Check out the prologue to "Alone In The Light" by clicking here

An excerpt from: Alone In The Light

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Mental Health During Quarantine

So, uh, yeah. Where do I start?

I've had an eventful 41 years so far... but this is my first nationwide lock-down/quarantine. So, you know, good times! My kids will now be out of school until May 1 at the earliest and I am moderately concerned about my employment in the foreseeable future... but that's a blog post for a different day.

Today, we're talking about being cooped up in the house for a LONG time and how this can really mess with your mental health.

Now, if you're me, you can sit at home and not deal with the outside world for weeks on end and be perfectly happy. But, that's not good advice. Instead - here is how to prevent yourself from having a complete mental breakdown.

First - it is important to maintain a clean environment. When you get up in the morning - make your bed. Pick up your dirty clothes. clean your dishes and don't let them pile up.... Don't let your personal space devolve into a pigsty. That will drain you in a hurry. This is my most important lesson.

Shower EVERY DAY. That's right. Clean yourself and then put on clean clothes... You feel much better once you've showered.

Eat. And not ALL THE TIME. I mean, eat breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Try to keep the snacking to a minimum.

Try to get some sort of movement in your day. No treadmill? Fine. Do some small exercises. Anything to get you up off of the couch, off of your phone or computer, and get the blood flowing. It doesn't have to be P90X or some insanely expensive online service. Just do some damn jumping-jacks and sit-ups. Maybe some body-weight squats.... ANYTHING.

Once the boredom starts to eat at you - take this as a time to learn a new hobby, craft, language, trade... anything. There are literally thousands of videos online to teach you fun, new things! Want to learn sign language? DO IT! Want to learn how to hit on that hot Croatian girl down the hall? LEARN THE LANGUAGE! You've got time... and you should take advantage of that time. Hell, take the time to Spring Clean your house/apartment/cardboard box. I mean like Marie Kondo that shit!

And last - try to limit your social media intake. Jesus on a roller coaster.... nothing is more toxic than social media right now.

Focus on yourself and your family (if you have one living with you). Try to better yourself while the world seems to fall apart on the outside.... Might as well come into the apocalypse knowing how to set snares for rabbits and squirrels! *free online videos for that!*

Take care of yourself, people. We'll all get through this. It'll pass... maybe like a kidney stone... but it'll pass.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Achievement Unlocked - F*CK YOU, STUDENT LOANS!

Good morning, world!

Despite the dumpster fire raging across the land, I've been on a mission to find a silver lining - something that would bring me joy and make my life less... stressful. Aside from watching the news, what is the most stressful thing I can think of? - Student Loans.

It's hard to enjoy life when you're barely scraping by some months. Add to that the mandatory student loan payment every month on top of your other bills - things get uncomfortable. So you ask for lower payments and occasional forbearances to give you breathing room. The good people at Navient and the Dept. of Education don't care. They're still going to charge interest while you try to come up for air.

Monday, March 2, 2020

The Unwelcome Anxiety of Memory.

The Unwelcome Anxiety of Memory.

I can't speak for anyone else, but as we approach the 17th anniversary of "Shock and Awe" and the invasion of Iraq... I find myself getting anxious. Just like I do every year. I don't know if this anniversary is the cause of massive anxiety attack today, or just a convenient excuse - but I sort of feel like the two may be connected.

Shock and Awe on the television

I can't really explain it. I don't actively think about it, it just happens. Every year. And it sucks.

In March of 2003, I was twenty-four, and I was at Camp Doha Kuwait. As the month progressed and rhetoric of war started getting more and more pronounced - things changed...

At the beginning of March, we upped our training schedule. We started going everywhere in groups of two or more. Things were changing. We conducted more and more MOPP drills... (Mission Oriented Protective Posture - your nuclear, biological, and chemical protective suit). We were living in a warehouse in Camp Doha. An entire company's worth of soldiers crammed into on giant, open-air space with all of their gear confined to a 3'x4' plot of personal space. In one corner, we had a small television set up. We watched the news and re-runs of The Simpsons with Arabic subtitles... Then, one day, all of the channels became news only...

Shock and Awe started on the 18th/19th of March. The ground forces followed behind on the 20th... Between the 18th and 27th I remember the missiles launched at Camp Doha. The air-raid sirens, the MOPP drills, sitting bunkers as we waited for the all-clear. I remember being on my phone with home when the sirens sounded and I dropped the phone and took off running for the bunker and my pro-mask. (protective mask) - when I eventually called home again, my family was in tears. They didn't know what had happened. They just know I said "oh fuck" and hung up.

Then... I remember my dad's birthday on March 27th - my last phone call to them before we headed out. They were eating at Hooters for his dinner (his favorite place to eat). I couldn't talk long, I was already in trouble for skipping out to make the call, and we'd just had a close-call with a Rocket/Missile attack - Hooray for the Patriot Missile Defense Battery!

I just said "I can't talk. We're packing up and heading north. I love you. Happy birthday." - I apparently ruined my dad's 53rd birthday. Which was not my intent, but it's easy to forget that 6,000 miles away, my family was trying to go on with their day-to-day lives and my little calls were just a dick-punch to remind them of where I was and what I was doing.

While my family ate the remainder of their birthday dinner in silence, my unit loaded up and headed to Navistar at the Kuwait/Iraq border. There we lined up with the other trucks and supplies and waited. We slept in the back of 5-Tons and Deuces. Then we were in Iraq - weapons loaded and futures unsure. I didn't speak to them again on the phone until May.

Now, thirteen years later, those memories surface as anxiety - unbidden... And I fucking hate it.