Dear Journal: These Whispers

Dear Journal,

We are so close I can feel it in the marrow of my bones. I can taste it on the wind today, as the weather was so beautiful out I could imagine running across the field, Chariots of Fire style, with a bitchin’ soundtrack playing in the background. Sub woofer speakers and everything. We are so close I can stand inside the house and feel it humming around me, waiting to assimilate me as its own.

But we are not in yet. And therein lies the rub.

You see, it’s a game of cat and mouse. Or Paula Abdul and MC Scat Cat. “Two steps forward. Two steps back.” The kitchen cabinets are in, and the tile is down in the mudroom, waiting in its forms for a settling. I walk through the rooms and I can see where everything will go, where our lives will be lived, but it’s as the echo of a shadow of a thought, blurring all my lines.

The possibilities I can’t help imagining are plentiful, as I fall asleep night after night and dream, as I sleep to dream a future. The house sits there across the field, beckoning to me even now, calling out to me over both distance and time, and I’m dying to respond. I want to scream out into that dissonance of distance and time, to fold it up all nice and tidy, to make it disappear with the sheer volume of my cry.

But that’s not realistic. So I’ll just keep dreaming until those dreams come from our bed, in our house, instead of here, until those whispers speak to me like they never have before. Until they embrace me like a brother.

And I will answer.

Sam

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Dear Journal: Some Like It Hot

Dear Journal,

It’s hot, but I’m not complaining. How could I? I’m the same guy who argued all winter that the chill was no issue. So heat is also no issue, right? I told myself that over and over again while I tossed and turned on the air bed all night, sweating profusely. I wasn’t hot. I swear I wasn’t. Who am I kidding? I miss the air conditioner.

One summer, when I was in day camp, probably around age 10 or so, we were doing basketball that year, and the final program was all about showcasing our basketball skills to our adoring families. This showcase was full of loud background music, and the song I remember the most from it was “Some Like It Hot,” by Power Station.

“Some like it hot, and some sweat when the heat is on. Some feel the heat, and decide they can’t go on.”

I remember hearing that song for the first time and thinking some people were just wusses. I mean, it’s just heat, right? But heat can be deadly. It can also be purifying, though, like sweating out all the bad toxins and coming up from the heat bath refreshed. I like that idea a lot better, especially when it gets so hot I think I’m going to melt like the Wicked Witch of the West.

Which reminds me… water would be nice right about now.

Sam

Dear Journal: Drinking Beer

20160417_191601.jpgDear Journal,

I’m drinking beer on a Sunday night at 7:20. I can’t remember the last time I did that. Maybe it was when I was 19 and I shouldn’t have been anywhere near alcohol. Or perhaps it was when I was 24 and drowning my sorrows over all the negative things that happened when I was 24. It might have even been last Sunday for all I know, because my memory’s just not what it used to be.

Nobody told me that the closer you get to 40 the worse your memory gets. I naturally assumed the age for memory degradation was 10 years away at the least. I was wrong.

And at least this is Irish Ale, so I can pretend I’m not hiding in this back room by myself drinking swill that I could have gotten for a couple of bucks at the corner store. For one, there are no corner stores here because there are no corners in the country. I bought this Irish Ale at Target, a place which up until about 6 years ago didn’t even carry alcoholic beverages. Oh how the winds shift.

So I’m drinking beer, and still trying to figure out whether or not I like the taste. I had a conversation the other day with a youngster who told me she hated dark beer, and I asked why. She said it was too thick, and I think I knew what she meant. When you take a sip of dark beer you need to be prepared, because it fills you up faster than the light stuff. It’s what I would call an “acquired taste.” And yes, I like dark beer, but I like the amber stuff too, and the light stuff too.

I just don’t drink very much of any of it too often. And that’s not because of the taste. That’s because I honestly have such a low tolerance that more than one bottle of beer (I don’t drink cans if I can help it) makes me just a bit tipsy. I used to think I was a silly drunk. I’m not. I’m just a bit more hyper than usual, which sounds like an innocuous thing but can get me into serious trouble. So I draw the line at two.

At least tonight.

Sam

Dear Journal: Grammar Time

grammarproblemsDear Journal,

My biggest pet peeves are generally about grammar. Is that sad? Too often I find myself reading through my Facebook feed and mentally correcting every single issue I find. The worst is when a meme is making the rounds, everyone is “like”ing it, and I see that it says “to” when it should say “too.” It ruins the whole thing for me, and I’m the one who has to use the new “angry” emoticon. How else can I express my displeasure?

It’s not just spellings, either. It’s when people don’t use apostrophes, when they use big words but they use them incorrectly, when there are run-on sentences, and fragments, and comma splices just because. I can’t stand when people correct other people’s grammar and their corrections are also incorrect. And don’t get me started on the news and how many problems exist at the bottom of that screen.

I guess I’m just fiercely protective of language and its many uses. I know I am absolutely mortified every single time I spell something wrong. Once I posted something on Twitter from my phone and the autocorrect changed what I wanted to say, making it wrong. I didn’t notice by the time I hit enter and it took me forever to figure out how to delete that tweet. It was the worst five minutes of my life, knowing that was out there, that people were seeing it and judging me.

Yes, I’m that English teacher everyone is worried about introducing to their friends. Yes, I’m judging your use of “good” when you mean “well.” Yes, I’m running your words through the strainer of my mind, picking out the good parts and leaving the rest to hang in the air. I can’t help it, but hopefully you can’t tell. Hopefully I’m smiling and nodding along and you have no clue you’ve said anything that rubbed me the wrong way.

Because it’s just words, after all. Right?

Sam

Dear Journal: When I Was 25…

IMG_1182Dear Journal,

I used to take more risks. My big excuse these days is, “I’m not 25 anymore,” as if being 25 was a magical time when nothing was impossible. Of course hindsight is 20/20, and when I was actually 25 I took one big risk, but one that paid off big time. Other than that I played it safe, I kept my head down, and I did what was expected of me.

When I was 25 I was starting over again from scratch, like a cake that needs to be given time before it can rise. But I was impatient, and I wanted what I wanted right then, and it didn’t matter who else was around, who else had opinions, because it was all about me. Maybe all 25-year olds are selfish, but it was a good selfish for me. It was a good selfish for the people around me too, even though I wasn’t thinking of them at the time.

When I was 25 I was living in Tennessee, waiting to write the “Great American Novel,” and hoping I was able to pass by Krispy Kreme without buying a dozen donuts. It was always difficult, that last part. Writing the Great American Novel was a given for me back then, even though I hadn’t ever written a novel before, because I had all kinds of self-esteem. I have absolutely no idea where it came from, but I should have hung on to it tighter.

But I’m not 25 anymore, as I like to say on occasion these days, which is both a good and a bad thing. Because 25 wasn’t even 25, not when seen through the hourglass of time gone by, that sand trickling down like rain drops. I haven’t taken a big risk in a while, but I’m older now, and risks were never all they were cracked up to be anyway.

Maybe I have one more big risk in me before I hit 40, or maybe I don’t, but I know I have to stop using “25” as an excuse to be stagnant now. Because even 25 wasn’t 25.

Sam

Dear Journal: Male Order

Dear Journal,

I was just thinking today about how the vast majority of my friends are female. That’s for many reasons, but I guess the biggest one is that women have many interests. They aren’t just limited to sports talk, sex talk, and car talk. Don’t get me wrong. I know not all guys are stuck on those three subjects either, but it’s so tedious to get past the banal chitchat to focus on something other than them that I feel more often than not that it’s not worth it.

Women will start off a conversation with, “So what have you read lately?” instead of “Check out the rack on that chick.” They’ll begin with, “What’s going on with you?” rather than “My carburetor is leaking oil again!” They’re more other-centered right off the bat instead of focused on themselves, and it’s always refreshing for me to have a conversation with the fairer sex for those reasons and more.

So why do I want to find some guy friends? It’s simple. I can’t just go places with my female friends. Public perception is a fickle thing, and a married guy hanging out with females who aren’t his wife — ooh boy. I’d like to think that we’ve evolved to a point where it wouldn’t be talked about, because they’re always just friends, but that’s not where we are. I’m supposed to have guy friends, so I’m going to go out and try to make some. For society’s sake.

That doesn’t mean I won’t still have my female friends. I need them for their level heads, for their witty banter, and for their genuine friendship. I’ve never really understood why so many guys say that women are high strung. They seem even keel to me. Sure, they’re emotional, but so are guys, except guys hide their emotions while women let them have free reign. I like knowing what’s going on, not having to guess all the time. But maybe that’s just me. Maybe others like mystery in their friends.

Regardless, I’m going to find some guy friends to hang out with, to talk about serious subjects with (once we get past the boring car talk), and to trade musical tastes with. We might even bake together sometime. Maybe then people will stop judging me for my female friends. I shouldn’t even care, but I do. I’m only human, after all. But for now I’ll keep up the search to find these diamonds in the rough — males who have layers. It might even be fun.

Sam

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