Sunday, March 12, 2023

The Storm of the Century: Thirty years later...

It was this day, March the 12th, thirty years ago.

I was eighteen, taking first year classes at the local community college.  I worked part time at Subway, but I didn’t have to go in that night.  About 4 that Friday afternoon Dad asked if I wanted to ride with him to Ridgeway, across the state line in Virginia.  There was this little convenience store there that EVERYONE in Rockingham County seemed to go to when they played the lottery.  I said sure, I’d come along.  It was a cold and cloudy day for mid March.

Looking back, I now recall the sound of the air around us before we hopped into the truck.  It had a very muffled characteristic.  I hadn’t heard air like that in a long time.  That should have been the first clue, about what had already begun to transpire.

We got back home a little over an hour later.  And as I got out of Dad’s truck I saw it: the first flakes of snow.  Something we had not seen fall in three years.

Well, two nights earlier at Boy Scout leadership training, the scoutmaster of my troop made a halfway-joking reference to the weather for the next few days.  How there may be snow.  I didn’t really take him seriously.

But here it was.  Snow.  And more flakes were starting to come down.

It didn’t stop.  It was only falling harder.  By 6:30 the ground was almost completely covered.  We drove to Short Sugar’s in Reidsville a little while later to pick up my sister, who was working there.  She drove cautiously behind our car.  By that point it was undeniably the harshest snowfall that we had seen in quite some time.  I don’t know how Mom drove through that as she did.  We could barely see the highway at all.  But we got back home, a little after 9.

The snow was still falling when I looked out the kitchen door about midnight.

It hadn’t stopped falling when we woke up.  And it continued on and on throughout the day.  No one was driving on our road.  There was nowhere to go.  I had to call my manager and tell her I couldn’t get to Subway tonight.  Saturday afternoon brought the wind.  It sounded like a hurricane.  And it blew the flakes hard against the side of the house.  There was zero visibility if anyone was so daring as to try to get out in that mess.

The power stayed on at our house.  The same could not be said for several hundred thousands of others throughout the area, including one television station in Greensboro that went off the air.  The ABC station was hardly functioning, which I remember because there was something coming on that night that I had been looking forward to catching and the signal barely penetrated the storm.

It was weather on an almost apocalyptic scale.  I finally fell asleep probably around 2 a.m., the wind still howling and barraging the house with frozen precipitation.

Finally, Sunday morning dawned.  The wind had ceased.  The first real sunlight in two days revealed our home, the fields around it, our cars, the trees… everything covered by a pure unspoiled brilliant
blinding white sheet of snow nearly two feet deep.  I got out of the house for a little while to get some fresh air and behold it all.  Our cocker spaniel puppy, Bridget, went out also.  I don’t know how she kept from sinking into the snow.  She looked like a miniature polar bear, she was walking across it so easily.

That was how I experienced the Storm of the Century.  The 1993 Super Storm.  The Great Blizzard of '93.  Whatever you want to call it.  It was a convergence of several weather systems that produced a meteorological monstrosity.  At its height it stretched all the way from Central America to Canada up and across the Eastern Seaboard.  Roughly half the population of the United States was impacted one way or another by the event.  No storm since then has approached it in size and ferocity.

Things had been brought to a standstill for the next few days.  But the weather turned warmer and by Friday all roads were completely passable.  There was only the barest vestige of the blizzard to be found in shady spots as I drove back from the Boy Scout camp the following Sunday morning, at the conclusion of leadership training.

The Storm of the Century was thirty years ago.  But I still think of it, whenever it snows.  I’ve no doubt that many who are reading this will also remember where they were during those several days in March of 1993, when winter showed us that it wasn’t finished yet.



Sunday, February 26, 2023

The closest person I had to a grandfather

 A few nights ago I was propped up in bed, just randomly looking up things with my iPad.  And I came upon something truly, truly special.  It is for me anyway...

It's on the website for the Order of the Arrow lodge of the Boy Scout council that I was in.  This photo dates to 1954.  The man on the right, in the light uniform shirt, is Allan "Doc" Lewis.  He was a lifelong educator and advocate for Scouting.  In the photo he and the other man (C. Lin Adams) are wearing their Order of the Arrow sashes, which indicate that they were Vigil rank.  The OA was especially near and dear to Doc's heart, as it symbolized true brotherhood and service.

I know these things about Doc, and much more, because he was the grandfather that I never got to have.  I suspect a lot of young men felt the same way about him.

I first wrote about Doc fifteen years ago, on the occasion of what would have been his one hundredth birthday.  Doc was born in January 1908, so he would have been about 46 in this picture.  That was thirty-one years before he and I met for the first time.  I was eleven and a half and a newly minted real Boy Scout.

I'll never understand why Doc took a shine to me as he did.  How it came to be that he brought me under his wing.  I think we definitely had a "master and apprentice" relationship going on.  Doc would often tell me stories of his interesting younger years (he once took Katherine Hepburn out to dinner, he used to hang out with George Burns and Gracie Allen, and he served on a committee with Norman Rockwell).  Doc was a well traveled man too and I think I inherited some wanderlust from him.  That year-long meandering across America that my dog and I did a few years back?  I was definitely channeling pure Doc for that one.  He often shared his witty sense of humor, and his belief in chivalry toward the opposite sex.

There isn't much to say that hasn't been already.  Doc Lewis really did fill a role in not just my life but the lives of many others.  He was very dear to me.  He still is.  And that's the earliest photo I've come across of him.  Seeing that, it's like I can still hear his voice speaking across the decades.

Well, it was just a neat find and I had to blog about it.  Doing what I can to keep his spirit alive and well in our hearts.  Thanks for reading this :-)

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

My latest Warhammer 40,000 miniature

Behold my new Ork big mek with kustom force field:

This is a model that I assembled three years ago, in the initial days of the COVID pandemic.  It seemed there wasn't going to be much travel for awhile, and there were a few Warhammer 40,000 minis that I had accumulated but never gotten around to giving much attention toward.  It was as good a thing as any to occupy myself with.  I put this together and it finally dawned on me that the lockdown could last months instead of weeks.  So he just kinda lingered unpainted on a shelf.

Anyway it's now 2023 and Warhammer 40K is hotter than ever and poised to get even bigger.  And I wanted to see if I still had my mad mini-painting skillz.  I'm rather pleased with how this little fella turned out.  So far as in-game mechanics goes, a big mek carrying a force field bestows a good level of protection for nearby friendly forces against enemy fire.

I need to come up with a name for him though.  I like to name my minis.  Gives them a little personality as they fight their way across the board.  I've already got my warboss Kaneegutz (left).  He's a character that I cobbled together from eight different kits.  That's a photo from a few months ago though.  Since then I've widened the base he's standing on with an adapter, and textured the base with astrogranite technical paint (available on Games Workshop's website and many game stores).  So he's "good 'n proppa" for battle.

Next up: a box of the new Ork boyz.  Unfortunately they don't have the pose-ability of the previous boyz minis (which I love) but I'm going to give the new guys a similar paint scheme and spread them around the units.  Infuse my squads with a little extra flavor.  Or maybe I should grant my lads some heavy support and get a deff dread.  That's one of the things why this is such a fun hobby: there's no one correct way to play.  Just go however it feels right for you.  Who knows, if I get good again I may put together a list and enter a tournament sometime.  That would be a lot of fun :-)

EDIT 02/19/2023 12:57 a.m.: I've decided to name my new big mek Erk DeffWelda.  After my good friend, true renaissance man, master welder and professional Santa Claus, Eric Smith.  Who has taught me much about life and he deserves being immortalized as a Warhammer miniature.  I look forward to unleashing him on the field of battle!

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

About the post from three days ago...

It increasingly seems that it was the right thing to do.  I feel an AWFULLY large burden has been lifted off of me.  I carried that particular thing around for almost forty years.  I felt better after talking with the detectives about it three years ago.  I feel better again, now.
It has indeed been a boon.  I'm writing for the book again.  From the very beginning, when I first tried writing it in 2014 before Dad passed, I knew this was going to have to be addressed somehow.  That is possible now, when it hadn't been possible before.  I wish I could tell you that this book is going to be entirely focused on my life as a manic depressive: something that in and of itself is replete with drama and occasional comedy.  But it's not and it can't.  A person's life is like a tapestry.  Try to take one thread out and the whole thing unravels.  This particular thread has insinuated its way into my life since I was twelve.  But in the past couple of days I've found that I'm not afraid to confront that anymore.  So, that's good.
A number of people have privately messaged me about it.  Some have reiterated that the chances of seeing something done in the way of justice are slim.  I know that.  I knew it going in to talk to the detectives three years ago.  I keep thinking though that if it happened to me, well... could it have happened to others also?  As one of the detectives told me then, a person who does a thing like this can't stop.  He (and it's almost always a he) will try to do more.  Who knows?  Maybe others will step forward.
One person left a comment on my blog yesterday, noting that decades after the war that Nazis were still being found and prosecuted.  My situation isn't quite like that though.  There were MANY witnesses still alive in the 70s, 80s and 90s who could recollect individual SS officers and concentration camp guards.  There was very little problem with identifying such people.  With what happened in 1986 it's going to forever be my word against his  But again, who knows?  Since going to them three years ago the authorities may be keen on something I don't have.
Anyway, I felt led to come forward and write about this.  It was more than that even though.  God put me in a place where I had no choice, if I was going to continue writing the book.  And I want and need to write this.  It's as part of my recovery story as much as it is a chronicle of that.  I have been obedient to that and now it's done and well... we'll see what transpires next.
So that's what's happened since Saturday.
Hope you guys are having a great week :-)

Saturday, January 21, 2023

I am a survivor of child rape

It is exactly two hundred miles from the driveway of my home near Spartanburg to the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Department office in Wentworth, North Carolina.  That was the distance I drove one morning three years ago this winter.

I went back to where I grew up.  Because I was finally ready to give a statement to members of law enforcement about my being raped at age twelve.

For well over three decades I had kept the agony and the shame close to me, sharing it only with a few people I absolutely trusted.  As if that would be enough to stop the hurt.  But at last it became too much to bear, this far into my life.

Why didn’t I go to the authorities years earlier?  It’s hard to explain.  Partly, it’s because on a primal level I didn’t want to have to face my abuser again.  Anything sexual creates a bond between two people: something that had I treasured in the marriage that complications from my wounds eventually destroyed.

I guess, I can’t really fully offer up an explanation for why I waited for so long.  You have to go through something like this to understand why.

I went to the sheriff’s office and spoke with two detectives.  I knew going in that it was a long shot.  That after thirty-four years the odds of seeing anything happen in the way of justice were against me.  But I gave my statement, and the two officers gained my confidence.  I don’t know if anything will ever come about from my going in, but they still have it.  I’ve no doubt that they have pursued this with all due passion and diligence.

But it’s been nearly forty years.  People move around.  Many die in that period.  Memories fade.

My own memory is a funny thing.  Some things I don’t remember well at all (a quality that to some extent is rooted in the meds I take to manage bipolar disorder).  Other things, I remember all too well.

May 16, 1986 is a date burned into my mind.  That was the day that the remaining vestiges of childhood innocence were ripped away from me.

I can even tell you the shirt that I wore that day, to Community Baptist School in Reidsville, North Carolina.  A place I had been a student at since kindergarten.

Maybe it was my size.  Maybe it was because I was the “nerdy kid” of the school.  Whatever.  I was regularly bullied, by boys as well as girls.  On this day I got into an altercation with someone.

A male faculty member accused me of doing something that I had not.  Of uttering a forbidden word.

I protested that I had not.  I would have never dared use that word toward anyone.

In later years I would find using it all too easy.  Well, why not?  I sure paid for the right to say it.  But I digress.

The faculty member said I had to be punished.

The two of us were alone.  I was told to drop my pants, exposing my underwear-clad behind.

And then he put his hands all over my genitals.  He did worse than that even.

I was sent home.  Too shocked and confused to fully comprehend what happened to me.  I was still dazed by the accusation that I had used that word to describe my classmate.  Too hurt by being punished for it.

That night the movie Godzilla 1985 came on television.  I desperately tried watching it to make the feelings go away and be forgotten.  It did nothing.

That night I had very bad dreams.

I felt violated.  Dirty.  Ashamed.  And you want to know why?

Twelve is the cusp of something that can feel either very wonderful or very terrible.  A person’s body is changing at that age, beginning to become a full fledged entity.  Sensations are starting to come about, that delight or bewilder or both.

God forgive me.  For one horrible moment when he had his hands on me, my body liked it.

And even then, I knew that that was wrong.  That it violated the natural order of things.

That day altered whatever trajectory my life would have taken, toward something polluted and twisted.

Sixth grade had been a hell year for me at Community Baptist.  So much went wrong.  The one bright spot was those fleeting months that Halley’s Comet came, and the astronomer in me was excited to see it.

After that day in May, even a once-in-a-lifetime visit by the comet didn’t make me feel anything.  I was just too overwhelmed.

I didn’t tell anyone what the man did to me soon after it happened.  It was four years before I told someone.  That person didn’t believe me until many years later when the fractures became too grave to deny that I had been violated when I was young.

Three and a half months later my sister and I were in public school.  A place that we were told at Community Baptist was filled with godless heathens who didn’t pray.  I was at once thankful to be away from Community Baptist and also intimidated.  I was bullied a lot.  I cried a few times.  I felt thrown to the cold cold world and there was nobody to help me.

But I also remember seventh grade as the first time I was attracted to the opposite sex.

And I felt dirty because of it.

I will never forget the first moment I found myself wanting to look at a pretty girl in my class.  She had a beautiful smile and she was wearing a nice outfit and it was driving me CRAZY.

I had to turn my head and look away.  I was too ashamed of my feelings.  Felt too much like I had with him.

It was a shame that persisted well into adulthood.  Counseling has helped.  But by that point it was too late.  Among other things I thought that being married would make things better.  But it didn’t.  Marriage doesn’t solve problems, it only brings what is wrong to the surface.  And that’s what happened and I will forever be damning myself for hurting the most wonderful person God ever put into my life.

But again, I digress.

God, I hate that man.

Yes, let’s talk about God.  Because of all that came about from what happened, my relationship with God was impacted worst of all.

I’ve never doubted that God is there.  There have been many times that I have been accused of being an atheist.  My own mother was one person.  There were some who believed her.  Who believe her still, though she has been dead for eleven years.

No, I have never been an atheist.

But I have had my faith in God destroyed.

It was a man who I had respected and trusted and looked to as a Christian example.  And God let him hurt me.

Wasn’t God angry at that?  Wasn’t God going to mete out justice?

But He didn’t.

God let me be abused and violated and betrayed.  And I felt betrayed by God in turn.

No, I never stopped believing in God.  But I hated Him with every ounce of my being.

I was a senior in high school when it began to dawn on me that God didn’t hurt me.  That it was someone who only claimed to be sent by God.  I started to not hold that against God.

But by that point I thought my hatred toward Him made me irredeemable.  That God wouldn’t want me anymore.  Thankfully He put some people into my life a few years later in college who showed me what REAL love of God is.  That God isn’t the tyrannical legalistic despot Who we were taught at that church-run school that He was.  That wasn’t the real God of Christianity.  And so it was that in my second year at Elon, I was able to finally turn to Christ and commit to following Him.

But that still wasn’t enough to completely salve the wounds.

Well, it was a few confusing years more after that.  My faith teetered at times on the brink of destruction.  And then in early 2000 the first symptoms of manic depression began to manifest: one more element of chaos in my life.

My faith has been tried and tested and pushed to the breaking point by so much that has transpired since then.  I have at times shared my despair with others.  Sometimes very openly.

It has taken time, prayer, counseling, and the love and care of many true and wonderful friends.  But at last my faith has begun to become what it should have always been.  And I am thankful for that.

As for what happened when I was twelve…

I have spent much of my life wanting to destroy that man.  Even now there is the temptation to call him out by name and let the chips fall where they may.

But doing so would add many complications to matters.  It would literally be my word against his.  For now I have to trust the people I went to three years ago.  They have resources that I don’t.  They also bring an objective eye to the issue and that’s something that obviously I lack.

And if justice doesn’t come in this lifetime, I have to trust God that it will come in His time.  It is VERY hard to do that, I won’t deny it.  Just one more test of faith.

Why am I sharing this, now?

I am writing a book about my life, especially what has come about because of a condition that almost certainly has a medical component.  But that is only one aspect that has defined me.  If I’m going to be completely honest and forthcoming about my story, I have to write about EVERYTHING that has so impacted me.  Sexual abuse and PTSD are also elements of my life.  And it’s going to have to be confronted full-bore.

I have come to a place where I cannot further work on my book.  The feelings keep breaking through.  I am haunted by the thoughts of what could have been, had things gone otherwise.  Especially thoughts of my dreams of having a family.  Something that is a fleeting possibility with each passing day, it seems.

Maybe sharing what happened when I was a kid now, will help me expel the demons keeping me from writing.  It’s going to come out in the book anyway, if it ever gets published.  Why not tell it as it is?

If my book does get published?

I don’t know what I’ll do.  Maybe God will let me finally die, with my faith in Him intact.  I don’t see what the point would be in keeping going on.  I will have said everything that needs to be said.  My life will be complete.  There will be no need for a sequel.

Maybe if it is published, the people I’ve hurt most in my time on this earth will have some understanding of where I’ve been coming from and why I have done the things that I did.  Maybe there will be forgiveness and absolution that I can’t get in this life.  That’s something to hope for.  I could die believing that.

But for now, perhaps getting all of this out in the open will let me overcome that obstacle.  I want to write my book.  I need to write it.  It’s what God has put before me to do.

I can promise you, it won’t be all bad.  There are some pretty funny things that have taken place in my life.  I look forward to sharing those, too.

Thank you for reading all of this.  Please keep me in your prayers.  I would very much appreciate it.


Sunday, January 08, 2023

Picking up an old hobby again

Way back around 2009 or so I got into the Warhammer 40,000 miniature game hobby.  It started with the now-legendary Assault on Black Reach boxed set, which included two armies: Space Marines and Orks.  I had a lot of fun putting the miniatures together and painting them, and then played against other people at game stores in Greensboro and Burlington.  There are a lot of different factions in Warhammer 40K but I gravitated toward the Orks as my favorite.  It's hard not to like a mob of green-skinned hooligans shootin' and cuttin' their way through the opposition all the while screaming "WAAAGH!"

In the years since I drifted toward other things, but Warhammer 40,000 never left my mind.  I love the setting, the lore, the beautiful miniatures, the various armies to choose from... there's a lot of good to be said about it.  The game is over 35 years old and is popular worldwide.

And it looks as if it's about to get even more popular.  The other week the announcement came that Henry Cavill is spearheading development of Warhammer 40,000 film and television projects for Amazon Prime.  Cavill became well known during the COVID pandemic for posting photos of his own miniatures.  The guy knows and respects Warhammer.  I trust him to deliver the goods.

Anyway, it seems as good a time as any to get back into the hobby.  This past week I returned to a miniature - an Ork Big Mek with Kustom Force Field - that I had glued together in the early days of the COVID lockdown.  It had been lingering unfinished for almost three years and I felt it needed to be "good 'n proppa".  I still have the paint I used back in the day and earlier tonight started working on the mini, only to find that my goblin green had become too thin to use.  A new bottle is on its way so I'll get back to that mini later this week.

But the Orks I've already had all this time deserve some loving care too.  For one thing they need to be adequately based, not just glued to the base.  I ordered some astrogranite paint from the Games Workshop site along with a texturing tool for spreading it.  The first mini to get its base so treated is the Weirdboy that I worked on around 2012.  Here's how it came out:


It's a plastic model and it originally had his left foot atop some debris on the ground.  I removed the debris with a knife so that it looks like he's got his leg raised.  Maybe he's trying to run away from the grots (the mini-orks) struggling to keep him chained down.  Whatever, I think he looks better than how the model comes as.

After I finish the Big Mek I'm going to bring my other miniatures up to snuff.  The base sizes for many of the minis has changed since I played last, so there are some special adapter rings that can be put on the pre-existing bases to make them the correct size.  Once that is done (to almost 40 Ork boyz) I'll be giving them the astrogranite treatment too.  And I'll need to also do further work on Warboss Kaneegutz: my custom-designed leader mini.

And once I'm satisfied with my Ork army... well, I've also been getting some Space Marines minis.  I've had in mind creating my own chapter.  Some years ago I had a thought that, surely there are some religions still active in the forty-first millennium, that hadn't been wiped out.  Inspired by the Dune novels I came up with the notion that the Jewish faith is still practiced in the far future.  What better way to be concealed than to hide in plain sight as a Space Marines chapter that nobody will question?  So drawing from history I'm going to make a chapter based on the Maccabees.  And name the minis after friends of mine (the chapter master will be Marco Solomonius).  I want it to be an army composed of traditional "standard" marines as well as the newer Primaris ones.  Just need to figure out a name for the chapter.  And color scheme of course.

Following that... who knows.  I may put together a small force of Word Bearers.  It might be fun to play a purely evil army every now and then.

I figure getting back into Warhammer 40K is going to be quite an enjoyable pastime.  It will also be something that will take my mind off of actively writing my book.  Some casual downtime may let my brain work subconsciously on what to write, without me actively addressing the matter.

Expect pics of more miniatures as they're completed :-)

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Looking back on '22

Wow.  Blink and you miss it.  Seems like only yesterday we were celebrating the last normal holiday season before the COVID plague hit.  And that was three entire years ago.

"Time keeps on slipping into the future..."

This past year was a frustrating one, in too many ways.  For me, it was that so much corruption has become obvious in our society and government.  I used to believe that we could do something to change that.  That all it would take is to gain enough momentum and we could overcome the powers that be.

But as I've grown older the less that I see that happening.  People see the corruption and how pervasive it has become - and I'm looking you especially FBI and Department of Justice - that they simply give up trying.

Between that and our "elected leaders" spending money that was never really there, and obscenities like "transgender", and our schools and libraries becoming places of indoctrinating young minds with liberal bullcrap, and too much else, well...

It's going to take a hard fall for this country to come to its senses.  And when it does the really normal people had better be prepare to take up arms against those who brought us to this condition.  Liberalism has been tried and failed.  We can no longer afford give it any new chance of proving itself.

That's how I've come to look at things on the macro scale, more or less.

On a more personal level, I think this was an okay year.  Not overwhelmingly "great" but it's been far from the disaster that many years I've lived through have been.  And I think it could be argued that I made some astounding gains in my life this past 364 days.  My bipolar disorder has become much more manageable, to a degree I had never thought possible.  It's taken almost two decades to bring it under this much a modicum of control but at last it's not completely crushing my life.  That is a massive achievement.  One that I have to credit friends, counselors, and God toward helping me reach this place.

I became a writer at a highly respected website.  And I changed careers, to one that is paying much more while also giving me more time to address things that matter to me.  Although I would like to get back into the healthcare field.  That was a very rewarding experience, getting the chance to make others' lives better every day.

Speaking of writing, I was able to find "my muse" again.  Whether it was manic depression or the medications I take to control that, my ability to write had been robbed from me for a very long time.  I'm now finally making an earnest attempt at writing the book that Dad and many others have said I should compose.  Maybe there will be a finished first draft by the end of spring, if not sooner.

I suppose that 2022 was a year, no more and no less.  One has to accept it, good and bad alike.  But it most certainly could be said that it was a far improvement over what most of the past three years have been like.

Excelsior to 2023!

Sunday, December 11, 2022

Status of the book, December 2022

Three months ago I posted here that I had begun work anew on the book that has been percolating in my gray matter since 2014.  That was when Dad told me I should write about my struggles with bipolar disorder.  He thought it could be inspirational to others.

And then of course, Dad passed and that knocked me off my feet.  And since then a lot has happened: the journey across America, new career and then changing career (and now, again), new town and new faces... all of this the backdrop against an ever-evolving saga of my mental health.  The book then, in whatever form it was going to take, is radically different from the project now before me.

I am happy to report that after a few false starts with how to open the book, that it is now well on track.  Late last night I finished the first draft of the new prologue.  It no longer opens with me in handcuffs, being taken away to a psychiatric facility.  The prologue now is one page of Microsoft Word that comes barreling at ya at 90 miles an hour, literally.  The preface was completed a week and a half ago.  Yesterday I finished chapter one and it's now in the hands of a few faithful friends who I'm awaiting feedback from.  The chapter about the school board run is also done.  There exist a few incomplete chapters, which I will be getting to as the Muse leads (wow, haven't mentioned "the Muse" in quite many years, I think).

I want this book to be a thorough chronicle of my life not only in spite of bipolar disorder but also much other traumatic experience, that have only been addressed in recent years (another reason why I'm glad I'm working on this now instead of trying to publish it then).  I also need for it to be a homage to everyone who has entered my life and helped me along the way.  I hope this will reach out to some of them.

And the title?  I've had about a dozen ideas for that.  Last week it was called "American Manic".  But this book is going to be about so much more than manic depression.  It needs a title that reflects a deeper life story.

For the past three days I've been fighting a nasty bug that at one point had my temperature reaching 104 Fahrenheit (or 40 centigrade for our metric friends).  During the delirium and convulsions I came to a spiritual place of peace that I had been praying to reach for most of my life.  And accompanying that, arrived an idea for a title.

(I think I underwent what my Native American brethren refer to as a sweat lodge, whether I wanted it or not.  I was perspiring like a pig as the fever broke.)

And now, I think it does have a title.  A good one.  Beautiful, even.  That doesn't refer to mental illness at all.  But instead could be interpreted as being about my entire journey, from the moment I was born on through young life and into adulthood.

I hope my high school freshman English teacher gets to read this.  She owns that preface!

I've read a number of autobiographies by people with bipolar disorder over the years.  Kay Redfield Jamison's An Unquiet Mind and Terri Cheney's Manic were two of them.  I am currently reading Electroboy by Andy Behrman (as high energy a jolt of a book as I've ever come across).  It doesn't hurt to study those who have gone before.  But I like to think that my own humble contribution to literature about life with mental illness will have a style all its own.  If it can carve out some small niche which readers will discover and be led to think about and even be entertained by, that would make me very happy indeed.

So, work is well underway.  Maybe it will come out before The Winds of Winter (come on Martin, what's KEEPING you??!).  I am looking forward to the next few weeks and months as it develops further.

Next up: chapter two.  Which begins in Washington, D.C.  Or maybe not.

Sunday, November 20, 2022

I have watched Weird: The Al Yankovic Story twice

And so help me, this is the funniest thing I've seen all year.

When I first heard of Weird: The Al Yankovic Story what came to mind most was "Daniel Radcliffe?!?"  But he did not phone it in at all.  Radcliffe plays Weird Al with energy and conviction and of course beaucoups of hilarity.  The rest of the casting is spot-on perfect too, especially Rainn Wilson as Dr. Demento and Evan Rachel Wood portraying Madonna.

(Look for Yankovic himself playing one of the Scotti Brothers, and just wait'll you dig that crazy pool party scene.)

I had wondered what exactly would happen with a Weird Al biopic.  Would it be a fairly serious take on Al and his illustrious career, or would it be a straight up mockery of the genre.  It is indeed a parody of that class of motion picture, albeit with enough sprinkling of facts and trivia to leave one bewildered as to where real life blurs into fiction.  Case in point: Al's mom really did buy accordion lessons for her young son.  And his father actually was named Nick (but fortunately that is all that Al's dad has in common with his on-screen incarnation).

Well, best not say too much about this.  It's better if you go in cold, just like you would with any work of "Weird Al" Yankovic.  And you can do so for free!  Just click on over to the Roku Channel.

And I've seen the movie in its entirety twice now.  But I've watched the scene where Dr. Demento sends Al on an LSD trip about two dozen times:


Sunday, November 06, 2022

BEING BIPOLAR, Part Eleven: A Weekend with Mania


Being Bipolar is a series that began in the winter of 2011.  It is an occasional look at what it is to live with bipolar disorder... which some still refer to as manic depression.  A new chapter is posted whenever this blogger feels that the time is ripe for a further examination.  In doing this I try to be as honest and forthcoming as possible, within reason.  I am not a medical professional. I am however a former peer support specialist in the field of mental health, and though I have recently left that post I am still dedicating myself toward advocating for others who experience mental illness.  If you are experiencing a severe crisis and are having thoughts about self harm or harm toward others, please do not hesitate to call 911 or reach out to your most available health care professional.  You may also find help and encouragement from a support group, such as those through National Alliance for Mental Illness (

 In the previous installment of Being Bipolar, I documented what it was like to have experienced a depressive episode.  Although in hindsight I see now that I could have done "better" and by that I mean that it was so minor an occurrence that it couldn't possibly be called a textbook case.  A truly severe depressive episode lasts much longer, and is so debilitating that one finds it taxing just to get off of the sofa to use the bathroom.  I got off easy that time.

Some things have changed since that last chapter.  I'm no longer a peer support specialist with South Carolina Department of Mental Health.  Tomorrow I begin a new career, one that will be rather challenging I think.  It will also afford me some more breathing room so far as being in the proper mindset for writing.  I won't deny it: being in peer support has been rewarding.  But it also doesn't pay as much as other mental health professionals earn.  My new job will be earning more money than I would have once thought possible for someone in my position.  So with that worry gone, I think I'll be able to write better than I have in the past few years up 'til now.

But you're probably wondering why I'm writing a Being Bipolar this time.

It so happened that last weekend I was in a severe manic state.  I confined myself to my house for its duration, which certainly bewildered my dog Tammy.  She had to watch me pacing back and forth through every room in the place.  Too wide open to sleep.  Being incapable of writing for a website that I'm committed to contributing toward.   I was WIRED last weekend.

Fortunately I was able to see it coming and I knew what to expect.  And that afforded some capacity to observe and note what was happening to me.

I have said before that I have lost a lot because of having bipolar disorder.  Most especially friendships, family, even a marriage.  It was both extremes of manic depression that wrought devastation but as I've gotten older I can see that it was the manic phases which wrecked the most havoc.  Mania takes whatever you have -- be it good or bad -- and wildly magnifies it to horrific extremes.  Mania makes responsible decision making impossible.  It robs one of any modicum of self control.  It lays waste inhibitions.

Thankfully, the mania has withdrawn in large part, due in no small part to medication and counseling.  I've had to address other aspects of my diagnoses in addition to bipolar disorder.  Especially post-traumatic stress disorder: the spawn of abuses from my childhood.  Mania fed off of that, too.  As I've confronted that, the mania has had less to work with.  I wish I could have been the man fifteen years ago that I am now.  But that's a post for another time...

 So, last Friday afternoon I began noticing that my thoughts were beginning to run faster than usual.  There were too many of them, all playing at once.  I'd already committed to working on a story for the Western Journal website and was looking forward to that.  But over the course of the next few hours my thoughts wouldn't hold course.

By that evening I knew that I was having a manic episode.  A bad one.

I tried my best to sit down at the computer and start writing.  But as soon as I did I had to stand back up again.  Had to walk back and forth as I struggled to keep the thoughts straight in my head.  At 8 PM I thought if I laid down on my bed for awhile that it would give me a little relaxation from the madness.  Five minutes later I was back up again.  Trying to sit at the keyboard and typing SOMETHING but there was too much clutter in my head.

It only got worse.

I had to be careful, that night.  I couldn't sleep.  Neither could I trust myself to not do something stupid.  I would have probably started running circles around my yard if I let myself out the door, just as I found myself running up and down the dirt road when I was back to living with my parents following the separation.

Driving was out.  I also remember the night I was coming back from Greensboro on US 158.  That long stretch of road near Bethany.  Not another car in sight.  I turned off the headlights and floored the pedal, screaming into the darkness and not caring if I went off the road or whatever.  And then sanity returned and I turned the lights on and slammed on the brakes just short of  hitting a deer.

Being on the computer was fraught with peril.  I'm mindful of the time that I was manic, after having watched The LEGO Movie, and I decided that I wanted to replicate those characters on my desk.  So I went on eBay and bought two hundred-some dollars of LEGO sets.

So there was really nothing more to do than endure it.  Suffocating with mania.  Trying to stay afloat in the flotsam of madness.

The very worst of it was the realization by Saturday afternoon that I had become hyper-sexualized.

Overly enhanced libido is a common feature of mania.  Something that has sent many a manic-depressive sailing over the cliff of sanity.  Books have been written by those who have been driven by mania to satisfy sexual longings with anyone and anything.  The risks are enormous.  And yet these do not matter to many who are manic.  Limitations dissolve.  All that matters is the orgasm.

Sophocles is said to have remarked that the male libido is akin to being chained to a lunatic.  How much more so, then, when reproductive biology becomes saturated with frenzy?

There are ways of dealing with inflammation of sensuality.  None of those are very appealing to me, for a lot of reasons.  I believe that intimacy is something to be shared between one man and one woman in the union of marriage.  It isn't to be indulged in thoughtlessly.  Nor is "self satisfying" a solution.  Also, for reasons which do not need divulging.

I will not deny it: I have as healthy an interest in beautiful women as most other red-blooded American men.  I also have a photographic memory for EVERY beautiful woman I have ever seen.  And when one is overcome with mania the tendency is to mentally replay those images in one's head.

It does not make things any easier.

And so turning into a hyper-sexual had to be endured also.  And I did my best to drown out the lust to be satisfied sexually.  Reading from the works of Tolkien helped (lately I've been re-reading The Silmarillion).  So too did music.  By late evening I had decided to lose myself in Fallout 4.  That lasted half an hour, roughly.

I still hadn't slept.  Still hadn't eaten anything either.  I was too energized to be tired.

At some point I found myself dancing throughout the house.  Then I was scrubbing the bathroom sink.  Then doing laundry at midnight.

I felt unstoppable.  I felt invincible.

I had taken my regular nightly schedule of medication about 6 PM on Saturday.  That had done nothing to quench the madness.  But I am thankful for them.  Without medication, the episode would have been worse.

It was now 2 on Sunday morning and I was finally, at last, beginning to feel some slight measure of exhaustion.  I took a sleep aid and some Benadryl for good measure, and crashed headfirst into bed.

I couldn't tell you what time I woke up the next day.  Still manic, but it was abating.  I still couldn't put two thoughts together enough to write something substantial.  The incensed sex drive was finally diminishing (although some would no doubt consider having that to be a GOOD thing about being bipolar).  I felt tired from all of the moving around that I had done the day before.

The need for food began to creep in.  I ate some slices of pepperoni that had been left over from making a pizza several days earlier.  Chased down with some sweet tea.  Then took a look in the mirror and didn't recognize myself.  I shaved and showered and that got the funk of the previous few days off of me.

By that evening the manic phase had ended in vast part.  My thoughts were beginning to be my own again.  This season of madness had joined the many other episodes I have suffered for nearly a quarter of a century.

And I found myself pondering that it had not been so bad, this time.  Rarely had I been able to exert that degree of self control over my impulses.  I hadn't even bought anything outrageous on Amazon or eBay.

Maybe I am getting better.  The Chris Knight who is writing these words today, has come a long way from the Chris Knight of 2007, when I was riding a manic high and doing anything that could make me feel like a cartoon character.  That's not just "wisdom with age" either.  But I also want to believe that it was more than just medication and counseling.

I don't talk about God nearly as much as I should.  My faith is not what it was, now twenty-six years ago this past week when I first committed my life to serving Him.  Yet my journey as a follower of Christ has been and remains the most defining element of my life.  That in spite of how so many times I have screamed at Him, railed against Him, wanted Him to strike me dead so that there would be no more wretched existence for me.

So far, He hasn't done that (yet).

He has given me strength and grace to endure, though.  He has brought me through ice and fire.  He has been with me in the valleys of depression and the peaks of mania.

I couldn't talk about God much in my capacity as a peer support specialist employed by a state agency.  But I can say now, more than my own desire to recover from having this condition, that God has been at work even more.

That's what I found myself thinking after the episode, anyway.

So here it is, a week later.  On the cusp of a new career.  I am NOT looking forward to being on site ready to start training at 6:15 in the morning though!  But I think it'll be okay.  This is a real hands-on job involving precision work (no, I'm NOT going to be a surgeon).  When I was fighting some of the worst of depression and mania years ago, I discovered that assembling and painting Warhammer 40,000 miniatures provided a distraction from my mind.  I think this new job is going to be a lot like that.  It also won't be "work" that I'll be bringing in my head home with me, as happened at times as a peer specialist.  And like I said earlier, it'll be providing a lot more peace of mind financially, that I'll be able to devote more to my real passion, writing.

Yeah, I got through that episode pretty good.

Here's praying that it will be a LONG time before the next one.


Thoughts about this Tuesday's elections

So... what's my take on what will happen two days from now at the polls here in the United States?

The Democrats are going to get pounded.  They have basically become the party of three things: Hate Trump, wasteful spending, and promoting what can only be described as child pornography (especially the "transgender" madness).  They believe that anger over Roe v. Wade getting overturned is going to be enough to energize whatever base they still have.  That's not going to work.  Except in places that are so outrageously blue that they are hopeless (helpless?).

So the Republicans are going to win and maybe become a hindrance for the next two years to Joe Biden, AKA the WORST president in history.

(How anyone could still support a dementia-ridden compulsive lying pedophile is beyond me.)

Yes, the Republicans are going to take the House and the Senate, I perceive.  And that's going to be the beginning of the end of our problems, right?


Because the Republicans will likely do what they have always done whenever they get hold of the Hill.  They capitulate.  They turn over.  They "play nice".  They "go along to get along".

That has been how they have behaved with people like Mitch McConnell and Kevin McCarthy leading their party in the Senate and House, respectively.  Republicans have "leadership" that is more interested in maintaining their hold on power, however much or little it may be.

The incoming Republican tsunami will be all for nothing if the new conservatives in Congress don't kick the tired old leadership to the curb and take NO prisoners.  There should be NO compromising with the opposition.  Democrats in the House and Senate haven't shown the GOP any mercy these past several years, why should mercy be shown them?

The Republicans have an opportunity to shut down Biden's insane agenda and they MUST take it.  The American people are not about to sweep them into office just to maintain the status quo.

I'm saying this as someone who has become disgusted with partisan politics.  Actually, with politics in general.  I've done my part as a responsible citizen.  I registered to vote the day after I turned 18.  Have participated in most of the elections since then, including the primaries.  I even ran for office once.  It can't be said that I haven't upheld my end of the bargain as a citizen of this land.

I'm only calling it as I see it.

So in a nutshell: the Republicans are set to give Biden a good hard kick in the @$$.  But it will be for naught if they don't shake up their own house first.  Starting with rebelling against their corrupt longtime leadership.

Just my .02

Friday, October 21, 2022

New Substack post: Why I will NOT be applying for student loan relief

Just posted a new article on my Substack.  Several times this past week I've been asked if I'm applying for President Biden's student loan relief program.

And every time I've said no.

Those were MY student loans.  I took them out.  They're for me to make good on. Not the government.

One day, I will have them paid in full.  And it will not be with any "help" from Biden.

Here's the link to the article.

Bipolar disorder cost me careers, opportunities, a marriage even.  But I will not let it stop me from having this victory.  It may not be for decades still... but it will be mine and God's.

Wednesday, October 05, 2022

Some new writing this past week

I like to think that I'm getting my mojo back as a writer.  This past week saw four articles of mine getting published on a couple of outlets.  That's a bunch more than I'd previously been capable of writing.  Maybe I'm finally getting adjusted to both bipolar disorder and the medication to treat it.  Especially the meds.  Can't escape feeling like they've sapped a lot of ability out of me these past several years.

But for now I'm writing.  And I feel great.

First of all there's an article I turned in for The Western Journal about longtime Democrats fleeing their former party.

Then there's a piece for American Thinker about Barack Obama's warehouse in Chicago that almost certainly contains classified documents.

A few days ago Western Journal posted a lil' write-up about how electric powered aircraft still can't match what the Wright Brothers were doing after their historic first flight.

And then today, there's this humdinger of a story about a guy's brand new $115,000 electric Hummer that stopped working in the middle of a highway a few days after he drove it off the lot.

(The article about the Hummer has to be read to be believed.  Or watch the embedded YouTube video.  Heads should roll at General Motors for that kind of screw-up.)

So I'm on a hot streak right now.  How long can it last?  I'm hoping... forever.  Maybe I'll channel some of that spirit into working on my book this coming weekend.

Monday, September 26, 2022

I'm now writing for The Western Journal

The Western Journal is a Christian news and commentary website that I've respected for a number of years now.  And I am very honored that they have published my first article for it.  Hopefully, one of many more to come.

The article is in regard to a VERY ridiculous lawsuit that fast-food giant McDonald's has been hit with, for $10 billion in damages.  Seems that the owner of The Weather Channel is honked off that Mickey-D's won't run much advertising aimed at minorities on his channels.  So first it was restaurants like McDonald's and Kentucky Fried Chicken which were blasted for targeting minorities with commercials for unhealthy food.  Now McDonald's is getting hauled to court for not targeting minorities hard enough.

Well, you can read the full article here.  And I can't thank The Western Journal nearly enough for taking me aboard :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2022

Two million visits!


It indeed pleases me to report that in the past hour, The Knight Shift has registered its TWO MILLIONTH VISITOR since the meter first activated in September 2004!

Thank you everyone, for making my humble little blog so well visited.  And I shall try to continue to make it worth your while to come here :-)

Thursday, September 08, 2022

Elizabeth II has passed


There were fifteen prime ministers, many James Bonds, four Beatles, and thirteen Doctor Whos... but there was only one Queen.

Thinking of her family and this blog's friends throughout the Commonwealth, on this sad occasion.

Tuesday, September 06, 2022

Back to work on my book

Dad wanted me to write a book, about my life with bipolar disorder.  He thought it would serve as an inspiration for others.  He was really proud of how I had gone forward with having a mental illness, how I was trying to use my experience with it to help others.  I like to think he would be proud still of my work the past three and a half years at a state department of mental health, where I've been employed as a peer support specialist.  I've gotten to utilize my knowledge and experience just about every day of that, toward assisting others to have more full and complete lives despite their diagnoses.

I had been working on a book, and had quite a lot of it completed, before Dad passed away in November of 2014.  And that... took the wind out of my sails, to put it mildly.  A year and a half later I left my old hometown for a year's journey across America.  And ever since a LOT has transpired that effectively make the original plan for a book, well, obsolete.

But I think that it's finally time to get back to work.  Last week I finished the prologue.  I know how it begins and I have bits and pieces in mind for the rest.  I haven no idea how to end it.  Friends have told me that since it's an autobiography that I shouldn't have a definite ending.  Maybe it will wrap up with me going into peer support: some symmetry there, from how the book begins.  The opening paragraph is me getting put into handcuffs for my first time en route to a psychiatric hospital.  Not a particularly cheery image to evoke but it happened, and I'm going to be brutally honest with this work.

It's not going to be entirely all about my life with bipolar disorder.  There are going to be other things too, like the trek across the country.  Something like that changes a person, I prefer to think for the better.  And I thought it could include the school board run, since that was so much fun and educational.

And hey, this will actually be my second book.   The first was a children's book I wrote a few years ago.  Maybe getting this one published will help me get that one to see print too!