Agent of Change

A Blog by Cory!! Strode, who really should write something interesting here.

Archive for the month “July, 2017”

Dreams

When I went to sleep last night, the group home was more active than usual.  One client was complaining about being uncomfortable when going to the bathroom, another was arguing with his roommate (accusing him of taking a watch the client didn’t come into the facility with and must have owned a long time ago) and the awake staff kept leaving the room to the laundry room open (it’s right next to the living room where I sleep, so thanks for the washing machine and dryer noise).

The first section of the dream was that I had missed my bus home.  I took the opportunity to go for a hike and walked around a series of barren hills.  I wasn’t wearing a watch, and didn’t think about what time the final bus would come until I realized I had been walking until dark.  I went back to the nearest road, caught the bus and instead of going home, I went to the retail job I had had at Shinder’s when I first moved to MN. 

I knew I had left the job a LONG time ago, but had agreed to come back for a shift here and there and I’d agreed to work Christmas Eve because it would be quiet.  I got there, and the place wasn’t open.  There were boxes of rare comics they wanted me to process to pass the time, and opened the store.  As it got close to closing time, told the few people there we’d be closing in 5 minutes, started closing things down and a line formed at the register.  Then, things went nuts.

The people in the store came up to the register, had things that weren’t priced, wanted to trade in things from other stores, asked me to buy baseball cards, attempted to grab money from the register and the line kept growing.  My co-worker went home when the store was supposed to close without letting me know, and more and more people kept coming in.

They weren’t waiting in a line, either, but just surrounding the area and butting in front of each other.  I get all weird even thinking about it…and it seemed to go on forever.  After what seemed like at least an hour, people from the home office showed up to yell at me.  They accused me of erasing the special hours off of the windows, of shutting own the registers and pocketing the cash and on and on, and the people kept coming.  Eventually, I was able to break away from the crowd, and I just kept thinking I would miss Christmas.

Oddly, in the dream I didn’t quit.  I did as soon as I woke up, though, actually muttering “screw that job.”  Upon waking up, I actually felt more tired than when I went to bed because of how crazy it all was.  What does it all mean?

“It doesn’t mean anything, Anna. It’s only a dream. Sometimes a banana is just a banana, Anna.” John Belushi as Sigmund Freud

Oh, and the overnight staff started complaining about the clients before I even put my glasses on in the morning….

 

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To serve and protect

I don’t comment on every tragedy, but here in Minnesota, we’ve had another incident of a policeman using lethal force against someone who was not a danger to themselves or others. These incidents have been happening more and more, and I believe there is a very simple reason why:

We have turned our police into a military force who are trained to kill.

The concept of the “warning shot” is a quaint idea for a long forgotten past. We have been giving military equipment to the police since 9/11 as we’ve been dumping money into “Homeland Security”.  Crime is it the lowest levels since WWII, and yet we are all freaked out about it due to endless media reports and politicians telling us that the US is a war zone and we are surrounded by carnage.  Police leaders tell us that they are in constant danger so that we don’t investigate them too closely.  Officers are trained to empty a clip into a suspect.  When the police kill someone involved in a minor offense, we are immediately shown the most thuggish picture available, and they are presented as a subhuman danger to society.

Police no longer “walk a beat” where they walk the neighborhood and get to know people. They don’t live where they work.  They are taught the military way of looking at the world where everyone is a potential enemy.

41 officers were killed by gunfire last year, a tragic number, but not the “hundreds” our President and his people have said. 1162 citizens were killed by police last year.

Here in Minneapolis, an officer with a history of violence against suspects shot and killed a meditation instructor who had called 911 for help. We won’t ever really know what happened because the officers involved parked their car where the dashboard camera couldn’t capture what happened and they did not turn on their body cameras as required to.

The media is demonizing protestors because THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE TOLD TO DO. However, this doesn’t make their message any less valid.

Our police are to serve and protect, not be judge and jury. We need to demand that they return to their function and if they don’t, we need to demand that politicians force them to return to their functions, and if they don’t?  We need to shut it down, shut it all down.

Our lives are at stake.

 

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What kind of year it has been

One year ago, I accepted a full-time job after temping for almost three years. Before that I worked awake overnights at the group home for over two years.  The 2008 crash eliminated my job, and I had to work part-time jobs from then until when I decided to take overnights.

In the last year, I have:

  • Recorded over 150 hours of podcast audio
  • Started two new podcasts (Bad Advice and Series in Review)
  • Written a novel and edited three for turning into podcasts
  • Gotten a LOT of dental work. Benefits are keen
  • Built up a savings account that has 2 months of salary saved
  • Brought listenership of Kray Z Comics and Stories up a little over 40%
  • Interviewed some amazing people
  • Got a new nickname (The Cleaner, just like Kenny Omega!)
  • Started learning a foreign language
  • Got moved into a kind of supervisory position
  • Put on about 10 pounds (now working to take it and another 30 on top of that off)
  • Seen my foster daughter get engaged
  • Watched my son find a new place to live and enjoy his job
  • Retired from doing conventions due to it being too….people-y
  • Stepped down as the Best Dressed Man In Comics
  • Missed an overseas friend who is doing incredible things
  • Been diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder and gotten medication that helps with the cascading panic attacks that plagued me through August and September of last year
  • Read a lot of comics and novels
  • Not slept enough

What a difference a year makes!

I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to like my statuses, react and engage in conversations, listened to the podcasts (krayzcomix.solitairerose.com Be there, aloha), dealt with me when I am a pain in the ass, Checked in when I ask “Are we good” or just clicked on “request friend” here on Facestab.

A LOT of stuff is coming in the next year from Solitaire Rose Productions, and while I always see myself as having a pretty boring life, when you stack it all up, it’s kind of cool.

Much love to friends old and new, and remember: “No matter where you go, there you are.” – B. Banzai

 

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More on emotional checkbooks

Long post warning, but it’s about anxiety in detail, so if you’re interested in my experiences….

I have written in the past about the Emotional Checkbook. I don’t know how standard an idea it is, but I like it.  We have an emotional bank account with the people in our lives, as well as one overall.  What that means is that we have a certain about of emotional cost we can take as well as emotional deposits we can accept.  Some people have built up a lot in that account, some not so much and there is a general overall account.

For example:  A new GF/BF doesn’t have a lot built up in the account.  There’s the initial deposit (attraction) and things they do that show you they care such as how they treat you, romantic gestures, how well they listen and interact, etc…  However, as the account hasn’t built up very much, it’s pretty easy for someone to make too many withdrawals.  A withdrawal is when you have to spend emotional capital such as when they do someone insensitive, when they lean on you for support, when they ask for favors, etc…  When someone is making more withdrawals than deposits, we begin to feel used, that the other person doesn’t care about us and eventually, if the account bounces too many checks, we’ll close it out by dumping that person.

I believe that we have these accounts for EVERY relationship in our lives.  Even with inanimate things:  I get terrible service at this store, and while they have lower prices, I just don’t feel it’s worth putting up with the bad things.  My job pays well, but they treat me poorly, what I do doesn’t matter and I am not connect to my co-workers.  Over time, every day is an emotional withdrawal and I only get “deposits” when I get paid or when they give free food.

Even in long term friendships, there’s that checking account.  I once has a long-term friendship where eventually, the other person never asked how I was doing and never offered any sort of emotional support.  It got to the point where I would time our conversations, and if she hadn’t asked anything about me after a half hour, I would end the conversation politely.  By that point, checks were bouncing and I closed out the account.  In another case, we had an issue that the other person refused to deal with maturely, and every conversation was either telling me how terrible I was or asking to borrow money.  I had to close that account as well.

Currently, I am dealing with a few issues, but I have thought about how I am feeling and why, even though I feel alone, I don’t want to deal with people and spend a lot of time convincing myself to maintain the close friendships I have.  Part of it is how anxiety works.  “If you people don’t like me, then screw you all!” is the irrational way the issue messes with your head.

However.

In both of my jobs, I am giving to other people.  My full-time job is about helping people understand and resolve issues with their benefits, and if you don’t think people get stressed out when there is an issue with their medical benefits, you’re kind of sheltered.  For the past three months, it’s been far busier than projections and we are asking people to verify their dependents, so if they don’t have proper documents, their spouses or children could lose medical coverage.  That takes a lot out of you, emotionally.

THEN, at the group home job, I’m there a lot, the clients are very dependent on you for things, they can do things that get you upset and you have to keep being patient and kind (even when they are being jerks) and even when it’s calm and you’re doing everyday interactions, it’s another withdrawal.

So, add that together and I now understand why I feel so tired, anxious, and stressed.  My emotional checkbook is bouncing checks all over the place, so the slightest thing can make me feel like things aren’t going to go well.  A slow response from someone makes me think I have done something to make them hate me (which has actually happened before) and I mentally write them off.  What might be good natured ball-busting comes off to me as anger toward me. I know people laugh at the whole “trigger” thing, but the one thing I have learned isn’t just to feel an emotion, but to understand what is causing it before I act on it.  Maybe that’s why people say I always seem calm.

Or, I’ve lived in Minnesota so long, I’ve learned never to outwardly show emotions. 

Much love to friends old and new, and I hope that people are making desposits in your emotional checkbook constantly!

 

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