whirlpooled topics unbackspaced. streams of consciousness. blurts. scribbled notes. outlined ideas. velocity waves. snatches from icloud. because self-editing is a writer’s cowardly way of preventing a reader from fucking the writer's confidence. dates don't matter. memories and moments aren't chronologically marked on the soul.

Yet

I’ve had a thought: anyone want to write a great seller? 

Here: there needs to be an oral history written. “How I’ve changed during the racial and medical pandemic.” Title: “Hindsight of 2020” (or something like that …) 

Society hasn’t evolved (an evolution? Revolution?) this drastically since the depression. You can argue the civil rights movement - that didn’t touch rural iowa like this pandemic has. I’d write it. But I’m going to write something else. Besides, I can’t write now. Every emotion is too raw. I can’t open my wounds. Now - go write the book. Go collect the essays and assemble it. Too bad Studs Terkel has left us …

Now. My reply:

I’m not the man I was in 2019. Part of my evolution was the pandemic. Like most global citizens, I pulled out of society and cocooned. Weeks went by without more than my head peeking out of my door except to collect the delivered groceries or take out the rubbish. 

My Father required constant care. Even needed to be fed. And while caring for both parents, I rediscovered silence. Solitude. Contemplation. Privacy. Prayer. Sobriety. Self-discipline. Chasity. Perspective. The proper order of things. My place among God’s creation. 

I remembered the world wasn’t about me. I learned the fragility of the ritual of religion. I learned the privilege of bending my knee and bowing my head and folding my hands in a community.

So who is this evolved Mark R. Trost:

I’m sober. Sober in temperament and consumption. I’m celibate. I’m no longer sexually promiscuous. I’m prayerful. I need an active and structured prayer life i.e. daily recitation of The Rosary. Frequent attendance at Mass. 

I am not born again. I am a devout practicing Roman Catholic. My God and The Church are paramount to me. It is not all the same to me. That’s why I’ve made the distinction. I have allegiance to The Holy See. 

I do not care what others believe, hold in disbelief, or deny. It takes all my efforts to salvage my immortal soul; I don’t give a squatted ass what other’s believe. I haven’t the time, the inclination, or the collar for evangelization.

In 2021 I no longer find representation in either political party. I am not a republican. I am not a democrat. I vote for each candidate. Not any party line. I am a citizen of the United States. I love this country. I see the privilege of citizenship. 

I’m less tolerant than I was. Not of others’ ideology but of their hypocrisy. Bring out a yardstick to measure mankind and we’ll start by seeing how long it hangs toward your knee. 

I’m not fun anymore. The earth is in crisis. I’m too intelligent to turn my intentions to self-satiation. I have the burden of wisdom. In 2020 I’ve accepted my responsibilities. 

I’m broken-hearted. I see the inhumanity of mankind. I see destruction where it ought not be. I see the loss. The losing. And the abandoned.

I’m more hopeful. I have complete confidence in my ability to create change. To urge improvement. To educate the undereducated. 

In hindsight: I don’t think things got better. I think theyve gotten worse. But I’m a better man than I was. And Ive earned the wisdom to know I’m not the man I should be. 

In 2021: I’ve learned the definition of the word YET.

Unsame

Just so there’s no confusion. It’s not all the same to me. That’s why I’ve made distinctions. 

I’ve thought about each theological, political, and social belief. I’ve used wisdom like a prism to examine each ideology. And so I’ve made sagacious choices. I do not half-heartedly hold any belief. And I literally hold my believes within my heart and immortal soul. 

And frankly we’ve reached the age when you can no longer afford to be half-assed.

Fooled You Once

I’m never fooled. I just judge when it’s worth the fight. And when I judge it’s not worth the fight, I pull up my pants and leave the sandbox. And if it occurs too often, I leave the friendship. 

And this isn’t cryptic. Everyone makes these choices each day. “Is it worth planting my feet?” “Is the relationship worth my effort?” 

And frankly. The answer is almost exclusively: No.

Friendships

I woke up from my nap (I’m old people) and I looked over to my phone and saw my friend had texted me. He’s the friend who never forgets. Every important moment, there he is. And I rolled over and thanked my God for putting my friend in my life. 

I think of my friends as little love nutrients for my immortal soul. 

So. Thank you. Thank you for reminding me that true love is not only supportive - it feeds my heart - it guards my soul against the sin of despair - and it educates my remembrances. 

I am a better man because our friendships urged my growth. 

Amen.

Victimless

Okay so. Surf. (And you don’t have to. This isn’t your first time in the midway with me.)

I’m sitting on my friends’ patio chewing a delicious steak and sipping a gin & tonic. I made a comment about how I no longer want to explain things to ignorant people. I said, “I may be a Sullivan (I am) but I’m not like Annie Sullivan at a pump furiously spelling out water while trying to explain wet!” I thought I was so clever. Until I realized my dear friend has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. And I felt so ashamed of myself. And although I profusely apologized, it doesn’t matter. I was a horse’s ass. I love my friend. I love him. I wouldn’t purposefully hurt him. But it doesn’t matter my intent. It matters I may have hurt him. 

I’ve thought of this all day. Why say unnecessary things? Clever for who? If I’m so interested in amusing myself, why not get porn and not create victims? People have made fun of my foot. I do not find it amusing. I think it’s cruel. I’m ashamed of my foot. God we have so much mean in the world. I don’t want to add to it. Amusing. Damn. I’m now more interested in the adjective contrite. I’m so ashamed.

Restart

So during a conversation this week, a man told me he fears, “These are the end times. I think I’ve lived to see the end of the world. I think He (meaning God) is angry.” 

Well, I replied, “What? You think this is the first time anyone’s broken a commandment?” 

I’m much more optimistic than that man is. I believe in my innate ability to create change. I believe I ameliorate each place I set my foot. I believe I can restart acts of kindness by offering gentility and praising generosity of spirit. 

End times? Sweet Jesus I’ve just begun. Let’s create peace today. That’s my plan.

Memorials

So. My memorial Mass on Saturday. On the altar: lit votive candles with printed names of the deceased from the parish. During Mass each of the names were read aloud and a bell rang.  Roland “Mac” Trost was the last name read. I’m 59 years old. I know how to control myself. I stoically sat in the pew and silently wept. 

I sat alone. Carol stayed home with our Mother. I felt brokenhearted. I felt alone. No hand to hold. No voiced prayer in unison.

At the conclusion of Mass, we were told to take our loved one’s candle home. 

Sunday I received a text from my friend. Could he stop by? He was singing at a memorial Mass at another parish. He’d stop by after Mass. Steve walked in my front door and in his hand: a votive candle from the Mass he attended. “I wrote Mac’s name in the book of remembrance.”

You see? I’m a fool. Alone? I felt alone. Ass.

I’m never alone. The synchronicity of Divinity. Do you see why I love God? Do you see why I love my friend?

Fuck a bar. Kneel beside your friend in a church. That’s my life.

And honestly. I don’t give a squat who believes or who embraces disbelief. We all address our own post cards. I’m just sharing my immortal soul.

You knew me when you joined the team. I haven’t changed the game. I’m just showing you my shoulder pads, knee pads, and jockstrap.