Tag Archives: exhaustion

The Will To Be

I am not alone in feeling that 2016 cannot come to an end soon enough. Perhaps I’ve just let the various superstitions get into my head, but right now, at this very moment, I’m struggling to find the will to be. Not that last year was a whole lot better, but at least I managed to write for a decent stretch of time, and put some much needed distance between myself and the ever-quickening rat race. Of course, no good deed goes unpunished, and I managed to get myself fairly established within the world of debt. Do I regret it? Not really, because it set me up to actually start a novel (of which I’ve written 27,000 words), and I self-published a couple of things on Amazon (earning me a whopping $19!). But, in the end, I found myself drawn back to the industry which had threatened to unmake me in the first place. I feel like I just need some breathing room, some time to dedicate myself entirely to this endeavor, so that I can really focus on finishing Hiraeth, and see what kind of luck I’ll have with a proper novel. I’ve gotten decent feedback from my beta readers, and I think that I may have stumbled upon something here.

So what do I do? Obviously, I can’t take another six months off, as I’m still paying off The Great Sabbatical of 2015. And there’s a minimum dollar amount which I need to make progress of climbing out of debt, which limits what sort of employment I can consider. Unfortunately, those types of jobs also seem to be more time-intensive, which kind of defeats the purpose. What I really need to pull is this off is a work schedule which features two days off which aren’t separated by anything more than the changing of the day, and the ability to stay at home (or do whatever) on said days off, and not be required to go in for any reason whatsoever. The only thing that does is burn someone out like a candle within a sphere of blowtorches. Throw a little personal tragedy into the mix, and top it off with a dash (results may vary) of mental illness, and the sky’s the limit for a risk of a complete meltdown. All I know is that whatever the solution, I need to find it quickly. I’m tired of not doing what I love. It’s been over thirty years since I discovered my place within the universe, and aside from a handful of baby steps, I haven’t done anything to get there.

Realistically, I think that I could get everything accomplished that I need to for the low, low price of $30,000. Check out the Benefactors page if you’re interested in contributing… The only thing that I can do is lower my head and hope that this time I can pull it off. I’ve happened to work miracles on countless occasions before, extricating myself from the fires in which I’d put myself, but I’d love to somehow get ahead of the curve, and not have to wait until the final moment to manage some kind of magic. Number One: I can’t count on my unblemished record of victories snatched from the jaws of defeat, and Number Two: that kind of strategy is, honestly, exhausting. I know that I can do it. I know that I have the skills to make it happen. All I need now is the time to try. If I can only pull myself up from within the grips of my depression, and find within myself the will to be, I think that everything will be okay.

The Eyes Have It

No pun intended (this time), but I should have seen this coming. From the time when he was just seven and a half months old and stabbed me in the eye with his very first Valentine’s Day card, David William has had a… unique relationship with vision. We thought that after his spastic attack upon my cornea, that he would be done with eyeball-related crises, especially considering that I started wearing glasses, and for a few years we were right. But he’s always rubbing at them, and half the time we’re convinced that he needs to see an optometrist. Actually, I’m not entirely sure why we haven’t taken him. I should probably ask Flor about that. Regardless, however, it was only a matter of time until karma repaid him for his Valentine’s Day massacre of my right eyeball. It would have been more appreciated if he had been spending time with his grandmother or mother, as opposed to his former victim, but apparently that’s not how karma works. And so it came to pass that after I had gotten not nearly enough sleep so that I could wake up early so that I could get to work by four a.m., and then work four and a half of the most physically demanding hours in recent memory, walked home exhausted, and collapsed onto the bed to watch a little Netflix, he jammed his grubby little finger in his eye and deprived me of my chance to unwind a little. Come to think of it, I’m almost positive that he might have done it on purpose.

Shortly after I got back home this morning, he decided that it would be okay to run around the house and drag his knuckles on the kitchen floor while hiding beneath the kitchen table. And when I say drag his knuckles, I mean crawl around on all fours because I told him that he couldn’t drink his sister’s juice (which his mother wound up giving to him anyway). About ten minutes later, back in the room, after kicking up some dust, he ground his filthy little fingers in his eye to relieve the itching, and immediately exclaimed that his eye was hurting. We rinsed it out, and I took a look to see if it was an eyelash or other foreign body, but the only thing which I could see was a strange affectation of the eye which he had contaminated. The best I can describe it as is if he had a blister on his cornea. It was yellowish and translucent, and seemed to have collected toward the bottom of his eye. I’m not ashamed to admit that I may have freaked out a little. If he had hurt himself almost anywhere else, I would have felt comfortable enough to triage him to determine how much I could take care of here, or if we truly had to pay a visit to the clinic. Eyes, though, are not my bailiwick. Give me a fever, a cut, a sprain, and I am gorram Doctor House. Present me with damaged optic organs, and I am running to the nearest doctor’s house (not really their place of residence, I just liked the symmetry- bite me!).

I had already changed into my pajamas (because reasons!), and he hadn’t actually changed out of his, so it was a hectic dash to get us both properly dressed and out the door in timely fashion. Someone has been letting him leave the house in his pajamas because they don’t want to have an argument with him, and now he thinks that that’s okay. Which it isn’t. Because if I have to put on pants, he has to put on pants. I managed to get us both dressed fairly quickly, all things considered, and we were almost ready to run out the door, when David informed that he couldn’t find his other shoe, and that his eye really hurt. This, of course, was all that was needed to summon Lecture Dad (TM pending), who shimmered into being right where I’d been standing and informed David that if he left his shoes in the same spot every time he took them off (we have one of those hanging things of pouches for footwear adorning the inside of our bedroom door), he would always know where to find them, and that if he would wash his hands occasionally and quit picking at his eyes, he wouldn’t have gotten himself into his current predicament.

“This is the worst day ever!” he informed me. “Today is not going in my diary!”

“Be that as it may,” Lecture Dad (TM pending) replied, tired of his son’s shenanigans, “We’re going to the doctor, and they’re going to check out what’s going on in your eye.”

“But I want to play Xbox!” he began to whinge.

“Then maybe you shouldn’t have jabbed your bacteria-laden digits in your eyes!

“But I don’t want to go to the doctor!”

Lecture Dad (TM pending) was having none of his son’s excuses, “Neither do I, but since your eye looks freaky, and you did it to yourself, we’re going.” I tossed the missing footwear in David’s direction, and said, “Here. Here’s your shoe. Put it on your foot, and let’s get going!”

“Okay, Dad.” David wiggled his foot into the remaining shoe, pulled on a jacket, and we finally managed to leave the apartment.

As I may have already mentioned these past few weeks, money is kind of tight. I mean, let’s face it: I didn’t get a job doing what I’m doing (for no hours at minimum wage) because the writing has been unbelievably profitable (actually, it has been unbelievably profitable, in that I’ve made $17 in royalties, and I frankly cannot believe that all my friends who said that they would by my stuff when it came out have somehow managed not to do so). So when David started in about not wanting to walk to the clinic (a sentiment with which I could relate, having done more exercise today than in all the six months in which I wasn’t working), I may have snapped at him a little. I was tired, my muscles ached, and I was fairly well and truly chapped in a couple of very tender areas, due to my superhuman ability to sweat normally for three average people, but only in my crotch. So we gimped along the twenty-minute walk up to the doctor’s office. The wind was blowing fiercely (as it always does in the wind tunnel which I’ve come to know as Not Quite Richmond, California), so I offered David my glasses to keep the random bits of debris from striking his already sensitive eyes. This, however, was not apparently enough, as halfway into our walk, he pulled his jacket over his head, and had me lead him the rest of the way as if he could not see (which he couldn’t).

We finally arrived at the clinic, which was filled with kids with stuffy noses and the like. I told the nurse that I needed someone to take a look at David, and, to her credit, she bumped us up to the head of the line. Like every visit, they checked his height and weight (it seems he’s not growing all that much), his blood pressure (perfect, according to the nurse), and temperature (within human norms), and then led us to a room. Normally, when the waiting room is filled like it was today, they make us go back out until it is our turn, but apparently my description of his eye was enough to make them want to keep him away from the other children. Not that it made the doctor see us any sooner. If there is anything I dislike more than having to take David to the doctor, it’s having to sit with him while we’re waiting for the doctor to see him. Look, I get it: no one likes to wait. What doesn’t help, however, is flipping out every fifteen seconds because it seems to be taking a little while for the doctor to arrive. Lecture Dad (TM pending) reminded David that if he had put his Kindle Fire to charge last night instead of leaving it upon the kitchen table, he would have had it ready to bring along with him when we went to see the doctor. Whinging Boy (TM also pending) did not seem to believe that point was relevant, but in an extremely high-pitched and aggravating manner.

Finally, the doctor tapped upon the door, and it was time to get down to business. Before I go any further, however, I need to share a minor point: I’m not sure how horrible a person that the following revelation makes me, but I tend to get a little skittish around doctors with a German accent. I know that there are medical schools in Germany (well, I don’t know, but I assume), and that to practice medicine in the United States, he has to have been able to prove that he knows what he is doing (in theory), but there is something deeply unsettling about an older man with blond hair and blue eyes, thick German accent, lab coat, and a stethoscope talking about medicine. He seemed to know what he was doing, however, as he agreed with my assessment of the situation entirely, and prescribed antibiotic drops for the affected eye. While he was preparing to send over the prescription to our nearest Walgreens, he took a page from the playbook of Lecture Dad (TM still pending), and told David William to make sure to wash his grubby hands with more frequency than he seems to be able to manage now, and to stop jabbing his filthy fingers into his eyes. I thanked Herr Doktor, and we were on our way.

As it turns out, those words of gratitude may have been uttered a tad prematurely, as by the time we’d made our way back to the pharmacy (narrowly escaping the Crazy Dude who’s been roaming around the city for the past several days, screaming at passersby, and trying to instigate a bout of fisticuffs), nearly twenty minutes later, the prescription still hadn’t been sent. Almost an hour later, with both David and I pushed to the limits of our patience, we finally picked up his bloody eye drops, and made our way back home. While we were waiting, I also picked up some more Children’s Claritin, in the hopes that maybe it was just a case of allergies which had inspired my son to endanger his vision, and therefore, I could protect his eyes from further damage with five millilitres of liquid loratadine a day. We got home to an empty apartment, and I informed my son that it was time for me to administer his medicine, the same medicine that I had previously advised him that he would have to have, and which he agreed to receive without throwing his standard-issue tantrum.

There are few things more damaging to the well-being of a parent’s psyche than the child who refuses to take his (incredibly important) medicine. It’s not one of those cases where you can just give into his fears, and not give him what he needs. I tried for nearly fifteen minutes to get him calm enough to sit still for the one drop of medicine which I had to put into his eye. I tried explaining it. I tried showing him what it would be like by squirting a dose into my eye. I attempted bribery and threats. He still refused to tilt his head back so that I could do what I had to. Finally, I had to hold him down and launch several drops down toward his eye (in the hope that at least some of the medicine would actually reach its target), all the while fighting off his flailing limbs and screaming in my ear. It reminded me of when he was just a little baby, and we took him for his vaccinations. The look of absolute betrayal frozen on his face as I had to hold him still while the doctor pierced his skin is still burned into my mind. He broke my heart today, just as I’m sure that I broke his, but at least his eye is now feeling better, and I’ve even seen him wash his hands a few times since we’ve gotten back. Presidenting may be hard, but it’s nothing compared to parenting.

I think I need a nap.

Mental Health: Nervous Breakdancing

Mental Health Week is upon us, and I figured that I should check in with everyone. In the years since I was first diagnosed with Manic Depression, back when it was still called Manic Depression, I have seen a general decrease in the stigma surrounding mental illness. At least, until the issue of gun control becomes involved, or the police decide that they just don’t feel like putting up with it that day. But at least it’s not something which must be swept under the rug, and hidden deep within the family histories. I’m cynical enough to think that maybe this drive toward understanding was not brought about by the goodness of mankind, but rather that pharmaceutical companies finally had a way to make a fortune off of those of us who had to battle the demons in our mind. And they couldn’t run all those massive ad campaigns if depression was something that nobody could talk about. And now I’ve got a bitter taste in my mouth, forced to admit to myself that maybe The Free Market might have been good for something. Well, I suppose that even evil can wind up doing some measure of good from time to time, if only by sheer accident.

I’ve never gotten a chance to meet my dad, and it looks like I probably never will. I’ve had to piece together the family history of mental illness from anecdotes from people who knew that side of my family, and the reaction from my father when I tried to contact him. My father’s brother, who lives and teaches in Japan, comes back to Idaho every year to check up on his brother and take care of other family things. He was the one who found and read my letter, and got in touch with me. He told me that my father was wrapped up in depression, and suffering from a heart condition. And damn it, if my dad didn’t see that letter exactly as I would have seen it. He kept off to the side, terrified to open it, and then indignant when it was read to him. He blames my mother for a comment she made in passing, and it would take a paternity test, which I would have to pay for, to convince him that I am his son. Part of me wants to just do it, so that I can throw the results in his face, and sit down and talk to him. That’s the part of me that needs to know absolutely everything so that I can try to prepare for when my son displays the signs of what I’m beginning to believe is direct line heredity of mental instability.

My son, the Minkey. The school believes that he’s got ADHD, and so does his doctor. Well, his last doctor did, his current doctor isn’t entirely convinced. The type of pills he takes have also had the same effect on me when I… sampled them a couple of decades ago, and I do not suffer from ADHD. Maybe I’m just looking for something that isn’t there; I wouldn’t put it past me. But from the stories which I’ve been told, both of my father as an adult, and myself at my son’s age, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before my son will face the same challenges which I was forced to face. The only advantage which my son possesses is that his father has been through it all before. I wish I thought that it would matter, though. I’ve never really found a good answer to the melancholia. But at least I will be able to know what’s going on with him, and I can try to help him cope in a less self-destructive manner than I chose for myself. Maybe that will help him feel slightly less alone. That is, if I make it long enough.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for me. It’s hard to tell what’s a product of the swirling ups and downs, and what’s a normal reaction to the situation that I’m in. All I know for sure, is that I don’t know what to do. No one is calling back about the résumés I’ve left. I’ve been questioning my choice to jump back into writing, foregoing a steady paycheck (or any paycheck). But then I look at what I’ve managed to accomplish, and I know that I made the right decision. I’ve written more over the past five months than at any other point during the past twenty-eight years. I’m better than I ever was, though after rewriting Terracrats, I’m not sure how impressive that statement might be. Last night, when I couldn’t get to sleep, I finally figured out how to structure the novel which I’ve been working out inside my head for the past couple of years. But it’s all come too late. I’ve run out of time, and I don’t know what to do.

Normally, when backed into this type of corner, my instinct is to curl into a little ball and try to build up the courage to finally end it all. I’ll be honest with all of you: Last night, after I’d had my revelation about the book, and then realized that I’d figured it out too late, I locked myself in my bathroom, and… considered certain things. I don’t know what it was that stopped me. I don’t know what’s keeping me from sinking into the soothing madness of a nervous breakdown. I’d like to think that I’ve discovered some secret source of strength within myself, but I think it’s just that I’m a coward. I’m afraid to leave the things I feel I need to do undone. I don’t want all of this to have been for nothing. I just don’t know if I’ve still got the strength to see things through until the very end. What’s worse is when I open up to Flor, trying to find some comfort in her love for me, and she tells me that I cannot go because of David, Cream Soda, and the granddaughter who’ll be born any day now. As she hurls those words against me, I feel the weight of all those years upon me, and I feel that I cannot stand it anymore.

Why do they need me? Why did I give into the loneliness, and drag someone down with me? Why did I bring a life into this world who will most likely face the same things to which I still have never found an answer? What gives me the right to make them suffer with me? Why even bother dragging everything out like this? I’m nervous breakdancing all around inside my head, and I’m trying to find my equilibrium. I know that if I can just stick it out a little longer, that everything will soon seem better. I know that all of this is only in my head. Also, why does it feel like August?

Thanks for bearing with me.

The Disenchanted Kingdom

I’ve been working on a couple of other posts, and they don’t seem to be getting anywhere today. One of them seems too frivolous, and the other far too serious. I’m sort of going through a period of apathy. It’s probably a swing to the depressive, if I’m being honest, as my temper has grown shorter, and the laughter has grown quiet. The majority of my conversations are held up my grunts and shrugs, and, while rather noncommittal, have been viewed of late as aggressive and rude. When I express my apathy, I’m not trying to start a fight. Rather, I’m merely trying to inform anyone who might come near me that I’ve run completely out of fucks to give. This is the hardest part of me for my wife to understand. On the outside I seem no different from before, aside from a deeper frown and lack of self-care. But there are no open wounds for her bandage, nor broken bones for her to set; my pain resides within me, and there’s no easy fix. I’m tempted to say that she has given up, and written me off while looking forward to the day when she might rid herself of me and my entourage of nonsense. The fact is that she gets frustrated at her inability to help, or even predict my swirling moods from one moment to the next. I know that I am stubborn, and an impossible man to be around when I get this way, and it is only because of her overly generous nature that we have endured so many years with one another.

These are the days when I want to run away, when the responsibilities seem overwhelming, and I feel that I am drowning beneath the onslaught of my failures. It is during these periods that I think that maybe I’m not cut out to be the man who I once hoped I’d be. That maybe everyone would wind up better off if I just put them out of my misery. If I were to simply fade into the night, leaving an apology for all my sins upon the nightstand where my Wildflower would see it in the morning, I feel that I might spare the ones I love from the monster which lurks inside me. I’m not patient, and my kindness comes and goes. I love my family, but sometimes feel burdened by affection. I always seem to go after the happy things which once sustained me, and if I stay, that only puts them at risk. To clarify: I’m not talking about violence of a physical nature, but the way my psyche twists itself to poison and sharpen the words that I fling out in all directions. It takes so much effort to keep up this facade of sanity, that I fear the day is coming when the wires inside me snap, and I fly apart like a supernova. There is nothing which I want more than to find a way to disappear, find a way to end it all, and rest, at last, in peace. Reign forever in my Disenchanted Kingdom.

2866779705_0357d27d1c_bSo I stay. I stay because I know that if I left I would be dead. I know myself too well to think I’d leave open any avenues by which I might survive. I know that if I can just hold on a little longer, this darkness which has wrapped itself about me will begin to weaken and then fall away. Any time I talk to someone about how I’m feeling, they always tell me that I have to stick around to see my son grow up. Of course, in the moment, this only irritates me more: Just another heap of pressure piled up upon me. But it’s true. The reasons why I’ve stuck around are counted on a couple of fingers. I do want to see my son grow up, and my grandson as well. And now I’m due to meet a granddaughter. I think about the years ahead, stretching out in front of me, pushing me further back with every birth. I want to see them, and to know them, and I want to be remembered, but some days I think it might be better to pass off into legend. I could be the family’s epic cautionary tale. Make sure to see a doctor, so you don’t wind up like Grampa Batmart.

I’m torn.

I grew up without a dad, and I know just how that feels (though I never knew the pain of losing one I knew). But I am so afraid of crushing David beneath my bitterness, that there are times I think the only answer is to rid him of me entirely. It will hurt now, but someday he will understand. He will understand, won’t he? That I sacrificed myself to save him from the pain? Or would he lay the blame upon himself, and spend his life trying to figure out what he did wrong? It’s so confusing right now inside my head. It seems that every part of me is whispering that the safest course of action is one that cannot be undone. But I’ve also learned that these desires are the same I’ve always known. The same parts of me that will not rest until I have permanently done so. I get angry sometimes that I’ve got people around me who love me. They make it so that I cannot simply fade away. They bind me to them with their open hearts and scorching love, and make me feel as if I’m spinning, spinning, spinning.

This is the real battle. Even now, I know how to free myself from all the pain. Words to utter, and in which tone, to drive them all away. Make them leave me so that I can finally get it done. I’m not sure if my hesitation is an act of bravery or cowardice. In these times it’s hard to tell if I’m doing more harm by staying. I’m so used to knowing everything, that it’s almost impossible to push that all aside, and rely on the clearer thinking of my wife. I’ve had so many bad experiences that it’s been hard to trust her, been hurt so many times that it’s difficult to make myself believe that she’s not just out to do the same. But we’ve got nine years together, so something must be working. I chose her in a moment of clarity (though why she chose me is beyond me), someone unlike the women I’d been chasing after. Someone who might want something besides my blood. Even if I can’t trust anyone right now, I guess I’ll have to believe that I once knew what I was doing.

The shadow seems to have passed, at least momentarily. I guess I made the right decision. This is something that I must confront anew every time it falls upon me, and it seems to learn from past defeats, as nothing I’ve done in the past seems to have any effect.

Thank you for bearing with me on this journey through the darkness. I swear that I’ll write something a little funnier next time. Or at least die trying.

Fat Ass

I think that it might be time for me to seriously consider getting into shape. It hurts when I have to tie my boots, and there are places that I haven’t seen for months when I am standing up. As it stands right now, I also need to buy a couple of pairs of jeans, as my ass seems to have increased somewhat, and I’m running out of pants that fit me. It kind of makes me wish that I was into that whole baggy pants craze, as I still wouldn’t have to worry about any of this for at least another few months. But I know that once I’m working, the pounds will begin to melt away, as being on my feet all day, and walking to places outside my apartment will burn the calories that writing has not. I’ve been tempted to try those “supplements” that supposedly “melt the fat away” while you are sitting on the couch, eating Doritos, but I really don’t want to go down the Upper rabbit hole again. I mean, sure, I only weighed a buck and change, but the side effects (not to mention the type of people always hanging around) were something so horrific that, even all of these years removed, I still get agitated just thinking about them. Which means that if I want to lose some weight, I’m going to have to do the old-fashioned way: diet and exercise- two of my least favorite things.

We don’t have a scale in the house, as we’re not masochistic monsters, but I imagine that, after hanging around 200 for the past few years, I’ve managed to erupt into the next weight class. And I have boobs. No matter what I do, I will now probably always have them, at least to some extent. Hairy, scary man boobs. That alone should be enough to inspire me to be more active, but it’s easier to just get down on myself for being a tub of lard, and eat my feelings with a bag of jelly beans. I want to eat more healthful food, but it’s cheaper to load up on crap. I can buy a giant box of Hot Pockets for a third of the price of what I spend when I buy up the ingredients for the food which I’m actually required to cook. And I do like to cook. One of my favorite dishes to prepare is my Mexican Rice dish, which I’ve been playing with since I was seventeen, and evolved from me following directions on a box of Rice-a-Roni to hearty meal made from scratch with fresh vegetables and meat. I’ve even started making it as a pasta dish now, as I really like the colored spiraled pasta, and the way they add just a little bit more color. But those veggies and meat do not come cheap, and even though I make enough to last a couple of days, it’s still a bigger commitment to my checkbook than something I can just toss in the microwave.

If we had guts as a nation (pun intended), we would subsidize nutrition and tax the hell out of junk food. Let’s go after high fructose corn syrup like we went after tobacco. We have the technology to deliver fresh produce all across the country, and yet we insist upon cramming garbage down our throats because the up-front cost is cheaper. The poor among us should have access to the best food we can offer, if only to offset the health risks which their environment provides. Change is never easy, especially when it comes to the subject of our vices, but this is a matter of public health, and we absolutely must do better. We’re hardwired to seek out fat and salt and sugars because in the wild they’re few and far between, but when hunting and gathering only requires a quick trip to the market, maybe we should look back toward moderation. I’d actually like to see a Junk Food Prohibition, wherein all the crap which we consume becomes black market commodities. I’m envisioning back-alley dealings for a box of Twinkies. And it’s not like with alcohol or narcotics. Gangs of obese and over-tired people hardly pose a threat to a police department running off of something besides coffee and doughnuts.

I don’t know. I’ve been a fat ass since puberty, and until recently, was indistinguishable from the pod of beached orcas from whence I came. Aside from those couple of years long ago when I was happy looking skeletal, I’ve always packed a little reserve to get me through the winter. Ironically enough, the one time that blubber might have come in handy was when I was in the process of auditioning for the role of Skeletor. There’s nothing like camping through a winter in the Pacific Northwest when you weigh 8 stone. Hell, if I didn’t have a family I might consider something drastic like that again. As long as I could get a bare minimum of calories in me, the constant cold and movement to keep from freezing solid would make me bikini-ready by the time that spring arrived. I wouldn’t want to put my wife or son through that, though. My wife could never take that level of frigidity, and my son seems to possess the genetics of a skinny person, despite the appearance of his parents. No, I don’t suppose that plan will ever come to pass. Which means that if I want to ever stop being such a fat ass, I guess I’m going to have to just start somewhere.

I’ll have to give up all the candy which I’ve justified eating because I’m a grownup and can eat whatever the hell I please. And all the soda’s got to go as well. I should probably give up caffeinated beverages, as stress can pack the pounds on, and nothing screams “Fight or Flight” like going a million miles an hour (or, as I call it: Surviving Monday). That also means no chips or crackers, or salsa con queso dip. And I’ll have to substitute the butter in my recipes for extra virgin olive oil. The upside is that I’ll finally be justified in buying buffalo instead of beef, but I will miss consuming the majestic pig. Ughh… just thinking about this is depressing me. I think I’ll go and see if we’ve still got any cookies.

Pictured: Fat Ass running away from exercise.
Pictured: Fat Ass running away from exercise.

A Three Hour Tour

I woke up Friday morning in time to take my son and his friend to school, and got back in a hurry to wait for my nephew to arrive. We’d made a quick trip the night before to the nearest MetroPCS store to pick up a SIM card so he could have a working phone while he was here, but we’d arrived twelve minutes too late. The plan for the day was to head out there when it was open, get him set up, and then head off to San Francisco to see all the sights. It turns out he’s gotten here before we’d left, but saw the door the closed (and detected no signs of life), so he went ahead and took care of the phone issue himself. When he got back to the apartment, it was almost nine, and I was just finishing up the post for the day, as I didn’t know when I’d get another chance to write, and didn’t want to take off that many days. He waited patiently in the living room for the next twenty minutes, watching whatever channel the kids had left it on before we went to school, while I tried to finish up. And then my Comcast service went out. I’d written a bunch since the last time that I’d saved, so I couldn’t even post my blog from the app on my phone. I told him what the situation was, and he’d said that he’d sort of figured something was up when the television screen went dark. I caught a break when service was restored just a couple of minutes later, allowing me to publish what I’d written and turn the laptop off. I’m glad that I’d been mostly done, as within a couple of minutes of having posted it, everything went out once more. I viewed this as a sign that it was time to go, and packed up my backpack with my camera and tour supplies, and we headed out the door, beginning a journey that would take around six miles (9.66 km) to complete.

We braved the AC Transit once again, surviving a half-full bus ride until we got back to El Cerrito del Norte BART. We checked our tickets, and then entered the station and took the escalator up to wait for the next San Francisco train. Fortunately, it was only a few minutes. We filed into the front car, and found our seats, relieved to be off our feet for this part of the journey. Less than an hour later, we made it to the Powell St. station, my old home away from home. We were both a little hungry, so we dropped in on my old coworkers at Blondie’s Pizza to grab something quick to eat. I would have liked to spend more time catching up with everyone, but they were understaffed, and the lunch crowd was beginning to trickle in. I said my goodbyes, and my nephew and I began in earnest our tour of the city. We walked up to Union Square, where I pointed out the painted hearts and all the photographs and paintings on display. Then we hung out in the shade beneath a palm tree to smoke a cigarette and figure out the game plan for the rest of our tourist-type day.

Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.
Wise words indeed, Master Yoda.

At that point, he realized that his phone was acting up, so we decided to kill a couple of birds, and walked to the Westfield San Francisco Centre. On the way, I got a shot of him with a cable car, just before we scrapped entirely the idea of getting out to Pier 39 that way (the line was far longer than my patience).

Not pictured: The line from Hell.
Not pictured: The line from Hell.

Once inside the mall, we meandered up and down the half-dozen or so stories, glancing in at stores and appreciating the architecture. Well, was doing that. Unai was on the phone with MetroPCS, asking why his telephone suddenly had exactly none of the unlimited data which he had bought that morning. Up and down we walked, soaking in the ambiance and fending off customer service. We got to the street level when the service rep finally figured out what was going on. Just a quick reset, and power off for a little bit, and everything should be back to working order. In the meantime, we hit a couple of stores which he wanted to check out, but came away empty-handed when we discovered that the things which he had wanted weren’t all that popular in San Francisco. Shopping done, we started walking down Market toward Embarcadero. My nephew wanted me to show him all the sights, and I knew just where to go for an introductory experience: Fisherman’s Wharf. We had to make a couple of stops, but we finally arrived at the Embarcadero.

Anyone have the time?
Anyone have the time?

It was getting warmer out, and I didn’t want to spook him with how long a walk still lay in front of us, so I just told him to focus on the numbering of the piers, and that when we hit number 39, we’d be where we were going. Of course, what tourist excursion is complete without some photographs? It also helped us to take a pause and find some shade, so stone some birds we did.

I told him this wasn't the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.
I told him this wasn’t the famous bridge, but the one that everybody uses.

We walked a little more, when I caught sight of something which I’d wanted to point out to him. As we walked around the side of an all-too-familiar building, I pointed out where his aunt and I had spent our third anniversary:

It's that boat in the back.
It’s that boat in the back.

We were getting closer, and started to look for somewhere to duck in from the afternoon heat, and get something to drink, and maybe sit awhile. Although we passed a handful of serviceable cantinas, we decided to keep going until we hit Pier 39. It took longer than I’d remembered, but the numbers kept on climbing, and soon our destination was in sight. We navigated through the throng of people with nothing better to do than spend a Friday afternoon inside a tourist trap, and made our way back to a place I remembered having gone to with Flor and all the kids: Players. We sat down at the bar, thrilled to finally be off our feet, and ordered the most delicious beer which we could think of. A few minutes later, two of these arrived:

Delicious AND Nutritious!

We also ordered basket of garlic fries and some hot wings, and just spent an hour talking about nothing, and enjoying our time together. After we had eaten and settled the tab, we stepped back out into the afternoon to find that there was now a breeze. Our legs were tired, but the walk back wasn’t nearly as bad the one we’d had coming out. I briefly considered taking us back up to Union Square, but one look at the time told me that would be an ill-advised adventure. It was coming up on Commuter Hour, and if we weren’t careful, we’d wind up as sardines in the Rush Hour crowd back home. We entered the Embarcadero BART station, and made our way to the back part of the platform. Looking at my cell phone, I decided that now was as good a time as any to show Unai another survival tip.

We boarded the Dublin train, which was packed to the point of moderate discomfort, and then exited at Lake Merritt to catch a Richmond train in which we might actually find a seat. With that, my training of my nephew was complete, and he told me that he now felt confident to make his way on his own the next time he came to visit. Having finally cooled off from the morning tour, of course car we entered was the one without air conditioning. We broke another sweat, but at least we sat in comfort, our legs no longer required for anything more taxing than a rest upon the edge of the seat. We talked again about how he was liking his visit here, and what he thought of San Francisco. All time leading up to his visit, I had worried that I would be stuck with someone who just didn’t get me, but in my newly met nephew I had not only found a decent man, but someone who I could call a friend. The train pulled into the del Norte station, and we gave thanks to the breeze which flowed over us upon our exit from the sauna car.

This time, when the bus pulled up, Unai knew just what to do, and despite being close to Pope/Volkswagen hour for the buses, we managed to score a couple of seats on this ride as well. We got off at the bus stop, and walked the half mile home, where my wife was waiting for us with dinner and an Advil. All in all, we walked around six miles that day, and though I felt some pain that evening, it was nothing compared to the agony of the following morning.

I’ve decided that I will miss my nephew when he goes, and I cannot wait until the next time, when I get to meet his son.

The Afterglow of Insomnia

I still can’t get to sleep. Don’t get me wrong: I slept last night, but only for a little over five hours. I don’t know why it is that I haven’t been able to get to sleep before two o’clock in the morning. I’m going to try to avoid taking a nap today, but I make no promises, for insomnia is a harsh mistress. But at least last night I managed to be moderately productive. After being inspired by a comment about a mistranslation, I sat down and busted out a cheesy grunge-inspired song. Well, the lyrics anyway. I’ve now passed them over to Bad Leon Suave, who will add some music and turn it into a proper tune- I hope. But there is so much left to do to get the apartment into shape before our company arrives. Even I, the bastion of not giving even the slightest crap about home maintenance, have begun to feel a little urge to get stuff cleaned and/or put away. And considering that I will be attending a fast food protest/strike tomorrow with my wife, I guess that means we have a lot to get accomplished by the end of the day. I just wish that I wasn’t so exhausted.

It’s not like this is my first bout of insomnia. I’ve been unable to get to bed at a reasonable hour for most of my adult life. Part of that is due to the fact that I’m naturally a night owl, and part of it has to do with not having time to myself to finally decompress. Yes, Virginia, even unemployed writers occasionally need to blow off steam. I thought that I might be able to fall back into a more normal rhythm (at least for me), switching to full-on nocturnal once I was no longer working. But things kept coming up, and now I’m basically on the same schedule that I had when I was working, give or take an hour. I will say that getting my son ready for school and out the door is a far greater challenge than just getting myself ready and off to work. I have a good autopilot system, and would usually finally begin to feel the hints of consciousness somewhere halfway through the BART ride. Being responsible for another human being in the morning is mind-numbingly difficult, especially if it seems like that person is doing all he can to sabotage the whole endeavor.

Me: Come on, get up and get dressed.

David: Ugghhh…. Why?!

Me: School.

David: (angrier) Ugghhh! Fine! I’m not going!

Me: Dude, come on! Let’s get changed out of your jammies and put on your clothes.

David: I need to go pee.

Me: You don’t need my permission.

David: (goes to bathroom.)

Five minutes later, with no sounds whatsoever resembling the flow of liquid…

Me: You done in there?

David: No….

Me: Come on, let’s get a move on!

David: (opens door unexpectedly, wearing only his tank top) Uggghhh….

Me: Dude! Pants!

David: Do I have to?

Me: No one likes wearing pants, but it’s cold outside, so just do it.

David: Fine! But I won’t like it!

Me: I accept your terms. Let’s go.

David: (gets dressed slowly, attempting to raise my blood pressure, not finishing for another five minutes)

The rest of the morning is just more of the same, and it isn’t until I finally let go of his hand when we’ve arrived outside the school that he seems to remember that he knows how to do things. I’ll try to give him one last smooch, and tell him that I love him, and he’ll wipe his face and look around to see if any of his friends have seen him. He’ll tell me goodbye with the finality of a dismissal, and then walk toward the door to disappear inside so that he can go and play. And then, just as he’s about to pass through the doorway, he runs quickly back and throws his arms around me, and tells me, “Last hug!” without a trace of the self-consciousness which wholly consumed him not a moment before. I hug him back, and tell him that I love him, and that I believe in him. And to have a great day. He then runs back inside, still my little boy, but growing up all the same. I can see from time to time, glimpses of the person he’s becoming, and I think to myself that maybe he’ll turn out okay.

And then I come back to my quiet home (everyone else will be sleeping in ’til noon), power up the laptop, and try to think of what I want to say. Don’t tell my wife, but one of the reasons that I love walking her to work is that it usually gives me a little extra time to mull over things when I’m sipping coffee on my walk back. There’s something beautiful about the world in that hour before dawn, and while I would never set an alarm to see it, I’ve spent many nights awake in eager anticipation of its arrival. There are hardly any cars, and I can wander down the streets and work out the first couple of paragraphs in my head, playing with the narrative while talking to myself. I’m not afraid of what other folks may think, and the best way to protect yourself from those who might seek to harm you is to appear exponentially more batshit crazy than even they can manage. We can smell our own, you see. And after spending a night wrestling with insomnia, it’s really not that much of an act.

This e-cigarette just isn’t cutting it. I need the rich, full flavor of combusted tobacco product. I’ve been really bad about staying away from the real thing (ultra lights, though they be), and now I’m pretty much back to where I was before my lungs went on strike. I want to keep living like I’m still in my twenties, but my body keeps reminding me that’s not really feasible. One of these days I’m going to wake up and suddenly discover that I have a spark of self-preservation in me, but today is not that day.

Tomorrow I’ll be doing something about strikes and unions, and Thursday will be a series of shorter posts which will chronicle my adventures in the city with my newly arrived nephew.

Have a great Tuesday, everyone!


Storm: A Brewing Torment

Storm's a brewin'.
Storm’s a brewin’.

There’s just something about a storm that brings out the spark of life in me. When the wind picks up, and the clouds race in to mass just above me, and the tiny drops of rain come flying in on a slant, followed by a rolling thrum of thunder and cascading shower of lightning bolts illuminating the darkened, purple night about me, I cannot help but feel so amazingly alive, like an abrasion of consciousness wrapped around my mortal frame of flesh and bone. I’ve always loved a good storm. They’re not so terribly impressive, here in the Bay Area, at least not anymore. I remember a few years ago when we could count on a couple of baby monsoons or so, but since then, the weather has been painfully uncomfortable for an Emerald City boy like myself. What rain we do get is primarily for show, and on the off-chance that it’s anything substantial, it just floods the streets and drains back out into the Bay. I have to say that I miss the weather on the Island where I used to live, and that growing up on a little rock in the Puget Sound raised the bar on miserable squalls.

I remember a ferry ride during a particularly brutal tempest, out on the Seattle-Bainbridge run. The boat was rocking side to side, just out of rhythm with blasts of lightning and kettle drums. And of course, this was shortly after Titanic had splashed into the cinemas, and the local papers had been making note of our ferry service’s similar deficiency in life-saving apparatus. I myself enjoyed the ride, and almost fell asleep. This was before the nanny-state surveillance which followed in the wake of 9/11, when the worst thing that would happen to you was winding up back where you started. And then there were the summer storms, when the drops dripping downward had been gently warmed by the rising waves of heat, and fell upon you like a silken shower to wash all of your worries down the dipping hills to drain into the rocky beach. It seemed that every August, I would find a way to re-enact that scene from Shawshank, albeit without the obligatory crawl through five football fields of shit smelling foulness I also could not imagine. The best that I can get in California is the occasional wafting fragrance of all those crawls that I managed to avoid.

I’ve been reading for years about how California is running out of water, and seen myself that we’ve managed to completely fail to make up years of falling reservoirs due to obnoxiously clement weather all year round. I’ve joked around with some of my friends still living in the Great Northwest about the possibility that I might return, but the Evergreen State itself isn’t in the best of shape. It terrifies me to think about a world in which my son and grandchildren will have to go to war over something as basic as H20. Once-prime real estate will be deserted as no one can live without access to water. Well, almost deserted. I can easily imagine gangs in stillsuits roaming the ostentatious paradise we once called San Diego. The Magic Kingdom will begin to crumble, and the animatronic army will secretly start its fortifications of the theme park empire of the West Coast. They will have some success, but by the time that they are able to communicate with Orlando, that capitalistically sacred land will have sunk beneath the sea. And we will observe a moment of silence for America’s wang.

What would be so hard about ensuring a world which future generations might enjoy? I know that it seems un-American to suggest something other than the Almighty Dollar has any intrinsic value, but I am now a father, and I’d like my offspring to have a chance at some sort of life that they actually might enjoy. I know that luxury is not a basic right of life, as any of the animals who died so that I might have something upon which to nibble could attest, but I believe that they possess the chance to find unhappiness as cogs within a giant, uncaring machine, as long as it allows them to buy all the newest, coolest gadgets. All joking aside, every time we go back up north, I make sure to walk around with David William, down the beaches, and up the wooded hills, through the forests and the fields. He’s been a city boy for his entire life, and I like to see him take in nature, cherish it, and fall in love with the sheer beauty of it all. He’s seen the urban jungle, and the clouds of smog between us and the view, so I know that when he gets the chance to breathe in air that doesn’t taste of car exhaust and the bitterness of broken dreams, he can appreciate just how wonderfully special those moments truly are.

The storm has finally come now, with gusting bursts of wind and rain drizzling down without conviction, rather like an afterthought. It rained last night as well, moistening the asphalt in the wee hours before the dawn, but once the sun had risen, all traces of the rains had fled, as the clouds flew toward the corners of the heavens, to reveal a pale blue elegy of sky. Sitting by the window, as I type these very words, I can hear the dripping on the roofs and cars throughout the neighborhood, like a hundred sinks with leaky faucets displayed just feet from where I’m sitting. Maybe I’m just getting all sentimental because I’m not used to being conscious at 2:30 in the morning, or maybe it’s because I simply miss the beauty of the land where I grew up. I came down here because of palm trees, and because I missed my best friend terribly. Of course, he’s back living in Seattle, and I’m stuck here with the palm trees and the loneliness.

All the years that I’ve been here in California, I haven’t really made the time to make new friends to replenish all the people whom I’ve lost. I know a couple of people who’ve been kind of close throughout the years, but like all family, I only see them once or twice a year. I could count Nerdenn Events, but he’s now my son-in-law, and my roommate, to boot. I don’t have anyone like Fed and Bad Leon, and they are both hundreds of miles away. The problem is that I was always working, and only had time to hang out with people on my way home from work, but once I got promoted, and ran the whole damn show, I’d found I’d lost the time I had allotted to get to know the revolving door of tolerable acquaintances. There are a couple of folks whom I still chat with, who know me well enough that I hope I never piss them off, but I don’t know that I would feel too comfortable calling them in the dead of night to whinge on regarding my recurring bouts of melancholy.

When I moved down here, I was young and full of hope. It’s been a dozen years now, and let’s just say that things haven’t quite turned out like I had been expecting. Restaurants were never my idea for a lifelong career choice, and I’d figured that by now I would have become a world-famous author. I have a wife and son, a daughter and a grandson, and a son-in-law who isn’t all that bad; for someone who always wanted a family of his own, that’s like hitting a home run. But with the lot of us squeezed into a two-bedroom apartment, bouncing off one another and always getting in the way, that sense of closeness feels, at times, like a pillow gently laid upon the mouth of a quadruple amputee. And despite being so smothered by attention that I feel sure that I’ve expired, there is a creeping sense of isolation which has overtaken me and made me miss my friends. It could just be that I’d like to have a conversation in my native tongue that didn’t involve children’s shows or bedtime. Or maybe it’s just that I am completely exhausted, and I tend toward thoughts of sorrow when I’m up so late and all alone. I’d say that I’ll feel better in the morning, but I have a sinking feeling that my son will want to wake me up and make me play with him.

And speaking of my one and only, I know that I am hard on him, and that I spend column yards on pointing out his foibles. But I love him so much that there are times that I am certain he has trampled through my heart. What a mind, that kid of mine does have, and the irritating qualities so prominently on display are due, in no small part, to a combination of genetics and my training him in rhetoric and the joy of The Debate. His confrontational attitude is a constant source of muscle spasms (mostly centered in my neck), but I would rather teach him how to think rather than just forcing him to parrot what think. Years ago, I told him that if he could lay out a case before me, using logic and what reason he could muster, I would hear him out, and if he did his job right, there was a chance that I would change my mind. I also warned him that there would be times when he would perform magnificently and yet still fall just short of swaying me. But do you know, in the almost eight years that he’s been alive, he’s managed to argue me into overturning two of my prior edicts. That may not seem like all that much, but when I consider that we still use rubber sheets when he sleeps with us in bed, I’m even more impressed. Yessir, that child of mine is something else.

I think that I have rambled long enough. Thank you for indulging me as I shifted between weather and disappointment, nostalgia and parental pride. I’ll be back again this evening with another report from Spring Break ’15.


Spiders! They’ll Never Take Me Alive!

Just when I thought that the end had come, I managed to escape to the tide of spiders and get myself to safety. I apologize for leaving you all hanging, but I had to stay ahead of those foul, eight-legged creatures. I made it out the door, which I managed to slam shut, and waited for what would have been the single most terrifying sight I’d ever had the misfortune to witness (aside from the birth of my son): A constant flow of spiders streaming out through the cracks between the door and frame. But, as I waited, breathing ragged and hypersensitive, nothing came my way. As the heavy seconds slowly fell to the monotony of minutes, a new dread settled down upon me. The arachnid army had not come for me, so what in the hell were they doing? I could only imagine how they were now fortifying their defenses and turning my bedroom into a webbed winterland of creeping horror. I briefly considered the ramifications of simply setting my apartment ablaze, but thought better of it, as I had a bunch of stuff that I’d rather not live without. Not to mention that I don’t really have the cash to pick up and move anywhere else right now. No, if I was to keep the spiders from winning, I would have to take them down without collateral damage.

I was then reminded of a dream which I once had when I was just a little boy. There had been a fire in the house where I was living, and when I came back into my room, I looked around and saw everything covered in a layer of soot, with scorch marks rising up the wall like blackened wings poised for flight. My eyes were drawn then to my closet, which appeared more burnt than the rest of the room. Upon the shelf, above the torched and melted clothing, sat a porcelain clown with silken raiment of black and white. As I reached up to take hold of it, it fell on its own, plummeting down past my fingers, and landing with a sharp crack as it hit the floor. Instead of shattering upon the ground only the top of the head broke away. I looked down at the broken clown head, smeared with soot, and reached to pick the doll up. And then I saw the spiders streaming out from within the porcelain. I couldn’t see where they were all coming from, or how they could all have fit. They were tiny, but black as midnight, and going everywhere. Just as they reached me, their little legs scrambling all over me, I bolted upright and escaped the dream. My tiny eight-year-old frame was shaking, and even the daylight filling up my obviously undamaged room did little to allay my fears. And sitting upon the shelf within my closet sat the unbroken porcelain jester, whose dead eyes held secrets I was not prepared to know.

I shuddered back into the present, haunted once again by memories of nightmares long forgotten. The door before me remained unchanged, and I knew that I must act, or lose my will altogether. I crept closer, listening for any sign of the menace which was hidden out of sight within. Nothing. Not a single scrape or scurry. I took hold of the doorknob and gingerly turned it counterclockwise, pressing against the door ever so gently with my shoulder. I was at my most vulnerable in this position, and I was sure the spiders knew it. But I pressed on, pushing through adrenaline and heightened arachnophobia, and cautiously into the room. I saw no evidence of an infestation as the door swung open, not near the frame, nor anywhere between my position and the desk in the corner upon which rests my laptop. I shot a quick glance upward, as no one in the movies ever seems to think in three dimensions, but saw only the empty ceiling which had always been that way. I began to walk over to my desk, when a thought occurred to me.

These creatures had shown signs of intelligence, and were nowhere to be seen. If they wanted to lure me into a false sense of security, they must be hiding somewhere that I would never think to suspect. I slowly turned my head to look at the bed beside me. It appeared to be in the same condition as I’d seen it not ten minutes before, but who pays all that much attention to the mundane objects which no one thinks may one day be completely infested by hyperintelligent arachnids. There was nothing out of the ordinary to clue me in to their position, but I knew, deep down, that the moment when my head finally touched down upon the pillow, I would swarmed by tiny spiders, and wrapped up in a sleeping bag forged from spider silk. I know that one doesn’t normally forge silk, or sleeping bags, but we’re dealing with creatures of indomitable will, superior intellect, and devious resourcefulness. Under those circumstances, I wouldn’t put anything past the little buggers, strained metaphor or not.

It was then that I happened to see the empty can of Red Bull sitting on the windowsill. I looked down at my shaking hands, and started putting it together. The lack of sleep. Too much caffeine. A memory of childhood terror set off by a single spider in the corner of my room. Mosquitoes flying all about me, and a trip into madness inspired by a blank screen before me. I began to breathe again, surprised that I had not been doing so. The spiders were only in my head. Well, except for the one I’d thrown a shoe at just moments before. I forced myself to chuckle, and walked over to my computer to shut it off, so that I could get some sleep. The laptop itself hardly makes a sound, but the fan beneath it makes a godawful racket, and makes it nearly impossible to fall asleep.

And sleep. Oh, precious slumber which I’d been so long without. How I missed the feel of its warm embrace. Even now I could hear it calling softly. I could feel the tension begin to slide away, and I knew that I was ready. I powered off the laptop, and gently closed up the machine. Just as I was falling into bed, I couldn’t help but notice a small movement at the edges of my periphery. A massing of miniature monsters, swelling now that trap’d been sprung. A nightmare come into sobering clarity, and I could not a thing but continue to fall, both onto the mattress and into dreams.

And as the final light began to fade, I saw nothing beyond the spinning dances of the spiders.
And as the final light began to fade, I saw nothing beyond the spinning dances of the spiders.


I Can Do This! A Tale of Exhaustion and Madness

Mind over matter, never mind that I can barely think right now. I had been working on a piece which I may eventually finish, in the unlikely event that I ever get some sleep. But right now I am just holding on to what little threads of consciousness remain, dreading the moment when my wife comes home, for that will mean that laundry time has come. If only I hadn’t built up a tolerance to caffeine, the industrial strength Red Bull which I drank earlier might have had some sort of effect. As it stands now, however, I am locked into a battle of wills with my computer to see if I’ve got what it takes to do this thing on autopilot. That’s not to besmirch the quality of my automatic functions; I am disturbingly efficient when I cut out my higher thinking. I just hope that this makes some kind of sense to anyone who reads it, as I can make no promises about quality control. I’m pretty sure that I used to be able to function almost normally on little to no sleep, but those days have long since passed, and now I’m lucky that I don’t have to figure out how I’m going to operate heavy machinery.

Half asleep, and not even close to human...
Half asleep, and not even close to human…

I apologize if any jokes included seem a bit… deflated. I’m at the point where everything seems funny. If you were to put me in a room with my son and grandson, the epic stream of nonsense that would pour forth from that room would cast serious doubt upon my mental health. But the joke’s on you: My mental health is already suspect! Ha! It’s difficult to be amusing when you know that you can’t tell what’s funny anymore. I’m sure that I can make a couple of people chuckle, now and then, but I don’t know that I’ve inspired belly-shaking laughter, unless it involved the removal of my shirt in front of other people. That’s assuming that they don’t go blind. I’m a fairly pale-skinned individual, and as I tend towards ruddy pain when in the presence of the sun. That means that when I remove my top, it’s like staring at a hairy moon, full and reflective, capable of piercing the defenses of even the most sober of individuals. I mean, it’s dangerous enough when I remove my hat, as the glare from most light sources collects upon my noble skullet, pooling all together, exponentially reflecting outward at the speed of apathetic light.

But what really brings me down, besides my inability to grow hair upon my head, is the knowledge that I seem to be experiencing a second round of puberty. When I was younger, I never really had a pair of boobs, but over the past decade, I have grown into at least a B-cup, and as the amount of hair upon my head decreases, the size of my chest increases. I’d like to think that they are follically inflated, but the truth is that they are of a more natural composition. If I don’t do something soon, I’m going to have to go bra shopping, and I don’t even know where to begin. I mean, sure, I’ll need a certain level of support, but I’d like it if I could still look pretty too. Wow, down the rabbit hole am I. I mean, I’m not interested in dressing like a lady (not that there’s anything wrong with that), but I do have a fondness for kilts, and my silk boxers do feel pretty awesome. Maybe they make pectoral support devices that come in…  more masculine designs. Like something that depicts explosions or something. Yeah, no. I’m just not feeling it.

Not pictured: budding man boobs
Not pictured: budding man boobs

I’ve gotten to thinking that this might not be the best idea that I’ve ever had. I am just a little bit eccentric, and even I manage to take my statements out of context when it suits me. Breaking News: Tex Batmart admits to dressing up like women! You see? I don’t know. It’s hard to judge someone based upon a lack of desire to wear pants. I mean, when I was living in the PNW, pants were slightly more of a necessity. It can get a little cold up there, and I’ve an image to maintain. But I live in California, and most of the time, I only put on clothing to keep from turning into a man-sized lobster. But if I could finally feel the freedom of a kilt, I might learn to relax. Having a soothing breeze upon my nethers couldn’t hurt, either. Mind you, it’s not that I feel a strong desire to run through the world while fully on display, it’s just that I’m not really all that big a fan of pants. I do like wearing suits, though. Weird, right? Exhaustion is a heady vice.

I have begun fade... I hope to hold on for just a little longer.
I have begun fade… I hope to hold on for just a little longer.

As I was typing up that last paragraph, I noticed a couple of spiders creeping toward me to feast upon the shattered bodies of the mosquitoes which I’ve slain today. Normally, I have no problem with spiders carrying out their necessary tasks, but all I ask that they do it where I cannot see them. That’s actually my rule for all insects and “lower” beings which may make their way into my home: They have just as much right to live as me and mine, but if they stumble into sight, I will take them out. The spiders normally do alright, whereas mosquitoes, ants, and roaches creeping in from their home base in the apartment directly above us all seem to be feeling just a little down. Seeing that they’re suffering, I do my best to end their pain, but I just wish that they would find somewhere else to spend their dying moments, as it can be a little hard to bend sometimes.

But I am Death, the Destroyer, and I shall not be stopped. I like to think that they have made up legends about me, and live in fear of the day that the other shoe will drop, as is prophesied in their holy texts. Perhaps I am tempting fate, and summoning a shoe much greater than myself which will come to fall upon me as retribution for my hubris. But what can I do? I’ve laid out the rules quite clearly for them, and if they choose to violate the Neutral Zone, their deaths rest solely upon themselves, not me. For I must defend the boundaries of my own sovereignty, and all which lies within. I guess that I’ve finally found some common ground with my family after all. Of course, I’m talking about bugs, and they’re talking about dirty foreigners, so maybe not. All I know is that one day I will be featured on the local news as that crazy dude running around in a skirt and bra, chasing after tiny creatures and smashing them with my shoe. I just hope that my tan lines aren’t obvious, or I’ll never live it down.

And now I can fade back into unconsciousness.
And now I can fade back into unconsciousness.

Ah! The spider is back again! And it looks ang