Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The holidays.

As much as I don't want to admit it, I'll be glad when Christmas is over.

The holidays always stir up awkward and complicated feelings for me. Combine that with the guilt-laden practice of exchanging gifts and the stress of shopping... well, you've got a perfect storm of aggravation.

I'm going to be honest with you -- I've come to despise the gift aspect of Christmas. I don't expect people to give me gifts and I don't want to spend endless hours buying them for others. The disgusting stench of commercialism has completely disintegrated my ideal of the holiday.

What do I envision as the perfect Christmas?

Greetings Cards sent to loved ones. Homes and businesses dressed in lights and ribbons. Uproarious feasts filled with great food and merriment. Stories regaled around a fire. Egg Nog and warm cups of spiced tea. Staying up late to watch It's a Wonderful Life by the colorful glow of the Christmas tree. Kissing your sweetheart. Love.

The gift-giving never really enters into my equation. Am I ok with gifts? Yes, of course. We should all feel compelled to give tokens of gratitude to our family and friends. These gifts should be meaningful and have purpose. They should speak of the compassion and thankfulness deep inside our hearts. Instead, our modern Christmas is filled with frenzied sales at the local department store and mall. "SALE SALE SALE" they scream at us. "BUY NOW, SUPPLIES LIMITED" we're convinced of. Countless droves of gift-givers stand in endless lines for discounted televisions and game consoles. Average human beings are reduced to savages. We lose our sense of companionship, our sense of dignity. These things we spend inflated amounts of time and money on are not gifts. They're just possessions.

In our modern times, gifts have lost their sense of purpose. Instead, they're mechanisms by which we try to impress each another. They are badges of honor, stating "I gave this gift, look at me! I'm somebody special!"

If you're in my circle of family and friends, I don't want you to give me anything. What do I want?

Nothing. Just be yourself. Pick up the phone every once in a while. Write me a letter. Let's go watch a movie. Enjoy a cup of tea with me.

And, if you have a gift you really want to give me, that's all the better. I probably want to give you a gift, too. Not a possession, but an actual gift. Gifts come in all shapes and sizes -- a book with a personal story behind it, an old clock, a letter, a bottle of fine Scotch, a hug. These things are drenched with nostalgia, wonder and love.

As I said, the holidays are a difficult time for me. I think about the Christmases that have come before. Assuredly, I miss the loved ones I can no longer see. Often times, my mind wanders to Christmas at my maternal grandparents' home. Oh, how I long for the holidays there -- the record player spinning old Christmas tunes, the large silver bells hanging over the mirror in the living room, the whimsical old ornaments on the Christmas tree. I'd watch all the great holiday programs Grandpa had recorded on his VCR. Even now, I can remember the smell of all those tapes. Cousin Alex... I don't know how many times I watched a home movie of you when you were young. I wish I knew what happened to that tape. You were a marvelous little baby!

Christmas just isn't the same.

There's no Christmas tree in my home. No lights. No decorations.

Really - I'm not kidding.

I've lost my sense of celebration at the holidays. In it's place is the aforementioned aggravation. The worst part is that I want to celebrate Christmas. I love to send cards to friends and family. I take great joy in making someone else feel happy during this time of year. Yet, when it comes to rejoicing in the delight of the season in my own heart, I just can't seem to find the motivation.

The Ghost of Christmas Past has come and gone. Where is the Ghost of Christmas Present?

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Caged.

I am completely and utterly ashamed of myself.

Just a short while ago, I exploded with furious rage at my sister. The reason why I uncontrollably erupted is irrelevant. My actions were without merit. She, nor any other human being, deserves to be yelled at and berated in such a manner. My behavior is solely of my own choosing - no excuses.

I am a monster. I always have been. I find myself circling back to the beginning of this very blog. There's a caged beast of frenzied indignation just fuming inside of me - shaking the bars of its cell, grabbing at any who come near. Like a rampaging gorilla locked in a prison, it sits inside of me and waits in the darkness. Waits for the right moment to strike. Waits to destroy.


This guy gets me.


If ever there were a real life Bruce Banner / Hulk, it would be me.

For years, I shielded my younger siblings from the anger erupting from my father. No one deserved to deal with such horror, but at least I was best-equipped to handle the beast and absorb the blows. Now, as an adult, I spew forth that same atrocious bitterness, often times upon the very ones I love the most. What's wrong with me? Did I not see what such gross negligence could lead to? Just as an idiot whom keeps touching a hot stove, I now tread the very ground I so desperately tried to avoid all those years ago.

Am I doomed to become my father? No matter how much I struggle and squirm against the past, is there nothing I can do? Am I genetically predispositioned to morph into that which I came from? It's all just mind-boggling. And now... I'm left sitting here alone. I feel emotionally empty inside. Not angry or sad, just ashamed. The Hulk has returned to his cage and I'm left to clean up the mess he made.

I'm certain that I've done a better job of controlling my anger this past year. Yet, it seems that when the beast does manage to get out, the havoc is many times worse. This is a perfect execution of the quantity versus quality debate. Which is worse? More frequent outbursts of lesser severity? Or less frequent outbursts of greater severity? Either way, the balance remains unaltered. That anger is still inside of me. The underlying problem has not been fully corrected. I'm still on a course towards emotional oblivion.

I really need to right this ship before it's too late.

Julie... I'm sorry. You deserve better.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Another dream.

I had another quite peculiar and unsettling dream last night. I thought I would share it with you.

Oddly enough, I found myself in a church. Not a fancy church or cathedral, but a very homely, dilapidated country church. The pews were filled with a wide variety of people, whom seemed to be shouting and hollering. I was sitting in one of the pews, trying to find a way out of the madness. Suddenly, my mother took a seat next to me. She was in a condition very similar to the months before she became bed-ridden and passed away -- still able to walk, but feeble and weak.

As she sat down, I noticed that was she excited about a box in her hands. The box said 'Holy Nuts'.

Yes, you read that right -- 'Holy Nuts'.

These weren't nuts like cashews or almonds, but mechanical nuts used with screws and bolts. For some reason I can't explain, my mother's excitement lead me to believe that she was going to eat these nuts. She was hollering with the rest of the crowd now, shouting exclamations of hope that these nuts would completely heal her.

This overwhelming sense of pity engulfed me. I truly saw my mother as a pitiful and defenseless creature, just trying to get by however possible.

I leaned in close to my mom and said "This will not make you better. They will make you sicker and kill you." Yet, she continued to profess the magical ability of the items in the box and would not listen. Finally, I grabbed her and said "You can't eat these mom. You'll die!"

The shouting and hollering in the room stopped. All became still and calm. It was as if the other people in the room disappeared. My mother placed her hand on my shoulder and said "Son, I'm not going to eat them. I am going to sell them. The money will pay for me to get better."

So there we sat... on a pew in a church that I assuredly had no business being in. She began to rub my back. It was like... like I could feel it for real. Just a comforting rub, back and forth.

And then I awoke. Not just a half-asleep consciousness like when you first get up in the morning or slam on your snooze button. I was AWAKE. Rolling over, I glanced at the clock and saw that it was barely 5 AM. The piercing sense of pity was still with me. Turning to my side, I fell back to sleep quickly.

The emotions contained within the dream have lingered with me all day. What did the dream mean? Was there a message to be had? What was my subconscious mind trying to work out? We all know that I'm not a religious person at all. Why would I find myself in a church of all places? Much less, isn't it odd that I had this dream on the night of my birthday?

I've been asking myself questions all day, with no real answers to be found.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Unverifiable Existence.

Tonight, you and I are going to think outside of the box for a moment.

Light truly is a wondrous thing. Photons (the quantum units of light) are constantly whizzing past us, faster than anything we can even remotely achieve through current scientific capability. So humbling, this notion is. We can only dream of building an engine that would propel us as fast as light. Yet, could we not treat photons like taxis? Maybe we could 'ride' the light?


Could the secret to light-speed travel literally be right in front of our very eyes? It could be, but this isn't my main point of discussion. As they say in Hollywood, I've buried the lead.

Alternatively, I find the very nature of light to be somewhat deceptive. Why? Because we never see the 'real' universe. I'll explain.

Light travels at a speed of 671 Million miles per hour. To our senses, that's instantaneous. Yet, there is an undeniable microscopic delay. From the point at which light is reflected off an object to where our senses can receive it, there's a gap (albeit insanely small). Because of that 671 Million MPH speed gap, we have no possible way to verify that the object reflecting light is actually as we perceive it. We exist in a world with sensory data that's delayed and unverifiable. The 'real' world only exists within a realm where there can be 'instantaneous' light transmission.


Here's the twist - because the very nature of light can not be 'instantaneous', then the real world is completely dark and not visible. That leads me to one conclusion - the true fabric of our universe can not be seen while inside said universe. The only way to 'see' the real universe that we exist in is to view it from an external vantage point. And what's the only way to leave this universe?

You guessed it -- travel faster than the speed of light.

Concurrently, if one were to shine a light upon anything within our 'real' universe, it would extract that object into our unverifiable existence.

To put it mildly, we exist in the world of 1 ⁄ 299,792,458 of a second ago when our senses are running at optimum capacity.


Let that stew in your mind for a bit. I'll continue this discussion in a coming future post. Stay tuned.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Positive.

I readily admit that I've discussed many horrible and depressing bits of my past on this blog. Hey, that's the purpose of this creative outlet -- to get rid of all the emotional weight that's been dragging me down for years. If you'll let me, I'd like to concentrate on some of the great things in my life.

That's right -- I'm going to be positive for a change.

I'm thankful for the family that is still in my life.

My two brothers -- Josh and James -- you're the two best damn brothers a guy could ever ask for.  Josh came along when I needed a little brother the most. I was already a miserable wretch in elementary school; you helped to socialize me. You were my confidant, my ally. Remember when we fought an entire school bus full of kids? Remember how we would put rocks in our snow balls? Remember the late night drives and silly antics on the highway? I sure do.

James has always been a better version of me. A free thinker, a rebel, a master of the tongue -- you are an improvement upon me in every way possible. You've always been my little buddy, though. Believe it or not, I always looked forward to you sleeping in my room at night for comfort and security. Oops - didn't mean to embarrass you there, kiddo. You've grown into a man I completely respect in every way. Now we've just got to get you out into the world so you can spread righteous change to the masses!

My little sister Julie -- goodness, you've grown up so fast. Though I have a hard time seeing it now, I'm sometimes lucky enough to catch a rare glimpse of the sweet little sister inside you. I'm reminded of the endless loop that was your Daisy-Head Mayzie video tape. Or... how about when I taught you how to defend yourself against brash little boys in grade school? I seem to recall some boys wishing they never met you. Though you sometimes credit me with making you tough, I disagree. You were born tough. I just helped you see it a little more clearly.

I'm thankful for the aunts and uncles that have stayed in touch with me, even throughout the turmoil with my folks. My Aunt Jackie - ever the fighter. You have been the voice of reason so many times in the past. You were there for my little sister when she desperately needed someone. I won't forget that.

My Uncle Billy and Aunt Kathy -- my beacon of hope in a desert far, far away. Do you two know just how great you are? I appreciate the text messages, the emails, the little gifts in the mail. You're a connection to my preceding generation that I lost somewhere along the way. I appreciate you more than I may let on. Here's to us seeing each other soon.

Last, but certainly not least, I'm thankful for the love of my life. Crystal -- you're the lemon in my tea; the cheese on my pizza; the hot sauce on my beans. You make everything about me better. I've been pretty damn miserable for a long time. For many years, you've stuck by me, supported me, carried me. You even convinced me to go into business for myself. I've lost count the number of times I've cried on your shoulder. (Yes, real men cry. Deal with it people.) I'm not perfect, yet you've stayed anyway. Often times, I've expressed how guilty I feel for keeping you chained to me. Yet, you always reply with love and compassion. Though you tell me otherwise, I'll never believe I fully deserve something as perfect as you in my life. You've taken this big, grumpy lug of a man and turned him into a slightly less big, somewhat less grumpy lug of a man. Progress, right?

Crystal... I'd write you a love letter, but there aren't enough words in this universe to finish it.

Quite the contrary to my disposition, I'm grateful for so many things in my life. Many of you (even if I didn't mention you by name) have been there for me when I needed a friend, a lover, a companion. The best way I can repay your kindness is by living my life to the fullest. My life must be long and full of success. Thanks to my steady exercising and improved diet, I've dropped thirteen pounds and regained much of my muscle mass. I recently had an annual blood screening come back with great numbers. My cholesterol is quite low. I'm not at risk for diabetes or heart disease. Believe it or not folks, I'm the healthiest overweight guy you'll ever meet! I'm on track to live a long time... and that's good.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

A short note on the departed.

Today is my mom's birthday. She would have been 53 years old. Satan didn't take her. An absent God didn't take her.

Lung Cancer took her. Years of abusing herself with cigarettes took her.

My emotions and thoughts about my mother are awkward to say the least. Out of respect for my mother on her birthday, I won't say anything negative or disheartening. What I will say is that she owed it to herself to progress forwards in life and not leave at such a young age. If not owed to herself, then at least to her other three children. I've come to accept what my life symbolized to her, so there's no love lost upon me. Rather, she should have been here to provide comfort and support to my siblings in their most important of developmental years. It's a shame.

Assuredly, my father has performed a grand theatrical display of emotions today in his dead wife's honor. Certainly, his latest girlfriend was submissively amused. I wish him the best of luck in his continued life of phantom monstrosity.


Friday, July 26, 2013

I can not eat the cheese.

A few days ago while taking my normal, everyday morning walk, a startling revelation occurred to me.

I can not eat the cheese.

Let me preface the scene. Sometime in early June, Crystal dared me to go a month without eating cheese. Now don't get me wrong, I actually eat pretty healthy. No junk food, no sodas, nothing. I'm quite healthy for my size -- no diabetes, no high blood pressure, my cholesterol is very good. Cheese is my "Achilles' Heal", though. I didn't think there was any way I could do it. I L-O-V-E cheese. Cheese is what makes my culinary world spin 'round. CHEESE!

Anyway, I accepted her challenge. The first week was tough. Then the second week -- that was tough, too. By the time I reached week three, I started to think I could get through the month-long ordeal.  Eventually, I succeeded and completed a month.

How in the hell did I do it?

I'm not sure, to be honest. I just stuck to my guns and did my best to drown out the constant craving. I didn't think I'd ever pull it off, but somehow I managed. Even to this day, I find myself avoiding it. My mind will create new and more extravagant reasons why I shouldn't eat cheese, even when I have the option to do so. And let's be honest -- in my attempt at losing weight, not eating cheese has certainly helped.

Jump back to my exercise revelation...

In discussing how as of late I've made a real commitment to improving my health, exercising regularly and losing weight, the link between exercising and the cheese was made. By proving to myself that I have self-control, I realized how that has carried over into other aspects of my life. My self-control is what tells me to get up and exercise every day, even though I don't want to. Not only that, but it's what keeps me moving on my walks instead of letting me stop and take a break. I keep going, and going, and going...

I can not eat the cheese. I can not eat the cheese. I CAN NOT EAT THE CHEESE!

Literally, I was jumping for joy and picking my walking pace up (which is already a brisk, speedy walk to begin with). A flash of instant genius went off in my brain. If I can not eat the cheese, I can do anything I set my mind to. That being said, all of the physical activity is paying off. My weight has dropped (though I still find myself not believing the scale) and my mood has started to improve. More so than physically healing myself, my exercise is a means to shed off emotional baggage. So much of my weight problem stems from old emotional trauma -- I improperly ate as a child to bury my feelings and abuse. By letting go of all this weight, I'm setting myself free.

I want to eat you... but I don't have to.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

One day too late.

In my life, I have collected a vast assortment of 'What If' moments.

As I sit here writing this blog entry, I can't help but consider all the paths my life might have taken had certain events not happened how and when they did. I'll discuss a few.

What if I weren't born?

Well, my mom and dad certainly wouldn't have stayed together. In the time since my mother's passing, I've learned from others some important details as to my birth. Apparently, I was the anchor that kept my parents together. Though my mother was in an abusive relationship, the pregnancy made her stay. Great - so my spawning kept her in a bad marriage. And I wonder why my mother and I never really connected! Deep down, she probably despised my existence. Everything that was wrong in her world was manifest in me. When my mom was real bad off before her demise, I asked her if there was anything she needed to tell me; anything that she needed me to know before she was gone. She said nothing. There is one positive spin on my parents staying together... my younger siblings. Josh, James, Julie - you each hold a piece of my heart. You are my family, forever and always. Nothing will ever shake us. You are my rock and my everything.

What if I'd gone off to a proper college?

This one is a frickin' joke and upsets me to this day. I like to think I'm a smart guy. At the very least, I'm versatile, eager to learn and quick to pick up information. Some perspective: I had no desire to be my high school class valedictorian because it meant nothing to me (the soured-up socialite that took that honor can keep it). If I'd wanted the "honor", it would have been mine. To this day, I still laugh at our graduation ceremony. Literally, I fell asleep on stage with the other honor graduates out of sheer boredom. Upon graduating high school, I'd been accepted to not one, but three different colleges. Those institutions were Boston University, Emory and Washington University in St. Louis. Did I go to any of them? No. Why? Because I was too nice of a guy. I hung around Southside Virginia for the sake of an unnamed family member to assist in their entrance to community college. Yet, they ultimately never went to school because they copped out. And there I was - a guy that could have gone on to a finer institution... dealing with rudimentary hogwash at a two-bit rural community college. It still leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And to think - my folks didn't assist one bit with college. Not a book, not a class... nothing. Nada. Zip. Zilch. Not even a "Kiss my ass, Jared". You know... taking some interest in my continuing education would have been appreciated.

What if I'd spoken up sooner?

I've never spoken about this information publicly, so please bear with me.

The year was 1999. I cared about a fellow classmate in high school very much; had for a few years. I'm not going to say I loved her because I was young and wouldn't have even known what love was. Not only was I young, but I'd never even had a date with a girl. That being said... I had feelings for someone quite special. We were friends and worked together on our school yearbook. We exchanged emails fairly often. Sometimes we'd eat lunch together. I was still a timid young man, though. Talking to a girl was scary, to say the least. As her senior prom rolled around (she was a year ahead of me), it took me forever to work up the nerve to ask her to go with me. And... I waited too long to ask. Some other schmuck had asked her already (yes, he was and forever will be a schmuck). But, she didn't get weirded out by my asking. Surprisingly, she responded positively to my asking. Even though she graduated, we stayed in touch. We'd call each other on the phone and talk. Finally, roughly two months after her graduation, I'd worked up enough courage to ask her out again. And... this time she said yes! I was thrilled beyond anything I'd ever known at that point in my life. She said that she'd already made plans for that evening, but that we'd definitely go out the next day. Boy... was I a happy guy.

Then, the next day came. She was gone.

Little did I know at the time that the plans she had for that fateful evening would lead to her own passing. I won't go into details out of respect for her. Many of you, my former classmates, will know the particulars of what happened. If you're curious, contact me directly for further info. Albeit, I was devastated. I didn't show my pain - I bottled that up too (just like everything else). There I was, facing my own fear and realizing a horrible truth - I waited just one day too long. What if I'd asked her out one day sooner? I could have saved her life. I could have taken her to a different place to be around better people. I could have done something... anything... and she'd still be on this planet.

I was one day too late. It was all my fault.

To this day, I still can't listen to Don Henley's The Boys of Summer without choking up. That song was playing on the radio when I learned she died. The girl in the song? That's her - brown skin shining in the sun indeed. Her face will never leave me. I can close my eyes and still see her. Sometimes, at night, thinking about all this and her keeps me awake. What am I saying - it's quite often in fact. Now obviously I can't speculate that we'd have worked out. Who knows where life would have taken us? But, had I of spoken up one day sooner, perhaps a beautiful young woman would still be with us. I'll always carry this burden, as I should.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It ends with me.

I've come to two important conclusions recently.

1. I can't make my father be the man I want him to be.
2. I was powerless to change my deceased mother into the woman I wanted her to be.

For too long, I've carried this expectation that they'd change and become the people I want them to be. Too many years of cutting them slack. Too many years of making excuses. How illogical of me! I can no more expect my parents to change than I can the stars not to shine. People are who they want to be; nothing more, nothing less.

Many years on, even through all of his faults and transgressions, I idolized my father. I thought he was impervious to the darker side of human nature. Even when he was physically and emotionally abusive, I made excuses for his behavior. Oh, his father abused him... and his father before him. He can't help it. Perhaps that was my own fault. How can a man reach such lofty expectations?

At this stage in my life, I can look back and understand the scope of my situation. I'm a little bit wiser and a little more jaded. My father is going to be who he wants to be -- a civil servant trying to be a part of the 'in-crowd'. The problem? The 'in-crowd' despises him and laughs behind his back. He's stuck in a podunk community that neither likes nor appreciates him. He's also a devoted subject to a "god" that bestows no blessings. A man without a family, either by force or by choice - what kind of "god" does that to a man? To explain away the death of your own wife as a possession of evil spirits and the devil? That's absurd and foolish. Yes - you said this father. Dare not you try to say otherwise.

Father, remember that conversation we had many years ago about the Book of Job? The story of Job is a core element of my atheism. That's why I don't believe in your "god", or any other. Any "god" that would destroy a man, all for the sake of winning a bet, is no "god" at all. Children make bets over games at recess. Gamblers make bets on sporting events. Such a being is petty and foolish. Even if your "god" were real, I'd curse his name to the ends of the Earth. I'd rather die faithless as a decent, compassionate man than blindly support a god of pettiness and cruelty. A man that ventures to the grave with honor needs no shepherd to light his path into the darkness. What does that say about you? A man of logic and reason... I think not.

Understand this - Mother didn't die because the devil performed some bit of trickery. Mother died because she smoked cigarettes for more years than I care to count. She valued her smoking habit more than her own health. That was her choice - not the result of some absent "god" or even an attentive "devil".

And here we are... Mother has been gone for almost two years. Her being gone is mostly irrelevant - she took no more of an interest in my life than a rock. I actually feel more guilt for not being upset that she's dead than any real sadness for her truly being gone. I find myself unable to sleep at night; I toss and turn battering my brain. I ask of myself "What kind of monstrosity must I be for not being upset? Am I really this cold and detached?" Father has moved on to someone new, though I suspect my mother wasn't even dead yet before those new "waters" were being tested. Ahem. He has his "god" and his new partner. Good riddance.

But he doesn't have me. He doesn't have two of my siblings. Our family as we once knew it is no more. The unit is dissolved. Mother's passing destroyed the last unexplainable linchpin that held this shambling laughing-stock of a family together. Without her, we are free of any due responsibility to each other. In that, I probably find the most sorrow of all.

I just wanted a normal family. We could have lived on a normal street with normal neighbors. Our friends could have been normal. We could have taken normal vacations without yelling and fighting. The holidays could have been normal and free from guilt. My first date could have been normal. I could have actually hung out with school mates and done normal things - parties, movies, weekend adventures. I could have had a normal self-image with a normal degree of self-esteem. We could have just been normal people in a normal world.

I realize normal is a subjective term. Some would even say there is no such thing as normal. For a child, there is a sense of normalcy, though.

Normal is loving your child and not treating him or her like a possession. Normal is not employing your child like hired help. Normal is not hitting your child. Normal is not making your child feel helpless and pitiful.

All I ever wanted was for us to be normal. I wanted my father to be normal. I wanted my mother to be normal. I see now that I expected too much. Moving on with my life is my only choice.

On one of the last occasions my father, mother and I spoke, they chastised me for not wanting children. "When are you going to make us grandparents?" they would say. For that matter, I can recall many moments in even my early and mid-twenties when they heckled me for not having kids yet. There's no way I'd ever be responsible for bringing a new human life into this horrible world. More importantly, I'd never allow even a glimmer of a possibility that I'd treat a child as poorly as my parents treated me. That beast is in me, no matter how much I diminish it. I couldn't live with myself if I ever yelled at a child... if I ever hit a child. Yet, they could not understand why.

The sins of the father will not be repeated... not on my watch.

It ends with me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Fumbling and stumbling.

If I've learned anything from the last week, it's that I usually fail to recognize when I'm enraged. When I'm caught up in a moment of anger, I have a hard time seeing that I'm mad. Instead, I usually feel remorse after the fact when I've calmed down. This has taught me one thing - I must learn to recognize anger as it happens, process if it is logical, then calm myself down. Here's one example...

Earlier this week, I went for a bike ride as I do normally. As many of my friends know, I've started to ride a bike in order to lose weight. My large size is quite hard on my bike (just as hard as the riding is on my joints, but that's another story). Needless to say, lots of things will malfunction on my bike and require regular maintenance. Take my handlebars of instance. Regularly, they will rotate downwards as I ride the bike; so much so that the break grips will pitch straight up. At that point, I can't even use the breaks because I can't reach them. It seems no matter how hard or often I tighten the handlebar joint, they'll still eventually slip and rotate. Well, I reached my breaking point this week and lost my cool. I couldn't get my allen wrench into the handlebar socket to tighten it back down. After fumbling and stumbling, all the while getting madder and madder, I finally flipped out. I was already mad before I even attempted to fix the handlebars; my ride was totally uncomfortable and both of my wrists were screaming in pain.

Now imagine this next part...

I literally ripped my shirt off, hurled my water bottle and stormed off inside my house. I left everything in my bike bag - phone, wallet, keys, everything. I finished stripping, hopped in the shower and just let it all out.

I WAS A TOTAL MESS.

The take away from all this? I let my anger get the best of me. I 'hulked' out over nothing. Instead of staying calm and getting the right size allen wrench to fix the handlebar, I probably had the wrong size. Much less, I was letting my pain and frustration manifest in a manner that's not positive. What did I have to show for acting like a jerk? Nothing. This got me to thinking. What could I do to remind myself that my anger is in control WHILE I'm actually caught up in the moment? I need some sort of visual cue to tell myself that I'm not in charge at the moment. I'm still trying to decide what to use in order to cue myself. If any of my readers have suggestions, they're totally welcomed.

On a partially related side note, I came to see that my lifelong weight problem is absolutely linked to my emotional distress. The extra weight that I carry is a physical representation of my emotional baggage. As long as carry this extra weight, the emotional baggage that I carry will continue to haunt me.

I'm a thirty year old fat guy with daddy issues. Crazy, right?


Monday, April 29, 2013

Mental booby trap.

I experienced what I can only relate as an "emotional panic attack" this weekend.

This past Saturday, I traveled to the Triad Highland Games in Greensboro. Being my first ever Highland Games experience, you'd think I'd be ecstatic. Those of you that know me understand my fervor and excitement for my Scottish heritage. Scotland is like my home away from home - a dream destination that I hope to visit and/or move to one day.

"SlĂ inte mhath!"

Needless to say, the event did not go as well as I planned. Instead of being happy and excited, I was miserable. Looking around at all the history and culture that I mentally swim in almost daily... I just locked up. Oddly enough, I grew distant and became horrible company to keep. I resorted to being short and snippy with people. The sad part? I didn't even know I'd morphed into a vile monster until after the fact. In the midst of my ass-hat extravaganza, I was unaware that I'd channeled a pool of dread into my demeanor.

And there I was - pushing away people that cared for me and wallowing in my own anger.

Eventually, I fell out of my funk after watching border collies chase sheep for forty five minutes. As if in a stupor, my anger switched to guilt and I emotionally turned off. By the time I made it to lunch, I was an emotional wreck. Trying to hold myself together, I felt it bubbling up.

And by it, I mean my age-old sense of never being good enough for my father.

It just kind of spilled out of me while I was driving. I can't fully explain why I had this "emotional panic attack", but it felt like I wasn't deserving of enjoying my love for Scotland. The fact that I attempted to assimilate into the Scottish culture more directly sprung a mental booby trap. Better yet, a demon reared its head and said "No, you don't GET to be happy. You must SUFFER!"

"Suffer my boy! Mwahahahahahahahah!"

I realized at that moment that I'm thirty years old and not fully capable of letting myself be happy. Why? Because I'm still trying to satisfy a tyrant that lorded over me as a child. I must admit - it takes a POWERFUL man to control your life long after you've exiled them from it. Therein reflects the hold he has upon me. I can't let myself be happy because I was never given the command to do so. It sounds strange, I admit. If anything... I just feel guilty and ashamed for letting it get to me. Jared Manning - a passionate bastion of strength and independence... and I can't even allow myself a moment of joy. I punish and torment myself every day. Over what, though?

What did I do to deserve this hell?

The torment spilled over into Sunday. More of the same emotional distance was in order. I floated in and out of concentration, even when performing simple household tasks. I couldn't even cut carrots and make dinner without feeling empty and utterly pathetic.

Someone very dear to me levied a powerful judgment over the weekend. They suggested that I am self destructive when I reach for happiness.

Were they right?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A temporary fix.

Interesting fact... I'm much more fun when I've got a few drinks in me!

It's 1:30 pm on a gorgeous Sunday afternoon. The birds are chirping. Sunshine is all around us. The trees are releasing their pollen and turning our vehicles a lighter shade of yellow. All in all, it's quite a marvelous day.

Alternatively, I've been in a horrible, depressed mood all morning. No real reason to be so... just have been. In the course of correcting my mood, I've ingested roughly five shots of whiskey in forty-five minutes. I feel great!

As I sit to write this blog post, I must face a harsh self-criticism. I shouldn't use alcohol to make myself feel better. Now mind you, I don't drink that often. In fact, when I do drink, it's usually just one mixed drink in a pint glass. I definitely don't meet the criteria of an alcoholic. Alcoholism runs in my family, though; I must be cautious with my drinking habits. I do find it terribly amazing how alcohol can make one forget all their sadness and animosity... even for just a short while. Scratch that -- forget is not a proper word. Perhaps I should say subdue. Yes, let's rephrase that.

Alcohol can subdue all the sadness and animosity I feel.

It's a temporary fix to a long term problem. It's also one I shouldn't be exploring. It's too late now though. Best to write about it, get the emotions out in the open and move forwards.

The other point I'm reminded of in my libatious debauchery is how, no matter the positive progression I make towards emotional wellness, the rot that exists in me will always be there. A small fragment of the poison that has tainted my existence shall forever hook itself to my being. Again, this blog aims to educate myself in how to best contain that poison. Perhaps my heart needs a hazmat suit?



Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Stirred memories.

I dreamed of my maternal grandmother last night.

Typically, my dreams are comprised of mundane events; I'm cooking, shopping, walking through forests, taking a bath, attending a party. It sounds weird, but my dreams usually involve me living a normal life somewhere (and somewhen) else. Sometimes, people from my life will come into my dreams - friends from grade school, the occasional family member, but usually they're strangers to me. Last night was haunting, though. The dream has stuck with me all day. The details are fresh in my mind.

My dream starts out with me in my grandmother's kitchen. Like she often used to do, my grandma is mixing up some powdered milk. As she turns to put her milk in the fridge, she takes a fall in the floor. Mind you, I never knew my grandma to be one for falls, but that's neither here nor there. As she falls, I can see the milk flying through the air and spilling all over us. I get down on my hands and knees and try to pick her up. No such luck, though - I can't get her off the floor. Then, as if I psychically broadcast a call for help, people from all points of my life begin to enter the room. Many of you probably reading this blog were surely there. Exhausted and in despair, I call out to everyone to help me get her up. Yet - no one can hear me. It's like they're phantoms passing through. Crying and still trying to get my grandma up, she looks over to me.

"It's alright Jared, you've tried your best."

I'm crying hard at this point. Eerily, I feel like I was really crying in my sleep; the sensation was that powerful. I lay across my grandma's chest, not understanding why I can't pick her up. Looking at her feet, I notice that they've disappeared. Steadily, my grandma is vanishing. As I look on in disbelief, I can see her eyes staring at me one last time.

And with that... she's gone.

I awoke in a cold sweat this morning, feeling quite peculiar. No... perhaps a better word would be shocked. My heart was racing; my neck was wet... and I've walked around all day feeling like I was hit by a ton of bricks.

My maternal grandmother was always great to me. I can't think of a single memory that involves anything painful. The same goes for my grandpa; they were both incredibly kind to me. From what I know of them before my birth, I know they were different people. That being said, I have an understanding that grandma and grandpa changed in their later years.

My grandmother and grandfather - Fannie Mae and Edward.
If not for my grandma, I probably wouldn't have my deep love for baseball. We used to watch the Atlanta Braves games together on television. She loved the Braves (and the handsome Chipper Jones) and I'm a staunch St. Louis Cardinals fan. We'd get into some heated arguments about baseball, especially when the Cardinals were in town to play the Braves. I'd always accuse the Braves of using corked bats. To this day, I can still see grandma's face every time I'd tell her that (she'd sour up and scoff). To be honest, it was grandma and grandpa's fault that I'm a Cardinals fan anyway. On a trip out west, they stopped in St. Louis and purchased my brother Josh and I Cardinals baseball caps. When they brought them back to us as souvenirs, I was hooked. Sitting at their kitchen table, I can still recall slipping that baseball cap on for the first time. Instantly, I was a Cardinals fan.

My first Cardinals cap.

As you can see, the old hat doesn't fit me too well anymore. My head (as you know from a previous blog post) is a little big for the cap these days. I've kept it clean and secure all these years, though. It means a lot to me. More than you might think.

So here I am, left with a disturbing dream and stirred memories. That's nothing new in my book.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Time for an upgrade.

I believe my journey into a written dialogue about my past has generated a positive influence on my daily life. That's not to say that I don't have eruptions of anger; I still find myself fuming over simple and mostly insignificant matters. Yet, I've seen improvement in how often these moments come, as well as how long these bouts of anger last. Perhaps facing all of this built-up aggression (as well as depression) in a very public and honest manner was a good idea after all.

In regards to how public I've been with my past, I never suspected that I'd be willing to open up in such a way. I spent decades hiding these facets of my life from the world. I got so good at covering this information up that much of it has been lost to time. While I can be very sociable and vocal with folks, that's always been a degree of me "putting on my game face" to get through life.

The man on the inside has never really been well represented by the man on the outside.

This journey I'm currently undertaking is a way to make these two different versions of Jared meet. There are parts of my outer self that I really like -- able to read people, knowledgeable on social commentary, comedic, friendly. I want to incorporate these traits into my inner self. Even better, I want to replace painful and negative pieces of my being -- highly critical at times, easily enraged, prone to self-punishment. Am I working on Jared 2.0? I think so. I've been long overdue for an upgrade. I compare it to installing Windows 8 on your old computer that's still running Windows 98 -- it's impossible without also replacing your core hardware.

I am the man robotica.


Monday, February 25, 2013

My head.

Tonight, we're going to talk about my head.

Those of you whom know me personally are familiar with the large, awkward size and shape of my head. You may have even asked yourself...

"Why is Jared's head so large?"

"What happened to Jared's head?"

"Was Jared's mother or father a giant pumpkin?"

Well, now I'm going to reveal the story behind my head.

My mother spent many hours in labor with me. Despite her best attempts at passing me from her womb, she just couldn't. My head was already too large to fit through such a tiny hole. Mind you, the year was 1982, so some of the modern birthing techniques at the time were a little... outdated. Since I wouldn't come out, her doctors had to go in for me.

They went in with a giant pair of forceps.


Well, that was the beginning of the trouble with the shape of my head. As if my brain-basket wasn't already awkward enough, the forceps contorted and misshaped the plates in my skull. As they pulled me out, it caused even greater damage; this damage was unknown at the time.

As I progressed into infancy, my parents obviously realized that they had one big-headed baby. Not only was my skull large and misshaped, but my head also tended to roll to one side (obviously balance was an issue... and it still is to this day). Upon the recommendation of my doctor, they used the following cure to "fix" the damage.



Space-Age Pediatric Technology

As you can see, their revolutionary cure was a brick. That's right folks... a brick. My parents wrapped multiple bricks in cloth diapers and placed them in my crib around my head. I'm not even going to explain how idiotic this plan was. Surely, you've already come to the same realization. Apparently, the bricks would magically make my head straighten out. Uh... let's just move along.

As I grew up, my head just stayed its massive, peculiar size. Here I am at age 3. Notice the very attractive bowl cut used to "hide" my head.


Finally, a Santa that wants a kid off his lap.

And here I am a few years later. That head just won't quit!

"What, me worry?"

Notice how one side of my head seems to be higher than the other? That's because it is. If I were to shave my head today (and that day is coming), you'd notice a few important things.

- The back of my head is totally flat. Guess that's what I get for sleeping on bricks as a baby.
- The skull plates on the back-left side come to form a knob, whereas the back-right side just sort of rounds off into oblivion.
- As you get closer to my neck, the plates in my skull form a cliff and... then there's nothing. I can feel the base of my brain area and top of my spine.

At least everything is in proper working order. Apparently, the doctors told my folks that the shape of my skull actually made me smarter than normal. It's like the forceps massaged the areas of my brain to make me a genius! Great, now I'm not only smart, but I'm also self-aware of how silly my head looks! 

I'm like a dented can of pears you buy at the grocery store on clearance. Sure, the outside looks like crap, but at least everything on the inside is as it should be. Right?




One missing piece.

The green rush of summer has given way to brown. The frozen ground beneath my back has set a chill upon me. Using what strength I have left, I grip the cold tentacles of a tree and pull myself underneath. Resting my head against the trunk, I'm able to see the silver sky cast before me. The clouds have turned to ash and ember; a ruby shimmer sets them on fire for a fleeting moment. Is it the sun? I'm not able to tell anymore.

I place my hands over my chest. My breath has slowed its pace.

In the distance, a single star falls from behind a cloud. A tail cast aglow in the brightest blue and violet; oh how gorgeous it is. Then another star falls, and then another. Before long, hundreds... no thousands of stars rip through the fog and smoke. I notice that dead leaves have begun to spin down from the tree. I can feel a trembling, much like a thundering herd of buffalo racing towards me. As the vibrations become more violent, the falling leaves increase in number.

A vicious gash tears through the valley. Rocks, dirt and dust; they all crumble away to a bottomless void. Even the stars, they too are sucked into nothingness. The heavens descend upon my head. A typhoon of energy has shred the silver sky apart.

Like a mask being torn from the face of a stranger, I see the hollow suspension of the unknown.

And there I am... floating in a pool of onyx.

No earth or sky; no up or down. I have just bear witness to a great unrendering. A world completely stolen away from me... and here I rest with no power to have stopped it. With icicles for fingers, I feel for my chest once more. Yes... the pace has almost come to a halt. And then... my breathing has stopped. I am no more.

-----

I awake to you kissing my forehead. A cold sweat has set in my flesh. I inhale a large gasp of air and regain my senses.

"Wake up silly-head."

There you are, racing towards a clearing in the trees. I can't see your face, but I know it's you. Your feet carry you as if wings have burst forth from your ankles. Hair as black as the night sky wraps your figure in a contrast of wonder. I know I'll never be able to catch up to something so graceful, so completely magnificent. I let you glide away and watch in amazement. Though I can't run with you, at least I can see you one last time -- happy, alive, without any sorrow.

Your figure skips towards the far end of the clearing. Dusk has set in and my sight has grown weary. Suddenly, you dart back into the brush like a frightened creature of the forest. As quickly as you were here, you're now gone. Forcing myself, I rise from the comfort of our old tree and brush off. It's time to go, I lie to myself.

And with that, I return to a world -- fully formed with the earth, the sky, the clouds and stars above. Everything is as it should be... except for one missing piece.

___________________________________________

“Where you used to be, there is a hole in the world, which I find myself constantly walking around in the daytime, and falling in at night. I miss you like hell.” -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

I remember.

When I was fourteen years old, I got my first job. It was nothing fancy or magnificent, let me tell you! Like most teenagers being employed for the first time, I went to work at a restaurant. There I was - a young buck looking to score some cash as a proud new employee of Tastee Freez in Kenbridge, Virginia!

Photo Credit: Malcolm, http://www.panoramio.com/photo/43892083

Yes, that's a photo of the actual restaurant. Keep in mind, I grew up in a county where there STILL is not a Wal-Mart, Burger King or a McDonald's. We didn't even have a major grocery store until after the year 2000. Tastee Freez was THE place to go for a quick bite to eat. Soft Serve Ice Cream? Check. Burgers and Fries? Check. Fried Chicken? Check. Livers and Gizzards? Check.

I look back fondly on my first job. It was certainly hard work. Friday nights were the toughest night of the week, especially during football season. I busted some serious ass working at Tastee Freez. Thankfully, I had some great friends to work with that made my time there enjoyable. Steve, Tommy, Stephanie, Jessica... you know who you are (and hopefully you're reading this). Being able to work with you made my first job memorable. I'm very thankful for the three years I spent there. I learned how to work under pressure, how to deal with not-so-friendly people and when to swallow my pride.

I experienced a great deal of heartbreak and abuse in my life during this same time, so my memories of working at Tastee Freez will always be bittersweet. The first girl I ever truly had feelings for tragically passed away; I found out one morning when I arrived to work. I won't go into any details to protect those involved, but those of you who grew up with me surely know the inside story.

Oddly enough, I also started paying my father rent with my first job. Yes, I'll repeat that -- I was fourteen and paying my father rent. I won't whine about having to pay for my keep at such a young age; it certainly plays a factor in my current success and independence. Yet, I can't help but question the motivations of my parents. What parent demands rent money from their underage child? I know of none other than my own. Between age fourteen until when I moved out at age twenty-two, I can put a pretty close estimate on the amount of money I paid my parents at $38,000. That's not to cover college expenses either -- I paid my way through college without assistance. I can understand charging an adult child rent who isn't attending college, but I was fourteen years old! Nor was I some vagrant or stranger, I was your own flesh and blood. Yet again, my lifelong feeling of being used as a tool to further my parents' (let's face it, my domineering father) own agenda was validated. I grew up a babysitter to my three younger siblings, only to be charged a fee to be your child and remain the general caretaker of your other children. There's a reason my two younger brothers and younger sister look to me for parental guidance -- it's what I've always done (and I will continue to do, you three keep me alive).

There's a reason I'm not upset about my dead mother. She didn't talk to me or express much love towards me. I've found out so many things post mortem which she told other family members and not me. I am your oldest child mom -- am I not worthy? Or did you just not give a damn?

There's a reason I don't speak to my father. He started off strong as a dad. I remember the walks we'd take in the woods and the road trips into town. I remember the records we'd play on the record player; the comic books you shared with me (I learned to read very young because of comics). I remember the care you gave me when I burned my hand on the kerosene heater. I remember my first wallet -- the brown one with a zipper and a horse on the front. I remember all these things... and you blew it... and it literally breaks my heart. I'm angry with you, but more so... I'm disappointed in you.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Orion awaits.

My mind has wandered to the center of a hurricane this evening; calm, yet unsettled am I.

I think of the moments that glide by us, like rustled feathers on the wing of an albatross. You know... the special memories that stick out in your mind. Those often unimportant, yet somehow memorable instances that stay with us like a scar. Ironic that I would make use of the word scar as an analogy. Many times, these memories have indeed created scars for us. I think of all the wrongdoings and misgivings that shape our emotional well-being. Oh, how some of us must look like gnarled masses of tainted flesh on the inside.

My mind has meandered into an odd sense of serenity. Not so much that it's uncomfortable, but more so somber. Picture this...

A lamppost dimly reveals a small park. Scattered about are worn benches and bloated old trees, leaning forth to give cover to their mangled roots erupting from the ground. The air is not cold, but the slight breeze certainly gives the evening a crispness. The hair on your forearm stands slightly at attention. You slip your hands into your jacket's pockets to ward off the chill in your fingers. As leaves roll forth across your path and into the depths of a moonless evening, your mind is at ease. At the end of the park, you can see the warm glow of the town cinema, The Menagerie. Old Man Winters and his granddaughter Vera take care of the place. You've never worked up the nerve to ask sweet Vera out; though even if you did, it's not like you could take her to a movie. It seems as if Ivanhoe is playing on the big screen; you've seen that one twice already. Taking a seat on a bench, you lean back and close your eyes. The breeze is still gently whipping. It could be a storm coming in, but the sky is still clear. Opening your eyes, you can make out Orion standing guard above. He's always been there for you, ever-ready as a defender of the simple humans below. Leaves are scraping, tip-toeing ever gracefully at random. The rustle of the park trees echoes a hollow chime of unknowing. Imagine how sad these tired oaks must be, you ponder. Constantly standing, never given a moment to rest. How they must wish to sit on a park bench. What torture it must be, these benches always within sight, but never within reach. In this, you feel a peculiar, yet wholly familiar, sense of guilt for the trees. What great sadness these trees must share. They spend their entire lives, reaching ever higher for the speckled firmament. They're given a taste of the wondrous heavens above, yet never set free from their anchored entanglement. A sword cuts in both directions; that is the truth that these trees know. Not only are the skies above forbidden, but so are the chances of resting their weary bodies. Locked in a position of dispirited melancholia; these trees know sadness. As you lean forward and grasp your temple, you share the feelings of these tired oaks. You realize the great dichotomy of the living world. There is a great sorrow in all that is magnificent. For there to be joy, their must also be anguish. Without one, there is not the other. You shed a tear for these tired oaks, wishing to take their place. If only for an evening, you hope for these trees to have a moment of rest. Stepping away from the bench and towards the nearest tree, you extend your hand and brace yourself against a strong oak.

Can you feel me? Do you know I'm here?

I answer back, though you may only take it as my limbs shaking in the wind.

Yes, I'm here. I can feel you.
I'm sorry dear tree. Your life must be hard.
It's alright, something must bear the burden of being a tree. That something is I.
I'll think of you when I'm gone from this place.
I'll think of you, too.
And with that, you step away from my trunk. Reaching down, you pick up one of my tears. Now brown and fragile, my tear was once green and vibrant. You place it in your pocket and tread on. You take a part of me with you on your journey. Alas, I take a part of you with me on my jaunt towards the majestic celestial expanse. Orion awaits for me there, just as he waits for you.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

My parents are gone.

One of the reasons I started this blog was to work through and express all of the anger I have. Today is one of those days where I'll be more personal with you.

If there's one thing that causes more anger in my life than any other source, it's my father.

Let me provide some back story for you. My father and I have not spoken in over a year. December 27th, 2011 was the last day we spoke to be exact. I'd just driven to Virginia to see my dad and siblings for Christmas a few days previous. After I returned home to North Carolina, I got word that my sister and father were in a massive fight. I called to see what happened. Our last conversation did not end well; it was filled with a lot of screaming and agony. Much of the conversation related to how he treated my sister, whom was only seventeen years old at the time. Both physically and emotionally abusive, I'd finally had enough of my dad harming my sister. Mind you, this was not something new for my sperm donor. He'd spent decades treating myself and my two younger brothers the same way. Throughout those years, my mother was complacent to this abuse, right up until her own demise.

Speaking of my mother, she passed away September 14, 2011 after an eighteen month battle with lung cancer. Mom was only fifty-one years old. She'd been a lifelong smoker and did the damage willingly to herself. Mom gave birth to four great kids, yet she tossed it all away because those cancer sticks were just so darn tasty!

After that last conversation, I cut my father out of my life. My sister also moved out and spent the last five months of her high school senior year with an aunt. Following her graduation, she came to North Carolina to live with me; she's been here ever since June 2012.

For all intents and purposes, my parents are gone. One is six feet under; one isn't worth a damn.

I spent years putting up with senseless abuse, as did my three siblings. The pushing, shoving and punching I gradually grew to accept and deal with. I even became adept at knowing what set my dad off and how to avoid such triggers. To be honest, the physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain, though. At one point in high school, my dad (and mother too for the matter) confronted me and asked if I was a homosexual. This was followed by a series of vulgar accusations as to my manhood. I remember the last question they asked me during this incident.

"Don't you want to have sex with a woman?"

Yes... because I was extremely introverted and never dated a girl, I must be gay. Never mind the fact that I was emotionally abused, not allowed to go anywhere or experience anything beyond school... I must be a homosexual! That makes a LOT of sense, doesn't it?

On a side note, a thought just occurred to me. This incident must be why I'm so vigilant about supporting equal civil rights for the LGBT community. I might not be a homosexual, but I sure as hell know what it's like to be put down because of your sexual preference.

So what prompted me to discuss this very personal information today? Well, I spoke with my sister concerning her desire to attend college (something my father had no desire of allowing her to do). Even though she's eighteen years old and living independently of my father, she still has to claim dependence on our father in order to receive financial aid. Folks with the Lunenburg County Social Services Department (yes, I'm calling you out) will not assist her in being declared an independent. Why? Oh... would my father being a deputy sheriff have anything to do with it? Would my father's enduring facade of being a charitable, community driven, caring Christian (oh, he loves to harp on the 'good Christian' part) have anything to do with it? YOU TELL ME!

A man who is not involved in our life; who is a bastard; who won't admit wrong-doing or say I'm sorry -- my sister has to go through him just to get on with her life?! Screw that! It pisses me off to no end. When can my siblings and I move beyond the greasy, self-serving grasp of our father? When? Can we not just live our lives without the toxic taint of our parents? A father in name only; a mother who didn't give a damn.

I'm getting pretty upset right now just writing this. I'm in a bad place. This will continue later. I have to stop for the time being.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The game is afoot!

I received an interesting package in the mail today. I don't remember ordering anything, so I'm not sure as to where it came from. Time to call in one of the greatest minds our world has ever known... LEGO SHERLOCK HOLMES!

"Greetings and salutations!"

Immediately, Lego Sherlock Holmes goes to work.

"Let me employ my magnifying glass here."

"Ah, yes... there we are. Thanks for the scissor assist Watson... er I mean Jared."

"Oh my stars and garters! This is worse than I suspected."

"The horrors found with this tome. How dreadful!"
"Let us close this treacherous volume and never speak of this Ba-rack O-ba-ma again."

These sarcastic photos were taken in jest, of course. I find it highly silly that someone out there (likely a reader of this very blog) found it necessary to spend money and send me a book about the "E-V-I-L" Barack Obama and his villainous "Commie" friends. Come now, have we not left the Commie Pinko Cold War era of the 1980's behind us? Are you still so scared of the invading Red Army that you leave your G. Gordon Liddy nightlight on in the dark? Did you honestly think this would frighten me? Better yet... did you think this would upset me? Let alone, you obviously don't know very much about me. I voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson in the 2012 Presidential Election and not Obama. I have liberal social views, but middle-ground economic views. I'm not some "Commie Pinko" as you may believe (as if the Commie Pinkos were ever anything more than propaganda bogeymen)"

In fact... this is quite funny. Of course, the anonymous sender probably wants to remain unknown. My friend, don't you know that no good deed goes unpunished? When I determine your name, I will publicly state it. Then again, you could just stand up and reveal yourself. Thereby, you'd avoid the cloud of cowardice. If you have something to say to me, then say it like a man (or woman if you're missing testicles).

"I will find you..."

"... and I will reveal your identity to the world."

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Why am I pulling over again?

I loathe funerals.

Seriously... funerals are one of the most pointless rituals that humanity has ever practiced. Take for example my experience today. As I was driving into town, I passed a police officer preparing to close off a major intersection. At that moment, I knew what was coming. Like clockwork, the bumbling driver before me started to swerve towards the shoulder, then gunned it through the intersection while the light was still green. Of course, I passed on through. As far as I could see ahead, traffic was backed up and at a stand-still. Scattered about in various angles of disarray were cars trying to pull over for an oncoming funeral procession.

I groaned with utter aggravation. I do NOT willingly pull over for funeral processions.

At this point, you're probably ready to snap at me and ask why I'm so disrespectful - stop and listen!

Tell me what the act of pulling my vehicle over does for the deceased party in question? Do they know I'm pulling over? For that matter, would they even care if I pulled over? No.

THEY'RE DEAD! D-E-A-D DEAD!

Whomever is playing coffin jockey in that hearse could give two craps about whether or not vehicles in an opposing lane pulled over! Much less, the ritual of pulling off the road for a funeral procession actually generates more opportunity for vehicular accidents to occur. Hence, more chances for more people to die! Think about it - multitudes of drivers with no knowledge of what the car in front of them is going to do; people slamming on their brakes; drivers tailgating each other. It's a damn recipe for disaster! Why? All because someone ages ago decided that their deceased kin was so important that living, thriving humans (whom probably don't even know the dead person, lest they'd BE AT THE FUNERAL) should halt their movement and wait for no reason.

Give me a frickin' break.

If it's a small funeral procession, I can usually get on past the morons whom pull over and go on about my business. Not in this case. I sat... and I sat... and I sat. Endless streams of motorcycles went by first (don't even get me started on the egotistical sense of superiority most bikers project). Then I watched as more aloof drivers shot past me with their silly hazard lights on.

You know whom funeral processions really serve? The jack wagon drivers that participate in such processions.

"Hey, look at me. I'm so important that I can drive past you while you're pulled over and there's nooooothing you can do about it. Look at how important I am. LOOK!"

Humph. Eat a dick. I'm sure driving in your silly funeral procession is the highlight of your existence. Say hello to the trash next door for me when you go home to your trailer park.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

I'm just a hack.

I'm feeling pretty good today. Or at least so I thought.

I packed some customer shipments and went to the post office. Worked a little bit on my store inventory, too. I also finally finished a really freaky and enthralling graphic novel I've been reading - The Furry Trap from Josh Simmons (check out his blog here). If you know me well... and some of you do... then you know that my particular tastes in comics can venture out into the land of weird and horrific. Trust me, The Furry Trap continues that trend.

As I finished the book, I came to feel a deep sense of regret. Why have I not published my own comic yet? Where did I leave the path? What took me away from my lifelong goal of being a comic creator? Now don't get me wrong - I absolutely LOVE what I currently do. Setting up my own vintage toy business is one of the best decisions I've ever made in my life. I'm my own boss. I set my own hours. I control what I sell and how I sell it. No longer am I trapped working for a bank that I have major ethical conflicts with. Literally, creating The Cybertron Armory is one of the accomplishments I'm most proud of in life. But... for years, all I wanted was to be a published comic creator. Eventually, I guess I just gave up on myself. There were numerous lies I'd tell my inner being... I'm not talented enough... no one would read my work... I'm just a hack with no real vision... the list could go on and on. Yet, here's a comic filled with strange stories, unique art and a singular vision. If this creator could do it, then why haven't I? What is holding me back from making something all my own?

Me.

It's the only true answer. No... the only answer I've never wanted to accept. This absolutely infuriates me. Here I am... thirty years old. In thirty years time, I haven't been able to publish my own comic. THIRTY YEARS! That's a long time! Consider this... in the same thirty year span I could have gotten my own comic published:

- A man of color finally became President.
- We've had three Robocop feature films, and the remake is about to come out later this year.
- Two wars have been fought in the Middle East.
- The US Military has confronted Saddam Hussein twice.
- The Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union both fell.
- I've owned not one, not two, but seven different Nintendo Game Boys.
- Duke Nukem Forever was finally released. The video game that was never to be finished... was finished.
- Family Guy was created, flopped, then got canceled, then was shown in reruns and became successful, then got brought back to life again.
- Speaking of animated programs, we got King of the Hill for thirteen seasons... no one will ever top that show.

My point is this - I've had plenty of time to become a big shot comic creator. Hell, not even a big shot... just a good creator. Yet, all I've managed to do in thirty years is keep myself from completing my goal. This dilemma is not just filled with deep-seeded anger with myself, but it's filled with pure, unfiltered disappointment.

I have to admit it to myself and the rest of the world. Perhaps I'm scared of success. Deep down, something has told me that I don't deserve to be as successful as I can be. Something has programmed me to be afraid of what I can become.

Maybe Yoda has some insight for me...

“Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.”

 

Fear does lead to anger. It seems I'm living proof of that. That damn green, big-eared puppet was right.

 

 





Thursday, January 17, 2013

Pulling the zipper.

I have a hard time expressing myself face to face. At least... expressing myself in a manner that's genuine and not a total facade. Those of you that know me probably understand that aspect of my personality. Prickly. Opinionated. Domineering. I can be pretty hard-headed at times. My personality is... an acquired taste. For those of you that have stuck around, your companionship is appreciated. That being said, my circle of friends and family is not large. In fact, it's downright depressing. I can count my close friends on one hand, with fingers to spare. My family is small. I can't even name many of my extended family members anymore. Literally - I don't [a] know or [b] remember their names. Hell, I don't even know when some of them breed and produce offspring!

Look at that... my first blog post and I'm already rambling. That's what my anger does to me. It's like a persistent poltergeist whispering bad things in my ear, telling me to drive the car off the road.

"Yes, drift into the ditch. Kiss that light pole. Yesssssss."

Anger - it's always with me. Being pissed off is my default gear position. Not neutral, not happy... just pissed-off. Sure, I'll have moments of fleeting happiness and laughter. Plop me down in front of one of my favorite television programs or movies. I laugh my ass off. Those of you that know me can readily recognize my laugh - high pitched, wheezing and obnoxious. Yes, I admit I'm obnoxious at times too. Deal.

But where does my constant fury come from? How did it get there? I can barely remember a time in my life when I wasn't angry about something or someone. As I've aged, it's grown larger. Anger is my tumor. It's a festering boil of contempt and bitterness that shapes my entire environment. Many of you can attest to how I can destroy your good mood. Hell, two of you (you know who you are) just told me that today. For that, I really am sorry. I don't wake up in the morning with a mission to sink your battleship of rainbows and lollipops. It just happens.

If I'm ever going to determine why I stay angry, I think I've got to decipher what made me angry to begin with.

"Won't you help me sing... these songs of freedom. 'Cause all I ever had... Redemption Song."

Sorry, listening to BBC Radio Scotland. Great cover of Bob Marley came on. Poignant moment, though. I could use a little redemption right about now.