Category Archives: Overthinking

13th

Watch Now Seriously

 

The beautiful Hannah and I just watched a documentary together….WHAT?  I know it doesn’t happen often but she actually sat down and learned WITH me. But that’s not my point.

My point is that this nation has a history that sucks.  We have institutionally accepted horrible things happening to our own citizens since the beginning of the country and allowed institutionalized slavery to continue to present day.  And since there is an election coming up don’t think I am speaking as if one side started or stopped this.  They are all guilty as #$@#@ and need to be held accountable. Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Bush Jr., Obama…all have allowed slavery to continue in newer forms. Don’t believe me? Watch The 13th on Netflix.

Are you back? Or never left?

Here’s what I learneded, there is a line in the 13th amendment, which ended slavery in its previous form, that allows men (people) to be free as long as they are not being a punished for crime.  Which sounds great until people are falsely arrested, forced into a plea bargain and then have a felony on their records FOR LIFE.  This causes them to not be able to vote in many states, not be able to receive government assistance, not rent, not be employed, and even not receive life insurance.  After the US Civil War, prisoners were used to help rebuild a lot of cities and infrastructure destroyed in former slave owning areas.  It was a good deal.  If you needed more “workers” simply round up former slaves for loitering or trespassing, since they no longer had jobs or places to live.  This started what we see today with over 2 million people in the prison industrial complex.  That is people that are under house arrest, on long probation or physically in a facility.   Bogus loitering charges still exist, but often drugs or theft is involved.  We all have heard stories of police planting evidence, (Google has about 1,280,000 results in 0.49 seconds) and of quotas.  It’s like they HAVE to arrest people to keep their jobs, right?

The movie delves deeper into the money side of it. How laws are passed to arrest more people and politicians use code words to scare the public into behaving or make us feel safer when we feel attacked.  We like when we hear people will have to serve 85% of sentences and Mandatory Minimums and 3 Strikes.  But then we start hearing what is actually happening to people who are arrested.  How they are coerced into plea deals, and not allowed to leave because of high bails.  Even 10% of 10k is often still too much for working people or single mothers created by their husband, boyfriend or baby daddy serving life for a third strike, 2/3rd of which might have been false.

I believe police have hard jobs and attempt to do good the majority of the time.  I also think they are trained to identify people of color as guilty and Caucasians as victims.   This has more to do with what I have heard from experienced people than from any article on the interwebs.  People of color being stopped and ticketed for small offences (5 over, broken taillight, out of state tags too long) while I was let go with a warning many times.  Or larger offenses like possession of drugs not being reported for white friends, while people of color were illegally searched to find them.  Therefore I truly believe that lives of crimes and drugs come from circumstances.  To gain power and money to get out of the “rough life”, but then get a felony and keep the cycle going in your family tree.  If you don’t have privilege or opportunity you fight more for it and bend the rules to get there.   I have met too many people on the streets with felonies from 19 or 20 years of age that limit them when 50.  Lesser jobs, lesser apartments, lesser insurances, lesser lives and so falling back into the escape of drugs and then the need to crime.  Yes, crime as a verb.

Instead of helping people break the cycle though it seems like the government is enabling the profiting off of poor, uneducated and disproportionately people of color specifically in the prison complex.  Instead of setting up a safety net that would help most, the system mandates felons can’t live in subsidized housing, penalizes family unity by limiting food and job benefits per address, and caps the limited benefits people can legally get in a tight timeline.  So people numb themselves with illegal drugs and resort to crime to buy food and keep the cycle going.

The major problem that The 13th exposes though is that prisons in this country are for profit, privately run institutions.  Therefore they need “raw materials” to make profits.  Unfortunately this leads to arresting people that can’t defend themselves in court.  Those who have been raised to fear the authority of police and all law enforcement.  Those whose fathers were arrested and served time for the same or similar crimes they will fall into.  If they were public run, I am not saying this wouldn’t happen it.  But I am saying that if they were charitably non-profit they would attempt to be run out of business.

I have more in my head that I’m not sure I have the words to say and realize I am just rambling so will leave you to ponder this quote from the film.

“We (African-Americans) thought, I mean they called the end of slavery “Jubilee”, we thought we were done then.  And then you had a 100 years of Jim Crow, terror and lynching.  Dr. King, these guys come on the scene, Ella Jo Baker, Fannie Lou Hamer, we get the bills passed to vote then they break out the handcuffs, label you felon, you can’t vote or get a job. So we don’t know what the net iteration of this will be, but it will be.  It will be. And we will have to be vigilant.”  Van Jones

Stay woke y’all, especially those in the racial voting majority like me.

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Filed under Adulthood, Junior, Overthinking, Reviews, The Jesus Way

Left

We – the beautiful Hannah and I- live in a nomadically transplanted city. Most people aren’t from here and most won’t stay… as we are learning.   People come for work, school or adventure often in their 20s and stay as long as they can or want.  The city houses a lot of people with grand dreams and plans who hang out until another job, partner or dream pulls them away.  We came as part of that group.

The beautiful Hannah has over a decade here.  I have lived here four times as long as anywhere else in my adulthood and am approaching that decade mark too.  We have lived in multiple parts of the city and are on the edge of it now it sometimes feels.  The mountain can be seen from our patio window when the leaves are gone and the sun is out.  The coast is an easy drive away and allows us to have lunch after a nice drive if we have a free day to play.  The food is amazing.  The beers were good and hopefully will be when we can go out again.  People are generally laid back and welcoming.  And even though it is touted as the Whitest City in (US) America and part of the Least Churched Region in North America, we have many people of other colors in our inner circle…and our “local” church.  People think and act similar enough to us for us to feel accepted.  We don’t get weird looks for talking to homeless or people with special needs.  We can own chickens, garden and buy only from the edges of the grocery store without judgment and know a lot of others that do the same.

We really like it here.  We have a house in a neighborhood that has a lot of real locals.  We have our spots, our stores, our communities, our old and new neighborhoods and the beautiful Hannah has a career at a school that won’t be transferred or moved.  We plan to be here a long time.

But we are consistently saying good bye to friends with whom we have connected it feels.  They move because of work promotions.  Because they want to move closer to family before having kids.  Because it was a short term thing that lasted many years and is now over.  Because parents need them back home. Or because housing is silly expensive and they didn’t buy a place yet and can’t imagine living paycheck to paycheck just to stay here.  Whatever the reason, Junior has a lost a lot of friends as have we and we realized we need to start making more connections again.  And in chatting with people we have heard that many are planning to head back “home” at some point.  When the kids need to go to school, or when it’s time to have kids, or when they need a real job.

The beautiful Hannah and I initially bonded over not wanting to live near where we were raised again.  Shortly after we met we began to make Portland our city together. We shared with each other what we loved.  We started combining traditions, routines, drinking spots, eating spots, and friends.  We made our home and are strengthened ourselves in the communities that would take us.   Those communities changed and shifted with marriage, work changes, and Junior and his demands.  And they change substantially when close friends move to green pastures they find or dream.

Leaving is not our plan or story it seems.  So I guess we are a little different here but that’s ok.

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Filed under Adulthood, Dreams, Freewrite, Global Community, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, Transparency, unfinished thoughts

Da Pressed

NOTE: The following has been written and deleted at least a hundred times in various forms and continues to build.  It is real talk about where I am today that I feel needs to be shared.  One for some people close to me to understand. Two for some people to not feel alone potentially. 

Recently I was talking to new friends and telling stories of my past. Those stories led me to think of more as I laid in bed attempting to sleep that night and they overtook my thinking. Lately my thinking has a lot to do with working and careers and decisions in my past that have led me to being a 36 year old unable to find work.  Someone who can put out 30+ resumes and contact multiple staffing agencies and still have only one (failed) interview in a month.

When I was 19 I was a horrible employee.  Actually for the first few years of working I didn’t want responsibility and didn’t think of any job as a career.  But when I was 19 I was horrible.  Twice in a year I called in sick for a day of work and didn’t respond for weeks after.  Both were manual labor positions and both were not fun
(no excuse).  The first was in Fairbanks at a library on campus and I went six weeks before running into a former coworker and him telling me they needed help.  So I went back for a couple weeks until the semester was over and the project I was hired for finished.  The second was worse.  I worked for a temp agency in Atlanta and was placed at a machine shop.  The owner was a complete racist, as were the employees and in response to my lack of effort (most likely) I never was really trained.  I had a lot of little injuries, damaged multiple machines and often just ended up doing custodial work for minimum wage.  So one day I called out.

I watched TV a lot.  I made a massive batch of pancakes and ate those alone for a few days.  I moved the exercise bike into the living room so I could ride it while I watched TV.  I pulled out the sleeper sofa mattress so I could lay down while watching TV.  I went days without showering.  Using the same cup and plate for days.  I didn’t open the drapes or go outside and could only fall asleep if there was background noise so lost track of day and night.

I often say I was a bad employee for this.  But the other night as I remembered this I realized I wasn’t just a bad employee.

I was horribly depressed.

Last year, I quit three jobs…well four if you include putting Junior back into daycare to find a job.   I quit them for various reasons but none the less I made the choice to leave all of them.  The last made the biggest impact on me though because it was toxic.  I was constantly being told I wasn’t good enough and wasn’t following the rules, but then being told in code to cut corners to make my time.  EVERYONE there was depressed and beaten down.  It was not an okay place for a guy that can easily slide into that mindset.

I look back on the last year or so and have a million what ifs.  What if I didn’t get an implanted tooth but just another root canal?  What if I didn’t lose two months’ salary gambling?  What if I didn’t have to work delivering papers for a dollar an hour take home? What if our car wasn’t stolen allowing us to pay off the debt of one credit card? What if I didn’t quit a job with amazing benefits and pay but mundane work and problematic coworkers?  What if I didn’t quit a high pay hard working toxic job for another 3 months?  What if I didn’t get strep throat? What if we went to a doctor instead of the ER?  What if my counselor didn’t leave our session notes in public for an acquaintance to find and crush my trust in the one person I was willing to share all stories and feelings with?

What if I wasn’t depressed? Again? For another winter? For another year?

The answer to all is of course, WHO KNOWS?

Because the what ifs could go further back to meeting the beautiful Hannah, to moving and staying in Portland, to quitting college multiple times, to being rejected by most kids in high school, to moving to the south…and possibly even further back to the babysitter throwing and breaking my Snoopy hair brush in the bathtub (my first memory?).

All of these things have made me who I am.  And apparently today who I am is a slightly depressed 36 year old who failed to find another real job so is pulling his son from daycare again to stay at home dad with him.  Who is married to an amazing woman who has no concept of my career struggles because she loves her work and loves being able to provide for her family.  Who has time to work on his homestead and maybe get some odd jobs to pay for the luxuries he desires.

And that should be nothing to be depressed about, right?

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Filed under Adulthood, Freewrite, Grieving, Junior, Marriage, Overthinking, The Jesus Way, Transparency

Becoming SAHD

When I wake up in the morning I will officially be a SAHD- Stay at Home Dad and Junior will be an official SAHT. It is the 3rd career for me in 3 months (but only his second career in toddlerhood). Which on the down slope of 30 has been a little hard for me to wrap my mind/stomach/ emotions to understand 3 in 3.   This is the life I have always wanted but not necessarily the life I thought I would have.

I have long hated work for the sake of work and money.  I have often thought that given the chance I would rather raise my son than pay someone else to do it.  I often think that being able to be at home rather than hauling my head to an office or cramming my legs into (and out of 100+ times) a mail truck would be better.  Better how?  I am not sure.  Not financially.  Potentially not emotionally. But probably physically and familial-ly, it is the best for this season.

We haven’t even started but Junior is my best friend right now.  Because I quickly left the postal service, we had daycare paid through the end of the month.  But the more I was home and in charge of the then 19 month old Junior, the less he wanted to go to school.  The more books were stacked on the reading chair, or his bed or in front of the door.  The longer he took to find his shoes, finish his breakfast, or to finish dirtying his diaper.  I am hoping it was not just to make up for the time I missed while working 7 day weeks.  But in any case that time is over now.

So now I take care of a 20 month old and the family house.  I cook most dinners.  I shop for food…and probably cut coupons. I do the laundry and vacuum the floors…well Neil the Neato- our robot does, but I push the button and empty him.  Also I watch money flow out while I contribute by clicking videos for pennies as my only financial contribution.  I say this in present tense because I have been training the last couple weeks, as I have been home during the day alone working on random house projects…and forgetting to shower most days.

As I enter this time, I hear a lot of questions about how I think I will handle Junior.  If I have things to do with him.  If I know how to feed, clothe and protect him.  Most of these come from my own head.  They come because I was prepared to deliver mail or build spreadsheets while people crafted and molded my spawn.  Now, I get to do the molding and shaping.  The playing and art making.  The teaching and disciplining.  Well, I get to do this while I am home alone with him, but the beautiful Hannah will be doing a lot too when she isn’t doing a job she loves and that pays for us to be home.

It is a difficult feeling because I never thought I would be voluntarily unemployed with a young child and house I own to take care of.  I didn’t think I would be mature and stable enough to run a house or be left with a child for many years there.  I don’t have issues with being a Mr. Mom or Daddy Daycare or whatever gender role reversal term is used.  I was raised mostly by a father that was home, while my mother made the large income needed to keep our family content.  I am more surprised with the speed that it all happened.  But that is the way things work.  If I didn’t leave my stable job of seven years for what I thought would be a 30 year advancing career, I don’t know if I would have ever left.   If I didn’t leave we would still be living a life we planned to change “one day”.

Instead, we have found the “one day” starts tomorrow.  Junior and I will build a vegetable garden and chicken coop…most likely “built” from Craigslist…and learn to be urban farmers.  We will become regulars at Cafe Au Play and the Oregon Children’s Museum.  We will learn which library tells the best stories and which park has the coolest slide.  We will memorize all of the trails of Powell Butte and Forest Park and <insert other here>.  We will learn how to cook again, and bake for the beautiful Hannah.  We will be friends and family at the same time.

Good thing I was bad at delivering mail.

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Fasting from Self-Control

Copyright (c) 123RF Stock Photos

I use to be good at fasting.  I would give up food, technology, sleep, or work to be more self-disciplined.  To rest, pray and grow my faith in what I could not see.  To be part of something outside myself.  For years, I gave up meals every Sunday and subjected my body to a 40 day juice fast a year. In doing so, I also tore up my stomach and most of my digestive system by not doing it smartly. Forcing my body to live off highly diluted orange juice with the occasional grape juice.  After realizing the weight loss and gain of this was highly unhealthy, I let myself turn off all technology and just read, write, walk and visit with friends for a day.

It was good to not be obsessed with technology for a day thinking back to the days not so many years ago, I didn’t have it or my home computer sat turned off most of the time because I didn’t have time or a need to use it.  What did I do before I realized the internet had more information than I could handle and Netflix more movies than I needed to watch?

Then I went back to school and life became busy.  Sundays became homework days and the technology was always on again.  Not intensely needed, just in the way that I felt like I needed to check my email 6 times a day including the Sabbath.  That there must be some article on Facebook or RSS feed to read and become more rounded…even though I paid more attention to the pictures than words for the 6 days before.

At some point in that I felt like the call to give up something and stick to a solid lined Sabbath was legalistic…so I fasted legalism.  I fasted from having to give up food or technology, or anything.  In time I also stopped finding time to really rest, to read, pray or grow in faith or be outside myself.

Which leads us to 2014 Jeremiah…

Now I can’t give up soda or cookies or donuts knowingly for a day…telling myself “You can’t have sweets today.  Just let them sit on the table without touching them.”  I always figure out an excuse for why I deserve them or create a stressful situation that would be solved by food.

I can’t think about turning off my computer for a week without having something to fill that space like being in nowhere Montana or driving 2400 miles.    Again, there is always a reason to check email again and again…especially now that it is on my phone.

For months I have been telling the beautiful Hannah my body needs a reset.  I should do a cleanse or a food fast.  But there is always some reason in my head not to so it hasn’t happened.  Then at the beginning of the year I got a flu bug and my body did cleanse itself.  Which has allowed me to justify the sweets, the lack of discipline and failure at knowingly fasting anything.

So I am still good at fasting… self-control.

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Filed under Freewrite, Obese Obsessions, Overthinking, Transparency