The Grind

The Grind, Repeat

Before I get back to Inger’s Finger I need to talk about something. It’s something I saw in myself and in other cab drivers when I was a yungin. We all start the same way. Young and naive, full of energy and surety that we can slay every dragon that crosses our path. We meet dragons, slay dragons, go home with the boon, rinse, repeat, for a while until the dragons get wise to us and change the way they fight. We want to keep winning so we start the grind.

This photo of Royal Enfield Bike Tours & Rentals is courtesy of TripAdvisor

The grind is exciting at first. We have our health and it feels like we can do this forever. We can’t. 60 hours a week driving a cab builds into 120 and that early taste of easy success fades with a half-life we didn’t expect. It takes every bit of those 120 hours to chase down the money we need and even then, we fall short.

Some of us start with a familiar spot in a pew, graduated from choir boy to altar boy, on the cusp of college and a bright future. Cab driving is just a summer thing to get some extra money before heading off to college and an education in defeating really, really big dragons. Then something happens. Either bad news or good, either work. And the fall start of college fades further into the future.  We start to grind, trying to save that bright future from the scorch of a dragon’s breath.

El Camino Real al Infierno

Some start with a less admirable story and try to use the cab to grind our way up from the gutter where society tossed us. Sometimes it works and we make it to the curb. Yay. This space isn’t for the ones that make it. We are the other end of the curve, down there on a rock-strewn road through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

It’s a frog in a pot thing. The heat rises in our lives, we become more frenetic, try to work harder until we collapse. Outside my cabin, on El Camino Real al Infierno, are rotting corpses of those who didn’t quit until their grind ended here. If folk are lucky the collapse gets them a ride to the hospital, jail or rehab, maybe all three. Whether their grind makes them a dragon scat neighbor of mine is determined by whether they stick with the truth that this is rock bottom and the way back up is life changing and very tough.

Wayne Ziegler’s moment came when he got hurt on the job as a contract welder. He was being paid under the table, had a functional addiction to cocaine, whiskey, and weed. He loved and left a long string of women who thought they could fix him up into the Daddy they never had. Women–don’t try this at home. Someone like Wayne will just break your heart. Go flirt with that guy in church you know. Much better.

Wayne’s Hell

So, Wayne came to Napoleon Taxicab with his health and a good head on his shoulders. But his knees were shot from welding for so many shifts. He had the usual middle-aged first world satellite of health problems–high cholesterol, high blood, high sugar, and chronic pain. He was used up.

But welding isn’t kind to old men like him. The big money jobs require physical stamina that he had lost. For a while, the three sirens–cocaine, whiskey and weed, could shout down the pain. Until they could not and he failed a piss test after getting hurt.

Cab driving was good for him while things began collapsing in. His longest girlfriend left with their daughter for a DC lawyer she met at Paper Moon. He couldn’t afford the house by himself so he moved to a no-tell motel. No job and thus, no medical insurance so his legal drug bills skyrocketed.

He started with the White Nurse. As always, it was good at first. And as always, the early good began to eat his soul. More grind. His even horizon narrowed from weeks down to days down to hours down to minutes. The addict’s choice: drugs or food, drugs or shelter, drugs or her, came down on drugs. He lost the hotel room.

The Street Doesn’t Love You

Wayne in the hospital. He couldn’t afford his drugs so his dealer said he could fight somebody for a little bit of White Nurse. Wayne, before all this, was 280 pounds of six feet eight muscle. He won bar fights when someone threw the first punch and Wayne didn’t feel it. When Wayne punched back the loser felt the punch in his toes. That was then. Now he was in the ER with a severe concussion and contusions near his kidneys. It hurt to breathe. He needed his White Nurse even more.

The ER doc called the social worker who started the intervention speech. Right, right. He was a mess but all he needed was a little taste and he’d be ok. He just wanted to get back to work in the cab. He’d be fine.

Hospitals can’t keep you if you insist on leaving. Wayne insisted. The Town Motel took sympathy on him and believed him when he said he’d have money for the room after his next shift. The taxi gods smiled on him and at 9:00 am he got a cash trip to Fredericksburg.

The street put him in the hospital and the street teased him with just enough money to get him through the next fourteen hours.

This is the end. The street doesn’t love you but it may give you what you need if you fight to stay healthy. Wayne fought to stay a step off the gutter and the street ate him. In eighteen months Wayne went from the gutter to the grave. He died from complications related to opiate addiction.

This is the Beginning

The grind is corrupt. It is evil. It wants your soul. If it takes killing you, so be it. There is a way to make the grind rock bottom. It takes discipline and strength from God. A place to start is Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles.

I didn’t imagine there were 1500 words on this until I met two corporate executives who were grinding at an expensive level. They worked 16-18 hours a day, flew over 200 days a year, seldom saw their families, and were shallow husks of humans. Nothing was left but the grind and it didn’t love them the way they wished it would.

400 words left. I lost my job. I am an UberX partner. It’s cab driving with better dispatch, nicer cars and shorter hours. The money is less than cab driving. I’m 58, almost 59 as I type this. I could be Wayne. No job and Medi-Share is stupid. It’s Obummer care but run by Christians, so that’s supposed to make it better. I can’t get my diabetes meds covered by Medi-Share. They don’t cover routine care. It’s only once I get sick enough to require hospitalization that they will step in. Sucks.

The right way to do cab driving or RideShare is the way the Henrico County Sherrif’s Office said they wanted to see it done. Each driver should create an LLC with its own tax id and run the money through the LLC. Do all the smart things one does to make a small business a success.

Transit Webb

So . . . out of the comforts of corporate cube rat life into the grind as a small business owner. Baugh Holding Company operates Transit Webb, which is the UberX business. In process is a second vehicle that will do Amazon Flex.

I’m too old for more cube rat life. There isn’t enough time left before I’m expected to retire to accumulate enough assets to secure my post cube rat life. Thus, I’ll go back to what I know, to the grind in a cab, with the hope that I can build a business which will pay me beyond the days when I can run 30 fares in 10 hours five days a week.

Transit Webb has been in business for only a month. There is no guaranteed outcome. I could join my festering corpse neighbors along the Royal Road to Hell. It could work and I could be fine. Time will tell.

Most of the entreprenuers I have met tell their rock bottom story. A retail fixturesmanufacturer who didn’t know that stores order their fixtures in the summer to be delivered in November and paid in December. His first year he lost $300,000.00. A brewpub owner who was a month away from breaking even and out of cash. He had mortgaged his home to start the brewpub. In a month he would either be homeless or assured of limited success. Transit Webb is limping along in a rented SUV with all my bills past due.

The stories have a theme: it is the end, the dragon is chewing us after dousing us with ketchup. All seems lost and yet, like the archetypical heros tale, something happens and we come out victorious. I don’t know yet what that will be for Transit Webb. I do know that for 16 years I get into these places where it looks like my new address will be a cot in a homeless shelter and then things work out. If you ask me how I feel as I type this I’ll tell you I feel like dragon scat. But so far, I’ve survived. More on this in upcoming posts.



Akio creates a problem for me. He was born fucked. Two addict parents self-medicating to cope with a buzzing swarm of mental issues. Generations of living on the dole. Akio is an addict. Depending on his mood, he feels either schizophrenic, anxious or depressed. He is homeless, in his first year out of jail, and surviving by being a hobosexual for a string of women.

Akio Winston


The survival technique is a bastard instance of the Oedipus complex. He wants  a woman who will mother him, marry him, not trouble him too much, and sympathize when the voices in his head say he needs to piss on the statue of Robert E Lee. I count seven attempts at being Oedipus. The current bae is pregnant and both of them say they are staying together. She says she can rescue him from his troubled past. I dunno.

The bae called a shelter program home until a well meaning Churchianitan woman rescued her. The brand is familiar: non-denominational, strong on virtue signal and evangelism, weak on missions and follow-through. Things were good when it was one Churchianitan woman doing a solid for the bae.

Add Akio and things went south. The woman is captive in her own home. Let me explain before you go calling the cops. Churchianitan is wheelchair bound and needs help getting up and down the stairs of her two story condominium. The bae is a sometimes nursing student when she isn’t stoned. Churchianitan is on prescription Oxycodone. Add Akio and the occupation of the house is feeding monkeys. I’m waiting for the phone call telling me that one or more of the three is hospitalized, incarcerated or toe-tagged.

❖ ❖ ❖

Last week Akio and the bae fought. She blames him. He blames her. The apology was underwhelming. At least one wall has holes in it. The flat-screen TV exploded after Akio punched it. One corner of the kitchen floor has scorch marks and smoke damage from a phone thrown in anger. There is no food in the house. Everything that could be stolen and sold is gone. A good deed thoroughly punished.

Your miseries cease being an excuse somewhere mid-twenties. Akio had it bad. I get that. He is one of many who ate an abundance of bitterness. The bitterness eaten by him does not excuse away his continuance of the life in spite of escalating negative consequences. Nor are we obligated to him because his portion was so large. His day when his blues justified his behavior have passed. It is no longer his fate at the wheel of his life, it is him.

Akio answered his fate by achieving early success as a drug dealer. We teach young black men that the only acceptable roles for them are sports, entertainment, crime or indentured servitude to crackers. Akio is tall enough to be dominant on the basketball court. Like many his age he believes himself to be a rap singer. The only trope he didn’t take up is indentured servitude. His greatest success was selling crack cocaine.

Five and six. The other approved path is college, a white collar career, a woman, kids, a mortgage, and so on for the next sixty years. It is the path well traveled Frost and I did not take. Akio is too messed up to make it work. Six is some low rent blue collar jobs and one more plebian tragedy.

Failure to Thrive

Behind Akio is a trail of well-meaning Churchianitans who tried to turn the course of his life. All have failed. Akio still gets high, still sells weed and cocaine, still finds willing women who help him try again to marry his mother and murder his father. He has not changed.

This is the problem Akio creates. All the usual racist tropes about why young black men self-limit don’t explain Akio. Everything usual that can be done to get him to change his ways has been done. He remains the same. It is easy to yell at the snowflakes on campus who have privilege and abuse it by trashing the school and enforcing an orthodoxy of resentment. Their crayons, blankets, low-lighting, soft music, and strict rules about what can and cannot be spoken within safe-spaces are easy targets. Yelling at Akio? About what? Many have yelled at him. He is still doing himself.

I wish it were that easy. A strong fatherly lecture about the deadly course of his life would bring about the epiphany we all want for him. It isn’t so easy. Addicts have to die to their old life before they can live the new one. Said death hurts. If the addiction is deep enough the death is sometimes actual.

❖ ❖ ❖

Addicts are not flawed nor stupid nor weak. To be an addict requires tremendous strength and intelligence. Addicts consume taboo habits they buy on the black market under threat of arrest or violence. Drug dealers are remarkable business people because they cannot write down anything they do. It all has to be remembered even while being stoned or drunk. You can’t have a permanent location selling something illegal. The business must thrive in spite of a lack of place. A good drug dealer is a remarkable and perishable thing. Addicts survive things that would kill someone weaker.

Maybe I could explain Akio in terms of his past–addict parents then foster care then adoption late in childhood, an ancestral legacy of criminal life, all the tropes about living on welfare in public housing. All of that is a cliche so common you wonder if it isn’t just lies. Is the sorry story just a hustle to get more? Maybe. Only Akio really knows.

Maybe the cause is us. Boomers did such an awesome job insulating our kids from the slings and arrows of outrageous first world life that they never learned how to cope with misery. We are able to ingest drugs to shut down our lives and sustain the bubble we believe is a right. We don’t have to suffer in this place and time. Every whim is available to anyone that seeks it. Pursuing the seven deadly sins as a bucket list is possible and perhaps, worthwhile.

Monkey Hungry

His past does not explain him. Nor does his residence in a first world city and time. Yes, he was born fucked. Yes, his single score of life featured a cornucopia of bitterness. No one taught him how to be resilient because it isn’t necessary when cocaine, heroin, codeine and much more can protect you. That is the hand life dealt to him. It is not, ipso facto, his fate. He is old enough to have his fate in his hands. His monkey can be starved out of Akio’s life.

Akio’s monkey would eat me if it could. It ate the Churchianitan. He recurs in my life, eats a piece of me, then gets angry because I am not enough. Which . . . actually . . . is a good thing.

I don’t like strays​ or damsels in distress. There is an alley cat living under my shed. Were I someone else that cat would join me in my house. I am not someone else. The neighbor adopted the cat and got him to a vet who got him healthy. Once healthy the cat tore up a couch because it made such a nice scratching post. I saw the couch on the curb last month. I’m not unsympathetic to the fate of the alley cat. He is staying outside. Akio wants more of me and disappears when I won’t give it. Fine.

The Tao 道教 of Akio

Nothing in my past prepares me for him. Therapy? He does that. Social Services? They signed him up for a crazy check and a SNAP card. Section 8? He got public housing and used it to consume bae #6. #6 put him out of his own public housing apartment. All that I know for getting one’s shit together doesn’t move the needle for Akio.

I love introspective conversations about why I am a hot mess. I’ll wrestle the great questions with you: what is my purpose? Why was I born? Is God a Loving God? Why do bad things happen to good people. Akio is occupied with finding his next meal. A daily goal is to get through it without bullet holes. The merits of Socrates compared to Gampopa? He ain’t got time for that. Mercy is a dollar menu cheeseburger.

I have books in me. My gift to him is words. He can’t eat words nor get high with them. They are useful as tools for getting sex. Words as an end unto themselves are foreign to him. He asks me how to spend the night inside and I answer him with Emily Dickinson. We are from completely different worlds.

The True Road 真道

He aged out of the window where blame can be assigned and a responsible party held accountable. It’s on him. All I can do is watch him die through repetitions of new bae, a honeymoon spate, promises to make it stick this time, a period of calm then escalating negative consequences and predictable jail or hospital time.

There are thousands like him in the inner city. They are the intractable metastatic cancer treated with Uncle Sam’s money for a century. I wish I had a solution for the problem he represents. The only thing I have is that his disease has to run its course. Whether it kills him and along the way takes out others with him is something only time will tell. Churchianitan is learning that rescuing him only feeds his monkey with her soul. I hope she puts him out soon. The boy is bad news.



Inger’s first appearance on the blog was last August when I started a kurfuffle for tossing about the word “rape” too casually for some. I didn’t name her then. I described the incident in a post titled, “It Was Rape“. I never named the girl who threw herself at the mercy of the guards a manic shadow of her Ivy League self. It wasn’t necessary then. It is necessary now. Also, most of my readership know that I am first a fiction writer who also writes prose. Thus, Inger is not a real person. I have to say that because my PDFRB minders read a draft and accused me of shaming rape victims and giving undue press to rapists.

Inger, I and my peers need to apologize. We failed to raise you right. We were so concerned about your self-esteem we kept a bubble around you such that you were never allowed to fail. We feared the damage done to you by a dangerous world so you lived in a cocoon where you could do anything you wanted and were never held accountable. Now, grown, your world is a cackling nightmare of anxiety triggering aggression and threats. There are boogeymen everywhere who have hurt you. Men are, on their face, muderous assholes intent on killing you. White men are the worst. White women are agents of the white male devil and thus more evil because of their complicity in the violence and oppression.

We succeeded in protecting you from strife. In Little League you always got a trophy regardless of how well you performed. We beamed with pride when you showed up at your ballet recital in a rainbow tutu, a black leotard and Doc Martins saying you were dancing for the rights of black people and the downtrodden LBGTQ community. We taught you that having a tantrum meant getting a better trophy so you learned to be expert at using anger to get what you wanted. We explained away and excused your troubles in school as the fault of a legion of enemies set against you. It was never your fault.

When you saved our dung in mason jars and used it to finger paint on the walls we proudly took our pictures to the local copy store and had large format images of your art framed. Your use of infant poop was inspired.

We catered to your every whim. Switched brands of locovore soy milk because you told us the son of the family owned business was an evil pig exploiting young girls for profit. We never quite understood what made him so evil but since you were our precious snowflake we complied.

We defended you through to College at Stanford when you spent your first semester occupying the central square as a protest of the presence of white students proving endemic racism on campus. We hired lawyers to help you sue your professors who asked you to write essays that you said caused you duress. We lost but never stopped believing that you were right.

Please come home. We don’t know where you are. We are worried about you. We saw that Periscope video of you yelling, “rape” at work and were frightened. We have attorneys on retainer waiting for you. We support your fight for women’s suffrage in the workplace 100%.

✠ ✠ ✠

In the weeks following Inger’s spectacular exit from her internship at a Silicon Valley social media company she lost it. After being examined by the Trauma Center and having a rape kit collected she was nearly catatonic. A social worker and a psychiatrist examined her and had her transferred to the Psychiatric Ward. In California you can only be held for 72 hours involuntarily before they have to release you or have a plan for you. Inger got herself released.

She had the usual kit of a first world citizen of these United States. Purse containing necessities including ID, credit & debit cards and some cash. A scarf, ripped but usable. New cotton panties courtesy of the county since her VS Pink thong was ruined and a lacy thong in a psych ward is not a plan. Her phone, which had everything she needed to get an Uber back to her apartment. Her life was waiting for her. She just had to go home.

She did not. She was released at 8:00pm on a weeknight. She made her way to Calero Park, befriended a goth boy who had a tent and a spare sleeping bag. She was there for a couple days, begging for spare change and eating out of dumpsters. Her last stop in the first world was a visit to FedEx Office to mail her purse and clothes to her parents in Ashland, Va.

We failed you as parents and for that we are sorry. Please turn on your phone and let us know you are ok, ok?

Felina was a classmate at Stanford the school year before the internship and the cry of “Rape!” They were friendly but not close. Stanford was a fail for Inger and the softest landing after a fall was Swarthmore. Inger’s internship was on plan, in her senior year at Swarthmore and bode well for her. Inger and Felina mostly stayed in touch through Instagram and a shared love of creating memes. Then after the rape shout Inger went dark. Felina thought maybe she’d been ghosted by Inger.

That’s some of Inger’s back story. I said in a recent post that she was back in rehab. Getting clean and sober for Inger isn’t simply suffering through cold turkey and a bunch of Fellowship Meetings. Inger has come in to adulthood sporting PTSD and Schizophrenia. Inger, angry, doesn’t know how to self-soothe or calm down. Inger can’t cope with duress without a meltdown. She becomes a babbling idiot at the utterance of three words, “you are wrong.” She’s got some life skills to learn while getting clean.

What happened to the guy? When Inger went dark and resurfaced in rehab for the first time in Martinsville at Piedmont Community Services the cops tried to talk to her but she refused. The rape kit showed signs of sexual battery but the evidence pointed to someone else, not the coworker who was gang tackled by the guards. The police were willing to follow up on the case but Inger’s way of coping with them was a screaming fit in which she claimed that the police had invaded her brain with worms who were telling her that she was carrying the alien baby of a drunken party-goer after an all nighter in Calero Park. The staff asked the cops to leave and it was a few days before Inger returned to group.

Without clear evidence to support the screams of “Rape” the cops were left flat. This isn’t Law & Order SVU. This is Santa Clara County’s District Attorney’s office with the usual challenges. Every Assistant District Attorney has to weigh the cost of prosecuting a case against the likelihood of a conviction. Inger’s accusations of “Rape” didn’t have enough meat on them to justify spending the county’s money on prosecution so the charges were dropped.

Though, in the overheated, totalist mood of the country and of California, the scent of an accusation stuck to the coworker like skunk piss. His indifference to her accusations caused a social media storm of bad press, rumors and gossip which left his employer accused of being a fellow traveler of a rapist. Despite the absence of legal interest in his alleged sins the coworker found himself without a job and blacklisted.

So . . . Inger. I am sorry that my generation’s best intentions became your worst nightmare. The great sadness is that as shitty as it is, it’s on you now. I wish you all the best in this stint of rehab. Piedmont County is a good place to be.



First Posted 10-Oct-2014

Placating is a losing game. Teachers in Nebraska back in October of 2014 were asked to use gender neutral so as to not cause offense. My itch today is a big middle finger salute to those who would impose their orthodox pronouns on the rest of us because a minority resent the pronouns that exist in the language. The LBGT community too often behaves like a tail that wants the dog to wag in a pleasing manner in the name of progress. Placating these folks just sets up a rinse & repeat where the demands are escalated.

pink triangleI spent many a school day fighting a maneuvering war with my bullies. If I could behave in a particular way I might escape a beating today. Tomorrow? Dunno. Tomorrow is tomorrow. You don’t have to threaten me in my presence to bring up those old bad days of keeping my head on a swivel and paying very close attention to the body language of my nemesis. A news story about some LGBT kids (?!kids!?) attempting to control the behavior of the majority through dictating acceptable language works just fine.

I was bullied as a kid. I could not make it through recess or walk home from school without being threatened, teased or beaten up. In second grade, my teacher used to throw her high heeled shoe at me and when that was not enough, grab me by the ears with her long fingernails and shake my head while yelling at me. More than once I went home with scabs behind my ears to accompany the bruises and scrapes delivered by my tormentors on the school yard and in the classroom.

I survived by outsmarting my bullies. I feigned sickness so the teacher had to send me to the nurse. I got really good at figuring out where my bullies planned on hiding to ambush me and then making sure I wasn’t there to ambush. I didn’t try to placate them. Telling my Mom was useless. My Dad gave me orders not to fight and I suffered for honoring his words. So, I am sensitive to behavior that feels like bullying. This week’s news story about Nebraska teachers being asked to use gender neutral pronouns feels like bullying from people who claim to be victims. It’s the sort of insane reason to abuse or use I’ve heard from addicts or abusers. To claim that the use of gender-specific pronouns is offensive, to use that as a bat with which to beat the larger society with, feels like bullying.

One of the things children of addicts do to try and survive is placate. They drop their healthy boundaries and let the addict do most anything. They apologize profusely to the addict, take on responsibility for things no reasonable person would be held accountable for. It gets insane. Mixed in with it is often all sorts of wicked psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse. It becomes a feeding frenzy for evil, a hurricane of ugly that destroys the child. This can be incredibly hard to heal.

Incredibly, for some who survive this, they pick partners who are exactly like the abusers they swore they’d never be mixed up with. It’s as if the momentum isn’t toward love but down a dark and unstoppable road to hell. Some carry on the addiction and abuse they suffered in their own lives, becoming perpetrators where they were once victims. In the story from Nebraska, a proposed alternative is “purple penguins.” I hear this and can’t help connect the placating of children or adult children of addicts to this. We are trying to placate a minority of folk who are themselves deeply broken. It won’t matter what pronoun we use to refer to the students. The root of it is dysfunction of one sort or another that will find offense in any pronoun we use.

Addiction or abuse or both is stopped by those around the addict or abuser refusing to continue a destructive relationship. One of a few things will happen. The abuser or addict will get treatment and perhaps return to being a positive, contributing member of society. Or the addiction and abuse will escalate to the point of crime putting the addict or abuse in custody for a stretch. Last, they may die.

For those affected by the addiction or abuse the outcomes of the addict or abuser don’t really matter. In a way, they are so captured by evil as to be dead anyway. What matters is healing themselves from the wounds caused by the addiction or abuse. Placating just perpetuates the evil and gives it room to escalate. We have to just stop placating. We have to take the stand, finally, that this is nuts and must cease. Until we do the sick folk who take offense at gender specific pronouns will just continue to escalate, continue to accuse us of being abusive to them through our language.



Incarcerate the Mole

First Posted 21-Oct-2014

My friends in recovery were the moles whose heads had popped up to be whacked. Through the 12 Steps these friends are learning to live more sedate lives without the hurt, hangup or habit that made them whackable. Those spots where they were whacked may have healed. The memory of how it hurt doesn’t heal as easily. One way this plays out is a fear of anything which would push their head up above the level playing field and perhaps make them a whackable mole.

whack-a-moleA couple decades ago some jails got painted pink because some academic did a study which asserted that pink was a sedating color for prisoners. The answer to the problems of jail or prison was the color pink. Uhm, no. Most of those inside are there because they didn’t know when to quit and became a whacked mole. It has nothing to do with the color of the walls.

I had dinner with a friend in recovery. It seems that for him, my head is above the plain and very whackable. I stand out. I am brash and difficult to deal with. Yeah, the thing I learned in childhood is that I was smarter than most and could talk my way into or out of most anything. If I want to piss you off I know how. I also learned that I stood out as a target, as a mole that could/would be whacked.

I don’t care. Whack me. Won’t do a damned thing to deter me. A world conformed, everything flat, nothing sticking out or complicated, is a world I don’t want to live in. Give me a world in which things are not merely shades of grey. A world that is technicolor, much more complex and interesting. A world full of hot messes and cold messes and folk who have become clean.

Some of us will defiantly stick our heads up, staring down the one holding the mallet used to whack us on the head. It is our choice, stupid maybe, but still our choice. Pink walls are not the answer. Nor is a nation all wearing Mao suits and memorizing the little red book so that no one’s head sticks above the level playing field. The answer is us, in our mess, learning to serve first, be missional first, and while doing so, love God, neighbors and enemies alike.



First Posted 12-Feb-2015

I’m not done talking about Pornography. Sean Hannity was talking about something else related to Obummer. I can’t remember what Sean said but it rattled about my head and came out, “Satan will always leave you hungry and God will leave you full.”

porn addict 3The reason I like my cobbled paraphrase of Sean’s words is that it connects to a thing I used to obsessively repeat. I used to love to say that I was suspicious of things offered to me that were long on benefits and fuzzy on price or consequences. I’d go further and say that Satan’s bargains are like that. He’d offer something really nice but not be clear on what he wanted for it. My flip side was that God tended to put the price up front, make you pay first, and was fuzzy on the benefits. I was so impressed with that little epiphany. My friends got tired of hearing me say it..

Sean Hannity made his comment that I missed and I filled in the gaps with the paraphrase I started with. Here is the point, if there is one. Porn, along with other pleasures on offer, has too short a half-life. The first video of . . . ok, I know that the pantheon of perversions is vast. There are some really twisted filmmakers who make videos of any fantasy you can think of. I don’t have time in 500 words or so to allow for all of it. So, for this post, we’ll stick to hetero sex. Ok, the first video of hetero sex–amazing. Every video after? not so much. You have to find more intense emotional highs to get that same first rush. Ditto alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy . . . whatever. All have a half-life that means you have to chase more to get the same euphoria you got last time. Name a hurt, habit or hangup and that same problem is there–you are always left hungry.

This is the other half of the premise–God will always leave you full. Though, God is annoying because at least with me, he has this nasty habit of waiting until the last possible moment to come through for me. He’s also annoying because again, with me, what I think will make me full and what he’ll give me to make me full is often different. God is a pain in the ass. I love him dearly and each time I’m given a choice I keep choosing Him. I tripped the light fantastic. I had my fill. I know what’s on offer by Satan. I know how I’ve been blessed by God. I keep choosing God.


PORN!! Oh. Yo!

So, yeah, porn is some diminishing return. Oh, and parents, this one isn’t kid friendly. You probably want to either not read this or be ready to talk to your kids about it once you & they are done. Back to what I was saying–the first magazine or video rocks your world and then at least with me, starts to piss me off. Her & him, on the screen, will never get near me. All the things I love about women will never happen. She’s onscreen with him so although it’s just a job, she’s still got him for the length of the shoot. She’s clearly taken. Which . . . since I have no shot, WTF?!

Boschsevendeadlysins” by Hieronymus Bosch (circa 1450€“1516) – “The Seven Deadly Sins and the Four Last Things”, painting by “Hieronymus Bosch”. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

The other reason, though, is that it is a menage a trois. It’s a three-way relationship. There is person 1, of whatever gender identity, person 2, also of some . . . y’know . . . I’m hetero, so we are going to talk about women. I’m so not interested in trying to make this fit your [genderidentitychoiceofpartner]. You can stop here and not read the post. I’m not mad. Crazy, maybe, but not mad. Gone? No? Ok. As I was saying . . . It’s a three-way. It’s him, her and the porn. Some of him is devoted to the porn and thus, not devoted to her. So, if he does love her, why is that part of him partitioned off from her? Why can’t she have that part of him? I don’t like to share. If I’m with someone I expect them to be devoted to me. It’s not a possessive thing. I possess little, least of all a woman. It all belongs to God. It’s not about possession or ownership or turf. It’s about my idea of love including a self sacrificing surrender to God first and my partner second.

Exodus 20:3, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” Porn gets in the middle of that. It becomes a demi-god in the life of the person who is into it. God has to share the person as well as the partner, possibly me, has to share some of his or her time, intimacy, devotion, energy, horniness, & spirit. It defies the rule that we shalt not have no other gods before Yahweh.

A hunger for sex is God given. It is there for a purpose like our hunger for food is there for a purpose. Like our hunger for food it is endless. We can’t make it go away no matter how many orgasms, how much horizontal bopping, how much self-stimulation we do. Yet, if we learn discipline, if we learn to live with the hunger, to give in to it as God would have us do, we can be blessed in ways we’ll never get as long as we obsess over a video of a woman getting naked and getting off. We are to hunger relationship because God made us to be this way. We are not made to be alone. He doesn’t want us to starve. He also doesn’t want us to be gluttons or overly lustful. He wants us to figure out what we like to eat, who we like to be with, and eat our fill and fulfill our need for relationships with the right people and under submission to Him.

Porn drains life from our natural hunger for relationship. It turns it perverse and becomes a festering wound in our soul that won’t heal without God. Porn also keeps the glass half-full in a bad way. We can’t be filled by God, by our partner all the way because in that glass is something else–pornography. To be filled by God we have to be empty. We have to be hungry. It makes us miserable, yes. But the misery, the emptiness, the loneliness, leaves room where God can be and where our partner can be. We can be filled on a more healthy way by removing this from our lives.

Last thing. At the core of this is the trouble that false idols cause. You could edit this post to talk about alcohol, drugs, gluttony, lust or whatever hurt, habit or hangup is between you and God. The point would stand. Whatever it is, it has a piece of you that God doesn’t have and that’s a problem. There is a god before God in the hurt, habit or hangup which leaches off some of your love and devotion. Whatever it is, it has you and that piece of you is unavailable to your partner, also a problem.

The story repeats enough to be a trope. In the beginning, it’s great, it feels good, it seems like it makes your life better, then the slow bleed begins and you find yourself stuck, unable to stop the behavior that is now killing you. Then the negative consequences escalate until you either start recovery, die or end up in prison. You have been double-tapped by a minion. Boom.


The Alien Returns

I took a break from scrubbing the carpet in my living room to type this. Alien puke smells worse than human puke. Robert, who on a whim decides s/he’s Roberta, is asleep in his (?her?) S-10 pickup at the curb outside my house. I have a hard time telling the difference between Robert and Robert(a). They seem to dress from the same racks at Fantastic Thrift. It’s a rather Goth look using a lot of deep greens and splashes of pink. Roberta assures me that if I were an alien it would be obvious to me that s/he was a she. Noted. I’m not an alien, so . . .

rainy mondayIt’s sunny and wintery warm outside my window. The recycling truck came by an hour ago. I’m hungry, broke (again), with no job since 12/9/2015 and the usual pile of bills I can’t pay. Our vaunted Affordable Healthcare Act so profusely promoted as a better way has resulted in my appearing to not have health insurance even though I’ve done everything asked of me. Yay! I’m scheduled to see my doctor for the first time tomorrow and though I’ve paid for insurance and my insurance company has recorded my payment the Health Insurance Exchange in Virginia thinks that (a) I have not applied and (b) I haven’t paid. Can I punch Obama in the face? No? Damn.

I offered to volunteer at the jails with prisoners who need help finding a job once they are released. The pastor who runs the program suggested I take the class myself, since I am an unemployed ex-offender. The “Therapeeved” post is one I still have to repost because it was lost along with everything else when I tried with good intentions to upgrade the MySQL instance that runs this site. The too oft offered answer for almost half a century has been, “do some therapy.” I’ve done my share of therapy. I am incorrigible. One thing this this site is for me is a narrative on what it’s like to be a hot mess and maintain a quiet, stable personal life.

At least in church people know this and know that what works for me is to learn how to behave appropriately in a given circumstance. Which, I’d say, I’ve done ok with in the last decade or so. Another class to teach me how to apply for jobs and keep a job doesn’t excite me. It kind of pisses me off.

My living room still stinks. With all my therapy and martial arts and reading and Boaz & Ruth and Sunday School and counseling and long teary conversations with friends you would think I’d just not let Robert in the door. I’d get the locks changed. I’d call the cops and have him (?her?) trespassed. I’d get a restraining order. He’s there, on the curb in his truck, snoring loud enough to be heard here in the spare bedroom. “Anxiety is a choice, just get over it.” Right. Were it that easy.

Yah Yah. It’ll be fine. It always is. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you . . .” The usual cavalry has arrived and is helping out. But the habit of worrying is a hard one to break. Robert now says I should call him, “Bob”. I can’t help but think of the original “AA” Bob of many moons ago. The tract listing meetings I put on his windshield is gone. Maybe this time.