What’s In A Name…

Yesterday, in response to an innocuous post my brother put up on social media, I offered a single word reply — fag. I’ve been calling my brother fag since I’ve been able to speak.

One of his connections took offense to this, and asked me whether I would use the N-word in reference to blacks or if I ever referred to Mexican as Spics. He then asked if I would be offended by the word kike.

In my life, I have been called kike, heeb, names that have compared me to an animal, and much worse — all for having been born Jewish. The good news is, I was born with thick skin so I don’t let it get to me. I never have.

My commenting that my brother is a fag was not in reference to his sexuality. It was in reference to the fact that I’m better than him at everything that we’ve ever done, that I always will be, and that he is giant puss. It’s part of the language we speak as brothers — even in our 50s and 60s.

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To me, this is analogous to two words in two different languages, that are spelled and look the same, but carry very different meanings.

Fag, in the context of a derogatory term used towards homosexuals, is written in the language of hate. I don’t speak hate, ever.

Beyond that, I have been an avid supporter of, and an active voter in matters of gay rights. I have raised a daughter, now an adult, who is an activist championing gay rights in the communities she has lived in since she was in her teens.

That type of hate, prejudice, and hate speech have no place in this world, and I will speak out against it and vote against hate every chance I get.

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Fag, in the context of my brother being the world‘s biggest puss, is used in the language of a sophomoric boy trapped in a man’s body, which is a language I speak with fluency.

That is, my brother was born at fag, lives is a fag, and will die as a fag. When he gets to the pearly gates, Saint Peter will greet him and say “What’s up, Fag…?“

At which point my brother will reply…

“Shut up fetus face, now show me to my room…“

Mark and Saint Pete will punch each other on the shoulders, and all will be good in heaven as it was on earth.

I extended an apology to the man who took offense to that term, and offered him the explanation I have given above. I also sent him a friend request. Both apology and the friend request, thus far, have been ignored.

I know more than a few people who read this will also take offense to me using that term, lash out at me, attempt to initiate an argument, unfriend me, or block me altogether. Some though, may simply attempt to change my mind and ask me to quit using the term. I won’t.

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I stand strong with how I use the term, and feel I’ve given an intelligent, if not well received explanation. I will always have some faults in the eyes of some or in the eyes of many, and for some, one of those faults may be speaking in the language of a sophomoric boy stuck in a man’s body. At the end of the day though, this is about two words, spelled the same and that look the same, but mean two distinct things, in two different languages… Jhciacb

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Soul Food… For Thought…

Ruminating on souls this morning — who gets one and who doesn’t. Most assume that all human beings get a soul, and many of us believe that some or most animals get one also. 

However, it seems for as many people who believe that most mammals may get souls, and maybe a few select birds and fancy fish too, they don’t believe that insects do — or bacteria or even bushes. At the very least in the minds of many, there is limited soul distribution among living things. Some critters get ‘em and some don’t. 

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And for all of it’s lofty expansion in the last hundred years or so, science is still unable to establish clear evidence of a soul in any creature or in any plant.  Science might be able to prove emotion and/or feeling in living things, but it can’t show evidence of a soul. The soulascope  has not yet been invented. And of course, there’s that question as to where souls come from to begin with…

For a great many people, the only answer to the question of where souls come from is God. 

With little investment though, I can create a soul in my own home.  All I need to do is to put two dogs together who kind a favor each other, and let them get more familiar with one another, and within weeks of that, there will be a new soul in the house, perhaps a half dozen or more…

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For my part, I believe that all animals have souls, including fish and insects.  I regularly entertain whether or not plants have souls, but on that one, I remain undecided, but ever curious. 

Also for my part, I believe that all souls should be treated as equally as possible, though in a complex and often chaotic world, that can’t always be the case. 

A great majority of people in the world have no problem with the extinguishing of souls, all day long, so long as they get eaten or provide us with useful products such as shoes, costmetics, or some light-hearted amusement. This haunts me, ongoing, but I am guilty too. 

Taking souls is acceptable for most, in order that we each preserve the soul within us, or advance the collective causes of all human souls. Again, haunts me. 

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I’m just thinking about souls this morning. In truth, I think about them all day long — always bubbling under the surface… Jhciacb

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Jhciacb

Addressing Obesity In Others…

I’ll state from the start that I’m less trying to initiate a discussion, than I am sharing the experiences of a career fitness trainer.

Discuss if you wish, but I reserve the right to delete, ignore, and to pass judgment based on my experiences.

As a career fitness trainer, I’ve been privy to discussions on obesity at many levels. My expertise has been sought to advise, to consult, and to help in framing such discussions.  I’ve seen the obesity of others addressed by family, friends, and coworkers from every possible angle.

Hint: these discussions almost never go well, and often have a negative, and even a contrary result on the individual’s behavior in matters of eating and drinking.

In cases where it’s a parent talking to an adult child, a spouse talking to his/her partner, friends talking to friends, or co-workers talking to their contemporaries about the need to lose weight, it can go south very quickly — even if the intentions behind those conversations are good.

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The primary example of such good intentions usually cited is “for reasons of health”. That is, an individual wants to guide another individual towards weight-loss for reasons of improved health. And though that may be the foundation for many of these discussions, it’s my opinion that at the root of them it often relates as much to what the person looks like, as it does to their level of health or wellness.

Even in matters of obesity, human beings have the ability to cleverly mask their prejudice with so-called good intentions.

I have a client who has been with me on-and-off for nearly a decade. He’s approximately 80-lbs overweight. His parents speak to him regularly about the health implications of his obesity.

Though I am certain the parents of this man, who is now 30-years old, do have concerns that relate to his health, he is also the face of the family business. And as the face of that enterprise, I am just as certain that the parents of the young man would prefer he be at an aesthetically more pleasing weight.

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Each time his parents address this with him, they speak in terms of improved health, but often segue into matters of appearance. This can send my client into a depression, and his eating and drinking tendencies often increase. He has confessed this to me.

Did I mention he was not far from a healthy weight when he began working with me…?  The whole reason he became a client was because his parents wanted him to trim down a little for photographs and videos that he would appear in on behalf of their business.

As he resisted and went in the other direction, his parents applied even more pressure, to which he resisted more, and the snowball effect was an 80-pound weight gain over an approximate 4-5 year period.

The pressure from outside, as gentle as it might be, was not always gentle.  For my part, I have tried to do my best to provide him with beneficial workouts, and I’ve encouraged him to eat in support of those workouts.

This is not an isolated case. I have known many like this, too many, and have known of many more.

I once had a client who was a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant. She was in my studio one day with her mother there to photograph the session. Suffice it to say that if you’re a contestant in the Miss Los Angeles pageant, you’re drop-dead gorgeous to begin with, and probably quite fit, despite the very slight muffin top hips.  I was demonstrating an exercise for the young woman when her mother said in a voice loud enough for people in China to hear…

“Look at her, she’s fat!” pointing to the muffin top.

I wanted to hang myself. Instead, I just stood silently, broadcasting the most apologetic look I possibly could toward my client. I was grateful that she wasn’t obese, or she probably would’ve been disowned. And that feeds into my message more than a little bit…

If we have the ability to be judgmental and prejudice over people that we love being 5-lbs overweight, it probably gets much easier for us to be inexcusably judgmental over people we don’t know who might be 100-lbs overweight. Many people I know carry that level of prejudice and more. They put the blame squarely on the shoulders of the individual who is carrying the extra weight.

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No adult who is overweight, be it by 5-lbs or 200, is ever unaware of their situation or caught off-guard by it. Never.

From my perspective, whether a person desires lose 5-lbs or 50, they need cheerleaders, not false natured pundits of change hiding behind the facade of good health. There is no doubt that if I were the only voice in the ears of my weight-loss clients, they would be less likely to push back, even subconsciously, to their own detriment as many do when guided by the so-called voices of love.

By today’s sideways and prejudiced thinking, opioid abusers are now most often seen as full-on victims of doctors, insurance companies, and pharmaceutical companies, while obese people are seen almost exclusively as weak gluttons. This, in my opinion, is not the case.

Though we all do get to make choices about the foods that we put in our bodies, we all exist in ever expanding systems of complexity in which corporations and marketeers work harder than ever, and more intelligently, at leading us into lesser choices.

I can’t go an hour online without somebody putting information in front of me demonstrating how the corporations behind our technology and behind our pharmaceuticals work hard to lead me into being more dependent on their technology and their pharmaceuticals. With that in mind, I can assure you that the corporations behind our food products are working just as hard to get us to eat more, and more frequently.

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Take a good look around in any room, social setting, store, or playground.  Though the temptation may be to blame an individual’s weakness for their excess bodyweight, they are increasingly tempted, if not outright lead into lesser eating choices.  That’s why it’s happening to so many more people with each passing year, myself included. This, all done by companies that make a little more profit with every pound that we gain.

So if you have a concern that a friend, family member, or coworker might be overweight, and you truly are concerned about their health, maybe mention it to them one time, and then let it go. After that, channel your energies toward the ever-changing structures and institutions that have allowed obesity to be on the increase.

Hint: It begins with your vote each November.

Lastly, and I cannot be more clear about this, if you use the word ‘fat’ in any fashion when addressing or describing an individual who might be overweight, that is moral equivalent of using the N-word… Jhciacb

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The Strangest Accent…

In 1989 I was working as a scheduling analyst in the pilot planning department for America West airlines. They had sent me to Hawaii to help open a crew base there in preparation for flights to Japan.

With little for me to do there during my first few days, my workdays usually ended by 10 or 11 AM. My afternoons were spent walking the beaches, exploring shops and restaurants, but mostly surfing the gentle waves of Waikiki beach.

One afternoon, after paddling out, I sat mid-point on my surfboard taking in the peaceful scene. There were few people around and I remember feeling as though I had won the lottery. After a half-hour or so another man paddled out and sat beside me waiting for waves, but like me, was in no hurry to catch any. The man was quite tan, extremely lean, had blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked like he belonged in Southern California more than Hawaii.

While striking up a conversation and making small talk, I noticed he had a unique accent. I pride myself on being able to identify accents, even within regions, and I’m usually quite good at it. His, however, was distinct and I couldn’t figure it out. So I asked him leading questions in order to get him talking more. The more he spoke, the harder I had to work at identifying his accent, and the more lost I became in doing so.

I just couldn’t pinpoint his accident. The blonde hair and blue eyes lead me to believe he might be German, Scandinavian, or from somewhere in northern Europe. His accent though, sounded nothing like a European accent.

Eventually I just asked him…

You know, I’m pretty good at identifying accents, but yours is eluding me. Can I ask where you’re from…?

“I’m from Japan” he said through a small but noticeable chuckle.

Never saw that comin’…

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We talked for a few more minutes and explained that he gets that all the time. He was from a 3rd generation family of German immigrants who settled in Japan as missionaries before the turn of the last century. He told me he spoke no German whatsoever, and English was his second language. He had been raised and educated speaking Japanese, hence the accent.

Once he explained this to me, it was clear as a bell. He sounded Japanese. He was Japanese. He was just a blonde haired, blue eyed Japanese.

On one hand, I should get a pass for not being able to identify his accent. Blonde haired, blue eyed people rarely have Japanese accents. But the lesson learned that day was quite simple…

There is an explanation for everything, even for those things that are strange and unique. Sometimes though, those explanations are very well hidden and require a little digging…. Jhciacb

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A Faith Of One…

I am resolute in my faith. I believe deeply, but don’t subscribe to any denomination or persuasion. I contemplate, but don’t fall into suit with any school of philosophy. I pray, but I won’t suggest I truly know who is receiving those thoughts. My life has a dogmatic structure, but it is self-designed, practiced with consistency, and always with gratitude.

Still, there are those will come to know these aspects of me and suggest that my faith isn’t real or outright false because it lacks a name, a well-defined deity, ancient decrees, or leadership from beyond my own mind.

That amuses me — the very idea that my faith is less legitimate, less sincere, or less worthy because it’s self-assembled, self-administered, and freelance.

My faith is my faith. It is just as real and just as sincere to me as anyone else’s is to them, though there is no way to accurately measure one’s faith in contrast to that of another — thank God. Or should I just say thank goodness…?

I’m proud of my faith. I’m proud in large part, because it’s MY faith, not anyone else’s. Over time, it has been customized to within a millimeter of my soul. It’s a well-tailored suit of spirituality that fits me like a glove. Along with my daughter, my business, and my most immediate personal relationships, my faith is the most important aspect of my being.

I just wanted to throw out there this morning as a reminder that, although actions can be measured, faith cannot. Criticize my actions, praise them, or ignore them altogether. To question my faith though, would be to take on a task that will fall well short of completion… Jhciacb

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Where To Let Them Age…

With coffee at my side and my dog on my lap this morning, I lightly run my hand over his graying head. I tell him that I love him and assure him that he’s safe in my home. This is the most important part of my morning routine. If there’s going to be any peace in my day, then holding my dog and reassuring him is the down payment for that peace.

At 13, I accept that he probably has just a few years left with me, so I do my best to make each day for him count and to ensure his comfort and safety.

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My house is not a veterinary hospital nor a kennel. I don’t have all the medicines at my disposal which he might need for the illnesses that come with age. I don’t have any technicians or assistants on staff checking on him throughout the day. In an emergency, I would have to get him to a hospital as quickly as possible. Despite this absence of medication, trained help, and facilities, nobody tells me that as he ages he should be living in a veterinary hospital or in a kennel.

People accept that this is his home, and that despite me not being set up with as a pet care facility, this is where he belongs. Still, rarely a week goes by that a well-intended client or friend doesn’t suggest that my mother might be better off in assisted-living.

On one hand, that may not be a fair comparison. As people age, their need for care can be more complex and more far-reaching and that of an aging pet.

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On a more visceral level though, I have to question why it is so easy to put older human beings in care facilities, yet this is never done with our pets. Is it strictly a matter of health, hygiene, or safety…? Or is it a matter of convenience…?

The answer to that, of course, is probably somewhere in the middle.

Though it’s true that my mother might be better off with trained professionals in her proximity in case of emergency, a little red knob she can push if she needs help, or a cafeteria, none of those people or facilities will hold her hand each day and thank her for all that she’s done. Nobody will be there to tell her that they love her and actually mean it.

She might be in a safe room, but she wouldn’t be in a home. From that perspective, I see a little difference between taking an aging pet and putting him in a cage 3 miles from here, and doing the same thing with my mother, despite that the cage might have a sofa, a TV, and bingo on Tuesday nights.

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What I am willing to do for my dog, at the very least, I should be willing to do for my mother, including putting a pill in a piece of cheese and throwing it quickly to the back of her throat, and rubbing her neck to ensure it goes down. That’s a joke, kind of…  Jhciacb

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Step Back…

Step Back…

If you enjoy eating sausage, the old political cliché goes, you should never watch it being made.

We are approaching a time in the world when we should realize it’s more than politics that is sausage. That everything we touch, look at, enjoy, entertains us, and/or influences our lives is, in one way or another, sausage.

Culture itself, is sausage.

We are also approaching a time in the world when our primary form of entertainment seems to be staring into little reflective boxes to watch all of these sausages being made. Once we are disgusted with observing the process, we attempt to have our way with others in the form of oneway conversations about all that’s wrong with the sausage making process.

This is social insanity.

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I think we really have to wrap our heads around this, and that’s not easy. Not at all, but…

If our primary form of entertainment has become picking apart the very things that benefit us, and that we and others enjoy, and as we attempt to impose our curt thoughts on others with no intention of viewing things in their way or with any intentions of empathy, the making of the sausage is not the biggest problem we have.

Simply put, a problem larger and far more cancerous than sausage making, is the entertainment value we place on picking apart the things that we and others enjoy and that also benefit us. We’ve been in a state of social advancement for over 15,000 years.

If one is of color, transgender, missing both arms, developmentally disabled, or even a child in-tow approaching a border with the potential for a better life, right now — today is the best day on earth to be alive. Because right now — today, one’s chances of prosperity and far-reaching social support have never been greater than they are. That fact is inarguable, though you’re welcome to try.

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BREAKING…

The world isn’t going to be lifted from the potters wheel, trimmed, glazed, baked, and set on a shelf to be observed and admired in our lifetime. The world was not designed or Designed to be an end-product for any of us.

With the ebbs and flows of man and of social morality, we are well into the net-positive of flow. After more than 15,000 years of culture, ebb (toward the negative) today represents roughly 25% of moral movement, with flow (toward the positive) representing 75%. Those numbers, by the way, are my crude  interpretation of an approximation based on the cosmetologist George Ellis’s work on morality being built into the fiber of the universe. Slowly, and over time, ebb continues to decrease, while flow increases.   This is just where we are today.

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It takes a lot of work to take such a large step back and to see the world from this point of view, but it is a step worth taking, especially on a day like today…. Jhciacb

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Between Son And Father…

Six years ago this moment, I was staring out the window on a flight from Philadelphia to Athens. I was enroute to visit my daughter who was winding up her time studying archaeology in Greece. My father had died just 20-hours prior.

While his body was being transferred from the industrial refrigerator which housed him, to the factory where they burn bodies and  subsequently place them into fancy bags so people can keep place on their mantel or carry the ashes about to be spread into forests or over the sea, I stared out the window of an Airbus A3000 for 13-hours. Mostly, I looked down into the distant ocean.  Eventually day turned into night and I begin looking upward into the darkness, to the stars, and thinking about my dad when I finally broke down .

That would be the last time I would have to  feel the guilt that comes with  having to choose between being a son or being a father. On that occasion, I chose father and I would do it again.

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But it haunts me, ongoing, that as I landed in Athens full of excitement and enthusiasm to explore Mykonos, 3000-year-old ruins, and Greek culture with my daughter, that my father lay cold, stiff, and waiting to be burned, bagged, and buried after a life largely unfulfilled.

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It stops me in my tracks daily
The unfinished business of a son

And each time I look in the mirror
I see his plans unfinished and his life undone

And if I am the continuation
Of those intentions that he left behind

I try hard not to disappoint him
But in my darkest hours I feel so blind

Yet I wake to another moment
Another chance to break new ground

And the daughter whose eyes are upon me now
Is still unsure about her dad some how

But tomorrow holds more promise
And I’ll hope that I rise above

Fueled by fire and passion
And with the guiding light of my father’s love…

Jhciacb

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Daughter And Delight: A Path Out Of Depression…

It Always Passes…

Little twists of fate can turn the best possible day into be the worst, or so it can seem. We have all experienced this. Conversely, sometimes those twists can turn the worst possible day into the very best, and do so in a matter of seconds.

Yesterday morning I was battling a profound depression. Issues with my business, with a couple of clients, and within the generally chaotic fiber of my life had me at a boiling point by noon. That’s when my car died — on the freeway — on a 90° day — 15-miles from my home. Yup, my day was going that well.

Choosing not to jump into traffic, which was the obvious choice, I coaxed my car home slowly and got it to my mechanic. From there, after being told it might cost more to repair it than I have available, I walked home and prepared to take on the rest of my day, fully believing that it had the potential to still get worse.

If nothing else, I was hoping to sneak in a bike ride to help clear my head and center my racing mind, if only for a while. As I was about to get on my bike, my daughter’s name came up on my caller ID.

I have few hard and fast rules in my life, but at the top of that list is that I never let my daughter’s calls go to voicemail — ever. If I’m being honest though, I was bummed because I knew in taking that call I wasn’t going to get on my bike.

It was small talk mostly, and I silently wished I was peddling. She’s currently participating in an archaeological dig — three ships from 18th century being excavated in Alexandria, Virginia. I told her how proud I was of her for working in her field. At that, she chuckled which I thought was odd.

Daughter:  “I can extend it out a little further if you would like…” she suggested.

Me:  Huh…?

Daughter:  “The proud thing. I can make you prouder, but only if you want me to…”

Me:  What the hell you talking about…?

That’s when she told me she had been accepted into a PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania — Ivy League.

She has accepted a five-year proposal that will pay her a generous stipend and allow her to achieve a PhD in nautical archaeology in exchange for teaching entry level classes in anthropology and archaeology, as well as for doing research in her field on behalf of the school.

Holding back tears ain’t my forte, but I kept it together as best I could.  She asked me once if I was crying. No, I said, I’m just cutting off one of my toes with a Swiss Army knife. She chuckled.

Yesterday morning I wanted to jump into traffic because I was so upset about the course of my day.  And yes, I really wanted to do it.  But as I always do during difficult times, I worked hard to remember that it always passes.  Within An hour, an unexpected twist of fate had me jumping for joy, and all I had to do was wait out the bad stuff.

Hearing that news of my daughter’s success will forever remain the brightest moment of my life. I know she will have other successes — many, but those who know my daughter know that she has been pursuing this goal since she was in 8th grade. I guess it skips a generation.

And to that point, I cannot speak about this without applauding the masterful job my daughter’s mother did in providing the structure in which she has flourished. She is the finest mother, and the finest human being I have ever known.

The bad stuff always passes. Wait out the bad stuff. It passes. It always passes… Jhciacb

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Spectrum Or Rainbow…

I might listen to an audiobook 10, 20, or even 30 times. That’s no exaggeration.

There are times when I’ll cup my hands, place them over my dog’s head, then ask him a question and hope for an answer – telepathically. I’ve actually done that, though he’s never given me any response other than a quizzical look.

I recall and remember clearly, many conversations I’ve had on the school bus, at the swimming pool of my youth, or on dates I had when I was 16 — and I recycle those conversations in my head repeatedly.

Walking in nature each day, as birds, squirrels, and rabbits cross my path, I might say good morning to them, and introduce myself…

“Hello, Mr. Rabbit! I’m Roy, and this is my dog, Stroodle. We live just off Main Street. God bless you, and have a good day…!” I actually do that.

Surfing at SanO one day a few years ago, as I was sitting outside the lineup watching other surfers and dolphins fare much better than I was that day, caught myself repeating a name over and over again — Alex Cora. I have no idea why I was doing it, but I just kept saying audibly Alex Cora… Alex Cora… Alex Cora… over and over again. Wasn’t much of a Dodgers fan and I think he is a crappy analyst, but for some reason that day I just kept repeating his name.

At moments like these – those times when I’m queuing up a book for the 30th time, talking to a passing bird, or inexplicably repeating the same word over and over, I wonder where I am on the spectrum.

Maybe it’s more a rainbow than a spectrum – just a happy place where I need to be to keep my sanity. Or more succinctly, perhaps being a little crazy keeps me sane. Maybe. Others though, who I see with similar quirks as my own, have one thing in common — a diagnosis.

That’s a heavy confession for an April Fool’s week, but it’s no joke. I don’t see too much wrong with any of my quirks and idiosyncrasies, but because there are so many of them and they sort of form the core of my personality, I often wonder if I live with an undiagnosed form of autism, Asperger’s, or just a new kind of crazy altogether, that hasn’t yet been discovered.

Perhaps I am need of a kind of therapy which hasn’t been invented yet. Maybe.

Maybe I’m just another eccentric though, in a town full of eccentrics. I dunno.

By the way, I’m not looking for any feedback here. Just sharing my thoughts at 6:00am —my compulsion to wake early, to write, and to share. Quirks, oddities, colors of the spectrum. No, colors of the rainbow… Jhciacb

If you have not already, please scroll up and subscribe to this blog. Please check back in a couple weeks see what happens when I push the STOP  button on the blender in my head. Oh, and there’s this from The Kills. Enjoy…!