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Friday, December 20, 2013

Reflections of the Future

I wrote a long post this morning at work but they have this site blocked so I could not post it.  Perhaps that is for the best.  I tend to find most of my disappointments are for the best when looked back upon.    Today, though, has been a trial.  Things I can and things I cannot talk about have come together in a symbioses which does not lead me to sunlight.  I won't go into details as those are nobody's business but my own.;  I will only deal with the results and not the causes.

Today was a very long day for me.  I was at work but I could not work.  I just monitored the clock counting down the minutes until I could safely leave.  Too many days like that have become the norm for me.  I used to love work and find comfort and solace there when home was some place I did not care to be.  That is not the case any more it seems as work is also a place I do not want to be.  If fact, there is no place I want to be that is within my power to have.  Just the way it is.

 I have spent the day in contemplation of life and death and the desirability of each.  I find that when I was young the seesaw of percentages favored life by an extreme margin.  As I've grown older the ratio has changed.  I won't say it has tilted in favor of death but I won't say living holds much attraction for me.

I suppose that could be because genetically I am insane.  The only thing keeping me going is drugs and I don't always take them as  there seems little point.  Its a thing called depression.  You can read all there is to know about it.  But, unless you've been there, you still know nothing at all.    It is a time in your life when the desire for life or death resides on a razor's edge and can fall either way at any time.

I've always thought suicide was not a solution as most problems in life are temporary and suicide is permanent.   Permanent solutions to temporary problems seems somewhat extreme.  Some days I'm much less inclined to that point of view.  But, I think that is more genetic than something I really feel.  My genes are not the best and in a orgy of non-responsibility I have passed them on to children of my own who never asked for this shit.  Yet they have it.  I love my children.  I love my grand children.  Yet, had I to do it over I'd have gotten a vasectomy at age eighteen.  No one has the right to inflict this kind of  punishment on an unborn child.  It is as virulent as aids but it does not kill your body it just kills your soul.  I'll leave it up to you to decide what is worse.

I suppose "holiday blues" contributes to it in some form or fashion.  I know how meaningless these times are.  They do not honor Christ who could not have been born anywhere near December 25th.  They only honor, greed, ingratitude, and the smug feeling of self satisfaction if you actually lower yourself to help someone who has less than you.

I cannot condemn too heartily as my family would always come first yet there are so many "good Christians" who  view themselves in such a self-righteous light just because the donated a few bucks to the United way.  They sit at their table and stuff themselves on all the good things while their professed brothers and sisters wander the streets looking for a place to keep warm.

In many ways I'm no better as I do the same thing with the exception that I realize the hypocrisy of the whole situation.  We are all pretty much the same.;  We look at TV and go "tsk, tsk" when we see so much hate, need and want in this world.  Then we celebrate the purely pagan holiday of Christmas with it's focus on greed and self-indulgence and pat ourselves on the back for being saved.

I have a question for you?  Are you really saved?  Supposing your beliefs are true and there is a heaven for the "saved" and a hell for everyone else, Just what makes you think you're going to heaven?  You want to find a hornet's nest of racism and hypocrisy just go to any church.  They are all the same.  Full of self-righteous hypocrites who do good not from the goodness of their hearts or because it is what Jesus taught but because of the charitable deduction on their income tax.  And so they can brag to their rich friends at some country club how good they are to those who have less.

How about Luke 3:11?  He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise.  Just how many "good christians" have ten coats and twenty pairs of shoes and turn their heads to drive by the homeless man with the sign "will work for food"?  At least I now I'm not a good person and a "good Christian" and I don't profess to be.  If there is a heaven I have a feeling it is going to be a mighty lonely place.

I suppose it is because heaven is made for the greedy.  Streets of gold, mansions, (hey, who are the servants to take care of those mansions?)  It is all designed to appeal to the greed in humanity.  And, boy, are we humans greedy!  And stupid.  Why don't you realize that something that tells you to be subservient to those placed over you and you'll receive your reward AFTER YOU DIE is a con.  Good lord (yes, I realize the incongruity) I can promise you anything after you dies and what are you going to do when I don't deliver?  Yeah, just as I thought.  Nothing.  You're dead.

Religion, today, is just a tool for those in power to keep those not in power in control.  How sweet it must be to promote a system that tells you to obey your masters and expect to be rewarded after you die?  Then we have those multi-millions great fools willing to kill and die for that.  Makes me wonder if god did not make a mistake in giving Noah blueprints for the Arc.  

Well, I'm depressed.  I can't blame it completely on the season and the stupidity of "man".  I can't even blame it on my defective genes.  I can't blame it on growing older.  Maybe it is a sum of all those and other things I don't recognize or admit to.  

Today has not been a good day.  But, it has been an average day.  I don't expect good days any longer and I try to embrace them when they come and not get too far gone when the opposite days present themselves.   Today is a day for shaking my head and laughing (without humor) at the humans of this world and what they consider important and then ignore completely because it is inconvenient.

Personally, today has been a day for remembering what might have been and should have been but never was.  In other words a day for deep depression.  It is almost midnight and my wife is in bed and asleep and I have no urge to join her there.  I have no desire for the dreams I know I will have nor the feelings I will have when I awaken and realize they are not real.  

I have long said, "life's a bitch then you die".  I think I have the first part down pat.  I'm ready for the second part any time.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

+Its Beginning to Feel a Lot Like Christmas

Perhaps it is not fair to Christmas to blame my holiday depression on it solely.  My depression is more genetic than external.  Yet it is always worse at the holidays.  Perhaps it is just my normal reaction to anyone telling me how I should feel or act.  Holidays are wonderful times and one should feel all joyous and happy.  My normal (is that a contradiction in terms?) Van Hoose contrariness kicks in big time and I refuse to be happy, joyous  or anything this fake holiday demands. 

I just cannot believe how even intelligent people fall down on their knees to worship at the altar of greed and excess demanded by our possession driven society and perpetuated by the very church which should be up in arms debunking it.   But, then, I've known the average human is too stupid to live any how.  I should not be surprised how fully and easily they fall for the  hokum and embrace it all with joy. 

Really, though, I guess the fake holiday season had little to do with my depression.  It's roots run far deeper than just that shallow pool.  No, my depression goes much deeper than any external influences can explain.  It is a part of me as are my eyes, my ears and my (unfortunately) active mind.  There is a reason why genius and short lives go together.  They (we) just get tired.  Tired in a way the body never can.  Not really even a tiredness of the mind.  Just a general tiredness.  An all embracing tiredness where there is no prospect of rest.  Just more tiredness.

Seems like a mighty poor future.  LOL.  One not worth hoping for I'd say.

Ghosts of Christmas Past

It is less than a week until Christmas and not quite two weeks since my 60th birthday.  Seems like as good a time as any to reflect on those sixty Christmas'. 

I was born on December 8, 1953 so Christmas of 1953 was my first one.  Do not have a clue how it was spent as I don't remember it at all.  Nor Christmas of 1954 and probably not the one of '55 either.  That does not matter as I'm quite certain there was nothing memorable about any of them.  Holidays in my family being of no importance.

If you've read much of some of my previous reminiscences  you will already know my mother was a Jehovah's Witness and my dad was whatever he was.  So, no holidays or birthdays for us.  So, my holiday memories may be somewhat skewed from the  norm.  And, to this day, the only thing a holiday or a birthday means to me is whatever it may mean to my children and grand children.  I really do not care.  Caring about holidays and a lot of other things was eradicated from my being many, many years ago.

I'm thinking the first Christmas I have any memory at all of would have been 1956.  It is possible it was '55 and I guess it does not matter at all to anyone which it was.  I just remember we lived in the house at the foot of the hill between Martin and Lawrence counties on Route 40.  I am not sure of the dates but I believe we moved there in the spring or summer of  1955.   It could have been 1956 though.

At any rate, the only memory I have of that Christmas is my older brother telling me if I went to sleep Santa Claus might bring me something for Christmas.  AND THEN my mother sitting me down and explaining there was no such person as Santa Claus and I would definitely NOT have any presents for Christmas.  So much for waiting until late childhood for Christmas disillusionment.

After that Christmas and all other holidays becomes a blur of nothingness until at least 1961.  That is when we moved from Spring Knob tower to a house in West Van Lear so I could go to school.  I was in the second grade then having attended a one-room school on Nat's Creek where my grandparents still lived.

I guess I don't really recall any one Christmas in West Van Lear so much as just the general memories of how Christmas' went.   I was a social outcast since I was not allowed to associate with my "peers" outside of school, nor was I allowed to participate in many common school activities from saying the "Pledge of Allegiance"  of a morning to being in the Christmas play each class put on each year and many things in between.   Here lies the basis of my disdain for holidays as well as my tendency to be a complete hermit.  That is the "nurture" part of it but I'm sure there is a large, genetic, "nature" part of it as well.  I think most (if not all) VanHoose men are inclined to loners genetically.  Those who know more than one of us might be inclined to agree.

The only real specific Christmas memories I have was the Christmas of  1964.  I was in the fifth grade in Mrs. Mollette's class.  As usual, I was not allowed to participate in the class Christmas play and so I sat alone at my desk watching everyone practice.

I had no script or anything but I knew each part perfectly way before Christmas came.  And, it bugged me no end how everyone kept forgetting and screwing up their lines.  It seemed so simple to me.  I know every line for every part in the play.  How hard was it to just memorize ONE part?   I did not realize it then through a lot of lack of self-confidence and self-esteem but I'm sure that is about where I came to realize people are really quite stupid on the whole.

That was also the year I came up with the plan for avoiding the embarrassment of not being allowed to "draw names" for Christmas.  I wrote my name down as required and dropped it into the "hat" with the others.  BUT, I folded it in such a way as I could recognize it by feel.  Thus, I was able to detect and draw my own name.  There was so much mirth and jocularity (I love that expression) nobody noticed I did not have a present.  That method carried me though several Christmas'.

Then there was the inevitable January question of "What did you get for Christmas?".  It never occurred to me to just lie about it.  A lesson I have learned well since.  Becoming a great liar is very important to retaining one's sanity.  So, stupidly, I tried to explain why I had gotten nothing (zero, zilch, nada) for Christmas.  I knew the meaning of "effort of futility"  long before I ever learned the phrase.

The Christmas trend stayed the same during the rest of my schooling.  When I got married I got my wife a Christmas present more because it was an expectation rather than any desire on my part.  Add in she was very difficult to buy for and I really dreaded Christmas rather than anticipating it.

I've never particularly cared for receiving Christmas gifts.  It was a foreign concept for me and still is.   I still don't care about WHAT I get.  The only joy I have for receiving something for Christmas or my birthday is that someone thought enough of me to remember me.  The present means nothing.  It is a cliche' but for me it is truly the thought that counts.  It is the only thing that counts.  I'm just as happy with a pair of socks as I would be with a 60" 3D tv.   Christmas greed depresses me and I do not understand the pressure people feel to over extend themselves on a holiday that is to celebrate something that never happened.  At least, not anywhere that date.

It only reinforces the lesson I learned a long time ago.  People are stupid.

The only Christmas' I really enjoyed were those spent with my children.  There is nothing like the joy of a child.  And, I did find some pleasure in finding out what they wanted and finding it for them, especially when it was something hard to find.  (Thank you early internet!).  They are older now and I'm much more lazy so I just send checks and let them decide what they need and what their kids need.  But I still enjoy seeing the kids (now grandkids) open their gifts.  I hope so much for my children and grand children and on down the line to have much better memories of holidays and birthday than the ones I have.  Then don't we all wish for our children to have it better than we did?

Still, all in all, I find holidays (especially Christmas) and birthdays to be somewhat depressing.  Mostly I prefer to be alone with my thoughts, dreary as those may be.  I've always been alone in one way or another so being physically alone is somewhat comforting.  Then, again, I'm a VanHoose male and a natural hermit. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Some of the Things I've Lived Through in My Sixty Years

I was born in nineteen hundred and fifty three by the christian reckoning.  The end of the Korean war; Eight years after the end of WWII; eight years into the nuclear age.  What are the historic moments I can remember? 

I remember the Bay of Pigs.  I remember the Cuban Missile Crisis.  I remember Duck and Cover when the country still thought a nuclear war was winnable.  I remember the day John F. Kennedy was killed.

I have been witness to the entirety of the world's space programs.  I have sat up to the wee hours to watch Neil Armstrong step foot on our moon.  I have seen robots on the planet Mars.  I have seen Voyager I leaving the solar system completely and voyaging off into interstellar space.

I have seen more progress and medicals miracles than I can remember as well as the rise of some of the more horrific diseases ever known to man.  I've seen the end of legal segregation though the reality of racism still has not ended.

I watched the University of Kentucky win its fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth national basketball championships.  They currently have eight and I've watched fully half of them.  I hope to watch a few more before I depart this world.

I've seen more wars that weren't wars and wars that were than I can name.  I'm blessed to have been in none of them though I did do my stint in the US Army.  I was fortunate enough to do it in a time of relative peace.  Though I vividly remember the nightly news body counts from Viet Nam.  Watching the fireworks of anti-aircraft fire over Bagdad in two Iraq wars. (On TV, of course).  So, far I've lived through double digit presidents and have seen the first bi-racial president.  I hope to live to see the first woman president.

I've lived though depressions, recessions and boom times.  Most of my early years were in recessions and very little boom.  But, now, in a time of no booms I've got a job and I'm thankful for it.  It is a lot more than a lot of people have.  Education is important.  Not just college but technical school.  Seems like it does not matter how much you know you can't get a foot in the door without that piece of paper.

I've seen the birth and the fiery death of the Concorde faster than the speed of sound airliner.  I've seen a solar powered airplane fly around the world.  I've gone from one TV station to over two hundred.  (Still nothing on worth watching.)  I've gone from before sputnick to satellites that provide world wide coverage of darned near everything and satellites that provide geographic location to about a single yard no matter where on the world we are.  Radio has gone from local towers to satellites and world wide stations.

I've had the opportunity to visit other countries, meet their people, eat their food, enjoy their culture and learn more about them.  I have had the privilege of having "my horizons broadened". 

I've gone from where the very word "sex" was forbidden to watching women in their underwear on TV at all times of day.  And, when in Europe, women without their underwear all times of the day.  Why is America so backward and prudish?

I watched us go from Andy of Mayberry, Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet to Married With Children, The Simpsons and South Park.  Probably a few more extreme ones I've never watched as well.

I've lived through medical advances, scientific advances, a shrinking of the world due to fast transportation and world wide communication.  I've seen more conspiracy theories than any one person can keep track of.

So, what would I love to live long enough to see?  First and foremost is great grand children.  Next would be life on other planets.  My biggest regret by far is missing out on the exploration of our own solar system then the exploration of the stars.  I would love to see when we have the technology and discover the first purely earth like extra-solar planet which has the signatures of life in the atmosphere.  I would love to see when SETI receives the first signals from a stellar civilization.

I am permanently curious about everything.  I love knowledge and the increase of knowledge and I hate that I will miss so many advances of learning in the future. 

And I'd love to live long enough to see the NCAA actually do something about that cheating University of North Carolina sports program.  That is probably the most far-fetched of my wishes.

Thoughts While Turning Sixty

Today I turned sixty years of age.  That is not really old and it most assuredly is not very young, yet it is thirty-nine years older than I ever thought I'd be.  I'll not go into those reasons her but suffice to say they seem somewhat silly now but were quite real to me at the time.

I had a very nice lunch with my younger daughter, my son-in-law and my grandson (Tyrus) at a local bar-b-que place.  It was very nice.  Only thing that would have made it better is if my elder daughter and her family could have been there as well.  Seems the older I get the more I realize how little anything matters other than family.

That makes today a day for reminiscing; for contemplation and reflection.  But, for me, that is an every day process.  I am constantly reminiscing, contemplating and reflecting as well as reassessing and adapting to those thoughts and new information.  I think everyone should do that.  What we knew at twenty is not what we knew at thirty, forty, fifty or, in my case, sixty and I would imagine it is not what I'll know should I make it to seventy.

I've seen many changes in myself and in society in my lifetime.   Some of them were very good and some of them were very bad but most of them were just changes.  That is life, you know.  Change.  So, today, I'm going to reflect on some of the changes I've witnessed in my life.

My own father was born in nineteen ought two.  He came into the world a year before the Wright brothers flew at Kitty Hawk.  He exited the world in nineteen ninety two having seen two world wars, two "conflicts" which were wars with all the horrors of war without being given the name, men setting foot on our moon as well as many of our modern wonders.

I was born on December eighth, nineteen fifty three at three fifteen in the afternoon.  I came into the world in a little, log cabin in the hills of eastern Kentucky.  And, no, I'm not Abe Lincoln.  But, that is how I came to be in this world.  I was delivered by my grandmother who was a midwife and who delivered most of her grand kids and many of her great grand kids.  We were really far back in "the sticks" and a half century behind the rest of the country.

Hospitals were not something easily accessible.  In fact there is very little that was easily accessible except hills, tree, and creeks.  And, family.   We lived in the midst of family, both close and extended.  

My father spent thirty years in the US Navy from nineteen ought two until nineteen fifty two.  I was born in nineteen fifty three when he was fifty one years of age.  My mother was forty one years of age.  They were sure my mother was too old to conceive so did not take precautions and along came me.  I was an accident and not a planned child.  This was always pointed out to me.  I'm sure there was no malice intended yet it does leave an impression on a young mind.

Then, on top of that, (so they say) they could not get me to breathe when I was born for some time.  Because of that, so my mother told me, I was mentally retarded due to lack of oxygen to my brain.  So I grew up knowing I was unwanted and mentally deficient.  In later years I've wondered what I could have done had I been "normal".

If I am not mistaken when my dad retired from the US Navy after thirty years his pension was about forty-four dollars a month.  And, with that he took care of myself, my older brother and sister as well as my mother's parents. 

Today that sounds completely unbelievable but times were different and things were much cheaper.  Plus, my dad owned our house and, I  think, my grandparent's house.  We had electricity but that was all the modern conveniences.  We heated with coal my parents dug from a small coal mine on my dad's property.  We has a well and an outhouse.  My mother raised a huge garden as did my grandparents and my day hunted game nearly every day.  We always had food of some kind or other.  We did not have a lot but we did always have food.

A good part of our local roads were in creek beds.  The saying we would do something, "Good Lord willing and the creek don't raise" was literal.  When the creek was "up" it was a path around the side of the hills or nothing.  But, it was completely normal to me.  That was what I was born into and the only thing I knew.  And, it was not a bad way of life.   Not always, at least.  I have had experiences not a lot of people in this day and age can claim.  And, I think the world would be a lot better off had more people experienced my kind of environment.  But, with more loving parents.

In other places in this blog I've talked in more detail about my childhood and how I grew up.  I'll not go into it all again now.  But, today is a day for remembering.  Not all my memories are good.  In fact, most of my memories until I was an adult are not good.   But, those things are all in the past and not worth lingering over.  What does not kill us makes us stronger they say.  I guess both my brother and I are both a lot stronger as would our sister have been had she not passed away far too young from lupus.  Still, she was strong even in her dire straights. 

But, today, I can be thankful for the many things I have which are good.  I have a good job in this time of economic uncertainty. I have two wonderful daughters whom I love dearly and who have married men whom I approve and feel will be good husbands and fathers long after I'm gone and forgotten.

I have four wonderful grand children and another grand son on the way.  All in all, I should not complain.  I have had my share of problems but there are so many others in this world who have had their own share plus a lot of other people's. 

I have a nice home, a good wife, great kids and grand kids.  I have food on my table every day.  I have clean water to drink and bathe in.  I have many health problems but I have good doctors and good insurance and modern medicine to help take care of them all.  I have not attended college but I have a good education because I learned early the value of reading and have read anything and everything just about all my life.

I have lived in a time which has come to value diversity in thought and culture and appreciates the beauty that every one of them.  I  hope I have lead my children to look for the beauty rather than the dark side which every culture also has.  I hope they will teach the same to their children and so pass it on down the line where each generation is better than the last. 

With all the problems of life I know I have truly been blessed.  And, I do appreciate it all.  I would like to live long enough to be a great-grand parent but nothing is promised us.  If I don't it will not be a tragedy for the world.  I am just a microscopic spec in the grand scheme of things.  Stick your finger in the water in a bath tub then pull it out.  That is the hole we leave in this world when we depart it.  Really, all we have is to love those close to  us and enjoy the love of those who do love us.  Wanting more if futile.  No matter what else we may have we have  nothing more valuable than the love of our family.