Depends on how you look at it

I have been in the clutches of a identity crisis since my stay in the Boobie Hatch (it was only 2 nights but it sucked enough for a week) and it has really taken a toll on me. My breakdown was very uncharacteristic, I’m not a person who has ever seriously considered taking my own life. I’ve always thought it selfish with the emotional burden being passed on to those who loved them.
Then one day it was all I could think of. The hurt that I was going to drop on the people that care about me never crossed my mind. That is one of the hardest things I have had to reconcile.

As any father can attest, A man always wants to be a part of his kids’ lives. I work hard at this, to be in any capacity they will let me. I held off on getting divorced until the kids were older for fear of having access to them cut back. I didn’t want to miss anything. That has never changed. So how did I forget that?

Let’s talk about my oldest. Bright, strong, willful and hard-working. I have an amazing relationship with her now. I didn’t always. There was a time when she was much younger, around 8, that we fought terribly. I began to worry that she and I may never get along. I feared the fighting (she was very combative) would forever taint our relationship. Then I had a horrible nightmare in which I found myself looking through a glass enclosure watching my daughter. She was a toddler, not 8 as in real life. I was pounding on the glass and she couldn’t hear me. The takeaway was that she was in some sort of jail and I couldn’t talk to her. I woke up in tears. It was that time that I committed to fix my relationship with her and be the adult. It worked. This amazing girl is smart, strong, has a great job, just bought a house and has a great boyfriend. I look forward to her wedding.
Yet I was temporarily willing to miss it.

My oldest boy. Glued to my hip from the day he was born. There was a time when he couldn’t sleep unless he was lying on my chest. For 6 months of colic, I was the only thing to soothe him. I lost a ton of sleep but we formed a powerful bond. Any father would cherish the way a child looks at them as if they are the world, I am no exception. He is now a kind, charming young man with a great girlfriend, a bunch of friends and a good job. He is going places.
To think that I would want to hurt such a fine young man.

My youngest boy. Just 21. He was a struggle to get along with for a long time. Always a happy kid with lots of friends, he and I clashed all the time and I still don’t know why. But I worked hard at our relationship and I ate a lot of shitburgers in the interest of getting along. But we weren’t close for a long time. Then it turned around in his early teens. I always had great concern about his future. He wasn’t like his two older siblings in so many ways. As it turns, he is already as successful if not more so than them. Despite being very smart, he chose not to go to college. I had no problem with that. He now works for a great company that values him and offers him a future. He makes good money. He lives with his amazing girlfriend who I know he is going to marry. He is smart, somewhat charming and worldly beyond his years.
To think that with one bullet I was willing to forgo the opportunity to see the great things he will accomplish.

My youngest. She is no less unique than her siblings. Just 19, she is taking a different course with her life. Smart, sassy, fiercely independent with a huge heart, we share a powerful and unshakeable bond. She loves to talk about me to anyone who will listen about how I’m her best friend. She’s on a different course than her siblings. She wasn’t able to get a job at 15 as her siblings did. The reasons are too many to discuss, but she was needed at home. She started school. but the virtual model forced on her by COVID didn’t work for her so she dropped out temporarily. She is working full time now. She’ll go back I know it. If she doesn’t, that’s ok also. What’s important to me is that she never loses her shine, to me she lights up the room when she enters it and when she leaves it is as if the sun went behind the clouds. Close doesn’t begin to cover our relationship.
If I was to harm myself she would be devastated.

My mom knows what almost happened. She knows the whole story. She couldn’t believe that I was in such a dark place with all of the wonderful people in my life to support me. My mom and I are close and the relationship is only strained by one thing, my health. I tend to downplay my illness with her because I don’t want our relationship to be one of caretaker and patient. Mom iwas designated by God a caretaker, willing or not. She cared for her father, her mother and then my father as they dealt with assorted illnesses. She gave up her career and many years of her life to be a caretaker. I refuse to let her slip into that role with me. I want her to enjoy her life.
I can’t imagine what it would do to her if I harmed myself. I’m all she has left.

These thoughts have haunted me but the lesson has been learned. There are others to think about when making such drastic decisions, and there is a lot to be said for remembering what it is you’re looking forward to. Weddings, Grandchildren, communions, baseball and soccer games, the list goes on to infinity. Or maybe just living long enough to share the wisdom I’ve acquired over my turbulent life.

As I further contemplate this it occurred to me that when you add up the simple pleasures in life that we often take for granted it forms another powerful argument to face the day.
Music, what can possibly soothe your soul like your favorite song(s)? The song that brings you to that mental happy place.
Your favorite food that not only tastes amazing but has the dual function of comfort food.
The love of a pet, or patting a random dog.
Again, the list can go on for infinity.

So many good things in life. It is so easy to forget them when you are overthinking the bad things. I need to live by this.

catching up

I have been away for a long time. I don’t think anyone really noticed, my readership was at a all time low despite regular postings. It was about the time that I started telling my story. Admittedly, it wasn’t riveting stuff and I should have storyboarded it first. I’m still writing it but I haven’t been posting it. As they say, eventually you realize that nobody gives a shit.
But it’s ok. It goes both ways. I’ve been too busy to read my faithful followers and I can do better. And I will.

I have had a crippling case of writer’s block, despite being extremely busy. My health has been spotty, I feel pretty weak and lack motivation most days. But I have tried to stay active as possible and I have managed to maintain my detailing side business.

Masonry has largely consumed my time. I was elected Master of my Lodge last year and I was put in office at a critical time, we had been given one year to make adjustments and improvements or they would close us. I’m happy to report that we saved it in a big way and we roared back to full functionality by September.

The rest of my time, when not detailing cars and recovering from dialysis, has been spent on my new Harley. I broke down and bought a 2021 Road King. It is just a beautiful piece of workmanship and my smile is evident as I ride down the road. It is a reminder of what is good in life.

Of course, the main reason I’ve been away is I’ve been wallowing in reflection and searching for answers after my near suicide attempt a few months ago. The event was bad enough, the soul-searching that followed was worse. I have been questioning every damn thing about my life after it, it rattled me to the core.

All of these things will probably become their own blogs, for now I’m just trying to condition myself to blog again.

I hope all of you are doing great and killing it at life

the brink

hit me again life
I fucking dare you
you son of a bitch

I stand before you with bloody mouth
broken teeth
eyes badly battered
but still open
you did your worst
but it wasn’t enough
you may think you broke me
is that all you got?

how could you?
how could I let you?
you gave me all the reasons
to live
to love
and you then denied me the strength
to reach out and embrace them
pain and emptiness
occupied my heart
and consumed my thoughts

on my back
looking nowhere but up
no sky in sight
just institutional white
on the ceiling of my room
no sharp objects allowed
I thought I knew what the bottom looked like
I was wrong

the moment won’t leave my head
rest area
loaded .38 in hand
pointed at my chest
don’t make a mess
end it clean
it will stop the pain
for me anyways
but not for the forgotten ones
that love me
how could I forget them?

lesson’s learned
memories burned
my attitude forever altered
if I can’t think of a reason
to keep going
I can think of a thousand
of why not to quit just yet
life is beautiful
when you know where to look




the Rich Kid

Life on “the Ave” was a blissful time for me when I was a little boy. My cousin Mike, like most age-appropriate cousins, was a built in best friend hand chosen by God. We did what little boys do, or at least did in the 70’s before TV became our nanny, caregiver and teacher. We played in the high grass, stomped through the mud, we hid and spied on and generally annoyed the older cousins. I learned to ride a bike on the Ave, dodging giant puddles that made the task of learning to ride a bike about ten times harder than it had to be. The first time I made the whole street, Mike and the older cousins cheered for me the entire wobbly way. We had fun. We were inseparable. For a very brief while I thought that I had tapped into what my father’s childhood was like. It would be many years, I would be practically a teenager, before I would learn how wrong I was.

I think it’s fitting that the street my father grew up on was named Railroad Ave. There really are tracks in my hometown and my dad grew up on the wrong side of them. The squalor that I saw on the Ave was a massive upgrade to what my father had as a child. And in turn the life he had created for himself was a huge upgrade from the Ave. Understanding the difference those 3 miles across town meant to my Dad would be a huge step towards understanding the man.

I always knew my father was different from the rest of his family. I suppose I should just call it what it was, his family was poor. And they acted it. They weren’t much concerned with how they dressed. Many of them abused tobacco and alcohol. They spent money as soon as it was in their hands on frivolous items like jumbo boxes of candy, cigarettes, alcohol and fireworks. We all know the habits and stereotypes of poverty, and my father, despite having been textbook poor for his entire childhood, exhibited none of those traits.  He was different and even though my young mind couldn’t isolate how so, it stood out when he was with his family. It wasn’t in such transparencies as how he dressed or spoke, etc., he just acted different. I understand it perfectly today; he was still under the effects of the memories of his upbringing, but he wasn’t carrying the lessons forward. He was setting new rules for his own family while not disrespecting his own. He wanted a better life.

As a reward for his hard work, selfless behavior and commitment to self-improvement, his family would refer to him, in muted tones, as “The Rich Kid.” They didn’t mean it as a compliment. The snarkiness and inappropriateness of that label was what I had been missing. And of course, the reasoning behind it. It was quite the Dick Slap to learn that my awesome Dad, whom I oozed respect for, was made fun of for simply wanting better for us.

life imitates life…

It just happened one day recently. I think that I was trying to come up with a new Password for some website because I had entered the wrong one too many times. Boom. I realized that I don’t have much of an imagination. I don’t suppose I ever did. I was very into recreating things but I didn’t step much farther out of my comfort zone. I was probably most expressive when I was playing with my Matchbox cars, which I spent most of my time doing. Even with mountains of Trademark Orange track and a huge box of cars to work with in my room, I didn’t build empires. I stuck to what I knew. And outdoors, under my beloved pine tree, I limited my construction endeavors mostly to what I already knew. I built roads with Tonka Trucks, I used my car hauler, I used real mud in my Concrete mixers, and I pushed them around. Like they were real. I think Calvin and Hobbes used more imagination in one strip about playing in the dirt than I did in my entire life.

Despite not being an imaginative kid, I wasn’t without my skills. For example, at a very early age my mother identified me as a people watcher. Or “rude staring”, in my mother’s words. If someone or something caught my attention I was fixated on it.  I never meant to be rude, I just liked to take it all in. And I had a terrible habit of speaking without a filter. It has been both a curse and a blessing, depending on who was on the other side of it.

My Grandmother was a constant presence at my house when I was little. I really enjoyed having her over and she kept my mother company. There is so much to say about her, and I will as the story progresses, but for the sake of this entry let’s focus on one critical factor about her.
She was a terrible driver. The worst. Even at a young age I was reticent about being in the car with her. She had a heavy foot, a reluctance to brake, and Stop Signs were, well, they were for other people.  I suppose my Matchbox stories were a good example of it even at an early age.


One day she came in the house, her mouth going a million miles per hour as she told my mother about the incident she had with the “dang Po-lice” on the way over. Through the histrionics and across the many rooms of the first floor of my house I could hear her tell my mother her tale of injustice and overreach. The officer had the nerve to give her a speeding ticket. That day was one of the few times that I didn’t run into the kitchen to greet my Grandmother, it just seemed safer and smarter to stay in my room with my Matchbox cars. History and my limited experience at a young age suggested that I let her come to me this time.
Apparently I had dug through my big box of cars and had found a clunky red sedan that looked like the boat of a car Grandma drove, a big ol’ Lincoln that the front end arrived ten minutes before the rest of you did. I had also found one of my old beat up police cars. The stage was set for some hilarity. I began to act out the scenario I had heard playing out in the kitchen. Red car, pulled over by police car. I simulated an argument between the two parties, culminated by the officer telling the driver to get out of the car. I was having a blast when I looked up at the door to my room, occupied by my Grandmother. She had come to at last to say hello and there I was acting out her earlier humiliation.
When she realized what I was doing she wasn’t amused. My mother was of course amused enough for the both of them.
It was then that I realized how selective my Grandmother’s sense of humor really was.

within those 5 miles

Early on, my entire life occurred within the radius of 5 square miles. But within those 5 miles there were worlds of differences. Not one to dwell on the issue of class, but I think it’s the only way I can describe it.
First there was the lower-middle class life that played out in my house. I call it lower middle class because we lived in a section of town that we could barely afford but kept up with the proverbial Jones’s. My Dad worked all the time to afford it, to give us the better way of life that he never had. That life was still going on across town. The middle-lower part of town. “The Ave”.

“The Ave” consisted of 7 houses. All owned by some member of my family. A family so large that to this day I can’t remember who was related to who and how. 6 houses shared one thing in common, they were in very poor condition. The 7th was a overgrown lot that contained the collapsed remains of the house my father grew up in. His father had moved across town (within the same 5 miles) with his sister who he disliked. But I digress. The last house on the street was where his sister lived with her drunk wife-beating husband and my 6 cousins. The youngest was Mike. He was my age and my best friend. His house may have been absurdly overpopulated, with plastic on the windows and broken linoleum floors but I didn’t know better or didn’t care. I was there all the time. I can barely come up with an early memory that doesn’t contain adventures with Mike on “The Ave”.

3 miles away, in a different town lived my mother’s parents. It may have been a short journey but on it you can clearly notice that the houses looked better maintained, the yards bigger and lawns greener, the roads better paved as you drive. Just on the other side of the town line, on the left side were a row of houses that were dwarfed by the ones on the other. As if they didn’t belong. This town was big money. Pro athletes from all 4 major Boston Sports teams bought houses there. Along with bankers, doctors and lawyers. My grandparents owned one of those small houses. Like my parents they were barely clinging to their middle-middle class lifestyle.
But they belonged. My Grandfather was content, my Grandmother sometimes acted as if they were from that other side of the street, the one with the bigger houses. I would not go so far as to call her a snob, but she had her moments.

The parents

I was a happy kid. All kids are happy I suppose. Until the world sinks its teeth into our asses and fuck us all up. I was a product of the late 60’s and early 70’s when all of society was in turmoil. The highly unpopular Vietnam conflict raged both overseas and at home. The youth of America had stood up and defied convention, rejected the status quo and had asked hard and polarizing questions. We were divided as a nation and it wasn’t only on the Capitol Mall, it had metastasized into every community and neighborhood. Mine was no exception. We had neighborhood boys go off to fight, some at the urge of their fathers and some in defiance of. I watched the news, I didn’t get much of it but I saw more explosions and violence than in any of my Saturday morning cartoons. I can’t say that it affected me either way, but I knew it was there.

Vietnam was a formative event in my life and is essential to my story. In fact, my birth kept my father out of it. Don’t get me wrong, he had his shit packed and was ready to fight but my premature birth kept him home. As the story goes, my pregnant mom was living with her parents while Dad was stationed in Texas. My Grandmother was very careful about the evening news. The non-stop stream of violence was unsavory to her and she tried to protect my Mother from it. Despite my Grandmother’s effort to censure, my mother saw a newscast about our escalation in Vietnam and that our “Advisory” troops would soon double. It was said what bases would be sending troops. Fort Sam Houston was among them… Boom…Labor. I arrived.
My Dad never properly thanked me.
The cultural turmoil that occurred on the Living Room Idiot Box had permeated our lives also. Dad was a good “If you don’t like America then get the fuck out” American. Mom had peace signs on her Bell-Bottoms. Archie Bunker held tremendous sway with my Dad, Mom left the room when he was on, always muttering “idiot” under her breath. “Conversations” about the state of the country happened all around me. With them, when friends were over, even with family. I learned early on that people argue, shit can get loud, and how to block my ears.

When he wasn’t yelling, I worshipped my Dad. The dead mystique is a funny thing. Because he’s gone I tend to forget about the yelling. It wasn’t ok. I hated it. Mom hated it. But we forgave it because underneath it all he was a very good man. I was at his side like a loyal lapdog. He emitted strength and toughness. He was manly and I obviously had a penchant for that. I loved how hard he worked. Before I had ever heard the words “work ethic” I had dubbed him the king of it. It was so much more than how many hours he was out of the house; it was the times that he worked on our house, the times that he helped a neighbor or a friend with yard work or building something for someone. I learned at a young age that a man helps people, often as the right thing to do and not just for money.
Towards the end of his life my father, weakened and nearly destroyed by Parkinson’s, grasped my hand and asked me if it bothered me that he was out of the house so much. I told him the truth, I never had anything but respect for him for it. It saddens me that he had to ask me that. But I’m glad he did. It was just another moment that I found myself looking at him with unmitigated respect and admiration.

Especially when I learned about his childhood.

The good old days

It all starts with the childhood right? If my B.S. in Psychology taught me anything, it is that a Shrink would think that all Fucked Up Shitheads (from now on will be known as FUS) are the product of hating or wanting to fuck your mother. They would be wrong. I was the product of a loving home. I had honest and hard working parents. To my knowledge I never needed for anything.

My town was lower middle class at best. If I had to guess, we were on the lower-middle end of it. My parents bought our house when I was 3 and from that moment Dad spent every spare minute working on it. The man left the house at 5AM, got home at 6 or 7. Mom kept his dinner warm. I would sit and watch him eat, careful to point out that we had left the biggest piece of steak for him. Sometimes he was talkative, other times he was quiet as he ate. If he was in a bad mood he would still give me a wink to let me know it wasn’t me. When he was finished he put his plate in the sink and went to pound nails or cut some boards. God bless him, he was the hardest working man I have ever met. Ever.

Mom walked the tightrope between Gloria Steinem Feminism and the good housewife brilliantly. She wore her hair down to her waist (see Cher), opened her own doors and, once I was old enough, got her own job. But around Dad she was a traditional housewife. Don’t hate on that term, that’s what they called themselves back then. By traditional housewife I guess I mean that she cared for me, cared for the house and inexplicably took care of him as part of her marital duties. She did it because it had to be done and she wasn’t offended by traditional Gender roles. She had limits. If he got too “traditional” she would give it back. She was a very positive female influence.

We were a very social family. We were the house that all the ladies in the neighborhood would come to for coffee and conversation. They’d stop by with their kids in tow, looking for a cup of sugar and would stay for coffee and whatever baked goods Mom was able to whip up. It was great for me, my friends were hand delivered. I didn’t even have to leave the house. When there weren’t pop-in play dates, it was my Grandmother.

My mom and her mother had a great relationship. They were very close and spent a lot of time together. Because they were both married to workaholics, their time together meant more than I ever would have understood at the time. They were lonely together, if that makes sense? One thing that helped to pass the time was to dote over me. As it turns out, doting was my Grandmother’s specialty. She took me places and showed me off to her friends at the Senior Center. My memories of hanging with her go all the way back, and I attribute my love of Elderly people to her. We had nothing less than a wonderful and gratifying relationship. Unfortunately, my Grandmother’s doting was also the source of a huge rift in her relationship with my mother. A rift so large that it essentially molded my mother’s approach to me. To a degree, it would be a problem for me in my teen years.

They were good times.

Before it’s too late

Often when I take a break from blogging it is because I can’t think of a topic. Sometimes it’s just laziness. Sometimes I just get busy, I’m pretty active for a guy with nothing to do. Then other times I just don’t know where to start.

Last week I suffered so many slaps upside the head that I just couldn’t sort my thoughts. It started with the death of a dear friend, then another old friend of the family passed, and then to top off the shit sandwich that was my weekend I found out that my best friend in the world and his young daughter had contracted the Covid-19 virus. I was floored both metaphorically and actually. I didn’t know where to begin.

The death of my friend, a elderly Freemason whose company I have enjoyed so often and so greatly was not a shock. He was elderly and in declining health. Quarantine issues made it difficult to visit him and he wintered in Florida but I had no excuse not to talk to him more frequently and I am feeling guilt even though I don’t feel that there was anything unsaid between us. It is the worst part of losing someone, wondering if you knew where you stood with them. It is THE reason that I endeavor to always leave someone as if I will never see them again, on the level (as we Masons say) and free of anger and resentment. He was my buddy, regardless of our age difference and I feel that I am a better person for having known him. I miss him terribly.

The family friend was less of a blow. He was 92 and passed peacefully. But he meant something to me as a memory of my childhood. My parents used to Square Dance (mock away I won’t resent you) and they met many solid friendships through it via conventions at Campgrounds every Summer and retreats in Winter. I can think of 5 or 6 families that I met on those occasions and the many lasting friendships with their children that I cherish now. Frank was one of the ones that stands out in my mind the most. A father of 5 awesome kids and a all-around wonderful family man, he represents an era gone by to me. I was so upset that I wasn’t able to go to his funeral. Not being able to attend funerals is one aspect of the Pandemic that is hard to reconcile.

The news that my best friend in the world contracted Covid absolutely floored me. The news may have numbed us with all of the constant talk and actual people can fade into just statistics but by now most of us know someone who has contracted it. Sadly, many of us have lost someone to it. We always hear about those people in the high-risk category. My friend is in it. He’s a big, strong man but he’s overweight. He has a heart condition. He is always tired and his immune system is vulnerable. When I heard the news, I won’t sugarcoat it, I had some very bad thoughts about worse case scenarios. And for his daughter, whom I love like my own daughter…her diagnosis scared the ever loving shit out of me. Fast-forward to today, everyone is on the mend. That is a huge relief. But I was scared.

If you are reading this, I want you to know that I care about you and I hope you never have to endure a weekend like I had last week. Tell those close to you how you feel. Make phone calls. Send emails. Don’t put yourself in a position where you know that you could have done more. We’re social creatures and we need each other more than ever.

the dynamics of hope

“Have you ever thought of harming yourself?”
My favorite question of the Hospital admitting process by far. In the many times that I have been asked this, especially lately, I have answered with a knee-jerk and resounding “no”. Thursday, before I could stop myself I said yes.
My first reaction was to try to backpedal, but then I said Fuck it and went with it. Let’s face it, as little interest I had in talking to a hospital therapist or clergy, I hated the thoughts I had been having more.
The Social Worker entered my glass enclosed room mere moments after I said it and began asking me a million questions. I was guarded and tentative at first about answering. I wasn’t raised in a “talk about your feelings” type of household. I could better describe it as a “suck it up Buttercup” environment. Courtesy prevailed, however, and I endured. Apparently, my answers failed to raise any major red flags with her and after a declined offer of clergy or further discussion she left without incident. I closed my eyes and braced for the next shoe to drop.
“Hopeless”, the nurse exclaimed.
I opened my eyes. “What?”
“Sorry”, he said. “I couldn’t help but overhear.”
“I’m listening”, I said.
“You don’t want to end your life, you are just failing to find things that make you want to keep going.”
Wow, holy crap and WTF. He nailed it. We talked about it until he had to move on to his next patient.

I have NEVER been a suicide-minded person. I have also never considered myself a “happy” person I have perpetually danced on the edge of happiness and what I lack in joy I make up for in positivity and perseverance. I have never hated life and I have a huge problem with the selfish nature of suicide. I believe that if somebody doesn’t want to go on they don’t have to, but I also believe that it doesn’t end the pain, it only passes it on to the living.
But those dark thoughts have been creeping closer lately. The days are shorter. The sunlight is being coy. It’s cold. I’ve been in constant pain and sick more frequently. I live in a touristy area and it is the wrong season. I’ve spent many 3 AM’s sitting on the side of my bed, head in hands, looking for reasons to go on.
I’ve been in a bad place and couldn’t get out of my own head. I’d forgotten about hope.

I need to figure out how that happened and make sure it never does again. Did I just forget that I have children who love me? Friends that want me around? The good times yet to be had? The amazing and beautiful woman that has come into my life when I believed I would be alone forever? The gorgeous sceneries yet beheld behind the bars of my new Harley? Most important, have I forgotten that even if I’m not needed as badly as I, and all fathers I suppose, once was does it mean that I am not wanted around? All of these things are contingent on looking forward to tomorrow with a fresh and hopeful outlook.

I don’t know what happened to all of these things but I’m going to spend this current visit working on that list of things that await me when I get home.

I have NEVER projected hopelessness before and I don’t plan on doing it again. Hope springs eternal, pain is temporary, life is precious and death is permanent. I’m so glad that I had the opportunity to refresh my outlook before it was too late.

Suck it up, Buttercup. You’re better than this.