Fight Club

You look for an exit, whether through the trees or the sea of people, or even from the prison of your body. 

You can’t find one, so you choose to fight. Them, the situation, everything you hate, and even yourself. 

You hope you’re dreaming, that you’ll wake up in your bed, safe and sound. 

But you know you aren’t. 

Thanksgiving is always a battlefield. 

Digging up the Past

Where have I been all your life? I’ve been there, but not there entirely. When I was born you were nearly thirty and had already lived so much life without me. 

We had a few years together, just you and I, but I was too young to remember them. You hold the secret to what my first word was, where I took my first steps, and how I was potty trained. You hold so many secrets, but I never got to ask you about any of it. 

Those secrets went with you when you left us and I can’t help but lament the things I’ll never know. 

I’ve got 100 resolutions but none of them are what I want to know from you. 

Our time together was never resolved. We didn’t have the resolutions I wanted. 

We’ll never know each other as well as we wanted. 

When Your Heart Stops

There were no hospital visits for you. No loud sweeping exits, no shrieking machines to tell us that your heart stopped. 

It just did.

Home, surrounded by all of your friends and family, you just left peacefully. 

I would have wished nothing more. 

Except maybe to talk with you one last time about all of the mysteries of the universe.

But that was too much to ask, I guess. 

Wednesday Works: A Piece Based Off of the Worst Lyric in your Least Favorite Song

“I was a ghost on your birthday”- Transient Love by The Menzingers.

The letter was one of the smaller gifts waiting for him in the stacked pile of large oblong boxes. Brian would have almost missed it and it would have been thrown away in the refuse of blue and green wrapping paper, and thin ripped tissue paper warped into balls, if it hadn’t been for his astute eye. He was hoping that a smaller package was hiding amid the bigger boxes, something the size of an iphone, but instead he found the aged envelope.

He recognized the handwriting right away, and wasn’t sure that he should let his parents know, or if he should just slip it under his leg when he picked up the next gift. It was from his brother, but he had an idea who had put it there with the other gifts. He looked for her face in the crowd and he was sure she almost gave him a hint of a wink with her smile. She was mirroring the other faces all around him, though she was more his brother’s age. The not quite thirteen-year-olds, the smooth fourteen year olds, and his family, all smiling, even though they all knew someone was missing.

It was like a taboo to even think about it, about him, and Brian forced the thought out of his mind as he tore the wrapping paper away from a gift that any newly aged teenage boy would have wanted, it wasn’t the newest iphone, but he thanked his Aunt Judy for the socks anyway. He kept opening gifts, the pressure and the weight of the envelope pushing down on him, though it was safely trapped under his leg.

He was afraid to think about him too, afraid that it would crash the mood of his party and call back angry, tormented memories of his family’s past. Definitely not the right mood for a birthday party. So he kept opening the rest of the gifts, reacting as appropriately as he could to whatever the boxes and gift bags held. Then when they were exhausted, and the table cleared of all surprises, his mother called them all in for cake and ice cream. That was when Brian shoved the letter into his pocket and forgot about it until later.

The letter forced itself back into his memory as he got ready for bed that night. It fell onto his desk as he emptied his pants pockets of the things he had gathered during the day. The rocks that he and Tommy had collected to mold into slingshot ammo, the wadded up dollar bills that nearly every card had contained from the party earlier, and then there was the letter,  a new crease running along the thick envelope, the writing still clear as day.  His name in his brother’s scrawl.

Brian.

He wasn’t sure he even wanted to open it. What if it was the one thing they had all been looking for, the one thing that they were all missing as to why the things happened how they did. Instead of opening it right away he stared at it for quite some time.

But eventually, curiosity got the better of him and he broke the seal on the envelope and pulled out the contents carefully. It was a birthday card, and Brian wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse.

On the front was a dog driving a racecar, his ears blowing from the acceleration.  The front was a bit juvenile, with some pun about the happiest of “Barkdays”, but Brian was more interested on what was on the inside.

At first glance, the inside was normal, the completion of the pun from the front of the card that would have made any twelve-year-old laugh, and then Brian saw it, the binder paper folded perfectly to fit in the card. His brother had written him a small birthday message in the card in his nearly unreadable chicken scratch, but the binder paper was more important.

Slowly, Brian unfolded it and found a letter inside,  in his brother’s handwriting, and he struggled to make out the words, either through his brother’s handwriting,  or the moisture that had blurred some of the letters, making them large splotches of blue ink.

Brian,

Happy Thirteenth Birthday!  I’m sorry I couldn’t be there personally to tell you all these things but now that you’re a man, you deserve to know. There’s only so much pain and sorrow one guy can take alone. There are too many secrets that can’t always be kept,  or friendships that require more balance than a tightrope walk, there are too many things that should be happy, that caused me too much pain.

But this is your birthday message, so I guess I should keep it somewhat upbeat, teach you the lessons of being a man or whatever. All of my problems started around the time that I was your age, so if I can give you any lessons about how to avoid the same mistakes I made, these are them:

Make Friends: You were just a kid when we moved here from Ohio, so you might already have more friends than I did at your age, but I was thirteen and going through puberty and moving in the middle of the year when all of the cliques and friend groups are already formed is tough. Make real friends, not just the guys that hang around the first girl you ever kissed. Make true friends that like the same things you do, and whatever you do, don’t force yourself to like something or have something just to fit in. Friends are out there.

Find Love:  All kinds of love,  not just the kind that makes your underwear feel tight. Love for friends, love for family, love for music. Yes, there will be romantic love too, but don’t force it, you will only cause yourself more pain. When you feel love, for friends, family, or the girl that you hated in elementary school, don’t hide it. Embrace it and your life will be so much easier. Mom and Dad will understand if you truly love it. You might get your heart broken, or wake up one day and find that you hate whatever it was you loved yesterday, but it is worth the risk.

Grow: Don’t stay hidden behind what people expect you are. How often have you and I gone out and looked at people and made snap judgements? “She’s shy” or “He loves cats”. People will judge you by what you look like and how you act,  but that doesn’t mean you can’t shatter their expectations of you. “She’s shy BUT she likes to belt out showtunes when no one is looking.” “He loves cats BUT he can never love them as much as he loves Death Metal”. Explore your passions and don’t keep them hidden. Break out of your shell every once in a while and be brave.

I didn’t follow any of those lessons, and I ended up wherever I am now. Don’t get me wrong,  Brian, this is meant to be a happy message, despite the blotches. Just be yourself and never apologize for that. Don’t make the same mistakes I did, and live the best life you can.

Ok, enough sappy stuff. Well maybe one more thing. Something to end this letter off right.

I remember the day you were born. I was just coming home from kindergarten and mom usually had a snack out for me, but no one was home and the door was locked, so I waited outside. It wasn’t very long before Grandma picked me up and we went to the hospital. You were just born so you were in the incubator, and I remember asking Grandma why you weren’t in Mommy’s tummy anymore and then I told her that I wished you would have just stayed in there. I liked my room to myself.

The truth is: I am a better person, a better brother for knowing you, Brian.

I’m sorry that I can’t be there in person, and I’m sorry I was a coward. I shouldn’t be just a ghost on your birthday.

Love,
Patrick

To Whom I Dedicate My Novels: Taz

We first met about 5 years ago. And by “met”, I mean we had two classes together. He stood out, with his long hair, purple jacket, and name that made me think of a hectic, destructive cartoon character. I was sure I didn’t stick out at all, especially since I barely went to one class and was stuck in the sea of a million faces in the other. That was probably why we only really started talking after finals that semester. Do you ever just meet someone for the first time, and not realize their significance until much, much later?

For me, that was Taz.

Looking back on all those years we’ve known each other from a distance, he’s been around a lot. From trying to set me up with Hitler (this is a nickname. See previous posts), to talking to me throughout my terrible relationships with three other guys. This last year, something amazing happened.

He and I started talking and seeing each other more, really getting to know each other. And we’ve been together over a year now. To be honest, I’m still amazed we’re together. When we first started to date, I didn’t think he was my type. He had longer hair than I did, he wasn’t my usual “blonde haired with light eyes and glasses” type, and he was unlike any other man I had ever been with. Over a year later, and I am happy to say that I am glad he’s not my type.

We’ve gone on so many adventures together, from just down the street to his old elementary school, to Phoenix last March. We’ve shared so many experiences that I never would have had if I had stuck to my “type”. He’s made me consider the future in ways that seem real instead of just a desirable fantasy. Together we have given each other so much in just the short time that we have been together.

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Alright, enough with the personal stuff, and the romance stuff. I’m sure you’re all asking why I would dedicate my novels to a man with a funny name and long hair.

Taz, like many of my other boyfriends, has been invested and interested in my writing. The difference between him and some of my exs though, is he actually cares. He gives me valuable input when I am stuck, he types up some of the things that I have handwritten, and he gives me ideas wherever we are, whatever we are doing. He is my muse of sorts.

Not only that, he cares for not only my writing, but my well being and my other life goals too. He helped me through nursing school, other classes, and other life decisions as well.He understands me and is there for me, and I love him dearly for that.

That is why he gets a dedication in one of my novels, or maybe even all of them. He has been there for me, just as I have been there for him. We have been there for each other, and I hope we continue to be there for each other for many years to come.

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Taz and me, right before my nursing school graduation.

Who is your most unexpected writing muse?

To Whom I Dedicate My Novels: My Dad

I’m sure my dad’s life would have been a lot easier if I had been born a boy. Now don’t go mistaking this for pity or low self worth, it really would have been easier. Instead of artsy hobbies like writing and knitting, I could have been a boy and been into football and wrestling. I could have gone to a big universiry on a scholarship instead of waiting and spending so much time waiting for nursing school. Instead of chasing the boys and causing my dad more headaches than he can count, I could have been the boy all the girls chased, a boy that my dad could be proud of.

But I am not a boy, nor do I want to be. This is not a pity post.

Why am I telling you about how easy my dad’s life would have been if I were a boy? Because even though I’m sure he wanted a boy to pass on the family name, and to talk sports and girls with, he got my sister and then me. He may have wanted boys instead, but he raised my siser and me the best he could.

Looking back now, I wish I could change a lot of things. I wish I could change how well I did in high school and my priorities the first few semesters of college. I wish I could have done at least a few sports just to give him accomplishments he could boast about to his friends. I wish I could have gotten a better scholarship so he didn’t have to work so hard to make ends meet month after month during nursing school. I wish he and I could have been closer, like we used to be before hormones and boys got in the way.

But wishing won’t change anything now. What’s done is done, and I can’t change any of that. Even though, looking back, I want different things for myself, I wish things had been easier on him. He has always been right behind me, whatever my choices, even if he didn’t always agree with me. He would make suggestions, give me better options and sometimes put down options I was dead set on, but it was only because he cared. I used to think his actions and his tactics were controlling and manipulative, and maybe in some ways they are, but that was because some decisions I was not yet strong enough to make for myself.

I always used to think my writing was a point of shame, something that was embarassing for him, and something to be ashamed of. Instead of going out and living adventures, I was sitting at home writing them, and not even very good ones at the beginning. I felt like writing was something to do in secret and no one should see the process, only the finished product. I used to only write right before bed, by the light of a night light, because I knew I couldn’t be bothered or feel ashamed.

And then 2011 came along and I wrote my first ever “serious” novel. It was the start of a series and the first novel I actually continued and finished even though I didn’t technically win NaNoWriMo that year. Even better, I went on to type it, and then it was printed, and writing no longer became a secret hobby that I only partook in the dark. Spark:The Girl aptly lived up to its name. It was indeed the spark that lit the flame of my passion.

It wasn’t until fairly recently that my Dad found out about NaNoWriMo and all of my accomplishments. I hadn’t told him because November was always a stressful time with the semesters coming to a close, final projects and finals, and some semesters he would stress more than I did. A few weeks ago we were talking about what I was going to do with all my new free time and he said “I know about your writing, and I’m proud of all the progress you’ve made.”

That meant the world to me. It means that he continues to only want the best for me, and that he truly cares about my happiness. It’s time to show him that I am capable, that I can do something with my writing and make him more proud, even though I barely follow football and am not very athletic at all.

Even through all the struggles, my dad is one of my biggest supporters and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

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Who are some of your biggest supporters? Have you hugged them today?

To Whom I Dedicate My Novels: My Mom

Sometimes I wonder what my life would have been like if my parents had stayed together, or if I had lived with my mom instead of my dad. I’m not sure either would have been better than the life I have right now, but it’s still interesting to think about at times.

My mom and I haven’t always had the best relationship. When I was a toddler, my dad got custody and my mom spent years in and out of jail. She didn’t always make the best choices, but everyone makes mistakes. She and I didn’t see each other a lot during my teen years, and that was hard growing up, but it might have been for the best. For years, we were not in contact, but that changed in 2010.

In June of 2010, I reached out to my mom and we began emailing back and forth. It was lucky that we did because a few months later she was diagnosed with colon cancer. We were still just emailing at that time, she kept me updated on her treatments and I kept her updated on my writing projects and school. For a long time, her diagnosis didn’t seem real, so I avoided it. I stupidly thought “she’s getting treated, so she’s not as sick as it sounds”. Part of that too was that she kept a lot of it secret, how severe it really was. She focused more on my writing skills and encouraging me to continue my writing, and I am grateful for that, but at the same time, I wish I had known how serious it really was.

Two years later, around September of 2012, she printed my first completed story. She was not a tech expert by any means, but she took it down to the local Office Max and printed two copies. One for me to edit and read through, and one for her and her side of the family to read. That was the first time I realized my writing was ever really worth something. That was the first time I felt proud of my writing, and the first time I even considered going further than just writing it and leaving it in the “to be typed” tote in my closet. I can never thank her enough for that.

Not too long after that, in December of 2012, she was put on hospice. Hospice means that the medical professionals believe that the patient has less than six months to live. I started to see her behind my dad’s back, even though I was an adult, and she taught me a lot about her cancer, her treatments, and some of the things I had missed when we were apart. It wasn’t until February, and full swing in the first nursing program, that my dad finally found out about how serious her condition was and allowed me to see her on the weekends.

We talked about a lot on those weekends, and I am so glad we did, because I didn’t realize how short our time really was. It was around finals for the first semester in nursing school and I was convinced that I had failed one of my finals. I emailed her, telling her that I was convinced I would drop out of nursing school. She called me the next day, while I was in class, and she told me some of the greatest words that I needed at that moment. “You passed, I’m sure of it, and if you didn’t, then it wasn’t meant to be”.

Those words may seem harsh, but they were what I needed to hear. After, she asked me to call her back when I could, and I promised I would. I never did, and I wish I had. We had so much more to talk about, I had so much more to say, but we never got that chance.

It worked out that I actually got to be there when she passed a few days later. I had gone over for her birthday, as I had planned to, only it wasn’t the day I had planned. Her hospice nurse had increased her dose of dilaudid and she was basically knocked out. She died the next morning, but I stayed up most of the night with her, spending time with her. It wasn’t the easiest of nights, and we didn’t communicate with words, but that didn’t mean we weren’t communicating.

I’m dedicating my books to her, because she inspired me, she pushed me, and most of all she loved me, whether I was a writer or not, a nurse or not. She loved me for me, and I only wish she could be alive to see the book she helped to inspire published.

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My mom held my hand for so many years, it was time I held hers.

To whom would you dedicate your work?