March 30

OUT OF ORDER

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As I stir a shit stew, I wonder how I got so lucky to be up at five in the morning plunging away at clogged toilet. The brown water lurches dangerously close to moving out of the porcelain bowl and onto me. I might have to burn these clothes before dawn.

There are a vast many different variations of the American Dream. For some reason, being up before dawn churning toilet paper and feces did not seem to be one of those variations. If it is, it’s a very unconventional version of the American Dream and not one I wish to praise as ‘making it’.

I contemplate hanging an ‘OUT OF ORDER’ sign on the door like this is some dive bar and not a three-bedroom family home. I could use the back of one of the many bills strewn across the countertop and a child’s washable marker. I settle for just avoiding the problem. Ignoring it, much like the bills threatening to overflow on to the floor. Some problems just seem best ignored for as long as possible. A clogged toilet falls into this category. At least until someone begins to squeal about needing to use the facilities.

Unless you are still awake from the night before, it seems non-kosher to crack a beer this early in the morning. However, there are many exceptions to the rule. An alcoholic for example, simply ignores this rule and allows every hour to be happy hour. I am close to there, but the thought of squinting through one red eye at a simmering bowl of fecal matter while trying to balance and hold the contents of my stomach in seems less than appealing. Then again, I am up before the sun in a battle against brown water.

An early morning beer never seemed more right than in this moment. In fact, if anything, armed with plastic gloves and plunger this seems the right moment for a case of beer.

I contemplate never fixing the damned thing. I once outdoor-trained a dog, I am sure the whole family could make the adjustment. The neighbors might complain, but we will smile and wave like the friendly people we are.

The scariest part of having a beer when dealing with an out of order bathroom is that the laws of nature will inevitable catch up to me and I will find myself weighing the pros and cons of where to piss. In the sink or in the tub? Peeing in the sink seems a tad grosser, but it isn’t anything I haven’t done in days of debauchery past. Although, I don’t think I could look at the sink the same ever again if I violate it in such a way. Brushing my teeth would become an uncomfortable act. There is no amount of scrubbing I am able to do to clear the filthy image of pissing in the sink from my brain. I won’t even entertain the thought of using the kitchen sink. I could move past the guilt-ridden feelings I’m sure. But, to go from plunging to washing dishes? No, thank you.

The tub, on the other hand, seems equally too much work. I very well can’t urinate in the shower without actually taking a shower. Seems extra wrong to run the shower just to get water washing the evidence of my act away. It’s not something you can properly explain this early in the morning either. There is no way you can exit the bathroom after running the shower and be dry. It raises too much suspicion and only impounds on the guilt.

“I thought you were taking a shower.”

“Just peeing.”

To imagine one of the kids walking in on me standing there beer in one hand, trying to avoid my stream hitting their toys. That seems the type of scarring event eventually recounted in therapy. Or worst, the type of thing they repeat.

“Why are you peeing into the shower?!”

“I LEARNED IT FROM YOU, PA! I LEARNED IT FROM WATCHING YOU!”

The brown water continues to simmer. I assume getting worse by the minute. Maybe with enough ignoring, it will fix itself, like any other failed relationship.

Just like any other failed relationship, I circle back to the porcelain to see how it is doing. See if it has gotten any better without me. A part of me is happy it isn’t any better. A sick part of me now relates the toilet to an ex-girlfriend and smirks over the fact it’s still a shitty situation. then, like any other failed relationship, the guilt sets in and again I want to fix the toilet. Treat it right. Because deep down, I know I am part of the reason it broke in the first place.

There I am, plunging away. Again. Unsure if I am actually fixing anything or just making everything worse. I  start to feel out of my depth. This is clearly a job for a professional. Here I am though. Playing house handyman. I search the internet for solutions The internet is less helpful than the beer. At least the beer is numbing the sense of failure I am feeling.

I have retreated away from the toilet again. It is just better this way. I find I really like the shirt I am wearing and don’t want to burn it because I got some shittastic water on it.

I sloppily write ‘OUT OF ORDER’ on the back of an electric bill. The beer has started to get the better of me and, as added bonus, made me feel a bit better about this whole ordeal. I cannot find any tape or thumbtacks to hang it from the door though. It feel as if I am falling into a whole new predicament. I could close the toilet and gently place the sign on top, but I know full well it will be ignored by children in the morning. Mainly due to the fact they do not yet know how to read. If they did know how to read, I am almost positive they would ignore the sign anyways. That’s just how stubborn they are.

Rummaging through the junk drawer produces no tape or thumbtacks. I do find some screws and nails, but they seem like a bit of overkill for an out of order bathroom sign in a three-bedroom family home. Unless, maybe, the bathroom is out of order forever. Then I will need more than the back of an electric bill and child’s green marker. To condemn something forever would, at the very least, require a wooden sign with ‘OUT OF ORDER’ painted on it.

My search continues to come up fruitless and I have all but settled on sitting in front of the door with my case of beer to ward off anyone who might try to use the cursed and beginning-to-smell bathroom. I could sit there, red-eyed, directing traffic to various trees in the yard.

Before I settle on becoming the lavatory guard, I find a bottle of Elmer’s glue. Maybe not the best way to get my sign hung, but it seems less over the top than hammer and nail. Also, the sun still isn’t up and I am beginning to enjoy the peace and quiet this clogged toilet debacle has afforded me. Maybe this is the American Dream.

I’ve glued my sign to the door and decided to sit in front of it anyways. The kids are still illiterate and will still need to be guided outside. I sit and I wait for the sun to rise so I can call a true handyman. This shit situation clearly calls for a professional. I am just a man with a plunger and a now half case of beer.

Oh, and a difficult decision to make.

In the sink or in the tub?

March 27

Four Years Strong

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Thursday marks year four of my oldest children’s survival. They continue to weather the storm day to day. From the obnoxious amount of photo taking to the random hugs and kisses.

Raising toddlers is sort of like being in a constant mini war-zone. Raising boy toddlers is like being in a constant war-zone knee deep in urine puddles. Four years into parenting, I wouldn’t necessarily say I am an expert but I am a grizzled and worn out veteran.

From potty training to being shown how big their poops are getting, the trials haven’t always been easy. Yet, I still walk through the baby clothes section. I seek out the select few preemie outfits, remembering a time when even they, the smallest size of clothing before having to revert to clothes designed for small animals, didn’t fit my boys. I look through pictures, remember feeding tubes and a fear of possible breaking the fragile little people I had been blessed with. I remember the tribulations of walking. The stand up, fall down, stand back up, fall again, up, butt, up, face-plant, up, feet moving, down on butt again, sudden sprinting through the house clearly misinterpreting what the term, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

As we jump off the porch steps, the memories flood in faster and better than any FB daily memory post. It hasn’t always been easy, and I know the future doesn’t get easier. Someday, as my children tell me about people they have crushes on, I will remember the good ol’ days. The time when we rushed to the hospital after finding out their bodies didn’t take too kindly to peanuts. Reaching for the hidden jar of peanut butter, as I hear my kids try to sneak out of the house for the first time. I know there are many trials and tribulations to come.

But, I’ve learned a lot in these four years. There were good days followed by days I wished I had left my kids in baskets at the local fire department’s front door. For every fight I have had to break up, there have been just as many, if not more, cuddles. Every tantrum we had to endure together is only remembered for the warm snuggles that came after.

I often wonder if I am doing this whole parenting thing right. I hold an innate fear my children may someday grow up to hate me. Or worse, somehow hate themselves. I have always had a loose grip on anxiety, overthinking things to the point of utter ridiculousness. In my mind, my children are four, going on fourteen, to me waking up at forty. I worry I may blink too much or too fast and miss the in-between.

I can only hope the dinosaur piñata hidden away will bring them joy on their big day. That they will love their T-ball set and play their Hungry Hungry Hippos game for hours on end. I pray they are still illiterate and don’t read my blog, because it would ruin the surprise.

I sit here, three days away from the big day, looking at twin boys who hold such a powerful bond yet are radically different from one another. I am proud Killian calls a shape a diamond where Nicolas, the more sophisticated child who I have bet money and extra kisses on to succeed, calls it a rhombus. I watch Killian write his name without any help and change my bet to him.

I see two boys who have come into their own identities. They see things different and it is one of the most beautiful things about parenting twins. They will always be twins and have each other, but they are, at the end of the day, their own people. Younger brother in tow, they race through the house, still misinterpreting what, ‘NO RUNNING IN THE HOUSE’ means.

There is no amount of reminiscing or looking forward equal to the now. The little moments we live life to the fullest in. My life lacked a certain level of substance before they came along.

I wish I had wisdom to impart on them on their big day. To be honest, I don’t think I know where to start. Having spent a majority of my life picking the hard road, I am still reminded of where that difficult journey took me. What it gave me.

But, If my four year old’s are suddenly reading at a mommy-ish blogger reading level, the advice I have to give you is this:

No matter what you do in life or the journey you choose, every step still takes you somewhere. If I had taken my steps differently, I wouldn’t have been blessed with you.

January 31

White Trash Rhetoric

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Around five in the afternoon, every Friday, my children excitedly stare out the window. As the red van pulls up, they shout goodbyes at me and give quick kisses before running out the door. “Abuelo!”, they scream as they clamber into the minivan. I spend five minutes picking up before turning everything off and letting the gentle quiet settle on the house. 

The weekends are spent with Abuelo and G-ma. An easy solution to finding a babysitter when their mother and I have conflicting work schedules. They spend their next three days playing with toy trains, attending church, and seeing various family members. Tía Kathy will inevitably stop by with her dog, Chuletta, for some quality time with the boys. Shortly after attending a Spanish Mass on Sunday, they’ll return home to tell me all about their weekend. 

When with Abuelo, the children speak Spanish. Beautiful, bilingual boys, they come home and return to English, mixing words like ‘agua’ and ‘jugo’ into their sentences. Although I don’t speak Spanish, i’ve learned to understand it through the various Spanish programming I put on during the week for them. Their Guatemalan heritage is not only acknowledged, but celebrated. Their culture is embraced.


 

Being their father has taught me the importance of being open-minded. Our ideologies are formed by the collection of experiences and memories we have accumulated throughout our life.

The growing divide facing not only The United States of America but the world is impossible to ignore. You could try to cull your Facebook of opposing views, only to find them seeping in through comment sections. Complete strangers, hurling vitriol at one another. Their disdain tearing the seams of decency.

Like oil and water, our melting pot is becoming immiscible.

A video shows people in different positions of political power demanding people in America speak English. My son asks me for leche. A caller on C-SPAN asks why we don’t vet Puerto Ricans more as they move through the states. My child wants frijoles with his breakfast.

Scrolling the comments, I see the vitriol. the ‘If you don’t like this country, you can leave!’ and the  ‘This is America, you need to conform or get out!’. The ‘Get out of my country!’.

This White Trash Rhetoric, infringing on the very beliefs this country was founded upon. Instead of celebrating our differences, there is a growing movement to uniform our beliefs.

I look at my children. Will someone shout, ‘Speak English!’ in their faces? My blood boils at the thought.

As a father to multi-cultured children, it’s my duty to protect them and raise them to be proud of themselves.

I’ve grown tired of hate-filled rhetoric rooted in fear and anger. I read a comment about liberalism being a cancer that needed to be wiped out. The only disease this country has is hatred and it’s spreading.

We should be embracing and trying to understand one another. Yet, here we are.

I try to bite my tongue when it comes to these sort of things. I know there isn’t much I can say to change anyone’s mind. The lines are drawn in the sand.

I am sure some will say I am overreacting. It isn’t MY children who will be singled out for their differences. They are born and raised. If they don’t speak Spanish in public, people will never even know about their heritage.

We lock ourselves in like cowards and turn people away out of a fear. Because they are different.

Locking people out isn’t protecting us. it isn’t protecting my children. It’s turning my back on someone else’s.

This country was founded by people fleeing oppression.

“Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me:
I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”
The New Collosus by Emma Lazarus

As we lock the golden door, I wonder if we will pry this plaque from Lady Liberty and use it as a barricade.

I do not fear people who are different from me.

I fear White Trash Rhetoric and hate mongering.

I fear this country’s rapid movement towards socially acceptable discrimination.

Scroll any vitriol-infested comment section and you can see it’s already begun. You can find people advocating for the death of those with differing views. Vocalizing their desire to destroy. To inflict violence and fear. Dehumanizing one another.

I stare at my children and wonder not if, but when they will become the focal point of someone’s hatred. When cowards will use fear-laced-hatred to target them.

I am not some liberal ‘snowflake’. I am a father to multicultural children.

I will always celebrate their diversity.

I will always defend it. 

 

 

 

January 26

Gemini

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The Gemini dances through the mind. An array of fire and pain. The whimsical way he moved, fleeting through life leaving lovely destruction in his wake. A wildfire in his step, turning fields to ash. The grass seemed greener on the other side, if only for the simple reason his foot had lit the green ablaze here.

Whimsical and wild, pirouetting in and out of the conscious, smoke rising from his self-immolation. He burned bright and bold.

The Gemini. An array of everything right and wrong in a person. He moved with a fear of stopping. As if to stop was a sign of submission. Being tamed an act of defeat he simply couldn’t bear. In the depths of his soot and ash, he would press coal to diamonds, wondering why any would choose standing outside the fire.

The Gemini. Cursed in such a beautiful way. A passion-hungry, love-junkie, injecting himself with affection under the dark blanket of the night. His needs lay in desire. To burn out was to die.

He hungered to feel something so deeply it calmed his senses and he could close his eyes. To stop him in his fiery tracks. A match, lit to match his light. 

Moving through his motions. To stop was to die. In his choreography he felt alive, as he skirted prescient precipices overlooking where destiny and reality crash violently against the sides.

There’s a simple reason people play with fire; to feel the warmth of life. 

Cracks from where fists left rose marked prints on the mirror above the sanguine pool in porcelain basin. The Gemini, a boy really, pulling his eyelids down to search for faint the shimmer of a soul. Seeking out a semblance of something intangible, yet so spectacular, it had to be there. Fading and tired, he danced along.

A broken child, unwilling to be chained. Searching flaws as if dumpster diving for redeeming qualities. 

The Boy, with his sick ideations of love and living wild. Of Romeo and Juliet. Infatuated with the idea of marrying love, lust and feeling alive. The sadness in his step evident, as he moved through brush, catching tufts of tender to fuel the flame. The melancholy in his movement, marking the world in such a way it would never be the same.

If it was worth anything, there was a heart of gold nestled in that ribcage. A well-meaning before the immolation. 

His song plays distantly still, the words on the tip of tongue. The chorus, hook and bridge always reminding of how strange of a place we exist. This life; where people don’t truly live.

The Gemini, a stranger in a foreign land. Unable to grasp the simplest of survival tactics like complacency. From a different plane, where people didn’t pride themselves in their ability to keep from going ablaze. People here don’t truly live, they move through the motions, comforted by stability.

The Gemini could never fall in line. Not with his hunger to consume being a driving desire. No, wild fires are never sated. He twirled through this masquerade, leaving bright oranges and reds in his wake.

Burning bridges and people all the same. His attempts to share his flame leaving burnt faces cooled by salty tears. Broken lips cursing his name.

His touch sincere, and full of love. The third degree burns leaving scars as his naive hands grasped hearts like baubles. A boy really, never taught the dangers of unchecked passion. Years of unrequited love left him with addled emotions, as he sought out the comforts of affection yet feared the uncertainty of stability and ever after. 

The Gemini sears through the mind, searching like a dope fiend for his favorite form of self-abuse.

Tears fall like rain in his wake. Tears, threatening to dampen his coveted flame. Broken, blazing and goddamn beautiful.

The Gemini dances along the forefront of the mind. Skirting through the consciousness before swirling into the subconscious, leaving only smoke behind.

January 3

Recurring Dreams

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I have this recurring dream I run into an ex-girlfriend. We are at some sort of fancy event, although the background always changes. It’s been a cocktail party, a special premiere, always somewhere we are dressed nicely. Words left unsaid still cling to the air as we make awkward niceties. She introduces me to her significant other and I introduce her to mine. As the evening wears on, try as I might I cannot stop myself from glancing her way. We wind up sitting alone together on some stairs, drinking and reminiscing of days long past. Words hang like the chandelier overheard, threatening to crash down. 

I clear my throat and begin to shift the conversation to what I feel I need to say. But, we are interrupted.

I awake from the dream, wondering why it won’t just go away.

Of all the things I have been bad at over the years, maybe relationships are the worst. I have always been too much for many to handle. As I both withered and raged, moving through my combustable emotions, many fled the scene of the crime where I lay in a pile of my own wreckage.

Back before it was cool to label everything with DSM diagnosis’s, they called partners like me a simple term. Assholes. Maybe ‘gas lighting’ and ‘narcissism’ were around, but not so popularly thrown around. My label was simple. I was toxic. I was an asshole.

Degenerative Briton Disease would probably be the best term for it nowadays.

I spent a lot of time deteriorating and eroding the foundations of good relationships. I clung to others as if I needed them like oxygen, before fighting tooth and nail to push them away. These aren’t traits I am particularly proud of, I’ve just grown to be more retrospective over the years.

The fact of the matter is I sometimes feel so completely unlovable, so unworthy of the affection of others, that I burn bridges and create an island to wallow on. Even to this day, it is something I struggle with. This random paranoia I will wake up one day to a bedside note reading, ‘I never loved you’ and I will sit there thinking to myself, ‘Well, why would you?’. 

I am sure some of this has been conditioned into me. I have textbook mommy issues. Daddy issues, too. From a young age, I fostered a general distrust of women, as I felt abandoned by mother figures. What I know of my father is he owes me twenty dollars he borrowed once before refusing to return my calls. Maybe it is a genetic trait, as my family has always put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional’.

It’s neither here nor there where I acquired these struggles to maintain healthy relationships without being a toxic asshole. I don’t believe by finding the root memory where my problem began I will find healing and redemption. I also don’t feel much like asking for apologies for how fucked up I am. Nor forgiveness for that matter.

I don’t seek out where my issues were imprinted on me. It seems to me that would be less a journey of healing and more a search for something to blame. There comes a certain point in your life where you have to accept that the things that have happened to you in your life don’t define you anymore.

I am defined by my actions, not my past.

I try to play the little reminder in my head as reoccurring dreams wake me too early from my sleep. Years ago, I would have assumed the words I had left unsaid were ‘Fuck you.’. Now, the sentiments are less angry, jilted ex-lover, and more thoughtful. Still not apologetic, but gentler with an ‘I’m happy that you are happy’ theme to them. A wishing of the best for someone who deserves the best type of parting.

The words will always be left unsaid. I am sure the lasting memory of me will always be of a lost, damaged boy who lashed out with the same passion he loved. I burned that imprint on the bridges as I walled myself away in that past life.

A part of me keeps people firmly in the past because it likes to keep the person I was in the past, too. That isn’t to say the person I was doesn’t still live on somewhere deep inside me; afraid and waiting for the world to crash in. It just seems better to me to keep these sort of things locked in a dream. I fear the crash of staring too long in the rearview mirror.

There’s an alternate version to the dream. As I look across the room and catch my exe’s eye, I raise my drink, before making my way to the nearest exit. 

January 1

In Hindsight

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I remember being happy to rid myself of 2015. I figured my mother had died that year, so any year after would be better because it wasn’t like my mom could re-die. The fact she was cremated meant in case of zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t have to worry about running into her.

After almost two years, a ton of breakdowns, and too many empty bottles, I’ve finally reached a point where I feel somewhat healed. I will always miss my mother. The bad days will always come and go, but I can finally find laughter in all the morbidness. It reminds me of when I first moved from California to Connecticut. I would fight anyone at a moment’s notice if they said a ‘your momma’ joke to me. Over time I learned no matter how many people I knocked down, I was still losing the fight.

In hindsight, 2016 was a good year for me. I can rattle off the many fortuitous events of 2016 affecting me more than any celebrity death or presidential election. I mean, I got published in print this year. Moved to a bigger home with my family. When worrying about bills, a timely promotion came at work. I swallowed my anxiety (chasing it with sangria) and met a ton of strangers I had been writing with online.

I finally went and got myself a diagnosis for depression. Even with the year winding down, I would count taking antidepressants as one of the good things to come from 2016. I am somewhat proud, in fact, of myself for taking that step to get the help I needed after many years of ‘toughing it out’. As the drug attempts to balance my brain, I don’t feel guilty for doing what in reality was best for my family. It’s really hard to take care of others when you don’t take care of yourself.

I also got to spend an amazing amount of one on one time with my youngest son. As his brothers started preschool, it opened up this opportunity for me to get time with him I cherish because of how much it has strengthened our bond.

For what it’s worth, a lot of idols were taken in 2016. But, even in their passing, I found new fans popping up everywhere. It was nice to see people going out of their way to listen to Bowie or Prince. To blast ‘Last Christmas’, a song I personally love any time of year. From their deaths, new fans were born. There’s a certain beauty I think they might all enjoy from wherever they are rocking.

2016 wasn’t easy. There were plenty of stumbles through the year. Moments when I felt instead of crashing through a glass ceiling I was lying face down in a heap of self-despair. I survived those moments. Not because I thought I had it in me, but because I had to. I had to survive those moments. I had to pick myself up and keep moving forward. In those moments, I learned more about myself than ever before. We truly learn what we are made of when we push forward through adversity.

I am sure 2017 will have it’s ups and downs. There will be more moments to cherish, people to mourn, and events to shake our heads at. Every year does. But, for this guy, 2017 can’t kill my mom.

I enjoy New Years. It is refreshing to have these moments of reflection. If it takes the turning of a calendar year to get people to sit and think about their lives, then great. Sure, I strive every day to be a better person, yet I still need a concrete moment in time where I can sit and analyze my life to construct my future.

I probably won’t eat healthy in 2017. There will be no ‘New Year, New Me’ two-weeks of working out. Okay, there might be. But, beyond the silly, simple resolutions I make every year to quit my vices and get healthy, I try to take this moment to figure out how I, as a person, can be better.

In hindsight, I did a lot of growing in 2016. I want to continue to grow in 2017. As a parent. As a partner. As a friend. As a person.

I wish you all the best. I will cheer you through your resolutions. Force feed myself Kale in support of those looking for a healthier year if that is what you need. My resolution is to continue to seek growth emotionally. I will also spend two weeks or so trying to shrink growth horizontally.

To wellness. To prosperity. To relationships. To a new year.

November 20

2016

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WAR IS PEACE

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

One of my favorite parts of George Orwell’s classic, 1984, was the three slogans of the Ministry of Truth. I went on a dystopian bender last night, listening to the audio version of the book while I pounded beers and wondered if Big Brother was watching.

This book was required reading in my English Class. After the Patriot Act, it should have been required reading of every person in this country. My goal as a writer has always been to thought provoke. To have an impact of some sort.

To be dragged away, kicking and screaming, by the Thought Police.

There is so much political banter out there. We are saturated with it. I could line up with those shouting fascist at Trump and have my voice be lost in the crowd.  This is 2016.

WAR IS PEACE

We have been in a state of war for most of my natural-born life. The War on Terror started when I was in fifth grade. I remember finding out about the planes flying into the Twin Towers on the bus ride home.  I watched Rudy Giuliani, George W. Bush, all these old men give fiery speeches. In the name of democracy and preserving freedom. We were gonna rain down democracy like hot lead.

Everybody seemed so surprised to find out the government had tapped their phones. We just had to understand, there were certain concessions to be made if you wanted to live in safety.

Osama Bin Laden flashed across the nightly news, reminding us the concessions we made to our privacy were for good reason. When the ‘MISSION ACCOMPLISHED’ banner flew, some wondered why we were still in the Middle East. It was a new war now. We still waged a war on terror, but now we had spilled over into Iraq, to free them from another man flashed across the nightly news.

Foreigners, who spoke strange dialects and had hard-to-pronounce names. It was too easy to justify our hatred of people so vastly different from us. They forced their women to wear shrouds. It was disgusting. As we liberated the women and children, Osama’s face ran across the evening news.

When they caught Osama Bin Laden, I thought it would be over. Then, the ISIS terror began.

After years of trying to move out of the Middle East, I watched Rudy Giuliani, now soon to be a part of the presidential branch, go on stage with old men giving fiery speeches.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY

Like I said, we had to give concessions in the name of freedom. We needed to understand the government wasn’t looking for us, just the bad guys among us. The NSA wire taps did little to bother us. The government wasn’t invading our privacy, they were insuring our safety. All insurance requires a small deductible.

We refresh our lives on Facebook. All our personal information, neatly databased with our likes and our dislikes. Our political affiliations. It is all there. Pictures of our homes and our cars. Our families. We built the database ourselves. The government didn’t even need to ask.

Before war in the Middle East, boarding a plane was easy. Too easy. There were stories of children sneaking on to planes and ending up halfway across the country.

As TSA pats me down and scrutinizes the mouthwash in my carry on, I am reminded this is for my protection. Because they flew planes into towers.

I return home after hours of being in lines and through X-rays. The bills pile up in my mailbox, reminding me I will need to work my nine to five until I die of old age if I ever want to get out of debt. Tens of thousands of dollars is what the Department of Education would like. It gave me the money so I could become educated.

Becoming educated in this country is costly. Not going to college means other options. A job where you will make under the cost of living and become indebted to society’s great welfare system or trading in tennis shoes for combat boots.

Every pair of combat boots comes with a free ticket to the world. To spread democracy and ensure the safety of our liberties at home.

IGNORANCE IS STRENGTH

I struggle to understand how we got here. The Database’s newsfeed is a turf war between conservatives and liberals. These are the two parties we have divided into. The right and the left. They mudsling and ignore those in the middle. Reason has become a thing of the past.

I try to understand the policies going into effect. After fifteen years of war, we are now to possibly introduce a special registry for all of them. The Muslims. The root of our problems is no longer Osama Bin Laden, it is now the religion he carried. Our Christian State will not fall to The Muslim Invasion.

Swastikas have begun to show up on public buildings. The Nazi symbol sparks shouts of the threat of fascism.

Racist terms have begun to show up too. Why someone would feel emboldened to write the word ‘nigger’ on anything is lost on me. Is this one of the policies we voted for? Shrugging off hatred?

The president-elect is busy on the evening news.

“You want me to tell them to stop it? Fine, stop it.”

His reaction to the hatred bubbling over in the country is a shoulder shrug and fifteen minutes in hair and makeup.

People say they are tired of the political correctness. That it is what is ruining our country. We should be able to say what we feel, without caring about being conscientious of those around us. Accommodating those who are different from us with our vocabulary is too difficult. We want to write the word ‘Nigger’ on things.

It reminds me of the words I struggle with. Since a young age, everything was retarded or gay. As I grew older, I embraced political correctness as I moved ever so slowly to the left. I had friends who had kids with mental disabilities. To hear them hurt over the word ‘retard’ was enough for me to work on eliminating it from my vocabulary. Same with ‘Gay’.

It wasn’t retarded, gay, political correctness to me. It was trying to be a decent human being.

I scroll through the newsfeed, input my daily reminder to the database that I am a leftist. When the left and the right aren’t hurling swear words at each other, they are erasing ties to one another. Old friends, families, devoting themselves to party instead of one another.

It’s a dangerous time to be a leftist. Rudy Giuliani, the old men, they are all far right. It is their world again. I wonder what it means to those like me.

The violent clashes between left and right are coming to a cusp. I worry about sending my kid’s into this world. Will they be accosted? Demanded to show their loyalty? Handed a spray can and told to choose their side?

I lean my head back and listen to George Orwell’s radio version of 1984. A classic. It goes down as smooth as the beer I am drinking.

November 19

Twenty-five

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I will confess to a whimsical side. To oversized fur hunting caps, worn Caulfield-style, as I dance through crooked streets. In a crooked world. On crooked feet.

That isn’t for the sake of imagery. I remember laying in bed with my shoes attached together so as to fix my gait. Apparently my toes pointed in when they should point out. The braces kept me awake many nights as it attempted to fix my walk.

My hands these days are a bit hard. A bit rough. Unclean. A bit much. I take two ibuprofen to numb the pain. They pick up heavy objects and kids just the same. A certain kindness has settled into these mitts. I would call them old, but it might force someone to feel obligated to remind me of my age.

Twenty-five.

Well, these hands have battled in their days. They have fought against the world and haven’t been held enough. These hands they have built and destroyed. They’ve held life and know joy. They’ve broken bones and seen some dark, dark, places.

My hands softened a bit upon holding my firstborns. There is a lightness to their touch now. Ol’ meat gloves, cradling two five pound babies, realizing their calling was to hold and raise, not to destroy.

For twenty-five, these hands have been through a lot. They content themselves to rest upon a keyboard, gently typing out my thoughts. There are times I refuse to think, contenting myself to let my hands tell their story. They have felt the world and know well enough.

My turn, tiny little digits.

“He is talking to his hands!” whispers the audience. He is also creating fake audiences in his mind. This isn’t a blog post, it’s a play. A monologue. A gentle aside, where I reveal under these tattoos, I got a whole lotta heart.

Holden broke the barrier for a lot of us kids who would grow up and talk through writing. Introverts, our lot, tapping away or penning away into the night.

If you aren’t down with Holden, I ask you not to sit with us.

These hands have held many books. From growing up on Velveteen Rabbit to the RL Stine spooks that kept me up at night.

Maybe I didn’t have a mental disorder, maybe the book about the woman whose scarf kept her head and body together still gives me goosebumps!

Stories To Keep You Up At Night. Aptly named.

I ran through Harry Potter and Eragon. Let us not forget The Chronicles of Prydain or His Dark Materials.

I ran amuck with Harry. Rode Dragons with Eragon. Taran and I found ourselves. Lyra taught me how to fend for myself.

I breathed in the words from the page, begging them to take me to their special place. Underdogs, the lot of them. Fighting for a better world, with bigger responsibilities placed upon them than are just. But, fighting for a better world and against all odds.

In my young adulthood, I moved through A Million Little Pieces. When I found out he lied, fabricated, embellished, I giggled out a “Who hasn’t?”

You can fact check these words. All my stories bear witness, as I developed an ever so slight fear of Oprah.

These stories aren’t larger than life. I have had good friends die. I have lived my life with foolish lack of trepidation. Skipping through puddles, not worried about the cold.

Blowing lines in bathrooms and growing in a dirty world.

Finding fatherhood and fighting for a better world. It always seems against all odds.

I fantasize my own story. I have always fancied myself a comeback kid. Like Darren Shan, or the Baudelaires, facing tragedy with love and light.

And a little bit of fight.

I look in the mirror. Even for twenty-five, I look old. I see where the old lines will form, wondering when the grey I feel will show.

Some days, I worry I may never see my whimsical side again. The one that rattles off nonsense with such  delight. Who contents to rhyme instead of reason and ignores the seasons, wearing shorts in winter.

The Caulfield-style cap wearing son of a gun.

Then again, I remember these hands. They have lived and loved. Felt the love of a woman’s touch. Held little hands and dried out on the pages of a good book.

I remember series running through my mind. The characters I grew to love. The journeys they made. No, the journeys we made. Through Wrinkles in Time and Wardrobes, I chased fantasy down Rabbit Holes.

I stretch through my mind for other books I have read. So many books, so little time.

Then again, I remind myself, I’m only twenty-five.

November 18

Love-Stained Pages

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I have never known a woman to be more beautiful than after she has orgasmed. Maybe that is a bit risqué to say. A little inappropriate, sure.

But, there is a glow in flushed cheeks. A smile, carving away years at a time. The secret to a long life isn’t kale, it’s a good fuck.

In a world of memes and ten-second videos, the average reader’s attention span is probably too short for a long intimate conversation about anything, even if it is sex. So, in lieu of that I interrupt your read with some light poetry:

Well I found the girl of my dreams

Her face was in the tea leaves

The divination divined my destiny 

She was the girl for me 

Reminded of my yesterdays

Of love letters to Dorothy Gale

I’ve been baselining romance 

Since tender ages 

Growing up, I don’t think I knew one functional relationship. I lived in broken homes, with broken people. Surrounded by broken toys and broken dreams.

I snorted white picket fences before I snorted pretty white powder. Free fell through A Shadow Of The Wind, screaming at Clara to love Daniel. If you haven’t romanticized, and your attention span hasn’t fallen to that of a gnat, go read the book.

Another poem for my Attention Deficit brethren:

She is a beautiful mess

Like paint splattered against blank canvas 

She talks about people like they are places

Carefully discovered, traveled and intimately known

I think her feet leave heart imprints and stardust in their wake

She was born with the word ‘love’ etched on her skin

You may chase her, but she will never be yours, my friend 

I smile a faded smile at my son, wondering if he will heed my words when I tell him to never grow up. I’ve been staying up late at night, feeding my addictions. Shots of whiskey chased with poems by Bukowski. Drinking in the poetry, letting it kill me inside. I never got the nihilist memo and my cup is half full. Of hopes. Of dreams. Of love.

I hid in small spaces filled with uncertainty. The screaming reverberated around the house. That’s not love. Even when I was young, I knew. Love doesn’t equate to holes in the wall.

When I put my fist through a wall. Nevermind. Now isn’t the time. Another poem, shall we?

Find me around the bend

On a bender, fading fast

Pick me up from the rubble 

Of my own self destruction

I’ve been burning

I’ve been boozing

I’ve been missing you

Clean me up

Lord knows I need a shave

You can nick my skin 

Just to remind me what it feels like 

To be alive again

Well my blood is thin

As my weak constitution

And I’ve been fighting with my demons

I aint afraid to admit 

I’ve been losing

But find me round the river bend

Soaked in fear and sinking feelings

Pull me up and dust me off 

When I go spiraling, friend

Take me home 

Take me home

I’m afraid I won’t last 

If you don’t

Take me home

“Never grow up.” He smiles at me. He doesn’t know how serious I am.

I used to put holes in the wall. Growing up but not actually doing any emotional growing, I punched the wall. Until the fateful day I hit a stud and broke my knuckles in two. A divine intervention, stopping me in my tracks as I screamed out the word ‘fuck’. It was many years ago, but on cold days like today it feels like it was only yesterday. The pain lingers, reminding me to walk away.

I was born with passion intrinsically written in my DNA. Learning to live with fire is learning how not to spontaneously combust.

I have fought, with passion. I have fucked, with passion. I have lived, with passion. And as I retire myself to a fifty hour work week and fatherhood, I have written, with passion.

Is it time for another poem? I may have one or two left.

She said she was but blood and bones

Skin stitched together my scars and woe

As with most women, she was so much more

I saw her like the first ray of sunlight

Cutting through the air in shades of crimson 

A visage unable to capture in frames

Her beauty could best be seen

In person or in tea leaves

I have never known another life than my own. Simple statements like that keep me from judging anyone. Flawed, broken, but alive. The last part, I have to constantly remind myself.

Alive.

I am alive. I was born to feel things a little too much. I fed myself servings of love growing up. It got me through the uncertainty and the constant fights.

This is a mess. If you take nothing from it but a book recommendation, I wouldn’t be surprised. Sometimes I talk aloud in empty rooms. Saying things I long to hear. Words I need. Simple statements like ‘I am alive’ to remind myself not to slip away and die.

One of these sleepless nights, I may write that book. Syrupy and sweet, pouring my own love like whiskey on love-stained pages. One last poem to say goodbye:

I’m tired. 

Yeah, my bloods a little weak. 

I had a fire but I feel poured down the sink. I need to get in touch with reality,

 two feet on the ground just isn’t enough. 

I’m trying. 

Trying a bit too much to keep myself at evens. 

I’m at odds with myself.  

Working through a shaggy demeanor like burning the candle at both ends

in the dead of the night. 

She was right about my constitution when she shouted and she screamed. 

And though her knees were bloody, 

it was my heart aching that day. 

The biggest lie I told was “I’m okay”,

and though I know apologies won’t suffice; 

I’ll still try. 

The man in the mirror doesn’t look like me. 

But, he sure has my brown eyes. 

These clothes don’t fit quite like they used to.

 I guess they fit alright. 

It’s not a defeated demeanor just when you know you’ve had enough. 

I’m sloshing through,

 and sipping, too. 

The seasons change around me. 

I’ve been up.

 I’ve been down. 

I’ve been all over the place

I’ve been in love

I’ve been in lust

I’ve been lost and found 

Found and lost 

But, I still believe 

And though my constitution may be a little weak 

I still believe in us

In tea leaves 

In love