Monday, February 28, 2005

A very long day ends……..

I see stars! I just walked outside to smoke my pipe and hundreds of twinkling jewels filled the night sky! The murky overcast has broken for a brief moment. It makes me long for the woods but responsibility beckons. No camping until at least Friday.

Tonight was my world literature class and we discussed Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. The hour and fifteen minutes just flew by. I am very interested in medieval history, culture, and music lately and it has been a recurring theme in two of my classes. This greatly helps in keeping up my interest and motivation. If I could make a living being a medieval history scholar then I would have found my calling in life! I would be this frumpy old professor perusing old, dusty tomes for knowledge and imparting it upon others. Sadly, I have seen very few job listings for such a person in my local paper here in this small southern town of 3000. I would definitely be living in a tent again eating cold pork and beans from a can.

My psychology class on the other hand…..well I just sit there and watch my wrist watch. It is the longest fucking one hour and fifteen minutes of my life! Today, he couldn’t get his power point presentation to open so we just sat and talked about popular culture and how it relates to psychology. It was just one big chaotic mess. I felt as if I was amidst a very loud and bustling cocktail party. Information overload! He also started to go over the questions and answers for our next exam. He gave us the exact material that we would have on a printout verbatim. The catch was that it was a multiple choice printout and he didn’t mark which was the right answer so no one knew what to memorize or study. He started to go over it to give us the answers but couldn’t answer them himself so we gave up trying to do that. I felt sorry for the guy. He was a psychology major and couldn’t answer questions from the most basic psychology 200 class material. He is a likeable guy but can’t get his shit together. I am beyond caring any longer and will just take the freebie A grade. Sometimes you just have to roll with the punches.

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Blogging etiquette……

I realized tonight that many of you take time out of your busy days to write me a comment and I rarely respond. I do so much appreciate the comments and it makes what I write seem worth the effort. I read each and every one with earnestness. I enjoy the discourse and the addition of material to my blog. Comments make a blog vibrant and interesting or I should say you help make this blog vibrant and interesting!

The fact is that I mainly read my comments with my email client and rarely read them by opening my blog. Blogger has this neat feature where all comments can be emailed to you and that is what I do. If you don’t have a responding address in the blog comment then I sometimes forget to come back here and post a reply. I tried tonight to manually go back over some comments and post a response. If I don’t respond sometimes then click on my profile and fire off an email. That will get my attention! Thank you all for the time you take to join in on my life and comment.

This damnable weather…….

I awoke this morning to the theme tune to the PBS cartoon Dragon Tales. Somehow I had turned on the internal timer to my television and it clicked on early into the night but didn’t awake me. The tune was quite catchy I might add and I caught myself singing along. I stumbled along to my kitchen in a sleepy haze to prepare my morning coffee. Before long the pot was percolating away and the smell of fresh brewed coffee infiltrated my apartment. That smell reminds me so keenly of my days as a child when I would stay with grandmother on her farm in the country every summer. That smell would usually be accompanied by the smell of frying bacon and baking homemade biscuits. She would be sitting at the table sipping on her coffee in her night gown with a hair net on. Oh, how I dearly miss her.

After I had awakened enough and imbibed enough caffeine I walked to the door to check on the weather. As you may know my windows are covered with milky white plastic. A grey, chilly, and dreary morning awaited me. I long for the sun and the warm days of last week. Spring will be here soon and I will rejoice in its arrival. This murky weather depresses me and I get a temporary seasonal affective disorder from it. It is as if the sun has decided to take a few days off and rest much as I did this weekend from school.

Well, I must get on the ball, grab a shower, and get dressed. My useless psychology class awaits with the noted bumbling instructor. I feeling a keen anxiety about school this morning and can’t put my finger on its source. Maybe it is the thought that I have much to do this week and must get busy. Good morning to you all and have a good day.

PS. I received word from Pipe Tobacco. He is extremely busy with grant writing and research and has not had time to update his blog. He is also experiencing computer problems at home. Let’s hope he can get back online soon. I have missed his literary efforts very much lately.

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Let’s give Satan a hand……

/weird thought one for the day

I was just thinking. If Satan is the root of all evil in the world and causes so much discord then shouldn’t all the Christians be praying not for themselves but for Satan’s salvation? Just think about it. If you believe in such things then we could finally have a true Utopia on earth. No more evil! If there is a god is he not defined as omnipotent and all powerful? Surely he could bring about Satan’s salvation and return to grace. Satan was nothing more than a fallen angel; a creation of god. Come on Christians! Get together and pray for Satan’s salvation! Let’s end evil in our time for once and for all!

/end weird thought one for the day.

/weird thought two for the day.

Is has cost over $100 billion to fight a war in Iraq. The first reason was Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. This proved to be untrue and the administration even admitted it. Now the reason was to remove Saddam Hussein and liberate the Iraqi people. Common sense dictates to me that the current Administration could care less about the Iraqi people but wanted a government that was more amiable to the United States in power. Just look at Sudan, North Korea, etc. These people are being oppressed but you don’t see us riding white horses into the fray of battle for their cause. My main point is that the costs of this war and restructuring are staggering compared to what is being spent on many important domestic affairs here at home.

Counterpoint…..

Lee Harvey Oswald wanted a change in administration. He did it with a $1 dollar bullet and changed history. It didn’t cost over $100 billion.

/end weird thought two for the day.

Mental Dissonance…..

I never made it out camping last night. I crawled into the bed and slept until this morning around 4 AM. Then I couldn’t go back to sleep. I went to bed very early last night. So now I am sitting here drinking my morning coffee and perusing my thoughts. I have so much I want to express and write about.

I am experiencing a great period of mental dissonance and turmoil. This has nothing to do with my mental illness. My thoughts are coherent and my mind is clear and bright. I have just been doing a lot of thinking lately and a lot of questioning the why and how of things.

My latest experiments with controlled drinking are starting to become uncontrollable I fear. I just enjoy the feeling alcohol imbibes too much. I start off very moderate and then I notice that as time goes by I drink more and more to the point to where I am once again dependent upon it. I feel I cannot go to sleep without a few drinks. I feel I am not as creative without a buzz. I do realize I am attempting to self medicate myself. I never get in trouble with alcohol but it is deeply frowned upon by my significant others. I am very adept at hiding it. I never get sloppy drunk or stumble or fall. I just mainly get and keep a mild buzz while I am camping or reading on the internet. My main problem with alcohol is the costs. It is a very expensive habit. If I shall stop again that will be my main motive.

I have also been obsessed with the idea that our culture is mentally ill lately. I see so many crazy things going on around me and it perplexes me. I had a discussion with my father the other day. We were talking about the puritanical work ethic and the value of it. I have seen my father toil for thirty years in a job he often complains about. It has made him a very wealthy man but he has little time to do anything other than work. I asked him:

“Why not work less and downsize? Sell the BMW and buy a cheap used car. Sell that huge house and pay cash for a moderately sized one that is more economical? Enjoy your life for a change.”

He argued with me that it was his “right” to have nice things and it is important to his social standing. He has a duty just like any man to work and provide for his family. I wanted to argue that he had paid a dear price for such fickle things but knew my opinion would have not carried much weight. From my own experiences these past few years I have grown to be an ardent minimalist. I realize that the simpler my life, the greater my happiness quotient.

I have also been very worried about my mother. Yesterday, I walked over just to spend some time with her. She would not get out of the bed. I sat in a chair in the bedroom so we could carry on a conversation. She will literally lie in the bed around the clock if she can. I hate to see her waste her life. She dreads everything and wants nothing more than to just lay there. She only sleeps at night. How see can lie all day in bed with a quilt over her is beyond me. I really wish I could somehow get her some help but my family members are only interested in the status quo. Before her nervous breakdown she was a spitfire and extremely active person. Now everyone is content that she is over medicated, quiet, and out of the picture. I would rather be dead than live like that; just wasting the rest of my life lying in bed doing nothing. This situation severely distresses me as I could see my family easily doing this to me. Keep him medicated. Keep him quiet. We don’t want him embarrassing us or having radical thoughts or beliefs. This same situation is reflected in much of our culture as well. Go with the flow. Work forty hours a week. Don’t question authority. Do as you are told. Buy things to support the economy.

I have lately grown frustrated with college as well. Don’t get me wrong. I greatly appreciate the opportunity to learn and have it paid for but I also see much absurdity in it as well. The majority of my classmates are not interested in learning. They are interested in points. The ladies I study with short term memorize this stuff, go take a test, and never think about the material again or comprehend it. It is all about just obtaining a good enough GPA to get into their corresponding nursing schools. I get frustrated with this as we should be LEARNING and COMPREHENDING the material. Anyone can just memorize this stuff and go regurgitate it on some form. I am finding college just to be a rite of passage to obtain a certain kind of employment and not an institution of learning. That is all the majority of students are interested in. This is very frustrating to me.

The subject of relationships came up the other day with a family member. They asked me when I was going to get remarried and have kids. I replied that I don’t have any intentions to ever get married again. This was not the answer they expected. My several years of married life to my ex-wife was a miserable existence. I felt as if I was in prison. I vowed to never let another person such as a wife dictate my emotions or my actions. I will have to live with someone many years before I ever get married again. I will also be extremely choosy in my next mate. I also don’t feel I should ever have children. There is a strong history of severe mental illness on my mother’s side of the family. These people shouldn’t have been procreating and perpetuating these genes. They all lived chaotic lives filled with strained relations with family members. I do not want to do that to my children. My brother is a fine, devoted father who is very suited to parenthood. I will let him carry on the genetic line of our lineage.

To close this essay I will ask one last question. What would be my ideal life and existence? A quiet minimal existence in some secluded corner of the world. I very much plan on working for awhile after college and saving up a large amount of money then will quit. I want to buy a nice piece of rural land and build a cabin. I want to live a minimal as possible existence. When I run out of money I shall work for a few years and then repeat the process. I do not want to have to toil for forty years to only retire when I am too old to be very active. I would also like to join the ranks of hobopoets and travel the world some. I want to experience other parts of world and explore other cultures. I find mainstream American culture to seem sterile, stifling, oppressive, and boring. Good day

Friday, February 25, 2005

Last evening in a recap……

I ended up sleeping for most of the day today. I didn’t sleep well last night. Now, I feel groggy but well. I fear a late night tonight and my schedule is all out of whack. My medication can sometimes make me drowsy like that. It was much needed though and I feel good tonight and well rested. I am just concerned about all my gear I left in the field this morning. This is several hundred dollars of very nice camping gear. It is on private land and you do have to use 4 wheel drives to get there though so I shouldn’t worry too much.

Yesterday, I set up camp in a very secluded spot off in the pine woods a way from the pond. It was a very nice spot amid old growth pines; tall, huge pine trees that create great shade and deter any undergrowth. The soft needles on the forest floor made for a comfortable and nice area to pitch my tent. Then I spent an hour gathering up fire wood. The recent ice storm we experienced brought down many limbs and I used my little camp axe to chop up lots up kindling and limbs. It was still slightly green wood so I wondered how it would burn. I did find a few large old logs of oak and drug them back as well. I built a big teepee fire as outline in my US armies field guide but had trouble getting it to light. I finally was a wuss and brought out my toilet paper as a fire starter and soon had a good fire going. Green pine boughs do put off a great deal of acrid smoke though.

Then it was time for supper. I boiled some water and poured it into my freeze dried meal pouches and sealed them letting them steep a bit. For supper I had reconstituted spaghetti w/meat sauce and raspberry crumble for desert. It was very tasty and filling. Then I cleaned up and gathered myself around the fire to have a smoke from my pipe and to listen to the radio. The sun had begun to set and the sky was cast with beautiful oranges and pinks. You could hear the far off cries of crows and a barn owl. Then the leopard frogs and bullfrogs at the pond started their nightly serenades.

For the longest time, I just sat there mesmerized by the fire and put on more limbs to keep it hot. It would crackle and pop from the green wood and send bright, orange embers wafting up with the updraft. I occasionally I took a few stiff drinks from my bottle of southern comfort. Soon I was very comfortably numb. The big fire cast the whole area with an orange and pleasant glow. I reeked of camp fire smoke though; that smell of the ashes after you put a fire out by water was what I smelled like

Finally, it had come time for bed as the night was growing chilly. My warm sleeping bag awaited me. I took the two large oak logs and put them on the bright fire so they would burn for most of the night and then I picked up my trash and drug my backpack and gear into the tent with me. I added the rest of the wood to get the fire going roaring hot and prepared for bed. I took off my clothes, put on my thermal underwear and crawled into the bag adjusting the draft collar. I lit my little camp candle lantern and proceeded to read a novel. I lay in the bag for longest time without growing sleepy. I looked at my watch and it was after midnight. The crackling fire outside lit up my tent in orange flickering hues and it was comforting.

Suddenly the urge to use the bathroom hit me. “Well Shit!” I thought. I crawled out of my warm bag, put on my shoes, and grabbed my little maglite flashlight. I stumbled well away from camp in the dark and finally found a suitable spot and did my business. I then trudged back to my tent. By this time I was very chilly. No sooner than I had lay down and gotten comfortable I had to go again. (This is the not so fun part of camping.) I hastily put back on my shoes and went through the whole process on more time. I was experiencing a bad case of irritable bowel syndrome. I kept my fingers crossed that this would be the last time as it was darn right chilly outside. Can you just picture some white guy in his underwear making mad dashes through the woods to nature’s bathroom? lol

By this time, it was 3 am and I just lay their thinking. I could not go to sleep. The crackle of the fire was comforting and the soft breezes blowing through the pain boughs brought back a hundred memories. It was a pleasant moment of quiet contemplation as I went through my recent life in my mind. I finally drifted off to sleep.

This morning, I awoke well before dawn. The forest was eerily quiet and just lay there. I dawned on my that I had an appointment and a panicked. This thrust me awake and my mind raced. As sun as the sun had started to rise enough to illuminate the forest, I frantically put on my clothes, got in the car, and raced home. I made it with plenty of time to spare. My shot is paramount to my health and I couldn’t miss this. It would also deeply disturb my father as I have to go by his pharmacy to pick it up before going to the doctor’s office. This was just not a good ending to an enjoyable little jaunt into the woods though. At least the shot wasn’t that painful today.

Sensory Overload……

What a stark difference I experienced this morning. One moment I was in a quiet and serene forest setting and the next I am thrust into the chaotic maelstrom that was the doctor’s office waiting room. The TV was blaring on some god awful 24 hour news network. Cell phones were ringing and being answered by patrons. Throngs of people were coughing and talking. I felt as if I were about to jump out of my skin. I had to wait a good hour in this terrible mess and almost got in my car and drove home. It was that disturbing. I am just glad that ordeal is over and done with. My shot was almost painless today so that was the one good thing about today’s experience.

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I feel a certain frustration with blogging lately. I find that I am overly lazy as a writer. I read some wonderfully written blogs such as this one and it inspires me to be a better writer. Far too often I just find myself rambling about my daily life. It just so easy to do and feels natural to me. What could I write about that would make this blog more interesting?

Politics? No, I hate politics and find the subject trite and boring. I only read one political blog and it is written by a voluntary homeless man in Tampa. Much of what he writes bores me to tears but I feel I have a vested interest in his well being and read mainly to keep up with him. Elections, in my opinion, are just a popularity contest with the majority of politicians being under qualified for the job.

Religion? What is there to write about a lack of belief in something? I simply do not believe in mythological grand beings that are controlling the direction of my life. I never found Jesus because I never lost him in the first place. Many blogs I stop by talk a lot about what God is doing in their lives and their relationship with some long dead carpenter’s son. It makes me cringe to read such silly things.

Homelessness? Been there and done that. I got the plaque on my wall to prove it. One homeless blogger writes that there is more to homeless people than being homeless but that is almost all he ever talks about, homelessness. I am very interested in sustainable and comfortable homelessness thus my experiments in camping and hiking. There are some great blogs popping up with more able authors than I that are writing about this. This is forcing some people to reevaluate how they live and their stigmas about homelessness. I applaud their efforts and their novel ideas.

Mental illness? I hate to come across as whiney and a hypochondriac. I simply look at mental illness as an imbalance in my brain chemistry; a chronic ailment no different than diabetes. I have to take medicine the same as a diabetic takes insulin. I wish more people held this view. There are still many stigmas associated with mental illness and I guess I could do more to help dissolve them. The fact is that most people in my real life don’t know I have a mental illness. I hide it and do not talk about it. It is kind of odd that I talk about it openly on a website visited by strangers don’t you think? It is also very hard to put the experience to words. You have to experience it first hand.

Popular Culture? Nope, I do not even participate in popular culture. I rarely even watch the TV and avoid the news. I can’t remember the last time I watched a movie. I mainly watch one television show a few times a week and I download it off of the internet as it doesn’t have commercials. I used to be militantly anti-TV but realized it was a waste of my time. People are going to waste their lives sitting in front of a glowing box no matter what I say or do. I still do occasionally watch Nova and Frontline but lately Frontline has been aggravating me because all they show are episodes about the Iraqi war.

To be continued……..

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Another day dawns…….

Well, I made it to my morning class. I drug myself to the car and drove the fifteen minutes to school. My floorboards were filled with water from the rain last night and every time I hit the brakes the water would slosh forward onto my feet. It was very frustrating. So there I sat in class in a sleepy daze with wet tennis shoes. I did find out that my evening class is cancelled so I am going to head out soon.

On an interesting side note, I spoke to my World Literature instructor this morning. He told me that he used my essays on Gilgamesh and The Oresteia as an example of how to write good essays in MLA format to his English 102 class. That made me very proud. It made me beam with pride on an otherwise dreary morning.

I have decided to forego going to the river. It has been very warm lately and that most likely means the usual black men who drink and fish will be down at the river. I very much need some solitude. I think I am going to drive the 45 minutes to Waverly, Alabama and camp out by our pond on some land that my father owns. This is a completely secluded spot miles away from any habitation. It is over a hundred acres. The land is filled with old growth hard woods and pines. I am going to pitch my tent amid the pines upon the soft bedding of pine needles on the forest floor. We have yet to stock the pond with fish so I will not be able to go fishing. Dad is planning on stocking it this spring.

I have $20 dollars left from this week’s budget. I have been very frugal this week. I am going to buy a fifth of southern comfort and go drown my sorrows for a few days. I am going to smoke ample amounts from my pipe and sit by a crackling fire. I also have great hopes for a few good storms tonight even though that entails being stuck in my tent. There is nothing like the patter of rain and the rumbles of thunder to soothe my soul. I shall don my little radio, tune it to NPR, take a few stiff drinks, and throw a few more limbs on the fire. I also need to finish The Last of the Mohicans and will endeavor to do that as well. Good day and I hope you all have a good weekend. I am off to spend some very much needed quality solitude time with myself.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

An adventure to the Chattahoochee…….

Wow….what a warm day. I have run the air conditioning unit all day it has been so warm. I also wore shorts and t-shirts. The summer time insects have made a brief reemergence and are calling outside as I write. There have also been numerous severe thunderstorm warnings this evening.

I’ve had a busy past few days. Most of today I spent catching up on school and organizing/re-writing all my notes for biology. I did get back my biology lab exam results this morning and I made 47 out of 50. One question asked what the arm like appendages on an amoeba was. I put amoeboid arm and the answer was pseudopod so there went two points. I also missed another point for simply writing electron microscope when I should have elaborated and written scanning electron microscope to differentiate between scanning and transmission electron scopes.

I have another grand journey planned for this weekend. I am going to spend some time tonight organizing my backpacking and fishing gear. I also splurged and took some money out of my emergency fund and went and bought some freeze dried meals for this weekend.

I am going to hike down to the river and at least spend two nights possibly Friday night and Saturday night. I hope to get some good fishing in and feed myself at least one meal off of what I catch. It has been awhile since I field dressed fish and cooked them so I need the practice. The freeze dried meal pouches I have already packed in my pack are 1 Spaghetti w/Meat sauce, 1 Chili Mac, 2 Granola w/Blueberries and milk, 1 Raspberry crumble, and 1 Blueberry Cheesecake. I plan on eating well and having a grand time.

On a side note, I see that the Alabama Legislature spent the majority of today’s session deciding and voting on the state amphibian. I hate to see them burdened with such pressing issues with all we have going on in our world. *sarcasm*

Well, I am off to go clean the ceramic filter in my water filter. I get so excited just by going through all my gear and organizing it. I may even don my pack and walk around the block just to check the balance and the weight. Good night and thanks for stopping by.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Tired of moving…..

I am taking a break from moving as Charlie had to run over to his house to check on some workers that are finishing his garage. I have carried enough furniture and moved them up flights of stairs for a life time. We still have quite a bit to go though.

Yesterday, we had an extravaganza that was my neice’s one year birthday party. More than sixty people came. The cake had three tiers just like a wedding cake. I thought it all was ridiculous in a way but we did have a good time. Like I said before my sister-in-law is a Martha Stewart want to be. Charlie cooked enough hotdogs and hamburgers to feed an army. So you know what I will be eating the next few days – leftovers. I am not complaining though as that will make up for the short fall in last weeks budget. That means fewer groceries to buy this week.

The more stuff we move out of my house the more excited I grow. I know it will be many more weeks until I move in but I am excited none the less. Dad even told me yesterday that he is buying me a dishwasher and will have it installed as a housewarming present. That was damn nice of him and I appreciate very much. Hand washing dishes can be old if you cook a lot like me.

Well, let me go get in a quick smoke of my pipe and a soda and back to work I go. I guess my weekend of being lazy has come back to haunt me. 8^)

Sunday, February 20, 2005

What one may call laziness another may call bliss…..

I often think about my days of yesteryear; especially the time last summer where I didn’t have a car and very little money. During that time, my mind was like a sponge. I scoured the internet looking for unconventional and unorthodox ways of thinking and doing things. I look back on it as a very formative time in my life. I also spent a lot of time camping, hiking, and contemplating. I now look back on those days with a certain longing. At the time, I thought I was poor and destitute but I was very rich in spirit indeed.

As my life grows ever more complicated, more and more demands are placed upon me. I feel this urge to stay busy and productive. Sometimes I have to sit down and I realize that it is okay to be lazy. Yes, I said that word that has a demeaning stigma to some. I don’t have to fill every hour of my day with activities. It is okay to sit, read, and contemplate. It is okay to watch life go on around you. I feel that many times we are so busy that the little, meaningful things in life pass us by. So that has mainly been what this weekend has entailed. I didn’t study per say in a traditional sense. I didn’t feel I had to do laundry or tidy up my apartment. I just spent a lot of time sitting, resting, and thinking. I feel much better for it this Sunday.

Saturday, February 19, 2005

Gaining my own home PHASE II…….

The new house I bought has been put on the back burner for a long time. Now, it seems, we are fixing to get the ball rolling. Very soon within weeks I will be moved into my new home. I am ecstatically excited!

Charlie has been using my new house for storage. It is full of his antique furniture and odds and ends. Monday we are going to spend all day moving everything out and getting ready for me to move in. Charlie called the electrician last night and we are going to have the complete house rewired. The bathroom also needs to be tiled and sheetrock put up in it. I did most of the painting months ago but I still need to paint the wood trim around the doors and windows. Charlie wanted to leave them the original pine wood color but to me they really dates the house and makes it look old. I want them painted so he agreed to help me. I am very excited and hope my sore shoulder holds up in all that moving Monday. On a very good note, Charlie went and bought a nice, brand new stove and refrigerator yesterday and it letting me have them with the house. We just need to get the ice maker hooked up in the fridge.

Well, I see Charlie has pulled up in the white truck and is moving stuff upstairs. I better get off my ass and go help or he will get pissed with me. Good day.

Friday, February 18, 2005

The long walk home…..

The long walk home is always the worst part. I always over pack my backpack for the worst case scenario and the thing seems to weigh a ton. A little less than a year ago I broke my arm, shoulder, and tore my rotator cuff in a motorcycle accident. My shoulder balked with pain and soreness on the long hike home this morning. Putting on that heavy backpack is also an interesting experience as I have to sit down on the ground to put it on and then stand up. I still have very little strength in my left arm despite months of rehabilitation at the hospital last year.

Last evening it was much colder than I had thought it would be. I had to really layer my clothes the stay warm and keep the fire going hot and bright. My feet were the first to succumb to the cold and I had to take off my hiking boots and place my wool sock adorned feet near the fire. It also took a good two hours for my hoboes to cook thoroughly but that piping hot supper made a big difference in my body temperature and I was soon almost hot. I had to take off my heavy jacket to cool down a bit.

After supper, I sat by the fire listening to my radio and smoking my pipe. I had also brought along a pint of southern comfort and took occasional swigs from its flask. (Yes, I have started to drink again but on a very moderate basis. So far, so good.) My body soon coursed with the warmness the alcohol imbibed. One thing that spooked me was that with my headphones on and the radio playing, I couldn’t hear what was going on out in the forest. I would occasionally think I would hear something loud such as a loud crack of the underbrush and would take off my headphones and listen a good while. I could feel the adrenaline start to flow in these moments. At least there was a half moon so I could see a good distance around me but the moonlight and the fire cast eerie shadows.

This morning I got up before dawn and couldn’t go back to sleep. It was also very cold so I just lay in my sleeping bag listening to the pre-dawn sounds of the forest. There is a certain magical hour where just as the sun is coming up the forest comes to life. The birds all begin to call in earnest as if to announce the rising of the sun. Another thing that always piques my senses is the smell of the forest on a cold morning. That smell brings back a thousand memories from my homeless days; that smell of pine pitch and decomposing leaf litter on the forest floor.

After the day had warmed up a bit, I put on some warm clothes and hiked down to the nearby stream to filter some water into my water bottle. I got enough for my little camp coffee maker and headed back up the trail. I then got another fire started and lit my little propane stove. Upon it I got my morning coffee going and listened to the morning edition of NPR as I added more wood to the fire to get it roaring. I didn’t feel like cooking breakfast and was not that hungry. I had two eggs and two slices of bacon in a zip lock bag and just gave them to whatever forest denizens cared for them.

I decided to forego my fishing trip as the day turned out to be much colder than I had assumed. There was a brisk, out of the north, wind and the temps stayed in the thirties. I finished my coffee, packed up all my gear, put out the fire, and heading the 5 miles home. All in all, it was an enjoyable trip except for the cold this morning. It is damn hard to get out of that warm sleeping bag when it is below freezing outside.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The great adventure begins……

Well, I have decided to go camping tonight. I am going to hike the 5 miles out spring road into the country and set up a camp site. I have all my gear packed up and ready to go and lots of good camp food. I even made a homemade bag of GORP (Good old raisins and peanuts). I have my own eclectic blend and add peanut M&Ms, sunflower seeds, and shaved coconut slices. For supper I have enough provisions for two hoboes (beef patties covered with onions, carrots, and potatoes with a sauce). I am also packing some eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I called my father this evening to let him know I will be gone until tomorrow afternoon.

“You are going to freeze your nuts off tonight.” He said.

“Tonight will be a warm night compared to some I experienced out in the woods last year.” I replied.

“Well, have a good time and watch out for bears.” He said.

We both laughed as there aren’t any bears where I live. The most dangerous animals are your rabid raccoons and food marauding armadillos.

I really look forward to tonight. I need a break and need to get out into the wild woods that beckon for me. I can’t wait to get a big fire started and to sit around the campfire and listen to my radio. I have packed plenty of warm clothes so should be comfortable despite it getting down to 28 degrees tonight. I have also packed all my fishing gear and plan to try my luck in the morning once the day has warmed up sufficiently.

Tonight, if you stop by, just picture me sitting around my campfire with my headphones on and my tobacco pipe in hand. The flickering fire will be casting beautiful yet ominous shadows. The hoot owls and the crickets will serenade me. Good night and may your weekend be as blessed as mine hopefully will be. Nature here I come.

The great adventure begins……

Well, I have decided to go camping tonight. I am going to hike the 5 miles out spring road into the country and set up a camp site. I have all my gear packed up and ready to go and lots of good camp food. I even made a homemade bag of GORP (Good old raisins and peanuts). I have my own eclectic blend and add peanut M&Ms, sunflower seeds, and shaved coconut slices. For supper I have enough provisions for two hoboes (beef patties covered with onions, carrots, and potatoes with a sauce). I am also packing some eggs and bacon for breakfast.

I called my father this evening to let him know I will be gone until tomorrow afternoon.

“You are going to freeze your nuts off tonight.” He said.

“Tonight will be a warm night compared to some I experienced out in the woods last year.” I replied.

“Well, have a good time and watch out for bears.” He said.

We both laughed as there aren’t any bears where I live. The most dangerous animals are your rabid raccoons and food marauding armadillos.

I really look forward to tonight. I need a break and need to get out into the wild woods that beckon for me. I can’t wait to get a big fire started and to sit around the campfire and listen to my radio. I have packed plenty of warm clothes so should be comfortable despite it getting down to 28 degrees tonight. I have also packed all my fishing gear and plan to try my luck in the morning once the day has warmed up sufficiently.

Tonight, if you stop by, just picture me sitting around my campfire with my headphones on and my tobacco pipe in hand. The flickering fire will be casting beautiful yet ominous shadows. The hoot owls and the crickets will serenade me. Good night and may your weekend be as blessed as mine hopefully will be. Nature here I come.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

A once great man……

(A post I started last night and finished this evening in a burst of energy.)

I had good intentions to go to bed early tonight but I find myself sitting here at this computer thinking and longing to write. I am listening to Palestrina’s Missa Aeterna Christi Munera mass and find myself lost in thought to the beautiful polyphony. It is typical of the polyphonic masses that arose in the renaissance period of early church music. I find the voices haunting and yet so beautiful at the same time.

Tonight I had planned to share the results of my second music appreciation exam. I drove all the way to the campus to find that we will not have class this week. I will not know my results until next week. I then drove to my father’s business as it is not far from the campus. I was recruited into delivering an oxygen unit and a nebulizer via the company van. They handed me a slip of paper with the delivery address on it and I had a good inkling as to where the customers resided. After packing up what supplies I needed, I headed on my way.

I finally found the house and it was very run down. I looked again at the address and looked at the mail box. Yep, it was the same. I then got out and walked to the front door and knocked.

“COME ON IN!” Someone shouted.

I carefully opened the door and shyly made my entrance.

“You from the pharmacy?” The elderly man asked.

He was sitting on the couch hooked to an oxygen tank and eating ice cream out of the carton with a spoon very vigorously.

“Yes sir, I have your oxygen unit and your nebulizer.” I replied.

“Put the god damned thing in the bedroom.” He said pointing towards a room to the left.

The house was filthy and reeked of cigarette smoke and urine. Everything had this dingy, brown pall to it. I looked at the pictures on the wall in the den. This very elderly man had once been in the military and served in world war two. The wall was adorned with many black and white photos from the forties of his military days. He was a dashing, handsome young man in his youth. Many pictures showed off his military uniform adorned with medals. Now, he is a mere shadow of those long ago days. He was frail and bent over with age. He was dependent upon a machine to breathe.

I proceeded to hook up the oxygen unit and to show him how to use the nebulizer. I also had eight forms for them to sign, literally. He hollered to his elderly wife to come and sign his name to the forms. I brought her into the kitchen to the kitchen table and we sat down.

“Sign here, here, and here.” I said pointing to the locations.

She was bent over with age and her hand shaked terribly. She grasped the pen and started to sign. Her finger nails were hideously long and yellow with age. She could barely hold the pen. I turned the form over and revealed another location to sign.

“How many more times do I have to sign?” She asked with consternation.

“Four more.” I replied and put a finger on the locations.

“HUH?” She asked loudly as she could barely hear.

“FOUR MORE!” I shouted loudly and pointed to the dotted lines.

“I’m not signing any more of these damn papers.” She hollered.

“JUST SIGN THE GOD DAMNED PAPERS, WILMA!” The elderly man in the other room shouted.

“WHAT?” The elderly lady shouted.

“FOR CHRIST’S SAKE, SIGN THE GOD DAMNED PAPERS FOR THE BOY!” He shouted so loudly that he started to hack and cough from the exertion.

By this time, I was ready to leave and head home as I was tired. I finally coerced the lady into signing four more times. The amount of times they had to sign was ridiculous so I made a mental note to tell my father about it. It was a policy implemented by his co-pharmacist.

As I rode home, I thought of this once proud man and those dashing pictures of his youth. I also thought of his elderly wife who seemed pitiful and was once a beautiful, young lady. My own mortality dawned upon me. Will I grow old and pitiful like that? Will my last days be spent in turmoil? I hope not and it makes me appreciate the good life that rests before me now.

A proud man presents:

World Literature Essay Exam Scores

Well, I managed to get a 91 on my world literature exams. The instructor told me I was one of only two As in the forty person class. That made me very proud. I was very nervous as I haven’t had an English related class in almost 14 years and have never heard of the MLA format for essays. I will credit blogging for helping me grow in my writing abilities over this past year. It has greatly increased my vocabulary as well.

Sorry, I didn’t have much of interest to post today. I had a very busy day. I was working on a story about last night’s ordeal as a delivery driver for my father’s pharmacy but ran out of steam. I may get up the energy to finish it tonight or maybe not. My first priority is to go smoke a celebratory pipe and enjoy a fresh, hot, cup of gourmet coffee. The coffee pot is percolating loudly as we speak so I must go attend to more pressing matters. Good night and blog on!

Casting off the funks at last……

Motivation is sorely lacking the past few days. I realize now that it is my medication. When I am in a manic mood I get so much done and am very industrious. Lately, I’ve only had the motivation to sleep great deals. I shall play personal psychiatrist and discontinue my medication and see if that makes a difference. I have no side effects what so ever on my Risperdal Consta. I wish I could say the same for depakote as I had great hopes for it.

Last night, I drove all the way over to campus only to find out we didn’t have music appreciation this week. Our instructor had previous engagements. I knew this but somehow forgot so no results from my exam till next week. Did I mention my brain has been in a hazy funk? Yes, it has. I am a live version of Night of the Living Dead lately! lol

I had a psychology exam this morning and made 100 percent on it. At least the dufus worded the exam so we actually had to put some effort into it. This time he didn’t just give us what questions and answers would be on the exam. You actually had to read the chapters and study. I came! I marked boxes! I conquered!

Well, I have to have Beowulf read by this evening and must get off this computer and get to work. If this post seems disjointed you just have to understand my mental frame of mind lately. It has been a discombobulated mess. Good day. 8^)

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

No results…..

Sorry, no results as we don’t have class for the rest of the week. I drove all the way to the campus and forgot that we did not have class this week. Our instructor has a previous engagement. I told you I was in a hazy, murky funk today. I am now going to go take my medicine, crawl into bed, and sleep until lunch tomorrow. Good night.

Frustrations mount……

Today has not been a swell day. It started out with me over sleeping a slight bit. I woke up with the alarm clock blaring and it was 8 AM. I had set it for 7:30 AM. I am not sure if it is my new medication but I have been in a drowsy funk all day. Even small tasks seem insurmountable. I did make it to my morning biology class on time but had a hard time concentrating and taking notes. I just sat there scribbling into my notebook like a zombie.

After class, the ladies I study with wanted me to go out to lunch with them and then we were going to study. I reluctantly agreed as they were very persuasive. I completely fucked over my budget this week by doing this. They all wanted to go to a trendy sandwich shop in an antique market up the road. The food was very good but very expensive. I ordered a chicken salad sandwich and a small bowl of cheese and crab corn chowder and the total came to $10.95. I could have made chicken salad sandwiches for a week on what it cost to eat one sandwich there. I feel wasteful and reckless for doing this. I was just starving though and craving social interaction. It felt good that they all so persistently wanted me to join them.

Afterwards, we attempted to study but our study session broke down into gossiping and small talk. I sat there looking painfully bored and fidgeting with my mechanical pencil. I really needed to use this time to study. I finally closed my books and put them in my backpack and told everyone good day and good bye. I lied and made up an excuse to why I had to go. I had wasted enough time and really needed a nap before my evening class. It was also unbearably hot in the student lounge and I needed a change of clothes as I was wearing a flannel long sleeve shirt.

After leaving school, I drove by work to check on my schedule for next week. The young lady who works with me asked me if she could have some of my hours for a few days. She had a ton of bills come up and needed some money. I told her it was fine with me as long as the director approved. She is a single mother and needs the money much more than me. She got many of my hours this week and next. I was kind of relieved as I need a break from a very busy past few weeks. I am going to try and concentrate on school for the foreseeable days ahead.

It is now late afternoon and I am still in a hazy, drowsy funk. I crave crawling back into my soft bed and sleeping until morning but I can’t. I still have one more class to go and that is music appreciation. I don’t want to miss that as I will get the results from my second exam tonight. I am nervous and apprehensive about it as it was several essay questions and I hope I did well. Keep your fingers crossed. I will post my results tonight before I go to bed.

Monday, February 14, 2005

The first signs of spring……

The daffodils and bluebonnets are blooming in earnest in the yard. The lawn is also turning green again. It got up to 75 degrees today and was very warm here. I so wanted to share pictures of the flowers and almost went out and bought a digital camera at Wal-Mart. I held my paycheck in hand and debated over it. My better nature got the best of me though. I deposited that amount into my savings/emergency account. It would be silly of me to buy a frivolous camera just to post pictures to a weblog. I feel defiant tonight in that I resisted the urge to impulse buy.

Tonight I had an exam in World Literature. It was 100 multiple choice questions and they were quite tricky. I have no earthly idea on how well I did. I will find out Wednesday night. I did take the time to go over every answer a second time but caught myself second guessing a lot. The questions on the exam were like this:

The epic of Gilgamesh is believed to have its origins around ______________.
A) 400 BC
B) 1200 BC
C) 2700 BC
D) 3500 BC

Much ancient literature was passed down______________________.
A) Orally
B) Through transcription.
C) Clay tablets.
D) On scrolls



There you can get an idea of what was asked and how it was worded.

Tomorrow, I have my early Biology class and must not dick around on the web tonight. I need to get to bed at a rational hour and will endeavor to do so. I am now off to go take a shower and fix a bite to eat. Left over barbeque it is! Yum.

Jumping ship……

I sometimes picture my former life as that of the Titanic; slowly sinking, breaking apart, and heading towards the bottom of the ocean. The swift currents of its demise were pulling me towards the bottom with it. I realized I had to jump ship and find a life raft. For the first time in my life I started to set obtainable goals. Not these grand designs I had in my mind for greatness at the time; just simple goals such as getting my car fixed, getting stable on a medication, and finding lasting employment.

What I learned from my own experience getting out of homelessness was that you had to take an orthodox approach. Something very much conventional and you had to ask for help from others especially family if they are available. You have to utilize all the resources set in front of you that are available with the same zeal as what you would put into a pastime you are passionate about. One homeless blogger is attempting to “knit a home” through his arts and crafts efforts. I have my doubts of its efficacy and will be pleasantly surprised if it works. From my own experience, I would urge him to take a more conventional route and start seeking social services. The stress of getting out of homelessness is great in and upon itself let alone the stress of starting and maintaining a small business to do so at the same time.

As I tackled each problem, one at a time, things began to fall into place. I reached out to my family members and they were my life raft. They saw me struggling and trying and they rallied around me. I took much time for me to regain their trust and complete support though. I had burned many bridges over the years and had to humbly apologize and work towards solutions. I realize now that many homeless people do not share in my good fortune. They do not have the safety net that was afforded me.

Homeless success stories on the internet are few and far between. You are more likely to encounter sad stories and tales of struggle and destitution. Some of what you read may not even be true as I once experienced with another homeless blogger. He proclaimed great strides in his sobriety and the direction he was going and then suddenly grew silent. Days, weeks, and months passed and there was still no word. It turned out he was drinking all along and had assaulted a police officer and was imprisoned for a duration of several years.

There is also the recent emergence of several blogs that extol the virtues of a nomadic and homeless lifestyle. These give tips on how to live homeless and still live comfortably. I find these blogs very interesting and informative. You will find the authors to be passionate, brilliant in their own rights, and great writers. Sadly, what they teach and what they expound is not obtainable for the majority of street people or more conventional homeless people. What they teach takes a certain keen resourcefulness and brilliance that I fear most street people lack.

I will close by saying that I would not trade my homeless days for anything in the world. It taught me to appreciate so many things on so many levels where as before I was clueless. I value what many of us take for granted. I have a new found zeal and quest in my life where before I wandered aimlessly. Someday, I want to be a professional social worker and start making a difference in the lives of others. I want to share my success and my enthusiasm that almost anything can be overcome with help and determination. Let’s hope that one day I get to put these ideals into practice. In the meantime, I intend to savor this interesting journey I am on. I want to drink full from the cup of life and take time to notice the little things around me. Much of the good things in life can be fleeting and I want to relish them when they happen. Good day.

Sunday, February 13, 2005

A call in the dark….

I got a call from my brother in San Diego tonight. This always excites me and I feel good that he is making an effort to keep up with me. I am fiercely proud of him and what he has accomplished. He will soon be an oncologist.

“I just wanted to know how school was going. You haven’t been following my plan of study have you?” He said as he laughed.

“Hell no!” I replied. “I don’t think I could study forty hours a week.”

“Well, I love you man and am proud of you and all that you have accomplished this last year.” He told me. “I, Jennifer, and Lilly look forward to seeing you this weekend.”

“Bro, I look forward to seeing you all as well.” I replied as a tear erupted from my eye.

“You were always the smartest one of all of us. You know that? You can do so much if you put your mind to it.” He said.

If he had been here I would have given him a big hug and had a brother bonding moment. Our simple gestures over the phone had to suffice. We went on to talk a good while about life and some of my symptoms I had experienced lately. He told me he would call in a prescription of zanax for me if I needed it. I politely declined as I felt this would be imposing on him. I then bid him farewell and got ready for bed.

It is hard to describe the warm feeling that I have right now. It means so much to me when my brother will take the time out of his busy schedule to call. He seems genuinely concerned for my well being. When we were kids, we were inseparable. We had to sleep in the same room. Everything we did, we did together. Somehow, over the years we drifted apart. My life went one way and his went the other. Now things seem to come to a full circle as our lives are once again intertwined. I cannot express how much his calls mean to me in words. I feel it would be a clumsily written treatise on our new relationship.

Well, I must head to bed and call it a night. I took a long bath upstairs in the bath tub and am wonderfully relaxed. My body has the comforting smell of Irish Spring soap and all feels clean. I also had a wonderful supper of my barbeque. I have enough left to feed an army. I think I shall go drink a glass of milk, take my depakote, and mosey towards the bed. No school books tonight but I do have an interesting novel on the American Indian in the southeast that I am reading. One more pipe and my blissfully warm covers and a good book wait. Good night and thanks for reading.

The procrastinating man….

I should be studying but my brain is tired and I do not feel like exercising it. I only have the energy to goof off on the internet. Luckily, I am pretty caught up on my course work so this is not a make it or break it situation.

I was reading Prison Pete and I am fascinated with what kind of food they serve in prison. Is that not odd? I just find it interesting for some reason. I was dismayed that his appeal was denied and he has to serve his state sentence though. I sometimes get to feeling sorry for myself and I go read his blog and it reminds me of how grateful I should be for my freedom and the lifestyle I live.

I woke up really early this morning and went for my daily walk. It is a very warm day and I didn’t even have to wear a jacket. The sun was just coming up as I headed down towards the Piggly Wiggly. Dumpster diving Dan was in the dumpster looking for morsels to eat as usual. I waved hello and he waved back. He is down there everyday without fail.

So what did you eat today? After my walk, I made a big breakfast. I cooked scrambled cheese eggs, buttery grits, spicy pork sausage, and toast. I have a pork butt in the crock pot for supper and I am going to make pulled pork barbeque out of it. I have a homemade barbeque sauce simmering on the oven as we speak. It was my grandmother’s special recipe. My father says that we kids would eat a dish towel if it was covered in this sauce. He is probably right. The smells of that barbeque sauce and simmering pork fill my apartment and my stomach is grumbling. I am ready to make a barbeque sandwich now but I will have to wait many more hours.

Twenty and mad……

It started in my early twenties. At the time, I didn’t know what was going on. It’s hard to tell reality from fiction with schizophrenia. I would get extremely paranoid. I was living in an apartment in Montevallo, Alabama and going to college. I thought my neighbors upstairs had bugged my apartment. I could see little cameras in the corner of every room. I went so far as to tear out part of my ceiling in the den in the hunt for those cameras. I also could barely leave my apartment as I felt people were watching me and following me.

I will never forget that hot, blustery day I stood in front of a convenience store in a moment of lucidity. I called my father on a payphone.

“I need help. Something is not right.” I said.

“What do you mean? What’s happening?” He asked.

“I think I am going crazy!” I shouted.

He arranged for me to have a stay in the mental hospital and got me a psychiatrist. The problem was that I would not take the pills they were giving me. I thought they were trying to control my mind with those little pills. It took many years later when they got me on the risperdal injection that I got stable for the first, real time in my life.

Saturday, February 12, 2005

Windows Clear Type……

This is a little known feature of Windows XP and only works for XP. If you read a lot of blogs then this feature is a godsend. This feature anti-aliases the words on the screen making them ten times more easy to read. To turn it on:

Right click on desktop

Select properties.

Click on the appearance tab

Click on the effects button

Then you will see a check box with writing beside it that says, “Use the following method to smooth on screen fonts.”

Select ClearType and happy reading.


Keep in mind this only works for Windows XP. Windows ME, 98, and 95 does not support this.

Mental Hospitals……..

Been there, done that. I wasn’t fun either but it does help to get you stable again. Where I live we have what is called BIT (Brief intensive treatment.) You get to live and sleep within a community of mentally ill people. You are allowed no contact with the outside world. It is very much akin to jail in several ways. The only good aspect was the food as it is excellent there. I have a not so ethical acquaintance who feigns mental illness just so he can get a few weeks off from work and get three, great, square meals a day. He is also an idiot but that is another story for another time.

One of the hardest aspects of BIT was the harsh regimentation of the program. Almost every waking hour is scheduled with activities and therapy. At the same time many of us were so drugged that we could barely stay awake. I was on Haldol and Zyprexa at the time. Zyprexa acts like a super, strong sedative on me. I can literally sleep for days on end. You just don’t know the misery of having eye lids so heavy that you can barely keep them open. If you dozed off a counselor would poke or prod you back awake and make you participate in the group. I often thought many of them got a sadistic pleasure from doing this. I would long for bedtime when I could crawl under the covers and go sound to sleep.

Mental inspiration……

I updated and added some link to my sidebar. I also added an Interesting Biographies section that I used to have on my former blog. Two of special note are the ones on Pam Wagner and her sister and Dr. Frederick Frese. I will put a short quote of Dr. Frese’s biography up. I find it inspirational when I am going through a rough period.

Psychologist overcomes paranoid schizophrenia

Frederick Frese's astonishing story is simply this: Thirty years ago, he was locked up in an Ohio mental hospital, dazed and delusional, with paranoid schizophrenia. Twelve years later, he had become the chief psychologist for the very mental hospital system that had confined him.

Along the way, despite 10 other hospitalizations, he married, had four children and earned a master's degree and doctorate.

He's smart, impassioned and dedicated.

And now, after more than 300 public appearances in the last few years and a major role in a national campaign to end discrimination against the mentally ill, Frese is gaining prominence as a person who lives successfully with schizophrenia and who can share the lessons he and his family have learned from it.

Frese's accomplishments are remarkable by anyone's standards, given the often devastating nature of the disorder, which affects 2.5 million Americans. A fact sheet on schizophrenia from the National Institute of Mental Health calls it the most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses.

Afraid, withdrawn and tortured by inner thoughts and voices, people with schizophrenia, particularly those who refuse to take medication, are more prone to suicide or estrangement from society. Once locked inside mental hospitals, as Frese was, they now make up a significant portion of the homeless population; many others are in jail.

But Frese, 55, of Hudson, Ohio, between Cleveland and Akron, contends he's not all that unusual -- many others with schizophrenia lead fulfilling lives.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Seafood and a mall…….

My visit with the psychiatrist went okay. She prescribed me depakote for the mania I have been experiencing. It is supposed to help me sleep better. This was the first time I have seen Dr. Rheddi in quite a while. The most immediate thing she noticed was how nice I was dressed and that my teeth were fixed.

“You really are keeping yourself up now.” She said with an Asian Indian accent.

“I am a different man.” I replied proudly with a smile on my face.

I had to sign a waiver for the medication and then was on my way. Afterwards, I and mom went to eat at Red Lobster. We both got the Admiral’s Feast (fried shrimp, scallops, clams, and fish) with a side salad and blue cheese dressing. They have these cheese/garlic biscuits that I adore and I ate three. I was absolutely stuffed after our meal. The thing that shocked me was that it cost $45 bucks for me and mom to eat on meal. That is a weeks worth of groceries for me. Now you see why I rarely, if ever, eat out. This was a rare treat though and I relished it. On a funny, side note, mom splurged and drank a pina colada and got tipsy. Good thing I was driving. She can hardly walk straight sober.

After eating, we decided to run by the mall. Now, I hate shopping and I hate shopping malls even more but I had a $100 dollar gift card to Dillards. I also needed to buy my neice a present for her one year birthday party next weekend. My brother and his family are flying all the way from San Diego just so we all can share in my neice’s birthday. My sister-in-law invited sixty people to it. Is that not just a little overkill for a one year old’s birthday party? I think so but you just have to know my sister-in-law. She can be extravagant at times. I used to call her the Martha Stewart of the south.

Anyways, we made our way through the mall to Dillards. We were unsure were the baby clothes were. Mom kept asking complete strangers if they worked there.

“Excuse me, do you work here?” She would ask a total stranger.

“No ma’am, I do not.” Would be the reply with an apprehensive smile.

“Excuse me, do you know where the baby clothes are?” She asked another complete stranger.

“Mom, shut the hell up. You are embarrassing the shit outta me.” I replied in a harsh whisper finally with a mock smile on my face.

I finally found the baby section and purchased my neice a darling, cute, navy blue dress. I then headed towards the men’s department with mom in tow.

“Mom, pick up your feet.” I said.

“What?” She asked loudly.

“PICK UP YOUR FEET! You are dragging your feet and it is driving me crazy.” I replied.

She let out a laugh and I just had to laugh as well. I did purchase three nice flannel shirts, two pairs of khaki pants, and a tan button up coat for a total of $79. Thank god for sales. We were soon out of there faster than you can say shit on a stick as the ambience of the mall was affecting me much as garlic and holy crosses affect vampires. I braved the harsh traffic and finally we made our way home. Good night.

A whirlwind of a week……

I debated many times on putting this blog back up this week. I was having a lot of issues concerning it and my illness. I have been under a lot of stress lately. This week has been exam “hell” for me; a total of three exams in just a few days. On top of that, I had to work a lot. I am proud to say that I weathered the storm and made it through.

I did schedule a meeting with my psychiatrist this evening. Me and mother are going to drive down and see if she will give me something for anxiety and a racing mind. I have to find a balance between my mental health and the stress of school and work. I need help and cannot just do it by sheer will power alone.

Mom is going to treat me to Red Lobster after my consultation. I look forward to a good meal and time for us to talk. She insisted on going for support even though I tried to dissuade her from going. She knows very well what I am going through and understands where most do not. I insisted on driving though as she drives like a senior citizen.

I do not like whiny posts so I will close with saying that I am stable other than a few issues of paranoia. School is going well and things are moving along nicely. I am glad to have a long weekend break though and will catch up on my sleep and rest the next few days. No goddamned books or studying for two days at least and then I have to prepare for an exam on Monday. Good day and good bye for now.

What are my aspirations and what shall I do with a new blog?

My main goal is to become a social worker and help those with substance abuse and mental health issues. As a formerly homeless man and someone who suffers from mental illness I wish to make a difference and share what I have learned. Will I make it through four years of college? We will just have to see but I am off to a good start and am on my way.

One of the hardest things I am noticing about college is the drive for grades instead of knowledge. Far too many students toil for an A or B instead of actually learning the material in front of them and understanding it. It is an easy mindset to get into though as so much stock is put upon grades and your GPA. I am trying to break from that mold.

From time to time, I will discuss issues that are important to me and I think are relevant. I want this new blog to be much more than my old blog. I want to feel free to write creatively about almost any subject and not just a few. My old blog left me feeling restrained and compromised for some reason. Yes, I was getting over 100 hits a day from a variety of readers but I drew no satisfaction from that. I would rather have a little known blog and to be able to write freely what I was feeling or what interests me.

Well, I must call it a day for today’s blog posting. I have to travel to Opelika to visit the Psychiatrist and get my prescription renewed. I and my mother are also going to eat at the Red Lobster and I look forward to that. I rarely get to eat out any longer. If you happen to stop by and see the beginnings of a blog, thank you for reading and good day.

Thursday, February 10, 2005

Exam Hell……

I am almost ashamed of starting blogging again. I was determined to quit and focus on school. I felt defeated after I accidentally deleted my blog and just wanted to give up. Maybe I am addicted to this medium but that makes me laugh. How can writing be addictive and if it was is that not a good thing?

I was also having issues with paranoia over it. Will I seem wishy washy if I start back? I have missed writing and sharing it with others. I know now that probably no one will visit anymore but I can rebuild. I hope to repost all my lost posts over the weekend or at least get a good start. I am lucky that I saved them all. I have literally hundreds and hundreds of old posts.

This week has been exam hell. Most of the week has been spent studying in the library. I had three two page essays to write in class for Literature that took two class periods. I also had a biology lab exam and an essay and listening exam tonight in music appreciation. I think I did well but I am exhausted. I am going now to sort out some things with the blog and get things back up to snuff. I will also have to rebuild all my links. Maybe I will get started tonight or maybe not. I will see where my mood takes me.

Monday, February 7, 2005

Frugal aspirations……

I visit several forums dedicated to social work and social workers. I find most of the topics interesting and stimulating. It gives me a good idea of what to expect when I graduate and start my professional career. One topic that comes up with regularity is the disparity between social worker’s salaries as compared to other less challenging professions. The common consensus is that you will make between 30K and 35K you’re starting year. Many people begrudge this and moan about it. I would be thrilled to have such an opportunity to make such a LARGE amount of money.

What I live on what would be considered a paltry sum to most. I don’t think I live a harsh life or uncomfortable existence. I am actually am still able to put aside money every month for an emergency fund. Yes, I have to budget tightly and live a more Spartan lifestyle but all my current basics are met. I have shelter, food, a warm bed, warmth, and a vehicle. Everything else is just fluff such as my internet account.

On the other hand, just think of what I could do with just $30K a year. That would almost double my income. Would my spending habits change and I become a consumer again in earnest? I hope I will maintain my Spartan lifestyle and save, save, save. I hope that I will have the good sense to think ahead and always be prepared. Put $30K into the hands of a careless consumer and you will have disaster. Put $30K in the hands of a hardened, thrifty spender and you will have a fortune. I hope I will be the latter case.

Wasted time…….

Getting ready for class. $0 dollars. Driving the ten miles to class. $1 dollar. Getting there and sitting for fifteen minutes and realizing that your instructor is a no show. Fucking, aggravatingly priceless!

I was livid and went to talk to the head honcho and urged that they get someone to sit in on this class and observe. I had to be covert in this operation as this move would be wildly unpopular with my fellow students though. They think this class is “the bomb” and were glad to get to go home so early. I feel I have right to express dissent and dissatisfaction in this ordeal. I will not sit idly by while my father’s hard earned money is going to waste; that and my education. I do want to add that I am very pleased with the education I am receiving so far other than this one aberration. All my other classes are challenging and thought provoking.

Sunday, February 6, 2005

It’s okay to be lonely or blogging ever onwards……

Losing my blog felt like having the wind knocked out of my sails. This has happened before and I trudged ever onwards. I then thought of why I do this. It is simply to get my thoughts down and organized. Blogging gives me a purpose to write and I find writing therapeutic for me. It is also nice when others can read along and share in your successes and your failures. And now on with what I wanted to express tonight…..

I was feeling lonely tonight. I rarely watch the TV but I do turn it on for noise on these occasions. My first, most human response is to call my girlfriend and see if she wants me to come over there or her over here. She relishes these moments where I am “in need”. I decided that for tonight it was okay to be lonely and to just feel my feelings. I did call to say hello for a short moment but didn’t allude to the fact that I was having a tough evening.

In my not too distant past, tonight would be an occasion of drinking. To quell the loneliness or emptiness I would feel the need to indulge in my former favorite pastime of imbibing in alcohol. AA tries to expound upon the fact that you are powerless over alcohol and you have to turn over that powerlessness to a god of your understanding. I realized quite awhile ago that I can control those situations and that I did have power over my drinking. I just got tired of the entire victim role-playing in those meetings I was attending. I no longer wanted to be a victim but someone who had power over his will and his impulses. When I realized that power and control it was an affirming moment and almost intoxicating in and of itself. I still do not drink as I feel it would be gambling with the great success that I have encountered the past few months. I do romanticize those moments of intoxicated bliss but my memories shall have to suffice.

I spent most of the afternoon studying and reading over all my material for my World Literature essay exam tomorrow. I am glad I did. All the many Greek and Roman tragedies I have read seem to run together and meld as they all have central themes and reoccurring characters. I have found the internet to be a great place to find really good summaries of these epic poems. I found one website by Harvard based students who had written and posted essays on these very poems I have to study. It gave me some good ideas and I spent hours reading them. I feel much more prepared and my mind is at ease over this topic.

Saturday, February 5, 2005

Beautiful, joyous day……

Life is great sometimes, you know? That nasty weather we had all week was just a prelude to a beautiful weekend. My thermometer now reads 65 degrees outside. It feels like spring. I walked outside to smoke my pipe just a moment ago in a t-shirt and shorts and didn’t get chilly.

I am feeling the urge to write about more issues and things that interest me. I think I am going to start up a new blog and write about social work issues, homelessness, mental health, addiction recovery, and religion. I know, I know, a very broad range of topics to write about. I try not to write about politics or those kinds of issues on this blog so as to not alienate what readers I have. I will keep my main blog just about me and my life in school. I am off now to go set up that blog and fiddle with the template to get something that is pleasing to me.

Friday, February 4, 2005

The clouds have finally broken……

It has been such a cold, dreary, and overcast week. Everything seemed to take on this grey, misty hue and it was depressing. I was pleased to wake up this morning with sunshine pouring in through my plastic covered windows. I went and opened all my blinds to get the full effect.

I slowly made my way back into the world of the awakened. I was just exhausted after a busy week though. I slept so hard last night that I didn’t move and lay on my side all night. I woke up this morning with a sore hip and a limp. Breakfast was a disposable bowl of generic brand corn flakes and milk. I didn’t feel like messing up the kitchen.

So what are you up to today? Absolutely nothing! I don’t have work or school until next Monday and have three days of idle bliss. I am going to be a good for nothing, lazy bastard for at least two days. Eat, sleep, and drink will be my motto and creed for the next few days. Sunday will be spent reading over summaries of all my World Literature material in preparation for an essay exam on Monday.

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The rarity of early music…….

I have found that medieval or renaissance music is extremely rare in recorded form. This morning I endeavored to find legitimate copies of the stuff I downloaded last night and it is all out of print. Sigh. 8^( I will keep looking though.

There is this one guy in a newsgroup called Sir Gawain that must be a collector and is uploading much of this stuff. I can just picture this stuffy, frumpy guy dressed in medieval attire and sitting in front of a computer. That makes me smile.

I just don’t want the RIAA Gestapo to come bursting into my apartment with assault rifles and subpoenas. I have little to take unless they want a junked $500 car. I am pretty sure I am a small fry in the scheme of things. People aren’t exactly rushing out to buy Phillip the Chancellor from the Notre Dame School of medieval music are they? That is not their cash cow. They are going after the tweenies who are downloading Beyonce and Britney Spears I do think. I just want to learn about this music and am having a hard time finding the recorded material.

Thursday, February 3, 2005

A passion for antiquity….

I grow ever more pleased with my music appreciation class. A more apt title should be music history. I am enamored with medieval and renaissance music. I have thoroughly scoured the internet and have found 6 albums of medieval music to peruse via newsgroups tonight. I recorded them to minidisc and will crank up the home theater later. I shall turn off the lights and climb aboard my blue lazy boy and listen until sleep overtakes me.

I sat in class tonight enthralled with the subject matter and joining in on the discussion. Our instructor is very passionate about the material and it draws you in. I love that he backs up any topics with examples of music. He has an extensive CD collection and brings in relevant music for us to hear. The hour and a half flies by in a moments notice.

On a side note, I made an A on my biology 103 exam. I was elated. I drove immediately from school to my father’s pharmacy to spread the good news. I wanted him to know that his investment in me is going to good use. Everyone congratulated me and gave me their support. Next will be a lab exam with ample amounts of metric conversions. I hope my math deficient brain is up to the task.

Until next time….this is Andrew signing off.

Pondering over interesting things……

Certain blogs I read tend to provoke a reaction out of me and make me think critically. I enjoy this and think that it is healthy for me to do so. So often in life we urged to go with the flow and follow the herd. Do not make waves they say.

HoboPoet is one of these blogs that always makes me think and the author is a notable writer. The idea of being a Hobo Poet or wandering scholar is appealing to me but I do not put it into practice. AJ/Skald, the author, lives in Thailand and teaches English as a second language. He/She has a unique perspective coming from outside the United States.

If you have read my blog for a long time then you know of my occasional urges to live a simple, low key life such as farming or homesteading. I dream of being self sufficient and off the grid so to speak. Alas, it would almost be impossible to put into practice with my current goals. My dreams of being a modern day Thoreau would not fit with my goals of becoming a social worker.

98 points of joy!

Yep, that’s what I made on my biology exam. After class, I went directly to my father’s pharmacy to spread the good news. Everyone was very happy for me and congratulated me. I feel very accomplished and pleased. It was a major hurtle for me and I jumped it with aplomb.

So far, I am very pleased with the education I am getting. The only notable exception is my sorry, lazy, piece of shit psychology instructor. He keeps insisting that the class call him Professor Larkin. I call him Paul. Credit is due where credit is deserved. He only has a master’s degree. He was a sign painter for twenty years and went back to college to become a teacher. I hope his sign painting skills are still up to date because he is a lousy teacher. Note for prospective students. If your instructor takes a whole week of class just to show some cheesy, predictable feature length film, run very hard and fast in the other direction.

Wednesday, February 2, 2005

A close to freezing severe thunder storm…..

Just a few more damn degrees lower and we could have had thunder snow! Nah, that ain’t gonna happen here in the Bermuda triangle of anti-snow that is the area where I live. The weather has been so weird here lately in the south with ice storms and severe storms. I was talking to a friend earlier on the phone and had to get off as it was lightning so severely. The phone would pop and crackle loudly with every flash as we were speaking.

Tonight I had my World Literature class. Our instructor disclosed what our exam next week will be like. It is broken up into two tests and two class periods. Test one will be five essay questions such as “Discuss the major prevalent themes in Gilgamesh”. Test two will be 100 multiple choice test questions via http://www.scantron.com/education/higher_education/index.shtml. I am ready and rearing to go. I think I am prepared and just need to go over my notes one more time before Monday.

Tomorrow is my big and first biology exam. We have to complete 50 questions in 40 minutes. I think I am ready as I will ever be. An interesting note though. The ladies whom I often study with had all called me tonight and asked certain questions. One was like…

“Hey Jon, I just called ******* and she didn’t know this. Are nucleic acids the building blocks of proteins? Call me back when you can.”

Or……

“Jon. Cellulose is a carbohydrate right? I need to talk to you about polysaccharides and monomers. Give me a call when you get in.”

It made me smile to get such messages. These are all older women that are married with children and have gone back to school to get nursing degrees.

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I got an email tonight from a long time reader and whom I have grown to be great friends with. They asked why I didn’t talk about my work much on the blog. It is just something I do not feel comfortable with. My job is so important to me and my future that I do not want to jeopardize it by posting intimate things to just a silly blog. http://atheist-thinking.blogspot.com/2005/01/hidden-dangers-of-blogging.html wrote a good post that sums up how I feel about this. Similar to what Aaron wrote is also why I took down my name and town for anonymities sake. I actually had a reader find my parent’s phone number and call them to get in touch with me. That kind of scared and shocked me at the time. They did turn out to be a friend so alls well that ends well.

Tuesday, February 1, 2005

One day of making a difference in my life…..

You are tired. It is dark outside as you pull up into the driveway. Your hard contact lense irritated eyes feel like they are about to explode. You drag your heavy backpack of books and toss it into or onto the first piece of furniture you walk by. You are hungry but the kitchen is clean and you do not want to make a mess. You are too tired to lift that seemingly heavy cooking pan or wash up afterwards. Days like today are what microwaves, Chinet bowls, and 79 cent cans of Piggly Wiggly brand Spaghetti-O’s are made for. You heat your meal, kick off your shoes, and get drawn in by your comfy lazy boy recliner. You turn on the T.V. as you eat to see which lady meteorologist on the Weather Channel has lost more weight, had a fashion disaster of a day, or redid their hairdos. You are oh, so tired, but you are content. You feel you made a difference and everyday like today draws you closer to your goals. One day at a time, my man, and someday you might just get to be a social worker.

Conversations with family…..

Man, it is early and I am literally up with the chickens. It is now 5 AM. I did go to sleep at 9 PM though so I got eight hours of sleep. Today will be a busy day full of work and school. It is blog now or never.

I was lucky yesterday and didn’t have to work on Monday and didn’t have my night class. I am waiting for the Piggly Wiggly to open at 7 AM so I can go buy my weekly groceries. I was lazy yesterday and didn’t do any shopping other than filling up my truck with gasoline. $14 freaking bucks for a tank of gas!!!!

Last night I was talking to my brother in San Diego about medical school and how he studied.

“Bud, how did you study all that stuff for medical school? I want to study like you did.” I asked and replied.

“You don’t want to study like I did. I overdid it.” He replied.

“How do you mean?” I asked.

“I was obsessive/compulsive and studied too much. Me, you, and Mary E. all have a little bit of mom in us.” He replied.

“How did you over do it?” I asked.

“I looked at studying as a job. I studied 40 hours a week and kept to strict, drawn out schedule.” He replied. “Studying was paramount over everything.”

“Well you did graduate with honors and made a doctor.” I replied.

“If I could do it over again, I would have enjoyed myself more and studied less. As I said, I overdid it.” He replied.

We went on to make small talk, talked about my niece, and their upcoming visit in February and then hung up the phones.

Well, I don’t think I will be studying like my brother. If I tried to study forty hours a week, I would quickly run out of things to study and things to do. I would also get completely burned out and wouldn’t enjoy college at all. It would no longer be learning and become a toilsome job that I would soon grow to despise. I think I will stick to my casual plan of learning that I am on.