Happy Thanksgiving everyone

May your day be filled with gratitude and peace.

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And the “embracing change” emails start to circulate at work

In another couple of weeks, they’re going to start reorganizing the company I work for. And the best damn’ job I’ve ever had, may change. Forever.

That would be a record. Usually, they take at least a year to decide to go in a different direction, and I have to scramble to line something else up.

Frankly, it pisses me off, that all this is happening. It’s like the mainstays of my life are dissolving out from underneath me. My neuropsych is retiring, my PCP died, and now my job may be changing — if not going away entirely. I looked on LinkedIn. The company we’re merging with already has a bunch of people that do what I do. And they’ve been doing it longer. And they are generally 10-20 years younger than me.

Oh, God.

I’m 50 years old, and I’m sick of this sh*t, quite frankly. Part of me wants to just opt out and crawl under a rock. I’m actually really hoping that I’ll get an early retirement package. I haven’t been with the company long enough to take them up on their regular offering of early retirement at 50… or 55. But in the grand scheme of things, people who are older are members of “protected classes”,which makes us harder to get rid of, when the time comes to restructure and downsize.

That time always comes, eventually.


And I’m hoping like crazy that they can buy me out for a nice chunk o’ change that will let me skate along for a while — and free me up to do some other things with my life. It would be completely, totally awesome, to change careers, right now. All the drama of the tech world just gets stupid, after a while, and it would be awesome if I could do something different with my life. Maybe teach. I would be a good teacher — especially for folks who are coming up in the tech world after me. I could tell them a thing or two about how to have a resilient career through their most productive years. If there’s one thing I know how to do, it’s find work and keep working. I could teach others how to do it, too.

The main thing I worry about is my insurance. It’s expensive. Then again, if I got a package that paid for my insurance for 12-18 months, I would be so set. That would be amazing.

But who  knows what will happen? I think we’re going to find out in the next month or so. They already have people looking at how to reorganize things. They didn’t waste any time. And I’m guessing they’ll want to tidy up before the year is out, possibly to take advantage of tax breaks. If they can shed a bunch of people and pay out a truckload of money, then maybe they can ease their tax burden… and make things easier to rearrange in the new year.

For now, I’m hanging tight, figuring out my different Plans Of Attack. They sent out a link to a “change hardiness” questionnaire, and apparently, I’m a Master Of Change. Ta-da. Ha. Pretty funny. Few things are more difficult for me to navigate, than change — I just know what I’m supposed to do, and I do it, which supposedly means I’m adept. But all the while that I’m doing it, I’m dying inside. I’m in excruciating pain. I can logically think and function, even while I’m in blinding pain — I’ve been doing it for years. But that doesn’t mean I’m not suffering and struggling.

That’s the thing my neuropsych doesn’t seem to realize. It’s not that I’m compartmentalizing my pain and frustration and emotional upset. It’s that I learned an awful long time ago — mainly through long-distance running and having a blazing headache, 24/7 — how to continue to think clearly and function despite feeling like I’m dying inside.

Which brings me to the checklist for the next neuropsych I deal with:

  1. They need to be an athlete — former or present, preferably endurance — so they understand my own perspective on things and appreciate my emphasis on performing at the top of my game whenever possible. Athletes understand things that non-athletes don’t – and my present neuropsych is about as far from an athlete as you can get. They’d rather get a root canal, than exercise. That seems strange to me.
  2. They need to be a good conversationalist, so I can continue to practice my sequencing and flow and active listening skills. The one way that my neuropsych has helped me the most, is just being someone I can talk to without being judged or challenged or made to feel stupid. More than anything else, that’s been what’s helped me.
  3. They need to be easily accessible. All this driving back and forth to get to and from… it’s just hard on my system, and it really puts a dent in my week.
  4. They need to have an open mind. My current neuropsych seems to think they have everything all figured out, after having practiced for 40-some years. They’re a bit too brittle for my comfort, at times.

That’s my list, so far. Honestly, I could live with just the first two. And of course, all this assumes that they know a ton about brain injury and take the approach that recovery is actually possible.

Anyway, it might be moot, after my neuropsych leaves, because I might not have access to that kind of care, thanks to my insurance situation. But it’s a thought. Heck, maybe I could work a trade with a neuropsych to just stop by and talk to them on a regular basis about whatever — without them needing to “treat” me. I could trade some pleasant conversation with someone who’s bound and determined to get their life in order, as a counter-balance to all the other folks they deal with who need their help but have less determination and drive, and who sort of depress them after a while.

I could be a ray of sunshine in their cloudy day.

But who knows what will happen? All I know is, today I am driving to see my family for Thanksgiving. And I’m looking forward to getting away from all this.

I certainly am.


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Tired of everything. Oh, well…

meet-people-leave-peopleI’m feeling a bit worn out, this morning. I’ve been feeling weary for a number of weeks, now. The whole international war / terror / WTF scene gets me down – partly because of the tone that everyone is taking, partly because I know from independent research how much the USA actually has to do with creating the conditions of international war / terror / WTF.

It’s complicated.

Work is good, and I love my job. It’s a lot, though. There’s a reason why many, many people don’t last at that company for longer than a year or two. It can be a brutal environment to work in, for some. For me, it’s just a lot. All the time. It keeps me on my toes. And it also wears me out.

That’s complicated, too.

My spouse has been so-so, for the past couple of months. They’ve been working a lot, and this weekend is their last business trip weekend till spring arrives. I’m ready for that break. It’s about danged time. When my spouse has a business trip, they need help getting everything together, and then when they return, there is the inevitable emotionalism, the volatility, the antagonism that accompanies their fatigue from the trip.

That’s less complicated, but considering that I need to deal with it when I am typically not at my best — when I’m wiped out from work, or I’m just trying to catch up with myself — it becomes more complicated than it needs to.

And I get tired. Worn out, wrung out, like a sponge that’s been used too often, and not rinsed out enough.

What to do?

What to do, indeed?

Ultimately, the only thing for me to do is… exactly what I’ve been doing for the past several days: take care of myself, don’t let myself get caught up in a lot of drama, see the bigger picture, tend to the things in my life that have meaning (and also need to get done)… and take care of myself some more.

That’s what I’ve been doing for the past few days. I’ve been feeling really out of it, and I’ve almost been in a couple of car accidents — once when someone braked really fast in front of me and I nearly rear-ended them (I stopped just inches from their rear bumper), and once when someone pulled right out in front of me when I was approaching the intersection where they were stopped, and they drove me off the road. Fortunately, my latest vehicle has all-wheel drive and anti-locking brakes. It saved my ass twice.

After the second near-miss, I realized that I wasn’t being careful enough. I wasn’t paying close enough attention. I was going too fast, in general.

So, I slowed everything down. I took a much more gradual approach to my life, not getting all wrapped up in the drama – the drama –  and just focusing on the things in front of me. Yesterday, especially, I did myself a huge favor and just took it easy. I caught up on some reading and writing I’ve been meaning to do, and instead of running out to do errands, I took a nice long nap and laid in bed as long as humanly possible, till my spouse needed to pack up and get on the road.

And last night, I just chilled. Again. No television, just listening to music, thinking about things, hanging out around the house.

It was just what I needed — a break. And it was as much of a mental break, as it was a logistical or physical one. I needed to just step away from all the craziness and busy-ness of “normal” life and allow myself to just be. I need to focus on things that build me up, not tear me down, and really live as fully as I can from moment to moment, rather than getting stuck in my head and getting tangled up in others’ tortuous thought processes.

It’s that hermit mind – desert mind – that I actually seek. I cannot control the world around me, and I cannot control the behavior of others. But I can control my own reactions to it and the way I relate to it. Every situation offers many, many different opportunities to get my act together. It’s really up to me, whether or not I do that.

And you know – it’s funny. The longer I live, the less I actually need to have and do. I realized lately that, all summer long,I wore pretty much the same clothing, from week to week. I have a week’s worth of work clothing, and I have my comfortable clothing for home. I wear just two or three t-shirts, trading off between them to wash them when they get really gamey. And I have two pairs of jeans — one that I wear to do outdoor work, one that I wear in polite company. I have a pair of sturdy work pants, and I have a hoodie that I wear to do dirty jobs.

I don’t need more than that.

I also don’t need all the busy-work projects I pursued for so many years. At one point in time, I had over 20 different projects in the works, with complete plans for execution and maintenance. I knew exactly how it should all be done. And if I hadn’t been alone in those projects, I probably would have put some of them into action. But I was alone. I am alone. I don’t have the time and energy for a lot of social interaction, and I’m not a big fan of talk-talk-talk. I’m exhausted when I get home from work in the evenings, and on the weekends, the last thing I want to do is spend time with others. I spent my entire day — or any time I am interacting with others — going to great lengths to “meet them where they are”, to speak in terms that they can understand, to relate to them in ways that make sense to them, to connect with them on a shared human level.

It’s exhausting.

At times, I have thought it would help for me to find someone who can offer the same to me — to meet me on my terms, and relate to me in ways that make sense to me. But I actually don’t want that. I want to be left alone. I need solitude. I need there to not be any direct human interactions that force me to work so hard.

Dealing with people is hard. It takes a lot of effort from me. Nobody around me actually realizes that, because I work hard at hiding it. I work really, really hard at hiding it, and it works. It works so well, that even the people I try to explain it to… well, they can’t actually fathom it. Because I seem so personable and engaging.

That’s the finely sharpened double-edged sword of my world.

That sword allows me to have solitude in the midst of all the chaos around me. Playing to an audience with a persona that puts others on center-stage lets me keep my inner world exactly that — inner. Is it lonely? Being alone in this is a lot less lonely than trying to explain to others what it’s like “in here”. People just don’t know how to be empathetic. They just don’t know how to relate to others on their terms. Well, some people do, but they’re often hijacked by sociopaths who latch onto them to fill their needs. And the empathetic people get sucked dry in the process.

In the end, though, it’s all about choice. I know I live the way I live in part by choice, in part by default. It’s all I can do, really, under the circumstances. You make the best of what you’ve got, and you learn some lessons along the way. It’s all fine, it’s all good.

Fall is here. Thanksgiving is next week. I’m traveling on Tuesday and won’t be back till the next Monday. Maybe I’ll blog here, while I’m away. Maybe I’ll go “dark” and re-emerge after I return. Who’s to say? It’s a tough time for me, so the important thing is to take good care of myself, make the effort to remain positive, and think in terms of the bigger picture, while the holiday craziness sets in.

I’m tired of everything. But I don’t have to let it get me down.


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Today is a 2.

I used to be consumed with numbers. It’s how I kept myself occupied and non-bored.

It’s how I kept myself awake while driving.

Everything can be reduced to numbers, and I was often involved in figuring out “what number something is”.

Today, for example, is a 2 — because it’s November (month #11, or 1 and 1 –>2)  20 (2 and 0–>2), 2015(8)

And since 2 (Nov)+2(20)=4, and 8 (2015) divided by 4 = 2… Today is a 2.

I haven’t thought about that much, lately, but it used to be constantly on my mind.

Most things, to me, seem to have a numerical value. Hard to explain why, but it seems that way.

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Happy Friday

Indeed. It’s been a settling week, with all the international upheaval feeling a lot more familiar than it did, 10 days ago. I have been a little behind on my sleep, as I’ve had a few late nights, and I’m running on 6 – 7 hours, instead of 8+. I had some interesting experiences last weekend with sleeping past 7:00, which is “sleeping in” for me. But I don’t really like to do that much. I need to keep to my schedule. Fortunately, my spouse now understands that, and they are actually helping me get to bed earlier, instead of insisting that I stay up late with them, like they used to.

I can’t believe it’s nearly Thanksgiving. That’s crazy. I’ll be traveling through several states to see two sides of the family, this year. The ranks are thinning at my parents’ house. My siblings all have some adult children of their own, now, and their kids are starting to get engaged,married, and have babies. So, they’re starting to congregate in their own spaces, rather than at our parents’ place. Which makes for a quiet time.

And that’s fine, actually. Thanksgiving at my parents’ place has always been so loud, so overwhelming, so chaotic… that’s how my parents like it — lots of people, lots of noise, lots of activity. They just love it — as do most of my siblings. But for me, it’s always been sheer hell, to have to deal with everything. It was always exhausting, always depleting, and 11 years ago, I got slammed with a nasty TBI, thanks to being over-tired and un-coordinated while standing at the top of my parents’ stairs.

This year, things are much more mellow. And that’s fine with me. It’s even fine with my parents, who are slowing down and are (finally) starting to realize that spending quiet time just hanging out and talking with your loved-ones is a good way to pass the time. They both get squirrely, sure, but they’re better at just chilling out than they ever were before.

Might have something to do with them getting older and literally slowing down… Which is sad, in a way. And they’re old enough that each year I have to wonder if this is the last year we’ll all be together.

This time of year always brings that up for me. The seasons are shifting and changing, fall is gradually turning into winter, and things appear to be dying. There’s been a lot of death, over the past months. A lot of losses — for me and for the rest of the world. My PCP, who was the only doctor I ever actually got along with and formed a decent working relationship with, died at the beginning of September. That business in Paris. All the bombings all over the world. And now my neuropsych is getting ready to retire.

In a very real way, their retirement is a sort of death. Because the person I am, when I am around them, is going to cease to exist in another 4 months or so. There are 19 weeks left, till we stop working together, and I’m conflicted. On the one hand, they have really, really helped me, and I frankly don’t know what I would have done without having their help each week since 2008. I believe I actually used to see them twice a week, at the start, then  went to once — and it was pretty nerve-wracking, at the start.

Anyway, I want to really do that working relationship justice and close things out properly over the next four months. But the prospect of 19 more weeks of that is a bit daunting. So, I’ll just take it day by day and let it all just be. It’s Friday. I love my job. Things are good. I have enough money in the bank that I could pay for the timing belt repair on my van without needing a four-month payment plan, like before. It took 1/3 of my available savings, but I did pay it off. No debt. No harm. No foul.

So, today, what shall I do? I am working remotely today. The library opens at 9, and I can hunker down and do some work. I will have uninterrupted time to really study and dig into the guts of what I am working on. I need some time to study, away from the busy-ness of the workplace, and this is what I’ll have.

So, that’s good. Happy Friday.

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No harm, no foul

You don't have to be a pushover to do no deliberate harm

You don’t have to be a pushover to do no deliberate harm

Okay, I’ve disconnected this blog from my Twitter account, so that makes things simpler. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram… they all have their different rules for how to format your writing so that you can get visibility, and I just don’t have the time (or interest) for doing anything special, other than writing.

I have no desire to accommodate other “platforms”. I have no desire to use/create hashtags, so I can be in on the larger conversation. The larger conversation tends to not be a conversation at all — rather, a shouting match. Especially with all the events of the past week.

Count me out of that particular exchange.

What we need now, more than anything, is a lot less yelling, a lot less attacking, a lot less blowing people up over differences of opinion. Whether it’s literal or metaphorical, trying to destroy other people never, ever has the intended results. If anything, it just makes things worse and perpetuates the exact problems we’re grappling with, to begin with.

It’s just common sense that a living, breathing human being who is attacked, is going to strike back. So, why would we think that attacking our enemies — even with a superior show of strength — is going to settle the matter?  Those attacks can be with bombs or words or social policy, but in whatever form, they strike at the humanity of others and threaten their existence.

What do people do when you threaten them? What do they do when you humiliate them? What do they do when you blow them and their families up? They fight back. Of course they do. We do it, too. No self-respecting individual or culture is going to just roll over because someone overpowers them at one point in time. Things change. Power shifts. Someone takes control of an arsenal of weapons that used to belong to someone else, and the balance of power shifts against whoever was the aggressor, the last time.

Fantasizing that it’s anything different from that, is not helping, in the current “wartime” situation.

All our our intentions to “settle the matter once and for all” do nothing of the kind. What do we think? That others are just going to sit back and say, “Oh, you’re right – you’re much stronger than we are, so we’re not going to do anything to you anymore!  You’re the MAN!!” ….? Have we lost our minds? No self-respecting individual is going to do or say that — and mean it. They may pretend to surrender, they may retreat for a while, but they’ll be back later to try to hurt us again. And there will be someone out there who’s willing to sell them all the right weapons to do exactly that. That’s just human nature, and anybody who thinks that shock-and-awe force will “settle” any issue for all time, has not been paying attention to, oh… just a few millennia of human experience and history. Even looking at the past 20 years will show you that.

Of course, if you’re in the arms business, life is pretty sweet, right now. So, it’s not all bad — for some people, anyway. I’m sure there are plenty of mutual funds out there that are invested in arms manufacturing, which means all the retired school teachers and civil servants and countless folks drawing on their 401(k)s can avoid eating dog food and living in a cardboard box under an overpass for at least a few more years. It’s all interconnected, and we’re all complicit in this arrangement. As long as any (all) of us are benefiting from our perpetual state of war, there’s only so much we can say about it. Even if you move off the grid, you’re still probably going to be using things that were created, thanks to the system we all live in. So, none of us is without blame in creating this situation.

Of course, I’m never going to convince the People In Charge that running around blowing up your opponents is going to solve anything. Everybody who talks in these terms just looks like a bit of a passive, utopian twit on Facebook. Or Twitter. Or whatever social media outlet they prefer. In these days of escalation, anyone who talks about de-escalation seems soft and out-of-touch with the necessities of the situation. Blinded. We’re all blinded by trauma and passion, and even though I agree with the words posted about how to relieve conditions of war, all those pictures of East-Asian gods and goddesses and the Dhali Lama just make me angry.

As far as I’m concerned, the only thing for me to do is get out of my head. Get out of my fear and anxiety, to just get on with my life. Get active. Live my life. Live it fully. Don’t sit and stew. Get going and take positive action.

“No harm, no foul,” seems like a pretty good philosophy and life approach to me.

It’s about not letting myself be harmed by what others do. They will do what they please, and they won’t necessarily give a damn about how it affects me. It’s often up to me, to decide what I’ll do with the experience — if I’ll get carried away by insult and perceived hurt, or if I’ll let it slide and get on with my life. There are many, many things that are done “to” me, that I can either notice and turn into a terrible offense… or I can just ignore them as moments of stupidity that mindless people are doing because they don’t know any better. It’s my choice, what I do with all that.

Probably the best thing that anyone can do these days, is do no harm. That, and make a positive difference in the world. Pay close and considerate attention to what’s going on around you, so you can be strong from moment to moment. Be alert to opportunities to be a little better at what you do than you were, just a moment before. So many things are happening at a “macro” level that are beyond our influence and understanding. There is so much we do not know, so much we cannot control.  What we can control is how we relate to others… how we take care of ourselves… how we mind our own behavior and keep it as clean as possible.

There is only so much we can influence, on a day to day basis. But the things we can influence for the better, could make all the difference in someone’s life, or a troubling situation that has the possibility of escalating.

I have to admit that, for myself, I bear a lot of responsibility for having caused others harm. Many times in my life (usually shortly after a TBI, or later on because of brain injury and PTSD), I struck out and harmed others. I broke things. I attacked people. I did my share of damage, being deliberately hurtful — because I, myself, was in pain. For many, many years, this went on. Hurting people — family, friends, loved-ones… saying and doing the kinds of things that were intended to cause pain — to make sure I wasn’t the only one who was hurting.

I wasn’t fully aware of what I was doing, when I was doing it. And while I was doing the damage, I believed I was entitled to do it, because, well, I was hurting. And I needed some relief. Hurting others was the only way I knew how to relieve that pain, that hurt. It was the only way I could figure out how to not be the only one in the room in excruciating  discomfort.

And it took a toll. It trashed so many friendships, so many relationships that have not been able to recover in many, many years — even after I got my act together. There is little to no trust between myself and some of my siblings. There are old, once-close friends I have not spoken to in 25 years. There were family members who had to turn their backs on me, for their own sake, and who died before I could make amends. My past is littered with broken relationships and fractured trust. I am still paying for it, and some debts I will never get to repay.

Which is why I now feel like the best thing I can do, really, is be kind. Be gentle. Be generous. Be strong. Be fierce, when it’s called for, but don’t let that be my default mode. There’s a difference between being a pushover, and standing your ground firmly  with a disarming smile on your face. The people who can do the latter are the true bad-asses of the world.

And that’s what I strive for: To stand firmly, but to not let others get the better of me because I’m an easy mark. Also, to not be a mindless jerk who unconsciously messes with other people. Being aware of my surroundings and responding as who I am, rather than what the situation turns me into, is a true martial art. Being able to absorb the hits of the world, and not fall to pieces… not take it out on others… that’s my ideal. When I can do that — just let the world be its crazy place, deflect its blows,and keep going with my life, calm and collected — there need not be any blood, there need not be any foul.

That doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

It just means that I don’t hurt others, as a result of my own pain.

It’s a goal, anyway.


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Leaving Twitter – for a while

There were 10 minutes left on Christmas Day...I’ve been thinking a lot about Twitter, lately… Looking at the stream of tweets over the past few days, it’s probably a good idea for me to just leave it alone.

I need to both simplify my life and deepen it, and Twitter does the exact opposite for me — it complicates things and floods me with 140 characters of comment that don’t help me sort things through.

So, for the holidays, I’ll be taking a break from it. Not canceling my account, but just not posting to it, not reading it, just leaving it alone.

Have a good holiday season, everybody on Twitter. I may see you in the New Year.

Posted in Personal Experiences with TBI | 4 Comments

Oh, haters…

Cranky after concussion? You're not the only one

Everybody’s got an opinion. And some folks feel the need to go on the attack to make their point.

I just got my first nasty-gram from someone who disagrees with what I said about Ronda Rousey and that fight. They really felt strongly about the subject, that’s for sure. I guess I hit a nerve.

Too bad they didn’t actually leave their name — they commented as “Anonymous”. I guess it was one of those “hit and run” kinds of things.

I always find it strange when people find it necessary to go after other people and call names, just because they disagree with what the other person said. I don’t begrudge anyone their opinion. I really don’t care of others disagree with me — I welcome it, in fact.

But I won’t be bullied by name-calling and insults.

Sigh. Time to get on with my day.

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And another loss. Ronda Rousey got her ass handed to her.

rousey-fightingThis is a different kind of loss than the Paris attacks. It’s miniscule, compared to what happened in France — or Lebanon , or Syria, or any of the other places on earth where the enormity of human cruelty and misery staggers the mind.

But it’s still a loss.

Ronda Rousey got her ass kicked last night. And Holly Holm handed it to her on a platter. I watched the fight — even paid the 50 bucks and stayed up till after midnight to watch the whole thing.

It was not at all what I was expecting. I’ve been following Ronda Rousey for a relatively short time — mostly over the past 6 months. A buddy of mine on FB is a martial arts instructor, and they have been posting videos of Ronda Rousey fighting for years. But it wasn’t until her victory over Bethe Correia, that I really took notice.

I have to say, the press and media around Ronda has been phenomenal. She’s the kind of lady who’s “relatable”, who’s an amazing athlete and an “everyperson” kind of hero. Working her way up from tough living circumstances, reaching out to fans, being very real with the press. And being ferocious in the ring. I’ve been impressed — the more I have seen her, the moreso.

I wasn’t expecting things to go the way they did last night, with Ronda going down in a knockout in the 2nd round. I don’t think many of us were. But at the end of the first round, I saw her wobbly on her feet and disoriented, and I suspected she was hurt. In her corner, she seemed dazed, almost mentally stung, as though she believed nothing could touch her… and when it did, she wasn’t mentally prepared for it.

Plus, she was hurt. Her brain was hurt by a couple of hard hits right off the bat. And when your brain is injured, there’s not much you can do to overcome it in that moment. Ronda’s a fighter, and she took it to the only conclusion she could — getting knocked out. Because that’s the only thing that would ever stop her from keeping moving towards her target.

I must admit, it’s a strange juxtaposition for me. I know what repeat head trauma can do to a person, and I hate what it does to the lives of everyone affected. Yet I love MMA and boxing. A good match-up, like the one between the two ladies prior to Rousey and Holm, is pretty fascinating for me — getting hit, keeping your head together, and being able to prevail in the long run, is something that I can relate to. Lots of other people can, too. Good fighters are phenomenal to watch, even with all the blood that sometimes comes with MMA and the knowledge of what getting knocked out does to a person — especially if they keep getting knocked out. (I suspected Silva was not going to last against Hall, because he’s been knocked out three times in recent history, and that sort of injury is cumulative. Sure enough, he got knocked out again. It didn’t seem to take much.)

The other thing is that Rousey had three title fights in the past year (I believe), and even if you do get plenty of rest in between, the effects of getting hit hard, repeatedly, are going to be cumulative, so that’s going to work against you. It’s going to work against your brain — which works against your body — which works against your chances of winning… or getting out of the second round in one piece.

Anyway, it was deeply disappointing to see Rousey go down like that. In the midst of it all, it became clear to me that Holm was the better prepared athlete, the better conditioned one, perhaps even the better of the two, overall. It’s a credit to Rousey that it took someone like Holm to take her down, but I was expecting Rousey to be more aggressive and put up more of a fight. But she got hit a few times early on, and to me, that was the beginning of the end.

In the end, I hope Ronda gets some good rest and takes care of her brain. At the end, when she got hit (and Holly kept pounding her head, even after she was knocked out on the ground), I could have sworn I saw a “fencing response” when Ronda was on her back and Holly was beating at her head.

According the The Concussion Blog

The fencing response is an unnatural position of the arms following a concussion. Immediately after moderate forces have been applied to the brainstem, the forearms are held flexed or extended (typically into the air) for a period lasting up to several seconds after the impact. The Fencing Response is often observed during athletic competition involving contact, such as football, hockey, rugby, boxing and martial arts. It is used as an overt indicator of injury force magnitude and midbrain localization to aid in injury identification and classification for events including, but not limited to, on-field and/or bystander observations of sports-related head injuries.

It looked like Ronda was holding her arms up to defend herself, but I think it was that kick to her neck that caused her arms to raise. Unfortunately, everybody seemed to think it meant the former, so Holly took it as an indication that she needed to finish her opponent — when her opponent was already more than done.

Ideally, it would be great to educate MMA folks about this, so the same thing doesn’t keep happening. Arms raised, while you’re clearly not conscious does not mean you pose a threat. It means your brainstem has been injured, and you’re unable to properly defend yourself.

In a perfect world, the refs would keep an eye out for this and be more aggressive about stopping fighters. When Rousey went down from the kick and her arms went up, that should have settled it for both the fighters.

But when your arms go up, it can signal that you’re still fighting… so your opponent continues to wale on you, long past the point where you’re defenseless. And that’s the thing that concerns me the most – that Holm beat on Rousey past the point where Ronda could defend herself… and now the UFC folks are pressing for an immediate rematch. I hope Ronda tells them to go f*ck themselves. She needs to rest up and give her brain and brainstem a much-needed healing. She’s got enough money that she can afford some pretty advanced treatments, so she should take advantage of that.

And rest.

Anyway, for now, that’s a loss. I hope Rousey and her team are smart about what comes next. She absorbed enough head trauma in that fight to last her for a good, long time. Maybe for all time. She has a lot of light in her, and she has helped a lot of people by her example. It would be a shame to see that light go out, because she doesn’t know when to tap out for good.

I wish her all the best. At this point, I think her split lip is the least of her worries.

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Quiet day today

desert-canyon-streamLast week was a full one. Full of news, both personal and international, and full of activity.

My friends in Paris are safe. That is some consolation, as the terrible stories emerge. But it does nothing for those who were killed or injured — and all of their loved ones who will forever be affected by that horrible series of events, last night.

And now the fever pitch of war cries picks up even more. When war doesn’t just happen everywhere else, and people start to notice how… horrible it is, there tends to be an outcry. Something must be done. Action must be taken. Things must change.

But then, after people have gotten used to it and made the experience part of their world view, the cries for action go away, and people go back to living their lives, grateful to be excited over things that don’t matter at all.

Of course, not everyone gets to leave the struggle behind. Some of us live with the struggle, day after day, and it never really goes away. People with chronic pain…. or neurological issues… or chronic degenerative conditions that will never, ever be cured, just get a little less painful, from day to day… or daily struggles with PTSD, mental illness, emotional trauma from things done to them, their family, or another loved-one.

Many of us carry these things around with us, day after day, sometimes coming to terms with the pain on a moment-by-moment basis.

Some days are better than others.

And today — for me — is a quiet day, which I hope will mean it’s a good day.

The attacks in Paris last night really set me off. I was up later than I usually am, but fortunately I was able to “sleep in” till after 7:20. So, all is not lost. And later today I plan to take a nap. Or two. It’s all about pacing myself… but also not letting myself get pulled down into the malaise that sometimes takes over me when I’m not active (“taking it easy”) on the weekends.

Sometimes, taking it easy is the last thing I need. It can be physically painful. A three hour nap can leave me feeling like I’ve been trampled by a herd of while boars. It also makes me feel dull and drugged. I may need the sleep, but it takes a toll. Yes, I want to rest my mind and body, and I need it. But the inactivity actually brings the pain.

So, while today will be a quiet day for me, it will also have its share of activity. Interspersed with naps, so I can get up and be active again. Short bursts of doing something, followed by a rest period.

I will also rest my mind. My head is swirling from the past week and the Paris attacks, and I need to get myself to what I’ve heard people call “desert mind” — where your mind is free and clear of clutter, and things are moving through as they will, without getting snagged on all kinds of things you make up. Or maybe that’s “zen mind”. Anyway, that’s where I want to be today. Flowing right along, playing my music, exercising a bit, driving around to run my errands, trying out some new music out of curiosity, taking care of odd things at home, and just following the day where it leads.

Sometimes, when I am trying to get to sleep, I imagine myself in a desert canyon, sitting in the shade of a rock face beside a flowing stream where wild animals come to drink. In my mind’s eye, I watch coyotes and mountain lions and rattlesnakes come to the water’s edge, while I observe in silence. They see me, but they know I mean them no harm, and they mean me no harm, either. I watch scorpions scuttle by, and I see vultures circling overhead. It’s not frightening. It’s relaxing for me — to be in the presence of creatures that many fear, and to not feel anything akin to fear — just letting them be there.

Just letting it all be. Letting it be quiet. Letting it be what it is. Seeing everything for the danger it can be, without reacting to it as danger.

That’s how I feel about the weekend ahead of me. Two days off my regular work, I have time to focus on the things that really speak to me in a way I want to be, mentally. I can create the state of mind I want to have, in the midst of it all, and that’s a mighty valuable skill. It comes in handy, in times like this.

I’ll also have time to revisit things I’ve left off over the work week, because I’ve been too busy/tired/overwhelmed to do them justice.

Things like my neuropsych retiring — and taking away the one opportunity I’ve had each week since 2009 to understand my life in a way that is useful to me, not just a blind repetition of others’ phantasmagorical imaginings. I’m starting to understand the true impact of this change. In a very real way, a part of me is going to die when they leave. I believe that our Selves are defined in large part by the circumstances we are in and the dynamics with the people we interact with. We are a certain way with people, and when those people depart from our lives, that way goes away. And it can never come back, because there will never be another person like them in our lives. Ever again.

So, it’s a death, of sorts, and our working relationship is essentially going into a sort of long-term care, and then hospice, as I say good-bye to that part of me that exists only within the confines of that office, once a week.

It’s time to dive a little deeper, now. It’s a little frightening, a little invigorating, a little freeing, because it’s finally happening. I had wondered about this for months, and now I know my hunch was right. That month they were away with their family, they were probably looking at condos, during much of their visit.

And it’s time to stop dwelling on the Paris attacks. It’s a horrible, horrible thing — and it’s not going away anytime soon. So, I can do myself a favor and step away from it to think about other things that build me up, rather than tear me down… and drain the energy I really need to just live my life.

It’s time for a walk in the woods.

Or maybe a nap…


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