My Fondest Childhood Memory

Marty set me up with “StoryWorth.” They offer a topic to write on. At the end of a year they compile them into a book. I did not intend to blog this. Karen suggested I do.

_______________________________

My fondest childhood memory?  My initial impression was, from Daddy’s death, Friday, April 13, 1945, until I found Psychiatrist Dr. Eugene Chernel in late winter 1969, I have no fond memories.  I ran this by Karen.  Playing her Devil’s Advocate role, my partner pointed out I might be mistaken.  As usual, she’s right.

Convinced life was idyllic before losing my dad, I’m puzzled that I have scant memory of those eight years.  In my bog, “The Poachers” is a fictionalized “fond” memory.  Another time I helped Daddy drive sheep out of a pasture.  They ran around me back into the field, I cried.  Daddy knelt, put an arm around my shoulders, and reminded me of the picture show that evening.  We’d see Gene Autry or Roy Rogers, maybe both!

Five years later, for fifty cents a day, I was Uncle Grant’s “hired man.”  Like the escaping sheep, I let charging horses escape the corral.  My Boss threw a fit, cursed, and shouted at me.  I was terrified.  My first, but far from last, exposure to Uncle Grant’s rants.  I vowed then, I can take care of myself; whatever the sacrifice, I must keep other people happy.  In this mindset, I decide the only way I could help Mama was, “Be a good boy and don’t cause problems.”  This motto has served me well.

Karen reminded me of, not “fond,” but good-enough memories after we moved to Ferron in 1947.  April 3, 1937, I drew breath in Grandpa Leslie’s bedroom.  Four days later, catty-cornered across the street in Grandpa Nielsen’s bedroom, Stewart made his first wail.  A Major League center fielder could have thrown a baseball out my grandpa’s bedroom window into Stewart’s.  For over a decade Stewart and I were closest of friends.

At the mouth of Ferron canyon, desperados on horseback, bandannas over our noses, brandishing cap pistols, we attempted to holdup vehicles.  Our would-be victims honked, waved, and laughed.  No booty.

In the same vicinity, someone found a fallen-apart box of TNT bricks.  Left and forgotten, I assume, when they built the road.  Over following weeks, the explosives jostled in a gunny sack in bicycle baskets.  Someone, maybe Clifford, swiped a blasting cap, fuse, and half stick of dynamite.  With this detonator, we blew up the end of a bridge on a long-abandoned road near Moore.  A huge “boom” and column of black smoke! 

In summer, on the rare days I somehow escaped Uncle Grant’s iron grip, at “McKenzie’s” on the Molen ditch we swam in water with bacteria and pollution levels barely not much above sewage.  Which was not significant since the Molen ditch originated near the “settling pond” for Ferron’s drinking water.  Often tap water was barely clearer that ditch water.   

Fond childhood memories revolve around family and friends.  Forty at Mama’s house at Thanksgiving and Christmas.  On Ferron reservoir, fishing in a leaky WWII surplus rubber raft, one man rowing another manning the air pump to keep us afloat.  In Molen hunting pheasants with Uncle Seeley, Don, and Keith.  On the south side of Big Mountain, in the “Doctor’s Cabin” hunting deer with a dozen men.  And a lot more.

I can’t say when my “childhood” ended.  It just faded into “growing up.”  Very fond memories then became life with Karen, Bryan, Dawn, and Marty.   

They Told Us So

Michel Wolff’s Landslide; Michael C. Bender’s Frankly, We Did Win The Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost; and Carol Leonning and Philip Rucher’s I Alone Can Fix It offer fresh examinations of Donald J. Trump’s presidency and lunacy.  On the internet I read a piece—which I cannot now locate—pointing out a common takeaway from these exposés: America’s forty-fifth president exhibits an obsessive, egomaniacal sense of self-importance and insatiable need to be extolled, if not venerated.

For those baffled by Donald’s exorbitant need for aggrandizement, it is essential to understand he really does believe “I Alone Can Fix It”!  I am, “The King of Israel  .  .  .  the chosen one.”!

This is not breaking news folks!  The fall of 2017, The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump laid it out in precise detail.  Three dozen mental health professionals and others with firsthand experience agree that our erstwhile Man in the Oval Office exhibits classis symptoms of a “Malignant Narcissistic Personality Disorder.”  Donald’s niece and Clinical Psychologist Mary Trump’s Too Much and Never Enough How My Family Crated the World’s Most Dangerous Man confirms this diagnosis.

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5) defines Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) as, “a persistent manner of grandiosity, a continuous desire for admiration, along with a lack of empathy. It starts in early adulthood and occurs in a range of situations, as signified by the existence of any 5 of the next 9 standards,

  • A grandiose logic of self-importance
  • A fixation with fantasies of infinite success, control, brilliance, beauty or idyllic love
  • A credence that he or she is extraordinary and exceptional and can only be understood by, or should connect with, other extraordinary or important people or institutions
  • A desire for unwarranted admiration
  • A sense of entitlement
  • Interpersonal oppressive behavior
  • No form of empathy
  • Resentment of others or a conviction that others are resentful of him or her
  • A display of egotistical and conceited behavior or attitudes”

That’s 9 for 9!

What a poor, frightened, tortured soul.

Biking Across America Without Leaving Home

A year and a half ago, I mounted my trusty Stamina stationary bike in Oregon City and peddled north on Interstate 205.  At Parkrose Heights I turned east on Interstate 84, crossing central and eastern Oregon and Idaho into Utah.  At Salt Lake City I took Interstate 80 east through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

On or about July 8, 2021, at 2,673 miles my navigator, Karen, advised me I had crossed the George Washington bridge into New York City!  Whew!

Where now?  North on Interstate 87 to Canada and back toward home?

Confession

Slightly edited from a few years back. I like to think it’s worth a second look.

**************

I wish you would praise me.  I wish you’d say I’m wise and wonderful, even when I’m not.  I want to believe I’m okay but I’m afraid.  I’m not sure.  I need to hear it from you.  Without your assurance, an irrational passion compels me to earn your approval.

Do you see how hard I work, the indecency I endure?  I’m an entertainer, promiscuous, a prostitute.  Bisexual, indiscriminate, nymphomaniac.  To feel loved I’ll sleep with anyone—well, crazy it sounds, almost anyone.  I accept insult, abuse, whatever it takes.  I don’t whimper or protest.  I love my work!

You have reason to be puzzled, amused, annoyed by my act.  When I play the four-year-old vamp in Mama’s dress; pull stupid stunts like a fifth-grade boy; trip over my feet like a Keystone Kop; beat up on myself like the Three Stooges, how bewildering I must seem.

Beneath the acts and disguises I’m fragile as a butterfly and exquisitely cautious.  If you ignore or scorn me, I’m crushed.  So, I play the whore, the clown, the fool.  I humor you, make you laugh.  I seduce, trick, beg, and bribe you.

Confusing, irrational, silly as I seem, I strive for your approval the only ways I know.  Please understand—while I rarely do—with all my incorrigible antics, with all my strength, with all my heart, I work to earn your approval.  Because it’s absolutely essential!

More than eight decades down the road, I remember what I knew before I “grew up,” before I learned to fear you.  Relationship, love, is all that matters.

Should I apologize?  You don’t know—or do you?

Capitalism, Communism, Socialism

Nature’s capacity to support human life exceeds our need.  Politics is a tool whereby humankind manages this abundance.  Prominent political philosophies are Capitalism, Communism, and Socialism.  I have a sense many Americans, like me, conflate Communism and Socialism.  It is crucial that we not be misguided by labels.  Since my thinking here is, at best, fuzzy, I go to my usual Guru, Wikipedia. 

“Capitalism is an economic system based on the private ownership of the means of production and their operation for profit.  .  .  .  Decision making and investments are determined by every owner of wealth  .  .  .  whereas prices and the distribution of goods and services are mainly determined by competition in goods and services markets.”  (My emphasis.)

By contrast, “Communism is a philosophical, social, political, and economic ideology and movement whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a communist society, namely a socioeconomic order structured on the ideas of common ownership of the means of production and the absence of social class, money, and, in some cases, the state.  As such, communism is a specific form of socialism.”

“Socialism is a political, social, and economic philosophy encompassing a range of economic and social systems characterized by social ownership of the means of production  .  .  .  social ownership can take the form of state ownership, common ownership, employee ownership, cooperative ownership, and citizen ownership of equity.”

Under Capitalism, Mother Earth’s resources are accumulated and managed according to a select group’s incentive for financial profit.  This model affords more booty to folks who are motivated to get rich, shrewd, lucky, or born to wealth.

Communist states own all resources, manage their processing and distribution, and employ everyone.  The Soviet Union had, and Cuba has, a Communist government.  As I understand, Chinese Communism holds private enterprise under stringent State controls.

On scanning Wikipedia and the Internet, the far-ranging details of how a variety of non-Communist governments implement Socialist philosophy made my head hurt.  Basically, they support free enterprise while assuring that all citizens, regardless of an individual’s capacity or willingness to pitch in, have the basics: shelter, food, medical care.  I think of non-Communist Socialism as Capitalism with a conscience

Boy and Girls

Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz points out, “there is a difference between boys and girls.”  Really?  The Senator’s pronouncement denies or ignores significant and troubling truths about human sexuality.

Born with a vagina or penis and testicles defines us as biologically male or female.  During puberty most of us discover a sexual attraction toward individuals of the opposite sex.  For some however, unknown, perhaps unknowable, vagaries of genes and environment focus emergent sexual interest on folks of the same sex, both sexes, and other sexual aberrations.  Some discover themselves in a physically male or female body but thinking and feeling like the opposite sex.  Others, without regard to sexual attraction, feel drawn to dress as the opposite sex.  Throughout human history, individuals exhibiting  “abnormal” sexual proclivities have been reviled, persecuted, and killed.

I believe human sexual feelings are not a choice.  We are born with them.  I challenge Senator Cruz or anyone to argue that at age twelve or so a not insignificant number of humans decided, “I’ll be queer, bisexual, transgender, or transvestite.”  No one makes that deliberate decision!

Why are some of us born with abnormal sexual predilections?  Christians and Jews view God as the source of everything.  Is this His doing?  Or, does ol’ Satan sometimes trick the Big Guy?  

Whatever the reason, some of us have aberrant sexual feelings or identities.  They are wrong.  Fix them!

A pubescent male’s initiating to adult sex occurred waking from a wet dream of copulating with a man!  Born and raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the youngster launched into a battle between homosexual feeling and transgressions and living among a stridently anti-LGSBTQ church and culture.  When variant sexual orientation grew impossible to ignore, The Church initiated groups aimed at turning gay men straight.  The program emphasized men acting like men, playing basketball, baseball, football, working out at the gym, bulking up, and all the while, “Pray the gay away.”  After two decades of emotional and mental Hell, the young man finally trusted his wisdom and feelings and broke from the Church.

“Pray the gay away” and any remedy for what are, I believe, congenital givens are like praying, willing, tricking, or manipulating brown eyes to become blue or red hair to turn black.  Ain’t gonna happen!  Ever!     

Ted Cruz was high school valedictorian and cum laude from Princeton.  He is a very smart man.  But the Senator seems to ignore or deny basic truths about human sexuality.  Why?  For the answer, which explains much Conservative thinking, I am indebted to Saul Bellow, “A great deal of intelligence can be invested in ignorance when the need for illusion is great.”