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Robin Williams made me do it

It was a hard day, and I say that selfishly, if not even sadistically. I say it because the death of Robin Williams ripped a bandage off a wound I've been trying to hide. I know I need to get back on the stage. I know I need to be funny. I need to. As of late I've cowered, and in that weakness have emerged only to be bitter and tired. It's the face of aging on the inside that's the ugliest. I've hidden behind menial chores and mopping floors. I vacuum, I mop and I swear that I want to sell the house and move. Move where? Move to where the hiding might hide you some more? 

Listen, when you know you can do something, and when you know you can do something that people might enjoy, then do it. I know death and I know suicide. That's where the morbid, selfish, sadist side of me thinks of those who've killed themselves (or tried) and, because of their deed, I keep my dying only a fantasy. Sometimes it's after a great gig when I feel I should go out on top, and others it's just bad. It's bad. It is bad. I won't kill myself because I have Sarah. And I have kids. And even though kids can grow up without a father, I know that one of these children will one day deal with depression, and I want to be there. I want them to know that when they feel it--when they feel the tread wearing off on the long hot journey that is that sadness, that they can call. They can call day or night and I'll be there to tell them it's OK. They're not alone. Now lets go outside and have your heart remind your head about living again. It could be (in a theory I'm coming up with right now) that your brain spends day and night telling your body to live, but every now and again it needs some feedback from below: "You're not alone; I'm alive and intend to stay that way."

It's a mystery how our heads are part of our bodies and yet we still talk to it in the third person. I talk to myself in the third person, like even though I'm me I don't have control over the outcome of what I do. I feel the negative thoughts; the bullet relieving the pressure on the brain, and I rejoice in how easy it would be. I would never chide anyone for thinking about it, or use some terrible cliche about a temporary problem and a permanent solution. For a moment, go with me into that place that kills people. Take the best day you've ever had. Take the elation and electricity of say, a basketball player "in the zone," and that's where you are winning at whatever you do. Take all those chemicals and all those internal accolades and happy tears, and then turn them around. Make inverse the cheers and turn bitter the euphoria. Squeeze the celebration out of every gut and leave yourself empty and retching on the crosswalk of expectations. Everyone's disappointed. Turn off the electricity and shrink the elation, and then stand over the sad and shriveled relic before letting it breathe relief in its last breath. You're not even you anymore. You're not killing yourself; you're killing whatever spiteful piece of shit you've dehumanized and demonized in countless bad days of self-flagellation. Suicide becomes a necessary homicide. A mercy kill.

And I've imagined that last clip of horror when you realize it's not.

That's helped.That sadistic son of a bitch in me. 

But I can't kill it. I won't. The band aid ripped off tonight tells me that I've got to be done crying in my car. I've got to balance the good and the bad. I've got to make the demons work for me. They're there, and they won't go away, but somehow, some way, they make us artists. They make us lovers. They burn magma out of us until we can shape it in our hands and put it on display. They make us want to make others feel good. That makes us feel good. And for the win--and for Robin and countless others--I'll do what I'm supposed to do. As I am me, and that dude has a lot of work to do before he goes.


Because YOU WILL take two minutes to watch my baby crawl

Watching this kid and I'm really not sure the last time I worked as hard a baby does to get somewhere. You can use it as an inspirational video. Upworthy should post it.

Eliot is now officially an all-terrain vehicle, often showcasing her best efforts around danger or the dog. Here's her first musical montage:

And now our comfortable little life has been shattered. To think that we once wanted our firstborn to crawl as early as possible.

Huge ordeal overcoming the Ewy head size.


Living on the edge (of a bathtub): Life at 40

What is it to be 40. Nothing, I guess. Nothing that would have you cling to the edge of life hoping that your heart doesn't attack you. It's just what it is, which is the most annoying answer to anything: it is what it is. Unless you're naked and on the back porch. I'm in the suburbs and so naked and so gassy. Naked farts are the best. So free range, raw and intestinal. Nothing recirculates and mixes with denim and guilt. They just rush out and remind you that they are what they are. It's best to be by yourself.

I don't always drink alone and naked. It's really dark and I can't see any trace of our back neighbor; the new girl who moved in and then broke it off with her boyfriend. I hope she's not up, in the dark and reflecting only to have me punctuate (funktuate?) her meditations with this dinner burrito. It's fantastic for me, though. And it's a nice place and time to stare at the silhouettes of trees and power lines and remember growing up in a place where I could walk out the back door and get lost. And I did frequently. I'd walk and walk and at every turn be certain I knew where I was, only to realize I had no idea. One time my dad was working on the roof and he could see me in the woods taking wrong turns and missing the house by about 100 yards, only to end up at the bottom of the driveway and completely surprised about where I'd arrived. As I walked up the road, thirsty, sun burned and carrying a battery-powered boom box blasting Run DMC, he asked me if I'd gotten lost. "No," I told him, certain to turn down the music he hated. It's the same thing that has guys turn down the car radio when they need to think. I just wanted to look less vulnerable to poor decisions, so quieting the rap music seemed the best way to present myself as such.

How many years ago was that? I wondered in my moonlit nudity. Holy shit, I offer myself a response. 29? And then I do that thing where I try and place a major event in each year since then. I want to make sure I've lived.

At 40 you do get the distinct pleasure of being reminded of mortality. It's not so much the ten thousand days behind you, but that it's only a handful of years to fifty. Jesus, that's old.

It's old to be old, unless you're youthful. Someone at work asked the difference between young and youthful. Looking around the room at the fresh faces I felt neither. Just wait until they know I drink naked in tight neighborhoods. The upside is that I was reminded that it's the thought. It's the awareness that makes it count. I still think I'm 19 until I look in the mirror. Sweet god what is that? It's like George Costanza was raped by Mr. Clean. I'm the bastard child of so many strange biological turns. Physiological changes. I had to trim my chest hair so it wouldn't tickle my chin. What kind of animal has to do that? And yes, my ear hair are like goat pubes. I know this doesn't mean much, though...right?

So out goes the thought muscle flexing across time...and I'm pretty certain I couldn't have it any better. I've done the math. I've been hit hard every time someone mentions a year, a number, a memory. We watched a documentary tonight about an old bus. An old, used school bus left to be ridden by Guatemalans trying to get to shitty jobs. The bus was a '95. Sweet god, I may not even be as useful as that bus. I have some help, though. I've been in a midlife crisis since that bus was a baby. It's the curse of too much thinking. Yes, it's all in your head.

You can't hide from truth or thoughts, but you can turn lemon into Pledge and clean the place up. You can do ill-advised 40-year-old guy fist pumps at little victories that would have your dragon-slaying ancestors run their sword upon you for mercy's sake. You can punch convention in the sack and fart naked on your patio. It's OK, I should add, to doubt everything and hate everything and think terrible thoughts as long as you realize that the only thing that truly matter is what you make of it. Yah, that old horse still whinnies, but only during those dark moments when you let yourself out to pasture.

In 1983 a drunk guy locked me in the bathroom and yelled at me for a long time. I don't know exactly how long, but it had everybody at the party concerned and standing in line outside the door saying gentle things to Jeff, the drunk guy. "Jeff," would say the owner of the house, "can you just let Jared out and we'll make you some coffee." I sat on the edge of the bathtub with this guys mustache about five inches from my face. He was in his early twenties and was renowned for drinking and behavioral issues. Only moments before I'd been wrestling with he and his buddy, Johnny, when I'd accidentally kicked Johnny in the nuts. It was fun and games. I was a kid.

About an hour later I went to pee and Jeff burst in behind me. I peed on my hand, I recall. I remember this because I could see the sink on just the other side of Jeff's red and spouting head. He shouted at me about the disappointment of life and I looked past him wanting to wash my hands. He kept insisting on shaking my hand and, at the time, I didn't realize the victory of wiping urine on my assailant.

Jeff, though, told me about living. He told me it wasn't all fun and games. He told me it was painful and serious and that I couldn't just kick some guy in the nuts and laugh about it. I told him it was an accident and if it were really that bad my dad would have kicked my ass. Even Johnny had taken it well. I see it now: escaping their playful grasp and trying to run up the stairs. Johnny grabbed me and I kicked. I turned around in time to see he and his cowboy jeans crumple by the wood stove.

"It's not just fucking around and hurting people, Jared," Jeff illustrated for me with quivering lips so close that I could see the individual hairs on his face. That was awkward so I looked down. "You need to listen to me..."

"'re scaring him and you're scaring us," came the pleasant tone of his mother. I think she'd had to talk to him before like this. I think she'd hoped for something different from Jeff, and he knew that. He'd heard in it everything she said.

She also pleaded that he not hurt me. "Don't hurt him, Jeff," she said in a way that makes me hate the name Jeff. Why would that be an issue? Has he hurt people before? And you sound as if--on the other side of a door and a chasm of marred maternity--you're threatening him? I'm here, on the edge of Jerry and Dorothy's recently remodeled bathtub, and very much in striking range of the emotionally unhinged, and your going to prod the beast? She'd let a little reality into the room. Squeezed a balloon and ripped up the air a bit. I tensed.

Jeff paced back and forth. I watched him, waiting to be clubbed. But he had no plan. He could only walk awayThis is where it all went down, the North Park KOA. It's a lovely place that features the best soft serve ice cream on the planet and is currently up for sale. and lean against the wall, staring away from me and realizing his misfortune. Eventually, he would punch that wall and break his hand. The crashing noise had the adults kick in the door. I was still on the side of the bathtub and Jeff was a fucking mess. The invading forces grabbed me and asked if I were OK. They tussled my hair and offered me soda. I didn't want to make too much of a scene, like a celebratory touchdown dance while my assailant was being cornered and berated. In honesty, I think I just wanted to get back to the TV. They had a satellite dish the size of a moon crater and channels that came in crystal clear.

I would say 40 is a lot like that. There's a lot of negativity being yelled right in your face. The creepy mustache of life is inches away and making you feel like your about to end up in a very poor place. Your internal Jeff is about to have his way with you when you realize you're a grown up and you can just walk out of the room. You can turn the channel. You can turn the time stuck at a stoplight, in traffic, into an asset instead of ashes. No one is going to kick in the door and save you from the shit, because after you've grown up everyone assumes you'll be able to figure it out. That's kind of a neat trick. Everyone thinks you're more capable than you think you are.

I've often thought about what I'd say to that kid on the edge of the tub. I've had violent fantasies where I destroy Jeff; choke him to the floor, set him at ease. But that kid doesn't need to see that. I think it's about taking it easy. Reminding the boy that it is easy. Chew your food. Floss. Jeff is right, life can suck, you just can't get sucked in.


Crikey people. I don't want to ramble, lecture or be a d!ck. 

But our open window for public comment on Net Neutrality is closing. I hope you've commented. I hope you dropped a quick line to because a larger precedent is being set. It's one that says that we don't care. We'll let our shared portal to information, wonder, curiosity and success slip away because we can't be bothered to do anything about it. The evidence is clear: we have a Congress that doesn't do anything but can still get re-elected, and a president who appoints a cable lobbyist as the head of the FCC. We let all of that go down and signs point to our letting it happen again and again. Who knows? With our communication compromised for the benefit of so very few, we may not have to worry about being vexed by another important issue ever again. They'll take care of all that for us. 

(please watch this and stop me from going on like a cheesy yet impassioned speech from an 80s movie)
The Internet and the World Wide Web are so powerful that in just two decades they've changed the way we live. Or wait. Maybe it's the power of those who provide the content and the structure: The youtuber, the Wiki maker, the blogger, the startup company, the developer, the Netflix writer, the Tweeter, the Facebooker, the Tumblr, the inventor, and the casual commenter. In the open and free market that has been the WWW, we have pulsed life into the billions of pages. Yes, Comcast and Verizon might provide your service, but only rarely do they make the content. As far as I can tell their biggest role has been charging the most for some of the slowest service in the first world. They've created a false scarcity on your voice. But maybe they're right. 

(well, then watch this so you can be done and so can i.)
It hasn't even been a battle yet. Chairman Tom Wheeler has slithered between meanings of "open," a "free Internet," and Net Neutrality in becoming all-too Orwellian in his quest to end Net Neutrality. Some shameful and inaccurate talking points have been shoved into whisper campaigns that have gone nowhere. Even Wheeler's aides say it's a bad idea to give service providers mafia-style shakedown powers on which websites get a chance to succeed. Yet we still might let him do it. We shouldn't. Those are our voices, ya hear? Unless we just don't care to use them anymore. 

Yes, I've commented. Here's the what flaccid danger looks like.
Thank you. Now comment and then get back to your Facebook rants, illegal downloads and cat videos totally guilt free.



Washington D.C. from concentrate

I’m sorry, but what is my temptation? I have to wonder this while I’m marveling at my inability to want anything other than what I have. I don’t want to go out drinking. I really don’t care for another cheeseburger, and I’m not even up for a coffee. A freakin’ coffee? The entering-your-40s delight, especially for a family of five. You NEED coffee, right?

I’m not feeling it. I seem to be happy with everything I have. I know. I am sitting down. This revelation has Our selfie in front of the Washington Monument (not pictured: Washington Monument)already shocked me enough to prepare for stability. Even more shocking: I’m not even pining for work. Which is weird, because I’m that guy who’s always thinking he should be doing more. He squirms to get back to the computer or on the stage to try it one more time before trying it one more time. It’s an endless cycle of professional stabbing. Right now I don’t seem to want to assail life anymore than to hang with my boys and watch Spongebob on hotel cable. (Spongebob seems to be the only thing on hotel cable.)

Something must be wrong. This is where I usually stand firm in a room and let it spin around me until something tumbles out of the wobbly gyroscope of centrifugal worry. Something surely needs tending too; there’s got to be a thing that I should be doing. But it hasn’t happened, and I should be worried that not worrying isn’t even worrying me.

I don’t want my sedative state to come to any alarm to anyone who feels I should be concerned for him or her. Paco, I miss you. I hate leaving my dog behind. And at this very moment, for the first time in her young life, Eliot is not with us. I miss her. I miss clutching my giggly little girl and “gobbling her up.” I’m going to get arrested for grabbing a stranger’s baby and pretending to eat it. From what I’ve heard, she’s doing well and most likely being spoiled with love and affection by her doting grandparents. We also hope they’re teaching her things like how to walk and tie her shoes.

So I’m relaxed, and I know the boys are. They’re each in a bed, curled up against the hotel air conditioning and watching the cartoons their parents are too cheap to get. (Parenting tip: Don’t get cable and any hotel seems like a trip to Disney.) We were just in the pool and are preparing for another day in DC. Today we saw the Lincoln Memorial and went to the Air and Space Museum. The boys were appropriately astounded and I got excellent parking, which is the suburban dad equivalent to killing a mammoth.

Lincoln, backstage.

Lincoln is very moving. The Parthenon-like structure and that huge marble man, one hand open and the other in a fist, a hammer, all carved to an exacting size and posture for mortality and immortality: he’s torn but not divided. There’s even vulnerability in the huge pillars. “We’re only trying to compete with time; we’re doing the best we can to represent you, man.” You do get the feeling though, the literal chill in your gut, that the only thing that’s permanent is the cycle, and you hope (as you walk past the Vietnam wall) that somehow we improve with every lap around the sun. That somehow we’ll understand how it is we die and how it is that the grass gets watered with blood and mothers have to stare at photographs of babies and wonder how it is the little human they coddled ended up splattered across some old man’s doctrine. And you can’t imagine the horror of war and the horror of more. Abraham Lincoln, so large and towering across time, can’t seem to get the message across.

The past and the future are present. Lincoln Memorial 2014.Sarah’s on the phone with her mom getting an update about Eliot. She’s been good, if not a bit fussy (Eliot, that is.) She won’t give too much of a damn about us being gone until we get back. That’s when she’ll look at her grandma, and then her mom, and then wail and rail against the double cross.

Mom, dad I miss you so---holy crap a Lite Brite.Today we’ll walk the Mall. The boys were mesmerized by the Air and Space Museum (understood to be Aaron’s Space Museum when Sarah was a young girl) and seem to be taken by the spectacle as a whole. We have the Washington Monument out our hotel window, and I’m so proud of Quin for appreciating Lincoln. He wrote a report for first grade: “Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves. He wore a tall hat,” although my impassioned speech about the 16th president was interrupted with, “There’s a hole in this ice cube!” His right eye stared back at me through the icy orifice. It’s those distractions, though, that make me want for nothing.

The one thing this picture needed was a giant phallic symbol.


When we found the stacks of cash in the woods

I was on the phone with my friend Ashley the other day. She was at work. I should have been at work but I was at home working, or at least I was, until I moved some furniture around and that led me to realize that if I'm going to move furniture well then I'd better shampoo the carpets. Because that's a normal, healthy male thing to think. When I told Ashley that I was working from home so I could clean the carpets, she wanted to know why. I told her the story of a guy named DY.

DY is only part of the reason that dirty floors drive me crazy. We grew up in a house--well we grew up in several houses. But there are two in particular that have lead to my madness about floors. One of the houses was really, really old. It had been built in the 1880s and had old linoleum with holes worn into it. And where Not even Eddie Gould would live here.there was not old linoleum there were these wood floors that were not like the wood floors that have you exclaim, "We pulled back the carpet and found marvelous wood floors!" These were big worn out boards that you couldn't roll a Matchbox car across. These floors had been around when hangings were more common and our pioneer ancestors were happy to have something that wasn't dirt.

Then there was our newer house. We built it together as a family. That was a terrible experience. One that would eventually lead to indoor plumbing, sure, but money and patience grew thin so we stopped just short of carpeting our plywood floors. We had only the subfloor that hides under most peoples' actual floors, and plywood floors have a way of saying, "you're poor." They also don't do much to keep your house clean. We lived in the middle of nowhere where pavement was rare and sidewalks did not exist. We had three dogs, two cats, three kids and a father who worked in the mud and snow. Dirt was everywhere. Proper credit to my mom; she did her best to keep up, but those floors.

Adding to my desire for smooth, shiny wooden floors like those of my friends in town, was that my brother and I shared a room in the basement with concrete floors. They were cold and unforgiving in the winter, and any time of year you'd be walking barefoot over the bark and splinters that surrounded the wood stove that heated the house.

I'm just thinking that little history has something to do with why I really like clean floors. But there's another, more intriguing piece: DY.

DY are initials for an actual name that I won't reveal because it turns out he was/is a drug dealer. I didn't know this when I was a kid--or at least I didn't know it right away. My brother and I would have to find the box full of money first.

An observant adult could find enough hints around the house as to what he did for a living. My mom would explain that (after we found the money) the poster above his bed of the snowman that read TO OUR SNOWMAN was a reference to cocaine. He also lived with us in Gould. If you live in Gould and don't work, aren't retired, or about to die of exposure, then it's confusing as to where your money comes from. Also, Gould is a repository for people hiding from the world. My father loves it up there. As a kid, my family was one of three that lived in the town at 9000 feet on the other side of Cameron Pass in Colorado. It drove me crazy. Why did I have to be part of the one family with young kids in the whole damned world that would never leave Gould?

Most of everything I know about DY happened in the summer. We didn't have running water so he would let us take showers at his house. That was when we lived in the house built in the 1880s. It was actually called "The Gould House" because it was built in Gould by a man named Eddie Gould who founded Gould. All of that would have been pretty exciting if we were surrounded by oodles of people who were jealous that we got to live in there. But that wasn't the case. This wasn't like the governor's mansion. Not even Eddie's son, Eddie Gould, Jr, would live in the house. He resided in the town of Walden about 22 miles away. He hung out in the hardware store and he had a little dog and a little house with amenities. And I remember him talking to my mom and saying, "I don't know how you live out there," and me nodding, vigorously, to make sure she knew I felt the same way.

Back to school after the summer we found the money.Now was time to take action, I thought, but we didn't. Until we got really dirty and we'd drive down to DY's and all shower at his house. In the summer, a party would break out. Somehow volleyball became the mountain man choice of sports. It could get brutal and sometimes people got caught in the net. Sometimes the ball would get batted into the trees and, on occasion, we'd play in a quiet, more timid fashion while a curious bear would watch us from the edge of the woods. And sometimes my dad, a pretty big guy who still works long, arduous hours logging in the woods, would start playing before he took his shower. His hygiene became a community issue. It was so bad that for the Christmas of 1983 some of the other volleyball participants pitched in and bought him an Old Spice deodorant and shaving kit.

But it was the summer of that year, as my mom and dad enjoyed friends on the sparse grass of DY's cabin, when my brother, Pete, chased me through the woods. If precedent holds any value it was probably because I was about to get a beating. While running I saw a bread sack sticking out of the ground. It was interesting to me because, well, anything on the ground is very interesting to a bored 9 year old. I grabbed the bag, yet the sack didn't give. Instead, it jerked me the other way.

It didn't budge. It was heavy. Even my brother was intrigued enough to forgive any violation that was about to lead to some lopsided violence. In a rare moment of unity, we pulled on the bread sack together. With both of us leaning against the ground's grasp, we purged the earth of a big, square Tupperware.

It seems now that this moment may have been the culmination of my youth; of every child's dream. It was Goonies in real life. We were the explorers who'd actually discovered the treasure.

It's hard to explain the excitement and fear we felt as we ripped the plastic away from the box and found stacks of 20s and 50s and 100 dollar bills, along with a pile of gold bullion coins. I remember not being interested in the money. My face dropped in the amber glow of actual, shiny treasure. And while I obsessed over those coins, 100s and 20s and 50s blew out of the box and all around the woods. My brother, always the one to get in trouble even when he shouldn't have, went to work gathering the cash. While he looked like a frightened game show contestant, I grabbed some of the coins and ran down the hill to tell everyone that we'd found it. We'd found the treasure.

This is one of the dumber things I've ever done. Later that night, after I'd run into DY's house and shouted to all of the adults that I had found gold, my dad would pull me aside and say, "If you ever find a stack of fucking money in the goddamned woods, don't tell a fucking soul. Just put it in the goddamned glovebox."

It still stings how it all went down. I barreled down into the home with the panic and excitement that today would get me on a no-fly list. Everyone stopped. I paused to breathe. The Steve Miller Band took over the The author takes respite without touching his feet to the My announcement would not culminate in my being carted into the sunlight on the shoulders of hard working men and women looking for a break. Instead, everyone would pan their stare from me to DY, and DY would turn bright red. I still remember Ron, the carpenter who would build matching beds for Peter and me, shouting something about "'ve been had!" My mom, a petite woman who looked 20 at 32, smirked at DY and then me. She new I had absolutely no idea what was going on.

DY stormed pastme, and the crowd followed. My mom seamlessly grabbed my shoulder and turned me towards wherever I might have found this fortune. Pete came running down the hill with clumps of money he'd gathered. DY seized it and sprinted towards the trees. And Ron, and all of the other adults, some still barefoot from showers and overall summer protocol, went to work gathering money off the breeze.

Cocaine money blowing around in the middle of nowhere. Cocaine money blowing around in the mountains. Money of the high life; the money of pimps and rock stars, money of high-powered politicians and long-suffering actresses who lived in carpeted homes with automatic heat, all wafting around so far from where it had come...and so far away from where it would end up. But for that moment it swirled around us. It was our day to share in the life of people who I so badly wanted to be.

And those people would actually show up. I would get to know two of the people who had something to do with that money. They were DY's daughters. DY had an ex-wife we'd never meet and she'd send their children to Gould for a short vacation. These two young girls showed up in the coolest clothes that represented everything that was awesome and tacky about the early 1980s. One was my age and the other was 11. She was the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen.

They arrived not too long after we'd found the money and, maybe because DY wanted to make amends for taking my treasure, he allowed his daughters come over to our house. It was the most amazing day of my young life, showing these young women the meadow through which I hiked to find Indian arrowheads in the mountains, the hidden ghost town that stood in eerie silence on just the other side of the furthest aspen grove, and my favorite mound of dirt where Peter and I built summer empires with Tonka trucks. In retrospect, I don't think they were impressed. I can remember them looking around as if expecting to be either saved or killed. I was so crazy excited.

I shared with them the creaky old stairs and the second floor where in the winter it would get so cold that my mom's perfume froze. I showed them how the brick chimney twisted like a spiral staircase through the old workshop and out of the roof. And surrounding the corkscrew masonry was some old wine making equipment with a big cork press that I used to smash things. I also used it's levers to make rudimentary Rube Goldberg machines where with the pushing of one handle would tip over a bucket of water which would fill up another bucket which, if I remember right, might have knocked over some dominoes. In hindsight it probably wasn't that awe inspiring. I worked hard to impress those ladies, but on their way out of the house, as we bid them farewell, I overheard the older one say to the other: "That house is such a pig sty."

I looked at my mom, to make sure she was okay. She worked hard to keep that old homestead clean. It was a house that had newspaper for insulation and plaster chunks that would fall way from the walls. It had bats that hung over us during dinner and barn swallow nests that could fall on you if you slammed the door. It was pretty awesome now that I write about it. But back then it was the worst possible place ever. It was a pig sty.

I never saw DY's daughters again. Actually, we didn't see much more of DY either. He disappeared and faded to a few stories. The weird thing is that when I graduated high school, he sent me a letter asking me if I wanted to work with him. Somehow he'd become the chef on Jimmy Buffet's boat. I didn't do it. I was 17 and pretty sure I was awesome. But I still wonder where that path would have taken me. Would I be running drugs? Maybe tambourine player with Buffet's band? So that question lingers. Always something to think about while I shampoo the rugs.


So it's that time of year again 

where I'm sad and I don't realize why until I discover it's April. April 10th is that birthday that I had wanted to make the best. I wanted to make it so fantastic that it might have been impossible to make it as good as I'd hoped. And it is at this point where someone who has lost a loved one tells someone else, anyone else, that they should do everything to make every moment the best with their living loved ones. Well it's a dumb request because it's not in our nature. We know we need to make every moment count but we forget. And then we remember and then we forget and then we remember. We'll tell a loved one to go to hell, and then it dawns on us that we shouldn't have done that. And that's the struggle. That is love. the struggle is love. Because if you're not willing to struggle...

It's true. People say marriage is a bitch or whatever but you're in it because you don't mind struggling for this person. But you have to know that love is not A struggle; it is THE struggle. It is that YOU DO struggle.  Children, for example.

That's what I remember with my mom. Sitting there at that stop light outside of Fort Collins, the bandage wrapped around her head. It looked like a beanie on top of a kid. She was such a small woman. Petite but powerful. And often just with a smile. I told her that I wished I could do more for her and she sat quiet and smiling. Smiling. This might have been her seventh brain surgery after the last six were supposed to have done the trick. She told me she liked watching her kids live. She liked following our advenures. Is that enough? For moms, I think, maybe. For others, I'm guessing, that we don't fully comprehend the magnitude of average events. But mom's appreciate their true scale. Her daughter moving. Her son alive. They appreciate it with fear and loathing and love. And by appreciate I mean swallow the whole jagged scenario and mull it into a billion pieces. So even just a day--the sun rising and setting and that space across the sky--in her son's life, unemployed, sweat dripping down his forehead because he doesn't have air conditioning. The western sunset of Portland's hottest summer searing an ancient brick apartment building. He's nearing the end of what would be 10 months in the city, yet it was only a few weeks ago that he realized most of his neighbors were heroine addicts. He's just sitting there dumb and wondering what he's doing with his life.

Even that.

Mom's appreciate it. They see the good. Well, first they realize with naked nerves the terrible, and then come around on a carousel with the good. They army crawl through the heartbreak, but that's part of the appreciation.

Or so I'm left to wonder.

Life is that moment. Life with someone; life apart from somebody. Life is the struggle.