It has been a while since I have posted anything here.  Many things have changed in my life in that period.  I graduated from Normandale Community College and now have my first degree.  My brakes went out on my car and I had to struggle to get the money together to fix it.  I am thankful for my brother in law and his friend for helping me with the repairs.  I have started a new job this week as a educational paraprofessional substitute.   I am working to pay off a student loan before I can go for my B.A. in Teaching Social Studies.  So, I am currently not in school for the time being.  I hope to have that all paid off before June, that way I can get back to work on my degree.

The next few months are going to be tight but I believe I will be able to make it through.  If I do not make my deadline of June I will head back to school by next spring.  It is good to have goals but they should not I believe, so rigid to the point that if you do not make it with in a time frame it kills your motivation.  This is what does happen to me a lot.  I sometimes push myself, to the point where I start to question my own worth and get down on myself.  Then I let everything go and just give up.  I have to make sure I have a secondary plan of action, because shit happens.

Things happen in our lives that change us for better or worse.  The thing is when we are in a down spin we have to gain our composer and level ourselves off and change direction accordingly.  There is not just one way to get where you want to go in life there are many.  Some are short and sweet, and others may take a bit longer but you will still get there in the end.

Why Should We “Shit Hole Countries”

Over the past few weeks I have been hearing and seeing people talk about want Mr. Trump calls “Shit Holes”.  Did he even think about why these countries are the way they are or does he just assume like many others that it is just the people.  Most of these countries were colonised by white european countries like Britain, France, Denmark and Spain, also the United States of America.  Over the past 200 years or more the pure capitalization of the world have raped and pillaged these countries for their resources.  Giving little regard for the people of these countries.   We have built a world on the back of the less fortunate and people like Mr. Trump are personally responsible for these crimes against humanity.

They care little about anyone but themselves and how they can exploit people for their own personal gain.  They destroy the potential of people who could help develop the next big enhancements to the human condition, all for the a piece of green paper that if we were not around would not contribute anything to this world.

So, why should we help out the people of these “Shit Hole Countries” and Mr. Trump puts it.  We should help them out of the kindness of our hearts.  But, the real people who need to help them are the extremely wealthy and those whose money has been handed down from generation to generation.   If it were not for them exploiting these people they may have developed much differently.  Hell, their quality of life could be much better and we may have actual peace in regions that are now in a state of perpetual conflict.

It is time for us to grow as not just a countries or continents, it is time for us to grow as a species.  We must learn to not take advantage of each other and build a better world together.  It can be done, maybe not in my lifetime, but it can start with in it.  I am not naive to think it will happen overnight or it will be easy.  It will be a long and hard change and there will be many who will die before we evolve to that level as a society.   But as long as we push for the change and leave the world better than when we found it.  We have a chance.

A Reaction to the “I’m Not Racist” Video

I posted the “I’m Not Racist” video yesterday on my Facebook page.  Knowing that many will find it offensive.  It was actually in brought to my attention from a person I worked with at the diversity center at school. The video uses the N word a lot from both a white and black man. It was made to make people feel uncomfortable but you must watch it all the way through in order to get the message that the person is getting at. I left the diversity center because I was hearing the N word being thrown around a lot and it disturbed me. But, it is not up to me or anyone else to tell someone what they can or can not say. It is only when we listen and wait till the person is done talking that we start to understand what they are saying. This is one of the hardest parts of living in America. We must listen to the other person and not try to formulate our responses to what they are saying while they are saying it, even if it is hard to hear. This is how we become better as Americans and as human beings. It is through being willing to put ourselves in uncomfortable situations that we learn and grow as people. Those who know me, know that I help to defend the rights of others especially the right to free speech which in my opinion is the most important of all our rights as Americans. This is why I feel we are having so many issues in our country no one is listening to each other. I have the same problem. I have a tendency to start thinking up a rebuttal without listening to what the other person is saying completely. I have also had it done to me as well. Most of us do not even realize that we are doing it, it is just a natural reactionary response that we have.  I have posted the video below.  Please watch it all the way through before passing judgement.

This Semester

This has been the hardest semester for me yet. I have been procrastinating too much. In away I have been doing a great job of self sabotage. In a way I  think I do not deserve to get my A.A.  Though I have put in all of the time and work that I need to, maybe even more.  I am less than two months away from finally getting my A.A. in Liberal Arts.  Maybe it is because I fear the success it could bring.  I do not want to let things go to my head.  I like the way I am now in a personal sense, I worry that I will become arrogant because of the success.  As I am now and how I hope I will see myself in the future is that I am just a guy trying to do more for society and not just for myself.

The class I am doing the worst in right now is Spanish.  At this point I just want to pass the course.  That is the first time I have said that about any of my classes.  My history class I am a bit behind in but, I can make that up no problem.  I have liked all my social science teachers.  Hell, I have a crush on the teacher I had last semester for U.S. history 2.  The current history course I am taking is History of World Civilization 3.  And I have been looking forward to this class for awhile.  The reason for that is I want to try and understand what the more recent history of the middle east is like.  This way I can help to figure out a solution to some of the problems over there.

Human Geography is another good class I am taking and I am all caught up in.  I only have a presentation, a short essay on urbanization and the final left for that class.  My teacher for this class I had last semester for Physical Geography so I kind of knew what to expect from him.  Then I have my Career Exploration class which helped me to decide to change my Major from Social studies Education to a straight History major.  I am doing this because I do not want to have to narrow of a major and a History B.A. can open a whole lot of doors as I found out.

The last class is not really a class but a certificate program called Pillar of Leadership.  In this program we go over the different types of leadership but, focus more on the Social Change Model of Leadership.  This is a pretty cool program and is going to look good on my resume.  Though the main reason I am taking this is because I do want to help change the way things are in this world, for the better.

I guess for me now it is crunch time.  I need to make sure I pass all my classes and by February I will have my A. A. degree in my hands.  Now I just have to find another job because the job I am currently working at is the student store on the Work Study Program.  So, I really do want to start looking for jobs and internships in my field of study.

Crying Spells

It sucks living with depression.  Not only do I sometimes have issues just finding reasons to get up in the morning.  I also have times where I can not stop crying.  This one I am in now has been going on since I gave my speech on Thursday.  I can stop for a while but then it starts back up again.  It doesn’t matter if I am sad, happy, hopeful or cynical I cry for it all it seems.

This past year has been herd for me.  I have been losing focus and not keeping up with my homework.  I think knowing this is my last semester at Normandale Community College has this affected me.  I have been comfortable there for the most part, though I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone more since I have been there.  I love the teachers and faculty there.  They have been really supportive and caring.   Hell, I am 41 I knew this was coming.  I just didn’t think it would come this soon.  These past 2 1/2 years have gone by so quickly.

I guess I might fear change a bit but, I know that is how life is and how we grow as people.  I guess I have just gotten so comfortable that it is really hard to do.  Especially, since I have not had a place where I felt I belonged so long before I came to school.

For the twelve years prior to me heading to school I bounced around a lot about 30 time in that time period.  I have had many jobs, 2 hernia surgeries, married, divorced, and lost my grandfather.  Though we had only met when I was 20 because, of my mom not thinking it was important for me to know them until that time.  She never even told me about them till I was 20 and I had not asked about them just my Biological father.  I remember one time when I was like 15 years old, when I got into it with my dad (the man who raised me) we almost came to blows.  My mom showed me a letter that bio-father had written me.  He told me he loved me and all that jazz in the letter.  To tell you the truth I don’t remember much of what it said because I was stuck in my own little world, after the fight.  I don’t know why my mom didn’t tell me about my grandparents then.  This to me seems like it would have been the best time to do so.  But, she waited.

It was always nice talking to my grandfather.  We could talk about anything it felt like.  We talked about our lives, politics, religion, ect… I always felt comfortable talking about these topics with him.  Not like now where I sometimes feel my head and ears burning when I talk about them with other members of my family or friends for that matter.  I never felt judged by him or my grandmother.

It is time now again to start feeling uncomfortable and push myself to do better.  Not just for me but for the world as a whole.  This is my philosophy of life “I want to make myself better in order to better help the world.”  I know this sounds Idealistic but that how I see things.  Do I think I am better than anyone else? Hell, No!  Do I think we are all the same? Once again, Hell, No. We are only the same as it pertains to us being human.  We are all a part of the same family in a sense .  We all have different talents and skills, this is why we are not all the same and why none of us is better than another, at least in my perspective.  There’s only one exception to me thinking I am not better than a person and that is if they see violence as the only solution.  Even then I think some those people can change their thinking.

We all have the potential to be both good or bad or fall somewhere on the spectrum.  We can all learn from one another if we are willing to put ourselves out there.  We can find inspiration anywhere and everywhere in life.  It is sometimes comes from the most unexpected places.  Look at me I am an Atheist but, I was inspired to go back to school by a young Muslim woman named Malala.  Her courage to stand up to the Taliban gave me hope for the future.  The fact that she is still pushing for Girls to have the right to an education even after she was shot, amazes me.  I just hope and wish I have the same amount of courage she has.

The Speech

Today I gave my first speech to a group of people not in a classroom.  I was terrified about giving this speech.  It didn’t help any that I woke up late and had to rush either.  When I got to school I took smoke before I headed in, I still had a couple of minutes left before things got started.  I get down to the garden room where they are holding the Normandale Retiree’s Luncheon.  I had gotten a scholarship from their foundation and I was asked to speak to the donors.  I checked in and went to speak to Jane who had helped me work on the speech I was giving.  I asked “If she had added the photographs for the end of my speech.”  She told me she did, that took a little stress off me but not much.

I thanked her and she introduced me to her boss.  Then they encouraged me to do some hobnobbing with some of the people.  I hate these types of situations where I know next to no one in the room.  I am not normally the type of person that can just start up conversations.  I was happy to see two of my bosses there that gave a bit more confidence.  I talked with Chris and Amy for a couple of minutes then proceeded to seat myself.  The people at my table were decent people, they asked me a few questions about my experiences and I chimed in where I felt it was appropriate.  This did calm me a bit more but I was still so nervous I couldn’t even eat.  The first speaker went up it was the President of Normandale Dr. Joyce Ester, then came Colleen Simpson the Executive Director of the Normandale Foundation.  The Jane came up and introduced the first Speaker Na.  I though her speech was very well put together.  She did not seem to stumble or fall, not that I would wish that on anybody.

Then Jane went up to the podium again and introduced me.  My stomach was in knots, I so wanted to run for the door as I was heading for the podium.  I get up their and I start of fine a couple of hiccups but nothing to bad until I got to the part that inspired me to go back to school.

About 3 ½ years ago I saw a story that changed the way I look at life.  I saw The story of Malala Yousefzia a young woman who spoke out against the Taliban in Pakistan, so that young women can have the right to an education.  She was also shot for her courageous act.   This young woman’s story made me ask myself what have I done with my life.  This young woman has risked her life for a cause that is noble.  What cause would I risk my life for?  I wanted to help other people understand other cultures in order to breed a sense of peace in this country and around the world.  I went to the VA not knowing If I was qualified for any benefits and found out that my depression was partially service related.  So. I was able to get the psychological help I needed.  I was part of group and individual counseling.

I started to cry.

I am not sure why it was that telling this story brought me to tears.  I have told it so many times before.  Maybe it was drudging through my past before this story, then going in to the story, or maybe it was because of how nervous I was, or maybe my depression went onto overdrive for a couple of minutes that set me off.   What ever it was I was able to get a hold of my emotions and finish the paragraph.  I then went in to my accomplishments since I have been at Normandale.  I was also able to crack a couple of jokes near the end about how if they looked around the school they would probably see my picture in a few.  Though I had longer and brightly colored hair, then let them know I like to die my hair when I have it, while rubbing my bald head.  I finished my speech by sharing a few of my favorite Photos I have taken.

These were from the March for Science:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

These are from the Minnesota River Valley Wild Life Refuge:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I was the last speaker of the day.  Everyone told me I did well, though it did not feel like that to me.  It was because of my minor breakdown that I did not feel it went well.  One person told me the first time they gave a speech they ended up vomiting.  That made me feel just a little bit better,  We then proceeded to take photos with the group.

This was definitely an experience I will not forget.  Yes it had its ups and downs, but I am still glad I got myself out of my comfort zone.  My Psychologist will be happy to hear that tomorrow.

People Who Hate

Last week I was out in the smoking area at school, we were having a lively discussion about whether it is appropriate to hit someone if they do a NAZI salute or use racial slurs.   There were a couple of people who said “If they saw someone doing the NAZI salute and saying ‘sieg heil’ or ‘blood and soil’ they would clock them.”   I was trying to explain to them, that if you do through the first punch, you make yourself and others who also find bigotry offensive look almost as bad as the people you are standing up against.  You fan the flames of hatred and it becomes a powerful force against a positive movement.

I know that some might think this attitude is naive or even cowardly.  To me it takes a lot of strength to hold back that anger, when I hear stuff like that, not to just clock the person.  I severely dislike bigotry  and hatred, but I know the moment I give in to my feeling of disgust, I give them power over me.  They want people who think like me to resort to violence to prove their point.  It is like in “Batman The Dark Knight Returns” when the Joker is trying to get Batman to commit murder to bring him down to the Joker’s level.  In this analogy of course the Joker is ultra violent and murderous, where as in the scenario I stated in the first paragraph using speech as a way to bring us down to their level.  Unless the other person who is saying the vial and nasty things actually physically assaults me, I will not lift a finger to harm them physically.

See in the battle of ideas, this is a battle of words and of the mind.  Those with the best ideas will rise to the top as long as they do not resort to violence.  I will argue all day with a racist and try to show them the error of their thinking.  Let’s be honest if i had to argue all day about the subject with that person, there is likely nothing I or anyone would say that could change their mind.  Just like I could not convince this other person that kicking the crap out of a bigot is not the best way to trying to change their mind.  I had help trying to convince the person too about 6 others tried to convince him as well.   Some people just can not be reasoned with.

This is the same issue on a much larger scale that we have had with extremist in the Middle East.  The U.S. has been trying to force our beliefs through violence and regime change.  If we want to bring the region into the 21st century we are going to have to change our approach to the situation.  First off STOP SELLING WEAPONS PERIOD, TO OTHER COUNTRIES!  Second pull all our troops out of the region making sure we collect all the weapons we have brought over there.  Third close down Guantanamo bay and make that if we try anyone there that it is done fairly and due diligence.  For those we release we should try and help make sure that those people are taken care of, if they are innocent, they have been held there for a long time without trial and they deserve some sort of compensation.  Four gradually as the tensions start to die down try and get food and medical supplies to the civilians.  Though it will take a long time to earn the trust of the people in the region.  This would be just the beginning of the healing process.

In order for us to have a lasting peace on this planet we must rise against the violence.  We can not defeat an idea with violence it only strengthens their position eyes of those who would follow them.  As I said before and I will say it again the only way to defeat an idea is with a better one.  If you have to resort to violence to support your idea it probably is not worth a damn.

Watch “NFL Blackout – Time to take a stand #blackout” on YouTube

I for one have never been a fan of football.  I feel it promotes violence and further divides us.  How many time have we heard about fan rioting over the loss of there team?  Football has never united us it has only tried to divide us.  Please share this video and let people know it is time to hit the owners where it hurts them the most.  The Pocket Book.

Diversity in All Things

I found a post on Facebook today that I thought was interesting, though I thought it was some sort of scam at first.  It was about something called and RECs (Renewable Energy Certificates).  I know nothing about it, but it was talking about how it helps to transition the U.S. to a more green sustainable energy system.  I ended up on this video from the EPA.  It talks about how our power grid works and what we can do to help push more green energy.  The way they do this from my understanding is this: we by the certificate and pay the company we bought the certificate from, they in turn put that much energy into the grid and the fossil fuel company gets half the money.  Which means we are getting 50% of our energy from the renewable energy company, but we still pay the same on our bill.  This does show how much cheaper renewable energy has become.  It is half the cost of the old energy sources.  Then the old place we got electricity does not have to produce that energy.

For some reason this made me think of how we as citizens need to be able to diversify our knowledge base.  Gone are the times of one job or career for the rest of our lives, like our parents and grandparents.  The economy is always changing know.  So, we need to be able to change with it not only that, but with longer lifespans we will start to need a change every once in awhile.   This is why we need college for all and stop calling it a liberal education then start calling it a diversified education.  The people on Wall Street should be able to understand that.  One of the things I have heard about from the stock company commercials is that  we should diversify our portfolios.  If we diversify our knowledge about the world we can transition into different fields easier and explore other careers that we might not have that of.  This helps to stabilize the economy and helps us to work toward that goal in the constitution of happiness.

Hell, I think there should be diversity in all things.  Without it our species would die off for sure.  I could never understand the premises of White Power.  If we only had white people in the world or any color or nationality.  Eventually there would be too much inbreeding in the genes.    That kind of explains the people who want their own people only.  Could you imagine a world with only white, black, asian or hispanic people.  It would be pretty boring.  We would see similar faces all the time.  The other day a guy came into the student store he was Somalian and he had the same facial structure as and old friend of mine who is white.  To me this seems like there are limited amount amounts of faces that mother nature has and reuses them in other races.  Kind of blows my mind.  Now that I said that being said imagine duplicate people of the same ethnicity all over the place.  Pretty unremarkable is it.

My Thoughts on Thirteen Reasons Why

So I just finished the series Thirteen Reasons Why on Netflix.  It was overwhelming to me even though I am a 41 year old male.  I sat through every episode in the past 2 days.  I thought it would be one of those shows I watch and end up turning it off within the first 10 minutes.  The story and the themes involved were so compelling I had to keep going.  I force myself to turn it off being I watched it alone, which I do not recommend.  Watch this show with people you love and trust.  Being someone who has been dealing with depression for 20+ years I feel for the characters.

This brought forth ideas I have been thinking about a lot lately given the suicides of both Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell.  It brought me back to when I first attempted suicide in the Army.  I am glad I did not because of what I am trying to do with my life know.  I was lost for a long time, no one understood me it seemed.  I was lucky though I was young and stupid the way I tried to do it.

I had only left home twice before one was to go to Boy Scout camp the other was to go work on a hog farm for 2 weeks.  I had a fuck of a hard time in basic training.  I was one of the weakest in my platoon, always getting the platoon punished for my screw ups, always being screamed at and being called names buy the Drill Sergeants and other members.   Though, my Drill Sergeant Terrance did pull me a side one time and gave me a little hope saying it would not be this way in permanent duty.  I joined to get away from bullies ironic right maybe get to travel and earn money for college.  I made it through my Advanced Individualized Training just barely there.  Granted I had achilles tendonitis for the last 6 weeks and I was held over till I could pass the physical fitness test.

When I made it to my duty station in Fort Lewis, Washington I still felt alone.  I met a guy who invited me to his church group.  When I got there I was so out of place it was an Episcopal Church I think, they were dancing around speaking in tongues.  I could not deal with that I left after the service and never returned.  It was too strange even for me I was and an odd ball amongst a completely different type of odd ball.

I did meet one man who took me under his wing Staff Sergeant Bill Lester.  He had been in for about 20 years and was kind of a loner himself in ways.  He stayed in the barracks during the week and went back to his home in Yakima on the weekends.  He even took me to meet his family a couple of times and celebrated my nineteenth birthday with me.  I felt good when he was there.   When he retired that is when I started having issues.  Some of the other guys in the barracks I did hang out with we even played D&D and Vampire the Masquerade a few times.  The issue I had was when I got back from doing a temporary tour of duty down in California.

Two new guys had just been Dwight and Tom.  I did not have many issues with them so much as with the other guys in the barracks we had all gone out to see Rancid at an underground club where we met a woman named Velvet.  I was not interested in here but two of the other guys were.  Tom and I forgot the other guys name he was a real piece of work though.  Velvet was not in to the other guy who we will call Sam, she was in to  Tom.  Sam and the other guys said she was Sam’s.  This caused a rift in the barracks.  All the other guys were pissed at Tom because they had thought he had stole Velvet.  I was not on either side I was with Velvets choice which was Tom.  I was caught in the middle of it all.  I hated it Tom And D were not trying to make me choose sides.  I still felt like I was being pulled from both sides though.  Till one day I tried to overdose on about 8000 mg of motrin.  I knew nothing about drugs at this time except for what I learned from the DARE Program and what some of the guys in the barracks told me.

I ended up in the hospital in the mental ward for a night and had to do counseling sessions for like a week.  Eventually things calmed down though the barracks still felt divided.  I would hide in my room when I was not working watching movies and smoking cigarettes sometimes going over to Tom and D’s room to play some Playstation.  D is a good guy and he did encourage me to come over and hang out with them until I was released from the army due to physical fitness test failure.  I had failed one prior and I had to pass this one too stay in.  The NBC Sergeant who was one of my NCOIC’s (Noncommissioned officer in charge had dusted me the night before the test.  I had to continually hold a gallon bottle of pine oil in my hands while my palms were turned up having my back against the wall in a open sitting position.  Then he would have me switch to holding 2 bottles while standing and keeping my arms parallel to the ground.  this went on for about 2 hours switching positions about every 2 minutes or so.  Even though I had been through all that the night before I still tried my hardest to pass the test, I missed it by 2 pushups and 2 minutes in the 2 mile run.

After is when I started using Marijuana it was on the bus ride home in Fargo, North Dakota.  I did not give a shit at this point and I was feeling rebellious and wanted in my mind it was a big fuck you to the army.  I ended up getting involved with a dude Named Mike Welsh.  He had started a group called R.A.I.D. (Revolution Against an Indecent Democracy).  I found out the guy only actually started the group to get laid and he tried to have his way with my sister who is younger than me.  After that I left the group and found out later that R.A.I.D. had fallen apart after I left.  That was the last time I followed politics for many years after.

I did hang out and live with a few friends that I had met through Mike: Tony, Jesse, and Adam. Previously I had been diagnosed with depression after I had all this shit went down with Mike.  Then Kurt Cobain committed suicide and I was living with Tony we were talking about it.  I was not a big Nirvana fan till after his death I think it was because it was then I understood his music having tried to commit suicide myself.  When we were talking about it Tony had made it clear about his point of view on people who commit suicide.  He was of the mind set that anyone who did that was a coward and the he would not go to anyone’s funeral who did.  This is when I started to learn to hide my feeling and who I actually was.  I did not want to lose the few friends I had.  I started to live for them and not myself I was using Marijuana a lot and I was experimenting with other drugs as well like: LSD, Mushrooms, Opium and one time I tried Crack.  I remained friends with the guys till about a few of years ago when I had lost my job, wife, two hernia surgeries.  Once again I was lost this time I felt completely alone even when I was with people.  Tony had let me stay with him and his new wife.  Both good people I just was trying to find my way again every weekend I was getting drunk till one night I got so drunk I puked all over their floor while trying to make it to the bathroom.  I moved out shortly thereafter.

In my new place I started pushing people away.  I was going through major changes and looking for reasons to stay alive.  I realized after a couple of years I needed to get help thanks to the story of Malala Yousefzai.  I was looking at my life in a whole new way.  Here was a young woman who had stood up to the Taliban and here I was battling the demons within my own head.  It was then that I decided that I was going to better myself but not for me.  I wanted to better myself to help build a better society for everyone.  From that point on word I have been battling those demons  going to the V.A. for psychological help and get back into school to become a teacher.  I am now almost done with my A.A. and doing it well.

Basically the moral of this story is I know it is hard and things never seem like they are going to get better.  The thing is that you never know when something or someone is going to inspire you.  Things can and will get better.  If you are feeling lonely talk to someone anyone.  Society for now is tough but there are people out there trying to make this a better place for you.  Maybe they can help to inspire you to live and be better because life is not about trying to be perfect or living up to other peoples standards, it is about trying to make ourselves better and making the world somewhere we can all accepted.