Big Boys & Little Joy: What’s Up, Doc?

With the arrival of our first child looming over the horizon, Jess and I found ourselves wondering aloud how our lives would be transformed once we brought Seby home. I will say that there were a lot of naive fantasies being shared between the two of us. I, for example, kept picturing for myself all these images of us having an idyllic  family life, not unlike the kinds you see in commercials, where everybody is smiling,  sharing lots of laughs, and hugging at all times as if their lives where dependent on it. You can’t blame a cynic for wanting his life to be a bit more picturesque; I just wanted something different that I had experienced as a kid. We foresaw frequent  trips to the Brookfield zoo, long walks parading our son and his his two fuzzy sisters, Pixie and Dory, through the neighborhood, and stops at the local ice cream shop for a shared tasty treat or two. We imagined big family gatherings, vacations to Disney World, and birthday parties filled with more presents for our son than we would know what do with. Jess especially enjoyed teasing me with the idea of her Mexican family buying our son a few Tex-Mex cowboy suits, with matching boots and cowboy hat. Naturally, the thought of Seby dressed like a miniature member of a Mexican Banda horrified me. So I would counter her terrifying scenario by painting a picture of her nightmare, which was that of our son wearing some ghetto fab outfit , with matching sideways New York Knicks cap and do-rag.  Off course we were both being silly about it. Imagining your life with your unborn kid is one of the few things that is fun when you and your partner are expecting. And yes I know we where being a bit too idealistic for our own good, but we were excited, and we were already madly in love with our unborn child, so we just couldn’t help ourselves. However our excitement was blinding us to the actual realities that came with raising a child, how it would alter the life that we had grown quite accustomed too, and more importantly, how Jess and I would view each other.

I won out. i got Seby living the thug-life.
I won out. I got Seby living the Thug-Life.

Let’s flash forward two two weeks after our son Sebastian was born. My wife and I  had brought in Seby for his first initial checkup post his release from the hospital. Jess was holding our son in her arms as   we sat patiently in the pediatricians office, waiting for the Doc to make an overdue appearance. Jess took  this rare moment of relative downtime to play with our son. She cooed and hugged him and gave him the occasional tender kiss on his chubby cheeks. She was going on and on about how cute she thought Seby was and she repeatedly told him how much she loved him. I sat back quietly and took in the site of their shared interaction. It was a tender moment between mother and son. It was probably the happiest I had seen Jess since she was released from the Hospital a week earlier. Things around the house where different since we brought our little man home, which was something that we had naturally expected; but the reality had turned out  different that what I had envisioned. There wasn’t that overwhelming sense of Happy, Happy, Joy, Joy  flowing through the house as we had fantasized in conversation. Not that we weren’t overjoyed about having our son home, mind you, but there was a certain level of stress that made it difficult for us to just appreciate the moment for all that it was worth. There was the financial crunch that we were feeling from all the medical bills. Jessies was frustrated over still being limited to what she could do physically as her abdomen healed from the performed C-section.  Emotionally, Jess was working through some issues too. She hadn’t quite been herself since getting back home from the hospital. Looking back now I see that there was this underlying sadness that spilled into everything she did during those first few week that Seby was home. And I had failed to see all the signs because I had my head to far up my own ass dealing with my own emotional hangups.

 

Jess and I heard a gentle knocked before  a smiling face peeked through the door. The face belonged to Seby’s Pediatrician, a very pleasant, middle aged Filipino gentleman with a naturally jovial demeanor. He apologized for the unusually long wait while giving us this look that simply said “Oh well, what can you do”.  The doc wore a bleach white lab coat with the customary stethoscope that hung loosely around his neck. The darkly tanned gentleman had a not so recently shaved head that kinda reminded me of a fuzzy kiwi. As our baby’s pediatrician  went through the usual introductory spiel that I’m sure he gave all his new patient’s parents I couldn’t help but notice that his mannerisms, and manner of speaking, was what I best would describe as slightly effeminate. I suddenly couldn’t help picture John Leguizamo in “To Wong Foo Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar”.

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After exchanging pleasantries with the Doc, he asked us to bring the baby over to the examining table. I stood up and took little Seby from Jesse’s arms and brought our little man over to him. The pediatrician  took a quick look at Seby’s face, placed both hands on his own cheeks and said “Well hello my little Gerber baby.” We were all in agreement, Seby is a remarkably cute child. Ever since he was born, it seemed to us, that all that the nurses in the Labor and Delivery ward could do was compliment us on how cute our little runt was. And they weren’t saying it in a patronizing manner either. The compliments always felt genuine and heartfelt. I looked over to Jess and we exchanged smiles.

The doc proceeded to run our son through your typical run of the mill check up. He shone a light in my sons eyes, then he took a peek at both his ears, and then he takes a good listen to little Seby’s lungs with his stethoscope. This is when things took a twist for the odd.  The doc says “ lets remove his diaper to check his little parts.” I unstrapped the diaper and remove it off my son, and then, and I shit you not, I see a goofy smile come across the mans face as he looks over to me and proclaims, “Oh my goodness papa, your boy here is very blessed.” I couldn’t help but laugh a little. That was not exactly what I was expecting to hear hear from our pediatrician. The doc then apparently felt the need to direct the complement directly at little Seby, “Why look at you. My little Gerber baby. Arent you a blessed little boy. You will be impressing someone when you are grown up.” I look down at my little naked son who was blissfully unaware that he was, or at least his member was, being complimented so thoroughly. The doc then walk over to the cabinet, pulls out one of those little tape measures that all newborn parents seem to have laying around the house, and proceeded to measure my sons penis. I looked over at Jess again and gave her a half smiling, have confused look that basically was asking if this was all copacetic. Jess smiles and shrugs her shoulders as if to say “don’t ask me.” The doc looks up at me after measuring the family jewels and tells me “He is well above the average Papa, you should be proud.” I nodded yes, but what I was really thinking was why should I feel proud, it wasn’t like it was my Johnson that we were all marveling at here.

Once the doc got tired of praising my sons manhood, he gave me to the ok to put Seby’s clothe back on, and then had me sit down next to the wifey. He wanted to take a moment to see how we were handling having Seby home, and give us a quick run through of what we might come to expect during the coming weeks. He looked over at Jess and in his best, concerned doctor voice, asked her how she was feeling. Jess naturally lied. She told him that she was a little pained, but overall she was in good spirits. I off course was in no place to call her on her bullshit because I hadn’t yet noticed that she wasn’t in a good frame of mind. He flashed another, genuinely friendly, smile and simply said how happy he was to hear it. But he still felt compelled to add “just remember your body went through a lot. Sometimes mom’s get down after pregnancy. Postpartum depression is perfectly normal, so its important that you and Papa here keep an eye out for the signs.”

If Jess had been inclined to be a bit more open about her feeling she might have chosen to use that opportunity to voice how overwhelmed she had been feeling since she had left the hospital. She might have, with tears streaming down from her eyes, confessed how the the 51 hours of delivery and the nearly one week in the hospital had taken a physical toll on her body that no amount of reading material and motherly advice could have prepared her for. It’s funny that I’ve never had to much of a problem getting my friends, and even strangers to open up to me about stuff that they wouldn’t normally talk about with anyone else, and yet with my own wife that had never really come easy. We’ve been together 12 years now and yet there are times that I feel I am totally clueless about what is going on in her head. She will smile and joke, and she can be short and moody, but I find it increasingly difficult to decipher what exactly is driving her moods, because she has never been particularly open about her feeling; not with her family, not her friends, and not even with me. This is partially why I couldn’t read how guilty she was feeling about being unable to get herself to feel utterly happy about giving  birth to the perfectly healthy and beautiful baby boy that she was now holding in her arms. So Jess, being her typical self, simply looked at the doc, nodded her head in agreement, returned his friendly smiled, and said simply, “ok”.

postpartum-depression

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I don’t remember the doc asking me how I was feeling. Not that I expected him too. It’s rare when someone actually bothers to asked me about my emotional state, beside the customary, and mostly patronizing, “well how are ya?” But the doc did make a point to bring up the topic of my physical needs, which was not at all expected…but totally appreciated.

The doc dove into the unsuspected sex talk by giving us a bit of marital advice. “Parents often dedicate all their energy on their children, because of course they love them…” , but he delivered that in a way that made me know that a big “but” was going to follow, “but they forget that kids grow up—they leave. And when that’s happened, it will be just you’s two. Then what? You just spent the last 20 years focusing on your kids and now you realize you no longer even know each other.” He paused for a moment, I’m sure for dramatic effect, and he concluded his thought with “So always put each other first.”

That wasn’t exactly the type of counsel that I was expecting to hear from our son’s pediatrician. Because out all the welcomed, and at other times, unwelcomed advice that we got during the 9 months leading to Seby’s birth, not a single one was in regards to how Jess and I were to maintain a healthy, loving relationship post pregnancy. And I gotta admit that up to that moment I hadn’t put any real thought into it, and I highly suspect that Jess hadn’t really either. I’ve thought about it a lot recently, now that Seby is demanding more and more of our time. But our son is such a good, funny, goofy, and oddly patient child that all we want to do is spend every possible minute we can with him; especially since we both have full time jobs and long commutes that eat into our bonding time with our son. So we pretty much have fallen into the trap that the doc warned us about. Seby has become the center of our universe and at times is does feel like we forget that our significant other is also a part of it. In our attempts to become the best parents possible, we have, in a way, regressed at being a good husband and wife.

“Mama”, the doc said while addressing Jess, “We know that YOU are restricted from having sex right now. I’m sure your doctor already told you that”. The doc once again emphasised and stretched out the word “but” in order to hammer the next point home. “Buuuuuuuuut Papa here doesn’t have the same restrictions.” For a split second there I thought the doc was going to be foolish enough to recommend that my wife should allow me to sow my wild oats with another woman while she recovered. Thankfully, for both his sake and mine, his recommendation was much more rational, and a lot less sleazy than my male brain had pictured. “Don’t forget Papa, here. There are things that you can do for him that don’t involve intercourse. ” Once again my male brain jumped the gun and immediately took the doc’s vague, yet purely monogamous suggestion, to mean oral sex. I was immediately sold on the idea.

Things in the coming weeks would get worse for us before they would get better. There would be no oral in my future, which trust me, was a pretty big let down. Jess and I would, increasingly, have a harder time seeing eye to eye; which only served to make Jessie’s postpartum depression gradually grow worse. And finally I would be setting myself for a rather rude awakening on the day  that Jessie’s maternity leave ended and it was left to me, and me alone to, to watch over our son.

End of Part I


Next Week: Big Boy’s and Little Joy Part II: Motherhood

Watch “Peter & Kerry – The Shadows” on YouTube

Today I managed to get my wife mad at me at 5:30am, had a rough day at work where I couldn’t focus on the task at hand, managed to get my car stuck in the snow, tried my best and failed at calming my crying baby boy who was not feeling well, while my two dogs that come in at a combined weight of 160lbs hounded me for attention, all while struggling to keep my anxiety at bay. All in all today was not one of my better days. Thankfully music still goes a long way at soothing this anxious beast.

Tonight’s Music to Get Lost In presents: Peter and Kerry “The Shadow”.

Hope you enjoy this track as much as I do.

A Funny Thing Happened While I Waited for Santa: Getting Diagnosed for ADHD

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHow’s it going folks. Fancy seeing you all here again. For those that actually missed my regular posting on LATB, all one of you that is (Love you Mom), please accept my apology for my absence. It was the holidays and all, and work being as fun as it always is, I thought it was a good time to take a bit a break from the blog. Besides with all the stress that the holidays bring with it, anything that I would have posted would have been just a jumbled series of rants about how unfair life is, and how Christmas was now nothing more than an exercise in consumer excess and yada-yada-yada. Honestly, who in their right mind would want to sit through all that? Like the old adage goes, “If you got nothing nice to say, then perhaps it best you say nothing at all.” So that’s exactly what I chose to do. But that didn’t mean that I just sat in a corner somewhere and just went with the flow. That’s never been much of my style. No, instead I took that extra free time that I gave myself to finally seek help with a monster that kept getting the better of me no matter how hard I fought.

Since I started this blog I have been putting some serious thought about my suspected ADHD. I was 90% sure that I had it. My old doc suspected as much. But I had been hesitant to get it officially diagnosed. I had my reasons for this. Some were financial.  Plus getting a diagnosis wasn’t exactly high on my priorities list. But I think the biggest reason was that I was a little afraid that maybe I didn’t have it. I know you’re probably scratching your head a bit by that one. Please allow me to explain.

It’s no big secret that I have always considered myself a bit of a screw-up. I’ve taken the easy route more times than not. I have lacked confidence and never managed to develop the discipline required to persevere in those precarious instances when the road got too bumpy. I never could grasp and take-in any subject matter that did not capture my imagination or moved me, no matter how hard I tried. When something did finally garner my interest, I would become obsessed with learning all of its ins-and-out at the detriment of everything else around me. I have started dozens of hobbie over the years and spent a good amount of money on them, only to abandoned each and every one of my new obsessions after a couple of months once the novelty of it all wore off. I am argumentative, and can go from perfectly calm and friendly to hulkish rageaholic in a blink of an eye. I am guilty of opening my mouth and blurting things that I usually come to regret; which is really an extension of my lack of impulse control and my need to experience instant gratification. All of that, combined with a few less glaring, yet significant human frailties, have combined like robot lions to make me one Voltron sized underachiever.

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Being a chronic underachiever, over-time, destroyed my confidence. I felt stupid, angry, and lashed out to folks who did not deserve that kind of treatment from me because it is just easier to blame others for my own personal shortcomings. There was a whole lot of self loathing going on inside me. There still is to some extent. I would consistently beat myself up for always coming up short. I felt worthless, and deep down inside, I thought I always would be. Then I discovered ADHD. For the first time in two decades my life made sense. I had the sudden revelation that perhaps I wasn’t some pathetic loser that wasn’t good enough to archive anything worthwhile, but that basically I maybe had been trying to participate in a rock climbing contest while not realizing that my hands had been handcuffed behind my back. Now I’m not saying that if you have ADHD that your are destined to fail. But I am saying that if you’re not aware that you have the disorder, then you don’t have the amount of self awareness required to manage all the symptoms that come with it. And it also keeps you from seeking medical help when you don’t have the tools required to deal with it in a constructive and well thought out manner.

But as I had mentioned, I hesitated to get an official diagnosis. A part of me worried “What if I don’t have it?” What would that say about me? Would it mean I was nothing more than an apathetic slacker? The worlds most self aware village idiot? What if the only reason I didn’t accomplish many of the things I had sought after was because in the end I just simply didn’t care enough to push myself to work for it. Then there was my fear of the drugs used to treat the disorder. I read up enough info on them to grow a healthy amount of respect and fear of them. Coming from a family that has a long history of dealing with addiction, the idea of taking a controlled substance like most stimulants , was something I was hesitant to do. Then there where the horror stories I read up on about individuals who were scatter-brain like myself, but who had a perfectly healthy outlook on life, but once on the meds they where transformed over time into emotionless automatons. And then there were the cases of those unlucky few who were at one time high on life, but after being on medication decided to take a long walk off a very short peer.

But despite all my hesitations, I became resolute over the holidays to find out once and for all whether or not I had ADHD.  It wasn’t an easy decision for me. But it was one that I felt I had to make. Because if I did have it, then I could seek help in treating it. I came to understand all too well that I could no longer deal with this alone. No matter how many books I read on the subject, or how much I tried to treat my possible case of ADHD with simple lifestyles changes, the fact was that my brain just lacked the necessary tools to implement any positive changes for the long term. I would need help if I was ever going to learn how to cope with ADHD. So I made an appointment. After getting some blood work to eliminate any other potential causes for my troubles, and taking an assessment, my suspicions were finally confirmed.

Thankfully after explaining to the my doc the reservations I had on using stimulants, like Ritalin and Aderall, for treatment, my doctor thought that it would be prudent to put me on a drug called Strattera. It is the only non-stimulant approved for the treatment of ADHD. I’ve been on the medication for two weeks now. It is much too early to tell if Stattera will aid me in my struggles. So far I have seen some improvements in some areas. Productivity at work has doubled. Feel more calm and relaxed. The inner monologue isn’t chatting away 24/7, and I’m less impulsive. The downside so far is that there are a few uncomfortable side-effects that I could most definitely do without. Feeling lethargic, dry mouth, nausea, just to name a few.

I understand that the meds are not a long term solution for what will probably be a lifelong problem. Only lifestyle changes, like exercising, both my mind and body, practicing mindfulness, and following a proper diet will truly help me gain a measure of control over ADHD. But I hope the medication will grant me just enough momentum to implement and follow-through with the necessary changes. After all the medication will not grant me a mastery over what things I choose to focus on. They only grant me a slight increase in will power to focus on what matters. The rest is ultimately up to me.

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

Music to Get Lost In: Chelsea Wolfe – Lone & House of Metal

I’ve been struggling over the last couple of day to get myself out of a mental funk. I’ve tried to stay busy. You know, hoping to keep myself distracted long enough for the fog to dissipate over me. But it’s just not working. The harder I try to keep myself occupied the more I notice the disconnect that I’m generally feeling. So after a few lame attempts at getting on with business I just find it less taxing not to do anything. I’m just gonna let time pass me by until this feeling has decided that its had its fill fucking with me.

On Tuesday I almost wound-up experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack on two separate occasions. Both times I felt as if someone had their arms wrapped around me and started squeezing slowly but surely. If I concentrated on the feeling long enough I would start feeling the room begin to spin just a bit. But instead of panicking like I have on so many other occasions, this time I just kept breathing, and went downstairs to play some video games. And if at any point the thought of dread crept in, wondering if perhaps this was a heart attack or some other malady that was striking me, I just repeated softly in my head “So What? What does it matter?” And just like that, on both occasions the anxiety just moved on.

I guess that after several years of dealing with anxiety I’m finally beginning to figure out that putting up a struggle, or fighting it is rather pointless. If anxiety is our bodies outworldly response to our inner most fears; the fight or flight mechanism run a mock, then the only real way to combat it is to choose neither. Instead of running or fighting, just take a deep breath, and accept whatever imaginary fate our minds are conjuring up, by simply saying “So what?” I guess when we give up the struggle, and we no longer are fearful of our impending doom, fear can no longer hold sway over us. We’re left with nothing to feel anxious about.

It’s odd, but I wouldn’t say I feel sad; even though most people I think might be inclined to describe it as such. What I sense is more like a numbness. It’s a lack of emotional attachment. Funny thing is that this feeling or lack-off it, always seem to come around during my days off from work. I work all these long hours doing something that I can’t say I find totally rewarding, and when the day finally comes for me to enjoy the fruits of my labor, to bask in some much needed time in the sun, the figurative clouds above me are too thick to allow for me to feel the sun’s warmth. It would totally piss me off, If I could manage to get properly angry right now. But I can’t.

I will admit there are a number of things that are going on that are partially the reason why I’m feeling this way. But I rather not get into it right now because I’m not in the mood to write a 4,000 word post.

So yeah, that’s been my week so far in a nutshell. A whole lot of blah with one or two minor victories to keep this week from being a total washout. But on a cool note I did come across this beautiful “Take Away Show” acoustic set by Chelsea Wolfe on La Blogotheque’s Youtube Channel while I was doing some apathetic and mindless web surfing. (Do people still call it web surfing or am I showing my age?) Never heard of this lady before but she does have a heavenly voice. I think you might dig this set as much as I did. Especially if you having an overcast day like I am. Anyway I hope one of you is enjoying themselves out there. Until next time folks. Stay safe, take care, and be sane. Peace!

This American Life: A Dream Lost

Over the last few months I’ve been feeling a little uneasy. Not exactly anxious, which surprises me, but definitely a little uncomfortable. I’m trying to be optimistic. But I just got that sinking feeling in my stomach. And I can’t figure out if my stomach knows something I don’t or if it’s just gas.

Fading American Dream
Fading American Dream (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are too many uncertainties in my life right now. Mistakes that I made, because I’m an impulsive jackass that has a hard time wrapping his mind around how my spending habits might affect our bottom line, is drastically limiting our breathing room. We don’t have any financial security what-so-ever. No safety net to speak of.  I blame our current predicament on my being too preoccupied with the past, and to casual with my present, and not spending enough time thinking about our future. I’m short sighted and too impulsive. I live for instant, yet short lasting, gratification. Which I admit is stupid, and careless and above all dangerous. I have no sense of fiscal responsibility. Money doesn’t hold any value in my mind, and because of this, I don’t take into account how much I have to work in order to earn what I spent. I’m not 15 anymore. I don’t have all the time in the world to learn and make amends for my poor judgement.

I find myself flashing back to earlier days. Back when thoughts of being married, or paying mortgages, bitching about dwindling job benefits, higher property taxes, aging parents, living check to check, maxed out credit cards, tons of debt, and health care cost, seemed so far off in the future, that it wasn’t even worth sparing a second to contemplate. But the older we get the faster we perceive time, and before you know it, you find yourself slamming face first into that future that for a while seemed like it was never going to get here. That’s where I find myself now. My face pressed up against a future that got here much quicker than I ever expected it.

I keep hearing murmurs about our jobs being outsourced, or layoff taking place. There are times, especially after a rough day at work, I welcome the rumors with open arms. Some days I fantasize of being handed that pink slip, along with a tiny severance check, and cordially be shown the door. I picture myself being ecstatic that I don’t have to do something that brings me so little joy. Not having to spend so many hours feeling trapped in a depressing environment. Working for a company that sometimes feels like it goes out of its way to make us feel expendable. Where the only voice that is heard and valued are the ones that hold stock in the company. And then the reality of my situation hits me, and the thought that brought me so much joy then fills me only with dread. We have a mortgage, car notes, student loans, and credit cards to pay down. I also know that sooner or later I will get the wifey knocked up and I will have even more responsibilities, more cost, more reasons to be gainfully employed. If I am suddenly showed the door then what? What do I do then?

I’m in the same boat as millions of Americans who live from payday to payday. Always being at the mercy of the best case scenario. As a pessimist, that does not bring me a whole lot of comfort. I admit my faults. I know I had my hand in our present predicament, but a part of me does feel slightly let down. Betrayed even.

English: The Supreme Court of the United State...
English: The Supreme Court of the United States. Washington, D.C. Français : La Cour suprême des États-Unis. Washington D.C., États-Unis. ‪Norsk (bokmål)‬: Høyesterett i USA. Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When 9/11 happened, and the drums of war began to beat deeply and loudly, G.W. Bush told Americans that the best way that we all could serve our country, what was our patriotic duty, was to buy stuff. Buy as much shit as we could. Keep the giant, insatiable, American economic engine going. So we did. Credit cards were maxed, equities were dipped into, vacations were taken, and cars were bought. People all across the country lived way past their means. Some out of foolishness. Others out of necessity. But everyone stuck in the same perilous situation. All the while companies both big and small, were given the same rights as individuals by SCOTUS, flooded our politics with obscene amount of money, made record breaking profits, cut hundreds of thousands of jobs, stagnated wages, and increased stockholders return in investment. Leaving the little guy both voiceless and penniless.

Cover of "Stand and Deliver"
Cover of Stand and Deliver

Ever since we were all tiny little children, long before we understood what college even was, our parents, teachers, and government officials, touted the importance of a college education. We watched movies like Stand and Deliver, Dangerous Minds, and Boys N the Hood, that all shared the same basic notion, that only with the help of education, particularly a collage one, could we ever hope to rise above our humble beginnings. We were warned that we would never be able to earn a decent paycheck without that degree. That degree was the key to everything. Once attained all things in life would become possible. But that education isn’t free. The trajectory of tuition creeps upward year in and year out. We found ourselves bowering more, and more, and more. Only to find that by the time it was all said and done, we borrowed so much that the dept that we now owed was tied unceremoniously around our necks, like a noose. Keeping many of us from ever achieving any real financial freedom. What’s worse that for many of us, the debt from college loans threaten to put us right back where we fought so hard to escape from. And what happened to all those beautiful, glorious, high paying jobs, that were promised to be waiting for us once we graduated? Most of the people that I know that graduated college, are working in fields that they didn’t even major in. Getting paid only a fraction of what they envisioned. And having a not so insignificant amount of our earning going off to pay for the college loans that we took out. Loans that are not forgivable under most circumstances.

How about the great American dream of owning a home? How many Presidents, and politicians, and business leaders in this country gave speech after speech about how owning the home was the great equalizer. That owning a home symbolized that you made it. Yet most of the home owners I know are under water. And are stuck with the choice of either letting the house of their dreams go, or paying over inflated mortgage price to the same banks that caused the Great Recession in the first place. What about the forward thinking folks who weren’t directly impacted by the Great Recession? People who were diligent that bought their homes at a reasonable price. Who paid their mortgages every month without once ever skipping a beat. Only to see their hard earned equity drop drastically because their neighbors were not so fortunate. Now they are stuck surrounded by a number of abandoned properties, and a neighborhood that no longer feels like one. Big investment firms located in other states, bought wholesale, thousands of properties unseen, for pennies on the dollar. Flipped the houses for minimal investment, and then allowed only a handful of houses to go back out on the market at any given time in order to dictate supply and demand. All perfectly legal. All terribly unfair for individual families everywhere. Thankfully, the wifey and I were lucky enough to buy our house at a time when the market had hit absolute bottom, but we still find ourselves contending with ever increasing property taxes that make no sense to me no matter how hard I try to figure it out.

This wasn’t how it was supposed to be. This is not the America dream that I grew up with. I worry about what will happen when we reach retirement age. I worry about what kind of life I will be able to provide our future children. Some days I feel mad. Mad that I didn’t develop any foresight. Mad that so many fell for the same hollowed-out ideal that was sold to us as a promise, but instead turned out to be a pyramid scheme. Yet when it is all said and done we only have ourselves to blame. It is our fault because we no longer are outraged by injustices. We will bitch and moan about Ben Affleck being hired on as the next Batman (I know I did) but don’t blink an eye at how we all get taken advantage by unfair, yet perfectly legal business practices. We don’t bother to hold our politicians accountable, because we vote for party first, rather than with our conscious. We bought hook line and sinker every lie that we ever heard about the American Dream because it was convenient for us to believe in it. It meant that we didn’t have to take responsibility for our own actions. That we could spend and waste our hard earned money on frivolous things. It meant that we did not have to look at the companies that we worked for with suspicions. It meant that we could hang our hopes on politicians that promised us a change that we could believe in. We all were conned, but it was a con that we all seemed to enjoyed; so we voluntarily set ourselves up time and time again. We weren’t robbed. We happily gave it all away. But to be rather honest with you, on most days, what I feel the most is a sense of being powerless. Powerless to undo past mistakes. Powerless to bring about any significant change in my own life. Living in perpetual uncertainty. In a future imperfect. That’s 21st Century America for you.