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.

Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2019. Show all posts

Indefectibility

I’m sitting near my window and feeling the sunshine scented breeze on my face. I have a large tree that shades my front yard. Oh it’s small. A yard not a lawn. If i twist my neck I can see a squirrel gnawing on a branch. He’s sending leaves and shavings to the ground. But you know what? He can’t destroy the tree. There are so many trees and so many nibblers. But they can’t destroy a forest. Remember that. I remembered it. I remembered it while I watched the leaves fall and touch the grass.

Seen From A Marriage 2019

3 times a day - sometimes 4 - my 81 year old Mother sits across the table from my Father and reminds him to turn his head while he swallows and wait 5 seconds between the end of the swallow and the beginning of a new spoonful. My father aspirates. The food goes down his windpipe instead of his esophagus and contaminates his lungs until he has pneumonia. At 85 he sometimes forgets between bites to turn his head. So with each bite my Mother gently places her palm on his forearm and says, “now turn your head. Swallow. 1,2,3,4,5.” Every day. Each meal. Every time he drinks. Always. Patiently. Kindly. Lovingly. 

Every night before he goes to bed, my 85 year old father takes three tissues out of the Kleenex box, folds them, and puts them on the nightstand beside my mother’s side of their bed. And then he bends over and arranges her bedroom slippers so that the toes point away from the bed and my mother can slide into them. My father uses a walker and he walks in sort of a shuffle/slide/sigh rhythm. Moving is difficult for him. But we have hand rails on the bed and he negotiates around a double bed in the middle of a 9x10 bedroom. He puts his oxygen on and lays down holding a flashlight. He holds the flashlight in case my mother needs to get up in the middle of the night. He lights the bathroom door so she can see in the dark. Even when my father was in the hospital, he would remind us about the slippers and the Kleenex. Marriage. Exquisite and heartbreaking. Family.

Not Gone Yet

Oh the ipad. I‘m sprawled under the covers and tapping out my velocity wave. I rewatched "Gone With The Wind." Helluva film. I‘d forgotten how exquisitely beautiful Vivien Leigh was. And yes, it's problematic. But anyone without his head up his ass knows the characters Mammy and Pork are the only two morally pure characters in the novel. GWTW is the only novel that became a great film (I'm looking at you Owen Meany and Bonfire of The Vanities.) I remembered tonight the first time I saw it. 1967. I know 1967 because I researched and found it was rereleased that year. I was 5. My parents took our family to Manhattan Kansas to see a matinee. We lived in Junction City so it was an event! I vividly recall the burning of Atlanta scene. And the massive movie screen. I think it was the first film I saw in a theatre. 

Memories. 

Someone recently accused me of having mood swings. Well, he doesn’t really know me. I do not. I don’t have moods. I have emotions. I accept my emotions. I’m comfortable emotionally reacting to a kaleidoscope of situations. As a man, I’m not embarrassed to express my emotions. As a writer, I’m gifted with the ability to describe each emotion. These last three years. They've been frightening. They've been sorrowfilled and joyful. I’ve intimately and fully experienced a vast array of emotions. Now, my health has improved; my parents have not. I am their caretaker. They're not tucked in a room or on a floor or in a facility. They're in our home. Each day we inch closer toward our endings. Each moment is jammed with heightened emotions. We’re saddened. We’re frightened. We’re worried. We’re relieved. We’re anxious. But we’re not hopeful. 

It’s a privilege to be present. It’s a privilege to share, to give, to take, and to FEEL. My closest friends are leaving me. We’ve been in a relationship for 57 years. I try to spend each moment of my life marking each aspect of it. I write my emotions because I want to mark those moments. Because it’s how I process my losses. Because it’s how I expend the sorrows. At this juncture of my life I’m experiencing the greatest lessons and emotions possible. And I’ll be goddamned if I don’t conjugate every verb and experience every adjective. 

I just had a thought I wish to tack to this end: true stress is in the adverb. Do you understand that? As a Roman Catholic, I’m trying with the depths of my immortal soul to perfect each adverb. That’s the most difficult challenge of all.

Flat Footed


I feel like an under-inflated bicycle tire. Each dip in my path makes me feel slightly off-balance and jiggled and jostled.

Endurance


a velocity wave without a backspace. on my phone. I sometimes wonder if everyone cares as much as i do. Because i care. And i wonder if i lack some masculine gene. And that missing makes me less a man. Because I care. I dont know. Ive always stood alongside or beside and felt like a fool because i seemed to be the only one who cared. Im older now. So i care less. No. I still care. But i care less if it makes me less a man. last night my dear friend asked me how ive made it through this past year. I thought about her question. And i decided to unzip the truth and tell her. Aside: im going to reveal it here because i always wondered how people survived trauma. And now i know. It’s been the most difficult summer of my life. 2 surgeries (each demanded at least 6 weeks of bedrest.) Both of my parents were hospitalized with serious illnesses. Because of the bedrest, i was unable to fulfill my obligations. Ive spent years on familial sentry. To be unable. Impotent. Without use. The stress was overwhelming. At the height of the stress - i shut down. I slept. 20-22 hours a day. Like in a medically induced coma, I emotionally, mentally, and physically shut off. It’s how I coped. I don’t really remember how long this lasted. I know my hours were unequally split: sleeping or living behind glass. Watching without experiencing. Existence without life. Maybe this is a common reaction. I don’t know. I didn’t know. I know. Why write it? Some perverse need to blurt? No. I wished someone told me. I wished I had known so I could’ve avoided all the awful. To sleep perchance to desist. I don’t sleep like I did. But still glassy eyed. Removed. Until.


Pleaded

Velocity wave from the porch. Quiet weekend in a cast. So last week I’m at lunch and we started to discuss this whole “for my birthday please donate to my favorite cause” thing. Now these opinions are completely my own but sweet Jesus how many birthday gifts do you give a year? No seriously. I don’t know about all of you, but we have to be inner circle before I’m even considering a gift. A card? Well Christ, perhaps ... no only inner circle. I‘m pretty social and I’m saying two of my inner circle. The idea I would be giving someone a gift and so why not take that cash and donate it instead is absurd. Not gonna happen. Goddamn. 

I’ll buy you a beer if we happen to see each other a couple of days before or a couple of days after. But this Saint Valentine‘s Day notion that you’ve got to bring enough for the whole class - is ass. Maybe it’s a guy thing. I asked a buddy at lunch last week and he agrees with me. 

Which brings me to my own conceit. No one but me posts anything truly personal on FB. (Im not talking about pics) And I thought about it. It’s really ballsy to assume anyone would: 1. Give a shit 2. Read even for the gossip of it all. 3. Care. It’s like verbal masturbatory clips that I post for ... what? I like writing. It’s how I clear my head, heart, and organize my thoughts. But that can all be done privately. Today it all seems sort of ridiculous and/or pathetic. 

Which brings me to the final aspect of this wave. One can feel an emotional connection to strangers. Last month I stood in a cemetery in North Dakota and I didn’t know a single soul there. But I glanced down at a grave and saw a plea for prayers. And I felt moved to tears. I felt a connection. All these years apart and we shared a faith. Since that moment Ive diligently prayed from Barbara and Frank and every morning my family and I say their names in our morning prayers. We’re connected. And we didn’t meet. And we didn’t give each other birthday gifts. And we didn’t share our innermost emotions. Yet.

Half-Staff


Alone in a hospital hall. One hand grasped the IV pole; it steadied me. One hand held the back of my hospital gown; it shielded my unprotecteds. The skeletal staff darted the emptied corridors like pinballs: room - station - patient - chart. 

She didn't come. 

And then I knew.

Felt Up


So I’m porching. Solitude. Except a robin wanting a snack. Trying to catch my breath. Literally. Today is a difficult day. My heart won’t play fair. Today it’s beating me. I’m trying to slow my heart rate and steel my soul. I need to pace myself for tonight. I glanced down. It’s time for spring cleanup. I pay a guy. Dead leaves. Reposed grass. Amongst the debris - little jump ups of joy. See - there’s my God. Renew. Rebirth. Rejuvenate. Resurrection from the deadened. Life amid the lost. Hope. As it was in the beginning ...

Envy Of All Men


With his nose pressed against his pain, his envy smeared down and pooled into each fist. Those words belonged to his ears. He didn’t pivot. He leaned and searched for sounds.

Inner Tubes

There are two amazon trucks on my block. The funniest part - an Amazon truck made a delivery to my house this morning. Well, I don’t go to malls anymore. I even have my groceries delivered from Lund’s. Too far to walk. 

I’m porching with a new foot problem. Yes a completely new one. I feel like screaming to everyone I know to stop committing suicide with their sins. You can’t smoke and not ruin your body. You can’t drink every day and not ruin your body. You can’t carry extra weight around every day and not ruin your body. You can’t. Fat people aren’t less disciplined than drunks. Smokers aren’t more addicted than wine drinkers. Drinkers aren’t more social acceptable than the obese. Miss Scarlet with the pork chop in the parlor. Mrs Peacock with the cigarette in the bedroom. Professor Plum with the martini in the kitchen. And science cannot replace or truly repair the human body. 

Medicine is just a patch you hope plugs the inner tube. Cigarettes, food, alcohol = murder weapons. And once you puncture the tube, you’re fucked. That’s the baldass truth baby.

My Ideal

I love spiritual direction. A couple of times a month. Less or more if needed. I meet with a priest. We were in the seminary together. A road sometimes traveled together. Sometimes not. He knows my core. Spiritual direction is like therapy (I’m assuming from film. I’ve never been) but it’s completely from a spiritual point of view. 

We begin with a sign of The Cross and a prayer. We discuss things like prayer and my relationship to God and sins and service and striving toward holiness. Because my buddy and I’ve known each other for so long, it’s now a dialogue. It’s nice to have someone to share such intimacies. But I also like the confines of the relationship. We occasionally associate outside that upper room but it’s rare. The distance is at my insistence. I don’t need someone to sit beside; I want someone to kneel alongside. That’s one of the aspects I truly miss about the seminary: the communal prayer. Sharing the intimacies of one’s immortal soul is a lot to give; it’s a lot to ask from someone who lacks the same thirst. I’m parched. 

Two sentences he said this week that surprised me. We talked about my spiritual journey. The arc. And he said he enjoyed “watching you become you.” At 57 I rarely consider metamorphosis. I told him how lonely I feel not having a partner. Aside from the obvious pleasure of sex, my favorite were the post-coital conversations. I miss those intimate talks about all the weighty issues. “Few couples talk like you think they do. You often idealize relationships.” I think that’s true. Maybe that’s why I write. I don’t know.

Flushed

Humiliation never lasts longer than a flushed face. Truth is worth crimson cheeks.

Unblended

So my late night velocity wave. Well, not that late. But when you get up at 5 every day ... Anyway. You know the rules: no heavy edit. Pretty much just a backspace. In so many ways life is very difficult for me. My health. Its decline. My parents. Their decline. It sometimes makes me very melancholy and often morose. I’d guess I’d admit my prevalent emotion is dread. I dread the sounds of sickness. I dread the cries of pain. I dread being summoned. I dread too much silence. I spend my days with a sour stomach and a persistent jitter. It’s okay. It’s life. It’s death. It’s human. The last time I felt such sustained stress was in high school. Being bullied is ballbreaking. It’s soul smashing. I endured for a trinity of reasons. 1. My faith. Im Roman Catholic. Suicide was not an option. 2. My family. At home I was in a cocoon of comfort. 3. The arts. Particularly music. Choir made me a member of a group. A belonging. An us. 

Tonight while i worked I listened to an album. Yes. Remember those? I listened to an entire album. "Trio.” Linda Ronstadt, Emmylou Harris, Dolly Parton. (You can’t listen to an entire song when your ears are tuned to aid someone.) On ”Trio” the harmonies are exquisite. I listened and I became so saddened. I don’t sing anymore. I haven’t sang an entire song with another human being in almost 40 years. I miss it. I miss the communion. I miss the emotional release. I miss the effort to blend. To join. To add. Hell, we don’t even attempt unity in our relationships, society, or government. I miss music. So. How do I endure such sustained stress? 1. My faith. 2. My family. Now i comfort. Now i cocoon. 3. I write. Usually little meaningless missives I post here. But writing is a masturbatory art. It’s singular. The writer exposes the wounds and describes the death but the autopsy is behind closed doors. It’s not communal. I miss singing. I miss a choir. I miss the blend. Goodnight.

Walking Ahead

You know I’m sprawled here watching Hulu on my iPad. I was just about to put my eye medicine in and go to sleep when I realized I wasn’t afraid of tomorrow. I don’t dread getting up in the morning. I’m not in a panic. God I’m glad I’m out of that funk. I don’t do well depressed. I know it’s odd writing this shit but it’s just what I do. Someone asked me the other day if I write because I feel no one listens to me. Well, my answer was no. I feel heard. I just feel strangely compelled to mark the moments that matter. See this exhale matters. It was a long time coming. I had to endure a lot of days and nights of shallow breathing. I’m not afraid to lose my foot or leg anymore. Oh it’s still a challenge. The ulcer has to close. It has to. But it will. I have a good doctor, good friends, and a bucketload of faith. 

I always try to find a lesson in my travails. Here’s what I’ve learned this week: fear really does render someone inert. It takes tremendous courage to walk ahead into the darkness of unknown and unable. I’ve learned love and friendship are intrinsic to faith. I learned that true support is more presence that proverbial. Sometimes sitting silently is more benevolent that offering opinions and platitudes. And I’ve learned achievement is more beneficial than acceptance. You’ve gotta fight to have a chance. I don’t know if I’ll keep this foot. But I do know I’ll keep the faith and my friends. That’s enough until I reach another blackout.

Witnessing A Murder

Velocity wave from the porch. Woman across the street. She’s walking in front of the college. Blonde bob. Yellow cardigan. Skinny jeans. Flats. Arms folded over her chest in the exact parochial manner taught in the 60s & 70s. Small black bag dangling over her left shoulder held by that skinny singular strap. The strap doesn’t cross her chest in that liberal arts education dissection. She’s contained. Over her head - and across the street from me - a murder of crows swirls above. They squawk and scream. She stops to watch. I glance at the street to locate the carcass. I suddenly get angry for no reason. I’m feeling angry and hurt and saddened. My hip aches from swinging the cast ahead of my stride all day. I clinch into fists. I hate this mood: childish and churlish and dark and dank. I look at the emptied sky and see an overcasted dusk.

Cast A Long Shadow


See it’s the shadow part. So frail and still and the doctor comes in and I want to scream and say “you’re seeing her shadow! My Mother is vibrant and strong and independent! You’re seeing the is not the was!” 

He’s not seeing the girl who parted the crowds as she jitterbugged in 3 inch stilettos. 

He’s not seeing the school girl who defended herself on the playground and came home each day with the belt torn from her uniform. 

He’s not seeing the teenager who stopped her stepfather from beating her mother. 

He’s not seeing the 15 year old who worked 60 hours a week as a carhop to support her alcoholic mother, drunken stepfather, and their 7 kids and stayed in school and graduated. 

He’s not seeing the wife and mother who sang and prayed and taught us as she worked and built our world. 

He’s seeing a shadow. I still feel the warmth of her shine in the sun.

Await


Clothes placed beside my bed. Chair legs tent my shoes. The rail shoulders my jacket. Right pocket weighted with my wallet and fob. I hate the endings.

And About Lonely

So – going back to my post about lonely. I wrote the choice was feeling either humiliated or lonely. I considered my words last night. Yes, I stand by that. So, I’ll expand on that. And as I type my response, I want it clearly noted I’ve just chosen humiliated. 

As a child I was encouraged to feel emotions – share my emotions – have opinions – and share my opinions in a respectful and thoughtful manner. As a child, my family gathered at supper time. We prayed in thanksgiving – “Bless us oh Lord for these thy gifts …” and at the conclusion of the meal, the dishes were cleared and the conversations began with earnest emotions. We discussed our days. We discussed our troubles. We discussed our joys. We discussed the news. No topic was verboten. Quick aside: a coworker told my Mother one day, “I never discuss sex or God with my children.” And my Mother replied, “If you don’t discuss sex or God with your children, you don’t talk to them.” Now this revelation isn’t meant to suggest our conversations were salacious. Absolutely not. But there wasn’t a topic we couldn’t discuss. And we did. We debated. A child’s opinion was as valued as an adult’s. No yelling. No sarcasm. Respectful. 

Outside our house, emotions and opinions were not valued. Young men are not encouraged to be demonstrative of emotions. So – I quickly discovered I didn’t fit. I wasn’t traditionally “masculine.” I was taught to express myself. Very quickly I found myself on the outside of every masculine subset. 

So, I learned to be deceptive. To reject the declarative. I adopted a completely artificial persona until I was 23 years old. I became very closed. I’ve written about this at length so I’ll avoid the repetition. It’s sufficient to say that had I not been a Roman Catholic and felt cocooned by my family, I would have committed suicide by the age of 17. I thought of it daily. But see – I didn’t share all those emotions with my family. I felt I wasn’t “normal.” I felt I was flawed. So I felt ashamed. 

When I was 23 years old, I dated a woman named Julie. A very clear recollection: we were watching the film “Love Story.” Ali Mcgraw is my idea of perfection. I was smoking a cigarette. A completely pretentious and expensive brand. And I looked up from the sofa and said, “I’m so tired of people emotionally using me.” Pure bullshit. And Julie said, “You never give anything to anyone. You’re so closed.” And she was right. And I knew she was right. I lied every single time I opened my mouth. I went home and I decided I needed to change. 

And I did. 

It took a long time to change. I had to correct each lie. I had to plant my feet and be completely opened regardless of the ridicule. And I was (and continue to be) ridiculed. Men are uncomfortable being around raw and honest. It makes them feel uncomfortable. It makes them feel challenged. It makes them feel guilty. But I do it anyway. 

Along the way I started closing the circles and embracing solitude. I became very religious and completely driven. About this same time, I assumed the care of my nephews. Three little boys. 

I watched the boys grow. I saw their emotional choices. I saw that they started to conceal their emotions to assimilate. And I knew I could stop their heartaches. So, I decided I had to be emotionally available all the time. I would encourage them to embrace their emotions and exhibit them. And each time I did, I validated their emotions with a revelation about my emotions at their ages. I didn’t want them to be hurt as I had been hurt. And I knew I could usher them into manhood if I took each emotional step first. 

In December of 2001, I made a final choice: it was a cold snowy night and I was listening to Christmas music. A song came on the radio. “My Grown-up Christmas List.” Barbra Streisand. The lyric, “Every man should have a friend” made me cry. I had no friends. I had shut myself out of all social interaction. I revealed my broken heart to God. And I vowed to change. 

I’m still belittled for being emotionally available. I still feel humiliated by the exposition. But I feel it’s my duty as a Roman Catholic to share. See I’m never embarrassed I’m single. I know I should have become a priest. I had that vocation. I made a bad decision when I left the seminary. I think there are people who are called to be single. To be emotionally unattached so they can serve others. If I were married now – I couldn’t provide the care I provide for my parents. Being unattached now allows me the freedom to be of service to everyone I meet. I fucked up my life. I know that now. 

See that’s why it’s so important for me to take care of my parents now. It’s not as altruistic as it seems. I’d like to do one task well in my life. I’d like to be successful at something. Maybe this will be my something. 

I’m not a good man. I know that feeling humiliated is a sin because it makes the situation about myself and my reaction. I know that’s immoral. I’m trying to overcome my sin of pride. 

See. Humiliated by this exhibition.

Lonely / Lonesome


I met a young man this week. 24. He told me. We talked for a bit. You know me; I instantly shift my conversation to the intimate. Not sexual. Real. Emotionally available. When we parted, this young man grabbed me and pulled me close and hugged me. I hate hugs. Everyone knows that. No. He didn’t know that. But he hugged me. With force. No. Passion. Not sexual. Emotional. So lonely. He hugged me with longing. I know lonely. 

I used to be lonely. Not anymore. Never anymore. Lonesome. Certainly. But they’re not the same thing. But I’m not anymore. Why? Because I’m open. I say what I feel. Always. I force myself. I don’t make jokes. I’m not sarcastic. I’m not a liar. I force myself to forget myself and make the us about them. The other one. Besides me. People are attracted to the warm. I’m never lonely but I’m always ashamed. Humiliated. Like a fool. 

Sometimes people make fun of me. Sometimes others exploit my vulnerability. So? That’s the price I pay so that others aren’t lonely. This post isn’t about me. It’s about people who are lonely. Be open. Lonely is a choice. The choice isn’t who you’re around. The choice is which emotion you’d rather feel: lonely or humiliated. The prize? Sometimes someone grabs you and encircles you until you’re an us.

Amongst

You take a child. You put him in a commune - call it daycare - and he begins a habit of transitional relationships. No one is permanent. One of many. Not a priority. Not a preference. The only one noticed is the untempered. Throw a tantrum and get seen. The adults are the rats responding to his bell. Then we school him in the unremarkable. No spectacular achievement is lauded; all achievement is praised. We teach him the useless of adverbs. Degrees of conjugation is inconsequential. Everyone gets the ribbon. The baseline is a period; to hell with the exclamation point. He’s packed. He’s in a pack. One of many. Only noticed if he bites the lead dog’s ass or barks loudest.

But at night, after the togetherness of the any of the many, he’s in bed. Alone. In the dark he knows he’s alone. And he knows communal is a lie. He’s alone.

And he knows you lied to him. He isn’t noticeable or distinguishable. You showed him through your choices that unconditional love is conditional. The shelf lives of marriages and friendships depend on the conditions. He learns love lasts as long as it’s favorable living conditions. He learns love is dependent on the degrees of self-satiation. And he hates you for lying to him that he was surrounded, preferred over telephones, and appetites, and self-soothings. He sees he’s not a priority. Not a preference.

He lives afraid and untrusting. He hates liars. He hates how he feels. He hates. He’s hateful. Full of hate. You can condemn the priest, the politician, and the professor, but we created the chasm; we can’t cure with a bigger commune. You owed him a cocoon.