Social Misfit

Merry Christmas and Seasons Greetings from Mexico!

I wish it felt more Christmassy this year. As I am constantly reminded by every Hallmark Christmas movie, this is a time of snow, family, and love. That’s one of the downsides of living in a temperate climate. Thousands of miles away from everyone in your family. In a foreign country.

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To be honest, I’m not sure anyone in my family would visit me even if we lived across the street from each other. That’s probably my fault. I burned a lots of bridges back when I was drunk all the time.

Some fault also has to be allocated to my siblings. We’re all fairly fucked up, and almost everyone in my family has decided it’s way easier to just keep drinking than it is to try to fix all of those broken personalities and relationships.

That’s just one of the many upsides to living in a temperate climate, thousands of miles away from everyone in your family, in a foreign country.

* * * *

Speaking of burning bridges, I’ve discovered that I don’t need to be drunk to do that. For those of you who placed bets on how long it would take for my Twitter account to be permanently disabled, if you picked December 4, 2019, you win.

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Even I thought it would take me longer than that.

I wasn’t a big fan of the Twitter. It was the domain of mystic poets and nude selfies. I fucking hate poetry and no one wants to see me naked. Including me. Twitter is the social media equivalent of a moral wasteland. I never understood the language of the Twitter, which no doubt makes me the Ultimate Twit.

So? What did you do to piss off the Twitter police, dude?

According to the Twitter police, I was guilty of engaging in a pattern of hate themed speech, which was a repeated violation of the community standards that Twitter sometimes takes seriously.

In the interest of transparency, I am totally guilty of everything Twitter accused me of doing. But there was another person who consistently violated Twitter’s community standards, and he did so without any fear of repercussions.

Donald Trump consistently lied about his accomplishments, blamed his political opponents for his failings, and fired off endless insults, taunts, and disparaging names at anyone that didn’t kiss his ass.

I pointed out Mr. Trump’s pattern of inflammatory fabrication to the Twitter police more than once. They had a response. If I didn’t like the things that Mr. Trump wrote, I should simply stop reading them.

That was their official stance on the matter.

That was something I couldn’t do, so I called out The Donald every time he bragged about a success, or projected his shortcomings off onto others, or insulted Adam Schiff, Nancy Pelosi, or any of his Democratic opponents.

Donald Trump is a pathological liar. I could live with that if not for one, small, tiny, insignificant detail. He’s also the President of the United States. Because of his status, I find his actions morally reprehensible, even though I have often stated that I don’t have any morals or ethics.

Yeah, I know. It doesn’t make any sense to me either.

Unfortunately, and I honestly feel it was an unfortunate course of action on my part, I tended to end the majority of my rebuttals to Mr. Trump with …you lying cocksucker! Or, …you motherfucking piece of shit!!

My Twitter account was temporarily suspended three or four times for saying bad things about the 45th President of the United States.

I was a psych nurse for thirty years. The one thing I hated more than anything was when someone started name-calling. I’m sure that can directly be tied to all of times I had to endure it when I was a child. That, and spitting. I really hated being spit on.

In a nutshell, because it was something I wouldn’t want to happen to me, I should never have engaged in that sort of behavior toward someone else. Even a fucking douchebag like Donald Trump.

Christians call it The Golden Rule. Everyone else calls it not being an asshole.

At some time during the day of December 3rd, I called Melania Trump a whore. And a mindless cunt. There’s probably not any evidence supporting my claim that The Donald ever literally sucked any cocks or had sex with his mother. And for that, my Twitter account was temporarily suspended several times.

However, there is a veritable ocean of evidence that indicates Melania Trump is both a whore, and a mindless cunt. And because those accusations were true, Twitter shut down my account forever the very next day.

I’m okay with that. I was engaging in behavior that I would never condone in another. Besides, getting into a Twitter war with The Donald isn’t just stupid, it’s a fruitless cause, and I already have one of those.

It’s called Golf…

* * * *

I’ve been a social misfit almost all of my life. I may still be one, but there’s one major difference between the old guy me and the young kid me. I no longer care what other people think of me.

Being an outsider looking in was easy for me when I was a kid. I was almost always the new kid in town. We moved a lots when I was in grade school. Minnesota, at least twice. Michigan. South Dakota. Arkansas. North Dakota, twice. California, twice. Missouri. And finally, Montana.

Eleven different school districts to complete eight years of school. I was either so far ahead of my classmates that they thought I was some kind of genius, or so far behind them that everyone thought I was a total moron.

Moving from one place to another in the Midwest was bad enough, but moving from the North to the South was absolute hell. Not only are you the New Kid in Town, you’re a Damn Yankee to boot. And back then, the only thing white southern kids hated more than damn Yankees was niggers.

Yes, I know I’m not supposed to say that anymore. But as I write this, it’s 1963. I was in the second grade when we moved to Little Rock. I was picked on so much in Arkansas that I shit my pants in school. Twice.

I vividly remember both of those incidents. What I don’t remember is why it didn’t happen more often. It’s possible that my heartless tormentors started feeling sorry for me, but it’s far more likely that they thought they might end up covered in shit, too.

Third grade, we were living in Grand Forks, North Dakota. It was the only time I was considered the most popular kid in my class. And the only reason I know this is because my teacher whispered it into my ear one day.

I wasn’t the most popular kid in my class in Michigan. Or South Dakota. Or at either of the schools I attended in California. And I wasn’t even close to the most popular kid in my class when we moved back to Grand Forks because we lived in a different school district on the other side of town. 

1967. I was in seventh grade. That was the worst year of my grade school career. I started out the school year in Minnesota, spent something like six months in Missouri, then finished up the year in Montana.

Missouri might have been even worse than Arkansas when it came to being bullied because I was the New Kid/Damn Yankee in town, but that was one of the school districts where I was so far ahead of my classmates that even my teachers were in awe of me.

* * * *

There were no anti-bullying initiatives way back in the Middle Ages when I was a kid. As I reflect on this period of abject humiliation of my life, it’s a good thing my dad didn’t own any handguns.

I doubt that I ever would’ve been able to shoot anyone, but I’m pretty sure I thought about it. When I was a kid, there were probably a dozen different Western TV shows. Bonanza. Gunsmoke. The Rifleman. Conflict resolution was usually handled with a six-shooter.

But it’s far more likely that I wouldn’t have been able to hit the broad side of a barn even if I had access to a handgun. I got my first pair of glasses when I was in the third grade because I was essentially blind, but I refused to wear them because it was just another thing the other kids could use to make fun of me. I didn’t want to give them any extra ammunition.

That changed when I started the eighth grade. My new teacher introduced me to my latest set of new classmates. And then she said this, And class, please remind Mark to wear his glasses. His mother told me he doesn’t like to wear them, but he really needs to wear them… 

It was something like that. I stopped listening when I started playing for God to quit fucking around and kill me to death for real this time.

* * * *

It was probably around the time that we were living in Missouri that I started utilizing a few defense mechanisms that would keep me and all of the people around me alive.

The first is called a reaction formation. It’s a complicated Freudian concept. In essence, negative emotions or impulses which are mastered by substituting the opposite emotion or impulse. The substitute reaction is usually overly exaggerated.  I’m not an expert in psychoanalysis, so I’m not sure if this is commonly used or not. I do know this: my substitute reactions are not overly exaggerated, and I’m pretty sure that’s not very common.

Another is mirroring, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like. One person unconsciously imitates the gestures, speech pattern, or attitude of another. Almost everybody uses this, especially with family and close friends.

And the third is humor. People are less likely to want to punch you if you can make them laugh.

* * * *

When I was a freshman in high school, I achieved the dual distinctions of being both a genius and a moron in just a matter of months. The first semester of the year, I was in the Honor’s Math class where I struggled to get D’s. My math teacher actually announced to my entire class I had no business being in his class, and told me to get out of his classroom.

I didn’t need a second invitation. I picked up my books, walked out the door, and kept on walking until I got home, five miles later. I’ve told this story to my lovely supermodel wife. She said I must’ve felt humiliated. I suppose I did, but what I mostly remember is feeling relieved.

I was called into the Principal’s office the next day. I fully expected to be suspended or expelled. Instead, I received an apology and I was placed in a different math class. The second semester was an entirely different story. I was a straight A student in the Math for Morons class.

I’ve tried not to make a big deal out what happened to me on that day so long ago when Father Weiss told me to get out of his classroom. I’ve tried, but I still hate math.

* * * *

I didn’t really have a best friend until my freshman year of high school. That’s when I met Dave Nelson. We’re still buds. I didn’t have a girlfriend until my senior year. That’s when I fell in love with Maureen Browne. I think we’re still friends.

She asked me if I was going to attend our fifty year class reunion in 2024. I told her I was thinking about it, but I was terrified of seeing her face to face again. She said I should be. And then she said she was joking.

I told her I wasn’t. And that’s not an exaggeration.

Dave and Maureen both gave the best gifts I have ever received from anyone. Acceptance. Friendship. Love. They were the first people outside of my family that showed me there was also beauty in the world.

* * * *

The Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” That might be true, but from my point of view at this precise moment, examining your life doesn’t increase its value by any appreciable amount.

I’m not sure what the point of this post is supposed to be. No doubt there’s an Aesopian moral of the story that’s supposed to enlighten me. There’s only one small, tiny, insignificant problem.

I’m pretty sure I didn’t write it.

My writing process isn’t this organized. Nor is it usually this specific. My Muses apparently have a much better idea of what they’re doing than I ever will.

I hope they’re happy. Maybe they’ll take some time off for the holidays. My lovely supermodel wife and I are going to Mexico City. I’d like to be able to to enjoy it.

But you have any ideas for the moral of the story, leave me a comment.

Vision

It’s the Independence Day weekend in Mexico. El dia de independencia. 16 de septiembre. On that date in the year 1810, the cry of freedom first rang out in Mexico, and the revolt against the fucking Spaniards began.

¡Viva, México!

This weekend inaugurates what I’ve come to call fiesta season in the Lakeside Area. It’s more or less one big party down here from now until Christmas. Lea has actually looked up all of the annual national and local holidays. There’s something like unto ten thousand of them.

I call it, Los Meses Que Nadie Duerme. The Months That No One Sleeps. The locals don’t sleep because they’re celebrating! And the gringos don’t sleep because there’s no such thing as a quiet celebration in Mexico.

Neither Lea nor I got any sleep last night. A loud party nearby kept us awake until 2:30 AM. There was music. And singing. And storytelling. And laughter. And I’m going to guess all of that was fueled by a lots of alcohol. Then our four kit-tens took over when the celebration finally died down. Yes, we now have four felines and Casa Tara has become a cathouse.

I’ll get to that later.

* * * *

The Minnesota Vikings played their arch rivals, the Green Bay Packers in their biggest game of the young NFL season today. The Vikings were favored to win, so they played their worst game and lost 21-16.

I can’t say I’m surprised. Or even disappointed. I’ve learned to accept the fact that my team just doesn’t do well with high expectations. I’m going to hope that they’re able to get their act together and play better. It’s either that or give up on football and take up ballet. Or fishing. Or anything else.

The Detroit Lions won yesterday. I’m still considering them as my new team. They’ve sucked for years, so any game they win is a pleasant surprise.

* * * *

The Vision is a fictional superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe®. He’s an android created by Ultron, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner and Thor. He possesses the Mind Stone, one of the Infinity Stones that Thanos collected so he could exterminate half of all life in the universe.

Vision is the faculty or state of being able to see. Sight is one of the five senses. It’s arguably the most important one of the bunch. Most people I know like to be able to see what they’re doing. When people talk about sight they rarely use the word vision. Vision seems to have taken on a long range connotation in the minds of many people.

Except when you’re drunk. Then there’s that whole double vision thing…

And that’s all I have to say about that.

* * * *

I haven’t been able to write lately. Actually, I haven’t been able to do much of anything. There’s a reason for that.

I recently got a new pair of glasses.

* * * *

Little Known Fact About Me: I’m more or less legally blind without corrective lenses. I’ve been wearing eyeglasses since the third grade. I probably should have been wearing them in the womb. I’m terribly nearsighted. I’m also farsighted. And I have astigmatism. Oh, and sometimes I can’t see colors so good. I probably should have learned Braille. But even if I had, the keyboard on my Notebook isn’t equipped with it, so there’s that.

* * * *

There’s nothing wrong with my old glasses. I’ve had my current pair of glasses for almost five years. The lenses are getting a little scratched up, but that’ll happen over time. I can still see out of them, and that’s really the only purpose eyeglasses serve.

I’m not sure why I decided to get new glasses. My lovely supermodel wife got new glasses this year. So did my golf wife. They both look super cute. Lea actually looks like a really hot librarian. It would appear I thought it was my turn…

Normally, something like this wouldn’t have a major impact in my life, but in this case there was one small, insignificant detail. I couldn’t see much of anything with my new glasses.

I wear progressive bifocals. Hey, I’m old, okay? I’ve been trying to figure out how to explain what went wrong, and this is the best I can do: I live in a Central Time Zone, but my right eye was seeing in the Eastern Time Zone, and my left eye was seeing in the Mountain Time Zone.

Everything was clear, then it was fuzzy, then it was blurry, then it was distorted. And then the process started all over again. It was déjà vu, jamais vu, and goo goo g’joob all rolled together into one disturbing optical illusion.

My eyes were sending so much contradictory stimuli to my brain I started hallucinating. For someone as loosely held together as myself, it was the last thing I needed. I was pretty sure a bunch of ninjas were trying to sneak up on me because that’s what I was seeing out of the corners of my eyes. When I tried to focus on them, the ninjas disappeared. It made sense to me at the time. That’s kinda what ninjas do…

* * * *

Another Little Known Fact About Me: I don’t look crazy, but I have at least four Axis I psychiatric diagnoses, and at least one Axis II diagnosis. I wouldn’t be surprised if I have more. I’m not going to elaborate on any of them, but I’ve never taken any psych meds. I’ve learned to adapt to the kooky way my brain works, mostly by trying to ignore it, and rarely taking anything that goes on inside of my head too seriously.

If you don’t know what Axis I or II are, look them up on the Google®. They’re all in the DSM-IV. It’s the Big Book of What’s Wrong With You for Psychiatry. And you should probably know that there’s no diagnosis of Normal.

Be that as it may, I…suffer…from frequent unpleasant intrusive thoughts. If they weren’t so unpleasant, I don’t think there’d be any suffering involved. It’s one of the reasons I tried drinking myself into a coma for three decades.

I don’t hear voices, but I do have thought insertions. They can also be intrusive. And unpleasant. And, they can sometimes be misinterpreted as voices. Thought insertion is a somewhat uncommon symptom: I sometimes feel my thoughts are not my own, but rather belong to someone else and have been inserted into my mind.

You know, like, whenever I actually have a good idea.

* * * *

I got my new glasses last Saturday, so that’s when my corrected vision problems started. I figured it was just the new prescription, you know, my eyes would adjust. I wore them last Sunday when I went golfing. It was the worst round of golf I’ve played since I quit drinking. I finally ended up doing this:

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As ridiculous as it might sound, this classic bit of advice actually worked for me. Once I stopped trying to see the ball, I could actually hit it better. I might have accidentally learned something from essentially being blind, and Caddyshack.

Feeling the golf course, finding a form of oneness with it. Seeing not with your eyes, but with your mind. It was oddly spiritual, and even more oddly, relaxing. I don’t recommend this method to improve your golf game to anyone. To be honest, I’d rather be able to see.

I went golfing today with my old glasses, my new Tour Edge® putter, my golf wife, Phyllis, and our friends, Tom and Cheryl. For the most part, I think I putted better today, but I also discovered I’m still capable of three putting.

Motherfucker Osmond Brothers!

The biggest problem with any golf club is they all have manual transmissions. There’s no D for drive. There’s no cruise control. There’s no semi-autonomous driver-assist features. They are all subject to user error.

But something amazing happened to me on the front nine today. For the first time in my life, I did not fuck up a single fairway shot. I nailed every one of them, setting myself up for all of the things golfers dream about: eagles, birdies, and pars.

Unfortunately, reality decided to tag along. My chipping game still needs some serious tweaking.

* * * *

I think I tried getting used to my new glasses for four days, then gave up and put my old glasses back on, then went to see Kristi, the sweet young lady that runs the optical shop where I bought my glasses. My new glasses are under warranty, so she’s going to have a new pair made with my old prescription.

I’m sure there were several factors involved in the process that resulted in my incorrect corrective lenses. There have already been a few steps in the process to re-correct them, and there’ll probably be a few more. But it probably won’t be as arduous as getting our refrigerator fixed.

By the way, that’s still working. I’m starting to believe it’s not going to break down again this time.

* * * *

Last Thursday, we welcomed two more kit-tens into our household:

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Behold, Sadie and Sammy. We’re going to rid of all our dark clothing

Planet Janet, our former landlady, asked us if we could help out her best friend, Neelam. Neelam is being treated for cancer, and she could no longer care for her three dogs and two cats.

We didn’t want the dogs, so we took the kit-tens.

Sadie is a Champagne Tonkinese mix female. I’m not sure if she’s a Mexican kit-ten, or if she’s a gringa gatita, but she is the cutest, littlest little kit-ten, ever! She’s roughly seven weeks older than our purebred Mexican street kit-tens, Mika and Mollie.

Sammy is a five year old male of undetermined lineage, but he’s probably a purebred Mexican street kit-ten, too. I think he’s half white tiger — like unto the tigers Seigfried and Roy used to have in their magic act — and half polar bear. He. Is. One. BIG. Kit-ten.

His real name is Sonny, but Lea kept calling him Sammy because of Samantha, our first kit-ten. I suggested we change his name. He’s a cat. It’s not like he’s not going to come when you call his name, you know, like he’s a dog.

Sonny/Sammy. What’s the difference? If he wants anything from you, he’ll let you know. If he doesn’t, he’ll ignore you, like any other cat.

Sammy appears to understand that he’s the only male in a house full of kit-tens, and if he plays his cards right he’s going to end up with a harem of adoring females. He already has Lea won over. He is one cool cat, and he knows it.

* * * *

The transition hasn’t been easy for any of our kit-tens. Sadie and Sammy are freaked out because they’re in a new place and the woman who had taken care of them has disappeared. Mika and Mollie are freaked because of the new kit-tens on the block and no one asked them if they were okay with this new arrangement.

If anyone reading this knows any tricks to introducing new pets into a household, I am willing to hear anything you have to say.

I know as much about being a parent as I do about algorithms, and that would be next to nothing. You could ask my stepdaughters. I’m pretty sure I sucked at it. But I figured our new kit-tens would need a safe place to readjust to their new environment, so we set them up in the den. It’s a huge room, and we rarely use it.

Sadie and Sammy essentially hid in the den for one day. We checked on them frequently so they could get used to us and sound of our voices and stuff. Then they came out into the living room and started exploring.

Mika and Mollie jumped up to the top of one of the bookcases and looked down on everything with kit-ten amazement. It’s been sort of a North/South thing ever since. Sadie and Sammy mostly occupy the South Wing of the house. Mika and Mollie mostly hold the North Wing and occupy the high vantage points in the living room, dining room, and the kitchen.

I’m not Doctor Fuckin’ Doolittle. I can’t talk to the animals and explain that we took the new kit-tens in because they would have been put to sleep if we hadn’t. I’m sure our first rescue kit-tens wouldn’t want that to happen to any kit-ten, and then they’d settle down.

There haven’t been any battles, but there’s been some aggressive posturing and a fair amount of blustery speech. It’s like unto the cold war between the US and the USSR back in the day. Except Saturday night when all four kit-tens ran into each other in our bedroom and all hell broke loose.

That’s when Lea and I decided we needed to trim the needle sharp talons of death on all of our kit-tens. That job was actually a whole lots easier than either of us thought it would be. I almost feel like a psych nurse again, trying to keep the peace on my unit. That’s basically what psych nurses do: keep everyone safe in a confined space until they’re stable enough to go home and start making bad decisions all over again.

Maybe I should try giving all the kit-tens some Cativan…

* * * *

In retirement, Lea and I have become real life versions of Chip and Dale: Rescue Rangers. We rescued our first two kit-tens when they were darlingpreshadorbs babies. We rescued Lord Mark’s sprawling villa from hideous interior design and general disrepair and turned it into the Chula Vista Resort and Spa. We rescued Todd from having to spend another winter in Idaho. And we rescued Neelam’s adult kit-tens from having to get dead.

Life is essentially one long recovery/rescue program. We’re all recovering from something. Every now and then we get to rescue something. We didn’t know it at the time but when we got married, Lea and I would end up rescuing each other.

But that’s another story for another day. For now, this is Mark Rowen signing off. Que tenga un buen dia y hasta luego.