The Strokes

Everyone has asked “What happened” or “How things happened”, so I figured two things. 1: It would be easier to write a blog so everyone could read it and 2: If it can prevent this from happening again is worth taking the time to sit down and write this.

One day, during the week of Thanksgiving I developed a stiff neck. At first it wasn’t terrible but quickly got that way. So, I decided it was the holiday season and I would “treat myself” to a massage. So on November 25th, I went to get a massage that focused on my neck and as I was leaving stopped next door to get a quick adjustment from a chiropractor. What a mistake!

The next day my neck pain had moved mostly to a splitting headache that was extremely bad. It made it difficult to focus on things but I managed. I generally have a high pain tolerance and ironically I tend to complain more about little pains than major ones. I just shut up and push through.

Finally, on November 26th I couldn’t take it anymore without a doctor. I called their office (it was a Saturday) and was told I could get an appointment for first thing Monday morning. So on November 28th, I went in, told the doctor the issue, and he said he thought it was likely just “the crook”, something you get from sleeping wrong. I said I knew what that was but this had been more than a week… he said sometimes that happens and wrote me two prescriptions.

Over the next few days nothing really got better. My head was hurting all of the time and I couldn’t take enough Tylenol. December 1st I called the doctor back and made yet another appointment. This time I was told we would do fasting labs so I shouldn’t eat after midnight. Later that night I went to a soccer game w/ Courtney. At one point my head started POUNDING… I felt very dizzy… but I didn’t say anything. Suddenly Courtney looked over at me in a panic, her exact words were “you look like you are dying — there is no blood in your face!”. I chalked it up to having not had much to ate much that day. On the way home I stopped and grabbed McDonalds and felt a little better.

The morning of December 2nd, I went in, and this time I was sure to mention getting dizzy. The doctor told me it could be those two medicines. He said he would change me to a different medicine and if I was still having problems the next week to call him and he would send me to a physical therapist.

The next few days the headaches seem to come with more fervor and intensity. For some reason they seemed to be worse just before bed. In my heart I felt like something was really wrong, more than just a pulled muscle, but the doctor twice had assured me I was fine.

Monday December 6th things got worse. I stayed at the office most of the day but my headache was so bad at times I laid my head down on the desk and my vision was a little blurred. I had a showing that evening in Cherrydale and decided to go from there to the new UrgentCare center. The doctor there did four x-rays and then told me he was sure it was Occipital Neuralgia. In other words, the nerve that runs from the base of my skull to behind my eye was inflamed. He gave me two shots and scheduled a follow up the next day for a nerve blocking shot. I was still super concerned and can still see him saying to me “I’m not, I have an MRI machine right here, if I thought it was needed I would use it.”  I left UrgentCare with two prescriptions and went to RubyTuesdays to eat.

December 7th…. When I woke up I reached over for my phone. I knew it was not yet time for my alarm (I never wake up before my alarm) so I wanted to see what time it actually was. It was just a few minutes before 7am. I only know that because my alarm went off before the paramedics arrived. As I turned my body the entire world turned.. and didn’t stop… at all. I instantly felt like I, all at once, was the drunkest I have ever been and most hung over. I closed my eyes but everything was still spinning. I threw the cover off of me and broke out into the most intense sweat… I don’t sweat much anyway… so I would venture to say this was more than I had sweat during either of my two previous half marathons. That was what tipped me off that I had a bigger problem. For some reason, I’m not exactly sure why, I thought I needed to go grab my thermostat. As I went to put my feet on the floor my body sort of threw me forward towards the door. I more or less bounced down the hallway from wall to wall until I got to the bathroom. The strangest thing about that is I sort of “watched” myself from above me. I don’t know how to explain it except I felt like I was above my body watching what was happening. I now know that is stroke specific and there is some scientific reason I felt that way… at the time, it was scary. Once I made it into the bathroom I fumbled through the basket where the thermometer should be and started to realize I was fading… and fast. I ended up throwing things around the bathroom… Lee said when he came into the house the bathroom looked like an intruder had been in there, my drawers and closet stuff was everywhere.

Around this time I started having this back and forth in my head. One minute I knew I needed to get to a hospital… the next second I thought I was fine… just over reacting. Again, apparently there is a scientific neurological reason for that. In my clearer thoughts I did realize I needed to get help… and fast. I made it back down the hallway and onto the bed. As long as I laid flat I didn’t feel quite as bad, so I tried to lay on the bed, still. I called Courtney a few times, one of my officer friends, and then called Lee. When Lee answered all I said was “I’m calling 911. Come to my house.” and hung up.

As I talked on the phone to 911 I told them I thought maybe I was having a heart attack. This thought only came to me after I had a pain so strong that my entire body wretched. It felt like my entire body was trying to fit into this square on my chest. My knees, legs, feet, head and arms. Thankfully I had 911 on speaker laying beside of me. I told her I couldn’t talk or breath and she said just stay with her. I soon heard sirens.

When they first got to the house they couldn’t get into the door. I swear it sounded like they were about to tear it down. I had told them to come to the back door but that message wasn’t communicated. Lee said 2 ambulances, 1 fire truck, and 2 cops were here when he pulled up. He said my living room and dining room were filled with people. I only saw two. I kept my eyes shut most of the time because the pain was so bad. I laid back in the chair while they did an EKG and started an IV. The the head EMT helped me lean forward so he could listen to my breathing. I started throwing up and instantly I could sense their concern. They eventually got me to an ice cold and wet stretcher that was at my side door and loaded me into the EMS. They did ask where I wanted to go and I said St. Francis. They asked if I meant Eastside and I gave a thumbs up. On the way to St. Francis I threw up several more times and they started giving me meds to stop that.

Once at St. Francis the doctor on duty came in instantly and started working on me. They did several test but couldn’t figure out exactly what it was. He then came in and told us he felt like he needed to be an MRI but radiology may not think it was necessary for me. He said I may be having a-typical stroke symptoms but wasn’t too concerned. Radiology did do the MRI, thankfully, and a few hours later he walked back into the room and without an prep just said “You’ve had two cerebellar strokes today and clusters of strokes previously. We need to move you to Downtown because all of our rooms here w/ the equipment we want you on are in ICU and are full.”  I immediately broke down but even then none of us in that room realize the gravity of the situation(s) that were about to happen. My heart rate spiked and the doctor had to give me something to calm me down. They got me calm, packaged up and sent me to Downtown.

At Downtown I had a great nurse but couldn’t sleep. I was scared to fall asleep. They gave me some meds to knock me out and I woke up on December 8th at St. Francis Downtown. First thing in the morning they started doing more test. All we knew then was I was having strokes but no one knew why. Not too late in the morning the doctor came in and said one of the test showed a vertebral artery dissection, a tear, in the artery that feeds the back of my brain. She said it was her opinion that GHS needed to be called in on the picture and asked me to sign something saying she could loop them in. Not too long after that the neurological surgeon at GHS ordered more test. Late in the night on Wednesday I was told that those test revealed I had a blood clot at the base of my brain. They GHS doctor had essentially taken and at the moment, I would only be moved to GHS if surgery was warranted.

I woke up on December 9th at St. Francis Downtown but it wasn’t long until the doctor told me I needed to be moved. I had no clue what this meant… would I be having brain surgery? She didn’t either but felt like it was just so the GHS team could see me. What no one prepared me for was where I was being moved. During the ambulance ride I was told there are 4 (or 5) levels of care an ambulance has. I was put at the highest level which required a specific person ride in the ambulance with me. Once at GHS they took me to the Neurological Trauma ICU. I went from a private room at St. Francis to a room in GHS that was HUGE and set up in a way that surgery could take place. The room sealed. Anyone coming to see me had to go through a series of cleaning procedures and they gave me a sponge bath as soon as I arrived. Honestly, that was terrifying. I was assigned two nurses and met the neurologist and his NP that would take care of me. I’m not kidding, I had two nurses that were station at the door of my room. Nobody warned me about that level of car I would be getting and it terrified me.

That night I couldn’t sleep… they also couldn’t really give me anything to go to sleep. They started a stroke protocol that required them to wake me every hour and ask me my name, my date of birth, who was President, level or pain, and to hold my hands up, then my feet… etc. My head was still killing me but never made it above a 7 while in the hospital. December 10th, I was in Neuro Trauma ICU, though, I didn’t really “wake up” there.

Later in the day the doctors did another MRI to see where things were. I was told this test at 5pm would be a defining moment in the stay…. were the meds working or not? Around 6:45 the doctor called my nurse’s cell phone and asked to speak to me directly. He then informed me that I had two vertebral artery dissections and that one had been hidden by the blood clot. The clot was now gone, thanks to the meds, and they were going to switch me from one IV drip to a new medicine. Let me just say–this doctor is amazing. Both him and the NP spent hours with me over the several days I was in ICU, letting me ask as many questions as I could. At some point, once I had finished all of my questions, he sprung it on me that I have a hole in my heart, but said I was born with it so it’s no concern. At 9pm Saturday night they started the new med and at 11pm they turned off the other IV. I know these times because they were very specific with them. They even had an alarm set for 11pm to turn it off.

December 11th. Aside from being in of the most critical care units in the Upstate, things were a little better. I didn’t feel quite as bad, and they helped me out of bed and into a chair. They did blood work around 4am and the doctor said he felt good that the meds were doing their job. He let me be moved out of ICU late that night into the Stroke Center and honestly I thought I would sleep well… I didn’t. It was a very long night.

December 12th.  The morning started early. The NP, then the neurologist, the Stroke Center Director, the Head Nurse, and several others were in and out of my room. Everyone seemed sort of curious about my situation. A 35 year old guy who based on all outwardly appearances is healthy…. who runs… rides his bike 40 miles at the time… what was all of this about?  Eventually they let me come on on the 12th with a few guidelines as to what I can and cannot do.

Each day has been better than the one before, which is amazing to me. I’m finally to the point where I can go to sleep without being sure I’m going to have another and not wake up. I can honestly say this has been the most terrifying thing in my life. I already look at things in a totally different way than I did before.

What caused the strokes? We know for sure that the strokes were caused by the two tears in my arteries. My body was trying to heal those tears by clotting like a scab and throwing off blood clots into my brain, which were causing the strokes. How many I had they didn’t know for sure, other than a lot, why the two Tuesday were bigger they also weren’t exactly sure. What they were sure of is that some trauma has happened to my neck. They all, every single person in the ICU, said they feel reasonably certain it was caused by the adjustment I had the day after Thanksgiving and that the very least it was made substantially worse. He told me I could never do anything that put that sort of pressure on my neck again, such as skydiving (thankfully it’s off my bucket list already) and roller coasters. He also told me to be very careful with my neck, especially in the near term while I am on all of these meds, and to never, ever, ever get a neck adjustment again. Ever.

How am I? They told me I would have to get used to a new normal, which I’m doing. My neck, my throat, my head, my arm (left) and my leg (left), all hurt at different points. Sometimes worse than others. I get dizzy and that headache feels like someone is stabbing me…. but… I’m getting used to it so it’s not overwhelming. I’m able to walk around more and I’m fairly stable (mentally and physically). They said most of the pains and dizziness should go away in the next several weeks or months. I trust they are right. Even if they aren’t though, I’m alive. That’s something they all drove home to me several times, that I very easily could have been a vegetable or dead. The NP said almost daily “I hope you know how close you came to being a vegetable and how lucky you are.”

I sort of compiled this as much as I can, leaving out a few things here or there but laying out a timeline. The one that that was consistent and has been consistent through this all is that my friends have been awesome. I have heard from so many of you by way or text, messenger, email, or comments. Every time I would read the comments on my wall I would cry, happy tears. I love you all. You all rock!

If you have any questions, at all, please, please, ask. If I can give anyone any advice that prevents them from having to deal with this I will.

Thanks for all of the kindness and prayers,

3nottrans

 

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Call a spade, a spade. (Why I’m changing to Hillary)

This election is the most important of our lifetime. Every four years we are told that, by both democrats and republicans. Honestly, I have never actually agreed with that. We have had, up until now, an amazing system that helps prevent extremist from enacting their agenda. Congress has always been the firewall protecting the people from the President.

This year is different.

We currently have a Congress that is made up of people who are failures at leadership, failures at compromise, failures at legislating. The overall blame can be shared by each side. In the past both the republicans and democrats have increasingly failed to show real leadership. It just happens to be that currently we have a republican lead House and Senate, both of which refuse to work on any consensus items.

This election is too important.

I support Bernie Sanders for President. That is no secret. I am a realist however and realize that has been an uphill battle, a battle that is becoming more and more difficult to win. I have also watched as the republicans narrowed down the field on that side. Just as they did with Jon Huntsman in 2012, the republicans have defeated the true leaders and looked increasingly to the most extreme candidates. One could argue about who is the greatest threat to the foundation of our country; a sitting US Senator who is so divisive that every single one of his fellow US Senators refuse to endorse him, or the businessman who has turned the US Presidential election into a circus sideshow. I am still hopeful the party can overcome him but I am not optimistic. Where have you gone Mitt Romney? A lonely nation turns it’s eyes to you. There are still pathways to a brokered convention and a victorious Mitt Romney saving the party, but it’s an outside chance.

Increasingly it looks as if we will see a Trump v Clinton election.

I am aware that Secretary Clinton is a polarizing figure. This polarization comes mostly from the media on each side and how they have portrayed her, and her dismissive attitude towards the press does not help. Endless attacks from Fox News, Drudge, Rush, and others. In fact, her actual positions and previous leadership have shown she is not too far from Bernie. It is true she is somewhat more conservative than him, after all she is from Arkansas and he is from Vermont, but her time in the Senate showed she does know how to govern, how to lead, and how to compromise. I still hold hope that Bernie can pull out a win, but that hope is likely not a reality.

In 2012 I did not vote for Barack Obama. I felt he had let the country down on his “Hope & Change” promise. At the time I felt Romney was just as bad of a pick so I voted for Gary Johnson. I have always encouraged people to vote for the best candidate, regardless of the party, even if that candidate has essentially no chance of winning the election.

This election is different.

This election is different in the fact that if Hillary Clinton does not win the election, Donald J Trump wins the election. Those stakes are too high. Donald Trump has shown he will make America not great again, but worse than ever. He speaks his mind, even if what he is thinking is hurtful, racist, sexist, or egotistical. The problem is that he has been able to connect to people’s worst inner voice. The voice that says all Muslims are bad. The voice that says being politically correct shows weakness. The voice that says as long as I wrap what I am saying in a flag it is correct. The problem is that doesn’t make America great, it makes us fascist and it is incredibly dangerous.

With that in mind, I do not see how we can support anyone other than Hillary Clinton. A vote for anyone other than Hillary Clinton in November is quite simply a vote for Donald J. Trump. A vote for Donald J Trump weakens America and risk a total collapse of our society and system of government.

You may think that is over exaggerating the problem, but it isn’t. I have said for many years that our country is close to a tipping point of no return. I firmly believe with Donald J Trump as President, we risk causing irreversible damage to our nation.

It is time to start calling a spade a spade and to stop laughing. It is time we stand up for the greatest country on earth and protect her from those who would do her harm.

#NeverTrump 

3nottrans

Graycie Guest Blog – Rubio v Jeb!

Woof!

Last week my daddy posted a picture of me proudly typing away in favor of Marco Rubio! I loved him. He once supported an immigration bill that would allow me, and Italian Greyhound, a path to citizenship. He’s also young and energetic! Exciting!

It was all a lie!

Since I started supporting Rubio, daddy has made sure I learn as much as I can about him! After sleeping on it last night, I have decided to change my allegiance to Jeb!. This is why.

I am not a single issue voter, no dog should be, but same-sex marriage is important to me. Yesterday Marco Rubio approached a table in a NH restaurant, shaking hands and kissing babies, like a good politico, when he approached a gay man. The man commented that Senator Rubio wanted to “put him back in the closest”, to which Rubio replied “that’s not true”. If you listen to what he has said within the past month, it is true. Rubio then explained that he did not agree with same-sex marriage and wanted to change that. Well I don’t like a lot of things, but as a doggy I don’t say the Supreme Court is wrong, I accept what the Supreme Court rules as the law of the land, which it is. Rubio has been quoted as saying he would only nominate Justices who would vote to overturn that ruling. Talk about activist judges!? My two daddies were together for 8 years. 8 years is longer than the average marriage. If my dads were married it would have had zero impact on Senator Rubio’s marriage, yet if Rubio were to become President, he has stated he would take aim at same-sex families. That is wrong.

His stance on abortion is hard to swallow as well. As a doggy, my daddies had me fixed when I was just a tiny girl. That means I will never have to worry about babies. My dad is actually more conservative on the issue of abortion than some people think, but he and I do agree that if someone were to be raped today, find out they were pregnant in two weeks, that they SHOULD be able to have an abortion. Senator Rubio leaves no room for any abortions, which is more conservative than anyone I know. Almost everyone I know that is pro-life, at least makes exceptions in certain cases. Not only does Rubio not make any exception, he has also said he would only nominate Justices that agree with his opinion.

Maybe I am confused because I am a doggy, but it sounds like Senator Rubio plans to make himself a King of sorts if he were president and rather than build consensus, have the “you are with me or against me” approach.

That more than anything is why I am shifting over to Jeb!. Jeb! has shown he can work with democrats and build consensus. That is important to me. We MUST get this country back to a place where we work together, not demonize each other for every little disagreement. Democrats and republicans have been guilty of this, and as a Republican doggie, I must start with myself and my party and elect leaders that will reach across the isle.

Jeb! also has this explanation point. That is a huge part of why I support him. His name alone is exciting. It’s not the normal Jeb name you see from the other doggies down the street, it’s Jeb!, an exciting version! Makes me want to bark! Plus Jeb! is very tall! My daddy met him last year and said he was like two feet taller than daddy! That makes him a giant that can take on any bully! Even bullies with funny hair!

So, in summary. Vote for Jeb! if you are voting in the Republican Primary! I am still trying to convince my daddy to vote for Jeb! and not Bernie, but it isn’t working!!! He keeps repeating himself, much like Marco Rubio, except daddy keeps encouraging people to feel the Bern! Also, cover up all of your Rubio stickers with Jeb! stickers! If you need one let my daddy know! I have several!

Be kind to everyone! Every doggy! Every Bush!

-graycie mae

For President, I support…

So if you know me at all, you know how political I am. I do tend to lean towards one party over the other, but I often split my vote with each party, and have even been known to vote for the Libertarian candidate. As most of you know, I have met and listened to nine candidates for President this cycle.

In years past I have often written blogs supporting a candidate from each party. I am not crazy enough to believe that everyone votes on merit and not party, therefore I know many of my friends will always vote R or D. In 2010 I wrote a blog supporting Nikki Haley over the other Republicans in the race. That year I also was very vocal in my support for Vincent Sheheen in both the Democratic Primary and in the General Election.

I give you that background for two reasons. First, to prove I’m not someone who always sides with one party or always supports the “establishment”, “most liberal”, or insert any other line you would like, candidate.

This year is different though. Politics in 2016 is not the same as it was in 2008 or even 2010. This seems to be the year of “huuuggggggee” politics. The year of outlandish comments. The year of “crazy” politics.

Rather than a full blog on each of the two candidates I could see voting for, this year I am just doing this blog. This year I will just mention the runner up in this paragraph. If I were to vote in the Republican primary I think I would have to vote with Jeb! or Marco. We still have about a month, but for now those are a close tie. Marco has a leg up, but Jeb! isn’t totally out of the picture. In fact, if either of those two actually become the Republican nominee, I may infact vote for them in November. Assuming my real pick isn’t on the ballot.

Now.. for the good stuff.

In 2008, I was a very proud Hillary delegate. I adore Bill Clinton. I never really drank the Obama kool-aid so to speak. I admitted defeat once President Obama had the majority and have been proud some of his initiatives. At the same time though, several things during his Presidency has bothered me. Not all of those things have been his fault, such as the growing divide in the two parties.

Hillary Clinton has an outstanding resume. She is a true statesman and is very accomplished. Unfortunately for me, she has become too political.

Bernie Sanders on the other hand is someone outside of the “beltway” so to speak. While I do not agree with every position he has, and do still have a few questions about how some of his proposals would be funded, at the end of the day it is about something bigger than that. For me, Sanders represents a change from the everyday politican. Unlike Hillary, he has been reluctant to criticize her and has proposed to run ON his ideas, not AGAINST his opponent.

Bernie Sanders has filled large venues than Donald Trump and has raised far more money. Yet, for some reason, the media ignores him. In my opinion they ignore him largely because he has been viewed as a long shot, as well as the fact that he doesn’t make for good tv. If you truly look into his campaign though, he represents something different from all of the other candidates.

The truth is, our middle class now represents less than 1/2 of our population. This is the first time in modern history this has happened. While Secretary Clinton may not be directly responsible for this, her votes and actions as a Senator and First Lady have helped shrink the middle class.

In short, Bernie Sanders starts from a better position than Hillary Clinton is currently in. His campaign has been ahead of her on campaign positions all along and her campaign has been forced to follow behind. It is my belief, that if Bernie Sanders looked like Martin O’Malley, he would be a slam dunk to win. My hope is that more people truly research the candidates this year, looking into their past campaign positions, and make educated voting decisions.

Having done the above. I support Bernie Sanders as the Democratic nominee for President.

3nottrans

James in a dress.

“We are products of our past, but we don’t have to be prisoners of it.”
Rick Warren

     There are a few things I am very passionate about in my life.  All of those things are somehow shaped by my past.

     I am passionately loyal to my friends. I have a fear of abandonment that is arguably related to my childhood. As a result of my fear of abandonment, I have developed the ability to just totally cut people out of my life as soon as my mind raises a red flag that I am about to get hurt or abandoned. I say it is one of my greatest flaws. It is a form of protection where I avoid being hurt by isolating myself. Those who find themselves in my inner circle will tell you I can cling heavily but I can also totally shut and lock the door. I am so afraid of being alone that I often find myself alone because I push people away. Funny how that works.

     I am passionate about finding a cure for Alzheimers. I think about my grandmother daily. She had a huge impact on my life. Deeply religious, kind, and loving; she is a huge part of my life and who I am today. However, less than a month before she died she did not know who I was. I had always said I would lose it if that ever happened, and when it did I was in total shock.  Fortunately a few minutes later, once she started talking a bit, she was asked again if she knew who I was and she said “Jamie!” as if she was offended we thought she may not have known. I spent most weekends with her growing up. I remember telling her one day that I like apple butter, a comment I regretted later, after she decided every single day when I arrived home from school, she would have toast and apple butter waiting for me when the bus dropped me off at her house. Not having the heart to tell her I was tired of apple butter, I continued to eat it everyday, and I have not had it once since the last time I arrived at her house after school. So much of who I am, the want to help others, my ability to see both sides of all issues, my belief in God, comes from her. Alzheimers took her away from me. Now my other grandmother is staring to go through the same process. If Alzheimers is genetic… well… I don’t have much hope of avoiding it.

   And I am passionate about the Julie Valentine Center. 17% of all women in the US will find themselves the victim of a rapist. 17%. That is a huge number. 3% of all males in the US will also be a victim. A much smaller number but the impact it has on that 3% is huge. Rape victims are 3 times more likely to suffer from depression and 4 times as likely to comment suicide. 6 times as likely to suffer from PTSD. 13 times more likely to be alcoholics and 26, yes, 2-6, times more likely to abuse drugs. Those statistics are part of why I choose to support the Julie Valentine Center so passionately, formerly the Greenville Rape Crisis and Child Abuse Center, in the hopes that future victims, both male and female, will have the courage to seek help and report their perpetrators. If JVC can stop one victim from ending their life, or take one perpetrator off of the street, therefore saving future victims, then my time and energy is worth it. JVC offers multiple levels of support for sexual assault victims, young and old, male and female. Serving roughly 1,000 victims per year, the Julie Valentine Center depends on fundraising from the community to continue their mission. 1,000 victims per year. Imagine that number. Think about how many people you interact with per day and then realize that statistically, 1 in 5 of those people will be the victim of a sexual assault in their lifetime. Greenville County needs a well funded Julie Valentine Center, so that the children that show up there daily, can get the help they desperately need.

     My goal this year is to raise at least $2,000. While I would hope to raise more, I only have two weeks to hit my goal. And while I always try to have some fun with hitting my goal, the cause is very close to my heart.

     This year, if I hit my $2,000 goal in one week, so by Friday July 24th, I will run the 5k in a dress. If I hit $3,000 I will run the entire 5k in a dress AND heels. So… go to www.SupportJames.com and chip in. Help me help others, and know that you are helping make a difference. Let’s have a little fun but not forget this is a very serious subject. Give what you can… it all adds up! 🙂 If everyone who reads this only gives $20, I should hit my goal easily.

3nottrans

Charleston Massacre Truths

What is wrong with our country? What about our culture makes someone think it is somehow okay to kill innocent civilians inside of a house of worship? Why does this happen so much in the US? President Obama is right, he has addressed the country after mass shootings too many times: 14 times to be exact, 14.

I used to think it was all about guns. Limit access to guns and you limit these events. And while I still feel that is somewhat true, I think the issue is much, MUCH larger and needs to be addressed. The gun used in Charleston was a legally obtained gun. The gunman reloaded five times because he was not using a high capacity clip.  A clip that would have been illegal under the Bush era assault rifle bill. Even if Obama, who is softer on gun control than his predecessors, were as tough on guns as previous administrations.

What happened in Charleston was race related pure and simple. The gunman had a Confederate States of America tag on the front of his car, is wearing a pro-apartheid shirt in his Facebook profile picture, and picked Emanuel AME Church to carry out his attack.  The church is two hours from his home and is a church which has a longer history in the civil rights movement than most churches in America, certainly a longer history than any other church in the south.

Racism is not dead. Racism is a virus, a virus that has the ability to lay dormant for years. Racism, like many other viruses, is not talked about, but like those viruses, racism spreads far quicker when it is not spoken about – when it does not see the light of day. The KKK knew this which is why they had a secret coded way of speaking to each other and the way they hid their faces. Racism, while being allowed to quietly fester, has spread like an STD throughout our country.

Racism has been consistently used against President Obama. Racism has been covered over in our own state as “history”. Today, right now, the Confederate battle flag is flying, full-staff mind you, at the South Carolina capital building. Can you imagine a Nazi flag flying at the German capital because it is part of “history”? Supporters of the flag are right, it is part of history, a treasonous history, but the flag did nothing to hurt anyone, it just flew. The flag is a symbol: a symbol of racism in this country. The flag is a symbol of white supremacy, which is still fends off attempts to remove it from the state capital.  It is almost as if the old white men in our capital building think removing the flag somehow lets the black man win. That damn flag needs to be removed, and it needs to be removed now.

Is it any wonder people kill other people when even our politicians and media talking-heads act as if the President of the United States hates America? They act as if him having a law passed that gives everyone access to healthcare is somehow treasonous? They call him a dictator because Congress passed, by a majority, a bill they disagree with? A bill that when proposed by Republicans in the past had been supported?

Is it any wonder people kill each other when politicians put bulls-eyes on members of Congress in media images? When Donald Trump, a republican presidential candidate, says in his first speech as a candidate that Mexicans coming into the US are rapist and murderers – adding at the end that he is “sure some of them are good people”?

Donald Trump is not to blame. Barack Obama is not to blame.  Politicians are not to blame. That stupid ass flag is not to blame. Grand Theft Auto is not to blame. Together, however, they all own a bit of blame. We ALL have a bit of blame. If you have ever called a white person a cracker, a black person a nigger, or a gay person a fag, you have a bit of blame because you have perpetrated hate: even if you it under the cover of a joke or the lyrics of a song.

The shooter said he felt he had to do kill these people, while reloading his gun, and said of black people: they “rape our people and are taking over our country and have to go”. Where did he hear that? In South Carolina it is fairly easy to find radio show talking heads who quietly spread this falsehood.  They further claim Obama and the democrats are taking over, and that they are evil; that blacks are thugs who shoot, rape, and kill people and are to be feared. These thoughts are so carefully and subtly woven into the cloth of their shows as to be unnoticed and the view is spread around.

We need to start talking about the race issue and call out racism where we see it. Call out politicians for using inflammatory rhetoric. Call out friends for quietly helping the virus of racism spread. We need to stop being afraid to talk about issues, stop hiding things, and for God’s sake, stop flying that damn flag. We do need to have a discussion on guns; however, one that doesn’t involve the NRA or any other group of lobbyist that have a million dollar slush fund to threaten law makers.

We need to speak the truth. This thug was a racist and a terrorist. This person was evil. This person is not an anomaly though, he may be the exception to the rule, but he is not the only one. He is part of the virus that is spreading though our state like the kudzu that spreads across our fields.

I chose the image connected to this blog for a reason.  It was taken June 18th, 2015 in front the South Carolina Capital. It shows the American and South Carolina flag flying at half-staff, in mourning.  It also shows a symbol of racism flying high on it’s staff, proud, as if it knows one if it’s racist children has carried out a horrible crime against the Union, as if it is proud to see the Star Spangled Banner’s spirit broken.

3nottrans

Dean Smith Was My Grandfather

Growing up I loved my grandfather.  He could do no wrong in my eyes my mom once said.  I remember on more than one occasion him asking me, in front of others, “Who is your favorite basketball team?”, to which I always replied, “Carolina”.  The follow up question was always, “NC State or UNC?” and I would always replied with “The TarHeels!”. Then that January morning came when my mom came to get me out of school. She was picking me up about 20 minutes early, something she never did.  My mom very rarely took me to school or picked me up, so when the teacher received a call in the room saying my mom would be there in just a second, I should have known something was wrong.  We drove home, quiet I remember.  I couldn’t tell she had been crying but when we got home and my grandmother was there, then I knew something was wrong.  I remember sitting on the couch and her hugging me and my grandmother hugging me and both crying, saying “your grandfather died”.  The gravity of those words did not hit me.  Mostly because at that point I did not ever remember my grandfather, at least not my moms dad. So I was sad for them, but wasn’t sad for his loss, I didn’t know him.  It wasn’t until another minute or two passed, my mother possibly realized I hadn’t reacted the way she thought I would, that she said, “do you want to go to your Memow’s and be with her?”  Then it hit me.  She meant my Pawpaw!, the man who referred to me as his “Red Headed Woodpecker” and his “Jackrabbit”. The grandfather who just two days before I had said bye to after staying for the weekend like I often did.  An unexpected and sudden loss.  My world was crushed.

From that point forward, I was essentially grand-fatherless.  No adult male, senior my father, in my life.  No grandfather to teach me lessons or spoil me.  No one to try and emulate.

Shortly after that January, I started actually paying attention to college basketball. My aunt was a diehard TarHeel, as was my new step mother. March Madness become something I knew about.. and Dean Smith the hero. In 1993, my step mom actually let me stay home from school to watch the first days of the ACC Tournament. She loved Dean Smith like he was her father, and I began to love him as a grandfather.  We would watch anything on tv about him, we read magazines, newspaper articles… if it were about Coach Smith, we knew it.

It was then I started learning about the man, Dean Smith, not the coach.  I learned that Smith was a social activist, someone who was very much against the death penalty, someone who staged his own sit-in of sorts in Chapel Hill, but bring two black diners into a segregated place to dine, knowing they would not ask the Coach to leave.  He was a diehard Democrat, because he believed in social equality and the higher road, and felt the Democratic Party best represented those values. He was someone who put everyone before himself, someone who would sit a player for not respecting the team and trying to steal the glory.  He taught his team to point the passer when scoring, a tradition he called “Thank The Passer”.  A tradition he had started in the 60s, John Wooden had picked up and something that is commonly scene on the court today.  The punishment for not thanking the passer was not pointed at the scorer, but the entire team, and Vince Carter was once quoted as saying anytime someone forgot to “thank the passer”, the entire team would be forced to run sprints in the next practice.

I remember when Coach Smith won his 877th game, and how he basically ran out of the area after the game in order to avoid having to talk to the media about it.  He hated “being the star”.  He hated it some much that when UNC decided to name their new arena, The Dean Smith Center, he begged them not to name the arena after him, suggested naming it after Michael Jordan or someone else, just not him.

In his later years, once he retired, we found out Smith had dementia and eventually Alzheimers. Even then, he was still surrounded by old friends and fans.  For years, and until fairly recently, Smith was still driven to his office on campus, on Mondays, Tuesdays, & Wednesdays, where he would sit and read or look at pictures, most of the time not knowing who was in those pictures. His closes assistant, Bill Guthridge, also would come in on those days.  Guthridge and Smith had been friends for years, Guthridge took over after Smith retired and once Guthridge was replaced, he choose to stay on as an administrator, and kept and office next to Smith.

My memow was diagnosed with dementia, then Alzheimers, and five years and a weeks ago my grandmother left us.  Seeing first hand the toll Alzheimers takes on a family, on a person, I have been able to relate to the Smith families fight the last few years, and though I may not live in NC anymore, when I say “Carolina”, I am still referring to UNC, unlike my friends and neighbors here in South Carolina.

Looking back now, I realize that Dean Smith was sort of a fill in grandfather for me.  Someone I looked up too, someone I wanted and want to emulate, someone who worried more about the people around him than himself.

Thursday, for some unknown reason, I decided to hang my TarHeel flag outside where my American Flag normally flies.  Last night I finished up a project, string art, outlining the state of North Carolina in Carolina Blue and white string. At one point I had grown tired and stressed and decided to finish it this morning, but about midnight I couldn’t sleep and decided to finish it so I could hang it first thing this morning.  When I awoke this morning the first thing I did was look at my phone, and see the alert that Smith had died late last night.  I jumped up and hung my TarHeel colored project.  Dean Smith will always live on… but know every time I see my TarHeel blue art in the living room, I’ll remember the day I finished it, the day we lost our father and grandfather, the day we lost Coach Smith.

3nottrans

Everyone you hate is going to win tomorrow.

Initially I was going to write a blog about who I would vote for tomorrow (and hope you will vote for as well).  Then, after the last few weeks, I realized… it probably doesn’t matter.  Why?  You’re probably not going to vote, that’s why.  So, everything you hate about government, everything you hate locally, and every tax you pay is now your fault.  Don’t like Woodruff Road? Tough… you aren’t voting for County Council members who will fix that nightmare of a road.  Don’t like our roads in general? Tough… there is a ballot initiative that would fix the roads in Greenville County, but if you don’t vote for it you shouldn’t complain about that pot hole in the center lane.  Think Congress all need to be voted out of office?  GREAT!!! except EVERY SINGLE HOUSE MEMBER AND SENATOR in SC is up for election tomorrow.. and guess what… EVERY SINGLE ONE of them is expected to win! Think we need a transparent Governor who won’t veto funding for rape crisis and child abuse centers and then deny it? or a Governor who thinks violent criminal domestic convicts shouldn’t carry a gun? You should vote for Sheheen… but being you likely won’t vote… you have no room to complain when your Governor hides the truth from you…

So… VOTE!!!!! I don’t care who or what you vote for… just VOTE!!!!! I would prefer you be an informed voter but at this point I would just settle for you voting… we have to start somewhere.  Oh and don’t think your vote doesn’t count.  IT DOES!! Jil Littlejohn won her City Council seat by just a few… literally.. a few… votes!! Every single person should go vote! Think you can’t because your address is wrong on your ID?  Wrong… go to County Square and vote… vote…. vote… VOTE!!!!!

So if you plan to vote… keep reading… if you don’t… well… don’t complain about failing infrastructure, ebola, homelessness, taxes, or anything else for that matter…

Over the last few years I have learned that the overwhelming majority of voters do not actually do any research.  They listen to what attack ads in the media say and pay attention to whichever lie is said the most, which is why whoever has the most money typically wins. A good example of a lie becoming part of our psychic is the famous “I can see Russia from my yard” line attributed to Sarah Palin.. except Sarah Palin never said this… Tina Fey playing Sarah Palin said this. So, doing my due diligence as a voter I have always tried to give my opinions of races and issues after looking at the facts.  With that in mind… here are my endorsements (queue Law & Order gavel).

Greenville County Special Sales Tax Referendum

First, here in Greenville we will be voting on increasing our sales tax by 1%.  You may have seen the “Fix Our Roads” signs or the “Vote “YES”” signs.  The referendum would allow for Greenville County to collect a special 1% sales tax that would be applied to fixing our roads.  The tax increase is NOT open ended, it is capped at 8 years or $673,193,630 and must be spend on 4 projects in Greenville County.

When I ran for office in 2008 one of the biggest issues I saw in Greenville County was our falling apart infrastructure. If you would like to see the special projects to be covered you can find them here (click here). Our roads are falling apart and our government leaders cannot agree on anything, much less a budget that would fix the situation.  In my opinion this is a must do.  I will be voting YES on the referendum.

Lt. Governor

The Lt. Governors race is a race I had planned to stay out of with this blog.  I know Henry McMaster and think he is a genuinely good guy. He is a true South Carolinian down to the core and one word out of his mouth and you know he’s from the low country.  Bakari Sellers on the other hand is a Legislator in Columbia who many believe will use this office as a stepping stone.  I felt the same way a bit.  It is true, I did agree to be on a host list for Sellers a few weeks ago but privately I had reservations about his candidacy.  That was before the two candidates took the stage together and I was able to see Bakari shine.  He genuinely wants this position. The Lt. Governor in this state is largely ceremonial with the exception of presiding over the Senate and heading the Department of Aging for South Carolina.  Under Nikki Haley two Lt. Governors have resigned and we now have a third in four years.  The Department of Aging has suffered by not having a leader with any plans.  Bakari Sellers has a plan.. a six point plan that he laid out in the only debate.  Sellers knows his stuff… he knows what he wants to do and has a plan to do it.  One of his six points is to make South Carolina the leader in funding for Alzheimer’s research… this is a cause very close to my heart and I was surprised McMaster did not bring up the subject even once.  McMaster seems to be running on name id without a plan… Sellers has retired from his seat in the Legislator so he is focus on winning this race…  While I have enormous respect of McMaster, Bakari Sellers is the candidate with the plan and experience to get the job done.

Governor

I will make this short and sweet.  We need a Governor who tells the truth… a Governor we can trust.  We cannot trust Haley… from the Savannah Port issue, to the TB issue, to the hacking of State computers and beyond, Nikki Haley’s administration lies. In 2010, Nikki Haley vetoed funding for The Julie Valentine Center along with a whole host of other non-profits.  When the citizens of this state spoke up Haley was quoted as saying she would not bow to the special interest group to overturn this veto. Rape victims are special interest groups??  She now denies she vetoed the funding and says “in the end it was funded”… she is correct, the veto of JVCs funding was overturned by the Legislator on a 111-0, bi-partisan vote with not a single Legislature voting to uphold her veto. The biggest lie is her touting of how many jobs she has brought to South Carolina.  The numbers are actually about 1/2 of what she claims.  To Nikki Haley, if a company like Amazon promises 1,000 jobs in 5 years as long as Haley supports a tax loop hole for said company, Nikki Haley counts those numbers as “jobs”.. even if Amazon has only hired 10 people and may never actually hire the other 990.  Her numbers are smoke in mirrors. Vincent Sheheen will restore honesty and integrity to the office and more than anything Vincent Sheheen can work WITH both Houses in Columbia in order to get Bills passed, rather than put out failing report cards on Legislators who do not fund-raise for him. Tuesday I will vote for Vincent Sheheen because I believe South Carolina can do better.

US Senate

I will start by saying we need term limits in Congress.. though I doubt we will ever see them.  However, the current system is what we are stuck with and I think it would be foolish of South Carolina to “fire” Lindsey Graham or Tim Scott.  Lindsey Graham has shown himself to be a mostly moderate Republican.  I do not always agree with Graham but he is better than the alternative.  The same can be said for Tim Scott and his opponents.  So while not a ringing endorsement, I will be voting for Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott Tuesday.

Attorney General

The Attorney General should represent ALL citizens.  Alan Wilson does not. For that reason I will vote for a candidate whom is less likely to use taxpayer money to continue to fight a lawsuit the Supreme Court has already made a decision on.  I will vote for Parnell Diggs.

SC House District 20

Jon Eames will appear on the ballot twice… but that still doesn’t make him half the statesman Dan Hamilton is.  If you live in SC House 20, vote for Hamilton.  He and I may not agree on everything but I truly believe he looks at all sides of the issue before casting a vote.

For what it’s worth…

3nottrans

Playground

We’ve all heard the “everything I need to know I learned in _______ ” sayings.  I’ve never actually read any of them but today I was thinking… while I didn’t learn everything I need to know on the playground… I sure learned a lot.  Here are a few of the things I thought of.

The Slide

You know.  That big metal stand alone slide.  The one that felt 20 ft high and was the shiniest thing on the playground.  The lesson here was sometimes the easiest things cause the greatest pain.  Climbing the stairs was the hard part.  Sliding down the slide was the fun and easy part.. but after baking in the sun all day, the slide would burn what little hair you had on your legs off! So some days it was smart to skip the slide and go for the monkey bars.

The Monkey Bars

We all had those classmates who could fly across the monkey bars… who did tricks on the monkey bars… and the friends who were terrified of them.  I liked the monkey bars… and they taught me something valuable.  No matter how high they felt (stories high!) There was no way to move forward without letting go of the bar you were currently on.  Sometimes hanging around on a bar meant you didn’t make it to the end. Just as going to fast didn’t guarantee you’d make it to the end.

The Swing

I loved to swing.  I still love to swing.  One thing I do not have that I REALLY want is a swing at my home.  When I was a kid my grandparents had a wooden one on their front porch.  We would sit and calming swing for hours.  The park down the block from where I lived for a bit had a very large metal swing with a rubber seat and metal chain.  I used to swing so high I felt like I could flip the bar.  I loved that split second of weightlessness you feel when you reached the top.  The swing taught me something though…. what goes up… must come down.  The higher you would get, the faster you would fall.  I also learned that friends can only take you so far… a really good friend can give you a big boost, but you have to use your own weight to reach the highest potential.

The SeeSaw

I rarely see these anymore but the seesaw was on of my favorite things on the playground.  The thing about seesaws is you can’t do it alone.  You had to have a friend.  You had to trust someone and you needed to be trusted.  If you had a reputation for causing your friends to go to high or not high enough, people learned not to play with you. And if you were stupid enough to get back on a seesaw with someone who had just caused you to fall, it was your fault.

Dodgeball

Trust no one.  If someone does take a shot at you, surprise them by catching the ball and turning the tables on them!

The Merry-Go-Round

When things start spinning too fast.. hold on.. you may get dizzy, you may even feel like you are going to throw up… just hold on… eventually the ride will stop… eventually things will level out… eventually it will all slow down.

People

You also learn about people… some kids (now adults) are never happy…. they are just assholes.  Some kids will stop playing with you and go play with someone else in a heartbeat… and then move on to someone else…. they are the users.. the ones who get what they want for the moment and move on… those people never change.  Then there are the good guys (and girls) that are always fun, are always willing to play, & never throw the dodgeball too hard. Oh.. and that one guy that thinks he is so good and everyone else is flawed… the guy who talks about everyone and no one really likes.. though he doesn’t really know that… none the less he always runs his mouth about people, thinking no one can see through him, though everyone does.

So yeah, I learned a lot about life on the playground.. even if I didn’t learn all of the lessons, I at least acknowledge they were there.

3nottrans

 

City of Greenville Municipal Elections Commission

As you probably already know… I am very involved and interested in politics, both at local, state, and national levels. With that in mind, I am incredibly excited to announce that I have been recommended for appointment to the City of Greenville Municipal Elections Commission! The Municipal Election Commission is comprised of three individuals appointed by City Council who are residents and registered voters of the city of Greenville. Each Commissioner serves a six year term. The Municipal Election Commission is responsible for conducting all elections of the city of Greenville.

The appointment becomes official at the next City Council meeting which will be held on July 28th. 

I firmly believe everyone should exercise their right to vote and I look forward to working to increase turnout in and around Greenville! 

3nottrans