The Musings of an Appalachian Activist

I Am Here

This isn’t the first time I’ve written about depression, and I’m certainly not shy about the topic online, or if anyone has any questions. Still, I felt the need to write another piece about it because I don’t think there are enough words I or anyone could say on the subject and it be enough. I’ll still try again.

I suffer from clinically diagnosed depression, anxiety, and PTSD. This is mostly attributed to my bouts with cancer. It’s certainly taken it’s toll on me in many ways. I guess when you’re twelve years old and your life is put into percentages, and you have to contemplate death before you imagined death would ever find you, it does a number on a kid. Then there’s the survivors guilt. This one is hard to explain and it’s even hard to to myself. I’m proud I beat cancer. It was hard, especially as a kid, and we all know that not everyone is fortunate enough to beat it. That’s where the guilt comes in. What makes me special? I met dozens, maybe hundreds of kids over the last 15 years since I was diagnosed and I know more than a few who didn’t make it. That in itself contributed to my depression. Having friends, fellow young people, lose their life all around me. But I’m here for some reason? I’m a 27 year old who works for campaigns and try my best to give back to my community but I feel as if no matter what I do, it’ll never be enough. Poor me, huh?

Those kids I befriended, or just saw as a passerby in the halls of St. Jude, could have been anything. Doctors. Nurses. Teachers. Senators. Presidents. Scientists that could have cured the cancer that struck them as a child. I’m none of that but they could have been everything. What did their deaths do to their families? I’m sure it triggered countless cases of depression, anxiety, PTSD, and that same survivors guilt in them. Did it break-up families? Break hearts of parents, siblings, grandparents? I’m sure it did. It was all rough on my family but I’m here. Why? How?

Am I the rose that grew from the concrete or the dream deferred like Langston spoke about because I haven’t met my full potential? I was a slacker in high school. A slacker for the first two years of college. I’ve wasted days in bed doing nothing, not bettering myself at all. Even writing this I feel like I’m talking about myself too much.

I wanted to write this blog because recently I was diagnosed with some health problems and the outpouring of support I got from so many was overwhelming. It made me feel strong. It gave me confidence, strength, and I know I’ll be just fine. With that, however, I know for a fact that there are people just on my friends list suffering from health issues, more severe mental issues, and countless other problems they deal with on a daily basis and without the folks I have in my corner.

I know some of you reading this harm yourself. I know some of you have thought of ending your life. I know some of you have attempted to end your life. And I know there are some on my list who aren’t reading this because they were successful in doing so. Depression has brought me to my knees and made it impossible to get out of bed. PTSD has smothered me until I could barely breath. Survivors guilt has put me in a closet on the floor crying my eyes out with two words replaying in my mind “Why me?”, not why me that I got cancer, but why did I survive it. I, however, have been fortunate enough that my mental illness hasn’t caused me to manifest sadness and guilt into self-harm or serious thoughts of suicide. I’m only lucky.

I don’t know why I wanted to write this besides to let anyone reading this know that I am here. For whatever reason I beat cancer. Maybe this is the reason. And when I say I’m here, I mean I’m here for you. I know words jumbled into a blog, in a text or message, or whatever doesn’t fix things. It won’t always stop you from harming yourself or having those thoughts of taking your life.

I just want you, whoever you are, that I am here for you. I’ll drop everything and come to you. I’ll hold your hand. I’ll give you a hug. I’ll hold you and let you cry on my shoulder. Or I’ll just do what so many people don’t do, listen. Listen to your problems. Listen to your day. Listen to anything you want to talk about. I’m here for you. I don’t care what I’m doing, just get ahold of me. All of my contact information will be at the end of this post. And yes, I know full-well the feeling of what it’s like to not want to reach out to others because you feel like you’re bothering them, putting your problems on them, or any excuse you can come up with to not talk to someone else. I don’t care. You will never bother me. You will never, ever bother me. I’m not a trained professional and I encourage all to seek professional help but if you just need a short, chubby, nerdy guy to be there for you I’m here. Even on days where I feel like I can’t help myself…I’m here.

Address: 13354 Crab Orchard Road, Coeburn, VA, 24230

Phone: 276-395-4632

Snapchat: mskeens13

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dem.mskeens

 

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Another message to Trump deplorable’s in Appalachia…

You can divorce policy from support but you cannot divorce morality and decency from it. When you endorse a candidate, or support them, it is not an adoption of every single thing they have ever said or done. An approach to democracy through this prism of perfection does not function. Why? We’re imperfect, individualistic human being’s casting a ballot for other imperfect, individualistic human being’s to lead them and run the country. While politicians should be held to incredibly high-standards, you can still vote for one even if you disagree with them on some issues. The only person that will every agree with you one hundred percent of them, and one hundred percent of the time, the person you’re left with is you. The bar should be high but everything to everyone is simply not realistic.

Trump and his mob, however, are different. Their antics and reconciliation with their candidates flaws, which is being an all-around vile person, is not something mature adults should have much dialogue with. This is a candidate similar to very few before him while at the same time being this close to the White House.

If you support Donald Trump and will be voting for him, but you also support and standby his:

The man has literally called voters like you, who you may not vote for him because of these reasons and a plethora of others. dumb like he called Iowa voters. What. Is. The. Matter. With. You.

I’m not saying that the entirety of the Trump mob are the worst people in the world but they are more than just a “basket full of deplorable’s” because I think every person by now has to believe some deplorable things to support Trump in any shape or form. Trump supporters, and I assume some are good people, can never been taken seriously anymore. The ones with the Trump yard-signs are either the same or couldn’t find a sturdy pole to strap a Confederate Flag to their vehicle. Appalachia, it’s poverty and way-too-many low-information voters have no excuse either. We have way too many in the coal-bucket full of deplorable’s to deny it. The rest of us, however, must stand strong. Our vote counts as much as anywhere else in the state, especially in a battleground state like Virginia. Let’s be sure to wake up November 9th and know that the good guys won and all of those obnoxious, ridiculous Trump supporters will be losing their minds and solace can be found. We’ll go high but we’ll stay there a little longer once this man and his ilk are defeated because it’s that serious if we don’t take a
collective “PHEW!” and realize we did something great.

Another message to Trump’s Appalachian deplorable’s…

You can divorce policy from support but you cannot divorce morality and decency from it. When you endorse a candidate, or support them, it is not an adoption of every single thing they have ever said or done. An approach to democracy through the prism of perfection does not function. Why? We’re imperfect, individualistic human being’s casting a ballot for other imperfect, individualistic human being’s to run the country. While politicians should be held to incredibly high-standards, you can still vote for one even if you disagree with them on some issues. The only person that will every agree with you 100%, and 100% of the time, that person is you. The bar should be high but everything to everyone is simply not realistic. Trump and his mob, however, are different. Their antics and reconciliation with their candidates flaws, which is being an all-around vile person, is not something mature adults should have much dialogue with. This is a candidate similar to very few before him while also being this close to the White House.

If you support Donald Trump and will be voting for him, you also support and standby his:

  • Outstanding amount of lies, real fucking lies that matter, even with all of the evidence in front of him.
  • Mocking a physically handicapped reporter because the reporter, wait, never mind….it’s not okay regardless of what the reporter did and googling can confirm it if that’s not enough for you.
  • Degrading women, proudly, openly, and continuously since long before his campaign ever began.
  • SEXUALLY ASSAULTS WOMEN, admits to this on a hot-mic, and then proceeds to write it off as “locker-room talk” and also finds time to attack some of the victims looks and complete integrity as a person. I should really stop here even if I started with it at the top because that’s just fucking enough, but…
  • The denying of the the stories of numerous women who have said he has sexually assaults just to let others know.
  • Support killing the children and family members of people who happen to be terrorists.
  • Support deporting tens of millions of people who a good many of you, especially around here, have never, even seen more than one hispanic a day for like a month. They aren’t stealing anything from you including jobs, and likely contribute as much to our society for your ungrateful and ignorant so, as Louis CK says, even though it’s not true to begin with, that “if someone without contacts, money, or speaking the language steals your job, you’re shit.”
  • Mocks a POW, John McCain, that either you or the same family that voted for him, and is influencing your horrible source of information concerning politics and social issues, because he was capture and to quote Trump “He’s a war hero because he was captured. I like people that weren’t captured, OK?”
  • Literally uses dick-jokes and dick measuring-contests in rebuttals on a national debate stage.
  • Ban an entire religion of people, a religion of people most of whom you’ve never met, from entering the country like that’s a real thing that can be done in the first place.
  • Support someone who literally has no actual political positions or a platform. He, and this is confirmed by studies, speaks at a elementary school-grade level because his supports understand and latch-on to it because “we’re going to build a wall” is about as in-depth as they think about any issue, simple or complex. Name me his five, detailed policy proposals if if were to win…
  • Has numerous endorsements, and counting, from a laundry-list of white supremacist and Neo-Nazi groups, leaders, and the most infamous racist in recent American politics, David Duke. You’re okay with that? I know some people around here, unfortunately and disgustingly, actually do.
  • You support someone who literally has nothing else in common with you besides that you both breathe air and if it were up to him, you’d have to pay for it. He’s not like you. His claim-to-fame isn’t being a good businessman or a leader. It’s for being famous. He was the Kim Kardashian before their was a Kim Kardashian. He doesn’t know what the color of coal is and sure as hell what color it turns lungs. He wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire so let’s stop pretending he’ll save the world even if he had the best intentions and wasn’t a maniacal person to his core.
  • You support a man who boasted incessantly about helping veterans yes who has literally stiffed multiple veterans organizations before he was running for President.
  • A man and his candidacy who has literally caused an uptick in bullying aimed against jewish, black, hispanic, etc. children in school all because of the exposure to the hate this man spews and you, if you’re a parent, LET THEM! What. Is. Wrong. With. You.
  • Insulted a Gold Star, muslim family, for his vitriolic and disrespect language toward muslim heroes and has certainly not apologizing to them at all. Yes they can and are heroes, by even attacking the mother claiming that no it wasn’t the grief of speaking about her dead son, but it was her religion?? What’s wrong with y’all?
  • Even though he had appeared in a soft-core porn, he also signed an anti-porn pledge this cycle? Again, WHAT’S WRONG WITH Y’ALL?
  • Insanely claims that a highly-respected and competent judge couldn’t possibly rule fairly on the disgusting Trump University scam because he was born in Indiana and his parents were immigrants. Oh yeah, he was appointed by a republican governor.
  • And if you’re still believing that President Obama, you’re an idiot. I have to include it though because this man was one of the biggest backers of the racist and utterly asinine”birther-movement”.
  • And finally, but only because I could list at least a hundred more things, we can all pretty much assume he’s attracted to his daughter and has recently said some really, um I don’t know, questionable” remarks about 10 year old and 14 year oldWhat the FUCK is wrong with y’all?

The man has literally called voters like you, who may not vote for him because of these reasons and a plethora of others, are dumb like he called Iowa voters. What. Is. The. Matter. With. You.

I’m not saying that the entirety of the Trump mob are the worst people in the world but they are more than just a “basket full of deplorable’s” because I think every person by now has to believe some deplorable things to support Trump in any shape or form. Trump supporters, and I assume some are good people, can never been taken seriously anymore. The ones with the Trump yard-signs are either the same or couldn’t find a sturdy pole to strap a Confederate Flag to their vehicle. Appalachia, it’s poverty and way-too-many low-information voters have no excuse either. We have way too many in the coal-bucket full of deplorable’s to deny it. The rest of us, however, must stand strong. Our vote counts as much as anywhere else in the state, especially in a battleground state like Virginia. Let’s be sure to wake up November 9th and know that the good guys won and all of those obnoxious, ridiculous Trump supporters will be losing their minds and solace can be found. We’ll go high but we’ll stay there a little longer once this man and his ilk are defeated.

Part II: Race: Thoughts from a white kid from Appalachia

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.”

― Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie


 

To my white friends reading this, has any of what I stated in the first part of this blog happened to you? I don’t mean once or twice. We all know there isn’t anyone immune to police brutality if you find yourself being harassed for no legal reason by a brute with a badge. Do you live in fear every day you’re in public that you will be stopped, and perhaps frisked, by a police officer? Do you have that fear driving? I get a bit nervous but then I check my speed and know I’m not breaking any law. It ends there for me but not for many others. Could any of you ever fathom that you might ending up hanging in a jail cell like Sandra Bland? Did your parents ever have a talk, a serious one, about how to interact with law enforcement? I’m guessing there’s not many. I am also guessing that there are many people of color in this country that would answer “Yes” to every one of those questions and many of them probably have multiple stories that the rest of us should listen to and learn from. That’s one thing I have learned working in african-american communities. While you and your buddies may have a story dating back to your high school days with a “run-in with the law”, every single person of color I met had more than one, regardless of age or gender. It’s not the same and it’s not an accident.

I have never been stopped by an officer walking in any neighborhood I have worked in including many in several states working voter contact operations. I could see myself living the next 50 years without a single incident like that. That’s probably the case for many of my white friends reading this too. I’ve only been pulled over three times in my life: once for speeding when I was 19, once for expired sticker in 2012, and once for expired tags in 2015. I had pleasant experiences and didn’t even get a few tickets I could have. I understand that when an officer pulls someone over and has general concerns that a simple traffic stop, or approaching someone on the street, could get ugly and very dangerous. That’s especially so with the gun culture we live in today and the members of law-enforcement that we have witnessed do atrocious things with their power. What I’ve learned, a little about, is that people of color have those same fears too but vice-versa. They know they have a gun and they don’t know what type of person it is who is carrying it. I’m not talking about the nervousness you get when you’re pulled over for a ticket and or when you may get nervous talking to person of high authority. I’m talking about a very real fear carried by the citizen of color, that an officer may fear because of their color or for whatever reason, approaching a vehicle during a traffic-stop. That person of color may also always be thinking that this could get ugly and very dangerous but not because of their actions….but of skin-color, ignorance, and baseless fear this society churns out for white consumption.

To make matters worse and to compound the ignorance, the lengths people will go to to deny that such a society exists is another reason why this problem isn’t going away anytime soon. Some will deny it because they just don’t believe it and have never experienced it. Some will deny it because they live in some alternate universe where minorities have all of the rights and they’re the ones really being oppressed. Others will simply deny it because they know it exists and that’s exactly how they want it. When you hear these typically white, and typically conservative, folks pining for the “good old days”, this is what they mean. They want minorities to occupy a lower place in society and always know their place in “our” country. They want people of color to know their place, period. They want them to stay with their “own kind” and not to mingle with whites more than “necessary”. They should always keep their head down and whatever they do, don’t ever date their children. Those are the simpler days they ache for and when they say “take their country back”, they literally mean to a time when they had more control and power was handed out almost entirely by race. It’s like that in many areas in this country. It’s just like when they fight to discriminate against LGBT citizens or “keep the Mexicans out”. It’s all the same white-supremacist mindset. They want their life to reflect a 1950′-60’s sitcom where the characters were white with an occasional person of color in the background, always silent.

There’s nothing more threatening to a white, particularly older conservative, person than a minority having an opinion and having the nerve to speak it. But I can’t just pin that on the right as us on the left can be just as bad with our “whitesplaining”. It’s a threat to everything they know and the order of the society they want. They think that when a person of color, or a member of the LGBT community for example, speaks out against discrimination, it will somehow turn into discrimination them. When they speak, whites feel like their voice and cries can’t be heard. Of course this is all nonsense. It’s not a legitimate concern to any rational person, obviously, but more of a reaping of what our ancestors have sowed perhaps. When someone gains their rights and becomes freer, it doesn’t take anything away from anyone else. If someone speaks out against blatant injustices, whether you acknowledge it or not, there’s no dark hand that appears over your mouth to keep you silent. Stop pretending there is and understand that sometimes, you should shut the fuck up for a minute.. You’ve always had a voice. Some of our voices have been taken by politicians and corporations, but we still have one. Others, however, deal with those same suppressions while also having to deal with the heckling and calls for silence from the white crowd that just don’t like what they’re saying.

After writing all of this I’ll still readily concede that I don’t know what it’s like to be anything other than a white male in this country. I never will. A better understanding as I grow older, learn, and listen more is what I can hope for. I don’t know if society will progress as much as it needs to, or even come close to it in my life time. I don’t know how to fix it. I don’t know what else to say, but what I do know is that those who don’t understand, including myself, need not say anything sometimes. We just need to listen. Since the events in Ferguson, and long before that I’ll add, we have learned a lot. A litany of truths about our society have come out and are staring us in the face. The racism and ignorance we thought died decades ago, buried under white robes and sheets, surfaced soaked in blood letting us know that it never, ever left. We need to listen, acknowledge, and learn. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll begin stepping in the right direction again. It won’t be easy. The same types of people that stood in front of the doors in Little Rock or hurled disgusting threats at freedom marchers are still there. They now have another platform, the internet, to do it as well. They won’t stop and they won’t learn. We just have to march past them and leave them behind where they belong. I hope I’m walking. I hope I’m walking in the right direction. I do know that if I am, I’m on the right side stepping in the right direction as they take the lead.

So, there’s what little I do know and all I don’t learning little-by-little from the POV of a white kid from the mountains of Central Appalachia. I also know that whenever a white kid like me from my part of Appalachia goes on some facebook rant about how people should think and feel after the deaths of people like Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, or the dozens of others, it shows how far behind the youth in this area are and I’m sure all across the country. It’s a warning sign that racism and ignorance of these issues will be carried on for generations to come.

Here’s some personal advice for those particular people who seem to think they understand racism or the issues surrounding this string of deaths the past few years: Shut up. Your opinion is likely derived from how little you know, not what you do know, and what you do know comes from people who only root for black and brown people sitting in the stands of a sporting event. People of color around here need more, and truly genuine, support than the kind they get under Friday Night Lights. Not the kind that would only argue unfair treatment towards a person of color only if a yellow flag is tossed or whistle is blown. Those are the only “fouls” you are aware of or choose to acknowledge. You live in a place where you can literally go months while attending school, going to the store, and all of the other normal daily activities and never see anyone that isn’t white. Stick to talking about what you know at that age: Carhartt jackets and bragging about how you get to miss school come deer season. And if you think I’m just talking about white males around here, I’m not. The “my daddy would kill me if I dated a black guy” crowd should probably keep their very uninformed opinions to themselves as well. You wouldn’t believe how many girls I have dated that shared that fun-fact with me when I was much younger and ignorant. I’m not taking shots at Appalachian youth to degrade them. I’m commenting on them because I am one and I grew up  surrounded by the same mountains and ignorance they are growing up in. The same kind of ignorance you can find in far too many parts of this country. Go out into the world, those “big cities”, and leave your prejudices behind in the hollers and mountains. I love these beautiful mountains but they shelter us from the real world. Learn from people who aren’t like you, or I should say people who don’t look like you. You might just learn something.

I did and will never stop trying to.

Part I: Race: Thoughts from a white kid from Appalachia

If you can convince the lowest white man that he’s better than the best colored man, he won’t notice you’re picking his pocket. Hell, give him somebody to look down on, and he’ll even empty his pockets for you.

– Lyndon B. Johnson


 

I don’t know a lot about this topic because my place in society shields me from it. I’m Southern. I’m white. I’m male. I have lived in the South my entire life. I love it. I was born and raised in rural Virginia and until I was 21, I had never visited a state that wasn’t either in the Confederacy or a state that was claimed by them such as Kentucky. That’s how growing up is for a lot of  kids here in Appalachia. We don’t “get out much” as some say. Why on earth would we leave? Like many, I always heard growing up how bad the “big cities” were up North. Yeah, we still use terms like “up North” and they don’t mean direction as much as they mean things like culture and color.

How many of you reading this were taught by others around you that you would get killed in a “big city”? That for all of the racism here, if it was even admitted, it also existed tenfold in a large city in the North? That for every black person that experiences racism here, there might as well be two poor white folks that face it there? I heard it then and still do today. I believed this to some degree until I started to travel. I’ve been to Chicago, DC, Detroit, NYC, Newark, NJ, and spent a good portion of my life in Memphis, Tennessee. Not a single time did I face any racial discrimination whatsoever. I took public transportation in all of those cities and sometimes worked in the “bad” neighborhoods as well. Nothing. I’ll add, however, that I’m not naive. I know full-well there are areas in large cities that would be very hostile to me because I’m white, and mostly because of gang presence, I definitely wouldn’t be welcome. If I were hispanic it would probably be the same way. Or if I were black in an area run by hispanic gangs, it’d be the same.That’s because bad people do exist and always will. Regardless, it was nothing like what I was told. You won’t get murdered just being white and in a large city. Still, a lot of people are scared to even leave the area because of what the old-timers, who have never left either, have told them their whole life.

Growing up in this area you’re taught a lot of things. You get used to a lot of things. When I was a child, the correct word for african-americans/blacks was “colored”. I went on for years thinking that this was the actual, politically correct term. How many of you heard that as well? How many grandmothers and grandfathers used that term? “Colored” was what was used to separate those around that used “nigger” from us. How many of you heard that word growing up? It’s the norm for many around here. Confederate flags, any derogatory word you can think of towards blacks or hispanics, and many of the same views Dylann Roof, spewed in his racist manifesto, are things not hard to find. Many people read his words and were appalled as each word dripped with disgusting racism and white supremacy. For others, like myself, it was on par with what you may hear from a family member or overhear if you sit down for breakfast at Hardee’s. That’s why he wasn’t taken seriously beforehand. It’s easy to understand that others looking in from the outside couldn’t fathom how such extreme views could be looked over and the warning signs ignored. I get it, though. Growing up around it you can find it disgusting and not the least bit serious at the same time. I’ve seen more confederate flags than I can count. I’ve heard rants in school, in college, online from locals, etc. all similar to what Dylann Roof said as he was going on his murderous rampage. “They’re taking over”, “They’re raping our women”, and on and on. I’ve heard it all before and I’ll hear it all again. The biggest problem isn’t that one white kid held racist beliefs. It’s that his racism was so common in places here in the South that no one gives it a second thought when it should be addressed and removed like the disease it is. We accept it, some embrace it. Regardless, it’s all packed away in the box labeled “southern heritage” draped with the confederate flag. That’s why any attempt to call out this racism that “southern heritage” shrouds is met with this warped and ridiculous defense of “the way we live” and the “way it’s always been”.

The biggest problem I’ve found growing up in the South is ignorance coats the opinions of the misguided. Racism can be stomped out. It has to an extent in many areas. The problem is that people are ignorant to what racism is or if they’re racist themselves. People can hold racist views and fly off of the wall if you call them out on it. It’s a far greater insult to be called racist than the racism itself here. People hardly flench at the sight or sound of racism, if it’s even considered racist at all, but call something or someone racist? That’s where you’ll get the reaction.

White privilege is something that does exist. I know some of you reading this are saying “here’s a young white kid full of white guilt” or maybe “here’s another white liberal telling us all how black people really feel like he really knows”. I’m not full of white guilt. I don’t even really know what that means. I don’t feel guilty for a lot of things beyond my control or what people who look like me have done for centuries in this country. It’s not that I don’t feel remorse. It’s not that I’m not aware of an oppression that isn’t in some history book but in today’s news paper and will be in many obituaries that will be printed for years to come. I do feel responsible, however. That’s something that I didn’t always understand about living as a white person, a white male, in this country. I also am not writing these words because I think I know exactly how it feels to be black in this country. I’m writing this because I don’t know how it feels. I just recognize and acknowledge that it’s just not the same. I’m not writing this from a POV of a my black peer, a young black male. I’m writing this from what I see as a white person. I know it’s different. It’s different in so many ways that I haven’t even learned about yet.

White-privilege is a term, to me, that comes with a disconnect. Besides the fact that most of us will never have the chance to walk in the shoes of a person of color, the ignorance is exacerbated by the knee-jerk defense mechanism that I mentioned before about how being perceived as a racist is more worrisome than racism itself. None of us, naturally, like being accused of something that we think we are not, no matter the color. We also tend not to like judgements about us, our past, or anything about our character. This is especially true if we feel it’s negative or offensive to us. The word “privilege” implies special or extra rights to many. It’s perceived as additional/extra advantages that one may not feel they possess. That notion is hard to swallow for a lot of people that may have grown poor, disadvantaged, or had a hard life. That disconnect is palpable among people in my area with poverty, drugs, and numerous other issues that one might experience and have come to the conclusion that they don’t hold a higher place in society than someone of color.

No one is saying that whites can’t have a hard life. The issues of class in this country affect all colors, perhaps not equally as a whole, but poor whites in places like Appalachia grow up in and around things like poverty, domestic violence, drugs, and many other issues that plague poor minorities in an inner city. Privilege, however, isn’t implying that you had it easy or have a special set of rights. It doesn’t mean that you’re treated as a special human. No. To me, white privilege is something that describes how we are all supposed to be treated as human beings. A person is supposed to be able to walk down a street in this country and not fear being stopped by law enforcement. A person isn’t supposed to be discriminated against by their skin color in a store, a school, employment, or anywhere at all. That’s how it is supposed to be: normal. No racial stereotypes, prejudice, or discrimination. We don’t have extra rights, we just have the ones we’re born with, that all of us are supposed to be born with in this country. We are treated like human beings. We are approached with the respect or indifference based on the amount of melanin in our skin , not caution and suspicion  because of the lack of melanin. Because that’s what it boils down to. The amount of melanin in your skin: the more you have, the less rights you’re born with. 

The problem is that in the society we live in all of us aren’t treated like that. Some don’t have those rights. They were born with them but the pale hand of our society took them away. They don’t have the respect the rest of us have. They are much more likely to be stopped by law enforcement, treated with suspicion in many areas of society, and handled as if second-class citizens. That’s just a small part of it and a few issues of many that I haven’t even learned about yet. I do know that minorities aren’t treated as I am, an American citizen. Our society that creates, fosters, and maintains white supremacy ensures that minorities feel like foreigners at home.

Poverty comes with a Friends of Coal sticker….

 

kennedycoal

Election time is approaching and the war drums are sounding again here in Southwestern Virginia. The “war on coal” cries have started up again for what’s mostly uncontested races in this part. It’s all an early start for next years Presidential election, one that will most assuredly end up with this area voting against their own best interests. More recently Alpha Natural Resources has given fodder to the conservative peddlers that President Obama is killing the coal industry and turned a prosperous area into a ghost town. Only in their parallel universe is this true. The math only seems to work if you just pretend the world began in 2009 when President Obama took office. Every time we hear about a layoff by a mining company it’s always “Obama’s war on coal and EPA regulations are killing our way of life!” According to them he’s been dishing out regulations hand-over-fist on coal plants and killing the price of coal. Never mind the fact that the EPA, nor Obama, has not implemented any regulations on carbon emissions the entire time he has been in office. That doesn’t stop these people from playing on fear and uncertainly ingrained in this area to win votes.

Back in 2008 we heard about the “cap and trade” bill and how it was going to destroy the area and coal industry so we must vote for John McCain to avoid it all. What was never mentioned by these liars is that John McCain had been a champion for “cap and trade” legislation for years prior. He had not only voted for, but co-sponsored legislation in 2003, 2005, and 2007 with his Climate Stewardship Acts that would have capped and taxed carbon emissions. We heard it again in 2010 from local conservative interests in the race for the 9th congressional race. Congressman Morgan Griffith and outside groups that flooded millions into TV ads warning us of another bill that President Obama and Congressman Boucher were apparently working on some bill to kill the coal industry. Of course, in their usual manner, they left out the part where Congressman Boucher had voted Yes on a energy bill that contained a cap and trade portion because of amendments he added that would offer coal plants free offsets to virtually not have to abide by any regulations at all. The other convenient fact is that that bill had died in the House in mid-July in 2010 and was completely abandoned with the focus on other issues and legislation as democrats anticipated losing control of the HouseBut no, Superman Griffith was going to swoop in and save us all from this non-existent threat. In 2012, like every year before, we heard the same lies again. This time, however, it Mitt Romney who was our savior. The same Mitt Romney that stood in front of a coal-fired plant in Mass., stated they killed, and vowed to shut them down. He too was a supporter of cap and trade legislation and called it quote “good for business”.

All of these were facts you weren’t likely to hear in 30 second ads that ran every commercial break. What you did hear was this line repeated over and over: “So if somebody wants to build a coal power plant, they can. It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they are going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” That was President Obama’s comment, out of context, about coal-fired plants ignoring potential regulations that, once again, still haven’t been enacted. If that 12 second clip had just been rewinded a bit, it would have included the full quote before: “This notion of no coal, I think, is an illusion, because the fact of the matter is that right now, we are getting a lot of our energy from coal, and China is building a coal-fired plant once a week. So what we have to do then is we have to figure out how can we use coal without emitting greenhouse gases and carbon. And how can we sequester that carbon and capture it? If we can’t, then we’re going to still be working on alternatives.” More pesky facts that didn’t quite make it to voters. It doesn’t matter. It worked.

We’ll hear it all over again next year. This time the names will be replaced as they have been in every election in this area for the last seven years. Why not? It’s a winning formula. People soak up an ad, one-liner, and fear-inducing propaganda. It’s a much easier message to push than what I just explained. It still doesn’t make it any truer, however. The truth is that coal companies have been doing what they always have: taking advantage of us, making millions while we wallow in poverty, and proceed to not let the door hit them on their ass on the way out. Alpha is a perfect example. They would have us believe that they just have to absolutely positively layoff 70 employees here, 40 there, all just to stay afloat. They weren’t too concerned about this when they were paying CEO Kevin Crutchfield a $2,000,000 bonus just a few months ago. Or the $6,000,000 in 2011 and 2012. Is that bad enough? No. How about the fact that they’re  still paying their former President, Paul Vining, $4,500,000 annually? The miners weren’t a concern then while they were running the company of a dying industry into the ground before declaring bankruptcy. CONSOL just recently announced they would be going back on their promise to fund miners healthcare with some tough choices because the industry was taking a big hit. They were doing so bad in recent years that they were forced to pay their CEO, Nick DeIuliis, $8,300,000 last year. That was a 45% pay increase from 2013 according to their SEC report, yet they just couldn’t find the funds to pay for local miners health insurance. They also had to contribute to Republican Delegate Will Morefield’s campaign over $46,000. Poor CONSOL only managed to be only his second top campaign contributor. He just happens to be the delegate for the two counties where they have mines in Southwest Virginia. They have also donated large sums indirectly to Virginia republican State Senator Ben Chafin’s campaign as well. Poor CONSOL only managed to be only his second top campaign contributor. They of course also spent quite a bit on Ken Cuccinelli’s campaign in 2013 but after his office was caught helping rip off landowners with the natural gas royalties, they kind of owed him. Lastly, I just couldn’t ignore Arch Coal. Last year they announced layoffs of over 200 miners in Wise County and Letcher County, KY to soften the blow of met-coal prices plummeting. If you don’t know, metallurgical coal is used for steel and iron production, not electricity and coal fired plants these non-existent regulations would cripple. While this company was struggling to survive cutting over 200 jobs in Wise and Letcher in the process, who have poverty rates of 19.3% and 27.1% accompanied by unemployment rates of 9.2% and 10.7% respectively, they had to pay their President and CEO, John Eaves, $7,300,000.

Do we get it yet? Is your stomach churning? I’ve felt a bit sick writing this. We have a entire delegation of politicians in this area that stand with these robbers, hold their hand, and promise to take on big, bad Obama and save us all. Why is it that our memory only goes back seven years? Are we just going to pretend that the mining industry wasn’t collapsing for decades before Obama took office? Lets see just how thriving it was…

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A total loss of  90,989 coal-miners from 1984 until 2008. Half of the coal-mining workforce.

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To further point out the hypocrisy and short memory of our conservative friends, lets do a quick comparison. What was the average mining employment under Bush? 76,470 jobs. Obama’s average through 2012? 88,152 jobs.

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It’s also higher under Obama’s tenure compared to Bush’s in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia individually. Here’s a look at Virginia’s…

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So even though coal employment is up during Obama’s tenure, as high as it was in the mid-to-late 90’s, we’re just supposed to pretend that the industry didn’t lose over half, 90,000+ jobs, of its workforce in the 20+ years prior to Obama? Oh yes, those regulations that haven’t been enacted, only proposed, now re-proposed after the first proposals were shot down by SCOTUS this summer anyway, have taken its toll on the these poor coal companies. When that fact is pointed out, conservatives then fall to the argument of speculation and just the proposal of regulations that have caused the layoffs all on their own. If this was the case, why did Alpha spend and borrow $7.1 billion in 2011, after several years into Obama’s first term to buy Massey mines? Would a company do that because they thought/knew that coal prices would fall or rise in the coming years? It doesn’t take someone with a business degree to know the answer to that.

Those are all facts that just can’t be spun, though they will be denied by the politicians who pathetically play on the fears of an area that is drowning in poverty, unemployment, poor health, and a list of other issues, to win votes. They’re fighting for us, they tell us, and they have the Friends of Coal sticker on their cars and campaign flyers to prove it. While they’re at it they’ll also keep voting to deny healthcare to this area via Medicaid expansion like every republican representative in Southwest Virginia They’ll vote against any state or federal minimum wage increase like every republican representative in the state. They’ll vote over 60 times to take healthcare away from me in attempts to repeal the ACA which has also made it easier for miners and families of miners to get the black lung benefits. I guess they’re too busy on the battlefield fighting the invisible army of terror that hates Appalachia so much they want to provide tens of millions of dollars to the area to help get these miners that these disgustingly selfish companies have laid off to continue paying their executives millions of dollars plus millions more in bonuses!

We all need a boogeyman, though. When an area feels so helpless about what’s going on around them and has been going on around them for decades, they’ll do anything to feel like they have a say. They can’t vote to oust coal prices in Asia, so the guy they already think is Muslim-atheist born in Kenya, and wants to make the white folks slaves, is an easy choice in an attempt to fill that emptiness and hopeless feeling in their gut. Even so, the rest of us suffer from this blind hate and ignorance. It’s time for us to grow a backbone again. Why are we still letting King Coal hold this area back? In the entire Commonwealth of Virginia, there has never been more than 5,500 coal miners employed in the last 15 years. Those were of course located in Southwestern Virginia but even here that is a tiny, tiny portion of employment and has been that way for decades. Coal is done here. It’s done in the states where there’s higher employment as well such as Kentucky and West Virginia in Appalachia. It’s never coming back. No, not because of some mythical regulations or a personal vendetta to attack us Appalachians by President Obama. It’s done because coal companies have come into the area, extracted the finite resources we have, polluted, poisoned, and destroyed tourism and future development…and made a run for it like a bank robber with sacks full of cash. We’re left holding the coal bucket that’s full of nothing but depression, poverty, and the absence of what little we had to begin with. Until we start electing representatives on the local, state, and federal level in these areas of Central Appalachia…we’ll keep getting screwed in the dark because coal sure as hell ain’t keeping the lights on.


Update since first published:

When I wrote this piece it was around the time Alpha Natural Resources had filed for bankruptcy, not because they were going under, but to shift or drop debts, employees, and even a spare coal-bucket if it would save them a few pennies. They did that laying-off 90 miners in Dickenson County ,a county with a 9% unemployment rate, more than twice the state average, and poverty rate of over 21%. My uncle was included in those layoffs with my stepfather just making the cut. During mid-December of 2015 Alpha seemed to find quite a bit of money lying around, however, when it asked the bankruptcy court to approve $14.8 million in bonuses for 17 senior executives. A week later, on Dec. 18 and a week before Christmas, they seemed short on cash again after announcing another layoff in West Virginia of 100 miners in Raleigh County, who has an 18.5% poverty rate coupled with an 7.5% unemployment rate, and in Boone County who boasts an 20.4% poverty rate and 9.8% unemployment rate, respectively. This was also all while it was pushing to stop medical and life insurance benefits for 4,500 non-union retirees and their families. In the end, the same bankruptcy court approved those bonuses of nearly $12 million for those executives in January and in May, granted another, separate ruling that allows Alpha to drop it’s union-contracts to retirees benefits and healthcare. Let them eat coal!

 

I started writing this as a blog about my depression and anxiety. I figured out I couldn’t do that because I experience it differently on some days and it can’t be pegged down to one feeling or one blog really for me. I just jotted down how I was feeling on some random day over the last few months and this is what I’ve got so far. I’m going to make this an ongoing journal so others who are experiencing the same can read and hopefully relate. These are posts from just different days the last few months. There’s a lot of thoughts. Maybe you have felt the same before or are just curious. Either way…

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Depression today feels like you just try your best to have good days and avoid the bad because sometimes you think that you only have so many bad days left in you that you can handle. You never want to find out how many bad days is too many and what happens on that day. Will you hurt yourself? Will you hurt someone else? Will you run away? Will you breakdown? What will it be like when they find you on that day?


Some days aren’t terrible but they aren’t great. There’s just a sense of sadness or something negative that just weighs me down from the moment you get up until I fall asleep. I hate those days as much as any of the bad days. I find myself checking the clock constantly hoping that the time is passing fast so I can get to sleep and maybe tomorrow will be better only to find myself counting the minutes again. That sounds somewhat normal, especially when people are doing it at a job or school. But what if it’s a day that you have all to yourself in which you could do anything you wanted? A day you can relax in a world that can be so stressful and tormenting…but it’s still a bad day and you always end up wasting precious time that you can never get back. I feel so selfish on these days. I feel useless and ungrateful.


I feel like I want to be with people sometimes. With friends. With new interesting people to make friends. With anyone. I love their company. Someone to talk to. Some friends to have a drink with. Sometimes going to play a video game, and I don’t even play those anymore. Maybe someone to come over and cuddle with. Someone to be intimate with. Someone to laugh with. That all sounds great doesn’t it? Imagine you want to do that. You want to feel those emotions and have those fun times and memories. You want all of that and you can do it. The problem is that there’s something smothering you. It hovers over you and talks you out of things. It has convinced me, more times than I can count, that no one wants to see me. No one wants to hang out with me. No one wants to just hang out and talk. No one wants to cuddle with me or be intimate. At the same time, I know inside that I have a lot of that to offer. I cane be a really good conversationalist. I can have a good time with my friends and they have a good time around me. I can be intimate with someone and they can love it. I can offer a lot. I know this. But, still… I know that’s so hard for many to understand who don’t deal with depression. Some may be thinking why is it so hard to just do those things? Why can’t you get past it and move on? Well, it’s extremely complicated and the grasp depression has one people varies and attaches itself to different parts of us. Sometimes I push through. I have good days for sure and I never feel bad after. That thought always gives me the motivation to try it again. It’s not always as simple as just “fighting through”, though. Depression, somedays, manifests itself as heavy chains that you just can’t break. There are no weak links of depression, but things like love, caring, and a something as simple as a touch can break them. But, sometimes this lasts a day, a week, a month, or even years. It’s a prison we walk around in and it’s setting is an illusion of a world where you’re free to do anything and be happy.


Depression can be so debilitating that it’s almost like a paralysis. I don’t use that word lightly because I can’t even imagine what it would be like to be inflicted with actual paralysis. Depression, however, makes me feel that way. It’s like invisible restraints that hold you down physically and emotionally. I sit or lie in bed barely moving with thoughts running through my head that I should get up, take a shower, read a book, or do any of those things with other people. I hate myself for getting defeated. I hate myself for being a bad friend and not being able to hang out. I hate it so fucking much. I hate depression.


I am by biggest bully. Since I have put on weight, a lot more than a normal person just does with shitty eating habit’s and largely due to a pituitary tumor, I have been bullied about it. I can’t count how many times online discussions and arguments end up with shots about me being fat. The look on the face! The face that will judge and find me disgusting and the face that doesn’t know who they see and look confused. It’s my face staring back at me into the mirror creating these two faces and feelings. Some days I feel so unwanted and undesirable physically but then I look in the mirror and think, “Hey, I’m not that bad. I’m fairly cute.” A smile on that face, both of them after meeting. Those are rare days and rare faces I meet. Some days I am feeling those terrible thoughts about my physical appearance and everything I see in the mirror, if I even build up enough courage to even look. I can’t imagine how anyone would want to be my friend, boyfriend, or physically intimate with me. It’s more than I can bear and my depression, like it does with so many other things handcuffs my will and effort to do anything to change it. The weight, like the stretchmarks, feel like a permanent condition that triggers a poor self-worthiness looking into the mirror without a shirt that would never go away no matter how hard I work.


I sometimes want to be alone, in a room, and not even utter a word to another person for days at a time. I’ve done that and it helps and hurts all at the same time. Usually I need it after a large even when I need to be an extrovert. Keep in mind that I do fine with others. I can work a room full of people with no problem. I can give several trainings to people younger and older than me. I can give speeches and seminars in front of hundreds of people and I have. I can stand in a packed room in a local board meeting in front of elected officials and a room full of people who hate what I’m going to say, all while be broadcasted live on TV, and not miss a beat. Still, I need my alone time but I feel so selfish doing it and I know that I can’t working. I’m afraid I can’t do the job I, campaigns under so much stress, anymore because of it.


I haven’t really been out with my friends or in a similar setting in quite a while. I am somewhat busy picking up the slack and taking care of my grandmother while I look for the next campaign to work on. I also feel a ton of things when I’m asked this. I get anxious. I will talk myself out of it for no reason at all. I love my friends. I truly do and hope they’re still my friends. I’ve just been so closed-off from my social life. I feel like I need it, and I really do, but at the same time I feel like it cripples me. I can’t think of a time that I’ve spent time with them and didn’t have a good time or not come away happier than I was before. That’s what happens when you spend time with people you love. Still, my depression prevented me from even going to the bank today. I hate it. I love my friends. I need to overcome this before I lose them and lose my mind. I’m still the nice, sometimes funny, goofy guy that I hope they still love. I’m working on it.


Putting myself in others shoes. I do it a lot now and I hope I never lose my desire to empathize. I sometimes do it with strangers as I’m sure my fellow people-watchers know. I also picture myself as my stepfather. Does he regret marrying my mother? Does he regret having a stepson like me? If I never existed, would their marriage have worked better to the point of never divorcing as I see it happening in the next 5-10 years. Does he feel that this is it? Working in a coal-mine as much as he can to come home to what I have? Do I have a future that isn’t covered in black dust as much as I’ve managed to make a career out of organizing.


I need to lose weight and the depression it causes scares me. Part of it was because of my poor eating habits but mostly, now, several health issues. It’s terrible. I still won’t take my shirt off and look at myself in the mirror. I show no one. I panic when I have to raise it up some at the doctor. I feel massive. I have lost all confidence in myself to do so many things. With the opposite-sex I don’t really feel any heavier, pathetic, and unattractive though. As for those other days? It’s everyday, or when I do actually go outside. I don’t like myself, I mean that as in what I see. It repulses me and I assume it does everyone else. I’m trying.


The worst thing I’ve seen around mental health in this area is multiple past generations being simply ignorant to any mental health issue. They call us pussies, soft, coddled, babies, product of a “everyone gets a trophy” generation, race-baiters, SJW/Social Justice Warriors, the “give me” generation, etc. etc. It’s not acknowledged by many and the ones who do? Better hope those around you aren’t Baptists or Pentecostal’s because you might end up with a visit from their pastor and you still have every single health issue as you did before. How do you talk to “adults” about mental health, your mental health, when these are the things we hear on a daily basis? You don’t. You are forced to keep it inside. The stigma around mental health in this society is bad enough as it is. What if you live in a place that time forgot to check in on? A place where attitudes about things like mental health are as antiquated as their social views. To make matters worse there is a shortage of mental health clinics or outlets to turn to for help at all. Our only saving grace with my generation is that we have the internet. We can express things that we normally wouldn’t in person and connect with so many people who are feeling the same way we are. With this, there’s also the bad. The internet has opened up an entirely different way for youth to be bullied and tortured by complete strangers, classmates, and even family.


Today was one of those days where nothing bad really happened but I’m still fighting off depression at the end of the night. Everything is normal and then turns depressing. I feel pessimistic. I feel as if I’m worthless. I went from feeling like I had a lot to offer to wondering how anyone could ever see anything in me. I went from feeling as though this new year would be great, to trying to picture how on earth it will get better. I need to get back to work but I’m afraid of failing. I don’t know if I’m up to it mentally and physically. The stress is terrible. The physical pain I suffer from daily from various ailments almost makes me literally cry some days. How can I handle all of that and do something as grueling as working on another campaign? This would be number 7 for me. After that, what’s next anyway? The only thing that keeps me from panicking too much when I wonder what I’ll be doing in five years is thinking back to what I was doing five years ago. Not much. I’m stuck between feeling accomplished and feeling like a failure all at the same time. I don’t know whether to be proud of myself or take pity. I wonder what others think? Proud or pity? I don’t want to know.


I’ve been thinking about cancer again. After I was in remission for so long I just pushed it out of my mind. It has been nearly 12 years since I had my last bout. For some reason the thought that it will come again later in life is plaguing my mind. I feel like it’s inevitable. I feel as though I cheated death and I’m in debt. We all die, of course. I just wonder if I could beat it again or how I could even pay for it then? I also feel like I owe so many: friends, family, St. Jude, and all of those that supported me. I feel like I owe my friends and the kids I never got to meet that died far too early to that horrible disease. Who knew surviving would make me feel so guilty? I’m fortunate and I know that. I just hope I’ll do enough to make all of the time, energy, money, and care spent on me worth it. It was a lot. Enough to beat cancer. I have a lot to do.


I often wonder how much religion has contributed to my mental health issues such as my depression and PTSD. Many of us around here in Appalachia are brought up in religious homes, some very strict or at least we’re the product of the “fire and brimstone” teachings from the seemingly endless amount of Baptist and Pentecostal churches you find every half of a mile. Most of us are taught we’re going to hell for a multitude of reasons which include pretty much everything a typical young person experiments with. Sex is made out to be this forbidden subject at a time when we’re so interested it in and rightfully so because sex is amazing and, ya know, hormones. Young LGBT kids are either tormented relentlessly at school or home, if they’re out or many times when they aren’t “officially”, all because some book that these same tormentors haven’t read says somewhere in it that it’s wrong. Is that not so bizarre? Of course it doesn’t seem that way on the surface when you’re surrounded by it your entire life. A book, written by numerous men who had no concept of sexuality, thought rape victims should be stoned to death and husbands had a right to RAPE their wives whenever he pleased, had many wives and concubines, etc. That’s what they use to beat over our heads and make us feel horrible about being fucking human beings doing what we’re programmed to do and being attracted to whoever we find attractive.

What about the end-times cult? That’s what that is. Of course the argument could be made that any major religion is actually a cult by definition, but I see this particular sub-sect among a lot of the religious here in Appalachia and the South. They’re obsessed with it and scare the hell out of children their entire lives. Some around here, like myself, used to freak out if we came home and no one was there. We would assume the rapture occurred and we were left behind. Do you know how traumatizing that is to a developing mind? I can remember many panic attacks of coming home to an empty trailer, because both of my parents worked during the same time, and the more I thought about it, the more I convinced myself something might be wrong. I would check all of the news stations and if they were on commercial? I would call the “best” Christian I knew, who I thought would for sure be taken in the rapture, to see if they were home. Imagine the panic when there was no answer. I broke down crying more than once convinced I was all alone and had to fight it out by myself until God came back. It was horrible and I know it still happens today.

I, of course, realize how silly the entire concept is (sorry), the idea of an antichrist, and the rest of it. It took me until I was into my late teens to not be afraid anymore. Out of all of the things I stress over and terrify me, religion is one thing I have overcome and am so proud of myself for doing.


I’ve had a feeling today that I sometimes get where I miss someone but I don’t even know who. It’s like something or someone is missing from my life and I need their affection. Maybe it’s someone I knew or someone I haven’t met yet. I don’t know. Does anyone ever feel this way too? It’s a feeling that will make you feel lonely in a room full of people or friends. Why does it have to be like that? Through it all though, I think I can and do find comfort with people.


I am feeling so lonely right now. I hate mentioning it, though I know I do, because I know how pathetic it sounds. One of the worst things about depression and anxiety is wanting to hang out with someone in particular or with a group of friends friends and wanting to be by myself at the same time. I love my friends. I have great ones who I can even forget to get in touch with for extended period of times and they still don’t hate me. I hope no one gives up on me. I’ve had that happen before in relationships and whatnot. Hell, my biological father gave up one me before I was even born. I know his shortcomings as a man isn’t my fault but it has that affect sometimes when I’m grappling with self-worth and confidence. Isn’t that such a terrible aspect of mental and emotional issues? Sometimes you know you’re right. Sometimes you know you’re better than what you think of yourself. Sometimes you know you have a lot to offer the world and the people in it. Depression, however, will make you doubt even when you feel good about yourself. I don’t know if that ever goes away. I can see how that can wear on some people to the point of breaking down. Nothing is ever good enough. You’re never good enough even in your own eyes that see the goodness in the deepest parts of you. The parts, the good ones, that only you can see…but depression tells you that it’s not really there. What an awful feeling.


It’s weird how certain moments in your life stick out to you. Some are just memories that aren’t tied to anything in particular and others that would make more sense that you’d remember. I remember my first piece of advice on self-worth. While I doubt it from time to time, I know it was so sincere that I can’t ignore it so I hope it dear. It was just a few words from my grandfather. I was about 16 and I had just been dumped by the first real “hard” crush I had ever had. I felt like the world was ending like many of us do after that happens, especially as a teenager. I didn’t have a car so I asked him to take me to her home to pick up my stuff. I began thinking that I should have known it was coming because this girl was absolutely gorgeous and

she was way out of my league from day one. As we were driving over there he asked about what had happened and I told him. I remember saying something like “It doesn’t matter. She was way too pretty for me anyway.” My grandfather got so mad. He rarely ever yells but his voice raised as he shouted at me to never talk about myself like that again. She’s just a person that come in and out of our lives as they will until we die. I’m better than that and never let someone you’re in a relationship with ever make you feel like that. Never convince yourself of that convinced by a broken heart. I still think about that. I can remember the summer evening in his truck driving over there. I thought I’d never get over it or find anyone else. I did, of course. People have come in and out of my life since. Some of it was good. Some weren’t as much. Most of the time we had good times at least some of the time so I don’t mind regardless of how those relationships turned out in the end. They left. I went another way too. The world never ended. It didn’t end in the passenger seat of that truck that day and a lesson in worthiness that I’ll hold onto until I let go of the world like we all do hopefully when we’re all old and too frail to dance anymore.


I had a rough week last week and it really scared me. I felt so depressed and alone. The worst about depression, I think, is that feeling that it will never get better or stop tormenting you. For the first time I felt that immeasurably. I love stand-up comedy and it’s usually my go-to when I’m feeling depressed. There’s a bit, however, by one of my favorite comedians Tom Segura. In it he explains how grueling life can be and how it sort of hit on how I felt and do feel sometimes. I can’t find the clip but his bit was…

“You guys, are you ever just, tired of being alive? You know what I mean? Like, I’m not suicidal. I just feel like I’ve done a lot and I’ve seen a lot and I’m now I’m like, you know, let’s just wrap this shit up. Right? Like how many fucking days are there?”


Tonight I want attention. I am depressed and just want to talk to people. If you’re reading this I don’t want anyone to just talk to me because I’m depressed and you’re a nice person. I really want people to genuinely want to talk to me and, well, like me and want to talk to me more. I feel so lonely and I shouldn’t that much. But I am. The thing that is bad about this is that you wonder why someone hasn’t replied back and the crippling fear of rejection sets in. They could not want to talk to me but also may be having a bout with depression themselves and this is one of those days for them that they really don’t want to talk to anyone. These are the thoughts that go through my head.


To be continued…