Thursday, November 24, 2016

Most of the things I am thankful for are things that cause me great stress and fear

Let's start by not talking about me.  Maybe that will be easier.

A lot of people say, and perhaps even believe, that freedom means you can do a thing.  "Freedom of speech means you can say what you will," for example.  It's often framed that way when we first teach about freedom.  Things are framed in "can" and "can't".

That's not accurate though.  "Free speech" is such a wonderful example because we know it's not about "can" even when we know for a fact that's not true.  As we return to a place where our country finds itself mired in white power politics and John Birch conspiracy theories even unto the highest levels, Americans might do well to remember the past and reflect on the fact that there's a reason the terms are First World and Third World.  This concept had a Second World that we don't much talk about these days.

The First and Second Worlds ran roughshod over the Third World because they weren't going to damage their own fucking worlds as part of their epic global conflict.

So what was the Second World?  Basically the USSR et alia.

Did it have free speech?  Nope.  Did that mean people couldn't speak their minds?  Hell no.

The gulags were full of people who proved that they could and would speak their minds.  They did.  They spoke.  They were arrested.  And depending on the exact when and where they were imprisoned, worked to death, deported, stripped of all their possessions, possibly killed but you usually had to do a bit more than speak for that one, or otherwise subject to legal reprisal.

It's the repercussions that define free action.  If you have legal freedom to do something (like say that the president elect is an asshole and the next four to eight years will be fucking terrible) then you can do it without legal repercussion.  But there are other ways to punish people.

Some things that you can legally say might get you shunned, or ridiculed, or might see you lose friends.

Thus we have Janis Joplin tell us, in the words of Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, that "freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

Once you have something, it can be taken away.  If it can be taken away, then the threat of that can be used to stop you from doing things, and thus your freedom is restricted.

And that brings us back around to what I actually set out to write about.  We'll see if taking that long detour has actually helped make it any easier.


I'm lucky.  I don't own this house, but I have this house.  All I need to do are pay the expenses, which are significantly lower than the cost of rent in the area, and I can live here indefinitely.

That's something I have.  Which means that it's something I can lose.  I'm not going to round up the figures right now, but I think last time I did it came out to 12 hundred dollars I don't have that are needed by the end of the year.  At least nine hundred of that is the non-monthly expenses on the house being due.

Then there's oil.

I'm thankful for my house.
I'm thankful for my heat.
I'm thankful for my power.
I'm thankful for my water.
I'm thankful for my internet.
I'm thankful for this blog.
I'm thankful I'm not starving.
I'm thankful I'm on my meds.
I'm thankful . . .

And it can all be taken away.

It can all be lost.

We've reached the time of the year when I need the heat on.  I can turn it down, but never off.  Every time the furnace kicks in, whether because it needs to produce more heat or simply because it requires a given operating temperature, I find myself wondering how long before I run out of oil.

More than half of that 12 hundred dollars was already due.  Yeah, a family member covered it, but it's a loan --not a gift.  How long before she needs to either call in that debt or take action?

And the only action she can take is to begin the process of kicking me out of the house.

Do I start rationing things.  If I do, then it doesn't look good for this place.  I need heat to live.  I need electricity to run the machinery that burns the oil.  I need oil to burn.  I need water to be coursing through the system because the radiators operate off of steam.

Seems like internet goes first.

Maybe I could ditch my phone first, then internet, then . . . what?  Things are too interconnected.  It's a system, and after cutting off my means of communicating with the outside world, everything else seems to be a critical part of that system.

Catalyzer's a nothing part, Captain.

It's nothing 'til you don't got one. Then it appears to be everything.

And all of my bills are paid online anyway.

Cut out anything, and it all falls down.  Everything I have: gone.

Well, almost.  Lonespark I have in person.  Sometimes.  Not long distance, not short distance, sort of mid-distance.  It's an interesting dynamic.  But the point is that Lonespark isn't part of the "everything" I can lose in this manner.  She isn't in my house or dependent upon it; she certainly isn't with me for my money.

I've spent days too stressed out to do anything but try to distract myself from the stress by playing games or reading.  None of that stress was over losing Lonespark because I couldn't pay my Lonespark bill.

Before a year and a half ago it seemed like I had freedom in sight.  My financial woes were because something happened (i.e. "If I don't get the money for a new furnace --actually a boiler, but we always called it a furnace-- in the next couple of days then I'm well and truly fucked,") or because my SSI income wasn't enough to pay the tuition for the university I was still attending.

Once I graduated university, the structural problems would be over, and with a new furnace I seem to be insulated from that particular disaster.  Yes, I had a bunch of debt, but once the last tuition bill was paid (it's been paid) I should have been ok into the future.

How many times have I told this damned story?  Then the SSA reevaluated how much they should be paying me in SSI and decided that the fact I got people to help me pay for two semesters tuition (as a full time student no less) meant I should be able bring in enough money to do that every year, and since then my debt has climbed and every month is a disaster not because something in particular happened, but because there's just not enough.

And the stress that brings on makes it impossible to focus on the paperwork needed to say, "No, you assholes, I don't make that kind of money.  It took me five fucking years to make $100.49," and donations are impossible to predict.  That too.

Part of that is that paypal keeps on fucking up the automated ones so every time someone thinks, "Hey, I'll set up a monthly donation of $5," it utterly fails, but it's also because only one or three people have ever tried that anyway.

"Hi, I still exist," doesn't tend to bring salvation.  Though I keep on doing that once a month post.

"Good fucking god, it's all coming down around me," stands a better chance but is the opposite of certain.

And every time I say that, which happens so often now, I wonder if this will be the time when no one steps forward to help, when I can't find some way to kick things down the road, when I'm out of credit to use as last resort, and when the end finally comes.

And so the very things that I'm thankful for cause me the greatest fear.

I live in fear.  Fear of losing the things that I need.  Fear that this time will be the last time.  Fear that my lucky breaks and flat out miracles will run out.  Fear that I'll lose everything.

Dr. Jones, again we see there is nothing you can possess

which I cannot take away.

And that causes me so much fucking stress.  Sometimes it's like I'm in the deepest depths of unmedicated depression all over again.  Being too stressed out to move isn't the same as being too depressed to move, but there's a definite similarity to the feel.

On the topic of the depressed version My Zombie Apocalypse Team, also Why .hack//Sign matters (the re-post as well, but no big-type post for my favorite iPad based reader.  Sorry.

But back to the situation at hand.

I am thankful for a variety of material things, several of which play an active role in keeping me not-dead, but that thankfulness is tempered by the fact that I cannot long dwell on any of these things without being reminded that I stand on the edge of losing these things.  And, for the record, my balance kind of sucks.  It's a miracle I've been able to stay on the edge this long.

And so I've fearful of a variety of things.

And so I'm stressed the fuck out in near perpetuity about a variety of things.

I still have things left to lose.  And the prospect of losing them weighs heavily upon me.

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