What I want to be when I grow up?

In 1983 I saw “Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark” for the first time.  It was on HBO, I was seven-years-old, and I was NOT supposed to watch HBO without my parents permission…which was a rule that got suspended about the moment I discovered “Fraggle Rock” for the first time.

I’d been going to Sabbath-school for long enough to know exactly what the Ark of the Covenant was and why it was important.  I had a reasonable grasp on Nazis, and Egypt, and submarines…and pretty much no idea about sea-planes,  Peruvian idols, Russian drinking games (I remember wondering why that guy fell over from drinking water…what a wuss), or that REALLY cool flying-wing-thing that chopped up that German boxer/mechanic like a giant blender stuck on “puree”…and DAMN did I want to learn about ALL of it after that!!!

From that moment on, I KNEW what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wanted to be Indiana Jones.  While my family environment, my parent’s interests, my education, and my other entertainment choices all contributed to my eventual love of history, and ancient cultures and far away places…I really just wanted to be Indiana Jones.

I remember the moment, when I was probably eight or nine years old, that I learned that my grandparent’s generation had already defeated the Nazis.  I actually felt gypped. The Russians just weren’t as “cool” as the Germans as “bad guys” (although Firefox was awesome). 

In fact, I remember being very confused by the whole East German/Russian connection as a kid, until a member of our church told my fifth-grade class about the day (August 12th, 1961) he, his wife, and their two-year-old daughter went for a Sabbath afternoon walk away from their home in the Soviet Authority Region, and past the border zone to the American Authority Region, almost exactly where Checkpoint Charlie would stand in future years.  Away from their possessions, their family and friends; away from everything they had ever known, and into freedom. 

They took that walk eleven hours before Walter Ulbricht’s order closed the border from east to west Berlin.  Exactly ten years to the day before his brother died in the “death strip” after failing to escape the watchful eyes of East German boarder guards, or the bullets from their automatic rifles.  I will admit that his very personal story, and the way that he told it, has haunted me all of my life.

As does the knowledge that he died of a heart attack at a school function two years before the Berlin Wall fell to crowds of Germans from both sides of the iron curtain and the march of history; and three years before German reunification and his family’s return to their homeland after three decades of exile in America.

His father had fought in the Wehrmacht on the Eastern front, specifically in the Siege of Leningrad; and died on the steps of the Reichstag during the Battle of Berlin.  A little bit of time on google will lead you to a picture of a uniformed twelve-year-old boy clutching his dead father under the rifle and leery supervision of a member of the Soviet 3rd Shock Army.  It will also lead you to a picture of Hitler shaking hands with uniformed children in the Hitler Youth corps before the battle, and another of uniformed Hitler Youth being taken as prisoners of war.  Same boy in all three photos.  It’s hard to reconcile Soviet atrocity with German atrocity when both are painted on one child’s face.

One child who eventually survived war, indoctrination into a brotherhood of hatred, five years in a POW camp in Siberia, returning home to Soviet institutionalized poverty for the German people, escape to a foreign country, the death of his sibling in front of the world, and three decades of exile and penitence for the sins of his youth and the sins of his father.

But he didn’t survive high cholesterol long enough to see his country restored, his family reunited or peace and tolerance overcome a half-century of very personal pain.

History hurries for no one, and the reaper doesn’t care what any man deserves.  What the Soviet sickle couldn’t cut down, cholesterol and the grim scythe did.

And, to be honest, THAT haunts me more than anything else that he taught me…

…Anyway…so, no Nazis.

I took Latin by correspondence in high school because it was closer to my future goals then Contemporary Spanish.  I student taught world history because (and I’m quoting my mentor and favorite teacher EVER, who had me teach the class for him) “[I] knew it better than [he] did.”

My parents have degrees in Communications (dad) and two in Art (my mom, one in Fine Art, and one in Design), and two minors history, two in English lit and one in theology and one in philosophy between them.

By the time I was in high-school I had read most, if not all, of their college text books.  Some of those books remain in my personal library to this day.  I LOVED history.  I loved philosophy.  I loved art.  I LOVED literature.

I had already been through a LOT of theology, but I still learned classical and koine (biblical) greek so I could understand exegetical concepts directly, rather than rely on other people’s translations.

High school was entirely dedicated to my goal of being Indiana Jones an archaeologist.  I studied for the ACT (32) and the SAT (1280, 800 Verbal/480 Math) tests PURELY with the intent to get into the schools that would further my quest to be a professor.  I applied to (and was accepted at) Reed College and Amherst College SPECIFICALLY because of the number of Rhodes Scholars each institution had produced (and damn it, I WAS going to spend two years at Oxford).  I knew EXACTLY what I wanted to do and EXACTLY how I intended to get there.

Of course, as with all great plans, this one had it’s little bumps.

First, there was the day I spent on a “job shadow” with the director of the Anthropology department of Boise State University.  He was cordial, honest, open and without a doubt the best dose of reality I could have ever had.

Conversely, the reality of hearing about what life is like as a perpetual student working up to a doctorate and a chance to be an assistant professor for 10-15 years while waiting for one of the 150 employed archaeologists in America to DIE and create a job opening that the other 500 assistant professors (who are all waiting for the same thing) will all compete with you for…it was all sounding a bit grim.

He left out the parts where you gallop around the world, finding treasures, seducing women, and generally saving the free world from the Wrath of God…which seemed like important details.

Hell, the fact was you only ran a dig once every five years at best, and even that was unlikely until you were an established voice in the academic community.  I didn’t want to establish my academic voice, I wanted to shoot Arabian swordsmen and steal religious icons from indigenous Peruvian tribes…for the greater good and posterity of course.

Beyond all that, there was another major bump in the road…no matter how much you plan.  No matter how hard you research, and map out, and plot your course, you can’t control something as simple as the human heart.

By the end of my Senior year of high school, I’d given mine to someone else and I really didn’t want anything to come between us.  Not even my dreams of being Indiana Jones.

By the end of my Freshman year of college, our marriage was just a few months away, and we decided that both of us being in college just wasn’t financially viable…so I got a job.  Well, we both had jobs, I just focused more on “a career” and less on short term goals.

Before long, that COBOL programming class came in handy and I ended up working in IT for state government.

I never set foot on a college campus again, except for the occasional sporting event or musical performance.  While I have considered going back to school and getting a degree or two…I’ve given up my plans to be Indiana Jones.

My “day job” path has gone far better than I could have ever hoped.  I have a great job with a great company.  I’m a “Senior Technical Consultant” and a “Project Manager” and a “Primary Knowledge Expert” and a “Systems and Business Analyst and Solutions Designer” depending on the needs of the project(s) I happen to be working on.

Let’s be up front, I get paid very well, the benefits are great, I like the people I work for and the people I work with, and above all I like the work I’m doing.  But it’s also not what I wanted to be doing when I grew up.  I realize that shouldn’t matter, but I think about it at night when I’m driving home.

See, there’s one other thing I wanted to be when I grew up…I wanted to be an author like my mom.

My mom wrote almost twenty novels for Pocket Books and St. Martins Press from the time I was seven until I was twenty seven.  She won awards, had genre bestsellers, spoke at conventions and went on book-signing tours across the pacific northwest.

When I was in high school, the fact that my mom wrote historical and/or fantasy romance novels wasn’t always a conversation I wanted to have…but as an adult I can’t begin to tell you how cool I think it is.

I didn’t really identify it as a kid, but since I was seven I’ve always believed that was the coolest job ever.  Cooler than Indiana Jones.

I’ve always written.  It’s something that’s simply a part of my physical make-up.  I can’t just “not write,” even if I wanted to.  I make up stories in my head constantly.  Plots and characters and driving factors and motivations and places and things…I wish I could turn it off sometimes, but my imagination isn’t under my control.

I wrote my first novel when I was in the eighth grade.  It was about 55K words, and it was HORRIBLE.  I still have it.  Think “The Mummy” meets “Time Bandits” meets a very thinly veiled “Star Wars” via the writing skills of a twelve-year-old.

I didn’t write another novel for almost two decades, but I spent many MANY hours laying the groundwork.

I also wrote shorter pieces that have since been published.  For money and everything.  And while at one level I know that makes me “a writer,” I just won’t feel it until I can hold a book in my hand.

And here’s a little secret, I’m horribly self-conscious about my writing.  The greatest challenge of my professional life was the moment I wrapped up a synopsis and three chapters and stuck it in the mail…off to the slush-pile and a brief chance at life.

What do I want to be when I grow up?  I want to be an author like my mommy.

Because she’s cooler than Indiana Jones.


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I don’t want to be Sheldon, I want to be Leonard…

It’s day three of the wacky ho-down that is my family’s semi-annual family reunion, and soon I’ll head down for the formal banquet.  Earlier today we had the “house of cousins” meeting (because for a family this large, you have to have your own representative governing bodies) which ended with a rather in-depth discussion of the making of leftse (it’s a Norwegian thing) which has inspired me to take up my family’s ethnic cooking when I get home.

I’ve walked on the beach, explored the local shops (and thank you, Scomerican Girl, the cheese popcorn really was as good as advertised), played 36 holes of golf (damn does my back ache), and I’ve talked for hours with people I used to see daily but now only see once every couple of years, at best.

So, I thought I’d share a certain revelation I’ve had in the last couple of days or so.  If you don’t watch “The Big Bang Theory” on television, this whole post is gonna be kinda meaningless…so…sorry about that.

Anyway, I realized that no matter how much I might want to be Leonard, I’m actually Sheldon.

Unfortunately, I’m serious.  In this, the trial of public perception, I (serving as both the prosecution AND the defense) would like to present to following evidence:

Exhibit A) My Comment on When is this lady gonna stop writing about her kid?

Notice how the conversation actually had NOTHING to do with quarks or leptons?  Yep…my inner geek/nerd overrides all things.

Exhibit B) My Comment on I got married to the widow next door…

Yeah, my collegiate focus was actually on History and Literature (I was an Anthropology/Archaeology major who wanted a minor in classical lit)…and Art (at one point I was a declared Fine Art major who took all the art history classes).  I do have 48 credits in upper-level computer classes…but that was stuff I did for fun.  I also took two 300 series physics classes “for fun” so that should explain a LOT about what was wrong with my past definition of fun.

Exhibit C) My Comment on …but next time, WITH COSTUMES!

This is the place where I admit to owning action figures and explain some background to the correlation of the visual design of Storm Trooper armor to Boba Fett’s Mandalorian armor.

Yes, I have camped out to buy tickets to a Star Wars movie.  More than once.

Yes, I have quoted a Star Wars movie in a professional setting.  More than once.

Yes, I have corrected someone else’s example-by-metaphor because they misstated a basic function of physics (the earth’s rotation does NOT create gravity, and please DON’T claim that it does in a room full of professionals…because I will call you on it, and that won’t help your presentation AT ALL). Sadly, also more than once. For the same person.

I now suspect that I am actually insufferably annoying.  I suspect that I am Sheldon and I just didn’t see it before now.  I always assume that if someone is saying something inaccurate, then they would WANT to know that what they were saying was, in fact, wrong.

After a few episodes of TBBT I now suspect that it might be ever so slightly possible that they, in fact, do NOT want to be corrected.

When I watch TBBT I always see myself in Leonard’s shoes.  Geeky, intelligent, perhaps a bit overzealous in some area’s, but all-in-all a good guy who just needs some polishing.

I’m now listening to stories about myself from ten years ago or more…and I’m not hearing Leonard…I’m hearing Sheldon. Blunt, abrupt, unapologetically smarter than other people, and without the social grace to just shut up and smile smugly while nodding my head.  This makes me sad, and a bit embarrassed.

Suddenly, I’m afraid I’m “that guy” or at least that I’ve been “that guy” for long stretches in the past.

If there’s any bright side to all of this…a sort of silver lining perhaps…it’s that several times this weekend I’ve been told how much mellower and more personable I am compared to times past.

So maybe, just maybe, I have some hope of being Leonard after all…


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Yes, I am about to head off for the infamous K-B Family Reunion (if your family reunion was 200-300 people, your’s would be infamous too…trust me).  This year we convene in Seaside, Oregon; and if any of you happen to be in the area, and happen to see someone who looks strikingly like my avatar (or at least, so I’ve been told), feel free to wave/point/stare/run away.

I will be spending all day on Friday attacking the area golf course with gusto and a certain reckless abandon that will terrify anyone else within 300 yards, give or take the effects of wind variance.  That’s 300 yards in a 360 degree circle people…be afraid.

I will also be taking my beloved Canon EOS 10D with me, so expect lots of ridiculously silly photos of people (who may or may not be related to me) to appear in the days to come.

As I depart for a weekend of silliness, pot-luck food, beloved family-members, long conversations, a hilarious talent show, and AT LEAST one round of the hokey-pokey…let me leave you all with this link:

Garfield Minus Garfield

I’m pretty sure the July 29th entry sums up my entire blogging existence.

[EDIT: But, the June 04 entry is my absolute favorite; It's so "me" it's scary.]


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How Sweet Life Is

May Twenty-Fourth, 2006.  The phone rang just before six o’clock in the morning.  I am NOT an early riser, and six a.m. is just to damn early to be conscious.  I can hear my Aunt Marge on the line, but I’m not exactly sure if I’m awake or just having a really weird dream.

“Nicky, I wanted to ask you if you’d do something to represent your mom’s side of the family at Grandma’s funeral.  The oldest child of each of her children have all agreed except you.”

“Um, of course.  What do you want me to do?”

“Just talk about your memories of Grandma.  We wanted each side of her family to get a chance to speak.  Jace and Lisa agreed to do it last night.”

“Yeah, I’d be glad to.”

“Good.  Try to keep it light hearted.  Funny memories, things like that.  We’ll already be crying so much, it would be better if we had happy things to think about.”

…and with that, I was signed up to give a light-comedy reading at a funeral for my beloved Gramma in front of hundreds of people.  Had I been awake, I might have thought harder about it.  But then again, I probably wouldn’t have.  I DID have to ask my wife several hours later if I had really agreed to that or if I’d just dreamed up the whole thing.

For the next three days I procrastinated mightily.  I knew I had to come up with something, I just couldn’t make myself take pen to paper.  I had a terrible time gathering my thoughts into anything resembling coherent sentences.

Marge asked me to try and be funny, but the only specifically funny story I could think of was “cop vs. white-haired grandma in tennis shoes” and I figured that one was going to be told about a dozen times before I got up to speak so I decided I’d skip it all together.

Oddly, no one actually TOLD that story at the funeral (perhaps because it involved repeated violations of the law???) so I shall relate it here just for posterity.

My Gramma’s maiden name was “Ledford” which is surprisingly close to “Lead Foot” which would have been an even more accurate description of her driving style.  Deep into her eighties my Gramma would still bomb down Nile Ave. in East Wenatchee at about three miles-per-hour less then what would be defined as “utterly insane” by rational people.

As you would suspect, police officers look dimly at one car high-speed car chases being re-enacted down a relatively busy four-lane avenue, and so she found herself explaining “the rush” to more than a few of East Wenatchee’s finest.

My Gramma was the quintessential Gramma.  She had beautiful pure white hair and an incredible peaches and cream complexion.  She looked like she’d just sprung fully formed from a Norman Rockwell painting.  No one could be cross with her for even half a second, you just wanted to hug her and forget everything bad that had ever happened in the world.

And bless her heart, she knew it.

As soon as a police officer would come to the window, she’s roll it down, look as though she was near tears and ask “officer, you wouldn’t give a ticket to a little old white-haired Grandma in tennis shoes, would you?”

To which, they would always crumble like abashed six-year-olds and assure her that they would only give her a warning. It was her own special superpower.  We seriously considered getting her a tee-shirt with the superman logo replacing the S with a G.

Which isn’t what makes this story funny.  What makes this story funny is when a police officer stopped her, walked up to the window and heard her typical plea for mercy…and then replied “Lady, I didn’t last time, or the time before; and I’m not gonna this time either, but  you have GOT TO SLOW IT DOWN!”

That’s right, my Gramma occasionally used her superpowers for evil (well, as evil as the most pure-hearted woman ever put on this earth could be). Lawbreaker…

I realize this might sound like an urban legend, so let me assure you that I was IN THE CAR when he said it.


SAME cop.

No lie.

Since I figured that story was going to be beat to death before I could tell it, I decided to give up on being funny and just talk about the things that define how I remember my Wenatchee Gramma; and about the lessons I learned in her home.

What follows is that remembrance, and to be honest, it was probably the first thing I was ever “proud” of writing.  Not because it is “good” writing, but because people told me that it was exactly the way they remembered her too.

As far back as I can remember, she was always the “destination” Gramma; “Road-Trip” Gramma; “Event” Gramma. And while a trip to Wenatchee was something that Alex and I looked forward to for weeks, the journey itself…

When you’re eight years old, the drive from Boise to Wenatchee is just slightly longer than the 40 years that the Children of Israel wandered in the wilderness, and almost as scenic.

A journey so entertaining that somewhere around Pendleton we were reduced to mindlessly drooling zombies, uttering monosyllabic grunts and fighting bitterly for control over the four inches of seat that were supposed to separate us.

Eventually, after a length of time so vast and sweeping that historians fail to comprehend it all, we would fall asleep in the gathering dusk and only wake from time to time as the car would come to some stop or another as highways were changed, exits were made, and stop signs were obeyed.

Then finally, magically, from the front seat would come my mother’s voice saying the most wonderful phase I have ever known: “wake up, we’re almost to Grandma’s House.”

We’d sit up, peer out the window, and strain to see her house materialize from the darkness. The porch light would be on, and the living room window would have a faint glow coming from a lamp.  Without fail, whenever we’d enter the house, Gramma would be waiting up for us.  Sitting in a chair reading; waiting to invite us in and welcome us home.

There was one other thing that Gramma always had without fail; She had this great old-fashioned glass cake cover, and inside it there was ALWAYS a supply of her homemade cookies.

12:30am? No problem. “Here, have a cookie, now off to bed.”

The first Christmas that really stands out in my mind was saved by one of her cookies. Jamie and I had wandered into Gramma’s room and discovered her high bed and feather pillows. What would any self-respecting five and six year old do when they discover feather pillows and a high bed? They have the world’s greatest bed-jumping pillow fight.

Oddly enough, the size difference between a five-year-old and a six-year-old was enough that I’m pretty sure Jamie outweighed me by a solid five pounds; apparently ALL muscle. Either that, or being the youngest of five gave her a set of pillow-fight self-defense skills that I had yet to master…or sufficiently respect.

When a five-year-old who isn’t particularly big for his age jumps up and his six-year-old cousin swings a king-sized feather pillow at him with all the force she can muster, what you have are all the elements of physics that allow baseball players to hit grand slams; only in miniature…and all working against me.

Gramma always had something else in her home besides cookies; she had antiques.  Very old, very ornate (and probably very valuable) antiques.  Everywhere.

I learned this by flying – nay, hurtling – through the air at a very old, very big, and very fragile vase in the corner of her room.

I remember the flying. I remember the look on Jamie’s face as I rocketed away from her, and I remember the pieces of the vase under my hands and beneath my bottom as people came running from all across the house at the sound of porcelain shattering.

Now, in discussing this event with Jamie, I’m reminded of one little fact that I’d forgotten at the time…she may have rocketed me across the room…but I knocked her feet out from under her and she knocked out her two front teeth when she landed.

So now you have the total scene:  Feathers everywhere, blood all over, two screaming children and a shattered antique vase.  It was like we’d snuck into Gramma’s room and killed a goose with a vase and Jamie’s face.  It was NOT a pretty sight.  And since I wasn’t bleeding, it was pretty obvious who’s fault it was…

I also remember being able to parse the general gist of the phrase “stop wailing RIGHT NOW and go downstairs, or I will end your life and make another BECAUSE I CAN!!!” from the look of shaking rage that my mother directed at me.

(Years later my Mother assured me that the “or” I was picking up was probably superfluous and could have been excluded from that sentence entirely.)

I went down to the kitchen and awaited my Mother and my impending demise.  Many long hours (well, probably less than one) later someone finally came to put me out of my misery.  But it wasn’t my mom, instead Gramma came in and went to the counter. She lifted up the cake cover and got me out a cookie. She gave it to me and said “Oh don’t worry about the vase Nicky, it’s not like it was new.”

For years I believed the only reason Santa brought presents for me that year was because my Gramma had a direct line to the Naughty/Nice list elves.

Several years went by, and many more trips, until I got a chance to do something that a lot of her Grandkids got to do, I spent two summers with her and Grandpa learning some valuable lessons and doing a lot of growing up.

I learned that the chickens might not be up at 4:00am but the Cherry Pickers are.

I learned that working your fingers to the bone is a real and serious possibility so bring medical tape.

I learned that you should NEVER eat an entire bucket of cherries on your first day in the orchard.  IF you do eat an entire bucket of cherries on your first day in the orchard, DON’T go to your cousin’s new home that evening. Stay home and suffer alone with no witnesses.  The alternative is just horrifying. For everyone.

I learned that nothing and I mean NOTHING beats a home-cooked meal at lunch.

But beyond anything else, what I had to learn was that we choose to be the people that we ultimately become; AND that we have to choose to be the kind of person that we would want to be around.

You can ask Pete and Jace, working on self-improvement did NOT come naturally to me at fourteen. Nor did being a person I would want to be around just spring fourth from my brain. I had a lot of lessons to learn and a lot of growing up to do.

In three months that year I grew several inches, dropped two registers to my voice, and had a long conversation with my Gramma over her kitchen table as the sun was setting over the canyon wall.

We talked about what it was like to grow up “po’ in a place so po’ that they couldn’t afford to pronounce their R’s.” What it was like to teach in a place so poor that they burned the schoolbooks in the winter for heat.  What it was like to grow up an orphan, alone among a family that she’d never truly be part of.  And what leads a young woman to get on a train and leave her life behind because she hoped…hoped for better…chose to find better.

One conversation.  One evening.  One moment to choose.

We are who we choose to be.  We become what we work for.

When the sun had finally set, and the glow was dimming in the sky framed by the window, she got up and went to her cake cover and got each of us a cookie. As she gave it to me she said, “no matter how dark it gets, or how rough the road is, it’s always important to remind yourself how sweet life is.  I always keep that lesson near me.”

And THAT was my Wenatchee Gramma as I will always remember her.  And I will always keep her lesson with me.


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A Blush, a Crush, and a Sympathetic Rush

A Blush

I have promised myself that this week I will post more than I did last week.  Which shouldn’t be hard, as I didn’t post at all last week, and this will be post number two in as many days this week…so “yay for me!”

First off, to all my new readers from [name obscured non-denominational Christian Church in the mid-west], let me say “welcome.”

Pastor Joe sent me a very nice email explaining how he used “One Bite From the Apple” as the basis for his sermon last week; and I must say I’m both touched and honored.  Pastor Joe also explained his decision NOT to include the url to the source in the Bulletin because, and I quote, “several of my older members would be uncomfortable with the frank, but accurate, words of wisdom you share in your “Confessions of a Normal Guy” essay; and I didn’t want to direct them there from the pulpit.”

That’s right…I’m “not elderly church lady safe” or just NECLS…which I pronounce like measles but with an “N” instead of an “M.”  Now I can introduce myself by saying “Hi, I’m Neasles!”  That’s just AWESOME!

This seems amusing now, but I have to say that the vision of the little old ladies on the front row of my hometown church logging on to the Internet (with the help of their accommodating grandkids) and reading some of my sexuality related thoughts left me a little pink in the cheeks…

Then I realized they’d all lived through the seventies, and if CBS Television Programming has taught me anything this season, it’s that if my parent’s generation couldn’t “drag America down the path of Sodom and Gomorra”…then no one ever will.  Obviously, nothing I can say is gonna top that kind of life experience; AND, maybe some of those accommodating grandkids might accidentally learn a thing or two.

A Crush

Alright, so my next little item of business is more about “full disclosure” than any specific need to say the things I’m about to say openly and at large.  I’m going to reference something this person has written, and it would be disingenuous for me not to be completely open about where my point of perspective is coming from.

I’ve been reading Lara of “Life, the Ongoing Education” for something like a little over a year now.  I’ve read with interest and concern as she described her life’s ups and downs, shared her deepest thoughts and her most difficult fears, and I was captivated by the honesty in her writing…and the beauty in her personality.

It would be very fair to say I have harbored a “secret crush” for her for a while now.  It’s the kind of crush that lies somewhere between my admiration of Keira Knightly’s beauty and my love for Regina Spektor’s lyrical intelligence.  Lara’s a woman with both remarkable external beauty and an incredible internal voice.

This is NOT to say that my crush for Lara really compares to real world “love”…one is a one-sided admiration and the other will be a mutual relationship with someone who can simply fill my very soul with happiness…but my crush for Lara does effect how I react to her writing and her photographs.  It affects how I think of her family, and the people that are important in her life.

A Sympathetic Rush

So with all of that said, I’m going to do something now that I NEVER EVER do: I’m going to link to someone else’s writing and then toss in my own unsolicited two cents afterwards.

First, please read “The Coming Out Post” and enjoy what I consider to be some of the most beautiful words and photos about love ever published on the blog-o-sphere.

Back?  Good.

So, why is that post so important to me?  Because I have a seven-year-old daughter, and it goes right to the heart of what I want for her…a better world than the one I grew up in.

Four years ago, my family held our bi-annual reunion in central Oregon.  Nothing particularly exciting happened that year with the minor exception of my cousin bringing her partner to the gathering.  Not because her partner was a woman, but mostly because no one had ever really had any inkling that she was anything but a confirmed heterosexual.  Sort of a case where it wasn’t the big bomb that got dropped making any impact, but the little secondary explosions surprising everyone.

I will never forget the completely blasé reaction from my late-sixties, life-long conservative Christian aunt, “Well who cares if they’re gay?  They sure look happy, and they smile a lot.  Good for them.”

The most news-worthy aspect of the whole thing seemed to be how un-news-worthy it was.  The two of them spent the entire long weekend looking like at any moment they expected one of the older members of the family to turn around and condemn the to hell for their immoral, hedonistic heresy.

They were constantly waiting to be judged, even in a place and among people who had NO intention of judging them.  That was the moment I realized that sexuality discrimination would be my generation’s equivalent to the long battle over racial discrimination that my parents lived through.

Racial discrimination wasn’t something I REALLY understood until I was old enough to comprehend mainstream media.  In my family circle, race and background had absolutely zero bearing on anything.  My mom’s family was Norwegian, so they were fish-belly white and couldn’t get a tan if they wanted…just a darker and more distinct case of skin mottling as they freckled.  My dad’s family was of old American English and French descent…with some Italian and other miscellaneous European heritages tossed in from here and there (and they can tan like nobodies business after 2.3 minutes thinking about sunshine in the dead of winter).

I had an uncle who was full blooded Greek with poor English and GREAT cooking; and I have an aunt (who is closer to a second mother than anyone else in my life) who is full blooded Portuguese, olive-skinned and radiantly beautiful.

We saw these people every day, different skin tones, different accents, one big family.  No one ever explained that we didn’t care about race…we just didn’t care about race.  It didn’t make the radar.  It wasn’t something we discussed, because we didn’t have any reason to discuss it.

When I was nine-years-old I learned that my family wasn’t always like that.  In my parents wedding album is a photograph of a friend of theirs who sang at their wedding.  He was a tall, attractive man with brilliant green eyes and ebony black skin.  And in the margins of the photo were the faces of people who CLEARLY didn’t approve.  I asked my mom why people didn’t like his song, and she broke down crying.

That moment, her explanation, the reality of skin and race and prejudice…it’s crystal clear in my mind, decades later.  She told me about Martin Luther King Jr. and about “I Have A Dream” and about nine kids in Little Rock, Arkansas who just wanted to go to school.  She explained growing up in the fifties and sixties, and what it was like to watch the world change.  And she told me how important it was to her that her children had a chance to grow up in a world without racism.

Now, as an adult, as someone who recognizes the realities of race and color and discrimination in my world (whether I want those realities to exist or not), I find people expressing racism to be jarring.  It’s something I just don’t imagine existing in my daughter’s world.  I would HATE for her to believe that the amount of melanin in a person’s skin dictates ANYTHING about them.

And I’m FAR from alone in that.  I’d guess 90% of the people of child baring age in this country want their children to grow up in a nation where race and history are celebrated for their cultural value, but where race and history have NO bearing on opportunity or place in society.

When my daughter was a baby, one of my in-laws was discussing her future life, and the woes of being a father to a beautiful girl…namely, that I needed a gun.  Maybe several.  If not to use, then at least for intimidation.  I laughed, and then, inexplicably, this person asked “What would you do if she came home with a BLACK boy as a boyfriend?”  The horror in her voice and the expression on her face actually knocked the wind out of me.

To be honest, I couldn’t come up with a clear answer.  I was so OFFENDED that they would even insinuate that it would matter to me…that I would care…I couldn’t find words to respond with.

Let me make this clear, on the record, and out in front of the whole world:  If you want to date my daughter the only requirements I have are that you a) treat her with respect and b) know how to keep your pants up.

I swear to God on High, if you come to my home, dating my daughter, with your pants hanging around your mid-thigh and your boxers hanging out, I WILL pull your pants up for you.  Forcefully.  You will NOT enjoy it.

Black, red, yellow or as white as I am…I don’t care.

And here’s the real kicker, if I don’t care what genetics has given you in the way of skin color, why oh WHY would I care what genetics has given you in the way of sexual equipment?

If you love my daughter, treat her well, make her happy and fill her life…then I don’t care what color, race or gender you happen to be.  And I’m horrified that anyone else would be.

I will admit, that ten years ago, I didn’t see the world in the same light.  I still felt that somehow “God” had decided what was “good” and what was “bad” for people to do.  That a rulebook from one time and one place was somehow universally applicable today.  I blame it on the Adventist upbringing.

I remember listening as someone explained how gay-marriage would be the undoing of traditional society and not really letting it penetrate my mind.  I was happily married, decidedly heterosexual and the thought of two guys kissing kinda made my tummy flop (in a bad way) so hey…if they want to “ban homo’s getting hitched” then why did I care?

Now’s the part of the story where you expect me to have some kind of epiphany after meeting a nice gay couple…and you’d be wrong.  I had my epiphany slowly after close friends were afraid to come out of the closet, or were utterly shunned if they did. After watching people rejoice in Massachusetts and San Francisco and Portland when marriage certificates were no longer locked away from consenting adults who loved each other.

And I had an epiphany when John Stewart pointed out that in America in 2004, the thought of two guy’s kissing was still a more powerful negative motivator then Abu Ghraib or an American run concentration camp on the tip of Cuba or extraordinary rendition beyond the reach of the powers of justice and liberty and a fair and reasonable court.

Really?  Two guys kissing?  WHY DO WE CARE???

And so, we come to today.  In the last three years I’ve been to two gay weddings.  One for a couple of guys I worked with and never knew either one was gay, and one for a nice couple of ladies that just want to raise their kids, live quietly and be happy.

Why shouldn’t these people have the right to stand up before friends and family, declare their love and receive the same obligations and benefits from a legal union that they’d receive if they’d have fallen in love with people with slightly different chromosomes?  Is gender really that much different from race?  Is one kind of bigotry really “better” than another?

I say no.  I want my daughter to grow up in a world where love isn’t about race or gender; it’s about connection, and commitment and finding something in the world that makes life better when everything else seeks to make it worse.

Sexuality Discrimination isn’t just wrong, it’s disappointing.  A constitutional ban on gay marriage isn’t just wrong-headed, it’s damaging to the future.  Our children and our children’s children won’t understand the arguments we’re making today.  They simply won’t comprehend a world where people refused to tolerate one another based on genetics or ideology or really old books.

So in that spirit, in that sense that the world needs to get better and love more, accept more and celebrate more…I present a photo used utterly without with graciously given permission (but still copyright Lara David of Life, The Ongoing Education):


I submit to you that it is not “two girls kissing,” but, in fact, it is much more than that.  It is two human beings kissing.  It is two human beings in love.

Regardless of race, class, creed or gender…this is what I hope for my daughter, simply to find love.

Congratulations to Seeser and Stoops.  Love is so very hard to find in this world, we should all celebrate more when two people find it.


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Something Old Made New Again

I wrote this about six months ago and it was posted on my “first” blog.  I’m pretty sure that no one I don’t “know about” has followed from there to here, so I’m going to go ahead and post it up again.  It’s about my first love and just how sad it is to never take a chance.

I was in the same classroom with Miss V from the second grade until we graduated together from academy. Eleven years. She basically encapsulates my childhood and the journey to whatever was supposed to be beyond.

Assuming 40 weeks in a school year, at least eight hours a day, and add in time for Pathfinders camp-outs, church events, and the various non-school things we did together; I’d guesstimate that we spent about 20,000 hours together over the course of our lives. Of that, I hated her for roughly 10 hours; and I was completely in love with her for every minute of the remaining 19,990.

Number of times we talked on the phone: I’d guess over 100

Number of times we rode the ski-lift together: more than I can count

Number of times we “held hands” while ice skating: 8 (I only know this because I recently found one of my childhood journals)

Number of times we “officially” dated: 0

Number of times we kissed: 0

Number of times I saw her undressed: 2; number of times she knew: 0 (maybe 1, I’m not completely clear on all the details of the second time. I might have been “supposed” to see her that time, we were about thirteen…I’ll probably never know.)

Number of times she wrapped her arms around me in a swimming pool, grazed my neck with her lips and let me slide my hand under the “fun” part of her bikini bottoms: 1; age of participants: 18; number of significant-other’s that were CLEARLY cheated on during that event: 2

Moments of regret that I touched her while dating someone else: a few, but they’re fading every day.

Minutes of regret that we never really talked about how we felt about each other: exactly 7,058,880 and counting.

There are so many memories about Miss V that trying to explain everything starts to whorl together in some kind of mental tornado of images and sounds and tastes and smells…and then her face, smiling at me like it did as a thirteen-year-old girl washes over everything. For a moment, I’m back to being that skinny, unconfident outsider I always felt like as a kid. And I’m comfortable, because we were always outsiders together.

In the summer before the second grade, my parents completed the process of moving me away from my friends and a school where I was comfortable in a class of dozens spread out into several classrooms; and off to a tiny little outpost of humanity and a school where I was one of six kids in my grade. There were three grades to a classroom…so my overall class size was about twenty, but my direct peer group was six kids. Three boys and three girls.

I will never forget the first day of school, the cliques had already been established, and I wasn’t a part of them. And let’s be honest, I didn’t want to be there, and they didn’t want me there because I didn’t want to be there…ah, vicious circles, aren’t they fun. I was the outsider. I didn’t fit in.

I didn’t fit in at all. I ate meat, I watched movies, my parents had cable and let me watch HBO, I was allowed to read fantasy stories (the teacher confiscated my copy of “The Black Cauldron” because it was EVIL!!!). I was WEIRD. Because I was different.

At lunch on the second day of school I opened my brown paper bag and discovered I had three Oreo cookies. REAL Oreo cookies, not the fake sunshine versions that weren’t made with lard. Miss V was sitting at the desk next to me, she took one look and asked if she “could have an Oreo.” There was an audible gasp in the room. Real Oreo’s were evil. NO ONE should eat real Oreos! They’re MADE WITH LARD!!! (another classmate actually said that out loud). I reluctantly gave her one, waiting for her to use it to make fun of me. She smiled at me and said “thanks,” and then turned back to her friends and kept talking like nothing was out of the ordinary. She ate the Oreo. I loved her from that moment on.

As time went on, things got better. I made friends, I found my place, I tried to become a normal part of the school/group/place I was in; but I never quite made it. I was never the “best friend,” I was never completely at ease, I was never totally a part of the clique. I never felt just like everyone else. I always felt just a little bit like an outsider.

It would be many years before I realized that half of the people in that room felt the same way. Like something was off, like the picture was just a little bit crooked. But I knew instinctively that Miss V shared that feeling with me. We didn’t talk about it for another twenty years, but from that first day, it bound us just a little bit together. Just a little.

The two of us were competitive. VERY competitive. If you could compete at it, we did. If you couldn’t compete at it, we still found a way. We always pushed each other, if not physically then figuratively. There were people who thought we hated each other because we never let up.

Only once did it ever cross the line from pushing to hurting; and though it tares me up, I was the one that hurt her. In the fourth grade girls are very sensitive to anything that might draw attention to ANYTHING about their bodies or their physical cycles. Using that knowledge I said one of the things I regret most in my life.

In small classrooms with few students, collective punishment is probably pretty common. In this case conflict that had cropped up between “the boys” and “the girls” had spilled over into some heated exchanges between several classmates during recess and the ultimate resolution was to sit all of us down in our desks and have us talk it out. There were only six of us after all.

The teacher left the room and instantly the arguments resumed. I have NO idea what we were arguing about. Trivial couldn’t possibly begin to describe it. All I know is that the two sharpest tongues in the room went into combat like a pair of fencers…mine and Miss V. I remember she told me that if I was “going to be a stupid child” that I “should just shut up.” To which I replied calmly that she should “shut up and take a Midol.” The guys both gave me a hearty “YEAH”…as though congratulating me on the power of my counter attack. Miss V recoiled like I had physically hit her, and then broke down into sobs and fled the room.

For the record, I was pretty hazy on what a Midol was actually USED for, but that wouldn’t have been any consolation to a young girl who had just had her first menstruation start the day before. Obviously, I didn’t know that…

I’d say it was about a month before she spoke to me again. I never got a chance to apologize, even though I felt terrible about it. It wasn’t until the first ski-day of the year that things started going back to normal. I rode up in the car with her, and by the time we got to the lodge, things were better. We competed on the slopes, and we rode the chairlift together all afternoon. We were back to pushing each other, and helping the other one up again.

A couple of years later she was doing children’s theater and she would call me after rehearsals. She told me they were doing “The Twelve Dancing Princesses” and I was excited because it was one of my favorite fairy tails from an old book my mom had given me. She wanted to know if it was any different from the story they were putting on, so I read it to her. Over the phone. As I’m writing this, I realize I have NO idea why I didn’t go see her perform, my parents certainly would have taken me…I was just too dumb to think of it I guess.

In the eighth grade I made another foolish comment that I would desperately like to take back. For whatever reason boys will pick on other boys about the girls they like. And no matter how much they like the girl, the boy will deny it. Why? I have NO idea. It was a small social circle, and maybe that was just exposing too much that was too personal…I don’t know.

I do know that after PE my friends were giving me a hard time about how much time I spent with Miss V, and teasing me that I liked her (which was painfully obvious to anyone) and for reasons I still can’t explain I said (with too much volume and intensity) “No I don’t! I like Emily you idiots!” Which was a lie. But since every single girl in our class heard it, I was pretty much stuck. I remember seeing the look in Miss V’s eyes as she walked out of the hallway where she’d heard me deny her. It still makes me physically sick, almost twenty years later.

Another thing we did together was Pathfinders. It’s a co-ed denominational version of Boyscouts with all of the expected issues of hauling a dozen boys and girls ranging in age from eight to fourteen out into the woods. Hazing, tent raiding, ghost stores, sneaking off into the woods together…all that stuff. Miss V’s mom was a leader and that meant she didn’t miss a campout, no matter how uncool it was to head off to the woods. Somehow we always ended up spending about ninety percent of the time walking off together talking and laughing and ignoring the rest of the world.

All those hours together, all those hours alone with her, and not once did I tell her how I felt about her. Not once did I just take her hand and look her in the eyes and tell her I liked her. I was always afraid I wasn’t good enough, afraid she’d tell me I was just a friend, just blah. That I was just the uncool, unattractive little boy I was afraid I was. She was the only one who would call me on my shit, and it scared me too much to tell her how special I thought she was, how beautiful I thought she was, how wonderful every word she shared with me was.

Towards the end of eight-grade four of us went to a youth-rally in Portland. It was a long drive and we were leaving early in the morning, so her mom (who was the chaperone) decided all of us should spend the night at her house and leave together in the morning. The four of us spent about eight hours sitting on Miss V’s bed talking silly, laughing and enjoying time together. I came within a hair’s breadth of telling her everything, but there were other people there…it was both heaven and hell at the same time…I wanted to tell her, but I was too scared to do it in front of our friends.

Later that weekend, she bought an ice-cream sandwich. Sitting next to me in the front of the truck, practically on my lap, she finished half of it…licking the end of the ice-cream out of the cookie…and then asked me if I wanted to finish it. As stupid as it sounds, it was as close to a kiss as I ever got from her. I could taste her lip gloss on the cookie, and I can still smell her hair in my face.

I started high-school a week late. It’s a long story, but lets just say that once again, I managed to be the outsider. The first person I saw on campus was Miss V. It was the first moment of relief in a long uphill climb. High school sucks. High school where you live on campus with the entire student body (of about two hundred), shower in front of every guy you know, eat institutional vegetarian food, and can’t have caffeine in any form is just BRUTAL.

No matter what might have passed between us in the past, our circle of friends wasn’t particularly close at first. But we did work together for four hours every morning. She was the Boy’s Dean’s secretary and I was the desk monitor. I sat about ten feet away from her and as there was NOTHING else to do, once again, we spent many hours talking. And a few fighting, but mostly it was pretty relaxed. I heard about her boyfriend, about her girlfriends, about life away from home…and I pined for her silently. I smiled, we talked, same as always.

Our Sophomore year she tried going to a public high school near her mom, and I moved on and tried not to think about her as much as I had the year before. I had a couple of girlfriends, an absolutely crazy roommate, a better haircut, and a chance to realize that “cool” was as subjective as everything else. I found my footing, ran for class president, started working for the radio station, drank a WHOLE LOT of shitty beer, and discovered that life is good.

I don’t remember exactly when she came back…I’d guess it was around Christmas, but it might have been sooner. Regardless, neither of us was the same person by the time she returned. I think I caught her eye a couple of times, but I never knew at the time.

My junior year I met the girl who I would eventually marry and have children with, Miss H. We started a long distance relationship and for an entire year I was happily “off the market” and writing letters and making multi-hour phone calls every night. So much of that year is caught up with her that nothing else really penetrates. I know Miss V was there, and a friend, but everything is washed out in my memories with Miss H.

As a senior Miss H joined me at academy. I’ll talk about all that in other posts…what is relevant here is the last week before graduation. The senior class takes a trip together for a long weekend. As a group we went to central Oregon and stayed at a resort. Six to a condo, we really had the run of the place.

The last evening of the trip about half of us were in the pool, and Miss H was off with her friends enjoying some girl time. I was against the wall of the pool with one my close friends when Miss V and her best friend swam up and joined us. My friend had always been interested in Miss V’s friend, and they paired off as best they could. Miss V and I began reminiscing about all the years together. We talked for about an hour, and at one point she put her arms around me. For balance or support or…whatever.

Our friends got cold and hopped out of the pool to head off for the Sauna. Miss V and I climbed out and went off to the empty hot tub. After a few minutes sitting next to each other she climbed up over me a few inches to look over the wall and see if anyone was watching us. As she slid back down against me she grazed her lips over my neck and intentionally straddled my hand as it was resting on my leg. She looked into my eyes as my hand slid under her bikini bottom. As I touched her, her eyes half closed and she began to lean towards me…and seconds later we heard the voice of one of the class sponsors and she slid away and sat down next to me.

I don’t write this part of our story to expose what was a really personal moment between us, but to highlight just how big of a dork I really was (and probably still am). The next day Miss H (who didn’t suspect ANYTHING was between Miss V and I) sat on the bus home with her best friend and I ended up sitting with Miss V. We shared buffalo jerky, a couple of Dr. Peppers, and talked the whole way home. We talked of old times, funny things we remembered from grade school and honestly, we were saying goodbye. We just didn’t know it. In a week we would graduate, and we didn’t know when we might see each other again. This was goodbye.

That night I gave Miss V a ride home. She asked if she could smoke and I said I didn’t care. I drove her back to her mom’s apartment and we stood outside for a few more minutes talking. Right at the end, I leaned in to kiss her, but she pulled back. I’ve never known why. I never had the strength to ask. The moment wasn’t right, and it didn’t happen. We were both dating other people. I never told her how I had always felt about her. I was still afraid I wasn’t good enough for her. Still afraid she’d reject me. And that was that. I will never forget the sound of the door closing behind her.

I saw her once, a year later. Miss H and I were on our Honeymoon at Disneyland and out of nowhere Miss V was calling our names. We stood and talked with her and her roommate for about ten minutes. When she found out it was our honeymoon she was clearly surprised. I was afraid she was going to say something about that moment in the pool…but she just smiled and politely found a reason for her and her friend to go.

As she walked away, I saw her give me a look…a look I hadn’t seen since the eighth grade. When I said I like Emily more than her.

Since then it’s been 7,058,900 minutes. And counting.


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He Knows the Hour and the Day

During job interviews and on internet quiz memes there’s a question that comes up more often than I think most people really want to hear the answer.  I’ve avoided it many times before, but tonight I guess I’m finally ready to talk about it at large…to try and explain how, exactly, a reasonably normal white-child-of-privilege ends up in his early thirties, struggling emotionally just to climb out of bed every morning.

[edit: This post is about the saddest and most challenging personal experiences of my life.  Many people have gone through far worse, and I'm certainly not trying to claim some kind of prize for a hard knock life, because I've had it INCREDIBLY easy...but to my surprise, this made a couple of people cry; and I'd never seen one of them cry take that as a warning of sorts...or something.  If you only come here for "the funny" (and who could blame you?) please be warned that there will be little to no funny here.  Come back tomorrow and I'll be back with "the funny."  I promise.]

I’ve probably been asked “What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?” about two dozen times that I can think of since July 24th 1999. I think I might have answered it honestly twice.

So, what follows is the most full and complete answer to that question I can compose with almost a decade of distance since the events began to transpire.

On Thanksgiving weekend, 1998 the air was still warm in the evenings even though the mornings were starting to take on a crisp bite that warned of the winter that was just days away.  My wife and I were well past the three year anniversary mark and life had settled into a pretty comfortable schedule:  same jobs for more than a year, the same cute townhouse, same daily routines.

Then, all those routines, all that sameness, died to the sound of pee cascading off of an EPT test.

Oddly enough, the test was negative.  But the discussions that it sparked led to the end of birth control pills, starting to watch our diets a bit closer, and planning for a future for three instead of two.

One month later, another stream of pee, and the test was positive.

We wanted to keep the conception a secret at first, after all, these things can go badly early on and there was no reason to get our families all worked up if it didn’t “stick.”  Which was the plan we stuck with for almost an hour…if, by “almost” you mean “less than twenty minutes.”

I will remember the sound of that squealing, screaming, hyper-jump-up-and-down enthusiasm that my wife and my mother-in-law shared across hundreds of miles for the rest of my life.  If pure joy and excitement has a sound all its own, that was it.

We had excellent heath insurance, plenty of ob-gyn options in town, several great hospitals in the area and a nice local hospital just a few miles away.  My wife took all her pre-natal vitamins, every necessary precaution  at work and went for her regular appointments with excitement.  I didn’t miss a single office visit either.  I was an ENGAGED father-to-be.  We were excited.

And things were going great.  The heartbeat was perfect (and awesome to hear), the weight gain was happening at a very positive rate, and the utrasound went well.  We saw our son reclining in all his glory safe and sound inside his mother.  In fact, except for baby being uncooperative for an image showing his heart development, everything in the ultrasound images was perfectly normal.

Days turned into weeks, weeks slowly expanded out into months and after what felt like the longest winter and the shortest spring in the history of the world, summer and Lamaze classes were finally both upon us.  Almost eight months of waiting had brought us to the point where the end was finally in sight.  We decided to take the day off before our first class, go to her regular monthly checkup and then go up to Portland and do some shopping for mommy and baby.

The doctor’s appointment went well.  We listened to the heartbeat again, weight was good, everything was good…except my wife’s blood pressure was a bit elevated.  Which might not seem all that important for most people, but for her that was shockingly unusual.

After a long discussion, the ob-gyn on duty decided to send my wife over to the local hospital for a non-stress test.  Basically, it’s just heart rate and blood pressure testing over time while sitting in a chair.  We got to the hospital at about noon, and the test was started before 12:30…hey, it’s a small local hospital.

At 3:00 in the afternoon we realized we weren’t going to go shopping.  We also realized we hadn’t seen anyone in more than an hour, so I went off to find a nurse who could tell us how much longer this was going to take.  We had class that night after all.

By 6:00 we realized that we weren’t going to make it to class either.  At that point we decided I should go grab some dinner for us and potty the dogs at home.  When I got back, they had made it clear that she wasn’t going home that night, instead she had an ultrasound scheduled for 5:00am the next morning.  So, after calling her mom to let her know what was going on, we ate our sandwiches and I slept in the semi-reclining chair next to her bed.

When the 5:00am ultrasound came around, it became clear that everything was NOT well.  What had, up to that point, been a “mostly routine” observation process turned into an ambulance ride 55 miles north to the largest neo-natal ICU hospital in the area.  Through morning rush hour traffic.

I had to pick up her mom from our home (her sister had driven her up EARLY that morning) and we tried to follow behind.  We ended up getting there a good two hours behind the ambulance; and by the time we got to the hospital I was nearly unhinged from the process of trying to get through some of the worst traffic congestion and road construction delays in Portland area history.

Then next two weeks were like one moment of crisis stretched out over thirteen days.  Both my wife and our baby were in serious, but not immanent danger.  My wife had “significantly dangerous” preeclampsia, and there were some significant issues complicating the baby’s health as well.  The first concern was that even after a four hour attempt, no ultrasound could show a fully formed heart structure.

The doctor’s wanted to prolong the pregnancy as long as was safely possible and so we settled in to wait.  My Mother-In-Law slept on the sleeping bench, and for twelve nights, I slept on a thin hospital blanket on the tile hospital room floor.

The only time I left the room was either to go off and purchase some supplies to entertain us and keep our spirits up, or to drive down to the Olive Garden a few miles away to bring back something special for my family to eat together.

If there’s one thing my Mother-In-Law mentions any time these events are talked about, it’s that I was a rock.  My job, my focus, my only purpose in life, was to be there for my wife.  Be supportive.  Be calm.  Be there.

Then, after thirteen long days of waiting and hoping to wait longer, on a warm Sunday night, my wife’s health began to decline and the baby’s health began to decline faster. A little after midnight, the doctors decided they couldn’t wait any longer and an emergency c-section was scheduled for 5:00 am “or sooner if we need to.”

I’ll never forget getting ready for that.  The uncomfortableness of “the bunny suit” and the hair net, the smell of the mask mixing with my own dry breath, and the way the little booties on my shoes made walking to the surgery suite feel like ice skating in summer.

When I walked into the room, my wife was strapped down to the table with a brave smile on her face covering a look in her eyes like a trapped animal tied down to be a sacrifice. I went to stand next to her and I put her hand in mine.  I watched the entire surgery over the screen, describing anything she wanted to know.

I don’t think it took three minutes from the first incision until our son was born.  They held him up over the screen for a moment so mommy could see him, and then immediately whisked him away to the NICU next door to the surgery suite.

My wife looked at me, squeezed my hand and told me to go next door and see what was happening. I looked into her eyes, filled with tears, and bent down and gave her a kiss.  As our lips parted her tears began to run down her face.

When I went through the doorway my son had disappeared through, I could only see one corner of his exam table between the ten or twelve doctors and nurses clustered around him, working with a calm intensity that still bordered on frantically.

I stood there and listened for any clue as to what was wrong.  Any words that might sound like “getting better” or “improving” or even “stable”.  I waited a long time.  They never said anything like that.

After an hour, the lead doctor stepped away from the table and removed his mask. He introduced himself to me as the head of the Neo-Natal department and explained that my son was very sick.  They needed to run many tests and there wouldn’t be any answers soon.

Then they bundled up my son and placed him on an incubator table, attached him to hoses and pumps and wires and every manner of device and gizmo, and asked me if I wanted to see him again.

He was so tiny.  His little fingers could barely grip my pinky.  There were tubes connected to his nose, and IVs in one of his arms and one of his legs.  He was connected to a monitor that showed his heart-rate, blood pressure, blood oxygenation, and his breathing rate.

I didn’t need a medical degree to see that things were very wrong.

I went out to the recovery room and held my wife.  She asked for details and I told her as much as I had grasped from the doctor.  I repeated what he said word-for-word at least a half dozen times over the rest of the day as family and friends came up to speed on the story.

July 13, 1999.  It was hot in Portland.  Hot by even Phoenix standards.  Windows were uncomfortably warm to the touch, and stepping out of the climate controlled lobby of the hospital and into the brutal heat of the day was almost physically crushing.  But I needed to find something for my wife.  Something that said “good job, I’m proud of you.”  Something that said “I’m here, and we’ll get through this.”

I found balloons and a card with a cartoon mommy giraffe with her legs all tangled up, but her neck still upright, and the inside read “way to keep your head up!”  It wasn’t perfect, but there’s a limited selection at Fred Meyer’s when you’re in a hurry and it’s more than a hundred degrees outside.

It was a long recovery for my wife.  She couldn’t even keep Jello down for a couple of days.  And what was worse was that she could only stand short trips up to the NICU to see our son before she needed to return to her room to rest.

As the week wore on things started to become clearer on what exactly was wrong with our son.  His heart had both ventral and septal defects, his kidneys weren’t functioning and his lung development was significantly delayed.  By the end of the third day of his life, he was no longer breathing on his own.  Instead, a machine next to his bed quietly and methodically wheezed and clacked air into his body and expelled out his tiny, nearly unused breaths.

By the fourth day, mommy was able to spend much longer holding her son.  And all the wires and tubes and needles that went with him.  We changed his clothes, and adjusted his hat, and read Dr. Seuss books to him as he slept.  Oh, The Places You’ll Go…

And then, after a week, his genetic results finally came back, and all the answers were given to us.  He had Complete-Trisomy 9.  An extra ninth chromosome in his cells.

If Down Syndrom is a Trisomy of the 21st Chromosome (and by extension, of the 21st SHORTEST chromosome), and causes that many complications…well, one can begin to understand why having a Trisomy of the 9th chromosome would be truly catastrophic.

As far as the medical staff knew, he was the first Complete-Trisomy 9 baby to survive to childbirth since at least the 1970′s.  When genetic testing began.  Placing the odds of having a child with that specific genetic defect at something approaching  one in ten or twelve billion.  With a B.

Worse, it meant that he would never be a candidate for the heart or kidney transplants he would need to live a somewhat normal life.  Of course, he was also unlikely to be able to ever lead a normal life of any kind.  Even a limited one.

It was late afternoon, and even though things were being explained, and we were finally getting answers…nothing was feeling any clearer.  He was still laying there, filled with tubes and medicines and needing a machine to breathe for him.

We had waited for and hoped for and counted on getting “The Answers” and yet…yet nothing.  No real answers.  No solutions.  No one was making it better!

We had a choice.  We could keep doing this, keep waiting, and running tests, and praying for a miracle to make it better…

Or we could turn off the IVs, and unplug the tubes, and turn off the machines, and we could hold our child…just our child…for a few moments in a private room.

I remember going into the private room that was just off the NICU…I remember calling my parents…I remember howling like a wounded animal as I cried while I talked it over with my dad.  I remember trying to make someone tell me what to do.  I wanted someone else to make it better…that’s what parents do!

A Twenty-five-year-old child shouldn’t have to decide life-or-death for their own seven-day-old son…it’s unimaginable.  I never dreamed even in my worst nightmares that I would be sitting with my knees pulled up to my chest, crying on the phone as I tried to explain to my parents that we were going to turn off the respirator keeping their only grandchild alive.

I remember walking down to the chapel at the end of the second floor hallway and prostrating myself before the alter.  I remember pleading with God to make my son healthy, to take my life instead.  I remember screaming at the alter at the top of my lungs.  I remember that all that met my heart’s purest outcry, was silence.

I don’t remember walking back to the NICU.

I do remember holding my wife close as we told the neo-nateologist our decision to hold our son and not keep him hooked to machines any longer.  I remember watching them administer the morphine to keep him comfortable with the smallest needle I have ever seen.  I remember my wife singing softly to our son.  I remember holding him for a moment without tubes, or wires, or beeping machines, or whirring respirators.  I remember the small sigh he let out as he died in my arms.

I held it together.  I cried…I wept from the bottom of my soul…but I held reality together.  I put my arms around my wife and we walked to the elevator, out through the lobby and into the evening sunshine.  But it was ultimately the heat.  It slammed into me like a mallet against a gong.

Before I could walk across the parking lot and get into the car, I could feel reality flex and warp like a plate glass window in a hurricane.  And I felt it shatter.  Little shards of reality blew out away from me…everything I’d ever known, or wanted, or felt, or believed…raining down around me like starfall as we walked back to the little green civic parked in the parking garage.  I couldn’t hear anything.  I couldn’t process anything.  All my senses were going numb as the sun was setting.

As a defense mechanism my body reverted to automatic pilot.  I’d driven this route so many times it was second nature…no thought, no analysis, no words.  Just grief.  Like an overwhelming haze that steals time, grief filled every molecule of my existence.  Choking out air, choking out thought, choking out time itself.

But even in grief, things had to get done.  My wife was far from healthy, and she needed rest, but the next day we found ourselves planning a funeral.  For a baby.  We picked out a casket, and a cemetery plot, and program cards, and called our pastor and invited him to speak.

Sitting in the funeral home, I composed a poem to go on the program:

A moment in our arms,
Forever in our hearts.
We’ll see you again,
In the arms of an Angel.

I think at the time I even still believed it.

The day of the funeral was probably the most beautiful Saturday that year.  Perfect temperatures, just a hint of breeze, not a cloud in the sky.  I was surprised at the number of people that showed up for a funeral for a baby that all but five of them had never seen.  More than twenty people from my and my wife’s offices were there, and probably fifty people from my extended family, some from hundreds of miles away, on what was a normal weekend for the rest of the world.  Just another Saturday in July.  I really couldn’t balance the two concepts together in my head.

I remember all the flowers were beautiful, and we donated them all to the church for that Saturday’s service.  I remember staring for the entire service at the little white coffin.  Hardly more than two shoeboxes laid end-to-end.  We laid yellow roses on it, and they lowered it into the ground after we drove away.  Eventually they covered it with a grave marker made of granite, polished mirror smooth, that read:

Kristopher Karl Charming
July 13, 1999 – July 20, 1999

Our neighbors had gathered together to provide food, and family and friends stayed with us for a long time to talk and try to make life a little bit closer to normal.  And for that I will always be thankful.

The worst was when everyone went home.  In a quiet house, my wife and I couldn’t make our separate grief align enough to grieve together.  I was afraid to truly grab the pieces of reality that I could still see scattered in front of me.  They were sharp, and it would hurt to pick them up…if I could just make it through without touching them…if we could just go on with life and leave them alone…maybe they’d get better on their own.

After that day, if anyone asked me, “What’s the most difficult thing you’ve ever done?” I’d duck the question.  No one wants to hear an answer like “chose to let my son die in peace rather than leave him hooked to life support machines waiting for a miracle,” or “planned a funeral for my seven day old son without jumping off a bridge.”

Also near the top of the list is “not punching out the self-righteous Christians who tell us that we should have prayed harder and trusted God more, rather than kill our son.”  I’ve been told that by well meaning people who never faced anything like the scenario they are so quick to talk about.  Telling me that my son would have gotten better, would have lived, if I’d prayed more, trusted more, wanted it more…that’s just a way to say that God didn’t love me enough…that he didn’t love my son enough to save him…that I must have done something wrong to deserve it.

People who believe in a God like that frighten me.

I wish that was the end of the story.  I wish that was the most difficult thing in my life.  But it’s not even close.

The advice that everyone gave us was that once we were given the ok, we should try again.  That the joy of a new life would make the pain of losing the last one more bearable.

And so, as soon as we were allowed, we tried again.  And it took a year.  In some ways it was the longest, most stressful year of my life.  I changed jobs, we moved to a new home in a new neighborhood, and it was proving FAR more difficult to conceive than we had expected.

Finally, FINALLY, we were successful again.  Almost two years after that first EPT test, we had another peed-on-stick with good news.  This time we were in the “high risk” category and we had TOP NOTCH care from the first day.  We drove 55 miles one way every two weeks to see her doctor from the start.  We had 8 different ultrasounds, including one of the first 3-D ultrasounds given at OHSU.

My wife was sick pretty much from the first day of pregnancy.  Nausea, cramps, sore muscles, everything.  The exact opposite of the last pregnancy.  And the baby kicked like she was practicing for the hacky-sack world championships ALL DAY LONG.

But her blood pressure stayed good, and on June 13, 2001 our daughter was born.  It was a great surgery, and other than getting stuck in traffic (in the same place as two years earlier) everything went like clockwork.

Slowly I was picking up the pieces of reality again.  They cut, and sometimes I’d bleed, and sometimes I’d cut my wife…but I was holding them again.  I was able to grasp them and not let go.

In my world, my daughter was important…but so was my wife.  So was my job.  So was making life go on.  For my wife, nothing was more important.  With our daughter she saw redemption for failing with our son.  Nothing could EVER be more important.

Somewhere between our different grief and the difference in our daughter’s importance in our hearts…things began to change in our marriage.  There’s a lot to that story that can’t be covered here…but five years later I knew I was going to lose my daughter.  Not the way I’d lost my son…but I would ultimately lose her all the same.

My wife wanted a divorce, and I knew from the first moment she said it, that someday my daughter would leave my daily life.  Someday I would become as distant in her world as my wife’s father had been in her’s.

I’d have given anything, and everything, to keep our family together.  I didn’t want to lose even one day with my daughter…but there was nothing I could have ever done to change her mind…by the time she told me it was long past done for her.

We’ve done our best over the last couple of years to keep our daughter equally between us…but my ex-wife has found love again with a man in Oklahoma.

I could fight her for our daughter…try to keep her here, or something…but I can’t do that to her.  In my world she is my beloved daughter.  In her world, she is everything, air and water, light and dark…everything.  My ex simply couldn’t live without her.  And I can’t be the one to hold her here, hold her back from finding love.  True love is wanting what’s best for the ones we love, even when it hurts more than anything.

I believe that I’ll be able to keep my relationship with my daughter strong enough that she’ll always know me…always know that I love her…always be able to call on me when she needs me…

But in just over a month she boards a plane and flies away.  She will always come back and visit, but she’ll never “live” with me again.

And every day between now and then I have to hold on to the pieces of reality still in my hand…no matter how much they cut me, no matter how much of my own blood slicks their surface, I have to hold on.

Every morning when I wake up I can feel the pain as reality cuts me a little deeper, as it severs one more strand of my soul.  And I have to open my eyes and carry on.  But if anyone asked me “what’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done?”  Well, I’d have to admit it’s imagining a moment when my daughter’s flight has taxied down the runway and lifted slowly into the sky…away from reality as best I can grab a hold of it.

When I talk about my dragons, my demons and the things that evilly stalk my dreams in the night…the one that frightens me the most is that someone will see exactly what I am:  Just a boy in a man’s body clutching the shards of his reality like a bouquet of splintered glass that’s dripping with the last drops of blood from his shredded grip.

What woman would accept such a gift?  When I admit that I’m afraid I’m “too damaged” to find true love, I mean that even if I found it, I’m afraid I’m so cut up I couldn’t grab it and hold on.

As a bit of a postlude, I thought I would mention that I recognize that there are many MANY people who’s troubles in life FAR exceed my own.  Sexual abuse, personal violence, witnessing murder, there are SO many things that exceed anything that I’ve ever had to go through.  And I have some tiny clue as to how they get through the day, they just grab hold, squeeze hard and do it.

When I was younger, a writing teacher told me that before I could write, I needed to go out and live life.  I couldn’t write about it until I’d lived it first.  I didn’t really believe her at the time.  Now, I’d give back that lesson if I could.

In the words of the great Baz Lhurman, “It’s not things that you think are important in life that will get you.  It’s the things that blind-side you on some idle Tuesday.”

If I could ever give one piece of advice, it’s to cherish your idle Tuesdays, but never trust them.  Live your life like the next Tuesday will change everything you hold dear.


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100 Character Notes

Doing this twice with no overlap is a CHALLENGE!

1) I went to a private boarding academy for high school.
2) I think referring to high school as “academy” is pretentious at best.
3) I still habitually refer to high school as academy in my mind.
4) I was baptized by immersion at the age of thirteen.
5) I can actually remember the exact moment I tried an “unclean meat” for the first time.  (It was bacon, I was six, and it KICKED ASS)
6) I think the concept of an “unclean meat” is pretty retarded.
7) I have been an ovo-lacto vegetarian for multi-year stretches in my past.
8 ) I like my steaks rare, my ribs medium and my toast dark.
9) I didn’t try sushi/sashimi until I was in my 30s.  Now I’m trying to make up for lost time.
10) I’m from the brewpub capitol of the world.  It’s also the town with the highest per-capita number of strippers and strip clubs in America.  It always surprises me that neither of these facts seem to be particularly related.
11) I prefer brewpubs to strip clubs, and I don’t even care much for beer.
12) I have no moral issues with strip clubs, strippers or any other form of consensual adult entertainment.  If both parties understand the transaction and consent, good for them.
13) I think Hooters is creepy.  They aren’t selling adult entertainment, they’re selling sexual harassment. Pinching, slapping or touching a waitress on the ass is just unacceptable.  A “family” restaurant that peddles that kind of environment is really unacceptable.
14) I think the European sensibilities regarding violence versus sexuality on television make a whole lot more sense then the American ones.  I would rather my six-year-old see a naked person then a dead one any day.  Even IF children do learn from television, I’d rather she learn to value sex over death.
15) I can count the number of women I’ve kissed on two hands.
16) I can count the number of women I’ve been intimate with on one hand.
17) I once had a physical affair with no emotional connection.  I have never regretted anything more than that mistake.
18 ) I once had an emotional affair with no physical contact.  I have never truly regretted it for even one moment.  Ever.
19) I don’t believe either affair was moral or right.  I have learned a great deal from both of them, and can quite honestly say that I would never allow myself to emotionally or physically enter a place where that could happen again.
20) When I was a teenager, I was distressingly “quick to fire” under pressure; I considered thirty seconds to be a “long time” to last.
21) Now I have the opposite problem, I only “fire” about a third of the time after intense effort. I’m more likely to cramp up or become exhausted after more than an hour of exertion.
22) Number 21 scared me enough that I talked to my doctor about it.  After an in depth check-up and my first prostate exam, I was found to be in very good health.  So I’ve started running cross-country again to build up my intense exercise stamina.
23) If 21 and 22 sound like I’m bragging, keep in mind that it’s been more negative on my sex life than positive. It’s very easy for a partner to take that problem personally, no matter what you tell them to the contrary.
24) My sexual ideal lies somewhere on the spectrum between the end of the Keira Knightly “Pride and Prejudice” and Tara Patrick’s “Karma Sutra.”  Yes, it’s a broad range.  No, no sex happens at the end of “Pride and Prejudice”.  If you don’t know who Tara Patrick is, PLEASE don’t google her at work.
25) I knew Tara Patrick “in real life” before she became famous.  I knew her when she was shy, willow-thin and wore braces. I have every reason to believe she is just as nice today as she was then.
26) Milla Jovovich (of Resident Evil, The Fifth Element and other movies) once pushed me off a boat dock and into a frigid lake.  It was about a month before she went to film a Disney Channel movie (“The Night Train to Kathmandu”).  We were eleven or twelve, I knew she had modeled, but I just thought of her as my cousin’s skinny friend.  If she remembers me, and I doubt she does, it will be as the boy who dumped ice cream on her on accident.  It would not be a “happy” memory, so I hope she doesn’t.
27) I was once ridiculed on a major area radio broadcast as “Mr. Potato Head”
28 ) while not related to 27, I was called “Fathead” by my grandfather until I was six or seven years old.
29) I have attended more funerals in my life then weddings.
30) I’ve never been to a funeral where it rained.
31) I’ve been to three weddings where it poured.  At one of them lightning caused a power outage.
32) I have been to a wedding that lasted longer than the marriage (and I don’t mean figuratively, the wedding ceremony lasted more than four hours, the marriage didn’t even last two).
33) I have attended two “gay” weddings.  One for two guys, one for two ladies.
34) I actively believe that two consenting adults should be allowed to get married, regardless of gender.
35) I also have no personal issue if three consenting adults want to get married.  My only concern with polygamy is equal treatment for everyone involved.  Which happens to be my big concern in two person marriages as well…
36) While I am irretrievably straight, I have no qualms with people who aren’t. Or can’t decide.  Or just don’t know.
37) I’ve certainly met gay people who creeped me out…but then I’ve met more straight people who creeped me out.  It works the same as race for me.  I’ve known some black/hispanic/asian people who creeped me out, but I’ve met far more white ones who did.  I don’t think that’s a racial issue or a sexuality issue, just a location issue.  I meet more straight whites, so there’s a better chance that straight whites will annoy me.
38 ) People who either can’t or won’t grasp number 37 annoy me more than anyone. I have no patience for bigots of any stripe.
39) I’m more liberal than most people. Who are democrats. On the far left of the party.
40) If I was president I would federalize Healthcare, Energy Production, Education (both higher and lower) and Transportation with the same level of federal control as we exert over our armed forces.
41) I think Nurses, Doctors and Teachers should be as heavily budgeted as the defense department.  Elder care, cancer research and HIV/AIDS vaccines should have the same scale effort as the moon shot or World War II.
42) I believe that if high school graduates can get money for college by being soldiers, shouldn’t we give them the same level of support for being nurses or teachers?
43) I seriously believe ALL Oil/Natural Gas/Coal/Hydroelectric resources should be federally managed and citizen owned.  Citizens can own the national parks…but not the natural resources?  The cost of a gallon of gas should be ten percent over the cost of production.  Currently that would be somewhere between $1.32 and $1.67 depending on how close you live to the refinery belt.
44) I believe as a nation we should be sponsoring, creating and displaying more art.
45) My favorite artists are Frank Frazetta, Masamune Shirow, Raphael and the masters of the Art Nouveau movement (Aubrey Beardsley, Ivan Bilibin, Alfonse Mucha)
46) I had a subscription to Playboy in college.  I really did read it for the articles.  And the cartoons.
47) I still read Playboy on occasion.  If the cover was more understated I’d still subscribe.
48 ) My favorite cigars are “Playboy by Don Diego” followed closely by “Hemmingway by Arturo Fuente”
49) I prefer either well aged (and port cask finished) Scotch or Knappogue Castle Irish whisky.  On the rocks.
50) I believe that mixing scotch with ANYTHING should be a capital crime.
51) White over Red, Amabile over Secco, Italian over French.
52) Belgian over Swiss, Milk over Dark
53) FOR THE LOVE OF GOD don’t put vegetables in dessert.  Carrot Cake, I’m looking at you.  And the Rhubarb Pie.  But Pumpkin, you get a hall pass.
54) Phad Thai with Tofu and Shrimp.  BEST. MEAL. EVER.
55) Wailua from Kona Brewing Company is the only beer I’ve ever had that made me want another.
56) Most people use Word, Excel and Outlook on the job.  I do 99% of my job in Toad and vi over PuTTY.  If that made sense to you, I’m sorry.
57) I can program in more than a dozen languages.  I do about 99% of my work in SQL, PLSQL and Java.
58 ) I HATE Java.
59) I LOVE coffee.
60) I’ll drink Starbucks under duress when no better option is available.
61) I’ve had Folgers Instant Coffee that was better than Starbucks.
62) I love Chai tea more than any other hot beverage.  With honey.
63) I believe in my heart-of-hearts that Starbucks Frappachinos were developed by a cabal of evil conspirators to enslave mankind under the yoke of obesity.
64) I am honestly afraid of “Mad Cow” disease.  Mostly because I ate burgers in England in the early 90′s.
65) I didn’t know I was at risk until the Red Cross refused to take my blood donation after 9-11.
66) Now I’m paranoid and will only eat ground beef if it was organically grown.
67) Which is ok, because I prefer organically grown products anyway.
68 ) I refuse to eat eggs that aren’t from free range and vegetarian fed chickens.
69) If you think that’s easy, you need to find out more about where your eggs come from.
70) The moment that I truly grasped what Dukkha means was probably the most significant spiritual moment of my life.  I will never be able to watch the end of a Superbowl broadcast the same way again.  (Non-”Fresh Air” listeners won’t understand that at all).
71) I have answered the “Faith” section of government or legal documents with the following answers:  Seventh Day Adventist, Christian, Sometimes, “In science”, Buddhist, and “Not Applicable”
72) I would answer that question with “Zen Christian” today.
73) If I ever returned to organized Christianity it would probably be to Catholicism.  I love the ritual of it.
74) Which is odd because I could probably be an effective protestant minister.
75) I have preached before hundreds of people before.  The experience was slightly more addictive than cigarettes.
76) I would like to get my bachelors in history.  And classical literature.
77) I am currently planning on learning French in the next year and Russian not long after.
78 ) One of my best friends from high school has a “mail order bride” from the Ukraine.
79) I was very skeptical when he first told me how they met.  She is neither mail-order nor money grubbing NOR simpering housewife.  Which just shows my prejudices before I met her.
80) While I wouldn’t advocate it as a method for anyone, I sincerely think their online experience was more honest than or ehamrony.  At least they both knew there were barriers and pitfalls.
81) I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered it since meeting her.
82) I’d be lying if I said I thought it would actually work for me.
83) After failing two marriages, and letting my daughter move thousands of miles away, I realized that I am an utter disappointment to my parents.
84) When you come from a very close (and large) family, that’s a hard thing to accept.
85) I am only the third member of my extended family (covering almost 300 people) to get a divorce in the last four generations.  I am the first man to do so.  Both women were being abused.  I don’t have an acceptable reason.
86) Yes, I realize that the logic behind 85 is utter crap, but that doesn’t change the circumstances.
87) When my second marriage began to fail, my family actively began avoiding me.  Not because they were upset with me…because they didn’t know how to interact with me.  I had become so alien to them that they didn’t even know how to speak to me.
88 ) I don’t admit it out loud, but 87 and another event last year almost led me to change my last name and start over.
89) I don’t admit it to anyone but my therapist, but 87 almost cost me my life.  I don’t believe in “gesture of suicide”…if you’re gonna go, use a gun, make it quick.
90) I can also gladly say that I am long past that dark place.  Hopefully never to return.
91) My best female friend is trying to convince me that instead of being the prince that rescues the princess, maybe I should let her find me…let her in and be rescued from my own dragons.  And if not rescued, than at least fight them together, side by side.
92) Deep down inside, I don’t think I deserve to be loved.  I’ve already failed.  I’ve already fallen in battle.
93) That’s the dragon that I can’t seem to fight.  I can’t even see it when I’m battling it.  It’s always hiding in the shadows and burning me in the dark.
94) I am secretly afraid that I am such damaged goods that I will never find my true love.
95) I have never admitted that before. Not even to my therapist.
96) I do not accept a victim mentality, I believe in standing up, dusting off and trying again.
97) I rarely give up.  Which is dangerous when playing poker. It is equally bad when playing blackjack or craps.
98 ) I love to gambol, but I don’t EVER play with money I can’t afford to lose.
99)  I will always throw the dice in life rather than playing it safe.  Always.
100) If life is a game, and love is the answer, and we’re all players…then here’s to hoping the third times the charm?


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What is my quest?

So, what exactly is this prince’s quest?  Why, to find love of course.  But, as with any quest, it’s far more complicated than that.

First off, let me be very clear, I have already loved deeply and with my whole heart.  She was the beautiful princess from far away and I truly believed that if I loved her enough everything would work out.  Happily Ever After was just about believing hard enough, wanting it bad enough, and letting it happen.

It didn’t happen.

On Valentines’s day I got her chocolate dipped strawberries instead of flowers…and that was the moment she decided that it was over.  It took a lot longer then that (exactly a year in fact), but that was the moment the end began.

To this day, and probably until the day I die, the fact that the connection I believed we had was merely a mirage just shatters my faith in love.  Eleven years of marriage and more than fourteen as a couple…my entire adult life was wrapped up in her.  But I wasn’t worth the effort to keep trying.  “We” weren’t worth the effort to keep trying.

I grew up believing in all the romantic ideals, the fairytale endings, the happily ever afters; I grew up believing that I could be the fairytale prince.  That I could be “Charming” and win the maiden.

The problem with that, is that I wasn’t attracted to the kind of woman that could be “won” like a trophy.  I like intelligence, and creativity, and partnership.  I like to be with a woman and not have a girlfriend/wife/trophy.  It’s that paradox that ultimately undid us.

Now, she is moving to Oklahoma.  She is marrying “Mr. Oklahoma” (we’ll go in to that more when and if I ever feel like explaining the details of our divorce) and I wish her happiness.  True love is hoping that the ones you love are happy, no matter what.

So that lead to the question “do I pine for her?”  And the answer is “no.”

With a couple of years of dirty water swamping the bridge behind us, I can also say that we no longer fit as a couple.  If we woke up tomorrow and decided to try again, it would be a LONG and UPHILL climb.  The people we are in our early thirties are NOT the people we were in our late teens.  And we’re both ok with that.

Which is something we try very hard to communicate to our daughter. She’s seven and she’s moving with her mom to Oklahoma.  I am ok with this, we have worked it out between us, and I’ll explain that decision more as the day she moves gets closer.

So here I am, in my early thirties, I’ve got a daughter who turns seven in just a few days and I’ve been married twice.  Not exactly the profile of Prince Charming.  In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that I am NOT most women’s dream catch.

So as “dating” blogs go, I’d not count on this one much for salacious details.  First, I’m not one for salacious details, and second, I’m not much for dating.

But I do believe my princess is out there.  That is my quest…to find her.


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