The Stripper and Fur Elise Part 2

Beethoven

The stripper and Fur Elise part 2

(The names have been changed to protect people. I say “people” and not “the innocent” because we were after all addicts and alcoholics and most of us had more than a few skeletons in our respective closets.)

Michaela had fake boobs. Actually, I really didn’t find out enough about her to know if she had had more than just a boob job because frankly, talking to her was work. Or more specifically, she was quite a piece of work. Actually, even that is not good enough. Michaela was quite a piece of work the same way that Alaska is quite a state. I just can’t find the words to summarize her character. I will say that she was kind of abrasive, the same way that toxic chemicals are harmful if swallowed. And it was impossible not to know when she was present. Her voice had the soothing quality of the shrieking eels in The Princess Bride. I assume that was by design because whenever she was in a room or around the ashtray in the Butt Hut or within earshot of a rat terrier, she was practically shouting some inane blather about the petty crimes she used to pull or her redneck boyfriend whom she hated and hoped to marry.

I point out that she had fake boobs because A) There was simply no way of not knowing that. I’ve seen enough girly magazines in my time to know that the ones she had must have cost a fortune and B) She never hesitated to tell anyone who would listen that she had been a stripper in a former life. I don’t know what all she did in that former life, but I do know that, and again by her own admission, she had been in rehab for most of the last dozen or so major holidays. She beamed when she said this, which is actually not an uncommon facet of drug and alcohol rehab. Apparently, for some people, going to rehab multiple times is something of a badge of honor; something that, in their minds, they should hang over the heads of the newcomers as if drug and alcohol rehabilitation is something one should aspire to and not the apex of shame, humiliation and defeat that I had come to realize it was for me. Alcohol: 10, 0000,  Me: Zilch. At least that’s how I felt at the time and it behooves anybody in recovery to weigh the good times you had when you were high against the bad and see which one is the winner every single bloody time.

But back to Michaela. Truly she was the kind of person you suspected had a bright side that you just couldn’t see. You couldn’t see it above and behind her comparisons of the local penal system, the various facilities available for incarceration and the multitude of amenities they offer. This woman actual preferred one jail over another because they had cable and the food was better (you can’t make this stuff up). So the night I walked into the cafeteria and she was playing that beautiful, haunting work of the old Ludwig Van, I was floored.

And she played it pretty well too. I wouldn’t pay to see her or anything, but it was a relatively sound rendition of the masterpiece. Then she played it again. And another time. And I was so flabbergasted, I walked out of the cafeteria and simply couldn’t express to my friends what I had heard. As an aside, that is one of the things about rehab I liked the most. It was kind of like being on Gilligan’s Island. You get to know your fellow castaways pretty well and I jived with more than a few of them, shared in their little adventures in our little desert island in north central Nebraska. On my first morning, when I found out that Jim kept CAFFEINATED coffee in his room and he offered me some, I could have kissed him (for some reason, no caffeinated beverages are allowed at all but you can go to the Casey’s down the road and buy some and keep it in your room.) I got to know the smokers way better than the non-smokers as we all congregated around the big ashtray. One morning, I stumbled out of the cafeteria half-awake with my cup of black gold and encountered Maura, a teenager who dragged off one of the 25 cigarettes she smoked a day, and spit the smoke right back out.

“Why don’t you inhale?”

She emitted an aghast exhale. “I inhale.”

“No you don’t.”

“Yes, I do.”

“No you don’t. I just watched you. You didn’t inhale at all. You can tell if someone inhales because the smoke isn’t blue like it is when you don’t inhale. You didn’t inhale.”

“I did too! I inhale as much as I need to.”

“Nothing ?” She didn’t like me very much after that.

Back to Michaela. She played the same piece pretty well the next night, too. And then the next night and a couple nights after that. As I would flip through the sheet music stacked on top of the piano, ever further testing my degree of difficulty with this piece or that piece, so would she play the same goddamn song over and over and over again. It was simply amazing. That this divine piece of art could come out of someone so prickly and abrasive. But then again, if the movie Amadeus is any indication, Mozart was a childish lecher who delighted in naughty language. Go figure.

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The Stripper and Fur Elise, Part 1

drug-rehab-centers-o'neill

The Stripper and Fur Elise
O’Neil, Nebraska is a pretty dull place. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not putting it down or anything. I mean, I think Valley Hope was probably put there by design. See, if you’re getting a bunch of alcoholics and addicts in one place to dry out, what better place to do it than the middle of nowhere. I used to say about it that there’s no place better to sit and think about all the people you screwed over during your drinking and using days because there ain’t nothing else to do there. The town’s motto was “The Irish Capital of Nebraska, which, I suppose if you’re talking about county Mayo where there is nothing to do but watch the potatoes grow (or in this case, corn), is probably about right. There was one AA meeting at a small space in “downtown” O’Neil (it was about three blocks of businesses with the feed store right next to the hair salon), but even that had a certain poetic appeal to it, being literally around the corner from a bar.
“Why don’t you try piano again?” Mark was my personal counselor and a pretty great guy. There was a ratio they adhered to when staffing Valley Hope. 3 recovering alcoholics/addicts turned counselors to every “normy.” Mark was the former and I would meet with him once or twice a week to discuss how I was handling rehab, how I was doing with the other folks there, and how I was spending my time. At some point I let slip that I had taken piano lessons for 7 years, then revisited it in college. That is actually a funny story in itself because for an assignment in my Classical Piano for Beginners class at Loyola, we had to learn how to play two lines of sheet music, then write the last two measures ourselves. Maybe subconsciously, but mostly consciously, I wrote two pretty impressive measures for the end of the assignment and after class, the nun who taught the class (I know, I didn’t know that the Catholics still let nuns teach classes either. I thought they had been banned and banished from the classroom) as I was leaving the classroom said “So Andy, how many years did you take piano lessons?” But anyway, when Mark heard that, he said I might try playing the piano in the cafeteria, just for fun. I found myself saying I would try it and that night, after dinner when the cafeteria was empty, I approached the old upright and snd the hard wooden bench. Instantly, all those years of lumbering through scales came rushing back. I could hear the voice of Mrs. Fogarty reaming me out for not practicing enough. She taught piano out of her house a block away from the house where I grew up, so there was never, ever the possibility of shirking that little engagement. To my astonishment, the piano was pretty well tuned and there was a huge stack of sheet music, loose pieces and books and Christmas carols and nursery rhyme songs and on and on. I chose one of the songbooks of old-timey songs everyone grew up with (May had a Little Lamb, He’ll Be Coming Around the Mountain, etc.) And starting plunking away. And, I am not kidding about this, it really was like riding a bike again. A very rusty bike with a chain that was about to fall off and two bent wheels and handlebars that steered just as long as you didn’t pull them up and out of the frame. After only a few times through a song, I would be able to play it, kind of. And I still remembered, kind of, a lot of the technical markings in the music: Time signatures and Allegro and Stinnata (a lot of music terms are Italian because old-timey Italian music is very often so beautiful. I think Mozart even wrote Marriage of Figaro in Italian and he didn’t speak Italian a day in his life.) But I did get it. One by one, I petered my way through 4 or 5 of those songs and I even knew the half rests and whole rests and eighth-notes and the whole thing. I did that for about 4 days. Just sat down and pulled out some of the sheet music and started playing. And y’know what? I didn’t sound much different from a rustier version of the 13 year-old who quit playing so he could play Freshman football in high school (one of the three biggest mistakes I’ve have ever made and the other two rotate constantly).
It was round about the fifth day that I came into the cafeteria and found the piano bench was taken. And sitting on it was a stripper playing Fur Elise.

Beauty Boy

Fixed A and K

Inspired by Brooke Lowry

I wish I could tell you all about the day Stacey brought him to see me at the hospital. I wish I could tell you  the sliding door swooshed open and there he was, tail wagging and jumping on me and telling me how much he missed me. I wish I could you tell that.

But I don’t remember that day. I don’t remember if the sun was shining or if it rained. I don’t remember if Mom or Dad or Dave or Liz or Maureen were there. I don’t remember if it was for an hour or a minute.

If you’re talking in terms of what you see and hear, what you smell and taste. I don’t remember that at all.

But I remember how he felt. I remember touching him. I remember him licking my face as though he hadn’t seen me in years. And I suppose, in dog-time, he hadn’t. I remember coming home. He trotted out from his spot under the table and repeated the sweet reunion. I remember waking up and him wedged between the bed and the wall. He looked up with the slightest smile.  He followed me into my office. He followed me into the kitchen and he followed me back and he would sit at my feet and sigh the deepest sigh. I remember trying to type a journal and getting so frustrated with my new blindness, I would slump in my chair and cry. And I would turn around and he’d be laying there on the sofa with his head on his paws. Watching me.

“It’s okay. You don’t have to get it now. You don’t have to get it ever. I’m so happy you are home.”

When I felt like moving a little, I would leash him up and we’d walk through the neighborhood . In the sunshine. In the glorious, stifling Nebraska summer heat. Glorious because I was with him. And even though leashed and secure, he still looked up every now and then. To make sure I was still with him. Around the neighborhood, past St. Pius X school and the kids at recess playing jump rope and four-square. Past the little houses with old-timers mowing the yard or washing their car. Through the little park where I’d let him off the leash and he would pause, look at me carefully, then trot off to sniff this or pee on that. Then he would come right back and we’d finish the walk together.

Back inside in the sweet embrace of air conditioning, I’d give me a piece of cheese or part of a hot dog. And he would take it gingerly from my hands as he always did and scarf it down like the animal he was. And he would never take his eyes off me. I’d walk back to the bedroom and collapse like a deflated balloon on the bed and take a three-hour nap. I’d awaken when she returned from work, blurry eyed and still exhausted. And he would be in his nook, looking up at me.

Making sure I didn’t leave him again.

Moment of Clarity

ATT00009In AA, it’s called a moment of clarity. Or it’s an epiphany. Or the light bulb set ablaze in your noggin. My mom calls it my moment of grace. The “Ah ha!” moment. A hundred different things to call it, the event is the same. Something clicked and I’ll never be quite the same way again. You see, for me, when I started on this path, I’d been saying all along that “I don’t care if this 2 year program takes me 5 years, I’m gonna do it!” Wasn’t until about midway through that first semester of college level Biology that I realized “Shit, it may actually take me 5 years to get through this 2-year program. Chalk that up to an English/History major getting a degree in an applied science. Chalk it up to me being out of college for 16 years and then going back. Chalk it up to the brain surgery, the planets being misaligned and Shirley Temple’s aura being purple. Screw it. It is what it is and I have my work cut out for me.

See, I’ve never been one to make it easy on himself. Never been one to make it especially hard either. I just see what I want and find the way to get it and I decide to do it. This glorious lack of forethought and planning has yielded as much gold and glory as it has grief and misery. You see, I just don’t think things through the way a conventional person does. One day, it seems like brilliance. The next, tragic naivete. And honestly, I like it in my head. It’s a pretty fun place to be. Confusing? Certainly. Chaotic? Oh, you have no idea. But mostly, I entertain myself. And I know I entertain others. My grandpa (we called him Bapa, my mom’s dad) always used to chuckle when he heard about my most recent misadventure. And that always made me pretty happy. He was a pretty stoic guy, Bapa. Like the time in third grade I drew a picture of a naked woman on the calk board. I didn’t do it to be perverted, I had just seen somebody else do it and, would you know, a few half circles arranged just so and a smily face and viola! Nude chick. That I made him laugh, I mean audibly laugh, at that one still makes me smile, even if it was because I did something so stupid or ill-thought out that a normal person would be brought to tears. I know my parents were. Sorry about that guys.

But anyway, about my epiphany. It happened when I was in day camp, watching all 16 of the little monsters scrambling around doing their thing. I can see them all in my head as clear as if I am reimagining a romantic moment that really had nothing to do with the actual goings-on but makes for a better story. There was Willow, the black and white lab who was mostly a lay-around type except when she sidled up to me and smiled, knowing that got me everytime. Bella, the chocolate lab that played fetch until you thought your wrist would just plop off. Zues, big black doodle whose mood depended on the day. Some days, he was great and loved to chew on toys and my arm. Others, he tried to pose as a bad ass and strut around and tell other dogs what to do. I had to talk to him those days, grab him by the scruff and tell him to ease off. Big pansy anyway. Rex, the Great Dane who had the build of a small compact car and the brain of a box of Legos. Noble young man who did not know his own strength. Could probably have worn a harness and tore down a building, but then he would have just dragged said building down the street chasing a bouncy ball. In the middle of all this, I realized that furthering my administrative aspirations in the field would be summarily unfulfilling with probably limited rewards.

Or I could be a vet tech. (No you can’t be a vet tech, Andy. You have brain damage) So what. Now that would be something. That would be a whole different trek into the unknown (Fat chance, Ahab. You didn’t like science the first time, and now you’re gonna get a degree in it? You’re a dunce, my friend. Be happy with that. At least you’re alive) But what kind of life? One that involved taking where I am laying down? Screw that. (Sorry, buddy. Shit happens. There’s plenty of other things you can do in this life to make yourself happy. Work is just not one of those things. Lots of people hate their jobs, Get used to it) I don’t want to. I want something better. I want to do more. I want to see if I’m really as stupid as I’ve been telling myself I am all these years. I’m gonna do it. (No, you’re not. You’re gonna sit down and do as I say. I’m getting angry now you f”ing moron) I’m not a moron. I still have have good things inside of me, good things the sickness and alcoholism and everything else can’t touch. Good things that I need to show the world, to tell the world I wasn’t done yet. Good things like writing and being a good person and being capable of healthy love of a woman and being what my parents and everybody else thinks I can be. Good things you have no right to tell me I have lost, because I haven’t lost them. I just misplaced them for a long while. (Fine, me and your old buddy Addiction will be playing Canasta in the corner until you realize I am right. And you will realize that. Mark my words) No. You mark mine. Your 15 minutes are up. You have no place here. Guards, take him away.

And just like that, he was gone. For now. And I have a whole army of the people I love and who love me to fight that bastard off anytime we need to.

I enrolled in college level Biology, and he did come back. And he brought his friends Doubt and Insecurity. So I called in the cavalry, Prayer, Hard work, and a big old bazooka I thought I had lost forever, Confidence. And we blew his ass into next week. Or next semester, to be precise. I’m only 5 days in so far. And it feels a little overwhelming. But everytime I up my commitment a little more (I get my scrubs that I ordered, I sign up for kennel duty, unpaid kennel duty, I feel what it’s like to be a student who knows where his path will take him), I kick that slimy little gremlin with a voice like Golem further into his corner. I roundhouse kick Addiction against the wall and send him bleeding to his mommy. I go to a meeting, I talk to my sponsor and my friends. I feel a little stronger. A little more sure. A little more of myself steps up and digs into the box.

(Writer’s note: None of the names of the dogs have been changed to protect the innocent. I call spade a spade. Sorry if I offend.)

“Son, we’re pilgrims in an unholy land.” – Henry Jones Sr.

        Okay, let’s get this straight right off the bat. I am NOT a misogynist. As Henry Rollins said, I think women are poetry in motion. But, it didn’t take long into my journey in the animal care and control field to realize that a staggering majority of my coworkers were and would be women.

      When I started volunteering at the Humane Society, most of the volunteer dog walkers were women. Ditto when I got hired on at the same Humane Society as a Kennel Attendant (actually, my title was Animal Care Giver. Sounds a lot better and doesn’t have the undertones of just how filthy the job really was). Most of my superiors, contemporaries and subordinates (alright, I had no subordinates. It was the definition of “entry level”) were all women. And that was fine by me. The job was grueling, the pay meager, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the days in the middle summer when we were packed to capacity, nary a run was open, and I rushed for five hours straight to get my job done by noon when the doors opened, even then I loved it. Brain surgery and the immediate time after that had me reeling and I had no idea what was I going to do next. None. Writing at all was a chore as I had to learn how to type again. And the idea of writing for publication? Yeah, not so much. When you have a talent for writing and you write for publication for a few years, you tend to develop a healthy respect for yourself. Some might call it ego, and some would be wrong. It’s not ego. It’s like any skill. If you bring a certain amount of raw talent for writing and that talent is molded by some very demanding, yet nurturing editors, you get better. And I like to think I had developed a level of skill in my craft. Meningitis and brain surgery had taken that skill and the confidence that I had earned and crumpled it into a little ball, and casually tossed it into the toilet. Plus, I had developed quite the stutter after the sickness. I basically made Porky Pig sound like a bloody Rhodes Scholar. And the cherry on the Sunday was my fatigue level of was off the charts. I couldn’t stay awake for more than a few hours at a time and never more than 7 or 8 in a 24 hour period. The way the doctors and nurses described it, I had effectively been hit by a car head on. So in that gray matter soup of the first year or so, I volunteered as a dog walker at the local Humane Society. The rest is history.

      So when they offered me a job, I of course said “yes” and started loving it immediately. Every piss-soaked minute. I liked washing the food and water bowls. I liked the power hoses you could take someone’s nose off with. I liked the Volkswagon-sized washer and dryer where we did the dog laundry. And I liked the people. There was such a motley crew of folks on the kennel staff and almost all of them lacked a Y chromosome. In fact, one of my coworkers Thor (I’m serious as a heart attack, his name was Thor. And he looked exactly like his name. Big, burly, bald) used to joke that you learn pretty early on to do your job and do not speak unless spoken to. And if asked to lift something, ask how high. The Hotel was the exact same situation with almost the exact same ratio. Sure we had a few guys come and go throughout the years, but mostly it was four women to every man. I got real accustomed to being the guy who hauled around the heavy boxes of trifectant, the guy who held down the large lab while somebody clipped his nails. And when there was a fight brewing between dogs that just didn’t like each other, I found my baritone growl was just as effective at breaking it up as the air horn.

        8 guys have come and gone through my vet tech program in as many years. Eight. Right now, it’s me and Orlando and 30 women, give or take. The teaching staff is comprised of one male veterinarian and three female techs. And I couldn’t be happier with that layout. See, not only do the odds favor a single guy like me, but when it comes to the professional environment, I find women to be more contemplative, more assertive and just plain easier to be around. I mean, not to sound to kiss-assy, but I think George Carlin said it best when he said if there is a God, it has to be a man, because no woman would have ever, ever, screwed things up this badly. The doc/chairman of the program even said so today. When we students get out into the work-a-day world, the vet comes in, asks the owner a few questions, cracks a lame joke and signs the prescription pad. We techs are the ones who work independently, are very much held accountable for our actions and better have a good explanation for them. I can’t wait.

 

      When I started volunteering at the Humane Society, most of the volunteer dog walkers were women. Ditto when I got hired on at the same Humane Society as a Kennel Attendant (actually, my title was Animal Care Giver. Sounds a lot better and doesn’t have the undertones of just how filthy the job really was). Most of my superiors, contemporaries and subordinates (alright, I had no subordinates. It was the definition of “entry level”) were all women. And that was fine by me. The job was grueling, the pay meager, and I enjoyed every minute of it. Even the days in the middle summer when we were packed to copacity, nary a run was open, and I rushed for five hours straight to get my job done by noon when the doors opened, even then I loved it. Brain surgery and the immediate time after that had me reeling and I had no idea what was I going to do next. None. Writing at all was a chore as I had to learn how to type again. And the idea of writing for publication? Yeah, not so much. When you have a talent for writing and you write for publication for a few years, you tend to develop a healthy respect for yourself. Some might call it ego, and some would be wrong. It’s not ego. It’s like any skill. If you bring a certain amount of raw talent for writing and that talent is molded by some very demanding, yet nurturing editors, you get better. And I like to think I had developed a level of skill in my craft. Meningitis and brain surgery had taken that skill and the confidence in it that I had earned and crumpled it into a little ball, and casually tossed it into the toilet. Plus, I had developed quite the stutter after the sickness. I basically made Porky Pig sound like a bloody Rhodes Scholar. And the cherry on the Sunday was my fatigue level of was off the charts. I couldn’t awake for more than a few hours at a time and never more than 7 or 8 in a 24 hour period. The way the doctors and nurses described it, I had effectively been hit by a car head on. So in the that gray matter soup of the first year or so, I volunteered as a dog walker at the local Humane Society. The rest is history.

      So when they offered me a job, I of course said yes and started loving it immediately. Every piss-soaked minute. I liked washing the food and water bowls. I liked the power hoses you could take someone’s nose of with. I liked the Volkswagon-sized washer and dryer where we did the dog laundry. And I liked the people. There was a such a motley crew of folks on the kennel staff and almost all of them lacked a Y chromosome. In fact, one of my coworkers Thor (I’m serious as a heart attack, his name was Thor. And he looked exactly like his name. Big, burly, bald) used to joke that you learn pretty early on to do your job and do not speak unless spoken to. And if asked to lift something, ask how high. The Hotel was the exact same situation with almost the exact same ratio. Sure we had a few guys come and go throughout the years, but mostly it was four women to every man. I got real accustomed to being the guy who hauled around the heavy boxes of trifectant, the guy who held down the large lab while somebody clipped his nails. And when there was a fight brewing between dogs that just didn’t like each other, I found my baritone growl was just as effective at breaking it up as an airhorn.

        8 guys have come and gone through my vet tech program in as many years. Eight. Right now, it’s me and Orlando and 30 women, give or take. The teaching staff is comprised of one male veterinarian and three female techs. And I couldn’t be happier with that layout. See, not only do the odds favor a single guy like me, but when it comes to the professional environment, I find women to be more contemplative, more assertive and just plain easier to be around. I mean, not to sound to kiss-assy, but I think George Carlin said it best when he said if there is a God, it has to be a man, because no woman would have ever, ever, screwed things up this badly.

Newton’s Take

377416_10151136341354608_509293279_n[1]That’s Newton. He’s a Burmese Mountain Dog that comes into the Hotel fairly regularly. I’ve had a special affinity for huge dogs ever since I got into the business. Newfies, St. Bernards, Akitas, BMG’s, anything that looks like it could be wearing a saddle, I love it. I’ve always said that what I would really love to do is get a Newfie and BMG together, but it would require me to get a second or third job in order to may for the food. One alternative would be to get an Akita (Book plug: Dogman), but, as loyal as those dogs are and as big as they are, I fear that if I got the dog first and later a girlfriend, I’d come home one night to a nice romantic dinner on the table and the Akita picking bits of the new girlfriend out of his teeth.)

Newton was certainly not the only BMD that came into the Hotel, but he’s the one I especially loved. I think it’s because he loved me. You hear that sentiment often when you hear people talk about their dogs and I believe it whole-heartedly. The concept that we don’t choose our dogs, our dogs choose us. Working in the Hotel, we used to talk all the time about who our favorites were. One conversation drifted toward what would happen if there was a fire in the workplace and we joked that if the Mart was a-blazin’, you would see all the Hotel employees running outside with 2-3 of their favorites. Me, I would have rushed to the parking lot with about 4 of the biggest dogs I could find.

Anyway, as I said, Newton really chose me. When day camp was happening, I could see him sitting at the gate and looking out at me. Then he would get up, his tail in the perked-up position and wagging away. When I got past the gate, I would hit my haunches and he would nuzzle up next to me (well, “nuzzle” isn’t the right word. BMG’s don’t “nuzzle”. More like press against your leg like a breathing anvil). Sometimes he would hit the deck and lay on his back and I would scratch his massive belly. Still other times, he would yawn and walk up to me and cop a squat on my feet, rendering me unable to move, but I didn’t really mind. By “he chose me” I mean that we certainly have the breeds we like best and I’ve seen all kinds of people with dogs exactly suited for them. The weird (crazy?) single lady that always brought her two Chihuahuas in? Perfect. The elderly gentleman that came in to pick up his hulking Rottweiler with a heart of gold named Carl? Couldn’t have picked a more fitting pair (or name. Dammit, the dog just looked like a Carl). I especially like it when the owner did not match up with their dog. The late middle-aged woman with a heart of gold. Her two yellow labs also seemed to have hearts of gold, and the woman would regale us with stories of them eating mailboxes. Or the professional looking man with an ID lanyard around her neck. He would come in to pick up his Border Collie, a sweet-looking black/white Border Collie who’s temperament made the junkyard dog look like a bubbly college tour guide. The list goes on.

A dog really chooses their own name. I have names I want to give to dogs, but in my heart, I know they will tell me what their name is when they’re ready. That’s what Kilgore did. And I don’t know how Newton got his name, but it fits him fine.

About the picture. When I came into Newton’s room and squatted down to get the photo, you would have thought he did it a million times. He sat down and looked right into the camera. He didn’t smile. I look at the photo and I think of one of those old paintings of George Washington or Ben Franklin, like they know something they just can’t tell anyone else.

Maiden Voyage

Well hello there. Fancy meeting you here. Alright enough with the pleasantries. Why did I start a blog. Really, it seems more and more these days, asking a writer why he started a blog is like asking water why it’s wet. That’s the simple answer.

The more elaborate answer would be I want to hold myself accountable. You see the way I figure it, writing a blog will have multiple purposes. First, and perhaps most importantly, it will be a creative outlet that hopefully will keep me accountable to myself, those I hold dear, and really anyone that happens to come upon this tiny corner of the internet. Not saying I want people to hang on every word that comes out of my mouth. Not at all. I just have always had a need, and I mean need, to want people to read my words. I was a staff writer for a little newsweekly here in Omaha called The Reader for awhile, but I’ve putting words on paper for myself and for others since I was 11 years-old. You see, I’m not so self-indulgent that I think anyone should or would care about my life, but at least I will feel accountable to myself and others …

 

Oh who am I kidding. As John McCrae said, I was meant for the stage. Yes, I am that self-absorbed that I want people to read my words and get something out of it, alright? Happy? I mean its not like I’m auditioning for a reality show or even submitting my work to magazines. But the blog I think offers me the chance to write for publication without all the nasty byproducts of, well, publication.

I should take this opportunity to qualify anything I have to say now and hereafter. I know that I have a pretty unique perspective on life because, well, I shouldn’t be alive. I should be dead. The statistics are there. I can dig them up if you like. Nobody survives what I went through. If you consider the bacterial meningitis and the brain surgery and fighting addictions and on and on, I should be pushing up daisies. And I am not. And it took time, a long long time, for me to realize just how fortunate I am to still be kicking at this point. So yeah, I think I might have a thing or two to say about some things.  I’m no Confucious, don’t purport to be. What I am is a 37-year-old man getting his head around what I’m gonna do with the next 40 or so years of life I have left. I tried to do it like Nick Cage in Leaving Las Vegas and go out with a pathetic drunken gasp and it didn’t work. Too many people cared about me. Too many folks thought I was a life that was worth saving. What I hope to do with this blog, with volunteer work and my career in animal care, with all of it, is prove them right.

So, thanks for reading. I still have a lot of things to learn about WordPress, so hopefully this blog will change by the day or week.

Oh, about the picture. That’s Kilgore, a.k.a. the K-Man. My trusty sidekick for 13 years. He died a couple years ago, I still have a framed photo of him next to my bed, the same picture on this blog actually. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those lunatics who talks to the picture. I save that for when I visit the flower bed where I scattered his ashes.