Posts Tagged With: friends

GASP!!!

face of the young handsome guy on the water

There have been many times in my life I have described my disposition as simply “treading water”. Now, I am more frequently finding myself struggling to keep just my nose and mouth above the waterline, I feel I am sinking. What makes the situation even more challenging… I see no boat or shoreline on my horizon. 90% of my desperation comes from the simple fact… I am broke. A lack of money blocks the opportunity to even achieve a few minutes of life on a pool noodle.

I always seem to be close to an idea that my help my situation, but then I find am short treading-waterfinancially to make it happen. This blog at one point was an idea that I felt could bring in a dollar or two. I have had a few people (3) hit the donate button, this blog has never been successful enough to even cover the annual costs! To ask someone that “knows” how I could monetize this blog – costs more money I don’t have. I planned to start doing a video-blog or a podcast until I found I would need some basic equipment that I also don’t have money for. So, I continue to blog as my therapy because I can’t afford the co-pays to see a real therapist!

I have become desperate enough lately that I have resorted to living in my car for short drownperiods because I feel so trapped in my childhood bedroom at my Mom’s house. Yes, I am 51 year old and living at my Mom’s basically because I can’t afford any other option. I also use my car because I don’t want to make my drama/problems other people’s problems. So why don’t I just get a job? I also have Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and now severe depression. I have “come out” as gay. I have “come out” as disabled. I have even “come out” as POOR. All things in my life I seem to not be able to control. I also feel as I tread water, barely keeping my head above water, life keeps throwing rocks at me.

I have also witnessed friendships vanish once I quit making the effort to go visit them, to call them, and eventually to even care to chase their friendship. I have a few friends that are as good as gold, but the “Cash for Gold” places don’t seem to be willing to take friends as trade! I do value friends that do “go the distance” to be Fingersure I am included and a part of their lives. One friend even offers an “open-date” plane ticket to come visit, but I still haven’t accepted because I would need some money once I get there. Other friends just get me out for a dinner or movie. I sometimes feel the friendship with the “plane ticket friend” is often strained because I am not sure he truly realizes the severity of my situation. But bless him for trying, he is a TRUE friend (but I don’t think he even knows I blog lol). On the other hand, a friend (long-time friend) accused me of lying about my family’s experiences with house fires because I had not “told her about it before”! Then she accused me of “using” her as just a place to stay (of course after I would have to drive 7 hours to get to where she lived and she had only made the drive to my place once – on her way somewhere else). One friend I flew to see several times to visit in Tampa and D.C. but didn’t even let me know he was visiting family an hour from me became too busy to talk or call back or to care about me. It’s understandable that not everyone will like me, including friends and family… even 2 year olds … it none-the-less hurts to be told… change so we will like you! So for some friends (and some family) it just needs to be – good riddance. 

I was once Red Cross Water Safety Instructor Certified. One thing that lifeguards learn is sinkingthat sometimes a drowning victim may try to also to pull them under. Someone people drowning are unpredictable and at times dangerous. I feel my (remaining) friends are like lifeguards and I am scared what I save memay do as they offer help. As I bob in the water, I know they have their eyes on me even when I can’t see them. So, I keep my distance and sometimes just have to say… later, you don’t want to (can’t) deal with me right now. I am afraid of what I may do in my desperation that will only make things worse. I feel I am giving up on looking for a boat or shoreline because all my energy is spent keeping my nose above water. One day my Prince Charming (young, rich lifeguard) will rescue me and/or I will win the Powerball, and/or I will be cure of Multiple Sclerosis, Diabetes, and Depression – I hope! 

 

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Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Optimistically Pessimistic or Just a Realist?

For many, they would see that a person is either an optimist or a pessimist but in true fashion, I even complicate these descriptions when I self diagnose.  I see myself as optimistically pessimistic!  What is my rationale?  I enter sweepstakes and buy lotto thinking I have as much a chance to win as anyone else – Optimist.  But I know deep down I my chances to win are very slim – Pessimist.  But the more choice word I guess should be – Realist.  Living with Multiple Sclerosis also feeds this concept. I know I have good days – optimist, I also know that the price of realizing the good days is experiencing the bad ones – pessimist, but I know I have to make the best of THIS day – realist.

Because of my M.S. and spending so much time fatigued and stuck in the bed, I began entering online sweepstakes.  I have won a few nice items: an Apple iPad, a $300 Best Buy Gift card, a $100 Overstock.com Gift card, several iTunes gift cards and a dozen or so smaller prizes.  But as you see, I  have not won a big cash prize, a car, TV, or trip; but I continue entering the sweeps.  I enter the sweeps just to have something to do and on bad days I sometimes do not even enter one.  I win something sometimes – optimist, I do not win enough for the amount I of time I spend entering sweeps – pessimist, I have SOMETHING to do to pass some time – realist.  

My M.S. is like this also, when I have a good day, I tend to do too much and overexert myself.  The good day, I get to have SOME fun – optimist, the bad days I may be in great pain and stuck in bed – pessimist, when I AM stuck in bed I can remember the good days – realist.  A common saying in the M.S. community is, “I have M.S. but M.S. doesn’t have me” – optimistic.  Reality, there are days that my M.S. does have me – pessimistic.  Few people know truly how my M.S. complicates my life.  I try only to let people see the optimistic side, the healthy side of my life I do get to enjoy.  Since I do tend to project the image as someone healthy, I miss out on truly helping others understand the impact M.S. has on my life.

Staying in Medellin, Colombia as much as I do not only helps with my M.S., it also helps me mentally!  Medellin is known as “The City of Eternal Spring”.  The milder climate does help in that I do have fewer relapses and often when I do have a relapse, it may not be as severe.  This is a big plus!  The biggest benefit is that I am able to live independently!  Living totally on my disability income in the U.S. is impossible for me, but here in Medellin, I can afford to have my own apartment and feed myself.  There is little money left for other things, but the advantage of feeling independent out-weighs the disadvantages.  The downside of this independent life means I also have to sacrifice seeing my family because the M.S. limits my traveling and the money for flying is also VERY limiting.

Friends usually see me as complicated and difficult.  They do not realize what I have to do in order to “feel” like meeting for a dinner or beer – it takes careful planning for me!  I once wrote how I feel like Sid the Sloth from the Ice Age movies (https://thomasajohnston.com/2011/03/05/trapped-in-an-ice-age/).  I feel most of my friends simply tolerate me, but like Sid’s herd, my friends do down deep care about me.  I use the expression “Colombian time” in Medellin because Colombians just do not seem too concerned about schedules, appointments and timing.  This complicates my being part of a herd in Colombia because even when I explain how I NEED to keep schedules because of my health issues, the relaxed attitude of Colombians is more important to them than my schedule.  I rest, I medicate based on being somewhere at a certain time and then they see me as inflexible when they say we have changed the plans or times and just think I have the ability to adapt that easily.  Like Sid… I am sometimes abandoned.

Then again, I find it easy to thin my herd or “clean out the friend closet” sometimes!  Some people make it easy!  As I am sure I make it easy for some to reclassify me as a former friend.  I have become a self imposed hermit and actually find I enjoy being alone.  Limiting my time with friends helps me keep friends!  lol  I am very happy for the few friends I do have in my herd – Optimist.  I do wish making new friends was not so difficult for me – Pessimist.  This desire drives me to improve myself and educate even friends of how M.S. keeps me Optimistically Pessimistic or just a realist?

Categories: Colombia, Life, Medellin | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Trapped In An “Ice Age”

Once I was asked what movie character best represented how I saw myself.  My response was Sid from the “Ice Age” movies.  Sid is a loyal, lovable sloth that is also misunderstood and disliked.  My herd tolerates me, with just a few loving me while others feel obligated to put up with me!!

While I am aware of the disdain people have for me (hence my nickname TomASS), I think Sid and I share an apathy as to how it affects us.  It’s not so much we do not care, but we accept we are different and not everyone can accept others being different.  This is such a world of conformity.  Even with our own self-acceptance of who we are, there is still a pain that comes with the rejection and the deliberate hatred that we do feel.  These people become the bane of our existence.  Not that our lives are not difficult enough!

Also like a sloth, I come across as lazy.  I have Multiple Sclerosis.  My most common symptoms are fatigue and peripheral neuropathy in my legs (a pins and needles stinging & numbness like when your legs go to sleep).  It makes my walk sluggish and I sleep a lot more than even a teenager!  While I have other symptoms, these two make me appear slothful like Sid the sloth.

My herd is like Sid’s herd – we are an eclectic group: Muslim, Christian, Atheist, Spiritual, Mormon; gay, straight, bisexual, transsexual, curious; skinny, big, muscular, tall, short; Caucasian, Middle Eastern, Latino(a), Black; liberal, conservative, moderate, nonpolitical; but what we all share is we love each other in spite of our differences.  We love each other for who we are as individuals – not how we fit the conforming society.  In fact, that is what we like about each other, we challenge each other and we learn from exchanging ideas.

Most importantly we respect each other and help each other.  The only time I wish to be more than Sid is so I could do more for my herd (friends).  My herd goes above and beyond to help me and I just am not in a position to do more for them.  That is my only real regret.  I often feel trapped in my body because of my MS and because of finances (or lack of! lol), the depression that comes with this feeling makes my herd even more special to me!  I LOVE THEM!

My computer crashed, if you enjoy my blog and would like to contribute for a replacement computer, I would appreciate it! 😉

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Finally – I Know It Works!!

Naive as I may be at times, I still hope for the best. I write these blogs hoping and thinking people will read and enjoy. The idea to blog really started as a way to find an audience for my way of expressing myself. I do have a small audience and a few are even faithful readers. Visitors from 21 countries totaling 2201 hits with 1641 being one time hits makes 561 the number of people who have viewed the blog more than once. Now – I compare this to a book or magazine; 2201 pick up (visit) my blog and 561 take it home (visit more than once). That means 25% of the people who read or visit my blog come back. I think that is pretty good for my limited experience and developing talent.

Today was another landmark – I found out the donate button really works! After I started blogging, I saw the movie Julie & Julia. Julie’s reader’s started sending her gifts and money. So in March, I had the idea to add the paypal donate button to my blog like she did. I pretty much forgot about it as I blogged about: my friends, life’s adventures, politics, movies, my life with Multiple Sclerosis(MS), solicited advice, asked for help with the barn, written editorials, reported about the Bogotá bus strike, and shared my opinion on many topics. Most read blogs have been: Innocence Taken, Roger Starner Jones, M.D. – Letter Writing 101, A Day at Cerro de Monserrate, I Am a Mexican in WalMart, My Life and the Knife, and Funny How Falling Feels Like Flying….For A Little While. With all the views, hits, comments and readers; it was not until today that I was reminded of the donate button because someone actually made $5 donation.

This donation excites me enough to make me think I will blog more often.  So, feel free to suggests topics, offer feedback and share you opinions. 

My naïvety helps me feel these small landmarks have HUGE significance. $5 in 8 months does not inspire me to dreams of being the next David Sedaris or John Grishim, but makes me feel warm and fuzzy.  One bit of feedback I did get was to have some shorter posts. So, trying to apply my feedback I try now to stay below 500 words.  I value feedback and hope for more.   Because now I know that button works and it has been used, now my question is how to get more people to use it? 😉

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How I Get Along!!

Great roommates is my biggest asset being in a new city!  This past week my health kept me pretty much a shut in.  My roommates Marlon and Luis Fernando cooked several times and really took care of me!  Through my roommate I made a new friend – Carlos!  WOW!!  Carlos has been a trooper!  He has been my translator, guide and even has acted as my assistant!! lol  He has helped me so much in getting my Cedula (Colombian ID) so I will be able to get my health insurance here.  Carlos is heading to Australia next week and he will be missed!  I hope in Australia he can find great people like I have here in Colombia!

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Big Changes = Big Rewards

There have been a few times when I took great risks and got great payoff. Anyone that knows me knows my wealth is in friendships! The risks I am most apt to take is moving.  While making these moves I have been enriched by meeting great people who also became great friends!  This list is in no way complete!

Bob, Laura & Me

My first big move was Atlanta. Laura was a girl with more crap hanging on the rear view mirror of her car than I had in my apartment! When I have found myself displaced, Laura and her family have welcomed me as a red-head step child. She explained to her fiancée that she knew the groom usually chose all the groomsmen, but that he had to choose me! lol You can not help but love Laura, she will give you the wire from her support bra! Her husband Bob and I have seen our friendship grow as we both would try to keep loving her even when she may make it difficult!! I am Godfather for her kids and I know she would be the first to give me lift when I find myself down! People may say, ‘You have to love Laura“, but I GET to love Laura and I am blessed for it!

Danny, Jay & Me

Moving to Las Vegas was an even bigger risk because my job relocated me, I would have never really thought of moving to Las Vegas. I had visited, but Vegas is a tourist town and I did not work in the hospitality industry, I worked for Sony. But the jackpot in Vegas was Jay & Danny. Thanks to Jay & Danny I made many very good friends in Vegas. My birthday is December 30 and few people notice for more than a Happy Birthday on MySpace or Facebook, but Jay & Danny made all of my birthdays in Las Vegas special. They invited me to be a part of any celebration they participated in.  Jay & Danny are just that way and may not even realize how much all they did (and do) meant (and means) to me. Jay more than several times used his nursing skills and knowledge to help me when my Multiple Sclerosis was kicking my ass.  Even as I adventure to live in Colombia, they are the pressure to learn Spanish more so than even my Colombian friends! Danny is the first to give honest and constructive criticism of my writing. He knows writing is only a pipe dream for me, but his support encourages me to try like it is possible.

Jo Anna & Me

In Mississippi I have a few friends still there, but my Jo Anna is the rarest of breeds!  She is the friend that not only listens… but she understands.  She knows what I mean.  From introducing me to La Mariposa Mercedes Cafe and 2 for 1 Margaritas on Thursday with the a Colombian owner Mercedes who can only be described as a character to letting me steal some high-speed internet to keep my sanity in dial-up hell!!  There a few (if any) things I have to keep from her!  When something happens and I am excited to tell someone… Jo Anna gets the first call! She almost had a move to Las Vegas and now I have to work on her to consider Bogotá!!  She would be the best girl to enjoy and experience Colombia with because we would be so bad together while having so much fun!!  Knowing my birthday falls at a crappy time of year Jo did her part to make my birthday special.  Plus, Jo Anna is the sweetest person I know… she even beats out Jay!! haha  She even “gets” why Colombia!

Marlon, Carlos & Me

Speaking of Colombia, my ex turned out to be a big flake and my friend Andres introduced me to my now roommate Marlon.  What a Godsend Marlon was and is!  In turn he introduced me to his friend Carlos.  These two guys have done so much to make my adjustment to Bogotá a success!  Marlon ran all over town with me when I was apartment hunting and even entertained me a time or two with beers at the local watering holes all while acting as my translator!  Once the apartment was found… I was out of the country with my return delayed as I stayed to spend more time with family during the holidays, and Marlon picked up the keys for the apartment and got it all in working order so when I did return…. everything was working.  Marlon even cooks large quantities and when my MS is active… his meals can soothe the soul even better than homemade chicken soup!  With his busy work schedule, his friend Carlos stepped in as tour guide and translator.  Any new city has challenges.. new doctors, new dentist, where to get my hair cut, how to use public transportation and best of all where the outlet Malls are and thanks to Carlos not only do I know where and how to find them…. I also made a great friend in the process!  But the two of them do not know that as they were with me all over Bogotá, they were also protecting me.  These 2 guys also welcomed me with a birthday surprise that not since Jay & Danny have friends done so much for my birthday (read about that in the post “Welcome to Bogotá” below)!  My MS would have limited me from learning and knowing all I do about Bogotá, just by being with me, I knew if my legs, vision or anything related to my MS effected me… they were there to help!  Alone… I would not have been able to make moving to Bogotá a success; but the amazing thing is…. neither of these guys thinks they really did much to help, but they did and humble or not…. I thank them!

So many others have helped in all the places I have lived, but these I feel need a special mention!  These places have become home because of their help, love and support.  I can never do for them as much as they have done for me and I only hope they can begin to know how much I appreciate all they have done for me!  Love all of you!! Laura, Jay, Danny, Jo Anna, Marlon and Carlos being a part of my life is my great REWARD!

Categories: Life, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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