Strictly My Opinion

There’s Only You And Me, And We Just Disagree

Recently I had a lengthy exchange on Facebook with others about an opinion I shared. Some agreed with me, others did not.

What struck me was not how differently some people feel about things than I do (no great surprise), but rather how it seems like somewhere along the way it has become the norm to simply ‘eliminate’ those who disagree with us from our lives.


There is a way to disagree with others and be respectful. There is a way to not only have but also to justify your feelings/thoughts/opinions on things while taking away nothing from anyone else…..

It involves, for me, a few caveats placed at the beginning of your statement:

1. In my opinion……

2. What works for me is…..

3. What I believe for myself is……

4. The way I see it………

5. I can only speak for myself, but…….

I am sure there are hundreds of other ways to say the same thing….to say ‘This is my opinion…I own it, I believe in it, and I live by it’…….and still not discredit or disparage the opinion of others.

There are ways to avoid inflammatory exchanges and insulting others…….it involves avoiding saying things like:

1. How can any intelligent person think that?

2. Any educated person will agree that…..

3. I thought you were smarter than that…..

By avoiding the above, and the likely hundreds of other ways you can call a person unintelligent, ill-informed, and outright stupid without ‘saying’ it directly… also stand a far greater chance of avoiding getting into personal attacks and pissing contests with others.

We all have our opinions. We all have our experiences, our histories, our triggers, or deeply rooted beliefs and values. We all have them… doesn’t make you right and someone else wrong…it makes you right for you….for your life…..

It also doesn’t mean you can’t be friends with someone who disagrees with you. I’ve ‘unfriended’ only three people on Facebook in the six years since I signed up. Three. All three were being beyond inappropriate to me personally…..and that I won’t read or tolerate…so I took them out of my friends list….they weren’t friends I wanted to have if they felt it was okay to say the things they were saying.

But just because someone doesn’t feel the way I feel about something, or think the way I think about something? I won’t ‘unfriend’ those people. I may not agree with them….but I do learn something from their viewpoints and opinions and experiences.

More than that….I don’t just ‘agree to disagree’ with people….I respect them and their opinion…..because it’s theirs. It doesn’t have to be mine. I might never agree with them on certain points….so what? Do we have to agree with everything about someone to be friends with them?

I can only speak for myself, but………..for me the answer is no.

Strictly My Opinion

What Exactly Is Normal?

Today on Facebook a friend of mine posted a story with a headline saying ‘They look like a normal couple, but….’ etc.,

It was a wonderful story about courage and true love with a soldier who had undergone a quadruple amputation after stepping on a bomb and gone on to marry his high school sweetheart. So from the neck up, they look like Mr. and Mrs. All American Sweetheart. Blonde hair, blue eyes. Sounds like they are, too.

The story is heart-warming.

The headline is ‘annoying’. At least to me.

From the neck down, you can see artificial limbs on him. Artificial hands, artificial legs, artificial feet……and while the article is supposed to be such an uplifting, emotionally stirring portrait about true love and bravery overcoming even the most horrific tragedy – where does the writer get off saying ‘They look normal, but they’re not!’

The definition of normal, according to Merriam-Webster is: usual or ordinary, not strange

Per, it’s: conforming to the standard or the common type; usual; not abnormal; regular; natural.

Per the Urban Dictionary, and the one I like the best, it’s: A word made up by this corrupt society so they could single out and attack those who are different.

Every day we are bombarded by images of what we *should* aspire to be, to accept, to admire, and to emulate. What if we aren’t that, or don’t like that, or know things about ‘that’ not to admire because we have knowledge beyond just the image that most everyone sees? What if we try to fake our way into making others think we are that by wearing the same clothes and using the same words, and yet deep down we know we simply AREN’T that, and when we spend more and more time getting to know ‘that’ we wonder why we ever wanted to be anything like THAT in the first place?

A line from the film ‘Working Girl’ sums up the end result of what trying to dress and act like someone else usually is:

‘Sometimes I sing and dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn’t make me Madonna. Never will.’

Normal is just a word….the world is made up of billions of people.  Things that are normal in my country are offensive in another. Neither is right, neither is wrong. Normal for some is appalling for others. It doesn’t make it any less ‘normal’ to the individual.

For years I listened to how my relationship (with another man) was not ‘normal’ and that’s why society rejected it. My ‘abnormal’ relationship consisted of two consenting adults co-habitating in an apartment. We both ate three meals per day with some in-between snacks. We both washed our hair with shampoo. Socks went on one at a time, as did shoes. We occasionally argued, frequently laughed, watched movies at home because the cost of going out all the time was getting to be too much, and the talking of other patrons bothered us. We shopped for groceries, planned meals, had friends over, put up a Christmas tree, and took the trash out every week.

All pretty much a ‘departure’ from the way other couples operated…….not.

Normal is different things for different people.

I don’t shop at popular stores. I don’t eat at trendy restaurants. I don’t know who 90% of the Billboard top 100 artists are, and have no desire to. Every once in a while I catch a pop song that I kind of like. I don’t listen to the radio unless I’m with someone listening to the radio. I don’t watch Bachelor, or Dancing With The Stars, and have never been able to sit through an episode of Seinfeld. I grew up with two siblings that are adopted. I am not adopted. My parents split up in 1976 and divorced five years later after many delays. I have known from the dawn of my teens, if not before, that I am gay. I like to read more than watch television. I like to sing rather than play sports. I don’t care for lobster, nor blueberries. Asian food, even the smell of it, makes me physically ill. Headache, nausea, etc. I hate having my feet touched and never go barefoot except in the shower or swimming. Small talk gives me anxiety, but I can carry on a meaningful conversation for hours. Popular, trendy things are typically lost on me, even though I am most of the time aware of them. I cringe when I hear someone sing something like ‘I’ve gah-choo under my skin’ instead of ‘I’ve got you’, unless they are doing it purposely as a parody of some sort. I still use the word groovy, even if it’s been out of style for 40+ years. I have never read any Dean Koontz books, my favorite author is Charles Dickens, and I get ‘giddy’ finding a Jules Verne book in a used book store that I’ve not yet read at a really decent price.

That’s my normal.

The aforementioned Mr. and Mrs. All-American Sweetheart ARE normal. They are people. They have overcome terrible tragedy and loss and stayed strong in their love of one another. He walks on and reaches for things with artificial limbs. That’s his normal…that’s their normal. Just like my normal is mine; theirs is theirs. Yours is yours.

Several years ago I stopped caring about trying to fit into what others consider normal. I am only concerned with what MY normal is, and happy to see others live their normal. As long as it hurts no one else…..who cares if it’s different from the rest of the herd?


Acting – Confessions Of A Rotten Little Bastard, Part 13

With everything I’ve seen and now know about my mother going through in the past six months, as her dementia has been worsening, some days I just want to pretend the word doesn’t exist.

While visiting my mother in Florida last month, to discuss assisted living with her together with my brother, I remarked to my brother that sometimes I think it might just be easier on Mom when she no longer remembers her life before the assisted living home…when that’s all she knows and all she remembers. Then the losses and the lack of independence and control might….*MIGHT* just be less frustrating for her because she won’t know anything else but that.

Mom has spent a couple of nights in the hospital following what appears to be another issue with her blood pressure or the regulation of it. I’ve long suspected internal bleeding is leading to what’s going on with the spikes and drops for her, but it is as yet an ‘undetermined’ thing. Hopefully testing will illuminate whatever the issue is. Hopefully she’ll have one less struggle to contend with and not have to be hospitalized over and over again.

Last night her physician agreed that a mild sedative might help her relax after a stressful realization that she was not being released yesterday. That was at six p.m. At ten-fifteen p.m. my brother received a call from mom saying they were insisting they were moving her to another room and she had refused and they told her it ‘didn’t matter’ that she was refusing, that it was ‘happening anyway’.

This escalated further and further to the point where when my brother arrived at the hospital at ten fifty-five, there were five nurses who had converged on Mom in her room and she was angry and lashing out at all of them. I’m not wishing to give nurses a bad name. I know plenty of them. They do a job that can be miserable to do…and my mother is certainly not the easiest patient in the world. So this does not pertain to all nurses…just the ones who were in Mom’s room last night….none of whom seemed to understand that Mom has dementia. None of whom could answer the simple question of ‘has she had a sedative yet’. None of whom seemed even remotely concerned with aggravating an elderly woman with repeated blood pressure issues instead of simply stepping back and letting her calm down and perhaps revisiting the move in the morning when she’s a bit more capable, cognitively, of understanding it and perhaps can have a discussion with my brother or even with me as to why it’s necessary, instead of having five persons who she doesn’t know and doesn’t trust shrouding her like a lynch mob. I have no medical training, but I really feel quite confident in my belief that that wasn’t good medicine.

I’m also more than a bit put out that it took five hours to administer a sedative to her. Mom is 84 years of age. No, she’s not the highest priority patient there…no she’s not the most congenial person there…yes there are circumstances that cause delays…but five hours? In that amount of time, I could have flown to Florida and given her the frigging injection myself.

This, the worsening of her dementia and the loss of independence and control over everything for her, is – based upon my mother’s personality and history, absolutely the worst possible way for her to end out her life.

I have seen, over time, many people posting on social media ‘Fucking Cancer – Cancer Sucks’…..and it does. So does dementia. Not only for those who have it…but for those of us who watch our loved ones go through it and know there’s just nothing we can do for them as we watch them continue to spiral down into a fog of uncertainty and fear. We stand by and watch someone who bases 99% of their identity on their strength and independence and everything they struggled with and overcame in life….and then along comes dementia and says ‘Guess what? I’ll have the last laugh…..I’ll work my dark magic on your mind, and no matter how strong and capable and independent you THINK you’ve been, you’ll wind up shaking in a corner because you won’t know who the fuck anyone or anything is… won’t even know where you are or how you got there…and when you try to figure that out, you’ll have forgotten exactly the steps you might take to HELP you figure that out, and there’s not a damned thing you nor anyone who cares about you can do about it…so take THAT, Ms. Independence….’

My mother has spent months in denial that she has dementia. At first that frustrated me because she was not treating herself for it and taking care of herself and it made trying to assist her all the more difficult because in her mind she didn’t need it…she was fine. I’m beginning to think she had something. I’m beginning to think I’d like to pretend it isn’t happening to her too. I just wish I could delude myself into believing it…even for a day….an hour…..a minute. Anything. I wish I could have that plausible deniability and behave as if none of this is happening to her, but I can’t because the worse it gets for her, the harder it gets to watch it, and it becomes near impossible to not think about it and worry about it and want to find someone to take it out on and to blame. To find anyone to scream at about it and make them feel even a fraction of the misery that she’s feeling. That I’m feeling for her. But I can’t. I can’t deny it. I can’t forget it. I can’t pretend it doesn’t exist and isn’t happening.

I guess I’m not that good an actor after all.