Update from Ridgeline Drive, May 1, 2013

Well, it was a little dicey there for a while here in The Hood. I thought I’d be moving back into my 2000 Saturn L1 “mobile home”. The woman who’s place I’m crashing at had told her 15 year old daughter last month that she would sign her out of the place for wayward youth she’s being held at if she could make it to Level 2 (of 4). I was a little surprised when the girl’s treatment team let her mom make that promise, given that there is no way they would agree to it, but I imagine they figured nothing else was working so what the heck. When we met Monday morning, the team let the mom “decide” to keep her daughter there to complete the program. Of course her daughter flipped out when they brought her in and had her mom tell her she wasn’t going home. (Her sixteenth birthday is this month.) But her toddler-appropriate emotional response—an infinite loop of “It’s not fair / You lied to me / I want to go home now”—was mostly sadness and despair without her usual violent threats and histrionics.

The staff had fully explained the state of the art, no tolerance, behaviorally based program to my friend when her daughter was first committed in December as I have several times since. At the intake interview they said it was possible to complete the program in 12 weeks but that a reasonable time frame was more like six months. My friend heard this as “She’ll be fine and ready to come home a manageable child in 12 weeks” and her daughter heard: “I only have to resist this for 12 weeks and I’ll be back ditching school and running the streets with unemployed 20-something year old men.” Reality and its constraints are not part of either’s belief system; magical thinking and instant gratification without personal responsibility or consequences are their way.

I’m a brutal reality kinda guy. I don’t just accept reality; I love it and its constraints. Reality is a nice frame of reference and its constraints provide some useful boundaries to operate within. Living here has been a rude awakening for me. As a trained social psychologist and informed liberal Democrat, I knew all about the dysfunction of the underclass intellectually. But to actually see it and live among it is another thing entirely. My three now grown children had more self-awareness, impulse control, and functional life skills as toddlers than these people may ever master.

I am constantly reminded of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory in psychology proposed by Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper “A Theory of Human Motivation” and extended by him and others to understand human curiosity. His fundamental insight was that there is a hierarchy of human needs starting with Physiological needs like food and shelter. If these are not met, a person cannot attain the next level, Safety needs: security of body, employment, resources, mortality, the family, health, and property. Until physiological and safety needs are met, a person cannot attain the next level: Love/Belonging: friendship, family, sexual intimacy. Only after these three needs are met can they attain Esteem: self-esteem, confidence, achievement, and respect of and by others. Finally, once all four needs are met, can one achieve Self-Actualization: morality, creativity, spontaneity, lack of prejudice, and acceptance of facts/reality. I learned of his work as an undergraduate Psychology major at Purdue University when I was 20.

For most of my Upper Middle Class life, I had never met anyone who’s Physiological and Safety needs had not been fully met. Maybe a third had not achieved Love/Belonging, which helped me greatly appreciate my upbringing and family and realize what a blessing this was. Perhaps half had not achieved Esteem, and most were certainly not self-actualized. I loved Maslow’s Hierarchy, a useful tool but more than a little self-serving since it puts people like me on top. It explains why many people are not living productive lives and helps me have compassion for them. [Before you think: “What a privileged self-absorbed jerk!” let me add that hubris is a constant struggle for me. I’m a high functional sentient/intelligent guy, but no saint or sage.]

I was pretty confident that the staff would not—probably legally could not—prematurely release my friend’s daughter. But letting her mom voluntarily face the reality that she needs to finish the entire program, with no short cuts or easy out, while wildly risky from my perspective, paid off. I was surprised at my friend’s resolve and clear rational thinking in the face of her daughter’s pleading and wailing and complimented her.

So the good news is that my friend has accepted the reality of this situation and her daughter will have to complete the program. My friend will have to attend a number of mandatory family counseling sessions and learn some functional parenting and human being skills. They both may have a shot at a productive, or at least not completely dysfunctional, parent-child relationship and this precious almost 16-year old child a productive or at least not completely wasted life. Oh, and also, I have a place to live for at least another three months…

Paying Bills

I’m just a guy trying to help out a friend. But living an upper middle class life from birth has not prepared me for the dysfunction I’m up against. A simple rule I learned as a toddler was this: You pay your bills before you go shopping at the Mall for the shit you think White People buy (because you saw it in a commercial on TV). Big important examples are rent/mortgage payments and Utility bills. I pay the past due amount on the Comcast cable bill each month when the service is cut off. I kept the Water on last month with a past due payment. Now I’m trying to keep the lights on. I gave Pepco $600 over the phone on the bill that has not been paid since Nov 30, 2012. But after talking with them and keeping the lights on, when I tried to update my friend, her response was: “I can’t talk about this now.” If not now, when?

She let her “husband” live off of her for over 17 years until she recently threw him out (again, maybe for the last time, we’ll see). Her 24-year-old son and 21-year-old daughter with an infant have lived with her for free since January 1. I don’t have a solution to this problem.

Update from Ridgeline Drive, January 21, 2013

Well, first the good news: I’m still no longer homeless, hanging in my crib here in The Hood since July, 2012; things are going well with my new housemate/friend , she’s one of the most appreciative people I have ever offered to help and fun to hang out with; her 15-year-old daughter [who’s room I occupy] is in a program for wayward youth and making glacial progress so I have the space indefinitely; and all-in-all, I have a great space to hang in. Now, the not so good news: her 24-year-old son now lives here for free—he took his roommate’s car, rammed his estranged girlfriend/mother of his 2-year-old son’s car, hit several other cars, led police on a high speed chase and totaled the car he was driving [he’s facing 6-years in jail, plus 14 traffic tickets for over $1,000, while driving on an expired Learner’s Permit but was released New Year’s Day without bail] so the roommate understandably is no longer offering to share his place; her 21-year-old daughter and that daughter’s 6-month-old daughter are also living here for free. Both are legal adults but otherwise ungrateful needy children. They moved in at the start of the year. Tasha asked me to keep the keys to “her daughter’s” car [the ownership of the vehicle is a little murky], so her son could not drive it illegally. He tried to break down my locked bedroom door and threatened to kill me with a knife when he found out I had the keys. The police officers got here really fast and the situation was defused. My door held and no Tai Chi hand-to-hand combat was required. I’ve taught the classes for over 25 years and am 6’3″ but still, the best fight is the one you don’t have. The door was the only casualty. For $64 (money and labor contributed by me of course) I have a new door and better outdoor strength lock and deadbolt. Good times…

When not dealing with homicidal rage or cleaning up after my housemates or otherwise doing the chores to maintain a household, a skill not widely shared by them, I’m taking photographs, teaching my Tai Chi classed, hanging with my fiancée, and finishing Why Women Are So Problematic: A Memoir And Whimsical Polemic. I plan to self-publish it through Xlibris later this year.

It’s still all good here in The Hood…


A New Day Begins

It is a new day. Obama now gets it that he has to fix this broken culture and dying Nation. The Fiscal Cliff is just the start. The slaughter of twenty innocent children and six of their teachers in Newtown has even the NRA coming to terms with reality. The Tea Party lunatics, the Right Wing Republican morons, and now even the pro-gun nuts are on the run. This is our time, and we well take it. The Rich will be taxed, the Corporations and guns will be regulated, the environment will be protected; we are going to fix this. It still won’t be easy to be poor, put it will suck less. It still will be difficult to stay in the Middle Class, but it will be possible. This is all going to get fixed, and we all will at least have a chance at survival. We came close in the late 1960s and now we have a second chance to change the world for the better.

The Horse Race/Superbowl/Infomercial

Isn’t it wonderful that as the (self-presumed, though at most once and former) greatest Nation on Earth approaches another pivotal Presidential Election, the rich and contented news media great lights—the best and brightest—once again are doing everything in their power to make this election look “razor close” to merely increase viewership. This as an Idiot Nation of Duped and Delusional Decided, and handful of unfathomably “Undecided” Voters struggle to make a simple and obvious choice. If you are one of the top 10% of Americans who control almost all the wealth and power and want it to stay that way—your home world and the rest of us be damned, vote for your people, I call them the Handmaidens of the Privileged Few [the Republicans]. If not, take your head out of the sand or your ass; reject their self-serving lies and the Capitalist myth of upward mobility; and vote for the people who will try to—and may actually—help you, or at least give a damn about you and not screw you mercilessly, [the Democrats]. Elect Democrats at every level of government; not for me, for your planet and species; and you and your descendants…

Obama Joins the Fight

OK, I slammed Barack mercilessly after his deplorable first Debate. In fairness, I acknowledge here that he had Mitt by the throat from the opening bell and—with the help of a competent moderator—kept him on his knees and beat on him without remorse for 90 minutes. Obama may still not care about the Nation or be bored with his Presidency; he may achieve as little in his second term as he did in his first. But at least he apparently cares about his manhood. We need to smash this lackey and front for the Filthy Rich and Corporations; this Privileged Rich White Boy, Mitt Romney, and his sparrow fart sidekick, Paul Ryan. We need to take him down hard. Obama is now ready to do that; good for him. He’s not very Black, but apparently he is Black enough! Let’s do this…

At Least Joe Biden Gets It

I have set the Obama Administration on fire in other web venues, especially after Barack’s pathetic “What the f#ck do I care” performance in the First Presidential Debate. (See especially http://andys-take-on-obama-nation.blogspot.com and my YouTube rant   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMU5zKcxIA8 [Obama Takes a Dive in Denver].). Few things are more political than Poverty, hence this Post.

Joe Biden demonstrated in his “debate” with sparrow fart Libertarian lunatic Paul Ryan–in the only VP Debate last Thursday–how someone who understands what elections are about–the fate of our once great Nation, conducts him- or herself. This Election is not a debate between reasonable, honorable (mostly) men; it is a moral struggle between well-meaning but ineffective Flithy Rich Democrats and evil, greedy, hateful Flithy Rich Republicans. We need to not only defeat them, we need to destroy them so completely that their grandchildren are reluctant to call themselves Republicans.

Like every large Corporation, Filthy Rich person, and Republican knows, Politics is War by other means. It is not an honorable endeavor; it is brutal, dirty, unseemly, and winner-take-all. Biden gets this in a way that contented, emotionless, passionless, out of touch with reality, and insular Obama does not. If we defeat these idiots—the lackeys of the Filthy Rich and Corporations—it will be despite Barack, not because of him. Any minority, no matter how rich, any Middle or Working Class, or poor person who does not run to the polls Election Day and gleefully vote against every Republican at every level of government deserves the fate that will befall them. [Frankly, anyone, even disinherited WASPs, who is not part of the top 1 percenters, is in denial if they believe the myth that the Filthy Rich will help them survive, let alone prosper.]

Unlike Democrats who dither and endlessly discuss what to do, Republicans, when they seize power, immediately act to slash taxes on the Filthy Rich and Corporations, roll back environmental and worker safety regulations, restrict abortion rights, and mercilessly and remorselessly rape the Middle Class and Poor. If you look at the Red and Blue States Election night, you will notice that we could have solved this problem at the end of the Civil War, when Generals Grant and Sherman were systematically killing every Southern Rebel and their sympathizers and burning The South to the ground. Well-meaning and compassionate President Lincoln, naively looking to reconciliation, stopped them from finishing the job. I am ready to re-litigate that unresolved conflict and settle this once and for all. With the Presidency in our hands and two-thirds to three-quarters majorities in both houses of Congress, I am willing to tolerate the handful of idiot mid- and far-western Red States and a smattering of Republicans in the Congress or in control of a few low population States I will never set foot in. In time, Hispanic immigration and their high fertility rate will eventually fix that too.

Poverty sucks. American Capitalism makes poverty inevitable and persistent. We can fix this people, even without a second Civil War. Just f#cking Vote; not at the 95% rates that the Filthy Rich and Republicans do, I’d take just a 65% Voter turnout for the not Filthy Rich. That turnout would defeat not just Mitt (Book of Moron follower) Romney and Paul (I support the right of a drowning man to drown without help from me) Ryan, it would sweep from office almost every Republican at every level of government. Don’t do it for me; do it for you, your children and grandchildren, for our Nation and the Future of our species and Home World. Do it while you still have the right to vote. Just do it!