11.25.2013

I Just Felt Like Writing Some Poetry So Like Deal With It Okay? Okay.

Telling you the truth that day
Was like eating glass.
I didn't want to do it
And it hurt the entire time
And ultimately, nothing come from it but pain.
I'm not sure why I did it, even
Except that I have this pesky rule
About telling people the truth when they ask.
If you think it hurt to hear me tell you the truth,
Think about how much it hurt to hear you ask me
And know what was coming.
Think about how the question itself leaving your lips
Was like watching you take a glass
And place it in a sack
And smash it against the table.
Think about how when you asked "Please?" after I tried to say no
It was like watching you take your shoe
and smash the shards into tiny chunks.
And when you looked at me that way
That way you know I can't resist
It was like watching you open the bag
and offer me glass to eat.
And because you asked
Because YOU. Asked.
I reached into the bag
I took a handful of broken glass
I placed it in my mouth
And I bit down.
I could feel the sharp edges pass my teeth
I could feel them slice into my lips and my gums and my tongue
I could taste my blood as it poured from my mouth
And none of that even compared
To watching your reaction as I sat there
Chewing the glass
And attempting to make you swallow it.
If pain is a teacher,
That was a powerful lesson:
Never ask a question
You don't want to hear the answer to
Because you're not the one who's going to bleed
When the pain hits.


****************


There was one second in one minute of honesty one night
I saw a glimpse of promise in you
Where you saw yourself for yourself
And you found, for the first time,
The truth about who you should be.

But you weren't strong enough to follow through on that.

The memory of that night is forever burned in my mind.
When I think of you, I don’t think of dinners
Or drinks
Or walks
Or hikes
Or long drives
Or any of the things we did.

I think of that night, and that one second in that one minute of honesty.
The look on your face as all the tension left it.
The way your eyes went soft.
The way your lip quivered.
The way you fell into my arms.
The way your tears felt on my chest.

Then, it was gone.
Like a prison door shut
I could nearly hear the steel as it slammed closed in your heart.
Your face smiled a practiced smile
Your eyes dried up
Your body took on a soldiers posture
And you were “fine.”

And you still are “fine” as near as I can tell.
We don’t talk much.
We don’t see each other.
But I hear about you from time to time
And the few times we have talked
You use words that sound like they mean all sorts of things
But all I hear is “fine.”

Always “fine.”

I hope that one day, you find that place again.
I hope that you are able to clear the rubble
from the wreckage in your head
and find a way
to love
and to be loved.
Truly.

And that’s why I won’t be there for you when you do.
But I still hope you find that place
and realize what you really are.
Because love never leaves when it’s real
And in that one second of that one minute of honesty one day
I fell in love with you
And I realized then, I will always have to love you from afar.

It’s a shame that someone I know
will always be nothing more than a memory to me
Even when I see you next
When I talk to you next
I’ll be looking at and talking to the embodiment of a memory.

I hope that you can become that person again, for your sake.
For my own, I choose to remember you as that woman
Who was real
For one second of one minute
That one day.


******

I dreaded the sunrise every morning.
It meant the night was over
and I was that much closer to leaving.

I cringed when I saw the dim light
slowly glowing brighter
in yellows and oranges.
It clung to her skin
like its only job
was to wash away the darkness
and highlight her body.

And as I watched
early morning poured through the window
it landed on her
I soaked up every minute.
Every second, even.
I counted them
trying to slow them down.
I hoped that
somehow
by counting the seconds slower than the clock did
I could slow down
and maybe even stop
time.

And I could just hold that moment.

Just hold it.
Just a little longer.
I could keep it from slipping away from me.
It's the same reason
I think of her
every minute of the day these days.
Because I don't want her to slip away from me.


********

I won't ask you to perch the moon on your fingertip, so that my nights glow brighter.

I won't ask you to hold up the sun at dawn by the threads of sunlight that stream over the horizon.

I won't ask you to run great distances or lift heavy objects or solve great riddles. 

I don't want anything from you. 

All that I ever ask is that you let me love you for who you are, honestly and truly.


********


Maybe you still cry in department store bathrooms when you hear that one song playing over the intercom.

Maybe you can't bring yourself to go into that one coffee place because it only smells like memories.

Maybe you drive blocks and blocks out of your way to avoid going through that one neighborhood.

That's all okay.

You're up.

You're moving.

You're living.

For today, that is enough.

11.22.2013

The Tetris Theory Of Emotional Breakdowns



(This is an experiment, a combo post from both my blog and my Notes To Self.)

Life comes at you like blocks in Tetris. The pieces fall and you stick them where you can, and gaps form. You try to fill those gaps with external crap (like love, alcohol, video games and other distractions).

And then one day, it all just...

...Falls apart.

...But you still have all the pieces.

So you get to rebuild. Narrower, deeper, and much more solid.

And you realize the gaps can't be filled by anyone or anything else besides you.

11.21.2013

Your Heart's Junk Room



In every house, there's that one room... You know the one. It's filled with junk and the door's always closed, because you can't stand to look at it.

There might even be old food in there.

And your solution is to close the door so you don't have to deal with it. You might even lock it, so that when company comes over, they can't peek in. And you do "fine" walking around your house, living in all the other rooms.

Until one day, someone convinces you to open that door.

"Man… all the potential… I could do so much!" they exclaim.
They could paint it.
They could build shelves.
They could even put stained glass on the window, so the sunrise is beautiful as it shines through.

All these promises… But first it needs to be cleaned. And that's a huge issue. They are not you. So they have no idea where the stuff in that one box goes, or if it's junk and should be thrown out. And they have no clue what the stuff in any of the boxes even means to you. And they certainly don't have the permission or the authority to just scrap shit on their own, or put shit where it doesn't belong (and if they do that to you, they are abusing the privilege of being invited in).

So, you realize, they can't make all those promises of what could be, true. Because they simply cannot get in there to do the work. Because it's not their work to do.

So, they leave, and you see all those promises of what could be leave with them, and that room just sits there, cluttered and messy.

You can only see all that could have been. And it hurts.

And so...
AND THIS IS THE BIG THING SO PAY ATTENTION:
Instead of getting to work cleaning it out,
You close the door.

And eventually, you forget (or, at least, get numb). And you do "fine" walking around your house with that door closed. And you meet another person and another and another, and you think "could this person do what the other person promised in that room?"

And mostly it's "no" but eventually, it's "maybe..."

So you show them the room, and the promises are made — only this time, bigger and even better, because you get to join in the conversation from last time.

but first… There's cleaning to do...

Until you clean that room out, you're stuck. There's no way to do any of that work anyone you meet promises until that room is handled. So you are going to have to do the hard work of opening that door all by yourself, walking in there all by yourself, and begin shuffling through all those long forgotten boxes full of long forgotten memories.

But here's where things get really interesting... Once that job is done (and it takes a while, trust me)... Suddenly, you realize YOU can paint that room. And YOU can build the shelves. And if you so choose, you could even make some stained glass to put in the window that faces the morning sun.

And the next person to visit can walk into that room and just enjoy being in there with you.

That's love, pretty much.

You might be looking for someone... Someone who gets it. Who gets YOU. And so you'll go on some dates, and some are good and some really good. And then there's that one person you liked so much, you go out with again, and again, and eventually end up in a relationship with.

And then, it ends. Like all relationships do. A day, a week, a month, a year... 14 years, 2 months, 27 days, 17 hours and 12 minutes (not that I was counting)...

You're going to be alone and sad and broken and you begin wondering, "what's wrong with me?" Right question, wrong reason for asking. You're asking because you think that you are broken and undesirable because these people come into and then subsequently go out of your life. You're asking "why can't I keep a mate?"

The real question you should be asking is, "Why do I feel I need one?"

You might be "fine" when you're single. Sure. True. You are able to survive. But when you date someone, you always end up broken and remorseful and wonder what's wrong with you.

Well, the truth is, there's nothing "wrong" with you. But there's definitely something going on that you need to address. You're not happy with yourself, and you need validation from someone else to feel worthy and happy.

They can't make you happy. They can only remind you of reasons to be happy. Even at their most charming and most witty and most thoughtful and most loving... They're not MAKING you happy, they're giving you reasons to remember why you are happy.

Happiness is not given, it's shared. Only YOU can make you happy.


11.17.2013

A Writer's Game: Pass The Paragraph



I'm on a tour up the east coast, visiting friends on my way up to my for-the-holidays-home home in Boston. Tonight, I'm stopping in Carrboro, NC where my friends Heather and Fraser live. Heather is a writer and Frasier is a talented photographer... And very Scottish.

We decided to play a writer's game I kinda halfway just invented: Each person writes a paragraph, then hands to the next writer. The next writer can only read the last sentence of the previous paragraph. After three pages, the Scotsman narrates the whole thing.

You can play this at home. All you need is a pen, three pieces of paper, and a Scotsman.

Here's what we came up with. Blue = me, Orangish = Heather:

If you could measure disappointment in pounds and ounces, then Mick would have weighed so much, the chair beneath him would shatter. He had been sitting at that table for hours, waiting... Waiting. Alas, the only thing that had arrived that he expected was the tater tots. 

He was determined that this time, it would work. Previous attempts at ingesting anything, solid or liquid, had only ended in the employees inviting him to leave and not come back. It was endlessly frustrating to contemplate. His clothes appeared to be made of the same stuff as the rest of his body --  The outfit he was wearing as his life ended abruptly -- but while the pockets could hold whatever he shoved into them, the body just... Didn't. Whatever went into his mouth ended up in a pile on the floor. Today was the day though -- he was determined he would eat now, or never try again.

He knew if he never tried to eat again, he'd die. That's how much it meant to him: he was risking starvation for this to work (of course, he also knew hunger would probably override his dogmatic conviction to his hunger strike and, if he happened upon a stray piece of cereal or a rogue french fry left beneath his seat, he'd give in and eat it. That is, unless you could measure disappointment in dry weights and his chair broke and he crushed it before he could eat it... So let's thank God that's not how THAT works...

He might be dead, but at least he could enjoy something about being stuck planet side. Honestly though, he found that he didn't see what all the fuss was about. Memories from his former life were hazy and fleeting, but he knew a good meal when he saw one. The consequences were sure to be... interesting. But his new mission in un-life was to find the actual best ones ever. 

"These ones are the ones of princes and kings!" he would exclaim... If and when he found them. Other ones would be inferior. And ain't nobody want some inferior ones, you know? I mean... Fuck that, right? Only the BEST ones will do. He will settle for no less. This is what he thought while sitting there, well into his third hour, waiting... Waiting. And not crushing his chair, thankfully. Also, he might have been drunk.

Damn, it was great to be drunk. Way too munch is free to bounce around your mind and fuck you up when you no longer have to spend so much energy just maintaining a body. Being dead is enough of a bummer. Being dead AND depressed, you don't even want to go there. Drunk though... Drunk was good. He was numb in every sense of the word. The only thing to do now was test the limit. Could he actually pass out anymore? 

He sure hoped so. There was an entire bowl full of Halloween candy left. If he couldn't pass out any more, he'd be forced to eat it all himself. And thus, as three hours turned into four and the weight of his disappointment grew and his chair strained to hold him up, he began picking out the best ones: Snickers! Kit Kat! Reese's! "These brats... They make me wait and wait... THEY GET THE MILKY WAY! THEY GET THE THREE MUSKATEER'S! Mr. Goodbar, Smarties... They get ALL THE INFERIOR ONES!" 

Discrimination! That's what it is! His... Life-ism! "Fucking zombies had to ruin it for all the rest of us. And don't even get me started on Vampires!"

"Fucking Vampires..." he said aloud. He took another drink. "Laziest costume next to ghosts... Just roll around in some glitter and put in plastic fangs... I swear, if a SINGLE Vampire shows up, I'll--" Just then, the alcohol and the fun-sized candy bars kicked in and he fell over into a diabetic coma, and consequently broke his chair, ultimately from disappointment.

THE END
What's interesting is that, with two writers, you see continual loopbacks into their particular thread -- with Heather, it's undead, and with me, it's absurd notions of crushing disappointment and fun sized candy. It's also interesting that, when the theme became halloween, both things made sense somehow.

I laughed out loud when I read the Vampires bit. I am 90% sure that if I published this, middle-aged unsatisfied housewives would buy this and masturbate to it by the census-load.

If you play it, please share your results!!!

11.12.2013

My Dream Woman



It's far too soon after my divorce for me to be dating. I know, because I tried it. So I'm not trying it for a while.

But one thing the process of being newly single at age 36 and subsequently trying my hand at not being single has taught me is that my list of "requirements" isn't actually very long at all. And it's far from the norm of what I understand many other mens' requirements list to be.

Want to know about my dream woman?

Hair: 
Maybe long, maybe short. Maybe mid-length. She might be blonde, or brunette, or redhead, or maybe even purple or blue or orange or bright white or even shaved. Hair color and style doesn't really register with me as something that makes one "attractive" per se. It's about how she wears it. Does she rock the hell out of her hairstyle? Kick ass. Rock on, girl. That's pretty much all I care about with regards to hair: that whatever it is she wears upon her head, she owns it.

Eyes: 
So deep, I can't bother noticing what color they are because I'm so lost in them. Open to everything. Soft and welcoming, not looking FOR things, but AT them.

Face: 
Smile lines are sexy as hell. End of story. Long face, short face, round face, narrow face, strong chin, small chin, big cheeks, tiny cheeks... Just give me smile lines.

Body: 
Wrapped around mine, under a blanket tent fashioned from the stood-up mattresses and furniture in a posh hotel room in an exotic city, wearing footed pajamas watching a marathon of Monty Python's Flying Circus, or The Wire, or Cowboy Bebop, or something I've never seen before that she's absolutely crazy about.

Career / Employment / What-have-you:
I couldn't possibly care less what she does all day long for money, so long as she's fulfilled and happy. And if she's not, but realizes she could be, and the job is financing what she needs to do to get there, all the better.

Education: 
Hopefully it's not over, and she's reading something new every day about something she's interested in. Degree is irrelevant. Ideally, I get emails every day with some Wikipedia or blog article about something fascinating that was discovered while falling into the vortex of research for research's sake.

Music / Books / TV / Movies:
Sure, lots of each. The more varied and nuanced the better, but whatever she likes, she likes. I'm excited to share the things I like with someone, and excited to have new stuff shared with me. If I like it, awesome! If I don't, well, I just learned a new way not to entertain myself. But so long as there's sharing involved, I'm up for any of it. I'm going to share with her Melt Banana, The Melvins, Adagio, Erik B. and Rakim, Thievery Corporation, Neil Gaiman, Howard Zinn, William Poundstone, Akira, The Dark Knight Returns, Fight Club, Revolver, The Wire... She'll likely hate half of it, not understand some of it, and like some of it. I want that experience myself. Liking the same things isn't nearly as important as sharing the things you like.

Activities:
I want someone who will let me cheer loudly for every accomplishment they achieve, and who will do the same for me. Even better if we do them together. But that's not necessary. As long as she knows, whatever the hell she decides to do, I'm going to be in her corner with signs and pom pons yelling like a banshee, because I've spent a life knowing what it's like not having that and how powerful it is. I hope she's excited in her own way for the crap that I do.

Interests:
What's next. Whatever that is.

It's going to be a long time before I'm ready for this dream lady, because where I am right now in my life and my experience and my healing makes me exactly the wrong person for her. She can be all of these things for me, but right now, I can't be the best me for her. I've learned this the hard way. I'm not ready.

I'm not exactly sure when I will be. But when I am, I know that I get to be as picky as I want to be, and I don't have to settle. Not ever. And so, when it's time, I know what I'm going to be looking for -- my perfect dream woman. But I have to be ready to return the favor.

In the words of one of my best friends in the world Liz, I'm living through my montage right now. All the work you see someone doing in a movie when they're training for the big event, or prepping for the upcoming test, or learning karate so they can beat up the bully... All those cutscenes that represent vast amounts of time doing rudimentary stuff that serves as the building blocks for a foundation for something larger... I've got months, if not years, of that to live through.

But time doesn't get to advance for me the way it does in movies. Being the impatient person  I am, I wanted it to, and I let a few weeks or months of work stand in as representative placeholders for the actual work that takes actual time to do. So, my day to day life is spent focusing on me right now.

But one day, I'll get to use my Crane Kick of love after she sweeps the leg and I'll get the trophy, the respect of my peers, and the girl.

Just you watch.

11.11.2013

Free Copy of My Book For All Military Personnel for Veteran's Day



First and foremost, to all active and prior-duty service personnel: Thank you VERY much for your service.

As many of you who have been reading me for some time know,  I'm a big supporter of our nation's military personnel. I send books and care packages over whenever I can, and a fairly large contingent of my readership is made up of folks who put on boots for a living.

To that end, I'm offering a free digital copy of my latest book, Everyone Deserves To Know What I Think, to any active or prior duty military personnel. Simply email me or message me on Facebook or Twitter to get links to your free copy. Friends and family of military folks can also message on behalf of their serviceperson (and if you read it yourself, it won't hurt my feelings at all -- it is DRM-Free for a reason, and I don't mind sharing :P)

Now, I've gotten into this discussion a few times today: why, exactly, do I support our nation's military?

Well, some of you know that I have absolutely no particular like for our nation's government or some of the ridiculous engagements our military has been ordered to partake in.

But that has no bearing on my feelings on the men and women who serve.

I am personal friends with dozens of active and prior military personnel and find them all delightful. My father is a veteran and my grandfather was one, and are delightful. And literally thousands of my readers are all active or prior military -- and are delightful. That's why I support them. They're good, fine folks.

There's also the whole "facing being blown up by an IED so that bad guys don't fuck up my ability to get whatever size Starbucks I so choose every morning" thing.

And yes, I'm well aware that the military is abused and used by the government it serves to promote American hegemony worldwide. But those guys also killed Osama Bin Laden, who instructed bad people to kill two personal friends of mine in those towers on 9/11.

Our government involves itself in less than savory stuff. They use the military to do that. But the flip side is that when the shit goes down and our safety and way of life are threatened, there are men and women in camouflage and boots with guns standing between you and them. You don't have to like who put them there, and you don't have to like them personally. But you OWE them a fucking thank you for that, if that alone.

So yeah, free books for my military pals. Love you guys.

11.05.2013

A Bunch Of 12 Year Olds Figured It Out. Have You?





These middle school football players have it figured out. They banded together and conspired behind the backs of their coaches to give one boy, a special needs student, a moment of glory:




The thing they figured out? See, a lot of people will think I'm talking about the kid that scored the touchdown. But I'm not. I'm talking about the kid at the end of the interview, and all his teammates, who figured out one of the biggest secrets to happiness there is: giving.

If you get someone's back and take care of them, it makes YOU happy. Believe it or not.

I'm sick to death of all this "You're alone in this life" nonsense. It's simply not true, if you don't want it to be. There is an entire world ready to get your back and help you along and work with you to get you where you need to be.

Note that I didn't say "want." It's not always about what you want. But it IS always about what you need.

So how do you get this army of people willing to help you? How do you become the recipient of charity and goodwill? You give. You give freely and without expecting anything in return. Right now, I live with someone who isn't charging me rent. I had a company send me a replacement phone when mine was stolen. I've gotten care packages and gifts in the mail. I've had some of the absolute most amazing friends I've not only had, but even met, help me out financially.

Why? It's certainly not because of my wit and charm.

The friend that's letting me live with him has been my friend since tenth grade. He's not loyal to me because we've known each other a long time. I've known literally hundreds of people in that time. It's because the times he's ever needed me, I moved heaven and earth to make sure he had what he needed, to the best of my ability. I love him and will do anything for him.

The same goes with the friends who helped me out financially, and the friends who let me crash on their couch, and the friends who have picked me up and carried me along this year. Whenever I could, I made damn sure I was there for them. And whenever they need me again, I'll make damn sure I'm there for them.

For a long time, I wondered just why anyone would give a shit. Why would they help me? What do they get from it?

Then, I used a tool that I learned a long time ago: I turned the question back on myself. I started with me. What would I get out of it? Well, that's easy. I've done it before. I know exactly what I get out of it: the knowledge that someone I love, respect and care about is okay, and will be okay, so long as I've got their back.

And yes, I've been burned by that before. I've helped several people who are simply takers. They take and take and take and never attempted to stand on their own. When the time came to stand on their own two feet, they refused to walk on their own. Instead, they just found someone else to use.

But I don't ever let that jade me. I'd rather be disappointed by someone and hurt a little while, than to stop helping those folks who continually meet and exceed expectations and take what help I can give them and push forward to become their best. That moment -- that joy -- of seeing someone excel and take flight... I refuse to let some users and bad people take THAT away from me because they were greedy and poor excuses for humans.

It's cliche for a reason: you give to get. And the less you put "getting" first, the more you'll get back.

But before you can withdraw, you MUST invest. Before you can get help, you have to join the team. And you can't do it with the intent of someday being paid back. That's not how it works. You have to open yourself to the world and contribute, honestly and earnestly. Because THAT'S actually the payout: the way it feels when you pick someone up, help them stumble along, and suddenly they begin running under their own power and win the race.

I'm still figuring out a lot of things. My writing is one of those things. But I can tell you that, since I turned from simply trying to entertain, to trying to write stuff that helps people in some way, I've felt better than I've ever felt about the stuff I make.

And to that end, I've got your back. Pay it forward.

11.04.2013

A Beautiful Moment On A Brisk Autumn Monday (Or, "Your Fly Is Open")



There she is, the cute CrossFit girl that's been hanging out in your local coffee shop. And she's standing at your table.

"Excuse me," she says.

You look up. And you realize, she is the very same cute CrossFit girl that you thought was cute when you walked in, and the very same cute CrossFit girl you thought was cute when you ordered your coffee just behind her, and the very same cute girl you thought was cute as you complimented her very rad pink Reebok Nano3 shoes, and the very same cute girl you made laugh out loud with a joke that asks how you know someone's into CrossFit (Answer: "Don't worry, they'll tell you.")

You smile as you look up at her. "Yeah?" you say with a smile.

Well now, look at you! Here you are, Mr. Hot Stuff, who got the cute girl's attention and kept it the entire time you've been sitting here working on your laptop and writing all the clever articles and blogging and Facebooking and Tweeting all the clever things you think of and sharing the drawings in your Note To Self sketchbook... Here you are, the irresistible guy who just won a CrossFit competition this weekend, who is looking quite dapper with his new physique! The one with the charm and the wit and the--

"Your fly is open."

...Well now.

"I saw you walk out of the restroom," she continues, "And I have this rule where I tell people things that I wish they'd tell me if it were me... And if it were me, I'd want to know my fly was down."

You have the same rule. And while you adhere to it, you've never met anyone, ever, who follows it themselves.

You smile. Not an embarrassed smile, but the same smile that the more good-natured folks featured on those prank shows have when they realize that they just got got, by a really clever prankster... And in this case, you got got by the universe -- the most clever prankster to ever exist.

"Thank you," you say.

She smiles. It's a cute smile. "You're very welcome," she replies. She turns to leave.

You look down, zip up, and shake your head. Then you see a card land on the table.

You look at the card. You look up at the person who just placed it there. She's smiling. It's not as confident a smile, but it certainly looks a lot like one. She's a little nervous. It's absolutely adorable.

"That's my box," she says, referring to her gym. "You should visit sometime."

You laugh. "I have a joke for that.”

“Save it,” she replies, her smile turning from nervous-but-looking-confident, back to confident. “Heard it before… Besides, you lost your witty retort privileges when you got caught with your fly down."

I smile. “I’ll drop in sometime,” you say.

“Do,” she says.

You share a gaze that lasts, give or take, about ten thousand seconds longer than your typical glance and smile. Or maybe just one. It all feels the same when it's happening.

She touches your shoulder as she leaves.

You look at the card. It’s for the gym down the street. And it has her personal number written on it with a smiley face. There’s an ‘i’ in her name and she wrote a heart for the dot.

You smile. There are now rules in place and situations which have changed that prevent you from following up on this, a beautiful moment. But it is indeed a beautiful moment.

And for that (and the fact that sometimes you are clumsy with your zipper), you are thankful.

11.03.2013

Pa-ting!




*pa-ting!*

That's the sound of an acorn hitting the hood of my truck outside. The wind just blew, catching the leaves of the oak tree, shaking the branches and jarring loose another acorn.

It's just the one this time. The past few days, it's one or two at a time. A week ago, however, it was dozens, hitting the truck hood and windshield and the metal roof of this duplex.

*pa-ting!*
*pa-tack!*
*pa-thwack!*

It sounded like a drum solo on an old washing machine by a six year old in their first drum lesson. It sounded like a warzone in a far future alternate reality where humans fight sentient robots armed only with pellet guns. It sounded like a bunch of mischievous kids who figured out that you can freeze paintballs and really cause some havoc during battles.

Now, it's just one at a time. So it just sounds like an acorn falling off an oak tree outside a duplex that I stay in, hitting my truck hood. That's what autumn sounds like here. The rustle of wind and a *pa-tack!* now and again.

I lay with my dog, in my bed, under my blankets, in a place that isn't mine. I listen to a tree that isn't mine, dropping acorns that aren't mine as it rustles with unfamiliar sounds.

My first autumn in 12 years in a new place.

Autumn used to sound like the rustling of blankets as she cozied up closer to get warm. It used to sound like a tiny, nearly inaudible hum as the heater blew from the attic. It sounded like a tiny whistle as the wind rushed across the gutter shields that lined the roof just outside the window. It sounded like our owl hooting at the moon. It sounded like a deer as it grazed in our yard, suddenly running as our one and only neighbor pulled across our bridge with a *ka-klak-ka-klak-ka-klak*, home from her night shift.

It sounded like home.

I listen... I hear my dog breathing softly. I hear the sight jingle from the bell around one of my cats' neck as he yawns and stretches and rolls over beside me. I hear the wind, and the tree, and another acorn land on the roof.

*pa-thwack!*

That's the sound of my reality. That's the sound of now.

I'm moving in a few weeks. Not because I am unwelcome here -- my friend Mike has made it clear that I always have a home with him. And I am beyond grateful. But I cannot be here for the holidays. As weak as that may sound, as pathetic as it is, I cannot be in this city when the turkeys are being carved and the Christmas music starts.

I'm going to a new place for a while. I've found a little work up there, and while it's not much, it's enough of a justification to leave for a while. I've got some amazing friends up north who are giving me and my dog and my cats a place to be for a bit.

Atlanta has been my home for 36 years, 10 months and some days. It will always be my home. And that's precisely why I can't be here for the next two months. It is too hard. And because I am able, I am choosing not to be here. Call it weak. Call it sad. Call it what you will.

*pa-ting!*

Another acorn. Another breath my dog takes. Another thought of the days that have passed that led me to now.

I wonder what the winter will sound like in my new home.

Literally the Best Day I've Had In Over A Year

Today, I competed in a very high intensity competition -- the Hybrid Games, a combination strongman / crossfit competition. And I won first place in the RX (as prescribed / top tier) division.

That's something to be very proud of to be certain. I am super proud. My competition was incredible, and I had to work harder than I've ever work to beat them. And in the end, I made new friends that I'm going to be seeing again in training and in completion soon.

But the important thing -- the thing I am absolutely most proud of -- is that the entire time, my mind was 100% on me and what I had to do.

Not one time from the moment I woke up until well after the competition was over did anything about anyone else or anything else in my life, past or present, pop into my head. No troubles. No misfortunes. No sadness. No anger. No strings of bad luck.

Just me, my breathing, and whatever spot in the wall I was staring at while doing my movements. It was incredible.

Lately, I've had issues with being distracted by thoughts of my ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend during workouts. The swirl of emotions given this time of year and what happened last year, contrasted  the sadness of something that ended for all intents and purposes, very well and very friendly.

"If they could see me now... They'd regret it."

I would push a little harder imagining they were watching. I would think through a huge cache of memories. My mind would be on them while my body was doing what it does. Eventually, I'd catch myself and force myself back into the moment and my own mind... But it's been hard. And even before the exes, before marital trouble and trying to figure out dating again, I've always had issues with my mind wandering and not being focused on the task at hand. I've always been able to work hard and get whatever I am doing done. But it's always been that much harder due to the constant noise in my brain.

 Today, though... It was amazing. I was 100% present and in the moment, fully, the entire day. Every event. Every lift. Every moment.

I haven't been that clear and present ever in my life. I didn't try to put anything out of my mind. There truly wasn't anything there to put out. I was clear. It was amazing.

After the competition, I had lunch with one of my best friends, Tiffany, who won the Female RX division. Then went and picked up the free shoes we won from Reebok. We then went to a benefit for a kid with cancer and made him smile. And that was amazing.

I went home and took a nap with my cats and my dog, then had dinner with another of my best friends, Colette, her boyfriend Sho, and another friend AJ, who was a total hoot.

I'm home now. And I can't stop smiling.

I just had literally the best day I've had in over a year. And I am so thankful for it. I am so happy right now. And I felt like sharing that.

I hope you have a day like this soon. You deserve it.