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


Sunday, January 14, 2018

In Cycling As In Life; Lessons I’ll Never Forget

This blog is indeed meant to address ideas and issues relating to disability in any form. To me, one of the biggest issues I face regarding my own differently-abled experience is that of grief and loss.

My greatest loss is quite possibly my ability to hit the open road on my bicycle until I can go no further. At which time I’d tack another hour on so as to build strength and endurance for the next ride.

Sounds like terrible pain and suffering to me today and I know that it was then, too. But I wasn’t into the sport of cycling for the physical benefits. I’d ridden a bicycle since age seven and, after nearly four decades on a bike my physical conditioning was never in question.

Rather, bicycling brought with it a cadence upon which the rhythm of my life on any given day could be metered. Turning the cranks, on climbs and on rollers and on the flats. Always in near silence, with the comforting hum of the tires on the pavement and the greased chain, whirring through the gears.

Cranking up the climbs, the short ones, medium ones and the awful-long ones, too.

Then hammering down the descents, screaming along with the roadside just a blur, whether in all-out, balls-to-the-wall, top-gear-damn-I-wish-I-had-one-bigger, bugs-in-my-teeth, hair-on-fire straightaways.

And those twisting and windy descents, every single one of which were special in their own right, even the ones I’d done a million times before. All-out speed wasn’t the only consideration here: The brute strength of the straightaway mountain downhills gave way to the gutsy grace required of a top-speed twisting ride.

And it was always completely up to me as to which of the above I’d take on any given day. Never before and never since has the world felt as if it were mine to do with whatever I wanted.

The possibilities were endless, and weather never stood in the way. Only on occasion would an extra jacket or skullcap be necessary for warmth. And those could be scrunched up and put into a rear pocket. Amazing, those high-tech fabrics.

And those were the glorious days when my riding clothes outnumbered my street clothes. I never wore socks, always shaved my legs and was perpetually dark brown from the sun on my body.

Given the wicking fabrics of my kits and the breathability of my gloves and shoes, moisture of any kind just made my perspiration taste different. On clear days my sweat tasted warm and salty, on rainy days it was just wet. And on freezing days sweat sometimes even became crunchy.

But even on the coldest day I never froze, nor did I ever dehydrate on the hottest. As long as my heart rate maintained its usual place within my comfortable training zone-and after decades of road bicycling I knew it by feel- I was one unit from helmet to my feet. For the next several hours I’d be connected to my bike with hands on the bars, shoes on the pedals and butt on the saddle.

Using every nuance of those five contact points: two hands, two feet, one butt as necessary I was at one with the bike and the road, and I was high as a kite on endorphins, that natural high that comes with extended aerobic exercise.

And the consistent lesson inherent in road bike training was waiting to be learned yet again. And the road can be a harsh, yet fair teacher in that it provides every rider the exact same challenges.

In cycling as in life the ups and the downs are infinitely connected, neither of which can last forever and, with patience and persistence, all can be navigated eventually.

There was no weather I hadn’t ridden before that could ever leave me feeling out of control or precarious-wobbly-slippy-and-slidy. Weather never kept me at home and, even short an arm these days, it still doesn’t. Sadly, not all dangers are about the weather when it comes to sharing the road with other vehicles. But I know that, and I accept it still.

As a man pushing fifty when the odds of a cycling-related traffic accident caught up with me I lost much more than just my left arm and almost my very life. I lost something far, far worse, something that no one else but another athlete who’s experienced similar loss will ever fully understand, no matter how well I put it here.

Throughout my twenties and thirties I spent much of my most productive time on my road bicycle. There exists a flow with traffic that, once joined, I could go for long distances on autopilot.

This allowed me a preponderance of time to do my best and most focused thinking ever. Riding at that comfortable training pace, my heart rate worked as a well-oiled and wondrous physiological machine.

That same increased, oxygenated blood that my powerful heart and lungs combined to provide the reliable strength in my legs also pumped fresh blood to my brain.

The clarity of thought and outright physical strength I had the day of my accident with the Jeep had never before been better, and it hasn’t since, either. It occurred when I was returning home.

But August 10, 2012 was merely one among thousands of such days in which my rides pushed both my brain health and physical endurance and strength to newer and better levels.

Yes, my brain was younger then, which made it that much more of an asset to me, and rightfully so. Back then I wasn’t enabled by a smartphone to remember my appointments and medication alerts and even to have a dictionary/thesaurus app at my fingertips.

Having still had the benefit of both hands and excellent hand-eye coordination, yet another ability maximized by years of cycling, I could crank out the words on my laptop as fast as my mind could conjure them. Rarely was my supple brain, always infused with healthy blood flow ever at a loss for words.

If anything then I had too much to say, and my idealistic brain wanted to say everything there was to say at once. Breaking things down into manageable chunks I could process would only have been doable if I’d had one special person in my life then: An editor.

An editor is the only person who could best direct my ideas and energies to maximize my productivity for both personal and professional gain. I simply wasn’t ready to be a freelance writer yet.

Writing then, as now, is still a deliciously simple task, made even harder by my trying to observe the KISS principle I’d learned in college: Keep It Simple Stupid!

But my writing isn’t meant to be simple, and certainly never stupid. In writing, as with riding, the end result is an unsurpassed level of combined emotional and physical healing that cannot be found elsewhere. I’m experiencing those very benefits right this moment, as I write these words.

That low-impact, cardiovascular workout that feeds both my brain and body I’ve only found during lap swimming workouts as a twenty-something amateur triathlete in Ft Collins in the early 90’s.

But as a lifelong cyclist, my pedaling technique was far better than my swim technique would ever be and I eventually stuck with the bike. With the exception of performance enhancing drugs, it’s something I’ll always have in common with Lance Armstrong.

Up until August 10, 2012 and for many years before that I knew that few other riders I encountered out on the road were stronger than me. Curious, I compared myself to other cyclists this way for healthy and positive reasons. Namely, to continually raise my own personal standards for strength and endurance.

The more I approached other riders from behind on the road, greeting them as I passed by, I knew my efforts were paying off. During the week I indulged in my strength and endurance building experiment with other bicycle commuters.
During after work rides and on weekends all other riders were fair game.

Now that I reflect back on it, other guys would occasionally put the hammer down as I passed, equally unwilling to be passed as I was to let him regain the lead.

Sometimes I held him off, sometimes not, but I noticed one thing to almost always be true: most of the guys who raised our pace and kept it high were guys much older than me.

Every so often after a mile or two or three one of them would suddenly come around me and just leave me in the dust. That never failed to fire me up and getting to share the road with such a rider was always inspiring.

Once I caught my breath I’d always let out a loud Woo-hoo!! out of deference to his ability.

In cycling as in life, we learn from those who are better, smarter, stronger and more experienced than us. It was from the men who rode past me and left me behind that I began learning the fundamentals of road bike racing and training.

The weekly Bustop group ride in North Boulder is one hell of a great ride to go casual, all-out, or anywhere in between. But because of proximity I wasn’t able to ride it more than a handful of times and I’m sure my pack riding skills later suffered greatly for it.

Living east of Boulder in Lafayette I found myself spending the bulk of my road bike training time alone on the open county roads nearby.

This was a great way to practice the meditative aspects of cycling. However, race training, even for the solo disciplines like triathlon and time trials was best done in group rides.

Bike handling skills, pedaling technique, riding in an echelon with several other riders to allow recovery between pulls made everyone faster.

Though it makes sense that a group of riders would be stronger than just one, seeing it in action was an epiphany to me. It also made me laugh to finally learn how it was those older riders could suddenly dart out from behind me and leave me behind.

Those guys were recovering behind me and riding in my draft, letting me do the effort while they hung out behind me the whole time, and why not? Then, as their turnoff approached up ahead off they’d go and make their turn, leaving me with no chance to regain the lead.

In cycling as in life, it always pays to ride smarter, not harder. Those guys taught me that very basic lesson and I’m glad for it. I’m also glad for one other key thing about riders who see each other on the road. That is, our willingness to always stop by another cyclist who might need some assistance.

It’s always possible someone could use a tire patch or a compressed air cartridge for their pump or some water or a Clif Bar, etc.

It’s a protocol we all live by and though our opportunities to help are pretty slim, it’s good to know you’re never alone out there. I’ve even seen a driver park their car off the road to lend assistance, too. And even though it’s been years since I was out on a road bike I always carry flat repair items, just in case.

Such camaraderie and unconditional helpfulness seems in woefully short supply these days. But every cyclist knows-and will always know- that this positive ethic will always be a part of our culture that we can depend on, no matter where we are riding.

All this seems like a mouthful, I understand. But these are just a few of the memories of my wonderful days as a dedicated road bicycle rider. And within seconds they may flash through my mind when I happen to see a lonely rider out on the country roads near my home.

Those memories are fond ones, and I’ll be eternally grateful to have them. But that profound sense of loss at not being part of that culture anymore except vicariously through other riders carries with it some sadness, at times.

Though it’s cold comfort, I remind myself that the end of my days as a powerful bicyclist came as I was doing what I did best and loved most: Making myself an even stronger and better cyclist.

The memory of it all still gives me goosebumps, and having written about it here today reminds me that it’ll be okay from now on… Just different, that’s all. And that’s not a bad thing.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Trust Is Beautiful

There is a certain personality disorder that has as one of its more pronounced symptoms the need for the afflicted to continuously chip away at the trust of those around him to the point where none is left to be found.

Only then, it’s been observed does the afflicted person take action, trying to rebuild that trust they so wantonly squandered in the first place. Then, once the person has achieved their goal of rebuilding that trust, he again squanders that trust until none exists, and the cycle repeatedly continues.

Of course, the afflicted person requires validation of his existence, something he cannot do alone; others must be his foil. And, in order to feed the cyclical nature of the afflicted’s illness, that foil must repeatedly submit to his charms which may easily be rebuked at first but, over time wins the battle of attrition and sees himself as “emerging victorious” over his foil. You know, of course, what comes next.

The old phrase “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” seems to capture the essence of this superficially good behavior on the part of the afflicted. This good behavior, however is little more than malice wrapped up in a smiling face and contrite attitude that has only one end in mind-the crushing emotional breakdown of the person to whom this apparent good behavior is directed.

Whether it’s the alcoholic, the philandering spouse, the abusive mate, the child abuser, the serial rapist/robber/pedophile/murderer/attacker, etc. that portends to have a conscience and is begging forgiveness: “I swear I’ll never ever do X again, I mean it this time, please believe me, etc.” is his mantra.

But true sorrow does not require a mantra; it only requires saying “I’m sorry” once or twice.

True forgiveness, how’s, is just that: True. It’s the ultimate act of vulnerability that one person can extend to another person or, as I swear I sometimes do, extend to the world at large.

Just as an opportunist might seek a worthwhile target for a given self-interest, a foil/fool/victim/unsuspecting bystander, etc. might be seeking someone to justify his existence by finding someone to forgive.

How perfect is that? On one hand, an abuser seeks a victim upon whom he may perpetrate his emotional and or physical trauma. And on the other an overly trusting individual wanders into his trap and is cleanly eviscerated at the hands of his sudden tormentor. It’s almost as if the victim wanted to suffer.

From a distance, it seems perfect: One, with a smile on his face but malice in his heart seeks to validate himself by springing that malice upon someone. The other, with a smile on his face and a smile in his heart is simply looking to find or to continue finding the peace that makes his existence worthwhile. If sudden bad fortune should befall him it’s not a bad thing. No. He might actually make his world good again, perhaps even better than before by summoning the mettle to forgive.

One justifies himself by hurting, the other by saying “Oh, that’s okay.” It’s not unlike John Cleese playing the overly forgiving Englishman in the Monty Python movie. He’s constantly being terribly physically injured in some awful way by someone but doesn’t wish to leave the other feeling badly about what’s happened.

“I’m okay, it’s only a scratch,” he says despite the torrent of blood gushing from his temple, “Just a flesh wound,” he says another time “it’ll be right as rain tomorrow,” limping away.

Seeing these scenarios in print does not do justice to the comedic brilliance with which these seemingly graphic scenes are portrayed by the actors. It takes gifted people to make something like this both humorous and, unfortunately for many of us, painfully true. We undoubtedly see ourselves somewhere in these scenes.

Unlike in Monty Python movies, constantly prostrating yourself before others in the hopes of not getting stepped on or run over is neither healthy or natural. We do not exist, not one of us, solely to absorb the anger or hurt of anyone else at our own expense. Yet, though fully aware that when we stick our neck out to forgive we may well have our head chopped off we nonetheless forgive despite the danger.

I’ve done it many times myself: Trying to convince myself I was safe in the face of all evidence to the contrary I have knowingly subordinated myself to another person who, unsurprisingly took the opportunity to once again step on me.

Like Linus’ sister Lucy, who holds the football and encourages Charlie Brown to kick it knowing full well she’ll pull it away again at the last minute we all know what happens next.

It all boils down to Trust. One relatively simple concept that, depending upon how you learn to look at it early in life can make or break your adult experiences.

“Trust bandits” is the term that author/psychologist Ken Magid and Carole McElvey applies to children in their book High Risk - Children Without a Conscience. As the compelling blurb on the cover states: “They grow up to be charmers, con artists, amoral entrepreneurs, thieves, drug users, pathological liars, and worst of all: psychopathic killers . . . and they are often the product of even the best-intentioned families. Who are these children without a conscience?”

Having been raised by parents who had terrible trust issues with their own childhood families I came out of my own youth with a toxic mixture of fear and distrust of the world around me. That wouldn’t have been a bad thing in and of itself if I never left the protective little bubble I grew up in, fraught with terrible energy though it was.

Rather I believed there was something much more and much better than what I’d always known at home and I longed for the day I could be free to go find it.

Then, I reasoned, I could leave all the awfulness behind and be on with my life. And I was largely right about that; I could no longer be hurt by those who took such sadistic pleasure in tormenting me. Though their actions and words would continue to ring in my ears and wring my heart at times I continue to walk through this world, now in my early fifties hoping to find a place where trust as I extend it to others is reciprocated in kind.

It’s a conditional means of seeking trust to be sure, but I’m as yet unaware of a better way to go about it. It’s also a self-defeating way of trying to find trust in the world, for no one will ever extend the same trust to me that I believe I’m extending to them.

Given its subjective nature, two specific examples of trusting situations can never be compared equally. Even if it were possible to do so, I’ve learned that I wouldn’t know how to respond to someone I could “implicitly trust” because I’ve never learned what that means. By the time it became evident that I should learn, too many hearts had been broken and too many feelings so deeply hurt that I can’t bear the idea of risking that again. The more I realize I still need to learn about trust the more I believe this is true.

Enter Sophie, my source of boundless love and trust without conditions. She’s my service dog and we’ve been together almost forever; nine years and counting. We’ve shared all the things that make up a life together, the good, the bad and the downright hellish.

For the record, those hellish times are a direct result of my poor judge of character and overall bad judgment in sizing up a situation. I naively wandered into the path of danger and dragged her along in the process. Today we are both paying a physical price for my mistakes, and that’s enough said on that subject.

But the good times about, riding for miles high in the Rockies along an old railroad line converted into a trail. Sophie was only about two then, but a very strong and hearty gal, and I remember happily thinking how we had her whole life ahead of us.

Now, seven or so years later and our pace has slowed considerably. Sophie no longer brings me bunny rabbits as a present, though she still stalks them until they run away. Squirrels will always flummox her though she’s too ladylike to ever allow herself to get too publicly frazzled about it. She largely ignores deer but reserves the right to charge one anyway if the mood strikes her. Other times a curious deer could look through our front door and Sophie couldn’t care less. Sophie considers her feelings for cats on a case-by-case basis, preferring feral cats because they run away. These days, though both of us are equally likely to walk right on by a cat and, if it’s got enough mettle to keep still we may never even notice.

And, like me sometimes, we’re still learning sometimes painful memories about our world. About three weeks ago, for example, poor Sophie got skunked. It was a terrible experience for her and for me, as I was helpless to do anything but watch. The odor was so overpowering I could not approach and comfort her and, in a strange way I felt kind of scared.

Of the two of us it’s Sophie who is always the strong one and the smart one, the one I can count on. Suddenly, in the context of Sophie being skunked I found myself adrift in a sea of inadequacy and even confusion. I didn’t know what to do.

That last part, in case you were wondering is one example of a “bad” thing we’ve experienced.

But I like to remember watching her run full speed through the snow, burying her snoot as she goes, emerging with an ear-to-ear smile and a face full of snow. Watching her rolling in a snow pile, as she did earlier today, with the same puppy-like joy as ever.

As a puppy though, she didn’t need pain medication to help her feel so spry. Regardless, I’m grateful for the chance to make it happen and to watch it again, as if for the first time.

Swimming she loves like no other, and she’s swum in more places than I’ll ever recall. Some of the more notable include: Horsetooth Reservoir, Bellingham Bay in Washington State, Lake Mead, many little lakes throughout our world travels in the high country, the Sea of Cortez and plenty of other places where the water was deep enough-and where she was quick enough-to go in for a dip before I could stop her.

My favorite will always be the Sea of Cortez or, as I like to call it the Sea of Dan Cortese (he was an old MTV celeb, if I recall). It was almost exactly a year ago that we were there:

The water was so warm and shallow, with no waves, really and I’d go out maybe 25 yards or so and just feel the January Mexican sun as I floated almost motionless on my back. Sophie would sit at attention on the sand, watching me. I know this because every so often I’d roll over to have a look at her. There she’d be, waiting and watching.

After resuming my floating position for a bit, I’d occasionally be startled by something that felt like a head butt. Sure enough, it was Sophie swimming out to check on me, make sure I was still alive, etc. After all, she is my seizure dog and if I’m going to insist on lying motionless, even out in the Sea of Dan Cortez then so be it, she’s gonna come check on me.

And that’s not even the best part! I’d give her lots of love and a big hug and tell her how much I love her, then challenge her to a race back to shore. Keep in mind her little doggie feet weren’t touching bottom…

As we swam back to shore, if I tried hard I could keep up with her with just one arm. Swimming completely under the water I could look over at her paws as she swam. I didn’t care if the warm salty water would irritate my eyes later (they never did) I have always loved watching her swim. Having known her before she could swim and also knowing how she came to learn many fond memories always come to mind.

Watching her doggie paddling along from my vantage point underwater and underneath is a magical image I’ll never forget. There’s something so beautiful about how she does it, how graceful yet strong despite what I believe really should be an awkward sort of affair. But Sophie, like so many things, makes it look easy and delicate.

The other thought that crossed my mind at these times is directly relevant to the subject of this post: I recall imagining being her height and how gutsy she is to swim that far out to in such deep water just to check on me. If the roles were reversed would I be able to do that? I’d like to think so, but I remember how scared I was the first time I got into the deep end of the pool. Wow, she is a brave, beautiful doggie.

I know it’s a long-winded way of getting to my earlier point but that example of swimming with Sophie in Mexico in January, 2017 is the sincerest and most unconditional example of Trust I’ll ever have the good fortune of knowing. It’s better late than never and, where I can I’ll do my best to take what I’ve learned about trust all along, including from Sophie, and extend it to others.


Thanks, girl!



Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Blame’s Never Been Ours to Carry But It’s Weighed Us Down Nonetheless

A follow-up to an earlier email, showing justice taking place for a most deserving person. You’ll remember this story, I’m sure:


Warms my heart to see this.

You know, I could’ve benefited from witnesses ever since age nine or ten. The cop that hurt Sophie and I in the desert was just a kid, trigger happy and itching to make his mark on the world, as it’s said.

Still, nothing he could ever do or threaten me with could ever scare me, or terrify me like our own father did. He tried his darnedest, though.

My heart goes out to any of you survivors of brutality by someone you knew and shouId also have been able to trust. Something about it cuts so much deeper than a stranger’s hurt ever can.

I lived it almost on a daily basis as a kid, and it casts a pretty horrible shadow over my life still: Nightmares, trust issues, inability to maintain intimate relationships, eg with my wife and daughter and others.

Superficial friendships once were terrific, peachy-keen, okey-dokey because nobody knew what went on behind closed doors at my house. Smiling outwardly but too often crying inside. 

Endless efforts at therapy and other potential long-term solutions, great people and terrific ideas, have worn me out. 

Things I saw and heard no kids should ever experience at home. Perhaps you, too. But it wasn’t our fault.

In my case, “unplanned” is the term civil people use, while the generic, religious term in our house was and still is “ultimate shame,” mortal sin, etc. 

My Catholic birth family made it into an art form, and it explained a wide variety of sins. Child abuse, it’s seems, was conspicuously absent from these.

You know your version of those terms because you may have heard them growing up, too. Some things never change, some people never are quite grown up, mature enough to have kids. 

Adding insult to injury is how I felt and what I experienced one day long ago when confronting my childhood abusers.

Just as the guy in the White House can say and do something one moment, and then, right in front of you, deny it the next and completely believe his own lie, I was stonewalled, too.

The guy in the White House, merely by being his usual sneering and condescending self, can inexplicably direct his favor toward some folks one moment and the next issue scathing epithets toward others. 

It hits very close to home, for I’ve been on the receiving end of the scorn probably hundreds of times.

It’s a home I tried, many times, to leave, first as a kid and then, as an adult, ever since.

In being unable to seek validation from my original abusers, I’ve found myself unable to find it elsewhere.

No amount of words like “We paid your college tuition,” or “You’ve always had a roof over your head” can ever take the place of words of contrition, offered voluntarily and without condition, from those who first caused the hurt. 

I’m not just speaking for myself, but for anyone who’s ever had their trust violated by someone else. 

In grade school it can be the “first crush who left me heartbroken.” But what I speak of here isn’t schoolboy puppy love. Rather, it’s a shocking, slap-in-the-face introduction to how violent grownups can be.

At home, behind closed doors and involving adults, all the name-calling and door-slamming, and the screaming and shouting and cussing, often escalated into domestic violence. It becomes criminal behavior, a crime, and it should have involved the police.

If kept behind those closed doors it becomes a hidden crime and an ugly secret that all who live within it must never tell. 

Even when it comes time to standing in line outside the confessional, waiting your turn to kneel in the darkness and say “Forgive me father, for I have sinned,” you must never tell.

Add kids and it becomes child abuse, and yet more violent crime at home. It’s yet another secret that must be kept, especially among the kids now.

But what happens when the kids grow up? What becomes of their secret? How is it resolved in their mind? Can it be resolved?

One obvious answer is to take the wtres back to the source. You’re not a little kid anymore and, even though you may be scared, no one can hurt you now. 

So you bring up the subject. There’s no pleasant way to do it, and it’s awkward for everyone, especially you.

“Why would you say these things now?” you are asked, “We always did our best for you kids. All we ever wanted you to do was to get with the program.”

In the face of my own abusers decades later I found my self doubt rearing it’s ugly head once again, as if it never left. That’s because it didn’t.

And even though I know I’ve truth on my side, the things I saw back then, the screams and the feel of his raging hands on you and the fury in his eyes were all real, it did happen no matter what they say today.

Now they’re telling you it’s not true, you’re making it up and, finally, the closest expression of guilt you’re likely to get from them, “You need to get over it.” 

But you can’t. It was a lifetime in the making and, if it were that simple, you’d have done so long ago.

This denial of this on the parents’ part for whatever reason, such as “Good Catholics don’t do such things” places the weight of the knowledge of these crimes forever on the kids. 

Though it was never our fault, it was blamed on us nonetheless. 

We’ve become scapegoats, and some of us will even raise our own kids the same way. Or else break up the family first, as I did. 

Either way, no one wins, everyone loses something we never should have in the first place. Still, we are scapegoated and this time it’s undeniably our own doing.

I’ve witnessed my share of this, and perhaps you have, too. To my credit, this way of life never permeated my home as an adult. 

Having never learned the nuances of physical closeness with others through my parents despite the many chances they had to do so, I feared the unknown and repeatedly fled. 

My recollections of dinnertime conversations between parents then were actually commiserations about the various people in our lives. 

Usually a person was defined by their ethnicity or religion. My father was most vitriolic about this, but mother held her own:
“Those Jews/Jigaboos/Protestants always X, Y and/or Z,” they’d say. “I cannot understand what’s with those people? Shame on them!”

And somehow, because my mother didn’t cuss, I didn’t fear her like I did my father, who did. By default and in the absence of anyone else, she became the one I turned to for love and understanding.

But the people I relied upon weren’t even mature enough to be self-reliant yet. In many ways, they still aren’t, and never will be.

I’ve just described the American president and, given his ubiquitousness, it’s not a surprise that:
A. He can trigger these memories for many of us and 
B. These insidious triggers can fire anytime.

I’m too tired to write more; going back over these things is draining.

But doing so is the only way I knew how to remain safe. I hope you’ve a healthy outlet, too. 

Regardless, always remember that what happened then was not your fault.

This Could Be You In A Heartbeat

https://www.google.com/amp/www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/homelessness/sd-me-homeless-lawsuit-20170920-story,amp.html

I realize there’s a lot to take in from the above article, but living in an RV carries with it many of the same liabilities that homeowners and renters in buildings have.

Namely, if you can’t pay your rent/mortgage/lease, etc. you will be in violation of the terms of your agreement and put out.

For all intents and purposes, Sophie and I are renters. We rent space, called a “lot” at the privately owned campground where we live. 

The rent I pay, combined with my already-meager living expenses consumes every penny I have coming in.

I’ve no savings and, on the bright side, my debt level isn’t increasing; it’s like the fiduciary version of what I tell Sophie when she’s exercising her prey-driven side: “If you can catch it, you can eat it.” 

In other words, when we (meaning me) must decide between paying for extra propane-or using an electric heater when our propane heater was recently broken-or food or toiletries or any other ancillary need, the item necessary for survival prevails.

Most people don’t get this, as if renting an apartment or paying a mortgage is somehow better, or less risky. Not so.

Homeowners often have the option of taking out a loan against their home, depending on how much they’ve already paid into it, to cover/help cover the cost of a catastrophic loss.

A medical emergency, job loss, separation or divorce, and more are such examples of losses that may not be readily recoverable.

While I own my own home outright, I must still cover the cost of gas, insurance, and other related costs.

Since I budget down to the penny each month, any inopportune cost becomes catastrophic: Mechanical concerns, e.g. engine, transmission, tires, etc., appliances such as the refrigerator I just needed to replace, and more.

Thankfully, I had a neighbor who had bought a small electric fridge for her mother, who’d planned to outfit her elderly mother’s house with it. Her mother went into a nursing home instead, and I gratefully bought it from her, paying a little bit each month for it. 

The fridge only cost $80 but it classified as a catastrophic expense Sophie and I were lucky to survive. That, in itself, is a prime example of how we must forego one thing in order to pay for another.

But we, like most traditional, brick-and-mortar households I believe, are operating at a deficit. It’s just that Sophie and I are not using credit to pay for unexpected expenses. 

The end result is the same, no matter which lifestyle we live: it all must be paid for in the end. 

While our economy, yours and mine (no matter who you are) differs, everything is to scale: What I classify as a major expense may be trivial to another person, or perhaps not.

But I know my economic scale is about as low as I can imagine it going. My personal hygiene- shaving, washing my face and upper body, haircuts and more-I do as infrequently as possible.

In fact, I purposely schedule appointments one week apart so that I can both be sure to have a reason to clean myself up a little while also avoid falling into a rut for being unable to do it more.

As a daily, all-weather bicycle commuter to work in my able-bodied years, I’m no stranger to quick, all-body clean-ups in front of the sink. It’s always been a fact of life for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

However, I’m not in the restroom at work, and I really miss my shower, and my laundry machine and some other things we consider “creature comforts.”

The only creature comfort I need is the only one I need-Sophie, my service dog. She doesn’t mind if I don’t shower every day or even every week, which is good. In anticipation of colder weather and higher propane costs, I’ve severely cut back on running the water heater. 

You get the idea. Like homeowners and renters and even people in cardboard boxes or tents out on the sidewalk, I sacrifice what I can, where I can in order to live another day.

If the property owners here raise the lot rent by more than ten dollars, I’ll have to find another place to go. While I’ll have a home, I’ll have no place to park it and will, in effect, become a mobile fugitive, always looking for the next place to park so I can grab some shuteye.

All I want to emphasize is that, like anyone, I’ve got a better bead on my cost of living than anyone’s and, just as you likely know of your own budget, what will sink us for a while, and what will put us under for good.

Living in an RV is not a long-term solution, I’ve read many times over. But life itself isn’t permanent and many of us have learned to do a great deal more than we ever thought we could with a great deal less than we may ever thought we’d have.

The single greatest asset we have are the ones we love. Though they haven’t a dollar value they are priceless just the same. Anyone who doesn’t understand this as the true measure of wealth will likely never understand what “value” truly means beyond that of a supermarket coupon.

“For better or for worse” are words best recognized as part of our traditional marriage vows, and they’re spoken for a good reason. Life’s an adventure, which leaves a great deal of wiggle room for interpretation.

Though we don’t yet know what will constitute an “adventure” as newlyweds, we most certainly know one when we see it. 

That said, I’m grateful that the life I share with Sophie in our RV is an adventure. And, like the roads we’ve driven and have yet to drive, I’m hoping the speed bumps will be few.

However, for better or for worse, we’ll avoid as many of them as possible and the rest we’ll navigate as best we can. It’s a metaphor for life, and the literal measure of ours.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

My Right Hand Man

This evening I lay in the near dark of the orangish, inappropriately named “Blue Shade” feature that is to my eyes what I suppose earplugs are to my old rock and roller's tired eardrums- a sensory relief. And after decades of all the mind-bending anti epileptic medication and their insidious side effects my eyes can use all the relief they can get. It's getting to the point where I almost need Sophie to be my seeing-eye dog as well. Unfortunately Sophie's eyes are pretty shot, too. I wonder what would happen if I actually had a seizure anytime soon. She'd have to find my convulsing form by smell rather than sight. Otherwise she'd just go sit and wait next to the nearest unmoving body and wait for it to regain awareness. Well, Sophie needn't have the superior sniffing powers of an airport dog to find me given that I can't recall the date of my most recent shower. For once that sad fact is good, as I'd hate to think my seizure dog might mistake me for a festering hunk of roadkill or worse, some other smelly old guy. Either way, it'd look bad for us both.

As you might conclude by its name, this post is a tribute to my right hand. It's a beautiful form, everything I'd hope my hand would ever be. It's such a strong hand that it can-and must- do the work of two. And I don't mean only the heavy lifting. Hell, my hands, back when I still had both were all about grunt work. Weight room, bicycle handlebars, lawn mower, ski boot buckles, road bike ratchet clips, Velcro, you name it, my hands have always been there for me. In fact, one of my hands-my entire arm, really- sacrificed its entire lifetime of service to my body so that the rest of me might live. That's how dedicated my body parts are to me and hopefully your body parts share the same commitment to you as well.

Laying here at 9:30 p.m., my hand shakily pecking out each letter on this tablet's miniscule display-keyboard I can finally just focus on the sight of my backlit hand. What I see is a work of art; now, as the rest of my body prepares to call it a day my hand is still hard at work, possibly its most difficult sort of task for a visually impaired amputee whose vestibuper shortcomings are the stuff of legends- work requiring fine motor skills.

But it does so without question and without missing a beat. Perhaps more astonishing is that my right hand, in the absence of its opposing counterpart, the yin to its yang, the flip to its flop, the sun to its moon, day to its night, dark to its light, left to its right.

On and on goes my hand, toiling away for there's always something more that needs doing. Opens the fridge door, grabs what it can and totes the ten feet to the sink. Milk, eggs, cheese and, in observance of the season, eggnog. Some mornings that ten feet can feel like ten yards. But it no longer registers as the insurmountable challenge it once was. It's no longer a daunting challenge, tough to do, tough sometimes, or even tough at all; it just is. Level of difficulty is not how my hand quantifies is workload.

Rather, its workload is its life and its life is its workload. It's as if my hand is a separate, helpful being unto itself there, working away, doing whatever needs to be done as always until called upon for active duty. It can scramble eggs, make coffee, give Sophie food, water and treats and more, all on its own.

Only certain tasks still require direct supervision and this only momentarily. Cracking the eggs, slicing this or snipping that, pouring water and lighting the stove for example all require the same momentary but critical glance to assure safety and accuracy in getting everything done while still half asleep.

For all the exposure to da her my hand has it's rare that I injure it. Even the slightest nick throws my already imbalanced system even further off kilter, and to the extent it's possible time off must be taken to heal my hand so that the delicate balance may safely be reset. Trying to resume working too soon and the risk of further injury increases and, with it, the recovery time.

Life with one hand is not for the impatient, that's for sure. Perhaps that's why I indulge in an odd sort of functional dissociation with my hand; looking upon it as a separate entity allows my mind the freedom, if you will, to not micromanage the hand but to let it work unhindered by my watchful eye.

Everyone who's ever walked and chewed gum or brushed their teeth while sitting on the potty, and cut their food with a knife and fork while talking away with others at dinner knows precisely what I mean. They're basic motor skills which I, by necessity have adapted and honed to the point where one hand, not two must crack the egg, peel the banana, open and also pour the milk, and peck out each word you're reading here, letter by letter.

Perhaps most astounding of all is that my hand labors nonstop with nary a moment lost in sorrow or self pity to survivor's guilt. After all, having fatefully been made the surviving hand, it doesn't wonder “Oh God, why me?” in finding itself singlehandedly responsible for now shouldering all the legwork ordinarily handled by two hands (some tongue-in-cheek humer, there (sic)!)

Of course my right hand doesn't grieve the loss of my left, for it is my brain that controls the entire show that is my body, for better or worse as it currently is. My brain, then, is where the grief at the loss of a limb would exist. In this regard, I've had surprisingly little grief at the loss of my arm.

Instead, I've felt loss in terms of the inability to engage in activities that once brought me such joy and that fostered such positive mental well being, like cycling.

But I've also found solace in reminding myself that I lost my arm while doing that one thing I so loved. Having lost the ability to ride as I did might, in some way leave me truly aggrieved, for I might have considered the absence of taking that “one last ride” a terrible injustice given the lifetime of physical and emotional energy cycling has always entailed.

Just as surely as I no longer worry about how I'll do X or Y “with only one hand” I know that the sudden return of my left arm would be not only a miracle of sorts but a terrible inner conflict for me, too.

By now I've long since adapted my thinking to how I'll get things done as I am today, not five or more years ago. As I've told people who've asked me if my left arm were to return tomorrow it would just be in the way.

That's not to say it wouldn't be welcome, I'd simply have to adapt my thinking yet again, this time to accommodate the presence of a left arm again.

This notion is moot, not just for the obvious reasons, but because being able to put closure on the useful lifespan that my left arm so wonderfully gave me was completed upon my decision to amputate the limb. It was a decision I'd made long before the surgery actually occurred, for the pain of lugging around an unusable arm was fearsome. Further, I often used my right arm to hold up my chronically agonizing left arm, effectively leaving me with no useful arms.

The amputation of my left arm was a tremendous relief and it opened the door into my life as I know it now, one which I've made the most of living the best I can. And I'm still building on this model.

One thing's for certain: Just as I sacrificed my left arm for that of the greater good in August, 2012, I am committed to doing everything I bodily can-and must- to preserving my remaining arm.

With each passing day my right arm grows stronger and more agile, taking with it an ever growing reservoir of confidence, patience and perseverance I'd not have guessed myself capable of prior to that date. After all, it's been hours since I began pecking away at this post and, nearing midnight, I'm only now finishing it.

So, perhaps to the world at large, and even to me I am, indeed disabled. But I'd be remiss if, for all practical purposes I didn't consider myself differently abled as well.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

A Cautionary Tale for Us All

https://www.google.com/amp/www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/homelessness/sd-me-homeless-lawsuit-20170920-story,amp.html

I realize there’s a lot to take in from the above article about full time RV living by necessity vs. by choice but living in an RV carries with it many of the same liabilities that homeowners and renters in buildings have as well.

Namely, if you can’t pay your rent/mortgage/lease, etc. you will be in violation of the terms of your agreement and out you'll go.

For all intents and purposes, Sophie and I are renters. We rent space, called a “lot” at the privately owned campground where we stay. 

The rent I pay, combined with my already-meager living expenses consumes every penny I have coming in. I'm quite proud of being able to accomplish this, given the flat-out challenge it's always been. Throw in a major head trauma, some mild TBIs, four-plus decades of epileptic seizures and an awful mathematical aptitude and you can understand this, too.

I’ve no savings though, on the bright side, my debt level isn’t increasing, either. It’s like the fiduciary version of what I tell Sophie when she’s out in the wild, exercising her prey-driven side: “If you can catch it, you can eat it.” 

In other words, when we (meaning me) must decide between paying for extra propane-or, as we recently did, use an electric heater when our propane heater was broken-or buy additional food or toiletries or do laundry or buy a new bag for our mini Shop Vac or any other ancillary need, the item most necessary for survival prevails.

Most people don’t get this, as if renting an apartment or paying a mortgage is somehow better, or less risky. Not so, and I think they know this. For them, I think theirs is a case of blissful ignorance for to acknowledge the similarities is to admit the truth of this.

Homeowners often have the option of taking out a loan against their home, depending on how much they’ve already paid into it, to cover/help cover the cost of a catastrophic loss. Though they'll cover the loss quickly, they'll also forestall the date of repayment, with interest.

A medical emergency, job loss, separation or divorce, and more are such examples of losses that may not be readily recoverable.

While I own my own home outright, I must still cover the cost of gas,  insurance, propane and other related costs.

Since I budget down to the penny each month, any inopportune cost becomes catastrophic: Mechanical concerns, e.g. engine, transmission, tires, etc., appliances such as the refrigerator I just needed to replace, and more. 

Thankfully, I had a neighbor who had bought a small electric fridge for her mother, who’d planned to put it in her elderly mother’s new house. Her mother went into a nursing home instead, and I gratefully bought it from her, paying her back a little bit each month. 

The fridge only cost $80 but it classified as a catastrophic expense for us. That, in itself, is a prime example of how we must forego one thing in order to pay for another.

But ours, like most traditional, brick-and-mortar households I believe, is operating at a deficit. It’s just that Sophie and I are not using credit to pay for unexpected expenses. 

The end result is the same, no matter which lifestyle we live: it all must be paid for in the end. 

Our scale of economy is what differs, that's all: What I classify as a major expense may be trivial to another person, or perhaps it'd be devastating.

But I know my economic scale is about as low as I can imagine it going. Basic things like washing, for example-shaving, scrubbing my face and upper body, haircuts and more-I do as infrequently as possible.

In fact, I purposely schedule appointments one week apart so that I can both be sure to have a reason to clean myself up a little while also avoid falling into a rut for being unable to do it more. It can, and has happened, and it can be an awful feeling.

As a daily, all-weather bicycle commuter, riding to work in my able-bodied years, I’m no stranger to quick, all-body clean-ups in front of the sink. It’s always been a fact of life for me, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

However, I’m not in the restroom at work, and I really miss my shower, and my laundry machine and some other things we consider “creature comforts.”

But I've long since learned the only creature comfort I need is the one I already have-Sophie, my service dog. She doesn’t mind if I don’t shower every day or even every week, which is good. In anticipation of colder weather and higher propane costs, I’ve severely cut back on running the water heater which, of course, means fewer showers. 

You get the idea. Like homeowners and renters and even people in cardboard boxes or tents out on the sidewalk, I sacrifice what I can, where I can in order to live another day.

The howling wolf of fate, however, is always at the door. If the property owners here raise the lot rent by more than ten dollars, for example, I’ll have to find another place to go. It's happened once before, without notice. So, while we’ll have a home, I’ll have no place to park it and we will, in effect, become mobile fugitives, always looking for the next place to park so I can grab some shuteye.

All I want to emphasize is that, like anyone, I’ve got a better bead on my cost of living than on anyone else’s and, just as you likely know of your own budget, I know well what will sink us for a while, and what will put us under for good.

"Living in an RV is not a long-term solution," I’ve read many times over. But life itself isn’t permanent anyway, and many of us have learned to do a great deal more with a great deal less than we ever thought possible.

When it comes down to it, the single greatest assets we have are the ones we love. Though they haven’t an actual dollar value they are priceless just the same.

Anyone who doesn’t understand this as the true measure of wealth will likely never understand what the term “value” truly means beyond that of a supermarket coupon.

“For better or for worse” are words best recognized as part of our traditional marriage vows, and for good reason. Life’s an adventure, and that very term leaves a great deal of wiggle room for interpretation.

Though we don’t yet know what will constitute an “adventure” as newlyweds, we most certainly know one when we see it. The same is true for life in an RV.

That said, I’m grateful that the life I share with Sophie in our RV is an adventure. And, like the roads we’ve driven and have yet to drive, I’m hoping the speed bumps will be few.

However, for better or for worse, we’ll avoid as many of them as possible and the rest we’ll navigate as best we can. It’s a metaphor for life, and the literal measure of ours. And so we go!

Friday, December 15, 2017

Today’s Politics to Tomorrow’s Adults

As a kid growing up during the Nixon administration I can recall a great deal of vociferous sparring in support of and in condemnation against the key players.

Like any kid, it was all I knew, so I thought that’s how things always were when it came to grownups and this thing they called “politics,” whatever that was.

Thankfully, I was simply too innocent to know how truly special Tricky Dick Nixon was.

That said, I can’t help but wonder how today’s kids will one day look back on this, the Tricky Trump administration, as their own initiation into their birthright of Democratic American Politics.

It’s an insidious stressor that can invade and permeate the otherwise clean, breathable air with the toxic vitriol relentlessly chugging forth from Trump’s sooty mouth.

How upset will they recall being the first time they saw one or both parents raise their voices-to each other, to the neighbor, to the tv, to them- out of a sense of frustration and helplessness?

Given the stakes, everything may have been riding on the nuances of that day’s political developments, even the family’s very cohesion and outright safety.

Be it the Nixon administration or the Trump administration, the dynamics and the consequences they carry are far more divisive in nature cooperative in spirit. And this is by design.

I’m willing to bet many poor and middle class families, not to mention migrant and minority ones have felt the pinch of this political edginess for at least twelve months now.

My family today consists entirely of me, a fifty-two year old man on SSDI and Sophie, my loving and loyal service dog. She’s 9 ½ years old, and we’ve been together for nine of them.

Despite all the additional intricacies in having the pitter patter of more (human) feet around the house, ours is already plenty complex.

Yet, despite our relatively simple existence, our home nonetheless stands to be profoundly affected by anyone’s measure.

What, you may wonder, could someone in my position know about the state of the nation such as it is today?

Simple. My family survived the Nixon administration and, despite my innocence hen, I still vaguely remember the feel of those days on my childhood.

It’s an esoteric thing that today’s kids-tomorrow’s adults-will one day understand when they, too, have that look in the rear view mirror as I am having now.

This in mind, the similarities are eerily similar, and ought not be understated or, more importantly, underestimated. It’s with this in mind that I’ve jotted down these thoughts. For me, they are nothing short of make-or-break.

Medicare and food stamps support for millions, myself included, are now on the chopping block. If those get cut, then we get cut along with it. As one advocate so aptly put it “...the children, the elderly, the disabled and the poor- all of American society’s most vulnerable citizens- stand to lose everything.

This, in order to finance the trillion-and-a-half dollar deficit created by tax “reform” legislation that provides unconscionably gratuitous tax cuts to the ultra wealthy at the expense of the average Joe, and astonishingly liberal tax breaks to big corporations at the expense of startups and sole-proprietorships.

Like millions of Americans, I’ve watched this develop into a political situation that less resembles democracy and more outright class warfare.

It’s identifiable by the relentless hostile attitudes and actions by a government perpetrated upon its own citizens by their elected representatives.

These behaviors are, in turn, supported by nebulous catch phrases directed toward chanting mobs carrying isolationist and racial overtones, convinced of their righteous belief that theirs is the one true leader.

Any potential challenger to this great leader is met with fervid chants of “Lock her up!” Meanwhile, the leader’s own questionable actions, in a sane world would raise doubts about his true intentions.

But somehow, a newly cited form of American English called, aptly enough, “alternative facts” explains away any conceivable scenario of nefariousness. In other words, the old platitude “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with bullshit” still applies.

Today, an otherwise unelectable individual occupies the White House and, wouldn’t you know it, he remains as surprised as anyone about it. His longshot, fifteen minutes of fame has somehow turned into four years.

As of today, it’s been eleven months and, as expected, he’s accomplished exactly what many thought he would; nothing.

Unless, of course, you include his campaign of divisiveness between Americans and their elected leaders, and also between the leaders themselves. All the golfing and tweeting and tv watching leaves little time for governing.

Any efforts to that effect seem driven by an apparently tireless pursuit of a nationalist and white supremacist agenda, bent on reversing every imaginable accomplishment of the previous administration.

This divisiveness is by design, for it leads many voting Americans to try to figure out who among them could have supported such a blindly oppressive and openly greedy leader.


But it’s not good American citizenship to come out and openly ask “Did you vote for this grumpy old fart?” or words to that effect. It’s not just bad manners, but an affront on the sanctity of our secret ballot.

Instead, I have cleverly figured out how to identify these voters without coming across as rude or un-American; I just listen to other Americans.

Those who still preach the gospel of Trumpism aren’t hard to identify at all, and I’m not concerned about them. They are a lost cause, a down-the-road wacko lot that will never know what they’ll never know.

And then there are the Trump voters who, knowing they’ve made a mistake will bide their time until they might slyly interject some verbal atonement into a conversation.

Then, slowly but surely, gaining ever more confidence like a plane rolling down the runway, they’ll reveal themselves. Then they’ll ascend into the heavens toward their true redemption.

Though I am embellishing a little here, such a catharsis is not unusual for Trump supporters. They’ve suddenly become unencumbered by a horrible secret they’d long sought to be free of. They’ve grown a conscience, or have re-righted their moral compass, and are now free to move forward once again, wiser for their experience.

But first they must accomplish this. I’ve noted certain innocuous words that test the waters for a redemptive response often come up. Murmuring something like “I think he should’ve been impeached a long time ago” is one example.

These words are typically spoken with a fearful undertone, as if an outright admission would expose them. Then, their ultimate fear will ensue, dubious privilege of being drawn and quartered, or lynched in the town square.

And that’s without the bag over his head so as to make an awful example of what will befall others like him. Sounds dramatic but, hey, that’s life in a democracy a lá Trump.

Trump’s propaganda machine implies that citizens must not trust each other and even openly states that the FBI is the secret police and the KGB, too. “Divide and conquer,” the saying goes, and Americans, as a whole, are well on our way.

Still, I look for the silver lining and, sadly, it comes in the form of an “-ation:” Resignation, incarceration or even assassination.

For me, though anticipating, even hoping for something awful to happen to someone in order for me to feel safer about my circumstances is wrong. It’s simply not how I think, yet there it is, and I’m but one of many people caught up in an inner conflict with our true values..

Outwardly, I see this manifested in some interesting ways. Perhaps the most peculiar of these is hearing some of my typically mild-mannered friends become animated, then angry enough to be driven to use the f-word in polite conversation.

As with the notion of alternative facts, the term “polite” is both malleable and relative to whatever you want it to be. Inasmuch as the “good dishes and silverware” are reserved for special dinners, passing an f-bomb is as common as the salt and pepper at the table.

And I’m not talking about the muttered, under-the-breath kind of use, but the all-caps, bold and italic version. Not that the tone behind the use of the word matters, it’s that the word is used at all.

Likewise, I realize I’ve suddenly got the same inclination and, you know, it’s often out of my mouth before I realize it. Immediately afterward I think “Wait-did I just say that?” and the answer is always a resounding “Damn right, I did!”

I’m not making excuses or trying to avoid responsibility for my newly rediscovered potty mouth. Rather, falling into the habit of speaking without thinking is a recipe for further danger, as it can naturally lead to habitually acting without thinking. And that’s not me.

The current administration has proven its ability to bring out the best of the worst in society and, if approval ratings are any indication, many of us have learned our lesson. Now we must live with the consequences of that lesson.

Suddenly, the Mitt Romneys of the world never looked so good. What I wouldn’t do for a little articulation borne of a truly mature and literate brain, especially if it ideologically opposes my perspectives.

My brain could use some cerebral calisthenics to help it recover from the monosyllabic slave to the ceaseless barrage of 140 character, typically one-way “dialogue.”

That is, Trump’s tweeting is a real time display of his constantly derailing train of thought, a dark world into which all are invited but none are welcome. His “for” or “against” mindset leaves no room for “together.” And it’s evident in how we interact with each other.

The current administration has degraded our collective style of communicating, from sugar-coating reality to ease our mutual distress to the outright profanity we may use to vent our collective frustration.

However it occurs is a subject for future study. What matters now is that we fix this problem. Healing the manner in which we communicate will go a long way to bridging and repairing the divide that’s made our differences so apparent.

It’s not as if the president is incapable of this. His proclamation that he’s a “smart person with a good education from one of the best schools,” yadda yadda yadda. acknowledges this.

But it doesn’t require “all the best words,” as he puts it, to enthusiastically convey a point in a civil manner that will get the same positive results. It only requires the desire to do so.

Therefore, a certain defiance is required to drop the diplomatic tongue in favor of a monosyllabic vernacular with the sole purpose of stirring discontent. And the current American president is nothing if not defiant.

He’s long been aware his bitter expressions, properly directed, will distract from the true issue awaiting his attention. But these issues will not be ignored.

Words like “cuts to Medicare,” “trillion dollar debt,” “obstruction of justice” and, of course, “Russia probe” he hopes, will continue to go unnoticed over cries of “Build the Wall!” and “Lock Her Up!”

With each passing day, the reckoning for Trump and his “crooked” administration draws nearer. After all the bluster that’s spouted incessantly from the insecure misogynist, “Lock him up!” has a decidedly nice ring to it.

And, since the world is so used to seeing his sneering leathery, orange visage, he’ll find his own citrusy mug the perfect complement to his new prison jumpsuit.

But until that joyous time, only one question exists for those of us on the sidelines. We’ve done what we can and now must watch the wheels of democracy right the ship once again. But can we ride it out to the end?

Inasmuch as I survived Nixon, will I also survive Trump? I’d like to think I can.

Imagine all of the Americans who have lived full lives with a legitimate pride in their minds and a fond place in their hearts for their country before they passed away.

Imagine those whose lives met a premature end in service to the country they loved enough to risk making “the ultimate sacrifice.”

The very last, unfortunate impression these Americans may have had of their country is its degradation into something far less than what they’ve known it to be.

And what about the decorated servicemen and women who salute the president as he steps off the plane or the helicopter?They must honor a cowardly misogynist who’s proud of his ability to dodge the draft during Vietnam, referring to venereal disease as his “own, personal Vietnam.“

In effect, their respectful decorum is met with the same disdain by the president as he might express upon finding he’d stepped in chewing gum.

I don’t mean any disrespect to anyone alive or deceased in saying that the ultimate sacrifice today is saluting the current commander-in-chief.

Like trying to put your left shoe on your right foot and/or vice versa, or having to buy a pair of gloves or shoes when you need only one just feels nherently wrong.

Though taken in the right light it can be a point of humor, for instance I donate all of my widowed left-hand gloves to charity, hoping they’ll find their way to a right-hand amputee.

And so it goes with the current president, who blurted out within a month of taking office that his new job “was a lot harder than I thought” and that “ I miss my old life.”

To continue the metaphor, such people don’t always fit their position hand in glove. And though the glove may fit the hand, it may not be a good one.

The only remedy Americans have for this problem, then is to find a different hand or a different glove or both.In not yet having that warm glove, my fingers have grown numb as January 20th quickly approaches.

I’ve held on longer than I thought, largely due to my current state of indentured servitude to my country for vastly different reasons than most soldiers.

And just as July in Canada, with its relatively fresh-faced PM sounds appealing, Mexico sounds equally good this time of year.

Sure, let ‘em build that wall. Anyway, as a lifelong nonconformist, it’ll come as no surprise to people who know me that I am going to Mexico to get my green card.

Looks like those four years of high school Spanish in Señor Barkley’s class will pay some dividends after all.

How about you? Are you considering a change, even a teeny-tiny, temporary one? Well, ¡conmigo!

Mexico, I promise, is big enough for us all and a good thing, too. It may well become America’s last refuge once the Little Rocket Man gets his deadly toys to make it to the US mainland.

It’ll take a hell of a lot more than Rosie the Riveter and a cellar full of canned vegetables and beef jerky to survive Kim’s own special brand of “fire and fury, the likes of which (we Americans) have never seen.”

But who’d be foolish enough to make such a provocative statement to a baby-faced authoritarian who has never grown out of his “terrible twos?”

Well, observant Americans have come to learn something about a leader who’s not only old enough to wear diapers again, but acts as if he’s never grown out of them?

As I said, mature dialogue will make all the difference, and millions of Americans, using their grownup brains and outdoor voices can topple this government before it brings down the world.

America and Americans have shown their mettle in surviving the Red Coats,  the Reds, and Richard Nixon.

With persistence I believe we can survive the Reds again, and it can only be done by overthrowing their puppet government led by, of all people, the American president