Sign Language

The sign by the pool says, “No diving under five feet,” and I always wonder if it shouldn’t be six. I always wonder if no one should dive at all. But I don’t say anything. I don’t want to disturb anyone, even from getting a cracked head.

I sit there on the edge, staring at the sign, feeling drowsy because chlorine always makes me drowsy. I will probably drown someday if I stay in the pool long enough. Maybe I should have my mom check the box so I don’t have to swim anymore, like she did with gym class.

The others splash about in the deep end. The sign over there says, “Only with a lifeguard present,” and I imagine the skinny high schooler standing up and saying, “I’m present,” when he sees the sign. Of course he’s reading a book, it’s Moby Dick, but I don’t think that’s allowed. There should be a sign to tell him that.

“It’s your turn to swim, Thom,” Miss Myrtle tells me. Her hand is on my shoulder. I don’t like it when people touch me without asking. I don’t like many things, but Miss Myrtle smells like the beach, and I forgive her for it. It’s not enough to make me swim, though.

“Thom, we go through this every Thursday,” she says, when I don’t speak up. Continue reading “Sign Language”


Caught in the Middle

“Reckless abandon wrapped in common sense. Deep water faith in the shallow end, and we are caught in the middle” ~Casting Crowns

I stood on the edge of a future fraught with possible landmines, I had no idea if I even wanted to jump, and who would have blamed me for standing still? Believe me, I was the last person to know what I wanted in that moment, in the pause that seemed to stretch into forever with how long I waited it out.

Looking back, I was hoping a decision would be made for me, that things would be packaged up and all I would have to do is put the bow on it. But that’s not how life happens, not often enough anyway. What life does is it waits until we’ve finally made the decision, then it changes our plans, whether we like it or not.

So what was I waiting for?

You could say I was always the one to look before leaping anyway, that I would generally weigh all possible options before wading in, or I wouldn’t wade in at all. I can’t tell you how many opportunities passed me by while I was sitting there waiting to make a decision (or 20).

I’m not sure if it was being careful, meticulous, or just indecisive, but it seemed to work relatively well for me. Continue reading “Caught in the Middle”

Gotta Have Faith

“Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” ~Hebrews 11:1

When I was 10 I remember wondering what faith was, other than this nebulous thing no one could really quite explain when I asked about it. Either that or I got…

“Faith just is.” or “You either got it or you don’t.”

And I wasn’t sure if I had it, which is why I asked in the first place. I wasn’t stupid. I understood a lot about how the world worked. The problem was that the world doesn’t value faith. It values the solid, the concrete, what can be seen with our eyes.

I simply had no precedent for believing in the unseen.

And don’t tell my mom I was on the fence about god then too. Which is, of course, where it all came from in the first place. Belief in god presupposed you had faith, that even if you couldn’t see the divine being, he was indeed still up there sitting high and judging low. Dispensing judgement or grace, or some haunting combination of the two.

But that was so far removed from what I knew in my everyday life. That was so fanciful it seemed far-fetched. It seemed like the absolute antithesis of everything I saw and learned of in school. Continue reading “Gotta Have Faith”

Not Standing Still

I don’t like standing still. I never have, not even when I was a little kid. I always feel like maybe I had some ADHD before it became fashionable to have ADHD, like I was some insane prototype who people just called “energetic” and “rambunctious,” for lack of any more accessible terms.

In short, I was all over the place, even when I was going absolutely nowhere. I guess the more things change, the more they stay the same, because I’m still all over the place. Except now that’s okay. It’s okay now to be who I am without explaining why anymore. It’s not negative to shift from foot to foot, waiting for the next thing to happen, waiting for that ever elusive burst of excitement that will stead me for the next while before I have to search for it again.

I don’t like standing still because I feel like I’m static electricity, dormant until something comes along to charge me and keep me alive. That’s it, a feeling of being alive.

Our eighth grade class motto was, “Do more than exist. Live.” I’ve spent probably the entirety of my life since then trying to parse the meaning of that motto, trying to live my life to the fullest, to squeeze the most I could from this existence, to be the person I want most to see in the foggy glass every day staring back at me. Continue reading “Not Standing Still”


Cool air ruffles my collar
Shifts it into disarray
Takes a measure, then waits
For the oncoming rain
Just another comeuppance
In this long, restless night
As the clock tick tocks
Blending with the noises
That are driving me insane
Even though it’s silent
Outside the petulant room

She turns to face the wall
This shifting commonplace
These fragments momentary
Lost in strange frequencies
That never even out
I know she’s still awake
Her breathing uneven
Her inner voice keening
This cacophony preening
The window still open
To the chaos of the night

And this conscious sigh
Of the wind’s lament
These sheep move away
Quiet as church mice
Waiting for a miracle
A slamming of the door
A recognition in the dark
That will never come
So lies the restless wind
In the cracks between now
And the coming of the dawn.

The Dark Side

I was out and about yesterday, which is rare for me on a weekend. I tend to be a homebody, preferring to stay in and get some writing done than hustle off and “be in the world.” So, if you saw me, you are indeed lucky. Or not, depending on your preference.

I am decidedly not an outdoors person, and yesterday was spent in the great outdoors for the most part. I have quite a few bug bites to show for it, to prove that I was indeed out there, living life. Thank goodness I had my phone with me, so all was not lost.

Speaking of phones, now is the time to eat the words I’ve said so often in the past, because, as of a couple of weeks ago, I am now the proud owner of an iPhone (damn you, Steve Jobs), words I said would never pass my lips. However, after all the ribbing from my wife died down (she’s always been a proud iPhone owner), I explained that my reasoning hasn’t changed. My needs have.

And, lord have mercy, my needs at this moment can be fulfilled by an iPhone. Yes, I just typed those words.

Of course, as an Android enthusiast for “lo these many years,” it’s been a tough transition, and continues to be so. Continue reading “The Dark Side”

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