Four Score (but really only two months) Ago…

I faced the most daunting challenge of my life.

A CT scan revealed that a 4cm mass of thyroid tissue had grown outside of my actual thyroid, and a biopsy determined it was cancerous, so on January 22nd, I went in for what my ENT described as a neck dissection.

I had only had surgery once in my life to that point, and that was in 2nd grade. It was a simple procedure to remove scar tissue from the malformed growth that emerged after having my fingertip sewn back on after a freak toy box accident. No, that is not a typo, sadly.

This was going to be vastly different. This operation would be much more invasive and would be centered around several vital parts of my anatomy. I was so filled with anxiety that my doctor put me on a beta-blocker a week before the procedure to reduce my heart rate and blood pressure.

The operation lasted 5 hours, and I was in recovery for another 2 hours. My thyroid was removed, along with 53 lymph nodes. I woke with 16 staples in my neck and looked like a reject from a Tim Burton movie.

I’m once again fighting constant fatigue. The effects of radiation therapy can last from 4 to 8 weeks. I can barely taste anything, and my neck and part of my right cheek have swelled back up.

BUT…everything is looking good. At least, that’s what they’re telling me. So, for that, I am thankful.

If all this suffering keeps me around to continue watching my children grow, I’ll gladly endure it. Okay, maybe not gladly.

As I slowly come back together, the world outside is falling apart. This pandemic has shutdown nearly everything, and C’s stepfather was diagnosed with COVID-19, despite not being tested due to a shortage of tests. So C’s stuck here with me while I’m hoping that 1) the diagnosis is wrong and 2) if it isn’t, he didn’t bring it here with him.

Aside: I’m not a medical professional, but I’m not sure why they wouldn’t at least do a flu test to rule that out first

To sum this rambling shitshow up, 2020 can go suck a big, dirty…toe. What a bunch of suck this year has been.How’s everyone fairing during these trying times? I hope everyone is healthy!

Interview With a Trooper – Part 2(+2)

Guten tag! It’s almost the weekend! I’ve been posting these on Saturdays, but tomorrow I’ll be in the middle of my umpteenth move. Evidently my landlord is such a drunken, abusive ass that his wife kicked him out and he needs a place to live, so he basically told us to get out.

Today is also Black Friday here in ‘Merica, the day people go out and beat each other senseless for stupid shit on sale for stupid cheap the day after allegedly giving thanks for stupid things they already have. How stupid.

Perhaps I’m jaded (perhaps?!?!), but having worked 13 Black Fridays (or Blitz, as a certain store whose name rhymes with Ballmart refers to it) I have a very dark view of most humans. If you’re out shopping today, just know I think you’re crazy and brave at the same time, and I hope you’re not one of those morons who ends up on the news.

Well, enough of that. Let’s get to the interview!

  1. How are you different from your Dad? He’s conservative, I lean a little to the left. I’m funny, he’s not (hi dad!). I can see multiple points of view. I’m not sure he can. Otherwise, we’re quite similar.
  2. How are you different from your Mother? Mom was loyal to people who mistreated her. I am to a point, but eventually reach a point where I’m done and cut that person (or people) out. I’m a little more self-motivated than she was. She was kind of a slob, and I prefer my house to be clean(ish).
  3. How are you feeling right now? Well, I just answered a questions about my mom, so I’m a little bummed out.
  4. How are you glad that you are like your Dad? Dad is intelligent and really good at fixing/building things. I like to believe I am, too.
  5. How are you glad that you are like your Mother? Mom was intelligent, too, and extremely funny and loving. I like to think I have those qualities.
  6. How difficult is it for you to be honest, even when your words may be hurtful or unpopular? Being honest comes very naturally to me, but doing so when my words may hurt the recipient is extremely hard for me and something I often avoid way past the point of return.
  7. How difficult is it for you to forgive someone who refuses to apologize? I can’t forgive some things even if the person apologizes.
  8. How do you replenish your energy? I use a charger. Duh.
  9. How does music matter to you? Music is life. It’s how I cope. And I love to sing along.
  10. How far away from your birthplace do you live now? About 250 miles. As the crow flies. Or something.
  11. How has your birth order/characteristics of siblings affected you? Hell, I don’t know. I can’t peer into the past and then from there into a different future and see things being any different whether I was the first child (I am) or the last.
  12. How many Boyfriends/Girlfriends have you had? I don’t know. Don’t feel like driving down memory lane to get a count, either.
  13. How many countries have you been to? This one.
  14. How many days could you last in solitary confinement? I doubt I’d make it a day before going nuts.
  15. How many keys on your key ring? All of them.
  16. How many oceans have you swum in? I’ve SWAM in the Atlantic a handful of times, you illiterate stooge.
  17. How many pairs of shoes do you currently own? Uh, four?
  18. How many relationships have you been in? Serious relationships? 3.
  19. How many rings before you answer the phone? My ring tone is continuous so one…if I even answer. I don’t like talking to people so I normally let it go to my voicemail, which isn’t setup. It’s a nice way to avoid feeling obligated to call people back.
  20. How many tattoos do you have? We did this already!!!
  21. How many times a day do you look at yourself in the mirror? No more than necessary.
  22. How often do you doodle? What do your doodles look like? This is quite a personal question I don’t feel comfortable answering. How rude. Perv.
  23. How often do you read the newspaper? Which paper? Which sections? I don’t read newspapers. I get my news via Google or Microsoft News.
  24. How often do you skip breakfast? Much like Hobbits, never.
  25. How old do you think you’ll be when you get married? Hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha!
How is everybody? Talk to me. Tell me things. Whisper sweet nothings into my comment box.

Interview With a Trooper – Part 33 1/3

Welcome to the continuing saga of an almost 350 question interview which I have decided to break down into parts because I’m lazy, don’t feel like answering them all at once, and spare you from overdosing on my idiocy. Here are some more questions!!!

  1. Do you remember your dreams? I’ve never really remembered my dreams. However, since mom died she’s visited me in my sleep more times than I can count. I don’t remember my entire dreams, but I remember the parts with her. Each time I see her I get excited, then remember she’s gone and then hide somewhere and cry.
  2. Do you save old greeting cards and letters? Throw them away? I used to, but now I get rid of them unless they have sentimental value.
  3. Do you see the glass as half empty or half full? Depends on what’s in it.
  4. Do you sing in the shower? Oh, hell yeah. I rock that shit.
  5. Do you sleep with the lights on or off? Who can sleep with the lights on?
  6. Do you spell the color as grey or gray? I spell it correctly.
  7. Do you take any pills or medication daily? Sadly, yes. The voices tell me they keep me sane.
  8. Do you usually remember your dreams in the morning? Didn’t we already cover this? What shoddy journalism. #fakenews
  9. Does your name make any interesting anagrams? I’ve never tried….
  10. Have you ever been in a beauty pageant? WHY?? Seriously, why do these exist? Beauty pageants are some of the most chauvinist, superficial things man has ever created.
  11. Have you ever been to Olive Garden? MMmmmmm….breadsticks.
  12. Have you ever dated two people at a time? Not dated….
  13. Have you ever had Indian food? I don’t think so.
  14. Have you ever had to wear a uniform to school? Yes! Stupid catholic school….
  15. Have you ever ridden on a motorbike? Nope. I don’t think going that fast with nothing between me and the road is intelligent.
  16. Have you ever seen Finding Nemo? Yup. I can even speak whale.
  17. Have you ever suffered a fracture? Yup. Pro tip: playing catcher without a catcher’s mask is NOT a good idea.
  18. Have you ever taken karate lessons? Does watching Karate Kid count?
  19. Have you ever taken self-defense lessons? Nope.
  20. Have you ever urinated in a pool? I’m sure I did when I was a kid.
  21. Have you ever visited a country outside your continent? I’ve never visited another country IN my continent…
  22. Have you ever won a trophy or an award? What was it for? Sure, when I played sports as a kid.
  23. Have you forgiven yourself for past personal failures? Why or why not? I haven’t really forgiven myself, but I don’t dwell on them anymore. They still haunt me occasionally, but for the most part they are buried in the past.
  24. Have you read any of the Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Twilight series? Which one is your favorite? No, no, and hell no.
  25. How and where do you prefer to study? By myself in a quiet place which I can never seem to find anymore with all these kids in the house.

Interview With A Trooper – Part Deux

It’s time for another interview with your favorite trooper! No, no. Not FN2187. TD421! (Me.)

bbc-boba-fett-storm-trooper

    1. Did your mother go to college? She did. And she rocked it.
    2. Do you believe ignorance is bliss? Why or why not? Yes. If you’re ignorant of all the shitty things going on in this world there’s nothing to be depressed about. I wish I were ignorant.
    3. Do you believe in love at first sight? I didn’t until I became a father.
    4. Do you belong to any warehouse stores (Costco, BJ’s, etc.)? I belong to no one.
    5. Do you carry a donor card? Well, my driver’s license says I’m a donor, so I guess?
    6. Do you eat breakfast every morning? Like a boss.
    7. Do you have a best friend, if so, then who? I do, and stop being so nosy.
    8. Do you have a catchphrase? I didn’t get that assignment, so I didn’t turn it in.
    9. Do you have a garden? I have a garden hose. Does that count? I used to have a garden gnome, too, but it disappeared many moves ago. I also downloaded Plants vs Zombies…
    10. Do you have a hidden dream that you’ve never shared with anyone? Like a dream that I had in my sleep or a dream I’d one day like to accomplish? Either way…no.
    11. Do you have a tattoo? Nope. My body is not a canvas. It’s more like the Stay-Puft Marshmellow Man.
      stay-puft-marshmallow-man
    12. Do you have a whole lot of acquaintances or just a few very close friends? Why? Very few close friends, mostly because people suck.
    13. Do you have any allergies? Oh, yeah. I’m allergic to damn near everything in nature. And stupid people.
    14. Do you have any birthmarks? If so, where? Not that I’m aware of. I mean, there could be one on my ass and I’d never know. My neck just doesn’t bend that way.
    15. Do you have pets? Two little annoying minpins. STOP FUCKING BARKING!!!
    16. Do you hold any convictions that you would be willing to die for? Nope. I’ve never even been arrested.
    17. Do you know a hoarder? I live with one. Dammit…
    18. Do you know any triplets? I know one.
    19. Do you know how to pump your own gas? In more than one way. me40vlqg_fart-competition-surat_625x300_23_september_19
    20. Do you love dancing? Hell no.
      dancing rob ford
    21. Do you love your job? I don’t know about love, but I don’t dislike it, and that’s saying a lot.
    22. Do you prefer kissing or cuddling? Cuddling FTW!
    23. Do you prefer that people shoot straight with you or temper their words? Why? People who don’t shoot straight have terrible aim, so….. Seriously, though, shoot straight. Be honest. Don’t fuck with people.
    24. Do you prefer Titanic or The Notebook? How about Terminator? Or Star Wars? The Matrix? Honestly, Titanic isn’t a bad movie after it hits the iceberg….titanic_propeller
    25. Do you really know all the words to your national anthem? I think so.queen_fraggWait, I think I got the wrong thing…

audience_participation_time
How’s everyone? Would you like to be interviewed?? Tell me things.

 

Interview With a Trooper – Part 1

So I’ve been suffering from writer’s block for quite some time, so I found some questions to answer just to fill up this space. The list of questions I found, however, is about 350 questions long, so I decided to break it up into parts. Enjoy!

  1. After a breakup, would you rather be alone or be surrounded by friends? I’d rather be alone surrounded by friends. Go figure that one out.
  2. After a divorce, would you rather share custody or get full custody? Frankly, I’d rather have full custody of my children. However, I would never want to deprive my children of a relationship with their mothers, despite how awful I may think they are as both people and mothers.
  3. Any new and exciting things that you would like to share? None of the new things going on are exciting or worthy of sharing, unfortunately.
  4. Are you a dog person or cat person? Neither, really. I like dogs, but don’t want another being to take care of. Taking care of myself and my children is tiresome enough for this depressed soul.
  5. Are you a fan of any sports team? Yes, but they all suck, unfortunately. I wish I were as unloyal as bandwagon fans who just hop from one winning team to another so they’re never disappointed at the end of every game ever.
  6. Are you a good cook? I do alright, but I don’t really like to cook. I prefer to eat instead.
  7. Are you a hoarder? No! Get rid of everything! If you’ve moved as many times as I have you get rid of anything you don’t need.
  8. Are you a morning person or a night owl? Night owl. Waking up to an alarm is the worst.
  9. Are you an early adopter or late-adopter? I wasn’t adopted so I can’t participate in this question.
  10. Are you close to anyone now that you initially disliked? Nope. My instincts are usually dead on. Either that or I’m extremely stubborn. You know, I think I’m just stubborn. People suck.
  11. Are you high maintenance? I don’t think so, but obviously I’m biased.
  12. Are you more inclined to “build your own empire” or unleash the potential of others? Um, I don’t know. I’ve never had the opportunity to do either.
  13. Are you more likely to avoid conflict or engage it head-on? I avoid it until it’s inevitable. It’s a habit I probably should break.
  14. Are you named after anyone? Myself.
  15. Are you satisfied with how you spend your money? What would you change? No. Spending money on bills is extremely dissatisfying. I’d rather spend my money on fun things, like tacos.
  16. Are you scared of heights? It’s not the height I’m scared of so much as the fall.
  17. Are your grandparents still married? They aren’t even alive, but they were never divorced, so I’m guessing they’re in the afterlife holding hands and wondering where they went wrong with me.
  18. At what age did you go on your first date? Hell, I don’t know. I didn’t keep a diary then.
  19. Can you close your eyes and raise your eyebrows? I didn’t know until just now that I could. Thank you for giving me this proud moment.
  20. Can you dance? I prefer not to.
  21. Can you do a split? I can eat a banana split like a champ.
  22. Can you touch your nose with your tongue? Even if I could why would I want to? Who wants saliva all over their nose?
  23. Can you whistle? Sort of, but the dogs still don’t come.
  24. Describe yourself in a single sentence? What the hell is that??
  25. Did you dream last night? If I did I can’t remember.

Feel free to steal these and answer yourself!

Coffee in Florida Tastes the Same

If we were having coffee I’d (again) apologize for the gaping hole between our visits. Life has been…busy. It has been hectic in both good and bad ways.

If we were having coffee I’d first talk about how relieved, and absolutely terrified, I am that the twins are now high school graduates. It was a close call for Baby B, who struggled through his senior year with mental illness and trying to deal with feelings he wasn’t quite sure what to do with. In the end, though, he took care of his business and graduated.

The boys are both planning the next steps in their lives and the most uncomfortable part of this whole process for me is no longer being in control. They are both intelligent young men, but inexperienced. They will need to learn from their own mistakes and no amount of “I’ve been in your shoes” from me will teach them life-lessons like the consequences of mistakes made. I’ve stepped back, told them both to please, please, PLEASE let me know if they need help, and figuratively chewed every nail from my finger tips.

They both also have their licenses now, and there have been some close calls.

If we were having coffee I’d definitely have to update you on my mother’s health, which spiralled out of control for several months, culminating with a late-nate ER visit in which she had to slowly be brought back from a diabetic coma. I spent the entire night by her side wondering if the end was neigh. I watched as a team of nurses slowly, but diligently worked to stabilize her blood sugar and raise her body temperature from 93 back to its normal range. I spent an insane amount of time on the phone the next week talking with social workers to find a rehab facility for her to recover in while the hospital re-evaluated her medications. I found her a new PCP and she has been staying with me while she gets back into he habit of caring for herself and waits for for an apartment to become available at the senior living center just down the road from me. She is doing MUCH better now. Her latest labs were fantastic. She still has some physical recovery to do, and in the past two weeks began physical therapy.

If we were having coffee I’d tell you how I can’t believe my little C is another year older and ready to move on to 2nd grade. His 1st grade teacher was amazing and I could never thank her enough for her patience and strength in guiding C over the 180 school days in which she was his teacher. He has come a looooooooooong way behaviorally in the year-and-a-half since I enrolled him in this school and I couldn’t be happier with that decision.

If we were having coffee I’d definitely tell you about the amazing woman who has stood by me during all the hardships I’ve endured the last few months without offering anything but support and love. She has been amazing and fits me like a puzzle piece I didn’t realize I was missing. And she’d want me to tell you she’s awesome, because she’s somewhat delusional. It’s kinda why we get along so well.

If we were having coffee I’d obviously have to mention that I’m writing this on my phone in Palm Beach, Florida. This is the first real vacation I’ve taken in over 10 years, and, even though I didn’t feel like I should “abandon” my mother or my job, it has been sorely needed. Between being a father, a son, a boyfriend, and an IT support specialist working way more than 40 hours a week, I haven’t taken much time for myself and the respite has been nice.

If we were having coffee you’d probably have noticed on your own, and when asked I would reply, “I’ve lost 60 pounds.” I weigh less now than I did when I graduated high school. While I still have some ways to go, I’m extremely happy with the progress I’ve made, even though I’ve had to purchase two new wardrobes in the past 6 months.

It’s your turn!

How has everyone been? How’s your coffee? Is anyone still here? Is this thing still on? Tell me all the things.

Time Marches On

O’er the horizon the sun rises from sleep
Seconds turn to minutes with nary a peep
Everything is changing before your very eyes
You can lose it all before you realize
Time is a foe you will never defeat
So savor it all, both sour and sweet
Time marches on, despite our desire
One day we’ll all burn on a pyre

Time has been on my mind lately. Mostly, I’ve been wondering where the hell it’s gone. Why does it seems like every day crawls by, but when I look back it feels like everything leading up to now has come at 88mph?

great-scott

Baby C just finished his first year of school. It was a bumpy ride, but we got through it. With the help of some incredible teachers and a little medication, C has made a lot of progress these last few months. He’s now on his way to first grade, and I’m left in the wake of this past year wondering how it all happened so damned fast.

The twins just finished their junior year of high school, and are entering the home stretch of their public education experience. Baby A finally got his driving permit last week (and did his best to break my neck with the brake pedal). I anticipate Baby B will have his this coming week. Both boys are working with me again this summer.

We frequently have conversations about what they are planning after high school. I want them both to have some sort of schooling, whether it’s college or a trade school. It’s almost impossible to find a decent job without some sort of specialized skill anymore and I don’t want them to wait until they’re 30 to realize, like I did, that you’re fucked without one.

If I’m befuddled when wondering where the time has gone with C, I’m positively bamboozled when attempting to ascertain where it has gone with the twins. They will be 18 in 6 short months. I can’t fathom how we’ve gotten here. Worse, I can’t remember how we’ve gotten here. I can’t remember them as babies. I remember specific instances, but I can’t remember things like their laugh, or what their voices sounded like. I didn’t have a camcorder until they were six and smartphones weren’t around until they were 9. Sure I have pictures of them, but pictures don’t help me relive the whole experience. It saddens me.

Time has hit me with a whopper today, and not the kind from Burger King. Though that would have ruled (no onions, please). Today marks the 40th year I’ve been alive on this spinning ball of asshattery. I see it in the streaks of gray in my goatee. I see it in the small wrinkles that have formed around my eyes. I see it in the wild hairs sticking way out of my eye brows. I feel it when I rise from a kneeling position. I feel it when I get out of bed in the morning. I realize it when I’m driving at night and can’t see like I used to. I realize it when I can no longer sleep through the night without waking up at least once to pee.

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So evidently this means I’m over the hill. At least, that’s what my dad says. Frankly, I can’t figure out how I got over a hill I never wanted to be on in the first place. I’m too old to be climbing hills anyhow.

Time is a valuable thing
Watch it fly by as the pendulum swings
Watch it count down to the end of the day
The clock ticks life away

-In The End- Linkin Park

Every tick of the clock strikes like thunder now, a constant reminder that my remaining time is ever finite. Every second brings me closer to the possible health problems woven into my genes by my mother. Every day I wake is another small victory against the demons who haunt me. And a chance to drink another cup of coffeh. (<–Spellcheck still tells me this is a typo. Silly WordPress…)

So this is 40. I’m here now no matter how much it pains me to admit. I’ll make the best of it, I suppose, but I already know it’s going to be an anxiety-filled year with the twins turning 18 in December and then graduating in June.

We’ll see how I do.

A Peek Behind the Curtain

We all have that one (or two or three or four…) author. We consume every word like a felon eating his last meal. Whose prose grip us like light trying to escape a black hole. Their stories keep us turning pages long after we should have gone to bed, and sometimes into dawn. We fall into pages, eyes agape, eager to find out where the story will carry us next.

Helena Hann-Basquiat (and her alter-ego, Jessica B. Bell) is one such author.

Helena, along with a team of highly talented writers, will soon be releasing another book, the sequel to Jessica, the story of how her alter-ego (Jessica, duh) may have become the terrifying supernatural phenomenon we’ve all come to love…and fear. Today is the cover-reveal for this upcoming book, and I’m happy to be among those chosen to reveal a sneak peek into this thriller.


Singularity 6 x 9 coverThe time has come.

The time is now.

Singularity is the new novel from Helena Hann-Basquiat, with Sara Litchfield, Sandy Ramsey, Lizzi Rogers and Hannah Sears.

Singularity is the sequel to last year’s JESSICA — a metafictional look into Jessica’s possible pasts.

Singularity is coming August 1, 2015

Singularity is its own novel, and can be enjoyed all on its own, but if you haven’t read JESSICA, GO HERE to read the first chapter or GO HERE to purchase a copy in paperback or e-book.


I encourage you all to check out Helena’s books. I can honestly say she has yet to write a story that I didn’t wholly enjoy. Check out her Amazon page to see what other works of hers you can enjoy.