Archive for April, 2011

Crushing Crossroads

Posted: April 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
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Its been a week since my trip to wonderful Houston, Texas. I’m still filled with great memories and feeling so very fortunate to have been able to go.

I held on to those “high feelings” for as long as I could before I knew that I would have to let them go and get back into my regular routine. But being able to approach it with a better sense of mentality as I sift through daily insanity.

One thing though has not escaped my mind. That is the thought of moving into the Houston area. Yeah, big surprise right!?

Right away I can see definite positives and negatives of this idea, should I make the decision to move to Houston. I’m not quite sure though which side has the upper hand.

Houston, Texas is the fourth largest city in the entire nation. That’s far bigger than any city that I had ever been in. At least for any discriminate amount of time. The thought of the cost of living being so ridiculously high stick in my mind. But with having a larger city means there’s bound to be more for me to do, more people to meet and get to know. I think it has the potential for more opportunity.

One thing that is important to me, is sledge hockey. I’ve already stated that no matter where I was to move to, I would want that option to be where I was. As far as I know, sledge hockey just got started in Houston. But there’s never really any concrete evidence of the program in existence. Nor is there the promise of it developing. There are no answers to those kinds of questions.

Sure, I’ve already said that I had a wonderful time. I’ve met some really awesome people that just made my trip become so fabulous that I didn’t want to leave. But a week later, here I am. I thought that I would just forward in planning for the next trip, because 100% of the opinion of all of those people that I got to meet, got introduced to and everybody else had said that they wanted me to come back as soon as I can.

Who am I to let them down?

I will be going back in November to a wedding. I have been given the promise of torture and death, if I did not show up for it. As well as the powerful word of suggestion that if I did not come down there by myself, I would be dragged down there, whether I liked it or not! Clearly, I don’t have much of a choice. Well, I do honestly. I can choose to either go on my own or be dragged… THAT is my choice.

Besides, I like breathing. It keeps me alive.

But living there is a very big and important decision. True, I have friends there and yes I even made more friends. People who would absolutely go out of their way to help me, if they can. There’s no doubt in that. I believe that I would feel welcomed in that area. And there would be more opportunity to meet with those that I had already made friendships with. Yet, life does go on. They already have theirs and I will be starting over with mine.

The fairy tale idea will not last forever.

I remember back in 1998, I moved from one small community of about 1,300 people to a full county population of nearly 50,000. It was only 60 miles. My best friends lived sort of in the center of it all. They were somewhere between 20-24 miles from my old place and only 35 miles from the city that I moved into.  They came by every evening (or afternoon if they had the day off of work) and visited. Whether that was to take me to the store to get something for my place or the grocery store so that I had food for the week to eat.

They did this every night for over two months, straight. But eventually, it stopped. Life went back as usual and I would hear from them every once in a while. Either they would call or come visit me. But it wasn’t every day.

Could this same situation happen if I made the decision to move to Houston? Its quite possible, yes. But again, life will go on as usual after some point.

Now I am not saying that I am expecting anyone to do what my best friends did for me so long ago. To sit here and say that it WILL be the same would be something of a very foolish remark. I didn’t “expect” to be taken care of so well when I visited Houston last week. But you know what? It happened. These people made the decisions out of the kinds and love in their hearts to make things enjoyable and happy for me. Still a week later, I am totally grateful beyond words.

I’ll continue before I get off track here. If I moved to Houston, I shouldn’t expect much. Clearly, there will be times during the process where I will need help. It will be up to me to make sure that I ask for it, not expect it.

And yet one curious thought still lingers: Could it just be that I am considering a move into the Houston area, because of the fact that I am on this “high” still? Is it possible that the only reason why I am thinking about doing this at all, is because of all the fun that I had over a period of three and a half days?? And does that mean that my mind and judgement is clouded with those energetic positive feelings???

I don’t know.

Since I’ve been back, those whom I met I have been able to contact via the Internet, whether it be Facebook or Twitter or even e-mail. I knew that was going to happen. In the days leading up to my trip, and now several days afterward the frequency of correspondence between those who I knew lived in the area, added with those who I met while down there, has increased dramatically. And all of that is fine. There’s nothing wrong with it. Yet I think it only fans those lingering flames.

I think that with some of those people who I knew before and then got to meet, the visit has strengthened the bond. Which is really cool!! I’m glad for it. I was given the compliment of a lifetime just last night. I believe in every word of theirs that they spoke too. It warmed my heart and strengthened the bond. And then brought me to streaming tears with emotion.

It was really cool. And I thank them for their kind and sincere words.

Perhaps I need to just put this idea on the back burner and keep it there for a while and see if it pops up again on its own, without self-provocation.

Now I stand at the crossroads, facing a rather huge decision in life. Keep me in your mind as I go through this process, for however long it takes.

This day is going to go down in my book of life as one of the top most memorable experiences of 2011.

The night that I got to see SIX MINUTE CENTURY perform at the BFE Club in Houston, Texas. Something I have been hoping and dreaming of doing ever since I first heard the song, “Zero Hour” which ultimately became my absolute favorite song from the band’s first album, “Time Capsules”. Which was probably about two years ago, maybe even longer. But no matter, it was most certainly a dream that absolutely came true.

If you read my last post, you already know that I went to Houston for a bit of a little vacation of sorts. And you already know what wonderful experiences I had from the beginning. Also, warning: a lot of this post is going to be repeated material from that earlier post.

The evening before, I was taken into the recording studio by bassist, Michael Millsap and his fiancee, Lori. I had never been inside a recording studio before, so I am sure that I looked like a character from “Willy Wonka” who just found the last golden ticket and had entered the factory gates. Being able to hear the new material that the band is working on for their next album far before anyone else in the general public, I couldn’t help but feel so honored to have been there. A little later, I got to meet lead guitarist, Don LaFon.

I don’t know if he was surprised to have seen me there. I knew that the whole entire purpose was to surprise the band that I came all that way so that I could see them perform live!! I hope someone from the band was. If they weren’t, then I think that all the secret planning would be wasted because it was getting very difficult to keep my excitement toned down, especially during the last week before I went.

I sat there in awe of Don. If I am understanding correctly, SIX MINUTE CENTURY is a project that he started. Being in the recording studio with this totally awesome guitarist was truly something I thought was so cool. There I was sitting in this control room with the lead guitarist and the bassist. Right off the bat, I got to meet half of the band. Awesome!

And then of course came the big night at BFE Club. Several bands were on the bill before SIX MINUTE CENTURY was to be on the stage, including a really awesome band from Brazil called “MindFlow”. Others included “Decimation Theory” and “Silenced Within”. Yep, if you haven’t figured it out by now… it was a heavy metal show.

It was a bit scary to have these metal acts doing their thing, and then they looked down right at me. Especially, Decimation Theory!! That guy screamed his lungs out, sweat pouring down his face, and then he looked straight at me. CREEEPYYY!!!!

MindFlow did the same thing. Sang a bit, came to the edge of the stage and looked me right in the eyes while singing.

What was really exciting for me was all of the introductions that were made amongst other fans and friends of the bands. I surely got to meet a lot of great people. It was wild to be walking around in the club and instead of waving to acknowledge the person, all they did was throw the Devil Horns in the air.

I was quite honored that lead singer, Chuck Williams made an effort to come and talk with me just before he went on stage. He kneeled down to talk to me at my level and just talked to me like I was a person. Not as if he was the star and I was the adoring fan that must worship him. No, it was “man to man”. He thanked me for being such a great big fan of the band and he said he was happy that I could make it to a show there in Houston. I would find out later that most of the band was quite happy and thankful to hear that I had made it all that way just for the show.

Chuck asked me if I had heard any of the new material and if I enjoyed it. Of course…

I told him that my favorite song was “Zero Hour”, and then he replied with: “Well, good because we’ll be doing that song tonight.”

Okay, a little confession. I had already known that. And yes, I was totally stoked to hear it. So then he shook my hand and said that we would talk later after the set. Its just too bad it didn’t work out that way. I was just very happy that he treated me so kindly. To be honest, the entire band and their family and friends did. As if they had welcomed me into their family.

So during the major bands, I was right up at the stage. Speakers and amplifiers and fillers galore in my face. What I did not realize was that there was one underneath the stage. I wondered why I kept feeling like I was getting punched in the chest and face each time the bass kicked. But as they say, if it isn’t loud- it isn’t rock and roll. And it isn’t metal if it isn’t louder.

By the end of the night, I couldn’t even feel the hair on my arms. My hearing was shot, my voice sore. Yep, that’s the way to do it!

When SIX MINUTE CENTURY hit the stage and got things going, I got right back into place right up front near a monitor and slammed the brakes on my wheelchair. There was no way that I was going to be removed from being right up front at that point.

Nobody.. and I mean absolutely NOBODY was going to knock me from the top of the mountain!! Do it and die.

Thankfully, Lori stood right behind me during the show. I felt so guarded and protected from the scores of people that were there.

I had no idea, but apparently when SIX MINUTE CENTURY comes out to play a show, people come crawling out of the woodworks in Houston. The first few bands didn’t have a lot of people there, but SIX MINUTE CENTURY had tons of people!! I found myself amazed that after they got off the stage, there wasn’t a lot left. I was told that SIX MINUTE CENTURY doesn’t play too often, so if a fan misses a show, they are out of luck for a while until the next show comes up. I believe the last show before this one was back in late January of this year. When I had missed that one, I knew that I was going to work very hard at getting to the show on 22 April.

But back to my original point, with someone behind me it was what I needed to know that nobody was ever going to mess with me while the band was playing. I could just be care free and totally enjoy myself. So I am thankful to her for that.

Then “Zero Hour” was about to be performed. Hearing the helicopter at the beginning of the song, I knew it was coming.

Suddenly, Chuck walked over towards the front of the stage where I was and shouted out, “This is for you, buddy!”. He pointed right at me. Then I reached out towards him. He grabbed me by the hand and then I gave him the love sign, to which he returned with the Devil’s Horns.

At that point, I probably could’ve used a new pair of pants. I totally was getting into it. Slamming my hands onto the stage, singing as out as I could, and just enjoying the song. And yes, I did feel like the song was performed just for me. I allowed myself a moment for once in life.

When it was finished, I felt like I had truly accomplished something great. Of course, I enjoyed the rest of the show. They played some of the new material that is on the upcoming album.

I have to laugh because I remember having a conversation with Don a few days previously over lyrics of one of the newer songs. We couldn’t figure it out. Eventually, the mystery was solved and so when they were playing it, Don was looking from the stage in my general direction and he saw me singing those lines in which I had previously had been questioning him about.

The man SMILED!!

I don’t think he smiles a lot. I could be wrong. In fact, he can appear scary. But you know, that’s just part of the draw. There’s just no “happy happy, joy joy” in heavy metal. Its more of an attitude of “I’m about to eat your face off.” But he smiled. I thought that was cool. I should’ve been quicker with the camera to capture it on film and have evidence of it. Oh well.

When the set was over, Don walked over to me and I thought he was going to just shake my hand. He instead was trying to give me something. His guitar pick!! I loved it. That was totally cool!!! It rests here today in front of my computer until I can find a good place to make my own SIX MINUTE CENTURY shrine. I will have to make room to add it to my other shrines that I have.

When I find something that I totally enjoy, I don’t do it half way– I go to the extreme edge and carry it further. My dedication knows absolutely zero bounds. Whether its music, or people that I enjoy. I’ll do whatever I can to have the best and keep them close to my heart. Defending my position of admiration.

I should be fair though and add that the drummer from MindFlow came up and gave me one of his drumsticks that he just used. Its pretty chewed up, but its a wonderful momento of their performance. I bought their newest CD, a t-shirt, and a shot glass from MindFlow.

I wonder what other kinds of memorabilia that SIX MINUTE CENTURY can come up with? Maybe I should e-mail Don and ask what his thoughts are??

And I cannot forget getting introduced to the lead singer of Silenced Within. You just gotta love female metal singers. Besides, she’s really cute!!!

Then later on, I got the set list from both Don AND Michael, and I thought that was cool. I remembered that I had my copy of “Time Capsules” with me and I got Don and Michael to sign it. After the show, Chuck and Darren (the drummer) just disappeared. What a bummer that I didn’t get to meet Darren at all.

I really wanted to have a picture taken of me and the entire band. Plus gain autographs from everyone. Whether it be a t-shirt, a CD, a flyer, or anything that had their names on it. I hope that I will be able to return to Houston and get that done. It must be done- it is my mission as the absolute avid fan.

Did I enjoy the show?? YOU BET I DID!!

I’ve been working really hard for all of this to happen. Three months, countless secret e-mail exchanges, lots of saved money, and many hours to just get down to Houston. Meeting totally beautiful people, making new friends, and feeling accepted. I definitely believe this to be one of the best experiences I have had. The VIP treatment, presented by SIX MINUTE CENTURY is something a person will never forget. I never would have imagined all the kindness that came from everyone, all of their sacrifices to help make this short trip so memorable.

I am waiting excitedly for the new album to come out. Don told me that once its out there, they’ll consider coming to Austin for a show. And that would be cool beyond words at this point. I will do whatever I can to make sure it happens.

But until it does, I will look forward to their next show. And I hope with every fiber of my body that I can do whatever I need to do in order to make that return trip back to Houston to be there. Right in the same place near the stage.

That night, I went out with Michael and Lori for a little bit of breakfast which included a few other people in the party. I think there was about twelve of us. Some of them, had to sober up.

And then when the night was all finished, I crawled back into my hotel room at 5:01 AM, laid down on the bed and thought to myself, “Hell yeah!!”.

Tired. Sore. Deaf. Numb.

From all the hard work that went into making it happen for me. Absolutely worth it.

I came up with a slogan for fans of SIX MINUTE CENTURY. I think that the band likes it. I’ve been saying it ever since:


I think I know now why they call them, “dream vacations”. I just spent the weekend in Houston, Texas. No, not the ocean like I said I would be at. There are reasons for that deception. I’ll get to that in a moment. But now that it is over, it felt so much like a dream.

I would have to say that it was quite difficult for me to keep things under wraps, so to speak. The whole intention of the so-called weekend getaway was to surprise a few people who live in the Houston area.

I had other things going on, but I won’t be so boring getting into them. Besides, who wants to talk “business” when its supposed to be a vacation?? So I’m just going to focus on solely, the “personal”.

During that time though, I got to do what I had only been dreaming of doing for many years now. For one, getting to a SIX MINUTE CENTURY show. But I will blog about all of those experiences in another post. Their lead singer, Chuck Williams was celebrating his birthday and they had a show. My entire plan was to surprise the whole band by traveling the 200 miles to be there. The other, was to finally meet in person, romance author Jessica Trapp.

To be honest, I never would’ve thought in a million years that these dreams would  come true. But they did. I am so grateful for those dreams to turn into a reality. I am above Cloud Nine at this point.

I had never been to Houston before. I had gone through it on the way to Galveston twice in my life and I thought that Houston was scary! Maybe it was just the traffic. So I knew this was going to be quite the experience for me. Nervous, excited, and totally stoked to go. I showed up far too early at the bus depot that it was just totally unnecessary and inhumane to be there that early. The excitement got the best of me for sure.

Three hours on the bus and I was met by one of my dearest friends, Lori. I had known her for about two years and now I was face to face with her. Then later meeting up with her fiancee, Michael. The bassist to SIX MINUTE CENTURY.

I had only been there for about five hours and I remember thinking to myself, that this was a great idea and I was excited for the next day to meet everyone that I had been in communication with over the Internet for so long. All of my worries were carried away. I was able to just chill out and relax and enjoy those who were hosting me for the weekend. Great and awesome people! I knew that the excitement would build.

Its so surreal when you are in non-verbal communication for so long and then you are directly in their face. There’s no turning back. There’s no delete button. No backspace key. It becomes whatever you make it and that’s the way it is.

I have no complaints though. I didn’t have any problems at all with anyone. And I was glad for it.

That same night, I was taken to a recording studio where SIX MINUTE CENTURY is hard at work recording their second album. So thrilling for me because I had never been in one before. I got to meet lead guitarist, Don LaFon later that evening. (See guys? I spelled it right!)

For me to have that opportunity as a fan to get to hear the new material was just so cool! I definitely felt like I was receiving the VIP treatment!! I’m probably one of the band’s biggest fans.

When I begin to like something and feel passionate about it, I go full force. The dedication stays with me until death!

That first day, I was awake for 21 hours before I was able to crash at the hotel. I literally sat there all alone in the hotel room, overwhelmed with positive energy, happiness, and full of emotion that I cried myself to sleep. Getting to see the entire band was going to be so awesome.

The 22nd of April was the big day. The reality was slowly creeping in that at long last I would be in the presence of great colleagues and get to see the band that I admire so much play live.

In the afternoon, I met up with author Jessica Trapp and her son, had lunch and spent the afternoon walking around in the mall and the surrounding shopping centers. 

I was totally nervous. I had so much trouble with being so scared that I would sound like an idiot. After all, she is a writer and it would stand to reason that her vocabulary would be more advanced than mine. I just hoped that I sounded like a decent human being when I engaged in conversation. To me, that was a lot of pressure.

Even with my nervous driving me insane, I still found a way to become relaxed and  comfortable. Even though the first impressions are always the ones that become impressed on the mind and opinions of others.

The world seemed to have stood still. Nothing else mattered. Yet time still melted away and I parted ways from Jessica in the late afternoon. It was a real fun time. I enjoyed her company. And as always, I was appreciative that she took me to lunch, and took the time to come out to see me. Even though I was probably quite a drive from her.

The night of the concert I will be saving for the next post. Yet it was another 19 hours of being awake and crawling into the hotel room at 5:00 AM? Yeah, all I can really say about it is, “that’s rock and roll for you!”. I’d do the entire day all over again and again and again and again if I could.

Saturday was a day of trying to recover. I think I kind of failed. Such the headache and fatigue crept over me like a blanket and I just was fumbling around so much like a goofball. But I was happy about it!

It literally took two days to get over it. But that second day was the day I was to return home on the bus.

I needed to get back to my own life and I needed to let others return to their routine of daily life as well. Not having my own mode of transportation and having to rely on others to get me where I needed to go, does become burdensome. I’m just so glad that I have wonderful friends who didn’t mind so much. I did exactly what I needed to do in order to gain some of the good mental health back into my life and stop worrying about the bullshit drama that actually surrounds me at home every single day.

There was a discussion about the possibility of me returning to Houston for the band’s next show and when that could be. It looks like near the end of the summer. It was also discussed about whether or not things could be done to make it happen on both sides with my wonderful hosts and myself. I think there’s a chance. I discussed my feeling that I would like to have a bit of a longer stay but I knew that it would mean a lot more. And besides, things worked out great this past weekend, having it being Easter. Those around me having the day off and all. If I were to go, I’d probably have a lot more free time on my hands all by myself until people are out of work and able to connect with me.

There was really not a lot of negative stuff happening around me. I lost my cd player in the process, and a favorite writing pen walked off somewhere in the city of Houston. But I have plenty of pens at home, and I was able to replace my cd player while I was there.

I was supposed to depart at 12:30, but things got fouled up when I heard that the 12:30 bus did not have a wheelchair lift. Instead, I had to wait until 3:30 to take the next one that did have a lift. I wasn’t sure what happened. I did what I was supposed to do on my end. So my hosts got to hang out with me at the bus depot.

And then Jessica Trapp came back for one more visit, bringing her entire family with her, on their way through town to celebrate Easter with someone else. She brought a bag full of goodies. Brought a few books that I did not have that she wrote and autographed them. It was a really nice surprise. (I actually came home with A LOT of stuff that was just given to me. I am thankful for everything and everyone.)

After the short visit by her, my hosts departed to be on their way as well to celebrate Easter with family. More pictures were taken. Hugs given. Loving sentiments traded. I just needed to let everyone know how much I appreciated them, and how much they meant to me. Their sacrifices that they made to make this all become a successful trip. Totally overwhelming for me.

And then, wouldn’t you know it? Drama has to set in while sitting outside in the sunshine.

Some bum came up to me and asked me for change and/or a cigarette. I told the guy that I had nothing. So he moved on to the next person standing about four feet away, puffing away on a cigarette.

He asked him for a smoke, and the guy told him to get bent because it was his last one. Just about that time I adjusted myself in my wheelchair and shifted my weight. Right when I did that, all this change came pouring out of my pocket and spilling onto the sidewalk.

That bum heard it, and came running after it. I freaked out. I mean, I had my stick with me. And we all know by now the history of the stick. But it was buried at the bottom of my bag. It would’ve taken me a very long time to dig through to find it, and possibly use it if I needed. I just wouldn’t have had enough time to do that and protect myself. This guy came running so quickly that I started yelling.

So lucky that Houston police was right there when it happened. They yelled at the guy and he tried running away, but the police officer did one of those running tackles from behind. Something that I’ve only seen on “COPS”. He was arrested and hauled away. Not sure what charges were given.

I saw that, and I got to witness a woman getting arrested for shoplifting at the mall on Friday morning. Such sad people. But I was okay. I wasn’t hurt.

I finally boarded the bus around 3:00 and was under the impression that we would be leaving at 3:30. But we pulled away from the bus depot at 3:15. Then being told over the intercom that we would be arriving at 6:45, I thought that the ride home was going to be miserable. It was bad enough that I didn’t want to go in the first place. Lucky for me, we arrived just three hours later. I think I finally entered my apartment at 7:00 on the dot.

So my personal thanks goes out to Michael and Lori, and Jessica… and of course, SIX MINUTE CENTURY. It was worth every ounce of energy planning this for so long, and worth every penny spent to get down there. I hope to have an even better time if I make it down there again in a few months. Now that I know the ropes of riding on the bus to and from Houston. It will get easier and be better each time I do it.

I met so many people and made new friends. It was definitely a wonderful time. I can say it over and over again. Hard to believe that I saw all these wonderful, beautiful people just YESTERDAY!

So I believe its called a dream vacation, because I had such a wonderful time and didn’t want to come home at all. Please Houston, if it was only a dream… NEVER wake me.

Note: SIX MINUTE CENTURY’s MySpace and Facebook pages, along with Jessica Trapp’s new website, “Getting Trapped In A Book”, can be found in the links in the blog roll. I highly suggest you check them all out.

Oh! I just cannot stand it. “I’m so excited, and I just can’t hide it!”.

I’m at the point where I do not know whether to scream or puke.

These plans are a very long time coming. I’m going to be leaving out of town for a few days and I am just so pumped out about. I made these plans back in February and now it is so close that I can definitely smell something. Maybe that’s just my own body though.

At this point in time, I’m left with just under 36 hours before I leave home and beginning my travel.

The main purpose of my travel, is supposed to be a surprise. So there will be no fine detail of where I am going and what I am doing. Only that I am excited to do the things that I plan on doing, and even more thrilled, excited, and stoked to finally meet the people that I am scheduled to meet. Thus, probably the desire to puke. Hopefully, not on them though! First impressions and all. It is true what they say about them.

I really am looking forward to taking this as an opportunity to do a little self-examination and reflection as well. Even though I am considering this trip “my mini-vaca”, I cannot think of the last time I took time for myself, all by myself. Probably not since I moved back from New England, which was in 2008. Even before that, my only travel was probably in 2007.

I just believe that there’s a lot of crap that I have in life. Stuff that I should fully get rid. Being away from home, will help me do that. I think it is the perfect chance!

I fully intend on having as much fun as possible. I have no expectations of this trip. Not of where I will end up, and not of those whom I will be around. The perfect example to avoid any disappointments. If one does not create expectations, then there is less chance of any disappointment. I truly believe in that.

So as I am gone, I will let come what will. And when I return, I should’ve had experienced a wonderful time. And I am sure to write a post about it in some way.

My only problem is the excitement is just bursting out of me!! I wished I was leaving NOW! I’m sure that many of you reading this can understand my feeling.

I normally do not laugh in the face of others and their defeat but in all seriousness, this guy had it coming to him. I’m just glad I had the strength to wait until I was in the privacy of my own home before I laughed myself into tears.

Let me tell you the story:

I went to the corner store for just a moment. I have taken this journey countless times and have referred to the corner store in many previous posts in this blog. But I left even before it got remotely dark.

What should have taken only up to ten minutes from the time I left to the time I returned home, ended up being a forty-five minute lesson of humility for another person.

The sidewalks are not level all the way through from point A to point B. There is one part in the sidewalk where its so uneven that I must push the wheelchair to where the front wheels come up for a split second then come back down, then motion pulls me upwards until I have reached level ground again. Probably about a two inch difference. So yeah, I had to pop a wheelie. Not that big of a deal to me.

So some kids were walking behind me and saw the front of the wheelchair lift up, come back down and my butt was up in the air for a second and then level. For whatever reason they found it necessary to catch up to me and ask me how I did such a crazy stunt.

I did try to explain it in simple terms. But I think that they were expecting some radical “X Games” response from me. The kid that was asking me had about three other buddies with him and they all hovered around me to hear my story of how I can just blast off down the road and do such awesome and crazy things in my wheelchair.

I guess I sounded really boring to them. But one kept insisting that I teach him how to pop a wheelie. When I saw that my instructions were falling upon either deaf or ignorant ears, I decided to just let it go and continue on my way home. The kid didn’t like that.

So in front of his buddies, he challenges me. Whomever can do the most wheelchair stunts and tricks wins. And whomever does the best stunts will also win. Needless to say that his buddies was going to be the judge in all of this.

This is how it worked. It was like a game of “HORSE”. The first person did something, and the second had to follow and match it. I went first. I mean, after all- they did insist that I go first. And plus I was already in the wheelchair.

So I started off easy and popped back on this wheelie and sat there hanging in the for about what I counted ten or fifteen seconds. Then I came back down to all wheels on the ground.

Then I came off the curb nice and slow. I steadied myself using my foot beneath me so that I would not lose my balance. The “judges” called it cheating.

After that I hopped back ON to the curb. It was a bit of a struggle and took a few attempts but I did it.

And then, I went back on a wheelie again and spun in a complete circle. I could hear the jeers and boos from the “judges” as they just were not impressed. Even the other kid who had challenged me started taunting about how pathetic I was being.

Then we went on to the property where I live. Up the hill I went and turned around at the top. They laughed and laughed and laughed at me as I kept going so slowly up that hill.

What they did not realize is that there’s a crossroads in the middle of the sidewalks and its in the middle of the hill. I went screaming down the hill again and pulled a sharp left and kept going. I heard one of them say, “Oh shit!”. So I think at least one of them saw that they truly were biting off more than they could chew and recognized that their mouths had a broken filter when they were bragging.

Now I came back to my place and grabbed a second wheelchair because I was not going to allow this kid to do anything damaging to the one that I use every day. He said he didn’t care which wheelchair he got to use. Maybe he should have because what happened next was a textbook example of why you should keep your mouth shut.

The kid knew that he had to jump off the curb and then jump back on again. What does he do? He takes a running start at the edge and then just DROPS to the street, racking his own balls in the process. He sat there with his hands between his legs for several moments before he moved again. As the saying goes, “Gravity is a bitch!”.

Then he had to get back on the curb again. He struggled worse than I did. Finally, he almost made it. He was half on and half off the sidewalk. Then he did the worst thing possible. He leaned back. Before any of his buddies could blink, he flipped backwards and tumbled out of the chair and into the street.

I suddenly felt this stare on me. All of his buddies were looking at me to see how I would react to this guy’s failure to come back onto the curb. I sat there, not saying a word. I didn’t even laugh. But I was cracking up hysterically on the inside. He hadn’t even tried to pop a wheelie, which is something he was wanting to learn how to do in the first place!

Eventually he gathered himself to sit there. With his back matching the pain to his groin, he decided that he should try to pop a wheelie. On the third attempt, he was successful. I was about to give him a bit of praise about it. But that was just before he became overwhelmed with accomplishment, held up by the cheers and applause of his buddies, which caused him to go into a double fist pump of victory into the air with his arms over his head.

When he let go of the wheels, he fell backwards. Completely tipped over!

I think that by that point, he was finished. It didn’t seem like he had the fire in his eyes to outshine what I had done. But his lack of strength to hold up to peer pressure caused him to continue.

He never did try the stunt of popping a wheelie and spinning in one complete circle. Some how, he missed that one. Instead, we got back on property and he had to push himself up that hill and get to the top. Of course it took him longer to do it than I did. And his buddies even came up from behind him and helped him push. I knew that if I had cried FOUL on that, that they were going to ignore it. After all, the judging was a bit one-sided.

He had sat back and let them do all the dirty work of going uphill. But what he did not realize is that they had stopped pushing him and let him go on his own.

Remember that scene in “Forrest Gump” where Forrest meets up with Lt. Dan outside the TV studio in the cold and Lt. Dan ends up losing control of the wheelchair and slides backwards until he has presumed to have crashed at the bottom of the ramp? Yep. That’s what happened to this guy. He started sliding backwards down that hill again and he freaked out and for the third and fourth time had fallen out of the wheelchair. By then, he had a nasty little scratch on his knee.

I had to be the bigger person and take the second wheelchair away from them all and bring this to an end. I knew that this kid wasn’t going to make that sharp left turn in the middle of the crossroads section of the sidewalk. I let them off the property and came home.

All in all, this kid scraped his knee, fell on his back, his hands, and both knees, banged his head on the asphalt, and worst of all, nailed himself in the nuts. I could not live with myself if this kid would have gotten himself injured any more seriously than what he had already.

He couldn’t walk straight at all. And he probably was wishing he had the wheelchair to take home with him. But I think that it would have made him more afraid to move around in it, being that he couldn’t seem to control it. The kid called his mother on a cell phone to have her come pick him up. I made sure that they were off the property before I did anything else.

Now the winner of this was supposed to win $1.00, but all I got in reward was the middle finger.

This has been a long time coming. In fact, this post was inevitable.

Hollywood needs to quit. Either that, or the rest of the world needs to learn to ignore Hollywood.

This is 2011. And our generations have been following the footsteps of Hollywood for far too long. We seem to be still in this pretend world that we need to be doing exactly what they are doing in Hollywood. Wear THEIR style, drive THEIR cars, talk and behave as THEY do.

Seriously people? I would much rather spend the $500 on things like food, rather than buy a cell phone with someone’s name on it. I can design crap too, but nobody will ever buy it.

The pressure for females from Hollywood is totally unreal. Little girls who look up to certain celebrities and decide that they want to live their lives just like their Hollywood idols. Whatever happened to being yourself??

And who made Hollywood the ultimate judge of character on what a woman should look like? I find it absolutely insane that a woman who is 5’6″ tall (or 1.68m) and weighs approximately 130 pounds (59 kg), and is being told that she is fat. I cannot even begin to say how much of a malicious lie that is. Just because you do not look like those who you see walk the red carpet, doesn’t make you less of a person. It does not mean that you are lesser of a human being. And it does not mean that you are not capable of being loved for who you are.

I will add, that the wrong people in Hollywood are becoming more and more of a social influence. Those who break the law, act with lasciviousness, and appear to be lacking in self control. These are the people that are broadcast into our lives through the Internet, newspapers, television, and radio at a pace of force feeding the rest of the world. It seems as if it is more “interesting” to watch the public fall of others rather than commend those who are doing good deeds. (I know there are some good people out there, right?)

Another thing that bothers me about Hollywood and their lifestyles are the things that they can get away with. They get caught driving while drunk, being a public disturbance, they are seen exposing themselves, doing drugs, and so much more. The phrase “Getting away with murder” must have originated there. Because its the only place that I know of, that a person could actually commit an array of very serious crime and walk away with a slap on the wrist.

Let me assure you of this: If I were arrested for drugs, driving drunk, or even killing someone … I would have the book thrown at me, have it picked up off of the floor, and have it thrown at me again. There is no way that I would be judged to pay a fine and then be able to walk out of court. If I was to be convicted of murder, you would never hear from me again. If I stole a car, I’d disappear for several years.

And yet people in Hollywood who are caught breaking the law, pay fines in thousands of dollars, which is basically pennies to them. They are sentenced to be incarcerated in resorts and day spas. Then they are celebrated some more because they had “survived” the experience. It is totally ridiculous.

Now there have been a few exceptions to this rule. VERY FEW exceptions!

It truly gives me such a frustration headache that no prescription medicine could cure.

And people wonder why I don’t watch television much.

I’ve always said that Hollywood is on an entirely different planet. If ever I was to visit there, I wonder how long it would take for me to apply for an intergalactic passport?

If life were boring, then I think that it would not be worth living. At least that is my own feeling. It has definitely not been boring at all these past few days.

So let me catch you up to speed on what’s been going on with me.

A friend of mine has moved into town from the other side of the country. I’ve been trying to play catch up with him from missing so many opportunities when he was in town the last time. But this time, he’s staying. So I think that there will be plenty of more opportunities to be had just hanging out, chewing the fat and shooting the bull in the near future.

I hung out with him a lot over last weekend. Just glad that he’s in a place where he is more comfortable, happier, and in my opinion, better off. From last Friday night through Sunday afternoon it was GO, GO, GO!! Incredibly fun, but also incredibly exhausting. It all caught up with me though on Saturday. I don’t think that I got but about an hour and a half worth of sleep that night and early Sunday morning. And then it was up and at it again for much of the day. I think that by the time it was all said and done, I was toast! I literally crawled back home and had debated with myself on whether or not to slither under the covers and catch some sleep. I knew that if I had crashed out, chances were that I would not be able to sleep during the night if I had woke up again a few hours later.

My body would fight no more and I simply came unglued from my wheelchair and floated on to my bed and it was “LIGHTS OUT!”. But for only another hour and a half.

Everything from that point from Sunday evening when I awoke again until yesterday has been a complete blur. I don’t even remember what I dreamt about during those few hours of sleep that I got all weekend.

So it shouldn’t have been much of a surprise that yesterday I was a total zombie. My head spinning for much of the day, my back sore, and my mental state nearly a complete blank.

I could feel deep down that I was missing something. Something was not right, something undone. It finally came to me that I hadn’t been in communication with my new friend that I have made mention in a previous blog post. So I sent a message to them and re-established contact.

So many more factors of life that just make this world worth living in are circling around in its usual patterns. I’ve been having a hard time just jumping back into it again.

Then today was a lunch meeting. It was nothing to write home about, but I was thankful for the opportunity to go. Food always makes it better, doesn’t it?

I took a few hours off this afternoon to try and gain back my sanity before jumping back into it again tonight. Now the work of the day is all finished.

But wait, it gets “better”…

Tomorrow, I have a 9:00 AM appointment. How I wish it was an appointment with the spa! That would be nice. I think that by noon, the day will be void of appointments, meetings, and personal obligations. Then on Thursday afternoon, we do it all over again. Needless to say that work has been lacking. And will continue to lack for the next few weeks.

This weekend, my sled hockey team is supposed to travel to Houston for a weekend tournament. But it doesn’t seem likely as details are sketchy at best and nobody can decide on which would be better to go, either Saturday or Sunday? I realize that its not any fault of the team, but it sure is frustrating as this kind of tournament is exactly what the team has been craving for ever since the beginning of the hockey program. And even at this hour, nobody knows anything. Frustrating for sure.

Besides, I’ve not been able to go to practices in the past few weeks because I was trying to get over pneumonia. I am out of practice and most likely out of shape. And I expect to play in a tournament? That’s laughable.

Then four or five days after that is supposed to happen, I return to the road again for a four day trip all by myself. It promises to be a good time.  I hope to meet some really nice people that I have made contact with by e-mail in the past year or so. Its not a vacation by a long shot, but its not going to be pure stress either. I actually am looking forward to going. The sled hockey tournament this weekend in Houston though, I’m at the point that I could care less of whether or not we go. Even though the team has cried long and strong about doing something like this. If the team doesn’t go, I know that they will be disappointed. And since I have found myself in a position to hear the cries of my fellow team mates, it will be difficult for them. Difficult on me because they will be knocking on my door about how disappointed they will be.

On a more positive note, I am understanding that a cell phone will be coming my way! I’m excited about it. I’ll be able to join the ranks of the people of the 21st Century and be “mobile” with the capability of text messaging and phone calls. I surely hope that the phone comes before I take my four days of travel. It will be nice to have that option to communicate with others while I am gone. And when I am back, so that the communication lines can go a lot faster and smoother as needed. For those of you who have been complaining that I need text messaging? Neener, neener, and more neener!

I’ve made the decision to re-arrange things in my life. After seeing that my “Cognitive Distortions” post received so many views to it. To those of you who have read it and gave it so many views, I thank you.

Its time to take a break and try to cause a change for myself so that I can reach a better state of mental health. I believe that we all need to do that from time to time. There’s a lot of garbage that I need to cut out from my life.

From those of you who know me on Facebook and how I have described myself as the “online psychologist wearing the tie”, I need to bring that to a close. Not to say that I won’t be there for my friends and colleagues when they TRULY need me, but taking on more would not be a good idea at this point. At least not until all of these things that are causing higher levels of stress and exhaustion start to fade away.

I just simply refuse to neglect those who I feel are important in my life. So there are no worries for those who take such an important and vital role in my life. But as they say, “Where does a doctor go when HE gets sick?”. I aim to find those answers out for myself.

So for the time being- Where’s the Calgon???

Cognitive distortions are exaggerated and irrational thoughts identified in cognitive therapy and its variants. They are simply ways that our mind convinces us of something that isn’t really true. These inaccurate thoughts are usually used to reinforce negative thinking or emotions — telling ourselves things that sound rational and accurate, but really only serve to keep us feeling bad about ourselves. It is those things in our minds that constantly catch us day in and day out, and most certainly the causes of our bad days whenever they appear. And it dilutes those bad days that we have, into having worse ones.

Let me list for you the 15 most common cognitive distortions. You can see for yourself which ones you have always fallen to, and which ones you have caught your brain doing the thinking for you, when in fact the truth of the matter is that things weren’t so bad in the first place. It will surprise you how many times you have gone through this without knowing it. I know that it did for me, when I first heard about these.

1. Filtering.


We take the negative details and magnify them while filtering out all positive aspects of a situation. For instance, a person may pick out a single, unpleasant detail and dwell on it exclusively so that their vision of reality becomes darkened or distorted.

2. Polarized Thinking.


Things are either “black-or-white.” We have to be perfect or we’re a failure–there is no middle ground. You place people or situations in “either/or” categories, with no shades of gray or allowing for the complexity of most people and situations. If your performance falls short of perfect, you see yourself as a total failure.

3. Overgeneralization.


We come to a general conclusion based on a single incident or piece of evidence. If something bad happens once, we expect it to happen over and over again. A person may see a single, unpleasant event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.

4. Jumping to Conclusions.


Without individuals saying so, we know what they are feeling and why they act the way they do. In particular, we are able to determine how people are feeling toward us. For example, a person may conclude that someone is reacting negatively toward them and don’t actually bother to find out if they are correct. Another example is a person may anticipate that things will turn out badly, and will feel convinced that their prediction is already an established fact.

5. Catastrophizing.


We expect disaster to strike, no matter what. This is also referred to as “magnifying or minimizing.” We hear about a problem and use what if questions (e.g., “What if tragedy strikes?” “What if it happens to me?”).

For example, a person might exaggerate the importance of insignificant events (such as their mistake, or someone else’s achievement). Or they may inappropriately shrink the magnitude of significant events until they appear tiny (for example, a person’s own desirable qualities or someone else’s imperfections).

6. Personalization.


Thinking that everything people do or say is some kind of reaction to us. We also compare ourselves to others trying to determine who is smarter, better looking, etc. A person sees themselves as the cause of some unhealthy external event that the were not responsible for. For example, “We were late to the dinner party and caused the hostess to overcook the meal. If I had only pushed my husband to leave on time, this wouldn’t have happened.”

7. Control Fallacies.


If we feel externally controlled, we see ourselves as helpless a victim of fate. For example, “I can’t help it if the quality of the work is poor, my boss demanded I work overtime on it.” The fallacy of internal control has us assuming responsibility for the pain and happiness of everyone around us. For example, “Why aren’t you happy? Is it because of something I did?”

8. Fallacy of Fairness.


We feel resentful because we think we know what is fair, but other people won’t agree with us. As our parents tell us, “Life is always fair,” and people who go through life applying a measuring ruler against every situation judging its “fairness” will often feel badly and negative because of it.

9. Blaming.


We hold other people responsible for our pain, or take the other track and blame ourselves for every problem. For example, “Stop making me feel bad about myself!” Nobody can “make” us feel any particular way — only we have control over our own emotions and emotional reactions.

10. Shoulds.


We have a list of ironclad rules about how others and we should behave. People who break the rules make us angry, and we feel guilty when we violate these rules. A person may often believe they are trying to motivate themselves with shoulds and shouldn’ts, as if they have to be punished before they can do anything.

For example, “I really should exercise. I shouldn’t be so lazy.” Musts and oughts are also offenders. The emotional consequence is guilt. When a person directs should statements toward others, they often feel anger, frustration and resentment.

11. Emotional Reasoning.


We believe that what we feel must be true automatically. If we feel stupid and boring, then we must be stupid and boring. You assume that your unhealthy emotions reflect he way things really are — “I feel it, therefore it must be true.”

12. Fallacy of Change.


We expect that other people will change to suit us if we just pressure or cajole them enough. We need to change people because our hopes for happiness seem to depend entirely on them.

13. Global Labeling.


We generalize one or two qualities into a negative global judgment. These are extreme forms of generalizing, and are also referred to as “labeling” and “mislabeling.” Instead of describing an error in context of a specific situation, a person will attach an unhealthy label to themselves.

For example, they may say, “I’m a loser” in a situation where they failed at a specific task. When someone else’s behavior rubs a person the wrong way, they may attach an unhealthy label to him, such as “He’s a real jerk.” Mislabeling involves describing an event with language that is highly colored and emotionally loaded. For example, instead of saying someone drops her children off at daycare every day, a person who is mislabeling might say that “she abandons her children to strangers.”

14. Always Being Right.


We are continually on trial to prove that our opinions and actions are correct. Being wrong is unthinkable and we will go to any length to demonstrate our rightness. For example, “I don’t care how badly arguing with me makes you feel, I’m going to win this argument no matter what because I’m right.” Being right often is more important than the feelings of others around a person who engages in this cognitive distortion, even loved ones.

15. Heaven’s Reward Fallacy.


We expect our sacrifice and self-denial to pay off, as if someone is keeping score. We feel bitter when the reward doesn’t come.

Pretty heavy stuff. It is my own personal theory that when we beat ourselves up, is when cognitive distortions are working at their greatest. Things happen when we don’t want it to happen, or things don’t happen when we expect them to. So when we begin to think about it, our brain goes down that dark and winding road that never seems to end, trying to come up with the answers by ourselves without any burden of evidence. It is our humanly assumptions that come into view and we believe what we want to believe.

This happened to me several times yesterday. A long time friend of mine ran into me and we chatted for a bit before we had to part ways. I gave them my telephone number and they said that they were going to give me a call to catch up with life around 9:00 PM. I had plans already made but because I had made the choice to want to speak with them, I cancelled what was already on my personal schedule. I made the decision to make room for this person so that I would be available to speak on the phone with them. But when 9:30 PM rolled around, I almost immediately began to wonder why in the world the telephone wasn’t ringing. I was trying to make up something in my mind that sounded like a rational explanation for the reason why it was appearing this person was either standing me up or blowing me off.

The phone call finally did come at 10:00 PM. One hour later than what was originally talked about. I was given the reason that this person was in a place where there was no cell phone signal, and decided to drive home and call me from there.

Now I knew that they only had a cell phone. It was something that they had just told me earlier that day. It was something that was not allowed to enter into my mind because I was making myself believe that this person was being a complete jerk towards me, and I kept thinking about how much fun I was missing because I had cancelled my earlier plans. If I had only remembered the fact that they were only able to get ahold of me through a cell phone, I wouldn’t have been so hard on them, in my own mind.

After I had a nice chat with my friend, I went to read my e-mail messages.

A colleague of mine had responded to an inquiry that I had written to them just a few days before. They said that they were at work still and checking their messages while on their break, but they were planning to respond to my inquiry when they got home. Which they had suspected would be in a couple of hours. So then why did I begin the process of checking my e-mail inbox at 12:02 AM early this morning and kept hitting the “refresh” button almost every 15 seconds to 5 minutes? Because it was said, “I might be able to write to you in a couple of hours.” That was the direct quote.

By 1:15 AM this morning, there was still no e-mail. I had absolute zero correspondence beyond what they had told me before. And what I thought made things worse is that they hadn’t even remotely addressed the subject to which had caused me to inquire in the first place.

Again, I could feel my mind being flooded with the possible scenarios of “what if“?

Two hours had come and gone and there was no particular evidence of this colleague was even having the desire to respond to me. I tried to come up with excuses. I tried to come up with reasons. But it still angered me to the point where I was just lost in confusion. “A couple of hours” means “a couple of hours”. To me, it was all black & white. I filtered into my head that I was getting messed around with. I also filtered into my head that this person was being a real pain in the butt with me. That they did nothing to me, but lied.

Around 2:30 AM, I had given up. I had turned in for the night, but could not sleep. My mind still wandered around in the pitfalls of cognitive distortions as I came up with every little detailed story, lie, or excuse that they could ever tell me for whenever they finally did respond back to me. It made my bad night into a worse night and sleep was very much lost.

It was so bad for me that I got up out of bed one full hour later and checked my inbox yet one more time. Only to find it as empty as I had left it the last time.

From some miracle though, I did manage to fall asleep at some point. I woke up though at my usual time. I felt exhausted, confused, depressed, and continually bothered by the fact that I was completely stunned at the fact that when I had gone to bed, this person still had not contacted me. All I could do was keep saying to myself, “Wow!”. Someone whom I had “believed” to be a trusted individual to the point where I know that they would always keep their word.

I would however, overcome this. This morning I started to think to myself that I just simply do not know what the reasons are as to why I have not heard from them. That there could be a million and one things that could have prevented them from writing me back. And I would slowly drift into the realms of insanity and distrust of all mankind with that colleague at the front of the firing line, if I had allowed myself to sit and think about them all, trying to rationalize everything when I simply had nothing concrete to base my thoughts upon.

Humans are flawed. We are filled with making mistakes. It is up to us to understand this. Just because we do not get our way doesn’t mean that the corners of the world are going to start to crumble and the earth fall apart into oblivion. The best thing that I could do for myself in this situation was to allow the possibilities that there will come a time when my colleague will write in the future. If we allow ourselves to believe what we want, we will never be happy. We must allow for others to make their own decisions in life and if there are consequences, they are the ones that must deal with it. Our own mental health and sanity greatly depends on our ways of allowing what we decide to believe what our brains are telling us.

I know that for myself, I need to allow others to be able to explain themselves when plans don’t work out the way we hope for. As the saying goes, “What will be, will be.” We can either embrace that and live stronger, more healthy mental lives or we can fight for what we believe is true without any regard towards others and just allow our lives to slump into despair and thus become more miserable than we had ever thought would be possible. Life wasn’t meant to be easy but it doesn’t have to be hell.

I am coming up on two months since I had started this little cyber oddity of composition. I can only speak for myself, when I sit back and think that it seems like forever and ten years ago.

About a month ago, I was somewhat introduced to an author by the name of J.S. Chancellor. Someone with whom I have shared a great deal of pleasant exchanges with. At the time, I felt that this blog wasn’t really going anywhere because I had never done this kind of thing before. With myself full of doubt, I did not think that any one would read this blog, much less subscribe to it. 

But with regards to J.S. Chancellor I had found that she too, had her own creative blog within the pages of this site. I remember sitting in total wonder as I read post after post after post. I knew that for one she is a great writer, and two she obviously knew better of what she was doing with this blog than I.

So I had implored upon her for help. Not really knowing whether or not it would become beneficial or a complete and total disaster for the simplest task of asking.

I was fortunate enough that she had in fact helped me along in this journey of weirdness that I have created. A great teacher, and the patience of a saint. Her instructions were clear and easy for me to understand this blog site better.

I am deeply appreciative of her kindness for the proverbial hand-holding and guidance. Even though I do joke to myself that she is “my blog mother”.

Today though, is her birthday. I will not disclose in how many years she has graced the Earth with her presence and wisdom, because that just would not be very couth of me. But I know that she is very excited for this day.

She is a wonderful example of “beauty and brains” in my most humble opinion. I am always looking forward to her next blog entry.

I promised her a month ago, that I would mention her in my blog when the time came.

J.S. Chancellor~ I am keeping my promise. Thank you for all that you have done!

I will share with the rest of you a quote that I just read of hers tonight. It moved me very deeply:

“My heart, the garbage disposal of my soul, should it ever demand any less of me, I’d cease to exist. Still, there are times when the damn thing just stinks of decaying waste. Let us hope this is not one of those times …”

The URL link to her personal blog can be found here as a part of my blog roll, “Welcome to the Asylum”. I hope that you will take the time to read it. And maybe perhaps subscribe to it, if you feel moved to.

Happy Birthday, J.S. Chancellor.

J.S. Chancellor