Simple gifts

I am sitting here typing on a Lenovo Ideapad that was the centerpiece of last Christmas. It was so unusual to think of the impact that a small change in our lives would affect us every day.

My significant other and I are on our computers daily. But at this time last year our computers were giving us such headaches.The laptops we had were really not so old but it seemed that they were not built to last. Mine was an Asus which was highly recommended. I was complaining to people about Asus to people who wished that they had one. But durability was an important factor. I was literally taping the computer together. And the computer was at the most 3 years old. My significant other was going crazy with an HP. It would freeze out and need to be restarted. And both of these computer had been repaired.

Given the sorry state of our computer lives I decided to start looking around the stores. She had done some research that led her the Lenovo so I decided to see whether it was available locally. I was going to look around during October and November and compare a couple of different models made by Lenovo. At first I thought I should buy a computer for her and nothing for me. Then I decided I was fed up with the Asus.       Next I  thought we should have different models of computer and I was wondering about the slight changes in the prices of the computers. Finally I bought both of them at the same time and hid them. When it came to the holiday we probably opened the computer a day or two early. Because I was just so disgusted with having to use the making taped Asus. Now we are happy with the computers and the other things we have exchanged over the years. So while we have not had great wealth we have wisely invested in things that brought us happiness.

Step one of the discussion

I returned to my blog this week mainly in response to a training session I participated in regarding the impact of whiteness and the ideology of white supremacy on our mental health work. I am also reading a book that I checked out of the Milwaukee Public Library. My blog entries have reached a few people in different settings: on WordPress, twitter and Facebook. I welcome responses and would be interested in knowing what people think of these ideas. Today, the news was focused on the vote in the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. A driving force behind the vote was said to be a sense of unease among white people that England is becoming too brown due to immigration. The chants of We want our country back were similar to those who began opposing President Obama not after he was elected the first black President of the United States.

Some people believe that the slogan of one of the presumptive major party presidential candidates is a disguised call to make America white again. Dr. Moore pointed out that the growing number of black and brown people we see is no accident. There are more of us here every day. It’s our country, too. We are competing for jobs, housing, education and other resources with everyone else who came here. One of the barriers we face is the sense of entitlement that people of European American ancestry feel.

People are coming to America. And the people who were already here have different attitudes about topics such as race. Which means more interracial relationships. I see young couples in the stores, parks and everywhere else. I am also involved in an interracial relationship with a woman who caught my attention several years ago. Although it took some time, we found we were ready to make a life together. We match one another’s quirks most of the time. We have learned to talk that talk.



So, if any of this discussion about race, whiteness and pluralism sounds like something you could participate in, drop me a message.

Do atheists really have families or did we raise ourselves?

When I check on the atheist groups on Facebook I regularly read stories of people being harassed by their families of devoutly religious people. Even though Facebook has settings that allow people to block individuals who might insult or post negative comments, somehow these believers seem to break through. These long suffering and I suspect somewhat dense atheists don’t understand you could even have a profile for one set of friends and a profile for a second set.

But the basic problem seems to be that they have chosen the wrong families, the so-called pious individuals who make their beliefs into a fetish. They think that everyone outside their narrow sect will spend eternity in some fiery pit watching old re-runs of the Kardashian family. Well fortunately I don’t come from one of those weirdly religious families. We used to say grace at the dinner table but after a while I stopped joining in. Although I explored different religious traditions I left my family’s beliefs long ago. And I have been perfectly happy for it. When I seek out romantic companionship, I find it is best to look for non-religious women.

When I return to visit my family, we are not filled with strife and aunts and uncles pushing religious tracts on me. We actually have little contact with the more deeply religious family members. We don’t bother one another on Facebook. And yes, we do love each other. I think more families would be better served by following our example of learning to respect one another and our differences. Issues of spirituality, immortality and god are too important to be beaten or brainwashed into people. Some of the atheists I encounter rebelled after being dragged along to church as children. I was allowed to find my own path.  Thank Darwin we have developed the wisdom to develop and nurture our own beliefs. Blessed be.

I’m so proud of being loved by you

With the title of this post I am of course dating myself, which is okay. When guys see me on the street, they say, hey, old school. The hipper ones just said school. One guy said Fred, as in Frederick Douglass.

So you know from that introduction I am from the baby boomers generation. In my mind I am listening to a song by The Impressions “I’m so proud of being loved by you.” There ‘s a line “compliments to you from all the people we meet” that resonates with me. I think of this as I write about a young couple: Diana Vang and Jonathan Brostoff. I met him when he was a student at UWM involved in something called compa that included some Catholic worker activists. We worked on issues of social injustice such as the mistreatment of workers on tomato plantations whose food was used by Taco Bell.

Jonathan was a great guy and well-liked. So I was not surprised to learn he had snagged a nice woman like Diana. I met her when I attended the UWM Helen Bader School of Social Welfare.  She’s religious, smart, interesting, devoted to the community and wants to make a difference. I can see the two of them being great parents years from now. A lot of very positive traits. So when I talk with peers about relationships, I sometimes throw in things about being proud of the person who loves you. Are you proud knowing that your girl friend is the person that she is? Do you think how lucky you are to have met that man who you hold in your arms? Are the values you hold most dear reinforced when your sweetheart leaves to go to work?

If not, what’s wrong with that picture? Are you proud of being loved?

All day and all of the night

Kinks-Size (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

All day and all of the night. I looked on the coffeehouse calendar this week and saw an intriguing event featuring songs The Who and The Kinks, two seminal groups from my youth. I decided this could work as a night of cheap entertainment and fun.

He’s a well respected man about town doing the best things so conservatively.” At least until he met Lola.

And why not? I had a disappointment in my brief romantic fling but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy my own company. It helped that I was being treated to an amazing blend of guitars, banjos and voices. I recognized a few faces although sometimes it’s good to go where  everyone doesn’t know your name.

Tomorrow will be the second level of friendship which is witnessing. My neighbor needs a group to witness his living will. In return for my presence he will take me to the YMCA for my exercise.

Then it’s off to work and spreading the word about the Wellness Recovery Action Plan. What a wonderful mix: acoustic music, a gathering of voices, the marking of life’s transitions, encouraging resilience and a lot of good old fashioned sweat. Like the Chairman of the Board Frank Sinatra said, that’s life.

A photo of the Kast Off Kinks. From left: John...
A photo of the Kast Off Kinks. From left: John Gosling, John Dalton, Mick Avory, Dave Clark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Why am I always opposite?

Anyone who has never been diagnosed with a mental illness should leave this blog entry immediatelyRethink Mental Illness

, because I’m not talking to you. I want to talk with people who have experienced trauma and gone on in their lives. There are more people than you would care to know who have had life changing events, such as abuse, witnessing abuse done to others, served in the military or witnessed the violent death of a loved one. In our gun obsessed culture we have more people solving their disputes through the final solution.

A young woman fighting about “he’s my man, bitch” may take it to the next level and kill her rival. At the same time she is traumatizing all of those who witness her act of brutality.

Young people know too many friends who have been shot and killed or severely injured. The experience of trauma is far too common and it needs to stop or we will not survive.

Our society also spends far too much time watching its royalty, either the so-called kings and queens of Europe or the wealthy elites around the world.  We can enjoy the performances of these people without losing ourselves in their images and buying the products that they endorse. How many of us really need a pair of very expensive basketball sneakers? Hell, I couldn’t job all that high when I was young so I am buying an inexpensive pair that provides support. I realize that some athlete may lose out on the deal but I will be satisfied.

Most of the women I have been involved with as an adult have been in recovery from a severe mental illness. One of the major struggles in these relationships was whether I too had a mental illness. As it happened, I had a problem that I was unwilling to acknowledge for many years. My failure to acknowledge what I was experiencing cost me dearly.

Even more painful was the recognition that just because my significant others had acknowledged their issues did not make having a relationship any easier.When I wrote the title, why am I always opposite I had in mind the phrase “opposites attract.” A woman experiencing bipolar disorder today may act far differently than 5 years ago. Just as I act far differently today than I did 5 years ago.b I’m much quieter than I was, I like larger living spaces and I enjoy my own counsel more than ever. I have positive communications at work that never had seemed possible in the not too distant past.

I learned a lot from the way that I sabotaged my previous relationships. At first glance the woman I am dating currently is as different from me as night and day. But I am committed to seeing what we have in common and how it bring us together. I am tired of being the opposite of every woman that I meet. Sometimes it’s good not to be so different. Otherwise I may traumatize myself.

Português: Gato Psicótico criado pelo autor. E...
Português: Gato Psicótico criado pelo autor. English: Drawn by early 20th-century commercial cat illustrator Louis Wain near the beginning of his mental illness (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
V.I.D.A. (Photo credit: Pensamentos Filmados)