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I Might Understand You

As I pulled into the parking lot I noticed a young man sitting near the back of the gas station. He looked up at me and as I passed him our eyes locked. I felt a need to check on him, but I needed to be somewhere else at that moment. I figured I could circle back around after I was done.

Once I finished what I was doing I noticed he had moved closer to where I was and was now sitting on a bench. I pulled up, rolled my window down and asked, “Is everything ok?”

“No” he responded, “today is the worst day of my life”. And with that we began talking. I parked my car and walked over with a bottle of water and we talked for almost an hour.

I learned he was 33, was having problems with his mom, his ex-girlfriend, his mom’s boyfriend, and life in general. He was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and struggled with anxiety, depression, unemployment, homelessness, low feelings of self-worth, self-harm, and suicidal ideation. When I asked him if he felt like he might harm himself he responded that he did not plan to nor did he want to do that.

He explained that he’d had a disagreement with his mom and her boyfriend the night before and in order to not deal with them he instead spent the evening outside just wandering. Honestly, he looked like he might have spent more than just one night outside.

He told me he sometimes heard voices, but he wasn’t sure if he was actually having auditory hallucinations or if the people who had repeatedly shown him a lack of understanding and intolerance were lying to him. Truth be told, it could be both.

I later learned that some people who have bipolar disorder can suffer from “Psychosis” and have auditory hallucinations but not everyone knows that, even therapists.

I reminded him that he’s going to be ok and that while things seem bleak at the moment they are likely to improve if he keeps moving in the direction that is in his best interest. Things such as continuing with therapy, getting a job, and finding a safe place to live, either with family or friends. He said he had options.

We talked until he felt better overall and decided on a plan to go to a friend’s home, get a shower and rest before planning his next course of action: either move to his father’s or go back to his mother’s. One step at a time.

I honestly have no idea if my stopping to talk with him helped at all, but I hope so. At the very least I wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone.

Give Me Love (Give Me Peace on Earth) George Harrison

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord
Please take hold of my hand, that
I might understand you
Won’t you please
Oh won’t you

Give me love
Give me love
Give me peace on earth
Give me light
Give me life
Keep me free from birth
Give me hope
Help me cope, with this heavy load
Trying to, touch and reach you with,
Heart and soul

Om m m m m m m m m m m m m m
M m m my lord
Please take hold of my hand, that
I might understand you

George Harrison

The cult of Artemis in Ephesus and the possible explanation of the Bee Symbol

Stefanos Skarmintzos

The worship of a female deity begins in the vicinity of Ephesus from the Bronze Age if not earlier but is attested before the Ionian migration (1). But archaeological research dates the first buildings on the site of the Artemision to the geometric period (1100 – 800 BC), but many literary sources attribute the founding of the shrine of Artemis to the Amazons testifying to its antiquity and the exotic nature of the cult of the goddess in that area. The Greeks merged the worship of the local deity with the Greek goddess Artemis, which was called Ephesia and did not oppressed the few natives who lived around the sanctuary of Artemis. They built the citadel of Ephesus around 1500 meter from the original shrine so as not openly provoke the neighboring tribes. Yet they transformed the local goddess cult into the Greek Artemis “Mistress of Animals”. (2) The ancient…

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Victim to Predator

His birthday arrived and once more I went to his Facebook page to both wish him a happy birthday and hope that there would be some sign he was alive and ok. It had been almost 4 years since he went missing. The last sign of anything we knew of was a post from his roommate stating he never returned from a trip to Atlanta. Each one of us had done our own searches for our friend with our limited information and came up empty.

I met Craig at my first LARP in 2002 and we’ve been friends ever since. Over the years we hung out at other LARP or tabletop games and ran into each other at group gatherings, but mainly we stayed connected on MySpace then later on Facebook.

This year our wish finally came true, but not in the way any of us had hoped. We received news he was alive and reasonably well, we assumed, but the news had caused each of us to process a form of grief none of us were entirely expecting.

A woman I don’t know posted a comment on everyone’s birthday wishes that contained a link to an FBI press release from last month. Our friend had been in police custody since he landed in Atlanta in 2015.

According to the press release he was convicted on one count of traveling from another state to engage in sexual activity with a child under the age of 12 years, and one count of enticing a minor to engage in illegal sexual activity.

We were shocked. This is not the person I thought I knew. Some of us argued there had to be a mistake. There were no photos for us to confirm this was our friend but after further investigation too many of the details added up. Once the group of us were convinced the story was true folks began to disconnect from our friend’s page.

I admit I took a bit to disconnect. I was processing in a way I was not expecting, The news cast a pall over my mood that week.

One of the details that had come up was from trusted friends who let us know that before Craig moved to his own place that his father was under investigation for allegedly running a child porn ring. Upon learning that I suddenly remembered the one time I went to visit him when he lived with his dad. We were just hanging out in his room, but I remember his dad came home and it seemed like there was an issue with my being there. At the time I assumed it was because I was unknown to him and maybe Craig wasn’t supposed to have any girls in his room, but I didn’t think my presence was inappropriate given that Craig was already 23. I also remember that as I was leaving Craig didn’t want me to go and tried to get me to stay longer, but I distinctly felt his dad didn’t want me there so I left.

Because of his father’s situation, I started to wonder how Craig grew up and began to feel sorry for him. There’s a fair chance Craig was also a victim as a child. I’m a survivor of child sexual abuse so I could empathize with him and I started wondering where our compassion for him was as friends started walking away. But why wasn’t I angry with him? Why wasn’t I equally quick to disconnect like the others? Since when did I ever have sympathy for a child predator? And that’s when I realized I was still looking at him like he was a victim and not the predator he’d become. It’s like that moment when the vampire or zombie loses the last shred of their humanity and they start eating their human friend.  He’s a predator now and simply not the person I thought he was.

Hail, hail, there’s lots of weather here

ORANGE COUNTY TRIBUNE

HAIL blanketing Dale Street in Garden Grove made the neighborhood look like it has been through a snowfall on Saturday (Photo courtesy of Renee Hatten).

Garden Grove and other cities in West Orange County had a hail of a day and night Saturday as the area was lashed by lightning, thunder, hail and heavy rain, but later brightened by rainbows.

Bright lightning flashes that struck around 3 a.m., followed by booming thunder, awakened many area residents. The rainstorm that ensued combined with chilling temperatures to create a downpour of hail, so heavy that it resembled snow. To locals who have been around a while, it echoed a hailstorm in 1999 sufficiently thick to allow people to build “hailmen” and throw “hailballs.”

By Saturday afternoon the harsh weather cleared and a rare double rainbow arched over the area.  Although the weather should clear for Sunday with highs in the low 60s…

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When You’re Accustomed To Privilege, Equality Feels Like Oppression

The Boeskool

I’ve never been punched in the face. Not in an actual fight, at least. I’m not much of a fighter, I suppose… More of an “arguer.” I don’t think I’m “scared” to get into a fight, necessarily–There have been many times I have put myself in situations where a physical  fight could easily have happened… I just can’t see myself ever being the guy who throws the first punch, and I’m usually the kind of guy who DE-escalates things with logic or humor. And one of the things about being that sort of person, is that the other sort of guy–the sort who jumps into fights quickly–tends to not really be a big fan of me… Not when he first meets me, at least. They usually like me later. Not always. You can’t win ’em all…

fight-club-brad-pitt-fight-image.jpg The first rule of White Club is you do not talk about White Club…

When I moved to…

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