DWB: Dating While Bipolar

BROOKLYN– My parents are one of the quintessential examples of what a marriage should be. At the age of fifty-eight, Kevin and Robin Carter have been together for 36 years. This has rubbed off on three out of the four men I am thankful to call my little brothers. Just recently, one of my brothers and his wife celebrated ten years of marriage. My best friend and his wife have been together nearly fifteen years.

So with all these shining examples of marriage working, where did I go wrong?

As the sun sets here at the coffee shop where I’m writing this, I’ve had a lot of things on my mind. I guess that’s to be considered normal, seeing as I have bipolar disorder. I perceive things a lot differently, which adds a third dimension to the way I normally think and react to things. Maybe that’s one of the great things about finally getting this disorder under some type of control; I have found myself thinking very carefully before reacting to things. I’ve become calmer, very rarely raising my voice about anything anymore, a direct opposite to the way I used to be. My former behavior was both very erratic and had a high amount of volatility. Perhaps this explains a lot of things that used to go wrong in my life. Especially the jobs I used to go through. Three months here, three weeks there; you get the idea.

But as unstable as my work life was, my love life has been just as erratic. I have been through two marriages, all before the age of thirty-five. Both unions were marked by volatile moods, the aforementioned instability in the workplace, reacting very poorly to stress, and being over quick, fast, and in a regrettable hurry; my first marriage lasted all of three years. The second one? Not even two years passed before that one ended. Those who know me well who will read this know very well that the second marriage was the one I just knew would stand the test of time.

Oh, and did I mention these two relationships had a slight touch of overlap?

Now that I am currently single, living in a brand new city and fending for myself in ways I never thought I’d have to, I’m finding that being single is a very isolating, emotionally exhaustive thing. I’ve always craved real, romantic love with a woman who does so unconditionally. Who remains loyal to me through my disorder, and wants to build something that will last.

There’s just one problem, and it’s not just the two marriages. Maybe it’s a mix of the bipolar disorder and the ache of the unhealed scars of the previous marriage, but I have found my desire for these things have become elevated, and every woman I’ve dated up here has seen it–and run. While it has been easy to spot disinterest in me (which is bad enough), moving at a healthy pace has been an insurmountable task. Recently, a woman I showed genuine interest in asked me to take a step back because my rapid, almost myopic pace to find that special someone had begun to make her uncomfortable around me.

The other problem has been trying to figure out when to tell a woman in which I have some interest about my baggage. Three dates? A month? Three months? Never telling them about my disorder can’t be an option, for if things become serious, eventually my new girlfriend is going to have to know why I pop four pills every morning. Or why I appear to be extra needy on a given day. Or why I’m not in a particularly good mood. So far, my timing has had me batting 0-for up here.

Lost in both the inexperience in dating, and the raging urge to find love on the express track, has been this: I have forgotten that love requires a friendship to begin first. The idea of “love at first sight” is largely bullshit, as I’ve come to find; it’s even more that way with bipolar disorder. A deep friendship is all I’ve really ever wanted, and finding that through my disorder and baggage has been tough to do.

I’m a good man. I’ve been through a lot of storms, and all I really want is someone to weather those storms with me without seeing me as some sort of headcase to be avoided. For my part, I need to learn how to slow down a bit, and remember the joys of getting to know someone. This is, of course, the tao of a healthy, loving, long-term relationship: always learning about the one you love until the day you leave this plane of existence.

May that someday be my portion.

 

 

The Failed Northern Strategy

NEW YORK–Imagine, if you will, being painted with a broad brush; marginalized, ridiculed and made fun of for years for being a bunch of backwards-thinking, gun-fellating, Bible-thumping trailer trash, who hate all minorities and religions other than those “Judeo-Christian” values they hold so dear, by granola-crunching, kombucha-drinking hypocrites, with our “safe spaces”, “trigger warnings”, and privileged ability to look for and find racism via “microaggressions”, residing in densely populated, mostly liberal cities never, once having to look at or care about these people, or the things which they’ve lost.

From my own coastal liberal perch in New York City, it’s been difficult as a man of the left to maintain some resolve in the wake of last week’s general election. In an instant, every poll showing Hillary Clinton was upended; all of the “conventional wisdom” espoused by many–myself included–came undone. And the millions of people who cast their votes to elect the first woman president in our nation’s history had their hopes dashed to pieces in the worst possible way, never dreaming the following words would never be uttered: President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Liberalism was defeated not because of the Electoral College being predisposed to racism and giving former slave states a voice in presidential elections, and it damn sure wasn’t just because of the email scandal that many people, including Secretary Clinton herself, believe. Liberalism was defeated due to its arrogance; this “silent majority” was such only because we chose to ignore them and their needs. We wished them good luck, and left them to their own devices; to do otherwise was labeled as being racist, or giving in to the nonsense of “white privilege.” Hillary Clinton–and I say this as one who voted for her–was seen by many to be the worst example of the elitism and exclusionary mindset, now rewarded by a President Trump.

From a publication called The Daily Yonder:

Hillary Clinton stood before a giant gleaming John Deere tractor in Iowa as she rolled out her Future of America’s Rural Economy plan on August 26, 2015. The white paper (pretty much a carbon copy of her 2008 rural plan) garnered some positive press and the Rural for Hillary Twitter feed picked up a few more followers. Then Madame Secretary wiped her hands and walked away from rural America. Most of the effort to woo rural voters was left to surrogates at a couple of debates and forums with Trump representatives on the other side of the stage and a handful of upstate New Yorkers who testified that Clinton paid attention to them as senator and helped push some initiatives that benefitted Empire State agriculture. The candidate herself told people to go to her website to read her position papers. For millions of rural residents without access to high-speed broadband, that is hard to do. On November 8, the Rural for Hillary Twitter page had a total of 783 followers. 783 Twitter peeps? As they say on Monday Night Football, “C’mon man!”

Last year, In These Times, a website devoted to covering rural American life, answered its own question when asking why the Left was ignoring them:

American disinterest in the poverty of its own pastoral lands can be traced across the Atlantic Ocean and back several hundred years to the origins of social sciences in academia. The rise of these disciplines coincided with the Industrial Revolution and the mass migration of peasants from the country into cities. As an effect of these circumstances, the leading theorists of the era—Karl Marx, Emile Durkheim and Max Weber—were primarily concerned with living conditions in cities and industrializing societies, setting the foundation for the metro-centrism that continues to characterize the social sciences.

“In academia, there’s an urban bias throughout all research, not just poverty research. It starts with where these disciplines origins—they came out of the 1800’s—[when] theorists were preoccupied with the movement from a rural sort of feudal society to a modern, industrial society,” Linda Loabo, a professor of rural sociology at Ohio State University, tells Rural America In These Times. “The old was rural and the feudal and the agricultural and the new was the industry and the city.”

And, as always, arrogance is rewarded by defeat. From the Huffington Post:

Several theories have been proffered to explain just what went wrong for the Clinton campaign in an election that virtually everyone expected the Democratic nominee to win. But lost in the discussion is a simple explanation, one that was re-emphasized to HuffPost in interviews with several high-ranking officials and state-based organizers: The Clinton campaign was harmed by its own neglect.

In Michigan alone, a senior battleground state operative told HuffPost that the state party and local officials were running at roughly one-tenth the paid canvasser capacity that Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) had when he ran for president in 2004. Desperate for more human capital, the state party and local officials ended up raising $300,000 themselves to pay 500 people to help canvass in the election’s closing weeks. By that point, however, they were operating in the dark. One organizer said that in a precinct in Flint, they were sent to a burned down trailer park. No one had taken it off the list of places to visit because no one had been there until the final weekend. Clinton lost the state by 12,000 votes.

We ignored those “deplorables” at our own peril, and now a man with absolutely no record of public service is now the President-elect of the United States.

And if we keep up like this, we’re going to lose every time.

It’s going to be an interesting four years.

The Reality of a Deadbeat

Permit, if you will, a moment of personal reflection.

I have been a man in a state of rebuilding for the last year and four months. During that time, and even before my separation from my now ex-wife, my writing has suffered. My writing and tweeting have dwindled down to nothing more than a few posts, here and there. The crash-and-burn of what many (myself obviously included) once considered to be a “power couple” produced many scars in need of healing and repair.

Losing the woman I once called my One Great Love–and being diagnosed with bipolar disorder–shook me down to my core. Even still, the pain remains, and will probably never go away totally. Moving to another state and hitting the reset button on my life have caused me to question my very ability to write. Perhaps, I thought, this gift I was blessed with was nothing more than a symptom of my illness.

But on October 1st, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump, a nightmare candidate that only neo-confederates, old white racists, charlatan preachers, and his cadre of surrogates so unbelievably incompetent (or in Katrina Pierson’s case, unbelievably evil) they rival “Saturday Night Live” parodies stand with, took full advantage of a tax system tailor-made for cheats such as he. In losing nearly $916 million after the bottom fell out of his casino empire, Trump was able to avoid paying taxes for eighteen years.

I had to pick the pen up again, because at thirty-four years of age, that is over half my own life.

The Times report continues:

The $916 million loss certainly could have eliminated any federal income taxes Mr. Trump otherwise would have owed on the $50,000 to $100,000 he was paid for each episode of “The Apprentice,” or the roughly $45 million he was paid between 1995 and 2009 when he was chairman or chief executive of the publicly traded company he created to assume ownership of his troubled Atlantic City casinos. Ordinary investors in the new company, meanwhile, saw the value of their shares plunge to 17 cents from $35.50, while scores of contractors went unpaid for work on Mr. Trump’s casinos and casino bondholders received pennies on the dollar.

As Donald Trump’s antics continue to pile up in public view, a manure pile made larger and larger on a near-daily basis, including having his foundation shut down by the New York Attorney General’s office for not having the necessary certification to solicit money from the public, it stands to wonder: How was this man even remotely allowed to pursue the office of the President of the United States? With so much evidence of his destructive business practices, his racist and misogynistic rants, and the glaring proof that he, as the late George Carlin coined, is a business criminal of the highest order, how can any one person ever consider this man to run a lemonade stand, much less our Nation?

The answer is simple.

Because America loves a good dumpster fire story.

As we sit and watch this train wreck of a campaign continue to alienate itself from decent, even-minded people everywhere (yesterday, Hillary Clinton’s former prosecutor and well-known conservative Michael Chertoff announced he was crossing party lines to vote for her), it goes without saying that we as a nation cannot look away from what inspires us to ask, “What’s next?”

The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote this, which perfectly captures the danger Trump truly is, and why he’s just that:

Trump benefits from the expectation of phoniness. Pop-culture critic Jen Chaney wrote in The Post that “having a reality-TV celebrity running for commander in chief may subconsciously signal our brains to participate in this election the same way we’ve grown accustomed to consuming reality shows . . . believing that none of it is genuine, that none of it has any actual consequences.” It doesn’t matter, therefore, if two out of three claims Trump makes are false, or if he proposes dangerous ideas: It’s only entertainment.

Whatever reasons one might have to distrust or outright hate the former Secretary of State cannot overshadow the fact that Donald J. Trump is not just unqualified for the position he seeks; he is the very antithesis of what a President should be. I, for one, do not want a man who will reach for his phone to hatefully bluster at someone who he feels wronged him, or complains about a “biased media” who rightfully calls out his many indiscretions. Furthermore, Hillary Clinton is soberly aware of the gravity and seriousness of the position she seeks to attain.

Deal in reality this November, folks.

 

 

 

Bernie Sanders, Donald Trump, and the Inversion of Liberalism

Several weeks ago, I had a conversation with a good friend of mine. A Bernie Sanders supporter, he did a lot of work getting the word — and the vote — out for Sanders’ presidential campaign in his neighborhood. Our work schedules don’t afford us the opportunity to see each other regularly, but we run into each other fairly often in Astoria, Queens.

On one occasion, we met up at a coffee shop on Steinway Street, where he was doing some work. Our conversations always somehow end up going into politics, but this time, we started getting into the differences in thought between liberals and conservatives.

He asked me, “What if political reasoning isn’t always in a straight line? What if it’s more more circular between the Left and the Right?”

It’s ironic he asked that question. Over the years, and especially throughout the advent of social media, I’d been asking that question a lot. Having been conservative, I remember well the rigidity of political reasoning, especially while growing up in a decidedly Christian conservative family. For as long as I can remember, political candidates on the national level weren’t so much selected according to their track records of public service, as they were based on how close to the “infallible, immutable” Word of God their beliefs were. During the GOP primary, their guy was Ted Cruz.

But the Left, for all its talk of treasuring diversity of belief, color and creed, has many of their own orthodoxies. From Black Lives Matter*, “cultural appropriation” and the Occupy movement, to the censorship produced by the demand of “safe spaces” free of ideological threats to the all-too-precious belief sets of millenials (and faculty) on the college campus, the “social justice” movement has been the most militant arm of progressivism. Hungry for revolution, and devoid of any real understanding of how the democratic process works, progressives bared their teeth at Hillary Clinton, aping instead for a savior who will give them said revolution by any means necessary.

It’s no wonder, then, that progressives have flocked to Sanders, who has been selling his “revolutionary” schtick this entire election.

But since Sanders isn’t anywhere near Hillary Clinton in the race for the Democratic candidacy for President, they have nowhere to go. Their purism of ideology won’t let them.

So instead, they flock to….

Donald Trump?

Yeah, this could very well happen. Progressives are willing to throw their support behind a racist, overtly fascist scumbag, and are willing to make cases for doing so based on Trump’s “anti-establishment” brand, a term that means nothing anymore.

From Salon.com:

Trump’s brand of populism has been enabled by the roughly 40-year decline of our middle class that both parties have facilitated through the abandonment of Franklin D. Roosevelt in favor of Ronald Reagan. Trump may not offer policy specifics, but he does not need them because the political establishment on both sides of the aisle, have failed the American people so badly, and the people have caught on.

The piece goes further.

If he were to be elected, it would force our leaders to have a real conversation about these problems that they simply won’t have if the people elect an establishment candidate like Hillary Clinton. If anything, the narrative that would emerge from a Clinton presidency would be that change isn’t possible. The parties pick the candidates, and regardless of what their policies are, the people fall in line with them eventually. Power never truly changes hands.

Excusing the fact that Trump, himself, is a corporate interest, he would shake the current system to its core — which needs to happen.

Along with progressives’ obsession with having “conversations”, the above proves what can no longer be denied: progressives want nothing more than ideological purity, and are willing to sell their souls to the Right to get it. As is their precious Bernie, they are only out for themselves, true political and social progress be damned.

And Trump is all but happy to reach out to them:

“You have two candidates in Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders which have reignited a group of people who have been disenfranchised and disappointed with the way Washington, D.C. and career politicians have run the country,” Lewandowski said. “Bernie Sanders has large crowds — not as large as Mr. Trump’s, but large crowds — and so there is a level of excitement there for people about his messaging and we will bring those people in.”

Political thought in this country can no longer be perceived as a linear plane of varying degrees of liberalism or conservatism. The further out to the fringes puritopians wander, the more they begin to sound like each other, from the unbending social justice warrior to the equally orthodox Bible-thumping theocrat. And as the general election face-off begins to take shape, it will be interesting to see which side will win.

Prepare yourselves, pragmatics.

It’s gonna be a LONG road to November.

 

Trump’s Rise is America’s Descent

Being the vulgar pragmatist, I often do what I can to see things beyond the typical buzzwords thrown around on social media, especially when talking about race. Too many times, “racism” and “privilege” are used as silencers of dissent in progressive circles, much like “repentance” and “sin nature” are among evangelicals.

What has resulted from this — at least for me, anyway — is the meaning of these words and terms get lost. I’ve said many times that when everything is “racism”, be it a silly “microaggression”, an ill-timed tweet or Facebook post, or even simple disagreement — NOTHING is racism. The “honest conversation” progressives claim they wish to have very quickly turn into long, incoherent diatribes lacking of substance.

For this reason, and for other personal matters I’ll get into in a later piece, I have largely avoided the 2016 election cycle. On the left, it’s been very interesting to watch from a distance as high and holy figures within “the conversation” on race such as Ta-Nehisi Coates, bell hooks, Killer Mike, Shaun King and others have planted their flag with Sen. Bernie Sanders, ironically placing their faith in an old white man with promises of revolution, and the tearing down of the successes of the Obama presidency.

But then, there’s the Right, limping into 2016 already battered and bruised by the backfiring of all their stonewalling of President Obama’s agenda — and the advancement of most of it despite them. Having very little momentum going in their favor, their initial mile-wide, ankle-deep list of candidates seemed tailor-made for a Democratic landslide in the general election.

But with the advent of Donald Trump, they just might have guaranteed a 50-state blowout.

Hopefully.

Your soon-to-be-presumptive Republican nominee for President, ladies and gentlemen:

There are no consequences for protesters anymore in the United States, Donald Trump said Friday during a raucous rally in St. Louis where the interruptions were frequent and the candidate appeared more assertive than ever in denouncing them.

“Part of the problem and part of the reason it takes so long [to kick them out] is nobody wants to hurt each other anymore,” Trump said during a speech at the Peabody Opera House — around 12 miles from Ferguson, Mo., the site of racially charged mass protests in 2014.

“There used to be consequences. There are none anymore,” Trump said. “These people are so bad for our country. You have no idea folks, you have no idea.”

Donald Trump is without question the most vulgar, unqualified, undignified; horrid candidate to ever run for the office of the President. He is the end result of the Right-wing base’s anger and fear of a changing, more diverse country; not to mention the blinding rage at being thwarted often by a man who upset two hundred-plus years of white males running the country. To the Right’s base, Trump is their savior; one unafraid of “political correctness”, offering up a clear agenda of division and all-out hatred.

And then there’s this.

Trump’s rise in this election season was the one thing to rouse me out of my writing exile. I have to hand it to him for that. But with Black people being assaulted at Trump rallies, and his open courting of such violence, it is truly only a matter of time before something worse happens.

Time to mobilize the vote, folks.

A Return to My Readers

Hello all.

I’m back.

Allow me to first apologize for being absent over a year. So much has changed in the last several months, and along with a change of scenery (and careers), I have spent this last year and change doing something I should have done years ago: finally set to work on myself, and working to improve my own life.

I’ve experienced a little bit of everything since I’ve been away. I’ll go into greater detail in a later post, but suffice it to say I had to have a lot taken away from me–things, friends; even the comfort and safety of a home–in order to finally see the ultimate truth: I have never been the person I thought I was, and had to be cornered by the Universe in order to see that.

My views have evolved in the last several months. I am still as pragmatic as ever, a trait pushed to the limit during my time away. Those who follow me on Twitter may think I have taken a more conservative approach to politics; sorry, but you would be wrong. My heart is still liberal. I still believe in the basic tenets of moderate liberalism, such as the importance of infrastructure. The need of an increased minimum wage (yes, a $15/hour minimum wage is of the utmost importance as the cost of living continues to rise). I believe in the sacrament of voting as the penultimate tool of a free people.

But as it is now expected of Black people to have a view on matters of race, I have become disgusted with a lot of the (for lack of a better term) shit that now passes for journalism. To be Black in America in 2015 is no longer a non-monolithic experience to be treasured and celebrated; according to those considered the new Black “thought leaders”, every African American lives in a state of pent-up, unresolved “Black pain” from centuries of slavery, and living in a world full of “microaggressions” and “white privilege” aimed at preventing justice for our helpless state.

To borrow from the iconic John Ridley, and W. E. B. DuBois, Modern American (fill in the blank) are having the day in the sun they’ve always dreamed of.

This cannot continue.

But, before I get to them, you must know what I’ve seen and experienced in my new scene.

Watch this space.

Liberals, the Right’s Best Voting Base

There was always a bit of hoping against hope on my part that Democrats would pull off the impossible and retain the United States Senate. After all, there has been an abundance of tangible wins to light upon when thinking of what has been called the “Age of Obama”: despite the sickening intransigence of the Right, this country now has an unemployment rate of under six percent for the first time in over six years. Oil prices have fallen dramatically of late, now sitting under $80 per barrel, which has translated into gas prices sitting well below three dollars a gallon.

After a slow, buggy start, the Affordable Care Act is finally doing the work of saving millions of Americans money in health insurance. In terms of environmental policy, this President has been the guarantor of the legacy of Theodore Roosevelt, as New York’s Jonathan Chait wrote:

The second way to measure Obama’s climate-change record is: What has he done? He has done quite a bit, probably far more than you think, and not all of it advertised as climate legislation, or advertised as much of anything at all. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was many things—primarily, a desperate bid to shove money into enough Americans’ pockets to prevent another Great Depression—but one of them was a major piece of environmental reform. The law contained upwards of $90 billion in subsidies for green energy, which had a catalyzing effect on burgeoning industries. American wind-power generation has doubled, and solar power has increased more than six times over. As Time magazine’s Michael Grunwald detailed in his book The New New Deal, the new law suddenly transformed the Department of Energy, previously a sclerotic backwater charged mainly with overseeing the nuclear-weapons cache, into a massive new engine of cutting-edge environmental science.

With this record, one would argue the country should be proud to stand side-by-side with the very effective Executive Barack Obama has been thus far. Voters would finally see this Nation, dragged for years through the failings of George W. Bush’s presidency, as having turned a corner, and that great things were about to happen, so long as the successful political party were allowed to stay in power.

But alas, that did not happen.

And how could it? It can’t be by accident that U.S. News and World Report reported decreases in voter turnout in all but twelve states, or that only thirteen percent of voters were under the age of 30. For all the talk of the Right suppressing voter turnout with draconian voter ID laws, what did one think was going to happen when the Left did plenty of its own voter suppression by turning on a President that was not absolutely adherent to everything on their own esoteric policy “wishlists”? Did no one remember the lessons of “progressives” like Markos Moulitsas and others who told liberals to stay home back in 2010?

Of course not.

Because we as liberals love to repeat our own mistakes.

Let’s just be real with ourselves. Since Barack Obama’s name was spoken into the realm of possibility to be our 44th Executive, all this base has wished for was this President to be a “Magic Negro” that would fix everything, without them ever lifting a finger. From the Black “Progressives” who wanted Obama to be Stokely Carmichael in matters of race, to the Occupy crowd that has all but demanded every investment banker’s head on a pike to parade up the Canyon of Heroes, this base saw what only what they wanted to see, and turned on this President when he governed as the very skilled, pragmatic centrist he is.

At bottom, there is nothing that would please a base completely ignorant of civics and the inner workings of politics, then caterwaul incessantly about Barack Obama not living up to their individual ideals. Nothing will ever be enough a base made up of disruption-addicted college professors and pundits out for self-confirming “Conversations” on Melissa Harris-Perry that gloat about staying home as the harder work of building a Legislative branch capable of the change they want to see goes undone year after year.

No, as Rep. Luis Gutierrez (D-IL) demonstrated Election Night, it would seem they would rather Obama go it completely alone, or else we all become Republicans. 

We have lost our way.

And in so doing, the Right could not have asked for a better friend to advance their agenda than liberal purism.

So yes, fellow liberals, let’s keep neglecting our duties at the ballot box for the sake of ideological purity. Because it’ll be a lot of fun consistently electing Democratic presidents that can’t get anything done with a conservative lawmaking body.