Wednesday, March 30, 2005

New Home Update…..

My new home is coming along nicely. The electricians did a slam bang job of putting in all new wiring, light fixtures, and power outlets. The total was $3500 dollars for the work. They also installed a new water heater. Charlie paid for all of this out of his pocket. He is a true and generous friend and I do not know how to repay him for this. He also paid to have brand new central heating and air installed.

Next is phase two and I need to get a laundry room and stairs added to back of the house for my washer and dryer. The washer and dryer are currently sitting in the basement. I think it will cost between $2000 to $3000 dollars. I will have to pay for this as Charlie has done enough. This means I will have to go down to the bank this week and try to secure a small loan. Luckily, I got Rachel off of all my credit so hopefully my credit report will look clean. The only thing is that I do not believe in using credit cards anymore and tore all of them up and cancelled them a long time ago. I pay cash only. I wonder if this will affect my ability to get a loan. I may have to get dad to co-sign like he did with my house.

Once the laundry room is built I only have one more addition to do and that is to re-carpet the whole house. The current carpet is this hideous dark green shag straight out of the seventies. I will try to add this cost into the loan. Then I will be able to move in. This has been a long and drawn out process but soon I will be a new homeowner. I will have the security and stability of owning my own home. It is a tiny house though but will be perfect for just me. The total cost of the house was just $35,000. It does have a very large back yard and I plan on having a grand garden next summer with a myriad of vegetables. I just need to learn how to can and use a pressure cooker before my great aunt gets to old to remember.

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Buying Bream and Bass……..

Last fall my father had our pond drained and a new, larger dam built at the southern end. It is about an acre in size and sits on a plot of 100 acres of woodland. It is now finally full of water after a very wet winter and water is flowing into the overflow drain. My father ordered 25,000 bream fingerlings and 10,000 bass fingerlings last week. I have to drive up to Dadeville, Alabama in Charlie’s old truck to go pick them up today and put them in the pond. I also have to bring a sample of water from the pond in a jar for them to test. They are also delivering 6 tons of lime to add to the water.

I am very excited about this prospect as I love to fish but it will probably be two years before the fish are hand sized and ready to catch. I am going to be in charge of feeding the fish once a week as well and will enjoy the long drive out into the country to do this.

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Reminiscing on cars…….

I can still remember vividly the first car I bought. I was sixteen. I worked all summer in my father’s drugstore and saved every penny to the dismay of my then girlfriend. I bought a 1972 Chevrolet Chevelle for $600 dollars from my great aunt. It was built and rolled off the assembly line the same year and month I was born. She had gotten too old to drive and the car had sat under a shed for years with a canvas covering over it.

I spent months polishing and repairing the vehicle. Many tireless hours were put into making it look “cool” for a teenager. I had it repainted corvette emerald green. I added really classy chrome rims and a nice stereo. I also completely rebuilt the 350 cubic inch engine and the engine bay glistened with chrome and fresh paint. I also lowered it 3 inches as was the fad in those days by adding new springs. Man, I was proud of that car. What was once a granny car was transformed into a sweet ride.

I still, to this day, miss that car. I occasionally see it around town and it looks worse for wear. I wonder how long it will keep running. The body is dented and the paint is peeling. Ominous clouds of blue smoke belch from the exhaust pipe. Not surprising since the car is thirty two years old now and the same age as I.

I am really enjoying my new car and walk outside many times to just look at it. I spent hours cleaning it up to like new condition. It is such a beautiful, green, glistening thing. Getting that car was akin to going from a Ford festiva to a Mercedes S-class. The only problem is the gas situation. It holds up to 15 gallons of gas. It costs me $30 dollars to fill it up. I only give myself $10 dollars a week for gas. That fills it up to just below the half way point on the fuel gauge so no joy rides for me. (I have taken a few but felt guilty about it.) To feel like that same teenager again with my 72 chevelle is a good feeling.

I have decided to donate my old car to a friend who helps take care of my Great Aunt in Waverly, Alabama. They are very poor and his son will soon turn sixteen. They have no way of purchasing him a vehicle. My old truck is going to be a fixer upper but this kid is very mechanically inclined and should turn a lump of coal into a diamond. I cannot wait to see the look on his face when I had him the key. I am sure he will love the four wheel drive and the convertible top. One good deed deserves another.

Medical issues galore…..

I have had a bad relapse with my mental illness. In time of these I do rash things such as yanking down my blogs and trying to stay away from the internet and online life. I know it seems erratic but it is a way for me to cope with what is going on. I also have a same tendency to do this in my real life as well. I isolate and further distance my self from stimulation online and off. I do not mean to offend any of you or to alarm you it is just a pervasive pattern for me.

On top of dealing with an especially acute outbreak of schizophrenia, I have an acute case of cellulitis in my right leg. My ankle op to my calf is extremely sore to the touch and I cannot almost walk. I have spent many long days laying in bed to alleviate the pain thus my lack of online presence. I have tried Advil and cold compresses to little result.

Last night my father called a physician friend who was working at the hospital. He called me in a prescription of Albuteral XRL 1000mg and it worked wonders over night. I am able to walk again with only slight pain and discomfort and the swelling has gone down a great deal. Somehow, I got a bad infection in my leg.

Well, I still am not feeling well but just wanted to check in with you all and how I am doing.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Drive bys in a small town……

I had just left the interstate and headed up through downtown West Point, Georgia. I was heading home after my World Literature class. I stopped at a lone red light on the two laned highway and a car pulled up beside me in the other lane. A horn honked loudly. I ignored it and drove on as the light turned green. The car pulled quickly up beside me and honked again for my attention. This time I turned and looked. It was Charlie in his Accord. He motioned for me to roll down my window as he let down his passenger’s side window. We were going 45 miles an hour.

“How in the hell did you get such a nice car?” He hollered with the wind blowing the hair on his almost bald head. He had this big grin on his face.

“It looks brand new.” He said.

Charlie was the one who suggested to my father that I get this car. His question was in jest.

“I spent all afternoon cleaning it up. I even waxed it.” I hollered back out my open window trying to stay in my lane.

“You’re lookin’ sharp!” He hollered as he rolled up his window and sped ahead of me and disappeared over the next hill.

I drove home with a big grin on my face and saying thanks to this man whom without I would not have this car. Thanks, Charlie!

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Words of wisdom from my brother……

My brother called me tonight inquiring about my biology exam tomorrow. Somehow we got on the subject of Terri Schiavo while making small talk. I normally don’t keep up with the news or media but the mainstream media is flogging this horse to death and you can’t escape hearing or reading about it.

I wanted a physician’s point of view on this subject and Alex delivered some interesting points. Alex made the point that thousands of people in Terri’s condition are taken off life support every week and you never hear one iota out of the media, government, or religious groups about it. He said that this controversy was not really about one woman’s plight. Political and religious entities are using this poor woman’s condition for political gain and self interests and the media is having a feeding frenzy about it.

He also pointed out the irony of the President’s stance on this. He said she is most likely on disability and Medicare. Her family is not wealthy and couldn’t afford the long term medical costs. Bush is trying to cut Medicare/Medicaid budgets and yet he signed legislation to stop the death of one brain damaged woman who has cost the taxpayers possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills over the past fifteen years.

Catching up…….

I’ve been kind of quiet the past few days. I just didn’t feel like writing. I have also been having a lot of negative symptoms (I think they fucked up my risperdal injection) and compound that with work and school and you get an interesting version of Andrew. (Jesus, I just talked about myself in the third person.)

I just read all these cool blogs with wonderful writers and feel inadaquent about my own abilities as a writer. I realize this blog has turned into nothing more than just a personal journal and not the interesting stories I used to tell. This blog used to be about telling stories about the characters and interesting events intermingled into my life. It seems as my life becomes more “normal” and “mainstream” the more boring and mundane my life and this blog becomes. Is that a good thing or bad? I don’t know. I don’t want to be a drone and I am always looking for the answers for life’s questions.

I am currently caught up in exam hell as far as school is concerned. Test after test after test comes my way relentlessly. This is not college; it is an exam anxiety and preparation assessment. I decided to take action the other day to relieve some of the pressure and to insure I stick to this. I withdrew from my music history class. It was, by far, my most involved class and caused the most anxiety. This should have been my easiest class. I had to study relentlessly to keep up with the assignments the instructor gave us. Good bye music history; hello life! Next time I get a syllabus with numerous expensive concert attendances, numerous essays to write, and very vague test assignments I am gonna drop that sucker faster than you can say, “Kiss My Ass!”

One very positive thing did happen today that brought great joy to my soul. I finally got my new car. I have spent all afternoon cleaning up years of dirt and grime and it looks presentable again and almost brand new. As I washed and waxed the exterior, a new car emerged. I don’t think my mother washed it or cleaned the thing in years. It wasn’t on her list of priorities which mainly entails sleeping 24 hours a day.

I am kind of hesitant to write about my new car because I don’t want the disability police after my ass as if a disabled person shouldn’t be able to drive or have a few nice things. I am also very hesitant to write about my new house even though I have done nothing wrong and all is perfectly legit. Most people think disability insurance is welfare and that is misguided. I don’t get food stamps. I work as much as I can to still remain legal with my disability insurance. I would actually like to be completely free from disability insurance but my father would scream bloody murder. I have been talking to him about it a lot lately and he gets really pissed about it. He told me he has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes through his business over the years and would like to see that meager $8000 dollars a year I get to still come to me as we never know if I will relapse with my illness or not like I have been doing lately. I have great months and some really bad weeks thrown in the midst. Schizophrenia is not something that can be cured but only contained to some degree. I await gene therapy but the right wing religious whackos would probably protest it as if it was messing with “god’s” design. Sigh. Poor Terri Schiavo. If I ever get that bad, someone please, please pull the plug on me. Maybe I need to talk to dad about a living will.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The anticipation is grueling…..

I watched as he handed out the blue books one by one at the start of my World Literature class tonight. Was my time next? No, he went to the girl to my left. My hands started to sweat and a lump formed in my throat. I was about to find out the results of my hardest exam yet; four two page essays on different aspects of literature in the Middle Ages. He walked over to me and handed me my blue book with a smile.

“Good job! I enjoyed reading your discussions. You have a flair for writing.” My instructor said.

I looked at my score in red ink and great sigh of relief came over me. I made a 96. I had almost perfect grammar and structure in my essays; a total of just two red marks in my writings. I was elated. This gave me a new found motivation to continue with school. I have only a few more weeks to go and I will have my first semester under my belt.

My next big hurdle is that I have to write three term papers over spring break. These are due in April. I am very apprehensive about it and have been procrastinating. I must break the spell and get to work soon; the sooner the better to calm my anxiety about this issue.

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New car heaven……

Well my father went out and bought himself a new 2005 Honda CR-V SE 4X4. It is a beautiful car painted in nighthawk black. The interior is sumptuous black leather. He also bought my mother a 2005 Honda civic EX special edition. I have to drive mom up to Lagrange to pick it up tomorrow and then her 2000 Honda CR-V will be mine. We just have to get the title put in my name and all will be finalized.

I feel almost as a kid at Christmas I am so excited. This is such a nice car. It will be my first car I have ever personally owned to have such niceties as air conditioning, power windows, automatic transmission, and power steering. It is almost like owning a BMW over my current vehicle. I truly am blessed these days. My, how much my life has changed in a year.

Paranoid android……

I’ve noticed some signs lately. I have become extremely paranoid about my neighbors. I think they are watching me and reporting to some entity about me. It is so insidious that I do not notice it at first. It just seems normal to me and then this morning I was afraid to go out to smoke my pipe and it dawned on me what I was doing. At least now with experience I can recognize the symptoms and know what is going on. In my youth (early twenties) I would be oblivious to my odd behavior.

I have also been very reclusive lately and avoid human contact. I am content to lock myself up in my apartment away from the world; all alone with just my thoughts. I feel safe doing this. I have found one of the hardest aspects of my existence is dealing with other humans. They perplex me and their social norms and ideas confound this problem. At the same time, I can grow lonesome as well. I long to find someone who will accept me for who am I and not judge me by the clothes I am wearing or how I comb my hair or other silly things. I want someone to know me for the person inside and not the superficial outer things such as appearance. I have also just had this paranoia lately that everyone is watching and judging me. It as if I am on stage and am having to constantly perform and it grows so wearisome and tiring.

I think part of all of this has to do with the stress of school. I am in a constant state of anxiety over it. I worry about it all the time to the point of madness. This morning I lay in bed with my stomach in knots and a terrible case of the butterflies. I wish I just didn’t give a shit but my family is basing my worth on being back in college. It means so much to my father to the point he is fanatical about it. I told mom the other day that I didn’t think I can handle the stress after all I have been through this past year and she urged me to keep trying. She is the only one I can talk to about things as she understands.

As always I was so eager and excited to be back in school but I bit off more than I could chew. I should have only taken one or two courses my first semester back after a decade’s absence from college. I just so badly wanted to prove to everyone that I could do it and handle the responsibility and stay sane at the same time. I felt it would give my life worth in my significant other’s eyes.

Facing reality……

I don’t think I am cut out for college. Take for instance this morning. I have so much tension and anxiety over the upcoming week it is almost unbearable. I have a knot in my stomach and butterflies something terrible. I just want to run and hide. Maybe I took too many classes out of the gate. I should have taken just one or two and not four. My hardest aspect of this is keeping up with all my assignments in my head. Maybe I need to get a calendar or weekly planner.

I went into this with unrealistic goals. I always do that. I thought college would be this fun learning experience but it is mainly about testing. I thought I would go and learn and explore new ideas. In reality, I am just one of many drones sitting in a class regurgitating material like a robot. There is very little true learning involved. You memorize material and then it is forgotten a few weeks later and how do many of these classes relate to being a social worker? The majority of them don’t. The only class that relates is psychology and the class is a joke.

When something is this painful I start to look at other options. People say that pain and strife build character. Screw that shit. I have plenty of character without having to loose my mental health to gain it. I will stick this semester out and then see where I will go. I know I will only take one class this summer and that is Algebra.

What could I do other than social work and 4 years of toilsome drudgery to be one? I am a whiz at computers. I can put together a computer in a matter of hours from basic components. I can repair and solve almost all problems. Maybe I could get A+ certified to repair personal computers. I definitely have a knack for it and keep abreast of all the current trends and technologies. I was going to do this and have many books on A+ certification.

I also thought about becoming an auto mechanic. I am damn fine mechanic even without training and do the majority of repairs on my own vehicle. The college I attend has courses on auto mechanics. Dad would die if I did that though and probably wouldn’t pay for it. I would have to get grants. He would see it as beneath me. I would also have to buy a very expensive set of tools.

I just think I need to learn a trade. I am a very hands-on person and enjoy working with my hands. I just need to ramble and mull over this and get my thoughts down. My apologies if this came across as whining. It was not my intention.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Seagulls from the gulf……

I went for a long walk this morning. I passed by dumpster diving Dan behind the Piggly Wiggly and he beckoned me over for a talk.

“Hey, how’s it going?” He asked.

“Oh, I am fine I guess.” I replied. “What did you find this morning?”

“I am getting old loaves of bread to feed the seagulls.” He said. “Do you want to ride over to the river and help me feed them?”

I thought for a moment and came to the conclusion, “Why not.”

“Sure, I would love to.” I said.

I got in his truck and we drove over to the liquor store parking lot next to the Chattahoochee River. Within minutes, hundreds of seagulls flocked around us. They follow the river up from the Gulf of Mexico. I watched as he threw out scraps of bread and they hungrily snapped them up. It is hard to describe. Seagulls were everywhere. It was this great mass of flapping white wings and squawking.

“Do you do this often?” I asked.

“I do it every morning. They know I am coming.” He replied.

I had a good time and it was interesting. Dan has a unique outlook on life and lots of tales to tell. He wanted to drive me home but I decided to walk. I walked across the bridge over the river and made my way home. It was just a few miles.

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On more mundane things…….

I managed to get all my laundry done, folded, and put up. Mom gave me a box of Gain detergent and I love how it makes my clothes smell. I do always end up with one errant sock that doesn’t make a pair though. Where in the hell do those socks go? I guess the washing machine or dryer eats them.

I cooked a wonderful breakfast of homemade pancakes. I also cooked a side of pork sausage. I just love breakfast and it is my biggest meal of the day. I washed it all down with a pot of fresh brewed coffee and a cold glass of orange juice.

Well, I think I will spend my day rereading Walden and enjoying my pipe. I need to study but don’t feel like fooling with school work. Weekends are meant for play and bliss and not toilsome study. I hope you all are having a good weekend and I send out good thoughts your way. Take care and take on the day.

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Excited as can be!!!!!

Well, this time next week I will have a new/used car! Yesterday, I had a session with my therapist in Opelika, Alabama and then I and mom drove the hour up to Lagrange, Georgia get her car. Dad wanted it serviced so it would be in tip top shape when I got it. He got the brakes, radiator, transmission, the 4WD differentials all serviced and had their fluids changed. He also got the air filter and oil changed and gave it a full tune up. It cost him $650 dollars in total. I was so greatly appreciative of him doing this. It was very kind and thoughtful.

I called him this morning about the cost of the vehicle and what budget I had worked out since I will be working more this summer.

“Don’t worry about all that.” He said. “You save that money and put it into your house and your emergency fund.”

“What do you mean?” I asked perplexed.

“I am giving you the car. I and your mother both just want you have safe transportation for school. Your current car worries me everyday that you will break down or have an accident.” He replied. “I did the same for your brother and sister and there are no strings attached. I just want you to continue taking your medicine.”

I was flabbergasted. I almost didn’t believe it. This was too good to be true. This is a very, very nice car. A 2000 model Honda CRV EX 4X4 mini SUV. It only has what I believe is 69,000 miles on it.

I will know be free to travel some and not be stuck at home all the time. I just worry about how much gas this car will use as it is much larger car than my little piece of junk.

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The therapist……

I was very apprehensive about going to the therapist. What would I say? How would I react? In real life I am a very introverted person and don’t like to take about my problems. The more we talked the more comfortable I became and started to open up.

We talked a lot of about my dark, dark early days in my twenties during the onset of schizophrenia and discussed what I did to survive. We also discussed my very painful divorce, the aftermath, and my homelessness. The therapist was amazed that I was once homeless so that goes to show you that the stereotypes of homeless people are often inaccurate.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Rainy day morning……

I awoke to the sound of heavy rain. There is something about such mornings where you want to stay in bed and go back to sleep. The sound was comforting and calming. I rolled over and looked at my clock. 7 AM. It was time to get up. I have learned to get up early so I can sleep at night so I begrudgingly pulled myself out of bed. I pulled on my robe and slippers and sleepily walked into the kitchen to start my coffee. Before long the aroma of fresh brewed coffee jolted me back to life as I wiped the sleep from my eyes.

After I had a few cups of coffee, I decided to fix some breakfast as my grumbling stomach beckoned. I poached two eggs and then ate them on some toast with a sprinkle of cheddar cheese. That has become one of my favorite breakfasts.

Man, it is really raining hard now. It sounds like the common summer thunderstorm deluges we get here in the south. I am very tempted to go crawl back into the bed but I must prepare for my noon psychology exam. Will the exams ever end? I never remember being tested so much in my first round of college many years ago.

Friday, March 11, 2005

The long road to somewhere…….

Today I had a visit with my psychiatrist. It was pretty routine other than the fact she opened up to me some. She is of East Asian Indian descent and has a strong accent. So keep that in mind about her dialogue. She went on a diatribe about understanding and helping alcoholics in her early clinical days.

“I first saw alcoholics as lacking in character or willpower.” She said.

I watched her expressions and face intently as she told this tale.

“I had to come to an understanding that alcoholics had a great deal of depression.” She said. “I learned to treat that depression and they drank less.”

I nodded in agreement even though I didn’t know where she was going with this.

“So, how depressed have you felt lately on a scale of one to ten?” She asked.

“I don’t feel depressed lately. I mainly feel agitated.” I replied.

“About what? Is it mania?” She asked.

I knew then to stop and regroup.

“No, I am really fine lately. Things are going great.” I replied.

I couldn’t express my unorthodox thoughts on life and this crazy culture we live in. I would be branded as unstable or “mentally ill”. She would see it as I sign that I am digressing and not progressing. It is a frustrating conundrum that I experience often.

“So, how is your wife?” She asked.

She can never remember that I am divorced and am long separated from that individual. I was nice and just replied that we were no longer together. My doctor then wrote me a prescription and I walked out of the door to the car where mom waited.

I and mom drove on into to Auburn to the Red Lobster. Mom insists on doing this. Dad is glad that I drive and get her out of the house. She seemed so frail and confused though. It broke my heart to see her like that. She was just starving as well.

We both ordered seafood platters and a salad. The salad was delicious and before long our meal arrived. We both sat in silence and ate. I tried to start up a conversation but it wasn’t lasting. I finally just gave up and let things be. Mom was not doing well today.

After our meal, the waiter brought our ticket in a folder. Mom sat there desperately trying to figure the tip. Her hands were shaking furiously as see sifted through her money.

“Mom, hand me your wallet.” I said very softly

“I just want to give the correct tip.” She said looking confused.

“I know. Let me handle it.” I replied.

She handed me the wallet with violently shaking hands. I counted out the correct amount and put it into the folder. I then drove us home with tears in my eyes. My mother was such a strong, outgoing woman once. She was full of life. Now, she can’t concentrate enough to calculate a tip. I know she is overmedicated but I can’t do anything about it. I empathize with her so much but there is little I can do to help her. I made the way home and made sure she got back in the bed. I walked back to my apartment with a heavy heart and the weight of the world upon my shoulders.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Mr. Fruit Fly…….

I just got home from the Piggly Wiggly. The usual cadre of groupies were out there. Cap w/ Tag guy was standing next to the coke machine selling his usual wares of copious amounts of crack cocaine. He nodded his head hello and smiled at me as I have been irregular of late. He never says a word. I avoided Slop as I knew he would ask me for spare change and would want to catch up on old times.

A new guy who I will call Lurch is hanging out there now. I know him from a previous job. We both worked in the Martex towel warehouse. I drove a forklift putting up and pulling cases of towels. Lurch seemed to just walk the warehouse endlessly for nights on end. I never could figure out what he actually did for a job. I guess he finally retired from his patrolling duties. I call him Lurch because he looks just like Lurch from the Adam’s Family except he is black. He always wears a cotton knit hat pulled low over his ears and just above his eyes.

“What’s up homey?” Lurch called out to me standing next to a dilapidated old truck in the parking lot.

“Nothing much man.” I said. “You staying out of trouble?”

“Shit dawg. It ain’t a thang! It ain’t a thang!” He exclaimed.

What he meant by that I have no earthly idea. He talks so fast you can barely understand him. I just laughed and continued on into the store and purchased my bunch of bananas.

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Fun with fruit flies…….

My biology lab today was interesting. We first did an experiment involving yeast and different test tubes of fructose, glucose, and sucrose (sugars). We then had to measure the amount of carbon dioxide given off by the yeast during the fermentation process. This is the same process whereas alcohol is produced. As expected, the glucose solution produces the best results.

Our next experiment was dealing with genetics. We were each given a vial with fruit flies and we had to anesthetize them and then study them under a dissecting microscope. I had to find a male and female with different characteristics to use in an experiment over the next few labs. I had to note their characteristics such as wing length, eye color, etc and start a log. Then over the next few weeks I am going to see how their offspring’s characteristics correlate to the parents. I find this stuff much more interesting than sitting in a lecture hall and taking notes.

Wednesday, March 9, 2005

Let’s liven things up for a change…….

My, this blog has grown boring. I was rereading some of my past posts from my former blogs and they were far more interesting. I wrote a lot about the gang down at the Piggly Wiggly and what was happening in AA and why I disliked it. I got a lot of
hits over those AA posts. My homeless days were really interesting. Maybe a little dialogue will liven this blog back up to standard. I guess I could repost some of my writings as a homeless man.

I was talking to a friend tonight before class. We were talking about blogs. He said he has had over 100,000 visitors so far. (I was dubious) He mainly talks about politics but does a unique slant on blogging.

“100,000 visitors? Shit man, that’s a lot.” I said.

“I have a secret though that brings in the hits.” He replied.

“What is it?” I asked inquisitively.

“Breasts.” He replied with a coy smile.

“Pictures?” I asked.

“Every week I find a nice rack on the internet and post it to my blog.” He replied looking proud. “Google does the rest. You just have to write a little bit and name the jpeg suggestively.”

I laughed really loudly.

“I am not sure that is how I what to garner readership to my blog.” I replied.

“You do what you have to do.” He said.

I wanted to tell him that people were visiting his blog just to view porn and not read his writings. They only check in to see if he has posted another set of breasts. I knew this would fall on deaf ears and burst his bubble so I declined to offer my own wisdom.

Okay, this brings me too……

What makes a blog interesting to me……?

1) The author has to write well. The subject matter doesn’t have to be too interesting but I like to read coherent sentences and decently formed paragraphs. (You would be surprised at how many blogs can’t do this. If I see one gigantic, huge paragraph I will not read.) Especially notable is that you increase my vocabulary and make me go to a dictionary to look up a word. I enjoy that as I am nerd about those things and love to learn a new vocabulary word.

2) You update with regularity. Nothing runs off readers than an infrequently updated blog. Regular updates assure readers that the time they commit to finding out more about you will not go to waste. They read your archives and then stop by later for new posts if your archives interested them.

3) I will quit reading if you are a hypochondriac. I get tired of whining about medical issues that never seem to end. If you populate your posts with links to obscure medical terms then that is a very big clue to me that you are an obsessive hypochondriac. You need to be treated for hypochondria and not asthma.

4) If it is a personal journal, share details. If you write mainly personal everyday stuff, I want to know what you ate and things like that. If you are in a relationship then paint a vivid picture of your partner and their habits. People like to compare their lives and read those little details. I makes everyday, boring things seem interesting.

5) I am attracted to blogs where I can see a picture of the author. There is just something personal and intimate about it that makes me get interested in what a blogger has to say. A picture can say a thousand words.

6) (My biggest pet peeve) If you post a lot of links on your blog, use the target=”AuxWindow” html tag so they will open in a new window. I came to your blog to read what you have to say. I don’t want to go on a wild goose chase over links and then find my way back to your blog again to continue. Remember, “pops in a new window” is your friend.

Well, I could probably do on and on about this but will stop at six. I just thought it would make for more interesting reading. I swear, I am going to liven this blog up for those of you that have read a long time. If I break any of my suggestions above for an interesting blog then chastise me. 8^)

Chill out, dude!

I have had this ton of anxiety about school lately. I wake up with butterflies in my stomach and worry all day. I finally got some relief this morning. I realized that I am making a mountain out of a mole hill. This is the reason I start something and then quit. When I can’t do something perfectly, I will quit doing it, period. My father calls it the A or an F syndrome. I can’t find a middle ground. Well, I am tired of worrying and will do my very best to take a laid back attitude towards school come what may.

This morning I was going through my daily reads of blogs. I stopped by Prison Pete and realized something. I am so damn lucky to be free to fail or free to do whatever. Pete would love to have the opportunity to just sit in a class a free man. He would love to take a long walk unhindered or to have the opportunities that I have. I will strive today to just appreciate what makes life worth living. I am alive, healthy, and in a good mental state. I am lucky to have the choice to do what I want.

I shall do small things today to pamper myself. I shall drink lots of good coffee. I shall also take time to enjoy my pipe. I will take a nice long nap this afternoon. Now, enough of pep talk, lets go get a good breakfast started. I think I shall cook a ham and cheese omelet with buttered toast; sounds good to me. I am off to go enjoy life for a change and cast my worries to the wayside.

Tuesday, March 8, 2005

A quest for spring…..

I took a long walk this afternoon. My goal was to find signs of spring other than my backyard. I am glad to report that I found many. Within weeks here in the south we will have a cornucopia of new growth. All the trees and shrubs are putting on new leaves. The dogwood tree buds are waiting to burst. Daffodils are blooming everywhere. I grow very excited. I am a summer kind of guy. I do not mind the heat of the south at all. Bring on the one hundred degree days. I am ready. I definitely have a case of spring fever.

I have decided to take only one class this summer and that will be Algebra. I discussed it with my father this afternoon. He has a friend who is a judge and whose wife teaches math at the Opelika, Alabama campus. He is going to call her tonight and get advice as to what level class I should start at. Keep in mind that I am a math dufus. I am illiterate when it comes to math to be honest. That is why I want to focus only on it this upcoming semester. My father means so well and wants so very much for me to succeed at this. I think he is more excited about me being in college than I am. I owe him much and I love him. It does put a god damned great deal of pressure on me though. I tried to look at the positive side of the coin today. How many people will have a four year degree paid for? Many will have debt and student loans. I am lucky on those regards.

Oh, bring on those long, lazy, humid days of a southern summer. Bring on the afternoon thunderstorms. I will welcome them all with open arms. I have many adventurous fishing trips and camping trips already planned in my head. I look forward to waking up in my tent on a cool July night to smoke my pipe. The sounds of a far off whip-o-will will great me with a thousand night time stars twinkling in the night time sky. Just a few more short weeks and my dreams will be realized.

Is the glass half full or half empty?

Half full of course but sometimes I get off the beaten path and get transient. It takes a calm day of quiet reflection to get me back on focus. I have much to be grateful for. I have a new home that is very economical and inexpensive. I will very soon have a very dependable used vehicle that is like a Cadillac compared to my current ride. I have a warm bed, good clothes, and good food. I have so many positive things I should focus on instead of the negative but sometimes I digress. Sometimes I need a good, firm kick in the ass to wake me up. I get complacent. I grow spoiled compared to my life a year ago.

I have also cut out the alcohol lately. It just depresses me too much and I find myself growing dependent upon it again. I have too many good things going on than “to play with fire” to quote a friends email. I love to escape reality and to drift away and use alcohol to do this. I don’t think I am an alcoholic in the traditional sense but I do have the insight to know I enjoy its effects too much. I shall once again climb aboard the wagon and start down the wagon trail.

I managed to make a 94 on my very hard biology test. The class average was 70. I exuberantly called my father to report the good news this morning. He and I both were very proud. This was some hard material folks and a lot of it. I am now past the half way point in the semester. I have proven to myself that I can do it. I am now going to focus on learning and not grades. All I have to have is a 2.0 GPA to get into the school of social work. I am going to take the route that if school is growing tiring and toilsome then do something to change that. This morning during lecture I listened intently and worked on a simple form of shorthand. Previously, I would frantically try to write every word to the point of misery and exhaustion. My poor hand would be cramping. I also wouldn’t take the time to comprehend the material as I was so busy scribbling. Today, I took a lackadaisical approach and enjoyed myself. I walked out with learning something new.

Monday, March 7, 2005

Plan of Action…..

I hate to write posts like I did last night. I just tend to be an all or nothing fellow and things can get overwhelming. A perfectionist you could say. I am going to tread lightly and take things easy this week. I will do just what I have to do to get by and to continue on. Thanks Pipe for the comment and O’Brien for the email. I do not want anyone to feel like they must post after my rants though. I do it to make myself feel better and to vent. It is not a cry for attention.

You would just have to understand my social peers and group. I am surrounded by very “successful” and busy people and it makes me feel inadequate. I know I shouldn’t feel that way and I often try to cast off those feelings but they do sometimes get the best of me.

One thing I do not want this blog to turn into is a whiney bitch fest of a journal. I read far too many of those and they grow tiresome. This blog is dead enough as it is. I think I will just take a break from blogging for awhile and lay low through a difficult period. I just do not have the energy or good vibes to write effectively at the time being. I hope this all finds you having a good week and I shall endeavor to have a good one as well.

Sunday, March 6, 2005

A tumultuous mind…….

Do you ever want to run and hide? Do life’s burdens ever seem too much for you? I am feeling this way tonight. I turned off all my lights and sat on the floor crying deeply. I cannot live up to the expectations of my significant others. It is just too much on me. They want me to succeed. Their view of success is different from mine. They want me to have a model life despite all my limitations. I value all of them very much and this puts a great deal of pressure on me. I cannot live like they propose though. I need a simple existence; as simple as it can get for my mental health. I am expressing weakness tonight and I am sure it will be exploited by someone in the blogosphere. I am sure I will get a snide comment upon this. I want to say, “Fuck You!” in advance.

I shall continue with school even though I see it as a fruitless endeavor. Far too much in my life I have had people ask me, “What do you do?”. My life has a value regardless of how much “work” I do or how successful I am with completing a degree. I wanted so much to help others but sometimes I find it hard in helping myself. At these times I want to cry out in distress. How can I help others when simple things in my life escape me?

It is time for quiet contemplation; time to gather my thoughts and regroup for another battle. They always come. Wave after wave, mindless drones spewing their groupthink. I can counter it though. I am as wily as the cleverest coyote. I shall hold on for another battle. My life is not done yet. I have thirty good more years ahead of me.

My life has great meaning and this has nothing to do with what job I take or my “Profession”. I am a good person with a good heart. I want the world to be good. I want to see justice for all. I want in my own small way to make a difference. My so called difference would be trivial when I compare it to what I see going on around me.

It is times such as these I want to don my backpack and walk out into the great unknowns to never return. If I die of starvation then so be it. I will have lived in a few months what many never live in a lifetime. I shall be finally free. Free from this drudgery of so called life. This meaningless process we all clamor to succeed in. I shall have final and absolute control of my destiny and die doing what I think is noble and right. I will be ostracized and my good name traversed like a treadmill though.

I really need to go to bed. I need peace of mind. I need to rest and re-gather my thoughts. I shall now go try to do that. The morning often sheds a different light on what your previous day started with. Good night.

A cold front passes……

(I feel at an impasse about my writing. The words just do not flow as easily as they used to. Maybe it is just a phase I am going through or my medication. I do not know. I will try to struggle through this as I have the strong urge to write but lack the words and good sentences to express it.)

I am lamenting the fact that I am home. I had such a great time camping and needed that. The solitude and quiet comforted me like a trusty old warm blanket. It helped calm my very busy and racing mind.

Part of my joy is that when I fade off into the woods like that I finally feel free. No one can reach me or knows where I am at. I get a chance to break away from a culture that stymies my senses. I can say what I want and do what I want without any repercussions. It is just me, the forest, and my forest dwelling friends. My only link to the outside world is a little radio which I can easily turn off with the press of a button if the need expresses it self. I wish I could do this with the real world sometimes.

One thing that is good is that my second sense about the weather is still intact from my homeless days. I learned to read and watch the signs nature was giving me to be able to forecast the weather with pretty good accuracy. It was very, very windy as the afternoon progressed yesterday. The canopy above me and my camp would roar with the sound of gale strength wind. Also, the clear sunny sky soon gave way to dark, ominous clouds. I knew a cold front was on the way with possible storms. I used all the tie downs on my tent to get ready and put all my gear inside. The gale force wind made my fire burn wood at an exhausting pace so I finally gave up on it and put it out. It was also blowing sparks and embers out into the forest and I grew paranoid that it would cause a forest fire.

I sat up against a big pine and began to eat my supper. I just ate the first MRE I grabbed out of my pack. It was ravioli with meat sauce and I poured some water into the outside pouch to begin the heating process. In minutes it was piping hot. I sat there as the sky grew ever darker eating the contents of the pouch with a spoon. Then the first drops of rain started to fall. These were big, heavy drops that made loud splats as they hit the fabric of my tent. The rain was coming down sideways thanks to the wind and started to sting as it hit my exposed face and hands. I crawled inside my tent and sat at the door cross-legged, smoking my pipe with the door half unzipped. Finally, the ever increasing rain forced me to zip up the door. I rolled out my sleeping bag and lay down on it to read a book. It had grown dark enough outside that I had to light my candle lantern. The candle would flicker violently from the gusty wind outside and made reading my novel troublesome.

I gave up on reading and pulled out my flask of liquor and donned my radio. I listened for a good long while to Garrison Keillor’s Prairie Home Companion on public radio. I have missed listening to this show and it brought back a hundred fond memories of days past. I continued to sit there cross-legged in the middle of my tent while I listened and drank from my flask. Finally, after drinking my pint, I grew very sleepy and climbed into my sleeping bag. It was still very warm though and I couldn’t zip it up and just lay atop it. I laid there scanning the radio for signs of intelligent thought and sadly, found few. I was soon fast asleep.

I awoke this morning to a bright sun and the glorious calls of spring from the birds. It had grown very chilly overnight and I could see my breath this morning. Sometime during the night I had crawled fully into my sleeping bag and zipped it up. This morning it was soaked with sweat as I had overheated during the night and didn’t wake up. I quickly changed out of my damp clothing and went about the task of packing up all my gear. It was too cold to hang around the campsite and a good hike would warm me up. I donned my pack and hiked the five miles home and made it back well before lunch. Thus concludes last night’s camping adventure.

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On the new home front……

I went by my new home this afternoon with Charlie. The re-wiring of my house is almost done. They are doing a great job. Every power outlet, light switch, junction box, and wire has been replaced. They also installed and wired me a garbage disposal that Charlie gave to me. They even cut out the hole and ran the wiring for my soon to be purchased dish washer. They also put lights with outside switches in all my closets. It is really starting to come together and I grow ever more excited as time goes by. I will soon be the proud owner of a very modest, inexpensive home but it will be mine. I will be sure to cherish it.

Saturday, March 5, 2005

Come take a hike with me….

I originally wanted to title this post “Now it’s time for me…..” but I changed it. It is time for me; time for me to escape into the wild unknowns for yet another night. My obligations are fulfilled. It is a beautiful day in the high seventies (high twenties Celsius) and not a cloud in the sky. It will also only get down into the fifties tonight so it will be perfect camping weather. Also, the biting insects have yet to make an appearance. I have a grand adventure planned and plotted out.

Just a moment ago I drove down to Little Sarge’s Army and Navy surplus store. I was looking for MREs (military speak for meals ready to eat) for tonight as I wanted a change of pace from the freeze dried meals. Fortunately, Little Sarge had a surplus of them after this past fall’s hunting season. I got six for $19.95. A damn good bargain as these things can get expensive. These are complete meals which contain an entrĂ©e, one snack/desert item, crackers with spread and an accessory pack with coffee, sweetener, salt, pepper, wet wipe, matches, and a spoon. These things have a shelf life of three years and are self heating. I plan on eating well tonight and with ease and little preparation or trouble. The only problem with MREs is the pack weight and the amount of trash you have to pack out of the camping area.

I also drove by the liquor store and purchased a pint of southern comfort. I looked at many options but I always come back to my favorite camping standby ye olde southern comfort. It is sweet enough to be enticing and yet not so strong as to be too harsh without a chaser. I shall imbibe with gusto.

I just have this longing to escape and want peace and quiet. The hustle and bustle of our modern world has been weighing heavily upon my shoulders. I am tired of meaningless conversations. I am tired of running around frantically to fulfill obligations. I am tired of people constantly yakking on their cell phones. I want the only sounds to be of my little radio, wildlife, the wind in the trees, and the crackle of a good fire. I want a slower pace of existence for a few days.

Well, let me go take a shower, don my backpack, and head out. I have a long but beautiful hike into the country awaiting me. I cannot express how beautiful a day it is in words. Perfect for what I have planned and I shall go enjoy myself to the fullest.

Friday, March 4, 2005

A small town, country boy at heart……

Today’s quest reminded me of how much I love rural areas and living in a small town. We had to drive through Atlanta to get to our destination. As we drew closer and closer to the city the traffic grew more dense and frantic. It was very nerve racking and it soon became every man for himself. People would no longer yield to let you in or be polite in their driving habits. It brought back memories of my days driving a big rig. I had forgotten how shitty it can be to drive through large metropolitan areas.

We reached our destination which was in a busy area of an Atlanta suburb. I originally thought our quest had to do with Uncle Bob getting something taken care of with his car at his former residence. He actually needed to get his taxes done. He has been using this guy since 1976 and he gives Bob a $25 dollar discount (There are perfectly good tax people in our hometown and it cost $16 dollars to drive there and back).

I sat in the little tax office for two hours as they did Bob’s taxes. The highway outside the window was one of the busiest highways I have ever witnessed. Speeding cars, honking horns, and frantic drivers played a game of chaos outside the small window. Throngs of people frantically parked and debarked at the parking locations while never putting down their cellular phones. I grew very tense and uncomfortable. I felt like a fish out of water and longed for my quiet, little home town. I also needed solitude. Fortunately about the time my patience had worn out 86 year old Uncle Bob comes shuffling out of the office and says it is time to head home and go get a bite to eat.

Afterwards, we went to a little greasy spoon for a late lunch. Bob had fried perch, sweet potato soufflé, lima beans, and cornbread. I ordered a philly cheese steak sandwich and fries. We both washed our meals down with sweet ice tea. It was very good and only cost us a total of $11.50 plus tip. I offered to pay for mine but he insisted on paying and I was pleasantly surprised (Uncle Bob and Aunt Jessie are notoriously cheap and frugal).

After a long drive, we finally made it home. Uncle Bob was just overjoyed to be able to get out of the house and get away from Aunt Jessie for awhile as she can be very cantankerous. He offered to pay me $40 dollars for driving him up there but I refused.

“Come on Jonathon take the $40 dollars.” He said.

“No, you don’t owe me anything. That’s what families are for.” I replied.

“You sure? I feel I owe you something.” He said.

“You bought me lunch and that was enough.” I replied.

That really is what families are all about. Seeing about each other and doing things when sometimes you don’t feel like it. You have to make an effort especially when it comes to a very elderly and almost home bound relative. I took great satisfaction and had a good feeling in my heart after I had arrived home for my good deed of the day. I also told Uncle Bob that as soon as spring gets here in earnest that he was going fishing with me up at the lake. He was overjoyed to hear this and ask me several times if I meant it. I assured him I did. I hope to have a few stories of “Fishing with Bob” to write about this summer. Good day.

A day in the life of a busy man….

Well, I am sitting here drinking my morning coffee and it is still dark outside. I can’t remember the last time I was voluntarily up this early. I feel groggy and tired. It has been a busy week. I have to take my great uncle Bob to Douglasville, Georgia to check on some things. I do not look forward to this. I wanted a quiet weekend alone but got harangued into doing this. It will mean all day in the car as it is a two hour drive from here and a two hour drive back. You have to drive through Atlanta. Sigh.

My tests went okay. You never really know until you get them back. I studied all week and don’t want to see notes or a book for a few days yet until the cycle starts again. I don’t remember college being so much work. Maybe it is because I am at least trying this go around. I am putting in the effort. There are days where it seems overwhelming and I want to give up. I have to call my father for a pep talk when this happens. He did the same for my brother and sister to get them through medical school.

I stopped by “The Homeless Guy” this morning for the first time in quite awhile. I keep hoping that I will read that he has got a home. I see that his updates and entries have been very sporadic and erratic. This is very unlike him as his blog is usually paramount to everything. Maybe this is a good sign. This either means a) he is busy knitting and making money getting ready to find a home or b) he is having one of his “episodes” again. I hope for the latter. Only time will tell and you never know what he will do next. I just would like to see a good ending to a very long and convoluted story I have followed for a year.

Wednesday, March 2, 2005

Casting off my shackles…..

I’ve had enough studying for a lifetime. No more studying for me. My eyes are burning. My brain is filled to capacity. The big day is tomorrow. My professor assures us this the big hump and then it is all down hill from here. I was so tired tonight that I didn’t want to go to my English class but I made myself go. I had this hunch and it paid off. He gave us a daily quiz on the material that we were supposed to read. Good thing I went. The class was sparingly empty tonight though. He gave us a lecture on the importance of attending class. I am glad I wasn’t one of those “evil” class skipping fiends. 

Tonight, I went by the Piggly Wiggly to buy a half gallon of milk. I was almost out and I love it in my coffee. Guess who I saw? Good old George. He was wearing a Sunday suit and had just come back from his Wednesday night service. He looked like a new man and was clean shaven and his eyes didn’t have that yellow/red pall from his drinking days. He held out his hand for me to shake and he didn’t ask for a beer.

“Good to see you my friend.” I said as I shook his hand.

“I done found religion. Been goin’ with momma.” He said.

“Good for you man. Whatever works for you is what you do.” I replied.

“Hey, do ya want to come this Sunday with me?” He asked.

I could just picture a white guy going to a black church and the glaring stares he would get as he walked down the aisle to sit in his pew. Religion is still extremely segregated here in the south. I respect George’s new beliefs but just don’t get into religion. I choose to abstain.

“Thanks man but I don’t get into church.” I replied.

“Well, anytime you want to go just call me. The Lord can have a powerful affect on your life.” He said and handed me one of his new cab service cards.

I told him how good he looks and told him to take care. We said our goodbyes and I walked to the car and drove home. On the drive home I thought about my future days when I may become a social worker. I wanted to tell George that he himself got himself straightened out and not religion but I thought that would be callous. There will be times in my new career were I will have clients that are religious and may need religion and I should not let my own personal biases interfere in me giving them help and care. If it works for you then let it work. I wish George the best and hopes that this is not some aberration but a lasting change. I am off to crawl into my warm, waiting, and much needed bed. Good night.

Tuesday, March 1, 2005

A quiet blog for a few days……

Some of you I have grown to be good friends with. If you don’t hear anything from me for a few days then do not fret. I have a very busy and stressful week going on right now. I have a major biology exam covering 4 chapters Thursday. I also have an extensive listening and essay exam for music appreciation on Thursday as well for the Baroque period.

I have learned that I cannot study effectively here at home. The internet is just too tempting and I can waste hours goofing off online when I should be studying. I have to hit the quiet, secluded, local county library to study and have done so all day today. Fortunately, I do no not have to work this week and it is nice when life’s little coincidences work out well.

So, if I do not write a few days then know that I busily cramming material in my already crowded brain. For biology, we are studying cellular organelles, plasma membranes, photosynthesis, and cellular respiration. As you can see, I have a lot of material to cover in a few days. My mind is currently swirling with terms such as mitochondria and Golgi apparatus much as the debris from a shipwreck floats aimlessly on the ocean. I have to get it organized ASAP. Good night and take care.