Politics, Terrorism, Uncategorized

Killed Here or Killed There: Embryos vs. The Living

So, we are looking for “common sense gun control laws,” and constantly bickering about 2nd amendment rights mostly because of mass shootings/school shootings and often we hear that parents who own the guns should be responsible. It makes sense right? They should lock the guns up so their kids don’t shoot up their school. They really should be held accountable.

That being said, does the US have any accountability when we sell these weapons to countries that we know will use these weapons against civilians who are not a threat to other nations or to our own?

Or to anybody for that matter?

Does it matter that they aren’t American citizens?

Does it matter that we don’t see the deaths on Fox News or CNN up close and personal?

Do we trivialize the deaths of these people because they’re in a country far, far away that our commander-in-chief has called “shit hole countries?”

Does it make a difference that they’re not Christian?

Or the same color as the majority of those in power here in the states?

Do their lives matter less than ours do?

Could that thought process be part of why we sell arms to countries that we know will use them recklessly against other countries our government may not feel are as advanced or as important as we are?

Are the lives of actual, living children in other countries less important than an unborn child that hasn’t even come into life; into the world here in the states?

A fetus that doesn’t feel vs a child that will suffer pain and if these children and adults survive will experience the physical and emotional trauma of war that we supported?

We are passing unconstitutional laws here that take away a woman’s right to choose, often before a woman is aware that she is even pregnant, even if raped, even if due to incest, yet selling weapons that will obliterate a child thousands of miles away and for what exactly?

Diplomacy? Money? Power?

This is how terrorists are made. They are not born. They are molded through experience and by actively participating in the destruction of lives in other countries for political or financial gain, survivors of our irresponsibility will seek out revenge…and rightfully so. Did we not seek revenge for 9/11? We’re still looking for it long after Saddam was killed and long after Bin Laden was killed too.

Do we not see racism against muslims who have done nothing wrong even after almost twenty years since 9/11?

In less than four months, a child born on 9/11 can enlist in the US armed forces and fight in a war of which origins that they know nothing about. The United States is begging for decades of terrorists plots both domestic and abroad because we are unable to recognize the blatant disregard for peaceful diplomacy and instead of using military force as a last resort, we now use it as a standard means of operation. We put the lives of our troops at risk unnecessarily or maybe now we’ve just decided to let other countries do our dirty work for us but when it’s all said and done, we will never be able to wash the blood off of our hands. Instead of selling a gun to a drug dealer at a gun show without a permit, we’re selling weapons of massive power to nations with no conscience or restraint and they go unchecked and unchallenged. The hypocrisy of our government is unfathomable but I suppose as long as those in power stay in power, companies like Raytheon that make these weapons will continue to support our politicians via political donations and we can continue to live in a society that hates others because we fear others – which is our own fault. We sit by and do nothing which allows our elected officials to have free reign.

Nobody should have that much power. Nobody.

Lastly, I specifically focused on children in this post not because it can get an easy emotional response (well, hopefully unless you’re a sociopath) but because children are innocent. They aren’t terrorists, they aren’t guilty of crimes no matter what their parents may or may not have done and I know the first thing many people may think is – “Well, the parents must be guilty of *something* or they wouldn’t have been bombed!” …Sadly, that’s very stereotypical thinking but I know it’s going to happen. The progression of my thinking is, if we have states passing anti-abortion laws stricter than some of these “shit-hole countries,” minimizing the rights of women and their value and worth in the process, then not even offering services to assist these women and children after they are born and possibly forcing them into poverty and lives of abuse and neglect, yet we are complicit in killing children in these countries, which country is really the shit hole?

Happy Memorial Day. I’m grateful for those who gave their lives for our country but I have to wonder if those who did would be questioning what they gave their lives for sometimes given the current state of affairs.

alaska, Florida man, travel

Forgive me blog world, it’s been one week since my last post

So, I really wanted to do an overall summary of my Alaska trip and post a bunch of cool photos and stuff but it took me a few days to defrost and get my shit together.

It’s really amazing what a four hour difference in time zones can do to you…well…plus an entire week of little sleep, camping, running around mountain trails and so on.

I didn’t go back and read my previous blogs from when I was up in Alaska so I’m just going to pretend I haven’t written any blogs about it and sort of start from scratch and talk about my overall experience. I think literally 5 people read my blog so it’s not like it’s a big deal anyways and I know I’m probably not using the tags and stuff correctly so I doubt I’m getting much attention either way.

Anyways, I learned a lot about myself when I was up there. I learned that I can be a real asshole. I’m very self involved and I don’t know how to connect with people as much as I used to. I think for the past few years I’ve been so focused on school and my recovery and/or self-improvement that I have for lack of better description created my own internal world of thinking inside of my own consciousness…if that makes sense.

Essentially, I think about the world around me and inside of that, I have another thought process that is constantly, never ending and brutally frustrating. It’s always comparing myself to others, constantly worried, full of anxiety and due to this, I rarely take the time to examine the needs of others or their role in my environment or how I can change to be a better person in their environment. I focus more on what I’m *doing wrong in my environment when they’re around.* I learned that I have to focus more on what I can do to adjust my behaviors based on their needs and not my own. It was sort of an odd, existential crisis that I realized while spending a lot of time up in the wilderness, away from others and also while spending time with my sister and her husband.

I think so much time focusing on my dad who has cancer has forced me to hide a lot of who I am in order to survive the life of a caregiver who deals with a significant amount of stress and combined with my lack of coping skills, this hasn’t really helped me grow emotionally as much as I wished I had. Or thought I had.

I see a therapist weekly at UCF and have done so for quite some time and I’ve began to question whether it’s actually helping or hindering my growth as a person as well. Meaning, I spend so much time in introspection that I might have been missing the bigger picture of life and it’s very difficult to miss that when you’re out in the wild, in the wilderness seeing things from a different perspective.

I miss Alaska. I miss the people, the atmosphere, the weather and the freedom. My grandparents live about 45 minutes away from me and when I was gone they ended up falling for one of those phone scams and unfortunately got screwed out of 2,000 dollars. I feel horrible about it and my dad unfortunately had to help them pick up the pieces. They won’t get their money back, it took my dad, my uncle and my cousin about three days to get everything squared away but it taught me a valuable lesson.

They can do all of this without me.

That means, I can move on to graduate school without a guilty conscience. It’s been bothering me for months now. What am I supposed to do if I get accepted to a master’s program or Ph.D program out of state? Who will take care of my dad and my grandparents? I’ve been the one to do all of these things for the past couple of years. Nobody else really pitches in. Nobody else really seems to care. I’m happy that even though it was a really shitty situation, I was shown that even the worst of problems can be solved without me.

Aside from that, I had a great time. Camping was awesome in Denali. I saw tons of animals, the fox, the beaver, the moose, the caribou, the bears…it was really the experience of a lifetime. The plane ride…not so great but everything is temporary right?

alaska, Florida man, Sociology, travel

The Psych Undergrad Florida Man Visits Alaska Day…10?

I really wanted to do a day by day journal/blog type thing here but there were days when I didn’t have internet access and other days when I was just so damn tired that I really didn’t have the energy nor the willpower to care enough to really do this.

I can say this though. Being in Alaska was a very powerful and life changing experience. I have seen more wildlife here than I could have imagined. I have seen my younger sister who I love dearly grow and become the woman I have always wished she could become. I am so very proud of her accomplishments since she moved up here more than three years ago and I think when I get home in a few days I will just type up my experiences by a “best of,” type deal more so than a day by day blog style. So much has transpired over the past week and a half that I’m not really sure that I can put it into words and I’m almost positive that it’s going to be somewhat frustrating.

I’ll have a solid 11 hours on a plane to type up whatever though so I’ll have plenty of time to get what’s normally stuck in my head out into the world so maybe that should help. That being said, the time I’ve had to spend in the wilderness (literally and figuratively) has really helped me to decompress and has showed me the importance of being able to distance myself from the constant stressors I have to deal with at home and the toll that it’s taken on me over the past several years.

I never realized just how badly I needed to get away and how much I have changed. Not necessarily for the better even though I just didn’t see it.

Very much looking forward to sharing my experiences on here and not really looking forward to going home but I know I have a lot of responsibilities there, I need to start prepping for the GRE, I have one last semester at UCF before I graduate and it’s been a long time coming and I can’t quit now. Glad I could use this time to get centered and focused.

I suppose it’s time to get back to reality.

  • CB

p.s. Just a few pics for now and I’ll upload more as I get around to getting some edits done…I don’t know what the fox says even though he snuck right up on me and said hello.

alaska, comedy, Florida man, Sociology

The Psych Undergrad Florida Man Visits Alaska Day 5

So, there wasn’t much to talk about yesterday. My brother and law and I drove around the base and Anchorage for a bit and then went to this hole in the wall dive diner called Leroy’s. The food was amazing and I almost had to be wheeled out when we were done eating.

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the homeless here and it’s pretty crazy how the system works here. The inability for the local social systems to regulate or assist the homeless population seems somewhat insane to put it lightly. There’s even a Facebook group that “puts junkies on blast,” that nearly makes me sick. The ignorance of the locals and how they treat individuals with substance use disorders is appalling but I have to continually remind myself that Alaska law enforcement/the judicial system is seemingly overwhelmed and pretty much doesn’t respond to most minor crimes or drug related activity so you end up having social media vigilantism which to an extent is sadly understandable. I don’t condone it – but I can see why it’s happening.

There was one business owner who actually put poison out in front of his business (or told his employees to do so and they complied) in order to actually kill or horribly hurt the homeless near his business due to the nearby location of a soup kitchen and homeless resource center. He was found guilty a week or so ago – but not for what you’d think. Only for crimes against the environment – not for literally attempting to kill people. The city has been and will actually purchase his property for nearly one million dollars. Seems as if small town politics are well oiled in this oil state.

The natives seem to suffer quite a bit and it’s obviously a problem. One that as a visitor here is well beyond my understanding but substance use disorders, mental illness and homelessness are essentially about the same anywhere. Here however there is definitely an additional issue with racism – sadly from people who came here and don’t belong Americans, the American military etc.

Again, this is somewhat foreign to me so it’s hard to really get on a soap box here, it’s complex and beyond my understanding but it’s sad and due to the location of the state, not really expressed in the lower 48.

Today, we’re gearing up for our road trip. We’ve rented a 30 foot trailer and we’re gonna head out all over the state for the next five days.

Looking forward to it but also feeling kind of awkward. Trying to help get everything going, set up etc but really I’m just sitting here drinking beer because my sister and brother-in-law have everything well planned out – meaning they live here, I don’t, it’s their domain and I’m well out of my element. At home I’m a caregiver. I’m always in charge and I’m always doing something, managing something, keeping an eye on something —worrying about something — Now, what do I worry about? There’s not much. I’m just going with the flow and that’s such an odd feeling. I think I’m literally worried that I’m incorrectly worried about not correctly going with the flow. If that makes sense?

Anyways, the water up here is awesome. My skin and hair have never felt and looked better. :::shrugs sexily:::

alaska, Florida man

The Psych Undergrad Florida Man Visits Alaska Day 3

I’m exhausted. But I had so much fun today. My sister’s husband Michael and I took his “side by side,” (imagine a big two person 4-wheeler) out into the woods and just basically went through mud and stuff. It was awesome.

Drove around the base for a while and saw a bear, very cool. Then a bit around Anchorage, saw some Moose, also very cool.

Then we went to some mountain, did a hike which was incredible but it killed me. I really needed it though, it was like walking through Narnia or the Shire. A totally different planet.

I saw a boulder that hungover the rapids and decided, “What the hell?” So, I somehow managed to get up there and just sat there with my legs hanging over the side for a while. It was good times. Very happy I didn’t slip off that rock though.

I’d write more but, I’m just too damn tired.

  • CB

The Psych Undergrad Florida Man Visits Alaska Day 2

Yes, I realize I’m posting both in one day but time here is almost irrelevant. The sun goes down at like 11:00 at night and nothing makes sense anyways so whatever. Anyways, I was going to post this on Facebook but I decided it would make a better blog post. Often times I begin to type and my fingers continue, my brain keeps going, my words don’t stop but when I finish whatever it is that I wanted to say, I realize that Facebook simply isn’t the place for it. So, here it is for day two. There’s not much really. I’ve not felt well so I stayed in for most of the day. Watched TV and I’ve tried to just adjust to the time change and all. My sister and I did a little sightseeing through Anchorage but aside from that, both her and my brother-in-law had to work so I just took it nice and easy.

He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.

To live is to suffer, to survive is to find some meaning in the suffering.

– Friedrich Nietzsche

One thing I’ve noticed about Anchorage is that the homeless here do not hide in the shadows like they do in Florida. They are out and about with zero concerns about their visibility. In Florida, it seems as if they are pushed aside, into tents, off the roadways, into areas we wish to not see them. There is a shame associated with homelessness – usually paired with mental illness, substance use disorders and so forth. Seeing Anchorage, only by driving by for a bit has been an interesting experience. I often talk to the local homeless in Florida, ask them about their experiences, find out why they’re in the position they’re in and to do that here I’ve heard is quite a different experience. I suppose my how is to find out their why. Maybe it’s the other way around? Shit, I’m supposed to be on vacation. Even Carl Rogers, the father of one of the most accepted types of therapy, known as unconditional positive regard said in his memoirs that the most he ever learned about himself and his work was done while on vacation. While he was away from academics, away from the constant pulls of work and theory and mastering the science. It was when he had the time to relax and look at the bigger picture, in scope, did he see things as they really were. Carl Rogers is one of my greatest heros. I don’t expect to walk into the equivalent of Anchorage’s Skid Row and solve all of their problems but the very heart of me must know the why and the how of the suffering here. It is prevalent, significant and seemingly in need of careful examination for study in order to better the individuals who are obviously suffering. I have a week. I doubt I will be able to do much if anything but the mark left on me here by what I have seen will not leave me. I know this much.

travel, Uncategorized

The Psych Undergrad Florida Man Visits Alaska Day 1

On my way from Orlando to Chicago, I thought, this is gonna be a breeze. Less than a three hour flight, it went by like nothing. It felt like by the time we had reached peak altitude, we were already starting our descent. Little did I know…oh how little did I know…

Chicago was a f’ing nightmare. As soon as I got off the plane, I really didn’t have that much time to get to my next United flight and you know what? I have to give the mouse credit….had I not had years of practice dodging little kids, strollers, old blue hairs and northerners at Disney World and Universal Studios for nearly twenty something years…I might have missed my flight. It was a thing of beauty. Even in this crazy mess of an airport, I soared through the crowds in and out, left and right…nobody was going to stand between me and my flight to Alaska. Thank you Disney. You taught me well.

I boarded my next flight and had about the worst seat you could imagine (again) and on a 737…the engines are in the very back of the plane and again, like my previous flight I had a window seat in the very back row. But, if it saves some money it saves money and my sister and her husband is footing the bill for this trip so I’m not gonna complain…I’m simply gonna telling my story.

So the next seven hours of my life were simply bizarre. I am a control freak. I know it. I get it. I have to know what time it is, I have to know where I’m at and growing up in Florida, you’re always less than an hour from a beach no matter where you’re at so it’s pretty easy to figure out where you are. And even if you don’t know where you are, you know you’re at least an hour away from a beach. A nice, calming beach…But, for seven or so hours I was locked in an aluminum purgatory with no ability to contact the outside world, update my phone, figure out what time it really was or even move for the most part.

What is it about making other people move on planes that is so uncomfortable? I mean, I had to take a pee for about four hours and sat there incredibly uncomfortable, squeezed into a human toothpaste tube and all I had to do was simply ask two very kind people (I ended up getting to know them a bit during the last hour or so of the flight) to simply get up and move for no more than a few moments so that I could do a normal human biological function but I just couldn’t do it. So, full of whatever fluid I had gulped down during my turbo charged Chicago run, I sat there, reading psychology articles I had downloaded prior to my departure thinking they would somehow hold me over for seven hours…they did not…I was just sweaty, stiff and unhappy.

Another thing, it seemed like a cardinal sin to open any of the window shades. I mean, this was a day flight but for whatever reason, the pilot made an announcement that he would be lowering the lights in the cabin to make it a bit more “comfortable,” for everybody….okay…it’s like 3 pm but sure. So, if anybody opened their shade, it looked like something from the X-Files had landed on the wing and was going to take over the plane. The brightness was on full blast due to the dimness of the cabin.

But then, the person behind me…poor woman who had my seat from Orlando to Chicago, opened her window shade and it wasn’t blindingly bright. It was actually amazingly beautiful. Going against captain’s orders and the social rules of the plane, I opened mine and I saw what might have been one of the top 5 most beautiful sights I have ever witnessed. I was simply awestruck. The snow capped mountains, the mudflats, Fire Island, windmills, all of it…it was breathtaking. I’ve become so used to seeing beaches and sand and dirt that I think I forgot what the rest of the world has to offer.

Then I got to thinking, what have I forgotten about the world other than the beauty of the physical realm? What can I learn spiritually? Emotionally? Mentally? Academically? I’ve never expanded my horizons past what I’ve always known. I’m looking forward to climbing the metaphorical mountain of life past my own experiences that in essence are quite small even if to me, they feel very broad.

  • CB