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The Dream Is Over

I remember the time I pulled the rear bumper off of my car thinking I had the perfect solution.

A neighbor from across the street at my old house had purchased new property and they were about to begin construction on it. Knowing how much I loved gardening she suggested that I get to her new property and take as many blueberry bushes as I wanted. All I had to do was dig them up. I was chilled, that’s how excited I was at the prospect of having mature blueberry bushes! I arrived at her property with a pick, shovel and well-worn work gloves.

Surveying the bushes, I appraised a few that looked well-rounded and plump and began digging around the roots. Trouble was I soon found out, wild blueberry bushes have deep and hearty roots. For a few hours I picked, shoveled and tugged at a few bushes but still couldn’t pull one bush fully out of the ground. So, I had an idea. I would wrap some rope I had in the trunk around the exposed roots, tie the other end to my car’s rear bumper and simply pull them out! Why didn’t I think of that before?

Sweating, but determined, I tied the knots as tightly as I could on both ends, took off my gloves (which revealed a few open blisters on my right hand), and started up the car. I gently pulled forward so I could see that the slack in the rope was gone and carefully pushed down on the accelerator. After a few tentative rocking motions nothing happened. I could see as I leaned out of the driver’s side door that the rope was taught and that the bush was slightly leaning toward the car, but no hint of uprooting showed itself. So I pressed heavier on the gas pedal. Still, no giving up the ground for that blueberry bush!

Bolder, I backed up maybe ten feet and decided that building some speed would pluck it out of the ground as easily as plucking one of the juicy berries would be. One foot on the gas, the other halfway out the door and my head cocked toward the rear, I bolted. The ten feet took only a slight moment to cover, but I remember the sharp buck of the car at the end of the ten feet and the slam of the brake at probably foot number fifteen.

I hurried out of my car and could see the damage I had done even before I strode to the passenger door. Fifteen feet away, the blueberry bush stood – still solidly rooted in its original spot. Tied to its exposed roots was the rope. On the other end of the rope was my car’s rear bumper, pulled much closer to the bush than to my car by the force of the pull.

Eventually, I decided that with all the investment of time and effort I had put in, not to mention my car’s rear bumper, that bush was going to be mine no matter how it happened. I left the site, drove back to my house, came back with an old saw and cut those roots one at a time until I could pull out the bush and hoist it into my trunk – dirt, stray leaves, bugs and anything else that was attached.

I planted that bush in a special spot in my beloved garden and tended it daily for most of the first few weeks in its new location. In the next few years it prospered, giving up wonderfully deep blue/purple berries that satisfied both the wild life that happened upon the free feast, local kids that regularly came to pick a mouthful (and stained their clothes) while playing in the neighborhood and enough left over for my own family to incorporate them into pancakes, muffins, ice trays and daily round the clock snacks.

I remember my little girl, who must have been about four or five at the time, in a billowy yellow sundress and a white, wide-brimmed sunhat jumping sideways, circling the bush singing “Here we go ’round the blueberry bush, the blueberry bush …” and laughing her little girl giggle as she sang and pulled berries into her mouth.

I remember both of my boys helping me dig a pit to plant the huge bush in. And after the initial deluge of water for the bush, how we swung into an impromptu water hose fight. We sat down in the wet soil, shared sips of iced tea and I remember hugging them both – one on either side of me.

I loved that blueberry bush.  Read more…

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One Unit of New

A month of crunch at school, a new zeroed-in work schedule, a mild upheaval, a major trounce, new thoughts, refreshed views … that’s all it took to reintroduce me back into the world of blog.

I have a lot of back-reading to do on your blogs and I have swirling piles of ideas for my own. But for today, I need to feel the swing of a bat hitting dead center on a baseball and feel the sharp snap as it’s thrown back to me by my kids. Calzones for lunch and tilapia over rice tonight will bring some wholesome goodness and tang back into my mouth.

It lives and it is moving. And it is seizing the day!

It Was Only Today

It began as most every other day begins – opening the door just before, or exactly on the stroke of midnight. He could always tell the time because the clanging bells from an old church gonged faithfully, and steadily each hour. This time, there were three gongs left as he locked the door behind himself.

A chill escaped from the region of his lower neck through his upper back that caused him to shiver ever so slightly as he took off his coat and hung it up. It was the date, he knew. That date had come again.

Rich in self-loathing, he muttered an “Oh God” and drew on a freshly lit cigarette while he stared down at the empty street. He thought of the semi-celebratory opening of a beer, but was tired enough to deny the impulse. Standing in the shadows and grappling with a bout of ennui were to be the circumstances of the moment. He knew that today would not be unlike many of those days in the past. The past that alarmingly seemed to be distancing itself from his memories.

The church bells had gonged one AM before he realized how long he had been staring at the night zenith and mulling out of focus, listless in his stance with his broad shoulders drooping.

Sleep was alternatively deep and on occasion, frustratingly light – waking for no reason and without even a remnant of a dream sequence that might have caused him to awaken so sharply. Bright early morning came with the reminder that because he hadn’t slept his normal and consecutive hours in a row, he would probably take a late afternoon nap. A reminder that the date was just another to later tear off of the daily word of the day calendar.

Moments came that would bring capricious bouts of apartment cleaning spasms, but flickered and were extinguished within minutes. A brief, forced march to the outside world and through a local park had made him shower, dress and reintroduce himself to the warm sun above. The white noise of the busy city washed his brittle thoughts, and people watching as he sat on an empty bench handed him distraction.

The bells of the church gonged twelve times, each stroke deeply resonant and uniform with the last and the one after. The day was moving forward and already half had been lost forever.

“Is this how alcoholics begin?”, he wondered as he sipped on a long-necked beer back at his kitchen table. The growling that had begun as a plea had now grown to a snarl and he peered into the freezer for a morsel of microwaveable late afternoon snack. None called him to attention so he grabbed the closest package, heated it and gobbled even as it sometimes burned his mouth causing him to suck in air sharply to cool it off quickly.

Even more frighteningly than spending the day alone was the thought that if the opportunity presented itself, he was comfortably within the frame of mind that he would politely refuse. It would have seemed forced and would have come out of pity. The invisible barrier between his determination to make it alone and the unsettling shouting of loneliness had eroded to gel thin. What he wanted did not coincide with what he needed.

Six in total were the distinct reverberations of the gong. That meant six in total left. Six more to mark in sequence before it ended, lost to waves of eternity.

The inevitable call came later. First on the line sounded upbeat and he could almost touch his smile through the voice box. Second came, and with some enthusiasm expressed happy thoughts of love. Third spoke and uttered in teenaged monotone. It always happened the same way during this act: he asked more questions in order to keep the conversation flowing then they did, he always told them what a wonderful day it had been and that no, of course not, there’s more planned for later. “I Love You” to each having been dispensed, the line was vacated once more.

Inspiration to venture out once more was doused. Enthusiasm was strained from the nakedness of the phone call. It would have been a sham to drive somewhere random, find a seat at the bar, order a beer, have a small meal and smile. He felt that his thoughts would have been on display as if continually flashing on a rolling, red-lettered neon billboard circling above his head. Better to lazily lounge in the environment in which he was at ease with. One that knew the widening boundaries of his frustration and self-pity. One that knew with certain clarity what was stealthily bubbling up ever so incrementally and would be erupting soon enough.

Read more…

The Amount of Time

It’s mainly about trying not being alone.

It’s tiring and deflating to walk in after midnight, open the door and see everything clouded in darkness. When the first light is turned on, the shadows around the disarray seem longer and rough edged. The stillness is loud and has a wry grin. The air is limp and never forgets that I will sigh loudly while I take off my coat and have an internal debate about whether I’ll hang it up in the closet or simply let it lie on the chair where I sit to take off my shoes.

The refrigerator light that engulfs me as I open the door seems the open eye of a witness who takes note of my late night slouch, my weary countenance and my disregard of civility as I pull out the gallon jug of iced tea and swig greedily.

I can look mere feet from where I stand and notice the dishes that need only to be placed within the grill of the dishwasher, the socks that make dramatic splashes across my bedroom floor, the unmade bed awash in wrinkles, the spot where a plant fell and still has beads of soil that need to be vacuumed up, the stack of pages, letters and mail that is opened, or needs to be opened, the shameful dust on the bookshelf, the stark white walls interrupted only briefly with photographs, the half filled storage bins with their covers scattered, the cabinet doors left open which look like broad wings in the darkness and the couch blankets that have been thoughtlessly tossed and are spread wide open.

The couch can attest to the lonely moments. I sit on the middle cushion, slightly hunched over and close to the edge so I will not sink in and stare at a random object. Not for the sake of study, or contemplation of some matter, but an effortless and blank gaze without the whirring of thought.

Sometimes the distraction of a TV channel causes mild focus and my mind blindly adheres to the chain of conversation or story on the screen and a half hour has gone by. A commercial interrupts the bland interaction between us and I stand, stretching out my arms, back and legs and the thought of lying down occurs. Not out of exhaustion, but out of boredom. Most nights it”s right there on the couch, the oldest inanimate object in my apartment – one that was given to me, where I surrender, without benefit of taking off my work clothes, to the loveless ennui and close my eyes not for weary eyelids, but for lack of emotional stimulation.

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OK, Half-Full

Among the many lessons I continually repeat to my children is the one of the glass being half-full.

Dad (after sadly looking at the time): I only have forty-five minutes left with you.

Son (smirking): Dad, it’s not half-empty! Look at it as you have forty-five more minutes with us!

Dad (stunned): ”                                  ”

Sure, I’m lonely as could be right now while writing this, doing nothing, but I received an additional forty-five minutes with my kids today.

And that’s made all the difference.

I Just Kept Writing

Is it uncool to admit that one is looking for love? The FWB thing is something that I’m simply not attracted to. Is it taboo to be actively seeking out someone who has taken care of themselves?  Have all the clichés been written out too many times to have meaning anymore? Going for walks on the beach, sitting by the fire with a book, watching my favorite movie, jeans to a little black dress, snuggling on a coach all seem unnecessarily mandatory when ads are posted and get glossed over quickly.

What happened to the stomach-tightening thrill of a second date with someone who actually matters and is elevated beyond a time-filler? The anticipation of perhaps touching hands over a coffee and a smile that, surprisingly to you, and unknown to her, gently warms the thin, brittle frost that has chilled your heart? The nervous preparation before seeing someone for a second time that includes taking a much too long shower, spending twenty rewarding minutes achieving a close and careful shave, taking out the barely used ironing board and remembering how to smooth out wrinkled clothes, going to the mirror more times than you can last remember to see if everything fits and matches, tentatively splashing on an expensive and stylish cologne, and inhaling deeply many, many times throughout the process to remain calm even as you feel your mind racing.

Is it unrealistic to seek out femininity? She that is comfortable with the graces of being a woman and does not at all feel the need to “fit in with the boys”? A woman who walks with dignity, confidence and agility, who speaks whole, articulate sentences sans curse words? A woman who loves herself first and knows that it is arguably the most attractive quality about herself? Is there a woman who is chic without bold pretentiousness and who has the realization that tastefully adorning her physique is among the strongest and most alluring of all items in the arsenal of love that she possesses? A woman who can remain distinguished even as she’s engaged in playful flirting, is there one who can claim that title?

There is not one among us who can successfully argue that they are a shining diamond. We have all done things that we are not smirking about anymore, we have all said things that have caused us shame in the aftermath, we have all been mired in wrenching heartbreak and we have all spent mandatory time and effort in a relationship that has long ago lived out its usefulness. But, are there among us, some that have taken the time, perhaps over a period of months or years, to meditate over our mistakes and who have consciously made the diamond solid decision that it is not the person we were meant to be and whatever the consequences, or the temptations, to never, ever, even for a momentary breath, allow ourselves to slide backward and downward to that disgraceful plateau? Is there no greater gift to humbly offer someone than the gift of unwavering respect?

Is there room in our heart for a relationship that doesn’t include ‘the fairy tale’? Is there a workable crevice somewhere in our soul that staunchly will not include a checklist of absolute must-have’s this time around? Are we committed enough to hope for symbiosis instead of doggedly holding on to the tenant that we are not going ‘to settle’? Is it mandatory that someone already have achieved all their dreams as a person, are they looked upon as stumblers, or are we willing to give of ourselves our vast, rich experiences and enjoy guiding another toward achieving that dream? Is there any joy left in a heart for the experience of joining as one in the hope of attaining a new, adjusted and common goal? Is there passion enough remaining in our thoughts that no list, banal phrase or ragged and misplaced sense of entitlement could overwhelm the ravenous hunger of brilliant belonging?

Is it impossible for a man to admit that he has made fantastic mistakes? Is it conceivable for a man to admit in conversation that the thought of endlessly dating in a stuttering stream of misguided relationships has made him not less, but more lonely? Can a man have a greater sense of being unfulfilled after the empty parade than to decide to be alone? Can a man adore without smothering, express tender vulnerability while retaining masculinity, admit acceptance of others without lowering standards and expectations and remain committed to only one while continuing to be independent? Is there a man who believes through painful lessons learned that no matter the cost, the penultimate prize is the person who will help brave darkened discourse, tumultuous events that are set into whimsical place, and haphazardly skewed ancillary views?

Read more…

When I Win

I mentioned before that I’ve teamed up with a woman who has been unbelievably lucky at the lottery. She’s won mid-level prizes in the past year which include a scratch for $10,000. It’s uncanny how often, and how much, she wins.

So I offered to go in with her. I’d pay the same amount as she would and we would split the prizes. I started off by giving her $20. I figured that we would play a few times a week and go from there. In total, I believe that since we started doing this at the end of January I’ve given her an out-of-pocket total of $60 – far more than I should be giving out.

As I think while sitting here, I am unable to come up with the total amount that we have won. But I can tell you that the two largest tickets that we’ve hit on are a $1,000 ticket and two $500 tickets! In between we’ve been playing constantly – daily … with money that we’ve won! Each and every day we win between $20 – $100 dollars. Each day! And we continue to play every day – with money that we keep winning!

When the amount of the daily winnings get to about $75 or so, we play smart. Half of the winnings gets split between the two of us, and we play the other half. So, for instance, two days ago we won $110, we split $60 between us, $30 apiece, and played the remaining $50. Every day I’m getting cash amounts ranging from $20 to $75 or so handed to me. Cash. Cash that I put away in a safe. A dollar amount that is large enough for me to pay cash for two items that I’ve long lusted after. A large screen TV to replace the old one that was given to me (which sports in the upper left hand corner a permanent splash of green from the aging picture tube), and a new computer to replace the one I use now that is slow, painfully slow.

She keeps saying that we are about to win a large amount. A really large amount. I’m excited within reason of course, but I occasionally let my mind wander.

People often ask each other what they would do if they ever won ‘the big one’. I already know what I’d do.

Read more…

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