Tuesday, November 10, 2015

PC - It's not the Intelligent Concept You'd Expect

As Popeye would say, 'That's all I can stands, I can't stands no more!'

The point of no return is on the horizon and, in this case, the world is flat. Humankind is teetering on the edge of insanity (get it?)

This in no way has anything to do with computers. If only. No, this PC is an acronym. Acronyms, by the way, cost taxpayers millions of dollars. The US government has an entire arm of the executive branch whose sole purpose is to create acronyms for everything from toilet paper to nuclear annihilation.

In any case, let us ruminate a moment on the overwhelming insanity of the rapidly increasing acceptance of Political Correctness. This PC is a scourge on humankind. Well, at the very least it is the scourge of free thinking, rational individuals.

Normally, I overlook the instances of political correctness as I do not subscribe to the PC mentality in any way, shape or form. However, the recent inane, insane and idiotic reaction by a group of PC adherents to the color of Starbuck's holiday coffee cups caused a switch to flip in my mind.

I'll admit, I say 'Merry Christmas.' It's not because I'm all about the religious significance. I'm fully aware that the holiday has deep-rooted pagan traditions and that Jesus wasn't born on December 25th.
I say, 'Merry Christmas' because I grew up saying it. I have always called Christmas, Christmas. Just like I always watch 'Charlie Brown's Christmas' and 'A Christmas Story.'

It doesn't bother me when people say 'Happy Holidays' and it sure as a charred Yule log doesn't insult me, my heritage or my spirituality when a coffee house decides to dole out sub-par, overly pungent coffee in red 'holiday' cups.

Ri-damn-diculous. Even more ridiculous than the uproar over Halloween costumes. One mustn't dare wear a sombrero lest a native Mexican cry foul. Or, heaven forbid a costume resembles Sitting Bull or a Native American squaw. That there is grounds for a lynchin'.

Oops... Better not use any word remotely, though inadvertently referencing anything that would offend the African American community either.
Basically, at Halloween, the only safe costume choices are Disney characters and ghosts. Although, ghosts could be mistaken for Grand Wizards of the KKK. Nix that costume idea too.

What is happening here is more frightening than Granny Clampett in a nude photo spread.

The PC culture is basically creating a nation of individuals who can't express their own individuality. I'm not saying that there shouldn't be standards of decency and common sense. However, when we become so concerned that a costume or a coffee cup is going to offend someone, we die a little. Guess what? Some time, somewhere, someone will be offended by something that we do, say, wear or think.
There is no universal standard for toe-stepping and there shouldn't be.

This country is already resembling a gaggle (flock, school, herd, whatever) of lemmings that do not think for themselves. Hell, if you want proof, look at Donald Trump's standing in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination.

There is a difference in purposely offending someone, a culture, a minority or lifestyle simply due to ignorance or bigotry and offending someone because you say 'Happy Holidays' or 'Merry Christmas' or choose to dress as a Native American on Halloween. Hell, I'm a Caucasian man. I suppose I should be offended by the Jason costume with white mask at Halloween but I believe that the NHL has dibs on that offense.

Lighten up, people. You're squashing your very own freedoms that you claim to be defending.

In the meantime, I'll be looking forward to watching the Carolina Panthers as they play the Washington Redskins. I sure do hope that the ASPCA or PETA doesn't lobby to change the Panther's team name.

Yours Truly,

Cracker Whitebread

Monday, May 25, 2015

A Most Unusual Question

Wow. I feel as if I've fallen into a wormhole and fell onto an old friend. 

It's been quite a long while since my last Yelp. The closet now has an LED lighting array. There are no cobwebs or dirty mops in the corner. Someone did one helluva job tidying this closet. 

Quite a few years have passed since I first began YelpsFromTheCloset. From the beginning, this blog was created as an outlet for me to unburden myself from my hurt, anger, resentments, self-loathing.... you get the picture. Yelps was the dumpster and the words I was writing were the leftover Dim Sum in styrofoam containers. What a tumultuous time it was. It seems like a dream. A strange, surreal dream jam packed with life lessons needing to be deciphered. 

So much has changed since that time. Oddly, what began as a personal outlet for me morphed into something else, something good. People, yes, you people, began following my Yelps. This little closet was getting larger. Readers of my inane ramblings spanned the globe and every continent. Thank you all... there were thousands who were reading each entry. I was lambasted by some. That's not a problem. Not all of my words were meant to be all 'happy happy joy joy' and I certainly deserved some of the lambastation (I know, that's not a word.). 

What surprised me most of all was that my words were helping others. I wasn't alone. With that surprise came a sobering realization: My words aren't just mine. They were and are the words of many, many others and they provided laughs, tears and hope. 

My life has changed more times than Cher's wardrobe in concert. I sincerely hope that what I've written in the past has provided help or hope to at least one person. 

I've been directed to tell my story. Well, I've been directed to write a book detailing a personal, lifelong transformation. Yelps has been a part of the story. 

If anything that you've read here in the last several years has made any difference in your story, please let me know. Seriously, I want to know. I'll include the impact of Yelps in your world in my book, if you'd like. 

It's been a helluva ride. The rollercoaster is slowing towards the platform but the thrills are far from over. There is another group jumping into the seats. Don't get into the front car, trust me on this. 


Saturday, May 17, 2014

Yelps from the Closet: Hello, You wacked world. I'm back.

Yelps from the Closet: Hello, You wacked world. I'm back.: It's been quite a while since I've fingered my thoughts to the keyboard. I needed a break. Not really, I got a new job and didn&#3...

Hello, You wacked world. I'm back.

It's been quite a while since I've fingered my thoughts to the keyboard.

I needed a break. Not really, I got a new job and didn't want my new employers to read my drivel. Now, they can read my drivel and hopefully learn something.

What is ironic is that my drivel isn't a pile of bullshit. My 'employers' can take that as they please... along with my investment of $4 grand and my hopes and dreams of a lifetime of prosperity. I was taken, hook, line and sinker because at my age and with the circumstances surrounding my life, they told me what I wanted to hear.

I'm smarter than that. I think so.

Right now, I'm no so sure. I'm a desperate man. I have a wife to support as she contemplates retirement and I have no real skill or talent to fulfill my obligation to her and to myself.
I've done well at everything I've ever undertaken. But now, at 50, I look back at who I was and who I am and I seriously wonder if I've peaked. Do I have anything else to contribute?

Without going into detail, not long ago, my wife Pam exhibited extreme depression. It looks different on her. Her comment was, "I just don't to wake up in the morning." I found it interesting that she felt that way because I have felt that way every night for years now but I don't exhibit the signs of depression tha accompany that mindset.

I know for certain that there is much more here.... and there. My latest job fiasco was a learning experience. My real passion and the meaning of my being here is in my head. The problem is that it brings little money although it holds the hands of those who need help.

Bottom line, I'm a nobody, no name person with a mission. Isn't that what we all are meant to be?

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Goodbye Jeff. Hello Jeff, Nice to Finally Meet You.

Today is day 25. I know because I downloaded an app to my iPhone. It was one of the first things that I did on the day that I made the conscious decision that I'd had my last drink of alcohol. You read that correctly and, yes, this is the blog written by Jeff Brunk. Now, stand up and collect yourself.

When I made this decision I wasn't hungover. I wasn't in trouble with anyone. I wasn't in jail.
All fair questions that I'm certain immediately come to one's  mind.
I opened my eyes that morning, looked at the ceiling and thought to myself, 'Well, that's enough of that" and that was that. In actuality, the decision to either cut back or cease the insanity had been swimming around, literally swimming around, in my head for quite a while. However, I'm an all or nothing, black and white personality and the decision between live or die, stop or go was to stop and live.

So, I raised up on an elbow, looked at Pam, and told her what I had decided. I didn't expect much. She'd heard it before. Who hasn't said those words at least once in their drinking history? But I was saying them in a relatively unfazed state of mind. Amazing, given the increasingly dreadful volume of wine that I was consuming each and every night. I never had hangovers. It was to that point.
That was twenty-five days ago.

In a bit, I'll expound on what I've learned about myself from this journey thus far. I'll be the first to admit that I'm no hero for making it a measly twenty five days when there are people who struggle a lifetime hour by hour. But, I can maybe shed some light on what it is like for a Bipolar, self-medicating man who suddenly cuts off a lifeline.

First, a little history..........

My initial experience with happy juice came when I was just a young Weeble.

I was in middle school and my family had just moved to Lexington, NC earlier that year. So, I must have been in sixth grade. Sometime during that winter or fall, I was dropped with some sort of illness, cold and fever. I don't remember much. I blame the loss of brain cells. That's my excuse from now on. Hell, I sometimes can't remember what day it is, but I do remember my mom coming to me with cough medicine. A special elixir, concocted from a special recipe handed down by the gods of Atlantis. It tasted like grape juice, but not as syrupy as NyQuil, and it put me out after making me all warm and fuzzy. I vaguely recall wanting to boogie to the Bee Gees. My mother appropriately called it the "Grape Ape."

Not long after recovering from this sickness, I ventured downstairs and found the 1970's-style unlocked, closeted minibar in which my mom, not Isis or one of the Atlantean gods, had devised this concoction. I found Welch's grape juice and vodka. I can't remember the brand vodka and I really didn't care. I just knew that I felt better, had slept well, and had been given another Grape Ape the next night to help me kick that devastating illness. After I recovered, that was it for Grape Apes and my experience with alcohol. At least, for the time being.

It wasn't until I was sixteen years old that I was reintroduced to the spirits. My first beer was heartily enjoyed with 'Pap' Woods and his cousin while we listened to Heatwave's "Groove Line" booming from the back of his cousin's pimped Pinto. I even remember the beer. Oh, the ice cold freshness of Busch, in the can, with the old-school pop-top. I think that between the three of us we shared a case. For a novice, four beers is enough to both bring about euphoria and a certain sense of regret. I wasn't thinking about any regret, I just knew that I liked the way that the bass line thumped a bit more in tune with my soul with every sip of ice cold nectar. I wanted a Pinto by the time we finished the case and I think I might have made an offer to buy Pap's cousin's car. Stranger things have since happened.

From that day forward, I honed my imbibing skills and I honed them fiercely. Back in the early 1980's beer was easy to get. It was like buying Mentos. My focus changed as I remembered the Grape Ape and what else must be out there. I became good friends with Everclear. Wild Turkey gobbled its way into my cup quite a few times. I was quite health conscious by this time. Only Diet Coke and the Turkey, please.  Of course, there were the two mainstays, vodka and Jim Beam. Yet, when out on the town, for mixing purposes, vodka was the rule.
It was the 80's. It was a time of abounding freedom and letting it all out there. And, for me, it was nearly an entire decade of full-fledged Bipolar mania. All of these were as easy to obtain in the early '80's as cocaine and Madonna wannabes.
Hell, I would make a cocktail from Everclear and Dr. Pepper. And to me, that mix tasted as good as a Five Guys milkshake. It tasted better after the second sip when my tongue, lips, guts and face were numb.

From there, I started hosting PJ parties. PJ is a mix of fruit and most any kind of alcohol, by the half gallon, juice and maybe some ice... all stirred with a stick for effect and served from a brand new 30-gallon Rubbermaid trash can. I was on my way and I was in the fast lane. By the way, it must be stirred with a stick and it must be served from a new, repeat NEW, trash can. Redneck rules. Oh yes, be sure to place the can on a hard surface that is impervious to stains. Word to the wise.

High school ended and away I went to art school where screwdrivers during class in one of those thermal cups with a lid were a must. Liquid inspiration, I would think to myself. To be fair, I did my best artwork and get my most outrageous artistic ideas with a less 'tight' mind. Little did I know that the alcohol was simply slowing down my thinking as a result of my disorder.

My buddy, Eric, and I would do our camera work in the darkroom but always have our own 'developer' with us. I swear, I have always done my best artwork when I am at another level... and I'll be honest, I'll call it dumbed-down. To be quite brutally honest, I have always used alcohol to lower myself to an understanding of most. Yeah, that sounds bad, but it's true and for many years it was motivation. I have always felt that I was here mentally, (hand raised) and most others were here, (hand lowered). I would drink to understand the thinking process of others. I'm not making that up. I know, that does sound haughty, but I'm not that way. I now know that I simply can't focus on one simple idea at a time. More on that later.

Alcohol has been a motivator, a courage-maker, a deal-breaker and a stupidifier for me as long as I can remember. Well, almost as long as I can remember.

Flash forward to my most manic moments of my life. It has landed me in jail, a few times. It has cost me the respect of my children. Not to mention their presence. I can't blame alcohol entirely, Bipolar disorder is the main culprit, but self-medicating with wine or vodka surely didn't help matters. Alcohol played a part in my vacation stay in the county mental health facility. It's alright, you can call it the nut house. It also landed me in the hospital on suicide watch a couple of times. I swear though, I didn't attempt anything stupid like that. I just have no 'off' switch. That's one of my faults. If it feels good, if I feel good, I want to feel better, and better, and better. Until, well... you get the idea.

You see, I've always felt the need to drink to escape the voices or the pain or something I couldn't quite understand or grasp if it wasn't just to have fun, as it was in the earlier days.
As my therapist and most books call it, it is 'self-medicating.' Most of us bipolar folk do it in one way or another. Count me amongst them. My problem is that I have no 'off' switch, as I mentioned.

I no longer drink wine. I no longer sell wine, which was my chosen career. Twenty five days ago, later that morning, I called my employer and quit my job. Like I said, I'm all or nothing. I knew that there was no way that I could do my job properly on a daily basis without drinking.

My brain will always be on the fritz. It'll always be two gerbils on a hamster wheel. But, for myself and especially those that love me and, for some reason, need me, I knew that I needed this change desperately. My health was deteriorating as I was sinking psychologically.

I have always been a spiritual person. I'm connected, more in a Buddhist way, to the Universe through Reiki and feeling and healing. I had lost that. I was drinking more and more. I was trying to escape something, but I don't know how many things I was running from.

What I do know is this: The most difficult thing about the last twenty five days has been getting reacquainted with myself and, this surprised me, finding something else to do. I have had to completely change my habits. When I say change habits I'm referring to changing what time I shower, where I sit at a certain time of day, what time I go to bed. It sounds silly but it isn't as easy as you might think it to be.

I was literally frightened at first. I truly thought that I had lost my humor and sense of self. Hey, look, I had been drinking for the last thirty-three years. I didn't drink every day but I didn't miss many days.
Here is a tidbit for you... the first night, I went to an AA meeting. I wanted to get an idea what it was about and to see if I belonged there. As it turns out, there were some great, accepting people there. I haven't been to another meeting, but I haven't craved a drink. I don't walk into a store or walk down the wine aisle in the supermarket and become tortured with cravings.
I do like the way I feel now and I like that I've lost poundage. Waking up earlier in the morning isn't that bad. I'm getting my 'funny' back.
Best of all, I'm gaining a newfound appreciation for myself and man oh man, am I ever gaining clarity of mind.

Robin Williams has always been one of my favorite comedians. When he was younger, back in the 80's he was out of control, always the improvisational genius. I still go to YouTube to watch his old routines from time to time. If you weren't aware, Robin Williams is also Bipolar. He's a textbook case.
Through the years, he has seen television success, movie success and movie flops. Personally, he's experienced the highs and lows that come with relationships, finances and life. But, he's survived and now has what I believe is one of the best and funniest shows on television in 'The Crazy Ones.'
Here's the thing... when he was at his craziest, he was drinking like a fish, doing coke, self-medicating. Yet, he succeeded. Eventually, the house of cards came crashing down and he had to say to himself, 'Enough.' But, he didn't lose his humor. His humor and his improvisational talent is still there and he's just as good as he ever was with one exception: his humor is smarter. It is not as fast and furious, but it is smart.

I like to liken my own life to his. Not that I've been famous in any way, shape or form but I've had so many different careers that I've mastered, then grew bored with. I've moved fast, I've crashed and burned. And now, I have said, 'enough.' It is time to listen to myself, use what I know, be who I know myself to be and be smart.

So now you know.
Tomorrow is Day 26. One day older, another day wiser. Pass the water, would ya?