All The Fucks I Give: The Hypocrisy of Self-Censoring

I have a new rant you can go and read over on Medium.

How are you fine folks?

Have you signed up for my newsletter? Might wanna do that too. (Click newsletter above or follow the link on my Medium rant.)

Party on, people.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Unmerciful World: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Us, & The Scourge of Addiction

Stunning photo of the master in a moment of reflection. By Mark Abrams.

I was rocked to my core with news of one of my favourite actors’ death this morning. Gutted.

And I have been meaning to begin writing on Medium, where it’s easier to attract a new audience.

For the first time in a long time, I was really inspired to write. 2.5 hours later, I had written this one, at some whopping 2,500 words-plus.

Please visit Medium and read my post called Unmerciful World: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Us, & The Scourge of Addiction. Note: If you have a Medium account, you can click on the passages that touch you most and leave a comment there. Kinda neat.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Depressions, Anxiety, and Their Link to Head Trauma

This is getting to be an annual thing for me. It’s #BellLetsTalk day today, so once again I’ll roll out the mat for my battle with depression.

I’ve learned a lot more about head injuries in the last couple of years and I just wanted to drop in and make sure I tell you a little about it too.

Turns out that nearly 65% of people who suffer traumatic brain injury (TBI) are likely to suffer anxiety and depression in the SEVEN YEARS following their injury.

Think about that.

It takes the better part of a decade to get past just one major symptom of brain injury, like depression and possibly debilitating anxiety. Never mind all that cognitive function and language and stuff. That’s a whole other deal.

This is from MSKTC’s website:

Depression is a common problem after TBI. About half of all people with TBI are affected by depression within the first year after injury. Even more (nearly two-thirds) are affected within seven years after injury. In the general population, the rate of depression is much lower, affecting fewer than one person in 10 over a one-year period. More than half of the people with TBI who are depressed also have significant anxiety.

I’m not the only person to hit suicidal feelings a year or two after a head injury. I know personally at least five people who’ve had seriously suicidal tendencies within two to five years of their TBI.

It’s hard for someone who’s not had a head injury to understand the recovery experience. For me, I took a big spill off my scooter when I was still going 40km an hour, landed on my head with such force (even helmeted) that both my in-the-ear hearing aids exploded and blood spilled from my ears. I had a bruised swollen face for six weeks or more. I don’t remember more than about five events in the first six months after my injury, and my job performance continued to decline dramatically for two years.

I knew I was supposed to be tired, depressed, and that sort of thing, but I couldn’t realize what it was I was doing differently, or how weirdly changed I was in some ways. I couldn’t process how much harder some tasks were for me because I couldn’t remember how I used to do them.

My actual ability to understand myself was impaired. My objectivity was shot. My processing skills were badly diminished. Who was I? I was somebody far different than the girl I had become post-accident, but I couldn’t remember exactly how.

Life felt foggy, disjointed, and everyone kept saying “Oh, that’s understandable.”

No! Not inside my head! It’s not okay for it to feel so goddamned WEIRD and WRONG. I was crystal clear before. I didn’t lose focus. I didn’t get confused. And then the accident happened and I didn’t know how NOT to be all the things I once wasn’t — confused, unfocused, emotional.

And that’s what a head injury is.

Our brains aren’t just under dermis, they’re under thick skulls, buried deep in our head. When they’re bruised and rattled around, it can take YEARS to heal. Oxygen isn’t getting there. Sunlight isn’t getting there. It’s gonna heal by the grace of luck or not at all.

Me,  it took about four years to start feeling like myself.

But some things are different and likely always will be. Anxiety finds me more often. I get super-intimidated in learning new things when once I was cautious but confident. I’m more affected by the darkness and short days in the winter. I have many symptoms and challenges similar to ADHD. I get overwhelmed easily. I’m more introverted than I used to be.

Yeah. Without a doubt, I’m a changed person.

I’m still smart. I still write not only well but quickly. I process math and remember things a little better than I did five years ago (the accident was nine years ago). I’m quick-witted, funny, determined, able to conjure a quick plan of attack when I need one.

Today, I find I’m socially challenged at times because I get overwhelmed when details change. So now I know I need to give myself a few minutes to process the information, and even better, now I know to read the face of people I’m with and go “Hey, it’s not you, I just need a bit longer to mentally process this and then we can proceed” and I explain why. I don’t always remember to do that, but I usually do, and that’s good enough today. That’s the process. I remember to explain it and I’m guessing in a couple years I’ll instead be able to bypass the overwhelmed part and get straight to the “Let me think for a second–” pausing that won’t require me swallowing pride and saying “I’m different, wait for me.”

So there’s hope areas I see progress in will continue to improve. It’s head trauma — a lot of studies show it can improving indefinitely. But there are no guarantees, either. Science doesn’t know enough.

One of the gifts of wisdom and age is that we begin to know our weaknesses but also the reasons behind them. Ideally, we learn to work with our failings and help others do so too. We learn acceptance.

These are all true of traumatic head injuries. It’s hard not to be changed. The degree to which it will occur can depend on how hard the impact is, or how often the impact has happened before, and whether previous impacts had healed first. Coping ability depends on the injury itself. A strange and vicious cycle when often recovery’s greatest asset in getting well is the brain, but it’s the brain here that needs to get well. Catch-22.

We don’t know a lot about head injuries. This is true. But we’re learning. Just nine years ago when I had mine, the literature was dramatically reduced.

And now we know you’re likely to deal with depression and anxiety. It’s a part of the process. Knowing this is connected should help a lot of TBI victims deal with it. It’s a small but critical victory to be able to say “Hey, this is happening because of that. It’s not okay, and I have a lot of work to do, but it really does have a reason for happening.”

When you’re the guy with the biological depression, any little lifeline that explains why it’s happening can be a huge mental tool in doing the hanging on and hoping that a true battle with depression requires.

If that’s you I’m talking about? Hang in there. Talk to a pro. It’s survivable. I’m proof.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Well, Hello You

This morning, I caught this on a stroll nearby. Beacon Hill Park, Victoria.

I haven’t blogged in, well, a really long time. Especially here.

I won’t apologize. Life’s tough, kids. Get a helmet. Sometimes people just stop blogging.

Did I stop writing? No. I just chose to do so when it came attached to money. Amazing what things like rent will do to one’s decision-making process.

That’s okay. I’m cool with it, yo.

Life, my dear minions, has been a fine and glorious thing. Okay, no. But good! Flawless? Hah! Far from. Good? Indeed. Or certainly improving at a likable clip, with many fun discoveries along the way. Which I’ll take.

A fiery sunset on Victoria’s Dallas Road earlier this fall.

I live in a super-cool new apartment. The kind I always saw in movies and wanted. 1930s, art deco. High coved ceilings, two kinds of beautiful hardwood floors, plaster walls. All that crazy old-school stuff that makes my heart go pitter-patter.

My hood’s the fabulous downtown part of Victoria, BC. It flies a little under the radar, but I love this city and it feels like I’ve come home after a long, noisy, distraction-laden trip.

Writing only when one is paid for it means leaving a whole lot of moments left in the air to evaporate, but for the record provided by my incessant iPhonography and Instagramming. It feels so hipster of me, but as the saying goes, the best camera is the one you got on ya. (Exhibits of which are provided in the photos on this post.)

Another sunset I captured on Dallas Road a few weeks back.

Not blogging, journaling, or any of that — it’s been a real release for me. A funny thing to say considering most of us writers like to write as a way of expressing ourselves. Until the day we decide that not expressing ourselves is the best way to express ourselves.

I talk to other creatives, people who live and die by the way of having thoughts and putting them out there, out in the world, whatever their media is, and they seem to get me when I tell them I just had enough. I had to walk away from words long-form for a while. Just… get a whole lot less introspective and a lot more “Ooh, shiny” in-the-moment-ness.

I wasn’t in a good place, kids. Not for a long time. I fought the good fight but inside I was losing the war. I didn’t get depressed or anything. Just real fucking tired. Bone-dragging, soul-smooshing tired, and that’s enough.

Just before Halloween we were blanketed with fog, a perfect time to visit old Gothic-ish architecture, like St. Ann’s Academy, a National Heritage Site downtown.

It’s not like I decided not to write. I just didn’t want to do it. Not for myself, and most certainly not for you.

Instead, I wanted to stand by the ocean and think deep thoughts. I wanted to let a world of mindfulness sort of drift away. I wanted to snap photos, watch dogs run, stroll through little stores, cook in my quaint kitchen, and watch a whole lot of Netflix.

I wanted to live for myself. Not for my friends, families, readers, connections, or any damned other person. I just wanted to be a party of one with more self-determination and a whole lot less bullshit.

An autumn sunset on Dallas Road in Victoria, par moi.I read once how Danial Day Lewis ditched the movie world to go off and be a shoe cobbler. Not even a big “Fuck you, Hollywood,” just a “Huh… shoes. Okay.” Sit there, make shoes. No big picture. Just one shoe, one stitch, one sole at a time. Make this one thing the best thing it can be. It’s a noble calling, being a skilled craftsman of any description.

I’m no Day Lewis, but I kinda had my own “Huh… shoes” moment. ‘Cept it was a little place called Dallas Road. A big shiny ocean. Ripply waves. Barking dogs. Fluffy clouds. Millions of honed-by-nature stones and rocks and battered driftwood scattered about a long shore on a big ocean to remind me how we’re all just put where we are and live what we do, and it’s a lot less complicated than we like to make it.

Like today, I had my back fixed. My chiropractor tells me my hip flexors hate me. I show him my stretch. I’m overdoing it, he says. Less is more. Only until I barely feel it, then “let the breathing do the work.”

Dallas Road’s Holland Point, which ate up most of my 2012. Just too beautiful to stay away.

And isn’t that just like us? We, the silly humans? Doing something far harder than it really needs to be? I bet lions and bears don’t “overstretch.” A bear of very little brain, indeed.

I don’t really know what I dropped in to tell you. I’ll start with: A very merry Christmas to you. And Hanukkah and Kwanzaa, and whatever else you got.

Will I be blogging more in 2014? Meh. Do you really want promises? Can I respect myself in the morning for a bit instead?

I would like to. As much as I’ve needed, wanted, enjoyed walking away from recreational writing, I identify as a writer. I am a writer. It’s what I do, how I am, who I am, why I am the way I am. How many more ways can I say it? I write therefore I exist. Apologies to the dead guy I’m paraphrasing.

Fog in late August. It was incredibly warm, so unusual for fog, and a beautiful day for cycling in Esquimalt, just over the bridge from Downtown Victoria.

What I can tell you is… I’ve been wanting to come back here lately. But this blog has some kinda legacy. Oof, does it. One needs a little mojo to step up to the “Cunt.” It’s been a happy, fluffy time of rainbows and growth of late. Not a Cunty mojo for me, to say the least.

That’s not necessarily a great thing either, happiness without a side of Cunt. I don’t regret who I was when I wrote this blog. For much of it, I really enjoyed the ride. I sort of stopped being her far longer ago than when I merely stopped writing it.

But maybe, just maybe, I’m coming full circle. In a better, wiser, older kind of way.

In any case. A merry Christmas to you all. Here’s hoping we can get it on again, blog-style, in the new year.

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Being me | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Once, There Were Lepers: Something to Read

Over on my other blog about life here in Victoria, I’ve written a posting about a little-known leper colony where racism lived and Chinese immigrants died. It’ll be getting cross-posted by the Huffington Post this week, but why wait to read it there when you can read it now?

Click here to travel there. Thanks!

Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Why I’m Not Religious

This article from Scientific American frustrates me a little because it’s about interesting topics, but they only skate the surface and it sounds more like conjecture than a supportable argument.

But it raises an interesting point.

There is a lot of judgment out there against atheists. There’s this deluded impression, I’ve found, that being religious somehow means you have a moral code that others do not.

What? Because I don’t go to church, I’d steal from your grandmother, hit-and-run your car, and cheat on my taxes? Bullshit.

Sorry, kids, morality’s just a little bit more complicated than where I park my ass for an hour or two on Sunday mornings. God’s got nothing to do with how ethically I choose to live my life.

Here’s the thing.

I’m not religious today BECAUSE I was raised religious. I was so Catholic I’d go to church as much as 6 days a week. Used to tell the non-believer kids in the ‘hood about the sermons, and they’d listen, too.

I loved me some Jesus when I was a kid.

When I was in high school, I had a priest who told us a classmate was going to hell because she committed suicide. And then we had a teacher, who I thankfully never had classes with, who was discovered to be sexually abusing boys. He went to jail. But around the school we were talking and it seems the Arch Diocese knew for as much as five years about the teacher’s abuse.

The details on the story are hazy for me now and searching the web proves futile as I only know remember him by “Mr. [redacted].”

It’d be some years before I came to believe what Ken Kesey preached, that if you weren’t able to worship what you call God in your backyard, he wasn’t gonna be in no church, either.

I learned at the age of 13 that men are corrupt, so all religions are corrupt. And I fell hard from my pedestal of faith. We found out shortly after the child molesting thing that our elementary school Monsignor had been in a relationship with a woman for more than 2 decades. He had to leave the church.

I decided, if God needs me to join a club to prove I believe, then he’s got really, really low self-esteem, because look at some of the members! Let’s not even talk about Creationism, which is a slap in the face at everything God’s capable of, if you’re to believe the book of Genesis in the first place. If God’s so omnipotent, the idea of the Big Bang and millions of years of evolution speak far louder about a God’s powers than this dumbed-down “The Earth is 6,000 years old” bullshit practiced by people too blind to see science is a faith too.

Anyhoo. I was raised Catholic. I was raised to respect others, be kind, be honest, and all that ethicky jazz. I maintain those values. I just don’t figure God anywhere in the picture.

I live my life with virtue because I need to respect myself in the morning. I may not have money, fame, and everything I dream of, but I do have self-respect, and it comes from living up to how I was raised. Ain’t any church that’s gonna change that about me. My ethics guide my life and always will.

Ethics and the Vatican aren’t exactly in bed together, though. Look at the Catholic Church: With properties and assets, it’s about the most powerful and richest organization in the world. But we don’t know that for sure, because the books are kept pretty tight. The Vatican is literally its own nation-state, remember. For insurance purposes, its incredibly vast collection of artwork is valued at about an euro each, according to some reports. This MSNBC report states the Catholic Church received more than $8 billion in donations in 2003 alone. Never mind tax write-offs, present-day property values, or any of that.

And look at the Evangelical movement in the USA, where preachers are VERY well-paid rockstars ministering to the thousands. Yeah. And Jesus, Mohammad, and Buddha lived as paupers. No disconnect there at all.

If you really believe in Jesus and Christianity, then you believe Jesus threw the merchants from the temple. He didn’t believe money and faith went hand-in-hand.

It’s a mockery, what we have today for religion. It’s everything Christ never wanted. Churches hold the riches today, and look at the average person. Not so rich.

Yet I’m morally bankrupt because I don’t practice and celebrate that mockery of everything Christ stood for?

Don’t tell me religion today is moral when it shouts down the search for human rights for gays. Don’t tell me the Catholic Church has the high ground when it had as its Pope for the last decade or so a Holocaust apologist. Don’t tell me faiths that take in more money than they give back to the poor are doing what God wants of them.

Religion today is nothing of what it has been written as in the Bible. It’s sanctimony and judgment. Church is where the dollar talks and transparency walks.

Unfortunately, there are good people caught up in that sanctimony and judgment. There are fine Christians in the world, and admirable Muslims, and wonderful Jews. While I rail against religion, I do not rail against the believers, not if they are moral, kind people. But being a believer in religion does not mean one is indeed moral or kind, and that’s why I state there’s that prerequisite.

I will not hold your religion against you if you do not hold my lack thereof against me.

Seems a fair trade.

It is absolutely my moral code which keeps me from practicing religion. Until faiths are led by men and women I can admire and respect, I will turn instead to worshipping nature and the world around me, and living my life as I would have had I found a church worthy of my faith.

I would put my ethics against anyone’s. I absolutely know who I am at heart, and if there were more of me, and less pious sanctimony, this would be a really nice world to live in.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
Posted in Being me, Religion | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments
  • About Steff

    This is my interstellar craft of truth and wit. Buckle up. If you want celebrity gossip, this is not the blog for you. If you want comfortable postings that’ll fill you with happy fuzzy thoughts about the world at large, or self-help guru shit, this is not the blog for you.
    Read more

  • Support Steff!

    I hate ads, but I like money.
    If you like my content,
    feel free to show it through PayPal.
    Support is appreciated.