Sunday, March 27, 2011

Green Eggs and Ham...

I have a picture of five.

It would have been six.

But that wasn't in the cards, and that's most likely the way it was meant to be. After all, having just seen you virtually for the first time in--let's see, what was it, 1998?--13 years? I'm ecstatic. I'm emotional. I'm perhaps just on this side of a wreck. In a good way. A happy way.

I'd be more specific, but I can't. That's also the way it has to be. For now.

But I have to get it out. I have to write this. There's only so much a person can take of secrecy and silence. Those places in the family photos where you don't get to be, even though you are as close to us--in our hearts, that is--as any of the other five who are in those photos.

To say that you've changed so much in the last thirteen years would be the biggest understatement of the century. After all, you were nothing but a small baby, that day in the hospital. You were housed in a glass box. You were crying, as is the wont of those so young. You were born too early, a trend your younger sister followed you in. And you are remembered at every holiday, if only because the day you entered the world was at the tail end of one. Our favorite one.

And to see you tonight, through a process I couldn't begin to comprehend involving wires, the Internet, light spectrums, and microchips... It's like you are real again. Like you haven't been missing all these years. You showed up on my screen and it was right!

I'll never know what would have happened had the circumstances been different, even slightly so. Hell, I'm not even your parent! But I am your family...

It was so nice seeing you, "nice," perhaps, being the second-biggest understatement of the century. "Nice" is afternoon naps, having enough money to pay the bills, or never running out of iced tea. Those are nice.

Seeing you was phenomenal. And one day, perhaps, I'll be able to share the moment I saw you again in person, face-to-face. I've already decided, the minute I saw the video, I will be there. We will be there.

To welcome you back. We can't--we won't--replace the one's you have known and loved all these years. Not only is it impossible, it would be wrong. But hopefully--just hopefully--you will allow your heart to expand that which you've known, and encompass the one's who had to give you up.

I'll never know what others have gone through. How could I? All I know is what I've felt and known these past years.

And where there were five, there will now be six.

Because you will be there.

And hopefully, we'll never have to let go again.

Much love to you...

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Near the Beginning...:
#53: Knowledgy...

Near the Beginning: Knowledgy...
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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Seeking Bonds

The writing challenge continues from Indie Ink. Each week about 30 of us come up with an "idea" or a "challenge" which then randomly gets submitted to another person on the list. (You can visit the blogs of the other writers taking this challenge in the column to the right...) Welcome to week 3. As always, feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and other neuronically-fired feedback either in the comments here, or on Twitter or Facebook!

Week 3.
My Challenger: Lazidaisical
My Challenge: Three people are sitting in a bail bonds establishment somewhere in Nevada. Why are they there?

Previous Challenges:
[Week 1.] [Week 2.]

Seeking Bonds

I sit at this desk in boredom,
Out the window, a great desert kingdom.
But it never lasts long,
This borish old song,
For people come to me seeking bonds.

At what to my surprise at three
(That's three in the morning, you see),
A very striking blond,
Seeking a bond
For her lover of seventy-three.

"He's wrongly accused!" she cried,
Wiping the tears from her eyes.
"It's not that he's old!
It's simply a cold
That blurred his great vision tonight!"

"About your sob story," I confessed,
"I actually could really care less.
Just hand me the loot
To free the old coot.
Of your story I'm not much impressed."

Just as she was regaining composure
And handing me money for closure,
The door bell did tingle,
And into our group did mingle
Someone about "indecent exposure."

"In his own house he was!
From alcohol suffering a buzz!
He's a hippie, you see,
Quite fancy free,
The neighbors reported him just because!"

I gave him a dead-pan stare,
Of these excuses I just didn't care!
"It's money I need
For your friend to be free.
Of your stories, go tell a bear!"

"You're so callous and jaded!" screeched the blond,
"Of your sole care for money and bonds!"
With that, again cried,
Like a jilted bride,
Making me wish I could really just abscond!

But suddenly, then, there were three!
Demanding my attention painfully!
But this was a hoot
(though still just as moot)
As this story was told with such glee.

"That roses are red," he began
"was the crux of her devious plan.
She's guilty as sin,
But I have thick skin,
And I must this night free my wife Ann!"

The blond stood there quite aghast,
And the other man tried to look past
This obvious loon,
much like a baboon,
But before they could speak, I gasped:

"Listen up, folks, and listen well!
These tales you spin like caramel
Don't mean a thing.
And without any bling,
Your loved ones will rot in their cells!"

The blond slapped a check on the counter,
"May this be our very last encounter!"
And with head held real high,
Her tears now quite dry,
Her exit, I admit, was quite stellar.

"But naked he wasn't!" cried the second.
"He should tell the judge, I reckon,
For I really don't care.
Do you have fare?"
I asked like one quite forsaken.

"Justice this country is missing!
My lover and I were just kissing!"
I gave him a glare
"Life isn't fair!"
And with that, left the money, almost hissing!

And then we were down to just two.
Me, and the one with Ann, the loon
Who tried offing her man,
Her "devious plan,"
At least, that's what he said, a sad tune.

"Tell me," I asked, "why free her,
If your life she was to deter?"
He looked quite surprised
And me he chastised,
"Of stories you suddenly prefer?"

"Just tell me the amount, nosy boy!"
Curious, he's suddenly coy
To tell me the tale--
Just posting the bail?
"Okay, okay!" he said, quite annoyed.

"She wasn't herself then, you see.
It's the plethora of personalities,
They live in her brain.
Life's never very plain
As Annie, inside, is twenty-three!"

"That many in one head?" I cried, disbelieving.
"That's rubbish! Why the deceiving?"
"It's all true," he replied,
"I tell you no lie,
And tonight was not Ann, but Mae Ling!"

"Mae Ling? What a bunch of bull poo!
This deception you cannot see through?
Schizo's are rare,
And the medical care!
The costs would change your world view!"

"Is this the inquisition now?" he replied.
But a nerve I had hit, told his eyes.
"One out of twenty-three
Is more than enough for me!"
The (now obviously) lonely man cried!

"Hey, it's your life," I concede.
"At least, for tonight, it now seems.
But mark my wise words,
Just like a bird,
You're being small-minded, seems to me."

"You don't know us!" was his nasty retort.
"And the truth will come out in court!"
I shook my head sadly,
That could only go badly,
I feared they both were mentally short.

He hastily made out a check,
His hands shaking, quite a wreck!
But then he was pausing,
My words seemingly causing
Of reality, a reality check!

"But I love her so much, don't you see?
And life's never boring for me.
With twenty-three wives
All living their lives
In one fantastic body--such glee!

"So the one, Mae Ling, hates me--big deal!
The twenty-two others find me genteel,
It's like being a Mormon
Without all the boredom
Of twenty-three marriages to conceal!"

I replied, "Of that you may have a point,
Or perhaps your high--too many joints!
Tonight you will die,
I'm telling you--no lie!
Those types of people don't disappoint!"

I watched him walk away quite deluded.
"That's a dead man walking," I concluded.
I shook my head sadly,
But then realized quite gladly
In Nevada, silence was once again exuded.

I sit at this desk in boredom,
Out the window, a great desert kingdom.
But it never lasts long,
This borish old song,
For people come to me seeking bonds.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Child's End

The writing challenge continues from Indie Ink. Each week about 30 of us come up with an "idea" or a "challenge" which then randomly gets submitted to another person on the list. (You can visit the blogs of the other writers taking this challenge in the column to the right...) For me, this is week 2. As always, feel free to leave comments, suggestions, and other neuronically-fired feedback either in the comments here, or on Twitter or Facebook!

This one was rough...
Week 2.
My Challenger: JT Whitaker
My Challenge: "in the end...was it worth it?"

Previous Challenges:
[Week 1.]

A Child's End


The end. Depending on what you've been watching, this is either a relief or a sadness.

The end. Or perhaps it's more about the finality of the words. "No more road," so to speak. "The trail ends here." "Do not pass go" and what not.

The end.

Hindsight has the added benefit of, not 20/20 vision as so many people are apt to conclude, but blinding clarity: of the mistakes, the consequences, the growing pains...

The growing pains...

The end.


"You sure this is what you want to do," my father asked from where he sat in the living room.

I glanced up at him from the lowered foyer, through the banister. Sweat had collected everywhere on my body. "Yes." No! I turned back to peaking out the window beside the front door, waiting for the man to show up.

My mother had left half an hour ago, wanting to avoid the leaving. My leaving. Second oldest, first to leave the nest. She instead opted to go with a friend to get a tattoo. In hindsight, glaringly obvious. At the moment, hurtful. Robbed. Angry.

I sensed my father shaking his head. "My peace-nick son, off to the army."

He wasn't far off. The large, rainbow tie-dyed blanket with the large, black peace symbol in the center hanging from one bedroom wall was a testament to my "Make Love, Not War" philosophy. The matching pillows on the twin-size bed built into the small 8 x 10 bedroom I had demanded two years ago were further witnesses. Peace had been gained between me and my two brothers when that bedroom was finally built, allowing each of us boys the sanctuary our two sisters had never gone without--a space of our own.

But now I was off to war--or so I imagined. What else does a sheltered eighteen-year-old think? That he was really just doing this to pay for college? To see the world? To experience life away from a church-centric world of his home?

I heard the car pull up, and I turned to Dad. "He's here."

The recruiter walked up the charmingly-woodsy sidewalk, and I opened the door before he could ring the bell. My father came down from the living room to see me off, offer a final handshake, one last out. "You're sure?"

I nodded, never so unsure of anything else before this moment. I lifted my suitcase, waved good bye, blinked back the tears.

The end.


The end. No, it was an "Exit" sign. Just an exit sign. If I opened that door, used it for the stated purpose, however, it would be an end.

Two a.m. Fort Leonardwood, Missouri. Or, as I had learned from my fellow in-training soldiers, Fort Lost-in-the-Woods, Misery. It was the only time you could cry and not lose face.

Two weeks in, and everything I thought I had ever known in life was gone. I'd never been so far from anyone in my family before, especially my siblings. A week was the longest I had ever gone away from either of my parents; my siblings, however, had been there from my first memory. In school, on the bus, in the halls, at grandma and grandpa's house, at summer camp, on the playground, in the yard... My world had been removed, however voluntarily on my part, and I hadn't been prepared in the least. It felt like the end.

Muscles constantly ached. Sleep was fleeting. Yelling was a constant. The food sucked. And I felt so utterly alone. Next week, week three, we would be allowed, for the first time, to call home.

Home... The word had lost physical meaning. It was now something I only glimpsed in dream-like states, in fits of sleepless nights: when lying exhausted on the ground after my 200th push-up; when gasping for air as I ran that fifth mile in full battle gear; when silence reined but mind raced at night, wondering if I could do this, if I had made a mistake, if my body would fail like I'd seen it fail so many others around me...

The end. There seemed to be no end. Wake up at three, make your bed, shower, get dressed, clean the barracks top to bottom, exercise for three more hours, shower again, eat breakfast--all before 7:30 a.m. Then more exercise, weapons classes, more exercise, firing range, more exercise, army conduct classes... Bed by 10 p.m., unless you had guard duty that night... Over and over...

There was no the end.


Ring... ring... ring...


Tears. "Mom? Mommy?"

"Jason? Oh, Jason..."

There were more tears than actual conversation. And something about a new movie that had just come out, Forrest Gump. OJ was apparently still on trial. She had made a Jewish Apple Cake, only I hadn't been there to enjoy it.

But it had been, albeit briefly, home.


Ring... ring... ring...


"Jason! It's Jason, every body!"

"I graduate in two weeks."

"From boot camp?"

"Can you come?"

"I don't know... We'll try..."

"I miss you so much."

"I love you, too."


Ring... ring... ring...


"Hi, Jason! Are they feeding you? How are you?"

"No, I'm good. How are you guys? How is everyone?"

"We're coming."

"To graduation? Really?"

"Me, and your dad, and Mike, Sylvia, and Cynthia. Tom can't make it, work and all."

"Oh... but you're really coming, right?"

"See you in two weeks, Jace the Ace!"


Starched uniform. Check. Polished boots. Check. Shining medals. Check.



The van pulled up into the parking lot below the barracks. Our van. My van. I stayed at the window. I had almost believed they weren't going to make it. They were one of the last families to arrive. The excruciating pain of hope evaporated, leaving a hole of questioning reality.

Ten weeks...

Dad looked a little more salt-and-pepper. Mom's red hair more lustrous. My little brother taller. My two little sisters more excitable.

I couldn't move from the window as I watched them pile out of the van, or, as we had always called it, "The Tan Van With the Plan Driven by the Man, man..." We had fancied ourselves 50s poets, I suppose, me and my siblings. My older brother was missing, and I felt that more, I believe. That absence more tangible than the others' presence.

Ten weeks...

I turned and raced down the stairs, boots clumping, heart racing: I was five again, playing dress up with my uncle Scott's cowboy boots and hat, wanting Mom and Dad to see how grown-up I looked.

Except they almost didn't recognize me. It took eternal seconds for the realization to wash over their faces that this soldier who had come to a racing stop before them was their son; their brother; their family. Painful, forever seconds.

I was no longer five years old. I was not playing dress up. I was not playing grown up. More than that, I had needed them to see that, I believe, to break free, to fly on my own. It was not enough that I had done it, that I had reached an end. I needed them to see it. To see me.

Ten weeks...

A scattered chorus of "Jason?!"s echoed, landing me back in the present.

The end.


Three days. I was no longer in the collective. Sharing moments with the three siblings who had come along were one-on-one. No longer as a tribe.

Alone in the hotel room with the baby of the family, Cynthia, as she was reaching the angst-ridden stages of mid-puberty.

Alone on the balcony with my other little sister Sylvia, who had realized she was as beautiful on the outside as she was on the inside, starting to date.

Sipping sodas by the hotel pool with younger-but-finally-bigger-than-me brother Mike, who had dropped out of high school, wondering what he should do with his own life, adrift on the seas of possibility his young eyes saw.

Out to eat with Mom and Dad, conversations which are lost to time, but remembering how different they were. How grown-up those talks were.

The end.