Wednesday, March 30, 2011


I'm sorry; you must have me confused with somebody who has their life together.

I know, I make a grand illusion of sanity and sobriety, and I appreciate you having noticed. I guess it's really my fault you had the wrong impression of me. Believe me when I say I'm not out to decieve anybody...well, hurt anybody, so I apologize if this realization comes as a disappointing surprise.

Really, the entire point of my facade is to trick myself into going out every day and trying to achieve a life of togetherness. If I really looked back at myself in my Mirror of Yresim and acknowledged what I saw, I probably wouldn't even get out of bed in the morning. But that's not good for the kids to see, and I desperately want them to grow up emotionally healthy, for them to lead "together" adult lives... so I have to put on the show.

Also, I have to stay employed. I'm not building wealth, or making a cache I'll be able to look forward to retiring on, or anything remotely similar, I just want to keep the lights on, and some Cheerios (or their generic equivalent, when necessary) in the cupboard. I've been lucky enough to have these resources, for the most part, for a good long while, so you must understand that maintaining this existence is also essential to the presentation I make to my family. I need to provide them with enough to keep up the lifestyle to which they've become accustomed, or it might alert them to the truth.

Finally, I'm trying to stay married. This part of the illusion is the biggest part of all. Please don't tell my wife I'm just pretending, that I'm really a hopeless mess. She thinks I'm a good man, and though I am trying to be, she has no idea how far off the mark I fall most days. She has no idea of the mess I truly am, of the emptiness inside, of the desperation to mean something to someone. I love her, and I don't want to lose her, even though I clearly don't deserve her. She loves me for what she thinks is the real me, but I know, and now you know too, that if she knew the depth of my inadequacy, if she could see through the membrane, she'd bolt like a thoroughbred in a thunderstorm, and take with her everything that has ever meant anything to me.

So will you do me a favor? Will you allow me to keep faking it in your presence? If you pretend not to know I'm no good, I'll act like I haven't realized you know the truth. This will allow us both act as civil people, at least until our business is finished. Then you can think of me as you like.


Friday, March 25, 2011


Add caption
I stressed over it for weeks, agonizing over the details. Finally, everything was in place.

I convinced her to rise with me for an early walk on the beach. I was nervous, but soon the sun broke the Maya Riviera horizon, and I knew it was time.

I got on one knee.

She said yes.
* * * * *
FFF-55 Vol. X. Tell a story in exactly 55 words. Go see G-Man.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Forest for the Trees

2 March 2011

What kind of man am I?

Not the kind I thought I'd be. But not the kind I feared I'd be, either. I consider myself a coward--afraid to take hard steps toward being a better person--but I know I'm far less a coward now than I have been in years past. I have learned over and over that more regrets are generated by chances not taken than those taken. I have no idea how those things I've opted out of in life would have changed me, but I'm pretty clear that this path, the one without the risks I decided not to take, has become less spectacular than I imagined.

But what is that a comment on, the choices I made or the expectations I had? It's not hard to understand how one's choices affect the direction of one's life, not at my age, but it's very difficult to know whether my expectations were in line with the direction I was comfortable starting in, which also begs the question: were my skills and confidences suited, or even applied, to the goals I made?

Truth is I made no goals, not real ones anyway. I followed a motivated crowd right to the edge, but when they all took flight on wings well-prepared, I went right over the cliff. I relied heavily on positive words given me by mentors, but had no substantial understanding of their meaning. I'd only adopted those goals of my friends which sounded close enough to be within reach, but still lofty enough to impress my parents, and pretended to my teachers and counselors that I knew how to realize them. Because my method was twice-flawed, my end was twice-doomed.

Now, twenty years later, I'm so far along a path I barely know how to navigate I have no clear memory of what led me this way. I still have a token idea of who I was when I started, and what brought me to this place, but no real clarity and no real direction. When I think I get these ideas, I realize more often than not that I'm only seeing an old reflection of a situation that seems familiar, not anything real. What I think I've learned only has meaning in the moment. The most objective clues I have are the trail of breadcrumbs I've left, marking the way with scars of the people I've hurt or used over the years. It's a pitiful map that, when seen for what it truly is, reveals only the circular wanderings of someone who is hopelessly lost.


Friday, March 18, 2011

Poem: To My Love

6 January 2006

When I'm with you, I find
All the things in my mind
That would tear me apart cease to be.

When your smile comes my way
All my nights turn to day.
All the Joy in the world is for me.

When with you, Bliss wakes
And my fearless hands shake
Afraid that I'll say the wrong thing.

When your eyes meet mine
There is no other time
That I feel happiness dawning.

With you in the room
My mirthless heart blooms
All my world turns from darkness to light.

And when you have gone
I'm completely alone
My poor heart aches cold in the night.


21 February 2006

Family is a mirror you keep covered. Relatives you never see, whether you'd choose to or not, do not know you. They remember the newborn, the toddler, the awkward teen. There are always a few from the wedding and baby showers, but still you're not a real person to them; after all those times are about being a couple or parent.

Changes you make, real changes, to your soul and to your life, go unnoticed, unless they make trouble. Big events like death or divorce are heard about and taken notice of like an accident on the highway. Feel bad, move on, and forget about it, but never take into consideration that someone else's life could be completely ruined, at least for the moment.

But my life is no one else's (this much I have been painfully aware of) and I have lived my life without serious regard to how most of these relatives have existed day to day. Why should I be so surprised to discover that they, too, have done the same?

Maybe this means I don't know who I am yet, to be so upset that when I walk into a room full of people who have supposedly known me all my life and find that they really know nothing about me. Of course there are lots of people I don't know, attached to people who were probably newborns or toddlers I can remember, but do not recognize now. And babies have been born that I might hear the names of, and people have married, and divorced, and died. And I feel bad and move on. And forget. Because the kids need to get their dinner, or there was a fight and bitterness lingers, because the kitchen needs picking up or the groceries need putting away. Because my life is happening right now, right in my face, and the people whose lives are ruined, even if only for that moment, and despite their status as 'family', are just other people, like so many faces I pass on the road during the commute every day.

The tragedy of it all is astounding. As children we all grew up together playing in Grandma's backyard, or sneaking out during a sleepover, or getting someone to buy us cigarettes. Now things like this are only distant memories, and the cousins you did them with are like characters in a book you read years ago. These things will never happen again, and the people you did them with are just other commuters, other homeowners, other people with kids you might pass in the store. No matter how fond those distant memories are, the things that make you who you are, the things that make you unique and interesting, will never be shared with or understood by anyone except...yourself.

Exceptions apply, but I do not speak in ideals here. That is for the Good One. The things that make ME unique will only ever be understood by ME. And now I've become bitter.

There will be another episode to pull the cover down, the main event as it were. I will make I am neatly groomed and my tie is pleasant to glance at, knowing that these are the only things people will see when they look at me and think of who I am. And then they'll go about their lives once more, remembering that the newborn I was, the carefree toddler I was, the pain-riddled teen I was, has grown into a man who has a nice haircut and seems to have turned out just fine.

It is selfish of me to think this is important; it is arrogant of me to even pass judgment on them for doing it.

Untitled Poem

3 March 2006

When I sit quietly
My life opens up
Like so many pages of a book

The pages do not fit
From here to there
But I know they are all mine.

Some are boldly writ' upon
In brightly colored ink
While most are simply penciled in

Crossed out, erased or written over
Though some thoughts may be
None are ever truly changed, or forgotten

Though things of beauty all around
May be, they are never to be seen.
My self denial censors all true goodness.


15 March 15 2006

Days like this I don't even know why I'm here.

Of course I know why I'm *here*, but I mean why I keep going the way I do. Why I stay in this spot. I can't remember why I'm supposed to feel good or happy, or when I think of "good" reasons, why they apply to me.

Today I am an empty shell.

Inner Child

16 March 2006

Boy am I a project. Mind is blank but I feel like something is BANGING on the walls to get out. I know the screaming person in the closet. I know this terrified child.

I look in the mirror each morning and watch myself fall. I age, and I will look dignified, but I will still be a child. A small, scared face looks back at me every day. I have learned to love this child, but I know not how to bring him out, to heal him. I know his name, but his heart is a mystery.

Every day he tells me how he feels, and I know not how to listen. Though sometimes I allow him to react for me. Sometimes, it's easier, at least for the moment. Sometimes, I allow him to feel, because I do not know how.

He is a beautiful boy in a rust-colored knit sweater, with a lopsided smile, delicate cheekbones, an angled jaw, and thick blonde-brown hair. He smiles innocently and boldly and it is not a nice smile. But it is genuine. His eyes are eager to please, and eager to achieve. And for a while, he will do both. But it will cost him his innocence, his courage, his genuineness, his smile. It will cost him the ability to see what's before his eyes and name it. He will pay the rest of his life for what he has, and it will never be enough, and he'll never know why.

This boy is with me. He finally has someone to love him, even though I'm still figuring it all out. Gentleness, humor, love, and respect. And I, for one, will never leave him.

Hey Hey, My My

The first "she" and the second "she" are different "she"s.
* * * * *

7 April 2006

"Rock and Roll will never die. That's what Neil says." He's right, dearie.

My oldest friend is in trouble and I can't do anything about it. I can't support her because I can barely support myself and my own. I can't see her because she lives in a blue-collar armpit city, which I also love, but is far away. I can't hug her and tell her how I miss her wit, her humor, her endless compassion.

She is a brilliant, beautiful, proud woman whom I have never properly known. We meet in tangents of our lives during special events, then we once again part ways. Her life and her passions are a mystery to me, as mine no doubt are to her. My relationship with this friend is a perfect example of how many of my friendships conduct themselves. Fortunately, I am intimately connected with this woman, and she will not fade away like others have. Still, although she is always somewhere on this earth, and I take great comfort in that, she will not always be here, and our time together should be appreciated. I need to show my love more.

* *
She was adamant last night, and I reluctantly accepted. I regret this. Despite my body's participation, my head was somewhere else. It was behind the wall. What shape would I be if I were 2-dimensional? Circular (but not a perfectly round one; more like the one Spongebob drew after Squidward berated him in art class), with my heart somewhere in the center, separatred from everyone else. My life cycle keeps on repeating, always following the same familiar contours. I occasionally hammer out a new niche, but then I come to rely on it so much that it becomes part of the same daily business. So that's where I was. And she said she had a good time, and that's great, I really truly am happy about that part, but I never got mine. I never got mine.

Out of the blue and into the black.

I have so many thoughts to uncollect and drudgingly express to no one. An hundred indecisions, Visions and revisions. What a train wreck. I may be a bit fustian but my point stands: I have not taken care of myself these last several days, and I have not taken the time to properly address it.

I'm not being completely fair. I did start something I needed to do. I did make that appointment. I have kept the kitchen counter clean, and the office. Posts are up to date. I am not a train wreck. But it's just me that isn't. Outside my circle, my perception fades. Maybe "wreck" is just the wrong word.

I read about Hawking's brane theory last night. I wonder how much work I really have to do. I thought I knew once; I didn't really, but I could get my head around the kinds of things I needed to accomplish, and had faith that once I did them, I'd be ready for what's next...but now I can't say either is the case. Maybe it's the antibiotics. On top of heartburn and that yucky taste in my mouth, I have felt energetically odd since I started on them. Maybe it was the bite, though I doubt it because trust was retored almost immediately. Maybe it's sex, but again I doubt this because I've learned to cope well without jeopardizing outside issues. But I always suspect sex anyway, because it's a natural enemy.

I am rambling with thoughts of Prufock, monomer injections, and strawberry summers. I am not safe from myself today. A pot of tea, flannel pants, Harry Potter, and my fuzzy blanket are a perfect prescription, with intermittent naps and ball-tossings with the dog. I should have taken the rain as my first clue. Take two o' dese and call me in da mo'nin.

On Nerdery

This was very obviously written before it was cool, even desirable, to be a nerd...let alone proudly label yourself one.
* * * * *
13 April 2006

This morning at the gas station I saw someone who caught my eye. It was a young man, very light build, and dressed too conservatively. He had shorter hair and glasses. He was a classic nerd*. And right then I recognized myself, ten, maybe five years ago. And today. I watched him closely, and noticed something very important. It wasn't his appearance that made him so...well, nerdy. It was his awkwardness, his stance, the way he carried himself and looked nervously around, wondering who may be near him, judging. I felt this way only...hell, I still feel this way. But I was also aware of the vast physical difference between myself now and myself then. I am 40 pounds heavier than I was ten years ago (only four inches bigger around the waist), and still considered light/average build. I don't necessarily wear my hair any different, I'm still wearing glasses, and still have no sense of fashion, but I see myself very differently, more confidently, now than I did then. More than that person at the gas station.

* [For the record, I have always hated the word "nerd". I was called that name incessantly from grade 6 on, and vehemently defend anyone else to whom the moniker is assigned. I'm not condoning the use of the word at all, but I have to start with some frame of reference. These thoughts have to come out.]

There have been years of experiences to account for this change of self-opinion. I have earned my place in my self-designed social template. And I know that my own standards for myself are still higher than those around me. So other people like me, think I'm funny, good looking, interesting, even sexy. How did I become this way?

I cannot quantify what the experiences were or did. I know there has been heartbreak, betrayal, denial, sacrifice, and exploration. I know that I have been on my knees begging for understanding and forgiveness. I know that I would never live the last 10 years of my life the same way again, ever. Maybe the gas station guy will go through that, too. The way his eyes searched for approval in the faces of others, the way his half smile waited for a positive response. I know these eyes and that smile. I still cast them around, waiting for others to answer. And I still close up when I perceive that they will not approve. I retract the smile I just offered, wishing I'd never tried. Wishing I could just disappear. Some days, I am still just that nerdy, awkward young man, who does not know how to talk to other humans, how to act in public, how to like himself.

I'm going to ramble now, dear audience, so be prepared.

But I do like myself. That's the bottom line. That's what my dad always says in his three-quarter drunken fits, when he's still barely rational enough to put sentences together and hold his opinion at the same time. "The bottom line is..." and I catch myself using it at select times. Maybe just to prove to myself that something is true. Like because I heard it used in his context, I can justify what I don't quite believe by adding it as a tagline.

But I do like myself. It's not something I don't quite believe, it's a real truth. Of course there are days I don't, but they number few compared to my normal, and what I have believed to be healthy, state of mind. I am worth the effort to get to know. I am worth improving. I deserve the best. I have much to share with this world and my fellow humans, and I regularly try to do so. I am practical and decently intelligent, I'm compassionate and mostly humble. I enjoy the outdoors, fine arts, and a well-crafted wooden thing. I can install junction boxes and change oil, and also map out the rhyme scheme of a poem. I can recite Jabberwocky, Prufrock, and the first lines of Moby Dick and The Hobbit. Children and dogs like me, and I can communicate with both. I take decent care of myself physically. I am a good kisser and a generous lover.

None of these things are invented by me to make myself feel better; they are all truths I'd tell anyone, and verifiable by people I know. Yet why do I constantly shoot myself (my recovery, my success, my education, my productive days, etc) in the foot with doubt and/or self-destructive behavior? What is it that I fear? How can I be so critical of what I am not, when the list of things I am should be enough to make anyone happy?

A Message to My Male Coworkers

Written long ago, but this message will never lose its relevance. (Edited for content.)
* * * * *

July 14th, 2006

Turns out they were right. Your mothers, sisters, wives and girlfriends all did know what they were talking about when they told you to put up the seat. Leaving your pee all over the place where someone else may have to sit (even you, imagine that) is nasty. NASTY. Even worse? Having to wipe up someone else's pee before placing your bare butt (up until then possibly the cleanest part of your body, provided you stayed dressed that day) on the seat of a communal toilet.

Big news: there's a urinal in the same room. On the off chance someone's using it when you walk in, and you can't wait, go right ahead and pee in the toilet. But don't be nasty: either prevent the mess or clean it up!

Guys, we all have to work together in the same building. Occasionally, we have to share the bathroom. Between two urinals and four toilets, there's plenty of capacity for everyone to do their business. Believe it or not, you aren't entitled to an easier bathroom experience than any of the the rest of us. Let's all take responsibility for our own business.


PS- Also, to all you gross individuals who don't wash their hands after peeing, I know who you are. You think you're alone because I don't make much noise behind the partition. But you're not. I recognize your shoes. Even you, Mr. Big Man Manager who sits near me and sneers at everyone with less experience and education than yourself...yes, you know who you can wash your damn hands. Everone uses the same handle on their way out, and none of us (I'm wagering even you) want to get another man's germs and microscopic pee splatters on our hands on the way out. So find your way next to Godliness. Please. And don't make faces at me when I won't shake your hand; it's not me who's being rude.


No longer current news, but still very relevant thoughts.
* * * * *

6 October 2006

A few days ago I discovered I was only 5 degrees of separation from Emily Keyes, the 16 year old girl who was killed by the school shooter in Colorado last week.

This doesn't increase my reaction to the tragedy, or the reaction to any of the recent others, but it brings it closer to home. How soon will it be before someone I know personally has an experience like this? What if it happens to my family? What if it happens to me?

Millions of people have asked themselves that same question recently, and all have likely come to the same conclusion: I can do nothing to stop it.

As big a fan as I am of the idea that one person can change the world through positive energy and action, my ability to affect my fellow human beings is limited to those I can reach with my hands and, to some degree, my voice. But this certainly does not constitute control. If someone next to me on the bus kills everyone in a convenience store later that night over $20, I cannot blame myself.

This is a human plight. We have a need to take responsibility; we tell ourselves that a few kind words may have altered the mood or eased some pain, and XYZ tragedy could have been avoided. When we say this to ourselves...we are probably right in some cases. But we live in such fear that our personal bubble will pop or become polluted by contact with a stranger, or even with someone not so strange, that we talk ourselves out of reaching out. We are so afraid of each other that we dare not interfere. Or is it fear of exposure, and potential disapproval? Regardless of the reason, the result is the same: isolation and all its children: prejudice, fear, greed.

We all need safe places...physically, emotionally, etc., but wouldn't it be nice if we helped contribute a bit more? Jeez I'm starting to sound like John Lennon. (What, don't flatter myself? Fine...) But...just think about it a little. One day, it might all pay off, on that day when someone else decides the course of the rest of your days on this earth.


This post may be deleted very soon.
* * * * *
20 October 2006

I am an addict. Call me whatever you want: criminal, freak, deviant, pervert, et cetera. Neither your opinion nor your label changes what I know I am.

Would you like to know what else I am/have been? An honor roll student, a scholarship recipient and graduate of one of the country's leading college prep schools, an award-winning author, a poet, a cadet and mid-ranking adult officer in a military auxiliary youth organization, a Sunday School teacher, and a scouting volunteer. I am a good, intelligent, passionate, creative, articulate, spiritual and self-aware man.

I haven't done these things to try to hide my dysfunction, but because I think they are the right things to do. My addiction alone doesn't disqualify me from any role I choose. I have crossed lines before, and broken laws, and hurt people (adults) to meet my needs in the wrong ways. I've been selfish and childish and decietful and destructive and all manner of ugly in the way I've handled my life and my connections with fellow humans. But...

Every day I get a new chance to be a different person. Most days I make good choices, some days not so much. I move on because there is only one alternative in this world. Every day ends, whether good or bad, and a new one starts right after it. Every action I take is a tangent of the whole curve of my life, and no single one can characterize it all. Recently I choose well more often than not, and of that I'm proud.

The Place I'm In

31 October 2006

The place I'm in has strings being played with screeching tones. Ambient sounds are drowned by an otherwise silent player, callously demanding my attention through his craft. I try to be polite, but I'm not really interested, even though the melody is lovely.

The place I'm in has muted sounds. The world moves around me and I am simply carried by the water. Echoes of what might be interesting and alarming and touching reach my ears and are not picked up.

The place I'm in is filled with mediocre women. Though some might be called beautiful, my own perception is that of a faceless horde intent on drowning me in their wiles. I cannot close my eyes, but I still control my mind, at least for the moment.

The place I'm in is vast and lonely. It is an empty warehouse that has not been swept; remnants of former contents, both rich and valuable, apparent all around. But now in ruins.

The place I'm in has chest-high walls. I can see over and beyond when I dare to look, but this is not often. I put the walls there to protect myself, and now I cannot recall how I might venture through. Sometimes I tell myself it's cozy here, but what I'm really protecting myself from is a healthy fear of failure.

The place I'm in smells distantly of dust and roses, like an abandoned gazebo taken over by the garden. Wafts of sunny breeze are here, somewhere, but I can't ever catch one; they're too far away.


There was no getting past the fact that the damn thing was broken, or that without it, I wouldn’t be able to get what I needed. I shoved it violently to the back of the workbench; delicate electronics and my microtool kit went everywhere. That’s when I heard my boss clear her throat behind me.
* * * * *
FFF-55 Vol. IX. Tell a story in exactly 55 words. Go see G-Man.

Letter to Dad

This was supposed to be a 55, but turned out to be more like a 68 before it was even finished. I decided I didn't want to make it shorter; it deserves full expression.
* * * * *

Dear Dad,

Last night I dreamt we were hectically busy, and supposed to meet you somewhere, but couldn’t. We did our business, and I tried to think of the time, when all was settled, that I’d be able to apologize in person for ditching you. Then, outside the dreamscape, I realized I hadn’t seen you in a long, long time. Then I asked myself why. Then I remembered.

I miss you, Dad.


Friday, March 11, 2011


When she said it, the universe stopped. The bottom dropped out from under the life I’d been building, we’d been building, for the last twenty years. My soul shuddered, and nothing else in the room existed—there were no sounds, no people chatting at tables, no waitresses in their smart white shirts. It was over.
* * * * *
FFF-55 Vol. VIII. Tell a story in exactly 55 words. Go see G-Man.

Saturday, March 5, 2011


The day they told us what was going to happen, I had no visible reaction. While everyone around me reeled in emotion, I was stoic, a model of tragic calm. It was only after, when the relatives had flown home and the house was empty and the mirrors all uncovered, that I began to weep.
* * * * *
FFF-55 Vol. VII. Tell a story in exactly 55 words. Go see G-Man.
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