He was fearful… and he was a coward.

Jacob Will was both, not the best combination for someone looking to destroy his former self in order to live a new and better life. Could he do it? Could he take that plunge (not a knife, but just as deadly in its own way) and come out on the other side?

Shakespeare may have put in best, “Cowards die many times before their deaths; The valiant never taste of death but once.”

#acowardsguidetoliving

A future with love, not fear: D – Part 4. A Thistle and Bee story.

arrows-1834859_1280

Since getting in to “The Hive”, D feels like a whole new, completely different person. For the first time, in her adult life, she had access to health care, regular meals, her own bed, and clean clothes. It has shown her how she could live without cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

It is not without responsibility. She goes to meetings to learn how to deal with her plaguing issues. However, a couple of instances stands out in her mind. D was recently going to a GED class and there, in plain sight, was a guy selling dope. The school knew the guy was selling but didn’t do anything about it. She knew she couldn’t stay there. Temptation is everywhere, even where it would be considered “safe.”

Looking for a safe place, she then took herself to a church and right outside there, people were smoking dope. Everywhere she turned, there were drugs to be had. Fortunately, her ride was waiting, and she was able to avoid temptation.

This underscores a greater problem: the easy availability of drugs. When one can score at a public school, a church, it’s not difficult to understand why the problem is so rampant. “Addiction don’t discriminate, child, adult, no difference.” Age doesn’t factor into it either. D is right, she witnessed a 13-year-old shooting right into their hand and foot. How could that not bring up terrible memories?

Thistle and Bee is helping D to learn to love and respect herself. Before coming to The Hive, she didn’t care when she was high and wasn’t ashamed to be out on the streets. But her family did care and was ashamed for her. They knew she was using, their mother was a junkie, a crackhead. But now her future is in front of her and she feels like a new baby, being birthed.

D is experiencing freedom and feels like a child in a candy store with so much to see and now something to live for. She’s doing “The Twelve Traditions.” She along with the other women at The Hive are learning how to live, on their own and together. They’re learning how to share and to help. D calls this “love help.’

Most of all, D wants other people to her story. “If they need help, ask for it.” It was hard for her to ask for help; she didn’t want to admit she was an addict who needed a helping heart. D knows how hard it is but knows it’s not as hard as the life she’s leaving behind.

#bmeisterman.com

 

A future with love, not fear: D – Part 4. A Thistle and Bee story.

arrows-1834859_1280

Since getting in to “The Hive”, D feels like a whole new, completely different person. For the first time, in her adult life, she had access to health care, regular meals, her own bed, and clean clothes. It has shown her how she could live without cigarettes, drugs, or alcohol.

It is not without responsibility. She goes to meetings to learn how to deal with her plaguing issues. However, a couple of instances stands out in her mind. D was recently going to a GED class and there, in plain sight, was a guy selling dope. The school knew the guy was selling but didn’t do anything about it. She knew she couldn’t stay there. Temptation is everywhere, even where it would be considered “safe.”

Looking for a safe place, she then took herself to a church and right outside there, people were smoking dope. Everywhere she turned, there were drugs to be had. Fortunately, her ride was waiting, and she was able to avoid temptation.

This underscores a greater problem: the easy availability of drugs. When one can score at a public school, a church, it’s not difficult to understand why the problem is so rampant. “Addiction don’t discriminate, child, adult, no difference.” Age doesn’t factor into it either. D is right, she witnessed a 13-year-old shooting right into their hand and foot. How could that not bring up terrible memories?

Thistle and Bee is helping D to learn to love and respect herself. Before coming to The Hive, she didn’t care when she was high and wasn’t ashamed to be out on the streets. But her family did care and was ashamed for her. They knew she was using, their mother was a junkie, a crackhead. But now her future is in front of her and she feels like a new baby, being birthed.

D is experiencing freedom and feels like a child in a candy store with so much to see and now something to live for. She’s doing “The Twelve Traditions.” She along with the other women at The Hive are learning how to live, on their own and together. They’re learning how to share and to help. D calls this “love help.’

Most of all, D wants other people to her story. “If they need help, ask for it.” It was hard for her to ask for help; she didn’t want to admit she was an addict who needed a helping heart. D knows how hard it is but knows it’s not as hard as the life she’s leaving behind.

#bmeisterman.com

 

The law catches up: D – Part 3. A Thistle and Bee story.

handcuffs-2202224_1280

Sidebar: Each year, it is estimated that more than ten million people experience domestic violence with women more likely to be the victim. In 2010, Tennessee ranked as one of ten states with the highest rates of female murder. 93% of these women were killed by a male they knew; 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.*

But those streets were her family, for better or worse – the drug man, the johns, whoever could pay her, either in money or drugs.  Her children did not feel like family to her. “They couldn’t give me what I wanted.” They were remanded to their father for custody. At that time, D “lived to get high and got high to live.” And high was fun. All her “friends” were junkies, but only when she had dope.

Looking back on her earlier life, D remembers being a “good little girl.” She was a curious child and wanted to know what was going on. She was allowed to drink out of her mother’s cup, alcohol most often, and sampled cigarettes, getting hooked on both. Addictions know no boundaries for age or substance.

At age 14, her mother died and that’s when it completely went to hell. Her father was not around, actually never around. D doesn’t care for him and why would she, having never seen him in 35 years. She and her brother indulged in sex with each other. That dynamic carried over to D’s daughter when he tried to have sex with her. That’s unacceptable under any condition.

It’s no surprise the law finally caught up with her. Upon one of her arrests, the police allowed her to smoke the last bit of dope she had before tossing her pipe away. They then hand-cuffed her, put into the police car, and then drove away to the station. All told, she’s been in jail 7-9 times for drugs (selling and possession) and prostitution.

After years of this, D claims she heard from God about bringing her back to life, a second chance. She was tired of getting high only to see life fade away. During a visit to a mission where women such as herself went, she was directed to Thistle and Bee. But she would have to pass a drug test in order to get in. And she did.

#bmeisterman.com

Violence was never far away: D- Part 2. A Thistle and Bee story.

drugs-3541680_1280

The content in this story is true, portraying violence against women, drug use, and prostitution. The woman’s identity is protected.

Previously: She wasn’t there for the babies she’d had back-to-back. D was too busy selling things and stealing. D describes it as “illegal things.” No one was spared, she even stole from her drug man.

Part 2 of D’s story from Thistle and Bee.

While she had no pimp, she was “ho-ing around.” Her drug man would come around with a guy he expected D to service. When that would happen, she “would jump up and take a shower.” Somewhere deep in side of her, there was a spark of pride.

Looking back, it was who patronized her that stands out. They were police, probation officers, cab drivers, and pushers; they were young, old, retired, bus drivers even. She alludes that some of them were people one could read about in the news.

The streets were not safe. She usually carried a knife for protection, even a gun once, but found that to be too much trouble. It was only recently she put the knife down, six of them to be exact.

There was no safe place anywhere for D. Violence was common in her life. One time, she shot one of her kids’ daddy and stabbed the other. Another time, when she was high, she stabbed a man who’d pushed her down stairs. Yet another man dragged her kicking and screaming through her yard. D recognized that the violence came from either being under the influence or attempting to get something in order to get high again.

Sidebar: Each year, it is estimated that more than ten million people experience domestic violence with women more likely to be the victim. In 2010, Tennessee ranked as one of ten states with the highest rates of female murder. 93% of these women were killed by a male they knew; 63% of them in the context of an intimate relationship.

#bmeisterman.com

“Lived to get high and got high to live.” D – Part 1. A Thistle and Bee story.

T_B Logo with Bee_Pink

Thistle and Bee’s mission is to help women who have survived prostitution and trafficking thrive. I am honored to write their stories. This is the first excerpt from a forthcoming book about the women of Thistle and Bee.

Being a mother isn’t for the faint of heart in the best of times. But what happens when that sacred responsibility can’t be fulfilled? And why? And if it can’t be, what or who does one turn to for support or help? All good questions and ones that couldn’t easily be answered for D.

Now 52 years old and a mother of six children (ages 30 – 39), with two different fathers, and at least twenty-five grandchildren, D looks back and is grateful for where she is now. Grateful because where she was just a few months ago would not have ensured a survival of any kind. It doesn’t take much to slide that far down. It takes a lot to claw back up.

When you’re 15, it’s not unusual for kids to try things out – cigarettes, drinking, and weed. Where it led to was where it got scary. Her daddy’s sister turned her on to drugs. At 22, she was introduced to crack and remembers it was “so soothing to get high.” D believed it helped her control and be a better “mama” on crack. That was her daily routine. Not surprisingly, after time, it got progressively worse. Every day, getting high and falling off, not coming home, no money for food or food stamps, she was “owed out” and “living to get high.” It was not unusual for her to be up for days at a time, 8, even 9, because of her crack addiction. She couldn’t sleep and she couldn’t do much for her family.

She wasn’t there for the babies she’d had back-to-back. D was too busy selling things and stealing. D describes it as “illegal things.” No one was spared, she even stole from her drug man.

“We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” ― Oscar Wilde

oscar-wildejpg

Has any quote been more appropriate for now than this one by Oscar Wilde? Say what you may about him, Wilde sought to transpose the beauty he saw in art into daily life.

Wilde believed that the artist should hold forth higher ideals, and that pleasure and beauty would replace utilitarian ethics. His pursuit of such led him into situations that would see him incarcerated for “gross indecency” and “homosexual” behavior. Thankfully, laws such as those that imprisoned him have been overturned in most places. But prisons don’t need to have walls to remove people from society. There are other ways of separating those “undesirables” from the larger group. And unfortunately, we’ve become quite adept at doing so.

It is the quote at the top of this post that resonates the most with me today. We find ourselves in a terrible place – one where we’re isolating ourselves from a world that has become dangerously contagious; one that has become horribly divided; one that is economically insecure; and finally, one that ignores or worse, pits brother against brother.

This is a world we have created, perhaps not intentionally, but through neglect and inconsideration of others. We have looked out for ourselves to the detriment of others in an Ayn Rand wet dream, focusing on the individual over each other. Indeed, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.”

Wilde had it right. This is our world and we have made it a hell, but we can also change that. Do we have the fortitude and the intention to do that? It would mean some seismic shifts from the top to the bottom of this country. No one will be left unaffected by it; some will be pleased and others will be furious. Change isn’t easy.

Again, “We are each our own devil, and we make this world our hell.” What are we going to do about it?

#bmeisterman.com

 

Icarus and Hubris

icarus

That’s not the name of a pop group or a group of lawyers. It’s a mythology and an attitude. And in this case, they’re one and the same.

Hubris: excessive pride or self-confidence.

Icarus: In Greek mythology, Icarus is the son of the master craftsman Daedalus, the creator of the Labyrinth. Daedalus had been imprisoned by King Minos of Crete within the walls of his own invention, the very same Labyrinth. But the great craftsman’s genius would not suffer captivity and he devised a way of to get free.

Icarus and his father attempt to escape from Crete by means of wings that his father, Daedalus, constructed from feathers and wax. But Icarus, dared to fly too near the sun on wings of feathers and wax.  Naturally, the wax melted, the feathers came loose and Icarus plunged to his death in the sea. This perhaps was the first example of hubris – an over-weening pride in one’s own ability.

One can see it applied many ways. Certainly in sports. Back it up as Babe Ruth did when pointing to the outfield, he unloaded a home run to that very location. That wasn’t hubris. That was ability.

Today we see it in numerous forms, politics for certain, and most recently manifested in the Dunning-Kruger effect, a type of cognitive bias in which people believe that they are smarter and more capable than they really are. There’s no apparent ability displayed.

And like Icarus, their wax will melt and the inevitable plunge will occur. The question remains – when?  #bmeisterman.com

 

 

Schlock and awe!

sunday

Disclaimer: This is an updated post from a previous blog, The Two Bruces (of which I was one, the other being… Bruce. Really.) Courtesy of the Wayback Machine.

If you read the Sunday papers like I do, then you know the primary reason for that edition is to sell you garbage you don’t need. Get over it, there is no news on a Sunday. They print that sucker days in advance. The only thing remotely news worthy are the sports scores so you can see how much you now owe your bookie. And now the Internet has ’em, so screw Gannett.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s just to sell you stuff. Do you think all this “new” technology is making your life better? OK, altogether now, a big, emphatic NO! Of course not. It’s what keeps whatever is left of our economy moving until we can find another war. The sad part of it all is this stuff is made in China…as if we didn’t have enough issues with trade. Speaking of China… nah, that’s not fair right now, but…

Before long we’ll all be flying the flag of the United States of Walmart. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. I have found a way to deal with this.

I’ve done some research and found that the new technology really isn’t any better than the old. Blu-Ray? Yeah, right – I gotcha Blu-Ray right here! That sucker’s nothing more than a DVD player with a tuning knob. And we fell for it. Not any damn longer! No! It’s just new paint on an old building. The old stuff was good and it worked, mostly.

I am proud to announce the Grand Opening of the new F’ed Up Freddie’s Antique Tech Emporium, or just Freddie’s for those with small. impressionable children. The premise is simple and based upon the notion that “They just don’t build ‘em like they used to.” And they’re right. They don’t. But, did you ever wonder what happened to all those new, unopened, still boxed, never used DVD players after the Blu-Ray player came out? I do. Through shrewd investments and an off-shore account (Staten Island!), I’ve been buying up all this “new” merchandise and now ready to pass on these incredible savings to you. It may not now be the newest technology, but hey, it works and it is new, so to speak.

Think about it. You’re not that old when you don’t want to hear some of those old scratchy 78RPM records you inherited when your great grandfather died. But the phonograph is dead. Not any more! Come on down to my Highway 36754N. warehouse in Newark and see the wide selection of RCA Victrolas. We got ‘em!

imgres

Portable radios and TV’s? All makes, all colors and all styles in stock now for immediate delivery! We know there are plenty of women out there just pining for a new 8 track player to play their tapes of “Neil Diamond Gold” again. Wait no more – we got home and car players ready for you.

imgres1

And it doesn’t stop there. Relive the sixties (not your age) with a transistor radio. How about a stereo with a record changer? Yeah, those were cool, especially when you stacked the records with “Bolero” strategically placed for the big make-out scene you had planned. Good times, good times.

But while we’re all getting older, it doesn’t mean we have to grow up. We can hold on to those symbols of our youth, our innocence, our disposable cash.

Freddie’s stock is complete with Walkman’s, phonographs, laser disc players, Betamax players, VHS players, reel-to-reel tape decks (for snobby afficianadoes), Discmans, slide projectors, AM radios, B+W TV’s, digital audio tape decks, 8mm film projectors, radar ranges, box cameras, CD players, flip phones, and so much more it’ll give you a headache. But our prices won’t! All of this merchandise is new!

And buying from Freddie’s helps the economy. All of this stuff had been written off already, years ago. No tax deductions from retailers, just pure, sweet American profit. Let’s get this country moving again with F’ed Freddy!

Remember F’ed Up Freddie’s slogan, “It ain’t the latest, but it was the greatest!”

This message has not been approved by the Chamber of Commerce nor the National Federation of Independent Businesses. Does that surprise you?

 

The devil you know vs…

images

At what point in a person’s life does self-awareness seep in? Or perhaps the question should be, does everyone achieve self-awareness? The fates aren’t that egalitarian. Arguably, they appear to be sheltering-at-home lately, wherever that may be, and not doling out that quality broadly. I would posit that at no time in our recent history has there been a greater lack of self-awareness than now. Yes, the fates are either staying at home or are enjoying no small amount of Schadenfreude over the current state of affairs.

Nowhere is that lack of self-awareness more apparent than in government. Not just at the national level, but state and local as well. There are those carelessly handing down edicts whose ramifications will be felt for generations. There has been too much division in this country for too long, the latest line of demarcation being old vs. young. Who gets to live and, well, you know the argument.

In the ’60’s, one of the rallying cries was “Don’t trust anyone over 30.” Has that come to pass? Were I still in that demographic, I could very well be carrying that placard. It seems that too many of those in power shouldn’t be trusted with those decisions affecting our lives and not surprisingly, they are over 30. Maybe we should have paid more attention to that slogan.

Some are just simply over their heads, flailing about (see Peter principle below) with maybe some cognizance of their limitations. Others believe their own PR and are enamored with their self-importance (see Dunning-Kruger below) and believe in an unrivaled omnipotence. Both are dangerous, one more than the other.

So you decide, the devil you know or… Who wants to make that decision?

Info dump: To keep all things equal, the source for the information below is Wikipedia (for better or worse).

The Peter principle is a concept in management developed by Laurence J. Peter, which observes that people in a hierarchy tend to rise to their “level of incompetence”: an employee is promoted based on their success in previous jobs until they reach a level at which they are no longer competent, as skills in one job do not necessarily translate to another. (Wikipedia)

In the field of psychology, the Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with low ability at a task overestimate their ability. It is related to the cognitive bias of illusory superiority and comes from the inability of people to recognize their lack of ability. Without the self-awareness of metacognition, people cannot objectively evaluate their competence or incompetence. (Wikipedia)   #bmeisterman.com