Keeping me alive

Do you remember dad? That time you came to my room when I was sad, or in trouble, or whatever it was and I told you I didn’t believe in God? Your eyes got big like they do when you’re angry (which isn’t often), but you asked me how I thought everything got here–the sun, the trees, the grass. I told you about the dying people–children starving in Africa–why didn’t God help them? You got so angry. You pulled your arm back like you were going to hit me, but you didn’t. I was only 11 or 12. And I’m still that same person. I’m still wondering where God is when people are suffering. I believe. I’m just skeptical. And I understand that people believe in what gives them comfort

I listened every night to the sound of the tv in the living room because you’d always fall asleep watching tv. Before we had cable, I’d hear the star spangled banner and then the static. It would wake you up and I’d hear you get up and go to bed. I could never sleep after you went to bed. I still sleep with the tv on.

Do you remember, dad? When mom and I would have another fight and I’d stay in my room all the time? Do you remember coming to my room, asking to come in and talk to me and telling me you loved me? That kept me alive, dad. It kept me going and fighting and helped me become the person I am.

I haven’t always been nice to you, dad. But, those quiet visits, those times when you showed up, hugged me and told me you loved me? They kept me alive.

I need you to keep doing that, dad. I need you to keep telling me you love me. I need you to help me keep fighting.

I’ll never forget when I OD’d, dad. I was in ICU all weekend. Every time I opened my eyes, you were there.

You’ve kept me alive, dad. I want to do the same for you.

But, I understand that cancer may be stronger than me. But, you helped me to be strong. I’m trying.

Don’t ask me how I am

I don’t say much. I write it. That’s how I communicate. I don’t know why. But, I know I’m not alone.

If you’re only asking how I am because that’s what you do, I’ll tell you I’m fine. I’ll tell you I’m fine every day. If you should sit down with me, look me in the eye, and ask how I am, there’s a very good chance I’ll start crying.

I’m not well. I’m not doing well. I’m doing all the things I’m supposed to do to be well, but I’m still not well.

I’ve reached a magical age when past, present, and future are all colliding. I’ve spent years hoping to escape the past by pretending it didn’t happen; I’ve attempted, in vain, to live in the present, and I’ve effectively glorified the future as though it will somehow, magically take the past away. And, I’ve now met future after future and it didn’t magically erase anything.

I, I, I. It’s so terribly selfish. So, if you want to know how I am? Ask as though you don’t really care and I’ll tell you I’m fine.

Sit me down, look me in the eye, and ask how I really am?

Be prepared for a very long conversation and tears. I’m not well, but I don’t want to be a burden either, so just trust me when I say I’m fine.

I’m fine.

Romance

Romance is not dead,

It’s terrified

Of being used, abused

It’s strong desire

To run and hide

Feelings exist

Afraid of being sexist.

Afraid of being called a stalker

But, it’s alive

As a talker

Opening doors,

Knowing how to dance

These little things

Used to be romance

All these lonely people

Hoping to be believed

With their feelings for you

But, romantic’s not

How they’re perceived

No means no

Tell it as so

Stop worrying about

Hurting feelings

No means no

Accept it and go

If you don’t say no

Romance is left reeling

Reeling from words never said

But, romance

Is not dead.

Normal

Sometimes, I think I’d like to know what it’s like to be “normal.” I’m weird. I’m not even a cool kind of weird. Just weird. My brain doesn’t process or work the way it’s supposed to, I don’t think. I ask too many questions. I test boundaries and rules. I get into trouble. Then, I think about all those quotes from crazy people that say things like, “Just be yourself; to thine own self be true” and so on and so forth. One of my favorites was from Practical Magic (because I get all my best life advice from movies, books, quotations from people far more crazy than I am), that said, “Don’t strive for normal, child. It rather denotes a lack of courage.”

And then I think, “Yeah, I have courage.” And then, that courage gets me into more trouble. Why do I take life advice from people that haven’t lived my life? If they were watching me they’d beat me over the head and say, “No! My god, why do you keep doing these things? Just do what they tell you! You aren’t equipped to deal with the consequences of your actions. You aren’t that strong.”

Fake it til you make it. There’s some good life advice. I’ll try and fake being normal. There, now that’s some sound advice.

Isn’t it?

In Debt is No Way to Start Your Life

My son is a senior in high school next year. Like all high school seniors, he’s worried about college, what he wants to be when he grows up; he concerned about choosing a career. Just like me and everyone since, he fully believes he must go to college to have a good life.

He doesn’t. I bought into that lie ad so many others have. What kind of a society tells their best and brightest that the best place for them is in college wracking up $30,000, 50,000, or even $100,000.00 worth of debt before they even begin their lives?

If my son wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer, college would make sense. He doesn’t. My son is smart, talented and wants to work a trade. I don’t think he should go into debt for that. I think he should start working someplace he wants to and get trained there. If they want him to take classes, they can put him through them.

The worst thing this country has done to our youth is to tell them they must go to college after high school and put themselves thousands in debt to start their lives.

Then, they meet and marry someone else that’s in debt and we have 2 young people with about $80,000 worth of debt and jobs working 60 hours a week in hopes of having a decent life.

They can’t afford a house or car. They can’t afford to get out of debt. They have endless anxiety about how they’re going to get themselves out of it and live a happy, meaningful life. That’s wrong. There’s nothing wrong with getting a job and working your way up. A college degree and 40 grand in debt guarantees you absolutely nothing but debt.

I asked my son, “if you saved up the money to go to college so you wouldn’t go into debt, you’d have about $40,000.00.” He said, “That would take me years to save!”

I said, “yes, but you did it. You worked for it and you had the money to go to college. Would you go to college? Or use it as a down payment on a house and car?”

“Does payment on a house and car.”

Then, why do you want to borrow $40,000 from someone else to go to college when you could work and save for the money for a house and car? You’d need to pay back $80,000.00. And it would take you that many years longer.

I spent 16 years with student loan debt. I couldn’t buy anything or do anything. I’m not giving that to my son.