Wednesday, November 29, 2017

A Path to Peace

        I think most people find their way to some sort of peace, no matter what their journey has entailed. I think that this is kind of a great gift in a really crappy world. The pain experienced prepares us to experience more, thus giving us the ability to take on more and more without breaking. It's a gift that only people that haven't broken completely enjoy. The rest aren't here anymore, or sadly won't be for too much longer.

        Truly, the world can be a beautiful place and it can also be hell. It isn't all what you make of it either. It's what you become because of it that will direct your steps, if you're either lucky or not careful. When the waves are crashing, we are forced to find ways to adapt and find some peace. Or we fail to find it. Like I've said before, I've made quite an interesting stable of adaptation techniques. From a small child laying next to the heat register, to sleeping on the dryer while it turns and hums. I've practiced imagery and make believe. Music. Running. Sitting in front of open windows when it's cold and wrapping myself in a blanket. A stiff drink. All ways to forget the chaos out there and focus on what's good in here.

       Sometimes, the best way to relax is to just pay attention to people; to actually engage them. I see their nuances and quirks and they usually make me smile. I look at the things people do to make other people laugh and that comforts me. Them laughing comforts me. There is something about watching someone who had absolutely lost it in laughter that makes me laugh too. I start seeing the magic in them. I start to really see what makes the world so's the people that live inside of it.

      I think the cure to the worry and anger is to turn everything off and spend time with actual people. Not everyone fits into the boxes we buy for them. It takes real time to place the correct labels on them. I'm thinking if you take that much time on them, you're likely to throw out the label maker in the process. I think it's time for the world to be friends again. At least it's time for your own little world to reconcile.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, October 11, 2017


        I'm not always a good son. Sometimes, I get caught up in my life and my wife and kids and forget to cherish the times I get to have with her. When we call, she always answers. She treats her grandchildren like they are her children. She leaves absolutely nothing on the table and she never has. She has always worn her heart on her sleeve.

        I'm not really all that good at being serious when it comes to how I feel in person. I love to probe and listen to people's stories. I love to share everything, just not so much in person. I do better in writing. In writing I can say what I feel without my emotions or insecurities getting in the way. It's part of the reason I keep this blog. I want the world to know me, but I want to do it silently. In the middle of the night where people like me live.

        So this one is for my mom, who I neglect.

        I used to lay behind her legs as a kid. I was scared to sleep alone. I hated being alone...always! My mom would sleep on the couch to give me and my brother our own rooms. After our TV shows would go off, she would send us to bed. Jason would go quietly, without argument. I would beg for more time. I never have liked the idea of sleep...of being so vulnerable. After a while I would shout from my room. "Mom! There's something outside my window! It sucks in here!" After a few rounds of this, she would tell me to come out to the living room. I'd lay behind her legs...something my son does with me on our couch and it reminds me of her every time.

        After a while, when I had fallen asleep, she would try to put me to bed. I would never go. I would get up and go to the heater on the other side of the room and lay down and wait for the furnace to bang around and blow comfort into the room, sweeping past my face. I'd fall asleep soundly. I think I was scared of just about everything and I always felt lonely without her around. I was a mama's boy that didn't have the option of being a daddy's boy. It didn't matter, because she gave me everything I needed.

        My mom knew things about me that I didn't think she knew. Sometimes, she would see the sadness in me in the morning and instantly change the narrative. She would keep me home from school because she saw something off about me. A practice I still keep with my kids. She would let me have fun instead; or sometimes, just let me lay behind her legs and not be so lonely.

         Once, when I entered high school. I was going through a very difficult time being me. I didn't much like anything about me. I was having trouble with being a man that had never been taught how. I had gotten the confidence to ask a girl out. This was big for me because I always lost my nerve and lost the girl. I asked and she accepted. I was so excited and felt so strong. A few weeks later, she dumped me. I found myself wrecked. Not in some dramatic teenager way; but because I was tired of being rejected by people. I was laying on my bed, pretending to sleep when she came in. She put her hand on me and prayed for me. I don't care what other people think of prayer. What this meant to me was that she was trusting in God to repair me. She knew I was broken...because she was my mom.

        Nothing was ever easy for my mom raising us. We didn't have any money. We didn't have the most popular things. We had to move a lot and leave our friends. It hurt because a kid doesn't see anything beyond themselves, but I see it an adult that is trying to make a life for my kids and wife. My mom, like me suffered from depression. It was hard on all of us, just like my wife and kids suffer with me when the lights go out. I didn't understand it then. I definitely understand it now.


        We always had the very best Christmases. She somehow always got us what he wanted. Me and Jason would wake up at 5:30 AM and wait for her to stir. Once we heard a cough or a sniff, we would run out to the living room that was always decorated in tinsel and lights and wake her screaming. She would wake, make me drink some orange juice, because I was hypoglycemic, then smile as we opened our gifts. I never took my mom's gifts for granted. They meant a lot to me and I'm guessing took a lot from her to get.

        We would go through some tough times. I was a nightmare teenager. I was angry and sad and blamed everything on her. I was mad at her because a coward couldn't stay and find a way to be a dad. That's what teenagers do. Teenage boys blame their moms for their absent fathers. I found myself in my darkest place. The most awful place I had been in. She knew it. It may not have been the right avenue to take, but she tried to intervene again. It wasn't successful, but it is a part of me now; remembering that she cared when I thought no one else did.

        I write this today because my mom is going through a surgery. It's routine, but when I think about it I find my hands shaking. It makes me nervous to think that I may not have mentioned enough how very strong you are. Mom, I cannot envision another person going through what you had to go through...sacrificing what you had to sacrifice...while giving all of yourself to your kids. No one but you could do what you did. Thank you mom.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Another Year

        My thought for today? Do the things that improve you as a person. Stop doing the things that are at the very heart of your destruction. Our bodies are dying, but we can be so very much alive. I think that it takes us remembering the times that we were the most happy and content with ourselves to find who we really can be. Then we have to get to the bottom of why we were so happy. The answer to that question is the very thing you have to return to.

       It's not always that easy. I can point to times in my life I've been happier, but mostly because everyone was still IN my life. But what I can say about myself is that people get through things in the best ways that they can. People find a way to adapt and to find the light in their lives. I've done that too. I bury myself in my kids. I've always loved kids and have always admired their innocence. They don't have to deal with the stress that their mother and I have to. They get to be innocent for a very short time in their lives. Me and my wife give each other everything, and I think we both would agree that holding them is the greatest therapy.

        This is the time that I want them to remember me. I think about negative things and I project negative things. I think about them and my wife and how great my friends and family are, and I project who God is, both in my life and in the lives of others. There is significantly more value in one than the other. So I try to outweigh the bad they see in me to redeem their view of the world and the things that are constantly happening in it.

        Looking at everyone's pictures of their children returning to school a year older...and looking at my almost grown up kids reminds me that we get one short attempt at representing everything that is true and Godly and wonderful about being alive. One short try at it. I really...really don't want to fail. Both because I want them to be extraordinary human adults, and also because selfishly, I want them to remember me as one of their greatest heroes and influences.

I want them to see that my importance outweighed my mistakes. I hope I succeed.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Wherever You Go...

        I haven't had issues with anger since I was a young man. Everything began to fall into place and I was blessed with everything I ever wanted. I guess that makes it a lot easier to be a voice of reason to yourself. It's easy to be cool when no one or nothing is trying to hurt you. But if you add a lot of grief and harmful people harming you, things could start to change.

       So finding myself with such a short fuse and cynical attitude is a little new to me. It's familiar from a life I led that feels like a hundred years ago...but it's new to me now. It sits in the basement of your guts and silently rots you slowly. It goes unnoticed until you say something or think something about another person that alarms you. Then all of the sudden, you don't know who you even are anymore.

        A lot of people take the road of deleting social media and avoiding the things that they often get angered by. I'm not sure that makes a lot of sense to me. "Wherever you go...there you are" - Earnest from Earnest Goes to Camp. While I think it is wise to avoid senseless things that piss you off, like mainstream news and politics, I also think that we need to learn to find the love and good in the world around us. It won't help me to retreat. It will only help me to change the way I think. To look at the beauty that is beneath those storm clouds.

        I'm going to try and only say good things. I've found myself spewing negativity constantly and I don't like that at all. It taxes both myself and others around me. I'm definitely gonna mess up, so I'll ask you to help me by reminding me gently, that I only want good things to pass through my lips. It's not a denial of the bad. It's the refusal to add more bad to the world.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Where Am I Migrating?

        So in light of the news of this new podcast, that will feature original short stories written by myself and others, I will be changing what you see here on this blog. This won't change much for most of my readers, as most of you came here when my blog was personal and strictly autobiographical. You came here while I was on this grandiose mission to share my entire life with everyone. A lot of you got a front row seat to my meltdown. While I was thriving and broken but glowing, you got to see what happens when a person gets decimated.

        I posted it all here when Will died. I had to. For me it was a form of imperfect therapy and I needed to get it out. I wrote things here that I had not even told my wife because I was afraid of her reaction, and if I posted it here I couldn't take it back. I regret that. She shouldn't have learned things about me the same time as you did.

       I wrote so much and said so much that it hurt Will's family to read. I didn't think enough about them when I wrote those words. I saw the damage later. I tried to lay off for a while.

       But then Joe died. I had a lot to say about that. I didn't say much...only what was welling up inside of me. I needed to find a different avenue to express what was inside of me so that I wouldn't hurt those that meant more to me that anything. So I started writing short stories. I wanted to mask what was going on in me in fiction. I wrote a lot over that last couple of years. I think I probably alienated many of the people that came here to see inside of me. To them, I wasn't speaking anymore. To me, I was speaking more than I ever had. I was using symbolism and stories and exposing myself more than ever. I was singing.

        After a while my regular writings felt more like whining to me and I cut down on that. It was more of the same to me, so nothing became extraordinary and wasn't worth sharing. But maybe it was, and I got embarrassed.

        So I got this idea about this podcast. This is a way to spill my guts in both short story and music. I'll be working with Josh and bringing stories about everyday life, masked in extraordinary circumstances to you, while still spilling what's inside of me. We are excited about this venture and plan to release only what inspires us to share. Nothing more. Nothing less. We will be singing.

       What does this mean for this blog? It will go back to my thoughts. I'll try to come back to speaking without riddles and stories to express myself. I'm gonna be open and honest and tell you plainly. I'm a very different person than I was when I started this blog. Those of you that have been readers over the years know this already. I am both a better person and also worse. I have more turmoil and questions. Nothing is cut and dry or black and white with me anymore. I am more complicated. I may need you to help me with directions. I'm still singing and I'm still migrating.


Thanks for reading...Z

Friday, August 18, 2017

Great News!!!

        Exciting new things coming. Me and Josh, a brother to me, have begun work on a new podcast. The podcast will feature all original short stories and music, artistically designed for each story. The point of the podcast will be to attempt to stimulate thought and reflection in our listeners. We won't be covering politics or pop culture, We will only be interested in the imagination and the beauty of being alive. More info to come.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Here By My Side

        My bride has been out of state for a few days. I was thinking that first night when I came home and got into a very large empty bed, that we have spent so very few nights apart over the past 15+ years. It doesn't cross your mind until you realize you are lonely.

        Then when you get lonely and the house is silent and you can't hear your very heart breathing next to you, you start to remember how great they are. How great she is. There are a ton of things that I can never repay her for, and spilling these words onto the internet doesn't do it either: But I think the single greatest thing she has ever done for me, was sit in the silence with me when my brothers left us. I don't think I have ever felt so empty. I don't think I've ever hated a quiet room more. I've never stared off into siege for so long. She would sit next to me and rub the back of my head or just lay her head on my shoulder.

        She didn't even try to fix it. Most days, she didn't say anything at all. It wasn't something that could ever be fixed and I wasn't going to be fixed either. But there she sat with me in the shadow of death. A perfect picture that God used to describe the reason we don't need to fear. I have a really great person living this life with me...helping me raise three really great people. I'm very thankful for her, and them, and you, and the life God has blessed me with.

I'm going to try and remember these things every day, so I learn to never take them for granted.


Thanks for reading...Z

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Forgetting Who You Are

When I die, put my ashes in the trash bag
I don't care where they go
Don't waste your money on my gravestone
I'm more concerned about my soul - NF - Oh Lord

        It's easier than I thought to forget who you are. This is a theme I've been going through the past few years. All of this anger going on in the world and division. People care less about other people than they ever have I think. This is coming from a guy, who was struck on my bike by an SUV 8 years ago. I did at least one flip that I can remember and ended up two lanes to my left (luckily the turn lane) on my face. I wasn't injured, but I didn't know that yet.

        I looked up and saw how the world thought of me. They stared at me looking to them for help and drove right past. A homeless man called the cops from Meijer and came running to help. One man ran to the cash register at the Meijer gas station and told them to call, then ran all the way to me before anyone else could be bothered or take a risk to help me.

        The world has been moving this direction for some time now. People simply don't care about people that they don't know. Or at least it doesn't seem that way. I've caught myself driving past people on the side of the road on their phones calling for someone to help them. I think in my head, "They have a phone, they are calling for help. They're good." I ignore the much quieter voice that asks me if they have auto insurance, or if they have anyone that will be able to get them anytime soon. I push it off because it's so much easier to be an utter asshole and make a choice not to care at all and stop and ask.

        I think I would have stopped years ago.

        So again, I find myself answering questions that I would have answered differently before I got a really harsh and fatal reality check. A reminder from my past! The sun doesn't shine on my ass and it never will. I get what everyone else gets. I get blessings from God, that often go unnoticed: And I get the harsh reality of the depravity and darkness of the world. I have to try and learn to juggle those and put them into a proper perspective.

        How to figure out how to do that? I don't know. But maybe it involves forcing myself to take a second and breathe, then listen to the quieter voice that is really compassionate if not wise. Move forward and stop allowing a destructive world view to manipulate my decisions.


Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Up Here


        There is something about getting on a plane and watching your home become tiny lights in a kaleidoscope that will disappear soon, that guts me; making me more aware of my surroundings. For one, I don't like heights, so I don't like flying...any single part of it. Secondly, flying makes me feel so small as I watch the big world with people I know and love living in it at that very moment slip away like they didn't even exist.

        We went to Dallas to visit a life-long friend of Laura's, and her beautiful family. Texas is a long way from Michigan, so we had to fly. When I have to fly, I drink some beer or whatever I can find. I hate planes. I don't want a plane to go down in the ocean and then survive just to be eaten by sharks. Even if I am not flying over the ocean, I still fear this because who knows what could happen...there can always be sharks. I had a couple of beers in the airport waiting to board. It helped and I relaxed a bit.

        As soon as the plane took off and I was out of the "danger zone," I started to be thankful. I started to think about the people that were doing what they always do right under me. It was weird because it made me think of what God might see. All of these people He loves doing what they always do while other things are happening all over the world without them. At that moment, I was 20,000 feet above everyone else that I loved in the entire world, except those with me in the plane. At that moment, I looked over to the girl sitting in the window seat beside me and saw her crying.

        I wanted to ask her why she was crying, but no one wants to be bothered when they are crying. It made me feel bad and also wonder: Who is she flying away from? Did she come home to see her family and she is crushed to leave? Is she leaving those she loves for other things? Doesn't matter because I think she was watching them become lights in a kaleidoscope and thinking the same thing I was. I put on my headphones and tried to focus elsewhere.

        About an hour later I looked over to Laura, who was sitting in the aisle of the other row. I saw a girl in the window seat of the same row reading.  She was reading a funeral pamphlet. The girl in the picture looked the same age as her... maybe 30 years old. She flipped through it and read every word: In fact she turned a page, then turned back to read it again. It made me sad because someone died and she cared a lot for that person. A lot of people probably cared a lot for that person. I thought to myself; People down there don't care much about people they don't know, or if they lost someone, or are leaving someone that will be greatly missed by them. But up here, we see the world as tiny lights, and all we have anymore is up here in this plane...just trying to breathe.




Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Lion - Part 1 and 2

         The alarms went off and everyone started running in every direction. I only knew what way to go, and that was to home.

        I ran as fast as I could. There wasn't even a bike I could borrow. I just ran, hoping I could outrun my death. I got about a block away from my house before I began to doubt that I would make it.

       My mom was special. She had cancer. Cancer isn't special. Cancer is a Satan and he was going to take her from me at 5 years old, I just knew it. I just remember feeling so hopeless watching the world darken and turn into terrifying shapes I will never forget. The wind picked up and the sky got really dark. I ran past the Whitakers and their wind chimes were singing a terrible song. Garbage cans and newspapers flew everywhere. But I pushed forward to my house, that held my mother.

        Me and my mom used to write on each other's backs at night. It was a fun game that we always played, no matter what. She would draw either a word or a picture on my back and I would guess. When one of us made a mistake, we would erase the entire palate like one would a chalk board. I would draw on her back, and she would draw on mine. We would do this until one of us didn't turn around for their turn. Then the other would know they were asleep, and then go to sleep themselves. Going to sleep felt so lonely to me.  I rarely slept first. I always waited for her. I had to protect her.

        Who else would? My dad left before I was born. I didn't have any siblings. I was the only "man." He left before I was born, denying all kinds of things. She didn't drag me through it...she walked away, risking our well being for my dignity. And now here I am running from a dark siege toward my home that I grew up in; that hadn't been fortified or fixed in decades, to get to my mom. I needed her and she needed me. We were each other's cure for loneliness. We were also each other's cures to the terror in the world.

        The wind blew me down to the ground, planting my face into a wheat bail. I got up immediately and started running, while also staggering toward the front door. The wind struck again, throwing me onto the bending stalks of corn. I got up again and set my eyes to my home. I ran toward the door as the wind pushed me to the right, then suddenly to the left.

       The front door burst open and there she was. My mom came running out. I knew she would. I knew she had to be there. I was scared she wouldn't be, but I just knew she would. The wind blew her down the moment she stepped out of the house. She got back up and forged ahead to me. I wasn't as brave as I was a moment ago. When I saw her, I became a kid again. I was scared and showing it. She fell several times before she reached out her hand and grabbed onto my shirt. She pulled me to her chest, then dragged me staggering to our house, closing the door before we were sucked out.

        There was this time that she wrote on my back that I had gotten the honor of captain of the safeties of the fifth grade. Another time. she wrote that grandma had died, then wrote that she was sorry. Another time, she wrote that the Tigers had won the world series. I laughed and shook my fist in victory at this. Then the time came that she wrote that she had cancer, and would have to leave me. She didn't write all of those words, but that's what I got. She erased what she wrote at least a dozen times before she let it go to me.

        I had made it home. She pulled me by the hand to the bathtub and as we sat in it she was sitting with her back to the storm and me sitting between her legs, with her arms wrapped tight around me. I felt safe. I was home, and that was all I needed to be.

        The wind blew the roof off and sucked every piece of furniture out of the house. It was a slowly twisting mass of darkness that took all of our things and brought down the wall joists and load bearing walls on top of us. Everything was shaking and I could hear my mom grown as objects hit us from every side. I heard her pray to God for help. I heard her cry and beg for God to save me... Me.

        Hours later, we laid at the bottom of a lot of rubble. We couldn't see sunlight or hear any commotion. We just laid there in the bathtub, below everything that makes a house. I felt a familiar finger on my back. She said, What do you call cheese... that's not your own? I had already heard it, but I shrugged my shoulders anyway. I pretended to laugh at her answer by shaking my tiny diaphragm. She wrote everything about her life on my back and kept shaking me to keep me awake. She wrote that she loved me so many times I lost count. I couldn't answer, something kept me from speaking. There a was a pressure on my chest and a weakness in my throat.

I told her I loved her back in my mind, every time.

        We laid there until be both fell into a deep sleep. To be honest, I fell asleep first. I don't know how long she wrote on my back. I don't want to know. But I do know that at the darkest point of consciousness,  I saw the sunlight. I opened my eyes to it first and immediately looked for her. Things were blurry, but I found her hand hanging from a gurney. I tried to get up. I tried to shout to her. I couldn't produce anything that would disrupt the atmosphere. I thought she was dead. I fell asleep again.

        I would wake days later with an IV in my arm, staring up at ceiling tiles. It took a few moments for me to remember who I was, or where she was.

        Then I heard her voice. I looked to my left and she was reaching for me. I grabbed her hand and we both cried for very different and the very same reasons.


Time flew by. It was weeks, but she was gone in what seemed like a day…

She had two options that she could figure. She looked at him as he slept in that bed she got him from the Salvation Army. The corners of his lips turned up when he was relaxed...when his face could feel nothing. This was the first thing she noticed about him while running her fingers across the contours of his face, moments after giving birth to him. He was a first grader now. He was a really good kid.

She believed he was no reflection of her. She believed he was the very character of God, rising with Him with the sun. She wouldn't soon deserve him. She couldn't. She was only mistakes. She had to choose between the sickness and the sanity of her son. She would have to choose later, she could not right now as she watched him sleep. He didn't deserve that.

         His father was a married man. She didn't even know his name, but he wore a wedding ring opposite hand of his 1977 class ring. He would come and give her money and she would make believe love for him. She didn't even know how long this went on for, but knew he had a disgusting smell to him. His hair smelled like old sweat. His beard smelled of garbage. He was always sweating on her.

He would get up when the love faded and leave the hotel room smiling and forgot to say goodbye every time. She didn't care, she desired him dead when he used words, she desired him dead anyway. She didn't even tell him he had a son, she just ignored his calls and got a job at a supermarket bagging groceries.

         Her two options now? Take her life now or let it happen. Just let the cancer slowly eat her away while he watched from just below the bed rails. Using her head, she could only come to one logical decision. She had a sister who was much better off than her and loved her son as if it were her own. She had a big house with an extra room and two kids the same age. If she just said goodbye now, her son would be OK.

But everything that isn't supposed to feel logical told her to stay. Every moment would be worth a pound of gold to both of them. She would give him the world even as a skeleton.

         She had this choice to make. She had a tube down her throat that would not let her speak to him. At night, he would crawl up on the bed and they would take turns writing things on each other's backs and guessing what the other had said. This night was the THE NIGHT. She had to make a decision before she couldn't anymore. She had to give him something. She couldn't lie anymore or wait for some miracle to happen.

This was her life. His life was about to change. Soon enough, she wouldn't know his face or even be able to see it. Soon enough he would be dead to her mind...a thought that was more torturous than anything she could think of. She knew that he knew she was going away. He just couldn't say it. 

         She flicked his ear to wake him. He stirred and she knew he was listening. He always seemed to be listening. She began drawing on his back. Her hands shook with every letter and she could feel his body tremble with every completed word. Her tears made it hard to keep going. His tears made it hard to feel what she was trying to tell him, but he knew I think.  Her hand stopped at his lower back and he felt her squeeze his small frame against her even smaller one. He braced himself and closed his eyes to think about when she was well.

He went to this thought every time he was scared. He went to he time he fell out of the tree in front of his house and she rocked him back and forth like the wind as it blew storm clouds through the trees. He remembered when she held him when his friend was hit by a car and killed. He didn't understand death until he saw his friend lifeless in a coffin.

         Then he only knew death as just being plastic looking. He closed off the entire world, even when he felt the gasp of his mother's chest and the alarm sounding on the machine next to her. He was definitely crying, but could and would only allow memories of laughter to flood his brain. He would never see the tube in her hand. He would never see all that she sacrificed for him. He would never understand that Salvation Army Bed that took the last of the money she had made with a legitimate job before she started to get sick.

         He would never know all that her life had produced, but he would never forget what she was to him. 

Migrate. T

Thanks for reading...Z