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aug-13-handwritten-august-previewDear Journal,

August is in two days, and I honestly have no idea where July went, or if it even came at all. I looked up and it was the middle of June, put my head down and plugged ahead, and suddenly here it is almost August and I’m wondering what I have to show for the last month and a half. Well, I have done a ton of work, so I guess that’s tangible, but I haven’t really done anything for me. Maybe that’s why I feel so shocked that the time has passed, because I have nothing creative to show for it.

So, come August I need to:

  1. Start editing my next novel
  2. Start writing a new creative piece (in whatever form that will take)
  3. Get back together with my poetry reading group
  4. Re-find my spiritual connection
  5. Begin sorting through my life
  6. Overhaul this blog
  7. Create and maintain my fantasy football league

Because life shouldn’t be all about school and work, and a month shouldn’t go by without reconnecting with myself, spiritually, emotionally, and creatively. I guess it’s easy to lose myself in everything that I *have* to do, but it’s so much more invigorating to fall in love again with what I *want* to do, with what feeds my soul. There’s enough time in life for everything bland, yet palatable, so there should be a yin to that yang, a soul to squeeze, to hold tight so it doesn’t float away.

So, come August I’m going to find myself again, wherever I happen to be.

Sam

Wistful Wednesday

1992. That fade rocked.

I love it how Throwback Thursday has become a thing lately, based on Facebook impetus and the ability to scan in old photographs so they’re suddenly digitally relevant. Oh yeah, and so that people can “like” them.

I never thought I’d see the day where people would proudly show around horrendous photos of themselves as children and others would sidle up to them and say how CUTE they were. And 600 “likes” later they’re celebrating because they broke some perceived impossible barrier of “likes” from the previous Throwback Thursday when they posted the picture of them on the mechanical dog with the Flock of Seagulls haircut.

So I’m proposing a moratorium on all things Throwback Thursday. I’m taking back the day that used to simply be called… Thursday. I’m returning it to its former glory, without all the glitz and glamour of faded photographs and pithy sayings that accompany them. In its place I’m instituting Wistful Wednesday, a chance to glance through old photographs and make them suddenly digitally relevant, just a day earlier.

If Thursday was the new Friday, then Wednesday is the new Thursday… and in the immortal words of Dr. Dre, “everybody’s celebratin’.” Here are some old school gems I’m getting Wistful over:

1987. Fifth Grade.

1993. Bowling, bowling, USA.

2003. Is this a Temple Bar?

Sam

Settling

old-houseIt’s all about settling
This act of sitting still
Sliding imperceptibly
Shackled to the ground
As it shifts over time
And voices carry overhead
A cacophony of noise
Drifting down into the soil
Disturbing such casual rest
Without thought or care
While weeds grow wild
Obscuring the shrubbery
Facing west with the sun
Out past the wraparound porch
Where cold shadows gather
Like familial ghosts
Waiting for new playmates
As the noise begins to die
Replaced by an eerie silence
And a shifting of earth
Waiting for the tipping point
When we all settle down
Upsetting the delicate balance
Of love, and pride, and pity
As the land reclaims its own.

Sam

A Horde of Chances

“I need a chance. A second chance, a third chance, a fourth chance, a word, a signal, a nod, a little breath, just to fool myself, to catch myself. To make it real.” ~Strange Currencies. –R.E.M.

How many chances should you give someone before it’s obvious they’re just not that into you, that your friendship means about as much to them as this loaf of bread? Does it take a second, a third, or even a fourth chance failing to show you that your energies would best be spent elsewhere? I honestly don’t know, or maybe it depends on the individual, on the breadth of the chance, or on your own resilience.

I’ve made mistakes, some major, some minor, some that could have been avoided, and others that I’m glad I didn’t avoid, but all attributable to me in the end. And I’ve lost friends from some of those mistakes, which, while regrettable, means perhaps they weren’t meant to be with me for this part of my journey anyway. I’m sure you’ve known people like that, the ones who give you the one chance and then disappear when you mess it up.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not judging them. They were obviously not built to withstand the flood, and I wouldn’t have wanted them to drown. But it hurt, that all it took was messing up one chance for them to declare that I just wasn’t worth it. Maybe I wasn’t worth it, but it would have been nice to get a second chance to prove something to them that I’ll never get to prove now.

So how many chances would be enough? A horde of chances? An infinite number of wrong turns I could make and still have someone in the passenger seat, along for the ride whatever comes? Maybe that would be too much, the blind faith that others would have to put in me to let those chances add up without batting an eyelash. Or perhaps they would be judging me the entire time, keeping me around because they can always say they’re better than someone else. You know the type, so are they worth the time?

Or perhaps a horde of chances isn’t a blank check that I can fill in whenever. Maybe it’s the ability to go down the road with someone else, to be there when they need it and to slide back when they don’t. It might be the tough talks, and the tough love, and the challenges that make me a better person, that shift me in ways that I don’t return from. Perhaps a horde of chances means someone is there for me, regardless of the mistakes I make, but who also doesn’t settle for that version of me. It’s someone who pushes me to learn from each mistake, to take solace that I survived but not to sit on my laurels because there’s more to come.

Then, if I don’t learn from them, that horde of chances can trickle out in a river red with rain, testament to the fact that I’ve only been fooling myself all along, that the only person I can really count on is myself, and even then only when I’m not pretending that everything’s okay. Because everything isn’t okay. And every single chance someone else gives me is a blessing from some higher being, so I shouldn’t take any of them for granted. Even in a supposed of horde there comes a point of no return.

I don’t want to let it get that far.

Sam

HPotter_boggart_dementorSometimes I let fear of the unknown control me. It’s like there’s a boggart in the closet and I’m afraid to go in there because I know he will assume the form of my biggest anxiety, because I know I will wilt in front of him, and I can’t admit to being that weak. Weakness isn’t prized in our society, and why should it be? But some days I honestly wish it was. I would be the mayor of such a place.

I’ve had dreams the past two nights, realistic dreams that leave me raw and exposed, at least to myself. The subconscious is such a tricky thing to analyze and to appreciate because it opens everything up, and it doesn’t care how it makes me feel. I woke up with beads of sweat sliding down my face both nights, and with an insane sense of deja vu and impending doom. I have to stop doing that.

My oldest daughter fears being alone. She can’t be anywhere for very long when she’s the only one there. She seeks out company constantly, and she won’t stop talking because I think to her if she is in range where people can hear her voice she’s safe. I’m not sure what makes her so worried to be alone, if it’s ghosts or whatnot, but I know I sometimes judge her for it. And I need to stop. Because I too have irrational fears.

Because fear isn’t always rational. It doesn’t always say, “Here I am.” It comes like a thief in the night, sneaking and skulking around until you least expect it, then it jumps in my face and sticks out its tongue. It knows it has me over a barrel, and I need to take the sting out of its appearance. Those dreams can’t hurt me, but the anxiety and stress they cause can. I need to figure out how to get through that fear, to tame the beasts that like to live inside of my head.

And I need to stop judging others for their own fears, whether rational or irrational. It’s okay to be afraid, but it’s not okay to just let it rule your world. It’s not okay to let it rule my world, either conscious or not. What I need is a new perspective. What I need is a closet with a boggart in it so I can open it up and learn to tame that fear before it drops me cold. When I can finally see just how foolish those fears really are I can begin to move past them.

Then I can sleep again.

Sam

“You have a child and you have written one piece of advice that will be carried in his/her pocket for life. What is that advice?”

Trust your instincts.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve made serious mistakes when I haven’t trusted my own instincts, or when I’ve allowed other people to make decisions for me because I haven’t believed in my intuition. There’s something to be said for going with your “gut,” but I’ve spent the vast majority of my life second-guessing myself, or looking at things from every angle until I’ve exhausted possibilities, then going through it all over again just for good measure. And all I’ve succeeded in doing is driving myself insane and still not making the right decision.

My children are completely different from each other when it comes to trusting their instincts. Madeline just goes with the flow. If she feels it she does it, and she doesn’t take any real amount of time thinking about it ahead of time. Sometimes that works out well, when the objective is simple, but when it is more complex it becomes an issue that she doesn’t take the time to think about things. In those moments it’s good to have someone nearby so she can ask questions and figure out the best way to go.

On the other hand, Alexa will sit there and mull over every single possibility, walking through possible outcomes depending on the decision she makes. Then she’ll ask me or her mother what we think, taking all of that into account before mulling over the decision yet another time. Eventually she will come to a conclusion, but often that conclusion comes long after whatever time limit was set up, or the decision is made for her due to the amount of time she has taken. It works both ways, at those extremes.

So I would give them both a slip of paper to keep in their pockets to take out throughout the day, whenever there is a decision that needs to be made. “Trust your instincts.” Go with your gut, because more often than not your mind already knows what you should do. Don’t take so long trying to dig down deep because it’s already there on the surface, and it’s usually right. Doubting my instincts has given me problems in the past, and I want to save my children from all the hassle it takes, and from the consternation it causes to go around and around before settling at a still-unsettled decision.

Sam

inside-out-disney-movie-2015Dear Journal,

I had a conversation with a younger friend of mine the other day about Disney movies. I told her I was going with my family to see the new Disney movie “Inside Out” this weekend, and she was so jealous. “I wish I had kids just so I would have an excuse to go see Disney movies. It’s just not cool for an adult to see a kids’ movie anymore!”

And I just chuckled inside, knowing as I did that it was the only reason I decided to have kids. Okay, so I’m kidding, but it’s great to be able to go up to the ticket counter, say “Four for ‘Inside Out,'” and have the kids there as a convenient billboard of acceptance for me into the community of those who are allowed past the front gates.

It’s like going to see a chick flick with my wife, even though she’s really just going so I don’t have to go alone and get looks from the one hundred women (and two other guys) sitting in the theater. But Disney, it’s like magic. The characters, the story lines, the voices, and the MUSIC. Ah yes, the music. I can show you the world. Shining, shimmering, splendid…

And the innuendo. I can always count on those “over tiny heads” moments just for adults when we GET it, even though the kids are still waiting for the next kid joke or pratfall. I love sitting there and wondering when the next one is going to come. It’s become a sort of game between me and my wife, to see who notices the “over tiny heads” moments more, and I know it’s going to be sad when my kids actually start getting those references. Perhaps the end of an era.

But until then I’m content to sit back, to sometimes slip on my 3D glasses (Toy Story 3 is still burned into my retina due to those stupid glasses), and laugh my ass off at the crazy characters, insane plotlines, and heartwarming endings to those magical Disney films.

Oh, and I’ll rent out my kids to some of my friends who don’t have ones of their own. You know, so they’ll fit in. And I won’t charge an arm and a leg either. Maybe just some Skittles. You know they’re ridiculously expensive in the movie theater.

Sam

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