The place to come to wag more and bark less...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

With Fox and Friends Like These...

The Horse’s Ass-In-Chief will assume his rightful place here in American history.

I predict that the Fox and Friends et al who, in the face of all evidence to the contrary will one day abandon their golden boy.

All trump or any of his cronies have to do is to continue their campaign of bullshit and surprise their cronies, on-air and expose them for the criminals they are.

It’s basically a white collar version of the mob, and Fox personalities who blindly support trump are complicit.

I might add to my prediction that the pretense the Fox and Friends will conjure up will have nothing to do with trump’s criminal and civil violations. Doing so would be an acknowledgement and outright admission of their complicity.

Instead their private rationale will be unspoken and, in the tradition of narcissistic tv personalities will center on how trump et al will have made them look bad on air one too many times.

Publicly the Fox cronies will come up with another bullshit that’s geared (of course) for consumption by trump’s base.

They’ll end up claiming to be the victims in some sort of far fetched scheme hatched years ago by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.

Trump’s base will buy it and Fox, though in keeping with their own policy will applaud themselves for all they’ve done to Make America Great Again.

Polls reflect this man’s ideological position. Here he exercises his First Amendment right to free speech. His unmistakably non-partisan message undoubtedly reflects the opinion of First Lady Melania Trump as well.

With such misguided, self-righteous friends like them, they will consider themselves heroes and patriots who’ve somehow saved the USA from certain disaster.

But the memory of the sudden and figuratively violent takedown of their once-heralded superstar bill o’reilly won’t be far from their minds.

Then reality will assert itself and before you can say “Lock Her Up!” Fox and Friends will suddenly take an extreme interest in documenting the “Two-headed iguana that was mysteriously found under a woman’s bathtub in Poughkeepsie, NY in January” or some other Pulitzer-worthy topic.

Trump’s base will follow fox’s lead and likewise adopt that “I’ll be danged!” storyline as the number one topic of dinner conversation. Nobody-except for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller-will notice trump slithering away unnoticed.

I predict that the Fox and Friends et al who, in the face of all evidence to the contrary will one day abandon their golden boy.

All trump or any of his cronies have to do is to continue their campaign of bullshit and surprise their cronies, on-air and expose them for the criminals they are.

It’s basically a white collar version of the mob, and Fox personalities who blindly support trump are complicit.

I might add to my prediction that the pretense the Fox and Friends will conjure up will have nothing to do with trump’s criminal and civil violations. Doing so would be an acknowledgement and outright admission of their complicity.

In America, even assholes enjoy the right to free speech.

Instead their private rationale will be unspoken and, in the tradition of narcissistic tv personalities will center on how trump et al will have made them look bad on air one too many times.

Publicly the Fox cronies will come up with another bullshit that’s geared (of course) for consumption by trump’s base.

They’ll end up claiming to be the victims in some sort of far fetched scheme hatched years ago by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.

Trump’s base will buy it and Fox, though in keeping with their own policy will applaud themselves for all they’ve done to Make America Great Again.

Former National Security Advisor Flynn, getting used to his new home. He can’t see Russia from here, though.

With such misguided, self-righteous friends like them, they will consider themselves heroes and patriots who’ve somehow saved the USA from certain disaster.

But the memory of the sudden and figuratively violent takedown of their once-heralded superstar bill o’reilly won’t be far from their minds.

Then reality will assert itself and before you can say “Lock Her Up!” Fox and Friends will suddenly take an extreme interest in documenting the “Two-headed iguana mysteriously found under a woman’s bathtub in Poughkeepsie, NY” or some other Pulitzer-worthy topic.

Trump’s base will follow fox’s lead and likewise adopt that “I’ll be danged!” storyline as the number one topic of dinner conversation. Nobody-except for Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller-will notice trump slithering away unnoticed.

But the bullshit will stick to the cocky teflon don and oh, how far and how fast he’ll fall. As Stormy’s lawyer Michael Avenatti stated “All the tweets in the world won’t save him from himself.”

Here’s the man-child at recess, driving the lunch lady nuts at the West Wing’s “adult day care.” With inmate-in-waiting Michael Cohen behind him trump has never had to clean up his own messes. Today’s art class subject is finger painting; but Cohen won’t be there this time.

Thousands if not tens of thousands of the broad community of people who trump has wronged will undoubtedly be doing a happy dance. For long before the American people discovered trump’s true colors they already knew that everything trump touches turns to shit.

Okay, everyone, say it with me: “Lock him up!”

Thank you, Robert Mueller and thanks to all of your legal team as well. You are the true heroes in this sad chapter of American history, for you’ll have proven that Democracy can and will prevail in the end.

From all of this one thing is clear: history will forever show Richard Nixon to be a criminal genius in comparison to trump.

Having lived through the Nixon administration, I don’t believe any Senate or House member ever stated that the president has turned the White House into an adult day care.

For my part I’ve one piece of advice for the outgoing president: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

The bucks start here.
Thousands if not tens of thousands of the broad community of people who trump has wronged will undoubtedly be doing a happy dance. For long before the American people discovered trump’s true colors they already knew that everything trump touches turns to shit.

Okay, everyone, say it with me: “Lock him up!”

Thank you, Robert Mueller and thanks to all of your legal team as well. You are the true heroes in this sad chapter of American history, for you’ll have proven that Democracy can and will prevail in the end.

From all of this one thing is clear: history will forever show Richard Nixon to be a criminal genius in comparison to trump.

Having lived through the Nixon administration, I don’t believe any Senate or House member ever stated that the president has turned the White House into an adult day care.

For my part I’ve one piece of advice for the outgoing president: Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Countryside Animal Hospital Review, May, 2018

Review: Countryside Animal Hospital,
               3820 Timberline Rd.
               Ft Collins, CO 80525

Hi neighbors, this is my review of Countryside Animal Hospital in Ft Collins, May 1, 2018.

Vet Review 

My first vet here, Dr. Ann Vestal, was great; knowledgeable and caring and professional. But she moved away after six months. 

Unaware of this, Sophie my 9 y/Malinois service dog and I were surprised by a different vet upon arriving for a muscle injury exam.

The new vet was curt, offered no personal introduction, or warmth and compassion as I’d felt from our original doc, etc. I left without even knowing her name, going instead by the name on the Rx bottle she’d given - Speight. But that’s not her name.

We sat waiting, Sophie in pain until Dr. Morgan finally came in, late. No “Sorry to keep you waiting,” not even a friendly glance or smile. This is totally contrary to any vet experience we’ve ever had.

This reflects poorly on the clinic; ours was not an emergency visit. Here, vets and patients are apparently interchangeable without notice and that’s not okay. An ongoing patient-doctor relationship is important to us.

This indifferent vet’s name is Katherine Morgan, though her name does not appear on the Rx medication bottles-another doc’s name does. I can’t even be sure she truly is a veterinarian yet but perhaps a vet school student? Can she not legally prescribe medication yet?

Meeting with her was less a positive give-and-take and more like being subjected to a condescending lecture. I had no choice but to let it slide-something this vet office was well aware of this, but did it anyway.

So when I scheduled a follow up appt I requested a different vet.  But the same vet entered a second time anyway, no explanation, nothing. My girl was in pain and needed help- again there was nothing I could do. We were stuck with Dr. Morgan again though we’d specifically requested another vet.

Dr. Morgan’s inability to provide excellent and experienced care was clear. She fumbled around awkwardly with the instruments used in only partially draining my Sophie’s swollen cyst. Dr. Morgan’s inexperience at the procedure created an infection which was a possibility an experienced doctor would have known to address. Dr. Morgan did not.

Nor did Dr. Morgan suggest an alternative treatment. Sophie’s had the cyst all her life and it looked no different after the procedure-I didn’t realize Dr. Morgan had botched such an apparently simple job until it was too late. 

Sophie developed an infection due to Dr. Morgan, who should have had an experienced doctor supervising her. I firmly believe my Sophie, in effect was a guinea pig.

Dr. Morgan chose not to help me avoid this a day or so later by not making a follow up call to us to ask “How’s she doing?” as her predecessor there did. But nothing. I was on my own to handle it.

I’ve had to find a new, experienced vet who knows what to do and how to do it while also communicating with me about it. 

Our vet at Harmony Hospital for Pets prescribed antibiotics and Sophie’s now getting better from the infection my sweet girl got from Dr. Morgan’s work, 3 weeks earlier. 

It’s been costly and, most important, very painful for Sophie. And still, no follow up call from Dr. Morgan to see how Sophie’s doing. Her silence says simply “I don’t care...” 

I’m disabled and my service dog is my lifeline. In public, Sophie and I literally work together. So when I’m not physically active, neither is my Sophie. If I’m down and in pain, so is she. We’re both fighting weight issues and can do without Dr. Morgan’s smug comments like “Your dog’s nearly obese.” 

My Sophie was injured doing her job for me, twisting on an icy parking lot to help me after I’d fallen. 

Implying that Sophie was hurt solely because of being overweight as Dr. Morgan did was insensitive and insulting to the working relationship we’ve had for 9+ years.

Nearly all vets we’ve met elsewhere have been terrific. But this office is clearly too short on compassion to attract and to keep a friendly and qualified vet on staff for very long.

Sophie’s almost 10 and we’ve known many great vets along the way. We’re not experts but I know good care from indifferent, and this wasn’t good care.

Please avoid risking the painful and upsetting experience like Sophie and I had at Countryside Animal Hospital - Look elsewhere for compassionate care for your beloved furry friend.

Taking an animal to a veterinarian is a trust agreement that most of us don’t take lightly. It’s why we read reviews like these when making such an important decision. 

If the managing administration vets at Countryside Animal Hospital were to contact me back with some sign of contrition or even acknowledgement about our poor treatment there I’d be willing to update this review. 

For anyone at Countryside Animal Hospital to not to do so will reinforce my belief that what I’ve written here may help another loving animal owner avoid the pain we’ve found here.

Monday, April 16, 2018

For Your Eyes Only

All About Sophie and Me (sic)

See the last few years of our lives together here:

Please disregard the two or three lovey-dovey greetings among the video clips. Out of deference to everyone's feelings and sense of privacy I prefer there were none at all. However, there have been others who have been part of our lives.

Given Sophie's familiarity and love for these people it was worth putting the clips in unedited until I can properly edit it. Though the principles of editing don't change much the technology that makes it possible does. So I'd like to think my college degree has been good for something in this regard. 

Nothing weird is intended by this toward anyone. I've merely created this for posterity and as a pleasant diversion one gray April evening and to show how wonderful our lives have been together. Sophie is always willing and able to show off her wild, prey-driven side in the high country, then later to her super-cool, calm and collected public service dog skills Sophie does it all with style. 

I'm justifiably proud of Sophie and the work we've (sadly) sometimes had to fight to do. But it's a fight worth taking on and, as long as I draw a breath I'll always fight to overcome my insecurities in order to employ my resolve as a legitimate and responsible service dog handler to help my vulnerable peers. 

Sophie is my family and I will fight if I must to do right by her. We've both been hurt too many times before together give up now. Anyone who has come to know us, whether other service dog/handler teams, K-9/handler teams or any of the countless strangers we've come to know here in Ft. Collins understands and has given us their full support. Please follow this link for some personal albeit raw kudos:

Perhaps one day no such conflicts will remain and all the barriers will fall. Until then, Sophie and I can always retreat to the great Colorado outback. If home truly is where your heart is, then that explains why we're so at home up there.

I wonder what tomorrow will bring us..! ☺

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Take me out to the Little League ball game

Take Me Out to the Little League Ballgame... (unedited)

The beginning of the baseball season heralds reminders of how baseball affected our lives as young boys.
Baseball cards, the thrill of opening a new package and finding out which players are inside. The smell of the slab of stale, crispy bubble gum that had all the texture of a dog treat. That smell permeated the cards and made them even more special, at least until the smell waned.
The feel of new baseball cleats on my feet, the leathery smell of my baseball glove, the same smell the baseballs also head.
And the feel of a new wooden bat and, once I grew older, aluminum ones.
How about the appearance of a brand-new baseball, fresh from the box and with no scuffs on it yet.
And, of course, those special visits to the ballpark to watch our heroes play. We'd take our mitts to the game, hoping to catch a foul ball.
We'd also study them, Emulating some of the moves special to them that we wanted to try.
Growing up in Pittsburgh in the 1970s, watching Willie Stargell and his trademark wind up of his baseball bat.
He'd make the pitcher wait until he was darn good and ready for his delivery. Only then could the picture throw his best effort.
It was one of the earliest forms of stare down, game face intimidation I witnessed, and it shaped my approach to the world ever since.
Even though girls have been major league baseball fans and Little league participants for many years, back then, organized baseball was largely the domain of boys.
We didn't chew tobacco, but big wads of gum instead. Anything we could do to be more like one of our heroes we did.
Even today, I still have a baseball card I ordered online of all places.
It's of a pitcher, Bob Veale, who was never quite that famous to we boys because so many cards had his picture on it, thereby decreasing their value.
We wanted cards with Willy Stargell, Richie Hebner, and Richie Zisk. No relief pitcher could match up to these guys.
The bubblegum smell has long since worn off, but the sight of the card instantly brought back the memories.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Our Hostile Experience at the Walmart at Mason and Harmony; Service Dog/Handler Teams Are Not Welcome There

On the afternoon of February 28, 2018 my service dog Sophie and I were denied entry to the Ft Collins Walmart location on Mason Street and Harmony Road.

Interestingly the premise for denying me entry was that Sophie was required by store policy and Colorado State law to be on a leash. As an upper limb amputee this requirement made no sense, for holding a leash wouldn’t leave my hand free to do any actual shopping.

It’s been my experience that the reason some people behave in ways they know to be wrong and/or illegal is because they believe they can get away with it. This is one excellent example.

This experience took place at a Walmart where I know there to be a great disparity in leadership/management quality. Perhaps my only error is to have made the mistake of expecting too much from a low-cost retailer with a reputation for poor customer service.

However I was in a pinch and had no other place to go at the time. Plus I’d shopped there a number of times without being accosted at the door and had no reason to believe today would be different.

One of the people identifying himself as a manager acknowledged having seen Sophie and I in their store before. It’s where I get her pain prescriptions.

In an effort to avoid stepping on Sophie and to maintain some degree of discretion in this situation which had already begun drawing a great deal of unwanted attention to me I stepped around Sophie.

The young man, who behaved as if he were some knowledgeable crusader for preserving the sanctity of what he’d likely been told was an unquestionable state law and store policy that could never be broken. So I requested to speak to a store manager.

This person proved to be, as the saying goes, Useless as tits on a bull. Upon arriving she admonished me for what she perceived to be my disrespect for her “store associate,” speaking as if she were some dime store Gandh.

She echoed the young man’s blather about state law and store policy then said she needed to “go research the store policy.”

Clearly it wasn’t enough that I identified Sophie as my service dog and myself as her handler. Nor was it enough that another manager who knew me to be a previous customer did not say anything on my behalf. Since I didn’t yet know him to have seen me shopping there I didn’t know to ask him to speak up.

Still, I felt as if the assistant managers there did not speak for themselves out of fear and intimidation of the store’s manager. Again the tits on a bull metaphor applies.

So, in the absence of a better solution I called the police as recommended by a trusted advocate in Denver. The police said they would not come to the store and instead advised me to leave the store and to follow up my concerns with a report to the company. The same, tired “bull” metaphor once again fit.

I heeded the police recommendation and left for my next pit stop, Sam’s Club. As it happens Sophie and I are regular, welcome fixtures at that store. They respect Sophie’s and my working relationship and, because of that I relax my grip on her somewhat.

Sophie loves them and they her, so I let them visit while we all chat. It makes everyone’s day more pleasant as a result and is the polar opposite of the experience I had at the Walmart today.

Knowing that Sam’s Club is a Walmart brand I spoke to one the store manager there today. Though we’d never spoken he knew who we are and our positive association with his store. So I asked his feedback regarding what had happened at the Walmart an hour earlier.

He acknowledged that what had happened to us there was wrong and that my impression that the store management was inept was accurate, too. He confirmed a phone number I could call to make my complaint known directly to the company.

Later that evening as I researched the subject online I discovered a plethora of negative reviews about the company. It seems that the negative history of store employees’ and management’s disregard for their customers runs deep there.

It immediately became clear that the Walmart store culture actually promotes negative, even condescending behavior by store employees toward customers. And it begins at the top level at the store and the example filters downstream.

Again, I believe that people sometimes do things they know to be wrong for the simple reason they can get away with it. Apparently doing so fills a void that would otherwise remain open and bare.

Under these circumstances, perhaps they see a disabled man with a service dog as an easy target. It’s certainly how I felt when singled out at the store entrance today.

In essence I was given no choice but to follow through with a pushback I know to be legally as well as logically in my favor. But the law is what matters and I was left with no other choice.

However, my interpretation of this situation is that the store personnel couldn’t care less about my investment of time and energy in pursuing what I know to be legal and just.

Regardless, I’d never feel comfortable entering that store again. The pros of no longer frequenting that store are many, from its cramped aisles to its cramped and twisted parking lot to what I now know to be store employees that are not committed to creating positive customer experiences.

I’m therefore not going to waste time trying to secure an apology from anyone who wouldn’t genuinely offer one to begin with. Nor does it make sense to try to pursue any other sort of remedy, for my voice would be lost amidst the cacophony of other disgruntled consumers.

I will, however take every opportunity to dissuade others from frequenting that store for the reasons I’ve stated above. That store, by the way is not a Superstore but a “regular” Walmart location. Perhaps the employees, particularly management see themselves as second class citizens relative to their counterparts at the larger stores.

This doesn’t justify their poor performance but, if true it becomes more understandable.

Happily I can say that my experience at the Walmart today was merely a disappointment. Aside from that experience Sophie and I had a wonderful day, full of smiles and pleasant interaction with just about everyone we saw.

Sophie and I know we are special, just as we also know that everyone is special. Here in Ft Collins I’ve always found a certain friendliness that pervades this community. It’s a big reason why this town has become my adopted Colorado hometown; I really do like the people here because they seem to genuinely like each other.

Having lived in numerous big cities I have a pretty strong basis of comparison. They all have their pros and cons, of course but given my personal preferences, Ft Collins stands out among them all.

Perhaps I’d feel differently about further pursuing my disenchantment with the Walmart today if we were in the midst of a larger, anonymous community.

But what I saw at the Walmart here is not an accurate reflection of this community and, as such is best left alone. Now that I’m aware of its negative energy it only makes sense to never go there.

I’m committed to only frequenting places that have the best and friendliest people we know. It makes for the most mutually satisfying experiences possible and always leaves us with a good feeling.

That said, I highly encourage you to avoid shopping at the Walmart location on Mason Street and Harmony Road.

From one friendly person to another please beware that your pleasantness may not be reciprocated for reasons that will only leave you guessing, Like Sophie and I, you deserve better and you’ll likely find it elsewhere, as we have,

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

A Stranger In My Own Home

Shortly before leaving for college, I don’t remember exactly when, I went in to my baby sister Sharon’s room. She was only a few years old and not the favored daughter as my oldest younger sister.

It’s a Mexican thing, I’ve noticed, for the first-born girl to be the princess, all other kids-and even the mother, who’s suddenly competing for her husband attention be damned.

That said, I knew Sharon would always be at a disadvantage, growing up in the shadow of her older sister. I knew she wouldn’t get the same attention and wondered just how disfavored she’d be made to feel.

A Mexican father’s lack of inhibition in celebrating his princess daughter is part of the deal, i knew from seeing my teflon Aunt Rita, my father’s sister, as I grew up. Unlike me, my father was the last-born male in his family and therefore disfavoed by his father, a fact he insecurely lorded over me. Weird, those people’s family dynamics.

Anyhow, knowing all this I remember crying as I held Sharon for fear that the home I was leaving her in would be the same to her as it was to me – a horrible place.

It was a particularly poignant moment for me: Though I wouldn’t have known it then, it would be the first, closest moment to being a parent that I’d ever have. And also those few moments with Sharon signaled the first time I’d ever leave a loved one behind without looking back.

Over the course of my life, three of these would be kids, my own daughter and a girlfriend’s two boys. That is, as close as I’d ever be able to let anyone get.

Everyone else in my immediate family except Sharon knew all the secrets about me and my horrible things that went on with my parents and I. That said, leaving Sharon behind was the beginning, just the first of many many sudden turn-my-back-and-walk-away moments with people in general.

In a sense, I have always been a functional person living with borderline tendencies. As a post-college adult I’ve lived a workaday life with no apparent outward limitations. Inside, however I’ve always felt torn up and horribly injured. Unbeknownst to anyone, just below the surface I’ve always been ready to cut and run from them.

Naturally, there have been some times I felt that way more than others, when that fragile surface was scratched deep, but not quite deep enough to trigger the flight or fight response.

There have also been a handful of times however, all of which can be easily documented, when that cut was deep enough to trigger fight or flight – and I fled.

Throughout this time, addiction had a deleterious effect on all my relationships, and has been the only thing remaining after they ended. It’s simple: Because my personal history then indicated every relationship I’ve ever had or would have will eventually go down in flames I was hesitant to drop my coping mechanism because I knew I’d eventually need it to recover.

Up to the very moment of my bicycle accident with a car, I had been addicted to endorphins. That fine feeling was something I could not get enough of and, in fact, I was so stoned on endorphins when my accident occurred I was hesitant to say so lest my words be misconstrued and it’d appear at fault for the accident.

Still, I cannot help but think that I played some role in that accident. I’ve had- and still sometimes have -lots of self-doubts about this. Could I have stopped in time? Part of me thinks I could have. Could I have avoided it completely? Maybe I could have.

But I was so high then that I might never have imagined life getting any better than at that very moment. It was a take-me-now-God feeling that I’d worked up in just the space of only about an hour on the bike, as if OD’ing on the body’s own, naturally produced painkiller. And why not? I’d had the feeling a million times before.

So, while both of my marriages had been largely asexual, I could never get enough of my bike. My insatiable drive for endorphins trumped everything.

In fact, I once shared a joke among some teammates and other less familiar cycling buddies. I knew it to hit very close to home regarding my own relationships but it drew a smile from me anyway: What’s the difference between women and bicycles? Bicycles don’t mind if you ride other bikes.

Not that I rode other women, but I did ride other bikes when I should probably have been astride my woman at home. I can’t think of any less vulgar way of putting that, but the gist is there.

It was always tongue-in-cheek funny among some of my teamates, all of whom seemed like such successful people: Lawyers, doctors, surgeons, entrepreneurial marketing and PR professionals, and God knows what else.

When we were all together, I remember looking around at them and wondering what skeletons, like me, those guys might have been hiding. What was lurking beneath their surface just like there was lurking beneath mine?

Most of the time, though, I felt like a junkie in a room full of straight people. I had a secret I didn’t want anybody to know about and lived in fear that it would come out.

This last feeling I attribute to having grown up in an abusive home. It was my first, most devastating and longest-lasting introduction to the later realization that I’d been raised in a shame-based religion:  Catholicism.

But so had some of my teammates, one of whom was a great guy who seemed to have a good relationship with his wife and son. As we waited to begin every race he always looked down to the crucifix he’d cemented to his top tube and said a prayer.

He was not like my father, who daily shamed me as a kid for the things I could not help as I grew up: acne, a developing sexuality, my seizure history. I was an easy, captive target for him, without a mother to step in and push back in my defense. I accepted shame as not unusual, but normal. I didn’t even know then I was being shamed.

Therefore, the factors I dealt with as a kid were not conducive to creating healthy, long-term relationships, whether friendships at school or at work.

Anytime anyone got too close, I would cut and run for the very reason that they became too close. I simply didn’t know what to do and was scared of the unfamiliarity of the situation, of not knowing how to be close to anyone.

As a result, I went through decades of relationships whereby I would get close to people then turn and run away. Looking into their eyes as it happened, which I’d usually announce by loudly voicing my displeasure with them as I abruptly left, I could see their confusion. I knew it was happening again, whatever it was. Today I can’t help but wonder if they’d seen my confusion, too. I’m sure it was there.

Unlike my siblings, I am not now nor ever have been in touch with friends from high school or college. I am not in touch with my own daughter. I am not in touch with either of my ex-wives and, quite frankly, I don’t understand why I am still in touch with my ex-in-laws. Not that I mind - I am grateful to have them. Except for my current therapist, they are the longest-lasting, positive relationship I’ve had with anybody my entire life.

I think it’s because I know that they love me unconditionally and that they never judge me. I don’t know why I had to wait so long in my life to find such good role models. I’ve long felt at a point where I no longer feel I can extend what I’ve learned from them to anybody else.

Sophie, of course, loves me unconditionally as well so it’s no surprise that I have anthropomorphized her. I treat her like I should have treated every woman in my life: she’s a lady, an Angel, a gift from God.

From her I have learned the immeasurable benefits of being part of a mutually unconditional and loving partnership. The things she has endured for me I could never adequately describe to anyone. The things I have endured for her have also been extreme except that, as the human, the sentient one, I understand what’s happening.

And because of my familiarity with physically and emotionally abusive situations, I am well equipped to understand and to handle them. Still, Sophie is the stronger of the two of us.

Getting back to the endorphin highs I used to achieve while cycling: There was something I didn’t see then that’s become clear to me now: I’ve been a chemically dependent person all my life.

One of my favorite introductory phrases about the nature of things in general was to say “In cycling, as in life, blah blah blah...”

And from what I’ve come to learn about junkies, I realize that whatever addicts are plagued by - booze, heroin, cocaine or any other opioid, adrenaline, endorphins or testosterone – they might say the same thing. Their drug, their chosen chemical has become their life.

So if you consider my near death experience – which unfortunately did not take my life as I believe it should have, I was left without the chemical substance upon which I’d been dependent for decades.

Endorphin highs are how I dealt with the real pain inside me, and I needed a regular fix to keep me going through until the next one.

Talk about being a functional addict: I used to openly say that “Work is an eight hour break between bike rides.” And I was proud of it, too. Too bad I wasn’t a paid, professional cyclist.

But few things topped the feeling of anticipation I had when I changed out of my work clothes in the men’s room and into my cycling shorts and headed toward my bike for the long, sweet ride home. Except on Fridays, when I knew I also had the next two days to look forward to on the bike. No matter the weather, it was always the high point of my day.

After my bicycle accident with a car, the chronic pain I had was not just physical, but emotional. Yes, I was beat up like Evel Knievel after a major crash.

But I began losing my sense of hygiene which I’ve yet to fully regain. I suddenly found myself with no functional hands: One arm was dead because of the crash, and my other hand was shattered. It had been surgically reconstructed and would take God only knew how long to work again.

Just getting to the bathroom was an exercise in agony and, once there an exercise in humility and deep shame,. It hurt like hell to get up, to take the ten painful steps to get there which might as well have been a mile. The pain and the dizziness sometimes conspired to make incontinence seem more desirable.

But even worse, my inability to wipe myself or shower or blow my nose or perform any similarly personal task meant I had to rely upon my wife to do it. Overnight I went from the strongest physical condition I’d ever known to being as helpless as a newborn baby.

It was a prison in which I was trapped. I did not know when the return of the use of my hand would come and, for someone who was deathly afraid of intimacy, I found few things more intimate than that.

In many ways I’m still trapped. In the RV, anytime I relieve myself, I apologize to Sophie for her having to watch me squat over the can. I apologize to her for how dirty the floor is, I apologize for being unable to stay with my ex-wife because I know Sophie loved her, too.

Though I’m over it, it breaks my heart to recall how Sophie’d approach the driver’s side door of the car when my ex-wife got home. Sophie’s habit lingered long after the divorce, when she’d approach similarly-colored Subaru wagons the same way, fully expecting to see her person get out.

I feel as if I have denied myself all of the things that make a person healthy, with the conspicuous exception of Sophie yet, in so doing have denied Sophie as well. My life now exists largely to make it up to her, never mind myself.

In the absence of endorphins and in the face of unbelievably excruciating intimate contact with someone – my ex-wife – I was introduced by someone to the use of medical marijuana.

I was raised Catholic by self-righteous parents who, though not alcoholics, would “enjoy a drink” on certain occasions. Though they weren’t drunks, they thought nothing of getting tipsy. And why not? The priest chugs a chalice of wine before the congregation at every service. Hell, it’d be a sin to not drink, for it’s one of the most Christ-like things anyone can do.

But police officers, even Catholic ones might disagree. On a roadside sobriety test what some might refer to being “tipsy“ or “buzzed“ in the eyes of the law is being under the influence-drunk.

Anyone who’s been “buzzed” knows that you are either drunk or stoned or well on your way to being drunk or stoned. Yet the stigma of pot smoking- smoking dope - in my family culture persisted.

As an adult with chronic pain issues though, at my wit’s end from all the pain medication with side effects like constipation that marginalized the painkilling effects left me open to something, anything else.

My ex-wife’s brother had long since been a pothead, years before it was legal in the state. After legalization it seems he made quite a good living for himself and his family with it.

Though my ex’s family were Mormon and anything but potheads, the culture of their family didn’t put a stigma on its use. Terrible isn’t it, to think I was raised in a family culture that was, in some ways more tightly wound than Mormons?

The pot worked as promised, with the added benefit of being stoned. It’s a great feeling, one that I think everyone should feel in their life just once even though I know not everyone is equipped to handle it. I believe, though, that I’m one such person. The pain I have runs much deeper than any drug has managed to reach but pot has been the closest thing to endorphins I’ve since found.

As someone who embraces scholarly pursuits, I don’t expect my therapist-friend would ever understand the feeling of regularly being high on a regular basis. Only the most disciplined scholars who have the passion and persistence to earn a PsyD could ever understand such a dependency without actually knowing it firsthand.

But I know endorphins and, though I don’t know yoga, I do know exercise and the pleasure endorphins bring, no matter their delivery system. That means I don’t consider my therapist, a devout yogi to be chemically dependent on anything beyond endorphins. But I am certain she understands the concept of addiction, however.

Just like so many other things I was naïve to, I didn’t realize my own addictive personality and in fact only recently have begun understanding. Consider this:

I didn’t touch any drug save my seizure meds as a teenager living at home. Even during my first week or so in the dorms at Penn State I was ambivalent about the idea of drinking just one beer. All my peers, it seemed had gone through their experimentation with alcohol in high school or they didn’t at all. But I had maybe two or three friends in high school and certainly never went to any parties. All that was to change in college.

I had always been warned as a kid that for me to drink any alcohol would result in some unimaginably terrible physical consequences. The same Fear that guided my parents was liberally directed toward me as well.

So, once I overcame that ambivalence, that fear of drinking a beer, the floodgates flew open. Fresh out of high school, into my first, second and third years of college, my life revolved around cigarettes and beer.

I attributed my beer drinking – my need to swap out the inner feelings I had while sober with the more pleasant feeling of partying with others while getting drunk – as a release from the pain of having lived in such an awful environment for so many years. Along with my cohorts, I believed I was in good company.

Suddenly I was invited to parties left and right, on a fast track into what I thought to be the world of adulthood. I knew everybody on campus it seemed and they knew me. And there were lots of good, solid guys in my group.

During my freshman year, we even grew so weary of the only fraternity’s tight-assed brotherhood that we organized into a cohesive group that eventually established a chapter of a second fraternity on campus. It was perhaps the greatest accomplishment of my freshman year, though I transferred out of that campus the following year.

Though frat parties, especially at Penn State will never be the same, I wasn’t even there to enjoy any of the wilder frat parties I helped facilitate.

My name, however, is inscribed on some plaque somewhere on campus for posterity. As I said, some of my frat buddies were good, solid guys who remembered me, though I haven’t seen or spoken with them since.

I thought my sudden social skills, finely honed under a keg tap, was a natural outlet for all the physical and emotional abuse I faced everyday as a kid. And, indeed it may have been. I didn’t realize it was actually the sign of having an addictive personality.

Coming from parents whose heads were buried in the fine gold sand of Catholicism and rank-and-file unionist Republicanism they couldn’t see outside of themselves enough to realize anything else. My father drank beer, his father and older brother drank beer, etc. To them I was just following in their footsteps.

Even though I managed to graduate from college, I barely did so with a D average. Ironically, though it was a real “achievement“ to have earned a college degree, my lousy college transcript was never anything I would dare share with anyone. It merely became yet another source of shame.

One day, drinking beer and partying with friends didn’t serve me any longer. So I quit, dropping it overnight as if it’d never been a part of my life, just as I’d done with cigarettes two years earlier.

Having been to three different campuses during my first three years of college and living alone my fourth year allowed me to virtually reinvent myself every year.

My first year, I lived in the dorms. My second year I lived at home and commuted to college. I partied more than ever and drank a staggering amount of beer that even I sometimes had trouble believing. I don’t think I was trying to hurt myself, I was just pushing my limits.

What’s more, I drove my van – the old family clunker- to campus and back five days a week, about an hour each way. Though Monday through Thursday I was sober, on Friday night it was guaranteed I would arrive home late, if at all, still drunk.

Most often, however, I would pass out in a friend‘s basement where we listened to Led Zeppelin all night long, talking about women as if we knew what we were talking about and how badly we would love to have gotten laid. Never mind that our usual inebriated state would have rendered us unable to get it up anyway.

But, in its own weird way, I still regard it as among some of the happiest times of my life. I was still a virgin then – a fact attributable to being Catholic and it’s frowning upon extramarital relations, though chronic drunkenness was apparently okay.

I saw my whole life ahead of me, unencumbered by any real commitments or responsibilities or uptight parents breathing down my neck. It was unlike any time I’ve since known and for good reason:

Regarding shame and Catholicism, while only a few years old I was present for something my siblings were not – my father‘s infidelity to my mother and the ensuing fallout between them.

The screaming, my mother’s throwing things, the constant turmoil are still fresh. It was traumatic for a kid, though my parents couldn’t see beyond their own trauma to realize it was having a terrible effect on me.

Perhaps the worst thing a parent could do in such a situation my parents did to me; they dragged me into it.

I remember my mother putting me in the car to drive over and surprise/confront my father with the woman he thought he was covertly seeing, though I plainly remember my mother pointing out lipstick on my father’s shirt one day, and there was lots of screaming when that happened.

My mother used me as a pawn to show the other woman that the man she was fooling around with was a father. Perhaps she believed that since her husband-my father-knew that this woman existed then the fact my father was still seeing her must be the woman’s fault. As if my father was innocent.

But what about my father‘s complicity in his affair? How could my mother be so blind as to blame my father’s infidelity on the other woman? My father was equally complicit, if not in fact the one who encouraged the affair. I don’t think that way, but they do, and always will. The power of denial was lost on them, and still is.

This blindness, this blame-the-other-party mentality was something both my parents also had when it came to me.

My parents never stuck up for me, no matter whether what I’d done was right or wrong. To them, I was always to blame for anything negative I encountered. This even includes the last time I spoke with my mother, just after Sophie and I were violently separated in the Arizona desert in 2017.

It was not until I was released from the county jail and, for lack of anyone else, I called my mother. I can’t imagine why I did that and regretted it immediately. Her response – “you just called to upset me“ and my father’s refusal to speak to me were predictable.

But it told me in so many words, flat out, that my parents were never my friends, for friends are always there for each other. And I believe every parent must, if nothing else, be thought of by their kids as, at the very least a dependable friend.

Though my parents’ reaction hurt initially, the realization that my parents were never my friends validated the bulk of my adult life spent ignoring them.

Though I didn’t know why, I always knew those people were toxic for me and, as long as they draw a breath, they will remain so.

Because my brother and sisters did not experience the turmoil between my parents that I did, my parents don’t seem to appreciate the fact that I ignore them. For as long as I’m not in their lives, their secret is safe, though they’ll always live in fear of being exposed. They’re Catholic and therefore must always have something to fear.

That said, my parents have understandably scapegoated me so that any of their past malfeasance that occurred falls upon my shoulders. Not knowing our parents as I do, it isn’t a stretch for my siblings to adopt my their parents’ narrative on the family history.

In that same sense, my parents are exercising their blame-the-other-person mentality and, of course, I am that other person.

Though I receive no recognition for it – only a succession of many years of heartache and relationship dysfunction – in being vilified in absentia, I have served a very viable purpose for holding my immediate family together:

My personal absence from their lives is tantamount to keeping the peace in general. If I were still there, the Fear I’d instill in my parents due to my inside knowledge of their less-than -pristine past would only create discord among all of them.

That said, no matter what I was always destined to sever the ties with my parents and, given my birth order, my siblings, too.

Which leads me full circle back to the only substance I found, not that I’ve been looking, to ease my pain – pot.

While it has temporarily eased my pain and even made me feel quite high, it has done little more than to completely occupy my mind while my ex-wife was studying for her real estate exam.

It was around 2015, a few years after my accident and shortly after I suddenly found myself out of my own home. It was as if some plan had been hatched then that everyone knew about but me.

My nieces and nephews and their mother showed up on my doorstep one spring break and never left. Gradually all their belongings showed up and their mother moved in, too.

According to their story, their father had been abusing them and they sought refuge in my home.

Evidently my ex-wife consented to this, though I knew nothing about it. I’d put a lot of sweat equity into that home and had no plans to leave. I knew all my neighbors and was on such good and familiar terms with them. It was my home. They were my friends.

Suddenly, I found myself knee-deep in five Mormon kids and a mother with a bad attitude toward men in general and toward me, just because I happened to be there. Never mind the fact that it was my home, or at least I thought it was.

But, looking back on how everyone acted I was merely the last to know. My ex-wife didn’t have the same attachment to the home that I’d made, the down payment for which came from the settlement of the lawsuit from my accident. I guess the going rate then for a cookie cutter home in a newer Brighton neighborhood was a person’s left arm and a near death experience.

Therefore that home symbolized a great deal more than just a property value. I was no longer a cyclist, so I reached out to define myself anew: as a homeowner in a neighborhood full of people who became friends and embraced Sophie and I, who quickly became welcomed fixtures there.

I don’t even remember what my ex-wife did while we lived there, just that we went for many wonderful evening walks around the Adams County Courthouse and Municipal Building campus.

It was a beautiful location, despite its location along I-76. The highway was barely audible and the concrete path surrounding the complex was newly poured, with lots of bunnies for Sophie to chase, too. One evening she was sweet enough to thoughtfully bring me one, its guts spilling out everywhere.

It was truly a time when Sophie’s and my bond was strengthening, and this all happened before I’d even tried pot. In fact, despite the terrible pain of being on my trainer again, I still thought I might end up on a road bike again in search of endorphin highs I’d not yet achieved.

Unlike today, there was still a chance I might compete again and almost a certainty that I’d ride. But the physical pain won out and I had to face the fact that I’d never know cycling the way I once did. And if I couldn’t have that, I didn’t want it at all. I was left with no identity and no idea how to create one anew, or if I even wanted to.

It was under these lost circumstances that I was, for all practical purposes evicted from the Brighton home I’d established for us in favor of a wonderful Denver neighborhood. Upon leaving Brighton I literally had to go through the garage and take only those things I could carry, leaving most of the tools and the lawn mower and all the sundry stuff that made our home unique to us behind.

Leaving my bike tools was the worst, given the meaning they had. I was so crushed I threw out all my cycling clothing and pretty much everything else related to my cycling identity. It truly was adding insult to injury and I’d rarely felt more despondent.

Years later, in a fit of despair I even gave away my bicycles, my trainer my busted bike frame from my accident and all my other associated effects of a lifetime spent on two wheels and muscle power. It’s the one thing that, though I tore myself away from it, I have looked back countless times at my loss.

Tears still sometimes come to my eyes when I see other cyclists, though not out of anger or envy but of profound grief. I still can’t believe I lost the one thing that meant so much to me, the only real passion and pleasure I’ve ever allowed myself to indulge.

Cycling is still my identity but given my inability to ever ride like I did leaves me feeling just plain lost. I’m nothing without it, and though my body’s long past its usefulness on a bike my heart will always remember the feeling of riding one.

The muscle memory I felt in my pedaling cadence and that special hum I’d hear of that tiny piece of rubber where my tires met the road I’ll never forget.

Upon leaving my home in Brighton, I haven’t spoken to any of my former neighbors since. No surprise there. But my ex-wife, who still visited her sister and the kids related my former neighbors’ inquiries about Sophie and me and that they missed us and please call or come by, but I never did. It saddens me because I know Sophie loved seeing them, too..

As a capable one-armed guy who did everything they could do and then some, with that wonderful dog always by his side, never on a leash but always in control, I know we stood out. I still have yet to consider anyplace as safe as I did there. I don’t expect we ever will.

And given the turmoil and sheer problems my twisted ex-sister-in-law and her kids brought to that neighborhood I’m sure they missed us, too. I remember one day while I was still there three teenage boys showed up at my front door looking for my fourteen year old niece. Though I was very friendly, they became extremely and inexplicably belligerent, almost unwilling to leave my front door.

I didn’t respond well to their sudden becoming such punks that it quickly began to piss me off. There was even a moment when I was ready to grab a baseball bat or something to chase them away. But a much younger version of Sophie came and made herself visible. Seeing her standing beside me, the boys wisely took their problems elsewhere. It was the only sign they had any brains at all.

I remember thinking how I was once a horny teenager and though I’d never behave toward anyone the way these kids acted toward me I thought perhaps they were just more demonstrative about things.

“My poor niece, the crap she has to put up with,” I remember thinking. Then it dawned on me: Maybe my niece had willingly attracted such troublesome boys. And what was it about her that she and those boys found so attractive in each other?

Not long after, I saw it clearly: these kids were all trailer trashy people and I suddenly saw my niece for the statistic I believed she’d become (if she hasn’t already): an unplanned teen pregnancy with any number of potential fathers.

The boys who showed up at my door, knowing I was the only one home but not knowing Sophie was there had been told I was sexually abusing my niece, a story espoused by my ex-sister-in-law and my niece. They were going to show me who was boss, I guess. How naïve I was to all of that. But I don’t think that way so of course I couldn’t see it coming.

It was my ex-sister-in-law’s MO, to play the “victim” role in getting her way. I didn’t know her well, but my ex-wife filled me in on this later. It was her sister’s backup plan should I catch on to her outright hijacking of my home out from under me.

She had been talking up a storm about how awfully I treated her and the kids and was prepared to accuse me of something awful. If necessary, she was ready to call the police. Evidently, it was how they did things in La Junta where they’d lived.
Whatever it took to separate me from my house they were going to do.

And I thought I understood family dysfunction. This blew my experience out of the water.

While I initially bought into their tales of woe about my “abusive” ex-brother-in-law, the epiphany that came to me after being on the receiving end of my ex-sister-in-lawl’s BS cast doubt on everything she did and said. Her plan was to make sure I never returned to my old home again and, given how things transpired with all of that I never could anyway.

What for? To witness the shambles they’d likely turned the home I loved into, and with my own tools, no less? No thank you. The sister-in-law needn’t have bothered with her scheme for I wouldn’t have returned anyway. It was just something she loved to do.

The subsequent sense of unwelcoming I felt from them all in Brighton after moving to Denver created a rift between my-ex-wife and I that led me to believe our marriage was over.

Though we were still living together I was under the impression things were over and long before our divorce I made the break from her. It was about that time I began making trips in the Subaru into the mountains with Sophie, car camping on public land.

In short, I couldn’t have been and felt more displaced than I did then.

The Denver neighborhood was absolutely beautiful, with amazingly tall oaks that lined both sides of the street like enormous sentries standing guard. Home prices began in the mid-$700s. It was the first time since my bike racing days that I was again surrounded by successful guys my own age who, without knowing my true background, might well see me as a peer.

While it hadn’t the redneck element that Brighton did, I again played the role of social chameleon.

It was the first time I had pot in my life, which I got from a medical dispensary in Boulder, usually when I visited my previous psychotherapist there.

He was an old, salty guy, with a deep voice and proclivity toward using the f-word and referring to Obama as an n-word. He loved Sophie of course.

I remember how ballsy Sophie was to go there with me; his office had a typical Boulder eccentricity to it, and I think his office was a converted attic. The steps leading up to it were extremely steep, enough to give Sophie pause before descending. But she always did and I remember thinking that I’d be scared shitless if I had to do that and that I probably couldn’t.

One day I showed up to my appointment early and took Sophie for a quick walk around the block. Out behind the office, in his Jeep in the parking lot sat Tom Fiester. He had kind of a blank expression and didn’t even seem to notice we were even there.

I stepped up next to him and saw him smoking a cigar. He seemed surprised to see me, then told me how he sometimes liked to “enjoy a cigar” before his appointments.

After learning shortly thereafter that it was possible to catch a “pretty good buzz” from a cigar-according to another older acquaintance who knew what it meant to “enjoy a cigar” I never went to see Tom again.

To think that the person from whom I’d sought to work with to improve my own condition might have been high himself may have been a professional breach. But more important, to me it represented time that I could have better spent being high myself but out walking the neighborhood in Denver with Sophie.

I even remember driving to a business park near the Centennial Airport on some weekends to get high and walk around the nicely manicured but deserted office buildings.

I’d reminisce about my days at the Denver Tech Center from twenty years earlier, wondering how things might have worked out had I not been hospitalized with a blood clot.

Then one day a Homeland Security officer, replete in his official-looking uniform and an air of self-importance wanted to know why I’d been there over the previous few weeks.

Turns out during all the time I thought I’d spent lost in my own private contemplation I’d actually been watched by somebody, probably through binoculars. Though I was gracious about it-what else could I do?- it pissed me off nonetheless and I never went back.

Like my old Brighton neighborhood, it could never have been the same, so why bother?

But having pot was one of the only times since my bicycle accident that I could count on not being in pain and therefore free to let my thoughts roam. It was better than any therapy I’d yet known. Then again, I hadn’t yet wintered on a Mexican beach with half a dozen other Canadian and Coloradan expats.

My time in that pretty part of Denver was spent largely with only Sophie; Kami was always out, working on her real estate license. It was little more than a fog of being stoned, self-flagellation, and walking with Sophie through the neighborhood. In other words, all the things I could do to ease my pain and distract myself that I once got from my cycling.

Those were the only things I knew to do to assuage the pain I then felt to make myself, even if only temporarily, feel better.

I rejected my wife’s advances, which was nothing new. For me to look back upon my second ex-wife as anything but an angel only serves to make me feel more inner pain.

How to describe loving someone so much and so badly wanting to show it but, somehow and for some reason, be unable to do so? It was like a daily reminder of my inability to be a feeling, loving person.

It goes against everything I believe being human stands for. That means, by implication, that I see myself as less than human. Unfortunate, but true.

Equally unfortunate, is my knowledge that no amount of masturbation or time spent loving Sophie, or vaping pot or anything else could ever equal the total and utter endorphin high I got while cycling.

All I know from any of that is I’m still virile and what the hell good is that now anyway? I remember seeing one guy at the races who was apparently some young girl’s sugar daddy. He clearly wasn’t her father, though he was old enough to be dating a daughter’s friend.

Somehow it disgusted me to think this girl was being bought by this guy and that he felt more secure in his masculinity by having her there.

He technically took second place that day in the Men’s 60+ division, second only to one of my teammates who raced with us 45+ Men. The funny part is that my older teammate placed in our 45+ race but didn’t accept his 60+ trophy, too. He just loved the competition.

But the sugar daddy was so proud of himself for taking second, despite the race roster showing he was only one of two in that division.

Though I could never be that person I was happy for him nonetheless; it’s not as if pro contracts were on the line. We were just there to have fun, a sort of midlife whip-em-out-and-measure-em thing amongst guys our own age. We also knew that the “sugar daddy story” would one day become a point of humor among us.

It was in the same vein as the “Why are bikes better than women?” quip. But I no longer have teammates to share such jokes with. In fact, many of my old teammates no longer race, though some still do. I know that if I could, I’d still be among those hardcore teammates who still train and race out of our mutual passion for the sport.

Instead, I’m grasping at straws now. The few times I made it out on my mountain bike last year were special. They were the only time in years I have looked to the sky and felt unashamed to scream with joy and out of sheer pleasure.

But it wasn’t just the momentary joy I felt. It was also because I never again believed I’d feel anything even closely resembling the high I got on a bicycle.

This I achieved with only one arm on a mountain bike trail with several sections that were too technical for me to ride. But I was alone in the silent foothills above Ft Collins, and the fact that I was on a bicycle at all was, in itself, an accomplishment.
There was always hell to pay pain wise, so my little victories were short-lived. But it was better than nothing, and it helped me to cope when I saw other road cyclists on the roads near our home. In other words, a quick fix.

I remember a trivial statement from long ago regarding cocaine use and its effect on some users. It had been documented in some lab somewhere that, the anticipation of that first snort of cocaine led some users to spontaneously ejaculate upon so doing.

As a twenty-something young man I was used to the notion of ejaculation as being accomplished, excuse the pun, in only one of a handful of ways.

The idea then was as compelling as it was stimulating, and I remember wondering if one day I would ever find something in my life that might have a similar effect.

And though I haven’t been looking, I can’t say that I would ever have found such a thing anyway.

But, as an older man, I do respect the possible existence of something like that. However, I now know anything to have such an effect on a person to be dangerous, not desirable. I can’t imagine a substance having such power over me.

Ironically, the drugs I take daily for seizures and neuropathy leave me dizzy – but not pleasurably so – and my vision has been irreparably harmed by them.

Even squinting, I have trouble reading road signs. And laying in bed as I read from or write on my smartphone I must hold the phone at arms length so that the words are intelligible. If I don’t, the blurred words will blend together and completely alter the subject of the story.

It makes for some interesting reading because my mind is quite capable of combining word fragments to create unintended words, but it’s more frustrating than novelty. And it’s exhausting.

I know that words have always been my strongest point, more so than most people if the aptitude testing I had In my twenties just after college is any indication. I know from experience with others’ writing, which I’m unable to read without editing as I go that it’s true.

Mistakes abound everywhere, even in the best of newspapers, just as they probably do here in the eyes of readers who possess a similar aptitude.

Just recently I wrote a resume and cover letter package for one of the cab drivers I’ve gotten to know over the past few months. I’ve done the same for many others over the years.

For some reason, lack of self-worth, I guess, I’ve never taken money for the work I do, even though I may have helped many of them obtain interviews or get their foot in the door for some pretty lucrative positions.

I know this, of course, because I am the one who has taken their qualifications and made sense of them. Because of me, they looked very good on paper, or at least good enough to get a foot in the door.

That, in itself is of immeasurable value to anyone whose language is rooted in engineering or some technical language as opposed to plain English.

But this ability of mine, which I have largely denied myself the pleasure of exercising is a point of shame, too. With every article from the New York Times or the Washington Post or any of my online news sources I feel both immense respect for the writers who can pound out such great content and who make a living at it to boot, but also deep shame for not having fully exploited my own potential.

It wasn’t until the advent of blogging that I actually “put my work out there“ for others to read. Prior to that, I wrote ceaselessly on my laptop but, instead of sharing my work with anyone I kept everything saved on memory sticks which I still have somewhere.

I’ve written all my life but have never made a penny from it because I was too ashamed to risk being criticized for it. It’s been safest for me to withhold my writing, the only thing that has only brought relief and never pain, from anyone.

To do otherwise would be to risk being disillusioned forever as an adult. My greatest fear that yes, the world can be equally disdainful of me as my parents were as I was growing up would prove to be true.

In fact, the primary reason I graduated college at all was because of my literary writing classes. The degree requirements in math and science held no interest for me, save perhaps for the beer money I might get upon selling the textbook back at semester’s end. Therefore, I largely ignored the work involved and my transcript reflects this.

As someone who knows what a person looks like on paper I also know that anyone who sees my transcript wouldn’t see me as a very well-rounded person. Well, tough tittie.

Since I learned early on that the swift and violent retribution due to poor school report cards meant only pain, it further underscored my perceived inability and lack of desire to do even the most basic technical things. I do respect such abilities in others, however.

Ironically, many of those resumes I’ve written were done for people pursuing highly technical positions. After all, what kind of writer needs another writer to create their resume? A shitty one, that’s what.

I guess writing gets me high, too, which is why I have trouble stopping once I get started. So, The End.