Neglect will be your downfall…
But you’ll never change.
Neglect will be your downfall…
But you’ll never change.
Perhaps this is just another one of my episodes exploding to the surface. The version of me that’s stayed locked away in the dungeon. Locked in by others. Locked in by judgement. My judgement. For better or worse.
You see, as a child I was told not to talk back. I developed the notion that if my mouth was smarter than my mind I would be in trouble faster than my feet could carry me. Instead of talking back, I talked very little. As a matter of fact I became a walking mat for many years dormant under the feet of those I felt I needed to respect. Right or wrong, I didn’t learn to confront. I learned to adapt and from that a social butterfly blossomed from the cocoon that could fit any group he wanted to be until he lost his identity. A chameleon of sorts. All sorts of colors and expressions of anything but his own.
In my opinion, it’s a shame that it took twenty five years, five hundred bottles of booze, thousands of bottles of beer, a mental breakdown, three medications, ten days, seven hours, forty-three seconds, and a partridge in a pear tree to figure out who I really am. I am comfortable in my canvas adorned with my story in art and metal but still adjusting to my mouth playing Jekyll and Hyde. Is it me or my daily cocktail of mental medication that controls what flies off of my tongue faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive, etcetera…
Am I funny or punny? Whitty or shitty as a person and a man for speaking my mind and telling you all how I feel? Honestly I can say that I truly have trouble telling the difference because this is so new to me. How often have you seen a doormat sprout legs and say “STEP OFF YOU OAF BECAUSE IT’S MY TURN NOW!”? No is such a powerful notion that when I set it in motion if never fails or falters to make me feel remorse… But it still feels good.
So good in fact that I keep on and on until I begin to feel nothing about what I’ve done until I really hurt someone. And then my tongue isn’t so tough anymore leaving me alone in my thoughts to sit in time out and think about what happened. Perhaps I should pierce it as punishment, like driving the stake through the heart of the mad man or monster behind the scenes of the obscene display that cries for attention. But is it really obscene or just the truth?
So my question to you is, where is the line? Am I wrong for finally taking a stand, defending myself, being my own, or being a jerk who needs to be slapped in the new found power that goes out of whack these days? Is it the meds or is it me because at this point, I don’t know what… Or who I am without them.
He awoke this morning in the usual way. With groggy eyes and shuffling feet he began his morning brew of black velvet and Reese’s peanut butter creamer. The dogs took their usual time during their morning business since they had nowhere to be, but with frozen arms and rosey cheeks he dragged them back into the warmth of the apartment. The only lights remaining on were the ones in the kitchen, allowing just enough light to see in the living room. The TV was soon turned on as he grabbed a fist full of his daily pills and choked them down. The hot coffee dissolved them quickly leaving an all too familiar bitter taste in his mouth. The weather man called for another cold one today despite deceitful daylight soon to emerge over the horizon. Realizing he was late, he quickly got dressed.
The medication has helped him tremendously in the previous months, and his attention span continued to improve with the newest addition to the cocktail. Who knew Welbutrin could help with focusing, or the lack thereof? As he rushed out of his car and into the plant, the cold wind gave a harsh slap to his freshly pierced lip. Although it had been over a week since he had it done, he was still learning to adjust with it when eating or fidgeting with his lip. The back plate of the labret was almost soothing to rub against his gums. “I believe I have a new nervous tick…”, he thought as he grabbed his work shirt from the rack by the door and listened to the morning huddle.
The morning progressed in the usual way on day shift. Product was created and packaged as carefully as possible as he facilitated the machines. Today however, his mind was clouded by a new book he began the day before. “Ready Player One” is a book about a teenager who is on a quest through videogames to inherit a vast fortune. The main character essentially carries on his life in a VR headset inside of a virtual world. Everyone is an avatar and life in the game is just as detailed as the real world. “If only we could all be so lucky…”, he muttered to himself as a machine began to malfunction. He continued to remind himself as much as possible that things weren’t so bad.
He was proud of himself that he was actually reading a book. It had been years since he could so much as focus on a book without reading the same line repeatedly. On top of that, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats released their new album today. He had been jamming to it most of the day while he diligently worked. This album was different from the previous ones. It was sort of like The Band meets Three Dog Night meets Ray Charles meets Sam Cooke. So many good sounds that reminded him of the music his parents listened to, yet with modern vocals and lyrics. There wasn’t a bad song on the album and he was excited for their concert in May.
Twelve hours flew by between music and the machines. Once he completed his long walk to the locker room, he threw his shirt into the bin for the uniform distributor to wash. He took a deep breath as his PPE took refuge in the confines of his locker. Another day was done. With a grateful heave of the door leading to the parking lot, he felt a sense of accomplishment. He realized he was exactly where he needed to be in life and was actually excited to meet the next day. The day was complete in the usual way.
I turned on the radio today and it reminded me of the past. In an instant my nose became filled with the smell of smoke and bourbon. Jim Croce began to play and I saw you with eyes closed, cradling your cigarette close to your lips as the wisps reached their demise in the ceiling fan. Your knee bouncing to the rhythm of the music. As the song ended, your thirst beckoned and you passed me your glass. “Get me some more ice son.”, you slurred with a smile. The music you grew up with became the music I grew up with. No matter our differences, that was a bond as smooth as the whisky we sipped in the dead of night.
The radio droned on as I snapped back to reality. The sound of the machines interuppted the memories as I looked down at my hands. I thought about how as a child I would draw pictures of myself growing up in your shoes. I would always boast that your rough hands were “man hands” and I couldn’t wait to brandish a pair just like yours when I got older. You taught me most everything I know, like changing oil in cars and water filters under the house. We fixed everything from my first car to Moms’ heart after Maw Maw passed. Your hands were cut by sheet metal as mine have been tempered in fiber glass. I clenched my fist bearing the butterfly tattoo we share and felt the course skin on my palm. My man hands came in nicely.
All it took was a radio station to bring back so many memories. All those years where you came home from out of town… I remember digging in your lunchbox wondering whether I would find a surprise from your travels. The tools I found during the dig were taken for granted such as ear plugs, safety glasses, and gloves. Little did I know then, that I would one day wear them all one day. I remember wondering if I made you proud… I was never good at sports but longed to be for your sake. Homeruns and touchdowns made proud fathers. If only I could do that, I could maybe hold your attention. If only I knew that music gave you the same satisfaction, I would’ve played years before. No amount of applause from a crowd could move me more than the tears of pride in your eyes.
I have watched you for over twenty-five years. Through ups and downs, joy and tragedy, triumph and failure, richer and poorer, you have never faltered. Even now from the wheelchair that eliviates the pain from those damn knees you wish would work again, you are still the man who made me a man. From watching you work diligently, love deeply, care endlessly, and fight for the family you desired for so long, I find that my feet fit the footprints you left behind almost perfectly. I love you Dad and please don’t ever forget that. No matter how old I am, I will still look up to you.
Bottle and the Beast…
Forever dancing with you.
Broken waltz charades…
So tattered and broken yet strong in their grip, these hands are more than they seem. Every day is anew to prove their worth, yet there are no judges… No contest… Just me.
I am my own man… A worker, lover, and fighter. Chasing dreams that stroll with his pursuit of happiness that flirts with the notion that I am nothing without passion and drive. I’m nothing without these hands.
Protectors in failures and falls they shield me from danger. Creators of crafted labor, so callused and weary from filling fathers’ boots… His hands looked were a lot like mine. Firm in their grip confirming loyalty and respect. Gentle to cradle the love at home.
Both tools and teachers. They move in commandment from the mind in order to teach the heart. Burned. Beaten. Scarred. Forever professing that all things will heal in time. Between love and desire they linger in all those sweet places the heart can only visits in dreams.
As builders, fighters, and mighty conquerors, they brave the storm day in and day out. I can never neglect or repay my debts to the hands that make this man whole.
A slogan that is popular amongst bumper stickers seen in various pet stores is one that poses the question, “Who rescued who?”. The bond we as people share with animals is a special type of relationship where we unconditionally love and care of our furry friends, and in some cases even treat them better than children. My wife Kimberly, has even made the statement in reference to our dog Cash that he is her child. Recently we made the decision to add another dog to our family and while in the moment it was a spontaneous decision, it has proved to be a great one.
On Sunday morning this past week, my wife took Cash for a walk around our apartment complex. Upon her return she seemed slightly disheartened in their walk. She explained that Cash had seen several dogs and children playing outside and had attempted to bark at them while hiding behind her. This is not unusual behavior for him, but it has become a slight problem over the past year or so because it makes it difficult to take him out in public. As a puppy he was extremely sociable and loved people and other dogs. However as he got older, he developed fears and anxieties seemingly out of nowhere. In the past we entertained the idea that he needed a friend with a young puppy named Lilly. The problem with their relationship was that she was so small, Cash thought that she was more of a toy than another dog and we had no choice but to relocate her to a new home for her safety. Our miniature Australian Shepherd became a lone wolf yet again with anxieties growing along with his stature.
Kimberly mentioned the notion that she wished that he was capable of having a friend that could help him break away from his fears. I couldn’t help but to agree with her after discovering the difference social interaction has made with my personal anxieties. In my mind, for him to have a companion around his size and age could be good for him because he would have no choice other than to learn how to interact with another dog while in the comfort of his own home. After discussing the situation and deciding that we were ready to look for a dog, we took Cash with us to PetSmart because a local shelter holds adoptions there every weekend.
When we entered the store, Cash held his usual disposition by hunkering down and hiding between our ankles. We put him in the shopping cart and wheeled him through the aisles to keep him comfortable and safe. Luckily we had arrived as the pen was being set up to house the available dogs for adoption and within around ten minutes the floor became vibrant with people and pups looking for their matches. We noticed a name tag with the name “Shadow” on it. It read that he was a terrier mix that was around ten months old with no other information on it. He was definitely one I wanted to meet due to the size and the age. I was surprised to watch him enter the pen due to his height. Before me, walked a tall and lanky white dog with brown spots. The face and features of a beagle yet the height and size just shy of a boxer. He trotted the perimeter of the pen, hurdling over the smaller breeds and began to receive affection from almost everyone he encountered. When he made his way to us, I asked immediately if he could meet our dog to see if they got along. They allowed us to take him to an empty aisle to interact.
Cash was reluctant to come out of the cart but kept his composure as his feet hit the ground. I was a little nervous as this new dog towered over him, and remained ready to intervene if the meeting took a turn for the worse. To our surprise, Shadow greeted Cash with curious sniffs and a wagging tail. Kimberly took their leashes and began to walk with them up and down the aisle as if modeling them. Astonishingly, Cash walked with this dog as if they had known one another for years. Side by side they walked through the entire back of the store like brothers would. I knelt down eye to eye with Shadow when they returned and held out my hand. He placed his head heavily yet gently in my palm while exhaling a long sigh that melted my heart. Shadow was a big, sweet baby who needed a friend as much as Cash did.
I let them know we were ready to adopt almost as quickly as I had asked for the visitation. Kimberly stayed with both dogs while I scurried in the shopping center for an ATM to pay the adoption fee. She had a talk with the faculty for the shelter in my absence and discovered that Shadow once had a brother who lived with him and his former owners. The owners had split up and surrendered their dogs as a result of their dispute. His brother had been adopted three weeks prior to his adoption, and had been depressed ever since.
I heard the explanation once we had finished the adoption process and were gathering essentials for our new comrade. I don’t feel that Cash fully understood that we were bringing Shadow home with us until we arrived at the local park after leaving PetSmart. Just like in the store, they walked together like two old souls catching up on things. We noticed that Shadow didn’t answer to his name very well so we decided to rename him, as he didn’t look like a Shadow to us. After much deliberation, we decided to go with the name Koda.
Over the past week, we have gotten used to a second dog living with us and it has gone way better than expected. We see Cash beginning to open up around others and play with Koda happily every day, while Koda is learning how we live and our basic ground rules. Today was the first visit at a new veterinarian for both of them and both dogs received a clean bill of health. They are up to date on their vaccines and were rewarded with a treat from Petco on the way home. Welcome to the family Koda! We hope to give you the best home we can!
The cold snap returns…
As temperatures drop again,
My heart retains warmth.
4 AM was always his longest hour. It seemed that the rest of the world was deep in a somber slumber while production continued. He walked outside to begin his journey to the breakroom on this unseasonably warm February morning. With eyes and feet like stone, he felt every heavy step along the way.
Once inside, he poured himself a cup of coffee to pull him through the rest of the shift. He left it black as the night sky outside of the broad windows. Between coffee and energy drinks, he felt as though caffeine pumped more so than oxygen in his bloodstream. The warm brew crept into his soul to provide enough energy for a heavy sigh. His eyes closed for a moment.
He thought of his bed and his wife who slept peacefully in it. The minor argument they shared earlier seemed so distant in his timeline. At least she would be there when he came home with a kiss and a smile to melt the woes of the night before. One of many blessings to be thankful for.
His opened his eyes at last. He lifted the cup to his lips and sipped it as smoothly as a drag from a cigarette. His lips had grown accustomed to the black velvet on his tongue as replacement to his beloved whisky. He looked into the white Styrofoam as if he were looking at a good friend and often wondered however which could kill him first.
The radio clicked abruptly, snapping him out of his momentary bliss. His rough and callused hands reached for the screeching speaker and his safety glasses. It was time to return to his machine and bring a new success into the matching day. With a deep breath and optimism for the rising sun, he was determined yet again.
Am I in a slump again? Perhaps another plateau in my medication? It really can’t be that complicated, as this morning I rose with the sun to face new challenges lying before me. I started out with my best foot forward on a positive note only to find myself buckling into my seat on the rollercoaster. Is this what “normal” people do?
Despite its’ title, Tuesday has been my Monday this week. 5:30 AM came in the usual fashion as I staggered into the kitchen to take the dog outside and start my first of several cups of coffee for the day. I put in my contacts after throwing on my dingy white tee shirt and work jeans before making my way to the plant. After four days off, it can be difficult to find the strength to carry out a twelve hour shift, but I try to keep a positive outlook and remain grateful for my job. Once at work I put on my personal protective equipment and took a deep breath before plunging into the work day. The gears within me began turning as I took each step to my work area. I felt stronger than my machinery and was determined that today would be great… Until the crash.
On my days off, I have a hard time thinking of topics to write about. Despite my posts about everyday life consisting of a journal style format, I have many ideas for poetry and original pieces but I prefer to write quality over quantity in that respect. I always have the best ideas at work for some reason and have been writing a lot on my lunch breaks lately. Today I had great thoughts. Rhythms, words, rhymes, and metaphors that made my heart race with adrenaline and emotion. I went to lunch as soon as I could to begin something great, only to have my thumbs vomit onto my phones’ keyboard. The words weren’t flowing right and the phrases had the rhythm of one of those creepy toy monkeys with the obnoxious cymbals. My beautiful writing became complete shit before my eyes.
Disappointed and out of time, I commenced the walk back to my area. Not before buying a couple of packs of Reese’s cups for the walk of course. Ever since I have stopped drinking liquor I have been hooked on peanut butter cups and coffee. However, even with the warm and sweet comfort dancing on my tastebuds, I slowly lingered into depression… Which soon became frustration with the challenges at work… Which became happiness again when talking with my coworkers and triggered sadness as I walked away from the conversation. What the hell was this? I had been completely fine and due to a minor setback, I became a wreck in the making. I have experienced this in the past before beginning my Buspirone but it had been awhile since my last episode, so perhaps it was just a rough day. After all, everyone has bad days.
I know I am overreacting about the entire thing but you have to understand how I used to handle things before beginning my medication. When I used to get upset or angry, it was never a simple act of just going on with life. I used to hold onto the anger all day and sometimes carry it into the next day. Now to feel everything within moments feels like I am several people all at once. Everyone is fighting to show through to the surface and it is up to me to mediate. It seems that with every time this happens, I handle it well but never fully understand if this is how this really feels or if it’s just a side effect.
So tomorrow is another day and I plan to grab the bull by the horns and hopefully keep my emotions from spiraling. This may just be the new and improved me that I learn to live with. Besides, every new edition has bugs to be fixed, right? I will keep you posted with an update, but for now I hope you are doing great.