Some Things

It is the second of February, in a month, I will be 40.

Now I am not going to say the typical woe is me things, especially when my roommate has me by thirty years and laughs at me when I try to pull shit like that. I am also not going to go with my typical line of “I never expected to live past 17”. Sure, before I was 17 I thought that, does it matter that I thought that twenty years plus later? No, no I don’t think it matters at all.

In 40 years on this dust mote in a sunbeam, I have learned some things. Some of them are even important. So, in a comical way, I am going to impart my vast wisdom to all of you and maybe you will use it, maybe you won’t, but you should laugh once or twice.

So, in no particular order:

  • “Fingers finging” is one of the greatest phrases ever uttered on this planet. It can almost instantly stop a panic attack and make me laugh like the eleven-year-old boy my clean-shaven face makes me look like.
  • I will never tire of the debate over whether ninjas or pirates are better. Even if all the pirate people are wrong.
  • The first time your son mimics your Bear growl you will cry a little bit.
  • Nealon’s truism: What Can Go Wrong, Will Go Wrong and Already Has Gone Wrong.
  • Your children will eventually be better at you in your favorite video games. If you do not have/desire children, your friend’s/family’s children will happily fill this slot.
  • That guy that said the thing about sunscreen had a point.
  • The books are always better than the movies.
  • Heartbreak is universal in its absolute power to destroy your base and bring you to your belly, not just your knees.
  • Never forget to tell them you love them.
  • It is, scientifically, windy if you look at a shed rolling across the road in Western New York.
  • Kansas is not flat, it is nauseatingly hilly and driving through it is a wonderful test of Dramamine.
  • California is not nearly as awesome as you think it is, nor is it as hopelessly bad as some want it to be.
  • There is nothing like moon rise in the Mojave.
  • You can never know more about childbirth than a mother. Ever.
  • Conversely, you can never understand the need for birth control than either parent after a two-week school vacation.
  • Apparently, you can look good in eyeliner and still be allergic to it.
  • Gandhi was right, Western Civilization does sound like a good idea.
  • The odds of you remembering you left your cell phone charger at home decrease exponentially the farther away from said home you are.
  • No matter what has happened to you, someone always has had it worse.
  • Drugs aren’t the gateway to the solace that you pray they can be.
  • Lord of the Rings is the greatest book ever written. Fight Me.
  • Remember songs from when you were a teenager, humiliate your own teenagers with them.
  • The Mamas and The Papas music will always be cool.
  • Women are not devices you insert kindness into to receive sex.
  • Read that last one again.
  • “I was drunk”, “I was high” and “I was fucking tired” sound stupid as excuses when you think of them killing your friends in a car accident, don’t they?
  • People who are good at something are not better than you.
  • Epstein didn’t kill himself.

So Yeah, It Appears All Is Better

Now that I am fairly confident that I have rid the house of the plague that has been haunting it for a few weeks, I can write for longer than 30 seconds without a fever-stricken child plopped in my lap for what I can only assume are restorative health treatments via hug power, or, you know, the fact that I am a furnace and it keeps them warm when they get the chills when the fevers break.

I am listening to the Blood Bath Remix song from the first Blade movie. Hard, techno, massively repetitive and a perfect backdrop for me to pound out a few hundred words here and there. Why do I want to write you didn’t ask and yet I answer? I have been in a place where nothing has wanted to come out for weeks now and I am getting a change at the moment to empty some of the aggressively painful creative things out of my mind and onto here. Will I finish anything I start today? No, today is like letting water out of the heater before it shoots up through three floors through to your roof and kills everyone. Today is opening the causeways and letting what comes out, come out. Today is absolutely and completely about getting the Dark into the Light.

I have been in this wretched place for so long now. It is a cyclical thing too. I will have a migraine, then this deep depression, then I will suddenly feel incredible in mind and body and then it repeats. Now, I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV, but that tells me something. What the fuck it tells me is completely and totally alien and unknown, but patterns are patterns for a reason, right? Randomness happening over and over again, well, that there is a pattern if I recall the definition of the word.

So when I woke up this morning and the pattern seemed to have changed or failed completely, it was a weird rush of relief and a shock of fear all at once. Where was this normalcy, even if that normalcy was dread? Where wast his pattern that I had apparently settled into like an old and loved blankie?

I think, and think is a dangerous word here, that I have broken the aforementioned cycle not out of some strong character trait or willpower, no. I think I have switched it because I am bored. I am bored and I want to write and see my friends and laugh and sing my songs to my children without it coming out in a damn monotone.

Hear me out.

When I write, even this thing here, I am literally writing words that I can see in my mind’s eye. I did not know this was not a thing that everyone did. I assumed when people write things they do the thinking part and when they have it it is like just copying it word for word from this player piano style roller that rotates slowly in their mind so they can get every word out just the way it should be. Typos and all. It is just copying it.

I haven’t had that in forever. I had just been dealing with my airplanes in the air and the stresses of sick kids. I was bored because there are only so many times you can watch a speedrun of Super Mario Brothers 3 and not think it is idiotic that he doesn’t take the mushroom house to get the hammer suit you know is in there. That might have been a bit much. Let me back up.

I LOVE routine, but not mundane. I love the structure of things, but not the constancy of the same. Follow? So when I saw it was the EXACT same thing every day, it must have twisted a cog or something because this morning I woke up with my piano scroll all ready to go and the words you see here laid out in a nice monospaced font.

No?

Let’s put it in a super, duper easy way for me to say it.

I was not good, now I am good.

RAWRZ

Cherish

I suppose you could say I was a Lakers fan growing up. I mean, I suppose you can say the same of most of the kids who grew up here I did in the valley. The Clippers weren’t exactly spectacular back in the day so if you liked basketball and you lived in Los Angeles, you watched the Lakers. I grew up with Magic, Kareem, and Worthy. I watched the death matches with the Celtics and Bird and even though I am not now, nor have I ever been a significant basketball fan, I was aware of the team and pride is a thing that makes a city tick and tock better. When I moved to New York in ’91, I couldn’t tell you a thing about the team. They, like a lot of my memories of California, has faded over time to something that isn’t quite made up and isn’t quite a memory.

Now, the only reason I said any of that is to say that I am not writing what I am about to because I am a dyed in the blood of the Lakers Lamb. You hear the name Kobe, yeah, you know who he is. I am also not here to take his life apart piece by piece and talk about the things he did on or off the court. People far smarter and more qualified than I will surely start doing that as soon as they feel it is not too morbid to do so.

No, I am writing this because death and I are friends. We have met many times in this life and when I heard that his daughter was on the helicopter that crashed, there was a part of me that went out to meet that old friend again to catch up and see if there was anything new.

Sadly, there was.

Rewind.

I lost a son. The tragedy of losing a child is not something I am going to try and paint here in a few words. It is pain beyond description. All of those memories came back tome yesterday as I sat here and watched the news reports over and over again. All of the darkest and most wretched parts of the story played themselves out for me again and again and instead of locking them in a little chest and putting them in a closet, I thought of what I am saying now. Kept pain has no purpose for me, it festers and rots me and I can’t do it anymore.

So, here.

Kiss the people you are with. Hug them close to you and tell them you love them. Make sure you tell your children that you love them, especially if they roll their eyes when you tell them. Make sure they are never in doubt that your love for them is ABSOLUTE. This applies to your friends, your lovers, your pets and your most loosely associated acquaintances.

Life is so short.

It is so brief.

You need to tell the people you need to tell the things you need to tell them so that if your meeting with my old friend is tomorrow, or today, or in three minutes, you will go knowing that there is nothing left unsaid in your heart and your mind.

Originally I was going to write a lot of things about a lot of things, but why? All you need to do I know the simplest and deepest of truths.

Love the people you love.

Tell them.
Show them.
Teach them.
Praise them.
Cherish them.

State Of The Bear – Special Post Visit Edition

I will use the words ‘Jehovah’s Witnesses’ this once. I will refer to that organization as a cult from this point onward.

I hate it when I know they are coming. I dread the day for weeks on end, if I even get that much notice that they are coming in the first place. They make me feel small and pathetic and worthless in front of my own child and even though I am positive that not ALL of it is intentional, there is no such thing as that much smug and holier-than-thou on accident.

They make my skin crawl, my spirit wither and my temper flare to places it should never go. Someone who is much smarter than I am told me I should write all of this down and get it all out and purge the whole thing from my system, so that is what I am going to do. All of it though, not just this weekend, all of the skeletons.

We wouldn’t have been screwed without them. I say that we would have a lot, but if I had gone back to work, then everything would have remained the same, and that is a good thing in this particular case. I would have worked there until they shut it down, and even that was six or seven years later. All those years without the guilt and the horror show.

I should back up I think.

It all goes back to them refusing to come to Naomi and I’s wedding. Stupid cult politics told them that it was wrong to go to the wedding because they had agreed to the cult publicly shunning their oldest child and only daughter. So they came the day beforehand and threw hundreds and hundreds of dollars worth of things into the carts at Walmart and then promptly left without another word. They missed one of the happiest days of their daughter’s life because a cult told them that because she didn’t want to be part of the cult, then she was to be shunned, ignored, chastised and despised, publicly, if not privately. Remember that last part, it becomes the key here in a bit.

Almost exactly three months after we were married, my mother died. I will not unload that dumpster fire here, what matters is that when it happened, I lost it and had a complete breakdown. I spent weeks sitting in my bathtub because it was the only place I felt safe enough to take a deep breath. Now, I got time off and money because of things at work that allowed for that, but I couldn’t go back when they said I had to. I was a shell of a person and for someone who spent as much time in the bathtub as I did, I smelled like old worry and new fear.

Naomi was my everything during those weeks. She made sure I ate, made sure I slept, didn’t laugh at me for the half-dozen completely unnecessary visits to the Emergency Room I made because I was terrified I was about to die. She was, as she always was, my love and life and strength,

She came down to help Naomi more than to help us and while she was here, I was walking up the hill to Wegmans with her and this idea popped into my head, from a place I cannot fathom. Within hours we had decided that we would move our entire life to Quebec and abandon the very nice life we had literally just begun together.

Goddess, I hate the fact that there is so much about that place that I fell in love with. For a former catholic I got to see some of the greatest churches in Western Christendom, I saw the city of cities for Canada and I immersed myself, involuntarily mind you, in an entirely new culture and language. Montreal at night is one of the best places in the world that I have been to. There is nothing you can’t find if you know where to look and what to say in French to get there.

We moved in with them at first. We had nothing at all and Naomi was pregnant with middle duck at that point. What else could we have done?

One of the chief conditions of moving in with them is that we had to go to cult meetings with them. I swear on all I am, I didn’t know how bad they were before sitting down and listening to the nonsensical drivel that came out of these peoples mouths day after day after day. From scripture I literally knew in Latin and Greek being purposely mistranslated and misused to their horrific treatment of their own, and others, and pretty much everything that was in line perfectly.

I truly think if they hadn’t made me fucking shave every day I would have been far more open-minded than I was. Well, I wouldn’t have, but the humor never hurts right?

Let’s fast forward to that horrible day, almost five years ago now.

I called and I had to tell them she died. I had to maintain some form of sanity while I told them that their daughter was gone from the world. In shock, as one could imagine, they immediately got off the phone and headed down to see the boys and me.

Even that day, with their daughter gone but hours, they started it. The guilt, the shame, the looks. I thought they were manifestations of undeserved guilt that I had at first. No, no they were noticed by others that were here with us all. It grew and grew each time I saw them, each visit where they would take the Elder Duck and pretend my other two children, their own grandchildren, didn’t exist unless I was there with them at the time.

Money is how they say I love you. Wow, and did they say it a lot the first few years. Then it was narrow, like a laser beam and they would pump Elder Duck for information, prime him over and over with cult bullshit while dumping mountains of cash and presents on him under the thin guise of the spoiling grandparents. Then, just like that, they started coming once, if that, a year.

At first, I didn’t think anything of it, but I have had some conversations with Elder Duck and I am pretty sure it is because he has the audacity to talk about wanting to be things like an astrophysicist and explore the unknown of the Universe instead of walking behind them lockstep with the other cult members in a country he doesn’t live in.

Now, I have skipped a lot on purpose. I made the most relevant disclosures because everything would be counterproductive and take too damn long.

They make me feel like I killed their daughter.
They make me feel their other grandchildren are Other, Less.
They acknowledge to your face, deny later.

They are my In-laws and I hate them.

I AM That I AM

My entire life I have tried to be something else. I have wanted to escape into that alternate persona and, when I did, the plan was I could build who I wanted to be from there and abandon the abuse from my childhood and the stupidity of my teenage years. I needed to be someone other than I was. It was the only way I could escape from everything.

Then thirty years go by and here I am, the same person. Or am I?

I have been the Bear for as long as I can remember. My mom called me BooBear because, well, pain. I called myself the bear as soon as I gained the weight I lost doing drugs back. I have tattoos of me being the bear on me.

When I was today years old it occurred to me that the Bear is who I am. I am not the abused kid hiding from the social workers at Hart St. Elementary. I am not the heroin addict that sat under the bridge on Scio and died. I am not anything other than what I have been the entire time.

The Bear.

JameyBear. Your friend, your pal, the guy who would give you the skin off his body if you wanted it and batted your eyes pretty enough.

BrucleBear. I won’t get closer to having a daughter than her if you hurt her I will kill you in ways you don’t even have words to describe.

UncleBear. Advice is given for free with as much shoulder crying time as you need. I am told I give adequate hugs and no one can lift you up and spin you as I can. Bet on that.

MurderBear. Maybe don’t say anything bout my kids or my Tribe and you and I will never have to meet.

CreepyBear. I mean, we all have a side of ourselves that revels in things that perhaps it shouldn’t. I just happened to have it tattooed on me.

HippieBear. It doesn’t matter if it is crystals to align your soul or the stars to tell your future, I am willing to help you find a path to walk on if you want to find it.

HER Bear. Never doubt it, accept it. Move along and smile.

Infinite varieties. Infinite personas. All of them Mine, all of them Yours. All of them the one thing I have been looking for the entire time.

So all of these years as I was sitting there hoping to become a poet people would notice, an author that people would read, a storyteller people would follow, a father people would envy, a friend people wanted, a human being that does good for the sake of doing good, I was already those things, I just happened to call it the Bear.