Category Archives: That’s Life

Out On The Weekend

Although this is my latest post, it is not, technically, new work. I wrote this over a year ago towards the middle of my stay at JAIL. A few weeks before this shit came out of my head, I had hit the book-cart lottery and came across a copy of Cormac McCarthy’s The Crossing. It was such an amazing stroke of luck that I find it difficult to convey the excitement I felt at that time. In a claustrophobic world dominated by westerns, romance novels, fuck-books (slang for romance novels with explicit sex scenes), YA literature, outdated technical manuals (MS-DOS programming anyone?), and bottom of the barrel science fiction; finding The Crossing was the most merciful event I experienced since I had been incarcerated. However, I was about a third of the way into a novel of my own at the time and a few months later it became apparent that multiple readings of McCarthy’s work had negatively effected my own. I couldn’t help but notice that my novel had turned into a cheap imitation of Mr. McCarthy’s style. In response, I wrote this as an exercise to regain my natural voice. For lack of better terms, I would say that what came out was simply a dictation of a hallucinatory daydream and although not purely stream of conscious, I engaged in a very minimal amount of editing. I thought it was decent enough to copy and mail to a friend to see what he thought of it. Continue reading


The Lesson of a Sword

He never forgave her, not really.

They discussed it almost every week for over 50 years. They only stopped talking about it when he died.

He could have worn his seatbelt on that day and he would have walked away from that accident. He could have gone back home to his wife, to their not-quite argument over the lost swords. They wouldn’t be listening to Over the Rainbow by the Hawaiian guy at his funeral, but he was stubborn.

Stubborn as only a child of the Depression could be. Stubborn as a man who raised himself, who fought in WWII and Korea. He left the wars with a ringing in his ears that only got worse over time; but he never complained.

He never truly complained about anything. He didn’t complain when a misdiagnosis kept him from the airborne in WWII or when that missed opportunity sent him to occupy Japan rather than fight in Europe. He didn’t complain about his later alcoholism or the awkward intervention from his wife and adult children, nor were there complaints about the Petit Mal Seizures that struck only once or twice a year with no warning. The randomness of the seizures made them impossible to predict, so he didn’t worry about them. He didn’t plan. It was what it was.

He had one of those seizures the day he died. Continue reading


The Shine

Of late, I haven’t been able to write. I suppose you could label it a writer’s block – or what is commonly referred to as “writer’s block” – but the reality of the situation is more convoluted than what that simple term seems to suggest: that the inability to commit words to paper is, in itself, the root of the problem and not a symptom of something a little deeper and more complex. As if “writer’s block” is some grossly unthinking virus; something you catch like bad luck or the flu. Something that happens to you through no fault of your own. I wish that were the case, for it would seem to indicate an easy “recovery” – as if the block would effortlessly dissipate as easily as it came on. I know that is not going to happen. Because it isn’t something that just happened, but something I myself cultivated with weariness and hate and disillusion. It is a symptom of a deep attitudinal sickness that creeped in so slowly I hardly noticed it until it was in full bloom.

I don’t know how it happened, but suddenly I was sick again. AM sick. Sick of acquaintances playing the role of “friend.” Sick of fellow commuters and their petty anger. Sick of playing the dominance game with other men. Sick of bosses and their entitlement to my free time. Sick of probation officers with their suspicion and mock concern. Sick of a society that while screwing you demands the facade of a good attitude (It’s cool. I UNDERSTAND I am often going to be forcibly penetrated from time to time. It is what it is. But don’t hold me down and fuck me and then tell me we’re making love.) I am sick of pretending as if I am not nauseated by everything. Continue reading


Fun With Army Medical

Official disclaimer: nothing in this post reflects the views of the Department of Defense, the Army, the Marines, etc. This is only the unofficially terrible, wrong and poorly written opinion of one person who happened to have served at some point since 9/11. You have been warned.

Immediately after you return from a deployment, the Army has you fill out a Post-Deployment Health Assessment (PDHA), and 90 days after that, the Post-Deployment Health Reassessment (PDHRA). These consist of questions regarding basic physical and mental health, drug and alcohol use, etc. Each phase is completed by a phone call with a doctor where they go over your answers with you and make sure you have no questions or other issues.

It’s a straight forward process, and in my opinion it is very beneficial to returning soldiers. You may be surprised that I support this process, and that if I do, why I am writing about it here, given that all of my other Army posts are about its screw-ups? Because the Army deserves credit where it is due, and when something works like it is supposed to work, that is worth noting. However, as you will see below, even when the Army gets something right, the process is not without its issues.

So, after my recent deployment to Afghanistan, I started to get a tingling or numbness in my left hand, specifically the ring finger and pinkie. Nothing crazy; it feels like after your funny bone gets hit and the tingling is almost gone, but not quite, and it’s all the time. I’ve put up with it so far for many reasons: laziness, just not wanting to deal with it, fear of the possibility of surgery, and sheer stubbornness.

During the PDHRA, one of the questions asks if you have any numbness or tingling in your hands. In a new-found effort to be honest with the Army about my health, I answered yes. I say new-found honesty because when I returned from Iraq I was honest about how much I was drinking, and they tried to get me into a program. You keep a red-blooded American soldier away from booze for 15 months, and then act surprised when he lives it up a little when he gets home? Come-on. Continue reading


Navigating The Minefield that is (potential) Fatherhood

As a middleclass white male in his 30’s with a steady job, married to a middleclass white female in her 30’s with a steady job, you can imagine that conversations often turn to when we should start trying to have a kid.

That’s the obvious next step, right? Everyone is having kids. Some of my friends are on their second kid already, and I can’t even decide what the fuck I want to do for a living.

What to name it, what room to turn into a nursery, what to do with all the shit that was in the room that will become the nursery, what books to read, what hospital to choose, are there any decent daycares nearby, should we use Pampers or cloth diapers, and on and on and on.

There is so much information out there about having kids that you start to forget that humans have obviously been having children forever. The same amazing internet that allows you to read this bullshit blog also gives every crackpot and weirdo with a bone to pick about parenting a venue to discuss their philosophies. It’s overwhelming. Continue reading


A Stockpiling of Disaster

Sometimes all the shit you’ve been ignoring, shoveling aside, amasses itself into something greater than all its individual bowel movements, into an unfathomable mess, and although you’ve noticed its substantial shadow bleakening your outlook at times, Continue reading


Tending the Fires

To change a behavior you have to change the thinking behind it. More specifically:  the attitude you hold towards that behavior or the emotion that comes to mind when you think of engaging in an activity. This is something that “recovering” drug addicts commonly work on. When you think of doing your drug of choice, instead of letting your mouth water at the thought of how good it would feel, you try your best to apply the brakes and think of the reality of the aftermath: i.e. how much shit you will fuck up. Continue reading


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