Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Mom



        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 now...as 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.

Christmas.

        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.










Sing.
Migrate.





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.





Sing.
Migrate.



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.





Sing.
Migrate.


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.





Sing.
Migrate.





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.





Sing.
Migrate.




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.




Sing.
Migrate.



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.






Sing.
Migrate.




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.

     

     




Sing.
Migrate.


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 her...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 chase...no 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. 









Sing.
Migrate. T




Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Because....



Me.
        Light beams through every small hole or slash without mistake. Anything open will be filled with it's energy that came from something that gave it up upon death. Energy cannot be destroyed. It must go somewhere. So in part, when something dies, it travels to us and becomes a part of us. We become a part of their story, and theirs ours.

...

        My father suspended his energy. I was 12 when he was about to die of liver cancer, then was immediately placed into a machine that froze his body to a temperature that would "preserve him." My mom told me I'd see him again in this world, and that he wasn't dead like grandma. He was just sleeping until something wonderful would wake him. I always believed he would wake like she said. I never closed the book as a child. I waited. I waited until I was no longer willing to wait and I stopped believing. He was dead, and I was cheated of saying goodbye.

        My father was a pianist. He was famous for pretty much everything he did. He also sang. He also was an actor. He also wrote screenplays, and once wrote a novel. He never paid too much attention to anyone else. He also was an alcoholic. He was stoic, then angry and violent, then stoic. He slept-in most days until at least 2 PM, and worked on his projects throughout the night. He drank all day and whenever I saw him. So why would I even care right? I was connected to him in a way I cannot explain.

        I don't miss him though. I don't think much about him at all. I never knew the guy. My mom says he was once pretty great, but even she couldn't find any reason to stay at the end. He got sick, we moved away. The last thing he said to me was "Why are you staring at me? Look away." This came directly after he had called my mother a bitch, and I was shocked into looking at him.

        The asshole had himself frozen he was so arrogant. So talented, but so awful. He never did accept that I was not him. I am gifted at literally nothing. I am as average as you get. I got average grades, graduated from and average college with an average psychology degree that I don't use. I got a job in the automotive industry as a laborer, and make average money...relatively speaking. So you can see his disappointment when I couldn't and didn't want to play even "Chopsticks" on the piano.

...

On October 23 this year, he was thawed. Cancer had been cured. No one had ever been thawed to life before.
...

Him.
        The very first conscious thought or feeling I had was my sense of hearing. I couldn't tell at first whether it was a dream or real. I had at least thousands of unique images in my head that I don't remember any context to. What I heard was different that dreaming. I had been "kind of" dreaming for 30 years. I remember the face of a woman that re-occurred. No idea who she was or what she wanted from me. At times I heard the music, but so distant that I could only barely make it out and recognize it. I remember one song in particular. I don't think I'd ever heard it, at least I don't remember it. I think I would have remembered it though. It was breathtakingly sad and beautiful. Whatever limited brain activity happens during that ice age will always be unknown. I heard a man's voice speaking in words I tried but failed to decipher. It was being born again into the world I left decades ago. I experienced limited sensual capabilities over what they told me was two weeks. Then one day I understood what they were saying and I tried to speak. I wanted to tell them that I was cold. Instead, I spoke without real words.

        It would take months before they would release me into the world. They had called all of my emergency numbers and the numbers were all disconnected or other people. I guess I didn't take into account that I would awake to everyone being dead. My kids were too young to have phone numbers, so they gave me the money I had deposited with them with interest and called me a cab I guess. I walked out into a world that I didn't recognize, nor did it recognize me.

        I looked for a payphone to look at the yellow pages. There was no payphone and there was no yellow pages. At the library, a nice girl showed me the internet. Don't ask me to repeat a single thing she said, but she found my son and directed me to him.

...

Me.
        I had learned about energy from science class. It always fascinated me. During a drunken night in college,  a question occurred to me; "Where does talent go if talent is energy and energy must be funneled elsewhere?" It didn't go to me. It didn't go to my mum. It didn't go anywhere as far as I could tell. My only guess was that the bastard was holding on to it like some petty gambler who lost and turned over the table while still holding on to his money.

I always remembered what he looked like.

        When I opened the door, I was stunned, then shaken, then angered. I shut the door on him. I was reeling. I didn't want to be mean to him: I just reacted. When I opened the door again, he was still standing there, except his back to me as though he were looking at my neighborhood. "What's your birthday?" I ask. He tells me and I know it's him because of his voice. He had this booming voice that gripped you. "So I guess you're feeling better then?" I asked. He just looked at me and tears began filling his eyes. He dropped to his knees and began convulsing. He was unconscious and not responding to anything. He kept saying, "Tha tha tha tha tha." He said nothing else. He would shake for a while, then be calm and sleep until he woke again. This went on for weeks. The physicians kept telling me it was normal. He had no where to go, so he took the guest room. He didn't speak really. He just mumbled beneath his breath.

        Until he asked for grits. This was the first thing I could understand since his re-birthday. He wasn't himself. Months went by and he was alive, but not the same person I knew then. He was actually the opposite. I asked him to play the piano that I bought just to have as furniture. He couldn't play anything. As soon as his fingers touched the keys, he would shiver and shake, then leave the room as fast as he could. He was only interested in my kids. This is strange because he had always hated kids. He was honed in on everything I had wanted as a kid, except it creeped me out now. It was like looking at an incredibly familiar person that you'd never met.

...

Him
 
        I saw him and my heart broke. I had written about heartbreak and put it to music my entire life, but I had never felt it I don't think until today. It hurt so very much. His face was familiar because I knew him when he was little, but also because I think I saw him while I was cold...maybe saw him a lot.

        He looked at me at first as if I wasn't there, then closer. After a moment, I felt his eyes inside of me. He asked me my birthday, and the answer came across my lips before I could even figure it out. I panicked and tried to speak, but only looked simple. I was still the blubbering idiot I was at first thaw. In his eyes, I remembered him running around the yard in his little cape, pretending he was the most powerful force on earth. I remembered holding his little frail body when he was born. I remembered him trying to suck on my nose.

I remembered feeling so intensely that I walked away from them. I didn't want to feel it. So I went.

        I worked and worked. I buried myself in whatever misery I could glean from leaving them
in the same house I still lived in. I became a wild success. I remembered feeling so happy and so accomplished winning awards and having people notice me. It felt like being someone else...this huge star that would never burn out.

        But I can remember things now from when I was frozen. I remember emptiness. I saw myself being adored. I hated it. I didn't deserve it. I don't remember many specifics, but I do remember a sequence in my dreams or whatever you want to call them, that focused on me as a little boy. I was speaking to another little boy, who appeared in front of me from somewhere. He looked like my son. but he was older. I remember thinking that it was him, but wound up just staring at him. It was a memory. I was trying to play baseball with the kids from my block. I was always a band geek, but I wanted to have a friend. I kept trying to join their game. They kept refusing. I asked if I could just sit and watch or be the referee. The kid I most wanted as a friend told me to just "Go Home!" In this sequence of dreams, I kept hearing a variation of this kid and my son shouting for me to "Go Home."

        So when I woke and my body could move again...I went home. I travelled through a foreign world to a foreign house. But I got to look into the eyes of my son, who was anything but foreign to me. I looked at him and I saw him. It made me sad that so much time had past. My stomach drops to think about it. All of those times of celebration, mourning, and milestones were spent on earth without me. I was in a cooler when his mother died. He was alone. All of those years spent when he was just a kid one room from me. I closed the door on him. I put my fingers to the piano keys and sold my son.

...

Me

        I never married. I didn't want it. I never had kids. I have been lonely my entire life, waiting for something good to happen. But I wasn't really trying either. A friend once told me that good things happen to the people that are really trying at something. Something like God helps those who helps themselves. I don't know. I just didn't see much use in putting in the effort for a long shot.

        In my first year of college, I took a creative writing class. I never thought of myself as creative or poetic or anything my father was. But I took this class because it seemed to be an easy way to get those English credits. I wrote about my father. I wrote the paper during a drunken night, the night before it was due. I wrote whatever without anxiety. I just wrote. A week later, my professor would email me. He had given me an A. I expected this, creative writing is a blow-off anyways. But he also wrote something in the email that touched something in me. He told me, "I love your words. In fact, your words continue to echo in me. But I knew it before you wrote them. You wear those words all over. Keep making words, and keep wearing them."

        I felt valued and validated. I had always wanted some piece of creativity. I wanted anything but who I was. This meant a lot to me. Over the next two months, I put all of my energy into the class and writing about things that mattered to me. I got stumped with the right words and it never came naturally to me. I got C's for the rest of the semester. On my last paper. the professor accused me of plagiarism. He told me that these essays were not written by the same author as the one about my father. I got C in the class. I never picked up a pen again to express anything.

        Then he shows back up and I don't know how to take him. So I ask him where he has been. I ask him why I didn't matter to him.

...

Him

        "You always mattered. To me you mattered. I didn't know how to react to feelings that felt good. Good feelings never inspired me. When I was feeling good, I couldn't be me. I walked away not realizing that you were the very reason to play that piano, and to play beauty into the abyss." I told him everything. He was my son and the only thing I wanted left was for him to forgive me and love me again, like when he was just a kid.

        But he didn't. He asked me to leave. I left his house and walked down the street shaking. This wasn't because I was cold. It was because I had finally felt what it feels like to be warm and then be stripped into the cold. I felt the feeling of being left when you are the most vulnerable. Like he was.

        I walked to a motel and checked in. I went into the bathroom and took down the shower curtain. I twisted it until it was a large rope and tied it around my neck and fastened the other end to the shower pole. I said a prayer to a God that I've never been sure exists and I let me legs go limp and closed my eyes, trying not to struggle. I thought about my son and my wife. I thought about that beautiful song I couldn't remember. I thought about everything and realized that for once in my life I had to try. All of this musical talent came easy. Being a good father was the hard part. The part I was terrified of. I found my legs and stood back up. I loosened the noose and went to the bed and sat down.

        I had to be a different person than I was before I left. I had to try. Then a knock on the door.

...

Me

        I couldn't watch him leave again. I was so mad at him, but I couldn't let him go again. I followed him as he walked to the motel. I sat in my car in the parking lot just trying to figure the whole thing out. I weighed it all together. I remembered the bad times and remembered that feeling of inexplicable connection I have to him. I think about my mother and her funeral. I remember that she died still believing he would come back. It all didn't make any sense. Why now?

        I turned my key and backed out of the parking lot. I turned on to the main street and sped off as fast as I could. I wanted to be as far away as I could from my father, who left me. My father. My Father?!? I stopped, got out of the car and ran to the motel door. I slammed my fist against it without anything from the other side. I banged and banged and no one answered. So I took a running start and threw my body into the door and it broke open. I found myself on the floor of the motel room looking into the eyes of my father who was sitting in the bed bewildered.

        I got up and sat down beside him. We didn't speak for a while. We both just sat there.

...

Him

        He busted through the door. He was the last person I thought I would see. There was knocking on the door, but at that moment, I wasn't up for visitors. Then he came in. He sat down next to me and we both became silent. I couldn't figure him out. I was so confused, Why had "God" even woke me in the first place? Why did they thaw me? So I asked him. "Why did you come for me?" He didn't answer at first. He just sat there thinking about it. After grueling moments, he replied, "Because you came home."

        "Can we just go home now."
     



Sing.
Migrate.


Thanks for reading...Z

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Where have I been......?



        "Do I know you? Do I even know you?" - S. Carey (Brassy Sun)

        I was watching this Netflix show called "Flaked." You all should watch it. It's funny, yet dramatic and the characters are real. In the very first episode of the second season, there was this scene that I won't spoil. But it punched me in the gut though, like so hard that it took my breath away. The song above played during.

        These words cut into me. "Do I even know you?" It's not speaking to me about knowing you. It's speaking about knowing myself. It hurt because when I look in the mirror most days... lately.... I don't recognize the person I'm looking at. I'm just a person looking at a person. I stand in the shower, the place that I used to do most of my praying, and I find someone just trying to get clean and get out.

        The problem is that I can't just get clean and get out. I have to put in the work and I don't want to. For me to get clean, I have to let go of some things that will bring me great pain to let go of. I'm not ready to do that. I'm not sure I'll ever be ready to do that. But I can't continue being who I am now. It isn't me and my entire soul is in mourning because of it. I have to find my way, apart from every dark place that lives inside of me.

        I'm gonna find my way.
        Even if it takes them from me.
        I have to find my way.
        Even if it takes everything I have left.
        I'll find my way.
        With the help of my God, and my family.
        I'm gonna find my way...

        To You.


I'm searching for whales.
I'm searching for me.





Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Monday, May 22, 2017

Horizon



       Guilt is like an old open wine that cannot be swallowed. It fills your mouth with it's bitter gull, but you carry it around with you because you think you deserve it. It's revolting, but you are unable to do the very simplest of things; to spit it out and let it go.

This post is only gonna start sad.

        I'm gonna start with apologies that I should have made when they were alive. I didn't know I owed them until they were gone, because I was selfish and short sighted. In hindsight we are all geniuses right? I have to let the guilt go now. Honestly, I'm so tired.

Will.

You called me in utter distress and I gave you the wrong advice. I should have shut my ignorant mouth and said "I don't know." Instead, I told you what I was programmed to tell you. I'm so sorry.

I took advantage of you like so many other people did. I should have been a person that would never do that. I should have always protected you. You spent hours fixing things for people. You got very little pay or appreciation for it. But it was your time. It was precious moments of your life. Those hours are priceless now to me. I'd give you all of my money to get them back.

I didn't have the strength to go into that garage the day you died and face you. When Joe called me, I went into a different place and went to the basement and sat on a laundry basket. I sat there not knowing what to do. I took the longest route to your house trying to figure out how to handle what was about to cross my life. I walked inside and did not go there to face you. Everyone else did. Not me. It was a cowardly thing to do. If I could do it again, I would have been braver.

Joe.

You were so much work. You lied all the time. You were always crying wolf. I knew you were in trouble. I acted, but not in the ways I should have. At some point, I forgot about that enormous heart you had for me and my family. I forgot that you would have always died for me. That's one of the biggest regrets of my entire life Joe. This one sits in my stomach. I swallowed this bad wine. It sits in my stomach now.

I didn't respond to your text. You texted me the morning you left. I didn't hear it because I decided to leave my job for another that required me to work nights for a time. You texted me at 10:12 AM.  I had worked until 7:30 that morning. I responded at 2:58 PM when I woke. I didn't get a response.

I'd give anything to have that conversation.


Now.

        Like all of their family and friends, I'm finding my way out. I'm trying to find a way to enjoy the sun again. I've made some bad habits that I need to remedy, and I'm almost ready to do that. I have to cut my emotional attachment to feeling bad for something that they did. In the end, they were grown adults that made these terrible decisions that changed the lives of everyone around them. My brother Andy told me in a text the night Joe died, that I had no reason to be blamed. Joe had laid waste to everyone that loved him. I get it now. I didn't then. I could only see guilt. Those left behind, get to deal with the disaster they left behind. We end up trying to fix people that you broke.

        I went through some photographs yesterday. There were so many of you two fooling around. I looked at the photos and realized that they didn't make me hurt in my chest. They made me smile like the photos of my kids when they were babies did. This wasn't always the case. Most times when I see photos of us together, I get and instant stomach ache and it doesn't leave until I pay some penance, usually in the form of an embarrassingly honest post on this blog.

        I've settled in to a life without you two in it. The adjustment period was pretty strenuous, and I'm not saying that's over, but the the crisis part is. I'm enjoying watching my kids grow and become their dreams. I'm enjoying a marriage that is based more on quirky loving banter and less about what lies beneath our everyday speech.

       I think about them everyday, but now I smile. They aren't always ghosts. Sometimes now, they are memories that remind me that I need to be a better person in this sometimes terrible world. I need to fight harder. I need to work on myself and close open doors to darkness.

        All that being said, I'll never stop being sad I don't think. I don't want to. I think sadness allows me to empathize with others. I think it's the reason why God let it happen in the first place. He knit me together knowing I would be garbage to some people. At least I would experience it that way. He also knew about that unspeakable joy I would have in my heart when I got everything I had ever wanted. He gave me everything and took some too. In the end, I'm smiling and happy. I am absolutely broken, but full.

My son is just like me in both the good and bad.

My daughters are just like me in both the good and bad.

My wife is the difference. They resemble her the most in the way they present themselves. They respect themselves and know the difference between good and bad because of her. She is my hero and also theirs. I am happy and fulfilled because of her. I happy because of them. God knew she would be the person who saved me.

        I'll never figure out why my brothers were able to do what they did. I don't have to. For once in my life, I don't have to. They did it, and the "why" is over. I'll always miss them, but I don't need to keep that wine in my stomach.

 







Sing.
Migrate.




Thanks for reading...Z

Saturday, May 20, 2017

The Lion - A Short Story (Prequel to Hospice)



        The alarms went off and everyone started running in every direction. I only knew what way to go, and that was to her...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 chase...no 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.

   

     




Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z

Thursday, May 18, 2017

A Little Depression to Make Your Day Better

         When something dies, it's body begins to shut down, starting from the least important organs to the most. Our anatomy is really intelligent and reactive to our physical and emotional situation. Eventually, without a cure, the body will begin to let go of it's most important organs...until the heart succumbs and the rhythm of that soul has ceased. Everything that person has experienced has become an archive. Very few will remember him and even less as the years add to their numbers. 1% of the earth's total population will be remembered by the future. 99% will go off into oblivion without a soul eventually remembering their existence.








Sing.
Migrate.


Thanks for reading...Z

Searching for Sophie



        I sat in the corner of the room furthest from anyone that would notice me. I sat biting my nails. I have the hardest time with crowds because I feel like they are all looking at me. I say strange things and have a twitch that begs people to ask questions that make me even more nervous. I came to the party because I needed something different. I've grown tired of living where no one else dwells. I'm in a basement, staring out of a blurred glass block window at the sounds that resinate from other peoples lives. Their lives were filled with laughter and I wanted that. I wanted to let every part of myself go.

        I went to the party: I used the same coping mechanisms my father; who was stricken with the same fear, taught me whenever I refused to let it go. "When you decide to see the world, go to the corners and watch for your moment," he would say. I haven't spoken to him in a decade. He passed on holding my mom's hand as he let the leukemia take him suddenly. He was working on the fire pit in the back yard and collapsed. It took the disease two days to take him from us.

        I was about to leave the party. I had lost hope of any "moment" happening that would change anything going on in me. I thought about what he had said to me and it made me mad, because he was wrong, but even more it made me miss my dad so much. I was almost in tears when I felt the cold rush of some kind of fluid run down my back like a knife to my lungs. I turned and looked at her right in the eyes as she stood over me sitting on the basement stairs. She grinned and offered no apology. I looked at her again, this time with a little anger in my face. She smiled at me full out.

       "What? Really?" I said. She just looked at me. I nodded and got up from the stairs to meet her hand on my shoulder pushing me back down. "You're an idiot," she said. "All of this life in this room, and you're in the shadow of it, playing with the assholes in your mind telling you to stay out of it. I just looked at her. She was beautiful. She was so pretty that I couldn't speak. I had seen her before in a couple of undergrad classes. She was always loud and making jokes. As far as I could see, she didn't have a lot of friends, but she was always engaging people. Like, this guy did an assigned presentation in front of a class of 100 students and at the end part when he asked if there were questions, she asked five. None of the questions were really answered.

        I didn't know what to say to her, so I said, "I'm just putting the feelers out." She laughed at that and sat down next to me, right in a puddle she had purposely made with the drink she had purposely dumped down my back. "My mom was crazy you know," she said and continued, "She kept setting things on fire until she ended up in an institution. How does that make you feel?" she asked. "It makes me feel bad for you," I reply. "See that's the thing; people always want to feel bad when someone tells them a bad story. It's a part of human nature that is flawed. People want to respond by saying they're sorry because they imagine their mom being mentally sick. They project their lives onto others. They never want to think about the alternative way of feeling. They don't want to think that the other was spared from a life of terror and even death by fire from an unstable person incapable of loving." I didn't know what to say, so I didn't.

She continued...

        "My dad raised me alone. He never did a single thing wrong. He was too anxious to make mistakes. I think my mom and dad attracted to each other because of their similarities. It was their differences that saved my life. She let it all go and burned down all of us. He kept his white knuckles on the reins and held me behind him as he took the bullets." "Where is he?" I ask. "He died in a house fire in the middle of the night the year I went away to college," she replied and continued. "He took her back and she wrecked the world that keeps spinning all around us. It's funny when you think about that. In reality, we circle the sun, revolving around every day that revolves into years. The entire time, we think the world is revolving around us."

        "I think that's why you're so scared," she said.


        She got up and walked away, through the small hallway and out the front door. Everything inside of me screamed in my father's voice, "This Is Your Moment!!!!!!" I took a few really fast breathes and got up and ran to the door chasing her. I reached her as she was about to get into her car. "I want to know you!" I said in an urgent tone that I regretted, but not really. I did want to know her. She seemed to see right through me like she knew me, and I wanted to see her. She looked at me and kissed me on the lips. The entire world became still and watched this moment as the world spinned around the sun slowly. I felt my body tremble incessantly and my fear begin to melt into the moment of kissing my first love...kissing this girl I barely knew, but somehow was the closest person to me in the entire world.

        A tear rolled down her face as she looked at me. She didn't say anything. She held my face in front of hers with her hands and looked directly into my soul. It seemed like an hour, but was only minutes. It took a few seconds for it all to implode me as she got into the car and drove away, leaving me without any words. I hit my knees and just stared into the sky. I felt like I was aligning with the world and we were becoming a part of each other. And she was gone.

She was gone.

       I searched the entire earth for her for years and years until I gave up searching. I graduated university and got a degree in bioengineering. I was successful from the very start. I made a million dollars my first year out of college and almost doubled that the next due to investments. None of it made any sense. I was being driven by a force that was a ghost. She was so active inside me, yet no where to be found. I worked as if she could see me, because I always pictured her watching me from wherever she was.

        Ten years after college I was sitting on the bench in front of a hot dog stand eating a coney I had bought. I was reading the paper and on the seventh page of the "local news" section, it read, "Body found in Gregory Park identified as Sophie Hawkins." The article contained a photograph of the only love of my life, just as I had remembered her. I saw her photo and lost my heart onto the cement. I had missed her for so long and here she was in the newspaper, telling me she had gone missing the night we met. Everyone in the world was searching for Sophie as I was; only to find her lying as bones in the brush behind an old abandoned horse shoe pit.

        They didn't ever figure out what happened to her. She was a ghost to me that I would never know anything about. But what I hold on to is the moment she put the guts inside me to chase her. That night, she was the "moment" my father was talking about.

I would learn to live for the moments that gave me a chance and drive to leap from the twisted knot that imprisons me most days; searching for Sophie.



Sing.
Migrate.



Thanks for reading...Z