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 outdated.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,

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."