Thursday, March 12, 2009

Atheism, Economics, Family and Friends

Here we are in West Los Angeles. For the uninitiated, the swanky part of town. Observe yourself at the junction of Beverly Hills, Belair, Santa Monica and Brentwood. We're not "in the money", though viewed from South Central or Compton, I suppose we are. We're here by the luck of my genetic draw. My father bought the house I now own, back in 1955 for $11,500. At the height of the housing bubble, homes in our neighborhood were selling for between $900K and 1.2 million. Meanwhile, I spent the majority of my working life as a blue collar employee and never made over 60K a year. Our millionaire status was strictly on paper.

Despite being a 55 year old, unemployed, house hermit (a recluse in a city of 4 million), fluctuating between deep and mild depression, things could be a lot worse - and maybe they will be. One thing everyone will agree on - Jesus ain't gonna help me out. As Patti Smith said back in 1975, he "died for somebody's sins - but not mine". Anyway, my wife of 26 years is a "twice born" as Sarge likes to call them, so we even have that angle covered. As if I cared. Can you imagine a depressed atheist finding out that not only is there a god, but he just happens to be the one the Christians dreamed up? Double-dose Zoloft, anyone?

The spouse (Rosa) and I aren't a couple anymore, though we are legally married, do spend a lot of time under the same roof (when she's not in Hawaii with the boyfriend), working on the same bills and we get along surprisingly well. I'd consider her one of my 2 or 3 best friends, and I figure she'd rate me right about there as well. For a Christian, she isn't the worst. She was for Proposition 8, but also for Obama. She's against abortion but thinks giving condoms to African prostitutes makes a lot more sense than teaching abstinence. Get the picture? No sooner does she make my head swell out to explosive proportions than she says something that mellows me out like a double Jack Daniels on the rocks. And if you get past the theoretical bullshit, and down to daily living, she's a genuinely caring person. In fact, she's a bit of a sucker for helping the down and out. Which explains both why she likes me and why I could never dislike her.

She now actively encourages me to see other women, but that would be too unhermit-like. While I'm sexually straight (despite the proximity of West Los Angeles and West Hollywood) I have "changed" (OK, not like that). I have been a celibate for 3 years (now there's a good hermit). There could be psychological issues, definitely no physiological ones, but mainly it's a choice. I've gone from being a complete pig in my earlier years to a great friend to females (and to their issues), but I've figured out that the genetic prime directive has consistently gotten me into problems throughout my life. I don't think I'm cut out to be both lover and friend and, at least at this point in life, friendship seems to be a lot more valuable.

Back to Rosa - we have some of my kids together! And her family adores me (no, I don't know why. But they are great - and there are a lot of them. They've managed to transplant themselves from the Caribbean, not just to California but to within a half mile of my house). I cherish them too. It's pretty cool to be a white California guy of Oklahoma ancestry and find yourself enmeshed with a close-knit Latino family hailing from the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. They are even very accepting of my other child, whose birth was uncomfortably close to that of my second child with Rosa (I have a 25 year old son and two 20 year old daughters - both born in March - yeah, I know. Leave it alone). We are all about as tight as a wandering tribe of Taino Indians (I think I'm the medicine man). Perilous financial rapids are much less formidable when 20 canoes are strapped together.


Sarge said...

My best to you, we all try to live as best we can.

People who told me I was stupid because I'd stayed in the army are now telling me that I've "got it made" because my health concerns are being met, and theirs, though they thought they had all kinds of insurance and retirement are now remeniscing about how they "could have been st" if they'd just stayed in.

Doesn't make me a bit happy to see it. A lot of folks are seeing everything they thought was "safe" going down the tubes. What's next?

Ordinary Girl said...

That's a lot of sharing for one post. Who says you're a hermit?

John Evo said...

OG - you know better than most that I'm a hermit! This is the thing - with modern technology one can still have a degree of connectivity without actually exposing ones self to the world.

Your point about "sharing" is a good example. How often do I use the connectivity for anything "personal"?

Frankly, few of us do. There is a huge community of atheists/ agnostics/ skeptics/ freethinkers in the reality-based corner of the Net. It's nice, because few of us have many like-minded people surrounding us in life and it gives us a chance to interact with people who see it the way it is.

But what do we use it for primarily? To rattle on about "issues". The people who really could benefit by what we have to say aren't reading or listening (in significant numbers). Those of us who are listening, already agree. I'm not saying that makes the effort worthless. I learn things.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the reason we rattle on about "issues" on the Internet is because we're separated geographically. A personal post like this is nice once in awhile, but I know people would get bored really quickly if I kept posting about my kids, etc.

When we chat on Skype to do the podcasts (which we haven't done in awhile - must get better about that), the conversations are usually 2 or 3 times longer than the published podcast. When we have opportunities to talk in real-time, we share personal stuff just as we would if we were sitting together in a living room, restaurant or bar. Those personal connections, the stuff that remains unpublished and just between friends, is more interesting - to me, anyway - than the stuff we broadcast. It's not for public consumption, but it's real and it's important.

John Evo said...

Chappy said: A personal post like this is nice once in awhile, but I know people would get bored really quickly if I kept posting about my kids, etc.

I hear you. I certainly will not be changing format here. But once in a while it's good to just talk about our own reality, though one had better keep it interesting if they do. I'm sure no one will be interested in my daily recipes or the cute things my pets do.

Oh... pork and sauerkraut.

I took a 2 lb. pork shoulder and seasoned it with the juice of two large lemons, salt, pepper, adobo.
Cooked it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour. Removed it and let it cool for about 30 minutes. Sliced generous portions of pork off the bone. In a large baking tray, I spread sauerkraut about an inch deep, laid the pork strips on the kraut bed and squeezed a little more lemon on the pork, sliced some potatoes and laid them in there too. Then I covered the entire thing with about another inch of sauerkraut. Returned it to the over at 350 for about another hour. (Be sure to cover with foil while baking or the kraut will dry up).

Shadow, my gray cat, rubbed around under my legs until I cut a few pieces of pork off the bone and laid it down for him. He said, "hold the kraut".

Anonymous said...

Of course he said, "Hold the kraut." He knows it goes much better with hot dogs or Reubens!

Spanish Inquisitor said...

Nice, Evo. Real nice. Like Chappy said, every so often it's nice to lay bare the psyche. It very...humanizing, and ain't that what it's all about?

The Exterminator said...

Very nice personal post, and well-written. I can almost hear you speaking it aloud, which was one of the things that attracted me to your writing in the first place.

I have to say, though: Oddly enough, you're one of the most upbeat depressives I've ever known. I hope you're not lashed to the bottom of one of those canoes.

Jenn Besonia said...

Thanks for replying to my messages. God bless. haha. *kidding*

Just thought of visiting your blog.

cl said...

I second what Exterminator said. I really enjoyed reading this post, there was not a lick of self-censorship and you wrote fearlessly. I like posts like these because they tend to break the monotony of fruitless arguments.

Vitamin R said...

You calling yourself a hermit sounds like it might be hyperbole, or wishful thinking with all those relatives around, lol.

I would never have guessed, from your posts, that you're battling depression. There's something wonderful and hopeful about the way you write. And especially in this post. You come across--to me--as someone who smiles a lot, and possibly claps people on the back in a spirit of camaraderie.

Sauerkraut on pork? I dunno. . . .

Los Angeles? Hah, my skyline is soooooo much better than yours ;D

John Evo said...

I know my solitude in a city of 4 million and surrounded by family is a bit hard to buy. I can only say - it is so...

Yes. I would clap a comrade on the back and encourage them. Probably briefly though! I always hope for the best for others. I'm a loner, not a hater.