Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Where Dreams Can Fester

Write that novel you've been kicking around
Bust out your paint brushes and see what happens
There's lots of free audio software to record stuff with these days

So are the types of phrases one might commonly hear when one professes to desiring some sort of financial and popular success in the creative arts. Yet, it is commonly assumed that many people never actually do pursue said creative outlet, instead letting their ideas - good or bad they may be - fester and languish in their imagination. This has been called laziness by some, or pessimism by others, and a host of other negative connotations. Given, however, that ideas in one's imagination can have the kind of success and reach that when put to reality they can not, and that while still festering, unpursued, can reside in pleasant daydreams and delusions of grandeur, one must wonder if not putting pen to paper, so to speak, is actually the optimist's route, and that attempting to achieve that of which can not be achieved in the first place, is ultimately the darker, less rewarding path, for it is only in one's wildest imagination that success can ever be attained.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Stronger

If taken to its logical extreme, the statement "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger" would seem to condone certain harmful activities that do not kill you but might degrade your health. For instance, smoking regularly would not necessarily kill you immediately nor, as deadly as it is, be your cause of death. Indeed, one could utilize the statement as a sort of nihilist hedonist creed, if one were to do simply apply the statement in its most absurd, literal fashion. In that regard, one might be pressed to find ways in which anything that doesn't kill you does indeed make you stronger, and not, as all things, simply reduced to suffering and dread.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

As Do All Things

I suppose it's the nature of things that bonds break. Cells break down. Body breaks down. We all say that everything dies but the process of death is a gradual destruction of the very things, matter, that holds us together. Sometimes the very things that matter. There's a movie that says that we move apart at 5 centimeters per second, or the speed cherry blossoms fall. That's probably too literal.

I don't know where my best friend from elementary school is. I know he is here in town, to the extent that he is alive and owns a business, and I know that he has a serious girlfriend, but I can not speak to anything else. We were once inseparable. Now if we were to sit down at the same table it'd be nothing but awkward silence and forced conversation.

My best friend from junior high was a bully. I don't know that he was a friend, ever, but I guess I put up with it because everyone was a bully then and at least it gave me social structure. He went to New York to study film. I stopped talking to him after one last one hour phone call where he lied, repeatedly, to me. Sometimes I wonder if it's worth reaching out. He sends me a happy birthday text every year and asks me to respond. I have no idea where he lives, what he is doing, or even how his looks have changed. All I've been able to gather is that 10 years of busting his ass off to get involved in making film never panned out. I guess even bullies get to suffer with the rest of us.

I couldn't tell you what a single former classmate is doing. Maybe it's for the best. I didn't really like how they treated me, many of them. But at some point I made the decision to not know a single person here in town and be the cherry petal that lands on a sidewalk and then gets picked up by a gust of wind and drifts into a shady looking alleyway with nothing else. Overdone metaphor be damned.

I'm sure it will happen again. As do all things, the bonds and connections break, the distance becomes to great. Between work, and family, and personalities, and change, and all the other modern stressors and contrivances. I'm sure the girl I am seeing will eventually become just another dormant contact on a Facebook page full of nothing but them, our social media sites time capsules into a past we can't escape but at times want to relive. But even those memories, of past friendships, of past joys and heartaches, fade into obscurity. As do all things.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Another Serious Post

Today I will break, for the 2nd time, my rule against writing about politics.

As we near the final conclusion of one of the most secretive, haphazard, and controversial legislative processes that I've been privy to in my entire life, I wanted to take a step back and use this space as a place for me to explain how one of the most significant and all-encompassing legislative passages of the last 10 years has changed my life. What follows is a personal story. I don't necessarily view it as an attempt to convince (I call my legislators for that), but given the teetering existence of such an influential piece of legislation, I would like to share how, in many ways, Obamacare is one reason I am here today.

By all measurements I was a healthy kid growing up. No broken bones or sprains even though I played sports, perfect blood pressure, not even any allergies to talk about. While I didn't know it at the time, however, my parents were paying 10k a year for our family of 4 to have health insurance, something they came perilously close to dropping until a good friend told them that to do so would be madness.

But in May of 2008, at age 19, after I had moved out, I ended up in the ER and then, for a week, a hospital for the mentally ill. The last thing on my mind at the time was money. In fact, I can't even recall for one second thinking of anything related to money or cost, considering that I was a mere 12 inches from death.

About three weeks after my release, I stumbled upon a pile of bills that my parents had tucked away in a shelf in their living room. They were the bills for my hospitalization. They were almost 15 thousand dollars. The sinking feeling in my stomach at the time was eminently real. I knew that my parents could afford it; 60-70 hour work weeks when I was young managed to help them to a place of middle-upper class comfort by this time in our lives, but I was stunningly aghast at how that meant that, for most people, it would be unaffordable.

A month later, my mother and I sat down with an insurance salesperson (this was before Obamacare and marketplaces and all that) and started hashing out getting health insurance for me in case something happened, God forbid. For reference, I lived and still do in Michigan. Everything was going fine, we had narrowed in on a reasonable plan with coverage I needed, when the salesperson started asking me some questions. One of the questions was if I had been hospitalized for mental illness recently. Seeing as how I had, I replied yes.

I was then informed that nobody would cover me until it had been more than 6 months since I had been hospitalized. I walked away that day without insurance.

I shudder to think, looking back, what would have happened if I had to be hospitalized again before the 6 month period was over. My parents may have been comfortable but they were not made of money, and I was right out of my freshman year of college and its concurrent debt.

I am 28 now. I work a boring job and earn about 21-22k pre-tax. Thanks to Obamacare, I pay a still ridiculous but at least manageable $105 dollars a month to make sure my 4 prescriptions and regular doctor's appointments do not completely drain me. I own a house, and between that and the subsidies that allow me to afford my own health expenses, I am happy at the independence that is afforded me. Being that I have no college degree, the reality is I probably will never make a ton of money. I have a safety net in my parents, but if certain pre-existing condition protections are waived, and the number of plans that cover what I need drastically decrease in amount and increase in price, I, at almost 30 years old, will probably be forced to ask my parents to help me pay for my own health.

I am not pretending that Obamacare is perfect. But I truly can not exist without it, unless my parents would foot the bill, and honestly, I can barely imagine asking them for help at my age without feeling incredibly embarrassed. I've been working since I was 16 and I feel like I should at least be afforded a chance, by my own country, to have individual control and stability over my own health care, and to manage a disease I have no control over and did not choose to be born with.

If you are as worried as I am about the future of your wellbeing, or the wellbeing of your countrymen, I beg of you to call your legislator. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Cycles

Today is the longest day - in English nomenclature - in the northern hemisphere; or, essentially, the summer solstice, as it is named. Day, in the former phrase, not meaning the actual 24 hour cycle of one Earthly rotation, but instead referring to the amount of daylight those in the northern hemisphere receive. Indeed, from this point on, the northern hemisphere will begin a six month metaphor for existence - that is, it gets darker and darker and gloomier and gloomier. Indeed, if one were to observe the planetary cycles, one could easily come to the realization that the earth is always metaphorically rendering the meaninglessness and futility of existence. For example, while one might be inclined after winter solstice to think that things are looking up, said optimism is quickly dashed by the fact that January and February, statistically, for much of the northern hemisphere, are snowier and colder months. And while one then might be inclined to a second wave of optimism in, perhaps, March or April, one finds then that the prevalence of tornadoes, hurricanes, and other maladies are on the upswing, and that the act of greater sunlight is now reduced to a mere two month period before it starts waning. In summer, firefly season may briefly inspire a bit of Earthly wonder and amazement, until one realizes that the lifespan of a firefly is about two weeks, and that like all things, the goodness in their existence is a brief temporary respite against the continual onslaught of suffering.