Monday, November 9, 2015

To Put It Out There Or Not Put It Out There, That is the question

I post shit that comes to mind.  That is it, I know it would be impossible to tell that from reading my past posts, but it is true.  Sometimes what comes to mind how people can be shitty.  Sometimes it is because people are awesome.  Most of the time it is because people are shitty.

As time passes and I become less able I lose control of things so to speak.  Some days I do not have control of anything but usually I have control over my words and I am able to plunk some of them out and post them to no one and everyone which is the beauty of the internet.

The first problem is that words have power.  Problem number two is when people think they generally think about themselves.  Not in the selfish kind of way just that it is hard to get outside of your own head and I am no better than anyone else, well I am better than a lot of people but certainly not the fine quality people that read this blog.  You combine these two problems and it makes it hard to vent about whatever person is behaving like an asshole at that particular moment because every person that is sensitive thinks they are the asshole in question.

The old me would not have given much of shit about this, but two things are different in the new me, first and foremost I don't find butting heads with people enjoyable anymore or to be more accurate I would say I no longer have the energy to butt heads with people.  The thing that will surprise everyone is that being Catholic has made want to be more Christlike. Before I post things I now consider what impact it will have on people.

You can not be too vague or everyone will think the post is about them, seriously this has happened to me more than once or you are specific enough that you may embarrass someone so you can blow off a little steam.

Sidenote sometimes it is crucial to let off a little steam or the boiler will explode.

I have a fifty-eight drafts I am working on and the truth be told I don't want to finish them because I am scared about what I will find out so really all this other stuff was just self flagellating bullshit.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Where Have I Been? (Pink Floyd, Cats, Family Drama, 80's)

I have been sick, is this your first time reading this blog?  The past six months have been particularly bad but coming through the other side, wait actually it is still going on so more of an update during the trip that at some point will end one way or the other.

I meant that last line to be funny but my wife has informed me that death jokes have a small audience and that only a few people will think that is funny.  Ironically those people will have serious or life-threatening illnesses, you remember Arsenio Hall and the things that make you go hmmm?

Needless to say things have been better and even though it was, needless to say, I said it.  Sarcoidosis has found my hips, knees and ankles to be the preferred food as of late.  Without any Irony, I have been relegated to one room of my home, for the most part, could we call that room sickroom and talk to ourselves as we die?  Sure we could do that and in fact, let us do that now.


Listen to Free Four by Pink Floyd to fully appreciate the humor in the preceding paragraph, also you should listen to more Pink Floyd in general but not too much because it can be a bit of a downer.  The humor in the above paragraph might be considered existential and therefore about death, be aware, be very aware.

Anywho just a general rundown of the current state of physical affairs, I can't drive, some days I can't walk, and that keeps me in bed most of the time and not in a sexy way.  The plus side I have been getting a ton of beauty sleep, the downside I have not gotten any prettier.  As I type this now I have sitting on my bed with my back against the wall, with a cool Tempurpedic pillow of some sort between me and the wall so I am not actually sitting against the wall but I guess that depends on your definition of against.

I have an afghan that I purchased on Ebay covering my lower extremities and my legs sit akimbo, not actually but I have always wanted to use the word akimbo.  I sit with my legs apart and my knees slightly bent.  This is not a comfortable way to sit but I have found that under the current regime led by the dictator sarcoidosis that this is the least painful arrangement of my legs.  I am wearing Tardis fleece like a shawl and I do use it to cover my head, I wear my shawls old school like I am going to get some gruel on.

To complete the picture, there is a blue tortoise cat that I call Hummus.  Her full name is Blue Ivy Hummus but we have known each other for about a year and we have gotten closer over that year to the point where I just call her Hummus.  Before Hummus to came to the fast paced world of the sick-room she went by Quinn but now with the hustle and bustle she is surrounded by Hummus seemed much more appropriate.  Hummus sometimes sits on me and sometimes she sits in the windows and sometimes she sits on the stack of extra blankets and then sometimes she hides, under a bed, in her carrier which means she is hiding in a cat prison, I never said she was a smart kitty.

This may seem like the same shit from a few years ago when things got bad and you would be right, then what is the difference now?  My dad is dead, I called adult protective services on my mom, and my two sisters and I have not been seeing eye to eye about how I handled my mother's poor situation.  The stress makes everything better, okay it actually makes everything worse.  The stress has had a profound toll on my body, at one point I considered this complete bullshit put forward by weak people.  I do not believe in karma, but I admit it seems karmic that something I once thought was bullshit now afflicts me.

Don't worry. I still love gossip and there are several blog posts detailing all the conflicts of family life, and just wet your whistle it even includes the rarely mentioned extended family drama, that's right for no additional cost you will get gossip on my fall out with uncles, aunts, cousins and maybe some second cousins I honestly can't remember everyone that is mad at me.  I have tried to write a post about my mother three different times or I more accurately there are three rambling unfinished posts about my mother and my call to adult protective services but it maybe a year before I get enough distance to put something out on that topic.

Anywho life is not all bad, but I do not think the good things fit in this post, things have been really crappy and that is where I have been, Craptown eating a shit sandwich, but at least I am not going hungry.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Why It Matters That I Got Shitty Service At The Best Buy (Hint I Am Disabled/Sarcoidosis)

I got shitty service at my local Best Buy. It was not the first time but it was the first time since I have been disabled. I was trying to buy my wife and Iphone 6 plus for our seventh wedding anniversary. Lucky number seven! I posted some stuff on Facebook about my problems at Best Buy and through that interaction things became clearer to me and thus for those reasons I will post a bit of what went on the ye old Facebook:

"Can anyone recommend a place to buy a cell phone? Sarah would like an Iphone 6 plus and would prefer to have good customer service. Also reminder the Best Buy on (location deleted) still has really crappy customer service, it is usually years between my visits there and I always forget until I get there and in the past we have sucked it up and just purchased what we came for and left but this time were like no and maybe it would be better if the Best buy employees did work on commission because when someone comes into buy a phone, not browse, they might actually try and sell her one instead of ignoring her for forty minutes. Commission is not always a bad word."

I got a lot of responses from friends making suggestions on where they had good experiences. I also had a friend that I did not know well but I knew in real life (not just a Facebook/Online friend) and they knew someone that worked at the Best Buy in question. They indicated there was a great deal of turnover and literally had junkies shooting up in the bathroom at that Best Buy location. This friend is someone I respect and admire, they are intelligent and thoughtful and I think my response was out of proportion:

"Unfortunately only people at the Cell Phone Station can help us or I would go back for your friend at the (department deleted), After forty minutes I said can you call someone over to help us and the young man said no, after these two employees at the cell phone station refused to acknowledge us or make eye contact for forty minutes. I managed the most robbed 7-Eleven in Utah for years and we were near a court mandated heroin rehab felicity. My two my common workman comp claims I filled out for clerks being beaten during a robbery or stuck with a needle emptying trash, I wish I was being hyperbolic. If anyone on my staff treated someone like these two I would have fired them. I am going to admit that I fired more people than other manager I knew but I also had less shrink (employee theft) and better sales year to year than them. I had a really hard time hiring employees after the month where the store was robbed five times in one month and corporate would not allow increase the hiring wage to be competitive with the environment and eventually when they started franchising stores I was one of the first to be laid off because of my complaining. Eventually corporate fixed the problems at the location after I was gone. The manager that took over got crushed and literally had two weeks worth of deliveries sitting on the floor waiting to be shelved, they are supposed to be put away when they come in. She did not last and eventually they started allowing more hours and higher wages I think the mistake I made was staying there so long. I think that competent people in horrible companies keep the companies from fixing things and the grass is often greener. I say to all of you who will listen if you are in a bad situation at a minimum transfer stores and you should probably quit. The next company I worked for was so much better and when they went bankrupt the company that took them over made a position for me, my job was eliminated because the new company did it in another state. They knew I was horribly sick and saw the value in me after a couple of months of working with me and even knowing the health liability they still hired me and they were/are concerned for me and treated my well. This taught me that I should have started looking sooner. I am not saying walk in tomorrow and quit but start looking for another job, a job where you don't have to make excuses for the company you work for. Sorry I sit at home and have a lot of time to type. Last things four other employees walked by and did not ask if we were finding anything okay, I am not saying they are not overworked I am saying is you should not stay somewhere that is run so poorly you can not do your job. A little sore subject for me that I spent twelve years of my life loyal to a company that looking back treated me really awfully. I mean I could tell you stories."

First in my defense everything I said in that reply was accurate but upon reflection it seemed to have more fire than would seem appropriate. I started with some introspection and you are not going to believe this but it is related to sarcoidosis.

Second let me just say this again, everything I said in that reply is accurate. The company I went to work for after 7-Eleven went bankrupt and when the new company acquired them they gave the employees that stayed on their seniority. That is important because I am going to relay an anecdote about my five year employment award with the last company I worked for and I did not work for them for five years.

The reason all that almost unreadable nonsense above matters is because at my five year employee acknowledgement ceremony I cried. After the vice president in charge of Utah said some nice words and gave me my five year award they asked for a few words, also for the record their were other people at the ceremony getting awards for various years of service but I can't remember anyone else who was there.

I was sick the day of the awards, I did not have a cold I had sarcoidosis. The sarcoidosis had gotten progressively worse since I had been diagnosed and at this point I could still legally drive but I had a hard time wearing shoes and I could not get in and out of chairs and I was not on oxygen yet but I could not walk very far without being out of breath, in other words I knew that my days of working were coming to a close. When I say I knew it, I did not know it know it but I knew, knew it if you know what I mean.

Why did I cry?  Well first off the VP had made sure there was a big comfortable chair for me to sit in or it might have been his assistant that made sure but the point is somebody made sure there was a big chair for me.  I am a big guy and those conference room chairs with the arm rests squeeze my fat in unpleasant ways and at that point there was a lot of fat because I had been on huge doses of prednisone daily for quite some time and that stuff makes you eat and eat and eat like you can not imagine unless you have taken it.  That was a digression but I am back on target and not just because red leader told me to.

I get up to give my let speech and I kind of knew what I wanted to say but I did not have anything written or planned out but anywho I start talking about what a privilege it is to be able to serve and help people and I start to cry.  Looking back gives me a little more clarity on why I was crying so here let me lay some clarity on you.  First it is a privilege to be able to help people, when someone is upset or sad or even hopeless and you can diffuse the situation, bring them a little joy or show them there is some hope it brings you a feeling that would be hard to put into words but here I go.  First it is a sense of accomplishment but it is more than that because it is not like a built a book shelf kind of accomplishment it is you may have been the little nudge in someones life that turns things around for them.  I know if it had not been for some nudges in my life I would be dead or in prison or in jail or in a trailer park, you get the idea it would not have been good.

That last paragraph may have appeared to be self aggrandizing and that is because it was but I did help a lot of people a little and few people a lot.  

When I take a step back from the step back I have already taken I find that it might be I am jealous.  I am jealous of their ability to work.  I don't understand people that don't take pride in there work but before I go down another rabbit hole of me lecturing kids on their work ethic lets get to the heart of the matter.

That heart of the matter?

I can't go to the store when I want.  I have a handicap placard and when I get out of the car with my walker and oxygen tank nobody writes a nasty note saying I shouldn't be using the handicap spot.  When the stars align and the moon comes out and there is a partial eclipse and something optional seems like it could be an option and then I go and be ignored by people that are paid to help me.  When I ran a 7-Eleven I would have disabled folks come in and I would say let me know if there is anything I can help you find which was my worried way of trying to get across if you need help I am here and if you don't I wasn't saying anything to the contrary.  We had to go to these classes about how to comply with the Americans with disabilities act and it seemed weird and nebulous but now that I am disabled it has become much more clear.

The law says you must make reasonable accommodations to allow disabled folk the same access as abled folks.  I will say I do not think these two employees had been given any training about people with disabilities but just on a human level the thing I find unreasonable is this:

There are two associates working the cell phone station at Best Buy and each one of them was helping a customer, there was a line of one me.  Over the forty minutes I was there it would have been reasonable that they acknowledged I was there and that they knew I was waiting in line, second I watched a manager run in and give one of them an override for a refund and he did not acknowledge me, I also think it is reasonable to have managers that are capable of filling as needed and I think in the same way I have a handicap permit I would hope just on a human level people would want to help someone that can not do for themselves but more than that I think that is why the law exists.  This happened weeks ago and I have not been able to make it out again to shop for a cellphone for my wife.

Is it Best Buys fault that I am disabled no, is it there fault they ignored me and did not make any efforts to reasonable accommodate me yes.  Yes I am aware that I am asking for special treatment and I would forward that as a society we have decided that I should get special treatment.  I get to have a reserved parking space closer than everyone else and if you so saw someone who was not disabled taking that spot what would you say?  In that same vein should someone with a disability get special treatment in a store, I am not sure I have been on both sides of this debate in my head but what I am leaning towards this:  if I was able bodied would I want them to help a sick person ahead of me in line and the answer to that is yes but going even farther if an associate asked me to wait while they helped someone who was disabled would that be what I wanted?

I think the answer is yes, I am not sure but I think the answer is yes.

Just one last thing even if I wasn't disabled that was really shitty service from the Best Buy and I think the fact I am disabled makes it even shittier.  

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mormons Have Good Intentions, Right?

I don't talk about it much but I was a Mormon when I was a child or I think more accurately stated my mother was/is Mormon and she comes from a large Mormon family that is religious.  Many of her brothers have been in Mormon Church leadership at the individual Church level and what they would call a Stake level in which the Stake President is over several Churches in a geographic area.  Her brothers and sisters when they retire will often go serve Church missions and spend their golden years serving their Church.  My uncles and aunts on my mothers side are for the most part Mormons who are in good standing, well very good standing with the Mormon Church.

I have skirted the issue in past posts but I will just come out and say it, my mother is mentally ill and has been for as long as I can remember.  Like many illnesses she has good days and bad days or maybe better said has good years and bad years.  A lot people do not view mental illness like other illnesses.  I wish that was not the case but I do live in the real world most of the time so I know that is not how most people view it.  I think everyone would look for help if there had been more of an effort to cut through the stigma and treat it like Lupus or Rheumatoid Arthritis, a disease that has no cure but can be helped by treatment most of the time. 

The last few posts have been short on points and long on exposition and this post is headed that way...

My parents divorced when I was five or six years old and I lived with my mother after the divorce and my dad was not around until I was in my teen years and on to adulthood.  I know you can't tell from text on screen but that was not a bitter angry statement just one of facts.  Don't get me wrong I was bitter and angry but like everything else it has passed away as time has marched on.  Growing up my mother was only religious when she was around other Mormons.  Appearance was more important that substance, I did not realize this until years later.

I have never seen my mother pray, not in my entire life.  When I was young we went to Church pretty regularly but I do not remember much from those days so I guess more accurately I think I went to church regularly when I was young.  My earliest memory of church is I punched another kid and had to go sit next to my mother at a piano or organ she was playing for primary.  I have a couple of other memories about going to the Mormon Church but they probably deserve their own blog post but needless to say I did not attend Church with any regularity and I did not form much of an opinion about the Mormon Church or about religion in general.

If I have not mentioned it before I did grow up and still live in Salt Lake City, Utah

I was ostracized growing up not being Mormon in a Mormon community and most people are quick to blame the Mormon religion and I would argue it is a cultural phenomenon in Utah.  I have said this before that anytime you have one group dominate an area you are going to see that.  I remember being in Missouri at a vacation home on the lake of the Ozarks and Sunday morning I flipped on the TV and on the three broadcast stations we could get each one of them had a Baptist preacher.  If you were a non-Baptist Yankee there was some ostracization.  I will say I found the Missouri ostracization to be more polite than the Utah ostracization, that whole southern hospitality thing is no joke.

The point I am trying to make is that when everyone that surrounds you feels the same way as you when you do run into someone different you are less likely to be tolerant and I would submit that is human nature.  I am not saying it is a good when this happens, it sucked as a kid not being allowed over to some of my friends' houses because I was not Mormon but as an adult I understand it much more as a cultural thing than a religious thing.  If you lived in Ethiopia where there are not a lot of Mormons I doubt the Mormons there are not letting non-Mormon kids over to their house to play because then there kids would have no one to play with.

The previous paragraph might have been just a long of saying confirmation bias or some buzzword thing like that.

Salt Lake City where I live has become more and more religiously diverse as time has marched on and as of the last time I check it is only 50% Mormon which of course is still a majority over any one religion but the point is every other person is not a Mormon.  When I was growing up and you were a Mormon and only wanted to speak to Mormons throughout your day, I mean down to your 7-Eleven clerk, you could do that easily, now every other person is not a Mormon and you could not spend your day exclusively with Mormons, well maybe you could but it would not be easy.  There are still some towns that are still overwhelming Mormon but I think the whole state of Utah is only 60% Mormon now.

Here is a link to the religious demographics of Utah on Wikipedia and it looks on 2010 census Utah was 61.4% Mormon so my guess was pretty close.

I do ramble, concise is not my middle name.  Anyway all of that is to say that my childhood has left me intolerant towards people that are intolerant and don't get me wrong if you move into a new place in Salt Lake City and go out on your front porch to have a beer one neighbor may see the beer and never speak to you again but the other will invite you over for dinner, this really happened to me and they were both Mormon so things change slowly but they do change.  I wish that story was a long time ago but it was a little while ago so hey.

Wait for it, it is all coming together now, well may not right now but soonish.  I think after all that it would be fair to say I was raised by a crazy mom without religion.  I was baptized a Mormon but it was not part of my life and I was never Mormon.  I did not know much about Mormon theology until much later in life and unlike many people that had left Mormonism I did not feel the need to explain what was wrong with the Mormon Church and their doctrine to everyone I met.  I refer to this as the Ex-Mormon syndrome.  When you have Ex-Mormon syndrome your life is consumed with the Mormon Church, hating it but still consumed with it.

As an adult I never considered myself an ex-Mormon, I did not like being ostracized as a child but I thought that was cultural and not directly related to Joseph Smith finding gold plates in Pennsylvania.  It is Pennsylvania right?  That shows you how little I know about the Mormon Church or maybe more accurately how little I remember, I think I knew at one point where the plates were found, I am thinking upon further reflection New York, I am remembering Palmyra, I am not sure in what context but I know Palmyra is in New York.

Anywho the rambling is coming to a point that is probably gonna fit in one paragraph, is that good writing or bad writing?

The impetus of this post was twofold.  A couple of weeks before my wife and I came into full communion with the Catholic Church my wife started receiving texts from some Mormon missionaries.  They were not directed specifically at her, she had been added to a mass missionary text list.  After a few days of receiving text messages it was pretty clear it was not some random miss type but that she was officially on the list.  My wife asked nicely (because she is nice) to be removed from the list that was end of that or so we thought.

After my wife and I came into full communion with the Roman Catholic Church (baptized, confirmed and first communion) we get a letter from the local Mormon stake addressed to the Southwells.  After these events I have a question occurred to me, if you are concerned about my religious choices or in other words if I am going to Hell (I don't think Mormons have a Hell but it is an overarching metaphor) why wouldn't you talk to me?

If you are scared of me, which I am not going to say is unreasonable.  If you knew me in my youth or ever saw me angry even ten years ago I could be a scary dude, not like the dude abides but like dude that is scary kind of dude, but if you are scared of me write me a letter, send me an email, message me on Facebook, or maybe a Google Plus message (I am not really sure how that last one works, does it come through as Gmail or what?).  I cannot legally drive because of the brain damage from the old sarcoidosis so what do you think is going to happen?  I am going to call one of my forty something year old friends and say hey would you like to be complicit in a felony assault because I need to go beat a relative for indicating they are concerned with my religious choices?

I am not saying I would not think about beating you but my friends are normal people and normal people are not going to be an accessory to an assault.  That was a lot of the word 'an' in close proximity to each other.  What I am confused about is not really a Mormon or a Catholic thing it is a person thing, why did you care enough to notify the Mormon Church but not talk to me?  Unless of course this has some significance in the Mormon Church that I am not aware of and that I should know if I had been more involved?  It does not make any sense to me.

In the group of people that were baptized as adults with me at the Easter Vigil there were several Ex-Mormons.  As Easter quickly approached there was more and more discussion of sending the Mormon Church their letters indicating they wished to have their names removed from the Mormon Church records, which struck me as odd but it probably has religious significance because I was thinking my letter would have said take me off the membership rolls I am no longer a member.

When it came to it I did not care enough to write a letter to the Mormon Church.  I am not sure why I should care whether my name is represented by a series of ones and zeros in a Mormon computer somewhere (I am hoping they have gone paperless for the planet)?  I do know that it was important to some of my classmates, very important like they went to a Mormon Church disciplinary meeting (just a note a Church disciplinary meeting sounds scary regardless of the Church) and that just seemed like a lot of effort and the Catholic Church I was joining was happy with the affirmations I made during the rites that entered me into full communion with the Catholic Church so why should I care?

I started thinking about this and I started putting two and two together, they were concerned about being on the mailing list!  No wait that does not seem like them at all and for the record these now former Mormons are good decent rational folk.  There is something missing here and rather than have some insight I am hoping for some insight from you my readers and I know you come here for insight and if I make a habit of not having insight you will not return but this is just a one off, probably.

Anywho it leaves me wondering what goes on in the Mormon Church that when people leave they have a visceral need to leave the Mormon Church officially and why does the Mormon Church remove you from their records?  If you are baptized a Catholic they will keep that record for as long as humanly possible, my dad saw some Catholic baptismal records in England that were still stored at the local Church from six hundred plus years ago and I assuming that not everyone that becomes Catholic stays Catholic and it is it just me or is it weird to remove someone from the records?  That last thing about knowing about removing people from records is not really important I just find it weird.

So it comes to ending this post and I am at a loss.  When I do not have some insight to bring to a subject apparently my rambling feels no need to stop but I will do my best to reign it in.  In the end I don't want a theological answer or discussion about the differences between Mormons and Catholics because there is a history of the religions not getting along in the US going back quite a ways.  More of what I am looking for is some cultural insight as to why my relatives are concerned with my soul but not enough to talk to me and why are people who leave the Mormon Church still so invested in something they have left?  I used to be a born again Christian and when I left under not the best of terms I did not have the same level of animus.