My mental health has been up and down the last five or six years, and the last couple weeks have not been great. I can’t put a finger on why. Could just be the general state of the country right now. I just feel like I’m over everything.
The summer of 2005 was really emotionally formative for me. I was 25. In the last four months of 2004, a long relationship ended, one of my best friends died, and the other was shipped off to Iraq.
I was basically in a fog until the beginning of April when the same friend who got shipped out was blown up by an IED. (for those who don’t know, he’s alive and I’m thankful for that every day.)
I started dating someone at the beginning of the summer, and she was awesome, but we were ultimately terrible for each other and it ended. About two weeks after it fizzled out, I met my now wife.
My whole world had basically turned upside down in that almost one year span. There were two groups that I listened to almost religiously through that time. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists, and Reggie and the Full Effect.
So, as much as I love both of them, the memories I associate with them are all over the place.
As an American, I am deeply distressed by the current state of our nation. These are some things that I believe should be implemented to correct some of our issues.
- Extensive campaign finance reform. Overturn Citizens United vs FEC, including a total ban on corporate donations, and going to fully publicly funded elections.
- Medicare for all or some other single-payer health plan. The government, including congresspeople and the president, would also be on this plan.
- Universal basic income up to the poverty level for all citizens.
- An incredibly progressive, no-loophole income tax.
- Remove tax-exempt status for churches that cannot prove that they do not involve themselves in politics
- Nationwide redistricting by a non-partisan group and a complete ban on gerrymandering. This will be done every ten years after the census.
- A total ban on lobbying
- Legislative term limits
- Full election reform, including debate reform, ranked-choice voting, the elimination of the electoral college, automatic voter registration for all citizens, and making election day a federal holiday.
- Reparations for slavery
- Extensive civil rights and anti-discrimination reform.
- Public utility reform
- Cut the defense budget in half, allocating those funds for healthcare and education
- Free state college for all citizens
- Extensive policing reform, which includes moving funding to mental health services, drug treatment programs, social work, affordable housing, and drug and sex work decriminalization.
- Funding for public transportation including a large investment in nationwide high-speed rail and infrastructure repair.
- removal of the filibuster
- encourage the development of more political parties
- complete dismantling of the private prison system
- eliminate so-called “right to work” laws
- raise the minimum wage to a living wage
Obviously, these are just a start, but I feel that these would help things a lot.
I’ll update this post as I think about new things.
This is probably the worst day of the year for me.
This is the only picture known to exist of Justin and me. He was my best friend but only for a very short period of time. His death, now ten years ago today, still hurts me on a regular basis.
We met online first, Justin a friend of a friend, on an IRC server hosted by a local ISP. That was sometime in 1999. We bonded over our love of old punk bands, like The Descendents and Misfits. We actually didn’t meet in person until later that year, and it was completely by happenstance. He was in his final semester of cooking school in the same building where I had just started computer school. He was riding with an old high school buddy of mine, who introduced us, and we put two and two together and figured out we knew each other already. Phone numbers were exchanged, and from that point on we were fast and great friends.
Starting then, until close to the end of 2003, Justin, our friend Tim and I spent pretty much every Friday and Saturday night together at either Eat n’ Park or Kings or if I managed to be off of work, shows. He was there when my first real relationship ended, and I probably wouldn’t have gotten through that if it wasn’t for him. In November of 2003, I got a new job, working the midnight shift, and we started to see less of each other, but still talked regularly and were still great friends.
I don’t remember exactly when it was, but he got a new job as well, working at a local Best Buy. At this time, I was becoming somewhat of a hermit. Midnight shift had gotten me into a funk, where I rarely did anything. This period is at least partially what caused my next relationship, with Nicci, to end in September of 2004. A couple of days after that, Juddy and I hung out for what was the first time in a long time, at a party that some friends of his were having. Things weren’t the same for me though, and my jealousy over his new work friends (who I, being largely an introvert, did not fit in with) lead me to retreat back into my depression.
Fast forward to November 11th. My memory is a bit vague, but I don’t think I had spoken to Justin at this point since that party, not because I was mad or anything, just because of life and such getting in the way. That night, on my way to work, I got a call from him saying that we had to hang out the following weekend. I said yes, thinking that that may be what I need to get out of my funk. Then the next day happened.
I got a call from Nicci, (we managed to stay good friends even after breaking up), saying that he was dead. I couldn’t believe it, but she assured me it was true. The first thing I did after that call was to call our friends Tim and Dave, and we all met up at Tim’s house to try to sort through what was going on. I took a couple of days off the following week for the funeral, and we all spent as much time together as possible. A lot of it is a blur because I was pretty lit for most of it as a way to escape. At 24, I didn’t have the emotional ability to process everything that happened, and I hardly still do at 40.
For anyone who doesn’t know, our son is named Justin Scott in memory of Juddy. I hope to raise him to live up the awesomeness of his namesake.
We’ll never forget.
I’ll never forget.
And I’ll never stop missing him.