“20 minutes of action”

If you view the violation of a woman as “20 minutes of action” and the resulting social stigma as a high price to pay for “20 minutes of action” you’ve pretty much demonstrated the text book definition of Rape Culture.

Maximum Effort means Maximum Anger

While the declaration is instructive, I’m not sure I’ve put out Maximum Effort in a long time. The last time it might have happened was on my 2012 road trip where I rode my motorbike down to Portland and back. That was a great trip, and it definitely took some effort. Not sure if it was Maximum or not.

The one time I am certain I put out Maximum Effort was back when I took my motorcycle riding course. I was working very long days at Purolator, physically exhausting days, and racing from work to get to class on time. Then I was learning to ride the bike in the dark cold March evenings where we contended with fog, snow, and patches of very dark ice.

My entire week consisted of waking up at 5am to get to work by 730 so I could inspect my truck and plan my route. Then I spent the day hauling boxes on and off my truck. I had two hours between my last delivery and my first pickup, so I inevitably found some way to get in a nap somewhere, but it was never more than an hour and it was never enough.

Right?

It sums me up so well

I would get back to the depot at around 530, having put in 10 hours, and would then have to race to McMahon stadium to start my class. The only reason I was off work that early was because I’d made special arrangements with my manager to have someone make my last few pickups. Normally I wouldn’t be back at the depot until 6 at the earliest, but my class started at 6.

The class was a total of 20 hours, 6 to 10 every night of the work week, and we needed ever minute of it. Riding a motorcycle is actually fairly easy. Riding it slow on an obstacle course with fewer than three mistakes is fucking hard. Harder when it’s dark.
I’d get home at about 1030 with just enough time to make my lunch for the following day before crashing into bed.

That was a challenging week, but I managed it. I think the only way I managed it, however, was with anger. Anger brought me to determination. I’m not sure I’m capable of any other path. Years ago when I was working out regularly the only thing that kept me going was anger. Anger at my body for wanting to quit, anger at my lungs for burning, anger at myself for being so weak.

And now I’m reluctant to be that angry with myself ever again. After this hard relationship deterioration that left me angry nearly every day I’m now weary of it.

Over the past couple of days I’ve been feeling ill, some kind of incredibly brief flu virus. One day of intense all-body joint pain with zero appetite, and a second day only half as bad. The one thing I noticed through those days was how easy it was for me to get angry at the slightest things. I was angry with sudden noises, I was angry with slow lines, I was angry with people being too happy nearby. I was angry at some of my favorite music. Clearly, I was not in my best frame of mind. Luckily for me I noticed the disproportion and managed to not act on any of it. Given I stayed home through most of it this was relatively easy.

But anger is important and appropriate at times. And I need to be able to focus it properly again. I need to be able to dedicate myself to required writing without having to resort to anger and I’m not sure that’s possible.

We are what we do. Excellence, therefore, is not a goal but a habit.
Be excellent to each other. Be excellent to yourself.
Write the good stuff. Write the bad stuff. Write the stuff.
This is the stuff.

And yet…

I tried to go to bed at a reasonable hour last night. I really did try. The best I could do was 1 am, however. Still, not bad. If I could have slept. And for about 20 minutes I did. Then I woke up and laid there until 3 am when I finally gave up and got up to watch a couple of old episodes of Farscape. It was clear with the final episode that they had no idea if they were going to be picked up again. It wasn’t so much of a cliff hanger as it was a few dangled strings that could have been considered “the end”.

Then I returned to bed finally exhausted enough to sleep at around 5 am. Then I was up again at 7 to feed the cat, and back to bed. Finally hauled my ass out of bed around 11.

Then I had my shower, swapped in some new blades for my razor in preparation for shaving my head, and promptly nicked my right nipple. It still stings, although it has at least stopped bleeding.

I did my job search over breakfast, found nothing new, and wallowed in some social media for a couple of hours. Now I prepare to do some writing.

My life is so incredibly exciting at times.

Proximity warning

We’re crowded in pretty tight here at the Purple Perk. Apparently this is a fairly popular place for laptops. I’m not surprised. The tables along the wall have soft bench seating and power outlets spread out periodically.
I bought myself a piece of cake and an iced coffee. I might as well have ordered supper for the price I paid for it all but to be fair the “slice” of cake is big enough for three or four people to share. I will be taking the majority of it home with me when I leave. It’ll probably last me three days.

Cake at the Purple Perk

The cake here is huge.

I’m at the last table in the row, in a corner, so I have two walls of privacy keeping me separate from the crowd. My only neighbor is a young woman writing some paper about how HIV in children affects their family. (I peeked. I admit it. I was curious. In all honesty I just managed to see the title. She could be writing about horses for all I know. )

At one point said neighbor straightened up in her seat and stretched. Her left arm reached straight out from her shoulder and I suddenly had a proximity alert going on in my head.

Her hand was inches from my head an, in all honesty, there wasn’t any real risk of her touching me. But it would just take a quick twist of her shoulders to firmly plant her fist into my head.

Here’s the weird thing: I wasn’t concerned for myself. I was worried that she would feel awkward with me being that close to her. She was the one stretching and infringing and I was suddenly trying to figure out how to distance myself socially to keep her from feeling uncomfortable in my presence.

This is my conditioned response to being a huge man in a small world. The automatic response to physical proximity is a feeling of guilt at taking up too much space. Even when someone reaches out towards me I feel responsible to being too close.

I wounder how long it would take New York to crush that out of me? Probably just a day or two.

The truth is that we’re not crammed in like sardines in Calgary and normal personal space is generally possible outside of specific situations like buses, elevators, and movie theaters. Our sidewalks and supermarkets aren’t so crowded that people are forced to brush against each other. At least not normally.

So when we are forced into physical proximity it’s usually because I’m bigger and take up more than a single person’s space. I’m often big enough to take up two people’s space. So when I ride that train or that elevator I’m encroaching into people’s space more than usual.

And because I can see people’s discomfort with this fact, particularly women, I feel rather guilty about it.

So guilty, in fact, that when someone else chooses to encroach on my personal space I still feel like it’s my fault.

Health issues

Fighting health issues for over a week now. In addition to this incredibly persistent cold I’ve had this boil develop on my inner thigh. I attempted to keep it covered to prevent irritation but one day it just took off and swelled to the size of a newborns fist, complete with forearm, stretched across my inner thigh right where my pant seam rubs. It has been insanely painful and nearly debilitating. With my past experience of the swollen leg you’d think I’d be ready to jump up and get to the doctor’s office to have it looked at.

But I didn’t. I was, I admit, paralyzed with a combination of fear and indecision. I wasn’t certain it was bad enough to warrant a doctor visit, and I was terrified that it would mean another incarceration in the hospital. I barely survived the last one, financially, and I still have the utter lack of credit as a scar to remind me. I’m terrified I would lose everything with another prolonged hospital stay. Which is foolish, I know, because I’m no working for a company that can afford to provide me with short term disability, but the terror is still there.

Instead I looked up all sorts of home remedies (garlic and onion paste applied directly seems the most promising suggestion, but I don’t think I could do that and still go to work) and other online recommendations. Filters firmly in place I evaded all the touchy-feely new age junk and stuck with the logical.

Then I dug through my old drug bin and found the left over antibiotics the first tried to use to cure my leg. Far too weak to do anything for my right leg four years ago they are, it turns out, just perfect for dealing with this over-sized pimple. The swelling has all but disappeared and the pain is practically non-existent. I am much relieved. I know all my actions were foolish. I should have gone to the clinic and procured an official diagnosis, but the fear won out. I am lucky.

The cold, on the other hand, is proving tenacious as a used car salesman and it’s taxing my lungs. I barely cough at all today, but I know how quickly that can change. The other day my boss joked that I should either die or not, but get on with it. It does feel that way. When I’m coughing my lungs feel weak and challenged. I almost feel like I should be on a respirator.

But then I’m fine again, for hours at a time, and I can go for walks and do my dishes and my laundry with no trouble. And then I’m exhausted, lying in bed, coughing and struggling to breathe.

Not fun. But today has been pretty good, and I only need walk home. I think I’ll be okay. We’ll see how we’re feeling at work tomorrow.

But I came across an article I was afraid to read. From the summary it seems the loneliness can have a seriously adverse affect on a person’s health. I’m afraid to acknowledge how pertinent that is for me.

I’ve been facing a lot of fear lately. Living alone and feeling so sick I’m entertaining far too many visions of my body not being found until somebody finally asks “when was the last time any of us saw Joel?”

I coughed once, in the shower, so hard that it felt like my throat had turned inside out. My airway was blocked by itself and I could neither breathe in or out. I panicked and stumbled to my bedroom, naked and dripping, not knowing what I was going to only that I didn’t want to drown face down in a quarter inch of water in the tub. It was irrational, but I couldn’t breathe. My throat eventually opened up and I was able to breathe again, but the event left me shaken to this day.

I’m going to die alone and it’ll be days before someone figures out where I am.

On the vaguely plus side all this illness has dropped my appetite and I’ve been losing a little weight. Wee.

251 plus words

Went to my writing group tonight and had a great time. The writer we were critiquing had developed her character enough that we could see her maturing in the text. She was extremely please we all “got it”.
I always leave the group charged and ready to get back into writing. By the time I get home, however, I’m ready to just roll into bed and go to sleep. By morning all momentum is lost and I’m back where I started, wallowing in indecision and regret.

Today I have all but given up. I stand for pro-choice, equality, feminism (redundant, perhaps, but worth mentioning on its own), rational responses to climate change, and freedom from religion. Every day I express my support I’m faced with passionate, verbose individuals who feel I have it “all wrong” and am giving in to some crazy sub cult that’s set on destroying their religion, their jobs, or their desire to control others.

And I’m near to giving up. I just don’t have the energy to point out the obvious every single day to people who have set up very deliberate blinders to ignore even the most hard core facts. I just can’t argue anymore. I don’t have enough ammunition to get through their calcified skulls. I don’t think anybody does.

The answer is, of course, more guns. We must give out guns at church and in every bar and restaurant. We must provide them as a bonus to every car, motorcycle, boat, quad, and bicycle purchase. Because, honestly, who could possible survive on our roads and rivers if they’re not sufficiently armed? And could you possibly eat or drink in comfort knowing you might be the only person in the bar or restaurant who isn’t packing?

Bullets should be available in schools like pencils and erasers. How else are children ever going to learn to make, and eradicate, those really BIG mistakes?

A gun should be provided with every new driver’s license so those new drivers can properly defend themselves against the road rage tyrants in their beefed up trucks. Little Timmy isn’t going to make it prom unless he can shoot back at that oil exec who’s tired of Timmy hogging his lane.

Guns should be provided to every new mother to help her properly protect her children in this dangerous world. What could possibly be better to convince little Janie that there isn’t a monster under the bed than the ability to empty a clip under the frame and let little Janie know that, if there were any monsters (or family pets, for that matter) under the bed, there sure as heck aren’t any now.

Big guns should be part of every property deal. Nothing says “I own this!” like the ability to murder anyone who comes within spitting distance of your land.

A gun should be given to every released convict to ensure their ongoing survival. After all, nobody is going to hire them, so they’re going to have to get their food somehow. And how are you possibly going to keep those prisons full if you don’t give them every chance to re-offend? Besides, they’ll get a gun themselves anyway. Let’s just streamline that process.

Teachers should be packing at all times to help protect our children, and to keep those degenerates in line. Little Johnny isn’t going to be talking back after you’ve put one through his foot, now is he?

I could go on for days…