Tag Archive: Writing.


Health, Fitness and fandom!

 

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My younger cousin got married, and this is his wedding photo

Before I get started let me please apologize for being so late on turning out this blog. It’s been a few weeks late, but I’ve been a bit swamped with this wild and crazy thing called life, but I have been writing more, nearing the completion of my manuscript “Losers” with just two chapters two go before I start the dreaded rewrite and editing phase.
But I started this journey of taking my personal fitness seriously a little more than a month ago, I wasn’t sure how much progress I would see, using the products by Nutrilite but thanks to Rhodiola, I have I’ve been more focused in my workouts, with more drive to really push and challenge myself. So even though it’s only been a little over a month, I have had some immediate improvement and I’m looking forward to trimming down, by adding more lean muscle to body mass.IMG_0835
So today, for my personal fitness test for 6/20/14, results were. (I do each exercise for one minute, with a minute to rest in-between each workout)
New results 7/20/14
Switch Kicks: 94 110

Power Jacks: 56 62

Power Knees: 94 101

Power Jumps: 40 50

Globe Jumps: 9 11
Suicide Jumps: 16 19

Push up Jacks: 30 35

Low Plank Oblique’s: 45 55
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Dumbbell chest press 65 lbs up from 55
Shoulder press 70 lbs before was 40
Pull-ups-50 was 30/
T-bar Row-120 was 70 lbs.
Dumbbell curls -50 lbs was 45
Leg squat 310 was 285 lbs
So one of the reasons I started pushing myself harder in the gym, taking my diet and workouts more seriously is so that I could get into superhero shape for Fandom Fest! Which was amazing and I had a spectacular time and recommend everyone to cosplay as their favorite character at least once, because well, it’s really a pretty amazing experience. Kids look up to you and can’t help but smile believing that you are that actual super hero.
But I have learned a great deal from my last adventure to Louisville for Fandomfest, which was taking a couple of friends and getting a room at the Galt House. Which is one of the nicest places I’ve stayed while traveling and it was in short walking distance to the Louisville Convention Center.
Although, going online I’ve read and heard a lot of complaints from other attendees as well as Venders. But personally, I had a great time. I was even a little sad when it was all over and found myself wishing it went on longer. Plus I did end up spending a lot of money and probably would have spent more if more Venders were actually at their booths, or let people to actually look inside and around their booths (Because some just sat in a chair blocking passage into their booths and didn’t seem too interested in moving or getting up.) But I realized I should have brought more money and next year I’ll try to be better prepared. Because my friends and I spent a lot of money while we were down there, and made sure to spread the wealth by buying from several different venders.
Sometimes I think people just like being angry and complaining even when they have nothing to complain about.

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On the downside, I did meet Anthony Mackie who was a bit of a tool. I mean the guy couldn’t have looked more and gave off the impression that he was annoyed for just having to be there. I don’t know if it was because there was barely anyone in line to meet him, or what, (however he was a late addition)
IMG_0884Although on the upside, I did meet Sam Huntington, Sam Witwer and Meaghan Rath of ”Being Human” and let me just say, they were awesome! All three of them were very nice, very down to earth and hilarious. They made my weekend and all of them seemed very excited to be there, to meet the fans and I mean really meet. I think Sam Huntington and I talked for a good twenty minutes before I realized I was holding up the line, so I shook his hand and quickly skedaddled before a lynch mob could form behind me. But Sam Huntington was great, and played in some of my favorite movies, “Fan Boys” Detroit Rock City,” Etc.
Sam Witwer was also very cool and down to earth, asking everyone if they were having a good time. And he was really relatable, easy going, funny and down to earth. I know it sounds like I having a bit of a man crush on the guy, but hey, I’m a fan of his as well, and loved all the “Star-wars-The force unleashed” Video games. Plus he seemed genuinely interested in everyone and really seemed to care about what people thought of the con. Also, on a side note the guy knows his material; he corrected a buddy of mine and some of his Star-Wars knowledge and some of the star-wars items he bought while at the con. Then of course he wanted to know what all we’ve seen and done so far and when he saw our bags asked if he could see what we had bought. The man is literally one of the nicest people I’ve ever met. He had no problems in stopping for pictures or just walking around the convention, talking to fans and venders alike.

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Meaghan Rath, is absolutely adorable and even more gorgeous in person, with a bubbly, fun loving personality, almost just like her character on Being Human. Which was very pleasant to see and unfortunately I didn’t talk very long to her, partially because I got all giddy and nervous, which made it difficult to form complete and coherent sentences. But the cast was also anxious about our photo opts, And Huntington had asked if I got the chance to show him our photo when I picked it up, but unfortunately by the time my photo was ready, I missed him. So I tweeted the guy and he tweeted back and even followed me on twitter!

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Cosplay
I have finally embraced my cosplaying nature, and even if dressing up for a convention may not be your thing, I highly suggest you give it a try, rent a costume and go to one of these conventions. It is awesome and incredibly cool. Not only does it make everyone excited to see you, its cool having everyone you meet wanting to get their picture taken with you. Which is an awesome high all on its own and it also serves as a great icebreaker. So if your usually shy like myself, it becomes much easier to approach and talk to random strangers when you’re dressed as a superhero and well, people love superheroes. Plus, in a strange way, it really does make you feel all super. But dressing up is really cool for the kids and seeing how it just makes their day when they see you. I even had one six year old, ask me out to dinner with him and his family, and then offered to share his ice-cream with me after I politely declined.
On the reverse side of that however, I did get groped, fondled and more or less glomped by several drunk women and one in particular who jumped into my arms while I was walking around downtown, throwing her legs around me, as she kissed and nibbled my ear, telling me how much she loved Captain America, while I literally was at a loss and all I could think to say was,
“My…aren’t you friendly?”

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Not going to lie, made my night.

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All in all, I had a blast and it was one of the best weekends of my life. I can’t wait FandomFest 2015 and can’t believe I’ve waited so long to go to one of these conventions. Yes, I did spend a lot of money, and even though I brought my computer I wasn’t productive at all, in fact I don’t think I ever took it out of my bag, I was just having too much fun. Which I really think everyone needs to remember, that these conventions are just that, fun, opportunities to come out of your shell and just be as nerdy, or as geeky as you want.

One last time.

fosters_home_for_imaginary_friends___mac_n_bloo_by_xglider-d6j7oj1“This is the last time huh?” I ask, sitting on the corner of the bed, swinging my feet a couple of inches off the floor, as she roots through her closet of old clothes.

“Scratch-” she says my name limply, like she’s embarrassed or ashamed by it now. We had grown apart, it’s true, and we barely talk anymore and we play even less. I couldn’t help but feel like I was already being forgotten.

She turns and looks up at me with those sad eyes, ringed in messy eyeliner and a fresh coating of lip-gloss over her mouth.  I think about her a lifetime ago, back when she first discovered make-up in in her mom’s purse and how we laughed as I smeared her eye shadow across her eye lids and I threw the compact power across the room, making it snow. I tried confessing to the crime and tell them it was me, but they didn’t listen and only you got in trouble.  You cried into your pillow and told me leave you alone, to just go away, but I stayed by your side all night anyway, stroking your hair and telling you silly stories just to see you smile, to hear you laugh.

“Come on, “ I beg, I’ll play whatever you want, I’ll be the dragon with tiny wings growing out of his back, or be your roommate as we play house, I’ll let you be the princess in a big marble castle and chase you around in the falling leaves,  or we can just sit and talk.”

Her phone rings, and she turns aside to flick the glowing screen sideways. It’s another message from her school friend.

“Is she nice?” I ask, like a jealous boyfriend.

“Yeah, course she’s nice.” She replies defensively.

“What all do you do?”

She shrugs.

“I don’t know. Talk, I guess.”

“You don’t play games? Like the dragon and the princess, do you jump in puddles like we used too, or roll around in piles of dead leaves?”

“No…” She mumbles. “She’s really not into all of that.”

When she’d started going to school I’d sit on her bed, watching out the window and wait for her school bus to pull up and spill her out. She’d be dragging a bag of books, with her hair all a mess, spilling out stories about her day, her teachers and the friends she made.

I was there when the first boy she ever liked broke her heart and she came and sat next to me crying and I sat with her, telling these kinds of hurts will happen and how it was a good thing. Because it tells her she’s still here, she’s still alive and reminds her that the hurt doesn’t last forever. Then I’d begin a tickle fight, which I would always win. Some days we’d sit in bed together and play for hours. Sometimes she wouldn’t go to school the next day and I’d have her to myself for a whole twenty-four hours.

“Can’t we just play one more time?” I ask

She sighs and looks at her phone again.

“Please.”

There’s a cold feeling in my bones, like the empty space of the room is eating away at me and the only thing keeping it at bay is her eyes. They’re fixed on me; smudged eyeliner and the chin jutting out like she used to do when she was smaller and wanted to look braver.

“I have to go.”

She stops at the door and looks at me. There’s a look in her eye that says she knows it’s the last time we’re going to see each other.

“I have friends now,” she says. “I don’t need you anymore.”

She leaves and I look at the closed white door and feel the emptiness come rolling in.

“But I do.” There is no one left to listen as I fade away and become forgotten in the waves of times, waiting for the day she has a little girl or boy of her own who’ll dream of me too.

Years past and I’m swimming in nothingness, until one day, I open my eyes and I’m back, it feels like waking from a dream, but nothing feels real. Then I look around and see how everything is so different and unrecognizable. Then I see him, the small blond haired boy, sitting all alone in his bed and staring fearfully at his closet door. I hear him calling out softly for his mother who can’t hear him and I follow his gaze, seeing the closet door opening slowly inch by inch. I act without thinking, charging at the door and slamming it shut, I’ll always protect him from the monsters that lurk in the dark.
Then I feel his tiny little hand tugging at my coat and I look down, as he asks,

“What’s your name?”

“Scratch,” I say, smiling warmly and ruffling his hair, then for perhaps the first time I see the resemblance.

“Scratch? My mom used to tell me stories about you.”

I smile and nod and say, “Yes, I knew your mother.” Then I take his hand and guide him back to his bed and begin tucking him in, as he asks me to tell him a story, so I take a breath and begin telling him stories his mother and I used tell each other back when she was just a little girl.

Something imaginary….

“A daily dose of daydreaming heals the heart, soothes the soul, and strengthens the imagination”-Richelle E. Goodrich

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We used to play ninjas, army men, crime fighters and superheroes and I always stood by your side through better or worse. I had your back, but you always knew that.
When you felt alone, we’d talk a bit. You always had fun stories to share, and I’d listen, hoping I could offer some sound advice. And when you were bored, we play and sometimes you’ll pretend to be me and I’d pretend I was you.

When times were bleak, you’d turn to me to cheer you up, and sometimes I failed you. And it would always hurt and leave me feeling I had somehow let you down. It was worse during those times you cried yourself to sleep and I would watch over you, wishing I could stop it when you were getting beat, which left me feeling helpless, like a phantom limb unable to shield you from the endless abuse.

You brought me into this world and gave me purpose, to keep you happy, safe, and entertained, distracted you from the cruel and mundane, keeping you from going completely insane.
But you started getting older, into girls with cooties (which we both always knew was bogus, but you always hid it well), into fast cars, video games, and going to parties with pals- I had your back, telling you to kiss the girl, or when to hold her hand. I would scare off the monsters that lurked in the dark, shield you whenever you were afraid of falling asleep. And even though the monsters stopped coming, you were still afraid.

I couldn’t fight these new fears.

You feared what was in your future, you were afraid of the unknown and more importantly you feared growing up. Same as me, but I always knew you’d make it through. You and I were martial art champions, seasoned warriors and veterans of countless wars. We were heroes’ kid, just you and me and I always knew how strong you really were.

But as you got older, I started feeling older too. I felt dusty, my shine had gone dull. But you were bright and knew the world in your own way now.
You were going make it without me, but I could live with that.

I waved goodbye at your graduation, but by then you had stopped being able to see me. I’m okay though, you and I had a good run. I’ll miss you little buddy and I know you’ll miss me too, because you named me and I can feel you thinking about me from time to time, and I know you’ve been writing about me, which makes me proud that you still remember. So kid, even though you can’t see me like you used to, I’ll be with you whenever you sit down, with pen in hand and begin writing down those memories, turning them into stories.

Sincerely me.
Your imaginary friend,
Shadow.

“I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge. That myth is more potent than history. That dreams are more powerful than facts. That hope always triumphs over experience. That laughter is the only cure for grief. And I believe that love is stronger than death.”
― Robert Fulghum,
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“Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”
― Dan Millman

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun So let no one say we'll be undone by time's passing For the memories we are amassing will stand as testament That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves. That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves So who we are has no bearing on how we appear Look directly into every mirror Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story And our story begins here.

Our lights can leave scars upon the surface of the sun. So let no one say we’ll be undone by time’s passing, for the memories we are amassing will stand as testament
That somehow we bend minds around the concept that we see others within ourselves.
That self-knowledge can be found on bookshelves. So who we are has no bearing on how we appear. Look directly into every mirror. Realize our reflection is the first sentence to a story
And our story begins here.

 

We are here and our stories are being written now, so don’t be discouraged when things fall apart and don’t go your way, sometimes life just takes a little while to come together. So don’t end your story prematurely because happiness seems so far off, like a distant memory that feels more like an illusion that isn’t there, or as far out of reach as we are from touching the nearest star. Trust me; I know it’s hard; I’ve been single now for about a year, having a hell of a time to find that one for me. But I’m not letting my failures get me down, because it took a year of being on my own to decide and to finally realize what it is I want and need. I spent a lifetime chasing after love, romanticizing it, putting every girl I chased up on a pedestal, believing they could never do any wrong. I would rush every relationships as if it were a race and wanted nothing more than to be the first to cross that finishing line.Just to find out that the girl had only meant to be out on a stroll and I would find myself standing alone at what I perceived to be the finishing line.

I longed so desperately for love, I would fall quickly and easily, even when I barely knew the person I was falling for, or become so blinded by my infatuations I would always fail to see all the many reasons we were wrong for each other and I would never see it until it was too late, because one, or both of us would have already grown emotionally invested with the other, which would always made breaking up all that much harder, because I would still like them as a person, while she would be head over heals in love with me, or vice versa.

So what do I want? Well, the same thing I think we all essentially want. I want that best friend, who’s also my lover, someone who makes me feel alone even when we’re together. To be perfectly content sitting in a room without talking, content with knowing that she is there. To be reading, while she’s watching tv, drawing, or writing. Someone who I catch staring at me sometimes, and hear her say,
“God, I love you.”

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Sometimes we need some time alone in order grow.

If I’ve learned anything from my past relationships its this, you can’t rush love. You can’t make it happen just because you want it too. Much like a flower, it needs time to grow and it’ll never happen with you hovering and over watering it, trying to will it grow. Because love is something that you both choose and something that just happens and it happens in its own time. So I know what it’s like, to see the finish line and wanting to break into a dead sprint until you’ve reached your destination, but life is a stroll and this how God does things, to teach us and to give us time to grow as human beings, to discover ourselves and what it is we want, need.

Take my ex-girlfriend (In case any of you may be wondering, I did tell her what I wanted to write about and asked for her permission, she’s kinda awesome for agreeing to it) for example who since we had broken up, had become a good and trusted friend. But it took a while for us to realize we made better friends then we did lovers.

I first met Abby on face-book through a mutual friend and at the time she had no clear pictures of herself online, so I was already living dangerously in that regard. But we talked and stalked each other’s facebook, for a long time before deciding that we should meet in person by going to a haunted house.

And I dug her; I dug her as soon as I laid eyes on her. To me she represented (at the time) my perfect woman, she was short, athletic, bold, feisty and a red haired goddess. (I always had a bit of an weakness when it comes to redheads and short girls, so she was two for two) Naturally I found her to be absolutely drop dead gorgeous and the fact she wasn’t a man, didn’t have a mustache, a beard, or weigh as much as my car, I was at the same time relieved. But the best thing about her was that she dug me too, in fact her first words to me were,

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

Our first date, how was I not suppose to fall in love with her.

“Your pictures do you no justice; you’re much better looking in person.” And for someone who’s always been a little self-conscious of his appearance, (thanks to every girl who turned me down in High School) this made me feel like I was on top of the world. (You see ladies; it’s a huge turn on when you help us out with making the first move, because the best kind of guy will always be a little shy) Better yet, she could barely keep her eyes off me and throughout the night I saw her stealing repeated glances in my direction, which would make my smile widen every time. (Which yeah could have been bad since she was the one driving but at the same time it always feels good to feel attracted to.)

As the night progressed we found ourselves clicking and there were no awkward silences between us, with every lull in conversation leading to us simply enjoying the other’s company. She was fun, goofy, smart, coy, honest and flirtatious. (which only caused my heart to swell all the more with the feelings I already felt for her)

Some part of me could sensed that I was as different for her as she was to me. Because before then I never met anyone so bold, who said whatever she felt without holding anything back. But what I sensed about her is hard to explain, I don’t know if it’s just me being a writer, or me being intuitive, or something else entirely, but I sensed in her a kindred spirit, I knew she had been hurt numerous times before, used, lied too, objectified, betrayed and broken.

So by the end of the night, when neither one of us wanted to part ways just yet, I suggested we go to a park near my house, where we played on the swings and the jungle gm like children, laughing all the while as we rejoiced and danced beneath a sea of stars, forgetting our matching scars, and it was then, as I was helping her up from the slide, that I looked into her eyes and saw a purity, a joy and the girl who she thought she lost. There was an innocence about her then, her inner child finally being allowed to come out and play. At the same time I understood this was the first time she ever truly let go, and relished in the moment as it was.

Later I learn she had a bit of a sordid past. She had a bit of a history that she wasn’t too proud of. Many of us has made mistakes, and had done things when we were younger that we’re not so proud of later on after we’ve grown a little bit older and wiser. I know this, because she insisted on telling me everything before we started dating out of fear I would discover her past and would leave her prematurely, without letting the person she was now shine through, thus breaking her heart. But I come from a place where I believe the past is in the past, while the present is now. We all make mistakes, missteps and do or have done things we’ve later grown to regret, it’s a part of life. No one really knows what dark corners, or avenues our lives may lead us, but what’s important is we find our way out. Also, as a Christian, I believe it’s hypocritical to judge someone for their past, since after all, Jesus Christ had died for our sins and not one of us today can say we live without sin, which is why we pray and ask for forgiveness. (Besides, I don’t think couples should hold one’s past against them. There’s nothing you or they can do about it. Besides if you can’t get over a person’s past, I believe you really need to ask why you’re involved with the person that are with.) Because you’re not the same person you were two years ago, and you weren’t even the person you are now then you were two days ago. Because we’re all changing, every day we learn something new and have experiences that change us forever. (Myself I used to by a child of hate, I was brought up to hate and despise homosexuality. I was prejudice, using words such as gay and fag with negative connotations to them. But I later grew to see that people are just people, I trained myself to stop using those words of bigotry and hatred, apologizing for my previous behavior. But I was young, stupid, naive, and grew up in a house where I was told I needed to hate these groups of people. But I changed and grew to accept and love everyone I meet. Greeting them as friends.)

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

Abby and me rejoicing in our love for the our favorite Holiday.

But I digress and with Abby and regardless of her many attempts to test me and push me away out of fear I would hurt inevitably hurt her, we eventually began dating “officially” And for a while our relationship was perfect, but every new relationship is typically great and smooth sailing as you’re still getting to know each other. Consumed with the idea that the other is perfect, and wanting to impress them by showing them only the best version of yourself. So if you’re having problems at the beginning of a relationship, you should probably bail out while you can.

For me it took about four months for the cracks to begin to show. When we first met, she didn’t like me spending money on her, but as time progressed, she began demanding I spend more and more of my money on her, eventually demanding I take her to a restaurants that were hundred dollars a plate, which was the point where I had to finally put my foot down and tell her I couldn’t afford that kind of lifestyle. Plus, the relationship became less about us and more about her, I was suddenly expected to take her out all the time, pay for all the dinners, entertainment, as well as buying her new clothes, movies, etc. Which again lead to more conflict as I began standing my ground and say no to all frivolous spending and explain that she was making me feel more like I was her own personal piggy bank than a boyfriend, and I was sinking more and more into debt. Which I was.

The longer I stayed in the relationship, the more I saw how different and our values were so vastly apart from each others. But still I clung to this image I had of her when we first met, this sweet, funny, clever and sexy girl, who had never been appreciated or treated like a person. I felt like I was fighting a losing battle to this other person who I never knew was there. Yet I had faith that there was this better person beneath it all. Nowadays I’m happy to report she had proved me right, but back then I had blinded myself to all the signs telling me she wasn’t the for me, I was too busy putting her up on a pedestal, giving her excuses and overlooking everything I didn’t like about her, giving myself excuses for her behavior. Even though being with her was making me more and more miserable.

One of our major issues was my faith, and she was somewhere in-between being spiritual/agnostic and atheism, she believed my faith was a joke, a crutch. And this was accompanied with her wanting us to be swingers,and to have threesomes, (Yes with another girl, her and me) But both issues were something I couldn’t get behind, which lead to more arguing, and her believing my faith had emotionally and sexually stunted me to the point where I couldn’t see how meaningful the experience could be for the both of us. . (Call me a romantic….or an idiot if you want, but I’ve always been a one woman guy and I can’t share these intimacies with more than one person, despite knowing that most guys would kill to have the opportunity, but it’s just something I can’t see myself going through with, my heart rally’s against the very thought, telling me it’s wrong.)
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But this story isn’t all about me, or how bad she was back then, (And trust me it wasn’t all her fault) this is a story about how God works. So if that makes you upset, I apologize, it was never my intention to preach at anyone. But I wanted to take a moment to point out something. Despite how wrong we were for each-other, or how unhappy she was making me, I still clung to this relationship as though it was a life line, and letting go meant only certain death. I made myself think and believe I loved her, when in truth every day it felt like I was falling more out of love with her. But it wasn’t all her fault, she had suffered from bi-polar disorder, as well as depression. And I should have stood my ground earlier and not let things get out of hand as they did. I should have sat her down and had a calm and rational conversation with her about our relationship and our needs and what we wanted. Maybe we would have worked things out, or maybe parted more amicably and wouldn’t have exploded in as many shouting matches, and would have resulted in less hurt feelings.

You see, many people jump into relationships and like many of us do begin to run, and race to that ultimate goal of marriage before we even know if that person is right for us or not. Maybe, that person is just a stepping stone, a guiding light, taking you one step closer to the person you’re suppose to be with. You see, this is what I believe, I believe it’s all a journey and it teaches us and we carry something with us out of every failed relationship, which helps to shape and mold us into better people. Sometimes we need be schooled and hurt in love, so that when it really does come for real, we can appreciate it even more, because we’ve learned from past mistakes and grew as individuals. Which is probably why I remained good friends and have managed to maintain friendships with many of my Exes. Of course, don’t try to savage a friendship right away, we all need time to heal and recover. For me this usually takes about six moths.

And if you can rekindle or even start a friendship it’s amazing, I’ve witnessed this incredible change in Abby, who was once selfish, arrogant, greedy, a gold digger and incredibly vain, (to the extent whenever I was driving she had to keep my vanity mirror down so she could keep checking herself out) And had grown addicted to her computer, phone and facebook, to the extent she couldn’t have a conversation with you without posting about it, or looking at her phone.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan, I haven't met him yet, but they look like an absolutely couple. I couldn't be happier for her.

Abby and her boyfriend Evan,
I haven’t met him yet,
but they look like an absolutely
couple. I couldn’t be happier for her.

But now, this girl who I never expected to find meaning, or God, has found just that. She’s been saved, and regularly attends church, she went from someone who only thought about herself, to this amazing girl who now goes out of her way to help someone in need. It’s like this shadow has been lifted from her eyes and a weight from her shoulders and I can tell you, she’s finally free, she’s happy and a joy to be around. She’s even met a good Christian Guy and now dreams and prays for the day where he proposes to her and they get married. (Back when I was with her, she was opposed to marriage with every fiber of her being)
And I’m extremely happy for her and proud, as well as blessed for having witness her incredible transformation, for being able to call her my friend. I never expecting to see God work in such a way. Which makes me sit back and with a smile as I think back on the day when we first met in what feels like so very long ago and having the honor of being the witness to it all.

We never could get it to work her and I, and back then, it felt like I was walking through a life sucking mine field of psychological barbwire, day after day,until there was nothing left of me but a dried up human husk of the person I used to be.

But we’ve all done it, got involved with someone we shouldn’t who was just all wrong for us and stayed too long. Even worse is when we stay in horrible, life draining, enjoyment killing relationships for the worse reasons, and even worse excuses.
being miserable in relationships we know are going nowhere. Some stay out of habit, or fear that they might have to go out of it alone for awhile. I’ve done it too, I’ve ignored, or excused all the red flags and signs telling me I should really reconsider the relationship I was in.

But either out of fear, or some perverse sense of loyalty we stay, and blindly trudge ever forward, no matter how bad or trying the relationship gets. It doesn’t matter how many times that person drags you down, leaving you feeling frayed, as you cling ever tighter these bad relationships, that only drag us further down into this sea of regret, all the while believing this other person is our life preserver.

The worse part of it is this; it’s us who cling and hold on so tightly. When all we have to do is let go. It took me awhile to let go of Abby, fighting the urge to call or text her just to see how she was doing, to hear her voice. But I knew we both needed time apart, time to grow and learn. So I know it’s hard, but I think sometimes we all need to stop making excuses and just walk away. Maybe you’re right for each other, but you’re not right for each other right now, maybe you’re just meant to be friends, or simply serve as a lesson in the school of life. I always tell my friends if they’re unhappy in their relationship they should take a step back, take a break, or break up. Life is too short to waste time being unhappy with someone who’s just wrong for you, or who just drags you down. Yeah it’s going to be hard, yeah they’ll be tears, begging for another chance and promises of change. But none of it will ever be enough unless the both of you take some time apart and grow.

I began writing this after a long conversation I had with a friend, whom I asked if she was really in love with this person, or if she was in love with the idea of them, the idea of love and the prospect of a wedding? these are questions we all have to ask ourselves at some point in our lives.

Look at Abby and myself, once upon a time we were head over heels in love, and we were that annoying lovey-dovey couple who could never take our lives off each other and couldn’t stop flirting and touching, making everyone think we’d end up married. But we kinda fell apart, I couldn’t be the guy she wanted, and she couldn’t be the girl I wanted. Because we both wanted and needed something else, something more. If we would have stayed together, we probably would have ended up killing each-other, or just making each-other miserable for the rest of our lives.

But thankfully, we’ve both changed and because of that, she’s became an awesome person, an amazing friend and I wouldn’t trade the memories, good or bad for the world. Because she taught me a lot without ever realizing it. She taught me that I should really get to know someone before getting into a relationship with them and she taught me that I should and how to stand my ground, how to say no, as well as how to have confidence.

You see, they say people change, but they never say how much, how much have you changed during the course of your life?

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

Sometimes we get lonely, and desperate for love, we look for it in all the wrong places. We make poor choices and relationship mistakes, because we’re trying to run, instead of taking the time to walk with that person and getting to know them, letting the love we feel flow through us naturally and grow on its own time.

                                       “And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
― Roald Dahl

Because life isn’t a journey, for every journey ends and when it ends, we go on. There are no do-overs and second chances come as rare as a flower blooming in the dead of winter, but we learn and carry on. Sometimes we’re heavier from the burdens we take on and carry with us; sometimes we become lighter by sharing our burdens with those closest to us. Sometimes we complain and feel that our burdens are too much, but the weight isn’t what matters, what matters is that we carry it. Because the world turns and turns and we with it, plans fall apart, things change, scars fade, but the memory, the memories always remain and sometimes there’s a moment that hovers and settles for but a moment, leaving us forever and in-explicitly changed in the most unexpected of ways, ways we never thought or felt before. And it’s then that our dreams take over and it’s there I see you and it seems that wherever I go, I find you, you’re there, my luck, my fate, my fortune, my life, my blessing and my curse. But it’s not all about you, or where in the stars your destiny lies, it’s about the here and now and what you find in the hidden depths of your soul, it’s where we go from here, as the ashes of what was and what might have been finally settle down around us, leaving us forever transformed, this is it, this is the now and it’s when you finally decide where you’re going to go from here.

You see we’re born with this light burning brightly within us all and sometimes the light flickers and goes out and we have to rage against the dying of the light, doing all we can to keep it aglow, fanning the soft, warm embers to make the those internal fires grow. So I’m writing to those who haven’t yet lost that irreplaceable spark, whose life may have, or is being made miserable because they think no one wants, loves or believes in them. They don’t know that those people always doing the telling are wrong, because they lost their way and forgotten about the light which burns so brightly against the night showing them the way and that makes them jealous of the light we still have casting away the shadows of despair, regret, and bitterness that would otherwise ruin our perfectly good and happy little lives. And I want to help those people find what makes them special and if you can’t see that, then you’re also wrong, just like my mother. So why don’t you go ahead and write this down and let me show you what one person in a million can really do, let me prove that they’re wrong and your dreams are worth fighting for, you’re worth fighting for and you’re good enough, even when you believe you’ll never be. Because you already are, you’re already good enough; you’re perfect because you’re you and you’re here now.

I spent a lifetime trying to be someone else’s idea of perfect, bending myself to the will of others, molding myself like soft clay found in a riverbank, with no one but me to thank. I use to try so hard to be what someone else wanted me to be, even though it was slowly killing me, with everyone always looking at m and believing they knew me, seeing whatever they wanted to see. I was the geek who never had the courage to talk to you, the loser who never could get a break, the wannabe trying so hard just to be notice and be one of you, the jerk who kept pushing you away out of fear you’ll get too close, the coward who pretended I didn’t like you because “the cool” kids didn’t and I didn’t want to risk being associated with the likes of you, I was the creep who wanted so desperately for you to notice me, but whenever I would speak the words would come out all wrong, twisted and forever lost upon my tongue. but always hoping it’ll be enough to get you see through my charade and see through to the real me, wanting, needing you to just give me a chance or just push me in the right direction. Because I was the nerd who was always lost in a book and I was never one of the herds, because I never wanted to think about going home, I was the one who everyone always left alone. I was the introvert, wishing I could just convert and not be so afraid to show you that part of me that only a few ever got to see, I wanted to be an extrovert. But I wasn’t, I was the dweeb all the bullies would seek, perceiving me as being nothing more than weak, when in reality I was just unique.

I was all these things and more, never telling anyone how I would smile and joke, while inside I was always mess, fighting a private war in the confines of my own adolescent mind, struggling just to get by. Spending countless days sitting in class, quietly debating suicide or wishing I could just turn from all of this and run away. With all my words never being enough and feeling so frustrated all I wanted to do was scream and cuss.

But that was before, before I found my way, before I rediscovered my faith and found God, or he found me and without ever realizing it, he had become guide. He led me to a girl who eyes were like the sunrise, who saved my wretched life and helped me rediscover my lost faith. She affected me more profoundly and in more ways than my words could ever say. But since that day we met in the library, I know I’ve been left forever changed and I’ll always carry a part of her in my heart, my shooting star, my best friend, when went away and had went so very far away.

So I know what you’re thinking, you think you already know me, you think I’ll stand up here today and just tell you my name, then I’ll share with you my story, a story you probably won’t believe, because you believe you know the truth and you believe that there is none, because to you it’s been forgotten and you may even believe that the truth is even a lie. But you’d be wrong, because the truth is real and the truth is still absolute, even when it’s cold and cruel and more painful than any lie.

So take it from me, no matter where life takes you, too big cities, to small towns, you’ll inevitably come across small minds. There will be people who think that they’re better than you. People who think that material things, physical beauty and popularity automatically make them better, and a more worthwhile human being. But they’re wrong and I’d like to tell you that none of these things really matter unless you have the strength of character, integrity and a sense of pride about yourself. To fight the hardest battles, to make the greater sacrifice, like walking away from your truest love, knowing she’ll never see you the same as you do her, no matter how badly you wished you could. It means being her friend to the very end and ignoring how much it hurts, because she makes you a better human being, challenging your imagination and intellect.

So if you are ever so lucky to have any one of these things, don’t ever give them up, don’t ever change and don’t ever sell out. Because beauty fades and popularity never lasts and not even gold can stay, it’s like the changing of the seasons, leaves will always change and fall away all the time. Life ebbs and flows, changing all the time, inexplicitly, in the most amazing and unexpected ways, ways you never thought, imagined or believed possible.


So when you meet a person for the first time, please don’t judge them by their station in life, or the situation they’re in, give them a chance to show you who they really are, because who knows… that person just might end up saving your life, and becoming your very best friend…But that’s my story and what is now a part of me. For my friends come from different walks of life, each and every one of us were as different from each other as night is from day, I grew up the outcast with no real friends, but I met a jock, a goth, a genius, a band geek, a choir boy and a real rock-N-roller. We were all from different social circles and clicks, who found ourselves converging on this random path called life, becoming the closest of friends, becoming brothers and closer than family. Of course we didn’t always get along, most of us started out, hating, despising, or disliking each other for one reason or another, but somehow we found a commonality and it ensnared us so completely and enigmatically, pulling us together despite the fascist tides of discrimination and hatred a friendship like ours can sometimes breed. We came together on a random day in the middle of spring and discovered we had more in common than we had first believed. The result made us all a little stronger and wiser in ways we never thought possible. I still remember the day when I felt it, a unique sense of magic blossoming that day on the bus as he spoke excitedly about meeting up and hanging out later that day at Steven’s after school, when true friendship blossomed from the most unlikely of people who formed an even more unlikely bond, one that survived long distance and the ever changing tides of time.

 Life is filled with change and people change all the time, but they never say how much. So I could stand up here today and tell you my name is Joshua A. Cooper, I can tell you I’m a dreamer, an avid reader and a speaker who struggles to say the words that he means and this is me, finally coming clean and telling you that I love, even as I wonder what it means, I have days where I feel like I’m coming apart at the seams and days that are more incredible than anything I could possibly hope for or dream. So you may or may not believe the words I have to say, because you don’t know me, but still life goes on and on, filled with endless possibilities, with its various risks, pleasures and consequences, making us question our time here and what we do with the time we are given and how precious little of it we have left. It’s how we let our circumstances shape and mold us into who we are, making me who I am, making me the person the Lord has always meant for me to be, which is just me and it’s incredibly freeing to simply be yourself and not what everyone else wants you to be.

 

“Magic exists. Who can doubt it, when there are rainbows and wildflowers, the music of the wind and the silence of the stars? Anyone who has loved has been touched by magic. It is such a simple and such an extraordinary part of the lives we live.”
― Nora Roberts

 

            “Its two a.m. and I can can’t sleep again, so I decided to sit down in this computer chair and just start writing again, not really knowing where I’ll end, but the voices of the past are telling me where I should begin and trying to fall back asleep has lost its appeal, so I sit back and wondering if any of this is even real.” J Cooper.

I’ve had this passion for story telling since I was boy, I started off hating to read, but the words were quiet and persistent, inviting me into these whole new worlds, filled with both magic and wonder, offering me an escape from the place I didn’t want to be and making me wish I could always be as I was, free and carefree as any kid. I wanted to live forever as a child, to always find myself on one adventure or another, to explore the world with wonder and imagination. I saw castles, fortresses, crept past enemy lines, discovered lost and hidden abilities that I never knew I had and I never wanted to let any of it again.

In books I would lose myself completely in their pages, becoming momentarily lost in the books I’ve read, imagining what it would be like to discover a den of thieves and to don that invisible cape, to right wrongs, to save princesses, to become the hero I always wanted to be and to live in those moments, even if they lasted for just a moment. But I would carry those stories with me, with the characters often becoming my friends and would often occupy my thoughts as I drifted off to sleep. Habitually dreaming of meeting those characters who I loved, respected and admired, befriending or falling in love with them as we shared an epic journey, which would make me cling to sleep and those memories of dreaming long after my waking hours. Growing up I was found to be a quiet and introspective, spending long car rides just staring out the window letting my imagination run rampant, my thoughts wonder.

It’s these experiences and the memories that carry me through the long and lonely days. It wasn’t long after I fell in love with reading that I stated writing my own stories, creating my own characters, some of which I still carry with me today and write about. I was eight years old by the time I started crafting my own stories, with their twist and turns, sharing them excitedly with family, friends and the teachers who marveled over my creativity and originality, which motivated me to only write more.

I fell in love with words and the art that comes with writing your very own story, in your very own voice, putting yourself and working aspects of those closest to you and the ones you admired into the stories you craft. Of course, every story I wrote had characters born from different parts of me. Some were how I saw myself, while some were everything I wished I could be and who were still perfectly flawed, while others were mirror opposites of me and everything I believed in. They represented me as I imagined if I were to lose or forget myself, making the villains I would write all the more interesting and complex and born from the advice a young film maker gave me on a chance meeting when I was at Kings Island with my father, which is that even the most villainous of characters are never truly evil, most of the time they believe they’re doing the right thing.

My magic RingEven as a kid I believed that very few people ever thought of themselves as evil, less still ever wanted to be the villain. In their journey and in their eyes, they often saw themselves as heroes themselves. But every character has a journey, one that makes them who they are and often when I would sit in the car staring out the window I would imagine how my life would be with these different scenarios that often played on inside my head. Often wondering how I would have turned out if my father won custody instead of my mother, or if I stopped believing in God and fell in with a bad crowd, how would I turn out.

Then one day I sat at the dinner table, working on an outline to a story I was writing for my friends, when my mother asked me what I wanted to do after high school. And do you know what she said to me when I told her I wanted to be a writer? She laughed and said “You shouldn’t, your chances are one in a million of you being successful,” And I said “Maybe, I’m that one,” And she said “But you’re not, instead you should consider going in the military or getting into politics, because you have a better shot at being the President then you ever will being a writer.” She tried telling me I should give up on my dreams and to pursue a career where the financial success was more guanteed, she tried telling me to give up on the one thing that I loved, what made me feel alive and to simply give it up.

She didn’t care how much I loved to write, or that I felt like it was the one true thing that I could offer the world and how I dreamed of being able to change it. I know it may seem silly to you, but even back then I believed in words and if you could string together the perfect combination of words, you could save the world from itself. I was seventeen years old and I knew this to be true, because I’ve already seen the change my words had created in the people around me. I’ve turned enemies into close friends and my friends became my best friends, my brothers and all because of writing, which was the catalyst for everything. There were people who never liked me, who saw me as geek, a nerd, a loser, a fag, but I found my way with my words, sparking the sense of wonder of those around me, watching as they clung to every word I spoke and read to them the first page of my story, with my voice trembling and my hands shaking, until I looked up and saw all their eyes were upon me and leaning forward in their seats, with all of them listening to me, clinging to my every word. In the span of a few heartbeats and for the first time in my life, I had won over an entire room, I was thirteen then.

            Giving up on writing would never be an option and something that I always felt would cost me my very soul, because I had all these stories in me and these characters who wanted, needed to their tale to be told. And you know what I discovered by chasing my own dreams? My mother was wrong. And whatever she thought she saw in me was also wrong…Because I am that one in a million and so are you. We all have that something special inside of us, we’re born with storms, tidal waves, comets and forest fires raging on within us, we’re all born and gifted with magic and I for one was born in a magic time, in a magic world and no, not everyone could see what I saw then and what still see now. You see, we’re all born into this world of magic and wonder, connected my silver filaments of both chance and circumstance, and when I was child, I could talk to animals, sing to birds, read stories in the clouds and see my destiny in tiny grains of sand, the world was my magic ring and by its soft warm glow I protected, saved and changed the world countless times. Sometimes I was alone and sometimes I accomplished even greater feats with my brothers or the friends I made along the way, my world was in constant flux, growing and shrinking whenever friends came or went away, but no matter what, we were always connected by this web that connects and binds us all together. Friends, brothers, family and all the people we meet along the way on this journey called life, joining us, becoming connected, with some friendships lasting for only day while others forever. Learning slowly and over time that people will always come and go in our lives, no one leaves this world alive and those who leave us, leave behind permanent impressions and their fingerprints of who they were and what they meant to us on our very soul, for they may not always be with us, but their words will last forever in our hearts, the memory of those random strangers who came into our lives offering us their hand in friendship when we needed it, bonding in that single moment forever frozen in that one moment in time. The friends I made on vacation back when I was a kid, or more recently when I went to Fandom Fest in Louisville, Kentucky, making friendships I wouldn’t soon forget and all the like minded people I met, with the memories of who they were and the friendship we forged during my two day stay was and still is baffling to me, leaving me still wondering how and where they are now and if they ever got their flask signed by those two movie stars who we all loved and admired. Norman Reedus and Sean Patrick Flannery.

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Dating Colds.

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I’m currently amidst fighting off a wicked cold, which has me feeling miserable and believe me when I say it’s a bit hard to write when you’re congested, coughing, sneezing, with your thoughts feeling clouded from the cold and probably a little because of all the medicine running through your system. So with my eyes feeling so dry they feel like they’re about to bleed, I decided to take this time to write a blog, even though I just want to climb into bed and underneath my warm comforter, because this is an issue that keeps coming up and bugging me. So I pray you understand where I’m coming from and I don’t wake up in the morning with hate mail, or lost followers. sleeping

But being as I decided to step back out into the dating scene after taking a year hiatus from the dating world, to get my head right and figure out what it is exactly I want in a relationship. Naturally a few female friends have taken it upon themselves to try and fix me up with anyone who shows me the slightest bit of interest and when I say “No thanks,” and when they ask why, I’m forced to tell these friends that I don’t or didn’t find the other person physically attractive, which often gets me a dirty looks, or I get called mean, pig-headed or shallow as I’m told how looks don’t matter, but you thing of it is, I disagree.

 Now, if someone were to judge another’s personality, or refuse to be friends with someone, just because of their physical appearance, then yes, I would call that shallow, or petty and even discriminatory. But I don’t believe the same applies to romantic and physical relationships.

What defines physical attraction is different for each of us, everyone is different and everyone had different attributes they find attractive in the opposite sex. Some like redheads over blonds, short over tall people and just because one person doesn’t find a particular feature attractive doesn’t mean another person wouldn’t. For example I’m attracted to short girls, which doesn’t mean I can never be attracted to a tall girl, or won’t consider dating a girl taller than me. But it’ll take a little more for me to date someone taller than me, despite how gorgeous she might be, which is where personality will become the determining factor and I will never date a girl just because I found her physically attractive but not her personality.

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 Furthermore, I feel that for intimate relationships to work, there needs to be physical chemistry and that spark at the beginning of the relationship. Of course in the long term, personality is what matters most. But I think it’s ignorant to discount the importance of mutual physical attraction and say that “looks don’t matter”. But I still get dirty looks when someone asks my opinion on someone else and I tell them how I thought they were great but I wasn’t physically attracted to them. I can’t control or help what I’m attracted to, no more than I can control what foods I like to eat.

 Saying that “looks matter” gets you evil glances. People calling you shallow, a pig, judgmental or picky, It’s not saying that a certain type of look is all that matters. It’s not the same as saying “everyone has to look like a super model”. Just that two people’s definitions of attraction need to mesh.

When it comes to dating, I for one am not attracted to overweight girls, I’m sorry. But I’m not saying that overweight people unattractive and I know many of you may find that objectionable, which is okay. I’m not flawless, but I am being honest. This is something I believe a lot of us think, but never say.

 I’m not trying to make broad, sweeping generalizations about appearances here. I’m just writing as accurately as I can, and as true to myself as I can. Maybe I’m not pulling it off as well as I can or should, maybe I didn’t explain it in this blog as well as I could have. But after tirelessly debating with friends, strangers and a few matches I got paired with, where I tried being nice, by telling them I live a very physically active life-style and I want someone to share that part of me and sometimes I responded to their messages by apologizing profusely that I simply wasn’t attracted to them, just because I don’t know the etiquette of online dating and getting messages from a match and personally I find it rude to simply ignore their message. Because I know what it’s like to sitting there wondering if they got you message, if they found someone, or if they just didn’t like me. For me not knowing often feels worse than knowing and for remarkable most of these girls thanked me for my honesty and some I have spoken with and we talked about our experiences on the site, or on other dating sites, with some of these people becoming e-mail pin pals who check in on each other every now and then.

But I digress and I guess what I’m trying to say is that no one here can say what’s beautiful except for you. Beauty as they used to say when I was a kid is always in the eye of the beholder, and I believe that. There have been girls I found attractive that no one else saw, who would sometimes mock or ridicule me about my crush, but it never changed what I found attractive in someone else. And even though I’m starting to try and find the one for me again, by trying out e-harmony and other dating sites, I just want to say I’m not looking for a super-model, but I would like someone who had a healthy body type, they can be thin yes, average, athletic or curvy, I want someone I can go running with, take hiking, go on long road trips, someone I can sing awfully too, someone who inspires me, that person I can hold, who’ll hold me in return, that someone to help me live and grow with. Someone I can just trust and know all the love I possess. And I happily accept that some people aren’t going to agree with that. But if you don’t or don’t like the way I handled this topic, hopefully you can now understand a bit why I gave it a shot in the way that I did.

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My best friend Hannah showing me what’ll happen to my heart if I remain single & don’t find that person to soften my heart of stone.

Night Terrors

“My sleep wasn’t peaceful, though. I have the sense of emerging from a world of dark, haunted places where I traveled alone.”

― Suzanne Collins,

Night Terrors

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What’s the worst nightmare you ever had? If you haven’t told anyone, please comment below and tell me yours, because I doubt I’ll ever forget mine. Even though I’ve more in depth nightmares before and my dreams are often very vivid and detailed. Some I still remember even though it’s been a decade or more since it occurred, because the terror of it had always just stuck with me.

 

So I doubt I’d ever truly shake the feeling my most recent nightmare had left me with.

In my dream, I had ran into this person as I was leaving the park. It was a bright and beautiful afternoon and I had almost made it back to my car when I heard someone behind me shout my name.

I turned and saw this person who I knew in the dream, but can’t remember who it was after I awoke. But I remember trying to be civil with this person, but somehow we still erupted in a heated argument.

Realizing he would never see reason, I simply threw my arms up and gave up, deciding to simply walk away and retreat to my car But as I neared the driver side door, I heard this loud pop, almost like thunder which struck me as peculiar, since it was as I said a beautiful day without a cloud in the sky.

I remember trying to tilt my head back to look for any clouds on the horizon; instead I felt my body pitching forward. I tried to catch myself, but body wasn’t responding.

Then I was lying on the warm, sunbaked pavement feeling an odd pain in the back of my skull which began dissipating almost as quickly as I felt it…the pain itself didn’t really hurt, but was more of an peculiar throb. I soon found myself being unable to draw breath and I could feel a wetness running down the back of my head, and bubbling from a hole just above my left eye. Again I tried to move but found I was unable.  I couldn’t move, blink, or even shift my gaze from pavement.  All I could do was stare blankly at down at the concrete, feeling the warmth of the sun baked blacktop lulling me into darkness.

My vision then turned red as my blood ran down into my eyes. Slowly I began to realize that I had been shot and I could hear the panic in my brother’s voice as he paced somewhere behind me,

“Why did I do that?”

“Why did I shoot him?”

“I can’t believe I just did that.”

All the while, I could feel my life leaving me, rushing out of me, like water out of a balloon after it’s been punctured.

“No!” I screamed defiantly, “It can’t end like this, I have too much to do and I can’t die, not now!” But no sound escaped my lips and then I could feel myself being pulled from my body, despite how much I struggled, or strained to remain where I was, like a child slowly being lifted from the crib, there was nothing I could do, but still I raged on, I strained and struggled to live by sheer force of will alone. Thinking if I fought hard enough, I would somehow escape this fate and earn another chance at living my life. But nothing I did worked, I was being pulled effortlessly from my body as easily as one would pull a sheet from a corpse and suddenly there I was, slipping out of my body as a snake would do it’s skin.
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Then I saw myself laying there on the ground with blood slowly pooling around my head, my killer was masked in shadow, but I could see him, with his hands on his head, pacing back and forth, with the gun lying on the ground by his feet as he stared at my prone, lifeless body. He was crying now, telling me he was sorry as a crowd of people I never seen before slowly gathered around, murmuring to themselves and to each other, I could hear their voices fading to a dull murmur as I drifted away, longing to live, to feel the wind against my face and to feel the comfort of a hug from a loved one.

I awoke, in cold sweat, with the feeling of death still all around me, in my room, just waiting. I still felt the pain and fear of dying, of blood running soaking the back of my head and how it ran down into my eyes.  More than anything I wanted to reach out, talk to someone, hear a friendly voice, get some confirmation that I was in fact still alive and well, I wanted someone to tell me it was all just a dream. But being single and seeing that it was only 6:37 in the morning, I knew that there wasn’t anyone I could talk to, no one who would care to hear about some crazy dream where I had died. It’s one of the many drawbacks of being single and lacking that comfort of knowing, of having someone tell you that you were alright, that it was all just a dream. I longed just to be reminded that I was still here, so I brought a hand to check by chest just to feel the rhythmic beating of my own heart. In that moment, I felt more alone than I thought possible and even though I could feel my heart beating, a part of me still didn’t believe any of it was real, that instead I was stuck in a sort of in-between.

 

The strangest thing is, I’ve never been afraid dying. I’ve struggled with depression for most of life, though nowadays, before this dream, I had viewed death as nothing more than a simple change between two states, no different from a changing of the seasons.  So I’ve always felt that when my time comes I would embrace and accept it for what it is, but now I’m not so certain.

Falling Like Snow

Before I begin, this story was something I wrote in hour and a half as part of a writing exercises given to me by my writer’s group. We were each given three lines which we had to work into the story. The lines I was given were  “We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall,” Sitting in the kitchen sink, “And “The sky was static.” For me, the story came alive instantaneously and I wrote like a man possessed to get it all down before time ran out. Here is the result, I hope you enjoy. Falling Like Snow Falling like snow… after_the_smoke_clears_by_busterbrownbb-d67nizy We started dying before the snow and like the snow, we continued to fall. The sky had grown dark and our blood turned the soil beneath our feet into mud. Alive and cut off from the rest of my unit, my thoughts turn back to my father and how I use to write to him every night from the kitchen sink, imagining I was with him hunkered down in that fox hole, he was a soldier then fighting overseas. He had gone missing when I was just thirteen, like my grandfather before him, who had fought bravely in the Vietnam War and his father back in the second great World War.

I still remember how my mother clung to me as she cried and how I was unable to take my eyes off the casket being lowered deep down in the cold, dark ground. I didn’t cry then, the tears wouldn’t come for another few years, because I knew he wasn’t inside that box they buried so deep, nothing but a uniform, a photograph and old memories, I knew it wasn’t him they buried, just a box filled with memories and dust.

For months I imagined him coming home, stealing into my room to tell me everything was alright and how he would muss with my hair, before kissing me goodnight. But that day never came and I swore I’d never go to war and that I wouldn’t fall in line with the family tradition of never coming home from War. Patriotism seems to be in our blood, even when we’re left with little to no choice, for at twenty eight my country was at war yet again and one night after work, I found the draft letter addressed to me in the mail. Fear washed me as I read and reread those words, ordering me into the armed forces and the date I was to report to the military base for training. I must have stood outside for an hour before my wife came to join me, I couldn’t speak, the dread had turned my tongue to lead and all I could do was hand her the letter with trembling hands and her tears began falling like rain as she crumbled the letter in her fist and drew me close, promising to never let go. We cried and held each other for what felt like the last time, even as the rain began to fall, drenching us both as we repeated our vows there in the driving rain, kissing away each other’s tears, she wants me to run, I tell her I won’t, I explain that I can’t, I assure her that we’ll be alright, I promise her I’ll return home, I tell her lies. Then there I am, on that bus, leaving my civilian life behind, kissing goodbye my wife and seeing my eight year boy watching me from kitchen sink with his face pressed up against the windowpane and it was then my heart began to break, for he looked so much like me the day I watched my father go away. The days seem to pass in a blur, they cut off my hair,  and we marched till we sang, we all became friends as we learned how to fight. By graduation day I was stepping up onto that plane, feeling only half-alive, just going through the motions, believing that this was it for me, that I was already gone, for I had come from a family of patriots and none of them had ever returned home from the wars they fought, the line I feared would go on unbroken, as heroes of war.

Artillery exploded in the air around our craft, causing even greater turbulence, and my brothers  disguised and hid their fear, with cheers and jeers, while I close my eyes letting my thoughts turn to that of my wife and child, I imagined him as I might, playing soldier with his friends, imagining that he was fighting alongside me, helping me keep this country free and safe, this land that I loved. His face was all I could see, etched forever into my mind, along with the look he gave me as I marched up onto that bus. Realizing I would never go back, I would never return home, the thought made me feel both empty and hollow, making me numb, a shell of the man I once was, who before this had never so much as fired a gun, or thought about taking a another life, but here I was, a soldier of war, a pacifist turned trained killer. But every night had been the same, I’d fall asleep thinking of my son, knowing I wasn’t much older than him when this happened to me and now I could feel the ghosts of my father and his, our entire family line standing all around, haunting me. Then there I was boarding the plane that would take me to some foreign land that threatened the very freedoms of the land that I’ve always known and loved. But that was then and now I’m here, trudging through snow drifts two feet deep, bleeding and fatigued with the snow pulling at my legs with every step.  My toes and fingers had long since gone numb from the cold, so I stop to stare up at the sky and it reminds me of static seen on old TVs, with the falling snow soothing the singed flesh of my face. Snow_Texture_by_funnybunny_stockI close my eyes and it’s all I see, blood and flames.

Our transport exploded moments after our boots touched the ground. The explosion was deafening, throwing me to the dirt, saved only by the man behind me, whose body shielded me from blunt of the explosion, making him one of the first who wouldn’t be making it home. Burned and bloody I crawled out from beneath the bodies of my comrades to the sounds of gunfire erupting all around me, but still I rose, disoriented and lost, just as the first snow flake landed and melted against my cheek. Ears ringing, I turned towards the enemy line and charged headlong into their ranks, their screams filled my ears, long after they were gone and it was then I realized the screams had been my own and I couldn’t stop, not until long after my rifle clicked empty and I was covered in the blood of both my fallen brothers and my own. We were twenty strong before and now we were but five. snow_by_theloneredsheep-d3lb6br With our faces streaked with dirt, blood and mud, we turned as one and charged into hell, amidst the rain of bullets, the guns and the sound of the drums beating in our ears and blood stinging our eyes. We’ve broke the enemy lines time and again. It hadn’t been a day, but I’ve already had my fill of war, even though this was just the beginning and like the snow we starting to fall. Exhausted, wounded and fatigued, I soon myself standing alone in a field of white looking up at the sky and thinking of home, when I heard the crack of the rifle and saw the snow before me turning to crimson as I fell to my knees, praying, please God…. As the ground rushed up to greet me and I expected the world to end.

 

I felt the rough hands gripping me, wrenching me up out of the snow and with my heart hammering in my chest, not knowing if I’d be tortured or killed, I raised my head defiantly to stare  at up at the weather worn face of the man I believed to be my executioner. But there was something oddly familiar about him that I couldn’t quite place and he begins shouting something and it takes a moment for me to realize he’s American like me, and he’s asking if I was hit. Nodding, I clumsily paw at my shoulder. He looks at me, examining the wound and pulls me towards him to examine the entry wound at my back, after he lowering his head to the exit wound just below my left shoulder, he tells me I’m lucky for it passed cleaned through, but I don’t feel lucky. Then to my surprise, he begins scooping up snow and packing it into the wound. I bite my tongue so hard I taste blood, and would have  collapsed if he hadn’t been holding me up. Through the tears that filled my eyes, I see his uniform for perhaps the first time, but it was all wrong. It was beige instead of camouflage and looked to be out of time and out of place, surely I imagined it couldn’t be warm enough to keep out the cold that was cutting through me despite by winter fatigues and thermal wear. Patting his pockets, he sighs, shaking his head, and begins tearing at the hem of his uniform, using it as a makeshift bandage, cinching it tight over the wound, before hauling me back to my feet.

“C’mon son, on your feet, don’t make me write another letter of condolences, I’m tired of losing good men,” He shouts into my ear.

“Sir…” I breathed, between gasps of breath, and through agonizing pain lancing up through my shoulder, “Sniper….”

he nods, looking down at my rifle, asking if it’s loaded and I tell him yes, but with only two rounds. Which was all I had left, he says one is all he’ll need and snatches it up from the snow and pulls me stumbling behind him. I stop, to turn back to see him taking a kneeling position as he peered down the sights of my rifle.

“Better get going so if you want to see that family of yours again.” Then without another word, I hear a second gunshot and this time I feel the bullet grazing the left side of my head. “Go,” He says, squeezing off a round, “Looks like there’s more coming,”
Lonesome_Soldier_by_xDestitutex I’m in no shape argue, but before I can, I feel a hand gripping me roughly by the shoulder, pulling me forward and almost off my feet. I turn to see another solider, pulling me along through the snow; he was wearing a uniform of forest green, with a M2 Carbine tucked under one arm, which he was using to fire into the field behind me. “C’mon, we’re pulling back,” he says shouting and before I can say a word, he moves to pull my arm around his shoulders and proceeds to help me run, and I’m too out of breath to ask who he was, or what was going on. But I could hear the tanks and gun fire erupting everywhere behind me as if hell itself was chasing on our heels. The marine, forces us to stop every couple of steps to turn and fire back into the field behind us, but through the falling snow I see nothing but shadowed shapes and what I can only guess are the enemy lines moving in to flank us, accompanied by flashes of light as the enemy returns fire. The marine’s carbine clicks dry and he turns to me, and through the driving snow he shouts for me to keep moving and turns his back to me,  as he begins reloading. I open my mouth to ask him what he’s doing, when the grenade goes off from where we was standing, with force of the explosion driving me into the ever thickening snow. I fall into the hard packed snow with my right side feeling like it was on fire. blood_in_the_snow_by_scout2freak-d5nvw1f I try to rise, but the pain lances up through my side, making me feel as if my ribs were being torn apart, and I can’t help the scream that escapes my lips as I fall back into the snow, fumbling for my side and feeling the warmth washing over my fingers, knowing that it was my life rushing out of me and turning the snow around me into fresh crimson. Gritting my teeth I try to rise again, when I hear a voice overhead, and I feel gentle hands turning me over onto my back. “He’s alive,” The person shouts to someone behind him, I can tell my his accent that he too is an American, from Boston I think,  his uniform was an olive drab, with his sleeves rolled up past his elbows, with a sheen of sweat covering his exposed flesh and despite the blistering cold winds or the falling snow his touch was warm.

“Okay buddy, looks like you took some shrapnel to the ribs, just hold on and I’ll get you patched up and ready for the LZ, I think I can remove it,” he says and I feel him rolling me over onto my uninjured side and fresh pain lances up through my ribs as he pokes and prods at the wound that feels like agony and fresh tears well up in my eyes. I scream into the snow, digging my fingers and hands into the drifts around me, I want to grab his arm and make him stop, but my arms and legs feel as if they’ve been tied down. Inch my agonizing inch, I feel him pulling at the shrapnel embedded deep in my side and it feels two feet long and half as thick, but once freed I find myself able to breathe easier and he’s packing the wound with fresh snow, before doing his best to bandage me up, then he’s dragging me back up to my feet. I’m so tired I can barely stand, so I lean against him as he helps me walk. Behind me I can feel the heat from explosions and the rain of snow and earth falling down around us, followed by burst of gun fire from all around us, and a mixture of shouts and screams. Whose I’m not sure. My knees buckle and I fall to my knees, reliving my first drop where I lost half my brothers, but the medic is quick to haul me back to my feet, and grunting from the exertion he tells me to keep going and not too look back, to never look back, ordering me not give up, to never give up. I don’t. I just keep walking, focusing on placing one foot after another and I’m trying not to think of home, because it would be more than I could take. With every step I expected to feel a bullet piercing my back or slamming into the back of my skull ending what little life I still had in me and I could scarcely believe that I was even still alive as it were. Then I felt the medic’s body go limp as a bullet struck him in the back, causing his body to pitch forward and me to fall in a tangle of arms and legs on top of him. He was dead by the time I untangled myself and pushed myself up onto my hands and knees. The back of his head had become a mass of dark blood and I found myself fumbling to free his sidearm from his person, when another hand closed tightly around my wrist, hauling me up to my feet before I could free his pistol, and it was then I noticed for perhaps the first time how the snow was kicking up all around me, followed by the whoop, whoop of helicopter blades cutting through the icy air. “Forget it, he’s dead, we need to get you out of here!” Shouted a voice over my head and I looked up to stare into the face of my father moments before I lost consciousness. The next thing I remember is waking up in a military hospital. No one quite knows how I survived, or why, no one saw the pilot, or even the Black-hawk helicopter that dropped me off before flying away, disappearing from sight and radar just as quickly as it had appeared. A story I tell no one but my wife, for I have no other explanation, other than I was saved by the ghosts of patriots.  winter_freakin___wonderland_by_knightofammo-d3aqwjd

Chapter 17-Part 2.

~Maybe things don’t happen for a reason. Maybe we’re just grasping for ways to make sense of the chaos around us. Maybe we’re giving meaning to things that have no meaning. Maybe we’re clinging to hope so hard that we forget about reality. What if we’re wrong and nothing is meant to be? We’re just lost souls wandering endlessly, desperately, seeking comfort from the notion that things will work out in the end no matter what. What if we’ve tricked ourselves into believing that everything will be okay in the end just so we don’t have to face the reality that maybe it won’t?”-Unknown

Man goes through the morning mist

I was filled with such rage and anger as I exited my mother’s car, pulling my bag of clothes up higher on my shoulder, I was so angry I couldn’t even see straight and as I made it to the door, I realized that I was crying. Tears had blurred my vision as I fumbled for the door, I was falling apart. Everything compounded into itself in that moment, I realized it all been a lie. The family, the love, the change I had been hoping for…had been all for naught. All the fights and battles I had with my father who disapproved of me trying to have a relationship with my mother and everything I had said and done to put the past behind me had all become undone and with it I was unraveling at the seams.

I don’t remember even walking into my house and I found myself just sitting at the kitchen table in tears with my grandmother doing her best to console me. I was broken, my heart feeling as though it were dashed against the rocks, my very soul ached. In one fell swoop, I had lost so much. My mother, my younger brothers and the older brother who had become my best friend, I even lost my computer with a lifetime’s worth of work saved away on the memory banks. My whole life seemed to be wrapped up in the day and torn apart in the most unexpected of ways. I was wounded.

I told her and my father everything and then I tried my one last life line, I contacted Dominic in hopes he could help me, be the voice of reason and to at the very least try to get my computer returned to me. At the time he acted like he had no idea of what was going on, insisting that I try to at least try and talk to Chris one last time. But he wasn’t taking my calls.

A card I got from my neighbor after she heard about what happened.

A card I got from my neighbor after she heard about what happened.

Later my brother’s then girlfriend called me, upset just as much, if not more than me. She told me, that my brother knew of what was happening before I even did, because Chris had called him and not once did Dominic defend me. Leaving me feel even more hurt and betrayed. Then she told me as he was screaming in the background and banging on the door for her not to tell me, but she does. She tells me his plan was to play dumb if I contacted him. Then she told me something else that I should be aware of, while I could hear my brother banging more fiercely on the door where she was, telling her to shut-up and how I, (his brother) Had no business hearing about other family matters. But she presses on, assuring me that at least believes in me and saw how I was being picked on and bullied and pushed further into a corner. Because she had met me on numerous occasions and got a sense of who I was. Plus she had seen and heard me helping him out on numerous occasions. She knew of the times I loaned him money so he could pay his bills, she knew that I often gave him gas money which he never asked for whenever we hang out and she saw the window Air-conditioning unit I had given him when I found out his apartment didn’t have air.

Then she told me that a month or two prior Chris had went behind my mother’s back and secretly asked her sister to borrow five hundred bucks, which she declined and then told my mother. The secrecy of his actions and how he refused to tell her why he needed the money nearly resulted in their divorce. But they had somehow managed to patch things up. This was why she was leaving my brother and why she was calling me now, because she believed this to be the reason why this was happening to me now and how disappointed she was in my brother for turning his back on me now.

I found this card when I was going through a old shoe-box. She was in tears when she heard about what happened.

I found this card when I was going through a old shoe-box. She was in tears when she heard about what happened.

By Christmas day I fighting a losing a battle and more than once I had made calls to my brother, my mother and step-father. My last conversation with my mother was her telling me how careful Chris was with his money and how he had cashed his check and was going to put into the bank when he discovered he was missing the money. So naturally I called her out, telling her how that didn’t make any sense, because if I were to cash my check at a bank, I would deposit whatever money I needed to while I was there. I wouldn’t wait two or three days just because. But my mother ignored my words, instead she resorted back to her old ways, telling me about the things I had done wrong or lied about back when I was a kid. Then I told her she was leaving with little choice, but to file a police report against them. The last thing my mother told me before I hung up, was,

“Do whatever you have to do,” and I hung up on her and it was the last I had ever spoken to her.

That night, I got a message from my brother, telling me that Chris was talking about destroying my computer; he then told me I needed to call and talk to him. But Chris was screening my calls and when my younger brother picked up the phone and gave it to Chris; he hung up without ever hearing a word I had to say. So that night my father took me to the state-trooper’s office.

Where I met Sergeant Scott Davenport, when I first met Mr. Davenport and I started telling him my story, he cut me off and told me this was something I would have to take up with my mother. So with a heavy sigh, I shook my head, feeling defeated and believing Chris had been truthful about the whole domestic dispute thing and feeling frustrated, I told the sergeant that I had been trying, but they weren’t taking my calls. I even demonstrated this by attempting to call him then and there, handing him the phone so he could hear them picking up the phone and hanging it up.
It was then the Sergeant asked me to tell my story again and this time he listened intently, and when I told him my step-father was Chris Hankins recognition let his eyes, as he said,

On numerous occasions I babysat her kids, dog-sat for her and even house sat.

On numerous occasions I babysat her kids, dog-sat for her and even house sat on more than one occasion.

“Chris, yeah I know,” and his hopes immediately dashed my hopes as I thought,

(Oh of course you do)

But the Sergeant motioned me to continue and when I got to the part where I offered to get Chris 300 hundred dollars from my own checking account, he stopped me, and asked me to repeat what I had just said, so I did.

“Wait a minute,” He asks, “You accused you of stealing 300 hundred dollars, and you offered to get him that same amount and he refused?”

“Yes,” I confirmed.

“Hmm, well that changes everything now,” He exclaimed, shaking his head, “So why do you think he declined your offer?”

“Well because my computer is worth a lot more than three hundred bucks,” I told him.

The Sergeant who I think had to have seen and experience all manner of things, seemed genuinely taken aback by the revelation, telling me that I was a better man than him and he wouldn’t have offered him shit. He then tells me to sit tight and he was going to get a hold of Chris. But before he could go I stopped him and pulled my receipt for my computer out of my pocket and said,

“Hey, you may need this, in case he tries to claims it his.”

Mr. Davenport smiles and giving me a nod of approval he says,

“Wow, you keep good records and you’re right, this will help,” and with that he turns to return to his desk when I hear him making a few calls in order to get a hold of my step-father. It takes about ten minutes, and when he does I hear the following.
“Hello Chris, I have your step-son here and he says you stole something of his,”

A brief pause when I hear him say,

“Chris is an HP laptop?”

“Well then, I’m pretty sure it isn’t yours…..because your son has the receipt and I’m holding it right here and I’m looking right at it.”

“No, I don’t care what you THINK he did and you know the law, even if you had saw him did, took photos or even caught it on video, you can’t take someone’s else’s property and you know it’s illegal to do so.

(This apparently made Chris very angry, because then the officer’s next response was, )

“Well if you smash it, or damage it in any way, you’re liable for whatever happens and you’ll have to pay for whatever you break on that laptop and if that means you have buy him a brand new computer of equal cost you will and I’ll make sure of it.”

There was another brief pause, until I heard the Sergeant say,

“No, you’re half right, you will return it, but you’ll bring it here and I’ll give it to him, I don’t you want you to go anywhere near this kid,“ Then sarcastically he adds, “Oh and thank you for being so mature about this.”

Mr. Davenport returns to me shaking his head,

“Wow, your step-dad is a piece of work, but he will be dropping your computer off in the morning, but on the off chance he doesn’t call me,” He says handing me his card, “And I will personally go down and get your computer back.”

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

A snowman my cousin and I made a year later.

He then asked if I’d be willing to file an official report when I return to retrieve my property, which I agree to. I was tired of the all the childish games and wanted Chris to answer for at least a little of what he’s done.

The next day, I return with my father to state-troopers office and I discover that Chris is yet again refusing to return my property. Which infuriates and baffles me beyond belief, he had already been caught in a few lies, admitted to have stolen my computer, but was still acting like a child by refusing to do what he had been told to do. So I’m all too happy to oblige when the officers ask to take me for my statement. At this point I’m beginning to feel like a broken record as I go over my story again. They ask me the same questions as the Sergeant and they seem just as taken aback as he was and they seem just as annoyed with my step-fathers prepubescent childlike behavior as I was. So they go over his head, to the chief of Williams Town police to force Chris to return my computer or risk his job.
About fifteen minutes later Chris finally relents and comes in to speak to the officers, as well as to return my laptop, finally!

The officers are quick to escort me out and around the building afraid of what would happen if Chris saw me, or I him. My father is still in the waiting room as one of the officers leads me back to my dad’s car. He tells me they’re going to take his statement and that he’ll return with my computer.

Almost as soon as he disappears, I see my dad returning to the car with my computer in hand and relief washes over me. But I see he’s also angry and he opens the car door to hand me my laptop back, and tells me to make sure everything is there, heading back into the station.

The cop who had taken my statement returns then and climbs into the car with me, he tells me both Chris and Sergeant Davenport from the night before had confirmed everything I said, but Chris had no excuse as to why he refused my three hundred dollars when I had offered to him. The cop then asks me to turn on my computer and he sits with me as it boots up and as I check everything. Fortunately no damage had been done and everything was still in full working order. Then paranoid, I search through all the bags and compartments of my computer, making sure all my items were there and to be sure he hadn’t planted anything in my belongings, fortunately he hadn’t.

The officer then tells me that Chris wants me to take a lie detector test and I don’t think twice before answering, I agree because I had nothing to hide. Plus I figured it’d be more ammunition for the investigators to use against my step-father. The officer looks conflicted and tries telling me that I don’t have to, that if I decline it wouldn’t be by any means an admission of guilt. He tries to talking me out of my decision, but I stand firm. Because I’m angry and because I’m tired of always being made out to be the bad guy. I wanted to pull my mother’s and step-father’s truth out into the light and let everyone see the kind of people they really were.

Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken

Face your life, its pain, its pleasure, leave no path untaken

Yet, my desire for to be vindicated and to have some sense of validation, would lead to more pain and discourse. I know now in hindsight that I had acted impulsively and without thinking.  I had even called my brother to update him on what happened, telling him I had agreed to the lie-detector, but all he could do was blame me for causing so much pain and turmoil in the family. It broke my heart hearing how he already made up his mind about me and he had forgotten everything he had known or had learned about me. He had me judged since the beginning, from before any of this even started. It’s true what they say, a lie will travel twice around the world, while the truth, is still putting on its shoes.

I found it odd how everyone could see the truth, everyone but my mother, my brother and the family who used to tell me how much they loved me growing up, their words I discovered had been hollow.

It took them weeks to finally get them around to giving me the polygraph, time that only caused all my negative thoughts and feeling to fester. Nightmares haunted me on most nights, while on others I dreamt of revenge, of making them regret everything they had done to me and put me through. I wanted my mother’s and step-father’s lives to fall apart, for my brothers to see the truth.

I suppose they had hoped the time between everything would cause me to calm down, but it did everything but. I was angry all the time, hurt, depressed and consumed by all these negative thoughts and feelings.

But when it rains it pours, the night before my polygraph was the beginning of the end for my grandmother who lived with my father and myself. She had fallen on her way to bed in the middle of the night and couldn’t get up. Fortunately my cousin Derek was there to hear her, who after failing to help her up, came and woke me. Together both he and I tried helping her back to her feet, but my grandmother God rest her spirit was obese and neither of us could get her up and I was afraid to pull too hard up on her in fear that I would tear her skin, because she was also a bit frail.

My proof that despite your struggles, you will find your smile again and with friends.

My proof that despite your struggles, you will find your smile again and with friends.

Out of options, I had to wake my father and then the three tried to get her up. Even with the three of us working together all we could do was get up, but just barely and but the strength had left my grandmother’s legs so even after we stood her up, she couldn’t stand or walk under her own.

Out of options, with my grandmother crying, we had no other choice but lay her back down, but on her back, instead of on her knees. Then much to my grandmother’s disapproval we had to call an ambulance, which only made her cry even more. She hated feeling so helpless.

Yet, I found myself overwhelmed by the outpouring of love our neighbors showed us, showed to me when they saw the ambulance loading my grandmother up into the back of their truck.

People I barely even knew were coming up to me, asking me if she was okay, hugging me and crying in my arms, while the paramedics took my grandmother to the hospital for observation,  leaving me wondering if she’ll be okay, or if she’ll ever be able to walk again.

Later that morning, I had to go in for my polygraph and on a whim; I asked the officer taking me what he thought my chances were of getting an apology if or when I pass. He shook his head and told me I shouldn’t hold my breath, then told me that no matter the outcome I should simply stay away, because a family shouldn’t ever do or put a son through everything they were putting me through. His words gave me something to consider….Realizing that he was right, all of this was wrong and never should have happened.

Now for those of who you never had a polygraph before, it’s not quite like what you see on TV. You get lead into a small room; they have a specialized chair for the polygraph against the wall, a pad on the floor to make sure you don’t move your feet in attempt to fool the polygraph. (Apparently shifting your feet while you’re hooked up to one of these can be an admission for guilt, so I was already getting nervous, by feeling like I’d have to be perfectly still or this thing would think I was lying.)

But before you’re hooked up into this chair, you’re briefly interviewed; my technician was an older gentleman, with an air of arrogance about him. When he asked if I had any questions or concerns about a polygraph, I told him my fear, which I think everyone has, which is telling the truth and have it think you’re lying. However the Technician was quick to explain all the technical stuff as if to assure me. When I along with everyone else knows that these machines aren’t admissible in court for a reason, we’ve heard it all our lives, or at least I had.  But according this gentleman the reason was just a technicality.

That's me in the Assassins Garb. Sometimes you just have to step outside yourself, lose yourself, have fun, even if think you'll a little foolish.

That’s me in the Assassins Garb. Sometimes you just have to step outside and focus more on the present and say to hell with anyone who may think you look a little foolish, happiness is found in the moment and memories last forever.

(It wasn’t until much later that I decided to do some homework, discovering the reason why polygraphs weren’t admissible in court. Which is they can give false positives and false negatives, especially when an even in question is emotionally stressful.

Then comes the interview.

Technician: “Have you ever taken a polygraph before?”

Me: “No.”
Tech: “Have you ever been arrested?”
Me: “Nope”

Tech “You ever gotten a ticket for speeding, parking or anything?”

Me: “Believe it or not, no, I tend to stay of trouble.”

Tech: “Well what about school, have you ever been in trouble at school, detention, or anything?”

Me: “Nope, I always kept my head down in school as well.
Tech: So, how honest of a person are you? One being you’re a compulsive liar, you can’t help but lie, with ten being you never told a lie.

Me: Well, I’m not perfect or anything, but I’m a pretty bad liar so I kind of got in the habit of telling the truth, so I’d say about a seven, or an eight?

Tech: “Oh? So I guess you’re just Mr. Perfect huh?” he says throwing his arms up in the air, “I guess you don’t even need to be here because you’re honest Abe, you never told a lie in your life. You’re just Mr. Honestly now aren’t you?”

Immediately I realize I’m in trouble, and that this guy was a royal douche. I realize I should have got up and left then, but I figured I had come this far, and it would make no sense for me to back out now. Plus I had promised my brother I would do this and I was determent to see this through to the bitter end.

So I immediately jump on the defensive explaining and reiterating what I had said and that I had occasionally lied to spare someone’s feelings, or to get out of work so I could hang out with my best friend who was on leave from the Marine Core, etc. (Just imagine that scene from Goonies when Chunk is confessing everything he did wrong to the Fratellis when they were threatening to put his hand in a blender. Because for a minute there I was channeling Chunk, confessing to every white lie I ever told and the reason I had.”the_fratellis-300x185

After the tech manages to shut me up, he asks me to sit in the chair and begins strapping in and I immediately begin freaking out. I know because he tells me as he looks at his instruments. He takes a few minutes telling me to relax and seems irritated by how long it takes for me to calm my frayed nerves.

Once calmed, he asks me a few practice questions and instructs me to intentionally lie at least once to calibrate his instruments. After a few more moments, he asks if I’m ready. I’m not, but I say yes anyway just to get this over with.

He proceeds asking me yes or no questions about that night and I find myself reliving it in my mind all over again, it’s like watching a bad movie on repeat. I feel my blood beginning to boil as he walks me through the night asking me yes or no questions about the day in question. My heart is pounding in my chest like a jackhammer. The tech asks me about the money and all I hear are Chris’s threats, his finger poking me in the chest, the force of him shoving me, throwing me against the wall. My voice is trembling as I answer.

The tech tells me to calm down, but I can’t and again he asks about the money and my thoughts race. I’m recalling every instance when I was a kid and had to take money from his wallet for lunch at school, or when I was younger how I would take a few pennies, (because I collected pennies) Then my thoughts were all over the place, I was psyching myself out, worse I couldn’t stop. My thoughts were everywhere, as my mind replayed the events over and over in my mind, making me feel sick and angry all at once.

Then it’s over and he’s unhooking me and he tells me he’s going to return with my results.

When he returns, he’s acting all cocky as he tells me I’ve failed the test and how he believes I was guilty. He tries making me confess, but I refuse insisting on my innocence, but he laughs and shakes his head, telling me how his machine says otherwise.

To help keep things light, here's me and my best friend & fellow writer on the catwalk.

To help keep things light, here’s me and my best friend & fellow writer on the catwalk.

My heart sinks, I don’t know what to think and I feel numb and that’s where I’ll end this story. I’ll leave it up to you to decide and choose what you believe or don’t. I will tell you that years later my brother and I briefly spoke and after he got done with his accusations and I informed him that I was innocent he asked me to take another test and prove it. Which to be honest I had thought about, but then I realized it was too late. I told him it would change or fix anything, even if I passed, you or them would insist I take it again, and again, because if the first one was wrong, so could be the second, or the third. Even if they accepted the results of a second or third test, it wouldn’t fix anything. It’s been six years, six years since I had any contact with any of them. (except for my brief heated exchanges with Dominic, or the one time little Christian contacted me to tell me how much he missed me and how much he wanted me to call to make peace with the family. But I couldn’t, not after all that’s happened. Not after I lost a family. I would forever be marked as the black sheep; I would never have their trust just as they will never have mine.

My mother and her family would only see the worst in me, judging me for everything I done wrong since the very day I was born. Truth is, I’ll never know if she really changed, if she had anything to do with what happened or not. Sadly I don’t think I’ll ever know, but I do sometimes wonder if I’ll ever hear from her again, if the truth about that day will ever come out and if I would hear about it if does.

I know my mother wasn’t perfect, and the situation sucked. But walking away was still one of the hardest choices I ever had to make. I lost my family days before Christmas and to this day the pain of losing everyone like that still hurts. That being said, I know my older brother was adamantly against me sharing this story, my story with the world. Nothing against him, he can be protective and loyal to a fault. But this needed to be shared and I needed to talk about it, to get the truth as I know it out. But it was C. Joybell, who said,
               “The only way that we can live, is if we grow. The only way that we can grow is if we change. The only way that we can change is if we learn. The only way we can learn is if we are exposed. And the only way that we can become exposed is if we throw ourselves out into the open. Do it. Throw yourself.”
Even when it was over, I was still miserable, drowning in a sea of depression, hearing everyone tell me,

“Hey, bad things happen,” or, “Hey, you’ll get over it.”

And Man, have I grown to hate that phrase, “You’ll get over it,” is a cliché that only causes trouble.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

At the mall with friends who helped me heal.

When you’re hurt, suffering from that pain of losing someone, or something that meant so much to you, there’s never any getting over it. Losing someone you love is to alter your life forever and you never get over it, because “it” is the person or persons you loved. Yeah, the hurt eventually stops, but it’s a long and hard road that cannot be rushed, or quickly forgotten. It takes time to heal, time to decide when to pick up the pieces and try to putting those pieces of your life back together. To regain some semblance of self, it takes time and patience.

I know you and others may have suffered worse loss, or pain, but that was your battle, for me, my battle and my loss had hit the hardest, because it was happening to me. When you become as broken as I was back then, it takes a long time stop feeling miserable, betrayed and depressed, time to stop thinking about killing yourself, and to finally stop being so angry all the time. And Eventually, I decided to stop being the victim and overcome my past and this horrible thing that happened just before Christmas.

At the park with another friend I've met along the way

At the park with another friend I’ve met along the way

But since then I’ve learned you have to let go. You have to release the hurt. Otherwise it will own you forever and you’ll never escape. You need to have the strength to fight back and take your life back. Dare, dare to take that first big step. Dare to take chances and to have hope, to dream, to be brave enough to live your life and remember the human heart can be disheartened by the most unreasonable self-judgments, because even when we take on giants, we too often confuse failure with fault, which I know all too well. The only way back from such a bleak despondency is to shape humiliation into humility, to strive always to triumph over the darkness while never forgetting that the honor and the beauty are more in the striving than in the winning. So when triumph comes at last, our efforts alone could not have won the day without that grace which surpasses all understanding and which will, if we allow it, imbue our lives with meaning. I’ve experience true darkness and the pain of suffering in despair, which lead me down a path beyond my own moral ambiguity, where hatred and anger threatened to consume everything that I was. It took a long time for me to put the anger and my pain to rest. But the scars will always be there, reminding me of what was and what might have been, thinking back about my family I know it wasn’t always so bad, things happen, people change, some lie to themselves or accept half-truths because they fear what they will otherwise see, or find hidden there in their reflection. Becoming afraid of the avenues the truth would lead them and what it would mean when the truth is finally uncovered.

The rest of my new family

The rest of my new family

Matt and his lovely wife, who have become my family.

Matt and his lovely wife, who have become my family.

But yes new people had since come into my life, friends and other loved ones who refused to let me just drift away, which for a while, was something I tried to do. I couldn’t bring myself to grow close with anyone, out of fear of the hurt they may bring. Because the gap never closes, how could it? The particularness of having someone who matters enough to grieve over is not erased by anyone, or anything but death. I can tell you that this hole in my heart is in the shape of the family whom I lost but will never forget. Those I’ve opened my heart too and forgave time and again. Just so they could dig a little deeper, making the betrayal hurt all the more. To be honest, these holes, no one else will ever fill. Not Matt, his loving and adoring wife and not their three unbelievable and magnificent children who’ve grown to call me Uncle Josh. Who have their own place in my heart and as much as I love them, they will never fill the holes left by the family that once was. Why would I want them, or anyone else too? Because there is never getting over it, not really, of course, the wounds can and may eventually close and scab over becoming the very scars that make up who were are, reminding us of our journey on this crazy path called life.

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

Matt dealing me but a flesh wound Christmas 2012

My scars will always be there. Sometimes I lay awake at night, thinking about those I’ve lost, the ones who went away, who I’ll never see again, the ones I still love and wonder how they’re doing. I feel robbed of the chance to see my younger brothers grow up into men, and of being there for my older brother when he met the woman of his dreams. I’ve lost half my family in less than a day and for the longest time I did whatever it took to distract me from the pain of losing them.

But now, I try and live as much for tomorrow as I can and on some nights I still pray that someday my name will be cleared and I’ll receive that call and hear that heartfelt apology that follows. Imagining how we’ll talk, cry and catch up on all the things we missed in each other’s lives. I pray for the truth to finally come out. But all I really know for certain is what I’ve shared with you here. Which is all the truth I know and as well as I know it. But that was then, that was me looking to the past and now I’m tired of looking back, so from here on now and every day, I look back and think “look how far I’ve come.”And that’s what keeps me going.
-J Cooper.alone in the woods