And today had been going so well.

Well, I suppose that would be yesterday, at this point. Being just past midnight and all.

I did something today that was an end, and a beginning: I finished all of the paperwork required to file for Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy. It was a huge relief, having this robin's egg blue paper confirming my case number. Knowing that I can consolidate a myriad of various debts down to a single trustee payment, and that too will eventually be automatically deducted from my paycheck, saving me that worry.

I know two people personally, at work, who have gone through this very thing. They are both wonderful people, people I trust and can count on. They are not some sort of horrible stain on society. One is a caring mother, the other a brilliant engineer. They are everyday people who ran into some bad luck, and yes, probably made a few bad decisions as well.

A while back, I made the mistake of letting slip that I was doing this to folks I know. I have since been labeled as irresponsible, blaming everyone but myself for everything. This has been said both in an open Internet forum, and as I have now learned, behind my back via surreptitious emails and gossip.

I do blame myself. I blame myself so often I have entered pits of despair so deep that I could do nothing but sleep for hours on end. Folks have said I have complained about never seeing people, and then turned down invitations to do things; ironically, this was often due to the fact that I was trying to save money and be responsible. Other times it was just due to the depression.

I blame myself for getting into this mess in the first place, attempting to hold on to this house after I was laid off when the smart thing would've been to turn around and sell it as soon as possible. I have lost control, trying to medicate my sadness by acquiring possessions (which, of course, just added to the debt).

Blame others for everything? I have fought a voice in my head since the first grade telling myself I was worthless, a loser, a waste of flesh clogging up society. I have struggled to make something of myself, and just as I thought I had made it through college and was about to become a successful professional, I was laid off. I'd like to see how they might have managed, being laid off for a year, and then struggling for another to find work -- any work -- to keep going. So many software folks were out of jobs that every single part-time position was taken. I was so blinded by hope that I was taken in by an idiotic employment scam. I even stuffed envelopes with a bunch of high-school kids for a few days.

But apparently it's not enough; I can't blame others for anything. Saying that credit card companies are predatory lenders, for example. No, it all must be entirely my fault, and by availing myself of the Chapter 13 bankruptcy code instead of being in crippling debt for the next twenty years, I am a horrible, horrible person.

I also blame myself for trusting that people I thought I knew would not judge me... and especially not in whispers behind my back. It took me a long time to shift my perspective from "people are basically out to fuck you over" to "people are basically nice," and now I wonder if I overcompensated a bit. Let that guard down a bit too much... let that trust come a little too easily.

I've gotten bitter now. More cynical. More sarcastic. It's time to start approaching people with a ten-foot pole again. Time to start assuming they're sizing me up on the inside.

I write this because I'm in pain, because I need an audience, and because I can actually trust a group of mostly-strangers more than the folks I have grown accustomed to calling "friends". Is this self-indulgent? Am I looking for a pat on the back? Yeah, I suppose half of me is. The other half wants to warn all of you out there. There are a very, very precious few people on this planet you can truly let your guard down around. Cherish them, and be wary of the rest.

See my daylog from yesterday for context.

Nick died at noon yesterday. Since Nick's family live about an hour and a half away, we didn't go see them or anything. Instead we all got together at somebody's house and tried to make ourselves feel better over pizza and Shiner Bock and ice cream. It sorta worked. It sorta helped too that most of us brought our small children. Somehow death, no matter how tragic or cruel, seems somehow less ... what's the word? ... death loses her sting when there are little girls in princess dresses running around the garden.

Wifey and I are making arrangements for babysitting so we can go to the funeral, which we assume will be tomorrow or Saturday. Fortunately, people are lining up around the block to help us out. Sure, we want to go out to an adult themed movie on a weekend, and it's like we are lepers; it takes a funeral to get any babysitting around here. That was my attempt at gallows humor.

I've been dealing with it by gorging myself on food and not thinking about it. Mainly, I have put it out of my mind by obsessing on getting my homebrewing hobby restarted. Also, I've used playing with my daughter as an excuse not to think about it. Only this morning did I have the guts to actually pray about it. Standing around waiting for the coffee shop to open, I looked skyward, toward the half moon, and prayed for comfort and mercy on behalf of Nick's family. I don't need it. Give my share to them. I hope God/Goddess/Xenu/Giant Spider was listening.

So here I am at work. Pretending that nothing is wrong. All I can think about doing is stuffing my face. I think it is a testament to my psychological development that I want to gorge myself on fried chicken and pie rather than vodka. I've come a long way. I'd be a totally kickass zen master if I could just cope with the infernal emptiness I feel inside.

I left work late yesterday, about 8:00 or so. I walked out of my office, and immediately found myself in the middle of a huge crowd of protestors. On further examination, I realized that the protestors were supporters and followers of Falun Gong, a Chinese religious movement. Now, I don’t know a lot about Falun Gong. I do live in Washington, D.C., so I’ve been aware of protests by Falun Gong members in the Dupont Circle area for the past seven or eight years, but I never really learned much about the movement itself.

But the protest impressed me. The people were organized, quiet, and peaceful. While there were literally hundreds, if not thousands, of protestors on the sidewalks, none of them were in the streets, and everyone moved aside to let me walk peacefully to the Metro. It was kind of like walking through Woodstock, Lilith Fair, or the HFStival with the sound turned off.

As I walked, the posters and pictures the protestors were carrying piqued my interest. Pictures of people whose bodies had been torn apart. Signs with allegations of brutal punishment, torture, and even organ harvesting at the hands of the Chinese Communist Party. One of the leaflets being passed out claimed that thousands of Falun Gong members had been taken from their prison camp – just before a U.S. inspector showed up, coincidentally enough – and were herded onto rail cars and sent to other camps in China to avoid detection.

As I walked further into the crowd, I came upon a circle of people, maybe 20-30 strong, seated in the lotus position on the ground. They were doing these beautiful hand movements that I have since learned are part of Falun Gong’s physical regimen. My eye was drawn to one protestor – a young boy, maybe 10 or 11 – who wasn’t moving quite the same way. When I walked closer to him, I realized he was missing his left arm.

Nothing in this boy’s face betrayed the obvious pain he’d gone through. His features were as calm and beatific as a saint in church. It broke my heart.

But I kept on walking. There was nothing else I could do. At least not then. But I wanted to write about it.

Now, I don’t have any independent verification of the allegations these Falun Gong protestors were making. And I’m well aware that many people – some of whom have a vested economic interest in continued U.S.-Chinese relations -- ridicule the group as nothing more than a radical cult. But I know the people and the pictures that I saw. And I’m doing my own research now to figure out just what’s going on.

Maybe they are a cult. Maybe not. But, at the very least, the people that were protesting peacefully in front of the White House yesterday evening (and all day today, for that matter) didn’t look like a threat to me, and certainly didn’t warrant any persecution from the Chinese Communist Party. So why is it happening?

I’m sure this write-up will be extremely unpopular with anyone in China, so let the Chinese downvotes begin.

Oh, wait. I’m sorry. Nobody in China could possibly see this writeup because the Web and all of the search engines in China – including Google – are censored by the Chinese Communist Party. Too bad.

Let me be the first to tell you: sacrifice sucks. I don't think anyone ever wakes up in the morning thinking "gee, let's see what kind of sacrifices I can make in my life today." That's just the nature of it. It's painful, it hurts. It makes you feel the sting of loss.

Some people get lucky. Whatever cosmic balancing force is out there has decided that their "cup of gall," to wax Biblical, shouldn't be too bitter. I guess lucky is as good a word for it as any.

Some people get hit with the proverbial shitheap. Trial after trial after trial, sometimes back to back without any breaks between them. Looking on as a casual observer, it makes you wonder who they pissed off last time around.

I've had the chance to spend time with people from the second category. They are quite possibly some of the most amazing individuals that I have ever been privileged to meet. They have an inner strength that has been tempered in grief. The strongest kind. Life kicks them in the teeth, and they still smile. I envy these people, if envy is the right word, because they stand tall through storms that would leave me broken and weeping.

Remember that. Personal hardship can break a person. When you find someone whom it hasn't, watch them. Learn from them. Perhaps they can show you something that you missed.

Last night was definately worth it! I don't think i could get into the habit of spending $16.50 for a show though, Against Me! might make the exception this time. The whole set is a blur, if i recall correctly they started with miami and ended with ...I don't even know. Those anarcho punks are mysterious and pints of guiness make you strong (which Tom Gable wrote for his grandparents) were the furtherst back they went. I had to scream my head off and dance to the side because this is Connecticut and people don't know how to dance- the pit was an unglorious blend of rape and shoving, sheep with no Jesus. After Against Me! was done with their set I went back to the underground (where everyone can dance together and not get trampled on!) and found Pluto Gang playing, and circled the last few minutes of my night away until my dad wanted to go (yes, I'm almost 18 and still don't drive, but look at gas prices and shit, can you bame me?)- he get's cranky if he doesn't leave when he wants to. Before Against Me! was on, Tip the Van was in the underground, which was some very dance-adelic (I make up words) ska. We left before Alkaline Trio came on, as planned. I was told they were only playing older stuff... the whole idea of the tour, but i was never really into them.

Before last night I had a cough, I think I may have screamed it away, no blood though.*

*This is a bad reference to Scream until you're coughing up blood, which could be found on Reinventing Axl Rose.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.