For Better or For Worse

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A wedding is only the beginning.

Every marriage has its ups and downs. You know how the wedding vows go. “For richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for better or for worse, ’til death do us part.” Often times we deal with the richer or poorer aspect. You lose a job and you both have to adjust. Or she wants to start her own business and you are supportive. The sickness and health part of the deal is also fairly consistent, since as human beings we get sick, and our partner is there to take care of us, but it can also apply to major illnesses that we might not have prepared ourselves for, the ones that suddenly spring up and we deal with them. Because that’s what we do once we’ve entered into the contract of marriage, right? It’s right there in the vows. But the biggest one, and of course the one that’s also the most vague, is the one about for better or for worse. What does that really mean?

I got married 10 1/2 years ago, so I’m a little cloudy on exactly what was said during our wedding ceremony (please don’t kill me, honey), but I’m certain our vows were pretty much like the ones I outlined above. And  I know we’ve definitely gone through the “for better or for worse” part. I also know there’s more of both to come, and I’m more than okay with that. I’m of the opinion that you should always go into anything you do with both eyes open, but if you happen to slip up and close one of them, once it’s open again you figure out where you are and where you’re going. You don’t bail just because it’s not what you thought it was going to be. Who knows? It might end up being better than you thought it would be.

Let me get this out of the way first: I come from a divorced home, and I myself have been divorced, so I know what it’s like when there is more “worse” than “better,” when people can’t reconcile themselves to those vows and there is no other recourse. I don’t judge either of those dissolutions because I know there were extenuating circumstances in both. I judge myself for that initial marriage in the first place. It was something that should never have happened, but the divorce itself was a righteous one. My parents’ relationship, too, was irreconcilable, and although that was sad for me at the time, and on some level I’ve never gotten over it, I know that it was best for both of them in the end.

I’ve never been the best at relationships, and for a long time I blamed my dad for that. I wouldn’t get too attached to people because I always worried they would leave me high and dry. So, being distant was a state of existence for me. Continue reading “For Better or For Worse”

Diatribe

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Quit looking at me!

I have a wooden duck in my living room. No, seriously. It sits on the high shelf and looks down on me while I’m watching television. And I can’t help but feel like it’s judging my actions, that it’s telling me I should be out in nature doing something active instead of sitting here watching what my father always referred to as the “idiot box.” But I shut out his stare and focus on my programs instead, telling myself I’ll exercise later. Of course you and I both know I won’t, but maybe the duck will be easily fooled.

Being sedentary is a problem in our society, isn’t it? With all the screens around, our culture is geared toward sitting around, or standing around, and watching one thing or another. Sometimes it’s the laptop while we read and compose blog entries, and other times we’re staring at the TV. Still other times it’s our phones (yeah, it’s mostly our phones anymore, isn’t it?), or our tablets, or our iPod Touches. That sounded weird to me, iPod Touches, but I guess that’s the plural. Anyway, my point stands.

We don’t even talk anymore. In work just the other day during lunch, there were seven of us in the break room, and every single one was on a cell phone messaging, or texting, or trolling on Facebook, or tweeting, or Snapchatting, or any other variation of application available or popular to the masses right now. For a solid 20 minutes there was absolute silence in the room. I know, I counted. A room that used to have sound booming off its walls was absolutely silent for 20 minutes. That’s crazy.

But we do exercise, don’t we? At least sometimes we do. For about a month straight I was totally religious about it… in 2011. Every morning like clockwork I got up early and did my various routines. It got my heart pumping, I sweated out some toxins, and it made me feel better the whole rest of the day. But I stopped for whatever reason, and one of the worst things you can do when you’re on a regimen like that is stopping for a day. Because it’s so easy once you’ve stopped to stay stopped, to go back to being a sedentary creature. If I only liked nature, it would be easier. Continue reading “Diatribe”

Cutting Room Floor: Part 4

Scraps of papers on tiled floorHere are some numbers for you:

302 – pages
74,366 – words
8 – major characters
4 – editing revisions
26 – days before publication

That last number is burning a hole in the back of my eyelids, but that’s okay. I generally perform well when the pressure is on. And this final editing revision is still motoring along. One thing I’ve noticed during this process is how much I truly hate editing, but a second thing is a deeper understanding of the necessity of it. I had taken a hiatus from the editing of this book for four months after I wrote it, in order to give myself distance from it.

You see, to an author, the manuscript is flesh and bone, born from the mind as a child is born from the loins. As such it is very difficult to rip it apart even if it needs it. When we are too close to it, we only see what we meant to say, not what is truly there. Now, with so much distance, each edit feels like a cleansing ritual instead of an exorcism. It’s like I’m meeting my characters for the first time again, and it’s helping the process immensely.

As the time draws near for publication, though, the editing is just the first part. I still need to choose my fonts carefully, decide whether or not to name my chapters or leave them as “Chapter #,” and of course a title. This week I had a big discussion with my wife about a possible title for the book, and we made some inroads. Let’s hope within the next week or so I can settle on one, because it affects the book’s cover as well.

With that being said, back to work. Thank you for your support.

Sam

Mirror Mirror

Mirror, mirror…

I see a man with a grizzled look. There is a two-day growth of beard on his face, but he’s shaved two areas that create faux-sideburns, a quick job that didn’t require much energy, and it looks like it. His eyes are red-tinged, testament to too little sleep of late. I can see them through his glasses, the ones that have little spots that hardly distort his vision, but they obviously need a good cleaning.

He often views himself in profile to try and make out a double chin that he’s been worried will appear for far too long. That comes from his father, who admonished that he do chin exercises from an early age, the ones that require he put his knuckle under his chin and press upward. He hasn’t been doing them nearly as often as he used to, and he thinks he detects a wattle of hanging flesh, not unlike the ones that turkeys regularly sport. But there is a maturity in his eyes that wasn’t there even a year ago.

I see a man striving for continuity in a rapidly changing world. He fights with internal demons that threaten to drag him down every single day, like ghosts in a haunted house who drift from room to room but who are nevertheless always there. He loves spending time with his family because he didn’t appreciate them before, not truly.

But his eyes have been opened and he knows how amazing it is to have people who love him for him, the negatives and the positives, who don’t judge him for the person he can’t help being. And the things he can change he has, no matter how difficult, because he knows that change is important to growth, both spiritually and emotionally.

I see a man who doesn’t like looking at himself but who does it anyway to remind himself of where he’s come from and of where he’s going, for better of for worse. But hopefully for better.

Sam

Transient

to-homeless-grate2The harshness of the grate ground into his back, making it hard to draw in breath, but the hard chill in the air made it a necessary evil. His teeth still chattered in spite of himself, and in spite of the hot air billowing all around his clothes, emanating from the deep machinery underground that produced the hot, slick steam.

Sweat drenched the small of his back, but he dared not move for fear that someone else would take his position on the coldest night of the year. He opened his tired eyes to see two others of his ilk crouched low over the next grate over, trying to warm up their gloveless hands as if over a campfire. It had been years since he’d seen an actual campfire, but it still brought back memories.

He remembered his mother bent over the pile of already charred sticks left over from the campers who had passed through the night before they arrived, an occurrence she found fortuitous, her back hunched over from years of hard labor. Regardless, she was the epitome of grace to him, but even her memory was a bit faded at the edges she had been gone so long. Where her face used to be in his mind there was now a blur, not unlike when someone doesn’t want their identity known on a show of Cops. But he still recalled her movements, most as subtle as ash drifting low over the ground on a puff of air. She taught him how to be a man.

His back cried out to him for salvation, but it was better than being a frozen corpse, he reminded himself, so far removed from that boy he had been in the woods with his mother, so jaded by what the world had turned into while he had stopped looking. He wore a thick jacket that had been eaten in sections by the rats who often sought the refuge that his body heat provided, and he had long since let them shelter near, something that had seemed an abomination when it first started happening. But he postulated that it meant they felt comfortable with him, that he had somehow assimilated into the world that the rats inhabited, had become one with a nature that lived in harmony with the city that it too inhabited.

Another quick glance across the street at his two peers still warming their hands, but he could tell it wasn’t working, their faces trapped in looks of desperation, looks he knew all too well from more than ten years living and breathing the streets. Continue reading “Transient”

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