Tag Archives: scott byorum











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!”

The Constant Companion









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












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

On Becoming a Zombie










March 6, 2011

There may come a day when you become a zombie. On that day there is a pretty good chance that most other people will become zombies, as well.

Becoming a zombie isn’t pretty. In fact, it is a horrible, degrading experience. Think of the worst thing that has ever happened to you. It is infinitely worse than that.

When you become a zombie, you will first experience dying. That, in itself, is a painful enough. But then it gets worse.

Because you will arise again in a state that is neither living nor dead. Or, to look at it another way, you will be both living and dead… at the same time. This will drive you horribly mad.

Your body will rot as in death — a slow, aching rot. And you will feel it, though somewhat numbly. It will be a genuinely creepy sensation. You will become abhorrently disgusted with yourself. But because you will be insane you won’t know what to do about it.

As a zombie, you will be a walking figment of your former self. Your blood will cease to flow in your veins and will become clotted, black and thick. There will be no thump in your chest because your heart will have ceased functioning. All of your other inner organs will cease functioning, as well. You will still be able to walk, maybe even run somewhat, but your muscles and joints will be stiff and it will be painful. But most of your senses will still work to some degree.

You will still be able to see, but your eyesight will be cloudy and it will hurt to move your eyes. And you will be confused by what you see. Objects will seem familiar to you but you will not be able to work anything or even remember that things worked a certain way. This will cause you to become aimless and bumbling. You will be familiar enough with manmade places to be attracted to them, but you won’t know what to do when you get to where they are.

You will hear sounds, but you won’t know what they mean. Sudden or loud sounds will draw your attention, but the source will generally reveal little interest, unless the sounds are generated by living humans. Your response time to sounds will become greatly inhibited and the confusion behind what they are, their cause, and your abridged response to them will give you a sense of insecurity and will generate much frustration.

As a zombie, you will still be able to smell, but only marginally. And most of what you will smell all the time is the corruption of rot and death that permeates your insides and surroundings. You will not register that what you smell has any meaning. So you will not rely on your smell for navigation or information.

Your mouth will cause you much distress. Your lungs will no longer breathe but they can still take in air. So you will rasp in a parody of breathing, even though you won’t need to breathe. It will just be an action that you still think you need to do. When you become frustrated or want something you will still make sounds, but they will be grunts and groans and idiot sounds that won’t make sense to even you. You will still be able to taste, too. But all you will taste is the putrid essence of the filth and decay inside your mouth.

But the sense of taste goes much deeper for a zombie. You will feel so appalled by the barren emptiness of your body and stomach, so fouled by the cruddy and sour fetidness of your taste, that you will crave only two things:

Blood + Flesh

But it goes even deeper than that. Your driving goal will be to end the state of your zombification. When you see a living human, you will be so filled with primal jealousy that you will seek to either absorb their life force through mastication of their flesh and the devouring of their blood or you will want them to destroy you.

On this, the zombie will force the issue every time. Living human flesh will tear easily with your undeniable intentions and it will taste warm and good in your mouth, relieving it of the normally awful taste. And living blood will soothe your parched and ragged throat, filling your stomach with wholesome relief.

But this satiation lasts only briefly. For what comes out of a living body dies very quickly, and you will feel the aching empty horror of your desecrated body come roaring back. This will cause an overwhelming dismay.

Zombies who exist for any significant length of time soon come to desire not the brief respite of consuming the living, but rather they long to be given what only the living can provide: death. And they will cavort and clamor their way to any weapon, trap, or danger that the living can devise and thrust upon them. For though you will feel an unimaginable desolate torment at being a zombie, and you will hate yourself and your existence, zombies are incapable of knowing how to kill themselves… except at the hands of a living human.

Living creatures, other than humans, do not attract a zombie’s attention or taste. This is because zombies have a limited attention span, even more so now that they are zombies. Think about it. Animals are around us all the time. How many people actively notice all the birds or cows or bugs around them throughout the day? Most of them don’t, unless they have pets, work on a farm, or work with animals. Most living humans concentrate on other living humans.

So it is with zombies, except even more so. A zombie, due to their nature and taste, is even more attuned to human activity and even less aware of other living things. Such is the curse of the zombie. But it is good for other living things, just not so much for living humans.

Living humans are deathly afraid of zombies. So much so that they will kill them without hesitation and with no regard that the zombie was once a living person. Zombies make humans sick. Because let’s face it, zombies are disgustingly loathsome. But when humans are in a relatively safe place, their fear of zombies can turn to humor.

Humans will mess with zombies if they can get away with it. They will take pot shots at them with weapons from rooftops. They will corral them into fortified rings to fight one another. They will cut off zombie extremities just to see how the zombie will react and embarrass itself. And all the while they will laugh and joke about it at the zombies’ expense. They’ll even use a zombie’s head as a sports ball and kick it around, carefully avoiding the mouth.

Humans know that a zombie’s brain is the only thing keeping it going. And their sense of superiority allows them to exploit the zombie for personal amusement. This is particularly embarrassing and degrading for the zombie, and it fills them with a great frustration and hatred of living humans.

There is a certain sense of revenge humans harbor for zombies for ruining their world and making existence more complicated than it used to be. But the same sense of revenge resides in zombies, as well, but on a more rudimentary level. This sense of revenge unites both zombies and living people on a common path: either a path of survival or a path of death. The difference is that living humans have more options to express themselves regarding the matter, while zombies are severely limited other than their sheer numbers.

I don’t think anyone knows exactly how long a zombie can live (or should the term be “persist”). But if you live a long time as a zombie you will probably regret it. As a zombie you will have to contend with the fact that you will eventually just rot away. As your ligaments freeze up and your muscles and skin slough off you will eventually just become a zombie head. For the brain in a zombie is the last thing to go if a living human or circumstance doesn’t get to it first.

At that point you will just be a rolling skeletal zombie head and there will be no doubt that you will be very disturbed and incensed at your fate. Which is why, if you ever become a zombie, you should go to where the humans are. There is a good chance they will kill you off and put you out of your misery. Although you might be inclined to, don’t go wandering off somewhere to decompose alone.

There is little honor in being a zombie. And there is even less in dying alone as one.

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.