Thursday, September 10, 2015


There might be many reasons to write. To establish one's thoughts, to know what one thinks, to get something out that you can only really tell yourself, to relive a piece of your history over again, to release the portions of your feelings you can no longer keep contained. Today it is a little bit of everything - kind of like my resume. I spent the day at a funeral for my brother-in-law's father, who was killed in a car accident while I and a portion of my family was back in Chicago for a holiday visit. While we were there, I saw things I remembered and things I didn't. I was in places where the only proof I had of existing there in a previous time was a feeling. The strange feeling one gets when something seems familiar, but one cannot recall the actual memory in one's mind. I also saw some places that I recognized from other dimensions - a recent vivid dream where I didn't exactly know where I was, but I know now. Whether astral projection, a repressed memory from this life, or a memory from a previous one, I'm not sure. Nevertheless, I now know I was in the place where my current existence originated. I still don't know what my spirit was trying to reconcile or reveal, but that will come with time.

I saw things about my roots that helped me understand what has shaped me, and things that I have moved on from. I wondered what my life would have been if my family had stayed, if I would have turned out differently. Or if I had gone back to the area to attend college or moved back as I've thought of doing. The house on Liberty Street didn't look as big as I remembered, neither did the river, or the parks, or the roads. A city changes, whether you're there to become engulfed in the details or existing somewhere else in space and time. A part of it seeps into you, once you've become a part of it, spreading its influence through the veins that carry life to each part of your body. It mixes with whatever else is there, whatever else the veins pick up as they carry what your fragments need to live as a whole being. I'm not surprised now when I reach for rye bread, listen to jazz and the blues, feel drawn to old houses and architecture, feel the rush of the L and the sounds of trains, carry out the strong work ethic of my family, honk my horn at drivers on the road, feel drawn to the water and the sounds of a pier, and display the sarcastic irritation (and sense of humor)a lot of the area's residents do. This place is a piece of me and I am a piece of this place.

My father may be at the bottom of that infamous lake. Somewhere along Lake Shore Drive, lined with expansive city towers and expensive hi-rise condos, Lincoln Park, the Zoo, Michigan Avenue shops, St. Joseph's, and memories that are hard to recall. My father could be anywhere and that I will not know. I couldn't say good-bye, because what is there to say good-bye to? If everything happens simultaneously, then he is still there. There isn't a grave to visit in a cemetery, like the ones for my great grandparents or uncle. There isn't someone to pick us up at the airport, like my aunt. All I have are stories, scattered memories, a voice, and the unknown. So when someone else's father suddenly vanishes, I get it. I've been through it twice. One I have ashes for. The other...air.

The truth is, it seems as though it's chance as to why some of us get to keep our parents for longer than others. It's never fair and it always hurts. Those of us who lose them early enough to accumulate only scattered memories (if any at all) have it entwined into our roots. It's a piece of our identity, a piece that can't be released, something that branches off into something bigger than what we realize until a reminder is in front of us. Perhaps that's why it's covered, unseen, forgotten until it becomes important. Until we realize that who we are is who someone else is, too. Part of who we are is unique, but part of it originates from the same beginning; unseen, until we dig up what has held us in place.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Orientation to Asshole U

It's been awhile since I've visited myself here. Myself meaning who I think I am and my perceptions of the environments I live in. There are things about these environments I have yet to fully understand. On some level I understand the need to vent frustration; the need to be (for lack of a better word) an asshole. What I don't understand is why humans do what we do to each other once we realize what we're doing is not the optimal way to handle things. Is it easier to rely on habit and pattern despite having the desire to try a different approach? Do we really, as some would suggest, punish others for what we believe are our own shortcomings? Can we only interpret others as we see ourselves? Maybe, but I'm still not sure.

For all that I've written on this blog, all that I've read, all I've reflected on in my mind, I still take things personally. I'm not sure there's a way around that. Things seep into me - a harsh tone, a slight hint of unhappiness, a hurried demand, a negative response based on little substance. At times I break down. I cry. I wipe away the tears and start over. Sometimes I hold on to that energy, I let it boil and steam, and eventually it seeps out into my own display of frustration and "assholeness." It's not my intention, but the fact I'm human takes over. At times I think I'm not really being an ass. I mean, after all, I tend to equate firmly stating the truth and what I need to being an ass. Is there something in my DNA or my learned predilections that prevent me from seeing this simple thing others seem to take for granted as "okay"? Maybe. Maybe that's an HSP thing or maybe it's a combination of environmental cues and nature. I don't know for sure, but I do know it's something I can't quite master.

Unhappiness. I guess that's what it boils down to. People can't contain the anger, the frustration, the sadness, the "whatever" boiling beneath the surface. So they let it out. Because it can't stay in anymore. It's got to leave. And the rest of us around them become sponges for the energy. It's transformed within us, carrying its anger, its upset damage, its torture, even its darkness. Then it becomes us. A part unseen until something else triggers its "too-muchness." What did I do to invite this?, we ask. Somewhere inside we know it's not us, it's something we can't control but want to grab and release into the unseen.

It's not the way to give a voice to our injury, our confusion, our inadequacy, our underlying fear we contain no significance. Being an asshole is the easy way out; an externalization; a tool of dismissal and relinquished responsibility. This past week it came in a few forms - some conventional, some straight out of a Hollywood blockbuster. When a 70s plus man wearing yellow shorts, tube socks, and a printed tucked in tee stands in your office yelling about how his circa 2004ish Verizon cell phone no longer works and his government account is preventing him from buying a new one, all you can do is imprint the laughable story. But it makes you wonder.

Have I acted this way? I probably have. Without reason. Without justification. Without thought as to who it was that was receiving this energy. This destructible energy that does nothing. It sits there, hanging like black heavy rain clouds that won't spill because they're too busy rumbling. It seeps, like a poisoned elixir that starts out with the promise of bloomed petals and ends in a dried up stem. And it doesn't end. It continues. Until we learn there's a better way. Until we realize humans can't treat each other as if someone else, something else is the reason.

Not until we realize this doesn't feel good. Not until we realize what we've done; what we do. Then it's a whispered I'm sorry. I'm sorry. I know. I realize. I can't. I must. Do something else. Something different. Something called respect. A little something called kind-ness.

Thursday, November 27, 2014


I see you
walking there
without something
I have

I know I'm selfish
for thinking
I have problems
I know I'm selfish
for thinking
I'm justified
in having sympathy
for something
I don't

You navigate your life
without knowing
what you touch
or what
this world
to be

In many ways
I too
see nothing
but darkness

The other day I'm at work thinking about how my job really sucks. Not all the time, of course, but today it really blows. I'm doing the job of two people. No one has filled my former boss's position yet and no one probably will for some time. I'm down a technician and that position probably won't be filled until sometime after the new year. I can't possibly abandon my organization to pursue my writing full-time now. I could, but I won't do it. I won't leave someone else or my team with that mess. I'm rushing, rushing, rushing so fast every day that I can't think, I can't process, I can't really make the decisions I would like to make. People complain, people are antsy. They want everything done now and there just isn't enough "nows" for a team of four and a leader who really needs to not be interrupted continuously and called into senseless meeting after senseless meaning on a whim more than she'd like.

What my team is going through is not fair, but it's not completely impossible. And my woes? Well, they're still nothing compared to woes I've been through in other places, in different times, when life was lived under the illusion that it could actually be planned.

If I've become enlightened at all about the notions of "planning," "analyses," "technique" and "methodology," I know that it doesn't really work. When it comes down to just about anything, you have to the seat of your pants. You find out that you don't know what you thought you knew, that knowledge is really a bunch of current opinions mixed in with a grain of collective truth, and the best stuff comes from just doing things, feelings, "accidents," and what we don't know for absolute certainty.

That's where we're all "blind," right? We walk in darkness about who we are, who we'll become, where we'll be, and what our decisions and choices will teach us. A part of us knows - the unspoken part, the part that doesn't think in words, or contemplate what-ifs. Sometimes we do things because we want to stretch. Other times it's because it sounds good, feels good, it's what we want, it's what we think we want, or it's what someone else wants for us. Complicating matters is the fact that no one really knows with 100% certainty what is true and what is real.

It's one aspect of blindness - walking into things and making choices without knowing how we're going to feel about those choices, their aftermaths, or who those choices will shape us into being. The other aspect of blindness is not seeing and embracing with gratitude for what you do have and for who you are right now. Because really I have no right and no reason to complain about my hectic day, my hurried environment, my demanding users who need it done now (if not yesterday) exactly according to their needs. This is what I signed up for. This is the decision I made and the path I set out on, with all its rocks, dangerous inclines, seemingly impossible hills, twists, turns, valleys, rest stops, beautiful valleys, and exhilarating sense that I am doing something.

Maybe that "something" is important, maybe it makes a difference. Not in an imagined theoretical way, but in a way that doesn't seem obvious. It looks like something else. It's work and it's hard and it seems like you're going nowhere because you can't win. And that's the truth - you can't win. Not by someone else's definition. Not even by what he or she sees. You only know what you feel. One single unguided grasp at a time.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

No Looking Back, No Regrets

I recently read a novel where one of the characters comes to the conclusion that she chose the life she would regret the least. Her voice acknowledged that one tends to romanticize the life (or lives) one doesn't choose. She goes on to say that all choices contain regret, but the one we can live with...that's the one we end up "sealing the deal" with. As I read this, I had to stop. You know, because it's one of those moments in a novel that end up hitting home in a poignant way and pack a subjective powerful punch. The words convey some abstract meaning you've felt or "known" but you haven't quite expressed it verbally to yourself yet. And...there it is - a form of synchronicity; a whisper saying "here's your answer."

I grew up hearing the saying "no looking back, no regrets" from another fictional tale. I've weaved the theme and words into one of my own fictional stories. I've tried to live by its meaning and sometimes I do. But at times I do what most of us humans do. I reflect and ponder about the "other" choice I didn't make and the life (or lives) that could have been. I romanticize those lives, thinking of the "good stuff" that would have been and the feelings of fulfillment I might have felt. I imagine I might have been "happier," whatever "happier" really means. Then I realize I couldn't have made that choice. In fact, I didn't make it for a very good reason - regret. I chose a different life, a different path I felt would be less regretful. I experience my current life, my current choice and realize "happiness" is here, too. It comes and goes, like it would with any existence and path. But what matters is that I can live with my lessons and the choices I make feel good. Not the type of "feel good" that gives you an exuberant high; the type you can wake up with and go to bed with every night. It's the type you feel no attachment to. It's different than contentment and freedom, but they're the closest words I can find.

Whatever it is, I feel it. I feel it with my life as I choose to remain in my current position at work, while continuing to pursue my writing the best I can. I feel it with my choice to remain close to my family and start working on the rooms in my basement. I feel it as I teach myself a new writing form in preparation for an internship application. I also feel it as I continue to implement my life's "project period contract." I feel it as I let go of expectations and begin to feel comfortable saying "no." I feel less regret over not choosing the "other" and realize with very little doubt that the choices I make are what I would have chosen anyway.

So even though the saying of "no looking back, no regrets" is just an understanding of a desired state, the edges of its meaning are still a possibility. Maybe we accomplish it. And maybe we see awe in what we're conscious of without wondering why what couldn't be isn't real.