully delicious...man. Even the salad pictured above with blackberries looks really good and I have never been too fond of fruit on my salad.


I am actually trying to convince myself that I enjoy salad because I kind of don't really but I want to...the enthusiasm just isn't there but the effort is, you dig?


I am fairly satisfied with my physical condition at least to start but I am way too much of a porker around the middle (big 'ole ice-cream gut, I'm afraid) and something needs to be done about that. I lead a  very active life and I am always trying to increase my exercise but there are serious limitations because of my injuries/disabilities but I exercise in an intelligent manner (most of the time) and within the parameters of what is wise, safe and effective.


I think I am probably at a point where I have my medications that I require as well suited to my needs as I ever had. They allow me to have some physical freedom without to much limitation and pain...I haven't often been satisfied with that situation in the  last 30 years but this is as good as it has ever been so I take advantage by being outside and as active as I possibly can...it's working pretty darn well so far.


Now it is the diet I need to continue to monitor and modify...I'm not talking about going on a diet, no i am referring to making a complete change in my daily diet...eating habits, the whole deal. That is  a challenge for me without a doubt but so far I am making slow but steady progress.


So we start with the salad...added to my already satisfactory daily intake of fruit and then build from there with nutritious entrees. So that is the plan...we shall see how well I can execute it before getting too excited.

Space Cadet Parade Boy (Or This Title is Nonsense!)


Alas...I promised yesterday to write later and what actually happened? Nothing...that's what. Black Dog Days are here unfortunately...and it can be rather difficult to stick with and follow through on even the simplest tasks or stick to even the most basic plans. All those things are quite out of character for me because I typically finish whatever I start most of the time....


Lot's of plans, thoughts and responsibilities crowding up my thoughts these days and they can build into an almost insurmountable mountain of expectations if I let it...and frankly folks...I have. But I know from my own experience that recognizing it is half the battle, if I know it is starting to happen then I actually have an opportunity to work with it and prevent some of the chaos....In the past I would start to feel things spinning out of control and have no clue what was going on so I would just continue to push it creating a much bigger problem down the road.


Again identifying what's going on gives me half a chance to focus on improving the situation as I go...imagine that, an actual plan that works! I have to laugh because I literally never thought about such things back then.


Busy morning with a book study at 8am but it is one of the things I really look forward to each week. So let's just say so long for now and my intention will be to follow up later.


I really do have a few things I want to cover here but haven't found a way to start...starting a new train of thought here on Shell Shock is often the most difficult thing for me but I'll give it a shot this afternoon. Until then...    

Photo: Kathy Tomson          

Grain Free: Progress Report

I said I would cut out beer and so far I have.  Surprisingly it hasn't been all that difficult. When it comes right down to it, I just don't want it.  I have had a few glasses of wine here and there (I am only human and willing to give up so much).

I'm not sure what to call that which I am doing. Paleo?  Primal? Grain Free?  I guess I'm more Grain Free than Paleo because true Paleo is dairy free and although I don't drink milk or eat yogurt, I do still eat cheese and occasionally sour cream. Still, I feel like I identify with the Paleo "community".

Why I have to have a label for it, I don't know. I feel like maybe that's because eating this way is so totally unconventional and non traditional and VERY difficult for a LOT of people to wrap their heads around.  I have been seriously grilled about it.  Grilled and questioned and doubted and eyebrow raised (and probably eyeball rolled).  I find it a little bit frustrating that people can't just be OK with me eating what I have decided to eat (or not eat) - although I'm more than happy to discuss it with people who are truly interested in what I'm doing as opposed to challenging me just because they've never heard of such a thing before. I recently mentioned that I didn't want a potato (but wanted a whole T-bone steak) at a family dinner and well didn't that just open up some floodgates. But if I'd said something like, "I'm on Weight Watchers" or even, "I've decided to become a vegetarian" nobody would bat an eye.

For the most part, I truly do enjoy this lifestyle. I am still in the early stages of it and am interested in  every bit of information that I can get.  Shannon warned me when I started reading Wheat Belly, "Be careful what you read.  You can't unlearn some things."  What she meant was that you can get pretty deep into this.  There are some serious extremists and I feel like it could be easy to become that if you had the ways and the means (which I do not).  After Wheat Belly I read "The Paleo Solution" by Robb Wolf.  I read the damn thing in less than a week. Besides enjoying the way he wrote it, the information in it was so interesting to me I wanted to absorb it all as fast as I could and implement it into my lifestyle.

In the week that I cut out beer (2 weeks after I started cutting out grains) I lost 3lbs and it continued to drop through this week.  I feel like my body is leaner (love handles diminishing) but it could all be in my head. Is it also possible that my skin looks healthier and my mental health has been really great?  Could also be in my head I suppose.  Even if it is, who cares?  I feel good.

I wish I had taken some before pics on the day I started reading Wheat Belly but I didn't. I took a set of them today though.  Obviously I can not post them unless/until I have some really great "after" pics.

The biggest benefit I have noticed is my decreased appetite.  I no longer have that constant cycle of needing to eat something every 2 hours.  I no longer NEED a snack in the evenings (although I will sometimes have a small square of 85% dark chocolate for a treat).  For example, on Friday I had a cup of coffee with CREAM in the morning.  I then had a couple of scrambled eggs with some steak strips, avocado and cherry tomatoes at 10am (which was delicious!!).  I didn't feel the need to eat again until 4pm when I had a slice of cheese and a handful of nuts.  Then I just picked for dinner.  And I didn't get crazy, bitchy, starving, psycho hungry like I would have if I had been eating grains.  It blew my mind.  This alone contributes to a better mental state.

Oddly enough, I have cut way back on my running since changing to this style of eating - and that feels OK.  I just don't feel like running as much.  It's also harder to run without the carbs - one tends to run out of gas sooner.  Instead, I have loved taking my kids for walks in their strollers and finding hills to climb and seeing how far I can trick everyone into going together as a family (our record is 5km but Steve was crying about sore feet).  I still do a bit of running but I have been doing more of a run/walk combo now.  I've also been trying to lift the kids more and hold them up more. My body and my muscles feel like they like that.

I have also feel more "instinctual". OK, I know... Here's where the eye rolling comes in and you click away. Seriously though. I feel more in tune with myself and what my body likes and wants.  I can't really describe it better than that. Maybe in another post sometime.

For now, I am enjoying eating and living this way and have no desire to go back.  I find living this way to be relatively easy - certainly much easier than I thought it would be.  (Besides having to defend and explain my choices.)



Here's dinner for tonight.  Pork loin, slathered in Dijon mustard, covered in sliced apples then baked in the oven.  Once cooked, it's pulled apart and mixed with the cooked apples.  Served with a  couple sides of various veggies.  Mouth watering already...


'Til Later, Then!


It is a hot and muggy Sunday Late, late morning.....now it is actually afternoon now. The British Open Golf tournament is on and Adam Scott is leading several others including Mr Tiger Woods who is 4 strokes back with 7 or so holes left to play. It's probably too great a lead to over-come but still, golf and particularly Majors are more fun to watch when Woods is in contention.


I am thinking a lot about the Penn State Joe Paterno stuff again because it has been announced that the NCAA will punish Penn State tomorrow morning and the word is that the punishment is very severe....So stay tuned, I may post on that later.


I have a lot of things swirling around in my head and it is hard to pluck any single nugget out of the whole...I just feel somewhat distracted. Perhaps it is the heat or the disturbing events lately including the shooting at a screening of the New Batman Movie on Friday Morning in Denver.
I am gonna shut this down and post something later....

king's route

we have arrived above 5,000 feet again, but this time in our own beautiful state of california, in king's canyon sequoia / national park with our andriese cousins. big trees, geocaching, boyden cave, river play, helping stranded retired folks, picnics, swimming into the night, good times. once again they hosted us for a brief vacation in their beautiful home. such a memorable time. love my family! thank you j & b! grateful for you.


thank you for these 2, sam!





(no, i did not use any postprocessing for this blur shot. in fact, none of the images in this series ever went into photoshop.)
:)