me

It goes without saying (despite my doing so here) that the choices we make affect our lives, for better or worse.

Over the last several months, I’ve thought a lot about the choices I’ve made in my life and the road down which those choices have led me.

Hawaii

This October will mark 19 years I’ve lived in Hawaiʻi.

When I came here, it was meant to be temporary. I had finished college a year earlier and was… drifting. With no plan, no career path, and no real motivation to speak of, I had remained in the college town to stay close to friends. I disliked the thought of returning to Kansas. After a year of life as a college grad, living in a college town, and working at the local equivalent of “Best Buy” and things looked bleak for me.

Add to that a devastating end to a painful and complicated relationship and I decided, quite suddenly, that it was time to get the fuck out. But to where?

My best friend from college was, at the time, completing his Masters Degree at the University of Hawaiʻi and my dad, seeing that I needed a dramatic change, suggested I go there. It seemed like the best option at the time. So after several months in the midwest to save up some money, I packed two bags, took the one-way ticket my father got for me, and moved to the most remote spot in the entire world.

Though it was a rocky start and I never really intended to stay more than a year, it slowly became home. My home. I got regular therapy (which I desperately needed), found my “calling”, and came to truly appreciate how special this place is.

Without that random suggestion from my father all those years ago, there’s no telling the direction my life might have taken.

Career

While money is certainly nice to have and I like buying things with it (books, movies, computers, hats, cameras, etc.), my job-related choices have never primarily driven by salary.

Long ago, not long after I started my first job, I realized that I never wanted to work in a job that I hated. Or didn’t care about. There are 120 hours in the five-day work week. A third is spend, theoretically, sleeping. A third is spend at your job and the last third is ideally free for whatever. Put another way, one typically spends half their waking hours at work. It has always seemed to me that its at least as important to enjoy your job as how much you get paid doing it.

Since I made the career move from Systems Administration (computers) to politics, I’ve jumped around from job to job every few years. In none of those instances did the salary impact my decision to leave or take a job.

In 2018, I left a comfortable and well-paying job in the Governor’s Office to try my hand at campaign management. Doing so was a big risk, but I felt it was time to move on to more interesting, challenging work.

Shortly after that campaign ended, I finished my Masters’ Degree and decided to venture out on my own as a “consultant”. Another big risk.

The last few years have been extremely challenging financially. I recently declared bankruptcy as a result. Despite the bankruptcy, there remains a part of me that is happy with the choices I’ve made and the experiences those choices led to.

Still… the last few years have been challenging and I can’t help but think about what might have been if I had stayed in the Governor’s Office.

Freedom

If you’re at all paying attention, you’re hearing an almost constant shouting of these efforts as “unconstitutional,” “un-American,” or an infringement on “personal freedom.”

Well, if you know me you won’t be surprised by my opinion; all that is complete nonsense. No one’s rights are being taken away. Your refusal to wear a mask (or refusal to have your children wear a mask) is not unconstitutional. It’s just not.

In most jurisdictions (I’m assuming) there are laws that prevent people from walking around naked. “No shirt, no shoes, no service” is pretty standard across the country. Yet you don’t hear about folks bitching about their inability to go to the grocery store topless.

And in most school districts (again, I’m going on my experience) kids cannot attend school without first receiving a handful of required vaccinations. Yet until very recently, we never heard anyone bitch about that.

As the country is going to hell in a handcart, there are a disturbing number of people who seem to want to do whatever they want, whenever they want, wherever they want. And if some law or policy prevents them, they pitch a fit. They scream about “personal freedom.”

What I find equally amusing and disturbing is the chant of “my body, my choice” from anti-maskers and anti-vaxxers. I suspect most, though not all, of them are also vehemently anti-choice when it comes to abortion. That they see no irony or hypocrisy in themselves is further evidence that our public educational systems are failing across the country. Critical thinking is out the window, lying crumpled on the sidewalk.

Consequences

That our civil and political discourse is devolving into, essentially, “I can do and say and think whatever I want and no one can tell me I’m wrong or force me to stop” on the one side. And on other, folks trying to be reasonable. Yes, I acknowledge that may be a cruel and unfair assessment, but that is, in my experience, what it seems to boil down to.

None of these folks, best as I can tell, understand that choices have consequences. And that’s what annoys them. If you don’t want to wear a mask or get vaccinated, fine. But that choice comes with consequences. You want to walk around naked? Ok, but I’m pretty sure you’ll be arrested. You don’t want to pay for car insurance? Fine, but getting caught could end up in a suspension of your drivers license.

Freedom is about choice. But choice comes with consequences. The first amendment doesn’t protect assholes from being punched in the face. Though punching someone in the face also has consequences. And it doesn’t necessarily protect you from being denied service from a private business. It means the government, within reason, cannot lock you up for speaking your mind.

Too many today seem to forget (or never learned) that bit. Even with “freedom,” one cannot act without consequences.

In life too, as I am constantly reminded, the choices we make have an impact. Both on ourselves and, potentially, on others. Life family.

Let this serve, maybe unnecessarily, as a reminder that what we do, what we say, comes with consequences.

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On the Appointment of Dan Gluck to the ICA

On July 8, 2021, Governor Ige chose his nominee, Dan Gluck, for the Intermediate Court of Appeals (ICA) from a list of nominees provided to him by the Judicial Selection Commission over a month earlier.

At the time Governor Ige made his announcement, there was little fanfare or dissent that came with it. The opposition to the Governor’s appointee wouldn’t begin to show itself until more than a week later.

Then, following a rising tide of opposition and some political grandstanding, the Senate Committee on Judiciary voted 4-3 to reject the nomination.

I didn’t engage in the debate waging on social media. Nor did I submit testimony either in support or opposition. Rather I chose to be a spectator, trying to build clarity in my own thoughts on the subject.

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The meaning of life and more.

Thoughts on 43

Today I turn 43.

I’m marking the occasion in usual fashion, with one exception. I chose to spend the few days leading up to and following my birthday staying with friends in the remote volcanic forest landscape of Ocean View on the Big Island of Hawaii. Perhaps its unsurprising that this is the first travel of any kind I’ve done the end of 2019 before COVID-19 forced a shuttering of the world.

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I'll probably be sad for the rest of my life. But besides that, I'm good.

Since Before the Blog

This blog, Regarding Frost, was previously a combined collection of journal entries, poems, letters, etc. I (weirdly) named them “The Howling Melancholy Chronicles.” Those collective writings can be found here, here, and here. They are incredibly personal.

While in college, as I transformed my “journal” into this blog, I decided to transcribe those collections. Partly because I find typing soothing (yes, I’m strange) and it was a way for me to read things I had written in years prior. Since then, this blog has largely served as a forum for me to share thoughts and feelings.

I have lived with depressive states for nearly as long as I can remember. My journal and later this blog, has been an outlet. Sharing my experience with dysthymia is one way I cope. But as I got older and more comfortable with myself I found it easier to be more open about my foibles.

And so here I am again. Having struggled to write anything more meaningful in recent weeks (like local politics, national elections, etc.), I thought it was necessarily time for me to write one of these posts again.

Cathartic Writing

For the last several weeks, I’ve been “down.” Struggling for focus, motivation, or energy to do much of anything. It’s been hard, to say the least, and it’s been quite a while since it’s been this bad.

When I write personal entries like this, I am often challenged to sit for any stretch. I’m easily restless and will get up from the desk to pace. Or smoke. Or both. And so it remains. I started this post several days ago and continue to find it difficult to put thoughts to form.

Like drawing poison from a wound, sometimes it’s just helpful for me to try to organize chaotic thoughts spewed onto the page. So that’s what I’m attempting to do here. Though even in this instance I am really struggling to sit and get it done. I’m hoping that once I’ve exorcised these thoughts and feelings out into the blogosphere I can begin to move more positively in my life.

Dysthymia is a Bitch

I don’t know how rare it is for dysthymia to devolve into full-blown depression, but throughout my life, it’s only happened once (maybe twice). It’s a terrible and terrifying experience. The last time I experienced it was toward the end of my time at college; I very nearly didn’t graduate.

Though dysthymia is a “persistent depressive disorder,” my experience with it has been relatively mild, I think. It’s always there, like a shadow on my brain but in recent years I’ve been able to function normally. Years of regular therapy was a huge help in making that possible. In my younger years, it was worse and definitely impacted my life, my ability to be productive, and relationships. I was almost never incapacitated, as one might be with depression, but I definitely think I was impaired. Somewhat emotionally crippled.

I haven’t really had thoughts of suicide since college; lots of therapy helped. Even now, I have no desire to end my life, but I also am struggling to find a point in any of it.

Where’s the Meaning?

People have different things that drive them. That makes them happy. For many of my friends and family, it’s the non-job-related things that give their lives meaning. Spouses and children. Or hobbies. For them, their job is simply the thing they do to pass time, provide for their families, or finance their hobbies or retirement.

For a few, their career gives them joy and meaning. Purpose. Those folks have been lucky to find the thing they love to do and managed to make a living at it. Hobbies turned careers.

For such a long time, it was the idea of being in love that I sought as a means to be happy. Being in a relationship. However, given my extreme awkwardness in relationships and dating, I long ago gave up on the prospect of marriage or a family; I will be a life-long bachelor. So that’s out.

Around the same time, I thought I found the thing that would give my life purpose (and joy): politics. With no children raise, I sought to leave my mark on the world in other ways. Politics can shape the world and have deep and meaningful impacts on people’s lives. For better or worse.

Where’s MY Meaning?

I made a transition to a life in government and politics more than a decade ago and for the most part, I’ve been satisfied with that choice. I’ve even done some good things in that time. For a time, I thought I had made the decision that would chart the course for the remainder of my life.

I worked for a State House Representative and two Governors. Then I left to embark on a new chapter as a consultant. I set up my own business and received my Master’s degree in Political Management from George Washington University.

Since then, things have been… a struggle. I’ve struggled for work and struggled to be financially secure. In both 2018 and 2019, I made less than half of what I had working in the Governor’s Office. This year hasn’t been much better and since graduating in 2018, I’ve worked fewer days than not. And I’ve racked up personal debt in the tens of thousands of dollars paying bills (mostly health insurance).

Now, in 2020, the steaming shit-pile dumpster fire of a year, I’ve started to question what the hell I’m doing. It’s pretty clear now I can’t cut it as a self-employed operative. Though I’ve potentially got a job lined up post-election, I can’t help but feel like it’s a step backward. Both professionally and financially.

I have no personal life. No love life. I’ve always taken some comfort in the thought that at least I had a professional life, but now it feels like I’ve failed at that too.

So… I’m really struggling to find meaning in… anything. I wake up. I go through the motions of daily life. And I find little joy in much of any of it.

Hoping for Light Around the Corner

Over the course of my adult life, I’ve learned to be more attuned my emotional and mental states. I don’t have “cycles” per se, but have “episodes” that can last from a couple of days to weeks.

One of the ways I’ve learned to cope is to regularly remind myself that there’s always an end. I come out the other side feeling better, normal. But this bout has lasted far longer than average. To some extent, it can be attributed to COVID jail, but I don’t think all of it.

I’ve also learned that the best way to keep quiet the dark voices in my brain is to keep busy. Feel productive. Since August that has been incredibly challenging.

I keep waiting, hoping that I’ll wake up in the morning having turned the corner. Until that happens, though, each day is just a bit harder to get through than the last. With no purposeful activity and no motivation to seek it out, I’m struggling to find meaning in anything I do.

Maybe the light around the corner tomorrow. Here’s hoping. I truly hate feeling like this.

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This week Honolulu saw the results of the first two scientific polls for local elections this year. The first, a poll on the Honolulu Mayor’s race, was published earlier last week. The other, on Honolulu’s race for Prosecutor, was released this past Friday morning.

In both cases, there is a fairly high number or respondents who hadn’t decided, or indicated they don’t like any of the candidates.

There’s no denying we’ve all be more than a little preoccupied with the impact of COVID-19 on our families and our communities. Rightly so. So while all the candidates will do their best to spin the results, we should keep in mind the current circumstances when viewing the results.

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