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Fast Forward

18 Apr

Fast forward is the speed I am most accustomed.

You see, I am terrified.

Terrified of what I’ll miss, what I’ll leave behind.

So, I rush.

I go.

I run.

I flee.

As fast as I possibly can, I navigate through this little thing we all call “life”.

Without hesitation, I leap.

I dodge.

I dash.

I absolutely must find the quickest, most efficient way from Point A to Point B.

Stop and smell the flowers, you say?

Nah.

Those flowers are surely a waste of time.

Sure, I am certain they will undoubtedly amuse me with their ever so intoxicating scent. Their dazzling colors a welcomed distraction from a lifelong race.

But If you even think of actually stopping to experience them, I will leave you standing there alone in that pasture.

You see, I have to go.

I’ve already wasted so much time.

I am convinced I am missing something.

I just wish I knew what it was I was missing.

My Musical Blame Game

31 Aug

Those who know me, know my deep love affair with music. I have written about it on multiple occasions  and have declared my obsession in all the ways I can think of. Hell, my children should thank their lucky stars I didn’t actually name them something crazy like “Treble Clef” or “Turntable”. I mean, could you image their first day of kindergarten?

“Timothy?” the teacher rings out.

“Here!” Timothy replies.

“Talia?” she calls out once again.

“Present!” Talia replies.

“Treble, um, Treble Clef? Is there a Treble Clef present?”

“I’m right here, BITCH!” My son snarkily screams.

Yeah, as awesome as that scenario sounds, I am willing to bet my little Treble Clef would have one hell of a fucked up childhood. Therapy for the win!

Anyway, as we digress into the wild inner workings of my dark and twisted mind, the revelation that sparked the hamster on the wheel that lives inside my cranium the other day was quite profound. Okay, maybe that is a little bit of a stretch. Profound may be way too big of a word for me to comprehend anyway. So let’s just say that my teeny tiny brain figured out something new. Something new, that quite possibly, I have known all along.

Music can lead you to many, many avenues of creativity.

Now, think about that for a minute. We all know that music can present all kinds of muses in an infinite amount of forms. By merely hearing a melody, greatness can occur. Be it an orchestra, an idea for a screenplay, or even the latest design for that fresh pair of kicks you want to sport on that first date.

But alas, I am not talking about muses here. I am not talking about that inspiration brought on by the melodic sounds that grace your eardrum and tickle the neurons in your brain. No, this is actually less deep than that. It’s really quite simple actually.

As I plugged my iPhone into my auxiliary car jack the other day and hit random, I was transported to my usual state of euphoria when I cranked my stereo up past eleven. But then, seemingly out of nowhere, my brain started to think. And as we all know, for me, thinking is usually quite dangerous.

The very first song to spark the subwoofer was Kanye West’s “Blame Game”. As I listened to the lyrics, I mean ACTUALLY LISTENED to the lyrics, something sparked my interest like no other.

“Things used to be, now they not
anything but us is who we are
disguising ourselves as secret lovers
we’ve become public enemies
we walk away like strangers in the street
gon for eternity
we erased one another
so far from where we came
with so much of everything, how do we leave with nothing
lack of visual empathy equates the meaning of L-O-V-E
hatred and attitude tear us entirely”

And as he finished his verse, he did something totally unexpected. He actually cited the author of the words from whom he borrowed. Underneath his breath he muttered the name “Chloe Mitchell“.

Kind of taken back, I was instantly intrigued with who this woman could be. So, as soon as I pulled into work and sat down at my computer, my fingers pounded my keyboard in search of Chloe Mitchell. And what I found was so hauntingly and most definitely the most beautifully harsh love poem I have ever read.

*****

Your Bitter Is My Sweet/Blame Game

Things used to be. Now they’re not. Anything but us is who we are. Disguising ourselves as secret lovers, we’ve become public enemies. We walk away like strangers in the street. Gone for eternity, we erase one another. No phone calls. No sweet text messages. We are mere specs of particles, floating, unknown to our partners’ existence. So far from where we came. With so much of everything, how do we leave with nothing? Lack of visual empathy equates to the meaning of L.O.V.E. Hatred and attitude tear us entirely. We meet at opposite poles and no longer can we bond like love birds to a song or flowers to a Daisy. The air smells of rotten love and burned hearts. We have trashed our over cooked love that now accompanies the bin of deceit. Don’t turn around. Continue walking away. Disappear into that darkness that rests upon your gritty shoulders. Let that dark cloud follow you wherever you go. So long ex-lover. Farewell.

-Chloe Mitchell

Wow. I mean, WOW. I was just astonished by what I had read. Her words struck a chord so deep I actually had goosebumps. If you have ever had a breakup in your life, I am sure you could relate on some level. If not, you’re a lucky one and I pity your delicate soul.

So, without warning, music let me to discover something I never knew existed. It did not inspire me. It did not give me that creative muse like it has done a multitude of times before. No, this time it was different. This time music allowed me to discover someone else’s pain, someone else’s creativity. And I, for one, am so glad it did.

The Planes Of Paper

30 Aug

“Here, daddy.” he says with a devilish grin.

“I made you something.”

As I glance down to see what his tiny palm has in store, I see his eyes light up with the type of joy only a five-year old boy possesses.

“Isn’t it the coolest, dad?”  he says with the pitch and fervor of a used car salesman.

There, clutched in-between his fingers, lies a piece of red construction paper. It’s folded with the finest precision of any origami you’ve ever laid your eyes on. Markings of crayola and assorted superhero stickers adorn each and every side as badges of pride and accomplishment.

As he hands his masterpiece to me, he whispers underneath his breath “Now, be VERY careful with this. I have been working super hard, dad.” At this point, his words were gospel. He had been working feverishly for the last hour on this project. And now it was time for him to taste the fruits of his labor.

“Now, repeat after me.” I told him.

Together, we chanted in perfect harmony.

“1…2…3…”

And with that, his gift to me took flight. His finely constructed paper plane glided through the air just as his intentions hoped it would. With each and every crash landing, he would pick up his creation, make adjustments, and pitch it up into the stratosphere of our living room again and again.

In that very moment, I learned something from my son. He wasn’t just showing me how to fly a paper plane. No, he was teaching me something more profound, more intricate than his brain could conceptualize.

You WILL crash and burn. Over and over again. And there isn’t a damned thing you can do about it. But unlike that paper plane that will eventually go into the trash can, you have a choice. You can sit there and wallow in your own pity. You can loathe in your own insecurities. Or even worse, make the decision to never set foot on a plane of any kind again.

Or you can choose a different route, a different flight so to speak. You can get up, straighten your edges, and pilot your own plane, your own path.

As the sounds of my son’s laughter fill my ears, I sit down, grab a piece of my son’s coveted construction paper, and begin to construct my own masterpiece. After all, I’ve had my fair share of the crashes. I’ve had enough of the burning. It’s time to take flight once again. And even if I do crash and burn, I’ll have the know-how, the wherewithal to build a brand new plane. And I have the tiniest aeronautical engineer and the most infectious giggle to thank for teaching me just that.

What My Dreams Have Become

14 Jun

You know that feeling you get in the pit of your stomach the moment your body jerks awake from a bad daydream?

You know what I am talking about.

The kind of daydream you would only experience right smack dab in the middle of fourth period your sophomore year in high school.

The kind of dream that jolts you so hard, each and every appendage flails about as if you suddenly were the recipient of some archaic form of electroshock therapy.

The kind of dream that instantly makes your blood pressure skyrocket and your control of normal bodily functions all but cease to exist.

The kind of dream that combines all your greatest fears into one, mimicking and cloning all your secret worst case scenarios you haven’t told one single soul about on this earth.

As secret as these scenarios might be to the outside world, to your brain, they aren’t a secret at all. Not even a little bit. See, your brain knows you. And it knows you well. It has the ability to prey and feed on all your worst fears and insecurities no matter how laughable or valid they might be. Around each corner lurks another threat drummed up by your mind to taunt and horrify you. Finally, your body’s natural self-preservation mechanisms kick in and you find yourself the subject of ridicule and jokes by your friends for being that kid that fell asleep so hard in algebra, he actually slobbered all over his desk and screamed like a little girl as his brain finally allowed him to come to his senses.

As embarrassing as that sounds, that’s what is supposed to happen. Deep down, your body shuts off that threat your mind concocted and hands you back, for better or for worse, over to reality. But what happens if you never fully wake up? What if your mind still wreaks havoc on your soul although you are actually awake? Or even worse, what if what you thought was actually just one repetitiously brutal and terrifying dream was, in reality, nothing but your only known normalcy?

For the past year and half, I have been living in this nightmarish state of mind. Each and every single one of my fears and insecurities have been laid out for my brain to fiddle and fondle with unabashed recklessness. You see, my mind knows me. Over the years, it has grown, evolved, and even invented new and interesting ways to tease and shame. My brain, without a doubt, will always be at the finish line waiting for me to chug along and catch up. No matter how clever I think I may be, I will never be able to outwit it. I’ll never be able to out run it.

So, with each and every day my head lifts off of my pillow as the sun rises in the sky, I will myself to wake up. I will myself to stop dreaming. I do everything within my power to shout, fight, scratch, and overcome. But alas, there’s no use. Because this is not a dream. This is my life. And I have all but given up looking for the alarm clock.

Your Words, Your Melodies

11 May

You and I go way back.

As far as I can remember, you’ve been there right smack-dab next to me.

On my first day of school, you were there to cheer me up when I was just a scared and timid little boy.

As the summertime breeze blew through that window of that old station wagon my mother drove, you were there filling the air with your words, your melodies.

It was you that soothed my soul as I sat and watched a frail 50-year-old man become one with the earth and make his peace with god.

You were the shoulder I cried on when the 17-year-old version of myself was convinced he would never love again.

It was your touch, your lyric that kept that 10-year-old boy and 8-year-old girl safe and happy as they waited patiently for their mother to return home from diligently working triple shift after triple shift to provide for her own.

It was you that stood by me as I watched my own two children come into this world.

It was your skill, your precision that all but single-handedly pulled me out of that hospital bed a year ago.

Never wavering, you’ve stood by my side through the toughest of times.

You have always been that light at the end of the tunnel.

You have always been the life of every party.

Always a conundrum and forever a walking, talking contradiction, you were always the most popular, yet one of the most nomadic of outcasts.

I’ve cursed you. I’ve praised you. I’ve loved you. And I’ve hated you.

I’ve abandoned you for months on end, but that never once bothered you or made you feel anything less for me.

You can bring me to tears with a single word. You and only you can put a smile on my face and change my whole outlook on life.

Our love affair has been passionate to say the least. But one thing is for certain. I will always have you and you will always have me. I couldn’t get rid of you if I tried. You wouldn’t let me. And for that, I will always be thankful.

So, take a bow. You deserve all the recognition you can get.

Thank you for always being there, Music. Without you, I wouldn’t have made it this far.

The Envy of Toes

31 Mar

With each and every step, I feel the cold concrete seep through the rubber soles of my weathered Converse. My toes, numb from winter’s last ditch effort to retard spring’s progress, seem to mock the rest of my body. My limbs and core can still feel the pain, the cold from the years that have passed. But not my toes. They are lucky. They have been deadened. They no longer have to suffer. They no longer have to feel.

Weaving, maneuvering these crowded streets, my eyes glance up with hopes of discovering a friendly face, a smile or two to concentrate on. But these hopes, these internal wishes are quickly dashed. No smiles, no winks, no simple “hellos”.

Not today at least.

And that’s when it hit me. In a city of nearly 9 million people, I am completely alone.

I can see people’s faces. I can hear their voices. I can even feel their laughter reverberate through me as they joke amongst their friends at the table next to me. But I just sit and observe like I am window shopping for things I cannot afford.

As I curl up to this bar and ask the bartender for another drink, I glance down at my feet that swing beneath me from atop of my perch of this old wooden barstool. My toes, still numb, do not care that they are alone. They do not care because they do not feel a thing.

In this very moment, I envy them. You see, my toes are lucky. I wish I could have what they have. I covet their virtual paralysis.

And As I finish this next drink, I hope the rest of my body will catch up. I want to feel numb. I want to feel nothing but the cold.

Because today, I am jealous of my toes. They do not feel alone. They just do not care. And for once, just for today, I want to feel the same.

One Week

21 Mar

One week.

That’s how long it’s been since the first pill hit my bloodstream.

One week.

That’s how long it’s been since my body slouched and conformed to that comfy leather couch in that dimly lit room filled with books and inspirational messages.

One week.

It’s been one week since I admitted I was broken. Just one measly week.

But in my mind, the way I think, it’s been “ONE DAMNED WEEK ALREADY! WHY AREN’T YOU FEELING BETTER YOU WEAK MOTHERFUCKER?”

My mind has been racing, running like a postal worker trying to escape the clutches of a rabid dog. Like the mailman, my mind just wants to deliver the mail and get on with its life. But there is something waiting, lurking. Something standing in the way. Something more scary than gnarled teeth and a foaming mouth. Something more terrifying than deep growl and a vicious bark. Something so limiting, imprisoning, and so very encompassing it sucks the very air out of my lungs before I can even breathe it in.

That something is me.

As much as I hate to admit it, I am the one standing in the way. At the very core, it’s me who is responsible for my own happiness. I have to be willing and able to accept the help. I need to ditch the skepticism, the rolling eyes, the doubtful thoughts.

I need to open my mind.

And that folks, will be the hardest thing for me. I have to dig deep. I have to unlock doors and open windows that have been shut, sealed, and locked for years and years.

So, as I sit here a few hours away from my next therapy appointment, I realize that I, myself, hold the key. I just have to figure out where I left the keychain in the first place.

Come Monday

17 Mar

Let’s be honest.

For once, at least.

Honest with my friends. Honest with my family. Honest with complete strangers.

But most importantly, I need to be honest with myself.

I am not well.

I have been struggling for so long now, that I don’t even know where the surface is most days. Sure, I can see the sunshine sparkle as the waves splash miles above my head. But I’ve lost the ability to swim. Or maybe, just maybe, I never had the ability in the first place.

I’ve been dodging this truth, this brutal honesty for quite some time. My vocabulary of quick answers carry a bevy of “I’m fine. I’m okay. I’m surviving.” All statements used on a daily basis to thwart a single worry from anyone else about what may or may not be going on inside my head.

But Monday, I woke up and verbalized to myself and the pillow I clutched tightly that I, in fact, am not fine. I am not okay. I am not surviving. And as I heard those words actually come from my own mouth, it hit me like a ton of bricks.

I’ve known for the last couple of weeks that I was nearing my breaking point. I already knew I had one foot over the edge. And I could feel the other foot lurching forward without much hesitation.

With my grip on reality waning, I picked up the phone and dialed. As ashamed and defeated as I was, I knew I needed help.

Monday was my first therapy appointment.

After staring at a hauntingly scary prescription bottle that sat harmlessly on my bathroom counter for the last three months, I finally opened it and took one of the tiny blue pills, placed it on my tongue, and washed it down with a splash of orange juice.

Monday was the first time I took Zoloft.

For those who know me well, this admission, this revelation proves just how low I am and how serious I am about getting my life back on the right track.

I’ve been saying for years that I don’t need medication. I don’t need therapy. I don’t need help. My pride fooled my logic into thinking these statements were gospel. My stubbornness instructed me that Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and depression were for the weak.

But Monday, I admitted to myself I was wrong.

I am four days into trying to right my ship. The waters are bumpy on the best of days. From hour to hour I wonder how this is all going to work out. My feelings of shame, guilt, and weakness have been magnified exponentially because in my mind, I should be stronger, I shouldn’t need help.

But I do.

And since this Monday, I am no longer afraid to admit it.

The Awakening

24 Feb

I don’t think you quite understand.

You are, in fact, poking a sleeping bear.

And not one of those cute and cuddly type of bears that make you scream out “ooh” and “aah” either.

No, not even close.

You see, I am one of those rabid, hungry, and overly aggressive bears. The kind that when simply crossed, will maul without the slightest of warning.

You wouldn’t know it from the looks of me. Hell, most people will never see this side of me at all. But you’ve been poking and prodding for a long while now. And it’s time that you see the size of my teeth. It’s time you feel the pinch of your very own flesh underneath the pressure of my jaw.

You’ve been tiptoeing around for too long now, chucking rocks from afar so as to not awaken me. You select your targets at will, without regard for anything but yourself. In the past,  I have just sat back, gritted my teeth, and watched you play these childish games. On occasion, I would let out a yawn out of pure disinterest.

But lately, your aim has been off.

And now one of your pathetic stones has gone astray.

You have the impression that I don’t know what’s going on. You think that I haven’t got a clue.

But I assure you, I do.

You’ve targeted the very single thing that is most important to a bear. Something so precious and so very sacred. Something that I will not only fight, but win the bloodiest of battles for.

My family.

Your games, your manipulations, and your outright lies have sparked and fueled a rage so intense, there will be no warning, no more pleasantries.

So, here I am.

I’m awake. I’m alert. But most importantly, I am pissed.

I suggest you prepare yourself for what’s to come.

 

It Seemed Like A Good Idea

16 Feb

All of us awesome editors over at IndieInk recently got together and threw down the gauntlet geeky writer style. What am I talking about? Simple. A challenge. A modern day duel, if you will. We decided to play a little game and challenge each other on the weekly with anonymous writing prompts. Think of it as You Got Served, but with less rhythm and more nerdy white kids.

This week, my writing prompt is, well, challenging.

“It seemed like a good idea at the time.  Okay, so I *wanted* it to be a good idea.”

A challenging writing challenge? Well, I’ll be damned!

****

Underneath this mess, there is pure unadulterated emotion.

But you’ll never know it.

You’ll never catch a glimpse of love, anger, happiness, guilt, elation, or even sadness.

My expressionless face is strong and fiercely robotic.

Or so I’ve been told.

You see, I wasn’t always like this. As a kid, I vividly remember expressing each and every emotion my heart could handle. It came naturally. I wanted the people that surrounded me to know exactly how I felt. If I loved you, I wanted to tell you I loved you. If I was happy, you could hear my laughter from miles and miles away. The simplicity of life allowed my emotions to take control. Logic was no longer a factor. Content with the smile on my face, I allowed myself to just be.

Until he died.

I can still see the frailty of his bones outline his figure as his paper thin skin stretched out across his ravaged body. The chemo and dialysis had taken its toll. As I watched the hospice nurse sit in a chair next to his bed, I knew this was the end.

Struggling to comprehend that each labored breath could be his very last, my ten year old mind broke. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t covey the emotions running haywire through my brain. The direct link between my heart and mind had crumbled. In that moment, I turned cold.

Two days later, he was gone.

What was this pain I felt in every limb of my own body? Why did I want to cry and vomit at the same time? Frantically, I searched for a way to eliminate all that hurt and confused me. I didn’t know how to ask the questions needed to cope. I didn’t know how I should react. Defeated, I just shut down.

It was all I could do. Just shut down every emotion I was used to. Keep everything inside so I could never be hurt again. I never wanted to feel this way. And I would be damned if I would let it happen.

Shutting down seemed like a good idea at the time. I wanted desperately for it to be. Hell, I needed it to be. But how do you come back from that? I am 31 years old now. Two decades have passed and I still find myself trapped inside my own mind. Even to this day, if I even so much as find myself thinking of that moment, I completely shut down.

He was still in his bed the last time I saw him. He didn’t even know I was there.

I was just a boy.

A boy, broken by reality.

 

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