Friday, September 25, 2015

The Kaspar Party

Good morning! First, the good stuff. Have you been to Unraveled yet? It's the local yarn shop in Wauconda that is basically run by a human think tank with ADHD (that's a compliment). You should stop in and buy yarn from there.

Also, Loopy Yarns in the south loop has now changed hands, and it is called Yarnify! The new owner is hosting a contest for a new logo, and it is open to absolutely anyone who is feeling a bit creative. The worst that can happen is that you don't win, but are introduced to the new shop. The best that can happen is that your logo is used, and you win a hundred-dollar prize!

After long, careful thought, I have decided to start my own political party. It is sort of a mashup of the values of a Democrat and Libertarian, with the fiscal mind of a Republican. I am calling it the Kaspar party.

Yes, it sounds funny and does not mean much, but it is my last name and I can't think of anything better. And, spoiler alert:  my ideas are pretty naive, so the rest of this post will read like an eighth-grade school project.

When did our two main political parties require us to either vote our conscience, or vote our wallet, but not the possibility of both? Listening to some of the crap coming out of people's mouths make me want to just try my hand at running things better than these people. I know it would never happen, but here is what I have going for me:  I am honest, and I am good with numbers. Oh...and I care about people.

See, Bernie Sanders...arguably, the Democratic candidate doing the most one big sound byte, "Pope Francis has forcefully reminded us that greed, and the worship of money, is not what human existence should be about." Agreed, Bernie! This is one of about sixty quotes I have seen floating around that are attributed to the Vermont politician. What he fails to address, however, is how we are to pay for human existence. Why can't we do it without "money worship?"

And the Republican party...don't even get me started. So, Ben Carson, you don't think a Muslim should be president while the "purist" nutjobs in your party think that Obama is a Muslim as it is? Well, two things come to mind:  first, there are degrees of the religion of Islam, just like there are degrees of Christianity or any other religious sector. Of course I do not want a misogynist homophobic tyrant running things, but that's an extremist view of the Islamic religion. And secondly...on that note...Obama, a Muslim? Well, using the definition the Republican party would like us to see as "typical," Obama would be just about the worst Muslim on the planet, what with his equal-rights, ham-eating-during-high-holiday, socialist healthcare...

Here's what I want. I want a candidate to take the mic. I want him or her to say, "This country is a very complicated machine. There are a lot of working parts, but only a limited amount of funds. I have looked at all of the programs where we are pissing our money away (if Chris Christie can use the words he uses, "pissing" is allowed), and have decided to shut those suckers down and allocate the money to these programs here." (points to white-board with a laser pointer) "The subsidized housing program, commonly referred to as Section 8, has exposed a gap between the poverty line and the middle class. Someone making $18,000 per year is eligible for a voucher, but someone making $18,005 is not. That person will go from receiving $1,043 in housing assistance to zero. Here is how I plan on rectifying that, for anyone making between $18,001 and $26,000 per year." (moves laser pointer to other white-board) "If we cut the Consumer Confidence ad campaigns for the cotton and pork industries by 80%, this will leave us money to introduce a sliding scale to encourage people to get higher-paying jobs, but not fear losing their voucher, thereby keeping people in the workforce and not costing taxpayers extra money. Then, we can..."

And so on.

I read somewhere that Walker dropped out of the race because he couldn't manage his $900 million budget campaign, or something. Whoa. What could this country have done with $900 million from private donors? Oh, and before you blow the whistle on the Republican party for that, you will have to show me that Sanders, and Clinton, and any candidate on the other side of the ballot is campaigning with no outside funds. Don't tell me that this is a rich-people issue.

Herein lies the problem. If you are wealthy enough to donate millions to a candidate you "believe" in, then you can donate that money to a tangible cause you believe in as well.

The Kaspar party will be a numbers-driven, fiscally responsible party that will encourage people to vote their conscience and their wallet at the same time. are pro-life so you want to defund Planned Parenthood? Okay then. I need two things from you, me where that money is now going, and show me where people who used Planned Parenthood can go now, even if you are outlining what will happen to the babies that will be born because you (the candidate) do not actually believe abortion is legal, and therefore need an out for the end-result of an unwanted pregnancy. And I don't mean a general statement. Show me. With numbers. And names. Get people to sign HIPPA waivers so you can talk about their medical histories in public. I bet many women would be happy to give it to you. Maybe then, I will believe you.

Show me where my money is going, so I can determine if my heart is also protected in the transaction.

Who's in?

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Life Can Scare You

Good evening, everyone. I am exhausted, but I am 100% positive that I can't sleep. However, if you would like to read about yarn stores in Barcelona, this is your lucky day! I just came from there, and I toured the city to save you the trouble of needing to look this stuff up when you go there:

Please forgive me for being vague; you will understand why when you keep reading. That said, if you are reading this, please focus on the details that matter, and not the ones that do not. The context details are just there for that very reason:  context.

I got a call from a shovel buddy this evening, requesting a prayer for my board. Don't know what I am talking about? Okay, then...either go to my facebook page, or follow me on Instagram under @thefiberfriend. I have a prayer request chalkboard, and when enough people have contacted me with a prayer request (usually every day and a half or so), I fill the board, take a photo, and send it out to the cyberverse so that others can get in on the prayer chain as well.

Anyway, this friend told me that their spouse was in the hospital, because the spouse was feeling severely depressed. I asked if this person tried to commit suicide, and was told, "Not exactly."

My friend was worried in a way I had never heard them worry, and I have known this person since grade school. I was asked to maybe call or swing by the hospital, you know, just to make sure this person knows that I love them. I asked if there was anything else I could do, and of course reiterated that my phone is on at all times. I went to the hospital.

"What relation are you to the patient?" the desk nurse asked me.

"Uhh...sister-in-law," I said. Good one, I thought. Then last names don't matter. I was escorted down the hallway. In the next hour I learned more than I had learned in the previous seven years about this couple. I am sharing this with you (and doing my utmost not to violate HIPPA, break this person's trust in me, or anything equally egregious) because you may very well find yourself in this situation one day, and not see it coming.

I was armed with a pretty empty bag, when it came to information:  depressed, spouse worried, waiting to get transferred to other hospital. That was about it.

"I just got tired of faking it."

This is, on the surface anyway, one of the cheeriest, happy-go-lucky, giggly people I know. This person always seemed comfortable in their own skin, happy with life, and accepting of the cards they were dealt. The hug hello was different than the usual hug at the door, however; there was a little bit of a slump before letting go. On both sides.

After staying for an hour, I walked back to the car and my brain shifted into Drive without so much as a pause at Neutral. How brave is this person to choose living another day, over the horribly unpleasant alternative that so many others before them have seen as an out?

How thankful was I that something...I don't know what, exactly, but something...caused this person to pull off to the side of the road, contemplate the next move in a parking lot, and finally walk through the doors of the hospital?

How worried is this person's spouse right now?

And if I feel as on edge over it as I do, knowing how close the world came to losing this person, then imagine what the magnitude of emotion is like inside the head of the person we almost lost?

Depression is not just frightening for the people who experience it. It is a battle for those around them as well, not knowing what may trigger something or change the course of "normal" or even end the life of struggle that their friend, family member, coworker, or peer is feeling. The really frightening part is that none of us can do anything to fix it, sometimes including the person who is depressed.

That said, there is no reason to just stand by the wayside and wonder if things will correct on their own, instead of taking action. One of the main symptoms of depression is hopelessness, so it stands to reason that a viable antidote is hope. No, depresseion can't just be "fixed" or "minimized" by hope, but it is certainly possible that things can get better. Doctors, therapists, pills, techniques, and even lifestyle or environmental changes can all contribute to depression changing its course to a more positive direction. We, who are the support systems for those with depression, can encourage that positive direction, and we can also just be in the room while they figure things out on their own, but see us in front of them.

The person who sought help today is an upstanding, intelligent member of the community. If this person wanted to die, I have to think that they could have figured out a definitive way. Life is scary sometimes, and if being afraid to die is what keeps you from swallowing that bottle of pills, pulling that trigger, or jumping the final jump, then fine. See that bottom, realize you do not want to smash into that bottom, and look the other way to see light closer to the top.

But if you ever get to the point where being afraid to live is what causes you to grab that bottle of pills, I hope (in the best way possible) you have a spouse, friend, family member, or any combination thereof to have the crap scared out of them as well. I hope their fear of losing you is greater than your fear of staying with them. Because life may be scary, but it is the only gift in this world where we can't just end it and start again, hoping for a better and less scary outcome the next time around.

Reach out. We are here for you, and equally important, we are here for each other while we are here for you.