Sunday, September 14, 2014

Tapestry ( A Short Story)

A photograph of a piano. An old silver microphone. A small bottle of industry grade hand soap in a greasy sandwich bag. A step ladder. A grey sweater. A dusty picture frame with a man in a kilt and a woman in a wedding dress. A doll in adult's clothing. A small figurine in his underwear. A ceramic Gnome.

If you were to knit these together, a creative person could build a life out of them. A really creative person could build a family from them.

These are the items catalogued from section 5 in precinct 17, located in the heart of the Gustaphson district. Ellis Gustaphson discovered this district in 2163 under the sponsorship of the king to excavate unknown territories inhabited by radicals. It was a huge risk. A risk the king believed to be profitable to learn more about the human habit. This was the site that he believed to be the location of the initial bombings. Gustaphson dug through the roots and cut down trees. He dug until he touched something solid. His crew dropped to their knees to gently uncover the finding...a half dissolved and faded Gnome. Gustaphson was well educated in the field of human culture. He knew this discovery meant that humans had been here.

Gustaphson kept digging. He dug all night and kept finding small objects scattered all around the excavation site. A microphone. I photograph of a piano. A bottle of hand soap.

In 30 sundowns, Gustaphson had compiled 9 artifacts from section 5. The objects too random to figure out. Too different to piece together into a solid story or experiment. Nothing to report as significant. The plug was pulled and the excavation ended by the king's orders.

Gustaphson retired 140 years later, with his greatest discovery ultimately leading to nothing. Other excavators had found gold and silver. Some had found skulls and almost perfectly preserved food items. Gustaphson learned nothing from what he found, but he never stopped wondering. He had these items placed in his quarters on the ship, pinned to his walls. At night, he tried to imagine the couple on the wall in the picture frame. He understood this was a wedding of some sort, but just couldn't reconcile the rest of the story. When a bullet was found next to a gun, you could easily understand it's history. This was different. This was connected, but not in a way anyone understood. Gustaphson had two weeks left of his life to figure it out. In two weeks and one day, he would be gone. The king would press the button everyday and those that turned 250 would drop where they stand.

Gustaphson called in some favors and blackmailed some business bosses and secured enough money to re-excavate district 10, later called the Gustaphson district, particularly section 5. Gustaphson dug deeper and faster. He worked all night and retrieved nothing. He moved the dig further west, then further east until he started hitting solid materials.

A box containing paper materials. A pocketknife. A small canvas book with a painting on the cover. Inside were human letters, which no one had discovered the meaning to. A swing-set. A flat, black screen. Finally, a photo of 4 humans, two small sitting on a sofa. The larger ones, holding the smaller ones so tight their knuckles were white.

This was it! This was the the final piece to the puzzle Gustaphson had worked for so long to solve. All of the sudden, he realized that the pieces fit together to paint a picture of a group of people that cared about each other and lived their lives together. Each person maybe had their own interests, but shared them with each other? Maybe some of the humans didn't fire any bullets? Maybe some just lived together in peace.

This was a true discovery. Gustaphson knew this would be the change to the game. What they had always assumed was that humans hated humans and naturally made humans extinct. This was the first proof that some humans may have lived together and didn't hate the other.

He closed his eyes and brought up the communication screen. Nothing. No answer. He ran to the nearest shuttle and jumped on, begging the pilot to go faster. He got to the compound with the downloaded memories and leaped off the shuttle to the pavement and into the make-shift command center. He ran as hard as he has ever run. He got so far as into the command center door, shouting "WAIT!"

And he fell silent to the ground.

Everyone looked to his dead body, realizing the king's button and kept doing their jobs. A cadet named Rael took notice of him lying on the ground. She thought it strange that he would shout such a thing. She reached into him. She put her hands into his head as if they were both just data and immediately felt the pain of loss. This was an unknown experience; this feeling of losing something that was a part of your body...something that you would never imagine living without. For the first time in her history, Rael cried. No one had ever seen anyone cry before. She didn't know how or why, but her chest tightened and she could not hold what was inside of her in. She snatched her hand away from Gustaphson's brain and doubled over as everyone watched.

This was what she had always hoped the humans had; humanity, something different from loneliness. She had always wondered about humanity. She had always wanted to know why they seemed bent on killing each other. She considered them evil. She always wanted to know what could drive a person to kill or to die.

For the very first time in her life, Rael felt love...and hurt.


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, September 8, 2014


Hey. You're sleeping on the couch beside me. You were so tired tonight. You were so tired that I didn't have the chance to tell you what you have done for me.

When you are married for over decade, you sometimes forget momentarily what your partner actually is to you.

As you lay there sleeping, I can't help but to remember some things. I couldn't keep them out if I tried. So here is a short list of the things you have done to change who I was to who I am becoming.

You swallowed my sorrow. In my grief for Will, our marriage went through the worst strain it could endure. I dropped my guts onto the floor and you picked them up and hid them from our kids to protect me and them from trauma.

I wanted to live in anger. I wanted to hate, but the softness about you kept my edges dull and my senses confused. You simply are too beautiful to hate the God that gave you to me.

You never let me go unchecked. You were tenacious in keeping me from destruction. I had always been a strong person with strong convictions. The moment you saw my convictions were damaged, you acted and endured my anger to keep me safe. I did things harmful to us in grief and it hurt you. You forgave me. Forgiveness is the most valuable virtue.

You made Christmas mean something other than death to me. To some, this would be trivial, but you knew what Christmas has always meant to me. You would not allow me to destruct what is the single most beautiful day of the year.

I could list things you have done all night, but I think they can be summed up by saying that you became my heart. When mine broke, your's did. You didn't weep for me or mourn for me or feel bad for me. You, Laura, my beautiful wife, wept with me and would not let me give up. You gave me everything. You continue to give me everything. My heart hasn't broken before. You let me fall apart and held me close to you, knowing things would never be the same. They won't, but I love you more now than I ever will.

No one has ever loved me so much.


Thanks for reading...Z

My Wife

Some day soon, I'm gonna tell you what my wife means to me, but right now I don't have the right words.


 Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Consequences of Only Seeing Half

Every song and poem written in heartbreak was written in a 50% viewpoint. There is always more to the story than the author's viewpoint, but many of the others don't have a voice.

The problem is that many of the things we hear are so exciting because they match what we already believe, so they are the ones that we choose to believe.

But sometimes our belief is just a product of a productive lie.

A crowd has always drawn a crowd. Anytime there is a fight, many flock together to take sides. Not many stop to really think about the possibility that both sides are wrong or even right. We sometimes would rather expend our energy bashing the other than figuring the problem out. In that instance, we become the problem in itself.

A people that cannot think beyond their anger is people bent on blood.

What is Christianity?

Is it a political view? Does being a Christian grant us guns, political freedom, or prosperity? Is it a long standing religious entity that powers millions of people? Is it an excuse to forget those that destitute by their own making?

I think Christianity is about being Jesus himself. Jesus made a habit out of pissing religious people off. He did the things that made already self-righteous people condemn and eventually kill him.

My question is: How did Jesus come off to those that were not religious?

He meets a thief tax collector in a tree and invited him to dinner. He walks into the bar with the people that are drinking and having a good time and befriends them. He turns water into wine as his first miracle. People then were excited to finally see a Savior they could get behind...a not judgmental, loving, and compassionate Savior.

If you ask yourself to take a realistic view of what the world needs right now, I think you will find a similar state of universe. People need love. That is a constant for all people and a deficit in humanity. Jesus offered loved and no condemnation. To be a Christian means the same.

I was raised in a religion that drove me far from Jesus. A religion that rejected imperfections and hurting people and justified these actions with self-righteousness. I am so happy to say that my family has for the most part freed themselves from this thinking. But the fact still remains...we are a church in need of saving. We are destitute. It isn't the world who God judges now, it's the church.

But I won't apologize for the Church. The Church has historically kept those in peril above water. Soup kitchens, shelters, and crisis pregnancy centers have enriched the world of the love of God. The problem is the stagnant majority. The people that sit in the seats and allow suffering as long as they don't have to act.

I constantly find myself in this category.

This is my shame. I'm going to try to do better.

What if we just put out our hands to catch those that are falling without scorn? I think maybe they would finally see the love that God has for us in our hands.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Don't Forget That I Love You

The carpet was teal and striped with every ugly color the mind could imagine. He looked down between his knees and folded hands to his feet and couldn't bring his eyes back up. He thought of everything they had been through. He thought of the tears and the laughter. He thought of the times he would have never made it through without her. He thought of their wedding in the sun. Their family and friends all gathered and celebrated. He could not wait to be her husband. He thought of their children that shared both of their traits equally, but both sharing their sensitivity and sincerity. He always wanted a home. He had one finally.

But now, it seems lost. He made a mistake and everything is going away into the dark. He made a series of mistakes. He made a habit out of making mistakes. This one was the one mistake.

He wasn't a stranger to failure to say the least. He had been to jail more times than he had voted for a president. He had lost his family and most of his friends. He was at the bottom when he was released from jail and found himself wanting to go back or just go away somewhere that people couldn't be hurt by him anymore.

Then she showed up, this beautiful girl that tended the bar he frequented. He didn't recognize her, so he introduced himself. She was quiet, but confident. He left his number on the bar napkin and walked out, ready to end everything this night. He thought to himself, "What if she calls?" It really didn't matter. He was done being lonely.

He walked to the bridge and stood on the ledge. He had decided not to hurt anyone else for his benefit of going back to jail. This time, he would only hurt himself...for milliseconds. He felt the wind on his face as he stood there alone in the night sky. The snow was falling and he couldn't help but put out his tongue one last time. He couldn't find a tear in him left, so he let go of the suspension cable and felt the wind on his face as he fell to the black water. He closed his eyes, half in fear, and half in solitude and heard the phone ring. Then nothing was heard.

Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. Beep. His eyes opened. The lights were blurry and no one was there, but he knew he was alive. Everything began hurting a half an hour later. It didn't matter...the pain. He made it through the darkness. He was supposed to die, but right now, as he lays here, he doesn't want to be dead. In fact, he very much wants to be alive.

He recovers and leaves the hospital. He has one job. He has to find out who called him. His phone was broken. He believed the call was a sign from God. He search high and low. He called his mother, who hated him. He called his father, who hated him before he was even born. He called his friends. He called his enemies. Nothing.

He left his house distraught that night, resigning himself to jump from an even higher bridge. He stopped in to the bar to get drunk when he saw her again. He sat down and looked at her. She was so beautiful that it made his hands shake. He could live a life with her. She looked back and smiled. She walked over to him. "I tried to call you."

Obviously, he didn't tell her why he didn't answer for almost a year later, but he had finally found happiness. He had love...finally. The kid who had nothing had someone so wonderful he couldn't even look at her without trembling.

They made a home.


But then he made the mistake of getting drunk for ten years.

He couldn't remember much except that she was all he had ever had, but the things he never had or lost were too much for him to bear.

She left in the middle of the night without malice. She left with understanding, but she had to leave.

As he looked at that carpet, he realized that he wanted to die again. For the first time in ages, he didn't want to be alive. Maybe he never did, but what he had was something he had never deserved.

He got up and raced to their home...the place where their children's height's are marked into the wall at various stages of growth. The place he would dance with her in the living room on Saturday nights when the kids were sleeping. The place where the first person who had ever loved him wiped his eyes of his tears when his best friend died.

She was crying when he opened the door. He was sober. He wasn't going to drink again. He wasn't going to make these mistakes anymore, because these mistakes put him right back onto the bridge. He wanted her. He wanted his family. He wanted all of the things that he never deserved. He expected the worst from her..for no reason.

She smiled back at him and embraced him. "Welcome home. Don't forget that I love you."


Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, August 18, 2014

A Blog About Judging For Yourselves.

Whatever makes a good story. That us American media. The intent is to stir up hatred and tension between races of people so the network can report the "news" to the masses, who do not regularly fact check what they hear.

The predominate story right now of an unarmed kid who got shot by the police to death. The story in the media is about racism and hatred for black teenagers. The police officers are automatically being demonized. Without any facts. On the other side, the media is posting thug-like pics from the kids Facebook to get a contrary response.

The problem is, there aren't any facts at all. There is only the police side of the story and nothing else.

But who cares about that stuff? Who cares if the kid was an idiot or the cops corrupt? The problem is that another person has died. It doesn't matter what your opinion is on the story, a kid died. He's not coming back. This was his last ride on this earth.

The media wants to exploit him. The world wants the cop's head on a platter. The police want the rioting to stop and have taken excessive force to stop it. All the while, the media is hoping for more bloodshed to they can lure you in with their lies.

Please be careful America. I don't know the full story and neither do you. But the fact remains that people are dying and racism is very real. The television wants you to hate. They want you to jump to conclusions. They want you to tine in for their next terrible attempt at journalism. My advice is to look it up and be very wary to judge anyone. I believe there is wisdom in that.


Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, August 2, 2014


Things and people cycle in an out of your life at different times for different reasons. You need some people for a time or they need you and for some reason, both of you are there at just the right time to lift the other out of the mud. Sadly, most people go away from you. Most people, without malice take a different path and your time with them is all but forgotten. You live hard and work to keep yourself and your family afloat and forget what that person was to you. Then out of no where, a song comes on or you pass their neighborhood and a crushing feeling in your chest halts your breathing. All of the sudden you miss this person as if they had always been at your side and suddenly died. Sometimes, of course the person never left and was always at your side, then they die. In either case, you swiftly remember how much you took that time for granted.

The world is so awful right now. Maybe it always has been, but technology is empowered to bring calamity into our living rooms. There is so much suffering in the world and it's easy to see a picture of a screaming father holding his dead daughter in his arms with her face removed and charred, and simply grit your teeth and move on. We see so evil much that we forget. I forget that that could be me screaming and holding my daughter as a photographer smells a Time Magazine cover in the making. People are so hardened.

If we could just learn empathy, we could be a great society. We would act when needed and reach out to the hurting and stop judging people. We would remember what people have meant to us and realize that person means the same to someone else. We could finally feel our feelings again.

I really strive to conquer this apathy inside me.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, July 20, 2014

We Are Children

I was sitting on the porch with the wife and watching the neighborhood move about like they always do. They are predictable, like I am. They park their cars and go inside with dinner sometimes and then silence, until they are randomly standing on their front lawns as if they were SIMS avatars. It sparked my curiosity.

What separates humanity from avatars that just do a routine and randomly or systematically go places and perform certain duties? Mrs. Horowitz is on her porch just standing there still. Mr. Lukoshavitze is walking his yard without reason or perceivable purpose. People moving one predictable place to another, not seeming to notice the actions around them. Am I the only person in my neighborhood that sees this? What is this?

Humanity is sometimes so lifeless. People do things for many reasons, and some make no sense at all. People are a product of habit and upbringing. Many will follow suit just because. It started to bother me watching people drone about like lemmings. Then a stupid scripted video reminded me why people are different than avatars.

This Video

It was stupid, but reminded me that I daily flip my kids all over and laugh so hard with my wife. The difference is the heart behind the actions. I think that we have to be reminded not to let life become some moron behind a remote control forcing us into their routine. We are human. We are a beautiful creation of God, each unique and worthy of the attention of angels.

Consider this Bible verse.

New Living Translation
1 Peter 1:12 They were told that their messages were not for themselves, but for you. And now this Good News has been announced to you by those who preached in the power of the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. It is all so wonderful that even the angels are eagerly watching these things happen.

Even the angels are eagerly watching our lives unfold. How great is that?!? We mean something to someone. We are more than just moving energy. We are children. 


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


I'm watching the news tonight and they bring up a story about this woman who was hit and ran over by a boat. She is a pretty lady, has a cute little kid, and a very supportive husband that just "wants his wife to be ok." The news channel as filthy as they are flash no less than 10 different photos of this poor woman in the ICU intubated and sedated...mouth agape and eyes open. If I allowed photos of my wife like this, if she woke up, I'd end up in that bed.

It's really gross.

This is a person. This isn't about getting a good shot to shock the audience into captivation. This woman may die and leave her son without a mother, father without wife. Both of these thoughts, if I insert myself into the story instead of him are stomach turning. We shrug off death life it doesn't matter. We hear these terrible stories and keep moving forward as if it's ok as long as the tragedy stays over there and not here. I almost died a couple a few times. The prospect still rattles my thoughts when it crosses into my present.

I was a stupid kid. I was a cliche of a kid like me in some movie that America will always wish a happy ending to. I had nothing. Few people loved me. I was angry and full of anxiety. I treated people badly out of anger or fear or whatever. I remember this night when my mother and brother went out of town. I lived with my brother in an upper flat above my mother's house. I saw an opportunity to self destruct. I invited dozens of people that I didn't care about and whom didn't care about me. I filled the fridge with alcohol and opened up my mother's flat as well. I think I just wanted to be surrounded by people that were there because of me.

People came. A lot of people. They ate my chips and drank my beer and as the night aged and my eyes blurred, I became honest with myself. Only a few of these people would show up to my funeral. Vice Versa. I snuck out without being noticed and sat on the swing in the backyard watching the smoke billow from my mouth and into the night sky and wished it was all over.

I believe this was the end of trying.

It was F*&^ the world from this moment on. I pushed everyone away except Will (The Body),  Joe (Gumby), and Vernon (Andy). I was bent on my own destruction. I would drink and drink and ended most nights only seeing colors and lights. I would wake to filth and dread. I'm not going to go further with the story, because I think you can see the path clear enough.

I was rarely treated like a human being by those outside of my very small blood and non-blood family. I was either fun, or crazy, awful, or an object of fascination like a shocking news story. I tell you this because I think we all have been guilty of seeing someone as something other than human. Maybe not even on purpose, but because hearts get hard. People mess up too much and that's the end of your compassion. Someone cuts you off in traffic and they become and idiot. A police officer gives you a ticket for speeding and they are worthless and abusive of power and tax-payers money. Meanwhile, all of these people go home and continue trying to figure out how to be human.

It's hard to be a human. Life is really hard. We have to learn to live without those we have always lived with when they die or leave. We have to deal with failure and rejection. We are tested endlessly and it seems as if everyone else is walking this road seamlessly and you continue to stumble.

I look at what I have when I am sitting on the couch next to my wife with my children draped all over us and I shiver to think I may have given up my entire future to the "end of trying." I now know what it means to be really loved because of who I am. It's likely I was by many people my whole life, but didn't know it when I had it. It took my wife wading through my faults and eccentricities and vowing to continue to love me. It took my kids looking at me for their protection when they are scared, to realize that I mean something to someone.

I've told this story before, but I was in a different place then. When Will died on Christmas, I had a hard time being around my own family because I didn't want their Christmas to be associated with grief. They were downstairs playing with their new toys and I retreated upstairs to the living room window and leaned my head against it to look at the lights. Christmas has always been my most favorite days. I couldn't see anything in those lights that made me see beauty at all this day. All I saw was my best friend, my chosen brother on a gurney being put into a van while his four children wept and his mother had to be held back from him. It had rained the entire day. My head against the window, my tears began to run down it, racing the rain to the bottom. At that moment I did not believe I could be anything to anyone anymore.

But then my little girl, age 3 1/2 years old approached me and put her little arm around my leg. I looked down, trying to wipe my face and not drop tears on her cheeks. She reached up to me and gave me a little plastic heart from a beaded necklace kit. My 3 year old knew me enough to know my heart wasn't ok. She gave me the prettiest one she could find. From this day on, I knew I was going to be ok. This was not the end of trying. She showed me true humanity.


Thanks for reading...Z

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Being Remembered

If asked any given day within the last 36 years of my life what my biggest fear was, I would give the same answer every time. Not Existing. It isn't rare or unique or anything special really. I'm not so afraid of death or the act of dying, but the not existing concept lingers in the back of my mind and makes me want to run from each thought of it. This thinking causes one to live every moment in the now, but also motivates their actions to reflect fear.

Today I came across a very disturbing meme on the internet. The unknown quote read, "One day you will die. And you will be forgotten." Although this isn't immediately true as you will have loved ones who will mourn you. But it occurred to me that I have no recollection or knowledge of anyone more than a couple of generations before me. One day, i'll have been dead for 60 years and not a single soul will entertain thoughts of me. I will not grace the stream of memories and vague photographs that make up a memory to anyone left on this planet.

At first, I was instantly saddened and clicked away in defiance of my impending doom. Then, as I continued my night, it occurred to me that fear is crippling to real life. Sadness is also rooted in fear. Sadness is also crippling to a real life. I mourn the dead because I miss them, but maybe more because I cannot truly know without doubt that I will ever see them again. I fear non-existence because I cannot know without doubt that I will live on in another state after this life. I believe both, but I have been wrong more than right in my life it seems to me.

So I decided that this terribly depressing meme actually was a comfort to me. It is mandate to live a better life. If I can resign myself to live without fear, I can truly make change. I can be liberated from myself and be happy if I can just remember that no one is going to remember any of my actions, save the less than 10% of people that are remembered in history, I can calm down finally. Maybe I won't panic and drop my stomach when I realize the next 36 years aren't necessarily going to be quite as exciting as the first. I realize that I am older now than I ever thought I'd be at my age. I should be at peace at 36 years old and enjoying every moment of my days.

It takes faith to let go of your false sense of responsibility for keeping yourself alive. It's not really our job to keep ourselves from dying, nor our job to inspire the future to remember you. We should take care of our health for quality of life reasons and also to keep from becoming a hindrance to our loved ones, but we cannot change a single moment that we will be facing. We will add no years to our lives. We are going to be born and we are going to die. These times, God has appointed for us.


 Thanks for reading...Z