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Monthly Archives: May 2020

Once in a while, I like to compare myself to my father at the same age. What did he feel at this point? What were his thoughts? What was he experiencing? What had he accomplished? And then ultimately: How do we compare? Like most kids, my father was my role model, my hero. He was the standard that I was set against.

Now, I see the years behind me as a trail of signposts, allowing me to compare us, my father and I side by side at the same point in our lives. These signposts and comparisons are a way of putting myself in my father’s shoes, so to speak, and wondering how I compare to him. He is my benchmark for being a man and a father. He taught me about hard work, humor, optimism, humbleness, wisdom. So, by attempting to place myself in his shoes, I am trying to fill them and to feel that I deserve them.

However, as my analysis of my father has progressed, I am finding faults and limitations and shortcomings. I’m finding that my memories and the myth/image I built of my father are not standing up to the deeper scrutiny I am giving it. The gilding and luster are rubbing off. It’s like the old saying: “Never meet your heroes.” In my case, it is: “Never look at your heroes too closely.”

It’s proven correct on several occasions. But in this case my father is the hero, the person I looked up to and tried to emulate. But the reminiscing and timeline comparisons have done nothing but show me that my father was fallible and human. We made different decisions and held different opinions.

For example, he was religious and I am not. I think we are the same politically, but miles apart when it comes to books, movies, and art. We both had mechanical skills, I even became an engineer. We were both curious and not afraid to learn something new. And we both married more than once; the second one is always better. We both raised large families, he five boys, and me five girls. I think he was a good father and I hope I compare well. But was he a good man? Am I? That is really the big question. 

He only lived to see sixty-five years. I have never smoked and have better healthcare, so I expect to live far beyond that. In less than ten years I will surpass him and strike out on my own establishing lone signposts with no one to compare to.

I can honestly say that I’ve stood in shoes similar to my father’s. I can say that I’ve been my own man and feel that I could look him in the eye as a near equal. And to me that is saying something. He is still my role model, the origin of my work ethic and sense of humor. But he less a hero and more a peer and good friend. As he should be.

 

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It has been a while since I’ve posted any poetry, which is sad because that was one of the reasons I started this page. However, I was under that mistaken belief that there was a paying market for poetry out there and that if you posted your work online, they wouldn’t take it. That part is actually true, but there is a minuscule market out there for poetry. So I decided that it wasn’t worth my time. I still love poetry and write it when I can, but I will be posting it here for the time being. Enjoy.

I wrote this poem for my grandson for his birth in 2014. I’ve only seen him a handful of times since. Life…

On Day One

Our first meeting

You fresh to the world

Still wet around the ears and scared

I smiled the worlds’ welcome

On Day One

You were all things

All potentials and possibilities

The seed of everything, anything

On Day One

Perched on the cusp of infinity

You were a multiverse at a point

An infinity, a singularity

You could be anything, go anywhere

With all of life before you

Please spread your wings and savor it all

For you will never be more free

Than on Day One

From here on the world closes in

It presses around you

Forms you

Controls you

Stereotypes you

No path is completely untraveled

No life without influence

After Day One

Forces will pull you

Warp you

Change you

So hold on to what you can of yourself

For only on Day One

Were you completely free and completely you

Prologue

I’ve never killed anyone. I’ve thought about it, of course, we all have. But the thrill is not what I expected. As I worked out the details and fleshed out the plan, my excitement built. Now, standing over my victim with a baseball bat, I feel it much more than I could have imagined. I’m almost giddy.

Once I had the planning complete, Devin made the rest so easy for me. Sicily described him as a sloppy drunk, and she wasn’t kidding. He was at his usual spot on the beach and in extra special form today. Drunk off his ass and not even noon. Hell, it might be a continuation of yesterday’s drunk. Who knows? I imagine he thought of himself as a beach bum, he did live in Florida after all, but he looked more bum than beach.

After a friendly hello, all I had to do was offer him a fresh beer, and he downed it without hesitation. What a douche! There was enough drug in it to put him down for hours.

“We’re going to need more beer,” I said and lead him to the car; like luring kids with candy. I should be arrested.

In her discussions, Sicily spent a lot of time on how to find the perfect location. It is the most critical part of a plan, she said. But it turns out that Google does know everything, making it easy. Online satellite images helped me locate the perfect cabin.

Requirement #1 – Old shack built out over the swamp. Check!

Requirement #2 – On rarely used back road of another back road. Check!

She couldn’t have described it better; this place has been unused for years. Even the discarded beer cans and trash are old. Once I finish with Devin, I only have to push the body off into the water and walk away.

Honestly, the hardest part was getting him out of the damn car. He’s a big boy, and dragging his unconscious body into the shack was harder than I expected. I really should have rented the SUV and backed it right up to the door. Lesson learned.

The main room of the cabin is bare except for Devin, inert in the middle of the floor. His hands are tied behind his back, but legs free, as per the plan. A chair to prop him in would have been handy, but watching him writhe on the floor will be just as good.

I’m shaking and sweating in rivers. My heart pounding in my chest. And yet I’m smiling and fearless. The nervousness and fear I expected have vanished. The swamp air is hot and moist, but it seems fitting.

I’m about to kill someone! Holy Shit!

I pace while I wait for Devin to wake, breathing deep to calm my heart. I hope I didn’t give him too much of the drug. An overdose is not the death this ditwad deserves. The bugs circle and buzz in a growing cloud. The message must have gotten out. Fresh meat! I swat at them angrily as they start to get vicious. I’m getting impatient.

Finally, my victim groans and begins to squirm. I take another shaky breath and heft the baseball bat to poke at him. He had to be awake for this part.

It’s time to start.

[Let me know what you think in the comments.]

 

 

I went to high school in a small town in Northern Minnesota. It was a great place to grow up and taught me the value of hard work and education and getting out. I left soon after graduation, eventually gained a college degree and a career. Since then I’ve continued my education and explored the world. However, like many people, I failed to maintain contact with friends from home or people from my past. I honestly suck at keeping friends. But Facebook and other social media have made it possible to reconnect with people or even to stalk them if you are just curious and unwilling to actually reach out to them.

Lately, Covid-19 and middle age have got me thinking about the old days and old acquaintances. Curiosity eventually led me to Facebook in search of old classmates. A few of them had at least a basic profile and some pictures. It turns out that most have not gone far from home. Most are still in that little town raising kids and hunting and fishing.  Living the Good Life, so to speak. Things haven’t changed much.

It is wonderful to see them with kids and grandkids, looking so mature and happy and in some cases old. Compared to many I seem to be aging well. Good for me.

What struck me most during my look-through of posts from home was the unexpected realization of how far we had drifted in ideology. The Trump flags and assault rifles and racism were surprising. And disappointing. Could these be the same people I knew from the halcyon days of my youth? Could we all have come from the same place that molded what I believe and who I am? It made me question my view of the place and stripped away the whitewash that time had used to cover up the old uglinesses.

I then recalled the homophobia, sexism, the Indian jokes and hatred, and the narrow insulationist thinking. And I remembered why I left. I never belonged there. Not ever.

People will always have disagreements on important issues but I have made a lifelong point of avoiding extreme opinions. I’ve tried to see both sides of an issue in order to meet in the middle. I believe that once you remove the most extreme ideologies we tend to agree on more than we think. We should concentrate on the things we agree on rather than getting angry about what we don’t. There is always a middle ground where we can live as neighbors. But the social media coming out of my hometown doesn’t make me believe that I could find a middle ground there.

I’ve considered going home for a visit, but I have no family there and haven’t been back in almost twenty-five years. I also realize now that I don’t have any friends there really, just people I used to know. I’m not a part of that world anymore and I’m fine with that. I also believe that the part of there that I thought I carried me never really existed or else was chased out of town and forgotten like a gay cousin.

Maybe I’ll visit someday, but I’m in no hurry to put myself through that. Particularly since no one there has reached out to me. Maybe someday.

Or – maybe it’s not that you ‘can’ never go home, but that you never should. Maybe it was never home, to begin with.

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We have a diverse and ever-changing population of wildlife in our neighborhood. Beyond the stray cats and birds, we also regularly see possums and raccoons in our backyard. For the most part they are harmless and haven’t posed a danger to us, so we put food out for whoever wants it. We have no restaurants in the area, so ur trash pickings are rather slim. I believe that a well-fed possum is less hazardous than a starving sickly one.

This is Petunia – Petunia Possum. She appears once in a while, but this was the first time I was able to get her photo. Yes, I am assuming it a girl. It thought it rude to have to ask.

And yes, we name them all.

 

WE HAVE GRASS!!!

For two weeks we didn’t see anything and then suddenly one morning I saw a haze over my dirt-yard and bent down to see GRASS! Thin spindly barely-there grass. Let’s just say that I could finally release the breath I had been holding. I was secretly terrified that we had done something wrong and would never get grass to grow again. Glad that fate was dodged.

It was a difficult couple of weeds that didn’t see much activity due to rain, but I did add a brick platform for our rain barrel. We have a spot along our rain gutters where the water just pours out onto the ground. A hole had been drilled into the yard where it had been eroded away by years of rain.

Fixing the gutters would be the best solution, but not one we can tackle at this point, for reasons. However, we have a drain in the middle of the yard that allows rain to go directly into the sewer. I suggested we rig it so that the water off the gutter would drain to there instead. It took a while to find a workable and aesthetically approved solution, but I located a wine-barrel planter on Craigslist for $20. I then drilled a hole in the bottom to allow the water to drain out into a hose and ran the hose in a trench to the drain. The drain and hose are now hidden and not an eyesore.

The yard will need a little repair, but it’s still growing and will cover my damage in time.

The next project is to add a path extension along the garage. Then I think I can relax and just watch the grass grow.

In the last month, I’ve had to replace two laptops, a CADmouse, and Bluetooth earbuds. I find that technology is being more of a hindrance than a help lately. I can write on any-old-thing: a grocery receipt, the back of my hand, etc. But I can’t publish or post anything without the technology that is failing me.

My wife has been working from home for the last month and relies heavily on her laptop. She works in customer service and is essentially hogtied without it. Around 10am Monday morning, it decided to go tits-up and would only show the Blue Screen Of Death. She called me at work (cause I’m still working a day job) frantic because she was in the middle of a busy morning and was completely offline. Luckily my laptop was available and practically new. – Yeah, she got to touch my stuff!

I am pretty good with computers, but a computer with a dead harddrive doesn’t really have a fix – it’s a ‘replace’ situation. Our options were to either replace the drive or replace the computer. We went with the new computer. At $499 they’re cheaper than a good set of tires. Which, I found, rather eye-opening for two reasons.

  1. I remember paying $2000 for a laptop that was a Model T compared to this thing and cost more than my car at the time.
  2. I remember when $499 would have made me choke. Now, it barely gets a ‘meh’.

Times change, technology changes, and the value of things changes. But I am only slowly catching up. I’ve got more money than I’ve ever had in my life and the things that used to be expensive and impressive have become mundane commodities. I used to drool over ads in PC Magazine and Computer Shopper for PC’s capable of doing CAD drawing and music recording. Now you can do all of it on your phone. I even worked at Gateway Computers for a short time and remember when 60megabyte harddrives were the size of small carry-on luggage.

Now I’ve only succeeded in making myself sound old and crotchety. I think this is what growing up feels like once you realize you’re there, when in reality, it is already miles behind you.

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