Wednesday, September 21, 2016

I took his lunch away: What is America? I can tell you one thing. . . it isn't a place to be proud of, anymore.

I was out to lunch, actually, when I read this story.

I was having fries, feta and a vegetarian Gyro.

I love food. I adore it. I LOVE being able to have it at my will.

I've been a privileged person for a long time. I can enjoy food in the finest manner, meaning I am able to decide if I want to buy and cook my meals or look around within an hour or so and decide, "Nope, I'd like to choose a restaurant and my meal brought to be this evening." And I do the latter, mostly.

I have spent a little time with too little food as a young adult. I've actually chosen to eat too little in order for my toddler to have all he wanted years ago because I was ashamed to ask for help. It didn't hurt me to do without in order for him to have all he wanted. I did what is right in that case, but all people will not do what they should.

I grew up in a grocery store where my father made sure, regardless of a parent's willingness to pay, a child never left hungry if a need was evident.

He hobbled around there in the end. He was on two canes, and he didn't have a lot left to give, and if he had a child come into his store in hopes of a warm meal, my Aunt Peep and he would have went to the back and made a meal, a meal like those who were able to afford one would have received. He would have given them the same food he'd have given a paying man. And the unpaid bill would have been added to the thousands unpaid over the years.

God, what a man he was.

He did what he should have.

I thank the Lord that my Daddy showed me the right way. He fed the hungry for decades. His name cannot be mentioned in Lincoln county that people do not talk of how people lives, had food and made it because he worked and gave.

He fed them over and over and over. He fed them if they had worth or not.

Never did a man, woman or child show up at his store's steps that they left hungry.

He fed them. My lord. Did he ever feed people.

Thank you, Jesus, for the man who worked himself to death to feed those who were hungry for sixty years in Cabell, Wayne, Lincoln, Kanawha and Logan counties.

When I read the story above, though I feel like a strong person, I could not really make it through. Not the same. I was ordering a meal, see, and I could barely order. I paused. I looked down. I looked away, Anywhere. I could not make eye contact with anyone while I thought about what I'd read.

All I could picture was a small child, a child much like my own Heath at age 6.  A little boy who has never been without. I pictured him trying to walk away with a tray of warm food, a tray of food he looked forward to, that he so hoped for, and I imagined an adult reaching down and taking it away.

I am ashamed of America. It is an abomination. Shame on Pennsylvania. Shame on You. Shame on Me.

Parents failed the child that day, but so did this country. You. Me. We failed.

So did the people who scream for Life but never want to sustain that life with their dollars.

Shame on you all.

Shame on me for not being a louder voice every single day.

How can I live in such a place and be quiet or only complain and not create change?

I do not know much, but I know one thing. . .I cannot continue to live in a country where these things happen and stay quiet.

I cannot live in a place where we allow children to be abused and neglected by their families, where they are neglected by a system that demands they be born and never care afterward, anymore.

Not anymore.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

I'm pretty thankful for what memories and music and photos give us, if we let them

There are a few memories that are simply too powerful and full of meaning to ponder all of the time.
One has to ration them out, as they can. Can for various reasons, mostly because one cannot stand the memories all of the time.
This one.
This is one, but tonight seems a fine time to remember since Youtube continues to suggest this particular song. I can't escape it, so I will tell you all.
Here I am, remembering a song that came to mean so much, but a song that was just another song back then. . .
Remembering her.
She sang. All of the time. With such a voice. I sang with her because she wanted me to. I wanted her to be happy, something that wasn't really her nature.
And to pass the nights at the house when she lived with me so many years ago in Harts, West Virginia, we would record duets. There was nothing else to do. We were surrounded by poverty and drugs and bleak lives. We tried to be different and to find hope and happiness then.
I humored her by singing. I wish I could do so still.
She was so gifted, and yet so shy and fragile and beautiful, and I believed if we performed in the kitchen recording ourselves on my computer enough, eventually. . .she would grown into her amazing "self." She would be sure and loud and fight for a future where she was heard. I hoped she would use that gift to all the potential that was within her. That was never to be, though.

When I heard "For Good" from Wicked, the Musical, back when I did an outdoor theater in 2005, I was sure it was made for us, but I had no idea how much so.
And so we recorded it. I have about 10 versions we performed, with me always trying to get it right, Angel nailing it every single time...
What those recordings of us mean today, almost ten years later, it is impossible to say. They seemed too silly then. We recorded hundreds of songs, but this is and will always be ours.
At any rate, you never realize how much the small thing will mean, the silly things, the things that seem like idle ways to pass time . .until it is quite too late. What seems a silly pass time ended up being played at her funeral. Our song. And today, almost 10 years later, when I hear it, it takes me to the most awesome, heartbroken place. I'm pretty thankful for what memories and music and photos give us, if we let them.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

A 9 year old just killed himself: Bullies and the life after being Bullied

Folks are usually surprised to learn I was bullied. Not bullied occasionally,  mercilessly from the time I went into 1st grade until I departed 7th grade.

I don't know the name back then, and thankfully, I do not believe I accepted it as having much worth, but in hindsight. . .

Bullied daily. Without relief while in school. 

No one intervened. No one stopped it. And I made it through, somehow

I was an odd duck, to be sure. I read a lot. I wrote stories in lieu of doing the work at hand. I didn't understand fashion or the value (or lack) of combing one's hair.  I had been sheltered, so I couldn't talk about music or shows. I didn't care about academics or my peer group or being popular. I am actually not sure that I even knew these "things" were "things."

I will never forget picking out my first day of school outfit at age 13. I was truly "so" excited that one time. 
It was the first time I picked out my clothes. I never cared before then. My mother, bless her, she tried to steer me another direction. Yet, I would have none of her suggestions that year. And she let me do as I pleased. I selected a purple leotard. Might I preface this tale by explaining I was a much taller girl than most. Taller than the boys, actually. I had "big bones," and I hadn't developed much, so it was akin to putting a big boy in a skin tight swimsuit. Did I mention, I had a permed mullet, too? 

You read that right. A permed mullet. I didn't mind. It was just fine. Never mind, it was 1995. I picked out a leotard in dark purple. In Sears, I also decided on a nice, deep purple tapered jean with a high waist to draw attention to my lack of one. I then found a really snazzy fanny pack to go along with the awesome outfit. Who knows what goodies I kept in that. Maybe a pen and pencil? And my mom cautioned me, but in true Tinia fashion, I said, "Oh, I don't care. I like it." And there I went into 7th grade, a new school. And of course, looking back, I can remember the horrible things said to me by people I had never met. I am proud of myself back then, though. I never cried or felt sorry for myself. I was happy with who I was, and I went on in the matching gold version the next day.

My mother never gave me false confidence. Neither did my Daddy. My mother really made me believe that the girl I was would always be enough. Mullet and strange personality and all. She never inflated an ego falsely or pretended I was perfect. Neither did Daddy. They never made me feel that my peers or society factored into my life, though. So, mostly, my peer group had no merit at all. I believed their behavior reflected on them, not me. Thank God for my mother and father for that.

I know that was a simpler time. Sadly, little children care now and can't escape, and they care far sooner than I could have imagined, and they are dying as a result. Too few parents themselves believe peers do not matter, and they aren't teaching their children that cruelty in their peers is a reflection on those kids, not on the child being bullied. And I not comfortable with any of our responses. Why aren't why telling kids from the time they can speak, that kindness is all that matters? Why aren't we building people confident being original and different? 

We are failing as parents of these bullies, and we are failing as parents of the bullied.

DO I believe we are raising children with less fortitude? I do. It is because we are raising children without real confidence. I suppose because too few of us have it to impart.

Do I believe we've created a society where pressure and peer groups and popularity are of such enormous importance, we can't understand what it means when we are over 20 years older? 
I do. So now what?

I've been belittled, hit and spit on and had many a handwritten note sent to me talking about how ugly  and fat they decided I was and how no one would care if I never came back to school at all. . .but when I went home, that as the end. And I was the person I was. I believed in Tinia. I knew she had value and was worth something.

Because she was.

But back then, there was no internet, no cell phone, no social media image or presence. 

But as hardy a character as I was, It wore me down. Even me with a mother making be believe in me all of the time. . .

And when I was 14 years old, I never went back to school. I quit. 

I don't think I realized it was because I was bullied constantly. At that time, I really just felt that school had no value to me. I felt I learned nothing from school, and I flatly refused to go. It wouldn't have mattered what anyone said. Though it is 2 decades in the past now, I remember well that hell or high water wouldn't have compelled me to ever return. I really though it was because it was a waste of time, then. No one would have made me go back. And I never did.

Today, I know better why I refused.

Now, after the death of my sister, brothers, father and grandfather in less than 10 years, I know I have fortitude, and I think of how, at 14, what happened at school really become, though I didn't realize it then, more than I could handle. And I think how I ran away from it. Me. A girl of fortitude. 

I think about how most of my classmates went on to obscurity or drug addiction, and I consider how I got out, and I have went far beyond that little place where lives are small and cruel and short.

I think about what if I would have been unable to handle the cruelty children heaped on my life like kids did to that small boy recently in Ohio who hung himself at 9 years old.

I am thankful I was born in 1982, not more than 20 years later. I think about how odd my own 3 sons are, and I am grateful that they are with me and homeschooled because I know how fragile young people can be. I know how being fragile at 9 is no reflection of how strong you will be in a decade, too.

Being kind and sensitive and unique when you are young isn't a sign you're weak, for I have never been weak. I was growing. And I needed time to grow into me. I couldn't follow and learn. I was blazing my own path. A new one, and I needed time, and thankfully, I had it.

So please tell your children, if they feel important now, tell them one day merit will matter more than appearances and grades and who the teacher dotes on. A confident, happy child will weather anything. Academics and popularity are paltry things compared to true confidence cultivated by one's parents and within one's own self.

Tell your kids that being kind and believing in who you are is all that will matter in the end.

Explain to them that they are enough, as they are. Tell them that what others say reflects on the speakers, not on the ones who hear the words. Explain that who they are will not come full circle for years, that they are a work in progress to not be judged at 6, 8, 12 or 16.

Remind them that many a person was belittled will be the only one to be proud of what they have done a few years later.

Just hold on, kids. Be original. Be who you are, and in time, I promise you, as I have walked that path, you will see I am right.

Friday, September 9, 2016

Appalachian Addicts: Creating addicts, "treating" addicts, reviving addicts and securing the next generation of addicts

Appalachian Addicts: Creating addicts, "treating" addicts, reviving addicts and securing the next generation of addicts

The price of naloxone / Narcan has grown 4,000 percent since it came out in the 1970s.

It was $1 a dose a decade ago. Now at $30-$40 a dose, with reports as high as $70, the price keeps climbing.

Cities are buying massive amounts. We know why cities are buying it, on the surface, but have you really thought about the Why enough?

Whether you see it as a waste of money for addicts isn't the point of this blog.

I suppose since we have no viable means to rehab addicts at this time, since worthwhile programs, research and so forth aren't likely coming, I can't say the use makes sense, either.

But that is another matter.

Do you realize in some states, more pain pill prescriptions are written than the population allows? Meaning. . .there weren't even enough people for the number of scripts that went out.

Pharmaceutical companies are sure winning in the epidemic of addiction in America. The same companies that do things like put the purchase price of an Epi-pen out of reach to families for allergic reaction treatment, are the same type of companies who made Oxycontin. They are the type who make roxycodone, Opana and make fentanyl. They are who manufacture Narcan. We trust them since most Americans live on multiple medications each day. They have our interests at heart. Sure.

Yet, these Pharmaceutical companies manufactured drugs they knew created addicts. They supplied states with more than they could possibly ethically use. Now they are poised to make as much money on the drugs that "treat" or "revive" the addict.

Much to the chagrin of these companies, many addicts have turned to heroin, as federal & state governments have limited access to prescription drugs after many years and tremendous damage, so the same story plays out with minor changes. Their drug addict profit levels now hinge more on "treatment drugs for addicts," like suboxone, methadone, buprenorphine, as well as the "revive" option with Narcan and generic options. I mean, because there is nothing like treating an addict with more addictive drugs to get him free of drugs, right, and when that all fails, like we know it does, bringing him back with more drugs? This clearly isn't profit driven, is it? This isn't creating and then capitalizing on addiction and death and treatment or anything. Sure.

Back when OxyContin was wrecking havoc initially, the company rolled around in profits, and they made no apologies. In 1996, when OxyContin came out, it produced 45 million in sales. By 2000, it was up to 1.1 billion. By 2010, it was at 3.1 billion. No red flags there. Nothing to see. According to one article, this drug made up 30% of all the sales of painkillers by that time. In the end, this single company owned by one family made 35 billion dollars from this pill that was snorted or cooked and shot up in corners across the United States. Too often, it seems to me, it happened in Appalachia if you look at per capita numbers.

I mean we were in the place it could take off more easily, I guess. Few jobs, No Hope, plenty of Pain Pills.

Purdue settled in December of 2015 with the state of Kentucky on a suit concerning their misleading marketing of OxyContin. Previously, they settled a suit for over 600 million dollars in monies paid to the Government and victims in 2007, admitting they intended to defraud people when they claimed OxyContin wasn't especially addictive. They admitted to creating their own fake scientific charts given the doctors, and more. Of course, we'd have seen far more lawsuits, as well as watched that company go bankrupt, if more politicians were not in Big Pharma's pockets.

According to one article, "A 2003 GAO report found that Purdue Pharma gave doctors 34,000 coupons for free OxyContin prescriptions, as well as OxyContin “fishing hats, stuffed plush toys, coffee mugs with heat activated messages, music compact discs [...].” and obviously, these campaigns worked [...] — usage of OxyContin and other painkillers went way up. In 1991, Americans were issued 76 million prescriptions for opioids. By 2013, that number had nearly tripled" The same article, No Accident: Deadly Greed of Pharmaceutical Companies Drives the Heroin Epidemic, goes on to state:

"The Sackler family, which owns Purdue Pharma, is the 16th richest family in the country." They claim much of the increase in wealth came on the heels of the success of Oxycontin.

Sure. It was a success. A deadly one, but who cares? These are only junkies' lives. Except some used to be something else if they were lucky enough to escape being born addicted. The odds they will not be in the future are more bleak these days. Bleak to the turn of 25% of babies born in West Virginia statewide being addicted at birth, some counties claiming much higher numbers. And we all know the numbers are higher than reports ever show. If I based the births I know of in my area, at least 50% are being born to addicts. 1/2 of the humans born. . . their bodies programmed from the womb to need a high to feel "normal."

Choices. Like when our Politicians accept huge contributions, both back and front door type, from Big Pharma companies. Because you know, that isn't a choice or anything, is it? They shouldn't be held accountable.

Choices. There have been a lot of them, but folks mainly talk about the addict's choice. It is too hard to look deeper. And everyone is angry at the addict. They never talk about the lack of choice concerning the teenager who is an addict because he was born addicted, grew addicted in utero. They never talk about the injured combat veteran who came back from a war told to take this "non addictive" medication that later would see hundreds of millions of dollars in lawsuits paid out because they lied. Where was his choice? They don't talk about the cancer patients given these drugs who beat cancer to simply be addicts now who do not matter to anyone. Do you know how many stories out there are like these? How do you know which is the story behind the Junkie you point at?

Far too few are angry about the "eyes open" choices made by Pharmaceutical companies who created, lied and pushed powerful drugs they knew people, for the most part, could never let go of once hooked. They banked on them never letting go. Almost no one talks enough about these companies, 
like Purdue, laughing to the bank while parts of our nations are destroyed by what they did with their eyes open choices. Few talk about the choice to find a backdoor way to continue to profit with Narcan and drugs that will be created like it (for instance the $800 autoinjector kit option).

No, let us complain about the addicts. Look around at an easy target, so that we never fix the issue at all. We make sure those who should answer never do.

Keep doing the same thing that have failed year after year. That is truly the West Virginia lifestyle.

We sit around eating way too many food-like products, getting heavier, needing more medications just to control our conditions created by our lifestyles. We point fingers at the problems, never admitting we are all out of control in one way or another. We complain and eat more, drink a few more energy drinks, smoke a few more, use more fake sweeteners with "Known to Cause Cancer" stamped across the package, spend more and take more medications for self inflicted problems from the lives we create, and we never think about what is really going on here. We knowingly live lifestyles that create a dependency of Big Pharma and the Government at every single turn even in our non "drug addicted" lives. Yet, we do not see it.

But man, we see the junkie, don't we? He is unsightly. We aren't, though.

And we sure refuse to talk about the fact our government, with authority we gave, created this mess, and we keep letting this same government continue flopping around in the vomit and muck we all collectively had a hand in because, no matter what, we were quiet through it all.

Their choices, our choices: That is all uncomfortable. Let us look more at the addict and that choice.

It is so much easier, you know, to blame the dirty, disheveled addict on the corner of the gas station, as he is, well, he is dirty. And you know he isn't working. His teeth make him ugly, too. The billionaire executives are so clean and pretty and fancy. Surely they aren't to blame. Neither are those sweet talking political friends of ours. Honestly, we just all want to be those folks. Rich and Fabulous and Never Accountable. That is the American Dream.

So we continue on. We keep creating addicts by government funded "addiction clinics" where we buy more "drugs" from the companies that help create the addiction problem because they are "really trying to help" cure the addict. They want clean, sober, healthy and productive members of society. . .

But wait. . .that doesn't seem right.

Anyway, we will keep administering more drugs when they overdose on other drugs.

Drugs all bought from Big Pharmaceutical companies. Drugs to create the addict, to keep the addict addicted and to revive the addict, so he can go on making money until his body is truly used up, slumped in the corner and even Narcan cannot bring him back.

At which point the masses dance in the streets and sing, "Ding Dong, Ding Dong, the Wicked Addict is Dead!"

BUT WAIT! Not before he and friend created 2 or 3 babies who are also now born into addiction, assuring the survival of the cash cow more affectionately known as "A Junkie."

And the cycle of profit is secured, the seats elected are secure, and all of America is at rest.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We have so much Nothing, how can we ever crawl out of it now?

Some folks wonder why we are, in general, sitting here in 2016 so inclined to pastimes and addictions that lead to little of value?

We have to be honest and admit we've long since moved past just looking for fun things to do in our leisure time. We sincerely are people busy doing a lot of nothing far more than we can justify.

People talk about the days of old, as if those were the simple times, and I beg to differ. What was simple about 12 to 15 hours a day full of skills that we mostly cannot wrap our minds around?

We are as a society, though it may not apply to us all entirely, busy on our phone refreshing our Facebook Feed or taking photos to post Instagram. We are busy chasing Pokemon or chatting with 12 online friends while our family does the same across from us. But we do not know how to do much of anything. If we do have a real valuable skill, it is usually very concentrated.

We sit and watch how others do their hair, how they cook or how they open toys and pose them on a table. We watch how others take photos and decorate and paint things on Pintrest, though.

We eat and never think about the hands that might have picked the tomatoes on our plate. We never think an animal's life was given to produce the chicken nuggets our kids eat. We think of eggs as things produced in a store, never were they laid by a hen somewhere in a little crate.

Our kids learn to worry about achieving higher test scores in math and reading so much they never have time to read a valuable piece of literature or how to measure things in quarts and gallons and pints. We fund this all with our dollars, and yet our children come out of school largely unable to change their oil, cook a balanced meal or able to show us Antarctica on a map.

We can't sew, store food or build. We can't start a fire or grow anything for ourselves. We argue about how to adjust carseats and whether one skin color has a life that matters more than another skin color with little typed words across the internet day in and day out.  We went on tangents about saving the unborn, so that when those lives were saved, we could bitch about feeding those families kids with "foodstamps."

We decided American needs to consume too much and too cheaply to keep skill manufacturing jobs here. So we sent all those jobs away. We preferred to let others work at making our jeans, cars and pots in order for us to live faster and freer. We didn't like answering phones, picking our vegetables, working on dairy farms or pouring concrete. We decided someone else could do that, until they did, and then we had a tantrum about that, too.  It is just what we do in American these days.

And in the end more we are more useless and in more bondage  than we can wrap our minds around, but why would want to? That seems hard.  We keep looking for more while we find less. We settled for less, but we keep wondering why nothing is enough.

We expand our house size while being fascinated by expensive tiny houses that we could build for 1/10 the price of those fancy Pre-fab models if we knew how to build anything. But we don't. And besides, then we'd need a storage unit to keep our important stuff inside.

Our kids read less than ever. We read less than ever. We skim this and that. We don't even know half of what we are looking at. We share it online without really reading it, without checking whether it is true. Then we get upset when someone calls us out on it. How dare they check into what we share? We bicker and argue and harass more than we think and discuss and care. We all know less than ever. Our kids are less ready for a life without mom and dad than ever. We are less ready to survive than ever. How can we teach them? Do we even know much worth sharing?

We look down on those who sweat and work and a care for the land for the sake of food and health. We go to the gym to find an activity to use our bodies. That makes more sense. We buy shakes and pills and potions. Those will make us better.

We are taking more drugs than ever before, there are more addicts than we can wrap our minds around. Almost no one seems able to cope without medication these days, not even our children. We are overweight; we are obese, really; we are overrun with diabetes. We go to bed feeling mentally exhausted but our bodies haven't done much. We've driven. We've typed. We've talked. We've pondered. We are tired from technology but little else.

We've gone so far in the wrong direction, I cannot see how we make our way back, and let's be honest here and say, we don't want to go back, for before there was such accountability and responsibility.

And who wants that when we can "have so much more?"

Except, we don't.

And I am as guilty as anyone.

Life is so long, complicated and hard.

Life is so long, complicated and hard.
I am thankful I can still, in living in a way that is both slow and fast, sad and harsh, find a way to stop some evenings and just hang out with my cows.
My goats.
My chickens.
My darling boys. . .including that grown one who farms here with me.
When it is all said and done, very little else will matter, anyway, beyond these moments here with what I've decided was so important, they had to be part of my daily life, part of my home.
Time is fast.
Before we know it, we are bidding goodbye to this life for whatever is next, and I am so glad mine has thus far been filled with passions, loves, losses and sadness so deep, I believe even now, I've felt everything life had to offer me.
That at 34, I've lost, given and loved enough to say. . .I've lived. I know enough to be everyone will not have those chances and feel that fully.
I've not only lived, but I've lived in an epic way in these 3 short decades (and a half of the next one)
A life full of babies, cows, goats, food, Jesus, an amazing and philanthropy. . .



Be thou diligent to know the state of thy flocks, and look well to thy herds. For riches are not for ever: and doth the crown endure to every generation? The hay appeareth, and the tender grass sheweth itself, and herbs of the mountains are gathered. The lambs are for thy clothing, and the goats are the price of the field. And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household, and for the maintenance for thy maidens

- Proverbs 27:23-27

"I know of no pursuit in which more real and important services can be rendered to any country than by improving its agriculture, its breed of useful animals, and other branches of a husbandman's cares."

- George Washington