Addiction

I am an addict. Yes, I am aware that one should not disclose their addiction. However, I am not addicted to cocaine or heroin. Rather, I am addicted to caffeine. In my own words, addiction is defined as “something that I can’t imagine my life without.” Caffeine is one of those things. Using this broad definition, I can honestly say that if I did not have some type of caffeine in my life, people would not be able to be around me. If I do not have caffeine I become very irritable. My head starts to ache. These are symptoms of an addiction that has taken a toll upon my body throughout the years.

My addiction to caffeine started over thirty years ago. As a young boy, my brother and I would cut grass throughout our neighborhood. We would push our lawnmower to the nearest trailer park, and we would cut grass for ten dollars per yard. After busting our humps for several hours, we would then walk down to Barrontown Grocery and buy ourselves a cold soda for a reward of our demanding work. We did this every few days. Of course, we would also buy ourselves potato chips, but I usually bought myself a pack or two of Topps Baseball Cards and I would sit outside and admire the players that I got in each pack.

Through the years, my addiction grew through the systematic use of caffeine. I would drink coffee when I first got up in the morning to help me shake off the dreams of the night. Then I would head to work, and I would need a little something to help me prepare for the challenges that would arise at work. Lunch would consist of the greasiest food I could find and a cold soda to wash it down with. Then I would reward myself for my work with more caffeine thus my addiction continued. Drinking water seemed hypocritical since it did not provide the edge that I needed to be at my best.

At the ripe age of 28, I joined the US Army. About the same time companies such as Coca-Cola, and Pepsi came out with energy drinks, not to mention Rockstar, and Red Bull. Monster is one of my favorites. My addiction surged throughout my days in the military. Even deployments to hostile countries did not curb my addiction. While I was deployed to Iraq, I would pound Rip-Its. These small containers of bottled energy would get me amped up to do what was necessary for me to survive. Between the sugar content and the amount of caffeine packed into each container, it was a miracle that I did not have a heart attack in Iraq. Two deployments later, my addiction to caffeine was solidified. There would be no backing down. I lifted weights to stay in shape, and the supplements I would take to provide an edge to help me maintain my weight was also packed with caffeine. Thus, there was no escaping my addiction.

Some people say that you can have your cake and eat it to. “Drink a diet soda” is the popular response to people who say they can’t break the cycle. Why? Diet sodas are packed with sugar, and therefore it is equally as bad for your health as a regular drink. I was at Wal-Mart a few days ago and noticed some company is making diet green tea. As we become more health conscious as a society it seems that we become dumber. The key to living a healthy life is moderation and self-control. We need to be more active as a society, and exercise moderation when eating, and then obesity will not be an issue. Rant complete, ya’ll have a great day!

A full heart

It is still in the wee hours of the morning here, but my heart is very full this morning. My life has drastically changed in the last five years or so. I look back on my life, and I am grateful that I have evolved over the course of these last few years. Five years ago, I was bitter and jaded. Life had thrown me several curve balls, and I was not capable of dealing with change. I was angry, and depressed. Suicide was never far from my thoughts, and I felt empty inside. My daily routine started with going to McDonald’s on the corner of East Platte Avenue in Colorado Springs. I would arrive at about 6 a.m. and would sit there and chat with friends until about 830. Then I would trudge my way to campus to study for a bit. My day would end with me in front of my tv until 2 or 3 in the morning. Repeat cycle, and that was my life.

My stay in Colorado Springs ended December 2015. I had received a notice that my rent would be going up in January 2016 to the tune of 700 bucks a month for a one-bedroom apartment. I called home and my parent graciously allowed me to move back home. I was unhappy, but grateful to be home. My life for the past fifteen years had been one block of emptiness. It seemed that nothing could make me happy. Moving home had opened some doors for me that had previously been locked. I was able to go to the VA and received a primary care physician. I was able to get my driver’s license back. The list goes on and on, however, it seemed that for every small victory, the deeper my depression got. I bought a truck and I was able to go when the mood struck me but driving alone is only good for so long. I ached inside for someone to share my experiences with. I finally realized that my problem stemmed from a lack of drive and motivation.

Cue me failing Algebra II. I cracked open my math textbook and there lay an infinity symbol. I had no idea what to make of it, so I ignored it until I found a tutor. My poor tutor. She tried to help me, and together we made it to a passing grade. During our time together, I felt that I had connected with someone special. She made me feel like I was important, and when I was with her, my emptiness was hardly recognizable. I was still jaded, and I did not put all the pieces together until much later. My class ended, and I dropped off the radar for some time until we reconnected months later. I still felt empty, but when we reconnected the sense of happiness once again swelled in my heart. It was like we had never been apart. As I reveled in the moment of being with her, I started to realize that my life was better with her in it. She made me feel complete. Then she invited me to church. After a couple of services, I started to realize that my life could be so much more. Eventually, I found my way back to my Christian roots. My sense of emptiness was now gone.

Is my life perfect? No, far from it. However, my life now holds meaning. I have been with my math tutor for over a year now. We are like every other couple. We have our ups and downs. When I got divorced, I swore to myself that no matter how much it hurt I would always be honest with my partner about how I felt about any situation. It is painful sometimes, but it is worth the effort. Rachel is a great listener, and when an issue arises, we talk it out. This is something that I totally got wrong in my past relationships. With Rachel I feel that I can be honest and talk to her at length about any number of subjects. She provides me with much needed inspiration, and without trying motivates me to be the man that I once aspired to be.

Once upon a time, my aspirations were simple. I wanted to be a good man, a good father and husband. Time and war devastated these aspirations. However, God has given me a second chance to get it right, and I am determined to make the most of it. God bless you all.

Happy Independence Day!

Today is the 4th of July. It is the day that we set aside in this country to celebrate our Independence Day. I am very proud to be an American. My parents instilled in my brother and me a powerful sense of patriotism, and love of this country. Most of all they instilled in us an appreciation for the opportunities that living in the greatest country in the world provided us. There is no other place on this planet that allows their citizens the freedom to live their lives the way that they choose to.

As a soldier, I had many opportunities to see firsthand the chaos that is life in other places. I have lived in Europe and the Middle East (just visiting, thanks). From Germany to Baghdad, I was well aware that I was a fish out of water. Even in such places as Ireland and Greece, I did not feel like I was home. They did not match up to life in America. Living in America affords us the opportunities to choose to recycle or join the military among many others. In other places, you are conscripted in military service to “pay” for your citizenship. While many other countries have followed in our footsteps and adopted a Constitution, ours is the only one that affords us a Bill of Rights and limits the power of our government.

On this day it is important to note the sacrifice of our brave men and women who serve in the military. I know, this is an unpopular stance. Many people believe that we know what we are signing up for when we decide to join. That may be true, however, someone must stand in the gap and post watch to keep the wolves from the door. We can’t all be sheep, there must be a sheepdog to keep us safe. As a retired soldier, I am aware of the sacrifice that comes from service to this country. The scars are ever present but, on this day, veterans across this country understand and appreciate the freedom that this country has to offer on a much deeper level than most of the citizens. It is not because we are better than our countrymen, but because we have witnessed the cost of freedom with our own eyes.

So, today when you go to your barbeques and fireworks display enjoy yourselves. Also, take a moment to say a quiet thank you to all the people who thought that freedom was worth defending. I will be with my lady friend and her family eating enough food to kill a man, yet my mind will be with those that can’t be home to enjoy their families. As I end this blog, remember the families of the those deployed as well. Deployments take a toll upon the fabric of marriages and the children that are involved. God knows that they can use all the prayers that we can say for their protection and strengthen their marriages and children. God bless you all and Happy Independence Day!

Ramblings

So, my thoughts have been scattered recently. Mostly, I think about the recent occurrences that have led me to doubt myself, and how to fill the hours of my day since it has become obvious that I can’t work. Generally, I am a confident person. However, the events of the last week has caused me to doubt myself. I did everything right that I knew to do, and yet, the entire thing crashed and burned. To wit, this is unfamiliar territory for me.

How to fill my hours has been something has caused me no end of problems. There are days that I am okay with wiling away hours by reading, watching tv, or playing video games. However, this is not productive, and it takes a toll on my body and spirit. As a friend of mine would say, “there has to be a better way!” My writing has become a priority for me. Yet, I need something that can feel blocks of time so that I feel like I am a valuable part of society. I have considered learning to play piano. Or perhaps the violin, when I was younger, I attempted to learn how to play guitar. Writing a novel would require me to do research, and plant myself in front of the computer for hours every day. Hiking, and biking are also ways that I can spend a few hours each day. There is no limit, however, it seems to me that I have lost interest in day-to-day life.

I am devoted to my relationship, but my significant other has a full time job, and a part time job. Therefore, I need something that will keep me engaged, while she is engaged at work. There are days when I want nothing more than to work. I miss structure in my life.  The Army was very good at providing structure. There was a set schedule, and everyone knew what their role was. I suppose that I am not very good at structuring my days. This seems to be the gist of my problems. Therefore, I am going to have to set up a schedule that will allow me to fill the hours with some level of productivity. At the end of the day, it is on me to find ways to be a better man than I am today. Given how blessed I am to have wonderful, and supportive people in my life, it can only get better from now on. God bless you all.

Yummy Bacon!

It is morning here, and it is payday! There is nothing like the feeling of having money in your bank account. Of course, if you are anything like me, it is gone as fast as you get it. Between tithes, bills, and groceries, the essentials of life take every dime. Toss in mistakes from my past and I am broke. However, I think that I will take the young lady I am seeing to breakfast this morning. I don’t know if she wants to eat, but I have been on a soup diet the last week or so, and I could use some bacon.

Bacon, yum. If God made anything better than a crispy side of bacon he took it to heaven with Him. I assure you, this boy right here loves bacon. There is something appealing about the greasy crunch of pork that is satisfying to a hungry man. My mouth is beginning to water just thinking about the rich aroma of bacon frying in a cast iron skillet. Ah well, I digress.

The importance of a balanced meal can’t be overstated. I know. People tell me all the time that I will die if I keep eating the way that I do. However, health nuts die all the time too and look at how they punish themselves by eating healthy. They count calories, eat small portions, do without the joy of sweet tea, and eat tofu. Those poor people.

I’m sorry, if this writing seems to be offensive. When I was in the military I had the privilege to live in Europe. The diet of people in most of Europe is staggering. Fried meat and gravy, pasta with sauce that could stop your heart and enough beer to kill a man is just some of the menu. They smoke, drink and eat like tomorrow is promised to them. The difference between there and here is that they remain active throughout their lives. This is only my opinion. We Americans, love to sit on the couch and do nothing. Our diets are not at opposite ends of the spectrum. Our lifestyles are. That is the difference. If we were active, then it would not matter what we ate. God made our bodies in amazing ways. The more active you are the less you eat. Instead of soda, and sweet tea drink some water. Water helps suppress our appetites so that we eat less. Pickle juice can help us lose weight, so does grapefruit juice. There are many options available to help us eat healthy without giving up the food that we enjoy.

Also, you are not going to die before the Lord is ready for you to come home. I will enjoy my life, and bacon and if you choose to do without then that is what you should do. It is understandable if you choose to follow the rigors of a diet to lose weight. I would like to lose some of the unwanted belly fat that I have, however, I hate to lose. Therefore, it seems like a daunting task. I am making changes to my diet. It has come to my attention that I drink to much soda and sweet tea. So, I am going to make it a priority to drink more water and grapefruit juice. This change should boost up my metabolism and Vitamin C. I have been sick recently and Vitamin C can assist in boosting my immune system, so that is a good thing. If things turn dark in my life. I can always have another side of bacon. At the end of the day you must make yourself happy. Y’all have a wonderful day and may God keep you safe in the palms of His hands!

New movies suck.

Must Disney ruin all my favorite movies? I have many fond memories of watching the original Star Wars movies. Han, Luke, Chewie, Leia, and R2 were some of my favorite characters. The original trilogy is hands down one of the greatest trilogies in the history of motion pictures. The Prequels apart from the last movie was beyond horrible. Whoever created Jar Jar Binks should remain unemployed for the rest of their lives. The Force Awakens was a snooze fest. The character Finn is a waste of airtime.

It is important to note that in the original trilogy, there was no end to the great characters that littered the screen. Boba Fett is a splendid example, so is Hutt. Obi-Wan Kenobi for the limited amount of time that he was in the original trilogy was a tremendous presence. These new movies do not attempt to tell new stories, they seek to rewrite and react the old ones. Rogue One is the only exception. It is a stand-alone story, and it sought to explain how the Rebels got the plans for the Death Star from the original trilogy.

Examples are not difficult to find. To replace the Empire, we now have the First Order which is nothing more than a cheap knock-off. Instead of Darth-Sidious, we now have Snoke. Who is nothing more than a rip-off of Darth-Sidious. Then we have Kylo Ren. A wannabe Vader. Luke is a communal hippie who has taken a vow of non-violence. What? He spends most of VIII crying about how the Jedi Order needs to die. Now Kylo Ren is the Supreme Leader! Who cares?

The old movies drove us to care about the characters. These new movies are carbon copies that do nothing to increase the value of the universe. The characters of these new movies are not worth remembering. What is with this lightsaber? Mace Windu had to have a purple one. I guess Ren had to have a claymore. Jesus what a mess. As much money as Disney has, why can’t they hire writers that are worth a crap? I don’t even care to know how this movie comes to an end. At least in the prequel, Obi-Wan and Anakin had it out in a freaking magma pit. Freaking lava was everywhere. When a series of movies are underperforming, then the least you can do is provide a rock-em, sock-em, knock down drag out.

It is like the writers of this set of movies are just out to make money. Star Wars is not the only set of movies that is doing this. The new Star Trek movies are the same way. Between JJ Abrams, and Joss Whedon, they have almost ruined all my favorite movies and characters. Another thing that bugs me about movies today is the need to remake classic movies with an all-female cast. I know. This is not a popular opinion. However, the point remains, go create a new set of movies and then make it an all-female cast. Stop remaking every classic movie and trying to modernize them. What’s next, an all-female remake of Stripes?

I have no problem with female leads, but when you decide that all movies must have female leads then we have a problem. A prime example is the Last Jedi. The first 5 minutes or so was nothing but one female lead after another and scattered throughout the movie was multiple females that did nothing to advance the movie. It is like they were in that scene to drive home the point that they were advancing women’s rights. Again, no problem with female leads, but why must you try to make a political point in a movie? Leave your politics at home. No one cares about your political affiliation. Nor do we care that you want to get on your soapbox and preach. We watch movies to be entertained, not to be continually beaten with the fact that the world is unfair. Get over it already. If that seems to harsh, let me go one step further: The #metoo movement happened in Hollywood. That should explain how much they care about women’s rights.

Class V Disaster

Must everything just crash all at once? Seriously, any plans that I make end up destroyed. Seek employment, not supposed to do that. At what point do I get to win? It seems that regardless of the path that I choose, they both end up completely decimated. I don’t know what to do. At this moment, it seems that giving up would be the best, and least painful option.

I hate giving up.  Throughout my whole life I have fought for what I believe in, and what I wanted to accomplish. Now, it is one frustration after another. I try to get my teeth fixed, and that is shot to crap. I try to go to my daughter’s graduation, that is a colossal failure. On and on, the list just keeps growing. It has been a nightmare these past few months. I feel that I can’t wake up. Obviously, I can’t do anything right. I have walked through dark times but this…

In the military I could not stand incompetence. I am surrounded by it in the civilian sector. My head hurts constantly. This whole situation could have been avoided if the person who gave me bad information would have kept their mouth shut. However, that would have been too easy. They just had to open their mouth and let it rip. Now, I am going to pay the price for their stupidity. Sometimes, I hate people. At my absolute worst, I never screwed people over. I am sure that the person thought that they were helping, but they have jeopardized everything.

I digress. Regardless of the outcome, God is still here. I have a wonderful lady friend who also supports me, not to mention my family and friends. There is no doubt that I will survive this too. It seems bleak and that there is no light to be found. However, the Bible states that, “God is a friend that is closer than a brother.” In my darkest moments, I have never doubted that God loves me and will keep me. So, let come what may, I will be right here waiting.

Life is like a roller coaster, with ups and downs, twists and turns. Sometimes, I wish that I possessed the ability to just take it as it comes. However, I am not that guy. My problem is that I care too much, and I overthink to much. There is no doubt that I will probably make myself sick with worry. Even though I know that there is nothing that I or anyone else can do to change what is. The situation is out of my hands. My father told me after an extremely difficult day, “Can you change it?” To which I responded, “No sir.” Then he gave me the secret. “Just let it go.” That is where I am today, and it sucks oh so bad. I can’t fix it. So, I will let it go, and then I will make me a cup of coffee and listen to the rain beat out a tempo on my tin roof.

Speaking of rain, why not? A crappy day deserves a send off such as this. God knows, we have had more than our share so far this year. I suppose it is a valuable time to be a farmer, however, it is insane how thick my grass is at this moment. As the thunder rumbles and lightening strikes, it seems that now would be an ideal time to power nap. So, I will close with these words: Not every day is a difficult day. When it is, if you can’t change what is……let it go.