Thursday, November 28, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

big ass Sharpies 'cause they should be used in a well-ventilated room and they should also probably come with a breathalyzer.



Monday, November 25, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:


“Love the trees until their leaves fall off, then encourage them to try again next year.”
~Chad Sugg

Sunday, November 24, 2013


I wrote this last November:

Sometimes I stop for a moment. Pause. And then I notice the way the sun illuminates all the little particles in the air. And they just waft by. Suspended. Yet moving. I wave my arm and those particles scatter. I make them move. I shape their journey. Or I think I do.

There are so many choices we make. With experience, wisdom often makes those choices quicker, easier, somehow more manageable no matter the outcome. And they lead to other choices. And so on. Life is meaningful. And all my proverbial ducks line up mostly the way I want. 

It's pure arrogance.

And then. Bang. Randomness. Something so sickenly random happens. No reason. Something unbelievable. Like an aneurysm. A head-on collision. Cancer. Some other bullshit thing.

And then there's no choice. No way to shift the particles the way I want. The sun still illuminates it all but everything looks different now. Particles wafting. Particles drifting. Shockwaves interfere with everything. And I don't know where things go anymore and I don't know where they come from anymore. All the way up to the stars. 

A year has passed now. I continue to search for perspective but I don't still feel this way. Still is the key word here; the search isn't so turbulent right now. At least not for me. Yet talking with a friend a few days ago, for her it is: particles overwhelming, particles everywhere. I listened to her carefully. I felt her confusion and agreed: it doesn't make sense. At some point in the conversation she pleaded, "What am I supposed to learn from this?"

That's it. That's the question. Right there. We all must keep asking that question. Ask yourself. Ask those you trust. And keep sorting it out. Little by little. Day by day. Friends with friends. Conversation by conversation. Because at least together among those drifting particles illuminated by the sun, both beautiful and infuriating, we will see each other and know that at least there's that: we are not alone in all of this.

"Experience is a hard teacher because she gives the test first, the lesson afterwards." ~V.S. Law

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

My current temperature is NUTS but what's even more nuts? It's expected to all melt by the weekend. Who's in charge?! Oh right: Brick Tamland.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Things that are most likely the devil:

Take your medicine and assume this position.
Immediately. Take my word for it. 
NarcoticQuil NyQuil.

There's that commercial where the fat guy's wife tosses NyQuil at him and his man-cold morphs into a happy sleep. As a fat guy in need of a cold remedy recently, I consumed the recommended dosage of NyQuil and well, shit happened. What did I learn? Don't drink NyQuil during the day. (Apparently that's DAYQuil.) Don't drive on NyQuil. Don't try to cut vegetables on NyQuil. Don't even walk. Don't do anything. I discovered this the hard way. And by hard way I mean drunk way.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Importance of Scars

The picture above my desk:
my older brothers and me.
For a while I forgot about the scar at the corner of my right eye. Time has masked it with laugh lines but noticing it again, the story remains fresh. Pondering it now, I realize time has also changed its meaning. Scars are often secrets but this scar in no way began as a secret. I made sure this scar shouted.

My brothers and I were boarding the bus one September morning during my first weeks of school. My oldest brother's impatience got the better of him and he gave me a push to "help" me up the stairs. I bet I was carrying my lunchkit and maybe that's why I didn't put my hands out to brace myself against the fall? Instead, my face introduced itself to the steps, hence the scar.

I do remember crying, probably more like wailing, standing with my Mom, watching the bus drive away. Equipped early with a propensity for drama, I also remember thinking Is my eye going to fall out? Why isn't my Mom taking me to the hospital?! And why is my brother so mean? And why do they get to go to school considering the fact that I'm the only one who likes to go?!

Despite the hullabaloo, my scar is pretty tiny. And like that saying "when things go wrong, don't go with them," longevity and the loss of my oldest brother has taught me that this tiny scar is actually something huge to me now.

I wonder if my brother ever thought about it again? I wonder if he thought about the time a few years later when I punched him in the nose. I had to stand on a snow pile so I was tall enough. A spontaneous act, I remember feeling shocked that I had actually followed through with that very foolish decision. I don't recall what happened afterwards but I suspect G-rated would not describe it.

Revenge. That was always a problem with my brothers. They were older. They were taller. They were stronger. And worst of all, my heart just wasn't into revenge. Although I was always wary of my brother's negative attention, and I was always quick to tell anyone who would listen that they were meaner than mean, I would forget about my elaborate revenge plots and subplots. Eventually, I realized this may have been what irritated them the most about me. I rarely fought back. Plus, as the classic annoying tattletale, I learned fairly quickly that people would actually listen if I told my sibling war stories in such greatly exaggerated detail that even I couldn't keep a straight face while sharing and thus I turned their torture of me into legends that my cousins Laurel and Jo and I would laugh about until we couldn't breathe.

And thinking about this right now, I realized something: I wonder if this scar made me a writer, if indeed my brothers made me a writer. I needed someone to listen and they wouldn't listen unless I entertained them. That is the bigger thing this tiny scar means to me now. So brother, for this scar, I thank you.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Things one should never outgrow:


These are my great-grandfather's First World War medallions. After the war he brought a Scottish war bride to Canada, raised three children and lived until his 90s.

I have one childhood memory of him. Due to his quick speech and strong accent I struggled to understand him but I can still hear him bickering with his Maggie, my Great-Grandmother. I can see his lively dark eyes on me as he brought the kettle to his kitchen table, his open toolbox on the chair. He and my Dad talked tools over tea. My Dad smiling.

Using the information engraved on these medals, I now know the details of his particular military service. No wonder all the tool talk.

Unlike my great-grandfather, the stories of many men, just like him, ended on fields in France and elsewhere. What a great waste of men and women war is and yet another great waste of humanity without their sacrifices.

"Peace is the virtue of civilization, war is its crime." ~Victor Hugo

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

defining clean.

The other day, I could hear the washing machine sloshing so I investigated to discover it seemed to be busy washing nothing. My first thought was typical: our washing machine is possessed. My second thought was that my wife forgot to put the clothes in before she started the cycle.

Intent on teasing her, I mentioned it the next day and before I could toy with her she explained that she was "washing the washing machine."


That's a thing? She confirmed it; I kid you not. But why would a washing machine need to be washed? And then my mind exploded like popcorn: how much wash would a washing machine wash if a washing machine could wash wash?

Thankfully I held inside this jibe (albeit a witty jibe) since I could tell by my wife's demeanor that there was nothing unusual in her mind about this practice of washing the washing machine and furthermore I should be thankful (and am thankful) that her way-too-high standards maintain a high level of germ-free-edness in our life together. I could have shared that "I suspect that this idea was created by the same people who invented wooden calendar frames and a variety of other useless products and practices," but I refrained and dare I say, I "washed my hands" of the whole thing. Sorry. Couldn't resist.

One last thing: I apologize if you indeed own a decorative wooden calendar frame. In all fairness, they are likely very, very useful especially in apocalyptic type situations where one needs emergency firewood.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

At least for a while.

I cleaned my almost grown son's room:

dinky toys
pencils sharpened down to a cm
candy wrappers
bottle caps

The whole room was a junk drawer.

I couldn't let everything go, even stuff he wanted to let go of. I need it still. At least for a while.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Things that deserve the stink-eye:

My son and his buds are "repairing" this jeep and this was how they decided to transport it from point A to point B. Teens.

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