faces of san francisco

At my high school, the photo class took a trip to San Francisco every spring. Looking back, I can’t believe they let 30 teenagers loose in the city and said “Meet the bus at the corner of Grant and Columbus at 1pm,” and everyone made it just fine. No one got into trouble, no one got run over by a Muni bus, and no one got lost in the days before cell phones and Google Maps.

Armed with a Minolta, and several rolls of black-and-white film (kids: ask your parents), we roamed from the Financial District to Chinatown to Aquatic Park looking for interesting sights and subjects. Some of the “people” photos are below. I have never been good at capturing people, but this day was pretty successful. I have misplaced the negatives, so I had to scan the prints, but they still look okay to my non-expert eye.

alone in chinatown

Alone in Chinatown


Waiting for customers


Feeding the pigeons

alone time

I have spent a lot of alone time this week, with Anne and Nicole in California and Dan doing his school/work/hide-in-bedroom thing. I’ve been getting enough rest, I haven’t gone manic, and I’m only a little depressed. I haven’t really done much with my time however.

What I’m discovering is that being alone on a regular basis would be very bad for me. I wouldn’t take care of myself, I wouldn’t do anything enjoyable, and I would just waste all my free time instead of accomplishing anything. Kind of like what I do now, but without anyone to talk to. I wouldn’t go out and meet people, I have too many anxieties for that. I wouldn’t go to someone’s house if I were invited, I would just find an excuse.

When I was driving I spent up to 2 weeks at a time time alone, and that was definitely not good for me. Sometimes I feel like I don’t get along with my family, but the truth is that I need them just as much as they need me. I would be an empty shell without a family to come home to.

Break time is nice, and a little alone time is a good thing, but the truth is I can’t wait for my girls to come home.

National Child Abuse Awareness Month: Emotional Child Abuse Is Real and Its Effects Last Long Into Adulthood


THIS is it. This is what I have been writing about for so many years. I have been trying to describe what it felt like to be shamed and invalidated, and have every bit of self-confidence and self-esteem stripped away. This article defines emotional abuse with empathy and compassion.

My entire life has been deeply affected by the lasting effects of emotional abuse. Until the last couple years, the internal wounds were still raw and sometimes bleeding. Since then I have been able to be less depressed about the past, but the scars will always be there.

Originally posted on The Invisible Scar:

Editor’s note: April is National Child Abuse Awareness and Prevention month. The Invisible Scar is dedicated to raising awareness of emotional child abuse, so in honor of this month’s focus, we’ll revisit the definition of emotional child abuse, types of emotional child abuse, and its effects for those who are not yet familiar with the fact that emotional child abuse is real.

[photo credit] [photo credit] When child-advocate lawyer Andrew Vachss was asked, “What is the worst case you ever handled?” when protecting abused children, he answered, “Of all the many forms of child abuse, emotional abuse may be the cruelest and longest-lasting of all.”

Why is emotional child abuse  the worst kind? Why is it even worse than physical child abuse or sexual child abuse?

It’s because emotional child abuse seeks to destroy the person’s very being.

“Emotional abuse is the systematic diminishment of another,” Vachss…

View original 1,336 more words

t-rex and tape measures

I’m forgetful and disorganized, and this causes me problems. I forget that I own things because I can’t find them. I have 5 tape measures because I couldn’t find one, and I thought “I was sure I bought a tape measure last month”. Then I buy one and store it in a place I will remember it, which I promptly forget. I also forget buying the item in the first place. You know how a T-rex forgets about you if you don’t move? That is me and tape measures. One of these days I won’t be able to find my wife anywhere, and I’ll run out and get married again.

I can’t find things once I’ve used them. My workbench, my desk at home, and my closet all have the same organizational scheme, as if Jackson Pollock was throwing tools into my house. I toss stuff where I will be able to find it later, and then I can never find it again. I like hardware stores because they look so neat, even though I can’t find things there either. But I know where the tape measures are, goddammit.

I find things when I least expect to, usually when I am looking for something else. I bought pens recently, then I found 40 of them when I was looking for a tape measure.

of mice and men and peanut butter

Day one of the social experiment begins. The experiment is to leave a bipolar person mostly alone for 9 days with nothing but a well-stocked larder, a mousetrap, and the Internet. The hypothesis is that one of three outcomes will occur:

1) he falls into a deep depression and fails to see daylight or shower for the entire time.
2) he remains surprisingly positive without tipping into a mood swing, one way or the other.
3) he decides that tonight is a great opportunity to scan 25 years of photos into the computer, then drinks too much coffee, and pushes himself into a manic spell, which is followed by the inevitable crash.

Mrs. Fish and Nicole are vacationing in Hippietown (where we lived for several years, which you would already know had you been following my ramblings for the past 10 years). I dropped them at the airport at 0-dark-30, then I took the car for some repairs, then I started looking at slides and photos to scan. In the meantime I offered to go to breakfast with the Dan The Man-Child, and he picked the Taco Bell drive through. Oh well, at least he inherited the “cheap” genes.

I will not actually be alone during the next 9 days. Dan is here, although I don’t see him very often due to work and school schedules. I want to talk to him about school and trying to find a better job when he is done, but it always seems so awkward to get that conversation rolling. Often I don’t know what to talk about with him.

Also keeping me company will be the anguished spirits of the mice that will soon be dead. There have been nocturnal scuttlings in the ceiling for a couple of months. I wanted to kill the mice, but Nicole and I both think they are cute. Nicole is against killing any animal, and the cats aren’t doing their job, so I am taking the opportunity to do the dirty job while she is gone. I placed a little peanut butter in the trap, and started thinking how much I like peanut butter, and when I licked the knife I almost looked up to see if there was a gleaming instrument of death poised to strike me down. I feel bad, but it has to be done.

I tell myself I won’t stay up too late scanning tonight. I have all rainy weekend, and I don’t have to look presentable until the fish-in-laws take Dan and I out for dinner Sunday. As a non-believer, I don’t celebrate Easter, but the fish-in-laws are mildly religious. I was surprised to realize Dan has basically given up going to church and reading his bible, because he was pretty far into the cult a couple years ago. I wonder what happened, but again I don’t know how to start that conversation.

Just 50 more sets of negatives to scan, then check the mousetrap, then sleep for 2 hours. Then more coffee.

So. Much. Coffee.

olympic peninsula

I don’t have anything of substance to say, so I’ll post a few pictures. In 1997, while working in Vancouver, I was sent to a 3-day workshop in Seattle that began on a Monday morning. Of course I didn’t go directly there. I spent the weekend looking at stuff on the Olympic Peninsula: rainforest, moss, elk, wetlands, beaches, Indian museums, forts, bridges, and ferries. It was a great weekend … until Sunday night, when I didn’t feel very well. I went to the Kingdome to watch a baseball game, and I became violently ill with some kind of intestinal distress. Ew, enough said. I was sick for the next three days, but I still attended the workshop for my boss. That is dedication.

Anyway, here are a few poor quality pictures from the peninsula.

Crescent Lake at dusk. This photo was taken with a cheap plastic 35mm camera, then the paper photo was recently scanned. No color fixing. Despite the poor quality, one of my favorite photos ever.

Dead Elk, Ahlstrom Prairie

Boardwalk trail on the way to the beach.

Whidbey Island Bridge (I know, too much dust!)

shame on me

Most of the memorable times in my life have been moments of shame. I continue to feel ashamed of stupid things I did or said many years after the fact, when everyone else has forgotten about them. Memories of particularly embarrassing moments burst into my consciousness whenever I am feeling down on myself. I remember these things more clearly than other people, internalizing all my shame rather than laughing it off as a simple mistake. To this day I am easily embarrassed over the slightest detail which other people probably don’t even notice.

Shame has always been a dominant force in my life. I can remember being embarrassed of things at 5 years old. I was ashamed of my situation at home, and I didn’t want anyone to know about my life. I was afraid of interacting with other kids in school for fear I would do something to make them laugh at me. I learned that people who were pretending to be friendly were really making fun of me, and I never forgot that. I faced the embarrassment the same way I do today, pretending it didn’t bother me, when in reality it hurt me deeply.

I have always had such low self-esteem that I felt trapped by my negative thoughts about myself. I have so many reasons for feeling less than adequate: I’m overweight, I’m not attractive, I’m a slob, I’m damaged, I keep secrets from my family, I’m awkward around people, I don’t fit in socially, I’m lazy, I fail at stuff guys are supposed to know how to do. I’m ashamed of myself. I know some people are comfortable being themselves, but I never have been.

I know I have some good qualities, but when I am depressed it is too difficult to find those positives. That’s why I feel like a wounded person pretending I’m all right during the day, then I can relax and wallow in self-pity in the evening. I am encouraged by other people’s words, however. It helps me to read other blogs and understand that I am not the only one with problems.

mediocre and okay with it

I am so average. I have my cars, my house in the suburbs, a decent job where I perform just ok. I went to an average school, and gave enough effort to get an adequate education. I have a big screen, a slow computer, and a cheap phone. I have a wife and kids and two cats. I have mental health problems, but hey, who doesn’t these days, right?

I’ve always been too scared to try anything extraordinary. I’ve never been a daring risk-taker. I didn’t ask out the prettiest girl, I didn’t try to go to the best college, I quit things and sabotaged myself. I set my sights lower so I wouldn’t fall too far if I failed.

I failed anyway, but I also succeeded, and my successes and failures probably average out. Somehow, despite the bruises and the bullshit, things turned out okay. Not great, not terrible, but somewhere in between.

For today at least, I can accept that. I’ll see the negative side of this reality on some days, but for now I can let the glass be half full.


I feel like I throw away people when I want to run away from or forget certain parts of my life.

I ignore all my adopted mom’s friends and family because I am slowly purging those memories from my mind. I abandoned all my friendships in my hometown because I wanted to break all ties with that place. I have the opportunity to keep in touch with former coworkers-turned-friends, but I choose not to. I even deleted my former blog friends when I rebooted my digital life. I’m sure they have forgotten about me by now.

I still care about a few of those people, but I don’t do anything to let them know. When someone tries to reach out on Fakebook, I either ignore them or say things that push them away again.

I’ve even done this with my wife and her family to a certain extent. When I feel unlovable, I return the same indifference and lack of intimacy that I think I deserve.

I don’t think this is a part of the bipolar, even though the depressive mood swings contribute to these feelings. I think this is rooted in my lack of self-esteem. I feel like I’m not worth caring about, and I can’t understand why someone would want to take the time and effort to be my friend. At the same time, I feel so lonely, but I have done this to myself.

i’m not the man

It seems like I am always second fiddle. I know how to do things the right way, I just want someone else to get the credit. I’m comfortable in the supporting role, making the leader look good, and getting the recognition from only a few people rather than everyone. I like to be the understudy, learning from and emulating the ways of others. I see this as a serious personality flaw.

I have no confidence in my ability to be the leader. I have no self-esteem, and I don’t think I deserve recognition for my accomplishments. In fact, I want to avoid the attention and scrutiny of others, because I have the never-ending feeling that I am a wholly untalented impostor, a liar, a sham. I am constantly afraid I will be fired when people find out I have been faking my way through my current job without really knowing what I am doing.

I’m not good at being in charge of things, but I also complain about the people who are in charge. I know how things need to be done, but I am too passive to express those needs effectively. I avoid situations where I have to tell someone else what needs to be done. I hate to delegate work to others because I don’t want to have to tell them the things I need changed. I feel so worthless, that my ideas will be ridiculed by the other person even as they are supposed to be learning from me.

My ideal situation would be where I am in charge, but no one knows about it. Basically, I wish I were the Wizard of Oz, pulling the levers in secrecy. I would be a lonely yet benevolent megalomaniac, and not let that power go to my head at all.