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I recently looked at some of the diaries I wrote when my wife, Pam, was still alive.

When I felt strong.

I did not, nor will I ever, get into a pie fight in a thread jack.

But I did write things along the lines of:

You apparently did not read my diary carefuly, and did not understand it, otherwise you would agree with me.

That may or may not be sensible.

It truly sounds arrogant.

But my point is that I felt strong, I wrote strong.

I was not afraid of folks telling me I was full of shit.

I would bravely respond,

No, I'm not.

Then Pam died.

A special welcome to anyone who is new to The Grieving Room.  We meet every Monday evening.  Whether your loss is recent or many years ago, whether you have lost a person or a pet, or even if the person you are mourning is still alive ("pre-grief" can be a very lonely and confusing time) you can come to this diary and process your grieving in whatever way works for you.  Share whatever you need to share.  We can't solve each other's problems, but we can be a sounding board and a place of connection.

Link to all The Grieving Room diaries.

I did not change suddenly, but gradually, I became an emotional basket case.

That may not follow the pattern one might expect, but grief and other emotional ups and downs do not always follow the script we thought we had learned somewhere.

I went through a lot of changes.

I fell into helping others.  Since I had spent thirty years helping Pam, it seemed natural I would help others who came along, asking for my help.

I became a yes man, like in the movie, Yes Man, starring Jim Carrie.

I bought the movie.

I showed my girlfriend, Bev, that in the movie, the little old lady next door asked for sex with the main character, and he felt he had to say yes, but he was very reluctant, because, in movie plots, the leading man gets the young, cutesy girl, not the little old lady next door.

Bev is my little old lady next door.

She is only two years older than me, but women my age, such as Bev, often look a whole lot like little old ladies.

Saying yes to Bev has turned out well.  She is very wise about men and women, romance and sex, friendships and long term relationships, and when to end them.

However, I said yes to helping a lot of other people, and even took them in as roommates, such as Bob, Lori, Larry, and Matt.

Larry, especially, even though he is very smart, and seemed to be trying to help me, turned out to cause me a lot of emotional trouble.  He took over my apartment, and tried to tell me how to live my life, including what to eat.

After about five months, I kicked him out.

One of the biggest changes in my life during that emotional basket case period was that I pulled back in my posting at Daily Kos.

I pulled myself back from posting brave diaries.

I pulled back from posting brave comments.

I got a diary on the rec list, but only by posting a diary full of links to other sources.

I was afraid, during this time, to get anyone angry at me.

Of course, it is the mark of great wisdom in the art of interacting with our fellow humans, if we express all we want to express, without causing anyone to get angry at all.

However, I was afraid to express my ideas in any way.

I eagerly read and posted at this series, The Grieving Room.

No one would hurt me here.

I eagerly posted quilt comments for Sara R's community quilts.

I always got a very grateful reply from Sara, and sometimes by others in the comment thread.

I truly put myself into the quilt comments, and I was rewarded with emotional support that glowed for weeks afterwards inside me.

I would go back and read them again and again.

Then, the oil well blew up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Then, I entered an eerie, science fiction world, in which I was with sweet, loving folks; we were supporting each other emotionally, as we sat on the bottom of the ocean, watching the oil spew upwards, poisoning the world.

And these sweet, loving folks were there to read what I wrote, even at 4AM, 5AM, any time I cared to write anything, someone would read it, and usually give me a positive reply.

One colorful, smart, very thoughtful man, ArthurPoet, was writing poems to entertain the group.

His poems were extremely poetic, in the sense that he jammed them full of full moons over deserts, sacred vows, honor, all the words that make folks feel truly great, truly special, truly grand and passionate.

I was green with envy.

I felt, very intensely I felt, that I could write poetry as inspiring, or maybe more inspiring, than ArthurPoet's work.

So, I started writing poetry in the comment threads of the ROV diaries in the Gulf Watchers' live blog series.

The biggest difference between my poetry and that of Arthur stems from the difference between our philosophies.

He feels that the Earth is sacred, everything is sacred, the universe is sacred, very sacred.

I get my philosophy from science.

The way that science looks at the world, nothing is sacred.

Everything is simply random chunks of matter, moving around, and every event is an accident, caused by all the previous accidents.

By the way, explaining that philosophy, and trying to persuade as many folks as I can to accept it, that is my highest goal in life, but to do that, I need to be strong, willing to hear folks tell me I am full of shit.  Therefore, as I feel stronger, I will write more diaries that explain that philosophy.

Anyway, as I write poetry with my philosophy in me, my poetry is rather bland.

I know that folks feel passionate feelings and I do bring out those passions, but instead of expressing those passions myself, as sacred passions, as Arthur does, I lay out bare facts that inspire the reader to bring the passion into the poem.

I have great respect for Arthur, but I like my way of writing better, of course, so I write the way I write.

The great response I have been getting from the folks in the ROV diaries has helped to make me gradually stronger.

Before I forget, my sweet lover, Beverly, has been possibly the greatest force to make me stronger.  She is loyal to me in so many ways, in so many situations, even when I come back from visiting Carrie.  That makes me feel strong.

By the way, my poetry is not exactly poetry, unless you insist it is truly great poetry, in which case I will not argue.

But what I mean when I claim it is not exactly poetry at all, is that one of the biggest reasons I write poetry, is simply to make my words easier to read.

I find that when I see a dense paragraph, that has no breaks, simply a dense mass of letters, no indentation, no double spacing, no short lines, no block quotes, nothing to make space between the words, space between the letters, then I have trouble reading it.  It feels hard to read.  If someone posts a long, very long, comment, that is one very dense paragraph, like I am building here, I sometimes, since it is usually very late, and I must get to bed, to get enough sleep, so I can get up and go to work at Walmart, then I simply do not read that dense paragraph.  Some of my early diaries are written that way, because, at that time, four years ago, and as late as three years ago, or even two and a half years ago, there was a problem with the site.  It would not show my return strokes.  It would print my whole diary as one dense paragraph.

But now, it works as it should, and, if you notice, I tend to double space between sentences, giving each sentence space above and below it.

So, I realized, after I had written several non poetic poems, I realized that I was simply carrying my tactic one step further.

My Reason For Writing Poetry

I write in short lines,
enclosed in a box,
because the short lines,
and the outlining box,
bring the eyes of the reader,
to what I just wrote.

If you skimmed down and read this,
before you took time
to read the whole diary,
word for word,
then you demonstrated
my point.

This is a limerick I wrote on that topic:

Why bigjac Writes Poetry

There was an old blogger named jac;
His writing he thought was a hack.
"It couldn't be worse
if I put it in verse!"
Now the readers say, "We love our jac!"

Here is the poem by ArthurPoet, demonstrating his style.

He actually wrote this poem after my poem, We Are Here, appearing just below, had been placed in the ROV diaries.

Arthur read mine, mulled it over, and wrote this one:

in the dark time we held vigil,
we held vigil against the night,
we raged against the storm,
we moved with the force of nature
to right a great wrong,
to howl like the wind,
to hold the line,
to renew an ancient vow,
a sacred purpose,
to recall to life the human spirit,
to safeguard that which is most holy to us,
to forge and reforge,
this, above all, to be true,
to awaken our greater nature,
to commune from the deepest regions of our soul,
to heal this realm, to heal our people,
to guard all life, to guard life,
for this generation,
and all to come,

this is why we hold vigil ~  

~ ArthurPoet ~

And, here is my poem, that was given a place of honor in each ROV, because some of the regulars felt it fit well as a mission statement or anthem.

We Are Here

We are here.
We are watching.
Years from now,
if anyone asks,
we will tell them:
We were there.

Maybe it will not matter.
Maybe nothing matters.
But if we throw up our hands now,
maybe someday,
years from now,
we will ask ourselves,
why did we not at least keep watch,
why did we not?

Maybe someday, some of us
will talk with someone younger,
and tell of the time we watched.
Maybe that someone younger
will try harder next time,
will do more next time,
the time we watched.

-- bigjacbigjacbigjac

This is one I wrote later on.

Molecules have no morality.
Carbon compounds, formed by plants
taking carbon from the air,
millions of years ago,
these carbon compounds
have no morality.
We have no morality,
as we eat other animals,
apex predators that we are,
or can be.
We take protein and fat from animals,
dissolve it in our
stomach acid,
and absorb the molecules
into our bodies.

We love fire.

We burn carbon compounds
in our fires.

We love sex.

We love babies.

We act like molecules,
filling empty spaces,
spaces we see as empty,
filling those spaces
with our babies.

In 1780, Ben Franklin saw lots of space.

In 1880, Laura Ingalls Wilder saw lots of space.

In 1980, Dennis Meadows saw very little space.

In Wichita, Kansas, in 2010,
many folks see lots of space.

We burn our carbon compounds in Wichita.
350,000 of us.

Can you drill, baby, drill,
just a little for us?

Just a little more?

We are just nice Kansas Republicans.

We all love to drive our cars.
The busses do not run
nights or weekends.
Our commute is only ten minutes.
We have four children
in each young family.

It will be okay,
here in Wichita.

Big problems happen
in other places.

Send us your tired,
your poor,
your teeming masses,
yearning to breath
Wichita air.

molecules have no morality.

We progressives are never satisfied, and I wrote about that here:

What do we need,
to feel at peace?


Maybe we do not want
to actually feel
completely at peace.

If we think about many things,
many things that feel unfair,
that feel like someone stealing
from others,
causing emotional pain
to others,
then we feel like Johnny Cash:

"Til things are brighter,
I'm the man in black."

We may not literally wear
all black clothing,
but we will never,
never say that all is well.

There is always someone
calling us to make a change,
to work, in some small way,
for change.

The top oil well expert in the ROV diaries, Fishgrease, wrote a rap for Thad Allen:

We Have a Spooling Tool

So everything's cool
And we can see
There's integrity
In the well.
What the hell
Am I talking about
Figure it out
And tell the nation
There is or is not
With the reservoir
And the annulus, Cuz
I didn't think there was
I say the pressure is building
When it's falling off
But you can't question me
An my near-ambient
We have a tooling spool

-- Thad (Eminem) Allen

Fishgrease, really.

Another factor that has made me feel stronger:  I got a very good performance evaluation from my bosses at Walmart.

Here is part of it:

Mark has cleaned bathrooms, pushed carts, unloaded trucks, cashier, worked freight, zoned, etc. all around the store.  By doing this Mark is a great asset to our team and we can count on him for any task.  Mark is also excellent at customer service.  Mark is very approachable and answers any questions customers have and will search the whole store if need be to satisfy a customer request.

That has greatly helped to calm my chronic fear of losing my job at Walmart.

Keep in mind, my boss at OfficeMax fired me after 15 years with that company.

I almost forgot my three things to do, to avoid depression, and cope with grief:


I have told about touching, with Bev and Carrie.

I have told about talking, and blogging, writing poetry, and how much that has helped.

I almost forgot to tell about my eating habits, and how much that has helped.

I am eating approximately, in broad estimates:

200 grams of protein
200 grams of fat
200 grams or more of carbohydrates
about a gallon of water
three or four multivitamin pills
3,000 or 4,000 mg of vitamin C
3 or 4 magnesium pills

Per day

I lost weight, when eating a little less fat and carbs, but I am not gaining, or maybe gaining some weight, very slowly.  If I see a definite gain, I will simply reduce the fat, and especially, the carbs.

For the first time in my life, I feel that I can control my body, what it weighs, easily, with no fear of problems.

I will write more diaries about nutrition.

So, from now on, until further notice, even though I may still read and post here at TGR, and I may fall apart again, but my plan is to work on diaries here at Daily Kos that deal with the following:

  1.  Philosophy
  1.  Overpopulation
  1.  The Constitution
  1.  Education
  1.  The economy
  1.  Nutrition

And maybe more.

I plan to write brave diaries, and brave comments.

I will not get into pie fights in thread jacks, but I will write strong.

By the way, I will show you a simplified version, my interpretation, of a typical pie fight in a thread jack:

Mr. A:

Your diary/comment hurt my feelings.

Mr. B:

You are too sensitive.

Mr. A:

You need to admit you hurt my feelings.

Mr. B:

You are too sensitive.

Mr. A:

You refuse to recognize the fact that you are hurting me deeply.

Mr. B:

You are wasting time telling me I am mean, when you are just too sensitive.

And so on.

The pie fights have other variations, I suppose, but the last one I saw was like that.  It was in the Atheist digest series, and it was carried, by Mr. A, into one of the ROV diaries.  Fishgrease and Tomtech, the two top experts amongst the regulars there, both of them came to my rescue, accusing Mr. A of stalking me.

I found a source of information to respond to Mr. A, and I posted it, but I did it a day late, and I have no response.

I also told Fishgrease and Tomtech I want to respond to Mr. A in my own way, but, once again, a day late, and no response.

But, you see that I have a plan to write strong, and give answers that keep me out of the pie fights.

By the way, my response to Mr. A would be something like this:

If you tell me you feel deeply hurt, since I have no reason to think you would be faking emotional pain, I accept that as a statement of fact:

You feel deeply hurt.

However, I will not edit my diary, I will not post a retraction of my comment, because I need to write strong statements, in a brave tone.

I will not write in such a way that avoids hurting you.

Once again, I accept the idea that my writing is causing you emotional pain, but I refuse to change the way I write.

If I get complaints from more than one or two people, I will rethink my decision.

I will not discuss your feelings, or my style of writing, any further in this thread.

Maybe I will never actually write anything like that, but I feel the need to discuss the idea here, and think about it.

I suppose the more common problem I will have is folks simply telling me my ideas are shit.

And, as I wrote at the top of this diary, I will simply answer:

I do not agree with you.

My ideas are not shit.

They are simply correct.

Read my diary again, and maybe you will agree.

Then, I will put my response into a limerick:

You tell me that I'm full of shit.
I will not agree, not one bit.
I feel I am right,
but I don't want to fight.
So, cry all you want, throw a fit!

I almost forgot to report on my yard sale and birthday combination.

To describe that three day event, here is a poem I posted in a ROV diary:

We shuffled back and forth.
We went inside the apartment.
We stepped out.

We sat in the shade of the carport.
We greeted a few customers.

At one point I was drunk.
My customer acted drunk, too.

We put the stuff out in the morning.
We put it away as the sun went down.

We shuffled back and forth.

I sold all my big items.

I threw a lot in the dumpster.

A one-time lover
from a year ago showed up,
with her current boyfriend,
to help,
and borrow money.

I touched her.
She did not mind.

I made love with my Bev,
and again, tonight,
as soon as I post this.

The weather was ideal,
here in Wichita, Kansas.

Ideal weather for a yard sale.

I wish my brother had shown up.  

By the way, in case you are wondering, I still think about Pam.

A poem:

A month or two ago,
I hired my neighbor,
the other Mark,
to tattoo my left arm.

The other Mark is a tatto artist.
He wears a t-shirt,
that says,
"Tattoo Artist"

I chose the font carefully.
I chose a font that is big, bold,
with big, pointy serifs.


I paid him a carton of cigarettes
and an old TV.

I look at my left shoulder,
and I think about Pam.

When Bev and I make love,
we are like newlyweds.

Bev thinks of her Jerry.
I think of my Pam.
Because we each think of our newlywed years,
comparing them with now.

I have a giant collage of pictures
on my wall,
three feet
by six feet,
plastered with pictures,
three 8x10s,
and one 11x13,
of Mark and Pam.

And when I go to bed to sleep,
there is no one sleeping beside me.

That makes me think of Pam,

Thank you for reading.

Originally posted to Smarter Prepping With Big Jack on Mon Aug 30, 2010 at 04:34 PM PDT.

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