The Game

“You think this is a game? My dear boy. Don’t you know in order to play a game, you have to know the rules. You don’t know the rules yet. You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing and don’t you forget that. All you know is you ‘think’ you know something, which is, and always will be, your greatest downfall. When we’re done playing this little game as you call it, I’ll have broken you. I will put you through an agony you couldn’t possibly fathom in your feeble little brain. You think you know suffering? I’m going to torment your mind. I’m going to force you to see things you will never erase from memory. Ever. You think this is a game? Fine, let the games begin. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have wished you’d never met me.” Joseph Everett

 

Macaroni, glue and paper. What a ridiculous project. Of all the things I could be doing with my precious time as an adult, here I was caught up in the dream realm, sitting by candlelight, doing my best to create a duck out of pasta. I couldn’t leave the refuge until I had done better than my best.

Joseph had blown out the candles along the table and allowed two to remain lit. Coloring with crayons was no longer an option. The lights stood to either side of my paper and I had to squint to see what I was doing. I was angry, embarrassed, and knowing I was in a dream I wanted nothing more than to wake from this nightmare.

I made sure to convey my feelings as often as possible.

I sighed. Rolled my eyes. Exhaled hard. Drummed my fingers along the table. Stood and stretched. Moved my neck around in circles.

The old man paced and wandered the room, hiding inside the shadows. Joe waited patiently for me to complete the task.

On the table he carelessly left his pocket knife wide open, within hands reach.

Just after the Old Life, and fairly recent into the new lifestyle, I had a dream. I know, I know… Don’t roll your eyes, it’s quick.

I had a fight with someone and I could barely see any facial features. I was straddling the chest, knees pressed down on either arm pinning the individual flat on the back, one hand tight around the throat while the opposite was raised above me clenched tight in a fist. Trying to punch this person in the face, my hand traveled to the flesh in ultra slow motion. Like I was pushing through a thick clear gel. I could feel my arm moving, but the connection was an eternity. I believe I awoke before making contact.

It was the same with the uncooked, short, hollow pasta. The elbow macaroni was placed on the paper with absolute focus and precision, yet the speed to get them adhered and adjusted was forever and an hour. In order to make the time move forward in a speed I desired, I had to be inches above the paper, the macaroni close by in a pile, and the squeeze bottle of glue had to be a permanent fixture to my hand. As long as I remained in the glow of the candles, time moved at a more steady rate.

Joseph’s face appeared in the light and the old codger was grinning ear to ear. His sudden appearance startled me and I dropped my short piece of pasta to the floor. Once the butterflies fluttered away, I snatched up another and applied a dab of glue; returning my attention to the project and ignored his intrusive presence.

I looked to him and his smile vanished. He didn’t expect my continued defiance. “You tell me not to act like a child, and you give me a childish project. What’s the point of all this?”

He hovered in the glow and I could tell he was now sitting in his chair. “Perhaps there is no point. Perhaps the moral of this exercise is to see if you’d actually participate. I gave you a ludicrous choice and forced you to pick one. The whole thing is absurd. The door is wide open, Jeremy. You can leave if you want to.”

I looked over my shoulder and the double doors were open wide and the moon was shining through the trees. The light from the sky glinted off the falling snow and I was subconsciously pulled to leave the building.

“Jere, the first step to completing any task is the courage and desire to want to try. How do you know if you’ll enjoy it, without trying?”

“When you force someone to choose, it’s no longer a choice. You lied and said I can’t leave until I choose. By not wanting to participate, doesn’t mean I made the wrong decision. I wanted to choose something else.”

“What would you have done, if I didn’t make you choose between the two?”

“I’d leave. At least that’s what I would try to do.”

“You keep coming here for a reason, Jeremy. Why?”

I have no idea. 

I placed another piece on the paper and situated the pasta perfectly. “I don’t know. I suppose you keep bringing me here for something. But I don’t know why. I got an idea, Joe. Why don’t you tell me why I’m here.”

“I can’t do that yet. You’ll just have to trust me.”

My hand flew across the table and I snatched the knife from the surface. Joe didn’t even flinch. Using the blade, I chiseled off a dried piece of macaroni, careful not to tear the paper, reapplied the glue and placed it back down at a different angle. I closed the knife and set it to the side.

“Before we continue this little dance, Jeremy, I have to tell you a few rules.”

“I don’t care about your rules, Joe. I think I’ve had enough of your little game.” I held up the finished product and despite the wavy curved features of the duck, I had completed the task assigned to the best of my ability.

Joe rose from his chair and the candles lit up bright across the table top. “You think this is a game? My dear boy. Don’t you know in order to play a game, you have to know the rules. You don’t know the rules yet. You know nothing. In fact, you know less than nothing and don’t you forget that. All you know is you ‘think’ you know something, which is, and always will be, your greatest downfall. When we’re done playing this little game as you call it, I’ll have broken you. I will put you through an agony you couldn’t possibly fathom in your feeble little brain. You think you know suffering? I’m going to torment your mind. I’m going to force you to see things you will never erase from memory. Ever. You think this is a game? Fine, let the games begin. By the time I’m finished with you, you’ll have wished you’d never met me.”

At the crack of dawn, I opened my eyes, and drew in a quick gasp of air. My blanket was pulled tight to my throat and my alarm was scheduled to go off in less than an hour. I squeezed my lids shut and try as I may, I was unable to return to the refuge that night. Despite that, the game continued as did the visits for another handful of months.

The dreams stopped altogether the night the refuge exploded and erupted into flames.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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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Small Potatoes

“Return to a time when life was simple. Kindergarten is a good place to start.” Joseph Everett

 

This endeavor, the Chronicles Project, began with one simple question. Actually, a series of questions. Below is an excerpt from my first installment.

“Have you ever had something happen so profound, so jaw dropping, mind blowing, eye opening or gut wrenching it stops you dead in your tracks? Something which seems yanked straight from the realm of the Twilight Zone or a seemingly alternate universe–and the moment it happens–the experience instantaneously transforms your entire thinking process?  Literally changes who you are?”

Those moments come in various forms, are completely interpretative, subjective, and geared solely to the individual experiencing it. At least this is what I believe. Some would say: a religious experience, or a spiritual awakening. An epiphany. A revelation. The after effects of cheating death. Bringing a new life into a chaotic world.

The second I held my newborn baby daughter, mere moments after weighing her, less than sixty seconds after cutting the cord, was a feeling that’s indescribable. Reality altering.

More feelings of purpose, love, joy and… an out of body experience. The mind races. The chest thumps. The blood rushes through the veins. A million thoughts scattered and swirling in the mind. Wanting to cry, but finding yourself giggling instead and still wiping tears. All the troubles of the day are washed away in that moment. The stuff that’s been weighing on the brain all day or all week, is vanishing and dissipating in the air around you as you stare at this brand new creation in your hands.

All the crazy hell that follows when becoming a new parent (or again for a second time. A third), is a discussion for another day. But that moment… that second… you become a changed person.

I once conquered a fear of riding a roller coaster that flipped loopy loops and went upside down at sixty five miles per hour. A coaster in which the feet dangle, with a cushioned restraint buckled across the shoulders and down the chest.

I was terrified. I’d approach, then turn around. Get close… stop, then wait outside the gate for the next go around.

Believing I was having a panic attack when I finally muscled up the courage to try.

Down the first hill, picking up speed, and before the eyes could catch a glimpse of the track and path, to make mental preparations, I was flipped upside down and tossed around.

I hooted and hollered for the whole damn thing. Both arms up in the air. No longer paying attention to the steel handles which I initially had a death grip on as the coaster climbed the first hill.

Sheer bliss. Haven’t feared the coaster again.

I changed a little that day.

But that’s not the change I’m referring to. I didn’t have an personalized epiphany when I left the roller coaster to seek out the nearest one, for another adrenaline fueled experience. I didn’t stop dead in my tracks exiting the ride’s gate, eyes wide, unblinking and bloodshot, fingers clenching into fists, a tingle traveling down my spine from the base of the neck, the corners of my mouth twitching, walking through a public place speaking in a hush only I could hear, “You’ve got to be kidding me. I refuse to believe this. That can’t be my answer. There has to be some other explanation.”

The thing about having a profound personal moment, is it’s completely subjective. In fact the really good ones, are so powerful, they’re rarely spoken about with others. Something you keep close to the chest and hope it happens to someone else organically and naturally. You don’t want to jinx it.

Just have hope.

I’m an easy going guy. Very laid back. Meat and potatoes fella. My education was high school, and a little college for a couple of different degree programs for a short period of time and I’ve worked in upwards of eleven varying places of employment. Divorced. Have two children. Live check to check and hit the road for a drive when possible. I love my community and the people in it… , but there is nothing overly complicated about me. I don’t speak elegantly. I’m fairly straight forward. I am not a complex entity. I put my pants on one leg at a time, work my forty hours and try to live the best way I know how. I am by far an expert on anything. I like to say I know enough to get by. I know a little about a lot.

So if I have an experience that can’t be explained conventionally, I typically just let the experience become a part of me, and keep it to myself. “You don’t want people thinking you’re crazy, do you?”

I’ve had a multitude of experiences throughout my life, that altered the way I live said life. Adopting my oldest. Helping birth my youngest. Some charity work I’ve involved myself in. Volunteering.

The epiphany, the revelation if you want to call it that, angered me. I wanted no part of it. It didn’t make sense, and because it didn’t make sense to my simple mind, I tried to ignore it. I fought it every step of the way.

It felt like I’d slipped straight into the Twilight Zone, and I couldn’t turn back.

Speaking of the Twilight Zone. Joseph Everett was about to let me inside the refuge again. I hated visiting him. Of all the things that didn’t make sense in my reality, he was at the tippy top of the list.

Crotchety old bastard.

***

 

The building was darkened. The wide empty space was lit up only by candles splayed across his dining table at the front of the room. Clutched tight in his left hand, Joe had a fistful of crayons.

He turned his back to me, strolled to the opposite end of the church and pulled the chair out from under the table. Joseph lowered his thin frame slow and gentle in the seat.

I looked among the shadows and expected something to jump out from the darkness. He gave me a moment to glance around before speaking.

“Everything that happened before this moment, has been in the past. Why do you live in the past?”

“I don’t believe in choice anymore. I have to use the lessons of the past, to move forward. Free will is an illusion.”

“Why do you think that?”

“I can’t live the life I wish to live. Bad things are happening.”

“Why not look at those negative experiences as a positive?”

I folded my hands on the table, “So from this point forward, look at the bad as something good?”

“Simplify.” He pulled a small knife from his right pocket and flipped open the blade. “Whittle your life down to simplicity. Think it through. Take each and every variable presented and think it all through. Good and hard.” The crayons clattered across the table and he snatched one up. With the blade extended, he shaved off thin slivers of the colored wax and I watched them flutter to the table’s surface as though they were as light as feathers. Time slowed down.

“Return to a time when life was simple. Kindergarten is a good place to start.”

“Kindergarten.”

“Absolutely. What do you remember of kindergarten?”

Brief flashes of memory circled me where I sat. The floating snapshots of early education moved around in the dark and I recalled play time. A teacher at a piano. Arts and crafts. Banging away on musical instruments and singing in groups. Building blocks and poster-boards. Nap time. Reading story books and life was simple back then.

Once the memories were burned into my brain I nodded my recollection and smiled.

“It was better back then, wasn’t it?” He disappeared from the chair and the kitchen door swung open and closed. He reappeared before me in his chair as if blinking into view from nothing and the door swung wide a second time. In his grip he had a box of elbow macaroni, paper, and white glue in a small squeeze bottle in his left hand. He dropped the items on the surface.

“Make a choice.” He leans across the table and brings both hands to either side of my head. He held them a moment before snapping his fingers together and the sharp sound forced me back in my chair. “You can choose between drawing a duck with crayons, or making one from macaroni and glue. But you only have two options. You have to choose one or the other.”

“I choose neither. If I get options, that’s the one I choose.” My arms crossed and I slunk low in my seat.

“You can’t leave until you choose one.”

I stood up. “So you mean to tell me I’m forced to make a choice. See? No free will.”

He nodded. “The problem is, you’re telling yourself not to participate. But what if you did?”

I dropped back down in a huff. I snatched up the crayon, slid a sheet of paper over and drew my best dream duck as possible. In fact, if memory serves, it appeared to be a small potato with a triangle for a beak. Stick legs with thin straight toes.  Nothing like a traditional duck.

“Why did you choose the crayon? Why not the macaroni?”

“Seemed easier and I can get out of here quicker?”

“But it looks nothing like what I asked for. I told you to draw a duck.”

“I did my best.”

“Did you? Stop acting like a child. Do it again.” He swiped the crayons from the table. “Use the macaroni instead.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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 Gambling Man

“Sometimes you have to roll the hard six.” William ‘Bill’ Adama. Battlestar Galactica.

“As long as I’m winning, I’m doing better.”

I wish someone had slapped me upside the head a few years ago.

My old philosophies were so flawed and comical, but unfortunately I had the inability to see through it at the time. I was a stranger in a strange land. Lost. Without focus.

I was of the mindset, that as long as the money was rolling in, my life would be worth living. If I was making some hard cash, without having to commit to dealing drugs or devoting time to a second job, I could dig out of whatever hole I buried myself in.

For quite a while, I did well.

Every cent I could find was set aside to the lottery. The Powerball, the Megabucks, and scratch-off tickets. I had a thirst that couldn’t be quenched. I was convinced my luck would change. I told myself good will come from the bad, and I was deserving of something wonderful in life. I needed to create my own luck and this method seemingly worked to my advantage.

I dug underneath the floor mats of my car. Scrounged through the couch cushions and if I saw any coin on the sidewalk, I plucked it up and stuffed it in my pocket.

The beauty of living with family is the fact the expenses are lowered. I took full advantage of that. My end of the deal was simple. Help out where needed and save for my own place. I kept up my end of the bargain for the first component. I helped out where needed.

I couldn’t save money if my life depended on it.

I saw money as a way to alleviate the stresses of reality. Money helped me escape. As long as money was helping me win, I was happy.

What a fool.

The old adage, “Money can’t buy happiness,” rings more truth than you may realize. Money buys things. Money helps with trips, vacations and material possessions. But happiness comes from the inside.

Sure… money is important. We need money for vehicles, food, expenses and incremental breaks, but money does NOT bring complete happiness. I can attest to that.

After a month of throwing away everything I earned, is when the bad stuff started happening. For every one of my actions, there was an equal and opposite reaction.

It happened from out of nowhere. As though the supernatural powers that be made a decision one afternoon and said, “OK… time to put a stop to this right… now.”

It started small. Easily overlooked and shrugged off. Inconveniences that made life troublesome, but not overwhelming. A flat tire. A sprained ankle. Each time I focused and devoted time to gambling, something negative happened in return. I’d purchase a Powerball ticket, and my car wouldn’t start.

Then the more noticeable began to occur. Losing my debit card. Forgetting my PIN.

Quite possibly the strangest anomaly I’ve ever encountered was sitting at the ATM, as I do every day, and my fingers hovered over the keypad trying to desperately remember the number to withdraw my money.

“I just did this earlier. What the hell is my PIN?”

Try and try and try again and eventually locked out of the system.

“I’ll call and change my number. That’s easy.”

The next day, my card disappears.

“Call again. Reorder a new card.”

Three to five business days later, it arrives in the mail.

Once in possession of a new card with a new number, I went right back to my old ways of thinking. I couldn’t pay attention to the signs and signals. I ignored the subtleties and slipped back into where I was comfortable.

One Saturday afternoon at my family’s home, we prepared for a BBQ. Friends were slated to arrive and join us. I had just returned from a money spending stint at the convenience store and had entered the home with Shelby. I scraped off the silver flakes on a scratch-off and no sooner did I notice a ten dollar win, the friends arrived.

My dog, being driven by nothing more than pure instinct, decided to greet them at the end of the driveway.

She bolted out the door and I raced after her. Shelby runs like a cheetah and there was no possible way I was able to contain the situation. She met them at the end of the driveway and from around the corner a car was speeding toward us.

Shelby decided to try and stop the car. It was her duty to keep us all safe and apparently this four door sedan was the enemy meant to do us all harm.

My best friend lurched forward and plowed her head into the side of the vehicle just above the headlight. Like a charging bull into a red matador cape. She was hit so hard and fast she flipped into the air, landed on her back, and then trotted to the house as though nothing happened. In fact, the damage to the car was more than the damage to my dog. The driver and I exchanged information and went our separate ways.

Shelby stayed on the dining room floor panting and wondering what all the attention was for and all I could do was sit at her side. She was acting normal and seemed to be free of any wounds.

Later that evening, I get a call from the owner of the car she hit, “I’m willing to pay for any vet appointments, surgery or medicine your dog may need, but you’ll need to pay for the damages to my car.”

Luckily for the owner of the vehicle, my dog was fine. But the cost to his car, out of pocket, was steep. All the arrangements were made, his car was eventually fixed, and life moved on.

But that night, my subconscious returned me to the refuge. Of all the places in the dream world I could have journeyed to, I was whisked away back to him. Joe had something to say.

***

Standing at the threshold of the church-like building in the middle of the woods, the snow began to fall. Joseph meandered towards me from the center of the room with his hands stuffed deep in the pockets of his pants and his eyes half closed. The old man looked me over, cocked his head to the side, waggled a finger in my direction and stopped at the open door.

“Of all the people I’ve encountered over the years, Jeremy, you’re the toughest one to work with.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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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Absolute Trust

Flashing back to the days before Bill, Linda and BizzaroTech, still employed at the steel mill, I had a co-worker named, Frank.

Frank was a short man. A fellow of few words. He had a thick dark mustache, jet black hair, and when off the clock he had a tendency to drink too much.

I lived close to the mill and could walk to work. My apartment was a stone throw away and during a raging snowstorm on a Friday, Frank appeared on my doorstep late at night. Apparently his apartment was close by as well. I had no idea he knew where I lived.

I barely knew the man.

I opened the door and he was still dressed in his coveralls and steel toe boots. He reeked to high heaven and had the same streaks of dirt and grime on his face from when he left the mill earlier that afternoon. I was hesitant to allow him entry, seeing the bottle of Jack Daniels in his grip, but I couldn’t turn him away for some strange reason. His visit had a purpose.

Before entering my home, he stuttered, “I… I’m not… dist–disturbing you, am I?”

“I was just getting ready to hit the hay, Frank, what’s up?”

He stumbled into the kitchen and placed the bottle on the counter top, “I need you to do something for me.”

Oh boy… what the hell is this? 

“Can I sit?” He pulled out a chair from under the kitchen table and flopped down in it before I could respond.

“Of course, have a seat. Coffee? Water?”

“No, no. I’m fine.”

I sat across from him and provided some distance between us. My eyes darted around the room in case I needed to do something quick and drastic. My family was sleeping soundly upstairs and their safety came first.

I’d like to say, if I have any special powers, one thing I can do is read a room. I can walk into a bar, a grocery store, or an event and “feel” the atmosphere. On more than one occasion, during the days of the Old Life, I’d enter a bar with friends, read the room and turn back around. “Nope. Not today. I’ll pass. Catch you guys another time.”

The following morning I’d hear a story of a fight or some act of violence and I’d smile knowing I made the right call. I like to steer clear of potential trouble if at all possible.

Frank, sitting in my kitchen, was no different. I felt his presence and his aura was making me uncomfortable.

When he thrust his hand into the coverall pocket, my chair slid back, my eyes narrowed and I positioned my feet under my seat so I could react quickly if need be.

“Calm down, Jere, calm down. I’m not going to do anything.”

That’s what you say. Sorry if I don’t believe you.

He withdrew $500 in cash and splayed it across the surface of the table.

I locked eyes with him and my mind raced.

“So, Frank, what brings you by tonight?”

“This.” He pointed down to the cash and walked his finger tips across the money, spreading the bills apart even further. “I need you to hold onto this for me.”

“You want me… to hold money for you?”

“Just until tomorrow afternoon. I’ll be back for it.”

“Just out of curiosity, why do you need me to hold…”

“And you can’t ask why.”

“I can’t ask why? Apparently you don’t know me very well.”

“No. I don’t know you at all.” He scraped the money into a pile and tapped it into a neat stack. “And that’s why I’m here. I need to trust someone.”

“And of all the people you know, you come to me. What makes you think you can trust me?”

His eyes wandered the area and drifted to the lights overhead, “I don’t know. I just need to trust you.”

Those who know me quite well, know I have trust issues. It’s not a big secret. Those issues stem from a long line of circumstances and situations, and the details are unimportant. Today, I’m a bit more guarded, reserved and selective with whom I associate. I have to be. I have difficulties making new friends, feel awkward in social settings, yet I hold in high regard the friendships I do have.

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.

Because I understand how vital trust is to some, and how devastating a breach of trust can be, I agreed to Frank’s cry for help. “So, you’ll be back for it tomorrow afternoon?”

“At noon, sharp.”

“I’ll make sure I’m here for your arrival.”

Frank leaned in across the table, “Do you have a Bible?”

“As a matter of fact, I do.”

“Where is it?”

“In the next room. Hold on a second.”

I entered my living room and from the top shelf I withdrew my Bible. When I reentered the kitchen, Frank had his forehead on the table’s surface and he wiped a tear from his cheek. “Here it is, Frank.”

He shot up from the table and snatched it from my hand. He opened the book to the middle and placed the cash between the thin pages. “This is where you’ll keep it. Right here. Safe and sound among the scriptures. Now… where can you hide it?”

Where can I hide it? What the devil is going on?

“I suppose I can hide it in the bathroom. I keep a stash of reading material under the sink. It’ll be well hidden there.”

“Do you keep your doors locked at night?”

“Yes.”

“OK then. I’ll trust you. If anything happens to that money…”

“Frank. You’re problems are safe with me. I won’t speak a word of this visit to anyone. If trust is what you need, I won’t do anything to break that trust. You can trust me. But it’s getting late and from the looks of it, you need to get some sleep. Can I give you a ride home?”

“It’s late. You’d do that?”

“You’re just around the corner, right? You shouldn’t be walking in this weather.”

Before we left the apartment, he opened the drawer under the bathroom sink and double checked the Bible. He had to ensure the money was still inside before leaving. Then he turned back to me and dropped his face into my chest.

He sobbed like a baby for a handful of minutes.

All I could do was pat his shoulder with light sympathetic taps. Occasionally a, “Shhh. It’s OK,” would sneak out. I had no idea what the situation was, but this poor soul needed me, and I couldn’t ask why. All I could do was speculate.

The following day, at noon sharp, I was sitting in my kitchen and the Bible was placed on the table waiting patiently for his arrival. Frank knocked on the door and I told him to come in.

He was sober this time and dressed in jeans and a tee-shirt with a thick winter jacket. I rose from my seat and handed the man the book. He opened it to the middle, withdrew the money, counted it and smiled his thanks.

“Jeremy. I can’t tell you how appreciative I am for this. It’s quite possible, you saved my life.”

The comment sucked the wind from my chest.

I’ve come to the conclusion over the years, it’s the little moments of kindness that mean the most. What may seem trivial to some, can be life changing to others. A small favor or an act of helping can make all the difference in someone’s world.

It would have been so easy to turn him away. The money could have been stolen. Money for gambling, drugs, or more alcohol… I didn’t know. But what I do know, is I helped another human. Even if the situation was a bit unorthodox, sketchy and out of the ordinary.

As Frank left my apartment, he stopped at the open door. “Jeremy. It feels good to trust again. Thank you and see you Monday morning.”

He left the mill two weeks later for parts unknown.

As I continue my journey through the New Life, my trust issues are diminishing little by little. It was a trial by fire for the longest time but I’m coming out of my shell a bit more now. I still feel awkward in social settings, I still don’t make friends easily and I’m still a bit guarded and my shields are ready to be raised at any given time, but I’m starting to trust more.

That trust began with self respect. Because I know who I am, and what I want to do, the trust is returning incrementally. I had to stop hiding. I had to stop pretending to be something I wasn’t.

Trust leads to respect. I had to respect myself first and foremost. From that respect, comes the trust.

To quote Frank back in 1996, “It feels good to trust again.”

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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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Bucket List

Over the last five years, almost six now, I’ve spent quite a chunk of my time figuring out a manageable bucket list.

I’m a firm believer that thoughts shape (and reshape) reality at will and as long as I can focus on my list and decide, “this is what I’m going to do,” my thoughts and positive energy will manifest around me. Those items on my bucket list will be checked off, one by one.

Hey… a fella can dream, right? Gotta keep the positive energy alive and kicking at all costs.

Someday I’ll return to Bermuda. In the Old Life I was blessed with a trip. Through Norwegian Freestyle Cruising, I was three days at sea to the island on a floating adult playground, two days docked at King’s Landing, and three days back. While it was an adventure and enjoyable for the most part, it wasn’t truly my vacation. I want to do, what I want to do.

Therefore, I plan on returning with Nancy someday. I know having her by my side, will truly be “my” vacation. It will assuredly be her vacation as well. We both share almost all the same interests so saying it’s “my” vacation, doubles as hers and vice versa.

I’ll have to jump through some hoops for awhile however. That departure from Boston Harbor moving at eight miles an hour across the sea, is something I’m very much looking forward to.

Because I’m a fan of the ocean, I’d also like to take an Alaskan Cruise in the future. Walk the icebergs. Witness the brilliance of the Aurora Borealis up close and personal in all it’s shimmering and wavy green glory. See the night sky as it was meant to be seen; crystal clear and unobstructed. More lights and colors than can be imagined. I’m not even sure what to fully expect on an excursion such as that… yet, I’m drawn to it for some reason.

I’d like to visit Machu Picchu in Peru. Touch the citadel’s stonework and walk the trails of antiquity. Stand at the tallest point of the remains and survey the Andes from up high. In the vein of ancients ruins, I’d also enjoy a visit to the Bolivian Highlands to see Puma Punku firsthand and walk the streets of the City of the Gods.

To one day stand at the base of any pyramid, is on the list of things to accomplish on my list.

I can play the meanest air guitar you’ve ever seen. I can jam to any song and someday I’d like to learn to play a real stringed instrument.

The piano has always fascinated me and tugged at my heart strings as well. Someday I’ll devote some time to learning the piano. I’ve even had a love for the harmonica at one time, but the guitar and piano come first.

I thoroughly enjoy Comic Con. It’s the one place on Earth I can be certain I’m surrounded by like minded individuals. I was able to attend one in Rhode Island with some close friends a few years back and had a blast.

San Diego is the highest on the list of cons. New York would suffice, but San Diego Comic Con is the dream. I will also attend a Star Trek Convention one day. I’ve been in the presence of Nichelle Nichols and have Walter Koenig’s autograph and being in their vicinity has a welcoming family vibe to it. Star Trek was the cornerstone of my childhood.

I’d love to invest some time in drawing and artwork. Painting. Utilizing technology to create. Conjuring a picture in my mind and having the ability to transfer that image to paper, monitor or canvass. All I can seem to muster today is stick figures and shapes. I suck at Pictionary.

Writing a novel. Writing a series. Writing a screen play. Returning to Six Flags and playing like a child with my child in a water park. I would like to try windsurfing, being rolled down a steep hill in one of those inflatable hamster wheels, colliding into others on the way down. I wish to learn to water ski, go snowboarding again, own my own boat and have a tiny getaway cabin nestled away in the woods with a stream nearby.

Someday Nancy will own a motorcycle. To be frank, they scare the crap out of me, but my bucket list includes Nancy and her desires, and I would love to surprise her with one someday. Seeing those tears of joy, would be worth every penny.

My youngest would relish in the thought of spending a few hours (or an overnight) in a haunted location (be it a castle or abandoned hospital) with “ghost hunting” equipment. Using thermal scanners and high end cameras, tip toeing empty halls with a digital recorder and looking for electromagnetic spikes and listening for creepy noises. To be able to say, “let’s do this,” would be amazing.

Having a small piece of land to do what I please, is located in the middle of the list. I’ll never pay a mortgage again so saving up will be a lengthy process, but it will happen someday. I’ll have a small manageable garden on my property and the cabin will be just far enough away from civilization, yet within walking distance if necessary.

To shake the hands of Nathan Fillion, Ozzy Osborne, Harrison Ford and Kate Mulgrew and say with an awkward smile, “I am a HUGE fan.”

I’ve never ridden or operated a snowmobile and would enjoy the opportunity.

One thing I’ve always wanted to participate in is a zero gravity plane ride. Or float, spin and twist inside a wind tunnel.

In actuality, the list is lengthy. Do you have a bucket list? Are you checking them off one by one or little by little? To live is more than just existing. Life needs to be lived. I suggest, if you don’t have a bucket list started, start one ASAP. Focusing on a bucket list provides focus in life. As long as we’re striving to accomplish those things we wish to accomplish, then we’re more than just existing and striving towards being better than we were the day before. It becomes more about living and experiencing the joys of life. If needed, start small. Work towards the tougher or smaller items on the list, first. Find a way to check them off.

That’s where I’m at in this phase of life and living. Working towards the toughest of the list, first and foremost. So many things I wish to do, but time is an enemy that shows no remorse. It doesn’t slow down. It never stops. Out of all the items on my list, one takes precedence and is elevated to the one that needs to be accomplished above all others. Regardless of the outcome or lack thereof. A personal quest that needs to be conquered before attempting to tackle anything else below it.

I will not rest and fully pursue any other bucket list item, until I finish and self publish my first book.

I will not focus on anything else. I will not attempt to stray from the goal. I have a single minded focal point that drives me forward and keeps me rooted.

Once completed, I’ll work on the others on the list. Finish the series… then perhaps use some free time to learn the guitar.

I don’t speak often on writing. One thing I’ve learned through the process, above everything else, is the fact it’s NOT easy. Like an onion, writing is multi layered and at times, tear inducing.

The phases of writing a body of work not only include actually writing it, releasing it from the confines of the mind, reading, changing, adding, subtracting, rereading, the complexities of the edits, and finding the right people who want to see you succeed as much as you, but the personal emotions that accompany the process.

Doubt. Anger. Fear. Impostor Syndrome. Sadness. Anxiety. More doubt. Commitment. Perseverance. More fear. Above all the others on my lengthy list of things to get done with the remainder of my days, the book comes first.

And I’ve come to a personal conclusion through the process of writing, and sharing with others.

If I’m able to conquer those emotions and push through it all… to check off that toughest one, highest on the list–

–Anything is possible. Anything at all. The world is ours once we stop existing and start living instead.

I’m ready to live.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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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Karma

“What goes around comes around, is nothing more than a myth.” JSM

 

I spent an unhealthy amount of time throughout my years, wishing for karmic retribution. People of my past, strangers, friends, co-workers… anyone who crossed me, or made my life a struggle, received the prayer.

“God, if you’re listening…”

Then a slew of, “give them their just desserts. Bad things can’t only happen to good people, can it? What goes around HAS to come around.”

I wished ill will upon others. I demanded retribution. It never mattered who it was or who was the target of my immediate anger at the time: Silly high school relationships. A pissed off boss. A condescending friend. A trusted confidant.

Each one got the prayer.

Then one afternoon at work, plucking away at the keyboard, it dawned on me.

“It’s not me. It’s everyone else.”

“Look at it from the perspective of, everyone is a product of their experiences and their environment. Just… like… you.”

Then I conceptualized what it could possibly be like to walk in another’s shoes. If only for a few minutes.

To say I’ve been duped through life, is an understatement. But I’m not the only one. I began the painstaking task of attempting to dive into the psyches of others. “What is the driving motivator to compel people, to do the things they do?”

Were they duped to do wrong by me?  Coerced in some fashion? That would make sense.”

If not tricked, duped, wrongfully instructed, manipulated, or host to an alien parasite, then it must be something else. If it boils down to something else… the only thing I can reach a verdict on, is the idea there are people out there who feel no remorse. Believe to the core of their being they can do no wrong. Regardless of what kind of destruction they leave in their wake.

I’ve swallowed some large pills in my day, but swallowing that philosophy down and digesting it, was one of the largest and toughest. Because I refused to become something I despise, I adopted that new mentality as quick as I could.

I decided to be better. I had to rise above it as high as I could go. I forced to come to grips with the idea, the only thing “I” can do, is be better than those who thought my back seemed like a good place to drive in a dagger.

Dwelling on the past only facilitates a difficult future. The mind is a weapon and once it turns on you, game over. I had to transform my mind into less of a weapon, and more of a strategic landscape. Set up the game like an expansive chessboard. Move my pieces in a way that guarantees me a win. Glory wasn’t about to drop from the sky and hand me everything I need. The first thing I had to do is surrender to the game and start over.

“The only control I have, is me.”

“Listen to the advice. Continue to do what you want. Live your life. Focus on what you deem as important and ignore everything else around you. Utilize that bubble you once created as a defense mechanism, and give it a different purpose for awhile. What’s the first thing you need right now? Break it down incrementally.”

“I need to take care of my children.”

“What’s the plan for that?”

“I need to make more money. That will take care of that.”

“What will you do to make this money? A second job?”

“If I work a second job, I won’t see the kids. I’ll have more money… but all for myself. It’s not about me, it’s about them.”

“Another option then?”

.

.

.

“I know just the thing. You’re a freaking genius.”

I remember a trip to Foxwoods with some friends back in the Old Life and ten minutes before I left the casino to come back to Maine, I won a jackpot of $357.00. Through the course of the weekend, I pocket almost $500. Other than the scratch-off tickets I’ve received in birthday cards worth $5-10, the casino winnings were my only gambling win.

After I made my decision, I called Nancy. “Meet me at my place. We’re going for a drive.”

“Where we going?”

“Bangor. I have some money I want to spend.”

She met me twenty minutes later and with my wallet in hand, we drove to Hollywood Slots in Bangor Maine. A casino close by. Roughly an hour drive.

“What are we doing here?” She crossed the threshold and looked around the lobby.

I rubbed my hands together and followed the signs, “I’m feeling lucky. Good things are about to happen.”

“How much are you planning to spend? None of my business, just curious.”

Even I was curious. I had a set amount budgeted to the side and my ATM card if needed, but I had a plan. That asinine plan was to replicate how I won at Foxwoods. If I was that lucky before, perhaps I was destined to be lucky again.

I doubled my money that afternoon. Walked out with my head held high. Feeling confident and calm. This was the way I would fix my problems. I’ll make my own luck.

Unfortunately, life is very little about luck. Life is hard. Even when life is good, it’s still a struggle and sometimes karma decides it’s not quite done with us yet.

When I say I doubled my money, I came back home with $40. Spent $20. Shortly thereafter, I returned to the convenience stores and shopping areas and purchased scratch-offs. Won more money. Each moment I had, I was sitting in my car with a penny, scraping and swiping silver flakes to the floor and praying for more winnings. $5, $1, $20 and a decent one of $100. As long as I was winning, I was doing better than I was before.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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 Battle Begins

The awakening. Eyes opened wide. Body locked up with fear. A hand reaches up and clutches the chest. The end of the night is near. Breathing shallow, sweat trickling, a tingle from head to feet. “Pull yourself together. Relax. Slow down. The task is not yet complete. You’ve something left undone, you know, but… you just don’t know it yet. If you leave it alone, ignore what you’ve been shown, you’ll live your life in regret.”

Up to this point much pondering, and streams of archaic thought. Yet the struggle not over. A new battle begins. Stomach tied up in a knot.

A new day at dawn, the armor back on, sword sharpened and back in it’s sheath. Destined to walk this darkening path, and terrified of what’s beneath. A ticking bomb that’s set to go off, in the periphery the demons gather. Eyes straight ahead, a pain in my head, I force my feet to mover faster.

The blade inches out with each passerby. An itch to cut them all down to size. A rush to bring pain, contempt and disdain, “please fall and meet your demise.” A wicked stare will meet each eye, they cower and scurry away. Each of their retreat, off my narrow street, brightens up my day.

“This isn’t you. Explain yourself. Becoming all that you hate. Ridiculous child. Turn your back to the fight. Don’t make another mistake. The greatest struggle is accepting, what it is you can’t control. If you walk this path you’ll lose it all: body, mind and soul.

I sprint from the voice and block out the sound. My armor wearing me down. My boots feel like lead, I lower my head, and drop my knees to the ground.

“I told you so. The weight is too much. Look around. The road is vacant. You’ve got what you wanted, you’re now all alone. Helpless and forsaken. When the storms rage on and you’ve lost it all, you’ll be pounding a fist on their doors. The shades will be drawn and they’ll carry on and leave you to be ignored. The only way to redeem yourself is to discard all you know. Drop the blade and armor, walk away. You only reap what you sow.”

The battle was fought exclusively, within the recesses of my mind. I fought to push on, sword withdrawn, and no person could I find. The clouds gathered among the dark and brought down a torrential rain. Soaked to the bone and all alone, adding more weight to my pain. The choice now clear and obvious, and no end to the path ahead. Each step felt like fire. Now trapped in a mire.

Time to do what the voice had said.

I turned around, allowed the armor to fall, and the darkness fled the sky. Clouds parted, I looked up into the blue, and blinked water from my eye. The path dried up, I kicked off my boots and slid the sword back in it’s home. I made my way down a different path and found a new street to roam. I almost transformed into something of which I could’ve never come back. Had to learn through the fight, and the stifling night, sometimes it’s best to refrain from attack. Never strive to become something, that contradicts who you are. You may have to battle, toil and struggle and be forced to wear some scars.

Before venturing on and determining, what it was I truly am, one more stop inside my darkened cave, where it all began. I lit a torch and approached the wall, “I know what the voice had said. If I hadn’t of listened and made a decision, I was probably as good as dead.”

The torch light flickered, lit up the room, and the shadows danced around. My heart pounding, and the crackling fire was the only sound. I listened to the voice and retreated, and decided against the fight. The road was too long and I was no longer strong and devoid of all delight.

It was imperative I stopped living a life that contradicts who I am. Time to return to pondering, and rethinking the master plan. I came to grips with my reality and had to listen to my call. But before I left the cave, I smiled, and placed my sword up on the wall.

Thank you for reading and being a part of my journey. Please subscribe in the provided area to receive a notification of new posts by email. Please give it 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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