Tag Archives: love

Some Sort of Broth with Pasta and Ingredients for the Sense of Self

I haven’t felt entirely well for months, though these past couple of weeks have been particularly trying. What with the constant call-outs at work, and my baseline level of stress, between matters domestic, financial, and existential, it’s a wonder that I haven’t collapsed well before. Last week I suffered from a bout of food poisoning, but it was only a matter of time before I fell before something a little more substantial.

Last month, following the factory fire in Richmond, I came down with a mild case of pneumonia, but I got over that fairly quickly, though I returned to work well before I should have.

This time, having been exposed to various illnesses from my employees, themselves suffering from the worst cold and flu season in recent memory, my body finally bowed to the inevitability of major illness. Even now, I feel that, instead of getting better, as my doctor assured me that I would, I am actually getting worse. But I know that one more day outside of work won’t actually do much more than cost me another eight hours of pay, and now that I’ve actually seen my primary care physician, I can communicate with her via the interwebz, and cut out the whole having to go to the doctor thing (which I hate).

All I have to do is make it through the end of the day on Monday without dying, and I’ll be okay.

I will say that the one advantage to a proper, physical illness is that it removes some of the oppressive strain of my bipolar disorder (diagnosed and verified) and anxiety (assumed, but I mean, come on). And, if you will mark this on your calendars, today marks the first day that my darling Wildflower has eschewed her traditional role of Master of mockery and insult and assumed a more loving and tolerant position.

Oh my god. Maybe she thinks I’m dying. This must mean that I actually look as terrible as I feel.

I was hoping to actually have something to say, but really this was just an exercise to gauge my mental faculties. It has been educational to say the least.

I now await my chicken soup with vegetables and (hopefully) twirly pasta, after the consumption of which, I can dose myself again with NyQuil and pass out into dreamless sleep.

Our Rob or Ross

I think that I may have made a friend today, as childish as that sounds, though when I was a child, there would have been far less uncertainty in my declaration. Back then, it seems, anyone not overtly hostile could easily be considered more affectionately than an acquaintance. Now, of course, there is so much nuance to every interaction, so many subtle subdivisions of the classifications into which I file away the human race, that I am, for the vast majority of any given moment, almost entirely unclear as to how I actually regard any certain person. Were I to factor in the uncertainty of their reciprocity of consideration for myself, the whole thing would descend into such sweet and agonizing improbability and madness that only Chaos Theory could be employed in trying to sort the whole mess out and make heads or tails of it.

That being said, I think I’ve made a friend.

This happens far and far less frequently with every passing year, and not only because I am a slave to overthinking the fine (if functionally irrelevant) details of the myriad minutiae of human interaction. Mainly, it’s because I have no time (or rather, allow myself none of it (aside from moments of explosive decompression)), and, to be honest, very little will to muster in dedication to a friendship.

It’s not that I’m a bad friend (or person, as Bad Leon Suave will likely say), though I’ve not much defense against the former accusation (and to the latter, I’ll politely invite him to just fuck off); I just have too many conflicting priorities, and I’m shit about maintaining any sort of balance. Of my closest friends, there is perhaps a cache of maybe half an hour which I’ve set aside each month to share amongst them. Unless, that is, I happen to be struck with inspiration or brought to breaking by some new or recently rediscovered need.

And who’s to say that this friendship will or will not last? It was discovered while at work, entirely by random happenstance, and in my life to date, those sort of friendships aren’t widely regarded for their longevity, no matter how much I might prefer that they should last. I have also learned, due to paralyzing indecision, and warm soaks in pools of pain and apathy, that sometimes friendships need not last a lifetime, but for just a perfect moment of humour, a convergence of interest, or the simple act of connecting, platonically, with another person.

I wish the recap of my actions could make me out as wise as the words which I can so (seemingly) effortlessly craft.

But all of this has merely been the tangentially connected prologue to that which I’ve truly wished to be rid of from off my chest: I’m pretty sure that I am falling in love (again) with my wonderful, if long-suffering, amazing, and enchanting wife. To clarify, if you’ll indulge me, I don’t mean to say that I ever found a way to stop loving her, despite the countless times my brain has twisted in upon itself to worry at its self-inflicted wounds, if only to ensure that they could never fully heal.

I mean to express nothing more than the simple truth that in thrusting my head so firmly up my ass for all these many years, I’ve passed the point of no return, and have begun to come out on the other side like an ouroboros of having missed the point entirely.

Free, for the moment, of the impositions of  my own obtusity, I can once again see her clearly for the wonder which she is, and find within me some sort of will to see my way to slice the knot (of the Gordian variety) which has bound us through misunderstanding, frustrations, and the divergence of opinion into a creature built only for the experience of misery, trim away the barbs and blood, and fashion from the transmuted chains of resentment, some sort of common bond (fancied up a bit), which we might employ much as a lifeline to, perchance, save one another from the vagaries of life, lost adrift upon the sea.

Yes, that whole monstrosity was just one sentence, and if you’re reading out loud at home, I sincerely hope you finished quickly enough to avoid passing out from oxygen deprivation.

We both swore ’til death (though actually, we didn’t, as our ceremony was entirely more modern) and one of us must die before the other gets to finally win without conditions. Until then, we’ll just have to keep on meeting in the middle, ill-satisfied with compromise, each of our respective win columns punctuated wildly by unsightly asterisks.

Mad as Hell

Normally when one says that they are “Mad as Hell,” and that they aren’t “going to take it”, they are referring to anger. When I say it, I find myself discussing my mental illness, but it a humorous fashion. Oh god, it going to be another one of those posts.

That’s right, Inner Monologue! It’s time for another belly-jiggling installment of What’s Lurking in Tex Batmart’s Brain? or What Makes Batmart Tick (Like a Bomb)? It’s been a bit since I’ve tried to be funny, and since nothing else seems to be working at the moment, I figured I’d give this another try. I’m also going to see what I can do about keeping to shorter paragraphs because apparently I’ve got a problem with that.

So what brought about this topic for today?

Well, it all started when I sat down to write a couple of things, and got to thinking about how inept I am when it comes to other people (especially of the feminine variety). It’s not so bad these days, as I’ve no skin in the game, so to speak, having been married for nearly eight years, and with the woman unfortunate enough to have become my wife for almost eleven. To be fair, I’m still convinced that most people are trying to flirt with me (regardless of gender), but I’ve chalked that up to being mentally unsound. When I was single, it was probably an unrealistic suspicion to imagine that there was interest in me, but as I have been with someone for over a decade, it appears to be slightly more plausible.

Not, of course, that I am looking. Even if my marriage were to dissolve tonight, I don’t know that I would want to get right back on the Relationship Horse (similar to a Unicorn, but anatomically… rearranged). But having had someone who, for some reason, purports to have loved me for so long has made me dubious about one of the most fundamental foundational neuroses I have: that I am inherently unlovable.

So I see interest where none exists, and feel flattered where umbrage might be more appropriate. In the absence of my lack of self-esteem, my ego has been left in charge, and it is known for its inability to make good decisions on my behalf. Inevitably, however, my self-loathing realizes that I am feeling something other than despite for myself, and forcibly regains control of the mess which of which I am comprised, reminding me that I’m no good, and that everyone and everything will leave me in the end. For the most part, this manifests itself as hearing tones of insults where none (most likely) exist.

Obviously, there is the rational part of me which wants to get better (something remotely akin to approaching healthy), wants me to be capable of sharing human moments with people which take place outside of the confines of my head. This is the same part that has, in the past, tried to remind me that not everyone wants a piece of this (metaphorically speaking, of course). The problem with that is it’s sometimes too similar to the soothing voice which begs me to just burn it all. So there’s that.

I wish I wasn’t the type of person to notice when the magic goes. Nothing (aside from brain damage brought on by blunt force trauma) would make me happier than to be content with all of the successes which I’ve been forced to suffer. But, to make matters worse, I seem to be the obnoxious type of artist who was born to be a hopeless romantic.

It wouldn’t surprise me to find that, in another life, instead of settling down in domesticity, I had remained a vagabond, surfing along the couches of this country, who knows what sort of mischief I might have been able to accomplish. A dear friend of mine once voiced their surprise that I’d chosen to settle down, as opposed to throw myself wholeheartedly into the lonely debauchery of the tortured artist. I understand what they were trying to say, but there is something slightly unnerving about imagining an army of little Batmarts around the country (or, perhaps, the world), following in my wake by a distance of nine months.

Hell, one kid is more than enough for me (although I don’t think the point of their assertion was that I would be anything more than a genetic donor). I’ve got so say, though, that the way they put it: Hell, it’s almost enough to make me give it some serious consideration.

But also getting older, and the time for sowing my wild oats has most likely passed. Then again, depending on my life expectancy, it might be almost time to start on my mid-life crisis. I think that this year I finally became middle-aged.

See how easily I get lost in my own head? This whole thing began when I pointed out that people and I have a mutual misunderstanding of one another. But that’s really just the tip of the iceberg. In all honesty, I’m locked into a mutual misunderstanding with myself. My cognitive dissonance had juxtaposed itself into the moments between moments in which I am alive, so that in the middle of answering the sum of four and four, I find the total to be purple.

There are times when I just want to wander off into the wilderness and hide out from the world, eschewing all of humanity in favor of becoming mildewed. And there are others where I want to remember that first spark of a new romance, to feel the infatuation fill me with unreasonable hope and certain stirrings most frequently felt by the young. To my amazement, there are yet even a few select instances where I look back at what I’ve got, and feel kind of lucky to have ended up where I am today.

I just wish that I knew which of these desires was the one which I was meant to follow. ‘Spose that would be too easy, though. I guess the best that I can say us that I’m Mad as Hell (and should probably start medication).

Sentimental Drivel, Part 2

So, last year I wrote something for Thanksgiving about family and loss. I’d forgotten about it until it popped up in my feed of memories on Facebook, and I thought that it would be nice to do another one for this year. And then I remembered everything that’s happened in 2016, and how there’s still a month left for everything to just get worse. Still, here I am, a week later, sitting down to try and figure out where it all went wrong, wading once more through the sentimental drivel of a life gone off the rails.

I spoke of my fears of losing my grandparents, and how it seemed so unreal when my great-grandmother died, and how I missed my brothers. In the back of my mind was also the fear that no one was listening to what I had to say, and growing, gnawing dread that my words would fall upon nothingness, and be greeted accordingly. It seems, of course, that the universe (at least, the one which I perceive), has a twisted sense of humor.

I won’t go into detail about the celebrities who’ve passed, for though many of them touched my life, they were still but stories to me. Nor will I go into any great depth about the presidential election which befell us, for though stark and terrible in its import, is something which must be faced in the coming months, and is still too close for proper reflection. No, in this Second Annual Thanksgiving Missive (or, What Kind of (Year) Has it Been, Part 3: The Sorkining), I will limit the scope of my despair to my personal life, and hold it up before you, like a cornucopia of lightly seasoned misery, to be nibbled upon while watching the world begin to burn.

This was the year in which my Grandfather died.

We all had assumed that it would have been my Grandmother to go first, but she’s still hanging on so that I can see her one last time in January. Now that I’ve said that, I’m sure 2016 will find some way to rip her from me, but I am ready for a fight with said construct of reality, and I’ve been saving up some swear words for this very occasion.

I made three trips up to The Island this Spring. The first was easily the best, as my Grandpa was still himself, though significantly diminished. The second was when I knew that he was going to die. I mean, I knew he that wouldn’t be around much longer, but it was on the second trip that I knew. Shortly after I returned to the Bay Area, he passed. I still have the Voicemail saved on my phone because there are times when I need my pain. I remember sitting at a table after my shift at Jupiter, and speaking to my mother on the phone while trying not crumble (and failing miserably).

The third trip up was for the funeral, and, as I may have mentioned, was bittersweet. It was the first time that all of his grandchildren were together in the same place and time. It was a shame that we never managed to make it happen while he was still alive. I bought a bottle of the Blue Label, and we grown children toasted our grandfather and tried our best to keep it together.

I know it is but a matter of time until I lose my Grandmother. And I know that, as stubborn as she is, there isn’t much of a chance that she can hang on until I can manage to get up there again. I know this, and I am close to breaking. My only wish, my only hope, is that, if she must go, she waits until it’s no longer my birthday. That may seem selfish, but I’ve got a clever plan to sacrifice my birthdays for the next forty years to claim each day until I can get back up there as an Honorary Day of my Birth. See how clever I am? See how desperately and fiercely I throw myself at the Inevitable?

I was too chicken to speak what I had written for my Grandfather at his funeral, and I will most likely be too broken to utter anything but whimpers when my mother’s mother passes, so I’m going to put everything down right here, right now.

Patricia Yeo

It is my hope that when my turn comes to pass to shuffle off the mortal coil, that someone who knew me will be able to accurately (and embarrassingly) describe my life to those who think they knew me. And I know that neither my children, nor grandchildren will do justice to the task at hand. For I am one person to my kids (or rather, a couple, as they have known me in different capacities throughout their lives), and another to my grandchildren (who most likely feel, and not entirely incorrectly, that I was a pretty cool guy who had their back in minor skirmishes with their parents). That’s nowhere near the whole story of Tex Batmart, and not how I deserve to be remembered. But, because I enjoy juxtaposition, irony, and the doctrine of “Do What I Say, And Not What I Do,” here is her grandson’s eulogy of her:

For almost four and a half decades, my grandmother had a rich and exciting life which, I can only assume, happened to help her kill the time until I arrived. Sure, I wasn’t her first grandchild (beaten by just a few weeks by my cousin, Richard), nor was I her last (an honor held by my cousin, Carolyn, whose birth was sponsored by the Great Snowstorm of 1990 (The Great Snowstorm of 1990: For when one fortnight without power just isn’t enough!)). But, I can say, with no small amount of modesty, that at least I was the best. At the very least, I won by sheer proximity.

From an early age, my Grandmother was my favorite, having taught me my very first curse word in a moment of acute discomfort. And while I spent a considerable amount of time enjoying Grandpa Day on the Fridays of my youth, my grandmother was always there with a hug and inhuman patience as I was slowly becoming myself. But I didn’t fully appreciate her until I was a teenager.

You see, she wasn’t a pushover, by any means, but in her I found the support which I’d been lacking from the world. She stood by me on promises she’d made, and generally felt that if I was old enough to have opinions, I was old enough to see their consequences. It was this outlook which helped shape me into the man I am today, and has inspired my parenting style (much to the chagrin of my wife and child). In short, she treated me like a person at time when everyone else was telling me to sit down and shut up. And she would also argue with me.

Oh, how I will miss those arguments. I am tempted to compromise my spiritual beliefs just for the chance to spend eternity debating her. Of course, I don’t know if she would classify that as Eternal Bliss, so I suppose I’ll have to just stick to my beliefs, and leave her to her own.

She taught me how to be myself, and to fight for what is right (even if we disagreed on what that might have been). She loved me and accepted me for I was, and when she felt that I was wrong, she told me why, not just that she was. Her passing has a left a void in all of us which we shall remain unable to fill, and I hope that I can live up her to standards once all is said and done.

As for now, I will continue to endeavor to be better than I am, braver than I am, and maybe, one day, I’ll have the courage to face the Peter Pan ride at Disneyland without a sense of abject terror (though I’m sure that says something profoundly philosophical about me).

I love you, Grandma. And I hope that you are finally at rest, and at peace.

In Memorium

William Edward Yeo




I don’t expect this post to be good- in fact, I would be surprised if it winds up even readable. There are many things which I have been through, some of them my own making, and others the end result of razor-tipped butterfly effect, but I have never suffered a loss quite like this before. It devastated me when my great-grandmother died, especially because, in retrospect, I had plenty of time to go and see her before her time came (of course, I never did, but that was because I felt that she would be ashamed of me, and where I was in my life, which is more a testament to my own self-loathing than an accurate depiction of who Gram truly was. I now believe that she would have only been ashamed of me if I had well and truly given up: resigned myself to drug addiction and failure, without ever trying to reach the stars for which I had been yearning since I was a little boy.), but chose to stay away. When the news came to me of my grandfather, I was determined not to make the same mistake. And though there was nothing I could do beside bring a smile to his face upon his realization of my arrival, I felt that, this time, I was finally able to say goodbye.

Here’s the thing, though, and again, it says more about me as a trainwreck of emotional instability than it does of his decency as a human being that the most vivid memory I have of him was from one of the lowest points in my life. It was December of 2000, and my drug-addicted girlfriend and I were on a break (please try to remember what a social powerhouse Friends was during my era). I was still avoiding my mother due to reasons mentioned elsewhere in The Vaults Of Uncle Walt, and so I went back to the one place where I knew that I was always welcome: my grandparents’ home. They had both told me that I was like a fourth child to them, and that their house would always be my home, so, when I’d had no alternative, I came back to them.

My grandmother and I are very similar: stubborn worriers who must always have the last word, and who enjoy the sport of argument more viscerally than any other. The qualities which I inherited from my grandfather are far more… intangible. Intelligence, obviously (though my grandmother is no slouch herself), and an ease of learning which makes people who have to study begin to steam about the ears. Then there is the consistency of rulemaking, which my son can attest that I have inherited as well, which boils down to clear and concise rules regarding what is acceptable and what is not, and the consequences which befall each action. But, of course, there is no one better suited to describe what my grandfather gave to me than my own two grandchildren. For my part, I have merely attempted to emulate my own grandfather, be as patient and loving as my own grandpa was, but for them, to have someone to sneak them sweets, or goof around with them, or to exist as a neverending font of unconditional love, I think that they shall be eternally grateful to a man they never got to know.

I seem to have wandered off-topic for a bit, and for that, I apologize. Let’s see if I can pull myself together and get this missive back on track.

For the record, before I start in on this narrative flashback: We spoke some number of years ago about this incident, and came to peace with one another.

My life was spinning out of control. I was an intravenous drug user with a mission which might have made Don Quixote reconsider, and in no mood whatsoever to suffer the advice of someone who “just didn’t get it.” Everything was going more or less okay, despite the fact that I was living with my grandparents, and separated from my girlfriend for whom I had plunged headfirst into the icy waters of self-destruction (though, to be fair, it didn’t require any arm-twisting whatsoever). And then, though I remember it as coming from out of the blue, it might very well have been rooted in something topical, he began to lecture me about the importance of staying clear of debt collectors. At that point in my life, I hadn’t actually ever had anything in my own name (the benefits of dating a woman in her mid-thirties), and just knew that I knew what the hell I was doing. I mean, I did, and it all worked out in the end, but still… Statistically speaking, his talk was dead-center and on-point. And then… I broke.

I started shouting at him in couplets of salty metaphors, decrying his diatribes toward responsibility, and reminding him that I knew what I was doing (while philosophically true, I must admit that my methods are far more hands-off than I might otherwise care to admit). I then stormed out, in adolescent fashion, slamming the door behind me, but not before I informed him, in no uncertain terms that he could feel free to asexually reproduce (though, grammatically speaking, it was more of an imperative).

Perhaps someday I will allow myself to believe that I am worthy of the example which he set for me, though at this moment, I find it difficult to believe. I just hope that he knew how much he meant to a little boy who grew up without a father, who so desperately required someone to love him for who he was.

I love my grandfather, and I miss everything about him. I weep for the knowledge that I will never see him again, though I do not weep for him. I weep for myself, and for the world, as it must come to terms with the emptiness which remains in the wake of his passing.

I miss my grandfather.

Birthdays and Stories

Eight years ago today, just a little after eight o’clock at night, The Minkey took his first breaths, and I was changed forever (obviously, he was fundamentally changed by the very act of being born, and, having been a twelve-pound natural birth, he rather changed his mother as well, but this is my story, so we’re sticking with my perspective). It was a fitting end to an eventful pregnancy, and I found myself staring into the unending stretch of infinity as I considered what this tiny baby represented, and how he carried me forever forward into the future, yet another step towards genetic immortality, a journey which had begun billions of years before, and would continue until the last of my descendants failed to use their charm to talk a member of the opposite sex into overlooking our obvious physical limitations in favor of our humor and romantic natures. I figured that I would be the final member of my particular genetic line, but it turns out that there is someone for everyone, and several months later, nature having taken care of itself without any regard to my efforts both to help and to hinder, my son was passed that particular torch, and from somewhere deep with a double helix, I felt a sigh of relief. I may have valid reasons for having been hesitant to pass along defective genes, but they didn’t recognize my authority to negotiate on their behalf.

David was born a week late, and would have been induced on the tenth anniversary of a very special night (one that only comes once in a young man’s life), had he not decided to enter the world when he had. I’d been growing concerned about this, feeling that it must be some sort of sign that something was going to happen, and it was bad enough that Flor, despite being a little over nine months pregnant, picked up on it almost immediately. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really the sort of thing that a guy can openly discuss with his pregnant girlfriend. I did manage to build up the courage to tell her a number of years later, to about the sort of reception which I had been imagining. The evening of the 26th, we decided to take an evening for ourselves, Flor and I, figuring that, one way or another, it might very well be our last chance for the foreseeable future, and went out to an Italian restaurant in downtown Berkeley which we’d seen before, but at which we’d never eaten. I forgot what Flor ordered, but I had the pasta carbonara. As it tuns out, I should have been paying better attention to Flor’s menu option, as the following morning, the contractions began.

I distinctly remember being calmer than expectant fathers are normally portrayed in film, but Flor reminds every year that I was just as excitable and useless. Her brother (and his children) came to pick us up in the early afternoon, and drive us to the hospital. We took a more direct route than that which I had grown accustomed to, having become a professional rider of buses, and I remember thinking how strange it was that I had never been that way before, and how streets lined on either side with Palm tress seemed both beautiful and stereotypically Californian. Flor had made sure that we’d brought everything important for the next few days, whereas I made sure I’d brought along my Cuban cigar, which had been a gift from Fed. I’d suggested that perhaps a bottle of Absinthe might have been more appropriate, both metaphorically and literally, but he reminded me that a cigar was more traditional, and that the Absinthe in his possession was his. Unwilling to walk away empty-handed, I thanked him for the cigar, and talked him out of a glass of Absinthe, since he already had it out. It was delicious.

Up until we’d gotten to the hospital, Flor seemed under the delusion that she would prefer to have a completely natural experience. I kept reminding her that having a miniature human explode from her nether regions, while traditional and evolutionarily approved, was still about the most unnatural thing that either of us was likely to experience until Holodecks became a thing. As the contractions grew closer, and the shifting mass of life began to thrash about her womb as if it were a mosh pit, she began to reconsider, which was good, because by the time she finally got the epidural, it was almost too late. They’d left her suffering for too long, and when they finally showed up, she practically jammed the needle into her spine on her very own. I would like to take a moment now to mention something which has been riffed upon by comedians for as long as I can remember: I would like to get an epidural at least once before I die. I have been high, in my more youthful days, to such an extent that I could understand both nothingness and infinity (they are the same thing), warp across large spaces in just a couple of steps, and get lost between my driveway and the next, and I have never been as high as Flor was in the hours before my son was born.

I told her stories about a Princess who came to a strange land to save the day, sacrificing the life she knew for one of constant confusion and struggle. How she was stuck there, even after her quest was done, as if there was something more which she had yet to do. How she met a warbling minstrel, and fell in love with him, though she was of noble birth, and he was as far from nobility as one could ever hope to be. How they had a son, an intelligent and creative son, one who would validate their struggles in this land which was not her own, and redeem them with the beauty which he would both deliver to, and inspire within this sad and barren country. And how, though she had not seen them since she’d had to leave, her parents, the King and Queen forgave her for her absence, and were well pleased by their newborn grandson. By the time I had finished, she had been passed out for a while, though for exactly how long, I couldn’t tell you, as I’d been caught up in the telling of our story in only slightly mangled Spanish. Her dreams did not last for long, however, as when it was go time, the stabs of pain tore raggedly through the blanket haze of the drugs and brought her into focus.

David spent the first week of his life in the NICU, and Flor, though discharged from the hospital, never left his side. When we were finally able to bring him home, it seemed that he’d gotten so much bigger (though, according to his measurements, he’d only barely caught up with his birth weight), and all of the newborn clothes and accessories we’d purchased and were given, were woefully inadequate to cover him. It was a mad dash to get him larger things to wear, both clothing and diapers, and we discovered that they don’t actually make newborn things in giant sizes. He grew so quickly, both physically and mentally, that by the time Valentine’s Day ’08 had rolled around, he’d managed enough motor control to stab me in the eye. Before I knew it, he was walking (and getting into everything), talking (he still hasn’t shut up since), and doing his best to force his will upon everyone he meets.

Average attendance for David's parties (not really).
His first birthday party was a little underwhelming.

Soon it was time for his first birthday party, which, as I mentioned above, was a little underwhelming. We also took him up to celebrate in Washington, but the turnout was more or less the same, especially if you disqualify family attendance. And then, before we knew it, his sister came to live with us, Flor and I got married, and David was celebrating another birthday. His third and fourth birthdays were slightly more festive affairs (with a Star Trek cake and TARDIS cake, respectively), and by his fifth birthday, his mother had decided not to spend a fortune on his party. This year is a far more sober affair, intentionally small and inexpensive, and I’m hoping that it will be his favorite to date, but mainly because he’s getting LEGO Jurassic World, and he hasn’t shut up about wanting it since the first time that he saw that it existed.

I have had the pleasure of knowing him for his entire life, and watching him along the path to the man who he is destined to become, growing and developing before my very eyes. From the first time that I saw him on a sonogram, appearing as some sort of water-based demonic lifeform, to the first time that I saw him in the flesh, covered in goo, with a reflating head, to the moment when I knew that I was a dad, when he was connected up to machines through wires and tubes stuck into the stump of what once had been his most intimate connection to another human being, I have watched him grow. And from the first time he rolled over, to his first steps, to his roaming about and randomly collapsing in the backyard of the apartment which we had in Berkeley, I have been there to see him developing. His first words spoken, his first sentence, and the first words, and then first book he ever read; the pride in me swelled up so much that I could barely maintain a balance. I do not know who he’ll become, but I’ve seen him as he’s doing it. I love him a little more, each and every day, though there are times when I would much rather not have to suffer him. He is my son, my future and my nemesis, and I love him more than I ever though was possible.

From the moments in which I first saw him
From the moments in which I first saw him
My reason for wanting to have a better life. Also pictured: My family.
To the first time that he something which I had wanted him to see
Progress and Equality in the 21st Century? Ha!
To when he began to laugh at me
"Well, you NEVER share with me SOMETIMES!" -David, right now.
To when I stopped feeling bad when I laughed at him
And, other times, he is... less profound.
From the happy moments
To the sad
To the sad
Looking out into the distance
I have always loved him
And I always will
And I always will
From now until my final breath
From now until my final breath
David William, I love you
David William, I love you


In this most recent push for equality, I am left with a particularly bitter taste in my mouth. It is a source of shame for me that we are living in the twenty-first century and it is only now that we have seen a push for equality in the United States. And, to be fair, it’s only the tiniest bit of equality which we are addressing: marriage. In many states, you can still be fired for being gay, or killed without any repercussions depending upon the color of your skin or your socioeconomic status. Hell, if you are born without a penis, you are forced to go through life subjected to the judgments about your body and your sexuality by people who will never have even the slightest conception of what it means to be a woman. I am a sensitive, intelligent human being (with the soul of a clown, which forces me to blow it at the most crucial moments), and even cannot fully comprehend even the smallest struggles which more than half of the world’s human population must face upon a daily basis. I mean, I can understand them in theory, but I do not truly feel them as my own. With so much injustice left to face, it seems almost ridiculous that we had to waste our time on something so obvious as letting people marry.

Just to be clear: I don’t honestly care about gay marriage, insomuch as I am not gay, and have already gotten married. If two people love each other so much that they want to spend the rest of their lives together, who gives a shit if they make it official? It’s not about what it says in the Bible (unless you also believe that women are property and pork is a bad thing): telling people what they can do together in the privacy of their own homes seems socially retarded to me. Unless you are madly in love with someone (who had not yet reciprocated your amorous displays of affection), and that someone is just about to say, “I do” to someone who isn’t you, then the marriage of two people who aren’t you doesn’t affect you in the slightest. And even if you are suffering from unrequited love, sometimes that’s just how it goes. I’ve been a hopeless, romantic poet for long enough that unrequited love for me is just another way of saying breathing. What believe that it all comes down to is that people don’t approve of sex between two (or more) people of the same gender. I mean, I guess a lot of them don’t believe in any flavor other than vanilla, either, when they go to Baskin-Robbins. But I’ve got something to say about that as well: If you haven’t been invited into the bedroom of a consenting adult, you really don’t get a say about what goes on in there.

That being said, I suppose there are some people who are genuinely disgusted by the notion of anybody having sex. I would imagine that these are the same people who write letters to various representatives, governmental agencies, and applicable corporations to complain about something which they’ve seen on the television, demanding that it be removed from the airwaves, instead of simply changing the channel. I’m not interested in the slightest bit about any of the Kardashians (well, I think that… Kourtney(?)  is moderately adorable, but that’s only because my daughter usually keeps the E! channel on in the living room), but I’m not about to call somebody on the phone and demand that their television program be removed simply because I don’t much care for it. know how to change the channel. I don’t get to decide what other people get to enjoy. As long as what someone else is doing isn’t actually harming anyone (a case could be made for the harm caused by “reality television”, but that argument is for another day, preferably when I demand that everyone should be watching Star Trek), why should it even matter what I think about it? Of course, these people are quick to jump to their inalienable right to discriminate because of what their holiest of scriptures says. They have a duty, you see, to protect us from everything they think their God might have a problem with, as if he were not, in fact, omnipotent, and capable of sorting everything out for Himself.

But here’s the thing (which I’ve said before, and will most likely say again): if people are so against marriage equality because they think that it is a virtual endorsement of the kind of “lifestyle” which they abhor, then I feel that I  must pity them for having been so wrong. The quickest way to stamp out this rash of homosexual coupling is to encourage gay marriage. Sure, the honeymoon will be filled with all sorts of tender moments, but nothing kills the romance like facing down the reality that you’re going to be stuck with the same person and their jiggly bits forever. If you want to end the scourge of homosexual sex, get them to put a ring on it. The same thing goes for all the other “deviants” out there. Nothing puts the flames of adventurous relations like a long-term, monogamous commitment. Or, I suppose, these people could just get over themselves and pick something else to work themselves into a lather about.

It all comes down to whether we believe that we have the right to tell other people who they have to be. I don’t have that right, and I can’t claim that I am being persecuted if no one lets me enforce my vision upon everyone who might disagree. It’s disgusting that we’re even still having this discussion, and the fact that we’re having it at all is progress. I don’t care about gay marriage, because I don’t care about marriages that don’t even tangentially affect me, and if one of my friends gets married, the only thing I care about is if they love each other and treat each other well. End of discussion.

Wicked World

Maybe it’s something in the air, a melody carried along by the summer breeze, lost except for a fragment brushed along the contours of your ear as it plays by before it disappears forever. Perhaps it’s interest carried over on arguments both won and lost over the course of the last decade. When hopelessness encounters its own justifications, it can be nearly impossible to shake it loose again. I wish that I could say that this was some fleeting shred of melancholy tickling up against the edges of my perceptions, but this has been pulling us down, drawing us in for quite some time now, our failures falling into one another, collapsing into a singularity which we cannot escape. Now, I do know that this feels worse because of everything that’s been going on, but it makes me wonder if we’ll manage to survive it this time. I’m not saying that neither of us has managed to avoid having earned our respective blame, but this seems to be an overwhelming pattern in my life. I thought that I had managed to break the cycle of my failures when Flor and I got together. She was supposed to be the one to save me from myself. She was supposed to be the chosen one. Instead, it seems that I’ve managed to corrupt her, poison her beauty as it seems that only I can do, and ruin my chance for salvation through the simple act of being me.

I may have mentioned, a time or two before, that I’m not the easiest person to be around. I mean, in small doses, I’m clever and charming, seductive and sweet, snarky and sincere, but that’s because I’m careful to only let out certain aspects of my wicked and warped damage at a time, so as not to drive off the handful of people I seem to keep around to keep from going completely ’round the bend, cut off from what little human I can consciously tolerate, but apparently require. Living with me seems to bring out the worst in people, or, rather, allows me the privilege of doing it myself. The person who most everybody knows is just a fiction that I’ve lived with since I discovered that it made my life significantly simpler, but even I can’t keep the act up every hour of every day. I need a large quantity of down time before I can put on the mask again, and when I walk in through my front door, the first thing that I do is tear away the pretense and the happiness before it suffocates me. I am mostly content to live a sedentary life, punctuated with random meaningful events, but the rest of the time, I think that I would prefer the company of no one but myself. You know, I really thought that I could do it this time. That by ignoring all the signals which had informed me that the woman who was to be my wife would be woefully ill-equipped to help me destroy myself, and therefore exactly the person who I had to make sure was in my life.

And yet it seems that I cannot stand happiness. It makes me feel cut off from myself. I’ve never learned to let things go, and I have to be right, no matter the cost. It isn’t important to me that time will usually vindicate me, I have to win the argument. Instead of letting my wife pull me up out of the quagmire of the life I seem to have been destined for, I seem to have only torn her down, ripped her apart bit by bit, and shaped her into not only the perfect nemesis, but molded her into a bitter image of myself (which may seem redundant to the few people who have known me since before I learned to hide myself behind the act that I’ve been living for almost the entirety of my adult life). She deserves someone who will build her up, be there for her when she needs someone, and never be a burden around her neck. I have asked her almost weekly for the past nine years if she has faith in me, and every time she answers yes, it takes her a little longer, and she’s less able to contain her disbelief. I think that she only gave me her blessing to embark on this crusade because she knew that I would either make it happen, or I’d wind up worse off for having tried and failed, at which point she could cut her losses and be rid of me forever.

Of course, I’m only able to see what I want to see, read the narrative which I am capable of understanding. You see, it’s easier for me if I can say that we’re arch-nemeses, so that when she finally tires of my bullshit, I can nurture enmity in the place where fondness and love once dwelled to cover for the fact that once again I have become irrevocably broken by my inability to do what must be done, to manage to get the important things done right. I would die for her one thousand times without a moment’s hesitation, or David, or my grandchildren, or even my daughter, who is so much like me that it still confuses me how we aren’t genetically connected, but I cannot bring myself to live for them. Sure, I’ve made an effort, though some would say too little, too late. I just find that I cannot be the person who I would like to be. If I was a better man, I might pack up and leave here in the middle of the night, cut my ties and let those I love begin the process of getting over having known me. I’ve always been far better in theory than in practice, and as a cautionary tale, I’d probably even make a better father. I guess the reason that I haven’t boils down to cowardice, and the hope that maybe I can get it right in time.

I guess that we’ll find out.


17213468443_369c567e5a_kWhat a fun week it’s been! I haven’t disliked a rollercoaster ride that much since early 2004, when, to avoid what would have been a relationship-ending fight, I got onto The Medusa at Six Flags, which turned out to have been something which is known as a Supercoaster, which seemed more like a suicide machine to me, but without the inherent fun of taking your own life. But unlike that experience, it seems that I cannot exit this ride, and steadfastly refuse to get onto another for the rest of my time here. Also, I’m not sure what kind of metaphor I can make from Dippin’ Dots, but I want to go on record as saying that they were an abomination which managed to lessen my love for frozen treats and tiny snacks of all types. That was a truly horrible day for me. Actually, to be fair, that entire time was one which I would almost rather forget entirely. It summed up everything that I disliked about my life during my twenties, and were it not for the lessons which were hammered into me, I would block out that time entirely from my mind. I haven’t really shared a lot of my relationship with La Diabla with all of you, and I guess that it’s probably the time.

You're seriously not going to get on another ride? Seriously?!
You’re seriously not going to get on another ride? Seriously?!

First, a little backstory: I left Seattle in January of 2003, leaving behind my family on the invitation of my friend to come and live in California and see palm trees. It was a twenty-two hour train ride, and when I arrived in Emeryville, California, I was ready to put my past behind me. It took me about a month to find a job, but I wound up getting in at the new Fuddrucker’s in the local open-air mall. It was only six months between my hire date and my first promotion. I’d poured myself into the job, sacrificing a social life in search of the almighty dollar, pausing only to blow of steam with Fed by drowning our sorrows in a frightening quantity of booze (which I could now buy in almost any store, including the Pack N’ Save next door). But two guys, no matter how good of friends they may be, cannot share a one-bedroom apartment for six months without discovering that they hold within them the secret desire to destroy the other. That, and Fed’s mom was coming to visit, and she’d made it clear how much she disapproved of me.

So, faced with more money, but nowhere to live, I paid for a couple of weeks at the Extended Stay America down the road, and invited my new baker to share place when I wasn’t there. She also needed somewhere to hang her hat, and worked mornings, while I was the closing manager. I should have known better. I’d been working with her for a little while, and had seen that everyone in the restaurant was falling over themselves to try and get with her. I took one look at her, and then back down at my expanding waistline, and suddenly felt peace wash over me, as I realized that she was so far out of my league, that it wasn’t even worth my time to dream. Ironically, it is probably my lack of interest which put me on her radar. I was the only one who was truly able to play it cool, because I knew that we would never be together. Honestly, I didn’t even have an ulterior motive for offering to share a hotel room with her for a fortnight. I was just trying to help someone out, and lessen the financial impact upon myself. And so it might have been, had we not celebrated her “birthday” toward the end of our stay with one another.

We invited all of our coworkers with whom we were friendly over to our room, and drank a few bottles of some type of liquor or another, until it was time for everybody else to go home. Nami and I hadn’t really had a chance to speak with each other during our stay there, but we’d grown… accustomed to each other, and begun to feel comfortable together. The booze played a part, as did the meddling of our friends, but that night, after everyone else had gone, we sat down and spoke about our feelings. One thing led to another, and we decided that we’d stick it out together as a couple, which turned out to be a good thing, at least at first, as our time was up at the Extended Stay, and the only way that we could scrounge up the necessary cash to move into an apartment was to join forces and move in together. It also helped that I had a nasty habit of falling in love at the drop of a hat, and once hooked, that was it. For the first (and possibly only) time in my life, my apathy seemed to have scored results.

We were both young, and better at drinking and fighting than at common sense (much like a couple of kids I know quite well), and before long, we discovered that we were going to be parents. I took the news with all the composure of someone who has suddenly discovered that nothing he knew was what he had imagined it to be. By the time I got back from my walk to the liquor store, she had begun freaking out, and I was forced to do my best to put on a face of resigned serenity. I was going to be a dad. I began experiencing an existential crisis. It wasn’t that I was afraid of fatherhood, in the traditional sense. Rather, I was suddenly faced with impossibility of bowing out early. I looked into the future, a future where I still existed, and it terrified me. No matter where I tried to find my center, it seemed always just out of reach. So I did the one thing that I could think of, the one thing which I thought would fix the growing problems in our relationship, and calm the terror just beneath my skin: I proposed to her.

When I mentioned Nami’s “birthday” earlier, it was in presented as such because that summer date was not actually her date of birth. In reality, it was just a few days after mine. With hardly any cash, I went to The Diamond Exchange, and put the down payment on a set of wedding bands. On her birthday, I dropped down to one knee and proposed. She said yes, and I (stupidly) thought that I’d managed to solve our problems once and for all. That spring, we went up to Seattle so that she could meet my family. It was then that we discovered that we just couldn’t make it work. We’d been to Six Flags, where she’d tried to surprise me with a fun day out doing something which I’d never wanted to do, and since then we’d been walking on eggshells around one another. By the time we started fighting on The Island, I think that we were both out of ideas on how to fix the negativity between us.

Not impressed.
Not impressed.

When we got back to California, she made the decision to abort the baby. She insisted that we tell everyone it had been a miscarriage. True to my word, I never said otherwise until we finally broke up. The final straw in the drama which had become our lives, was when she brought her line cook over to our apartment and… Well, I think you get the idea. By this time, she was also physically violent with me, and in trying to restrain her arms so that she could not strike me (because I still thought that if I could just love her enough, I could fix everything), it left bruises on her arms. Her best friend, who didn’t care for me, was actually the one to stand up to her and tell her to quit saying that I was beating her. She’d been working in the San Francisco store for the past few months (where she found that line cook), and her boss over there decided that he was going to come and “beat my ass.” Due to mismanagement, the owners had to close that store, and I wound up having to incorporate their staff in with my own. Except Nami. She was where I drew the line.

I’m sorry this has been so rambling. I guess the wounds aren’t all as closed as I had believed. The point which I have so spectacularly failed to make is that my twenties, much like my late teens, were defined by my inability to accept the fact that I hadn’t died, and that I believed that unconditionally loving someone would fix everything. For almost the entire time that Nami and I were together, I’d been trying to figure out how I’d managed to snag someone so far out of my league. It wasn’t until I took into account the person who she was inside, that everything began to come together. I understood why her “friend” would kick her to the curb. And I began to understand that I was unquestionably attracted to women who were absolutely wrong for me. I lost a son who never drew a breath (though it was probably for the best that he was never born). I faced the failures of myself and things in which I so fervently believed. And, for the first time in my life, I looked at the repetitions in my life, and tried to learn something from them.

But I also managed to prove to myself that my ethics were more than just convenient lies I told myself to feel better while looking in the mirror. It should be obvious by now that she was here without permission (why she had both a work and personal birthday). My friends wanted to call in the big guns and have her forcibly removed from this country. I said no. The only person who her presence had hurt was me, and that wasn’t enough for me to criminalize her. I pushed aside my dreams of vengeance, and threw myself into a pattern of comfortably self-destructive behavior instead. But were it not for La Diabla, I doubt that I would have been aware enough to understand how much of a wonderful chance which my Wildflower would represent. I’d vowed to make my life everything that it hadn’t been when I had been with Nami. And really, that choice describes how I now look back upon my early twenties. I lost a decade before I found my wife, and I’m only now beginning to realize that it is not too late to try and give that loss some meaning.


I knew this day would come, but I didn’t expect it to take so long in its arrival. I knew that I wouldn’t really start to get going on what I wanted to write until I had no time left to do it. It’s not really a surprise then that everything seems to be blowing up in my face just as I am on the verge of actually getting something accomplished. Not a full-length novel, mind you, but at least something that isn’t just the blog, something that I might be able to convince people to purchase. I thought the day would come sometime back in January, but it seems the gods of apathy had other things in mind for me. Whatever. I’m still going to finishing working on it, and then I’m going to see what I can do to try to make a little money. It’s taking all my will to keep from falling back down into the depths of despair, and every ounce of ego to tell myself that I should keep working at it. A lesser (or smarter) man might have given up by now, with his entire life snowballing into ruin. But not me. I’ve been putting this off for decades, and I don’t think that I’ll ever muster up the courage to try again if I don’t follow through this time.

I asked my wife before I began this little adventure of mine, if she believed in me, if she thought that I could do it. I know that rough Spanish translations are a poor substitute to showcase my abilities, but it was all I had to work with. Even then, she told me that she believed, and for the first time in what seemed like nearly forever and a day, I almost thought that I could do it. I just wish that I had managed to get back into form a little sooner. And that I had socked away some money back when I was making it. I know that I can pull this out (I have always known it), but I cannot seem to adequately explain it to my wife. We are both stressed out about what the near-future holds, and the best that I can offer her is that I’m pretty sure that everything will be okay. I mean, I have a track record of always landing on my feet, but the cynic inside me says that only means that I am due to finally taste the sweet agony of complete and utter failure.

Maybe it’s just a side effect of my mental illness, this delusion that I should, or could, do this for a living. I mean, who’s to say that this isn’t just a particularly deluded fantasy of mine which might better be relegated to the status of a hobby? Except that I have known down to the deepest part of me since I was just a boy that it was going to be this path or nothing. In school, while I saw everyone around me plagued with doubt about the lives they were desperately trying to decide between, I floated by upon a cloud of certainty that I knew what I was doing. Maybe this is my greatest sin of all: pride. Or self-delusion, whatever you want to call it. I have to be right, and more often than not, I am. But now is not the time for me to learn that I am fallible. Or maybe it’s the best time, philosophically, but I can’t let myself think like that. There will be plenty of time to learn that I am just as capable of committing errors when the stakes aren’t quite so high.

On a happier note, if I was forced to guess my progress with the story I am working on, I’d probably have to say that I am almost halfway done. I shot past the roadblock that had been causing me so many problems, and now it’s just a matter of finishing up the flashback and trying it all together with the ending of the story. The only thing that is giving me problems now is the massive tonal shift in the original. I liked the juxtaposition then, but I’m not sure if I can make it work this time. To be fair, I like telling myself that something is impossible when I’m fairly certain that it’s not so that when I finally pull it off, I can pat myself on the back and feel like a miracle worker. I’m relearning how to write fiction again, and I should have started with that from the very beginning, as the odds that someone would read the random things I write about here on the blog and decide that they wanted to pay me to do it for them were always nonexistent. But at least I’ve gotten faster at transferring thought to page, which has helped me with writing in general.

To tie everything back in together, I guess what I’ve been trying to spit out is that I know that the majority of the work that I do when I am writing is nearly indistinguishable from just lounging about. But I am always mulling over what my next move is, or distracting myself from focusing directly on the problem so that the answer comes to me more organically. When I’m reading, I’m actually taking classes in advanced creative writing. When I’m watching television, I’m soaking the interplay of characters and themes. When I’m listening to music, I’m… well I’m usually just grooving to the music, but putting myself in the mood is also important. But none of this is making me a dime, at least not yet. I have nothing to show for my efforts aside from a crumbling relationship and the looming threat of a nervous breakdown. I need to knuckle down and become the little writer who could. I’m pretty sure that I can do it. I mean, what’s the worst that could happen if I’m wrong?