Category Archives: life

Faith

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I was working in the yard yesterday. I had let things go over the winter and each Saturday lately I was gradually making my way around the perimeter as my Green Waste container permitted.

My final challenge was blackberry bushes on the final side of the house that I had let take over. The patch was 10’ wide and 20’ deep. It was going to be tough and I didn’t feel like ripping it out, but I needed to because it was growing so fast.

I ripped out about 10’. It was no easy task. It was hot, about 85?; it was intertwined and the roots were deep. After 10’ I was exhausted.

So I rested on one of our deck chairs. I drank lots of water and observed nature as I rested; I listened to it. I felt the wind blow over me, refreshing me. I imagined it was God giving me strength. I closed my eyes and the usual sparks and flashes beneath the lids became a face, vaguely. Was God talking to me?

I got up again and went to work, clearing 5 more feet of blackberry bush before becoming exhausted again. So I sat in the deck chair again and did the same routine: drink water, listen to nature, feel the wind and think of God… believing God was giving me the strength to continue.

I got up and knew I could finish that last 5’. I got down to just a few vines and then the chills wracked my body and I started puking my guts out… Heat Stroke.

Later in the evening after I recovered I started writing down the experience. My wife asked me what I was writing and I told her. She said “God doesn’t work like that; God doesn’t help me with the laundry!”

REMEMBER

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The Constant Companion

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July 1, 2011

When I first met him, I didn’t know at first what he was. He was the size of a rat running across the apartment quad, tiny tongue flapping out the side of his open mouth. When I got up close, I could see he was a little puppy… a happy dog.

Inside our apartment, I used to get down on my hands and knees and dangle my long hair over him; he played and nipped at it.

He was so proud to climb up the stairs; he just didn’t know how to get down. Even when he learned how, he would always be timid and cautious doing so.

When I fell asleep on the couch he would curl up on my neck just behind my ear and stay there until I got up. In bed, he slept right up against my side… a hot little coal.

Over 17 years, our lives were indelibly stained by his presence. He greeted us when we came home and he helped us garden and with chores around the house. He was our companion on the couch when we watched TV and he was our companion when we slept.

He was our constant companion.

Winter was coming. His aging and arthritic body wasn’t going to make it through. As our family vet administered what was to be his final sleep, I could see he was a little puppy… a happy dog.

The Madman’s Lament

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April 2, 2011

The little girl dancing backwards
Me dancing backwards
The Spring blossoms backwards
Me dancing backwards

Who am I what am I
What am I who am I

The snow falling backwards
Me skipping backwards
The leaves falling backwards
Me skipping backwards

What am I who am I
Who am I what am I

The sun shining backwards
Me walking backwards
The sea rolling backwards
Me walking backwards

Who am I what am I
What am I who am I

As I grow I am stolen
The falling snow
The restless leaves
As I grow I am stolen
The shining sun
The groaning sea
As I grow I am stolen
The backwards girl
The dancing me
As I grow I am stolen
The Spring blossoms backwards

The Apathetic Bully

Bullying

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

November 8, 2010

My brother, almost 4 years my senior, is a bully. Now that might not be a great thing to admit and out him on my blog, but I haven’t spoken to him in over 3 years so I doubt I’m assassinating his character… not that he will care.

Did you catch that? I’m still concerned about him. Despite over 40 years of mental abuse, sadistic games, and hurtful words I still care about him. But he has shown no remorse for the hurts he’s inflicted. And he certainly has shown no concern to anyone that I am no longer part of his life.

That’s fine. I’m done. I made the split and it suits me fine. Why?

I don’t have to worry about what new mind fuck he will pull out on me at family gatherings. I no longer have to hear his thinly veiled taunts about my weight or my accomplishments. And he can no longer target my wife with his garbage.

And the fact that it still bothers me indicates how deep his bullying has affected me. Is it just me and my wife he’s bullied? I don’t know. He’s still married and has kids and is on good relations with the extended family. So either I was the sole target or he has another outlet. I believe the latter.

Because the problem with a bully isn’t that they bully. The problem is apathy. It is the indifference to emotion in others. They bully to feel something, but that something always ends up empty. They don’t care that it is wrong. The apathetic bully lacks empathy. Maybe it has never been displayed to them or maybe they’ve been bullied by a higher power and they think there is some satisfaction derived from it, no matter how temporary.

And there is. Learned behavior delivers satisfaction, just like a cigarette does, or a crack pipe does, or a shock and pellet does.

But the satisfaction is transient. So the behavior continues. And the illusory satisfaction continues to self, not others. That is the apathy.

So what is the solution to the apathetic bully?

Exactly. Don’t look to me for answers. You don’t ask a person traumatized by bullying for the answer. They’ll just tell you they want the bullying to stop. They want the bully to care about their feelings.

That answer will just make a bully keep on bullying.

Scary Times

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October 31, 2010

Boo. It’s Halloween. All the goblins, ghosts, and gremlins are emerging for their yearly shopping bag doses of high octane sugar. It’s great. It’s fun. It’s one of my favorite holidays.

And this year, I’m not celebrating.

That’s right. No lights. No candles. No webbing. No decorations. No candy. Why? What could have possibly changed me from a ghoul loving treat dispenser into a hermetic Halloween humbug?

Because I already experienced the scariest thing in my life this October. I almost lost my wife.

My wife, Shandell, had a brain hemorrhage on October 3rd while getting ready for bed. She didn’t know that’s what it was. At first she just felt like someone hit her in the back of the head with a 2X4. Then came the vomiting… all night long. She thought about calling for an ambulance, but she decided to tough it out until morning. I was in a beer-induced slumber from watching the 49ers march into their worst opening season record I can remember.

In the morning, I drove her to the doctor and they said it was the flu. Stay home for a few days and get plenty of rest. Her head hurt so bad they had to dose her up on pain and anti-nausea medication. We went home; she went to bed. The headache never went away. She tried different meds, but by Wednesday evening when I got home from work, she was ready to go to Emergency. I had a bad feeling and it stayed with me the whole drive there.

About five hours later, after tests, scans, and interviews, the Emergency physician came back with the results: bleeding around the pituitary gland in the brain. With those words my world crumbled around me for the first time. He went on about it for a bit, but all I could think of was to wonder how serious it was, even though I knew it was the most serious thing ever. I asked him. He said it was very serious. They were assembling a team down in the Neuro ICU of UCSF and she was being taken there immediately by ambulance. The doctor’s stony countenance said everything I needed to know: there was a significant chance I’d lose the love of my life.

Don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. But the waiting for answers was the most nerve wracking experience ever. I had to have her dad drive me back and forth from San Francisco the first couple days because inside I was wigging out. I was scared. From the multitude of tests they learned that it was a Type I Brain Hemorrhage, the best kind to have if you’re going to have something pop in your brain. They said it was kind of like a blood vessel popping in tour eye or in your leg. It will eventually be re-absorbed by your body and the chance it will ever happen again is next to none.

She ended up staying 6 days in ICU for observation because after these instances there is a risk of stroke. Then there is a month off with rest and then a re-test. I went back to work, but mentally I took the month off with her.

I’m sort of sad to be skipping Halloween this year. But I’m very glad to still have my wife.

Feeling Old

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September 26, 2010

Generally, I don’t feel old. I’m in my 40s now and, aside from the occasional aches and pains from exertion, I don’t feel much different now than when I was in my 20s. But if you spend much time around younger people, sooner or later they will say or do something that exposes your age.

My wife and I have enjoyed the company of her younger cousins for many years. Since they were very young, they came over to our house on a monthly basis to spend a weekend with us. They are now grown up and have recently moved away from their parents to pursue their course in life.

But one weekend about five years or so ago, while they were still in their teens, we went over to their parents’ house to pick them up for a weekend stay at our place. While we were waiting for one of them to gather his things, the older cousin asked us if we wanted to see a drawing he did of a sick cat.

We thought it was odd that he would draw a sick cat, but agreed to see an example of his artistic skills.

He left for a moment and soon returned with a small sheet of paper which he handed to me. We examined the drawing. It was actually a type of etching. The rendering of the cat, while modern in style, was very well done. It didn’t look sick at all. It looked very well, in fact.

“I don’t get it,” I said. “It doesn’t look sick at all. It looks just fine.”

“No, man,” he said. “It’s sick… like cool, ya’ know?”

That was the first time my wife and I felt old.

Autobiography in 5 Short Chapters

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by Portia Nelson

September 19, 2010

I read this a long time ago a recently discovered it again. It is a nice reflection on most peoples’ lives and common experience. It was written by Portia Nelson (1920-2001), who was a singer, songwriter, film, stage and TV actress.

I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I fall in.
I am lost … I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place
but, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

V
I walk down another street.

The Discipline of Love

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September 11, 2010

“You learn to love the rope, that’s how you beat them. That’s how you beat people who torture you, you learn to love them and that way they don’t know you’re beating them.” ~ Major Charles Rane, Rolling Thunder (1977)

Every day we have a choice. We have a choice in how we act; we have a choice in how we think and feel; we have a choice in how we respond to others and the events of the world. It is easy succumb to the chaos of fear because it whittles down your choices and you have a target for your uncertainty in life. It immediately solves the ‘why’.

It is much harder to form the discipline to love. Love forces you to think about your choices. You begin to own them and they become the ‘why’. And that is the reward.

Why You Laugh and Cry

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May 16, 2010

The other day I got sucked into a movie I didn’t want to see.  It wasn’t because I don’t like the movie or that I was humoring my wife (well, okay, I was… a little).  It’s because I didn’t want to cry… and I knew that movie would make me cry.

There are certain movies that make me cry, guaranteed.  And Steel Magnolias is one of them.  Go on, laugh.  But you watch it again and you’ll know what I mean.

You see, the first time you watch a movie that makes you cry, you don’t cry like the second time, or third time, or fourth time you watch it.  That’s because the first time you watch it, it’s unexpected.  It either sneaks up on you or hits you all of a sudden, and the cry just kinda comes out of you from surprise.

The next time you watch a cry movie, you know you are going to cry.  From the minute the credits roll, you know there is going to come that scene or scenes that will open the flood gates to your heart.

Crying isn’t bad.  In fact it is very healthy.  But crying when you don’t want to but you know you will is awkward.  Because you cry when something is true, but it is so goddamned sad, like when Sally Fields finally breaks down after her daughter’s funeral with her untethered tirade about how unfair and senseless death is. 

That is very true.  And it is so goddamned sad.

The upside to all of this is that most movies that make you cry usually also make you laugh… for the same reasons.  Like when Dolly Parton says: “Time marches on and eventually you realize it’s marching across your face.”

That is very true.  And it is also goddamned sad.  But it is exceptionally funny.