Sunday, February 18, 2018

“Gun Violence: Mental Health Matters”

When it comes to guns, there are usually two standard arguments made. We have those who are for stricter gun control laws and those who oppose them. There are some who believe guns are the cause of the problem whereas others say guns are not the issue but rather it’s the individual behind the trigger that is. However, the one common denominator in both of these arguments is that we need to keep firearms out of the hands of those who are mentally impaired. Now the question is, how do we do that? We are taught that we must not openly talk about complications and/or conflicts to one’s own mental health because there will be repercussions of some sort from the masses.

We are our own worst enemy! We know those who are battling demons, whether clinical or circumstantially induced should not be handling deadly instruments that are capable of causing much damage and devastation, but at the same time we make it impossible for people to freely, and willingly open up about said demons. We teach kids that someone who is not happy and upbeat is a grouch; they belong in a disgusting trash can with all the other garbage because they are beneath us. They are not playing with a full deck, the elevator doesn’t go all the way to the top floor, they are a passenger on the short bus, etc. These are just some expressions we carelessly throw around at the expense of others to belittle their intelligence and to destroy their self-worth.

People aren’t going to come forward and admit they have a problem when the end result is going to be condemnation and ridicule from their peers; they are going to keep that information wrapped up tighter than a mummy. That is why they play hide and seek with their mental issues. How many times have you heard from those close to a perpetrator that they can’t believe they would do something like that? They were quiet, nice and never caused any trouble. That’s because many know how to play the role; they know what’s expected of them when it comes to being a healthy, positive and productive member of society. Their inverted flag is being used as a curtain for the show they are putting on, not being waived as a sign of distress as it should be. Unfortunately most of the time you won’t know there’s a problem until it’s too late, until there are casualties on the battlefield.

There is a stigma attached to mental health in this country. Those who are struggling belong in a padded cell and sporting the latest in straitjacket fashions. They are dangerous, contagious and a bite of flesh away from being a mindless zombie. They eat their checkers, keep time with imaginary friends and should stay away from sharp objects. You get the picture. We make it extremely uncomfortable and unpleasant for people to share their feelings and emotional plights with us, and until it changes, we aren’t going to see any improvements on the home front when it comes to senseless acts of violence, whether it be by guns or other means.

I’m not saying that making it acceptable and safe for people to open up and seek help for their mental deficiencies will solve the problem entirely, but it would definitely help and is a step in the right direction. Before we can figure out if we need to ban guns all together or freely give them out as if they were cars and this the Oprah show, we must tackle the first hurdle in our path, which in this case is mental health. You can’t build a sturdy house without first laying the foundation; otherwise everything comes crashing down around you, leaving nothing but a huge mess.

To quote Albert Einstein, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”. Now with that said, let’s take a different approach to the whole “gun” debate because obviously what we’re doing isn’t working. The only thing changing as a result of our actions and numerous amounts of time bickering back and forth is the body count of those who needlessly lost their lives to an act of senseless violence. Time to work on the people and their mental wellbeing, we need to make it safe to seek help and we need to make sure that help is readily available to those who need it. Something more needs to be done other than making signs or cradling your guns!

We all know that not everyone who commits these heinous acts suffer mentally. There are many examples of monsters in this world, pure evil if you will, and many people behind the triggers who cause this chaos are just that and nothing more. We need to be able to truly decipher between the two, better understand who needs help and who needs to be locked away never to see the light of day. This will not be easy but it’s definitely worth our time and effort. We need to be able to approach those who would appear to need help without judgment and/or condemnation in our hearts, just as those who are willing and able need to be able to approach us without concern that they will be shunned and/or turned away as a result of doing so.

This piece was not written with the hopes of defending any one particular individual, to justify their actions and/or to elicit sympathy for their wrongdoings. This is an attempt to help solve the issues we face as a country when it comes to gun violence. A way to hopeful minimize these situations and to save lives moving forward. This life of ours is a team sport and does not benefit from showboaters and those seeking to take home the MVP trophy, the better we work as a whole, the better the end result will be for all involved.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

“Stupid is as Stupid Does: The Tide Pods Challenge"

The Tide Pods Challenge! I don’t even know where to begin. This seems like some crazy urban legend or even a low-budget comedy film, anything but real life. We're all aware this isn’t the first insane challenge to grace our society and if the asylum’s inmates have their way, by no means will it be the last. When we were kids we had to suck on a soap bar because we said something naughty, these fools are deliberately eating this stuff like it is candy, all in the name of a challenge.

I don’t have a problem with the challenges in particularly, that is as long as outsiders don’t get hurt and/or bothered in the process, because I’m all for survival of the smartest and down with the dumbest. I’m not going to lie; dumb people are fun to watch. My issue is with the spectators. I don’t blame them for what is going on with these buffoons, by no means is it their fault, but why are they afraid to call them out on it? As a society we mercilessly attack each other over something as simple as our choices in politics, but when it comes to these knuckleheads we blame the companies, the internet, entertainment, pretty much anything but the individuals who are performing these amazing feats of stupidity themselves. We need to let these kings and queens adorn the crowns of their people, which in this case would be the dunce cap, nevertheless I’m sure they would wear it with pride.

I’m going to get at least one person who cries out like a clubbed in the knee Nancy Kerrigan who says, “They are just kids, why would you say that”? Let’s touch on the word “kids”, because it encompasses an awful lot, basically anyone under eighteen years of age by society’s standards. Don’t get it twisted, the stars of these dope shows are not infants, they are not just learning our world and experiencing things for the first time. The idiots who are performing these less than stellar stunts definitely know better, a lot better unfortunately. The whole, “they are just kids” crap is just that, and needs to be flushed down the toilet and sent to a watery grave!

For the record, all the participants in these whacked out challenges are not under the age of eighteen, as much as it pains me to say. However, we are specifically speaking of the Tide Pods challenge and most of its players seem to be minors so that’s where we stand. I don’t want you to think that we adults are immune to this stuff, far from it; some of us make a box of rocks look like Einstein. These assorted mixed nuts, mostly peanuts of course, do this nonsense so they have something to post on their YouTube channels, all for “likes” and dizzy dreams of fifteen minutes of fame.

There are people in some countries who are fighting for clean water and a morsel of food while we have people (and I use that term loosely) over here eating Tide Pods and continuously dreaming up even more ridiculousness to sink our teeth into every day, without an ounce of remorse or embarrassment. The rest of the world has to look upon us as if we’re riding the short bus! Why wouldn’t they, our mascots all belong in padded rooms wearing the latest in straitjacket fashions. We also have individuals who willingly cheer them on like they were rooting for their favorite sports team, they are not forced to do this, and they freely encourage this kind of behavior.

You want a real challenge; try to successfully endure this world without being a moron. Game, set, match.

Well there you have it, my two cents on a topic that’s worth about half that. Keeping reaching for stars and eating laundry soap packets, keep the American dream alive!


Saturday, November 25, 2017

“Save You a Seat”

When someone says they will save you a seat it means that they appreciate your company and they desire to have you by their side. You are important to them and their time is more valuable with you in it. They request your presence at their special occasion and/or moment of joy because you make it complete. You make the function, regardless of what it is, more enjoyable and meaningful. That is why there will always be a seat saved for my mother, who recently passed due to lung cancer, at any and all events in my life.

I dreamt of her being there to engage in a dance with me on my wedding day, to spoil her grandkid(s) that the stork delivered to me and my future misses and to experience and celebrate all the other milestones that come along with being a son to a mother. Unfortunately she will not be able to join me physically, because these times, not unlike my heart; will be missing someone of beauty, splendor and warmth. She will, however, be there in spirit and that is why there will always be a seat reserved for her.

This holiday season is going to be extremely difficult to say the least, because what was once cheerful and exciting has now become cold and dreary. We all have painted on smiles like a clown, pretending that our spirits aren’t broken with the hopes of pulling off an Oscar worthy performance for “best happy family” for the sake of the kids and each other. We know we must be strong, for mom, but I would be lying if I told you that I wasn’t fighting back the tears, that the pain from losing her wasn’t embedded on my being like a tattoo, crippling my soul and occupying my thoughts like a protester on Wall Street. My body was there and involved in the festivities, but my mind was locked away in a room with padded walls.

As a child, when the holiday season approached I anticipated the food she would make without measuring an ounce or reading from a recipe, just good old-fashioned know how. I wrote long lists about things I wanted for Christmas, the things I saw on TV, the hottest trends and of course all the things my friends had that I was envious of. Now the only thing I want is to have her back, to be able to tell her how much I love her and to see her happy and healthy again. The day you lose your mother is the day you lose your childhood, things aren’t the same, that amazement and bewilderment you once had toward life is now gone and replaced with a hard callous skin like that on the bottom of a foot that has taken many steps on hard ground.  

Appreciate who you have sitting around your table now, because in the blink of an eye things can go from a celebration to a memorial. You could be faced with an empty chair where once a loved one sat, now reserved in their memory and for their honor. That vacant seat is a symbol of your love for the departed, a token of appreciation for who they were and what they meant to you, but without a doubt never as good as the real thing.


Wednesday, August 23, 2017


Here's a story of a mild-mannered everyday individual who has a secret hidden so deep that not even Superman with his X-ray vision could find it. He, just like Clark Kent has an alter ego too, but not one of a brave and noble hero or even a maniacal and twisted villain, but rather one of a happy and mentally healthy person. The secret he keeps is one so powerful that it can hold the strongest of men down and it can make the most confident crumble to their knees. It hides in plain sight and keeps its hostage bound and gagged so not to be found out. This evil is none other than depression, and like Hannibal Lecter it will eat you live if not treated properly and taken seriously.

When it comes to mental health, there is a lot of confusion and a lot of fear surrounding the topic, so let’s try to rid our society of some of that and have an open discussion about it. These are some of the things that you should know to better take care of your loved ones and yourself in the long run.

Part 1: “Hide and Seek”

Depression is not something people proudly wear on their sleeve as a badge of honor that they display for all to see, if anything it’s kept hidden far back in the depths of their mind, securely locked away with the hopes of it never to seeing the light of day.

Depression hides out in like a ghost in a haunted house, from the outside everything looks copacetic, but once you cross the threshold, you can tell that something isn’t right.

People with depression want help, but they don’t know how to ask and/or are scared to do so because of what they foresee will be the result of said action. They are able to open their mouth as if to scream, but this intruder won’t allow them to put any volume behind it thus leaving their cries unheard.

Most will not come right out and tell you they are suffering, but they may drop subtle hints hoping their loved ones will follow them like the steps on a treasure map. However, in this case the riches aren’t monetary but more so peace of mind and good mental health.

Part 2: “They’re Crazy!”

Why is it difficult to talk openly about depression? People think there's something wrong with you, you're mentally unstable. Depression isn't real; you're having a bad day or wallowing in self-pity. These are just some of the issues we face as a society when it comes to bringing this problem to the forefront.

There is a stigma attached to anyone who endures its dreaded sting. We have made people who suffer from any form of a mental health condition feel like outcasts and monsters in this country, so needlessly to say there won’t be any grand announcement of the enemy’s presence.

Speaking up about our emotions is a sign of weakness, for women they are being dramatic and over-the-top, men are considered "less than" and fragile. We are taught at a young age it is not the cool thing to do, where those who complain are negative and a killjoy. Even kid’s shows like Sesame Street showed you that the people who do so are outcasts, they are “grouchy”, and belong in a trashcan. That is why most people choose to keep quiet instead of talking about it.

Don’t be alarmed and act like the people did in the movie Philadelphia when they found out that Tom Hanks had AIDS! This is not contagious and not something that should land the victim in a straitjacket, sitting in a room with padded walls.

Part 3: “Side Effects”

What are the side effects of depression? How does it feel having this unwelcomed houseguest renting space in your head?

The word depression is misleading to say the least, it doesn’t accurately express the severity of the situation and it makes people think the victim is just going through a rough patch in his/her life right at the moment. We should change it to something like mental warfare, to show people how serious it is and how dangerous of a battle it is. We all know there are varying degrees of depression, and not everyone who claims to have it does, but we must not discount the information we have and/or try to play doctor because the result could be a dire one.

Having depression is like being trapped in a glass bottle sealed with a vault door. You can see the world go by as you are fighting to free yourself from your prison, suffocating and constantly freaking out because most likely you cannot escape on your own. You could reach out and ask for help to break the bottle or you can continue to try to release yourself alone, which could end with your demise.

You feel unneeded, unnecessary and undesired. You feel helpless, out of place and uncomfortable in your own skin. You feel like nobody wants you around, and if you left one day, you would receive a postcard with the words "wish you weren't here" written on it. A spider's victim trapped in a cocoon struggling to break free before it eats you and consumes your soul. This is heartbreaking and unbelievable to say the least, but nevertheless this is a day in the life of someone who is struggling with severe depression. Basically they are the walking wounded and the living dead!

You feel like a rotting/decaying corpse wrapped in a tattered shroud like in a horror film, who is reaching out to people for help and mercy but they are too afraid and/or disgusted to reach back because of what they perceive us to be. That unfortunately is a side effect of our thought process as a whole. We imagine ourselves to be hideous, to be the targets of all the laughs and whispers, we see ourselves as a blemish, like a square peg trying to fit in a round hole. 
When dealing with anxiety, relaxing is something that is difficult to do, regardless of what Frankie says. Sure we all face some form of anxiety or another during the course of our day, but not to the point where it is crippling who we are and hindering us from thinking rationally. Until you’ve been to the mountaintop, it’s impossible to explain the view.

Our mind can be our greatest ally, but it can also be our own worst enemy too…

Your mind is like a boat lost at sea, you don't know which way is safe and sometimes the seas are calm but other times the weather is rough and the waves dangerous. This all happens at a moment’s notice and with no warning.

Sometimes your brain feels as if it is being juiced, like an orange that is squeezed of all its nutrients, left with only an empty rind and void of any meat or value. You steadily wish for things to be better, but unfortunately life isn't a genie and wishing is best left to shooting stars and to coins that are dropped in wells. You can listen to all the finely crafted metaphors, all the songs that are meant to motivate, all the cats hanging on lines that are meant to inspire, but if your mind isn't where it needs to be and all that is nothing more than a pep talk that is blowing smoke and empty promises of grandeur.

Think of it like this. There’s a hostile double agent lurking in your brain who is sabotaging things from the inside out. He is someone who could be stopped with the right set of tools, but if let alone and allowed to proceed as planned he could end up toppling the administration in a very counterproductive way and possibly even with a deadly outcome. This is a demon that needs to be properly exorcised and not allowed to rent space in your head for any longer than necessary.

Depression is the monster of your faith. It is the creature who hides under your bed. It is a raging fire that burns everything in its path unless somehow extinguished. The bottom line is that it’s not a game and should not be treated as such.

Part 4: “Life or Death”

Sometimes “getting over it” isn’t an option. Sadly there are many who believe it’s just that easy to overcome this hurdle. The victim merely stumbled along the way and just needs to stand up and dust off. This is something that is hard-wired in their brains and a simple restart is going to fix the problem. They may need professional help or even medication to recover, so don’t take it lightly and toss it aside or instead of having a face-to-face conversation with your loved one you could be sitting across from a tombstone asking why. Life is precious; don’t let it fizzle out like a campfire in the wake of the morning sun because you thought you knew better.

This is definitely a battle worth undertaking, because failure could land them in the hands of an undertaker and none of us want that. The struggle is real; don't let your ignorance land you at a funeral.


Part 5: “Emergency Exit”

Battling depression is a team sport, but unfortunately some of the players, those who aren’t confined to the penalty box of course, are going to have to do most of the work if they hope to win the game for their loved ones. Now with that said, those who are playing landlord to this creature cannot sit idly by on the sidelines, twiddling their thumbs and hoping that everything works out for the best. We have to do our part too, no matter how difficult it is. The goal is to get out as quickly as possible and not to let things continue as they are with the hopes everything will work out for the best.

Part 6: “Close, yet Far”

Sometimes the door to good health is one that is covered in grease, no matter how hard you try to turn the handle it just won’t open. Sometimes your support system isn't all that supportive. Sometimes those closest to us are the hardest ones to confide in, so we must find a new set of ears willing to listen to our problems and a new shoulder to lean on when walking is difficult.

It’s not necessarily that these people don't love and/or care for us, but for some reason or another they just don't understand what we are going through, they can't comprehend it, which for their sake is actually a blessing. The culprit could also be fear. They don’t want to say the wrong thing so they walk around pretending to be oblivious to what’s going on. They know that this rollercoaster is one with many twists and turns, so rather than taking a seat and risk getting sick, they avoid the ride all together.

As if things weren’t already hard enough, there are going to be times where we have to step even further outside our comfort zones when seeking help. We must seek the company of a stranger if our resources at home are faulty. The ride is going to be a rough one, the terrain is going to be horrendous at times, but the trip is going to be totally worth it if you are able to come out on the end better off than when you went in.

Part 7: “The End Credits”

We need to forego the whole stereotypical idea of what a woman/man should be and be true to ourselves and our feelings; it would make this world a much better place for everyone involved? Forget about what society thinks and focus on saving your life, both while you’re living and while you’re on the edge.

Someone with depression is not looking for sympathy, they are looking for understanding. Be there for each other, and not just with meaningless pleasantries in passing or with a “thumbs up” on Facebook, but in person, for real, and with genuine concern for each other and their well-being. We need to keep an open mind and an open ear when it comes to those we hold dear. Don't think of love as a chore, but as a blessing and a privilege.


Wednesday, June 14, 2017

“An Angel without Wings”

Where to start? There’s so much to say about my mother, but who would listen, or better yet, why would they listen? To some she was just a stranger, someone they blindly crossed paths with during their journey on this planet of ours, but to others who were lucky enough to know her, she was a pure blessing, a bright light in this otherwise dark world of ours. Was she perfect? Of course she wasn’t, just like none of us are. However, in my eyes she was pretty damn close. I am extremely proud to call myself her son.

She grew up in a simpler time, one where Elvis wasn’t able to shake his hips on television and where most people preached peace and love over hate and condemnation. The world around her may have been black and white and as carefree as an episode of I Love Lucy, but her personal life was anything but. Throughout her life she experienced abuse on many different levels, physically and emotionally, some of which would make toughest of us wince in pain and would fill the most joyous of hearts with tremendous sorrow. She kept much torment and regret locked away in her soul. She did her best to overcome it and make her life, and ours something better than what she was used to.

One would think that considering the circumstances she would be jaded, that her glass would forever be half empty. That wasn’t the case. She loved and showed compassion towards everyone, unfortunately sometimes even to a fault where she was taken advantage of and undeservingly hurt. She would try to find the good in everyone; she would constantly be digging through the weeds of one’s heart trying to find the single rose that she believed existed. She was the epitome of what I meant to be a human being; she did our species as a whole very proud. She wasn’t a kind and giving person because it was the hip thing to do; that’s who she was to her very core.

She also had an amazing sense of humor. She would laugh her ass off when someone fell, and yes, even before checking if they were alright. There was just something about people losing their footing and falling to the ground like a ton of bricks that struck her funny bone and left her laughing hysterically like a hyena on laughing gas. When you tripped and/or fell around her your best bet was to swallow your pride and laugh along with her, because no amount of bruising, body or ego, was going to keep her from enjoying your balance mishap. She didn’t do it to be hurtful, she just couldn’t control herself.

My mother was one of the most sarcastic and quick-witted people I have ever known, no matter what hand life may have dealt her she was always ready to up the ante with humor. If you weren’t laughing and having a good time when you were in her presence it was most likely because you were the one who busted their ass or dared to take her on in a battle of wits. Thankfully her wonderful sense of humor was passed on to us because it really helped us through this difficult time; many tears were overshadowed by laughter.

She had plenty of reasons to be hateful and spiteful, yet she still maintained hope and love. She was afraid of the dark but had a personality that would light up a room. My mother didn't just want to know you, she wanted to embrace you, and she wanted you to feel as if you mattered. She loved sharing stories about her past; it meant the world to her when others took an interest in who she was, in what made her tick. She never had a problem comforting your tears, if anything she welcomed it, and never judged you because of them.

2017 was not a pleasant year for her. Shortly after it began she was diagnosed small cell lung cancer, which of course is aggressive and unfortunately for most a death sentence, which come to think of it pretty much confirms her theory that if it wasn’t for bad luck she wouldn’t have any luck at all. As she put it, she suffered from a bad case of the maloikies.

The last few months of her life was spent running back and forth to various doctors, extended hospital stays and fighting just to live her life as normal as possible when she did get the chance to be at home. Needless to say it wasn’t a “happy” new year for her at all. The chemo, which did give her a little more time with us, was destroying her body and making things very unpleasant for her. She couldn’t eat because of sores in her mouth, standing up was a chore in itself for her and with each passing day she was looking less and less like herself. Needless to say it wasn’t easy, but she stayed with it and never lost her smile. I remember when she would leave the chemo room she would pass by others who were in the same situation as herself, but instead of complaining about how bad she had it, she wished them all good luck and cheered them on.

Right before she was intubated for the last time, of course with the hopes of helping her breathe better, we were all in the hospital room with her for moral support and encouragement. We all got a brief moment with her to say a quick something then we had to leave the room to let the doctors do what they needed to do. My turn just happened to be last, and as I leaned in to let her know that I loved her and that everything would be alright, she grabbed my shirt and pulled me close and said, “Don’t let them do anything to me”. I knew what she meant, she wanted to make sure that everything that could possibly be done to keep her alive was done, she didn’t want the “plug pulled” if you will. My mother believed in fighting up until the bitter end, if it was up to her Terri Schiavo would still be here. She always said, “Where’s there’s life there’s hope”. Unfortunately those were the last words she ever spoke to me, and I hope and pray that she was happy with how I handled things from that point on.

Living a nightmare! Sitting in her hospital room waiting for her to leave us, listening carefully to her breaths, anticipating the final one and at the same time praying it never comes. Having to wear gloves and a mask like we were robbing a bank, while the whole time I wanted nothing more than to grab her and hug her one last time. That day, and every day afterwards, if my tears were rain I would have filled an ocean with as much as I’ve cried.

Regrettably the disease finally ended her life on the 4th of June, and not because she gave up. She fought valiantly to the end with everything she had in her, but rather because when all was said and done it was just too much on her, both physically and mentally. June 7th was the day that my mother was laid to rest. The end of a chapter. Her soul was already flying high with the angels, and now her physical remains and her memory were honored. One of the greatest people I have ever known. Her light was extinguished before its time, leaving our world a little colder from this day forward. May she rest well in heaven and rejoice in the fact of just how loved she was.

As many of us know cancer is a horrible and devastating adversary, one without compassion and/or concern for whom it attacks/hurts, and if it doesn’t end your life itself, the treatment and/or complications from it will. Now of course it doesn’t always win, but it definitely does make its presence known and will make sure you respect it.

Cancer has a knack for attacking the good, the kind and the gentle, taking its time devouring their souls and leaving them battling beyond belief trying to conquer it. You get angry because you know there are individuals more deserving of this dreaded disease, of the pain and the suffering. You wonder how is it possible that they can keep going on living without seemingly a care in the world, when others are ravished and abused by this disease. That is at least how I felt during this horrific experience.

You cannot give into its evil, because then not only did it steal your loved one from you but it also beat you and changed you for the worse. As I said prior, I felt this way, the anger grew inside of me like a cancer (for lack of a better word), but I realized that my mother wouldn’t want me proceeding down that path, my thoughts wouldn’t make her proud, so I have been trying my best to change that. I would be lying to you if I told you it was easy, it’s not by any stretch of the imagination, but for my own well-being it is necessary so it must be done.

Our final journey with her was rough one, with a heartbreaking end, but I can honestly say that I am forever thankful that I was able to be her side during this whole ordeal. She is now buried under dirt for all eternity; her earthly remains like a seed that I pray by our actions bring fourth many beautiful flowers in her honor. We cannot let her passing be in vain, we must show the world what having her in our lives truly meant.

You were an amazing individual. A true testament of what it means to be a human being. You never saw the bad in people, only the good, even when you were hurt, taken advantage of or looked down upon as a result. You never swayed or faltered from who you were or let hate consume you, you’re a true inspiration. You still continued to move forward and spread love across this planet of ours. You made this normally dark and dreary world more beautiful, more precious and more of a reason to be part of it. Her presence made it feel like a summer’s day, but now without her it’s like a never-ending winter’s night. I know a lot of people are in pain because you’re gone, but at least you are not anymore. You can rest easy knowing that your time here was not fruitless and that you truly were loved in every sense of the word.

When you lose your mother you lose all the stories you two shared, all the heartache you two embraced and all the trials you two have overcome. You’re losing the love, the comforts and the good times that now seem so far removed. You're losing more than just a person; you're losing a part of you, a part of your soul, a part of your being. She can never be replaced. She can never be thanked enough for all she did. Her passing left lots of regrets, lots of “what ifs” and of things left unsaid. Sleep eludes you as if you were playing a game of tag with it. You feel as lost as the kid on the back of the milk carton. The horror of the loss binds you like heavy chains, grips you tightly and unmercifully constricts when you try to escape, it is torture on another level. The day I lost my childhood is when my mother lost her life.   

Unfortunately I have many regrets when it comes to the passing of my mother, lots of things that I would have done differently if only I would have known that our time was limited and coming to an abrupt end. Although, one thing I do not regret is that I was able to take care of her as she did me many times during my lifetime, and that I was able to protect her when times were tough and she thought she had no one else in her corner. As much as her death weighs heavy on my heart, her life was truly a blessing that I will forever be thankful that I had the good fortune to be a part of.

Losing her was one of the hardest things I have ever had to endure; it tore me in two knowing that what once was is now nothing more than a memory, and regrettably none new, just recollections of ones past. Sadly there will be many wonderful experiences that will be left unfulfilled by her absence.  I know that someday the pain will subside, slowly fade into the distance like an image in the rearview mirror as you drive away, but she will never leave my heart or be forgotten. 

My mother taught me that life, unlike her now still heart, never skips a beat, it continues on full steam ahead without any concern for casualties and mourners. Life is cruel and unfair, but we must do everything in our power to conquer it, to make it work for us instead of against us. She taught me how to survive and flourish and not just exist and concede. She taught me that every problem has a solution, might not always be the most convenient or the most enjoyable, but nevertheless it does. Her passing will haunt me for the rest of my days, but I will not let who she was and what she stood for go unrecognized. People will see her in me; they will appreciate who I am because of who she was. My goal is to honor her memory and to make her proud.    

Mom you can now sit back and rest while we, your children, take the reins and proudly steer your memory to greatness by our actions. The skies have cried every day since your departure, as if to show us that the heavens share our pain. I feel lost without her, but I am forever blessed for knowing her. Kathleen Sarah Canaley may you rest in peace. You will be forever loved and missed. The angel without wings that once walked the earth with the rest of us is now flying high with her own set of brand new wings.

Her story ended abruptly and in a manner completely undeserving of someone of her caliber, but I personally couldn’t have asked for a better supporting actor in this crazy show we call life. When the curtain came down for the final time on her performance there were many on their feet giving her a standing ovation, an ending fit for a summer Hollywood blockbuster and a woman who made the lives of anyone privileged enough to know her that much more special. Thank you mom!

I want to apologize for all the times I've said “she” (and her) in this piece, especially since my mother, Kathleen, would be driven completely nuts by it, because as she always said, “She has a name”.

This piece is dedicated to the memory of my incredible mother, without you this journey is going to be hard, but because of you it’s going to be possible. To all my siblings and their significant others, without you these past few months, and many years ahead, would be difficult, unforgiving and soul shattering to say the least.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

“Walls, Emails and Smear Campaigns: Red and Blue Party Poopers”

I’m about to step onto my soapbox to discuss some things I personally can’t stand, some things I feel should be changed for the betterment of all involved and some things that just drive me plain old nuts for one reason or another as far as politics are concerned.

After hearing what I have to say you may be cheering me on as if I was Rocky in the big fight of my life or you may be looking to beat the crap out of me as if I was a piñata in the home of one of those illegal Mexican rapists that you hear Trump talk about all the time, but either way try to listen to what I have to say with an open mind, with all biases aside and any absurd undying political party allegiance tucked neatly away in the back of your mental sock drawer like a baggie of marijuana.

Forget cats and dogs, this is the truth of politics…

1. There is no such thing as a “government for the people”! Democrat or Republican it doesn’t matter; and to think otherwise is completely foolish and just like a porn star who was banged in the behind from some dude named Long Dong Silver, that kind of thinking will only leave you hurting in the end.

The only thing that matters to them is money and power; they will do anything to get it, even if that means making life hell for the rest of us.

2. Democrats and Republicans are Washington's version of the Bloods and Crips, only in shirts and ties.

Think about it! Both groups use colors to represent their respective hoods and group affiliation (red and blue), both groups scare people into joining them and their cause and both groups (character) assassinate all those who oppose them. See the connection? Democrats and Republicans are only out for themselves and no one else, if you're not with them then you're against them. Don’t believe me? Then try it out and see how well things play out for you.

Who do you think controls the illegal drug trade, the arms distribution and just about any other crime in their respective areas? I’ll give you a hint; it’s not the people that the cops are watching, they are only the pawns in this game of chess we’re playing in this country.

There's a political turf war going on and we're caught in the crossfire. Open your eyes, smarten up and get ready to duck and cover mutha fuggers! Forget Juggalos, the FBI needs to classify politicians as a gang! O.G. baby…original government.

3. Remember reading comic books when you were younger? When the villain would trick the people into believing that he/she was on their side, that they only wanted the best for them, then when the time was right he/she would reveal their evil plan to take over the world and leave everyone feeling stupid for trusting him/her? Well that politics in a nutshell.

They put on an Oscar worthy performance just long enough to get them in the door of their desired office, then once inside the mask comes off and their true identity is revealed.

They keep us fighting amongst ourselves and at odds with each other because the more chaotic our lives are and the more we feel as if it's us against the world and the less likely it is that we will come together as a cohesive unit and rise up against the corruption and/or the government.

You want change; well looking to a politician for it isn’t going to help because the only change they will give you is what’s left in your piggy bank after you pay all those taxes (aka protection racket) they so pleasantly force us to pay.

4. When it comes to abortion, a bunch of men sitting around discussing and/or attempting to regulate ‪it is freaking ridiculous! They should stick to things they are familiar with, like prostate exams and having sword fights with their buddies at the urinal for example.

Stop trying to tell women how to live their lives, or in some cases due to medical concerns not live their lives, all to avoid her not having an abortion. Do you realize how crazy that is? Unless you were there for the conception then keep your self-righteous opinions and judgment to yourself.

5. The separation of church and state. Keep your religion out of the office! I can only imagine the grimace on God’s face when His name is brought into all this madness.

I consider myself a Christian but God isn’t running for President, thus His feelings on the issues, as if any of these fools actually have the authority to speak for Him, don’t matter and only stand to make the candidates look like a bunch of bible thumpers who are planning on running the country in accordance to what their God believes and not what’s best for the people. We all know how dangerous that can be and if you don’t think so (like you’ve been living under a rock or something) then check out what happens to other countries around the world when religious zealots call the shots and run the show. Not such a pretty picture to say the least.

For anyone fuming over that statement and currently condemning me to hell as a result, I can guarantee you that if the religion was on the other foot, meaning that we were talking about a Muslim here, you would all be cheering me on and telling me to preach it. Such hypocrites!

6. Rock the vote and all that other crazy crap they tell us to make us believe that our vote truly matters (hanging chads anyone). Voting comes down to the lesser of two evils; basically the individual who you think would do less harm to our country than the other.

When it comes to this election one doesn’t need the Hubble Telescope to clearly see the “elephant” in the room, which is that Mr. Donald “Grab them by the pussy” Trump is not the Republicans first choice to “don” their organized-crime family, but unfortunately he is now their only choice so it’s either sink or swim with him. Regardless of his party affiliation the guy is a “jackass”, plain and simple, always have been and always will be. With that said stop acting all offended and appalled by him and his antics because we all knew what we were getting from jump, nothing all that surprising here. Now if all this came to light from someone like Mother Teresa then I would be shocked, but with him not so much.

I sometimes wonder if this whole Donald Trump thing is one of those hidden camera shows (Alright Ashton Kutcher where are you hiding?), as if he’s intentionally trying to get Hillary nominated and/or to make a mockery of the Republican Party. Maybe he’s a double agent who’s working for the Democrats? Nowadays you never know.

Before all you Republicans start seeing “red”, thinking I’m attacking your precious party and/or dogging your boy, the same goes for Hillary. She lies, cheats and steals! Well what politician doesn’t? Again, this is not a real shocker and not something that would keep me tuned in next week to see the conclusion of. Both of them should be strapped in a straitjacket and thrown into a padded room not running the country. They should stick to eating their checkers and let someone more qualified and less mentally grotesque, handle the office of the President of the USA.

Donald Trump's new slogan should be, "If it ain't white, it ain't alright" and Hilary Clinton’s entrance music should be “Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire”…just saying.
You don't need to be Monica Lewinsky to see what's "cumming", which is reality television at its finest and a regular Cirque Du Stupidity. This election is such a spectacle and full of more drama than a daytime soap opera that it’s not even funny. This whole debacle is making a joke of us and our country in the eyes of the rest of the world, which is not smart and/or safe by any means.

The bottom line is this. We’re all well aware of the candidates (not including the few vote-thrower-outers on the ballot) this election, so get rid of all the nonsense  and cast your so-called precious vote for the monster who you feel will scare you the least.

I know it’s asking a lot but please try to make an informed decision as to who you vote for and not just foolishly follow behind the elephant or donkey because that will only leave you with a steaming pile of hot animal dung on your face. Honestly people who vote for a particular political party exclusively, rather than the better candidate scare the poop out of me; it’s like Ray Charles playing Follow the Leader with a sacrificial virgin who has a date with a volcano god.

7. I think all politicians should have to go over and fight with the brave men and women of our armed forces every time they choose to deploy them, that way they will think twice about fighting over the wrong thing. There will be no vacations and no playing golf while our soldiers are fighting for our country, they can spend their term on the battlefield if necessary.

You also wouldn't have to worry about their safety while they were over there with our troops either, because they would have one of the best fighting forces in the world protecting them.

8. Republican (I would say Democratic too but there doesn’t seem to be any of those) radio/television talk show hosts remind me a lot of wrestling managers. I’m not talking about the wrestlers in singlets here, but rather the “What’cha gonna do brother when Hulkamania runs wild on you?” kind or wrestler. Their candidates can do no wrong and they talk them up as if they were the best thing since masturbation.

They talk more trash than a little bit about their candidate’s opponent, pretty much calling them everything but the kitchen sink. Every time I hear one I immediately picture Jimmy “The Mouth of the South” Hart and his bullhorn getting all up in someone’s face and starting shit. Let’s get ready to RUMBLE!

These people I actually find more humorous than anything else because I don’t know if they really believe the crap they are spewing through their lips or if they understand it’s all garbage and are just willing to do/say anything and everything to fight for their parties reputation and street cred, I truthfully think it’s the latter.

9. Politicians never apologize for anything, especially during their campaign trail, it's always so-and-so did it too as if that somehow justifies their misdeed and wrongdoings. Didn't we have enough of that crap as kids? Didn’t our parents tell us not to worry about what they did, and ask us if they jumped off a bridge would we jump too? So then why is it acceptable for politicians?

In the famous words of the great poet Porky Pig, “Th…th…th…that’s all folks”!

This election is like a bitter custody battle between two dysfunctional and abusive parents, no matter who wins we’re all screwed and destined to have our country grow up to be a deadbeat, a thief and just an overall piece of shit.

Now relax all you crazies with your undying political party allegiance, and know that I personally think that all, which means both Democrats and Republicans, are pieces of garbage and only out for the party they choose to align themselves with and no good whatsoever. Some might say that’s a little harsh, well I say it’s right on the money and totally justified. Maybe one day that will all change, a politician(s) will rise from the ashes like a phoenix and prove to me, and the rest of the world that they’re not all alike, but until that day comes I’m sticking to my guns and remaining and cynical as ever when it comes to these individuals.

When talking politics with some people I wonder if "thinking" is their second language. The mentality and actions of some of these mindless zombies leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion and worried about the future we are leaving for our children.

I’m Michael Mele, and I approve this message!


Thursday, June 9, 2016

“Buzz Kill: Looking at Life through a Pair of Beer Goggles”

We are going to be discussing addicts, alcoholics in particular, and not in an adorable Disney style fairytale kind of way either, but more of a “Dateline: To Catch an Alcoholic” kind of way. Needless to say it’s going to get a little messy in here and some feelings are bound to be hurt.

With that said, if you don’t currently have a problem with the magic elixir that can take cares away like Tylenol does headaches, then feel free to crack one open and sit back and enjoy. However, if you suffer from what I like to call “Beauty and the Beast” syndrome (a beauty of a person when your tank is on empty, but once full you become a beast, all thanks to the newly found liquid courage the great and powerful Oz. [ounces of alcohol that is] has granted you) or regardless of whether you’re sober or drunk you’re a dick, then maybe you should drink a cup of coffee and chill, because a sober dick is a lot easier to tolerate than a drunk dick any day.

Many American families are infested with them as if they were roaches, but unfortunately they don’t disappear when the lights come on or go “crunch” under your feet. The Hughes Brothers’ movie, “Menace to Society” could have very well been written about them. Am I being unfair to the alcoholic, ask anyone who has had to endure their crazy antics and dysfunctional behavior how they feel about the whole situation and you’ll have your answer.

You have those who do nothing more than cry in their beer, stay to themselves and keep the Budweiser’s Clydesdales galloping all the way to the bank, and for the most part harmless and not confrontational. Although they have a twin, an annoying doppelganger if you will, and those are the individuals who deserve a swift kick in the ass and who this piece is dedicated to. 

They don’t care who they hurt in the process, and the only twelve steps they are willing to follow are only the ones that lead to more alcohol. 

For the record, I don’t believe that all alcoholics are monsters, things that go bump in the night if you will, but unfortunately there are many who belong in a padded cell. They don’t care about anything or anyone, all they’re concern with is where their next drink is coming from and how soon can they get it, that’s the grim reality of it.

“It’s a disease! They have no control over it!”…

We classify many different conditions and addictions as diseases in this country, which I can only assume is to make people feel better about overindulging, physically, mentally and of course financially. This rule however seems to only apply to vices that are legal and that are making sizeable donations (aka taxes) to the pockets of good old Uncle Sam. One of the reasons marijuana isn’t legal is because people can easily grow it themselves, thus cutting out the middleman and avoid paying taxes on it, and we all know that our government doesn’t like it when they (undeservingly) don’t get their fair share of the pie.

Regardless how many “doctors” say it is. Doctors are not gods, they are fallible and not without personal bias, if they weren’t there would be no need for a second opinion. When it comes to doctors the good guys don’t always wear white, the stereotypical drug dealer has been replaced by a man in a white coat armed with a pen and a prescription pad and the crack house, replaced by the pharmacy. Prescription pill epidemic anyone? Medicine is a business and doctors are businessmen, you’d be wise to remember that.

I know that not all doctors are irresponsibly writing prescriptions and/or consciously contributing to the demise of our civilization, however, there are a good percentage of them who are and I tell you this to hopefully open your eyes to what’s really going on in this world of ours. The X-Files said it best, “The truth is out there”!

If alcoholism is indeed a disease, shouldn't the alcoholic who is pulled over for drinking and driving be taken away in an ambulance instead of a cop car, brought to a hospital instead of a jail? Society's double standard?

It is a conscious decision made from a sound mind, not a birth defect or a little beer bottle sitting on their shoulder talking them into getting down with the drink. We all have the propensity to be addicted to something, we like something we want more of it, that’s how it is. So I guess we’re all diseased, right? Now off course these addictions vary from person to person, some can partake in their personal pleasures every now and then without letting them overtake their lives, while others just can’t let go of the dragon and do everything in their power to continuously peruse it.

The whole “disease” mentality is a way for alcoholics (and sympathizers) to justify their unhealthy behavior and as a means to help family/friends keep the facade intact of a loving and caring family member/friend, because it’s more comfortable to believe that it’s not their loved ones performing these destructive acts but rather the disease making them do it. We are lead to believe from a very young age that anyone born under our family crest loves us unconditionally and only have our best interests at heart, but “family” is only a word and not a contract. Because someone shares our bloodline doesn’t mean that they share our commitment and feelings towards one and another. That may sound dark and bleak, but it’s reality whether we want to accept it or not.

Classifying it as such is a slap in the face to those who are truly battling legitimate diseases, in the same way that an individual who never served this great country of ours, but claimed to, only for the praise and accolades such a position would warrant, would.

"Forget alcoholism, the real dreaded disease that is sweeping the nation is gulliblism, it's where the poor unfortunate victims believe everything that they are told without question!"

“Alcoholics and other drug addicts aren’t one in the same. You’re comparing Apples to oranges here!”…

You’re an alcoholic you’re sick, overcome by a dreadful disease that controls you as if you were Achmed and it Jeff Dunham. Alternatively though, if your preferred poison happens to be that of an illegal street drug you’re considered a no-good addict, plain and simple. There are no heroinaholics! 

Some people will lead you to believe that an addiction is an addiction, and that one is not treated any differently than another, but I can guarantee that if you ask someone who hits the crack pipe instead of sips from a can for a good time how they are treated and viewed by the masses you will get the real story.

When you’re an alcoholic you go to AA, but at the same time if you’re an addict of any other drug the only letters you see are DEA. An alcoholic gets off with a slap on the wrist and a brief stint in rehab, the addict gets thrown in the joint and is traded like a baseball card for packs of cigarettes. You’ll never see the property values drop because there’s a bar close by, but a crack house on the other hand, you might as well be living in the projects. 

I’m not trying to proudly waive the banner of illegal street drugs as an overzealous fanatic who is cheering for their favorite sports team as they go in for the win, would, nor am I saying that I think they should be legalized, I just don’t see why we treat alcoholics differently than any other addict in this country. Are alcoholics as bad as other drug addicts, absolutely!

“You don’t understand, they’ve had a rough life. They’re tortured souls”…

There are many out there who use alcohol as a means of coping, a way to escape from some terrible wrong and/or personal hardship that life has bestowed upon them, and to them I say welcome to the human race! You would be hard pressed to find one individual out there who didn’t experience their fair share of heartache and sorrow throughout their lifetime, but not everyone runs to their local liquor store/bar when the going gets tough and tries to drown their pain. You will never find solace in an empty bottle, just a temporary fix, and if anything your predicament will only get worse.

I hear the word, “selfish” thrown around a lot when discussing the suicidal, but the truth of the matter is that the word is more fitting when talking about alcoholics. When someone feels lonely and abandoned, which is the case with many suicidal people, who exactly are they being selfish to; at least that’s how they see it. Now a drunk on the other hand they knowingly, with a sound mind, decide to partake in a drug that not only harms themselves but also those around them. Whatever the reason, they feel their needs out weight the needs of the many, including those of their so-called loved ones.

There are healthier and less destructive ways to overcome the travesties we have faced. I’m not trying to sound heartless or uncompassionate to their plights, but we’ve all have been there, and most of us have survived to see another day without the aid of alcohol.

“What? You mean we should be responsible for our own actions and stop blaming them on something else? That’s sacrilegious and totally not how we do things here. Get out of here you witch!”… 

To paraphrase the great poet Shaggy (Mr. Boombastic if you’re nasty), “It wasn’t them”…or at least that’s what they want you to believe. We need an exorcism, they are all possessed by an evil alcoholic spirit…a spirit they bought from the liquor store nonetheless.

We treat alcoholics as if they are the victims, but they are far from it. They are not the victim, we are. We need to stop having pity on the abuser. We wouldn’t have sympathy for the man who beat his wife, so why do we for the people who destroy the lives of many around them and all those in their destructive paths?  This fact amazes and leaves me scratching my head in utter confusion. They are the aggressors, the ones behind a good portion of the unnecessary madness that covers this country like a tent around the home with termites, yet we are told that we should have pity on them and turn the other cheek to their wrong-doings.

We are too soft, we coddle those who don’t deserve it and if there’s money to be made, more than willing to look the other way and act like we didn’t see anything at all. 

I can guarantee that there are some who are reading this that think I’m crazy, that having a drink or two isn’t a bad thing, and to them I say you are correct. The problem isn’t the alcohol but rather the alcoholic. I’m sure this next statement is going to get me into hot water, but it’s the same thing when it comes to guns, it’s not the gun that’s the problem it’s the person behind the trigger that is.

“Hello! May I HELP you?”…

I’m all for someone getting help, but what I don’t understand is why they want to be anonymous while they are getting it? While they are out getting their drunk on and running amok they are as loud and obnoxious as can be. One would think they would be happy to let the world know they are getting help, that's a good thing, and get their drunk on in private, because that's embarrassing. 

You want to do something about being out of shape you go to a “public” gym and workout, or go to a “public” park and go for a run or even to a “public” restaurant and order a salad while everyone else is pigging out on pizza. You’re proud to show people that you’re concerned about your health and wellbeing. You want to stop drinking you go a private meeting, which is closed off to the public and totally secret, like you’re in the mob. I’m not trying to knock anyone for getting help with a drinking problem; I just don’t understand why some people feel shameful about it, but if it works for them then that is all that matters.

I can’t stand those pretend quitters though, the ones who only say it because it’s the right thing to say and/or because they are looking for that, “awww poor alcoholic” pseudo-love crap. Telling someone that you want to go to rehab/detox when you have a load on, is the same thing as telling someone you’re worried about your heart as you’re scarfing down a Big Mac, large fries and a diet soda…because you’re watching your weight. Stop the madness, if you don’t want help and plan on drinking until the day you die, man up and hit the bricks, never to return. Do something worthwhile for those who are unfortunately (dis)graced by your presence, it’s the least you could do. You already, “screwed the hooch (pooch)” with your life, don’t make the same mistake with someone else’s.

I'm not saying that alcoholism isn't difficult to overcome, but it's possible and for those who have, they should be commended and admired for their strength and the courage it took to conquer their demons, very admirable.

The recovering alcoholic is fine; it’s the repeat offenders we don’t like.

“How do you know what it’s like? You’re not an alcoholic!”…

What makes me an expert on the topic, how long do you have? I’m just kidding; I’ll give you the condensed version, which is a privilege I was never awarded when I was forced to sit through all those inane ramblings by some intoxicated booze hound when I was a child.

I have almost forty years of experience dealing with the walking drunks, both as close family and family friends who seem to come free with the purchase of every case of beer, and unlike my fathers (yes that is correct, plural), they never left. I drink, and yes I have my favorites, but I do so in moderation and continue to maintain a functional life…even with the alcoholic gene in my DNA.

I’ve heard all the excuses, blaming everyone and everything (except for themselves of course) on why it is that they drink like a fish. I’ve witnessed the unapologetic thievery, the ridiculous brawls and the complete lack of respect for all involved. When the well ran dry these people drank just about anything that contained alcohol, mouthwash, cold medicine and even aftershave, trust me I’ve seen it firsthand. I’ve had occasions, regardless of the setting, ruined by their unremorseful antics. These people made my life very unsettling, if it was a stomach it would have been upset and they would have been the crippling pains that kept me on the toilet heave-hoing and praying to God that it would all end soon. Let’s just say that living with them has been anything but a happy hour.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. I’ve been there, done that and not ever wanting to go back. 

“Last call!’…

The whole mindset around alcoholism is completely ridiculous and utterly absurd. People really need to step back, remove their feelings from the situation, and reassess the whole thing. It’s hard to see clearly when your eyes are full of tears. 

We all know that partaking in alcohol can result in a good time, and at the risk of sounding cliché and/or like one of those afterschool specials, do it responsibly and plan accordingly if you know it’s going to be flowing freely like a fire hydrant on a hot day on a city street. When it becomes a problem, you become a problem, and that’s not cool.

Final thought; the alcoholic is the person, not some uncontrollable disease that some poor unfortunate individual comes down with and/or is born with, and when dealing with an alcoholic loved one, your love for them is all in vain if it’s not tough.

“I love you man!”…