Tuesday, July 14, 2015

I Am A Stubborn Jerk

I've posted nothing for a long time but it hasn't been for lack of trying. I've tried time and time again to write about my fiancé but it never comes out right. I lack the talent and the magic to describe how magical she is and how magical our relationship has been. I'm often hindered by crippling self doubt when I write but when it comes to writing about her, and us and the family we've formed, I've been paralyzed.

Writing, like relationships, is often about finding a way in. Our way in, at the beginning, was parenting and pizza but that hasn't worked as a way in for writing about us. I've tried to write it as a modern day fairy tale romance because it is. From sending that first goofy, sweet message about pizza on OkCupid to our first date in Mt Vernon, Illinois on a Wednesday night because we just couldn't wait any longer to neither of us expecting anything serious because we lived two hours away from each other and were both single parents but unable to help ourselves from it becoming serious to meeting each other's boys and falling in love with them also to planning to move in with each other to getting engaged on her 30th birthday without a ring because we just couldn't wait any longer to moving in together sooner than we planned because we just couldn't wait any longer to where we are now navigating the blended family situations and trying to wait to get married so that our wedding can be as magical as our family is.

We are a modern fairy tale but that hasn't worked as a way in for writing about it. Look at the mess I just made of it. That's how it is to try and write about it. I have so much to say about her and about us and it all comes out at once because I can't separate it. Thinking about the way her lips felt on a park bench in Mt Vernon only makes me remember how her lips felt on Christmas which only makes me want to quit writing and go to bed so I can feel her lips against mine in the morning.  It all works for me but it doesn't work for my writing.

So I try to just write about how wonderful she is. I try to describe her thoughtfulness, her humor, her intelligence, her charm. I try to describe that she's more beautiful and sexier than any woman I've ever known. I try to explain that she's the only woman in the world I would want to parent with, live with, love with, dream with. I try to somehow say that she's such a dream come true that she made me dream again. The words I put on paper, though, just aren't grand and gorgeous enough compared to what she deserves.

She wouldn't believe me anyway. She told our oldest son the other day, when he was telling her how beautiful she is, that he gets his bullshit from his father. She just doesn't believe me and when I do get through to her how amazed I am by her she says that's just what I see because of love. She's often incapable of seeing much good in herself.

So I tried to use that as a way in. I tried to describe how every negative quality that she is so acutely aware of in herself has a far greater positive quality that doesn't just more than make up for them but makes putting up with them less than a small price to pay for loving her. The negative is so small and the positive is infinite but I haven't been able to find the right words to explain that to her much less write about it.

I'm a stubborn jerk, though, so I keep trying. Even when she doesn't want to hear anything good about herself, even when she's incapable of believing it, I keep trying. She actually made me promise to keep being a stubborn jerk and that's a promise I'm more than capable of keeping.

I guess that's why I'm up late writing tonight. I guess that's my way in. I'm a stubborn jerk. I'm not going to give up on writing about her, and us, anymore than I would ever give up on loving her. I'm sure I've failed at writing just as I fail at loving her as well as she deserves but I keep trying. I'm sure this sounds confusing and rambling to anyone that doesn't speak the special language of our relationship but I'll keep trying to describe how much I love Kelly and how wonderful she is. She deserves better than a jerk like me but apparently it's what she wants. I guess she never had anyone tell her to be careful what she wishes for.

She says that too. She says she wished for me, she dreamed of me. It's inconceivable to me for anyone to feel that way about me much less someone as wonderful as her but I'll be a stubborn jerk and promise to try to understand that too. As long as I can find a way to tell her, so that she'll believe me, that she's more than a dream come true. Even in my dreams nothing felt this good and I've never felt so loved, and so lucky, in all my life. Reading this right now, she's probably shaking her head and muttering something about my bullshit but my bullshit ain't bullshit. Hopefully she realizes that at least a little bit when she reads this and hopefully while she's shaking her head she's at least smiling about this stubborn jerk that she loves for some reason.

To everyone else that reads this I apologize for the rambling and the run-on sentences and the repetition and the grammatical mess I've made of writing this. Poets write pretty words and singers sing graceful songs but this is what a man in love really sounds like, a dummy incapable of putting words together correctly. I hope most of you out there are lucky enough to know how I feel.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The First Day of Fourth Grade

     Tomorrow is my son's first day of fourth grade.  FOURTH FUCKING GRADE.  Do you realize how insane that is?  He's had four school years since preschool.  After this year he'll have four school years until high school.  I don't have anything profound or even semi-coherent to say about that.  It's just crazy.
     When I went to tuck him in tonight we had to move his clothes he has picked out for tomorrow off the bed.  There was a nice, button-up shirt and a tie and he even remembered socks and underwear.  He wants to look fly for his first day.  Then there was also a pair of sweatpants because he couldn't find anything else.  Yes, he was planning on wearing a nice shirt, a tie, and sweatpants because that's who he is.  I'm usually a hands-off parent who doesn't interfere but I did help him find a pair of slacks to wear instead. If there's time I'll try and take a picture in the morning and include it in this post.
     At the risk of making myself look like an idiot when I post this in the morning without a picture, I'm going to bet there will be plenty of time for me to take one and upload it. He's easy in the mornings.  There's no yelling and screaming at our place and there's only franticness if I wake up late.  Otherwise, he just gets up and does what he needs to do. Tomorrow I'll feel like he's saying look Dad, there's already so many ways I don't need you.

     That's what is supposed to happen, of course.  Children are supposed to learn to take care of themselves.  That's successful parenting.  That's one more thing no one tells you before you become a parent, though.  Sometimes successful parenting hurts.
     I won't tell him any of this.  There's no reason to make him feel bad about growing up. Instead, I'll just make sure he actually puts on the socks and underwear he has laid out and help him with his tie.  Then when he's ready to go I'll tell him he looks pretty good for a big old dork and he'll remind me that he is my son.  Then will hug, I'll drop him off, I'll head off to work, and he'll head off a little more into the future where he can live without me.
     Sometimes he'll catch me looking at him and ask about it.  I want to say that he's getting so big on me that I just can't believe it but I don't.  Instead I tell him I'm just daydreaming about the day I can turn his bedroom into a library.  He says go ahead and do it now Dad and I'll never move out.  It's always good to know I have a backup plan.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A New Place

     We moved into a new apartment this weekend.  When I first moved into my own place, after my marriage ended, I took the first place I could find that was close to my son and where we used to live.  It was run down, dirty even clean, and neglected but I never intended to be there for long.  It was supposed to be temporary, maybe a year tops, while I got my feet back under me.  Now over two years later I've finally managed, with plenty of help, to move us somewhere better.  When people talk about their houses they sometimes say "it ain't much but it's mine."  When I talk about my new place I say "it ain't much but it ain't crappy like the old one."
     It feels good.  It is tempting to call it a fresh start or a new chapter or a new phase in life but I won't.  Life doesn't work like that.  Life, and the impact of it, isn't organized in acts.  There are no true rebirths.  We call times childhood and adolescence and adulthood but it isn't like they're separate.  The things that happened to us as children still affect who we are when we're ninety.  Thirteen and thirty really aren't that far apart at the core of ourselves.  In life there is a beginning, called birth, and an ending, called death, and the rest is middle without the organization of chapter or verse.
     I don't mean that things don't get better.  I just mean that it doesn't happen in a moment or because of an occasion.  Things get better, we get better, a little bit at a time over time.  This new place of mine holds the promises of cleaner, nicer things in our lives but I wouldn't trust it at all if we hadn't already been improving our habits.  The best way I can explain what I mean is to say that an alcoholic doesn't quit drinking the day they have their last beer.  They quit a little bit whenever things got worse and they got disgusted with themselves and they quit a little bit every time they try and fail to quit gathering the strength for when they, hopefully, try and succeed.  Then even afterwards they are still an alcoholic.  They are still who they are before just better.
     That's the way life improves; gradually a little at a time if you work at it.  That's why I'm a fan of baseball.  I think it's the sport most like life.  There might be a mid August game winning homer that puts a team in first for good that they might be tempted to point to as the turnaround for the season but that homerun doesn't happen without hours in the cage in April and studying video in May and stubbornly playing through a slump in June.  They work and work and it leads to that moment in August or September but that moment isn't the season.  It isn't a sudden change and it doesn't happen without the hard work of the rest of the season.  That's how life is.  We grind it out and things get better a bit at a time.
     Some will say that over time I'll forget how much I hated my old place and have nothing but fond memories of it but it doesn't really work that way for me.  I do have some fond memories.  I'll remember the banter and the love between my son and I but I'll also remember staying up late listening to the leaks and staring at the stains and doubting myself as a father for not providing a good enough place for my son.  It'll be much of the same in this new place.  My son and I will still be bantering and loving and living but will just be happier.  Since we were pretty happy anyway things will be great.  I'll still stay up late sometimes wondering if I'm a good enough father too but that's just because certainty is for chumps.
     The new place is just a new place.  We will be happier so it's worth being happy about.  It isn't a new chapter or a new beginning or anything though.  I'm still Brad's dad same as I was I think before I was even Brad's dad.  I think sometimes my mom and dad were just preparing me to be Brad's dad even though they didn't know it.  They might have, though.  They are that wise.  It's the same as I'm preparing Brad to be a dad or an astrophysicists or something I can't even imagine.  Life just blends together like that.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Funny Dating Moments

     Somehow I managed to hear this song and this song back to back tonight without even trying.  Yes, I know I'm a dork with a terrible taste in music.  Anyway, it's made me what this guy once described as a "morose motherfucker," so I'm saying screw this mood and telling funny dating stories rapid fire like.  It might not make much sense to you but it'll amuse me and that's what is important right now.

     "Turn right now."
     "But that's a cornfield."
     "Turn right now."
     "She doesn't live in the middle of a cornfield Ms. GPS."
     "How do you know?"
     "What did you say?"
     "Turn right now."
     "There's no house in the middle of that cornfield."
     "Turn right now."
     "Fuck you GPS."
     "Fuck you too Paul."
     I may have been slightly insane with nervousness.

     Different woman.
     "What do you plan on doing with that thing?"
     "I normally hook the electrodes up to a guy's testicles and see how much he can take."
     "Uh, NO."

     Same woman.  Same date technically but we're out for breakfast the next morning when my phone rings.  It's my ex wife.  I only answer because it could be an emergency with our son.
     "Hello," I say annoyed.
     "Hi Paul.  How was your date?"
     "It's still going on," I delight in telling her.
     "Oh," she says, "Um, I was going to see if Brad and I could come over and use your shower because there doing work down the street and shut our water off."
     "Sure, we're out having breakfast," I said, "I'll tell you where I hid the key so you can get in but you better make sure to go in before Brad does."
     "Why's that?"
     "Because we couldn't find her panties or vibrator this morning," I delight in telling her, "They could be anywhere."

     Different woman a half hour into our only date.
     "So Paul, I have to tell you something."
     "Um, okay."
     "I'm homeless, my mom kicked me out, I only have enough money for one more night at the motel, and I'll do anything you want if you let me move in with you."
     "Uh, NO.  Check please."

     Different woman after I foolishly agreed to meet right after work for our first date.
     "I swear this is little pieces of cardboard I'm picking off my shirt not dandruff."
     "Sure, Paul, sure."

     Same woman I somehow got a second date with.  Before the date I'm thinking she's cool and quirky and I need to wear something interesting that might amuse her. I look at my limited clothing selection and dismiss the Cardinals shirt, the other Cardinals shirt, the Cardinals shirt with holes in it, and the one button up shirt I own.  Then I find it, my A Christmas Story shirt that says "You'll shoot your eye out" on it.  She'll love it.
     Months later, "He wore a stupid Christmas tee shirt on our second date.  Here I am dressed up to make myself look great and he's wearing a dumb fucking tee shirt.  I couldn't even listen to what he's saying because I'm just thinking about that stupid fucking shirt.  I'm thinking what balls on this moron."

     Same woman and I have no idea why she kept dating me either.  I'm meeting her son for the first time and their cable is messed up.  I'm behind the television thinking I'll be a hero for fixing it.  I knew kids didn't really give a damn who fixed the cable as long as they had cable but for some reason I thought it would impress him.
     "Go back to your precious wife and son," her son says from the sofa while he waits for me to fix the cable.
     I don't say anything.  What could I say to that?  I get the cable fixed and then talk to her in the other room and I tell her what he said.  She looks at me like Dick Cheney just jumped out of my eye and I swear to her he said it.  We have a long conversation about what it means and how to handle it.  We decide the best course of action is to do nothing and see what happens so we head back into the living room.
     She picks up a short story collection by Kurt Vonnegut that she had set down on the couch earlier and starts laughing me.  She nudges me and points to the page she had left the book open to.  The next story in the book was titled Go Back to Your Precious Wife and Son.

     Different woman on our first and only date.
     "So Paul, tell me something astonishing about yourself."
     Awkward silence.
     "Well, I'm an awesome dad and I have a big penis but those two don't have anything to do with each other."
     Awkward silence.
     "Check please."

     Different woman and things aren't going well.
     I text my friend, "Help me I'm in white trash hell."
    "How can I help?"
    "Call me and tell me you have car trouble so I have an excuse to leave."
    Phone rings, "Hello."
    My friend speaks loud enough for anyone within ten feet of my phone to hear, "Hi Paul.  Who has car trouble again, me or you?"

     There's more stories.   I didn't even include "She took away your pork rind privileges, didn't she?" or "He's the guy with the vasectomy and the clown nose."  Still, I'm no longer morose.  It's strange that my failures with women often cheer me up as much as they depress me but I'm strange after all so it only makes sense.  It might be the only thing about dating that does.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Happy Ending

     There are divorced people that don't deserve a happy ending but find it anyway.  They aren't good people and they do everything wrong.  They're selfish and prioritize their own happiness over everyone else's including their children's.  Yet, their lives makes a mockery of karma when they get exactly what they want.  Still, there are good divorced people that are dedicated to their children and actually learn from their previous mistakes that find exactly who they deserve and get their happily ever after on their second or third chance.
     There are divorced people that don't deserve a happy ending and don't get one.  They get exactly what they deserve by never getting married or marrying someone just like them and fans of karma stand and applaud.  Still, there are divorced people that deserve to meet someone new, someone good for them, who never do.  They get to the point where they either cling to someone not good for them out of fear of loneliness or they just accept loneliness as part of life and give up.
     Most divorced people don't fall into any of those groups.  For the rest of us there isn't a deserve or don't deserve.  We're neither saints nor sinners but just people that one thing didn't work out for so we hope to find another.  Deservedness nor karma really enter into it.  It's mostly about patience and luck and if our patience can last until luck comes along.  The bad news for us is that no one is entitled to love.  The good news for us is that there's a lot of love out there if we don't give up on it.
     Love is mostly luck.  That's something that most people don't acknowledge but probably should.  If we have it we like to think we earned it and if we don't we like to think we can earn it.  If you're happily married, though, think about how you met and how much luck was involved in it.  My parents met at a VFW function.  Given how active my dad and my mom's family were in VFW activities in that area is was probably likely that they would meet sooner or later.  They were active in the Veterans of Foreign Wars, though, because my mom's father and my father had both fought for their country.  Think about that.  If my grandpa hadn't fought in and survived World War II and my dad hadn't fought in and survived the Vietnam War my parents might have never met.
     It's not just about meeting each other either but meeting at the right time to be able to be with each other.  If the man is ready to settle down but the woman isn't yet, or vice versa, it's not going to work.  There's this myth that persists that love conquers all but it really doesn't.  Loves greatest rival is circumstance and love has lost out to circumstance a lot more than it's won.
     That's why love is harder to find for single parents.  The circumstances are less likely to be right.  I've had a couple of relationships not be able to actually become relationships because the demands of parenthood, and doing what is best for our children, meant we couldn't move closer to each other.  I had another relationship die because I was just learning the demands of being a single parent and neither of us were at a time in our lives where we could handle the adjustment and love too.  Circumstance is an even tougher opponent for love when you're a single parent.
     It isn't just circumstances, though.  Tonight I had to tell someone that I couldn't have a relationship with them because they have problems in their life that I couldn't have in a potential partner's life.  They were problems I, as a parent,  couldn't risk potentially bringing into my son's life.  If I ever do move in with someone or get remarried they are going to be one of the primary female influences, one of the primary influences of any kind, in my son's life just by virtue of being here.  Given that fact, I have to hold a potential partner to the same high standards as a potential parent as I hold for myself as a parent.  Since I often don't live up to those it's probably not fair to ask someone else too but love isn't fair.
     So to settle down again I have to not only meet the right person for me but I have to meet the right person for my son, I have to be the right person for them and their children if they have any, and I have to meet them at a time in their life when they are ready for me and all my baggage and a time in my life when I can handle them and their baggage.  Plus, I can't move to do it and I have limited chances to do it because I'm busy being a parent.  That's a lot of luck to ask for and I'll have to be really patient.
     I have to admit my patience is wearing thin, though, as it does for all single people from time to time.  Fortunately for me, I might do some stupid things out of loneliness but I'm not the type to end up in a relationship I don't want or need out of loneliness. Still, if you're single, your patience is dwindling, and you won't settle for less because of it then there's only two choices left.  I can either give up on the idea or focus my life on finding someone really quickly and become desperate.  I don't like either of those choices.  I suppose there are a couple of other choices.  I can whine about it on the internet or just get drunk and forget it.  I'm not above employing either of those strategies.
     Whenever I write something like this I get people telling me that I'm a great guy and I'll find someone.  That I just have to be patient.  I'm always flattered and grateful that people say that but it's not really what I want to hear.  Obviously, I know I have to be patient and I know I'm an alright guy.  What do I want then?
     Mostly, I want summer to be over and my son to be back home.  I want less time to myself and less time to think about all of this.  I want to be rushing to practices and cheering on the sidelines at football games.  I want to be talking about books and playing video games with my buddy.  I want him sitting on my lap making me watch silly videos on YouTube.  I want to be tucking him in every night and him hugging me and trying not to let me go anywhere.  Really, when I have all that I don't much think about not having anyone else.  That's my version of a happy ending and I get it in just a few weeks.  I think my patience can probably hold out that long.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The New Masculinity?

     In a recent post I wrote, "Masculinity is a confusing thing sometimes."  It seemed like a throwaway line but it didn't feel like it.  Every good man has times in his life when he wonders if he really is a good man.  With the combination of stubbornness and self doubt that sits like an unlit Molotov cocktail in my gut, pretty much my entire adulthood has been that time in my life.
     My son has a stepdad now.  He has for a while really but it becomes official in a week or so.  The book Rich Dad, Poor Dad was a crock because the poor dad wasn't that poor. Driving home to my crappy apartment in my truck that's missing the mirror on the passenger's side, it became pretty clear to me that I'm the real Poor Dad.  Providing financially has traditionally been one of the hallmarks of masculinity.  I provide though. My son has food and clothes and somehow is able to participate in any sports he'd like. Most of the time I don't think he notices much how we suffer financially.  We get by with a little help from our friends and family and yes, his mom and stepdad too.
     Still, sometimes my failings at the provider role get to me but then I remember I do provide.  I provide my son with a voice that reminds him to wear socks and underwear everyday and brush his damn teeth.  I provide him with an example that shows him to be himself and let the world think what they will.  I provide him with a friend that he knows is always there even when I have to provide him with authority and punish him.  I provide him with the confidence to question himself and everything around him and be a thinker. I provide him with someone to joke with and hang with and occasionally hug when he wants something.  I provide him with the knowledge that money isn't everything and that the important part of Poor Dad is the Dad part.  I provide him with a Dad and I feel manly because of that.  Maybe that's what is masculine now.
     There's a woman that I would like to be with that just doesn't go for guys like me.  I mean she'll date us and be friends with us but she doesn't want to be with us in a relationship.  She likes mechanics and manual laborers and guys that build stuff.  She gets turned on by guys that do stupid stuff with vehicles and talk about getting in fights.  Of course, I've done many stupid things in my life and I work a dirty, sweaty job but I don't talk about it much.  It doesn't seem to me to be much of what makes me, me.  Men have always defined themselves by their jobs.  Ask a man what he does and he'll respond that "I'm a carpenter" or "I'm a plumber."  He won't say "I work at..."  He'll say "I am."  I've always, instinctively, rejected that.  A man that reads Walt Whitman can't define himself by what he does for a living.
      Still, sometimes I wish I was more traditionally manly.  I wish I enjoyed working on cars and fixing things around the house instead of seeing them as chores that have to be done.  I wish I could carry myself in such a way that women would swoon because of how tough I appear.  That women may not want to be with me, though, but her son thinks I'm awesome.  He's good friends with my son but he wants to hangout with me sometimes even when my son isn't here.  Sometimes he even asks me for advice and actually listens. I'm a positive in his life by just being me and I feel pretty manly because of it.  I'll take a child's adulation over a woman going weak in the knees anytime.  Maybe, that's a new sort of masculinity.
     I write crap like this.  I admit my vulnerabilities and that I question myself.  Real men aren't supposed to and if they do they damn sure aren't supposed to admit it.  Manliness is being cocksure and strong and never thinking you might be wrong.  Action heroes are allowed a moment of introspection but they always emerge more confident with guns blazing.  I emerge with words but they are rarely blazing.  No matter how much I question myself, though, I keep on doing what needs to be done and in moments of crisis I'm actually pretty damned decisive.
     Still, I do wish I didn't question myself so much, and that I wasn't compelled to share it so much, but I can't help it.  I actually care if what I'm doing is right.  I give a shit if I'm a good person.  Knowing this, once they get to know me, makes people trust me.  They know that I'm going to be a part of their life safely.  Guys know that even if I were to develop a desire for their wife or girlfriend that I would never act on it and women know they can be around me without me doing anything they really don't want.  I might not be the kind of guy that walks in a room and instantly makes anyone feel safer and more sure of themselves but I'm the kind of guy that people can confide in and feel good about getting advice from.  People trust me with the safety of their secrets and their souls and I'm pretty proud of that.  Maybe, that's a new way of being a man.
     While I'm thinking of all of this, and questioning myself, I remember things, too.  I remember having men with more money than my dad being great influences on my life.  I also remember that never making me question my dad because he took care of me in ways no other man could.  I remember those men and my dad when I think about men and their jobs and how they appear to women and children.  I remember so many kids calling my dad, Dad and I remember my other fathers.  I remember that the men I admire most did a variety of things for a living but were always more proud of the effect they had on people's lives and I remember that those men always ended up with beautiful women.  I remember that the manliest moment I've ever seen was an old man crying and kissing his wife's forehead as he told the doctor she didn't want life support.  I remember that Steinbeck and Hemingway questioned themselves and admitted their vulnerabilities and women swooned over them.
     So I remember that this new masculinity that I think I have isn't that new and that I learned how to be a man from some damn good men.  I remember that questioning myself is really questioning those men too but I remember that it's okay because I learned from them that being tough enough to question yourself is manly.  I guess people just didn't talk about this type of true masculinity until it became the new masculinity. Either that or the loud, insisting, doubtless voices of boys claiming and pretending to be men just drowned them out.  Still, I'm glad I heard them and learned how to be a man.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

I Am A Night Owl

     I've always stayed up late into the night.  I don't know why.  I am the youngest child of a very loud family and the only place I could hide for peace and quiet was in the silence of the night.  That isn't the only reason, though.  For as long as I can remember, I've felt compelled to lay awake with my eyes open in the darkness.  Is it possible for a seven year old to hunger to stare into the void?
     When I was seven I would stare at the faint suggestion of a ceiling that my eyes could see, without my glasses, in the dark and I would listen to the Beastie Boys tape that my brother went to sleep to every night. It sounded like poetry to me and it still does.  I've since figured out that the poetry wasn't in the lyrics but in the grooves.  The poetry of life is so often found in the grooves and cracks.  There was something I learned right away too, though.  Something I didn't have to wait for age and wisdom to reveal to me.  Poetry can drive you fucking crazy.
     When I was fourteen I would mark my spot in the Stephen King book I was reading, turn off the lights, lay in bed, light my Marlboro Red, and stare at the fire that burned at the end of that cancer stick.  I thought I was so fucking cool.  I just knew I was destined to stay awake pondering the things no one else had the guts to ponder and then spend my days writing about them.  Even then, however, I somehow sensed destiny could be a tricky bitch and I wondered if I was actually going to end up in a mine or factory or something other working class job like the rest of my working class family.  That thought didn't bother me much.  After all, with the grades I was pulling down by going to school high everyday that possibility was far more likely.  Besides it was everyone else that thought I was destined for something special not me.  If those thoughts seem contradictory, well I was a teenager.
     When I was twenty-one I was already married and I worked two full time jobs.  After I finally got the gas station cleaned up in the middle of the night after September 11th, I found the darkest spot I could find in the parking lot.  Exhausted, I stared at the neon lights and the stars I could barely see and the burning end of a four in the morning cigarette.  I wondered what was becoming of the world and what the hell I could do about it.  Then I finished my smoke and went back to work.  I'm sure I wasn't alone in my late night pondering that night but when it came to shaking them off and getting going again I had an advantage over most people.  I was already well practiced at dealing with the thoughts that are thought in the darkness.
     When I was twenty-eight I would sneak out to the smoke shack at the factory where I worked and watch the deer graze in the moonlight.  I would puff my cigarette and ponder my life.  Mostly I would think about my marriage and wonder if it was worth it.  There wasn't anything apparently wrong but it didn't feel right either.  Still, in the middle of the night I would always decide everything was alright because I had my son and we were good parents and that was enough to keep going.  Obviously, she eventually decided differently but I doubt her decision was made in the middle of the night.  She never understood the light I could find in the darkness.
     When I'm thirty-five, well that's next year but I'm sure I'll still be awake when I should be sleeping.  Hopefully then when I'm laying in bed I see the glowing of the battery on an electronic cigarette or no glowing at all except for my evil cat's eyes.  I suppose it's even possible that I'll sleep more then but I'm not optimistic about it.  Of course, it's not yet two a.m.  Ask me again then.  I find my optimism in the dark.
     A strange thing has been happening lately, though.  Being at home alone, my son gone for the summer, the evenings have begun to feel like midnights.  As the days get longer my mind seems to ignore the sunlight and pretend it's dark except for the moon and stars.  I think about things I don't normally think about except for in the middle of the night.  I think about the Beastie Boys and poetry, destiny and what I'm doing with my life, the world and what it's coming too, love and family, and, of course, nicotine.  Summer has become the season of the hours before dawn for me.
     Some of you reading this will think it sounds depressing and grim and far too heavy and dark.  Some of you will get it, though.  Some of you will know.  These thoughts in the dark, of the dark, are what keep me going.  They are what get me up in the morning when I manage to get up in the morning.  Sometimes I don't because I am a night owl and as much as I complain about not sleeping I don't think I'll ever be any other way.  I'll always rather hoot at the moon than bathe in the sunshine.