I’ll be flat-assed honest with you. I think Percy Faith and His Orchestra may have received accolades they did not richly deserve. Better than Ray Conniff Singers? Of course. Absolutely. But …
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.
It’s 12:58 when i start this blurt. sitting here. Leather chair. Christmas lights. Wish i had a brandy. But glad I don’t. I don’t need another vice. Got the results of the nuclear stress tests. (Got them by email 20 minutes later. Medicine is amazing.) No clue what they mean. Could ask doc buddies. But I don’t need to know now. I’ll find out soon enough. Besides. This is only 1 piece of my puzzle. More tests soon.
Each night I sit and examine my conscience. Every single night. I mentally travel my day and consider what I’ve done and what I’ve failed to do.
Lately I’m treated with extraordinary kindness. Wherever I go. 5 different nurses/techs helped me with the tests. (4 hours long!) And each were extraordinarily gentle and generous with their kindness. (The nurse judged me today, “you’re funny!” Odd. I never think I’m funny anymore. I feel I’m goddamned depressing.) No matter where I go or who I meet: extraordinary kindness. I said last week I thought maybe people were getting kinder. But a dear friend of mine said they were just kind because of me. I hope that’s not true.
No. I like being kindly treated. Believe me, it wasn’t always my case. I’ve been cruelly treated many many times.
Maybe I’m receiving this benevolence because of my attitude. I try to be gracious and grateful. Maybe it’s synchronicity. But I hope people are starting to see the us again.
I’m so fucking sick of subsets. Stop dividing us.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I look around the room. Mementos of trips. Events. Figurines bought by children as gifts. Now I’m making lists. That I’ll give to a sister. That I’ll throw away. I don’t think I could live here without them. Job offers here. Job offers Chicago. Bahamas. Boston. Some better than others. I’m sitting here making a list. Why stay here? Why move there? Which job has the most potential? Fastest cash? I’m making lists. Stay for who? Who would I miss? Who would tidy the graves? Who? Where’s the future? Who’s my future? This morning I’m listless. Making lists. Yesterday spiritual direction. What more do I owe? Where are my responsibilities? Who are my responsibilities? I ask Father. His reply: “Mark you don’t have to examine grief. You just have to feel it.” That’s my sentence today. I’ll hold that today. I don’t feel depressed. I don’t feel anxious. I feel sad. So many things to settle. I feel unsettled.
Grief is wrapping the wound until it heals into a scar.
This is my final post concerning the death of my dad. I try to learn with each of my experiences. Me? I use Roman Catholicism as my yardstick. But I think some things are universally true. I’ve learned I sucked at empathy and sympathy. I used to hear someone express grief and I dismissed it as overly sentimental or overly dramatic. I was wrong. Death leaves a hole - an emptiness I’ve never experienced. It’s too soon for me to know if/what can fill it.
I’ve learned sympathy cards matter. Attending funerals matter. Visiting the sick matters. Calling and inquiring matters. I haven’t mastered those acts of kindness in my past. But those failings are in my past.
And I learned I’ve been intolerant of people who ask for necessary financial assistance. “Go fund me” supplications for funerals might be quite necessary. Thank God we didn’t need one because I’ve learned funerals are very expensive. For instance: an obituary printed in an almost obsolete newspaper costs $550. And that’s a small aspect. Yet necessary unless one lives in a village with a town crier. I’ll donate in my future. God help people who are too poor to bury their dead.
Now. This will sound simple.
Reporter. The root “port”. To carry. Reporter: to carry information from one source to another.
Journalist. The root “journal”. Journal: personal diary. A personal diary of a personal journey.
When you choose a news source and form your opinion, wouldn’t it be sagacious to choose facts over a personal opinion?
And wouldn’t it be sagacious to choose a number of sources to collect the greatest number of the necessary facts?
Do you know what happens when someone dies? The phone calls stop. The texts stop. The visits stop. And the survivors are left in the silence of solitude struggling to breathe in the dank of the sorrow.
And then your friend sends a text. He’s stopping by after Mass. And your heart is risen from the death. A resurrection to the living from their dead.
Last night I had a great evening. Bonfire. Gin & tonics. I’ve missed bonfires. I just looked at the date on a pic: October 27, 2018. That’s the last time I’ve stood around a fire.
Funny thing about pictures. I saw that pic from 2018. A pic of me having a conversation I didn’t want to hear with people I didn’t want to know.
I’m over taking pictures. Yesterday I knelt in a church as a woman walked up to the altar and started taking pictures with her phone. You know. Like she was at the zoo. Completely oblivious to what an altar represents and the distraction she created to anyone who might want to offer a prayer. And instead of praying I thought, I’m done with taking pictures. I want to participate in the activity and engage with the participants. Not fill my instagram page. Moving forward - one pic of a group of people I want to remember.
So last night. No pics. Just lively conversation with friends.
How disciplined am I again? I ate 2 slices of pizza and drank 2 gin & tonics over 6 hours and came home. This morning I’d lost a pound. Total of 17 so far. All about the carbs, baby. All about the carbs.
Yes. I’m didactic. Of course I am. I don’t want to read any author who doesn’t possess the stones to be declarative in his craft. Author / Authority. Those words share the same etymological root. And that root best be from the tree of knowledge.
And then a life becomes a memory. A memory tucked between the parchment of crisp stiff sheets. Each photograph secured behind aged cellophane or cornered by black triangles. A memory of a boy. A moment of an athlete. Of a soldier. Of a groom. Participants added as his life developed. Snap: a bride. Snap: a baby. Snap: a family. A policeman. A grandson.
A living name.
A name spoken over poured water above a font.
A name spoken by a bishop with a hand that turned a cheek.
A name spoken over a couple knelt in union.
Tomorrow his name will be added to the litany of the dead. A memorial Mass. A remembrance of parishioners who’ve become memories.
Tomorrow I’ll sit alone in a pew with his name on my soul. I’ll hear his name echoed through the nave. One of the last times. A final mention when she’s no longer a widow. Then silenced. Never to reverberate.
His memory faded like the photographs. My sorrow shielded by a cellophane.
I worry I’m leaving the wrong impression of my true emotions. JFTR: I love being my parents’ caretakers. I’m honored. I love the privilege.
When my dad died I went over to my friends’ house and I sat on their patio and I drank gin & tonics and I smoked 4 cigarettes. And I inhaled.
As I smoked I thought: I am the man I’m supposed to be. I am the son I’m supposed to be. I am the brother I’m supposed to be. I am the Roman Catholic I’m supposed to be. I rose to my dad’s occasion.
And I did not feel guilty.
I did my best. I give my best. The emotion I felt wasn’t guilt. It was sorrow.
Am I good enough? No. But I’m trying. Honest true effort.
Taking care of my mother is a step toward being better. I love her. Helping her is not a burden. I’ll rise to her occasion.
One can simultaneously feel hope and sorrow. There’s room in a heart for all emotions of love.
All of a sudden you don’t listen anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t edit anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t reveal anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t conspire anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t collect memories anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t feel communion anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t wait anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t hope anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t love anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t feel angry anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t hate anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t care anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t worry there’s no us anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t want their more anymore.
All of a sudden you don’t stay anymore.