06 January 2019

Funerals Make Me Feel Stuff



Comment on a shared video of a funeral procession: “Wonder if he knew how much he was loved and valued.”

Of course he didn’t.

None of us ever do.

I know that funerals are not about the dead guy. They’re really about the people left behind. That said, free to ignore everything below; I’ll be dead, so I won’t really care.

I don’t want anyone to stand up at my funeral and lie. Unless they are making up stories about how I died. (See last line.)

I want someone to say, “Yeah, Krissy was pretty much an asshole. But if she loved you, she loved you.”

I want my kids to stand up and say, “As a mother, she was pretty…eh. But she did love the fuck out of us.”

I want Reeves to stand up and say, “Tried to put Krissy in a cab one time, holy fucking spider monkey.”

I want Kensey to tell everyone that I drew a gun on him.

I want Scotty to say, “See, that’s just what she did… went to places trying to get herself killed.”

I want Cyn to tell everyone I took away her catnip and all the paper plates. 

I want people to stand up and tell the most ridiculous, awful and heartfelt stories they can remember about me.

Mostly though, I want people to know and remember that I wasn’t a great person, but I tried to be a better person. And I loved. I loved so incredibly much

*When we lie about how I died, can we somehow work a snowboard, a gerbil, Kensey’s cat, Sally, and rock-climbing into the story?

28 August 2018

What Cancer Really Is

Technically, cancer is simply an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells which results in disease, says Google.

Google can't feel.

Cancer is so much more.

It's regret for every harsh word spoken, for every other thing left unspoken and for every moment taken for granted, or worse, not taken at all.

It's hope and fear all swirled together in a strange black hole that settles somewhere between my stomach and spine.

It's a tightness in my chest that forces my shoulders inward.

It's pride and faith that forces them back out again.

It's prayer to a God I don't even think I believe in, and to several others I know I don't, just in case.

It's blinding love.

It's an odd mixture of hope, fear and adrenaline.

A sort of fucked up fight or flight response to someone's pain. A compulsion to help do anything, everything, because cancer isn't a problem I can fix.

It's a need for more time together.

It's agony, seeing his pain.

It's immeasurable happiness, seeing his joy.

It's overwhelming, heartbreaking and yet also heartwarming in terms of the support received.

It's treatment and doctors and side effects and pain.

It's a realization of just how little time we all have together.

It's the time taken to notice all the stupid little things that actually matter.

I'll never call it anything but evil but it has changed my view of life and understanding of family and priority in ways that nothing else ever has.


I love you Big Brother. You're the strongest person I've ever known.

31 December 2015

My Grandfather's Wife

I’ve tried to write this a hundred times, but had a hard time finding the right words. I was very close to my grandmother. She was so loved. She is so missed.

My grandfather sat in a chair near her bed, resting his head on their joined hands. After some time, he stood, smoothed the hair from her forehead and kissed it gently. He stood there for a while, simply looking at her. I could tell he didn’t want to leave her and I felt a bit guilty for witnessing such a private moment. When he finally did leave the hospital room, he came out holding her single shoe as if it were a child. It is a picture of grief I will never forget.

What does someone say in that moment, when they are saying goodbye to the person they’ve shared their life with? I love you. Thank you for loving me, for our sons, for everything. I’m not ready to lose you. I’m sorry.

My own thoughts reflected the selfish side of grief. I’m not ready either. I still need you. Are you proud of me? And later, standing in a department store, trying to pick out shoes through a haze of tears, I can’t do this Grandma. You aren’t here to tell me whether these are appropriate for a funeral or not.

Sitting at the funeral home and watching people come to pay their respects; I thought about how much of our lives belong to other people. Carolyn was a cherished, long-awaited only child. For a time, she belonged only to her parents. Later she was a student, a friend, an employee, a neighbor and a million other things. For many years, as a mother, she belonged to her four sons. As a grandmother, she belonged to us. As a great-grandmother, she first belonged to Trinity, the baby girl she never had. I was happy to share, and am so grateful for the bond she built with my daughter.

A lot of people can claim pieces of the years she spent on Earth. But as I watched my grandfather, bent over her recently closed casket with his head in his hands I realized that most of her had belonged to him.

I was humbled and a bit ashamed that I’d not considered her life before it included me, aside from the vague understanding that she’d had one. I imagined my grandparents when they were young, bringing home their first baby, buying their first home, building the family and life we all claim as our own now. I’d never before thought of them as being the same people that they’d been when they started their life together. I only truly understood the enormity of my grandfather’s loss then, when I realized that for everything she was to others, she’d spent the largest portion of her life, 58 of her 76 years, being his wife.


It was a strange moment of understanding. Not unlike the first time a child realizes that teachers are real people and have lives outside of school. When I looked at my grandmother in her casket, I saw the woman I’d always seen. I imagine that my grandfather saw much more. I’d imagine he saw his high school sweetheart, the girl he married, the mother of his children, the woman who made a home and life with him. I’d guess that when my grandfather looked at my grandmother
in her casket, he saw his whole world.

05 October 2014

Being a Writer, Er, Being Bat-Shit Crazy

"See, I can write well, but I'm not a writer. The difference is, you are compelled to write, and I have to be compelled to write." - Kensey Alsman, sometime, somewhere, probably at a bar. 

I have this incredibly talented daughter, who, at the age of 2 would sit for hours and color and cut and paste and make stuff. She did not choose to be an artist, she just is and always has been. Being a writer is mostly the same thing.

I don't think that anyone chooses to be a writer. We are, in general, some pretty goddamned disturbed people. 

"Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand."-George Orwell

E.L. Doctorow, compared writing to "a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia," which is almost true.

Writing is like hearing voices, except they're speaking very softly in languages I don't always understand  

I spend days, weeks sometimes, existing on an hour or two of sleep a night staring at a blank Microsoft Word page.  Possibly because I am batshit crazy- but also, maybe, because something in me is working on making its way out. Words, phrases, images, ideas and sometimes just the impressions of ideas highjack my brain and they won't shut the fuck up until I figure out how to get them out. Sometimes, often times really, they're shit when they do come out, but at least they're out and that restless feeling ebbs for a week or two.

Then, if a writer is really unlucky, someone tells them that they're good at it. Now, the almost-voices are not only demanding to be interpreted, they expect to be interpreted well. 

I have nothing truly profound to share with the world. Everyone has a story, or stories. The difference, I guess, is that mine keep trying to come to life in my head.

I suppose the entire point of this post is just to say, if there were such things as muses? They'd be fucking assholes. 

03 September 2014

Ferguson, Cows, Racism and Pickles

The chief of police in Ferguson says that there isn't a black and white divide in the city. Apparently, that guy is an absolute moron. There's a black and white divide everywhere. Hell, there's an everything divide everywhere. Whether there should be or not is a moot point. It isn't going to change. Most of us are inherently racially biased, which is not to say that we're all lynch-mob, ignorant fucks.

Babies, who are by nature, selfish little pricks, learn racial bias by the age of nine months. I'm no doctor or anything, but I'd assume baby thinks something like this:
         Oooh. That face looks like the face attached to the booby milk. I'm going to look closer and see for sure before I manipulate it by being all cute and shit so it'll continue to feed my helpless self. 
Baby studies face intently. Then another face comes into view, a face that is a different race than the booby-milk face.
What the....doesn't matter, not the booby-milk.
And so, by the age of 9 months, baby learns that faces who belong to the same race as the booby-milk are good things. And since babies see everything as an extension of self, they would recognize this group of people as us. And other races as... meh.

It's not that we all grow up to dislike people of other races, it's more like we just don't see them. Which is why black people all look the same to white people, We've conditioned ourselves, as infants, not to record the information as important. Because, once again, babies are assholes. See, here's a study.

I'm no expert, but I'm guessing that as much as we want to pretend otherwise, race will never be a non-issue. Most of us agree that racial oppression is a bad thing and that we all, as humans, are entitled to certain basic human rights, but most of us reserve our outrage for violations of such rights for our own races. 

In Ferguson, MO, a grossly disproportionate amount of white police officers are policing a population where the majority of the residents are black. I can't imagine how this wouldn't lead to an "us vs. them" mentality among residents and officers. It's something like the full-moon effect. People aren't crazier during a full moon, we just think so because we remember when the full moon is. Our brains seek patterns and often make them up. 

Then there's that Clive What's-his-name... He broke the law. The government was going to come take his cows. In response to the federal law enforcement presence,  a shit ton of armed militia people showed up. The feds were all like, well hell, guess we lost this one. Let's go home.

In Ferguson on the other hand, a young kid, an unarmed one, broke the law...At some point, we think. I don't even know. Regardless, the local government took his life. Whether it was a good shooting or not isn't for me to say.. And when people gathered in protest of his death? The local government sent this:
Yes, people began looting. I've seen the whole, this is how you mourn a dead kid, by destroying your community's businesses?

Yup. 

You know why?
Historically, violence is extremely effective. 

This is how they make sure they are heard and seen. We see this one incident as a wake up call, while they see it as a last straw because they live with shit like this every single day.

I wonder what would have happened if the government had sent a similar force out to the cow guy's ranch? And also, why the hell didn't they? There was a guy in a fucking sniper position for God's sake. Ferguson is throwing rocks at cops. And furthermore, where the fuck are the hundreds of armed militia guys and their hatred of big government in Ferguson?

In my humble, non-expert opinion, this is not the time to talk about racial equality, we've been over, under, around and through that issue for so long we don't even know what it means anymore. It's time to acknowledge the fact that we will never "unsee" race. So instead of trying to force an unnatural oversight of race, how about acknowledging the fact that we will always be equal and also separate to some extent and tell Ferguson to hire some black cops for fuck's sake.

On an unrelated note, Mark brought me homemade pickles today, so I'm going to go eat them now. They are, no joke, the best damn pickles I've ever had.

30 April 2014

Babies Shooting... Everything

I got an email the other day from a guy writing an article about firearms. He asked a question about kids and guns, which prompted a rant I'm not sure he was looking for. 
How do we stop kids from thinking that guns are toys? How do we prevent little kids from shooting their parents, siblings, dogs, themselves and whatever else happens to be in front of the muzzle?

Well, in my non-expert opinion (which, thank God I have, because the experts appear to be overwhelmingly ill informed) we can approach this several ways: 
We can use fear to teach children to never, ever touch anything that looks like a gun. 
"Guns are bad. Guns are dangerous. Don't ever touch them."
Which pretty much ensures that these children will be the first to pick up and play with a firearm he knows nothing about.

Or we can approach it the same way we do fire safety in school. "This is a gun. If you find a gun, do not pick it up. Call an adult immediately."This approach works on certain children. Not so much on others.

Or, we can maybe try a little common sense. 
I have three children.
I also have a Glock.
My older children have been shooting. My oldest knows how to clear a slide and even take down a Glock. She's 12. 

What does that mean exactly? It means that my oldest children's curiosity about firearms has been mostly satisfied. It means that I am somewhat confident that they are informed enough to never point a firearm in an unsafe direction. It means that instead of being afraid of guns, they have developed a healthy respect for the destructive nature of firearms.

It does not mean that I leave them unattended, with firearms laying around on tables and floors. It does not mean that they are aware of where the gun is kept when it isn't on me. As much as I trust my children, I know the appeal of showing off.

And so the answer to how do we stop babies from accidentally shooting shit? Common fucking sense. 
Again. 

Don't leave your guns in your kids' toy boxes. Or on the floor. Or on the kitchen table. If you can't manage this? Don't have kids. 
If you're worried about kids finding guns at other people's house? Teach them.
Don't keep your gun in a shoebox in your closet. Who the fuck does that anyway? If you want to hide a gun in your home, at least put it somewhere inaccessible to your children. 

Most importantly, even if you've taught your children to respect the power of a firearm, do not underestimate the pull of showing off. Teaching your kids about guns doesn't make them tiny adults that know about guns. It makes them kids that know stuff some of their friends don't.  

Again, this is only my opinion, but the number of accidental child shootings in my house? 
Zero.

18 April 2014

Dear New York, Much Safer Now

Dear New York,

I'm writing to express my heartfelt appreciation of the knee-jerk legislation you passed back in January of 2013.

You see, I've often bitched about the impossibility of defining the term "assault weapon." Thankfully, you seem to have narrowed it down, once again, to firearms that either look scary, or have certain features that absolutely in no way affect the mechanical aspect of a firearm. Congrats, probably it'll work this time.

Since, obviously, no one in your government has ever seen a firearm before, I'll take the time to explain:

Folding and telescoping stocks are designed to allow the weapon to be fired from a car. Or one-handed, from the hip probably. This is especially true of those semi-auto shotguns. I've found that 12 gauge wounds are far more lethal when fired from a shotgun with a folding stock. The same is true of weapons with thumbhole stocks. I believe the act of placing one's thumb through a hole in the stock of a weapon creates less wind-drag, which increases the velocity of a round exponentially, or something like that.
Don't push me bro. I'll extend my stock and assault the shit right out of you.


And of course, the danger of having a bayonet lug on a weapon. I mean shit, if I'm going to be shot, I certainly don't want to know that the shooter had the capability of attaching a knife to the gun. Plus, I'm guessing that the presence of a bayonet lug allows the firearm to be fired more quickly, seeing as how it's just a piece metal that allows the mounting of a bayonet.

As for the flash suppressors, thank goodness those won't be a problem anymore. I can't even tell you the horror of being shot with a rifle and not having the burning gases displaced. At least I'll have died knowing that the shooter was seeing spots for a few minutes.
You see, much safer now. This rifle is practically incapable of hurting anyone. 


I could go on and discuss the grenade launchers and pistol grips, but I'm running out of time and I certainly wanted to give you an "atta boy" over your decision to require these assault weapons be registered. I'm confident you have some way of enforcing this registration thing, other than to say it's a misdemeanor not to, right?

Probably you have some gun-sniffing ferrets or something that are going to alert you to the fact that someone owns a firearm that can be defined as an assault weapon. Surely, you have the manpower and funding to actually go break into American civilian homes to verify that there are, in fact, no assault weapons present. I'm guessing you'll somehow probably find the balls also. 

That must be the plan, right? Since the amount of manpower and funding it would take to trace each and every firearm capable of being defined as an assault weapon that was imported and sold God knows how many times in the history of forever is simply unfeasible. To save argument or any actual thought, we'll just ignore the fact that quality record keeping is fairly new.

Perhaps next time you pass some sort of gun reform, you could consider banning slings as well, especially the military style ones. And maybe require AR-15 style rifles to be painted in bright, happy colors as they'd be less lethal if they weren't so scary looking. Just a thought.

In closing, I'd like to thank you, once again, for responding to an awful tragedy with this totally useless, panicked legislation. I'd also like to thank you for not knowing a rifle from a fucking cupcake, and banning totally inconsequential features. You should be proud, or, um, something like proud. Embarrassed by your total and utter ignorance, maybe?

Sincerely,
Someone Who Knows What Makes Guns Go Pew-Pew