NaNoWriMo 2018: Intro

I’m going to try and do NaNoWriMo this year. I think I might try to write My Universe, or The Mass Tech, or whatever I end up calling it. Superheroes, sci-fi, fantasy, and family. That’s about it.

I’ll try to post daily and maybe, maybe hit that word count by the 30th.

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Long Time Gone

When I was a kid, about the age Joseph is now, 5, my mother made me a pumpkin costume to wear for Halloween. It was perfect. Orange, round, joyful black eyes and smile, and curly green hat to wear. I was a plump ball of adorableness crossing over the hill behind our house to school.

That evening I guess it was supposed to be cold and rainy, so my mother dressed me in my dad’s Union Electric jacket and his Lion’s Club bucket hat. I went out trick-or-treating as my dad that night.

My dad died 16 days ago. I was at Cici’s pizza with Joseph when my mom texted me: “He’s gone.” Sad, mournful words. There was a moment of silence in that noisy pizza place.

I told Joseph that night, before he went to bed, and though he said he was sad, he didn’t really give any signs of it. He never did. Even at the wake he was more social than I was, playing with his cousins and bouncing around the funeral parlor offering people tissues and being overall cute. A beacon of light in a crowd of pervasive darkness.

My dad was cremated. I told Joseph that what they were doing, because one of his first questions was whether they had buried his bones yet, was that they’d put his bones in a big machine and make them smaller. Make them into dust.

Last night was Halloween. Joseph was sick and I felt bad for him, so I went home after working late and put on a makeshift Batman costume, dressed up Marty in a little Superman cape, and we took some candy to him at his mom’s house.

And the thought I’ve had since is to wonder: would my dad have done that? I don’t know what difference it would make, or what any of this means, especially comparing my son’s 5th Halloween to my own. I was my dad then and I am the dad now, but I’m not him now. I don’t think he would have done that.

Does that make him less of a dad? No. We’re just different. Different people, different situations. Similar, sure. I have a lot of my dad in me, but on the outside I’m someone else.

***

Back at work. I changed my medicine and I’m still adjusting, but I think the most recent differences I’m noticing is an increased capacity for happy feelings, normalized libido, and maybe an increased urge to smoke. Hopefully not the last one.

Right now I’m just tired. Have to make some money to boost my paycheck so I can support my toy buying habit. Gamestop has these amazing deals right now, omg.

The Eulogy 2

At times there are no words. There’s nothing to say, nothing to write down or record. This is one of those times. At the present moment I am sitting in the collective office at work, taking a break. My head hurts and I’m in an unsavable mood.

There’s no list of problems I can put here that would compare to the tower of impact my dying father has. Nothing to say, nothing to write, nothing to do.

***

Writing is supposed to help. I didn’t expect to be this emotional. Pretty much everything in my life is broken. Everything that makes up me. And all I’m ever doing is just holding it together.

Bright side, dark side, bullshit.

So my dad’s eulogy will be some avant garde poetry. Perfect.

The Eulogy

My dad has terminal cancer. In January they found a baseball-sized mass in his left lung that was making him short of breath. At first he was going to do some treatment, but then when they were doing surgery to put in a drain for the fluid building on his lung, he had a reaction to the anesthesia and it was shortly after that that he decided not to take any extraordinary measures like radiation or chemo. He’s 80 years old.

The cancer has spread to his brain and after his last scan they either said the tumors had grown or there was more of them; my mom couldn’t recall exactly. There’s no prognosis or time limit for him, but he is on hospice now and slowing down a little more every day.

Ever since I stopped going home while I was in college, I’ve imagined the day when my father would die. The phone call letting me know, the fervent race home, the service, and I always imagined I’d be delivering the eulogy.

And now that that day is fast approaching, my imagining has come true. So now, rather than mentally preparing for the inevitable, I’m reviewing my options, considering different approaches, creating rough drafts in my mind.

I considered talking about Superman. They’re the same age and I can certainly create comparisons between the two. I’ve thought about doing the entire thing like a letter to Joseph. When my mom’s best friend died, she delivered a wonderful eulogy that covered a broad area of her life, mentioning all the people she’d touched. It was good.

Lately I’ve been thinking that it should be simple, short. My dad wasn’t a big, grandstanding guy. He thought of others first, his family most, and he wouldn’t want a big deal being made about him in the end. He wasn’t perfect (isn’t).

I could do a long and storied tale of his life from birth to teen years to young adulthood to mariage, family, retirement … I could start with a quote from Doctor Who about how we’re all just stories in the end:

“We’re all stories in the end. Just make it a good one, eh?”

I could just wing it. Thinking about this has brought up all these little details of my life with him. Reminded me that when I was a kid I was kind of scared of him. How he was really the first bully in my life. That’s not really the kind of thing you mention in a eulogy, though, is it?

It’s not like he’ll be there to hear it. The people that will be there will be family and friends. And it’s not a time for truth. It’s a time for comfort, sensitivity, and kindness.

“My dad was born June 13, 1938 to Katie and Harvey Lane. He has a younger sister, Peggy. He was a good man, loved his wife and kids, worked hard and always did his best.” And then he died.

It’s not exactly poetic.

“My earliest memories of my dad were being swung between his legs, climbing over his lap through the hole that forms when you cross your legs, and getting the leftovers from his lunchbox. My latest memories are, well … you’re in them, so you know.

“What’s kind of funny about this, is that on this occasion, my dad is the center of attention. We are all here for and because of him, and he’s not the type of guy that would have sought that out. I remember going to parties as a kid, my parents’ parties I mean, and finding that out of the way place to hang out and my dad eventually being there.

“At the time it was just a cool dad thing. I understand now, though, that he was most likely not comfortable among all the other people, something I can relate to. There are days, as I’m sure there are for some or most or a few of you, when I don’t want to see anyone I know. Conversations can feel forced no matter how close you are to someone.

“Maybe this isn’t such a bad party to be at for him, then, because no one’s going to try and talk to him.

“I don’t – I’m not really religious. Sorry, mom. But it’s just how I am now. I believe in truth and when I relax, when I have to just fall because there’s too much, I end up in a place where there aren’t big looming figures or rules or traditions. There’s the stuff that matters. Whose going to be okay, what can I do, how do I deal?

“So there’s no bitter denial here, no desperate grasping at chances and possibilities. I knew that my dad would die and it was never a question of if, just when and how. Things that we ultimately have no control over. One can easily say that ‘God’ determines that and I’d say basically the same thing, except I’d shrug my shoulders if you asked me to name the party responsible.

“What I haven’t been able to convince my mother of is how little it matters that I name names. There’s a great quote from The Big Bang Theory, I love it. My dad loved it, too, the show. After Seinfeld it was probably his next favorite sitcom. Well, in the first episode where the nerdy, awkward Sheldon meets the equally nerdy, awkard Amy Farrah-Fowler in a coffee shop, she says, ‘I don’t object to the concept of a deity, but I’m baffled by the notion of one that takes attendance.’

“My dad never said anything about my faith or beliefs, and I never brought up the subject. I’d like to think it didn’t matter to him, but I’m sure it did. Just not enough to debate or argue. If everything’s okay in the end, it’s okay.

“And it is. My dad was always going to die. No one wanted him to go the way he did, but the idea of an acceptable manner of death is kind of ridiculous.”

I don’t know what else to say. I like how that takes me through my beliefs and gives me the chance to denounce ‘God’ in his own house. (Take that!) But it gets a little rambly in the end.

Why not go completely selfish with it. Talk about whatever I want while I’ve got the audience to really enjoy it. Open the door on every topic. Turn it into a debate. A melee. Wreck some lives.

I could do it for Joseph. What would I want to say to him.

“I understand that this is supposed to be a eulogy and there’s traditional ways of doing that, but I’d like to do something else, if you all don’t mind. I’d like to talk to my son, Joseph. I won’t take long.

“Hi, Joe. (At this point hopefully he would respond somehow.) Everyone, this is Joe. (And he says something adorable.)

“When you were born, your Grandpa Bob was there. He wasn’t in the room, he was outside, waiting, worrying. Shortly after that, he left. My mom, your Grandma Dee Dee, said that he really wanted to be there for me if I needed him, and they came back the next day to meet you officially.

“I thought it was odd for him to do it that way; I really wanted him to meet you after you were born. I understand it, though. He wanted to be there for his son, and I’d probably do the same thing for you.

“And now Grandpa is gone. He got sick and didn’t get better. You might wonder where he is now or what has happened to him after he died. And I have to tell you: I don’t know.

“Nobody does. We have beliefs that give us answers, but none of it’s verifiable. It’s just comforting.

“You have to follow your truth and since you are just five years old and are still building that truth, I’ll give you a piece of mine: He’s okay.”

No, I don’t think that’s a winner either. Maybe a limerick:

“There once was a man named Bob.

Who did a Union Electric job.

He loved his wife and kids,

Made sure they never hit the skids.

And no one would call him a yob.”

There we go! Winner, winner; chicken dinner. I’m glad that’s settled.

Irritable

Feeling kind of irritable today. There could be several causes for this. It could be the energy drinks I’m seemingly addicted to. It could just be a byproduct of my current medication combination. It could be the severe opposition I have to being at work today. It could be that I don’t want to be doing anything. Or maybe the anxiety of being separated from my dog and watching him bark half the day and worrying that there’s going to be some issue with my apartment complex.

There he goes again. He could be barking at my neighbors coming and going. The woman downstairs has people in and out regularly, family, I think. She’s an older woman, nice. She dumps her leftover food in the yard, though, and while I applaud the compost. I don’t really enjoy walking around out there amid cooked potatoes, chicken bones, and old fruit salad. And I don’t want my dog eating it or my son seeing that.

The guy across the hall is blind, kind of. He’s not completely blind. I’ve met him and he can make out some shapes or something. He likes to play the drums and there are people around on different days from one of the local churches. When I was getting rid of my loveseat, at midnight, by ripping it apart on the deck, he came out to take his trash to the curb and just looked dumbfounded. I was too tired and worn out to do anything about it, but I wonder what he thought.

Now, below him is the interesting one. A woman lives there, blonde, always heavily made up and not well. Colors too vivid, eyeliner too dark. One might say her clothes are too tight and short, but that’s kind of judgemental. I think it’s safe to say –

I was interrupted before I could finish this post. I’ll pick it up somewhere down the road.

Leap Dog

I watch my dog on the Marty Cam. I bought a cheap little camera at Wal-mart over the weekend so that when I’m at work I can still keep an eye on him and feel close to him. He spends all of his time in his kennel either sleeping or barking. It might actually be bringing me more anxiety than relief, but hopefully with time he’ll be more calm.

This morning I was watching him and caught him using his water bottle. I’ve noticed a small puddle outside of his kennel and while the fact that he’s using it will help me narrow down why the puddle is forming, it also struck me that the appearance of him using it, this medium-sized, 40 lb. dog, made me think of a small rodent like a hamster in a cage, or of any type of creature nursing.

I do not have a hamster. I’ve never had one. The only time he really spends in his kennel is if no one at all is home. And it’s a nice setup. There’s a bed, toys, the water. And I have a blanket over the top of it to make it seem homey. I’m thinking of using a larger blanket to cover the sides, too. And I’ll throw something in there that smells like me, which should help calm him, and get him his own radio so he can listen to Magic 108 or something all day.

Y’know, I thought this was going somewhere interesting, but it’s really not. The idea of a hamster in a cage. Trapped animals, depending on the meager sustenance provided for our survival. Nursing on the teat of a false mother. Something cold. A placeholder. There’s lots of great ideas there, but it really just seems like bullshit.

Now this is a leap, but go with me – Trump is an idiot. But he’s not. I think he knows what he’s doing, but his goals are short-sighted. Thinking of the individual, instead of the whole. The now, instead of the later. That part’s tricky, though.

In Buddhism, and I believe in all things, all times, in all, that there is only this moment. And it touches on every moment. There is one and there is many. By that philosophy wouldn’t I try to satisfy my needs for the moment without concern for the future? Or is that the path of an idiot? Because you don’t live in the philosophy; you live in the life. And my life is going to be more moments than just this one.

I think what I’m trying to say with all of this is: Please don’t get us all killed, Mr. Trump. Have your fun, but try to leave something for the next guy, for the rest of us, for our kids and dogs. Because I want to go home later and take mine out of his kennel and have some fun and it’d be nice if we had a park to go to.

Clash of the Titans

When I picked up Joe yesterday he was in the office, rather than his classroom. Turns out that he had hit another kid, then kicked the clip chart, and tore a toy. I don’t know. I was looking forward to a nice night. Get him some MickeyD’s, go to a park, watch something … and introduce him to Marty. I even had cookies for him in the car.

It’s been like this for a few weeks. He’s just having a hard time with the summer. I think it’s a combination of things. He’s aware that he graduated, but he’s not in kindergarten yet. A group of younger kids joined the class, so he has a fresh audience of probably less well-behaved kids. The duration of his naps has been shortened because they won’t have naps in kindergarten. And then there’s his home life.

With me I feel like things are pretty good. I hold him accountable, he has consequences and incentives, I force him to be responsible for things. We could eat better and I’m always thinking about how I talk. How I say things. What messages I’m communicating that way.

He’s made comments here and there about his mom being mean. He told me last night that she had spanked him for climbing on some things in the garage. I’ve never seen her spank him or his brother so it makes me wonder. In trying to talk about what happened at school and get him to open up, I asked him who hits him. He wouldn’t answer me. I asked him several times, but he wouldn’t answer. I tried to get him to open up and he seemed evasive.

With a 5 year old it’s difficult to pin down a reason on this behavior. Maybe he just didn’t want to talk. Maybe he was thinking about space meatballs. He’s a kid. But it’s not the first time he’s said something or given me reason to be concerned, and I certainly know what I experienced when we were all together.

Aside from that and what happened at school and the limitations that put on our evening, it was a good night. Joseph reacted scared to Marty at first, because he’s an animal and he’s jumpy and excited, but I sat between them and helped them each get used to each other.

Marty is turning out to be the sweetest dog. He let Joseph lay on him and wrap him in a blanket … he was great with him. Joseph loves him, and Marty returns that affection, but he is obviously my dog. He follows me around, he wants to see me, etc. I’m good with that. I love that. I need Marty. And I think with time he’ll grow fonder and bond with Joseph. They just need time together.

There’s so many things happening at once in my life. There’s this wonderful, amazing little boy who is about to start kindergarten. There’s my relationship with his mom and her relationship with him that is a point of contention and still needs to be settled, legally for the most part. There’s my job, which is kind of difficult at the moment. There’s money issues. There’s my dad. There’s Amanda, this wonderful, sweet woman who I hope to be with for a long time.

And there’s me. At once the least and most important thing in the group. I’m hoping to get a new doctor and find a new balance on my medications so I can be less fearful of falling into some pit of despair in the future.

Hopefully Joseph has had a good day at school today and we can have more fun tonight. And hopefully I can get Marty to calm down during the day because I have this camera setup to watch him and he spends too much time barking loudly. And whining.

And my sister wants to go to Six Flags this weekend because I asked about coming in to visit. Which, I don’t know, I’m not getting a choice in the plans and I’m not sure if I can bring Marty or not. Ergh. They’re all going to have to accept that this dog is a part of our lives. And then meet my girlfriend.

I gotta get some things straightened out.