Wednesday, July 29, 2015

STC II (A Review of Sorts)

I’m tired, and I know I’ve not been communicating with you great people in a while. There is a reason for that. However; I don’t know if I am quite ready to share that reason. Eventually, I just may, but to think I’ve not been writing or thinking about writing would be wrong. Actually, I’ve written several blogs since I last posted, it’s just I’ve not posted them. To tell you the truth, I don’t think I will.
            Last week, I took a bit of a vacation. I went to a convention in Williamsburg called “Scares That Care II”. It was the second time for me to go to this convention and it was just as awesome as the first time.
            I sat in on a bunch of readings from some amazing writers, as well as panels about the state of the horror genre and at the end of the day, we’d all meet up in the bar, the carport or even in the lobby. Legendary authors chatting with fanboys about subtext of books, mid-list writers buying pizza for friends, and even photographers and bloggers sharing cigars on a curb. Everyone seemed to be on equal footing.
            Laughter, comfort and relaxation seemed to surround celebrities and visitors alike. Maybe it was because we all knew we were amongst likeminded folks and we knew there was no one around who would judge us, make fun of us or even ostracize us. Everywhere you looked, people were just talking and hanging out. The horror cosplayers seemed completely at ease and even when they came into contact with small children, the children didn’t freak out. They laughed. Truth be told, some of the kids costumes were actually much better than the adults. Nothing could have wiped the smile of my face.
            Even with all that was going on, my circle, the circle of friends, writers and confidants. This year, we all never really seemed to get together at once. We seemed to have grown too large. Yet, our circle remained intact, somehow. We all managed at one point or another to get together, whether one on one or in small intimate groups of ten, we managed to talk, laugh and just revel in each other’s company.
            When I left on Sunday, I was sad. For you see, when I arrived on Thursday, I told myself not to think about Sunday. The day we all say our goodbyes. No one wants to think of that day. Instead, we pour our hearts, souls and life into staying awake for endless hours and trying to lose ourselves in the warmth of the moments we were creating.
            Dark nights turned into bright mornings, a signal for us all to walk in zombielike fashion back to our respective rooms, sleep for a few hours, clean up and then go out and seek out our long lost friends once again.
            So it should come as no surprise that on Saturday night, when the dealer rooms closed, the restaurant, bar, lobby and carports filled up. A sense of desperation and disillusionment filled us all as we tried to stop the world and keep reality at bay. Just so we could have a few more magical moments together.

            I’m going to miss all my old friends and even the new ones I’ve made. I can’t wait to see you all again next year and I hope you all find nothing but success and may the true evil of humanity never cross your doorstep.

Have a great week.

An Open Letter to a Friend

I don’t know what you were thinking when you said what you said in front of friends both old and new, but it really hurt. Hurt in a way I thought I couldn’t be hurt. Hurt in a way that I thought that not just I but you as well had matured out of. I shouldn’t have been hurt, but I was, and I was very embarrassed.
            I’ve thought a lot about what would prompt you to say what you said. The only conclusion is one particular incident when you and I were together to relive our past. To try and catch the comet of youth we once had. However; life had other ideas. You were going through a bad time and circumstances dictated that you needed to take care of something much larger in your life than us spending time together. I understood that completely. Hell, I encouraged you to go and do what needed to be done.
            So, I found an alternative way to spend my time. I visited some new acquaintances to me, yet old pals to you. On my way there, I received bad news myself. Very bad news. I lost a friend, and in the scheme of things, you were trying to save a friendship, while I had just lost one. I couldn’t ask you to give up that hope.
            Yes, I acted irrationally. I was hurt. I acted out. I also made the mistake of listening to what you had said. Something I shouldn’t have done. I, however, do not blame you. My actions are strictly my own. I own my mistakes, I own my flaws, I admit I am nothing but human and subject to my emotions when I’m put in extreme states.
            It’s odd, we, all of us, have become this ever growing circle. No, we are more like an atom. A particle, with all of us circling around a nucleus. Yet none of us, even you, are the nucleus. Which I don’t think you believe. I wish you did. We are all particles circling the nucleus. You, me and all of our mutual friends. If you do think you are a nucleus, you are wrong. Hell, you’re not even a quark that holds the nucleus together. You are just a proton, or electron or maybe even a neutron that orbits the nucleus.
            Truly, no one person could be the glue for a nucleus, the quark if you will, because quarks come in pairs and you don’t like to admit to being paired with anyone. Which makes me sad. You like to say and do things that you think will make you look like a bigger and better person at times. Maybe it’s an ego thing, maybe there is some sense inside of you that hopes no one sees your flaws like I have and that scares you. So you act out in a way that you don’t think will hurt people. Call it a self-preservation instinct. But I think that instinct in you may be broken.
            Broken by too many years of being around people who stroke your ego, and when you come across someone who has known you for more years than you care to admit, you forget that we don’t care about who you are now. We care about who you were then. The man who had deep fears and a rebellious spirit we all thrived off of. A man who wasn’t afraid to admit his mistakes or the mistakes of others. No, you’ve only hung on to the later of that statement.
            I think there are times where you garner more glee in putting down others than trying to lift others up. Before you try and prove that point wrong, think about your superiors. The men and women who helped you become the person you are today. Think of how they acted to a young upstart and how they tried to help him become the man he is today. It’s a bitter mirror to look into. A mirror I’ve looked into more often than not in the past twelve years.
            You see, what you don’t understand, is I know I’ve hurt people, intentionally or unintentionally and I am haunted by those memories every day. So much pain at times, that I can’t even look at myself in a mirror. Which explains why I don’t shave every day or even once a week. I just can’t bear to look at myself. Which sucks. It really sucks.
            The times when I feel confident enough to look at my face, I am disgusted by what I see. I know that inside of my hazel eyes, there lies a poet, a lover, a father, a husband, a rebel, a recluse, a monster, an instigator and a lost soul. I’m not happy with what I see hiding behind my eyes.
            Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming anyone except myself. How could I? I am the one who is responsible for my actions. However; that does not excuse the hint of mischief you plant on people’s lives. I know why you do it. You do it so you don’t feel so much pain as well. After all, you and I are both similar in nature. It’s just I don’t try to set people up for failure or mistakes and then point at them and feel justified in how I feel about them. To revel in their mistakes just to prove you are right in your angst, anger and disappointment in human nature every fucking day of your life.
            I love you man. I love you more than I love most people in my life. You are one of my favorite people in the world. I care about you, your health and I worry about you almost every day. I want nothing but you to be happy and successful. But, I think in order for you to be both, you need to reassess how you treat most people in your life. I’ll always be here for you. My phone will always be answered when you call and if needed, I will traverse the countryside to be at your side when you need it.
            Life is an organism in which we all live. We live, breathe, grow, wilt and die. It is the growing stage that is the most important to me. We have to strive to become better than our codified experiences. Pain of life is a constant and we have to overcome it. We can’t hold against people the hurt they’ve inflicted upon us in the past to the people we have in the present and future. Even if some of those people are the same.
            We are all victims, instigators, peons and superiors. We have to come to terms with these facts. We have to strive to not fall prey to the positions each trait offers. We have to be better than our stations and give the benefit of doubt and try to understand what outer influences make us act the way we do. We, after all, should be better than that. We should be setting the example and not be the example.
            Whatever your feelings are, good, bad or even indifferent, just know, I will never lose faith in you nor will I ever stop caring about you.
            Be safe and be at peace.


Friday, July 3, 2015

Disillusion Town

I live in a small community. One I’ve adopted as my home town. I mean after all, If you compare Green Bay, Wisconsin with Portsmouth, Virginia they are pretty close in population size. About one hundred thousand people, both cities are roughly fifty square miles and both have very charming neighborhoods and built on the water. Although I do miss the Packers and Lambeau field, cheese curds and the smell of brats cooking almost every night, but, Green Bay does not have my family there.
            No, my family is here.
            But family is not just the person you’re married to, or the offspring of your coupling. No, family seems to be the people you end up surrounded by on a daily basis. Bosses, co-workers, and basically anyone who is always around whether you want them there or not. (Just like family to be around when you don’t want them)
            Co-workers become step-brothers and sisters, bosses become some sort of bastardized parent figure or creepy uncle or drunken sot of an aunt. The people who run the coffee house or convenience store suddenly are your estranged cousins. The waiter who takes your order ever week has morphed into that one family member who’s trying to get their life back together after  a messy divorce and the homeless people you pass everyday who beg for money are your deadbeat, just got out of jail relatives.
            Yeah, I guess you could say that living in a small town you become not just associated with everyone but related to them in some fashion. So where am I going with this? Truly, I’ve gone off the rails. Sort of…
            Almost every day I see the same people. Some of them are sailors in the USN, or USCG, some are clerks at local stores, some are city workers going about their daily municipal chores, some are lawyers doing their lawyerly thing, others are administrators and then there are the homeless folks. Yup, we have homeless here in the heart of the south.
            Some of them are completely bat-shit crazy, others have substance issues and still others seem to be vagrant by choice. I don’t know. I don’t really spend my time getting to know them. I have however; on occasion, been known to give them some money. Which we all do from time to time, and we usually feel better about ourselves for doing so.
            Then, the other day, something I saw made me step back from myself and make a decision not to help at least one of the local miscreants. You see, I was standing in line at the store, picking up a beverage and a snack for later in the day when I realize the person in front of me was one of the homeless population who has been known to panhandle all over the downtown district.
            He smelled awful, which made me take a step back and causing me to bump into the person behind me. I almost dropped my items. I apologized to the person I ran into and stepped a half step to my left. That’s when I saw the homeless man, a man I’d given money to on at least a dozen occasions had a cart in front of him and it was pretty full. All sorts of items, food, bathroom supplies, detergents, dvds and even a book or two.
            I was confused. But not as confused as when after the cashier rang up his purchases and informed the gentleman of the bill for his items. Almost fifty bucks. Then this guy pulled out a wad of bills, unfurled three twenties and handed it to the cashier, got his change back and put the change in one pocket, sorted his money and placed it in another pocket.
            I’d like to say he spent most of his money on his supplies, but I can’t. This panhandler was actually carrying more cash than I was, more cash than I had in my bank account, more cash than I’ve seen in quite some time. He gathered up his bags, and left without even looking at me.
            I put my three items on the counter, the clerk rang me up and I handed over my money. The clerk asked if I was okay and I asked if he’d seen the smelly man before. The clerk then informed me the “Smelly Man” came in at least once a week, bought a bunch of stuff, paid cash and left. The guy was a regular at the store.
            I asked the clerk if he’d ever seen the smelly man panhandling, he said no.
            Fast-forward to the end of the day, I’m on my way to my second job, walking down a side street and not even thinking about the “Smelly Man” when I see him standing near the entrance to a parking lot. He was panhandling. A few folks handed him some money. I walked right by him, ignoring his pleas for money and food.
            I wanted to yell at him. Call him a phony. Tell everyone on the street what I’d seen earlier in the day. The urge to do so was overpowering. But I didn’t say a word. I just made my way to work. He is not my responsibility, he is not my concern. I don’t have to do anything for him for the rest of my life. I can ignore his existence for the rest of my life.
            He will become the long lost uncle I’ve never met, the aunt who moved to Alaska, the cousin who became an ex-patriot, the grandparent who passed away when I was a baby and my life will neither be worse or better for this decision.
            Yet this whole experience makes me wonder “Have I ever been the cause for someone to make a similar decision in their life? Am I the cause for bitter anger and resentment from one human towards me?”
            I’d like to think no, but in reality, I have to say… Maybe.

Have a great week.