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Friday, January 22, 2021

Combat Fatigue

 

Anxiety does not empty tomorrow of its sorrows, but only empties today of its strength.
—Charles Spurgeon


Well, that's didn't take long, did it? 

Joe Biden has been president for a little over 48 hours and already the Left has started to turn on itself. 

Despite being entirely predictable, it's damn depressing to watch. 


Especially when you're part of the collateral damage.


Many years ago, writer Larry Niven penned a cautionary tale that has stayed with me, vividly, most of my life. 

The story centers around Doug Hooker, who suffered from severe mental illness -- paranoia to be specific. His illness was held in check by an automated medical system, which allowed him to function more or less normally. Along with his business partner, Greg Loeffler, Hooker founded Skyhook Enterprises and began building fusion-powered interstellar ramscoop starships. The business was successful and both men became fabulously wealthy. But, while Loeffler happily married and started a family, Hooker was always afraid of what any potential partner might think of his illness. So he keep it a secret and it was always a wall between himself and others. Despite his success, Hooker was an unhappy and lonely man, Loeffler being his only friend, and Loeffler's family being a surrogate for one of his own.

Loeffler eventually tired of the business, bought one of Skyhook's ships for himself, and decided to emigrate to a colony world, Plateau in the Tau Ceti system, nine years away by ramscoop.

Hooker was left friendless and alone. 

Unfortunately, the computerized doctor in his desk malfunctioned a short time later and stopped delivering the drugs needed to regulate Hooker's mental illness. The safety system that should have alerted him to this situation likewise failed.

And so, Doug Hooker became, over time, murderously insane. 

Hooker came to blame Loeffler for his empty life, believing that his former partner had only befriended him and invited Hooker into his own family so that one day it could all be taken away and Hooker made to suffer. 

Hooker grew to hate Loeffler with an abiding intensity.

So, one day, Doug Hooker stole one his own ships and set out to get revenge. 

Nine years later Hooker arrived in the Tau Ceti system and using intercepted radio broadcasts and welcoming messages from his erstwhile partner, located Loeffler's house on Plateau. Hooker dropped his ship into the world's atmosphere and hovered on his fusion rocket drive over the house, destroying everything in nuclear fire. 

Loeffler himself escaped, but his wife and son were killed in the attack. 

Plateau authorities eventually disabled Hooker's ship and forced him to land. Because of his illness, he wasn't held responsible for the murders. Instead, he was remanded into mental healthcare and eventually years later cured of his illness altogether by the colony's advanced medical technology and mental therapy. Sane at last, Hooker could not face what he had done, could not face Loeffler. And so, he once again took his ship and set out for a new colony world, Wunderland, hoping to start over. 

Loeffler, however, had been waiting for this moment and pursued in his own ship. 

You see, Loeffler had himself been driven insane by the murder of his family and had become consumed with hate for Hooker and the idea of revenge. 

The ships were at first separated by tens of thousands of miles, but the men were able to speak to each other over the radio. Hooker apologized and begged for Loeffler's forgiveness. But Greg Loeffler's rage had driven him to insanity and there would be no absolution for Hooker. The men dueled with powerful lasers across the vast distances. Eventually the terrible light of Loeffler's weapon went out and he stopped responding to Hooker's radio call, but his ship continued to pursue, closing ever so slowly on Hooker's vessel, intending to ram and kill them both. Hooker could not slow down or even turn, without allowing Loeffler to gain on him. 

They passed Wunderland and continued on into the void. 

The ships scooped up hydrogen from the interstellar medium, that's what a Bussard ramscoop is, and used it as fuel for their fusion rockets -- meaning they could travel theoretically forever. With the advanced medical care of their ships, both Hooker and Loeffler might live forever too. Over years, then decades, then centuries, Hooker daily went about his routine, the patterns of his life ingrained deeply into his mind. He could not stop fleeing and Loeffler would never stop pursuing. 

Neither man could ever change. 

The chase went on for thousands of years, driven by hate, madness, and revenge. 


I've been online daily for thirteen months now. 


I used to take a break every few days and spend it with my wife. 

I needed it. 

The insanity of these last few years, you can only stare into that abyss for so long before you start thinking about vaporizing people with your own fusion drive. 

But then the pandemic happened, COVID-19, and the shops and restaurants and all the places my wife and I used to go, closed up. 

Social Distance. 

Stay home. 

Wear a mask. 

But it was more than that. 

You see, we were also full-time caregivers for a family member who suffered from a debilitating mental illness, dementia, and physical degradation. When we took a day off, another family member would take over our duties for a few hours. But with the coming of COVID that was no longer possible because every physical contact increased the risk.

And so, for the last thirteen months, we've been on duty every minute of every day and I've been online every day, because there just wasn't much of anything else we could do. 

It takes a toll. 

This country is so deeply invested in hate and rage and paranoia that it approaches mass mental illness. You stare into that for twelve, sixteen, eighteen hours a day, everyday, and then have to deal with the demands of taking care of somebody suffering from actual mental illness every minute of every day, and it wears on you. 

Now, understand, I'm not looking for sympathy. 

I do what I do because I want to. My wife and I moved here and assumed responsibility because that's what we felt our duty was. And still do. 

But it's tough. 

We've been doing this, my wife and I, for four years now. 

Four years. 

That's the same period America has been going through its own trials. Four years of unending madness and rage and yet more madness. Four years of trying to keep things on track, minimize the damage, while irrational people lost in delusion and paranoia try to burn it all down. 

It grinds at you, it changes you, especially when there's no break. No way out. No relief. 

That's what happens to soldiers, when there's only unending stress. PTSD. Combat Fatigue. Shell shock. That's what happens when you can't get away from it. 

That's America, four years of insanity and relentless grinding pressure. 

We're all damaged from it, some more than others, some less. It has affected -- still affects -- us all in various ways. 

But that's thing, isn't it? 

Stress, rage, the fight or flight reflex, if it goes on long enough it becomes habit. 


More than habit, it becomes an addiction


When I came home from war the last time, I had been away a long time. 

Every day, even the good ones, were thirty-five hours of stress and effort and high-strung paranoia. 

And then suddenly -- suddenly just like that -- it was over. 

We came home. My wife picked me up from the base. I changed into civilian clothes. And it was over. 

It was over. 

And it just felt so damn good. 

Then -- then -- the next day, I was standing in the middle of a grocery store in Southern California with my family and it was suddenly just so ... surreal. Clean. Bright. Cheerful. Boring. People going about their business, just mundane everyday things.  

And I wanted to scream at them! GODDAMN, YOU SONS OF BITCHES, DON'T YOU KNOW THERE'S A WAR?! THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING AND WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN DOING?! For a while, it felt like I was screaming that inside my head all the time. I wanted to punch those people, beat them bloody. I hated those oblivious bastards, every one of them, I did. 

The thing is: those people had a right to their happiness. They have a right to live their lives, to be oblivious to my rage and pain and screaming madness. They did, they do. As furious as it made me, those people were not required to be miserable on my behalf. 

It took a while to get over that. 

But, I did get over it. Mostly, I guess. Eventually. 

Not everyone does. 


And not all of America is going to get over the last four years any time soon either. 


For me, yesterday, at least in the morning, well, it just felt so damn good. 

Four years of this asshole, right? 

Four damn years. For me, the last thirteen months, every damn day, I woke up and trudged out to my office and sat down behind my desk and opened social media, and there he was. That orange asshole. That pompous, self-aggrandizing, ignorant, stupid, bag of dicks, actively making the world a worse place, playing to the worst traits of humanity, like a demented child with a loaded pistol. Twelve, sixteen, eighteen hours a day sometimes, I'd be at it. Every damn day it was something else, something worse, something even more insane. 

He never hit bottom. 

He never got better, only more terrible. 

Every damn day. 

It wears on you. 

This last month, America on the verge of civil war, sedition, insurrection, armed goons storming the Capitol Building and threatening to do worse.

I don't know what it's like where you're at, but here in the Deep South, the seat of sedition and treason and those goddamned Confederate flags, the militias were out in the streets. I got death threats nearly every day. Hate. Rage. And endless seething maddess. 

My own personal situation deteriorated. 

I had to have heart surgery. I'm still recovering. 

The person my wife and I care for had to go into managed care. 

And to top it all off, I recently spent most of the evening sitting in a clinic waiting on a COVID test, because in the process of caring for our family member and moving her into care, my wife and I were both directly exposed to the disease. 

And after thirteen fucking months, this asshole of a country still doesn't have any sort of coherent organized response. 

I sat there, waiting on the results of the test, knowing that if I had it, I'd most likely die -- the Cardiologist made that abundantly clear. It wasn't the idea of my own possible death that made my hands shake and made me sick to my stomach, it was the idea of leaving my wife alone in this horrible fucking place and all the things I would need to do in whatever time I had left to made sure she would be okay. 

And then suddenly -- suddenly just like that -- it was over. 

The test came back negative. 

Joe Biden was sworn in as president.

Donald Trump and his miserable goons went down in ignominious pusillanimous defeat. 

And it just felt so damn good. 

Man, it did. 

For the first time in a long time, it just felt so damn good. 

I made some comments, on Twitter, on Facebook. Mocking the insanity of the last few years. It doesn't really matter what I said. My remarks were innocuous, light-hearted jokes. Because that's how I deal with close calls. Because that's how I stay sane. Because that's how I don't end up punching random people in the face and screaming in the middle of a grocery store. 

Because, goddamn, man, we made it.

We made it. 

Yeah, not all of us, that's certainly true, but we made it.  

It was over and for just one day I wanted to have some fun, laugh a little, feel good for a change. 

I should have known better. 

I don't mean that sarcastically. Given my own experience, I really should have known better. 

Those who celebrated in the streets of New York at the end of World War II, those iconic pictures of joy in our history books, those men and women they hadn't forgotten the terrible things that had happened, all those who died, the price they had paid.  

Not everyone made it, but they did. And they had a right to feel good in that moment when it was finally over. 

The work wasn't done, there was still decades of effort ahead, but in that one moment, they had every right to feel good, to laugh, to breathe.

Today, in this moment, so much of America is so utterly traumatized, that they can't -- literally cannot -- even enjoy just one day. 

For them, it's not over. 

It may never be over. 

The patterns of this madness are ingrained so deeply into their minds that it can never be over and the very thought of someone else enjoying the new day, however briefly, sends them into a rage, screaming, GODDAMN, YOU SONS OF BITCHES, DON'T YOU KNOW THERE'S A WAR?! THERE ARE PEOPLE DYING AND WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU EVEN DOING?!

That was my Twitter feed yesterday, where I got called a racist and worse (if there is a worse thing to be called for someone like me, I don't know). 

Now, don't get me wrong, I can see it. 

I can. 

I can see how my moment of frivolity, of joy, of happiness at having made it, lived through it, might enrage those who haven't yet. I can see how the happiness of straight white men might feel like abandonment to those who were marginalized. 

I can indeed see this. 

But, I'm not going to apologize for feeling good, even if for only a brief moment. I can understand why others might not feel the same. 

Nor am I going to apologize for blocking those who came after me, who in their own rage and pain needed a target of opportunity. I maybe understand how they feel and I would be the last one to say their feelings are not valid. But, I'm also responsible for my own precarious mental health and being a punching bag for others isn't healthy for me. And so, for good or ill, right or wrong, I have to block out their rage, because I have my own trauma to deal with. 

That said, I haven't forgotten the oppressed, I haven't dismissed them with a few jokes, I don't think I'm suggesting a "return to the status quo" as my liberal audience accused me of yesterday. Far from it. I know that we have decades of work yet to do. And I'll be there, as best I'm able. An ally if you'll have me. On my own if that's how it has to be. 

But once in while, Folks, you have to breathe

You have to let others have a moment of joy, of relief

You have to remember how to laugh. 


If you don't, the madness will consume you.


After thousands of years, when the ships were finally close enough, Hooker pointed his telescope at Loeffler's vessel and discovered that the life support system was gone. Burned away by Hooker's own laser canon millenia ago. 

Greg Loeffler had been dead for more than a thousand years.

But, before he died, he programmed his ship to continue the pursuit, to carry out his revenge, to carry on his rage and madness, relentlessly, no matter how long it took. 

Hooker turned off his scope screen and went down to the steam room. His schedule was shot to hell. He was still trying to readjust when, years later, Loeffler's ramscoop field swept across his ship like an invisible wing.

Two empty ships drove furiously toward the edge of the universe, all alone.
-- The Ethics of Madness, Larry Niven, 1967








205 comments:

  1. Thank you Jim. I've known several people who came home from war, starting with Vietnam vets, who fit this profile exactly. I hope to keep your essay in mind going forward.

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    1. Absolutely agreed. Personally, I couldn't share the joy because to me it didn't feel real, still doesn't, but I loved that so many people could celebrate and I enjoyed watching them do it. Maybe in a few weeks it'll seem real to me too.

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    2. Thank you for saying what so many of us are thinking!

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    3. Mahalo Jim, for your timely reminder To Breathe -- so grateful to hear of your negative COVID test! I know a bit of your recent travails -- I'm 55 years old, I've abandoned my career in order to caretake my 85-year-old Mom, I had a complete hip replacement one year ago and a NSTEMI MI last September requiring a 4-cm-stent in my LAD coronary artery. And yet I am fortunate to recognize my privilege and also my innumerable blessings -- one of which is having discovered your writing. Mālama pono, Chief!

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    4. I realized at the end of Inauguration Day that I'd been holding my breath, my tears, my terror back for four years. I also know how being a primary care-giver can color every part of life, despite choosing to do that important task. My profile is nowhere near as public as yours, but I had to unfriend and stop listening at times. I drew a long sigh and continue to try expanding my lungs and my limbs after these years of protective posturing. Your writings, Jim, have been lifelines and eye-openers. Thank you for your service, on all levels. Be Well--you and all of yours!

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  3. Wow. I've been following you for some time, and I always appreciate what you have to say even if I don't always agree. You make me think rather than just react. Hang in there if you can, you do a lot of good in the world.

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  4. Thanks for sharing this Jim. I've only read your blog intermittently for several years, but I think this is my favorite I've read so far. I appreciate the vulnerability you express here. We have some circumstances in common. My father is 87 and has dementia and all the madness and misfortune heaped on top of everything else takes its toll, and then someone dumps on you on social media. Ugh.

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  5. WOW Just wow. I've admired your writing and point of view. I was grateful that you were actually paying attention to the orange shitgibbon because I couldn't bring myself to do so, to listen to that voice or look at that puckered mouth. I hope you can find some peace as your responsibilities have lessened. I, for one, deeply appreciate you.

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  6. Bless you, Chief. I deliberately slept in on Inauguration Day, because, even though I "knew" nothing bad would happen, there was that slight, nagging worry that "something" bad COULD happen, and I just couldn't face that prospect. So, when I found out nothing bad happened, I was able to watch the recording of the swearing in, and cry my eyes out when Lady Gaga sang with all her heart and joy. Being a caregiver is a brutal, thankless task, and not only have you and your wife been caregiving for that individual, you have been OUR caregiver, in a very real sense. So, I say again, BLESS YOU, Chief. Hang tough, and keep on breathing.

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    1. Same here. A weight has been lifted but a dread remains. Five years since that hideous elevator ride, hours of obsession. The suffering of this last year compounds the madness still among us. Thanks to whatever force got that evil man out of direct power. Thank you, Stone Kettle

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  7. Thanks for all you do. The crazy will go on but perhaps not as loud and insistent as it has been this last four years.

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  8. Beautifully and accurately articulated. Thank you.

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  9. To step back from the edge of the abyss....

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  10. This is haunting and eloquent and so necessary. I hope fervently that you have many days ahead where you can just plain breathe and be happy.

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  11. I'm glad you were negative. You've been a breath of sanity these past years -- more so because of where we both live. It takes time to recover, and I hope that you, I, others, the country can heal. Breathe. Feel the joy, the relief.

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  12. Jim, you probably know this already but I'll say it anyway. Many people who follow you do so because you satisfy some need they have. They agreed with you on something or another, or just like your writing style, and project their other values and needs on you. Of course they will be disappointed and some will lash out because you can't satisfy needs that nothing can satisfy anyway. Hang in there, take time off, airlock the folks that ask for it, laugh and joke as much as you want and don't let the bastards grind you down, shipmate.

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  13. Great essay. There's a lot of poison in America's veins right now and it's going to take a lot of work and time to get it down to a more manageable level. Because it's never going to go away completely.

    I watched Biden's Covid presser yesterday and was struck by how good it felt to have a leader up there who you knew understood what he was talking about and was able to speak in complete, coherent sentences. We're gonna make it.

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  14. Hey Jim, Thank you for this article. Georgia

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  15. I mentioned that all of social media was suddenly like the citizens of "The West" when the Wicked Witch was dead. Just giddy with relief. We made it. I've lost friends, I've got relatives and friends who are still recovering... but Wednesday I was happy, and yesterday I was happy, and today I'm happy. I have plans to rejoin the fight. One of those seditious bastards is my congressman and THAT is going to change... but for right now. I'm happy, dammit, and I deserve to be. And so do you, Jim. (Of course, I don't Twitter. At all. For any reason.)

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  16. The only thing I can say is that I'm happy you are hanging on in the midst of the personal struggles and the daily shit storm you recive for the work you do online.
    Best of continued health!!

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  17. Chief, I saw what went down on Twitter and was saddened by their reactions.

    We should celebrate when evil is pushed back, even a little bit, but there's always those who just want to shit on someone else's lawn, no matter the circumstances, there's always those contrarians who have to be that guy.

    FWIW, I got your back, if ever you need it.

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  18. To Jim and his wife. I know you only from your writings. I hope you both have felt a lot of love coming to you from, basically strangers, these last 4 years. The country was lucky to have your intelligence during your years of service. We are all lucky to have your intelligence now which shows up in your thoughts, words and deeds, and beautifully, in your photos and woodwork. Amanda Gorman's "hill we climb" seems more like a mountain to me but thank you for being a light on that path for so many of us. I am sweetly glad you have each other.

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  19. Thank you for everything you do. I’m sorry people are assholes.

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  20. Thank you for everything you do. I’m sorry people are assholes.

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  21. When you’re done down there please come home to Alaska. I’ll take you fishing and we’ll have a beer...

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  22. To Jim and his wife. I know you only from your writings. I hope you both have felt a lot of love coming to you from, basically strangers, these last 4 years. The country was lucky to have your intelligence during your years of service. We are all lucky to have your intelligence now which shows up in your thoughts, words and deeds, and beautifully, in your photos and woodwork. Amanda Gorman's "hill we climb" seems more like a mountain to me but thank you for being a light on that path for so many of us. I am sweetly glad you have each other.

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  23. Just take care of yourself and your family. You've already given WAY more than your share to the general good. You've been a beacon of rationality in a sea of madness, to me and I'm sure thousands of others.
    You opened my eyes about what it's like to be in the Military, both good and bad. I'll probably never get the chance IRL so I extend a virtual hardy handshake to you, in deep respect and gratitude.
    Bill Sloan

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  24. Jim, I know you're not asking for sympathy ... that's not who you are.

    But you've got it. Tons of it. And I'm sure there are thousands of others who read your work and feel as I do. I hope you have at least a tiny idea of how much you've meant to all of us over the past 4 years - how much your daily offerings of sanity have HELPED. Truly, deeply helped. Helped many of us navigate the madness and rage and relentless spiral into batshit chaos that we've all been living.

    I've been a part-time caregiver myself over the past 3 years, and it's the hardest and most demanding and important thing I've ever done - I can't imagine doing it every day, AND confronting the seething fury and pandemonium that you deal with. I'm a strong person, but I'd melt in a day. I'd be a puddle. You've held your post for four years.

    Damn right, you're entitled to celebrate! Breathe. Enjoy. Live a little.

    Do all that, and know that you have many people's heartfelt thanks.

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    1. Fellow caregiver here--and we actually have NURSES for my mom, thanks to her extremely foresighted provision of a long-term care plan many years ago---but even just the weight of being the main decision-maker and mom-comforter is hard for me. I cannot imagine being the one, single, solitary full-time 100%-everything caregiver for thirteen months; I had a hard time doing it for thirteen HOURS.

      And then to add to that, the intensity of being the last remaining voice of sanity in the entire state of Florida and possibly the southeastern quadrant of the nation....and dealing with the bastards and trolls and shitwagons...

      Jim, you are amazing. And I thank you for what you've given us.

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  25. Well done, Chief. You've revealed a part of your life that we had wondered about and it sounds cathartic. We all need to examine ourselves and realize this catharsis will take some time, but we can feel the relief that some of the insanity is gone. Be well and a big thank you from all of us here on Starship Stonekettle.

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  26. I have PTSD from losing my daughter to suicide, on top of anxiety and depression I've carried for years. I get it. I need those moments of frivolity I have with my friends. I can't just spend every day being miserable without my daughter. I miss her, I mourn her, but if I don't find a way to keep going then what is the point.

    Nothing will ever bring her back, but I can't spend the rest of my life screaming at people in the supermarket, about life going on, like you said.

    My PTSD symptoms had disappeared. They came back especially in the last two years. I'm rejoicing and posting silly Bernie memes and smiling. You gotta have something to make you smile at some point or what's the point?

    Great essay - it's nice to know there are other people out there who feel the way I do.

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  27. How did I miss this short story by Larry Niven? Sheesh. It's certainly apt, but I felt the joy when Trump left in disgrace and Biden became president. So much relief and happiness! But I'm also fragile and a little ragged from four years of that administration. It's going to take me a while to recover, and I won't feel whole again until we beat COVID. "It's always something." -Gilda Radner.

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  28. I feel this. We're not going to get over this anytime soon. PTSD sufferers, abuse victims, all have said the same thing for weeks, if not months and years. Some times it feels surreal, and other times, it's joy, but damn, it's not going to be fixed overnight. We're going to have some bad dreams for awhile.

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  29. You’re right. We all are suffering from PTSD brought on by the “short fingered vulgarian” and the unrelenting anxiety he infected us with. It won’t disappear in a day, a week, a month or year perhaps. For some, never. The only recourse, the only medicine, however fleeting, is joy, laughter, even silliness. Take care of yourself, Jim, and your wife. “Illegitimi non carborundum.” Fake Latin though it surely is, the inside joke is funny too, even as it is good advice.

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  30. Jim it feels as if you've channeled my emotions of today with laser procession. I was telling my son that tRump fatigue is REAL and recovery will be slow.

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  31. Thank you for this! I'm a Navy vet with 4 tours in Viet Nam in my experience locker. You captured the feelings of angst that I experienced while coming through the airports at SFO and LAX. I eventually decided that I was the only person responsible for moving on. Many of my friends from that time haven't been as successful and it's shaped their lives. It would feel so good to drop the baggage they carry but they just can't do that.

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  32. Thanks. I get it. I know it isn't over. But yes, breathe, take a minute to recognize, enjoy, and appreciate the relief we do have from that nightmare that has been the last 4 years and particularly the last year. The new day isn't perfect but it is at least a new dawn; daylight, not that constant darkness. Like Amanda Gorham's poem we now need to be brave enough to be the light.

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  33. I understand the feelings. When my husband came home from Vietnam, I felt I could stop holding my breath. Beginning with the Covid Memorial Service on Jan 19th and ending with the fireworks on the 20th, I cried and laughed. I could breath again. My husband and I are entering our 9th decade of life without the anger and fear we had not so many days ago. Thank you for this writing.

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  34. Jim: You are one of the people who kept me relatively sane these last 4 years, and as a long-time bleeding heart liberal, I can't quite get my head around folks attacking for your jokes. I really enjoyed them. I'm sorry you're dealing with so much, all at one time. Be well. Breathe. Take all the time you need.

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  35. I get what you're saying entirely. You ARE deserving to feel some goodness, a sense of hope after all the hopelessness. We all have our battles, I'm so sorry yours has been such a hard road to walk. I have C-PTSD, and I think while this was a detriment on a daily basis, it's helped me to understand where so many others are now, and logical based people love the information and facts to aid understanding. I actually danced during some of the music they played at the inauguration celebration, and I haven't felt like dancing for years. I woke up exhausted, but with hope for a change, and while I know it takes time to lessen the waves of grief, I know that they do get smaller and smaller given some time. Thank you for all your hard work, you have been a beacon of sanity in an insane world. Take care of you, the internet will continue to be a cesspool, but there are good things there too, but take days off from being plugged in, it's good for the soul. <3

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  36. After my husband died, it took two weeks before I trusted myself to drive a car--not because I couldn't remember how, but because I was afraid of a crucial moment in which a snap decision would have to be made in traffic and my mind might wouldn't focus and I might hurt someone. It struck me like a suffocating weight that there was an untold number of other people out there going through something similar. I couldn't be the one responsible for that. One of us had to withdraw. So I withdrew until I felt more sane and capable of defensive driving.***Both of my parents had dementia when they died. It drains you. I understand.***When the lockdown hit, I had my will done. I would most surely die, too. My parents' estates were nightmares and I didn't want to put my sons through that. So far, still kicking, but now my kids have it.***Be safe. Do the best you can to take care of you. Thinking hopeful thoughts for your entire family and sending love.

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  37. *I feel l so bad I typo the author s/b Gorman NOT Gorham. Can you fix it?

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  38. Honestly, I am continually surprised that the human races manages to exist day to day. I hope you have downtime with your family and pups, and take a million photos (and I hope you keep posting the best ones, because holey moley do you have photographic talent!) Your writings give me hope, bring me to tears of joy and anger. I learn from what you write - and I truly appreciate what you do. If you write a book, I will buy a copy.

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  39. Thanks for writing this, and for the parallel with the Nivin story. Sobering to think that the global "we" have become addicted have become addicted to the rage.

    I wish to gods we would stop eating our own.

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  40. Thanks, Chief. I/we needed this. For some, the relief/joy comes immediately after the threat has been avoided; for others, they peer slowly out of the cave and after a while, the joy comes, too; for some, however, the joy comes slowly - sometimes for years; and, unfortunately, some never get the joy back. Been there, done that. Be safe, be well... and keep writing.

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  41. Wednesday I didn't start my work day until after the inauguration. I felt good, I felt hope, and I enjoyed that feeling all day. As a country, and as human beings we need that, and you absolutely are right that even when we have a hard time feeling it - maybe even more so then - it is important to take the victories and feel all the positive feelings. There is always more work, but without taking those moments the darkness wins. You are someone whose comments I look forward to reading, even when I don't agree with them all, and I will continue to look forward to reading as we try to go forward and NOT just return to the status quo. Don't let them get you down, more of us understand than don't and you have our support.

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  42. I'm sorry. I wish I had a magic wand big enough for the country and the whole world.
    I'm not on twitter and don't have a lot of followers, but for the past few days, I and my friends on social media have just been breathing. We know there is still work to do, but we got to take this bit of space and just ... breathe. And it's been lovely. And soon we will get back to work. But first, just breathing.
    And since breathing is something that I actually suck at, it's been nice.
    And I wish I could bottle this and send it to you.

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  43. Thanks you and Niven for your insights to madness and overwhelming anger. Thank you for dealing with your own anger as a beacon that others might also light the way. My experience is that as I allow my own anger it does not turn outward as I would wish but rather draws me deeper into situations that I do not wish to be a part of. Still it is not right to ignore the presence of war and threats to life and limb and sanity, but a bit of neutrality goes along way to helping correct the direction of the vessel. Ultimately we have to wish well to those that we hate and those that have hurt us for a good enemy helps us correct our course in life. Correcting our own direction is really all we have control of. At least that has been my experience.

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  44. I wrote this yesterday.

    I have had an extraordinary day. It is the 21st day of the 21st year of the 21st century (that's cool!). To everyone who wished me a happy birthday, thank you. To everyone who voted for Biden/Harris a bouquet of thanks.
    ...

    In addition to all the other beautiful gifts I received this year, I got one that was completely unexpected, but very dear. I got to talk to my Mom for the first time in three months. By sheer chance, she was at the door of her memory unit when my sister showed up this morning. My sister hadn't seen her in over two weeks, although she checks in daily at the facility. A very kind staff worker allowed her to leave the memory unit and talk to me on my sister's phone. She was having a good day. She remembered it was my birthday. I got to tell her that I love her.

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  45. On Inauguration Day I got up at 5am to watch the Orange Menace fly away, and then had my eyes peeled on the television until almost midnight, reveling in the joy and relief and I didn't want to stop and I didn't want to go to bed because it had been so long since I'd felt so good, almost *safe*, even, and I knew that the next morning reality would set in and the work would need doing and that the fears weren't really going to go away for quite a while, and that it would be a while before the name, the voice, and the horrible visage would finally disappear from daily life.

    In other words, Yes, to every single word of this essay. Thank you for putting into words what so many people are going to go through, and for the level of your empathy. You have no idea how much you helped me, personally, get through the last 4+ years. I don't think I could find the words.

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  46. I was the sole caretaker for my mom, who had dementia, for years. I relate to what you and your family went through. It's a mindfuck all on its own. Four years of Trump made it so much worse.

    When Biden finished taking his oath, I wept for joy. It was like taking off a coat with 100 pounds of barbells sewn into it that I'd been forced to wear for years. I breathed deeply and then I slept better and more than I have in weeks. We are allowed our joy. Anyone who seems only to be happy when they are ranting and angry shouldn't be surprised by an airlock. We're celebrating, not ignorant of the problems ahead of us. Just let us catch our breath!

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  47. Thanks for this. Being able to allow oneself to relax and be human is what we all need right about now. Really appreciate that you can enunciate some things I have a hard time doing.

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  48. Peace be unto you. I visit every Tuesday with my sister who has dementia, eventually she too will go to managed care. I have a small understanding of what you and your wife went through. I am glad you blog and post, as a sobering voice in this chaos. Thank you. Bravo Zulu

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  49. I have never been to war, thank goodness.

    My PTSD is from public safety and it is, indeed, much different than a soldier's.

    But I understand.

    And some never do get over things or learn to manage them, sadly.

    The trauma of the hate and division wreaked upon us by the GOP and their guidepost is going to take much undoing and none of it will be easy.

    To read that people were judging you, well, that is fucked up and not right..... which is another symptom of just how far the USA has devolved.

    I have thoughts on this that will take me quite some time to figure out.
    There is so much rage around me along with glee and trepidation.

    The haters are not going anywhere..... they have plenty of inertia behind them to last ages and we have to be vigilant and intolerant of them.

    It's going to take some time and if I or you want to feel joy and some just plain ol' satisfaction at it all that is what we should do.

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  50. Thank you for the moment in Niven Hell. I remember reading this back then and it really burned out my euphoria of the moment in the 60's. But it is really appropriate here in this moment to try and understand the rage some people feel versus the rage one's own self can feel. We can only hope all of us awaken to a new day together, soon.

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  51. I care for my 90yo father and 83 yo mother 2 days a week. They both have some level of dementia. One can agitate a situation in 10 seconds or less. It is a 10 hour day, 2 days a week, with people that I love. I joke that I have PTSD from this, and the pandemic, and our previous President, but I laugh that off, because it is not fair to those who truly have PTSD from seriously traumatic episodes. But, we need a name for this relentless low level depression/anxiety that is caring for the elderly during a pandemic, while fighting to save our country. All of that being said, I have massive respect that you managed 24 hour care on top of everything else that you do. I wish for us all an easing of duress.

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    1. The name for it is PTSD. Don't underestimate your own trauma in a kind of Olympics of trauma because you recognize people may have lived through even more horrific things. Trauma is trauma — physical, emotional, exhausting. You don't have to win the gold medal of trauma to have PTSD. It isn't unfair to people who've suffered worse traumas to recognize that your trauma has affected you, too. It's not weak. It doesn't make you lesser if you have PTSD because of trauma that could have been much worse. You can look into C-PTSD if it helps, but trauma is trauma. The very best human beings who prioritize empathy and love are the most susceptible to PTSD from relatively "minor" trauma. Don't laugh it off. That's not fair to you.

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    2. I agree with Stephanae.

      Amnesia (I feel fine), analgesia (its not that bad), and dissociation (it didn't happen) are easy trances to fall into. And they are all forms of denial. Ultimately - self denial. Animals do not do this, only humans do.

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  52. Dear Jim, long before 45, you kept me (us) sane with your essays here and in my e-mail. You have been at this much longer than 13 months really. I may have brought some of the goons your way by recommending your words. I hope not. You have weathered many challenges in your lifetime. You must focus on taking care of you and your wife and dawgs now. Perhaps only write your fiction or your memoirs. You are not obligated here. Maybe it's time for a break. Write once or twice a week. Take a break for months. Those of us who have been with you, will look to support your making a living with words. We are not entitled to your health - mental or physical. I enjoy what you write - snark and joy. Keep writing. Stay well. Best Wishes. BH

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  53. I can't believe it's been over 4 years since you've moved from Alaska, when I first started following you. I mourned over Shopcat and posted a pic of a water tower with SAVE SHOPCAT on it. I always relied upon you as a source of intelligent, patriotic and moral fortitude during these crazy times. Your practical knowledge of government, the military and intelligence agencies helped me understand many of the "behind the scenes" activity that happens in a working democracy. And I always enjoyed your brief forays into my favorite science fiction stories, too! Please take care of yourself and keep sharing yourself with us, we really need it. You are never alone, we're there for you. Thanks!
    Best regards,
    gjune

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  54. As always, Jim, thanks for putting that which should be obvious - but rarely is - into such well thought-out words. We are in your debt, and you have my gratitude.

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  55. I would like to thank you for the moments of sanity you have given me during the past four years. You have provided me clarity in some instances and a different perspective in others, but always an education. Please take some time now for yourself and your family. You deserve it. I'll still be here waiting.

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  56. Thank you Mr.Wright. i felt so bad for you, reading the responses to your tweets made me a little angry at most of those folks.

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  57. As always, the words hit home. Breathe, Chief. I still fight the rage from my deployment - and this godforsaken last 4 years - and found myself just yesterday watching a briefing from Fauchi, feeling my blood boil at the comments scrolling by on the screen. Thanks, Jim. You make the world a better place.

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  58. As always, the words hit home. Breathe, Chief. I still fight the rage from my deployment - and this godforsaken last 4 years - and found myself just yesterday watching a briefing from Fauchi, feeling my blood boil at the comments scrolling by on the screen. Thanks, Jim. You make the world a better place.

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  59. As always, the words hit home. Breathe, Chief. I still fight the rage from my deployment - and this godforsaken last 4 years - and found myself just yesterday watching a briefing from Fauchi, feeling my blood boil at the comments scrolling by on the screen. Thanks, Jim. You make the world a better place.

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  60. Sometime, somewhere, someday, the hate has to stop. Or it will kill us......if it hasn't already.

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  61. If we can't revel in the small, incremental successes, WTF is the point? So fuck 'em if they can't take a joke. You deserve your hard-won moments of peace. Thanks for another brilliant essay.

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  62. I enjoy your posts. Hope you and your wife take some much needed time to relax and rejuvenate.

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  63. Life on earth for most, Jim.....God Bless.

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  64. I hear you, Jim... Been there--about the caregiving.... Hang in there!

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  65. Wow. common sense that isn't all that common.

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  66. I saw the comments on twitter and I didn't understand. Still don't. I don't get involved in the rampages, because then you have to deal with me and whatever my comments generate too. I may not always agree with you, but I do always see what you are trying to say. I just wish there were more out there who would make that effort.

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  67. I saw the Tweet that set off the shit storm yesterday. I still don't understand it, or the uproar that followed. I felt very sad that you couldn't enjoy the high spirits that you were obviously feeling when you started the day. I assume that (hopefully) the vast majority of your followers don't reflect yesterday's craziness, and that you draw strength and energy from that knowledge.

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  68. I remember that story. Powerful and appropriate. We ALL deserve a break / breath of fresh air! Before picking up the fight again to being to address all that has been broken (as well as what was broken before, which has led to much of this).

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  69. Really good stuff, Jim. Don't apologize, shipmate. You've earned your joy. ~ Spartacus

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  70. Someone once said to me, "Do you even hear yourself talking, do you know what you say?"

    That statement has resonated in my heart for nearly 30 years now and still does today as strongly as it did that day because sometimes - a lot of the time - the answer is, "no, of course not, how odd" and it forces me to stop and parse out my thoughts, and think about my words, what I say, how I say it, where and when and who - it asks that I consider impact before intent.

    Still, I am sometimes one of your screamers, in my head, in my voice, in the words I type out to the void, and I know I am the ship that my parents created and my experiences shaped and I try not to be so lost and so trapped that I can't turn, can't make different choices before it becomes too late. Thank you for so clearly articulating the depths of the madness and despair that those traps lead too, there is always the hope that even one person will hear it, will see it, and will turn to making a healthier choice the next time they can't hear themselves.

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  71. Wow, Jim, that is some powerful prose, true telling of troubled times. I have been reading your posts on FB and on this blog but do not read or post on other platforms. So I have missed most of the hate and anger directed at you personally. I still suffer occasional spikes of PTSD from events far away and mostly unmentionable. For this reason I have insulated myself some from the horrors and hates of the past four years, including emigrating to Quebec where my spouse and family live. Take care of yourself and your wife, and let the nation come to a new stasis in time, long after you and I perhaps. I am near 84 in good health and hope to see better times and national healing.

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  72. Thank you for this, Jim, and for all that you do. You have said it precisely and perfectly. Deep Peace to you and your family.

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  73. Wow. As always, you nailed it. It's hard to recover. I do want you to know that you have been a big factor in saving my sanity. Thanks. Knock, knock, Motherfucker.

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  74. I hate it when the people I truly respect, the people who have helped me maintain my sanity these last 4 years are so attacked. We do have a right to feel joy. You, me and all who choose to. And yet even this morning I reminded myself of what I believe to be one of the best quotes of the democracy "If you truly want a better nation, then you need to be a better citizen."

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  75. I know there isn't just one thing a person could suggest that would somehow make this all turn out ok. Except I beleive in healing no matter how fucked up the rest of the world is and even when they bring their fucked upness right up to our door. And I hear you. I do. This is an insightful piece of work for which I thank you. Pet the beagle for me?

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  76. Excellent excellent excellent as always Mr. Wright. Please do take the time you need to heal. The world will be there tomorrow or in a week or in a month. We would be a poorer place without your insight but we can certainly coast for some time while you recuperate .

    If anyone wants to read the story referenced in this article, it is available on Archive.org (remember to donate!) https://archive.org/details/1967-04_IF

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  77. I'm an old man, and not particularly good at it. As a younger man in the Army, I made E-5 twice, following in the footsteps of my grandfather who, as a younger man in the Marines, made E-5 three times and still got out as an E-4. I come from a long line of largely adequate people who never quite fit in with conventional success, and never quite managed to say what I'm about to:

    I love you, Chief. You're a better man than most of us. And if your reaction to that is "well then, man are we fucked", you ain't wrong.

    But we fight on. Because, fuck, what else we gonna do?

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  78. Niven was a great writer. You sare a great writer. The GOP is often accused of shooting themselves in the foot. Progressives are not immune to that either, as old men like us know only too well.

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  79. Thanks Jim. Sorry to read of your MIL's decline. It must be very hard on your wife. You're a good man, doing good things. Your writing has both articulated many of my own thoughts, and helped maintain my sanity. One gets tired of fighting the long defeat.

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  80. An excellent, thoughtful, erudite piece of writing as you seem to always produce. I am a former infantry officer in a hot piece of the Cold War. My service ended after a nearly fatal non-combat related motor vehicle incident. I recognise the unintentional rage that is part of PTSD after demobilization all too well. I was lucky enough to be able to complete a Liberal Arts degree and to form a long lasting romantic relationship, each of which enabled me to work out most of my demons. I met and spent time with people who had been my enemies, and to make peace with them and even work with some of them. I also realised that, while those who had been left untouched by the war were luckier than I had been, their good fortune was not at my cost, but the result of chance. It has taken me nearly four decades, a divorce, a mental and physical collapse and lots of rehabilitation to reach a point that I can look back with a degree of equanimity. America is in a PTSD-like place after the last few weeks, months and years and it will take a lot of goodwill to help to treat it. Essays like yours are part of the healing process.

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  81. Powerful words on multiple levels. You have been a safe harbor for those who have been tossed by the sea of turmoil generated by entities that do NOT embody the true Spirit of America.

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  82. Thank you for this Jim. These last 4 years have been hell (well actually the last 12, ya know that Obama guy got elected), and I'm sure the next 4 will be the same, because I'm the only non-republican in my family. Your essay really hit home for me. Thank you.

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  83. We are a weird group of animals. The social media platform brings out strange qualities in us, extremes I guess.

    To wade into this morass day after day, for years, trying to make a difference takes its toll, something I believe I've seen you reference now and again.

    And I've seen some of the change, I think, from before leaving Alaska to now.

    I am grateful for your perseverance and how well you have kept the course.

    If someone else's opinion matters, I think you've done well, as well as anyone I've personally had some kind of contact with.

    I can only speak for me, and for me, it matters.

    Thank you.

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  84. Amen brother. For 6 years my wife and I were the in home caregivers for her father who had dementia. It's been a couple of years since he passed and the stress from that is still obvious. Between the orange menace and Covid, everyone is going to need a decade of therapy just to stay level. Thank you for everything you did to help keep us within sight of mostly sane.

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  85. Eloquently put, as always.
    And you're right, it becomes a habit to be angry, to be disappointed, to look for the negative.
    *takes deep breath*
    Thank you though, for giving us all confirmation that we weren't lost and alone in the nightmare. And for doing it with humour.
    "For there is always light,
    if only we’re brave enough to see it
    If only we’re brave enough to be it"
    -Amanda Gorman

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  86. Jim, you didn't ask for sympathy but I do want to say I'm sorry for your situation. Your comment about becoming addicted to the stress rang true. I wanted to bathe in the latest Trump outrage. But I decided to move on. No need to know about Melania's boorish behavior. I'm ready to get to work improving this country. The inauguration did feel like a weight had been lifted. But I know that we have a lot of hard days ahead. I'm ready for that.

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  87. Thanks Jim. This was very well put, as always. I had enjoyed your lighthearted posts yesterday in the spirit you describe here. Reading your insights and often funny takes generally have been a soothing balm in stressful, terrifying, sad, rage-inducing times.

    I 100% agree with you on the need to just breathe in the moment of things. In leadership and managing change (both to achieve change and help people live through it) celebrating milestones is critical! In no way does it mean that we're done, but in order to keep progressing and not burn out, we need to celebrate achievements.

    Thank you

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  88. I like the way you think and articulate. Thanks. Beyond that, taking the day (or a few) to celebrate was very necessary and good. No one should be vilified for needing a break or feeling a moment of joy.

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  89. Please, please, take some time with your wife, recharge your batteries, shake off some of the fallout from the past 4 years. Your voice is important, so take care of yourself and feel ok giving politics a bit of distance. Take a break from the crazy.

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  90. Everyone needs to be happy once in a while.

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  91. Thank you for every word you have shared. Each one has provided me at least with courage to go on pursuing the light.

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  92. You are absolutely correct. This type of continued stress is totally addictive. Your brain and body learn to produce the chemicals/hormones that keep you in that state. Eventually it begins to crave them so your mind offers up scenarios to produce more of them. It is succinctly summed up by neuroscience in this statement: ... neurons that fire together wire together. the process grows. and grows.

    I understand it all too well. The abuse I suffered in childhood left me with PTSD and a physical need to live in fear. There are ways out. I recently celebrated my 74th birthday and I'm still learning them. It's gotten easier. Even the madness that we suffered the last 4 years has been tempered somewhat by these skills.

    But it never truly stops for me. I've been in a daze since the 6th. I still cannot believe it's "over." I still flinch at the very thought of what we've all come through. Even though I fully realized well over a year ago why I was reacting the way I was, somewhere buried deep inside the fear continued.

    It will slowly calm. Lots of deep breathing. Meditation. Tapping when it gets really bad. Reminding myself I am safe. And more importantly, I'm not alone. I have your writings as a beacon of hope, the knowledge there are way more of "us" than there are of "them." That our government is filled with strong, patriotic people who will continue to guard our Constitution.

    One last comment. 4 years ago I drove myself into not one but THREE attacks of A Fib. I had to have a procedure done to stop it and put my heart back into normal rhythm. (they knocked me out and hit me with the paddles, stopping and restarting my heart). The docs wanted to put me on this drug and that drug and it was all "RED ALERT RED ALERT." I threw the drugs in the garbage and stopped watching MSNBC and screaming at the TV every night. My blood pressure returned to normal, my anxiety attacks slowed and have pretty much stopped, my heart is fine. Breathe. Just. Breathe. All is well.

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  93. I don't understand these people. Do they expect you to wear sackcloth and ashes?

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  94. Some crimes cannot be absolved; they can only be resolved. Hooker should have been destroyed, insane or not; he was clearly a danger to the community. The risk of keeping him alive was obviously no longer worth the benefit.

    And Loeffler should have directed his anger towards the society that enabled the crime, not the madman who did it.

    If a fox breaks into your farm and eats your chickens, you shoot the fox and sue the guy who built the fence.

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  95. Wow...just fuckin' wow. Great writing, Jim. This just reminded me that I haven't tossed a few shekels into your cup for a while and if I want to continue to hear you and your thoughts, I better make a contribution now. Thank you for your words. It is an honor to hear them. Hang in there, Chief. We need you now as much as ever.

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  96. I am well into my eighties. Hope like Spring is still yet to come creeping over the window sill. But the seasons are bigger than all of our species. I like the Niven story. Made me think a bit of Tolstoy's The Duel, where a perceived slight becomes morphed into an addictive passion. A life of retribution, for unhinged things. And it is the insanity within us. Poets and philosophers are my escape as I age. I recommend them, even as they are sharp swords often as not.

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  97. Thank you for this wonderful essay. I do not have a Twitter account, but I read people like you on Twitter, anyway, and I read the nastiness on your timeline. Like so many things these days, it made me sad.

    I have felt very conflicted. I want to feel joy. I watched parts of the two press conferences from the Biden administration in the last two days and tears of relief were running down my face simply to see a competent press secretary holding daily press briefings again.

    I live in a conservative suburb in a red state and I was incredibly grateful to have two neighbors this year who also put up Biden/Harris signs. And yet, when they were expressing joy to me the last couple of days, I couldn't help still feeling abject terror that 74 million Americans voted for more of Trump, and we already lost House seats ahead of 2022. It's just more of the same terror I felt on November 8, 2016, when I realized how much more powerful the misogynistic and racist forces in our country were than I had previously thought. But I tried very hard to join in their joy, anyway. I tried to support it and not squash it. I don't know how successful I was. The last four years have exacerbated a depressive disorder that I've managed to mostly control for many years, and I know my energy was a bit of a downer, but I certainly didn't rage at them like people on Twitter did at you. There's that, at least.

    In fact, I am trying very hard to vicariously take heart at other people's joy. We did win a battle. We should be allowed to celebrate this. And then, as you have always said, we mustn't fall down in our duty, we must show up again to vote in 2022 and keep fighting this war. Perhaps, if we manage that, some of my terror will begin to abate. I hope so, anyway. Or, maybe I'll just move the goalpost to 2024. Ugh, I need therapy. But I'm actually grateful to those who feel any sense of joy or optimism and speak about it, right now. So thank you.

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  98. Thank you for your words, they bring a sense to the situation we all find ourselves in now. Even as a Canadian, we are deeply affected by the events of our neighbours. For the last four years, our friends government declared us enemies. Friends don't always agree with each other but to be called the enemy certainly hurt.
    We hope your world returns to a safer environment for all.

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    1. It pained me to see you called the enemy, too! The previous administration also made no secret of the fact that it thought its own liberal and Democratic citizens were enemies. The president of my country told me he hated me, an American citizen, pretty much every day. It was a government looking for evil villains, and it labeled way too many of us that way. And I absolutely agree that it hurt.

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  99. Thank you so much Jim. You are one of the people that kept me sane through all this crap. You deserve all the happiness you can get, and to stay away from the social media hellholes as long as possible.

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  100. Patricia Von FrickenJanuary 22, 2021 at 6:18 PM

    thank you for everything..

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  101. People who are tired and need a break are often misunderstood by people who are not tired and floundering in the trough. By all means take the flag and run but don't blame me because I need a break from running. You're a good egg Jim. As someone who's had to take care of a loved one with dementia you have more than earned the right to a little joy. And anyone who doesn't see Biden's win as a small beam of light of joy, they'll never be happy ever.

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  102. For what it's worth - thank you for what you do and have done. Incredible and such valuable work.

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  103. I'm glad your test was negative. I always appreciate your insights.
    Thanks for your dedicated, excellent voice. It does make a difference.

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  104. It isn't depressing if you expected it, Chief. I hate to say it but, none of this is surprising.
    This is an age of delusional hedonism. Full of bad actors and do nothing masturbators who lie to themselves into thinking they're activists.

    No one in this day is a real activist. Not Shaun King. Not Robin D'Angelo. Certainly not Kamala Harris or AOC.

    No.

    They're all bloodthirsty capitalists.

    WE are all nothing but fellow masturbaters and voyeurs.

    I'm sorry this stings you, Chief.

    I really am.

    The only real salvation is some kind of apocalypse. And it's a gamble, sure, we might just go extinct. Or, we might just evolve.

    The catalyst though, is always the same, extinction level event.

    Let's hope climate change plays it's part smartly.

    BLM = MAGA.

    There was never going to be anything other than ideological unilateralism and myopic moralizing. The trappings of a truly uncaring and intentionally blind and impotent culture.

    I say, let the walls come down.

    Maybe, just maybe, when the dust settles over all of OUR Graves, our grandchildren might digest the lessons we all forsook for the sake of our own comforts and feel good-ism.

    Maybe they'll accept the bitter truths we refused to hear.

    Maybe not.

    For what it's worth, again, I am sorry.

    There are no just causes.

    There are no heroes.

    We're all just out for ourselves.

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    1. So, you're an accelerationist. Are you the leftist variety or the white supremacist variety? Oh, wait, "bloodthirsty capitalists" lets me know you're the leftist variety who make common cause with the white supremacists (largely because many of them have white supremacist leanings but prioritize liberal economics more). The outcome of our grandchildren's lesson after a violent revolution where "the walls come down" is entirely dependent on who survives and who wins. It's an extreme gamble that only the most arrogantly privileged people in our society would remotely think is worth taking. You may or may not even have any surviving grandchildren after this "apocalypse" you claim will be some kind of salvation. Or, you might have grandchildren miserably doing utterly horrific soul-destroying things out of abject terror. The arrogance of thinking a revolution will just "sort it all out" is amazing.

      Also, "we're all just out for ourselves" is a narcissist's projection. You are proclaiming a kind of superior morality or intelligence that you completely fail to display.

      Were you among the insurrectionists invading the U.S. Capitol on 1/6 or were you just cheering them on from afar?

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  105. dammit Jim, you have every right to feel exhausted, shell-shocked, giddy with relief, and everything else. Your words have for years now expressed the fears, hopes, anger, frustrations, and sheer incandescent rage on occasion, that so many of have felt. Your service to this nation did not stop when you hung up the uniform and retired. Your words serve as well (but you know that). As a noncombat (IT & Comm) Air Force veteran, my experience in uniform was vastly different from yours and others at the tip of the spear, but even so, I get what you are talking about. Spent a year in Korea wondering if we would be at war in the next 15 minutes with nerve gas as our first clue. Coming home was not as bad as yours, but still an experience.
    As spouse to a physician who has suffered from depression her entire life and now has this damned virus to deal with too, I do know how the responsibility of caring for someone can drag on you (and in comparison to your load, mine has been trivial). Both you and your wife have done wonderful things to support family, and while you didn't ask for sympathy, you both have it nonetheless. From tens of thousands of us who truly appreciate what you do, from the humorous tales to the serious discussions of our future and our responsibilities. May you both be blessed by any and all values of ${DEITY}! Go hoist whatever alkyhol you want and enjoy as long as it takes...

    And, that has always been one of my favorite Niven stories, for reasons I couldn't even tell ya. Thumbs up!

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  106. I was married to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, which I didn't figure out until we had split. I ended up with C-PTSD and a ton of therapy.
    I kept telling people what the Angry Cheeto was, and it threw me back to the old victim-shaming days I had already endured due to my ex.
    Wednesday, I was *giddy* with relief. I know Joe and Kamal are not and will not be perfect. I know the bar is so low for basic intelligence that literally anything they do will shine like a beacon. I know the GOP will be shitty and McConnell and all those other rat bastards will obstruct as they always do. I know that ultimately, the Biden Administration will be "normal," even though we are all suffering from Post-Trump Stupid Disorder.
    But Wednesday, I felt so filled with hope and more joy than I have felt in ages! I am going to cling to that feeling as hard as I can. I will cling to seeing the blended families on the Inauguration stage, the people of color on that stage, the old, the young, the LGBTQ. Because *that* is America, now. And that makes us strong, if we only listen to each other's wisdom.
    Thank you, Jim, for your writings. You've helped keep us all together these last four dystopic years.

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  107. In my opinion, anger and hate addiction is a major problem in the States. If not dealt with soon this problem may destroy it.

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  108. Thank you Jim, you have kept me sane through all this. I wish you sanity and peace for you and your family.

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  109. thank you so much for sharing this. i’ve been a mix of all emotions - frustrated and upset at people who were not paying attention to what was going in and having to realize that not everyone can for their own health. i’ve had to be more selective for my health. we all need to do what we can, support others when we can, and be kind - and stop attacking each other. i had so much joy on Wednesday and Thursday. and it continues. we voted for democracy and the insurrection failed.

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  110. Thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

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  111. Just one typo - I think you forgot the "the" in this sentence:
    "But that's thing, isn't it?"
    Great essay - spot on as usual - people don't know how or just don't want to be in moment or present to enjoy the beauty right in front of their faces. Decades to mend is right. I hope I live long enough to see very progressive agenda succeed. Maybe, just maybe this time it may happen. Been hoping since JFK

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  112. Thank you. For your writing, for your good heart, for doing what you did every day of those horrendously long months that helped keep those of us who follow you grounded on this planet. It was touch and go many of those days but, by god, we're still here and you're damn right it feels good. Thank you sir.

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  113. Thank you for writing this, Jim.
    I was off work on Thursday when this all went down. I watched, first in amusement then in horror as the poo-flingers did their thing.
    You were patient for much longer than I would have been with some of them. That's really a credit to you. But as I was watching through the screen, I could see your blood pressure rising.
    I'm glad you logged off to take a mental health break. In these COVID times self-care is more important than ever.
    I wouldn't presume to offer you any advice, just know, many, many of us enjoy your writing and photography. And we'll be here, waiting patiently, for when you're ready to come back.

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  114. I have used that story, for years now, as a reminder of the futility of even fantasizing about revenge. Oh, I still fantasize about it. But I never really entertain the ideas as more than fantasy. That way lies madness, madness that will destroy you in the end. Thanks for this.

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  115. Thank you, Jim. I've followed for a long time but rarely comment, other than to share a blog post from you on FB here and there. The trauma has been real, and after seeing the madness grow daily over the last 4 years, what I witnessed 1/6 shook me to my core even beyond 9/11, and being a vet with PTSD myself (non-combat related, but related to my enlistment) married to a Vietnam vet with PTSD, it's been...yeah. Having 2 people in the same house pinging off each others' PTSD is fun. Legal weed would help, but Indiana doesn't have it.

    I took the day off work to watch the inauguration and/or give myself space to process the shock if something happened. That night I slept like a baby, but last night the nightmares were back.
    You have more than earned a day to breathe, and f*** anyone who would take that from you.

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  116. I think we all earned a one day breath of fresh air. Now the task is to understand that we're just starting.

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  117. (Sorry if this is a duplicate, hit the "Preview" button and it all disappeared)

    Yet another thought-provoking essay, one that reminded me of my own experience questioning someone else's right to take a break from the insanity.

    My wife & I spent more than a few years in a local church. We were there because of the good work they do for the community around us. Their generosity for those less fortunate was/is amazing.

    But it stuck in my craw that the pastor, up there on stage every Sunday, could also talk about days snow boarding, or hiking, or running a marathon. I mean, WTH? I thought if he really believed the stuff he nattered on about, he'd be at it 24/7 right? How can he encourage US to get after helping our neighbor if he's goofing off even a little bit?

    Well, I woke up from that whackadoodle thinking eventually. One does a good thing when presented with the opportunity, and then puts their own oxygen mask on so they can be refreshed for the next opportunity.

    Your writings bring a flash of clarity in a broken world and I, like these commenters before me, appreciate you deeply for it. And I've learned that I find joy *for you* when your photography shows up in various feeds - a beautiful signal of you "getting a chance to breathe" away from the madness for a time.

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  118. Great essay as always, Jim. I will admit that as I thought about this essay, the words of former basketball coach Jim Valvano & the movie character Ferris Bueller came to mind. Valvano said many years ago in his last public speech that we should all do three things every day: laugh, spend some time in thought and-as he put it-have your emotions moved to tears("could be happiness or joy"). "If you laugh, you think and you cry, that's a full day. That's a heck of a day." As for Bueller..."Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around every once in a while, you could miss it." And let's be honest...haven't the last 4 years moved at what seemed like breakneck speed, at least when it came to news?

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  119. I have never written to someone I have followed/admired before so please take this all with a massive grain of salt. I mean well- I really really do and I hope it comes across that way.

    I hear you. I hear you more than you will ever understand.

    My son succumbed to the ravages of serious mental illness in 2016. Delusions so bad that normal life was untenable. Hospitalization, commitment, supervised living situation, the whole nightmare. Not long after, my mother passed with dementia. Full blown unaware of place or year or people. A really wonderful person lost to that savage disease. And with that, I started caring for my dad.

    He passed a few years ago after a long bout with cancer. It's been a bitch of a 4 years. The whole time, who was in the background doing his thing? That god awful guy. That... man.

    I've had so much stress, so much adjustment, so much loss, and then we have a plague and a narcissistic psychopathic con man to help us through it?

    Please just shoot me. Please.

    I spent years of my life caring for people close to me and he can't even pretend to give a crap about anything other than money? Really?

    100,000 dead.
    200,000 dead.
    300,000 dead.
    400,000 and more dead and gone.

    Each a family member. Each beloved, cherished, valued: important to so many around them.

    Dead.

    I want to scream. I've wanted to scream for years now.

    I worked my ass to the bone caring for the few people I have in my little circle and that son of a bastard couldn't even pretend to give a shit about any of us.

    I understand that feeling of wanting to stand in the middle of the store and scream.

    Been there. Different reasons, But yeah. I've been on the ride, had the t-shirt and burned it because I never want to do that shit again. It was hard.

    I've cried multiple times during his administration, the elections, the insurrection, the inauguration, today. Life has been really fucking hard in the last four years and there is finally a god damned rainbow in front of me. Our president ain't the guy I wanted. He's not the guy I hoped for. His plan is not what I think will be best for the country.

    But fuck me... he isn't that orange terrorist trying to be president for life. Damn near anything is an improvement at this point.

    Relief. Weird ass laughter at inappropriate times because trauma is a bitch and we have all been through a nightmare. Stunned, mouth gaping silence because maybe we're close to being through this horrific four years.

    I cannot understand how you've survived Jim. How you keep responding and writing to the mobs. I'm impressed. Amazed. In awe. Seriously.

    I've spent the last 2 years doom scrolling endlessly. Drinking too much, screaming too much, ranting about inconsequential things, crying when all seemed lost. And yet there you were.

    Putting in the work.

    Putting in the time to write some damn fine things.

    Being there for your family. Tolerating the intolerable in your neck of Florida. (America's Taint! Come see us soon!)

    I hope you can keep fighting the madness and can somehow find some peace. You and your family have earned it.

    We have all fucking earned it. And to those who think any revelry or joy is simply uncalled for after all we've been through... well... fuck you. Find therapy. Learn to enjoy something in your bitter, sanctimonious life. We've ALL earned a break and if you can't see that... that's your problem. Leave me out of it. Jim too. He's earned a fucking break.

    Uhg. Good luck and take care.

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  120. Jim - its ok to sequester yourself. These tools are not meant to be a battleground. For myself, I am exhausted. I woke up this morning and turned the tv on. My pattern has been "what did the asshole do now?". Honestly shocked. There was absolutely no reason to turn the TV on. Only the business of governing which did not require anxiety on my part. Heal and repair yourself. We will be here for you even if its only beagle and heron pictures. Enjoy the peace. And heal.

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  121. Love you Jim. You've been a beacon for many for all these years. At great cost. I wish you well and hope you have more good days more often ahead.

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  122. Thank you for this, and for the last four years. I can't express how much your posts have meant to me. You gave voice to feelings like my own, and that solidarity helped every day. Thank you.

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  123. It's concerning this needs to be said. Or you need to say it. I'd say step away from social media like so many of the rest of us are doing, but you've made use of the platform. It matters to you.

    You should still consider it.

    But then it's social media where I originally saw this point made. Back at the beginning of all...this. The first meaningful victory, I can't remember what it was. A legal ruling tied to one of the first mass protests, maybe. Paraphrasing;

    "Good job everyone. There's still lots to do, but remember to pace yourselves. Activism is a marathon, not a sprint. You can't do any good for anyone if you burn yourself out."

    I thought at least most people had heard it too, from somewhere. It's desperately important information.

    Pace yourself, sir. You're too damn helpful to succumb to, of all things, people who didn't get the message.

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  124. Jim,
    You have stood in the fire for me for all this time. You gave me the luxury of not listening to the firehose of diarrhea that has been our political world for these years, by listening to it for us and finding the pieces that matter for us and putting the pieces in perspective for us. You, and other journalists like you, have put your sanity and health on the line so that people like me wouldn’t have to stand in the stream of shit every day.

    Thank you.

    I owe you, and you deserve the down time in any damn way you want to take it.

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  125. "You don't have to move that mountain
    Just help me Lord to climb it
    You don't have to move that stumblin' block
    Just show me the way around it"

    - Trisha Yearwood

    Peace, brother.

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  126. Jim, that same thing happened on my page with my 45 year old son. And I blocked his ass, I did. This was my day to be happy.

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  127. Somehow I suspect the writing of this essay helped relieve some of the relentless stress you've been under. The past four years we have all been in an abusive relationship with the most horribly corrupt and empty person on this planet. We've not even had the option to just leave, which is what has made it very difficult for me, having had an abusive father and husband that I was able to remove from my life.

    Jim, you deserve whatever happiness you can find. Your FB page and this page have kept all of us a little be saner for these difficult years. So many days I felt like I just could not take any more outrage. Then I would go visit your group and find all these kindred spirits and it would help so much.

    Thank you for all those times. Thank you for sharing this with us. You have bared a part of your soul with us and we all appreciate you, your heart, your mind and your spirit. Stay safe, healthy, and happy.

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  128. Things have been sideways in your world since you left Alaska, haven't they? I'm so sorry for all that. You looked into the abyss on our behalf and it looked back. I can't imagine what it has been like for you. Take a break. Walk away from us for a week, a month, however long you need. Spend time with your wife. There's a new sheriff in town and we can all take a breath while he gets settled in.

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  129. I have looked forward to what you have to say for so long now, I don't know what I would do without getting your take on the world around us. You have given me hope and laughs, and kept me grounded as only a Chief can. So thank you, and take care of yourself.

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  130. As a Canadian whose country was subject to Trump's insults, contempt & ignorance, I was thrilled to watch his ignominious exit, where the "crowd" at his send-off - all ones and twos of them - was laughable.

    The morning after Inauguration day, for the first time in 4 years, I woke *without* my jaw clenched in anger. I was giddy with relief.

    I was following your jokes & barbs on Twitter & was giggling like a school girl, and then ... the joy was gone. I don't know how you do it, but you *always* come back with a calm perspective & another essay of wisdom.

    As someone who lives in a household of Trump-Humpers (in a separate area, thank god) whose TV is tuned to Fox all day, every day - but for the hour they turn on the radio to listen to Limbaugh - I have often felt scorned & alone; your writing led me to your FB group and a community of sanity; for that I am eternally grateful.

    Carry on, Jim. And never stop writing. Ever.



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  131. Sir, a couple of points.

    1. You have my deepest respect
    2. You have my heartfelt sympathy and gratitude
    3. Damn but you are as fine a writer as I have ever read
    4. We all need to build bridges, not just to the forces of nationalism and white power (which will be difficult) but to others that have beliefs more like our own and this may be harder.

    To a degree, the way forward is going to be a series of steps in roughly the right direction. We may not agree with the angle of approach but we do broadly agree on the destination. We want a world where people can live their lives in peace and without fear about food, water and shelter, where they can be useful to each other and improve the common lot. Well, that and a host of other things but let us call that a first order approximation.

    Before we complain and start attacks on people that should be allies, we need to ask if we are heading in the same general direction. Is their proposal, in general, better than not doing it? If so, they are a friend, not an enemy. We can discuss whether a better course of action is possible but as colleagues, not as adversaries.

    I am pretty sure that will be the way to build bridges with a lot of those that we have disagreed with before.

    I am even more sure that there will be some where we can not find common ground - those that believe that all taxation is theft (and yet want a huge military), those that believe that their rights are greater than someone else's due to an accident of birth. Some chasms are too wide to bridge.

    Reconciliation has to start with those closest to us and then extent as far as it reasonably can... and we need to understand that there will be places that it can not go.

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  132. God bless you, Jim, if there is one. Your travail is only partly shared by me, but I feel your pain and frustration. Thanks for so brilliantly articulating your situation. Take time to be happy if you can. Keep on trucking. We get some relief from the understanding you bring to this crap all around us.

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  133. This is another wonderful essay - even though the underlying emotions are so painful and raw. You are expressing what many people are experiencing to greater or lesser degree I suspect. I don't have anywhere near the number of traumatic experiences that you must have encountered in your career, but I feel the weight of this last year dragging against my being.

    I felt absolute joy that the inauguration went off without a hitch - a return to "adult leadership" and relief from the 24/7/365 shit show that was 45* was akin to having a painful growth removed. You know that it will take a while to heal, but DAMN! it feels good.

    My fondest hope is that we wont soon descend into "outrage hell" driven by media...it could go either way with Fox promoting the crazy train and purging the few remaining honest news people there while more reputable media sources are already going on (less than 48 hours after the start of the new administration) about how Biden has failed with regard to vaccination plans, the economy, and justice reform. I think we have a chance if we can all start ignoring the "I SAID I WANTED A PONY!!!!!!!!!!" crowd long enough to rebuild a more perfect Union.

    Chief - I hope that you get through this and start to enjoy some measure of peace with your wife...you both certainly deserve it after the last years of keeping the rest of us informed and sane.

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  134. Those of us who took that breath of fresh air, who celebrated, who woke on without the stress of previous days are the lucky ones. Sadly, there are those who are destined to carry hate in their hearts for the rest of their lives, like Hooker and Loeffler, and who continue shouting that hate from the rooftops. It's a new kind of stress.

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    1. I am amazed with myself...I'm not a shitty person, but I can't let the anger just go. I find myself actively searching for "conservative" posts to jump into and start a fight.
      Jim's essay has held a mirror up to me.

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  135. Thank you Jim Wright... although i may not always read Stone Kettle, i do look forward to your daily posts. Thank you for being a beacon for me the past four years plus. Blessings to you and your wife.

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  136. Wonderful essay Chief! Thank you for helping to keep me sane the last 4 years. I hope and your wife get the Covid vaccination quickly so you can past the looming death sentence. We feel the same and again, your writing is brilliant.

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  137. Thanks for expressing, in vastly greater detail, what I've been clumsily and tentatively sorting out about the last few years.

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  138. I love following you on the book of faces (I refuse to do twitter, this is enough of a time suck). Your essay was beautiful, and that's not a word I'm real comfortable expressing to another man, but it was.
    As much as I enjoy your posts and look forward to them, I my wish for you is that you spend more time writing Sci-fi stories...they seem like a healthier way to express your talent and care for yourself.

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  139. Glad to read this, and to have found this page. I've been following you on Twitter.
    My own PTSD was already awake and active when the orange monstrosity came into office, and It's only gotten worse over the past five years. After watching the insurrection live on TV two weeks earlier, I watched Inauguration Day with tears of joy and relief. Little things, like hearing the words "Vice President" and the pronoun "her" in the same sentence. A day to be joyful.
    Then yesterday (Friday), I thought I had an appointment for Covid vaccine-I'm old with chronic lung disease. I was SO happy and excited. But there was a glitch in their appointments and I ended up not getting it. Cried all the way home, crushed with disappointment. I live alone and haven't left my condo in months except to pick up groceries ordered online. No more appointments available until they get a new shipment. I'm an emotional wreck this week,
    Take a break. Take care of yourself. We need people like you.

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  140. After 4 years in the wilderness we finally have gotten to a clearing and can look up at the sun and breathe. We have earned it, we need it and your writing has kept us going. Take as many breaks as you can. Family first, Health next, paragraphs can be written later. It is a pleasure to read and share your essays.

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  141. Hi Jim--I want you to know how very much I respect you--for your service, for your writings, for your intellect, for your humor, for your deep caring for your family--and on and on. I read you every day (can't join your facebook, since there are no spaces), but I read what you say. I don't "do" twitter or read it, but want you to know that I'm ready, as your self-designated Mama Grizzly Bear, to go and slap those who denigrated you upside the head. So there, and HUMPH!

    Freckles

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  142. Thank you for what you do. Thank you for what you say and your photos are fantastic. Take the time, darn it. Look after you and your family. We'll still be here when you are ready.

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  143. Hundreds before me have already said it, but let me say again - Thank You for all you do, Jim. Please take the time you need to care for yourself. Self Love and self care is so important when we are faced with the ugliness around us. You have more than earned the right to check out to do you, as the young people say. Blessing to you.

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  144. Thank you. You have totally deserved your rest. I am so happy to finally be able to take a breath, to stretch, to relax, and to smile. I love reading your essays.

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  145. I can't really add anything that hasn't been said by many others, above, other than to say this:
    Getting into my upper sixties through this last four years has been somewhat mind-bending - challenging on the intellectual, emotional, physical sides - as these same years have been for you, and yours, and many others.
    One thing I've started to notice in myself is that, more than ever, I seem to be Heart-driven. I always have been, but it's more of an acute state of awareness, now. I'm sure it's a function of advancing age and others things, but the net effect is that, in addition to loosening up and being more socially charitable and tolerant of those around me in my everyday life - the folks who work the local grocery store, folks going about their challenging daily lives, stubborn and/or resistant clients - I'm getting better at taking a breath. At least I hope I am.
    So that's the long way of saying that, more than ever, it's high-level important for me to let some special others in my life know that I hold them in my heart.
    And so it is with you and yours, Jim. Thank you for all the joy, and intellectual ferocity, insight, and just plain damn Fun that you bring to so many - and know that I'm holding you in my heart.

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  146. If there's a cat heaven, ShopCat is purring with affection and approval.

    Well I don't purr. But I do have approval. And deep admiration.

    And gratitude.

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  147. Dealt with a dad with dementia for "only" a few years before he died. Felt what I call "guilty relief." My husband & I lost 3 parents within 2-1/2 years, "luckily," the last, the year BEFORE Covid. (Mom had died 30 years before) I've been so emotionally exhausted, another blow (covid) was just a blip on the radar - not to say we haven't taken it very seriously & stayed as safe as possible. Trump's defeat feels like "half-a-load" has been lifted, but with much more remaining to go through. A little humor in the meantime is NECESSARY AS HELL to get through the day. Sometimes we have to laugh to keep from crying or totally falling apart. "Life happens," one way or another. I no longer believe any "happily ever after" fairy tale version of life - just take it a moment at a time without deliberately hurting anyone, and trying one's best to help where you can.

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  148. Here in Alaska, I got up early to watch the asshat leave the White House- some thing about wanting to be sure he really left. I hummed "Hit the Road Jack" until he got on the helicopter- and waved "Bye, Felicia" when he climbed on to Air Force One.
    Damn... we did it.
    I laughed til I was almost sick at your jokes on Twitter - it felt so good to laugh. After years of staying vigilant, pushing against the real wall the asshat built between me and my American neighbors, it felt so damn good to just sit and laugh for a few hours.
    Damn... we did it.
    Was disgusted to watch the vitriol directed at you unfold.
    I have my own story , my own battles, my own years of standing watch to guard against incursion to inform an understanding of the "whys". So, I get it too . I get why some can't stand down in a heartbeat, a day, a week. Not even to breathe for a quick minute between forays.
    What I don't get is pounding on Jim Wright - to make him the target, to direct anger and bitterness at one of the few consistent "on our side" voices so many of us have.
    And the status-quo crap? What is that even about?
    Jeezeancrackers, folks!
    I'm praying we can get at least status quo ante ( "the situation as it existed before the war") in the next couple of years. I have yet to dare hope we can knock the nasty peoples the asshat unleashed back far enough we can make substantive progress on multiple fronts.
    For today, damn... we did it. And I'm gonna laugh.
    And breathe for a bit before I go back to work.

    Best wishes Mr Wright

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  149. Where there is domination, there is no love.

    We go on and heal. Because it is by design. Healing has to do with the experience of infinity. The breath. The silence. From which all pours forth into form. Our identities have boundaries, but the being does not.

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  150. We can finally get to the business of healing our hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis.

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  151. Wonderful essay. Thank you for all your writings the past few years. I have not commented before today, no desire to contribute to the storm, yet I want you to know I appreciate your voice. Wishing you and yours health and happiness Mr. Wright.

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  152. The last few lines of Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Ulysses" are appropriate:

    Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
    We are not now that strength which in old days
    Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
    One equal temper of heroic hearts,
    Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
    To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

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  153. Jim, I'm thinking you might have read them already, but the Forewords and Afterwords of a lot of David Drake (Hammer's Slammers) books talk about how it takes a lot longer to get back to 'The World' than it does to fly home and reenter civilian life.

    One particular quote was ringing in my mind reading your essay:

    "When they say that war changes a man, they're being euphemistic. War makes a man insane by civilian standards. When the man comes back, he may return to civilian norms again. After a while."

    And digging farther into fiction, there was Hannibal Smith of the 'A'-Team, who lived for 'The Jazz'...as you said, it can be a drug that's hard to give up: the excitement, the intensity.

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  154. Thank you Jim. Some folks, regardless of ideology, will just stay angry, unsettled, paranoid, seeking retribution, revenge. Unfortunately, they found your excellent writing and instead of enjoying it in all its glory (I mean that sincerely), they have to muss things up, leave them disheveled, hoping they'll at long last feel better. They won't, so on they go. It's not you, it's them, and thank God, they are not the majority -- though they be the loudest, most obnoxious and the hardest to ignore. Carry on with your happiness Chief, it's yours.

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  155. The day Biden was sworn in I felt relieved and that night I went to bed without wondering what kind of nightmare will I wake up to tomorrow.

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  156. Thank you for this, it really helps. After the horrible person was gone and Joe Biden was sworn in, and no disaster happened in DC, I could finally breathe, unclench my jaw, and unfurrow my brow. I get so tired of "those people" telling me I have TDS. I don't. I have PTSD (post trump stress disorder). I am not poking fun at anyone who suffers from PTSD. There are many things that can cause it, not just war. I truly feel better now that trump is gone. But he's really not, and will continue to terrorize America until he is dead. So I'll just enjoy this little breather for a while and hope that Biden can pull us out of this abyss a little more each day.
    I am also a caregiver, for my husband. He has heart and kidney failure, multiple myeloma, and he can no longer walk. I still see him as the strong, handsome soldier, freshly home from Vietnam when I met him in 1969. Stay safe.

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  157. The sudden relief of stress and fear was so euphoric that first day, but learning to live without it has become difficult. Thank you for putting words to what I'm feeling and for sharing your wisdom. Your Facebook posts over the last 4 years have helped steady my anxious and racing mind, thank you!

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  158. Need a systematic change to moderate the radical  dupes that put us all in danger!

    Now that Pence has been openly threatened with hanging on audio recordings of the insurrectionists - moderate republicans can now see they have a tiger by the tail that will gladly eat them as well!

    Ranked choice voting may be the only way that moderate republicans can escape the inevitable self immolation by extremists they have failed to prevent growing like a cancer from within their own party.

    Ranked choice voting can moderate this effect by rewarding candidates who work to appeal to people to be the 2nd choice because it is that candidate that reaches plurality 1st by combination of either 1st choice and/or 1st and 2nd choice that wins the election.

    Rank choice voting therefore promotes the candidate to reach out to more than just the base.

    This is a key moment I think we should push to pass ranked choice voting in absolutely as many places as possible with the success seen in rural and even conservative States like Maine and Alaska it's now proven ranked choice voting can succeed in conservative rural areas!

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  159. I read your articles, but almost never comment, as I don't feel like I can add anything to them. Except today.

    Your article was exactly what I needed to read. It IS OK to be happy again; we DID make it through, even if many of our fellow countrymen didn't. There's still a void inside though, even if we are feeling happier. Yesterday, my wife lost her fourth friend to COVID. He had been a co-worker of hers before she retired. Last night, she told me that she couldn't cry over him, and that bothered her. I told her, "Welcome to the walking wounded," but you're right; it's PTSD. She's been concerned about bringing COVID home due to my health problems, and we've both watched as close friends have come down with it. You can only go on that way for so long until something inside you breaks.

    I'm happy that Cheeto Mussolini is gone, but not completely happy. Part of me is terrified over what we're going to find out about his attempted coup. How deep into our government did it stretch? How many rich outside donors were involved? I'm familiar with the Businessman's Plot against FDR, so I know this isn't the first time something like this has happened. However, I NEVER thought I would see a mob launch an insurrection on the Capitol grounds with the intent of stopping the Presidential vote. And then, to see members of that party vote with the mob? I'm not ashamed to admit that I cried on 1/6.

    Thank you for your columns. I will be forwarding this one to several people who I think need to read it.

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  160. You have every right to breathe. We all do. It has been a hellacious 5 years, from the time he came down on that elevator. And add to that being a caregiver. We took care of my mother for 2 years before she died. She had Alzheimers, so I understand. That is stress like no other. So, enjoy your jobs. I know I did. I also enjoyed the meme of Michelle with the light Saber and various other strong women meme from Inauguration Day. We will all get back to work soon enough. But we all have earned the right to breathe.

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  161. Wow, Jim, thank you for voicing what was incoherently pinging through my head. This essay rivals Antipodes. I'm coming out of this administration barely optimistic, worried about 2022, but I did post on inauguration day that I knew there was a lot of work, but that on that day I planned to take a breath. During these last four years, I learned whom I could trust and whom I could not. Fortunately, there was more of the former. I lost one friend that clings to the whole fantasy that 45 would bring about a libertarian government. A couple of relatives I barely know have blocked me, and some acquaintances have unfriended me. As someone who has taken care of elderly relatives, I can sympathize and am very glad you and your wife tested negative for COVID. I do hope you can find some respite. Also, I love the photos, particularly of the dragonflies and dogs. I want to wish you health, peace of mind, and continued success however you define it.

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  162. I am so glad to read your post. I've checked in here every so often over the past 4 years and have appreciated your perspective and words EVERY time. I've checked more frequently after the election and was becoming worried by the silence. So glad to hear you are recovering from surgery and here to tell the tale. Negative test result - yay! Be well. You are appreciated.

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  163. Very grateful for every aspect of your service. May joy be a frequent visitor in your home in the future.

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  164. Dear Jim,

    Would you consider collecting your science fiction-related essays into a book of essays!? Paperback or kindle or ... I so love them, and they make me cry (in a good way). I'm sure I'm not alone in this. Thank you!! You're a national treasure!

    Tamara

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  165. Glad to have you back. Have only the best thoughts for you and yours. Stay safe. Your wordsmithing is as good as ever. Thanks.

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  166. Once again, I feel as though the jumble of thoughts bouncing around in my head came out neatly organized in your writing. I hate that life is such a heavy toll for you, but I know I'm not alone in saying you are a healing force for many of us.
    Thank you most honorable sir for your service to human kind.

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  167. A mental documentary of sorts runs through my head when I recall Election night 2015. The shock and dismay bundled up in no small amount of shame were so overwhelming that I abandoned the watch, took a sedative and rocked myself to sleep. My normally stoic mate crawled in beside me in much the same condition.

    That night came back to me in stomach-flipping waves as I watched the early returns this time around. I stayed the watch, and the next day I realized that my life was bookended by these two events in a way that felt like I'd been punched in the chest so hard I'd lost all my air, then awoke the morning after to the deepest, sweetest, freshest breath of my life. I knew I'd feel better, but I didn't realize how much better.

    Like friends and family I enjoyed some unseemly moments of schadenfreude, but mostly I was struck by one thing: I could go entire days, weeks even without thinking about the presidency at all. I was looking forward to being bored by my president. Such a simple thing to be indifferent to the presidential Twitter feed. And as if to punctuate my release from all that sorrow and rage and shame, Facebook suspended me for 30 days for telling someone not to be so ugly to others. The algorithms have had my number for 4 years, and this time, an out of context word kicked me out. I'm okay with it, because the gnashing of teeth and rending of dirty t-shirts in this neck of the woods will draw me right back into the insanity.

    I loved your little jokes, fresh air.

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  168. thanks for all that. For all itsworthiness...existence is always one long compromise....otherwise we'd be gods. And, while I can only speak for myself, I'm pretty darn sure I'm no god. All we can do is try...until we can't anymore. That's life. No real answers contained therein. Take care...thanks, again, Mr. Wright, you're a good guy.

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  169. I'm not convinced that social media isn't one of the worst poisons we've made for ourselves, not just for us that struggle with keeping a level keel in choppy waters, but for those who must react instantly, without thought, without contemplation, and expect anything they see as the start of a new trend. It's a positive feedback loop out of control, and it's feeding our collective insanity.

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  170. Wow! It sure has been a tough year for you and your family. Love to you all from Canada. I had a hard time breathing between the election and the inauguration and had that moment of joy once Joe and Kamala were sworn in, and Amanda's reading was the cherry on top. I hope you all stay safe!
    carol

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  171. Happy to read that your procedure seems to have gone well, Jim. I had my own heart incident two months ago...I had an ECG as part of a regular physical (I had been feeling excessively tired for a few months). One hour after returning home, I received a call saying "Get to emergency ASAP!"... it seems that my heart had been pumping at 1/3 the rate that it should. I now have a pacemaker, something that is not very common as early as 64 years old. I wish you continued health improvement. Take care.

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  172. Yes, Jim... Yes, and thank you. My heart goes out to you and to all of us who are not head-blind. The last five years have been such a traumatic ordeal, and there is more work, even more ordeal to come.

    But that first breath on the afternoon of January 20th, after the Orange Stain had left DC and Joe Biden and Kamala Harris were inaugurated, just felt so much better, so much bigger, more free, like I suddenly had more room in my lungs to fill with air... It was remarkable. The trauma remains, but I still feel some of that extra room in my lungs to breathe. And I expect that the time will come when I can function better. I need to, because if the last five years have taught me anything, it is that I cannot afford to disengage as a citizen. I must do what I can to prevent such awfulness from ever happening again. And I must do my part to help myself, my country, its government, and its people be better. I will do what I can to help shape as desirable a future as possible for all of us -- I have seen what happens when we let our citizenship slide.

    Breathe, recover, replenish, Jim, and we will hopefully do the same. We are all needed.
    -- Dorothy

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  173. Thank you so much for this! I don't have the added stress and heartache of caring for an elder family member as you do, Jim, and I can't even imagine the pent-up emotions over these past four years plus the multitude of feelings that come from this added responsibility. I only know that I've had days and weeks of grief and anger and rage at watching our country and its values being spit on every day that I've finally begun to let go. And I'll continue to let go in stages as the healing spreads. Your words are a balm toward that healing. Thank you. I wish you peace as you embark on your own healing journey.

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  174. A heartfelt Hosanna to you seems appropriate. You've gifted us all with an outlet to save some of our sanity, but in exchange for some of yours. For that and your ally-ship, I am forever grateful. Please take care and remember to breathe.

    Thank you,

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  175. Shell shock (SS), battle fatigue (BF), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),George Carlin does a magnificent riff on this issue of lengthening the descriptives of those aspects of life which impact our individual psyches. I am now 50 years removed from that "experience;" yet, that which I saw, felt, did, occupies my "space" and shapes my identity today. Not so long ago I was dating a woman with whom I believed would be the person I would spend my remaining years. Not to be, my nightmares (I function at a very high level day-to-day) will never not be a part of my "space." What broke the connection you could (should?) ask? The nightmare, a new one, I'm in a hand-to-hand struggle with a VC/NVA troop. And as is sometimes usual with nightmares, we find ourselves unable to use our hands to fight, legs to run, voice to scream. But I managed in the dream to break free of grasp of this entity and began punching him in the face. Landed the first blow, and was instantly awakened by the lady at my side whom I had just punched in the side of the head and was bringing my fist back in order to hit her again. When, you ask, did this occur? Sometime this last spring (2020). She moved into the guest bedroom the next evening, and we never slept together again. A few short weeks later, she moved out and we are broken. The point of this disquisition is this simple fact, the last four years, for this Veteran, have been a waking nightmare as all those aspects of this great country which I served, and would do so again, were under attack by those who, in my youth, would have been seen as the bullies they are. We would have made short work of them in the neighborhood.

    I read the arguments of those who say, "Let us return to our lives. This has passed." NOT NO, BUT HELL NO!!!!! This man who tried to destroy this republic needs to be brought before the bar, tried, and when he is found guilty of treason and the subsequent sedition, sent to Elba (If you don't understand the reference, look it up.) to spend the rest of his life in solitary confinement. He, in is narcissism, will be unable to tolerate that punishment for he will have no audience who will fall upon his every word as if those words were "manna" from on high.

    As for those who sycophantically climbed onto the train he was driving, Cruz, Rand, McConnell, Hawley, et alia, my wish is they be seen as the traitors they are and turned from the offices they currently hold. Those former military members who participated in the seditious attack on our House, need to face trial as well. The only failing here is they should be brought before a court martial board not a civilian court.

    Battle Fatigue indeed. This greatest experiment in human social construction has been sorely wounded. I can only hope we have not entered the fourth stage of the life of "empires" as described by a Muslim philosopher more than 800 years ago: That stage whereat the "people" are so busy building monuments to themselves, they cannot see or deal with the changes in the world around them.

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