A Glimpse into the Future

 Last weekend I met members of my family for the first time.  While searching for my biological father I found a half sister and she directed me to an aunt and uncle she is close to.   Meeting these people for the first time there was an immediate connection.  I learned about them and myself over the weekend.  Some of the information that was shared was the health history of my dad’s side of the family.  

 I was told about a serious problem with alcoholism, heart problems, and a risk of diabetes.  For those that follow this blog regularly you will remember my concern about alcohol a few weeks ago, especially after my birthday.  I have known for a while that I needed to make some healthy changes in my life.  There was a time, not that long ago, when I worked out regularly and I was physically fit.  I could look back and wonder what happened in order for me to stop that kind of behavior.  I find it more important to remember what I was doing during that time of my life and go back to those habits.  

 Over the weekend I was shown pictures of my biological dad these days and what I saw was an image of myself in twenty years.  It was not flattering and an eye opening image.  The image of alcoholism, heart problems, and diabetes stared me in the face.  I asked around to my friends about gym memberships and was told about Snap Fitness.

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 I went to the Snap Fitness on Portage road for the first time on Tuesday.  I quickly learned that 1pm in the afternoon is not part of their office hours and noted the morning hours of 9am-noon.  I went back this morning to find nobody inside even though it was twenty minutes after their office hours had started.  I rang the doorbell three times and heard the chime inside. Nobody came to the door. I was not happy to say the least and decided not to go back since they were unprofessional and turned into a waste of time.  

 Leaving the parking lot I remembered the items I once bought at the store when I was healthier and went shopping.  I have a gym in the basement that I rarely use these days.  I stopped at Meijer and picked up protein powder.  Next stop was Aldi where I bought the healthy snack foods and lean proteins that I was eating a few years ago.  

 One of the reasons I wanted to get a gym membership is because I quickly learned the last two years I can’t run like I used to. After a week or so of running every other day my knees started to hurt and it became a chronic pain.  I was hoping to find a low impact form of cardio but I guess that’s not an option.  

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 Once I got home from shopping, and spent less money than a gym membership, I went into the basement and did my old back workout with some bicep curls to finish.  I went in the kitchen, made a protein shake and wrote a bad review on Yelp for Snap Fitness.  More important than a gym membership is the determination to make a change.  Gym or not I decided to be proactive and take care of the fears I have about my future.  

 One of the other tricks I went back to is drinking lemon juice.  Sounds gross but lemon juice stimulates the gall bladder to flush fat from the body. Granted I have only tried it during a time that I was working out regularly but I did see an acceleration in fat loss during those times.  

 This is a part of my life I have missed and need back for more balance and a better me.  

Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.

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The Issue of Racism in our Political System

 

 Without a television or radio at home it was hours after the attack in Charleston South Carolina when I found out.  A young white man walked into a church and killed nine black people in order to start a race war.  He admitted he was racist and that was the motive behind his attack.  If there is one thing I can’t wrap my head around it’s the fact that groups like the KKK are still not labeled as a terrorist group.  

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 One thing people can not forget is that our political parties support groups like the KKK.  During the 2000 election, just before Bush stole the presidency, the issue of black churches being burned down came to light.  Bush was asked in the south what he would do about these racially motivated attacks.  He was caught on tape saying that they were black and he didn’t care.  Yet we allowed a racist, coke addict, born again retard to be president and the world didn’t notice that every group on the planet that were made up of brown people were placed on a terror list.  The KKK continued to burn down churches during the war on terror and many of their members were allowed to join the military and be trained at how to do it better.  

 A few years ago I worked with a guy that had some truly messed up beliefs.  A Vietnam veteran, this guy told me one day about the blacks having the mark of Cain and how the Jews were the product of Eve and Satan.  I have read crazy shit like this before.  It was then I realized that some of the best fiction is based on our crazy reality.  This guy really believed the bullshit he was talking.  This brings me to another point.  This isn’t just the act of right wing racist groups.  These groups are primarily Christian organizations.  White people that follow the teachings of an Arab/ black man, but hate black people and Arabs.  

 An attack like this happened a few years ago in Norway.  Anders Breivik killed 77 people for the defense of his Christian beliefs.  Which Jesus are these people reading about?  

 There are a lot of similarities between these people and contrary to the media it is not the guns.  If it wasn’t a gun it would be a car bomb, knife attack, or poison.  The problem is the beliefs these people are allowed to pass down because of the religious freedom we have in this country.  The separation of church and state is a necessary clause that should be enforced.  Sadly in our country a large portion of douche bags in public office think that this does not apply to them.  Even Jeb Bush has stated that not allowing a religious group to discriminate is showing a lack of religious tolerance.  When the act of a religion goes against the constitution the religion is committing a crime.  All the constitution is asking is for people not to be assholes, nobody has the right to be an asshole.  

 The media, during the aftermath of this attack, has already started to alter the story.  The attacker, who’s name isn’t worth learning, admitted that his crime was racially motivated and he was a trying to start a race war. End of story. The guy is a terrorist.  Sadly the right wing culture of our country will try to press the matter of mental illness and keep the Christian aspect of this attack out of the press.  None of these people will ever stand up for a Muslim guy and say that “he was brain washed” or “he didn’t really know what he was doing.”  The notion that a suicide bomber has a mental illness will never come up simply because he was a Muslim and was born on the wrong team to begin with.  

 This guy in South Carolina is a terrorist. He is a Christian. He is a racist.  If the black community has anybody to get pissed at after this it is the media, the politicians that have ignored this for decades, and the Christian religion that thinks their shit don’t stink.  

 Any time a group such as the KKK has members repeatedly convicted of violating a person’s civil rights the group itself has to be acknowledged as a terrorist organization.  I don’t care that David Duke ran for president or tried to turn the KKK into a political party.  Does anybody remember the Nazi party in the 1930s?

 America, your shit stinks.  No matter how you try to sell it that steaming pile keeps growing and nobody is buying it.  If politicians really care about black communities, or Americans in general, than groups like the KKK would be labeled as a terrorist group and disbanded.  Anybody in congress who took money from douche bags like this should be thrown out of office for having terrorist ties.  Law enforcement and military who are affiliated with these kinds of groups should be fired without pay or retirement plans.  Religious tolerance doesn’t mean we as a nation should sit back and watch as horribly stupid people go around and kill people because of their fucked up ideas.  

 I would also suggest taxing churches since they don’t appear to do any of the good they claim to.  Jesus said to take care of the poor, love they neighbor, and to treat others as you would like to be treated.  In our country we still have the poor and homeless.  Tax free churches go around the country building mega churches and buying planes for people who steal money from the ignorant public.  They don’t pay taxes, they don’t contribute, and they don’t do any good in the world.  If these organizations were truly doing good and trying to follow the words of Jesus there wouldn’t be a single homeless person in this country.  This is also why I laugh at every politician who claims to have Christian values since they have no idea what the fuck that means.  The political system in this country is just as messed up as the man that walked into that church and shot those nine people.  

 Why is the media trying to turn this story into a mental illness, gun control, and rain washing story?  Because the only thing left is a mirror they have to look into. That young man is a reflection of all the serious problems we have in this country and it starts at the top and I don’t mean Obama.  In a truly free country the public can not tolerate any groups that oppress others.  One group does not have the right to force their beliefs on others.  Religious freedom does not mean anybody has the right to discriminate against others.  If any of these religious groups were following their religions they way they were supposed to than we would not be having these conversations.  Jesus was not an asshole.  

 America, your shit stinks. The good thing is that it can be the fertilizer that turns our country into something better than it is.  Will we allow our nation to grow from something like this?  Probably not since we continue to vote in idiots and the public is not given viable options for government.  Education continues to be cut and we wonder how young men are able to be brain washed into believing the stupid shit this young man does.  

 Two things need to happen.  First, we need to start teaching future generations how to think instead of creating a work force that are unable to find jobs.  Programs like abstinence only sex education need to be abolished.  Funding programs that don’t teach kids about a subject sounds like a waste of money to me.  Funding for public education needs to extend to college and the profit aspect of education needs to be abolished.   

 Second, any group with in the united states that support violent acts against humans are to be labeled as a terrorist group.  This includes groups primarily built up of people other than brown or black skin color, white folks.  This would also include so called churches that preach hate and violence, like the republican party.  If you can’t play nice in the melting pot you will be banned from the playground.

 These problems have been around for a while.  I’m ashamed to live in a country where David Duke was allowed to run for president.  I’m ashamed to live in a country where a confirmed racist was appointed as president by the supreme court, Bush did not win the election.  I’m ashamed that the KKK is still allowed to function in the country under the protection of the federal government.  I’m ashamed that there are poor and homeless in this country while churches don’t pay taxes.  

 America, your shit stinks. Clean it up.  

 

Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.

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How a life can be rewritten in a day

 The silence in the room is interrupted.

 “you realize you were emotionally abused?” My therapist says it more as a statement than a question.  

 Hearing this for the first time, after weeks of counseling, was something I needed to hear.  It was something I finally accepted and wanted to hear.  

 Going to counseling is something that I put off for too long.  It was suggested over the years by people that got to know me and yet I always brushed off.  I was raised to believe it was weak.  To admit that one had problems said they were weak as a person.  This kind of thinking didn’t do me any good.

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 My life was on hold for fifteen years.  Time wasted onthrough other people’s agendas and priorities.  I dedicated years to a company that didn’t care about me.  I put a wife through school only to have her leave after she was done.  I went to school to follow a path that I didn’t want to take.  After all this time I can’t say I know what I want out of life.  I have things I enjoy doing.  I don’t have any goals and live one day at a time only to find that tomorrow is just like yesterday.  There have been surprises as of lately.

 While searching for my biological father I found a sister I didn’t know existed.  All of the leads I had were dead ends.  Reading an obituary from 2003 I found a list of names for next of kin.  I saw a list of aunts, uncles, cousins, along with the name of a grandpa that was gone from this world.  

 I sent out emails to three of the people on that list hoping they were the same people listed.  One wrote back.  

 Hours after I wrote her I received a reply explaining that she was the daughter of the man I was looking for.  The greeting came with, Hello Brother!  While this was not the response that I was expecting, it was a better message than I could have hoped for.  

 She had contacted an aunt in order to find out who this mystery guy was that wrote her out of the blue.  She learned that there was another person out there with the same father.  While the news was good, the timing wasn’t.  She was leaving to Florida in less than a week to finish her PHD.  

 I would not be able to meet my sister before she left.  Looking at face book pages we learned what we could about each other.  Seven years younger than me she had already accomplished more that I could have hoped to during my life.  Still in college she is pursuing a career while I never had one in mind that I wanted to do.  Our hobbies are eerily similar ranging from home brewing mead, archery, science, avid readers, and a healthy hatred of Twilight.  Our lack of religious beliefs categorized by atheism was another comfort. Somehow, growing up in two different lives and having no contact the two of us had turned into nerds of the best kind.  The differences I can see right away is that she likely grew up in a nurturing environment or at least had access to tools that helped her along the way to become the person she is today. I could be wrong and hope she didn’t deal with half of the things I dealt with.  

 While trying to learn about my sister that I never met, I came to realize that she is in a nutshell a better version of me.  What I lack as a productive individual she has.  I’m not saying that I’m a bad person, when comparing the two of us I’m an older Toyota Corolla and she’s a newer shinier Toyota Camry.  Related, yes, but she received all of the bells and whistles.  

 I know she will do well in her endeavors as she has in the past.  My job from now on is to move away from my past and try to create some type of future that is not dictated by my lost years and lack of ambition.  I wonder how people think that painting a bleak future for a child is supposed to motivate them to succeed?  

 When a parent, teacher, or guidance counselor tells a child from a broken home they will end up becoming a janitor, why do they feel like they have the right to be disappointed when it happens?  

 There are still many mysteries to the early years of my life.  One side of the family says that my sister and I are the only siblings by my father.  The other side of the family tell me to keep looking because of a conversation that took place with a case worker decades ago.  I already gained more than I expected from sending one email.  The people who tell me there are no others have no reason to say otherwise.  

 Going down this path is like driving back to your home town.  Thirty-six years later nothing is the same.  You can walk around and try to figure out what it looked like back then.  After searching you will find some remainders of what was there and what has been replaced.  The old school is gone.  A new McDonalds was built on main street.  The old mom and pop shop has been replaced by Walmart.  Search as you may you will never have all the answers because the clues have been lost along the way.  You can piece together some things and ask around.  The picture built might come close to what really happened.  What I didn’t expect was to discover a new life while trying to figure out the old.  After thirty-six years I now have a whole new family I haven’t met yet and I’m no longer an only child.  The old reality is crumbling and my brain is still trying to process the change.   

Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.

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Consequences of the Collapse

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 The first half of this year has seen the end of several eras of peoples lives.  Around me the world has changed for close friends.  Some will be able to piece together something resembling the world they knew while others have new realities that they will have to adapt to.  Relationships have been destroyed or damaged, financial worlds have crumbled, or Murphy’s law kicked into full gear and plagued some with a barrage of situations that left their world a wasteland.  

 While I sit back powerless in most cases to help I realize that my own problems are a mere shadow of what others are going through.  A few years ago my life fell apart with a divorce and I was forced to find a new way to live.  I tried to keep things normal by buying things that would make me “happy.”  I racked up debt trying to buy happiness instead of adapting to my new life.  Eventually I changed as I needed to and was able to reverse the damage I did.  I see others making the same mistakes I had made.  Unfortunately some are unable to reverse the damage and have their worlds falling around them.  

 While I float on by I feel guilt and shame for my inability to help.  The desire to lend a hand, offer assistance in any way I can, has been twisting in my gut.  To help means risking my own security.  Offering advice usually falls on deaf ears.  In the end I am left blaming a horrible society for causing these situations to occur.  People have been trained to spend more money when they make more.  Happiness is to be found in material items as opposed to financial security.  Things like cable television are now viewed as a necessity instead of the luxury they are.  

 I don’t know how the hell America came to this point but I know it needs to change.  I changed it for myself.  That’s not to say I don’t spend money on stupid shit from time to time.  Afterwards I end up kicking myself later.  What I have noticed is once you cut yourself from television the impulse to buy subsides.  The gimmick of the latest gadget loses it’s appeal and a bank account suddenly comes to life.  

 What I find sad is how hard people fight to keep the norm that no longer exist.  When things are going bad trying to stick with the old normal can be self destructive.  Adaptation has always been at the forefront of evolution.  I was lucky enough to change my tune before the damage I caused was too great to reverse.  I’m not seeing that with some of the loved ones I have.  I try to think of solutions, ways to reverse the damage, and frankly they are not there.  It’s hard to find a balance between caring and not letting the stress effect you.  

 I am fortunate to have a new job, a roof over my head, a garden in my yard, money in the bank, and a car that runs.  I may not have the latest tablet, fit bit, I phone, high speed internet connection, blue ray player, video game system or flashy car.  I do have security.  In our world luxury has become the norm.  While some like to bitch about people expecting their “entitlements” they should first look at their own lives and look at the luxuries they expect around them.  Having food on your table and a roof over your head is a necessity.  Having talking heads feeding you bullshit 24/7 on a television screen enticing you to buy, buy, buy when you can’t afford it is a luxury.  Americans have become accustomed to being rich and we have a hard time adapting to being poor when it happens.  The truth about being poor in America is not knowing, even then, we are still rich compared to most.  

Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.

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Sobering to the Collapse Experiment

 

 

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 When I first started this a few months ago there were some immediate effects in my life and my physical self.  I lost fifteen pounds… at first.  My writing increased.  My garden became more productive.  My house is cleaner and I purged it of many items I don’t use and never would.  My diet expanded to the point I started writing for my Kalamabrew blog again.

 Some of the downsides of the experiment was an increase in beer consumption.  Less activity as time went on.  I stopped exercising as I did when it first started.  I gained a few pounds back.  Overall my health declined.  

 I know that I was going to the bar more because of the loneliness I was feeling.  For four bucks I could sip a beer and see some friends that I had made over the last year.  I noticed the changes right away.  My stomach became more distended in the morning.  I was having a harder time recovering in the morning and that was after a night of one or two beers.  To make a long story short the beer needs to go, not the friends I made, but the beer.  I have started to see my new friends outside of the bar.  Meeting for lunches and trying out new food at local restaurants.  The choices I made at these places have been a positive effect on me in the last few weeks.  I started asking myself if I was going to write a review on ‘this,’ the beer or menu item that I was getting.  If the answer was ‘no’ than I didn’t get it.  

 The turning point on my way of thinking was the day after my birthday.  I had plans for that day already wanting to turn things around.  I’m out of shape, sluggish, and getting lazy.  The night of my birthday I had a book signing. During the signing I paced myself with the free beer I received that day but after 9pm when the signing was over I spend things up.  I had a good time making new friends and learning new things.  

 My night ended around midnight and then next morning was one of the worst hangovers I have experienced since I tried vodka in college.  Keep in mind I have not touched vodka since college.  That was what I was thinking yesterday as I was trying to pull myself from my bed and get myself moving.  After several multivitamins and Motrin I was finally moving.  It would take all day for me to recover from one night.  

 Needless to say this did not help my productivity.  A book I recently read, Trip to Echo Springs, talks about the relationship between writers and alcohol abuse.  Am I at that point?  I can’t ignore that it’s effecting my life.  

 With my new job that I’m starting tomorrow I will be working during the hours that my favorite bar is open, or any bar downtown for that matter.  There is a balance that I have been seeking in my life for a while now and I know that taking alcohol out of the equation will help.  I know that once I get used to the new schedule I will start seeing some changes again.  I tend to write better in the morning and workout more often in the afternoon.  For physical work I’m more productive in the evening.  I have hopes that the schedule of the new job will reverse a lot of what has been happening.  This summer will be interesting and a nice experiment for what is better for me as I continue to improve my life.  

 The support I have been getting from friends and family has been amazing.  I have the support, I have the tools, now I just need to put myself into motion.  Kalamabrew will still go on without the beer.  

Matthew Gilman can be contacted on his author Facebook page and found on Twitter.

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