Conspiracy Theorist, Part 2

Having one of those “bizarre” conversations a couple of months ago, centered loosely around “theories,” a statement from a friend really hit me hard, but not quite hard enough to knock me off balance. The words had an impact, but it wasn’t a take-down. In fact, the conversation was initiated by them, which indicates to me, a subtle intrigue and fascination on their part in wanting to pursue an answer and initiating dialogue. Perhaps it was merely curiosity. I don’t recall bringing anything up, but I was happy to oblige.

“It must be difficult, and scary, believing everything is a lie.”

Whoa, whoa, whoa now… put on the breaks. Time out. I never proclaimed everything was a lie. That’s an absurdity. I explore the theories, nothing more. I enjoy looking into things most people would rather ignore or blatantly disregard.

To believe that absolutely everything is a lie, would be almost unbearable. I don’t think most people could properly function in life if they believed nothing was true, and everything was a lie. A hoax. A joke. We’d be in a constant state of anxiety and paranoia. Panic stricken. Fearful to start our day. I can’t, and won’t, live under those conditions. I refuse to be fearful and paranoid. Been there, done that. I prefer living, and not restricted to just being alive.

I do, however, have the right to be skeptical, just like everyone else. Being skeptical, leads to investigation. I enjoy exploring the questions. I enjoy the investigation, regardless of my determinations and findings, or lack thereof. 

We tell our children to question everything. “No matter what, you question everything. Don’t believe everything you see, and hear, and read in books and on the internet. Ask questions!”

However, once those days of childhood are over, and we reach a certain age, we no longer ask questions. We accept. We comply. We’re told, “It just is.”

Why? There has to be more than that…

Then life picks up the pace and we have to somehow keep up. Scurrying frantically through the endless maze looking for an exit, or a small prize along the path to satisfy some inner cravings. Priorities take precedence and we forget those things that once had our curiosity. Our sense of wonder disappears. Connection disappears. Thrust into the real world armed with only that which was presented and delivered to us along the way. We become zombified, calcified, dead-eyed, and terrified to make a mistake.

I have truly made my fair share of intense mistakes. As if the world and everyone around me was conspiring against me.

One of those mistakes was attending higher education when I should have considered the plethora of alternatives instead.

My first stint in higher education was, English Literature: Shakespeare, Beowulf, the classics, and creative writing intermixed within the criteria. I thoroughly enjoyed that component of college. I had fun. Mathematics, however, has never been friendly to me, but it was mandatory for college success.

Why?

OK… let’s give it a try. How difficult can it be?

I was forced to take, (some specific level of) Algebra. The concept of unwillingly participating in math classes, to receive a degree in literature, boggled my mind. I wanted to write fun stuff and seek out my creative side, utilizing history, sociology, art and basic psychology as backbones and templates for my aspiring writing goals–not designing complex graphs, and breaking down complicated equations to calculate estimates. But it was mandatory.

I understand our chemists, scientists of varying degrees, biologists, physicists, and theorists require high level mathematics to do their work, but it has never applied to me. Being forced to participate in an activity, that has no meaning to me, doesn’t make sense. If it doesn’t make sense, I have to explore the why.

I’ve had to use remedial math and basic measurement fractions when I worked in the steel industry, and those few retail jobs in between other retail jobs, but the mathematical “stuff” that was being taught at my university, never made any sense. None-what-so-ever. And to top it all off, the instructor couldn’t help me make sense of what I was attempting to learn. And as much as I hate to say it, there’s a specific reason for that distinctive outcome. Math isn’t meant for me. I ponder why math is a language I can’t process.

My questions are always focused on one word: why?

“Why is it this way, Mr. Smith? I don’t understand how the conclusion was determined and why the formula has ‘this’ specific outcome. The end result points toward a rough estimate, not a definitive. Why?”

“It just is.”

In order to get through this, you have to accept those things that don’t make a lick of sense. I see how it is… just go with the flow and ride the wave. It’ll be over before you know it. Just muscle through, and don’t ask questions cause you’ll look the fool.

Shouldn’t we be asking questions though regardless of their absurdity? Isn’t that the human mentality? We ask questions, to broaden our horizons and become more educated. Shouldn’t we strive towards making it all make sense and applicable? I don’t understand…

“It just is,” isn’t good enough anymore.

I believe what it all boils down to is personal preferences. I enjoy challenging my own perspective based preconceived notions based on what was provided to me when I was thrust into the real world.

For instance (only an example): I understand millions of individuals from all over Earth believe in the existence of the Loch Ness Monster, even though they have never been there or caught a glimpse of the elusive creature first hand. Many claim to have actually seen ‘ol’ Nessie themselves, up-close and personal. They’ve witnessed the ripples, and the humps and breaches, and snapped blurry and grainy photos, and wrote stories and articles based on their discoveries. 

That doesn’t necessarily conclude I should, by default, therefore believe in the Loch Ness Monster. Instead, I believe, that they believe. Regardless of the mass consensus, I don’t have to believe. Perhaps I’d truly believe it if I saw it first hand and could be convinced what I was seeing was in actuality an ancient sea dragon. Until that time comes, I’ll just continue to believe that people believe.

And I leave it at that. People can believe (in) whatever they want. I can believe (in) whatever I want. 

Each personal journey of self-discovery is diverse, exclusive, and unique. My rabbit hole adventures and the exploration of my interests and fascinations have taken me to some places which have challenged how I think, dream, rationalize and how I conceptualize my reality. My reality is different from everyone else, and I have to live and experience it in my own way unhindered. I am merely an individual walking my path toward parts unknown, within the confines of my provided reality.

Reality however, is never easy. 

Sometimes, the world feels as though it’s conspiring against us.

At one point along the journey my reality included a sub-conscious conjuration of an imaginary fictitious illusion formed from an immediate need, as a coping mechanism, which manifested randomly as an old man wearing a superhero tee-shirt, at the most inopportune and stressful of moments.

Joe was my biggest question. Why is he here? Why does he exist? Why, why, why? I needed answers to impossible questions. The types of questions that don’t seem to have answers, no matter how far down you dig and how much time is invested in research. Do we keep digging and seeking answers regardless, or do we give up…

*** 

Joe showed up unexpectedly at Nancy’s side that afternoon and issued a statement to me. He had become that nagging, irritating little voice in my mind always hovering over my shoulder, and whispering things I didn’t want to hear. Like having an angry conversation in your head with someone you despise. You can see their face as clear as day and hear the venomous hate in their voice as though they were right there in the room with you. Joseph Everette twisted, warped, bent, distorted, and manipulated my reality to the point of no return. I haven’t been the same since. 

He stood over her sleeping body with his hands on his hips. He sighed through his nostrils, and then pointed to me with a shaking finger. “If you don’t do something about all this, right now, today, this moment, you’re going to go right out of your fucking mind.”

It took me three days of silence and thinking, watching Nancy’s every move, responding to her every need, sitting cross-legged at her side always at arm’s length and remembering those chaotic inner voice conversations, to finally figure it all out.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or feel free to follow me on Twitter@jeremymorang. Please give this a like if you like it, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Conspiracy Theorist

This might be one of those installments which could easily lump me into a specific category, and I’ve come to accept that. At this point, perhaps I welcome it? Not really sure to be honest… I really don’t care either way. That’s the beauty of self-awareness.

Those who truly know me, know who I am through and through, and that’s all I really need. If folks want to pass unwarranted judgement and smack a label of sorts on me, I understand. No big deal. Do what you have to do. I’m comfortable.

Engaging in my hobbies has led me down some wild paths. Dark paths. Strange, out of the ordinary, often scary paths. Goose-bump inducing, heebee-jeebee, full body shiver, crazy, sometimes yucky paths. Uncomfortable paths. I won’t say one way or another how these recent years and personal quests of seeking, discovering and searching have changed me as a person, but I do spend quite a chunk of my life researching and exploring.

Wanting to become a story-teller, and practicing the craft of writing, takes an individual down a few rabbit holes; mostly by accident. Some are on purpose, I will admit, not everything is stumbled upon. However, climbing up and out of that strange place, is a challenge. The rabbit hole is a part of me now. That realm of “conspiracy theories”, the unknown, the unorthodox philosophies and topics that go against the grain.

Some may say, “that’s weird. Why go down that hole? Why invest valuable time and energy involving yourself in something that won’t benefit you? What purpose does it serve?”

Who’s to say it doesn’t benefit me?

They might scream, “You need to get out of there!” They might unfriend you or block you on social media. They might whisper to a mutual friend in the group, “You shouldn’t associate with ‘that’ person anymore. They’re going off the deep end.”

They might talk about you behind your back. They’ll refuse to engage in conversation. They may become aggressive, angry, and frustrated. They lump you into a category and smack a label on you.

Hey… that’s cool my peeps. Lump away. I know who I am at my core. I can’t allow the things I read, research, and listen on podcasts, channels of diverse content creators, and YouTube documentary channels and the things I find fascinating and interesting, define who I am as a person. Will those research expeditions affect me in some fashion positively or negatively along the way? Perhaps. I’ll cross those bridges when I get to them. Will it define me?

No.

However, it’s not for everyone.

It takes a strong will, at first, but then it becomes easier. At least it was for me. An instantaneous magnetic pull. I never asked to be dragged in there. It just happened. Six years ago while browsing the web looking for the answer to a random question I had on my mind.

I’m not the sort of person who will approach a friend or family member after a few weeks of silence and busy work schedules and immediately say, “Hey… did you hear about ‘this’ crazy new thing? I’ve been looking into it a lot, and it’s pretty wild. Here’s a couple of links if you want to check it out.”

We’ll still have the same conversations we would normally have. However… if someone asks my stance or opinion of something specific that exists down that diverse rabbit hole… I’m all over it. I can talk for hours. Hours and hours and hours.

I just choose not to talk about it, any of it, unless I’m asked.

I was cornered recently by a co-worker during a lunch meeting and a topic was brought up out of the blue. I was asked if I was following a specific story on the news and I said, “Yes.” Then the questions started flying around the table and I was asked to explain the situation from the perspective of the rabbit hole. The group needed to understand the other side of the fence in order to follow the squabble. Because I sit on that fence comfortably and observe both sides equally, sometimes I’m the one asked to explain the alternate side and the varying points of view.

When engaging in that kind of dialogue with people who have never heard the alternate side, I have to maintain a certain construct to describe what needs to be conveyed, because one question always leads into another more difficult question.

“One group believes “X”. The other group believes “Z”. The few miscellaneous folks floating around in the middle, believe “Y”.

“The “Y” group will say one thing, and the “Z” group will refuse to acknowledge “Y’s” position and then “X” posits the idea…” (or whatever the case may be)

But I never say, “I”. “I” believe in “X, Y, or Z”. I’ll just explain the scenario(s) the best I can, through the viewpoints of the individual groups, and then let the questions fly and try to keep the conversations alive. I’m by no means an expert on anything, far from it, but I make sure I “try” to understand the dynamics of both sides the best I can before engaging in any conversations that describe the alternate side of the fence. That uncomfortable side.

I exist in the realm of, “what if?”

What does this have to do with anything?

Good question.

I ponder sometimes what would have happened if I wasn’t around in her life back then, as Nancy’s issued caretaker. I think about it often. I’ve been told on more than one occasion there was a good chance she may not have made it. She didn’t really have anyone who could have been there, to help her get through it all. She would have had to fight the battle alone. What if she was alone?

If you care to believe in the opposite of my musings, that’s fine and dandy. I’ll never tell anyone what they should believe, or reject, but a small piece of me feels as though we came together, and found each other, at exactly the right moment within our broken paradigms. To sound completely cliche, and commence eye rolling right now, “it was meant to be.”

No one believes in that bullshit.

If it was meant to be then it all happened for a reason. If it happened for a reason, then it wasn’t accidental, and coincidental happenstance. That leads me down the path of exploration to: everything happens for a reason. I can’t help but go that route.

If everything happens for a reason, then I feel compelled to investigate. What I’m shown and exposed to in my everyday world, just isn’t good enough for me anymore.

And other than the few shows I watch on Hulu, while taking a break from writing science fiction and fantasy projects and engaging in a few video games with some close friends, that’s what I do. That’s my entertainment. My TV. I investigate what’s down the rabbit hole. I research the alternate side. I enjoy exploring that which is deemed impossible and crazy. If that lumps me into a category, then so be it.

If everything happens for a reason, which I’ve come to adopt, that also includes the bad and the negative. There has to be a balance in life. Sometimes the bad is compounded exponentially and slowly builds an overwhelming pressure to a potential overload. Always at the cusp of a breaking point, but never truly ready to cross the line. Walking up to the threshold of madness.

***

I was finally able to bring Nancy home from the hospital.

I had to drive 25 miles an hour all the way to our house and creep slowly over the ruts and potholes so as not to tear her stitching. I had rearranged the entire downstairs living room and kitchen to accommodate her needs. It was easily five minutes of exiting the car, and shuffling across the driveway to get inside.

Our living room is small, but she had the couch. The mattress was too low to the floor for her to be comfortable. The couch was the perfect height.

On a small mattress on the floor beside her, is where I slept. The mutt rested comfortably at my feet.

It was almost twenty days living downstairs before we attempted the second floor. We’d exercise on the porch outside, weather permitting, when the cabin fever settled in.

The moment I assisted her into a place of comfort, I dropped her medicine bottles across the surface of a TV tray. I stood over the couch, waiting for her exhaustion to take over. She slipped into snoring sleep shortly thereafter. Day one of the new journey.

Her eyes shifted back and forth under closed lids, and from out of nowhere, with a tap on the shoulder, my good buddy Joe returned.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or feel free to follow me on Twitter @jeremymorang. Please give this a like if you like it, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons

“Each and every lesson learned through my life, has been learned the hard way.” -JSM-

 

The “phoenix rising” metaphor is overly used, and way too cliche. The example may fit the bill for a lot of people in a lot of cases, but I hate using it. It’s almost cringe worthy. As most of us already know, a series of catastrophes and personal tragedies through life potentially have the power to mold us into something we never expect, or break us beyond recognition. Our tragedies and overwhelming struggles define who we are, and what we become.

My raging storms, tragedies, and personal struggles ultimately transformed me into an emotionless vessel of priority and order. A manipulator of chaos. It was both a blessing and a curse.

During my divorce proceedings I only shed tears one time, for roughly three minutes (give or take). In the shower, after the water turned cold, I stood there with both hands pressed into my face and allowed the tears to fall for a time. I gave myself one moment and one moment only. Who knows… maybe I was sobbing cause the hot water was gone. Yeah… let’s go with that.

During that brief moment I whispered into my palms, said what I had to say to whoever was listening, took breaks to catch my breath, and purged incremental rounds of continued emotion until I believed it was finally over.

Then I flipped the switch to robot mode, buried those emotions as far down as I could push them, and life moved forward. I had to. I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I haven’t cried since 2011.

One difficult afternoon a couple years ago I said goodbye to the mutt, speaking my love to her, scratching her ears and nose while the drugs slithered through her veins to stop her heart, and I never cried. Even placing her in the ground with her favorite bone, chew toy, and blanket, sprinkling a handful of fresh earth over her corpse, I was as calm as a cucumber.

Nancy’s pain, death of loved ones, funerals, receiving crushing devastating news, jumping through bankruptcy hoops, attending four court hearings for unpaid debt knowing I was facing warriors much stronger than I, continuing mounting bad news, epic medical situations, betrayal, piling stress… sleepless nights… disconnection… lethargy… borderline catatonic…

Big deal. Your crap is no different than anyone else’s crap.

You’re absolutely right.

Why even bring it up?

Why not?

I believed by switching that emotional lever in my mind to the off position, I was able to survive my tragedies. My lack of emotions created a force field, and shields were always up. I had to attack the obstacles thrown with logic and reasoning. Applying deduction, and breaking details down into minutiae. Even delving into the metaphysical when needed. Life became a chess game. Timing was always essential. Routine and management was absolutely necessary and thinking about each and every angle was paramount.

Robotic.

I couldn’t laugh. I couldn’t cry. I could barely smile. Eyes always moving, wide open and shifting, darting all around and watching my environment. Analyzing and scrutinizing everything.

Of course… it’s all different now, but it took a long time of life lessons to get there.

Those lessons helped me be more prepared, mentally. Over a short time I developed the thickest of skin. When formulating and developing the mentality of, “anything bad can happen, at anytime, and you must be prepared for the worst case scenarios at any given moment…”

Life will indeed take on a whole new meaning.

Sleeping with one eye open. Hearing every noise. Listening intently to the random swarms of butterflies flapping around in the stomach. On the cusp of paranoia, but not to the point of watching the neighbors through the windows with binoculars. Driving the same series of roads every day and maintaining a specific route. Trusting only those few folks you truly trust with absolute certainty, and conversations with everyone else is all surface dialogue.

That was my universe for almost three years.

I wasn’t incapable of love, just the ranging emotions that accompany love.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself, but I’m veering off onto a side path for a moment.

When filing for bankruptcy, all the noise stops. The harassing calls. The angry messages. The piling unopened mail on the end of the counter. The threatening emails and cryptic text messages. It all vanishes. Absolute quiet. Serenity. I remember receiving bill collector calls almost every five minutes. At ten at night, sometimes eleven. Sunday’s. Holidays. Relentless pursuits of my money.

File for bankruptcy? It all goes away.

It has it’s obvious drawbacks, but once approved and the process is complete… life changes.

For me, it changed for the better. Quite possibly one of the greatest things I’ve ever decided on. A struggle in it’s own right, but a fight worth fighting.

No loans, no credit cards, no leases or contracts, no mortgage, little ties to the Old Life, zero debt. I didn’t have much, so essentially I was starting over clean slate. All I had to worry about was a student loan nagging me and threatening to garnish wages.

I made arrangements with their loan department for a monthly payment I can afford. They continue to intercept my tax return as well, and I see the monthly deductions from my account without fail.

Three years later, in 2018, I receive a notice in the mail, on October 30th.

A second student loan has gone to collections. A loan I thought was was being paid. A debt I was unaware of. I “believed” the arrangements made with the loan department three years earlier had settled the matter.

Nope. Not the case.

I quite literally almost lost my mind. The verge of tears.

I take full responsibility and blame no one but myself. I never asked questions. I never dug deeper and looked into the details. I never asked the loan department, three years ago, if I had any other outstanding debt with them or anyone else in the network of student funding, and if so, let’s take care of it pronto. Apparently, the re-payment arrangement was made for one debt. Not all of them.

I never did what I should have done.

I want to pay my debts. I don’t want to owe anyone anything. Some things are apparently unavoidable. I’m a victim of my own ignorance. I wasn’t prepared.

The thing that pisses me off is the fact I never received any correspondence from the entity seeking payment. No bill in the mail. No email. No phone calls. Nothing but a paper notification one evening after work, stating the debt is now in collections.

What’s that all about? I mean… really? Out of the blue it arrives in my mailbox from nowhere.

I was so furious I couldn’t communicate with them. I hung up when the agent on the other end started asking questions about my utility costs and what I pay a month for electricity, food and recreation.

Nope. I don’t have the ability or time to discuss that with you right now, “Bruce.”

The moral to all that is, I was never prepared for the blindside. It caught me completely off guard and I almost freaked out and lost my faculties. I hate being caught off guard. I once vowed to always have my guard up.

When I brought Nancy home from the hospital, I made a promise. I promised to think only of her, and getting over this new hurdle. If we can do this, we can do anything. Together we’ll find strength through struggle. I had to prepare. I had to be ready. One little oversight can lead to catastrophic failure and the domino effect from that failure will land on my shoulders and I’ll be held responsible.

Time to robot up.

Realistically, we can never be fully prepared for what the world throws at us. We can only hope to be prepared, believe we’re prepared, and do the best with what we have.

Nothing could prepare me for what was yet to come.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or feel free to follow me on Twitter @jeremymorang. Please give this a like if you like it, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vengence

“Don’t ask me what I believe. I’ll just tell you what I don’t believe.” -JSM-

 

I didn’t really hit a doctor with a chair.

That would have made me a monster.

I wanted to. My mind went there. For a fraction of time I tapped into that primitive side of me.

Eyes bugging from the sockets I scanned the room searching for the closest object with which to do the most immediate damage, and I truly wanted to exact some kind of vengeance, but come on now… I’m not that kind of person.

The logical, rational part of the brain kicks in a half a second later.

Instead of smashing the doctor’s face and having him join in all the suffrage, I hung my head, stared at the floor, and tried to breathe normally.

And allow her sleep.

She was unconscious for roughly three more hours.

I felt like life was beating us down. We couldn’t get ahead. We were happy with our current paradigm but the world was winning again. We couldn’t seem to catch a break. We couldn’t make lemonade from the lemons.

The next string of words that came from her mouth later that afternoon, changed me forever. The kind of gut punch that’s felt for all of eternity. The sentence was uttered twice to me over the next five or so months, and the moment she was able to speak, she slowly turned her head, licked her lips, looked me dead in the eyes and whispered, “You don’t deserve this.”

I couldn’t move.

I was at her side, paralyzed in the chair, dumbfounded and silent.

All those ugly little demons of self preservation hiding within the deep recesses of my brain swarmed the space around me. They crawled onto my shoulders, clamped their invisible claws into my skin and the disembodied voices of Joe, and all my imaginary friends conjured up over the past year whispered in both my ears, then screamed at each other like madmen, and my mind went to war with itself.

She accidentally opened a door, and I was inundated with negative power.

“She’s right. You don’t deserve this. With everything you’ve…”

“Shut up! You know you love her.”

She doesn’t deserve this! It has nothing to do with you.”

“What do you deserve?”

“She really cares about…”

“… you didn’t ask for this.”

“Take some advice for once. She’s telling you to leave. To end this. You have her blessing.”

“Coward.”

“It will be difficult, but we can get through it.”

“Can we?”

“Why!? Why is this happening!?”

“You know what you have to do.”

“You were never going anywhere, you fool. This is just the next phase of the journey.”

I might have blanked out for a minute or two when her eyes shut again. She spoke the words to me and I never replied. Then her lids fluttered closed.

I couldn’t tear my stare from the wall beside her bed.

It was by and large the most selfless thing I have ever heard spoken to me by another human being. Especially considering she had been torn open from throat to navel, breastbone broken, insides moved around, and then stitched back together with surgical wire.

I didn’t feel worthy of her presence.

She never said, “Thank you for being here for me.” Or, “I’m so glad you’re here, can I have a hug?” Or, “Help me sit up.” Or, “I’m thirsty.” Or, “It hurts.” Or anything that resembles “normal” everyday dialogue after undergoing major surgery.

She could have said a thousand different things. But through it all, she remained her true self.

“I” believed, that “she” truly believed, “I” didn’t deserve all this heartache, struggle, and pain.

And the difficulties to come.

She wanted me to live my life. Free from those hardships. She was sincere in her statement.

And it literally blew me away.

Regardless of her philosophies on the matter, I internally stuffed away all the dark shadows and taunting demons. I buried all the whispering evil voices back into the deep dark void accompanied by all the other negative energy, and I then knew what I had to do.

I had to help bring her back to life.

When she opened her eyes again, I grabbed her fingers and whispered, “This will be a cake walk. baby. We got this. Do you believe that? I believe that.”

She nods.

“I’m gonna go talk to work and tell them my plan. Then I’ll move things around downstairs, take care of the mutt, and then I’ll be back. You keep resting. If I’m not here, I won’t be far.”

She nods again.

“I’m not going anywhere. You’re stuck with me, and I’m going to help make you better.”

“I know.” She whispered.

We’d get our vengeance on this cruel world, by winning this battle, and the battles unforeseen along the way.

I closed the hospital room door, and the next five months are a disjointed blur.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or feel free to follow me on Twitter @jeremymorang. Please give this a like if you like it, share with others, or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Rage

The ride to the the hospital the following morning was a brief trip of silence. I drove with a white knuckle grip, lost in my thoughts, and she sat in the passenger seat sending text messages to her friends, family, and co-workers to fill them in on the details of her day surgery.

We were both in semi good spirits and came to a realization the night before, while packing her day bag, that this hurdle was a necessity. It’ll be over and better before we know it. Just something we have to get through. Just like any other hurdle in life. Jump over it and keep on moving forward.

Her biggest complaint was not being able to eat anything the night before. God love her.

My mistake was not asking more questions.

Always ask questions. Dig for information. Read the fine print. Read, research. Question everything. Absolutely everything. Take nothing at face value. Burrow under the surface. With the right information, we can be better prepared. Preparation is everything.

Regardless of my mistake, we entered the hospital and made our way to the designated room.

The drugs were taking effect after a short time, and she was feeling giddy and light headed. She relaxed into her chair, licking drool, eyes rolling around, giggling at nothing, and I could tell it was almost time and that’s when the nurse approached us and said, “OK… we’re ready now.”

I kissed the top of her hand and watched the nurse wheel her away through the double doors. A moment later a second nurse came up to me and said, “Nancy asked me to text you from her phone when it’s over. Is that OK?”

“Of course.”

“She’s in good hands. It’s a fairly quick procedure and shouldn’t take too long. I’ll text you when she’s in recovery.”

“Sounds good.”

I left the hospital and immediately went to my place of employment.

Concentration was impossible. Focus was all but gone. I couldn’t think. I paced throughout my office. The words and numbers on the computer screen transformed to foreign languages I couldn’t understand. Co-workers tried to make conversation and all I could hear was gibberish.

After a few maddening hours trapped in my mind, I received a text message.

“It’s all done. She’s in recovery. This is what we removed.”

The message was accompanied with a picture.

(I was going to dig up the old photo from her phone and attach it to this post, but to this day it makes me squeamish. I decided not to include it.)

The picture showed the removed mass cradled in two cupped, Latex gloved hands. Under the extraction, I could see the bloody tools and scalpels, and wadded up blood crusted gauze on a silver tray. The tumor was the size of a softball, dark crimson, and streaked with black lines.

I couldn’t believe something that large was wedged and growing inside someone that small.

I almost lost what little I had eaten for lunch.

Feeling a little overwhelmed and off balance, I bolted for the car and sped back to the hospital.

After I checked in with the receptionist and found her location, I hurried down the hall to her room. Staff was entering and exiting with clipboards, whispering to each other in their own secret codes, and the doctor we consulted with the day before was sitting on a wheeled stool at the foot of her bed, making notations on a tablet.

I couldn’t breathe. I felt as if I was teleported elsewhere. I was in someone else’s reality looking through the eyes of another.

This is all a bad dream. This isn’t happening.

Oh, yes, it’s happening. The question now, is what to do about it.

She was partially reclined and unconscious. A thick plastic tube was stuffed in her mouth and taped off at the corners to keep it secure. A see-through plastic accordion device sat on the floor under her bed pumping blood through hoses and beeping machinery. She was connected to the wall behind her with wires and small digital contraptions and displays, and the room was a cold, dark tomb. Her hospital gown was partially opened in the front and a long white bandage was taped to her breastbone; starting at her throat, and disappearing under the blankets which were folded down neatly and perfectly across her stomach.

The doctor stood up and approached me. “The good news is that we didn’t find any cancer in, or around the tumor.”

My face reddened and my legs weakened. I lowered my voice. “What’s the bad news?”

He snatched up a clipboard and half smiled. “No bad news. The procedure was a complete success.”

Feeling on the verge of fainting, looking at her from the corner of my eye, I asked, “What’s the recovery time?”

“It varies. She won’t be able to climb stairs for at least a month, possibly six weeks to be certain.”

Our bedroom is upstairs.

“She can drive a car again, to be safe, eight weeks, but keep it local. The bandage will need to be changed often, probably every few hours to help fight any potential infections. Infections can lead to fevers and if her temperature climbs anything over 99 degrees, she’ll need to be brought in right away. She’ll need to have her temperature taken every hour.”

Keep going, doc.

“This is her pillow.” He places a thin white pillow over her feet. “During the healing process she’ll have a natural instinct to cough. If she coughs, or feels like coughing, put this over her chest and tell her to gently hug it.”

You’re not done yet. Give me more.

“For the first couple of weeks she’ll probably need help getting to the bathroom. She’ll be sleeping a lot. Simple tasks will be difficult and she’ll need assistance. We’ll provide ointments, prescribe the medicines, pain killers, and all the materials needed to make the healing process as quick as possible for when you bring her home. We’d like to keep her here for a few days and monitor. You can visit any time you want and if you want to stay the night, we’ll make you a spot.”

“See, doc? There’s always bad news.”

My vision tunneled and the room stretched out. The nurse in the far corner seemed a mile away and I had to blink through the disorientation and lean against the closet.

“Are you OK?” The doctor asked.

My eyes opened wide. I was morphing into something I always try and suppress. Bringing the internal darkness to the surface is always dangerous and I fought the impending violence festering in my head. A fight I felt I was bound to lose.

“No. Not really. I’m fucking far from OK.”

Something clicked in my mind. I was watching a scene unfold that I couldn’t control.

I reached to the floor, grabbed the silver stool’s leg, and swung the lightweight chair at his face with all my strength.

It was bound to break something.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Tension

The cough intensified as the days wore on.

Deep and rattling. At times, uncontrollable.

As if she was surrounded by an evil entity, squeezing all the air from her lungs. It literally came from nowhere. All was fine… until the cough magically appeared.

Nancy’s one tough lady, but this was knocking her down. All I could do was offer my support and retrieve from the store what she needed to fight it. What I was able to provide, didn’t seem to help.

She eventually paid a visit to her doctor.

This may rub some folks the wrong way, but I don’t look fondly at western medicine. I used to, once, in the Old Life, but not anymore. I have my reasons, and experiencing Nancy’s next few hurdles, solidified my position and stance on the matter.

Her doctor prescribed her a nebulizer with an inhaling mist, and told her she had bronchitis.

It wasn’t bronchitis. But we wouldn’t know that for another week or so.

I wish they could get their diagnosis accurate the first time around.

She’d draw the mist into her lungs and cough until she was purple in the face. Hands clutching her chest. Deep breathing and wheezing in between the moments of doubling over in obvious pain. I was helpless watching her go through it all.

“What can I do? What can I get you?”

“Nothing.” She’d reply. “I just have to get through it.”

We dealt with that for almost a week.

It takes a catastrophe to keep her from work. When she started calling in to her job, and taking extended time off, was when I knew we had a more serious problem than a case of bronchitis. She made the decision to re-connect with her doctor.

I was told over the phone she’d fill me in when she returned.

I stood at the kitchen window and listened to the water fill the sink. I scooped up a pile of plates and lowered them into the suds, keeping my attention on the flock of crows gathered on the neighbor’s roof, and cursed out loud when the water spilled over the edge and splashed across my feet. Something didn’t feel right. The hairs on my neck stood up and the room felt smaller.

I was losing focus and concentration.

Something was about to happen. I could sense it. That bubble which once surrounded me for protection was starting to reappear.

I paced the room feeling anxiety racing under my skin as the dishes sat in the sink unattended.

I told you something was coming. I told you the fight will soon be on your doorstep. You never listen to me. You need to prepare.

“For what?”

A war. 

“My wars are over.”

Sorry. You’re wrong. They’ve only just begun.

Five minutes later she called me and asked me to meet her at the doctors.

Typically I drive like an old man who can barely see over the steering wheel. I’m cautious of the law, speed limits, and all the rules of the road. I was lucky I didn’t get pulled over on the way to her.

I tore open the door and felt as if I was walking into a brightly lit tomb. We found each other and I was introduced to her primary care specialist.

He had the same Joker smile as my old buddy, Bill, from BizzaroTech.

Why are you so happy?  I thought, while shaking his hand. You’re about to tell us difficult news. Wipe that smug smirk from your face.

I watched the doctor pull out his file, slap an assortment of X-Rays on the wall, and flipped on the light. “I’ll just get right to it.” He said, and pointed to his breast bone. “We did a series of tests and took some X-Rays of the chest cavity and found something that demands immediate attention.” He approached the light and circled a location blocked out by a large dark mass. “Ordinarily, the human Thymus disappears and is replaced by fat after we reach puberty. Nancy’s never did.”

I swallowed hard and was waiting for the bomb to drop. “Inside her Thymus, is a growth. A tumor if you will, that needs to be removed.”

“Is this a quick and easy procedure?” I asked him.

“It does involve surgery. But in order for her to heal, it needs to come out.”

“How soon can she have this taken care of?”

“We can do it tomorrow.” He sat back down and scrawled notes on his papers.

“How rare is something like this?”

He glanced up to me over the rim of his glasses. “Very rare.”

I looked to her and she attempted a smile. I asked, “Do you want to do this tomorrow?”

She nodded.

Here it comes. I told you something was about to happen. You need to start listening more.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Silence Before the Scream

I stare at the horizon and the waves hit my shins. The receding water buries my feet in warm sand, and I’m finally at peace. My cluttered mind now at ease. A place I desperately wanted to call, home. Here, I can relax. “I’m not returning until I find answers.”

“You’ll leave when I tell you to leave.”

Then I was back. Back to the paradigm we call, reality. Torn from the fantasy world once again, and whisked against my will back to the land of the living through a swirling vortex of color and light.

When I snap out of it, it always takes a moment to re-calibrate. I have to find my footing and clear the webs from the noggin. I have to stop in my tracks, back up a few paces and remember what it is I’m fighting to forget. What is it I’m trying so hard to ignore?

I believe that’s all it really is on the grand scale. We cling to those negative past experiences and once they become the primary focus they slither deep into our souls. The roots find a home where they’re nurtured and watered daily, then they branch, weave, and spread out like a virus without a cure. Thick vines choking us out to the point where eventually the inability to breathe feels normal. No machete or chainsaw is strong enough to hack it all away.

We find comfort in escapism. We seek methods to mask the madness dwelling inside. Those coping mechanisms vary individual to individual, but we all have them.

Sometimes we walk the path of the light to escape, and sometimes we go dark.

For a brief moment in time, I went dark-silent-protected-contemplative-introvert-hermit.

No method of escapism was good enough. No matter what I drank, I couldn’t quench my thirst. My mind was racing 24-7 and my thoughts were erratic. I’d indulge in escapes I was accustomed to, but had a hunger I couldn’t feed. Because I couldn’t find answers where they didn’t exist, I decided to go to the source of the problem; instead of focusing on the results. I needed to dig for my answers and to this day, I still dig in the same holes from time to time. I could not longer exist on the surface of my personal issues in life, I needed to find the reasons to “why” I was having my experiences. There has to be more to it.

And it all derived from a central point. I know the source of the problem.

That problem is, me.

I used to carry a sledgehammer. A heavy tool to break down obstacles and obliterate impassible walls. Now I carry a shovel in it’s place. I traded one laborious tool for another, but today I dig, search, and look for personal discoveries that are applicable to me. Instead of smashing through the wall and moving on to the next, I try and figure out who built the wall, what it’s made of, why is it here? Why am I facing it? Why today?

Of course, no answer will be found, but through that search I believe I’ve come to be a better person then who I was in the Old Life. And to me, that’s all that really matters. I exchanged my negative experiences for positive ones. I transformed the bad, into something I like to think is, good. If not good, then better than what I was the day before.

Quite possibly the biggest hurdle thus far, the largest of the walls I’ve ever seen, was constructed in early summer of 2012. I couldn’t see the wall, until I was standing toe-to-toe with it. On the other side of the barrier I could hear the screaming of the enemy and all its minions and monsters. Mocking, taunting and yelling obscenities. Telling me to walk away. Instructing me to try the other paths instead. This one wasn’t for me.

I had to find a way to silence the screams. I couldn’t retreat. The path behind me wasn’t for me anymore. I had to keep moving forward. I had to continue to pursue something away from the darkness.

I needed to undertake a journey I wasn’t prepared for.

The journey involved a place between places. A location conjured in my mind. Somewhere I needed to reside temporarily, in order to get through it all. My little trips into the fantasy world were my coping mechanisms. My escapes. My methods to quell the madness. The subtle clues and hidden secrets were starting to appear in locations I didn’t expect. My subconscious mind took control and I gave in allowing it to take me elsewhere. I latched onto the snippets of information I was provided and I taught myself to put the pieces together accordingly, to create a scene I somehow needed to see, even if the picture was hazy and vague.

I had to make sense of it all. Why is this happening? Why me? Why us? What’s my bigger picture here?

I still don’t know. I’ve lumped it into the category of, “life happens.”

It’s what I do with the provided data, that makes the difference to me. I have to look for a potentially bigger picture, and continue to place the pieces. Transform the bad into something good.

Something that makes sense to me.

My brief time as a hermit, that dark path I walked before deciding it wasn’t for me, came to be an asset. I was able to latch onto that experience again and it guided me to where I needed to be. I didn’t want to relive that moment in time. I had to.

“You have to do what needs to be done.”

“What is it?”

To continue being honest, I still don’t know. I don’t know what needs to be done. All I know is what I can do and what I try and accomplish within my parameters. Nothing more, nothing less. To continue being myself.

If not for the journey, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. I dig who I am. I like me.

The wall was high and wide and I walked head first into it. It was invisible at first. Subtle, easily ignored, and overlooked. Maybe a lozenge would help. A little non drowsy medication before work. Go see the doctors when you’re ready, or it lasts longer than a week or becomes something that needs to be looked into.

It all started with a cough.

Thank you for reading and joining me on my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email or follow me on Twitter. Please give this a like if you like it, feel free to share with others or leave a comment if you wish. See you at the next one.

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