Tag Archives: mortality

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



Death By Needle Medicine

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


No one ever wants to be

a junkie when he grows up,

but they just cannot ever see

everything they’re giving up:

Feel the steel

piercing my vein,

taste the smack

upon my breath.

Dying of thirst

drowning in the rain.

One C.C. of that sweet

and pure old liquid death.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


Drill the truth, and hammer home;

draw a flag and raise it high.

Never will you be alone-

not until the day you die.

Blanket warm

and comforting,

fall into

a painless dream.

A requiem

your slumber sings

as you’re falling like the dust

scattered across moonbeams.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


One more push, and then it’s done;

find the meaning of your life

and dream of your days in the sun:

no more misery or strife.

Welcome home,

my little child.

Daddy’s here

to keep you safe.

Winters warm

and Summers mild.

There’s no more pain down here:

come slumber in your grave.

Just add water, draw it in-

death by needle medicine.

Falling further into sin-

death by needle medicine.

Fill my veins and spin again-

death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.

Death by needle medicine.


Lyrics ©2015 Tex Batmart.

Music ©2015 (eventually) Bad Leon Suave

All rights reserved.

Motivational Sneakers

Somehow I’ve finally managed to wake up a little. It was touch and go for a little while, but I seem to be at least somewhat conscious now, so let’s get this thing going. After attempting at least six different posts, most of them about how I really need to sort through the hundreds of digital photographs I’ve got sitting on my hard drive, I managed to finally find a rhythm and get something written. It started out simply enough, a ridiculous sales pitch for a group of mythological creatures, but as I kept writing it, I discovered something soul-crushingly beautiful just beneath the surface. I don’t know what I will eventually do with it, but I think that I might have to fiddle with it a bit and see how much more I can tease out of it before going back to edit. It’s nice to know that I still have some new ideas floating around inside my brain. Most of the time, when I set out to write something, it turns into a tale of heartbreak and unrequited love, and to be honest, I’m kind of done with that. There are so many other types of disappointment which I’ve yet to cover that it seems a little foolish to only focus on that one.

Of course, I’m really good at starting stories, but notoriously bad at finishing them. I’m trying really hard not to build this one up too much in my head because I don’t want to let myself down too hard when I fail to finish it. I’m not sure if I’m being pessimistic or realistic, or simply looking for a way to get out of something so that I don’t have to do the one thing which I love more than any other. That’s not fair. I love sleeping the best. But right after that is definitely writing. Probably. It’s hard to say, really. I enjoy it more than I think I’m willing to admit to myself, but the reality is that I’m also far too eager to do anything else the moment that it begins to resemble work of any kind. One of the advantages to doing this blog is that, in forcing myself to write nearly every day (managing an average of a little over a thousand words a day, even taking into account the disturbingly high number of days off I seem to shower upon myself), I am able to get a flow going at some point, whereas before I might only get as far as glaring at my laptop in a silent rage for even existing. Now if only I could do the same for physical exercise.

Both my wife and I could stand to shed a couple dozen pounds or so, and it’s probably better to get started on that before our extra mass begins to cause irreparable damage to our frames and organs. And we’ll have to get fit as a team, because I’ve found that if it’s only one spouse getting thin, it’s usually not for their significant other. After a certain amount of time, you get used to one another, and the only reason you want to look good naked is because there is someone you are hoping to impress. And so my hatred of physical activity has come face to face with my fear of losing my wife to someone who has muscles (or who is, at the very least, in possession of a much smaller beer gut). I mean, I know that I will most likely begin to feel better once I’ve gotten rid of the extra poundage, but going to the gym means putting on pants and leaving the house. And that means that not only do I have give up my plans for doing absolutely nothing, but I actually have to follow through on a completely different set of plans.

And suddenly my day has filled right up, and I feel like every moment has been carefully planned so as to insure that I don’t have even a moment of freedom to enjoy the simple pleasures of sloth. Mind you, I haven’t even started yet, and I’m already feeling this way. I suppose that it is a testament to my fear of change that even considering a different routine can incite a panic between my ears. I feel like maybe I should have been born a mountain, so that the only change is measured in ages, and no one would say anything negative about how big I was. And on the plus side, I am still completely enamored of the snow. It’s just a little embarrassing to realize that my two-year old grandson is more reasonable than me about certain, basic things. Then again, I don’t poop my pants, or randomly shout at shrubbery (at least, not in front of other people), so I guess I shouldn’t feel too bad. Of course, the very fact that I’m pleased that I’m more mature than a two-year old under certain circumstances speaks volumes about my level of maturity. Whatever. Qué será, será. Así es la vida.

Okay, my arguments of procrastination may have just been invalidated. I just bent down to pick a toy up off the floor (from a comfortable, seated position in my chair), and had to spend a couple of minutes massaging my ribs until the pain dissipated. That’s kind of pathetic, even for me. I know that I’ve taken pride in being an old man for as long as I can remember (at least the past few minutes or so), but this level of eld is usually reserved for people who once lived through the 1950’s. I hate it when I have to take positive steps; it’s so much easier to just sit here and lob sarcasm at the world. But with a granddaughter on the way, and sixteen years until my grandson becomes a man, I suppose that I should make at least some progress toward the feasibility of my own survival. And my son most likely wouldn’t mind if I stuck around a bit longer.

And there it is, the motivational kick in the butt which I have been searching for: the faces of my son, and grandson, and an artist’s rendition of the little girl who will soon be popping into my life. Though the years before me are pressing down with a weight that I can barely contemplate, I would really like to see my son and grandchildren grow into the adults they are to become. That means that I’m going to have to learn to eat something besides junk food, and get serious about fulling switching away from tobacco, and get up off my fat ass and drag myself down to the gymnasium and break a sweat (and then start exercising). All the while I just want to scream out to the world that it’s not fair, but that seems a little hypocritical, or at least my son would think so. I guess that the time has come for me start acting like an adult, and let the grumpy old man inside me take a nap. But I swear I’m going to snap if those damned kids don’t get off my lawn!

And now, because you’ve all been so patient with me as I hash out the obvious, I’ll share the first couple of paragraphs from:

Flying Monkeys- Are They Right For You? 

As I sit here in my evil lair, plotting world domination, I am surrounded by the constant flapping of monkey wings, and, to be honest, it’s just the slightest bit off-putting. Sure, I got a great deal on them, but no one ever warns you of the downsides to controlling an Air Force comprised of mutant primates. First of all, they smell like a cross between cabbage and misery, and it’s no good trying to get them in the bath, as there is nothing more frighteningly fierce and unpredictable than a moistened airborne monkey. Secondly, they never seem to know when to just shut the hell up. I’m almost glad I didn’t splurge on the translation helmets, as chirps and grunts are more than enough. Considering the things which I’ve seen them do, I’m certain that I don’t care to know what’s on their minds. And finally, there is the issue of the little monkey uniforms. I spent weeks designing something both practical and striking, but the effect is quickly negated when they refuse to put on pants. Sure, it adds a new level of terror to the battlefield, and is a subtle shift toward psychological warfare, but the fact is that it is also unprofessional, and I simply cannot tolerate that level of tomfoolery.

Now, don’t get me wrong: these winged fiends are an incredible investment. I have never seen a ceiling so free of cobwebs in my entire life. And the lot of them are just adorable beyond description as they scoot about with little brooms and dustpans cleaning up the lab. Sometimes, when I’m feeling just a little down, or in the rare moments when I am weakened by a longing for companionship, it’s nice to sit down on the couch and curl up with a minion and check out what is on T.V. A note of caution, however: Make sure that monkey knows that it is just a platonic snuggle, or there will be repercussions that neither of you had planned for. Winged monkeys can be a little jealous and possessive, so it’s best to maintain a certain degree of professional distance. That being said, if you can stand the smell, they are wonderful to cuddle, especially in the dead of winter. I know that I have saved hundreds of dollars on my heating bill by turning down the thermostat and grabbing a blanket and a monkey before I go to bed.

My only problem now, however, is that I’ve decided to retire from a life of ill intent, and as a private citizen, I will no longer be in a position to care for such a large cohort of flying monkeys. As I scale down my operations to something more manageable in the coming months, I really won’t have the time or resources to keep them healthy, and that’s where you come in. I’ve been talking to some people from down at the office, and they’ve had nothing but glowing reviews of you. A real up-and-comer, they tell me, diabolical and ruthless to the core. Let me tell you, when I was your age, I figured that I didn’t need anyone but me to make my mark upon the world, but I think I could have truly benefited from the help that only a winged monkey can provide. You don’t want to get so caught up in minor tasks that you never quite get around to bending the human race to your will. Seriously, kid, it’s too easy these days to get sidetracked, and then by the time you have everything up and running, you’ll find that whichever governmental agency you’re up against has already had time to get entrenched, and once that happens, not even a force two dozen monkeys strong can help you reach your objective.

As you can see, I need to go back and smooth over the tone a little, as it changes from infomercial to conversation a little clumsily, but I kind of like where it is heading. I don’t know. We’ll see.


I still don’t have any news to report about my grandmother, but I’m hoping that a lack of information is a good thing. As soon as I hear something, I’ll be sure to pass it along.


By popular demand, I’m going to start putting the Featured Images at the end of these posts, as I’ve heard many people complaining that they wanted to see them without having to go to Facebook.

The Saddest Clown
Fatmart is saddened by the realization that physical effort will be required.


It's disturbing just how happy I look...
It’s disturbing just how happy I look…

The one regret I have, were I to admit to myself that I had any regrets at all, would be that, in moving so far away from the little island which I used to call my home, I have placed an almost insurmountable distance between myself and the one person in my family who I miss the most: my grandmother. We’re just a week from celebrating her eightieth birthday, and where else would she be, but in the hospital, fighting off a bout of pneumonia. My mother informed me this morning, and I’ve been worrying off and on throughout the afternoon regarding just how ill-prepared I am at this very moment to go running back up to the state of Washington should the moment come to pass that I would be worse off for not having gone. Through luck and the gracious love which my wife feels for me, I have been able to stretch what would have been a short sabbatical into something just a little longer as I teach myself to write once more. But we have now exhausted most, if not all of our wiggle room, and should that dreaded phone call come, I’m not sure exactly what I have to quickly liquidate to catch the next flight out of Oakland.

The person who I have become is built upon the foundation which my grandmother laid down by example throughout my youth and adolescence. As far back as I can remember, in my grandmother I have always had an ally in my struggles to come to terms with what injustices I have perceived in my travels through the world. She is a woman of her word, a force for fairness, and the only person to whom I am related that views meaningless debates as a form of exercise. My grandmother has always made time to argue the finer points of irrelevant nonsense, occasionally dipping into the banned weaponry of religion or politics, but even then, only as a retaliatory strike against her upstart grandson who merely enjoys the heated thrashing about of ideas with someone who won’t just quit after an hour or two has passed. And what I respect about her most, in this regard, is that she has always been willing, despite her ideology, to listen to my bleeding-hearted arguments championing socialism and the redistribution of wealth, and every now and then, confronted by evidence in support of a minor point here or there, adjust her moral compass just a little. From her I have learned an indefatigable work ethic, a solid moral code, and the understanding of what it means to remain true to oneself and to one’s word. If only she weren’t a Republican…

In recent years, we’ve had to limit our verbal sparring to the occasional telephonic jab, as her health has been in a steady decline since the very first of her heart attacks back in the 1990’s. It was so noticeable when I was still living at home, or just a quick ferry ride away from her, but since we began measuring time apart in years instead of days or weeks, I’ve seen just how time can wear away at even the most ever present structures. It’s funny: whenever I have heard that someone’s died, I am usually the first to mention how at least their pain has finally come to an end, and whether they fall to the hands of their depression or simply succumb to old age, they have, at last, found some measure of peace. Even the notion of my final moments fills me with nothing more than a sense of delayed relief, and perhaps a hint of impatience that I’ve yet so much to do before I can finally put all this behind me and get all of the sleep of which I have somehow been deprived for all these years. And yet, when I contemplate the mortality of those whom I love more than I am willing to admit, I begin to grasp at every chance to keep them for just a moment longer.

Philosophically I understand that without the dark, the light has no meaning, and that to have a beginning, there must, one day be an end. One cannot revel in a sense of joy and wonderment without seasoning it misery and despair, for there can be no heads without a tail. And yet… Even dancing around all of this, that bitter realization which threatens to rend me from myself and cast me down into a hell from which I am not sure that I can return, I cannot let down my guard and let myself admit just why it is that I am so afraid. Inside I am just a little boy, clinging to the certainty that his grandparents are some type of extension of natural law, having existed long before me, and that it stands to reason that they, like all things fundamental to the workings of reality, must continue to exist for the universe to keep on spinning.

I know that she is in pain, and should something come to pass, that there will be no coming back. I know that she believes that when the moment comes, she will see everyone she’s ever loved, having transcended the bonds of mortal flesh to continue being, but in state of eternal wonder. I know that none of that will matter when the moment comes that marks the end of our arguments, and I am left with an unspoken retort upon my lips, lost forever to the ages, a perfect comeback that comes only when it’s far too late. I know that I am simply working myself up, and that if there were a pressing need to have traveled to the Northwest, I would have already begun to make my way there.

In a world where loyalties are bought and sold, and morality is just something that screamed from inside the television, I wanted to write about someone who was better, someone who has shown me that we can be better. I wanted to write about my Hero.


What Kind Of Day Has It Been?

I came up to Bainbridge Island to spend Christmas with my family, as it could very well be my final opportunity. I don’t regret moving out of state, falling in love, and starting a family of my own, but each time I’ve come home to visit, I cannot help but notice how unkind that time has been. When you spend an extended period in the company of another, the changes which remold them are so gradual you really cannot see them. But when I left home, my grandparents were both active senior citizens. They couldn’t do all of the things which they once they had been able, but they were still the same people I had always known, and I figured that they could stick around indefinitely. I never felt the need to worry, safe in the knowledge that they were still years away from the age my great grandmother had been when she passed away. My first couple of trips back, I really didn’t notice any significant changes, maybe just an extra wrinkle here or there, but essentially they were unchanged.

Then the reports came in from my mother that the both of them had truly begun deteriorating, and I started to believe that I was running out of chances to come and see them. And before I knew it, they had somehow joined the ranks of the terribly and officially ancient. They have become, in the time I’ve been away, just paper dolls shaped like people that I used to know. I’ve seen the bite marks that the jaws of time have left upon them as it tore out ragged chunks of organ functionality and even their sense of self. I look at pictures taken back before I moved, and marvel at how young each and every one of appeared. My passage through the stream of time has come upon the rapids, and the landmarks have begun to blur. The years are gone before I know it, leaving only brief impressions, and I long to hold on to everything just a little longer, pause this moment for forever and never have to let them go.

I’ve complained that on my visits, I never get to go and have any of the fun that I’ve been putting off since the last time when I put it off from earlier. The truth is that, yes, I have neglected several friends that live on the other side of the water (and even some that live here on the Island), but it isn’t like some unbearable punishment, like it might have been when I was just a kid. Normally, I’m just up here for a week or so, and by the end of that vacationary stretch, I’m eager to be on my way. It’s easy to remember all the reasons why I left, petty arguments and the notions of being bound by rules merely by residing under someone else’s roof. But this has been a true vacation, both from work, and life itself. There’s nothing that I left behind this time that can’t live without me just a little longer. Except…

To not knowing how to smile for a school photo.
To not knowing how to smile for a school photo…
Leading the revolution at just a couple of weeks old.
Leading the revolution at just a couple of weeks old.

On the other side of the divide of time, there stand two little boys, as ravaged and consumed by aging as those I came to see. Of course, no one really sees the process at the other side of that same coin, we just call it “growing up,” but it’s just as fundamental of a change.

Between the moments captured in these photos, lay seven and a half years of my little boy’s life. In that time he has become an entirely different person at least a dozen times over, and yet the thread of his existence connects these two to make the same sweet person that I’ve come to know. But the truth remains that in blink, my baby boy was gone, replaced by someone new that I’d had a hand in shaping, and yet needed to get to know once more.

And then there is my grandson, who celebrated his second birthday just before we left. Each day he seems to learn something that he couldn’t fathom just the day before, and I’ve been lucky enough to see it happen right before my eyes. Even on the days when I only missed out on his company for the duration of my work day, I would invariably miss out on some new, adorable achievement. I cannot begin to fathom what I may have missed over the course of these past couple weeks. He’s probably begun speak in near-complete sentences, and learned to climb up and down the bookcases when his parents aren’t looking.


I’m not nearly ready to face what is inevitable: I know the sand is running down, and I haven’t much time left. I’m steeling myself against the day when I get that call I absolutely cannot bear to take. It was bad enough to lose someone that I loved, but never spent much time with. On the day I get that fateful call, I know that I’ll feel something breaking. I think that I might rather remain entirely oblivious, were it not for the certainty that I would tear myself apart in the days which followed, for not having done enough to prevent that which can never be avoided. So I wait, curled up into a little ball within myself, and hope that if I worry just enough, my fears might never come to pass.

My wife has been getting on my case for not engaging in more quality time with those I came to see, but I know that sooner than I’d care for, everything will suffer from a permanent rearrangement. So I’ve done my best to sink back into the role I played when I was younger, trying to make it all seem effortless, just like I had never left. It’s not that I am not aware of everything that’s changed, but I wanted my final memories spent in this place to resemble something close to normal, not the extended last goodbye that it could easily become. I want to be able to remember all the happiness to shield against the despair which I know will come.

This guy was so happy to have moved the hell out, and gotten started with his life,
This guy was so happy to have moved the hell out, and gotten started with his life.