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Month: April 2015

Because I’m an Asshole

I’ve been a bit open about my situation, and my divorce. And often such times are ones of deep self-examination. This isn’t meant to be a slam on myself, and I am not depressed, at least not overly so. But realistically, sometimes i just realize maybe I don’t have to be one going forward, but in the past at least, I’ve been a real asshole.

The evidence is clear, the witnesses have been called.
Cold, calculating, much too intellectual and practical for love.
That’s me. Don’t take my word for it.
Two failed marriages, countless ruined relationships. A magic
eight ball, that at every consultation about matters of
the heart, returns the verdicts:
“Not Likely”
“Doubtful”
“Outcome Uncertain”
Then when asked, since no one else will deliver an
answer so honest and without guile,
“Am I an asshole?”
the triangle swirls in the murky blue liquid before:
“Yes.”

The first failed for the same reason as the last,
along with all those in between.
I’m a workaholic, and a problem solver. I fail to console, to
show enough empathy. My form of love is not accepted,
not perceived the same way I mean it. I want to care, and I
want to show I do by my actions, not just my words.
“You don’t understand.”
“I want something more.”
“You’re never home.”
These reasons one gave. Another declared I was too much a dreamer,
yet another, too practical.
I strive for affection, perhaps never offered when I was a child,
and yet betrayed often, struggle with
trust.

Unfocused, I failed.
A workaholic, I failed.
Betrayed, I failed.
Jealous, I failed.
Honest, I failed.
Dishonest, I failed.
Faithful, I failed.
Unfaithful, I failed.
Loosing myself for another, I failed.
Finding myself and my way, I failed.
Generous, I failed.
Miserly, I failed.
In all of these, I failed.
Because I’m an asshole.

I sit now, on the verge of a new start
alone with my thoughts, words and worlds of
my own creation, filled with those characters formed
from parts of me. I’m surrounded by the potential
for love, for friendship. But I’m afraid.
“You don’t love me.”
“I think you want someone else.”
“Just come home.”
These things I hear, these thoughts in my head
echo through the empty space. It used to be
filled. Thoughts of love and hurt are both gone,
leaving behind empty space. I want to try again, but
fear repeated failure.
Because I’m an asshole.

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Anxiety and Dreams

dreams“My anxiety ate my dreams.” A simple tweet. Spotted a tiny bit of the way down my news feed. But I didn’t favorite it, or retweet it. Because it didn’t happen to me, at least not permanently. Sure, I lived in fear for a number of years, writing off and on. And I lived in ignorance, not knowing how to make my dreams work.

But to let anxiety eat them? It would probably swallow them, and then turn them into shit. For no matter how elegant the meal, how delicious and artfully presented, that is the end it faces: things we let be food are consumed, digested, and then leave our bodies in a form so hideous, we immediately flush it away. Not to mention the smell. Dreams are not to be eaten. Nor are they to be placed upon a shelf to be looked at, pointed to with pride.

No, dreams are the clothing of life, meant to be worn, lived, sometimes laundered, but cherished like a favorite pair of jeans. There are some beautiful things about dreams though, ways they are not at all like clothing.

Dreams rarely wear out. Maybe a definition of dream is in order here. Your dream is your one thing. The one thing that makes you tick, gets you up in the morning, and propels you through your day. Many people never find them, living “lives of quiet desperation.” Your dream ages gracefully with you, like your skin. It never wears out, until you do.

*Time out here to say my dream is not just to be a writer. It is to tell stories. I have used many means to help fulfill that dream, but I can tell you when I am not telling stories, I am unhappy and unpleasant to be around. When I wearing my dream, I am happy, pleasant, and for the most part much easier to take. The key is to know your dream well. Sometimes it starts out as a loose outline, but as you wear it, it begins to conform to you, and you understand it better.

You can’t loan someone your dream. After a time, no one else would fit into your favorite jeans. Countless washings and wearings have made them uniquely yours: they fit you in a way they would fit no one else. So you can’t loan your dream out for a weekend. No one else’s dream is exactly like yours, so they really can’t be compared, borrowed, or shared. You cannot borrow someone else’s dream either. It just won’t ever fit right.

Find your dream. I promise you it is not a house in the suburbs, a wife, 2.5 kids, a dog named Rover, and two cars in the garage. For the most part, those things will get you locked into a job, or a career. If a lucrative career is your dream, perhaps medicine or law, then you may get those things. But the purpose of life is to find what that dream is, and follow it, whether it guarantees financial ‘success’ or not.

Finding your dream, analyzing and focusing on it, and truly wearing it the way it should be worn is hard work. But it’s worth it. Don’t let anything eat your dreams. Wear them instead.

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Backwards Driving

backingupI drove for Fed-Ex for a long time, and one of the first things they instruct you on is this: 75% of all accidents in the company occur when the driver is backing up. Three out of four. The course continues to explain that as a professional driver, you should only back up when absolutely necessary.

I had an accident while driving for Fed Ex. The only no-fault accident you can have, according to the company. Because I wasn’t even driving, and the keys were not even in the ignition. I was inside a Hollywood Video, delivering packages, when a lady went out to her car, buckled her child into his car seat, got behind the wheel, and promptly backed right into my truck, parked behind her. Her excuse? I never even saw it.

My daughter’s first accident involved backing up. My now ex-wife backed into our garage door one winter, my first ever use of my rental insurance. Both argued they thought they had room, or “couldn’t see.”

Everyone says that hindsight is 20-20. But that is bullshit. Because perhaps you can see clearly decisions you could have made differently, but you can’t see what the consequence of those decisions might have been. You can only guess, and when we as individuals try to do that, we almost always assume the most positive outcome, even though life itself proves to us over and over that shit happens, even to good people.

Sure, we can learn lessons from the past, and gain wisdom in the decisions we make going forward, but like driving, in life we should back up only when absolutely necessary. Once a decision has been made, moving forward is almost always the best option.

Looking back, learning from past mistakes and victories? Definitely worthwhile from time to time. But backing up and trying to re-make decisions or reverse them? That almost always ends in disaster.

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Terminal Illness

seizethedayI see the posts over and over. My uncle/dad/sister, whoever, has cancer, or some other troubling disease. Some are rare, most are incurable. Hell, my own mother has Alzheimer’s, and an Uncle I haven’t seen since I was a small child has heart issues that will soon take his life. In the past few years, a number of friends my age or younger have passed away. It’s disconcerting.

The memes abound: the hazards of GMO, steroid riddled beef and chicken, and produce sprayed with poison to make it look good in the store. Maybe the answer is we all change our diets, drive safer cars at slower speeds, avoid sunlight and distracted driving, and never put anything on, around, near, or in our bodies that we don’t have full knowledge about.

But I think cancer would still happen. Careful people would still get AIDS, the compassionate people would still be exposed to Ebola, and unvaccinated or vaccinated children, depending on your side of the argument, would spread disease around the world. Shit, something undiscovered would break out. However, that isn’t the real point. What is, you ask?

We all have a terminal disease. It is called life. We all put ourselves in danger every time we get out of bed. This risky behavior includes the ever dangerous pastimes of laundry, showering, eating breakfast, strapping ourselves into a steel and glass device, and propelling ourselves to work at high rates of speed, working itself, the equally dangerous drive home, not to mention any side errands or hobbies we might engage in.

So don’t let the biggies scare you. If your friend has cancer, cherish them while you have them. You never know if you will be the one to go first. You can’t catch AIDS from a hug, Ebola in your average super market, or most other diseases either. And whether you do, or you don’t, we’re all terminal.

FearBlueThis blog isn’t meant to bring you down. It’s simply meant to say this: it’s okay, even good to make plans and have goals. It’s not bad to map out what you think your future might look like, although in my experience it rarely plays out that way.

But when opportunity comes, take it. When friendship comes, cherish it. When life offers you something good, embrace it, even if it does not last forever. Because quite simply, nothing does.

If today was your last day, what would you do? What opportunities have come into your life you have passed up due to fear? We’re all terminal. Seize the day.

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Resurrection

It’s the day after Easter, but before you go thinking I am comparing my career or any part of my life to that of Jesus (for instance, I am way older than he ever got), I just wanted to drop a quick note here about Easter and new starts: a resurrection of my passion, if you will.

I haven’t been silent about what is going on in my life, although I have not shared details. And I won’t, unless you are in a very special inner circle of friends. But if you have been following along (if you haven’t, here is a link to about as much as I am going to say on the subject), you know I am going through a divorce from my wife of sixteen years, and at the same time will be doing some extensive travel this summer (and more may be in the works).

During the upheaval, really since mid-December, my muse has been quite fickle. She does not like stress, change, and most of all conflict. And my life has been filled with those things, including some unnecessary drama, something that drives her into hiding.

scaredWell, in a new apartment, new office, fighting two internet providers to get things up and running again, my muse woke back up. I needed to fix some things in my current WIP, Slaughtered, I needed to get some research done, and I have several projects waiting, including the completion of The Good Shepherd, sequel to Stray Ally. Working on any or all of these has been challenging at best.

Then came Wednesday. Hump day. Not Good Friday or Resurrection Sunday. My new roommate, also my cousin, experienced her first “Troy Trance.” These occur frequently when I am so involved in my work, wheat I am writing or doing, that I become oblivious to what is going on around me. She came in, stood in the doorway of my room, watched me type, went to her room. She put her things away, and then came back. Stood and watched me some more. She probably could have robbed the place. Then she walked up behind me and said something.

I don’t know what she said, but she scared the shit out of me. My muse is back. She has me trapped at the keyboard, and words are flowing fast and furious. It’s a resurrection. Okay, maybe not an Easter miracle. It has been more than three days after all. But in the last few weeks, a huge weight has been lifted from me. Maybe my muse was stuck under the burden of it, and now she is free.

And I am ready. My passion is risen. It is risen indeed.

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