Saturday, September 22, 2012


     Today is a day of giving thanks for me. True, it is not the end of November but, I feel the need to let some very special people know how much I appreciate what amazing lengths they have gone to in their assistance for me and my family during our particular crisis. And for those of you who do not know or have not read my previous two blogs, here is a quick review…
     Five weeks ago my wife suffered the first of a series of five strokes. She is home now but unable to work for the next couple of months. It has been a stressful, nerve wracking and frightening experience for us all. And during all of this my family has received a massive outpouring of support, well wishes, kind thoughts and prayers to a multitude of deities. (I say this because not everyone I know worships the same God(s) and some don’t even believe in a divine deity. How’s that for a melting pot of chums and pals in a life filled with insanity?)
     So, on with the show.
     Brian and Kelly, thank you for being there, offering support, guidance and friendship outside of your profession and calling. I don’t know what my family would have done if you had not been there to guide me through my temporary shock on concern over my wife. You did not allow the mundane daily tasks of life slip through my fingers. Also, Brian, you are an excellent Heavy when needed. Your friendship has truly become one which I will cherish into my feeble age.
     Josh and Hope, your spiritual leadership for my wife has been invaluable to her and me. You have set an example for all within your church and you both are a true blessing to mankind.
     Angie and Earl, I don’t know where to begin with you two. You were there for Sue and Madison when I couldn’t be. You did your best to get me to rest and be healthy for my family as well as fill in for me when I wasn’t there. God bless the two of you and your family.
     Stacy and Kelly S. you guys helped out so much around my home and made sure everything was ready for Sue when  she came home, something I was unable to do in my state of mind, both of you have been fantastic friends to Sue over the years I don’t even know how to begin to thank you. Also, Kelly, you are welcome to raid my library anytime, you are my sister in Horror!
     Tennessee, although I doubt you will read this, our phone conversations have meant the world to me these past two weeks. Thank you.
     Mike and Allison, your gift was more then I could have ever expected.
     Chuck and Lara, thank you for the cigars and providing me with a temporary distraction from the endless minutes in the hospital and rehab center. My porch will always be open to you two.
     Michael and Israel, you guys getting the hand-railings on the porch have meant the world to my wife. And Mike, your loyalty to your sister has truly enriched her life more than you will know.
     Amy and David, you guys taking care of all the food and endless smiles gave us all an optimistic outlook on the easily fallen into trappings of depression when things look bleak.
     Zelda, your hugs have been refreshing and always welcome. You are a WARRIOR!
     The Pennsylvania Crew!!!! You guys are awesome… let’s see if I can thank you all even though some of you are Canadian… Brian, my old shipmate, Thank you. Bob and Kelli, light and a dark, you two crazy kids mean more to me than you will ever know. Dickie and Mandy… you two took care of something for me that gave me a welcome distraction in the dark hours of the day. Jeff (Bamfer) our conversation was much needed and a welcome outlet. May all your Disney dreams come true. Malfi for the great story. Qweequeg, your awesomeness never fails to astonish me. Thank you for rallying the troops!
     My family, both sides, Michigan and Wisconsin, our conversations were heartfelt, open and enlightening. Through this tragedy there was healing on many levels. And while we all have our own lives, differences and issues, you managed to put those aside for a greater good. Kudos!
     My work family, Pat, Tim, Tad, Nancy, M.F., Diane, Liona, Corey, Dan and all you others, thank you for expressing concern and taking care of things I couldn’t while I was gone. (Yes, I still worry about the trains.)
     The Lobscouser, Bobby, talking with you about the pain you and your family went through in a similar situation was enlightening and helpful. Thank you for your understanding during the past few weeks and the prayers.
     Delane, thank you for fixing Trainman. Plugs are always good, but I am still going to call you “The Appliance.” Safe travels brother.
     Babs, driving three hours each way… are you nuts? But it was great to see you and your visits meant the world to Sue… you ROCK!
     And to all the folks I am forgetting, Thank you. Your outpouring of love is what this world should be about.
     Have a great week!
From the Heart of the South,

Skip Novak

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Good People, Bad Shit

                Who knows what machinations are behind the curtain of our reality, I sure the fuck don’t. I wish I did. I wish I understood, but I’m just a semi-intelligent Polak from Wisconsin who has done good things and bad in the eyes of man and man’s Creator. Why the good? I’d like to say because I’m a good person. Why the bad? I’d like to say they were character flaws beyond my control. But I can’t answer those questions with platitudinal answers. I know… I know for a fact, the reason I do both good and bad is because I’m flawed and broken.
                You see, I expect bad shit to happen to me. It’s a gift of my upbringing so to speak. Sure I have fond memories of my childhood, I write about them here. But, I also have bad, terrible, horrible memories of my childhood. Memories that when remembered hurt worse than a two day old scab being slowly peeled off my body. I don’t really write about those. Oh, sure I draw upon those ethereal memories for my non-fiction but not here. I don’t bleed here. I don’t do it out of the respect for the living. No one wants to be reminded of past indiscretions… well, except me. When someone comes up to me and says “Skip, you hurt me when you said….” I try to apologize as sincerely as possible. I never try to intentionally hurt someone that is just not in my nature. But perceived wrong doing is impossible to predict and even more impossible to prevent.
                But what fucks with my head even more than my own indiscretions is when bad shit happens to good people for no apparent reason. I don’t like it, and I’m sure you, my dear reader, don’t like it either. It sucks total donkey ass, if you ask me.
                Ok, so here is the skinny, my wife of twenty-two years had a stroke this past Monday. She is younger than yours truly and if anyone deserves to have a stroke and be bedridden in this relationship it is me. Not her. Hell, we’re talking about a woman who refused as a teenager to even try any illicit drugs. A woman who has gone out of her way to help people she barely even knows. And now, she lies in a bed in a nursing/rehabilitation home waiting for some doctor somewhere to help her out.  Now, don’t get me wrong, she is not perfect, none of us are. Everyone has chinks in their armor, some more than others and in any extended relationship anywhere in the world, the ones we love the most get hurt the most often. It happens, its life. This is the way it works.
                Let me give you an example… a comic book example. In the Batman universe, Mr. Freeze didn’t want his wife to die… so he ended up being a bad guy… for Love. In Shakespeare’s’ Romeo and Juliet, those two kids just wanted to love each other… Bram Stoker’s Dracula wanted a bride… The Creature from the Black Lagoon wanted a mate. Well, you get the picture. I don’t have to paint it for you with my poor use of the English language. From the dawn of the written language into the celluloid and digital age, more men and women have done all sorts of shit both good and bad in the name of love.
                Twenty years ago, I’d have been cursing heaven and hell for what has happened to my wife. But I’m older, wiser and more importantly I have to be an example to my daughter for what may happen in her future. A future when I’m not there. She needs a memory of how I handled all this adversity in my life, my family’s life, so that when she has to go through tough and shitty times she will know how to handle the potholes and speed-bumps this craptastical world seems to enjoy throwing into all of our lives.
                Now, I know, mentally that is, other people are going through tough times, worse times, and life ending times. But my heart doesn’t get it. It still hurts. I’ve been a shit-heel for a long time and done some shit that when I look back on it, makes me cringe and wish I had acted differently. But does that change the injustices? Nope. Not a single iota, at least not to mankind.
                We all work hard to eek out an existence on this mudball in an attempt to make a better place for our progeny. Some succeed. Others don’t.  I’m trying to succeed. I’m trying to learn from my mistakes and the mistakes of the ones who raised me. Life changes a person and children can bring out the best and worst in a man or woman. I’ve seen both. Not a big fan of folks who don’t see it this way.
                Which leaves me in a very odd quandary. While I want desperately to rattle the foundations of heaven and piss on the fires of hell… I’m not. I’m trying to take the high road. Trying very hard and all this effort is taking its toll on my walking, talking disposition. Outside, I’m calm and tired. Inside… that’s another story… I am a raging storm the likes this planet has not seen in a long time. I haven’t felt this way in over fifteen years and it hurts to suppress.
                Am I going to find a balance? Something I’ve been searching for all my life. A zen of peace that will keep me from losing my mind? I sure hope so.