During the time I had been without insurance (for the first time in my adult life), every trip to get pills was like embarking on an African (should we say Kenyan, maybe?) safari with no hat, canteen, or rifle: $600 for Xarelto (even with a Maricopa County Discount Card – free to own, just download!), $600 for Januvia (I stopped taking it), $30-$60 each for most of the other chronic conditions I have dealt with for the last 25 years plus plus plus. That doesn’t even count the mandatory bottle of Coke Zero at checkout!
Add to that an income that had dropped in one day from $$$,$$$ to $$,$$$ (under the halfway point, kiddos), and you begin to envision what a desperate, diabetic, hypertensive, permanently-clotting and ever-inflamed one-car pileup I had become!
But God was on my side. So was my Latina love Gabby, with her calm, sweet, and positive demeanor (“You are a good man, baby, a strong man, a smart man, we will be fine, our time is not God’s time”). And of course so was Barack Obama, his arms outstretched to yours truly with a fully-subsidized (my new income of $$,$$$ was well under the current Affordable Care Act Federal Poverty guideline of $94,200 for a family of four) Obamacare Maricopa Silver PPO of my own!
I won’t tell you there wasn’t some red tape involved – there was a lot actually, (with more to come, probably), and not everyone was onboard. (Picture my ex-wife, fangs bared, snarling at the gates of Socialism, pacing, not willing to settle for one penny or deduction less than currently allotted to her by the county and state judiciary. But fuck her – you can’t be scared about just that bitch when you are broke, busted, and possibly terminally depressed.)
The point is, life goes on after you lose your job, and even the best of us will latch on to the most expedient and least-costly way to survive. Don’t kid yourself about that. And although the following saga may be of limited use to most of you, it is a primer of sorts for all the rest of you soon-to-be-unemployed or under-employed schmucks who didn’t plan for the future, or maybe did, but made some mistakes along the way and didn’t anticipate the always annoying and sometimes debilitating road-closures of life.
Since it is usually best to begin at the beginning, let us hearken back to
September 3, 2013 (evening hours): I’m pretty sure God has me where he wants me. He had to get a little (righteously) pissed to get my attention, but, dammit, he does have it now, what with his knee – heavy, insistent, and massive – pressing urgently against my neck. His breath is raspy yet powerful, and blows forth like a mixture of carbon, cold winter rain, and Lake Superior whitecaps. I briefly consider the efficacy of marketing such an elixir as a unisex cologne, but then he leans into my windpipe just a tad harder, and my brain wants to explode into an infinite number of shattered cortical stars.
He leaps up/reaches down/hoists me up by my t-shirt. (In one fluid move, dude.) He is of course more muscular than any statue of any deity ever, and you sense the awful and absolute finality with which he could dispatch you – even though, in this case, he’s only trying to make a point.
He is not winded in the least. The tempest has passed…he is calm and magnificent in his bearing. But all the same…
I can tell he’s a little on edge, maybe even perturbed.
“You know, Johnny, I don’t really like to rely on my human attributes unless I have to – they are notoriously unreliable and create a lot of angst and…irritation, if I don’t mind saying so.
“But you are one of my more irritating creations, and it seems to be one of the few ways I can finally get your attention and stop having to minister to you all the time.”
He shoots me a nasty look. His eyes are dark and foreboding, his visage hawklike. My stomach turns into gurgling village-water.
We are in some sort of Roman gymnasium, maybe first century AD. There are no mats – only the hard cracked marble floor. There is a sense of decay in the abandoned building – big sections of the walls and ceiling have shed chunks of masonry.
“So without belaboring the point, here is why you are here tonight, Mr. John Nampion: You are clinically unable to make a change in your life without being forced, my dear boy.
“And whether you realize it or not, you pray to ME for that change every single day.
“Look at the last seven years of your life, ever since you moved to Phoenix. Divorce, financial ruin, loss of respect from your family, your bosses, your co-workers, even those few people who call themselves your friends. None of them could get you to eliminate or modify even one item in your code of conduct.
“Yet you were miserable. You ate, drank, and rutted yourself (in some very pathetic and disgusting ways, I might add) into oblivion, always hoping for some sort of way out.”
The Lord rocks back and forth on his heels, rhythmic and hypnotizing, then begins dancing in a Sugar-Ray shuffle, up and down on the balls of his feet, lithe yet menacing in his simple cotton Karategi, his arms pop-pop-popping in explosive jabs and uppercuts. Soon he is shadow-boxing his way around the gym, circling closer to me with each whoosh of his fists, his feet smacking and sliding, a whirlwind drum solo on the cold and debris-strewn floor.
He is now within arms reach of me. He stops suddenly, and I know something dramatic is about to happen.
And the God of all creation roareth thus:
“So, tonight, my dear Johnny, you will GET YOUR WAY OUT!”
I expect fireworks, or maybe to be immediately kicked from one alternate reality to another.
Instead we just continue to stand there, looking at each other.
“Well?”, I ask.
God stares back at me, quizzical.
“Well, what?”, he rebuts.
“What change is about to happen?”, I ask, resentment creeping into my voice.
It isn’t wise policy to be miffed at Jehovah, but he is making me cranky, after all. I had just lost my job (Operations Manager/Assistant VP of Collections) that very morning – My boss flew down from the home office and immediately fired the few remaining dolts who had lingered for far too long. No severance, no notice, no nothing. 20 years of loyal service smashed on the rocks of a very bad economy – and some stupid corporate decisions, to boot. (I was absolutely blameless.)
So I am in this place, not sleeping like I should be, fretting about my future, wondering what will happen to my kids and what will I do to take care of them, wondering if I had panicked right after getting axed by calling a rival Accounts Receivable Corporation and taking a desk job without even putting out a resume. It was easier than being unemployed – and I knew the owner and my immediate supervisor and many of the employees. Even though they hired me for less than I was making in my second year in the collection business (1992), there is commission and bonus opportunity. And I hear they have a health insurance plan, too.
God isn’t interested in any of that. He feints a quick left jab at my head then laughs, a bit too sardonically, in my opinion.
“You know that saying about change being good, right Johnny?”
I don’t respond. My underwear is sweaty and my t-shirt is a bit too tight in the belly, especially after the Lord of Hosts had yanked on it so profusely.
“Listen, Nampion. Don’t you get peeved with me. Although my main function here is to serve as a device, I am still the Lord Thy God, and I can still appear simultaneously in an infinite number of places and I can still definitely put a world of hurt on you if I so desire. So watch it.
“Over the next several months, and maybe even years, you will find out that life isn’t so easy. You went through the same thing in your teens and 20′s, but you have largely forgotten the lessons of that time.
“I am not doing this to you, you have requested it, and I do believe in honoring requests when they have some value.
“You must be careful to avoid a doctrinaire world-view, because many of the things that you are about to experience will clash with your conservative beliefs. That does not mean that those beliefs have no value – it just means there is more than one way to experience the world and the events that flow through it.
“So you will have to be fair – very fair. You will get to see life through the eyes of the least of mine. And ultimately it will empower you, and make you a better person. Especially when it comes to your kids. You have done an untold amount of damage there, but you will find a way to make it right.”
There is an awkward silence – at least on my end. He winks at me and is suddenly dressed like a really bad tourist – he has a powder blue shirt on, wrinkled and untucked, collar all hackneyed, with about a hundred white whales spewing an unknown grayish liquid from their blowholes. His brown stiff cargo shorts are turned a bit to the side, and appear to be unwashed. The Nikon hanging from his neck is definitely legit, and is missing the lens cover. Dirty brown deck shoes, no socks, and a Rasta hat over a suddenly straight and unkempt lump of brown hair (no beard! Weak jaw!) finishes out the ensemble. Oh, yeah – Ray Bans. Don’t ask me why. They are way too good for the rest of him.
“So goodbye – for now. You can always ring me up on the Blackberry – but keep those minutes to a minimum, my friend!”
Bet you can’t wait for instalación de dos!
Affordable Care Act · Barack Obama · Collection Agencies · CVS · Gabby · God · Insurance · Jesus Christ · Maricopa Silver PPO · Obamacare · Prescription Drug Costs · Sinaloa · Total Fucking Loser · Tufesa
Having attended several meetings of Alcoholics Anonymous over the last 18 days, I can confidently state that drunkards and drug addicts are the most selfish people on God’s favorite little planet.
To those of you who have to deal with us on a daily or even semi-regular basis, that is probably the most “duh” statement you’ve ever read.
And not that we haven’t heard if from you many times previously – but when you are cosseted and coddled in the impermeable womb of the Id, or the all-inclusive and permanent vacation destination of the “me”, noises from the outside are by design muffled and extraneous.
I mean what could they portend other than commotion and discomfort?
Of course it’s ironic that I would be discussing John Nampion and people like him when there are all sorts of other subjects that are of much more import (really?), but hey, I just can’t help myself.
I remember my Mom telling me all through my childhood, teen years, and now adulthood to “stop thinking about John”. After all, there are “lots of other people out there, and you have no idea what they are going through, so why don’t you just think a little bit about your fellow man instead of your next meal or nap?”
(Or beer, or sh*t, or whatever. Basic functions – don’t make it too complicated.)
And then she would slap my hand away from the meatloaf or roust me from the couch and ask me to help my Dad mow the lawn (he had only been out there for an hour), or assist my Brother-In-Law in moving a dresser from the basement to the upstairs. (Was that me he’d been calling?)
From the Big Book, page 62:
“Selfishness – self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles. Driven by a hundred forms of fear, self-delusion, self-seeking, and self-pity, we step on the toes of our fellows and they retaliate. Sometimes they hurt us, seemingly without provocation, but we invariably find that at some time in the past we have made decisions based on self which later placed us in a position to be hurt.
“So our troubles, we think, are basically of our own making. They arise out of ourselves, and the alcoholic is an extreme example of self-will run riot, though he usually doesn’t think so. Above everything, we alcoholics must be rid of this selfishness. We must, or it kills us! God makes that possible. And there often seems no way of entirely getting rid of self without His aid. Many of us had moral and philosophical convictions galore, but we could not live up to them even though we would have liked to. Neither could we reduce our self-centeredness much by wishing or trying on our own power. We had to have God’s help.”
You have to be in a pretty bad place to admit you can’t do anything about your pathetic (here it comes again) self. All those promises to quit drinking (pouring the vodka down the sink with your daughter watching you), to blog every day because people you respect say you have talent, to be fair and decent to the poor unfortunates who are forced to be in your company for hours a day, to start a new life: Early to rise, healthy, vibrant, appreciative of all the good things you have – nothing but flimsy matchsticks that never amalgamate into any sort of creation.
Hey, presto! Forget it…how about tomorrow?
I am floating in my cocoon…over the earth…I can now see out of it somewhat fuzzily, and hear bits and snatches too…. It is scary down there…lots going on…but if I just close my eyes and believe…that I can become part of it, and develop some interest in those who travel through it and live on it, well…God will let me join in. It will be chaotic and messy and have the occasional waft of decay and despair, but I have heard tell of such a thing as joy, too. I can’t bear to think of the next steps: Listing my wrongs on paper and sharing them with another person, and even worse, making amends to those I have harmed…please God, can I just worry about that another time? Right now the sensation is light and I am trying to muster the courage to go down there…or, I should say, to allow you to take away my burdens and bring me there yourself. We shall see….
GOING WITH THE FLOW
Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him. . . .
TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS, p. 96
The first words I speak when arising in the morning are, “I arise, O God, to do Thy will.” This is the shortest prayer I know and it is deeply ingrained in me. Prayer doesn’t change God’s attitude toward me; it changes my attitude toward God. As distinguished from prayer, meditation is a quiet time, without words. To be centered is to be physically relaxed, emotionally calm, mentally focused and spiritually aware.
One way to keep the channel open and to improve my conscious contact with God is to maintain a grateful attitude. On the days when I am grateful, good things seem to happen in my life. The instant I start cursing things in my life, however, the flow of good stops. God did not interrupt the flow; my own negativity did.
From the book Daily Reflections
© Copyright 1990 by Alcoholics Anonymous World Services, Inc.
It has been a long and circuitous road to the passage above.
I read it for the first time today.
Because I attended my first AA meeting today.
It was wryfully and quietly funny, almost a little poke in the belly from God, that the subject of blaming would come up in my inaugural 12-step meeting. After all, many people, from my boss to my ex-wife to my shrink to my employees to, most importantly, my kids, had been telling me for an exceedingly long time that I was angry and spiteful and hateful and full of rage at all the seeming injustices in my life, when in actuality it was my response to neutral, everyday events that was the problem.
Now intellectually I knew this. I am not a super-dumb guy by any means.
But man I am stubborn.
So when my boss would tell me that I was alienating my employees with my hair-trigger flash-point flare-ups (they weren’t listening, after all), why, I just blew him off. It was his fault anyway. He had put me in an untenable position where I was forbidden to piss any of them off but still needed to get production out of them but I couldn’t do that because they didn’t respect me because they were allowed to do whatever they wanted.
And besides, the office was going to shut down any day. We were the forgotten satellite site, the red-headed step child, it was only a matter of time, everyone had been talking about it for years and it was a foregone conclusion.
So why would I want to listen to him?
The ex-wife? She was just goading me. She did it all the time when we were married, and now she had the luxury of regular alimony checks and lots of free time to turn my children against me, at least when she wasn’t working those two jobs, so why not bust my balls just for the heck of it?
The shrink? He was supposed to be treating my eldest daughter for some “issues” (that I had no part in creating), but he was wondering why I wasn’t willing to change anything to meet halfway with her.
I would point to her when she would smirk and casually insult both of us, and ask him why would I do that? She lives on Planet Earth for one purpose only: To push my buttons and reduce me to a jiggling mess of manhood, a Mad King Ludwig, permanently banished to the lowest and meanest part of the castle.
(OK, I didn’t really say that, but it sounds kind of good I think.)
And the other two Children, well, the youngest daughter was piggy-backing off the elder, and the boy was just too “intellectually developed” to listen to anything I might want to say.
Besides: The house was always dirty, thanks to them.
All kidding aside, my life has gradually become a series of automatic, wrathful “reactions” to any and all stimuli that I take to be annoying, or in any way a “challenge” to my obvious good sense and correct way of thinking. The reactions have escalated over the last few years, and now come pretty regularly and dependably. The Shrink calls it the “Gunslinger” syndrome – he tells me I have created a neural pathway in my brain, and because I use it so often, it works really really well.
And so I rant at my kids – and others – and they become frustrated and lash back – and the cycle repeats itself.
Drink becomes the salve, the cooling balm for an overheated mind.
Of course the “relief” only works for a short period of time, and it actually creates a condition whereby the next day the smoking engine of my brain starts out at an even higher temperature.
This is not good news.
And there is no way to “control” any of it.
In fact, I recently told the shrink that I needed to learn to “control” my temper better, and he actually laughed at me – a harsh and almost sardonic cackle.
“You can’t control anything. Don’t you know that?”
He leaned forward, a crusty and commanding hulk of a man. He is older and balding, but he still has the remnant of a possibly rebellious youth – there is a white ponytail hanging down just behind the naked spot at the back of his head.
“No one can regulate anything in this world. All you can do is decide how to respond.
“But you can always make a decision – that’s the good news. You have to walk around that pathway you’ve developed, and take a different route, and let it gradually become overgrown and hard to walk down.”
(He actually did say that.)
Which brings us back to the passage at the top of this post: The hardest, the very hardest part for me will be to understand that I not only cannot stop the world from being what it is, not one iota, but to add the religious element (God as each of us understands him), I can’t even really make a decision.
I can only “plug into” and be receptive to the power of the Almighty – Lord, Savior, Universal Consciousness, the Laws That Regulate The Universe, whatever you want to call it, and ask for blessings and help and direction to do right by others, which in turn will bring a heart that finally beats peacefully.
So for all of you that I have harmed in some way: I am truly sorry.
I will take a step here and ask you, if you are so inclined, that you would pray for my children. They are the three most wonderful human beings I have ever met – and maybe if I (oops, God) can set the right example, their hearts will in time beat peacefully too.
Here is the link to the real post: ‘Chemtrails,’ Ron Paul, and the Cost of Conspiracy in Arizona
Please peruse it, enjoy it, and comment profusely…the finished product reads exactly as it should (due to Mr. Swindle’s exacting editing skills)…nothing needs to be added, and nothing needs to be taken away….
But there is, in most posts, stuff that ends up on the cutting room floor that is kind of fun and witty, and you sort of enjoy it – almost like the rough heel of the bread smeared with butter and honey…it isn’t good enough for the discerning reader, but it does have its charms, and you would really prefer to keep it out of the trash can, at least for awhile.
So here is a peek at the original postscript before it gets consigned, once and for all, into the rusty, clanky, and offensively scented garbage receptacles – no, over there – in the right-hand sideyard of the mind….
About 30 miles southwest of Sedona, just below the summit of Mingus Mountain, four Paulite Acolytes fan out, awaiting the impending carnage.
It is dark all around. The SORPS (Soldiers of R. Paul) are united only by their black stealthy clothing, walkie-talkies, and sense of outrage. They communicate fluently via a series of Aboriginal tongue clicks – because you never can tell who might be listening.
They know, as only a few others do, that there is a secret underground U.S. Military base in the nearby town of Cottonwood; it is from here that the nearly-silent helicopters and jets come, issuing forth night after night, to slowly annihilate the reasoning abilities of John and Jane Doe, Americans.
The Mission, as always, is not to interfere (How un-Dr. Paul-like that would be!), but to collect data – to accumulate and amalgamate enough evidence to bring the rotten-to-the-core Military-Industrial Complex to its knees once and for all.
Although the duty is dangerous (think about it, people!), there is a sense of honor and Esprit de corps among the volunteers – they know that any night could be the tipping point in the battle against the Huns of War.
A slight vibration is felt from within the mountain and out in the surrounding sky; it is almost unnoticeable, but our veteran spotters know it like their own heartbeats – the Cavalry is coming! The clicks escalate – the enemy will be here soon – but what an honor, to be here, in this time and place, during the battle for the collective soul of human-kind!
Arizona Department of Environmental Quality · Chemtrails · Contrails · Illuminati · Islam · New World Order · Ron Paul · Sedona Arizona · The Artist Formerly Known as Prince · Trevor Baggiore · Ty-D-Bol · United States Air Force · Weed-B-Gon
To read episode one, click here.
To read episode two, click here.
Mike and I didn't speak too much the first few days back to work. I could tell he was a little embarrassed with how the night at Beckiyama had turned out: No photos and a very large bill for yours truly.
The money part didn't really matter, to be honest - Mike, for all his self-centered blather, had been a pretty good friend, helping me with all manner of construction, landscaping, and electrical projects, not only at the former marital abode, but at the new place, too. He had given me everything from eight-disk DVD players to stereo speakers to X-Box games for the kids, and had even helped me move when I sold my ex-wife's "dream" house after the alimony bill came due. (I stayed in town, but the neighborhood was entirely different, ha ha ha.)
But I could still tell he was a little tense that the long afternoon turned to early morning hadn't worked out differently. So when he finally got around to talking to me, he seemed a little quiet, if not downright diffident:
Hey, listen, we can still work on those profile pictures - next time I promise we'll do it right. And I figured it might help you if you actually took a look at my profile - no one ever has, except for the ladies, of course - so you can see for yourself how it all has to go together to make it right. In fact, I even quiz the gals just before I bring them to my place:
'What about my profile drew you to me?'
That way I can tinker with it and make it even better.
It was a nice offer, I have to admit, and would probably be very helpful, but something in me cringed at the thought of seeing another man's innermost thoughts expressed to potential female companions. It was just a bit too private, and came perilously close to creepy. I didn't want to view soulful bathroom pics of Mike shirtless - just like I didn't want to be privy to his idea of a "perfect" match - especially after hearing second-hand for years about all the Chickee-poos he had ravished (my first choice, "railed", is not suitable verbiage for a family website like this one) in the back seat of his F-250 Crew Cab. (At least he never named names. I was sure I would recognize more of them than I might want to.)
But the Begunga Man insisted I take a look - and he whipped out...his phone, and handed it to me after the page had loaded.
My kids bothered me the most; I was supposed to be their example! Not that I told them about my social life, but how could I instruct them in proper conduct when I was nothing but a rutting and bestial cad, hell-bent on conquest and orgiastic pleasure?
I made the mistake of telling this to Mike. He just shook his head and laughed:
That thing you call a conscience is part of a primeval section of the brain known as the Godhead. It developed in the earliest humans and then grew as we became more and more evolved. Its function is to create the illusion of purpose in the organism — so that it doesn’t self destruct. This Reptilian nerve bundle created religion — and in later years hobbies like stamp collecting. But that’s a side issue. Do you want to get laid or not?
It was obviously fruitless to continue the conversation. Mike had already solved the riddle of existence: We were simply alligators in a Florida theme park — and the most aggressive among us would get twice as many dead chickens — and all of the females.
A couple of Yuletides ago I tried to drum up support for a “new” holiday that would more fully address the needs of our time than some tired old story about a magical kid being born in a barn. I christened it Empowerment Day and waited for it to take off like a dysfunctional Soyuz rocket.
Of course it merely farted like a sick Yorkshire Terrier and then imploded of its own worthlessness – but the idea of a fresh, more contemporary celebration stuck with me, and I am ready to try it again.
If the new endeavor ends as badly as the last one, who cares? The whole point of this holiday is to use it as a vehicle to justify my failure to ever get any of my nephews and nieces a present, a card, or even a phone call on the two most important days of their lives: Christmas and Birthdays. (No, Confirmations and Graduations don’t count.)
Yeah! I am stoked!
I do get my kids Christmas and Birthday presents of course, but they are here with me in AZ, and, try as I can, I just can’t seem to avoid them.
But the Sibling offspring (some of whom I successfully waited out by allowing them to become adults, thus removing them from my “I should really get them something this year” consciousness), have been a consistent problem for me – until now. (more…)
Here’s the link:
Most women aren’t very smart. In fact many of them aren’t fully formed human beings. They delude themselves into believing that they want this or that in a relationship, when in reality what they want — and need — is exactly the opposite. If I were you I would ignore their words and just lead them to whatever destination you have in mind. They will be grateful for the help — and will thank you every time.
Here’s the hot link:
And for your gustatory pleasure, a sampling from the main course:
Dad, religion is mostly a crutch. Scientists know that, and you should too. Anyone who takes it literally is just stupid.
OK, my boy, let’s try this another way. Let’s say all religion is just kind of daft, but it gives comfort to people, so if they want to worship, they can. What would you think of a religion that denies other creeds (not to mention atheists and agnostics) the right to exist? That dictates that all unbelievers must be killed!
That’s a load of crap, Dad. The Bible says the same stuff. Hardly anyone takes it seriously. Do you really think most Muslims want to kill Christians, or Jews, or anyone else? Ninety-nine percent of the Muslims in the world just want to have a peaceful life and get along with other people. So why would you interfere with their right to worship?
I don’t think I’ve said I wanted to do that, Nicky. I’m just saying that this “religion” that you seem to find so benign is actively involved in killing people all over the world who won’t succumb to its tenets. Therefore we need to be wary. People who speak out tend to have problems.
Christianity is the most violent religion in history, Dad. What about the Crusades?
Well I think it depends on who you talk to on that one, and besides, why do you keep bringing up such ancient history? What about 9-11? What about the terrorist attacks that take place every single day worldwide?
Dad — those people are lunatics. Just like the guy in Norway.
I’m not sure the Scandinavian Slayer is Christian. He might say he is — but his actions don’t really fit in too well with the New Testament. And he is one person. One twisted and evil individual. These others are actually following the instructions in the Koran. There’s a huge difference!
I’ve heard Begunga Mike might be making another appearance over at the Lifestyle section soon.
Make sure you have a mat and plenty of ice water before you click here!
There are those moments in life when you feel everything slipping away from you — you lose your compass, your defenses, your pride, and although you know it’s going to turn out really really badly, you can’t seem to resist the pending catastrophe. This is what I felt like during the ride to the studio.
Dar-Dar and CMO were reliably upbeat as we sped through traffic.
“You’re gonna love it, Johnny,” said Dar-Dar. “There are all kinds of different people there. ‘K’ [the instructor who gave Mike the coupon] is really nice and will work with you.”
“Yeah, and she’s good looking, too,” CMO said. The two girls smiled and giggled, just enough to make me suspicious.
“And wait until you see Camel-Toe!” Dar-Dar said.
“Camel what?” I asked.
My three fellow passengers were yuck-yucking and chortling. Mike, who was driving (naturally), leered across the front seat at me and said:
Yeah, you’re gonna like Ms. Camel-Toe. That’s for sure….