Monday, December 30, 2013

The Id and the Superego Walk into a Bar, or What the Freud am I Thinking?

“We approach the id with analogies: we call it chaos, a cauldron full of seething excitations… It is filled with energy reaching from the instincts, but it has no organization... but only a striving to bring about the satisfaction of the instinctual needs of the subject to the observance of the pleasure principle.” –Sigmund Freud


If you knew something was wrong and yet could bring satisfaction and happiness, would you do it? Would you take into consideration all of the people your actions would affect—either by benefiting or hurting them, for in any instance, whenever a choice is made, the numerous variables at play have the ability to affect those involved differently—or would you focus on self-satisfaction? What would enter into your mind as you weighed your options: your past failures and the times you were hurt? Would you try to convince yourself that your actions were for the best, even if another was hurt, someone you didn’t even really know? Would you give in to the id—that instinctual drive toward pleasure—or would you allow your superego, that moralizing voice that begins development around the age of five or six and is formed by the norms and mores of society, the lessons and ideas of parents and associates, to talk you out of your actions? I suppose the answer given is dependent on the person being asked. For me, I’ve tended to rely on my superego to dictate the choices I’ve made in my life, silencing that preternatural urge for pleasure and self-satisfaction and self-gratification, that animalistic urge to do what I want.


I was accused recently of being a good guy, for I found myself in a situation in which it would have been very easy for me to not be a “good guy,” instead taking advantage of opportunities that presented themselves, opportunities that are quite enticing. And I have to laugh, because as I think about it, I keep hearing all the pastors of my youth talking about the attractiveness of sin, how glamorous it promises to be and yet isn’t, but I’m not really focusing on sin here. Okay, so maybe I am, but after a while, everything becomes a sin: stealing a pen from your coworker at work, not cleaning your room when your mother tells you to do so, speeding, wearing clothing of mixed fibers (just seeing if you’re paying attention—I know that’s Old Testament.) Not helping those in need when you can, ignoring the hungry and afflicted. Not tithing.
But what I’m talking about here is more about a moralistic sense of what we do in our everyday lives, aside from religious affiliation and doctrine, those choices that define us. For our choices do define us, maybe not wholly, maybe not as though each decision was emblematic of you as a person, as our character is defined by the culmination of numerous choices made throughout the course of a life, yet they do determine our character and how others perceive us, how we perceive ourselves. And oftentimes we do care how others perceive us, whether we admit it or not. We may claim that we don’t care what others think about us and what we do—and maybe to an extent there is some truth to that—but I would contend that sometimes our actions are dictated by how we think others will perceive us based on them, whether we intend to let their voices guide us or not, and we find ourselves thinking, if I do that, then I become a… and you can insert your word or phrase of choice into the preceding thought. If I’m caught having a drink, I’m a drinker. How will my church respond to that? If I tell one little lie to try to save myself, I’m a liar. How will the person to whom I lied ever trust me again? Will they? Is this line of thinking unique? Of course not, but I’ve been reminded of this lately in certain areas in my life. If I do this, I become a… and someone gets hurt in the process…


Knowing that this is the case doesn’t make it any easier to ignore that instinct for desire that tells me to do something I know I shouldn’t. Sure, I can claim a moral victory, stand tall and say that I fought the demons of temptation and won, and some days that’s a good feeling. One would think that it should always be a good feeling—and perhaps it should—but sometimes claiming a moral victory doesn’t give you the immediate satisfaction that giving in to temptation would. But then you have to live with the guilt of having given in to temptation, possibly hurting someone in the process. Is the immediate satisfaction, likely short-lived, worth the internal struggle of guilt? Likely not. But that’s a decision made only by those in the moment, those faced with the decisions before them.

One would like to think that a lifetime of moral victories would amount to something. And sure, it does—it makes you a good person, at least in the eyes of those around you. And when presented with my recent decision, when accused of being a good guy, I jokingly said it was either one of my greatest faults or greatest attributes.

Obviously, I’ve refrained by detailing my situation here, unusual for me, I know. I’m usually brutally honest on here. One reader said of my writing: you’re so honest on your blog, not really sparing anyone’s feelings. Ironic, it seems, given my lack of expression during the conversation at hand. This time, however, I chose generalities, morality without specificity. Though I’m sure some of you can read between the lines.

Am I a purist? Not by any stretch of the imagination. Yet I find myself watching my id and superego fight for dominance, however slight, in certain situations, something to which we can all at times relate. So is there a moral message here? No, not really. Just something to think about.


So the Id and the Superego walk into a bar. And let’s hope they get hammered, cause they already put up one helluva fight. 

Friday, December 27, 2013

So This is the New Year

So this is the New Year/ And I don’t feel any different…
So everybody put your best suit or dress on/ Let’s make believe that we are wealthy now for just this once

Ben Gibbard, you know I love you, but why couldn’t you have written happy instead of wealthy, for that’s how I’ve always sung it…

The Past

As this year ends, I, like so many others, find myself reflecting on the last year, which, like any other, was filled with ups and downs, a stereotypical statement if ever there was one, and yet I find in it some truth. My divorce was finalized and I lost two teaching jobs; I dated someone I had liked for years, even while I was married, and watched the dissolution of that relationship, just as I had watched the dissolution of my marriage the previous year. I find myself now in almost exactly the same situation I was in last year: just out of a relationship and working at a new job that I’m still learning to navigate and understand.

This past year held many changes for me: a change of careers, a change of partners; tackling life as a single parent. And through it all, I’d like to say I learned something about myself, about who I am and who I’m not. And I suppose I did. It just seems that such lessons always come with a price, and dealing with that realization seems to get harder as I get older.


At least now you know. Spend the night in the dumps. Allow yourself the evening to be depressed and upset and then get your ass out of bed tomorrow and go at it as hard as you can. It’s a little thing called life and sometimes it just kicks you in the nuts. Better days are ahead and you will not die alone. You will meet someone worthy of your love and attention.


Older? What a strange sentiment, for I’m only 27, yet most days I feel so much older than the number of my years. I’ve always been an old soul, as many of you who know me know, and I know my circumstances are not unique, yet I sometimes think that they weigh more heavily on me than on others—ridiculous, I know. I’m fortunate, for I have a family who loves me, a son who adores me and whom I adore, and friends who care, regardless of their limited number.


Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes/ five hundred twenty-five thousand journeys to plan/ Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes/ How do you measure the life of a woman or a man?


During the first few months of my marriage, I put on weight and began to fill out for the first time in my life. A friend of mine looked at me one day and said, “You’ve put on weight!” a look of incredulity spread across his face. He was always one to make fun of my small frame over the years, and as I accepted that I had put on weight, he told me he could see it in my face. Contentment pounds, he called them—what a misnomer. Over the last year, that weight has fluctuated as I’ve dealt with the divorce, the ramifications thereof, and my subsequent relationship struggles and job searches, all of which have exacerbated my depression.

It’s funny that when I had no job and was dependent on unemployment checks and family to make ends meet, the rest of my life seemed to be going well; once I got a job, the rest of my life seemed to take a turn for the worse. I know this sounds melodramatic, and that is not my intent. It just seems that the various components of my life can never peacefully coexist in harmony, likely the result, I’ve learned, of some character faults on which I admittedly need to work.

And one of those faults is with my thinking. I used to think that person’s career choice was a quintessential defining element of who he or she was. I was a teacher—regardless of whatever else I was (writer, husband, father, friend, office manager, cashier) I was a teacher. I was an academic who enjoyed intellectual discussions concerning politics, pedagogy, literature, theatre, and film, and tried to use those interests to make those around me think about the world differently than they would otherwise. I wanted to change minds, enhance vocabularies, and broaden horizons. That to me was my defining statement: I’m a teacher.

But I’ve begun to wonder how much a person is truly defined by a career. I have two college degrees and have nearly completed an MA in English (the focus being on education), and yet I’m training to run a gas station. And I don’t see myself going back into education anytime soon. Had anyone told me at seventeen or eighteen—even at twenty-five—that this was where I would be in my life at twenty-seven, I’d have thought the person was crazy. There’s a lot more to me than just the person who wears a black polo instead of blue polo to work, a name tag stuck to my shirt, but as I’ve watched my status as a teacher be erased, I can’t help but wonder how I would define myself to someone. Hi, I’m Dave. I’m a co-manager of a gas station. And I used to be an academic. That’s a turn-on, right?


After all these years, I suppose merely asking how you’ve been would seem a rather silly way to start a conversation, but it’s the best I have at this point. So, how’ve you been?
Well hello there. I have been alright I suppose. Good times and bad but that’s just life. How about yourself?

This year, I continued to work on my novel, finished my first play and wrote a few others, and sent out work for publication, all of which was rejected. Yet I continued to push myself as a writer, looking for outlets, one of which is this blog. I never expected much response from people when I started this, but I’ve received praise from people who’ve read it, people who have thanked me for my honesty and for writing pieces that are relatable, that allow them to draw parallels to their own lives. But let’s be honest: I was hurt, pissed, and depressed, and needed an outlet. So it really started for me, as a place for me to try to make sense of the world around me. The fact that you read it and related to it is an added bonus. I’ve received compliments from people I don’t really know that well who have responded to a post and messaged me to tell me about it, people I’ve not seen since high school. And I must admit that it’s a little disconcerting that people from my church read the blog, what with my discussion of alcohol, religion, politics, and the use of language usually deemed foul in church circles. Yet even from church members, the responses have been overwhelmingly positive, perhaps signifying a difference in the Church I’ve come to know and the Church I thought I knew growing up.


A few of my friends quit smoking this year, though one relapsed. Good for them. I started again after nine years of just the occasional cigar (again, sorry to those of you for whom this is a startling revelation.) This past year I was the first time I ever took medicine for depression and anxiety. I was prescribed Lexipro and it was great until my insurance ran out. I had wondered to what extent it truly helped, and I was interested to see if a change of life situations (marriage and my job) would have eliminated my need for it. I’ll admit that I did feel better even after my refills ran out, though that result was short lived, and I felt myself longing for something to make me feel better. I suppose that is why I spent a cold winter’s night last January around a fire drinking too much moonshine and bourbon on a farm in the middle of nowhere. Why I drank too much Fireball and bourbon a couple months later at a bar where I obviously did not belong.

A short time after Amanda left, I was walking into work at the college when I noticed a rather attractive woman, maybe about my age or a few years older, walking into work as well. I don’t recall now what I was actually doing there, as I was teaching on a different campus. But I recognized her as someone on the staff, though I don’t know who she was or what she does, and I noticed she was smoking. My first thought was “She’s hot” (forgive the baseness of my phrasing and thinking) and my second was “Could I date someone who smokes? I have a kid to think about.” This was obviously before I rediscovered that smoking can take the edge of.  A lot of my time in the early months of the year, it seems, was spent thinking thoughts like that: where do I go from here, and not just for myself.

As I do with many things in my life, I went to Travis for guidance. I don’t recall our conversation, but I find myself thinking the same things now: where do I go from here.


The Future

As the new year starts, I suppose I have many resolutions, as there are many things I want to do in the coming year and many things about myself that I wish to change. I want to write more and finally publish my book, assuming I can get around to editing a final draft; I hope to stage at least a table read of my first play; and I hope to finish many more works.

But in truth, I want to find a way to be happy. It would be easy for me to say I want to find someone I can make happy and with whom I can be happy, but if I’ve learned anything in the past couple years, it’s that you can’t rely on others to make you happy. You have to find your own internal happiness before you can be happy with someone else. That’s a harsh realization to reach, one that is easier said than accepted, but it’s a truth I must own.

If work will allow, I plan on becoming more active in my church, maybe even getting up in time for Sunday school. I joined a church softball league this past year, and though I’m not athletic or skilled in the least, I enjoyed it far more than I imagined I would, for it offered a sense of community and togetherness. I know there is something missing in my life. If we’re being honest, I kind of thought it was sex. But I’m starting to think it’s community.


--If I think that you're good looking, I say you're attractive. Just sounds better. Dont ya think?
--I think attractive does sound classier. Plus it has the association of attraction, which carries with it the idea of drawing together. So much better than the Neanderthalithic hot that has worked its way into our vernacular. (And better than handsome—old grandmothers call their grandsons handsome.)

A friend of mine recently told me I’m hot (a statement I find unfounded) and that I likely won’t be single for long. She said that looks aside, I’m still quite a catch (her words, not mine) for I’m a devoted father, and I’m funny, smart, and talented. Maybe there is some truth in that. But I think what I maybe need to accept in the new year is that I can be single. I went from a six-year relationship into one that lasted almost a year, with no silent time in between. Alison and I started talking (whatever that means) a week after Amanda left, went on our first date nine days after my divorce, and were together for nearly eight months until just last week. My natural inclination is to find someone, for I don’t like being alone—there are too many ghosts in my house that dance around me when I’m alone—but maybe if I take the time to be alone, to truly reflect on my past lessons learned, I’ll be a better person for it, and I’ll not make the same mistakes I made this time around.

So here’s to the new year, a time of introspection, growth, and building; a time of reflection, creation, and devotion; and a time to ensure that next year doesn’t end the same as this one and the one before, for if we continue to make the same mistakes, we surely haven’t learned.

Here’s to hoping I’ve learned.


If you take the time to read this, know that I appreciate it.

Have a happy New Year.

Friday, December 20, 2013

A Post-Divorce Guide to Not Being a F@$k-Up

My first serious relationship (sorry to anyone I dated before the herein referenced person) came when I was seventeen. It was just after Christmas, and I had gone with a couple friends to Katie’s Corner for coffee, and it just so happened that a friend of a friend was sitting a few tables away. She didn’t speak, didn’t approach us, but apparently something about me struck her interest. I sat there in my tattered want-to-be BoHo sweater and long hair, and since I still wanted to be Bob Dylan, I was smoking a cigarette (sorry to those of you to whom this is a startling revelation) and talking about whatever it was we were discussing, likely that my grandmother was lying dying in the hospital. Shortly thereafter, Rickey asked me if I had seen a particular girl a few tables away that night; after all these years, I don’t recall the exact conversation, but it happened that Mindy (the woman mentioned in previous posts about love and divorce as the friend with whom I’ve gone to dinner, the friend with whom I’ve had countless conversations about love and loss, the friend with whom I have to share my Pulitzer for all the conversations she and I have had that have worked their way into stories, should I win one) and I were ultimately introduced and would consequently date for nearly a year. Her leaving me resulted in my first true heartbreak.
But it was by chance that we dated. After that, I would date someone for a short while, even claiming after a few weeks that I was in love, however naïve an assertion that was. But it was through Caitlin that I would meet Amanda, only because Caitlin and I had broken up and she was then dating Amanda’s cousin. Again, by chance we met. We dated for two years and were married for four.

She left for the second and final time a year ago Christmas night.


I went to marriage counseling twice, with varying degrees of seriousness on my part and limited success. During these counseling sessions, my views of love changed. I began to see love less as a noun and more as a verb—the actions we perform toward those about whom we care, characterized by the way we treat them. That giddy feeling we often associate with love was defined more as infatuation, that fleeting manifestation present in the honeymoon period, that limited time that is too often ended too soon. That wasn’t true love; what came next, that conscious daily decision to be with someone because you love and care about them, was true love.

I was encouraged to rely on my logic more than emotion, on which I had so long relied when making decisions, regardless of my assertion that I was an academic and liked to think about problems logically. That may have been true regarding academics, pedagogy, controversial topics, but when it came to matters of the heart, I relied on my heart instead of my head. Because of all of this, at the end of my marriage, in a last ditch effort to save what we had built over the course of six years, I promised I could change, that I could do better. That I could focus more on allowing my love to be more than a feeling, to allow it to manifest itself through actions. And I was told that I didn’t need to change, that there was nothing wrong with me, that I was fine as I was as a person.

So when my separation was begun and the long march toward divorce commenced, it seemed that everyone I knew was willing to offer me advice, so much of it contradictory to the advice of others, so much of it confusing and banal. One pastor told me, “You chose to get married, you chose to get divorced, and now you should choose not to date.” The world, he told me, would think me crazy, as their advice would be to rush out and find someone. But as a Christian, I should wait until God sent someone by. And when He did, I was to ignore her the first time. And if He sent her by again, maybe cast a glance but do nothing. And if He sent her by a third time, then I could and should act, if I was ready. Others told me to rush out and find someone, to date casually, committing to nothing serious. A former boss told me one night, over mason jars of moonshine, cheap bourbon, and beer as we sat around a roaring fire two weeks after Amanda left, that I should be excited about my prospects. “Man, Pack,” he said, “get ready. There’s gonna be so much pussy coming your way.” Even my aunt told me that “the best way to get over one is to get under one.” But I knew that wasn’t me. Casual sex was of no interest to me for I wanted intimacy that extended beyond the bedroom, and I failed to see the point of going on dates unless I expected something to come of them.
So ultimately I did what I had wanted to do for a while: I talked to someone who had caught my interest years ago, even back when I was married. During the course of my marriage, I met many people whom I thought would be a better match for me, someone with whom I would get along better, someone with whom I had more in common. So after seeing Les Miserables by myself on New Year’s Eve, I messaged someone on Facebook after running into her earlier in the evening, somewhat by chance. Doing even that scared the hell out of me: Amanda had only been gone again for a week. What was I thinking talking to someone else, someone I liked and had liked for so long? Yet I relied on my emotions and decided to see what happened.


Shortly after Amanda left, before I dated anyone, Mindy and I reconnected. I was surprised to see that she had gone through a divorce. We went out a couple times, not on dates (though I’ve come to wonder what actually constitutes a date as of late) for pizza, sushi, beer, and Fireball Whisky. That first night, after dinner, we found ourselves walking through downtown Huntington, late at night, catching up and sharing our marriage and divorce stories. It was that night that I got the best divorce advice I’ve received: “Expect your first relationship after a divorce to be a clusterfuck. Mine was. My baby brother’s was.” I didn’t take it to heart. I thought about it, sure, but I was convinced that I had learned enough in my marriage and then-impending divorce to resurrect myself into some new Phoenix of love, who would navigate relationships more logically and cautiously, would be a better boyfriend to anyone I dated than I had been husband.
The problem, it seems, is that I did enter my next relationship more cautiously—so cautiously that I kept my feelings to myself. Whether I had feelings of love or not, I wasn’t going to admit it, for doing so was terrifying to me. What if those feelings weren’t returned, or what if my profession went unanswered? Or worse, what if they were returned in a statement of faux assurance, uttered only because they were expected to be? These were the thoughts that raced through my mind. I had been left by everyone I had said I loved, and the fear of it happening again left me speechless and inarticulate. So as time crept by, I found myself silent.
Amanda was wrong, I learned: I did need to change. There were characteristics I found in myself that were counterproductive to what I wanted, to who I wanted to be. One would think that a failed marriage would highlight these, would be my incentive to change, but it seems that some habits die hard.


During my marriage, I was silent a lot. Someone would make flirtatious glances toward Amanda, or pinch her butt while standing in line at King’s Island, and she would expect me to say something to them. Or do something. As a rule, I try to avoid confrontation. I would think to myself, what an immature meathead. But that would be the end of it. I’d often ask, “What do you expect me to do, kick his ass?” It would be suggested that I should at least say something, to make it known I knew and didn’t approve. But I would counter that if I said something, it would escalate, and I couldn’t fight my way out of a paper bag. Future teachers didn’t need to have been in jail for fighting, especially when they considered themselves academics and thinkers who considered fighting barbaric.

So I remained silent and inactive.

Again, it seems some habits die hard.


And this, ladies and gentlemen, is the most damning way to be after a divorce: silent. Not every relationship after a divorce has to be a clusterfuck, but I’ve found it difficult to navigate a post-divorce world. We carry with us baggage accumulated along the way, Marley-esque chains that drag us down, burying us under the weight of past actions, inactions, and mistakes, and if we don’t shed them, continuing instead to bear them, they continue to affect us, dictating our actions and inactions, resulting in more and heavier chains.

So my best advice: go with your emotions, your feelings; if something feels right, don’t spend too much time weighing your options. Logos is great, but without a dash of pathos, you’ll miss more than you see, and you’ll find that in the end, you’re left with nothing but unbalanced scales. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

When EBT Wears a Tie

I remember one afternoon when I was working at the grocery store when a man came through my line with his daughter. She looked at the little yellow EBT sign on the front of the pin pad asked her father, “Do we have EBT?” His response came with a disgusted look spread across his face as he said, “Hell no, we don’t use that shit. I make…” and then proceeded to rattle off some high yearly figure, how much money he was worth, and pull a thick stack of cash from his pocket to pay for his groceries.

I started working at the store when I was 17 and didn’t quite for the last time until I left to teach high school, and during my time there, I saw people from all walks of life pass by me.  In my youthful arrogance and ignorance, I swore, as I watched people use government assistance to pay for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners that I’d never have to do it. After all, I was going to college and I was certain that having a degree would ensure that I’d always have a career that would not only allow me to make a difference but that would also pay well. Well enough that I’d never have to worry about making ends meet or living paycheck to paycheck. And during these observations, I was sometimes surprised by some of the people who relied on government assistance, for they did not always match the description we sometimes have in mind of those who rely on food stamps to buy their food. Conservative media often paint the picture of those who relying government assistance as being the same people who wear their pajamas out in public, looks as though they’ve not bathed in a couple weeks, and play on their iPhones while cursing their EBT card for not working, and it’s true there are many who affirm this stereotype. We would often take bets amongst ourselves at the store when we saw people meeting this description and pushing a buggy that was overflowing at the first of the month as to what payment would be offered; we often bet EBT. Oftentimes we were right. But sometimes we would be shocked when the person paid with cash or a debit card, and I remember being stunned when I would see people well groomed and wearing business clothes pay for their groceries with EBT. People in suits and ties relying on the government to buy their dinners.

Until I became one of them.

Sometime later—a year, maybe two—I saw that same man and his daughter come through my line and pay with an EBT card. I remembered his words that day so long ago and wondered to myself what had happened. When I started teaching at the college, I saw him on campus. He was never one of my students, though I would see him in Peer Mentoring classes and sessions while I was doing other work. Peer Mentoring: just what its name suggests and associated with Gen 101 and 102, your basic “Welcome to College” classes, seemingly college level but remedial nonetheless.

Slowly, maybe even rapidly—so much of time is lost in the remembrance thereof—I became one of those people I swore I would never be, someone who had to rely on government assistance to make ends meet. Years ago I may have chuckled at the memes on Facebook and the posts touting the views that suggested those who relied on government assistance were lazy, willingly uneducated mooches. But I was married, going to college and then graduate school, and working two, sometimes three jobs, and still couldn’t make it. So I was lumped in with that stereotype, not explicitly of course, as those who knew me knew that I didn’t fit that mold— I was perhaps an outlier— but that’s the problem with lumping people into a stereotype: so often our opinions are more uneducated than are the people we are denigrating.

That’s not to say I think the system is perfect or that everyone who benefits from it does so honestly and deservedly. I know there are people who cheat the system, who lie about where and with whom they live so they can benefit, sell their EBT cards for cash. I’m not naïve enough to believe that some of the stereotypes applied to those who benefit from government assistance are not true, for they are. They are applicable to a percentage of the population, however large or small that percentage may be, but they are not indicative of the characteristics of everyone struggling to make ends meet.


A friend from high school and I recently discussed therapy. She expressed the desire and need to go for depression, and I have had countless friends and colleagues over the years who have been to doctors and counselors and been placed on medication for depression and anxiety. When I got insurance through my job last year, the first thing I did was go to the doctor because of anxiety and depression. There were days when I dreaded getting out of bed, of going home, of going to work—so many scenarios that exacerbated my anxiety. I love live music, but even going to a concert could set me on edge—the large crowd, the waiting, the bustling people going to and fro— especially in small venues like bars. Larger venues like arenas and theaters aren’t any better. Sitting in traffic makes me want to crawl out my window and run, for at least I’ll be moving. So the doctor put me on Lexipro, which is great and works wonders when you have insurance and can afford it. Your focus and drive wane, but so does your anxiety. But then lose your insurance, goodbye meds.

Sarah and I joked that therapy and medication are for the rich; the rest of us have cigarettes and alcohol. And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee. All of which, of course, have the ability to exacerbate anxiety.
This is not, of course, to say that all people who are on government assistance smoke and drink. Some do; some don’t. But I often see posts and memes that say, “If you need EBT, you can’t afford cigarettes and alcohol,” and to an extent, I understand that sentiment. If you rely on EBT, most likely your means are quite meager, at best, and perhaps your money could be better spent elsewhere. But those who choose cigarettes and alcohol over food need help, not condemnation; guidance, not derogatory comments issued from behind a computer screen. Obviously, there are some who choose cigarettes and alcohol, or drugs, over food, but I’m not really talking about them here, not in the grand scheme of things, other than to say that they are the ones who need help, not hate. I’m talking about those who are trying, those outlying individuals who don’t really fit into the neat little condemning box people so often try to put them in. With any luck, the ACA will change that—maybe those who self medicate on tobacco and liquor can get true medication and true help. But that’s a post for a different time. 


It’s easy to look out and judge those who aren’t as well off as you; I know because I’ve done it. But it’s amazing how being the one in need can change your views, can add a bit of empathy to the way you view the world, as you find you can relate to those who are struggling because you too have struggled. Maybe you’re struggling still. Do I think I’ll change any minds with this? Expand any views? Perhaps not. But who knows? All I know is that I often find myself thinking of that guy who was so disgusted by the thought of ever having to use an EBT card and wondering what path his life took to lead him to the one position in which he said he would never find himself.