Archive for November, 2013

In Gratitude Or Ingratitude?

November 29, 2013

It’s an old problem with me, particularly this time of year.  Other people are expressing their gratitude for this or that, and no matter how much I wish it were otherwise, all too often I’m just not feeling the gratitude . . . and I don’t mean mine, which I can feel just fine.

I can’t feel theirs.

I try to tell myself that the fault must be mine, that I’m just being cynical or worse for not being able to sense the sincerity behind their words . . . but in my heart I don’t believe that any more than I can believe them.  I’ll be the first to admit that my cynicism, while quite real, is only a veneer I use to mask my optimism, so I want to believe them when they use words like “wonderful” or “perfect” or “gift,” and sometimes I do.   Not often, I admit, but sometimes, just enough to make me realize that where ever the truth of the matter lies, it’s not quite as simple as there being something “wrong” with me.  There are times I wish it were that simple though, because then that would mean that only one person had a problem.

May all your gratitudes be real.

Happy Thanksgiving 2013

November 28, 2013

Truth be told, Thanksgiving sort of snuck up on me this year, and while I do have a lot to be thankful for, I’ve just never liked the idea of reciting the list (a legacy of the days when teachers used to expect me to do this), which leaves me in a bit of a quandary since the “list of thankfulness” is the obvious way to go when you’re at a loss about what to write about Thanksgiving.

Maybe a little too obvious though, so I’m going to compromise by going with an abbreviated list of what I am most thankful for at this exact moment:

I’m thankful for a family patient enough to understand my perpetual need to “write something down real quick,” and I’m thankful that I no longer always have to let that need consume me, particularly when I’m having difficulty finding precisely what I want to say.

And with that said, I’m off to spend time with said family.

Happy Thanksgiving.

But For A Moment I Honestly Thought She Was Talking About SomeONE, Not SomeTHING

November 27, 2013

“She gives off strange smells and makes funny noises, and it’s getting so that I don’t like taking her out at all anymore.”

– My mother (describing her car)

It’s A Strange New World

November 26, 2013

It’s just one of those facts of life these days that if you live long enough, something is going to change that makes you realize that you are no longer living in the world you grew up in.  I knew this, and I still never expected to see a shift like this one.

When I was growing up, if you mentioned Doctor Who, the most common response was “Who?”  These days, the most common response, as seeing the 50th Anniversary special in a theater, of all places, last night proved to me, the most common response is “Who!”  There were points last night where I actually couldn’t hear what was being said on the screen over the squealing of fangirls.  We still don’t have hovercars, but we have that now.

I’m not complaining, I just honestly figured I’d see hovercars . . . or an alien invasion . . . or practical time travel . . . long before this day would come.

Go figure.

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

November 25, 2013

English is a funny language.

It’s a borderline compliment at best to describe something (a meal, perhaps) as “satisfactory,” but it is a compliment if you call it “satisfying.”

(Credit for the original observation goes to Lala on this one.)

Tim (Part Five)

November 22, 2013

The problem was that Tim put L’s mother on a pedestal, idealized everything about her, and in his eyes she could do no wrong.

Yeah, yeah, I know.  At least some people out there right now are thinking, “That doesn’t sound like a problem to me at all,” and I’m sure it’d be fun for a little while, but what about for a lifetime?  That’s not a partnership, a relationship of equals . . . that’s a worshipper and an altar.

Still not convinced that could be a problem?  Alright, if the idea of someone endlessly agreeing with you no matter what doesn’t horrify you like it does me, consider this:

Tim was the one who broke it off with L’s mother because he felt not just that he was “unworthy” of her, but that he would never be “worthy” of her.

Starting to see the problem yet?

But even though it would never have been good for either one of them long-term, I still wish the two of them had gotten more time together before things happened the way they did . . . but if I’m going to start wishing, I might as well end this entry on a really big wish.  I wish Tim was still around so he could be “Uncle Tim” to my son.

This candle’s for you, buddy.

Tim (Part Four)

November 21, 2013

Yep . . . you got it in one.  He’d died.  He was doing well, recovering from his bone marrow transplant, and then, well . . . the odds suddenly started beating back, sudden enough that Tim didn’t have time to write down or otherwise pass on our contact information to his mother.  Our gift, complete with our return address, arrived over a full month after the funeral, and to this day I don’t envy Tim’s mother having to sit down and write the letter to us that she did.  In short, she told us the bare bone details I included above, unnecessarily assured us Tim would have loved the shirt, then asked if we’d like her to return it to us.

Naturally, we told her no.

And there you have it.   Not the ending I wanted for this story, but the Valkyrie don’t care if you won or lost the battle, only how well you fought it, and Tim fought like the champion he was all the way to the end.  How could I not respect a guy like that?

So why did I say he was wrong for L’s mother then?

Well . . .

Tim (Part Three)

November 20, 2013

Of course, actually meeting Tim was in no way a “Mongo” experience, and soon we were all laughing over dinner.  It was so good, in fact, that when our visit was over, we parted company with an unspoken “we should do this again sometime.”  Unspoken because we all knew the odds against Tim were grim, but not without hope, and like I told L’s mother on the drive home, “If anyone can beat the odds, it’s Tim.”

We didn’t hear from Tim often after that, but we knew we wouldn’t, so we weren’t really concerned.  We knew that Tim’s dignity precluded him from burdening others with his “day-to-day” problems, and that he liked to give news after the fact, like when he beat his alcoholism.  (Something he told to L’s mother without her ever knowing before that point that he’d started drinking to excess.  His girlfriend at the time got pregnant, you see, and she “took care of things” via an abortion without even telling Tim she was pregnant first.  He took that . . . hard, and drank for a time after that.)

So when a few months later we came across a shirt that was simply perfect for Tim (featuring a wrestling Taz), we just bought it and mailed it to him without hesitation because we thought it would bring a smile to his face.

And I’m sure it would have.

Tim (Part Two)

November 19, 2013

Truth be told, I got that last story wrong, but I included it in the list because it was one of the thoughts that I was thinking at the time.  In truth, Tim did not nearly put a guy’s head through a car window for harassing L’s mother, but for harassing someone who was “only” a friend to Tim, so perhaps it’s better than I got it wrong at the time.

Even so, as I tried to prepare myself to meet Tim, I found myself wondering just how I was supposed to prepare myself to meet Tim.

While this wasn’t my exact thought process, my overall feelings on the matter at that point in time can best be summed up by a brief quote from the movie Blazing Saddles:

Bart:  I better go check out this Mongo character.  [Bart reaches for his gun]

Jim:  Oh no, don’t do that, don’t do that.  If you shoot him, you’ll just make him mad.

Tim (Part One)

November 18, 2013

Until last week I never really considered mentioning Tim here at all because I felt it wasn’t really my place, that he was primarily part of someone else’s story, not mine.  A little reflection on my part was all it took for me to realize just how silly that idea was.

So let me tell you how I met Tim.

Tim was L’s mother’s ex, and she was, without a doubt, the love of his life.  I’d heard stories from her about Tim off and on over the years, but they were only just that to me, stories.  They didn’t really become real for me until the day we found out Tim had leukemia and it wasn’t looking good, and L’s mother asked if we could go visit him.  There’s just no way you can say no to that question and feel good about yourself, let me tell you, and I wouldn’t have tried even if I’d been so inclined, which I wasn’t.  But after everything was arranged, some of those stories started to come back to me.

Tim is an obsessive body builder . . .

Tim took a symbol I once drew to represent me and had it tattooed on himself as a strength totem . . .

This one time Tim nearly put some guy’s head through a car window for harassing me . . .

And all those stories flashed through my mind at once when L’s mother told me, “It’s all set, and Tim is really looking forward to finally meeting you!”

As I recall, my reaction upon hearing her say that was “Greeeeeaaaaaat,” and wondering if I had just agreed to a huge mistake.