Archive for August, 2011

baby steps

Do it or die. Right now I’m choosing the “do it” path, but am starting out with baby steps. Like an infant, I need to ween myself off of old habits. So for right now, the plan is simply to eat regular, decent meals with no unhealthy snacking. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? But for someone like me who has regularly eaten massive amounts of stuff that is not good for me, it’s a challenge. Still, I think I can do it. At least I can try.

down for the count? or not?

Choices, choices, choices. We all make them, whether we realize it or not, even if by no other means than choosing not to choose. So here I sit, faced with a choice that I face every day; am I down for the count or do I choose to get up off the canvas and fight? Of course, in my case, rather than canvas, it would be a choice to get my ass up off the leather of my office chair or the fabric of my easy chair, but that doesn’t change the basic question.

I spend way, way, (and “way” into infinity) too much time sitting, and it shows. But even the showing isn’t the worst part. That is reserved for the exhaustion I feel after doing a short and simple task like a shopping run to the grocery store. Is it normal for someone to have to rest up for a half hour after grocery shopping before they can start something else? I think not.

Real life is slipping away from me while I immerse myself in fruitless pursuits on the computer, or in someone else’s vision of life in television shows and movies. Time is a dwindling resource and one I really should not be wasting. So what is wrong, you may ask, with spending time on the computer or watching television if that is what I want to do with my time? The problem is that there are many more other things that I want to be doing, but that those sedentary pursuits are the defaults I fall into rather than choosing to get up and do something more active.

I know; in the end it doesn’t matter. We all end up as a pile of dust anyways, so why worry about such stuff? When your belief is that this life is all we have and there is nothing beyond it, what you are doing with that limited resource becomes an important question, particularly if your brain tells you to do one thing and your body refuses to follow along.

I have to find a way to break free from old habits. That, or just consign myself to death arriving much sooner, and also consign myself to myriad deathbed regrets. Push is coming to shove here, and I don’t think I’m ready to give up yet, but I really wonder if I have enough fight left in me to change things.

a past that never was

Recently I got wrapped up in reminiscing about summer camp. I have very fond memories of the experience. I went to Camp Edwards in Wisconsin for two years, each year attending a single two-week summer session. My first experience at the camp was with my sixth grade class when we went for two or three days. Of course, that was a co-ed trip, whereas during the summer (at that time) it was boys only.

I spent several hours looking over the camp’s web site and other references to it on the Internet. I even cracked open Google Earth and checked it out. Much of it is as I remember, though they have expanded their facilities since my stays in the early ‘60s. I’m sure that if I were to go there in person, things would look much different than I remember. Old eyes see differently than young eyes.

As I reminisced, the fog of nostalgia lifted a bit. Through those fond memories came shadows of the reality of the experience. While I have specific good memories, I am also aware of the great loneliness and “odd man out” feelings I had. Ever see the movie Meatballs? I was kind of like Rudy, only without a counselor who took a special interest in me. I’ve never been the kind of person who creates friendships easily, and in summer camp that was a real liability.

My current life circumstances are becoming increasingly unbearable and tiresome. I have a good idea of what I want my life to be, but see no way to achieve that ideal. As I yearn for the life that I want to have, I start to yearn for the good life that I used to have. But just like that summer camp so many years ago, I know that the memories of that good life are distorted by time and emotion. If I could cherry-pick the good stuff from that old life to include in my new life, that would be grand. Life, somehow, doesn’t offer that option. You get the whole package – good and bad – like it or not. When your life sucks, it is easy to try to convince yourself that what you had is better than what you have.

What do you do, though, when you realize that going backward is not possible (in many more ways than one) but the present is unacceptable? How many years of that can a person stand? I’m not sure, but I think I am coming to my limit. Thing is, what does reaching my limit mean? What do I do differently once I reach that limit? I have no answer for that either.

That’s it. Nothing more to say. Nothing to see here. Go on about your business.

Someone please help me out here. Today President Obama was repeating his mantra that we have to close the tax loopholes. Tell me, what the heck is a tax loophole? It would seem that a loophole would be a big hole in the code where they forgot to tax a certain group, but the only place in the tax code that I can find that is for people making below a certain income. Hell, some people even get to claim an earned income credit and get more money back than they paid in taxes. Is that the loophole Obama wants to close?

The tax code is spelled out in great detail. It defines what you have to count as income and what credits and deductions you can take. If the tax code specifies that something can be taken as a credit or deduction or a business expense, how can you call that a loophole? It’s a clearly written piece of the tax code and if people use what they are legally able to use, how is that a loophole?

Is the home mortgage deduction a loophole? Is the ability to take a deduction for exceptionally high medical expenses a loophole? Is the ability to defer taxes by putting money into a 401K or IRA account a loophole? Is a tax credit for installing “green” technology a loophole? Where are these loopholes that the president wants to close?

I always hear people talking about jets – as in airplanes. Let’s close that loophole. Huh? What loophole? If the code allows a deduction for the use, maintenance, etc., of a jet, then it is not a loophole. What’s to close?

Of course, what it all comes down to is double-speak. The president isn’t interested in closing loopholes, he just wants to increase taxes. What he is really saying is that he wants to change the tax code to disallow some of the credits and deductions that exist in the current tax code. He isn’t interested in closing loopholes; he is interested in increasing taxes. Let’s call a tax increase for what it is – a tax increase.

Of course, he does call it that, too. He wants the “wealthy” to pay more. At this point, however, I must close this post. When I hear the president espousing the idea that the wealthy are not paying their fair share and that taxes on them need to be increased, even though (according to the Congressional Budget Office) the wealthiest twenty percent of taxpayers pay eighty-six percent of income taxes, I start to foam at the mouth, and that makes a mess of my keyboard.

buck up, cp

Boy, I’ve been there, done that. I was just doing my daily check over on instapunk.com and found a post there by CP. I knew the pain. I went to comment and found that the post was gone. So many times I have written a post here and then deleted it because I knew, in the end, that it wouldn’t change a thing. I start to sound like a record (for those of us old enough to have had this experience) with a needle stuck in one groove. Leave the record run long enough and it wears the groove down to nothing but unintelligible noise. Pretty much what most of my writing seems to come down to.

CP’s situation is different than mine, but the underlying condition is the same. When you see a fellow passenger on this doomed trip to nowhere, you want to reach out to the man and tell him that things are going to be all right, don’t worry. Then you realize that you have no right to say that. You can’t find a way to get out of the situation you are in and are struggling like hell to just not give up and die. Why do you think you can give another man any hope when you can’t find it yourself? Um, you can’t.

So, CP, I got no answers. But man, you sure as hell have my sympathy. Do a brother a favor? If you find the spark again, let me know how you did it. It may not work for me, but it couldn’t hurt to try.