An Open Letter to the Goblins


Dear Goblins,

Why didn’t you kidnap me as a child? What? I wasn’t good enough for you? Or is that bad enough? Honesty I’m a bit confused on that bit. Anyway, I mean I don’t think I would have enjoyed being eaten very much, but there were other possibilities.

You could have put me to work in your mines and factories. Not that I agree with forced labor practices, but at least there might be the possibility of social reform. Even us humans got rid of slavery. Well mostly. It only took us a few thousand years. We might have begun something historic there.

Better yet, you could have raised me as one of your own. I might have made a great goblin. Now we’ll never know. It could have led to a life of adventure as I struggled to find my true identity in a world where I don’t fit in. Oh wait, that was my teens anyway. And probably most of my twenties.

Also if movies from the eighties are right (and when have you known them not to be) your king is David Bowie. Seriously, David FREAKIN Bowie! How cool would that be? To have David FREAKIN Bowie as you sovereign? I know, pretty rad huh.

I just wanted you to know that I feel we both missed a great opportunity.

Warmest Regards,

P.S.: You didn’t by any chance swap my daughter out at birth did you? Because that would explain a lot.

Re: The ongoing conversation

I need a drink.

I haven’t published a single word for over a week now.  This is despite my recent commitment to build better habits concerning that area of life, including joining a challenge for just that and that is  best I can come up with. A whole week of processing a long string of bad news, focusing mostly on uncertainties involving my housing status, which in the very long and short term screws with my finances. Literally, hours and hours of internal dialogue.

“I need a drink.” That’s what you got for me?


So I guess we’re going there, again.

I have grown quite tired of this conversation. I long ago have realized that drinking doesn’t solve any of my problems.

Except for the immediate one of wanting a drink. It might take two. Well okay, the usual prescription of about one gallon of beer and the better part of a pint of whiskey, that should do nicely.

The old habit is getting creative in it’s arguments with me. Citing real and imaginary statistics about relapse rates, as if some how I am entitled to backslide. I feel it is prudent to remind it how all those other times over the years I tried to quit count as relapses.

Shortly after I got married. Right before my daughter was born. After I fell and broke my knee. Every morning that I ever woke up and swore I wasn’t going to get hammered, but was ready for a party by sundown. All those times, yeah remember those.

The conversation eventually revolves around how much more entertaining life was when I drank.  I used to have a social life. I was a lot more fun to be around.

Yeah I was a fun drunk, that was true. I’m pretty sure I am still fun to be around. Quite frankly I am still the same lovable jerk that everyone laughed with previous to sobriety. I just have lost all taste for watching people get drunk around me. Admittedly I should get out of the house more often. Maybe join the PTA. That’s a funny thought.

But, it would be for my own good right. What about that article I read about drinking being good for the creative process. That sounds like it would sure help out with that writing thing there. They did a study and everything. It’s basically science.

I skimmed a 2013 article, which happened to briefly mention a study done in 2012, and now my drinking problem manifests a PhD in psychology. That’s really cute. It is equally adorable how it conveniently forgets that the subjects of that study were at a blood alcohol level of .075, my proclivities have lead me, at times, a bit closer to the area of .36. Let me say that again, point three six. That is roughly the equivalent of being under anesthesia. It’s kind of hard to write when you might slip into a coma.

I really do get bored with all this. The worst part about this ongoing argument is when it gets this loud it occupies too much of my head space. It pushes out other thoughts. I can’t concentrate. I lose focus. I become depressed. Well maybe I become depressed, and then I think about drinking.

Focus on that bit of circular thinking too long and you might go mad.

That’s what I’ve been thinking about this past week.

Happy Monday

Piano Lesson

5007302545_91a2e38c2d_zDressed in her new bedazzled flip-flops, jean shorts and, what is becoming her signature, black t-shirt that proclaims she is BREAKING ALL THE RULES, my daughter bursts into the studio. There sitting quietly in front of one of the keyboards, almost leaning on her father, is another little girl.

Sh head looking down, hands folded in her lap. She is wearing a simple pair of sandals, a dark ruffled skirt, and plain blue top. My daughter smiles at her and bounces over to another Casio and hops up into her own seat, still vibrating with excitement.

When it was time for introductions my daughter quickly blurted out “Kate!” almost before the instructor finished the question.

The other little girl looked to her dad before whispering, “emma.”

My wife and I took seats at the edge of the room.

While she was distracted for a moment,  Emma’s father inched his chair a little bit further away from her.

This being the first class the instructor asks about what kind of music they like. Kate’s hand shoots up and she begins to rattle off the name of every kind she’s ever heard of. From rock, to jazz, to marching band, and even ignoring that ballet is actually a dance. When asked about her favorite musicians and songs, she cheerfully mentions Katie Perry.

When it’s Emma’s turn she just looks fearfully towards her father fo guidance. When gently prompted she looks down and just shakes her head “no” in response to almost any question. I think the only reason she eventually gives a positive answer because she’s afraid the questions won’t stop otherwise.

As the session goes on Emma looks more and more worried as her dad moves in small increments farther away. I look at my own little girl, smiling and giggling, enjoying  each time she’s called on to give an opinion, even if she is making up her answers as she goes. I think how despite her tendency towards outburst, her penchant for interrupting people when they’re having a conversation, I am so lucky that she isn’t socially anxious or stricken with paralytic  shyness.

Finally after the instructor has written down all the answers he needed from both girls he tells them to switch the synthesizers on. He gives them a few minutes of free play on the keys. This is the first time we see Emma relax and smile. Both girls giggle their way through the rest of the lesson, letting them come to an even field as the enjoy just listening to the music they make.

I think they will make a great pair.

Image: Musical Keyboard by, Natesh Ramasamy (CC BY-2.0)

Day Pass

He had gotten a day pass from work release to visit his dying grandpa. I, being the family chauffeur by default, am tasked with picking him up.

I spot him, in the rear view mirror, and shake my head slightly as I watch him swagger towards the car. He tugs at his clothes and tries to smooth the wrinkles from his faded, preppy attire. He looks around, like someone is more likely to judge him about his brand of clothing being slightly out of fashion than the fact that he was walking out of the county lock-up. He gets in the car and barely says hello before his little claws seize hold of my phone, a moment of reflection makes him decide it wold be wiser to ask me, before dialing his girlfriend.

After the call, without asking he adds her to my contacts list. He turns the phone over in his hands, his narrow, avaricious eyes sizing it up for its approximate value. He proceeds to tell me how cool the new iPhone is, that he wants one when he gets out, but my phone is pretty good too. I tell him I bought a phone not a status symbol.

He breathes in deep, as if trying to suck, from the air, all the freedom that this tragedy provided him in one gulp. He talks about getting out of jail, and all the things he’d going to do, all the things he’s going to buy. He doesn’t ask about his grandmother except to remark about how cool it is that she’s just giving me her car. He can’t believe that it’s not like that, it’s still her car I’m just driving her around when she needs it.

He talks to me about how it’s all past him. About how he’s just ready to be with his kid, to be there for him. How he wasn’t going to go back to jail. How he was glad for the second chance he was getting. How he was going to stay sober, and how hard it was to have an addiction. I tell him about how I haven’t had a drink in almost a year.

I try to talk with him about being sober, the one subject we might have in common.  Mostly the conversation revolves around focusing on yourself, and not paying attention to what other people do, or what they have that you don’t. About making consistent choices. I glance over and he is staring out the window, not really paying attention, talking without listening.

We pulled up outside the palliative  care building at the V.A. hospital. He get’s out of the car and spots my wife, it’s only a matter of seconds before he is asking her for a cigarette, and trying to weasel a free lunch out of her. He had already forgot why he was here. That’s when I knew.

He wasn’t going to make it, he wasn’t going to change.

Late Delivery

I turned the letter over in my gloved hands before reading it one last time. It was a damned shame. If he had just waited one more day. He would have checked the mail one last time, everything would have been fine.  One more day and he would have gotten the news. He would know that she was coming back. He would know that she  forgave him, and I wouldn’t have to cut him down from the rafters. I placed the letter in the plastic bag and zipped it shut.

These are the days I really hate being a cop.4461758553_a9ca106e58








Image: stolica by, Milos Milosevic (CC BY 2.0)

Little Boy’s Loss

It had been such a great day at the fair until now. Why did it have to happen, why him. They had done everything together, walked the midway, visited the livestock pavilion, gotten corn dogs and cotton candy, even the guess your weight booth. Then on the ferris wheel he made his mistake and it all slipped away.

Now his friend was gone and he just stood there red-faced and shaking, with big blubbery tears streaming down his cheeks. His heart ached and he sobbed uncontrollably. Nothing would ever be the same anymore. He missed his friend, like only a small boy could. No matter what his parents said or did he felt bad all over. it was gone now and it was never coming back, and all the ice cream and funnel cakes in the world wouldn’t change that.

Now he was going to be sad forever.

Forever and ever.

He really loved that balloon.699751062_114d1fc712










Image: Lost Balloon by Ruth and Dave (CC BY 2.0)





Three Little Songs


I know music has had a profound effect on our lives whether we like it or not, but I don’t often find myself thinking all that deeply about it. If I had to pick three songs that were important to me it would be a hard decision but it would be safe to say that I could easily get mired down choosing just one from the catalog of one man and he always, always is at the top of the list.

2580990298_c3b17677d8_n Leonard Cohen has long held a special place in  my life. Several friends throughout life have associated his song Waiting for the Miracle, with my presence, often saying that the tune seems to follow me. All things considered I’ll it as a compliment, but it probably has more a bit to do with periods I’ve spent obsessing over his music than any ethereal quality on my part. This song, and Cohen’s music in general, first entered my life during a long series of emotional down turns. Its melancholy lyrics always picked me up, I mean if someone could feel like this how bad could my life be. Now the song really marks my past disconnects with the people around me who were trying so hard to just be there for me, and I just kept looking for that one perfect thing, a job, a relationship, whatever that would make it all fall into place for me; then realizing that I was waiting for myself to just move on the whole time.

I had all but forgotten about Adam Ant’s music and his general ” just do what you like, be yourself, and don’t worry about what other people think, and everything will be just fine” attitude. That is, until I began to approach becoming sober.

Goody Two Shoes, is a great jumpy, catchy tune straight from the memory of an adolescence spent watching MTV, you know back when it used to actually… oh you get the point. Listening now just makes me feel that it’s okay if I want to be sober. It’s weird but, given who I deal with on a daily basis, sometimes I need to be reassured of that.

Though it was written in 1842 and was only relevant once in my life Felix Mendelssohn’s Wedding March in C Major, never sounded better than when it was played through the speakers of a dumpster dived electric keyboard by my friend Ben as he sat cross-legged on the lawn of the courthouse on my own wedding day.


Due to the circumstances of our wedding only a few people were able to be in the cramped little office where my wife and I exchanged our vows. Ben decided he was going to be part of that day regardless and waited outside the building to surprise us. Eleven years later, every time that cliché little piece of music is played, even if it is just part of a movie or a TV show, I am reminded not only of the love I have for my wife, but of how true friends will go out of their way to make themselves part of your life.

Image of Leonard Cohen  by, Simon James CC BY-SA-2.0

A Place in Time

Past the parking meters on the street, there is a large, yet unobtrusive, two-story yellow house. The faded cream tone of the paint contrasted by the white trim of the windows, and the railings of the front stoop and the balcony above it. Out in the front yard just to the right of the paved walkway is a little red sign with white letters giving the only indication that there was anything more than apartments inside. Up the stairs, across the short porch, through the front doors, and just to the right. There it is, The Dragon’s Hearth.

The front room furnished with cheap pegboard shelves hold rows of colorful books and boxes, and several drab folding card tables. Over a disused fireplace is the head of a white dragon named Kryos is mounted; a rubber mask around a wooden frame that gives the store its moniker, it is the look of the thing that matters. If it is early in the afternoon it is always filled with people playing games. Wonderful people of all ages, playing such wonderful games made of paper and imagination. In the back room painted figures of pewter are engaged glorious battles as they are pushed around large green table.

At the very front of the store behind the long, glass display case I often sit on my stool  the ,between fish bowls full of dice, and the cash register. People come in to The Hearth just to chat with me, sometimes I play a quick round or two of whatever trading card game is popular this week. Mostly I just sit and survey things in silence or talk smack about gaming with friends. It gives me an overdeveloped sense of importance, like I’m holding court. I am happy not knowing about the years to come.

Anymore this isn’t a real place, just a moment that was sometime between when my father died, and when my world went to shit.

Now and then, since what I like to call my recovery, I build it in my head, to see if I really miss it. I don’t suppose it even matters if I do. That was there and that was then.

I am here and it is now.