Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Fucking Hell I Hate That I Have To Do This

More than a few times I've written about finding the funny in dark places. I've made jokes about my wife's cancer, my dad's death, being molested.

Nothing is not funny if you look for it.

Nothing is off limits.


Because finding the funny in the darkest of places in your life is always a win against whatever trial it is that has you in that dark place.

But just because I find the funny in the midst of pain doesn't mean I want to explain the part of it that hurts.

That's the damndest thing about jokes - if you have to explain them, they stop being funny.

So when I put Lucy Liu down I didn't want to talk about it with the fucking world. I told people I knew would be affected and a few close friends.

It's my story, I can tell it to whomever the fuck I want and I owe no one else any part of it.

So I told a joke. A stupid, cringeworthy fucking pun of a shit joke. It made me laugh. It helped.

Just a fucking joke.

I shared the joke and someone else decided to tell my story.

So here we are.

Now I have people commenting and whining about my fucking joke.

So yes, Lucy Liu is dead. I had her put down after she attacked Dexter and put him in the doggy ER.

No, I do not have a single fuck to give about your opinion on the matter regarding my options of rehoming her, finding a no death shelter, blah, blah, fucking blah.

She damn near killed a member of my family. She is lucky I did not slit her fucking throat myself.

That said, I bawled my fucking eyes out at animal control.

She was my favorite dog in a lifetime of dog ownership.

She had one fucking job: DO NOT HURT DEXTER.

Five fucking times she did.

The last time snap a bone clean in half and put more holes in him than Bonnie and Clyde's car.

So this fucking thing has sucked and I had no desire to blast it on social media.

The joke was fucking perfect. It was horrible. It made you cringe, then left you relieved. It got out my frustration.

Remember boys and girls, it is never your place to tell anyone else's story.


God I am fucking annoyed.

Monday, May 6, 2019

Red Puffy Jacket

Being back home I find my brain taking me back to little moments on our recent trip. TGB's retirement tour 2019. The boy on a field trip with his class who held his hand out for a proper handshake, everyone walking by until I came across him and looked him in the eye, took his small hand and shook. He smiled, met my eyes and, nodded. His face glistened with little boy sweat, his cheeks rosy from the sun, his black hair slightly disheveled on purpose.

The busker in Marseilles with his dog who would sing along. God, we loved that fucking dog.

The food. Jesus fuck, the food. The Ibiza chorizo, the Venetian tiramisu, the cheese. So. Much. Cheese. 

But mostly, I spend a lot of time thinking about a girl I saw on the beach that day in Spain.

On the boat portion of the trip we had a habit of getting off at most ports, wandering, parking ourselves at a sidewalk cafe and just being. We spent a lot of days in different ports of Spain. On this particular day we were in Malaga. We walked a mile or two to get away from the boat crowd and found ourselves in a little cafe. Alone.

I don't remember our breakfast. I do remember coffee, always coffee. I remember a handsome young server in a blue shirt.

And I will never forget a little girl.

As we sat facing the Alboran Sea, she came into view from the west, ever so slowly. Her father walked with her, his hands behind his back in that very European sort of way. He talked and she seemed not to listen. Her purpose, not clear to me at first, seemed to occupy the whole of her. In her right hand, attached to her forearm up to her elbow, was a crutch. As she turned ever so slightly in my direction I could see that the right side of her face was covered in a bandage, in part, securing something attached to her nose. She had the beginnings of a growth of hair just starting to peak out of the top of her head.

She wore a big, red, puffy jacket that seemed to swallow the whole of her.

I was entranced. I watched as she stopped every so often... to catch her breath? Her father would lean down to check on her and each time she would wave him off.

Then I saw where she was going. The beach had an assortment of equipment for exercise and for fun. She was headed towards the zipline. It wasn't particularly tall, maybe ten feet off the ground from its base. It didn't go particularly far, maybe twenty yards.

As she approached, her father put his hand on her back and said something to which she simply nodded. He walked to the end of the zipline and retrieved the seat.

She approached the ramp and laid her crutch down. I couldn't look away, but grabbing my camera seemed grotesque to me. I felt I would be stealing something precious that wasn't mine. 

So I watched as she tried to walk, then crawl up the ramp. Her father, slowly bringing the seat over to her. It took a minute or two where it would take anyone else but seconds to get to the top. In that minute or two I saw the kind of courage and determination that is unique to survivors of the worst in this life.

Whatever her affliction, it did not reach her soul. It did not defeat her.

When she got to the top she took some time to catch her breath, sit on the rope, adjust whatever it was that her red puffy jacket hid, and reassure her father that she was okay. When he seemed as sure as a father could be, he picked up her crutch then he walked back to the end from whence he came, and waited.

That little girl launched herself. Her expression never changed. There was no joyous shouts, no giggles, no big smiles. She got to her father, got off the seat, took her crutch and, walked back to the other side and did it again.

Same slow crawl up, same adjustments, same deep breaths. And she was off once again.

Twice she rode the zipline. Then it was time to go. This time her father's hand was on her shoulder. Just in case.

Maybe she did it because fuck you, I'm still a kid and you are not taking that from me. Or maybe she just likes ziplines.

But I know that I have been scared since then. And I know that I think about that kid's courage and I realize how lucky I am and, maybe, how silly I am being. Not that my fears are frivolous, just that, maybe I can be as brave as a little girl in a red puffy jacket.

I should at least try. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

I think music is in good hands

I got sick on a boat. Again. I blame sick people going out in public when they should have stayed home.

There is a special hell for people like that. One that burns a few degrees hotter than regular hell.

Suffice to say (suffice it is NOT a fucking thing, stop it you sound silly) I spent over half our cruise in bed and not in a fun way.

Now that I am a captain, you should buy me a boat. We can start a charter business. You can be the silent partner and I can drive. You're welcome for the sound investment advice.

A stupid person posted a link to one of those conspiracy theory sites yesterday that states climate change is crap. All the sited links went back to other articles on the same site. I found myself hoping he has children so they can inherit the broken world their daddy believes isn't broken.

Then I realized, my god, I am a terrible human being for thinking that way.

Then I sipped my coffee perfectly content with this self-knowledge.

I wrote a thing a few weeks back and I got a message from a dear friend telling me that I hurt them with my words.

I considered what I wrote, considered my friend's point of view and apologized. Not one of those, I'm sorry you took offense kind of shit apologies either. It was a legit, I hurt you, I fucked up, I am sorry apologies.

I tell you this to remind you that I am a better person than you even when I fuck up.

I tell myself that because I fuck up a lot more often than not and it keeps me from hating myself.

Have a day.

Postscript - I had no idea who H.E.R. was before the Grammy Awards. TGB tried telling me about her, but I was sick and couldn't hear out of that ear. Now? I am all in. This performance made me a fan.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

A bit of a rant on politics and that time Jason Momoa made me cry

So... where were we?

Our president is still a racist pile of shit, but at least he has a cool new nickname.

President Motherfucker.

He announces we are pulling out of Syria and his daddy says that's a great start, but what about Afghanistan? and seemingly twenty minutes later Motherfucker-in-Chief announces we're getting out of there as well.

Now end the shutdown you motherfucking shit gibbon.

We got a new Governor. A republican. In Florida. I am as surprised by that as you are.

DeSantis has actually surprised a lot of people in a short time. Science is like an actual thing to his administration. To that end he is going after the sugar companies to try to save our water from their dumping and the government officials that enabled them. So, fuck yeah!

Meanwhile, Rick Scotts, the political dogshit stuck on your shoe whose smell follows you everywhere, is now our Senator.

Dear Democrats, stop shitting on AOC. Stop telling her that personality is not important. In my lifetime, you dumbasses lost three elections to two very beatable candidates (Bush II & President Motherfucker) because your alternatives to them all had the personality of fucking driftwood. And if you think personality doesn't matter your dumbasses did not pay attention to the last presidential election. You don't have to agree with her on every policy issue - hell, I don't - but for fuck sake, she is a refreshing change from so many crotchety, this is the way we've always done it, uninspiring old fucks like most of you in Congress.

Plus, she gets people engaged in the process! We NEED more of that shit!

Finally, I saw Aquaman. I like Jason Momoa. I think he has a cool little niche. But I was caught off guard by one scene where he calls his dad pops. Suddenly, I was in that moment when I got that call and I lost it for a bit. I let myself feel it, wiped my eyes, and carried on. It's been almost twelve years. I suspect it will creep up on me from time to time until I die. My point is simple, grief is not something to get over. It's a thing to carry and, sometimes, it has to come out and walk a bit with you. Let it. No matter how long it's been. You're not weird for it, you're not broken, you're not stupid.

You're human.

Let yourself be.

Have a day.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Six Years

I might finally have enough internet to get back to this regularly.

I have a lot of thoughts, but today I am fixated on the one thing: sobriety. Six years now.

But any alcoholic will tell you that it isn't one lump sum, it's a string of single days, hours, moments, even seconds that just happen to coalesce into a single unit of measure.

There was a moment a few months after day one when I walked onto a boat and was overcome with anxiety, salivating like a madman for a drink. My amazing wife stopped in the middle of this big ship and, knowing only that AA is something to do with a higher power, offered to pray with me if I needed it.

The courage it took to fight for my sobriety with me in that moment without hesitation. That is some badass shit.

I We made it through that moment.

I was driving to Cleveland from Chicago via a stop in Indiana to replace a bandwagon I had busted up. The entire drive I was white knuckling it, cranking Jason Isbell to repeat the mantras that might keep me clean for the day.

When I got to Cleveland I wanted to get to a bar and get blackout drunk.

My friends Todd and Keith were waiting upon our arrival.

I'm a hugger. A good one I have been told. But when I hugged Todd I was less hugging and more holding on for dear life. He didn't know then that he was holding me up when I wanted so very badly to collapse.

My friend Katie K, my best friend Kris, my brother Anthony, have all held me up when I thought I might otherwise fall; they were strong for me when I couldn't find the strength within myself.

I'm forgetting more than I remember, but I feel it is not hyperbole to say that you have probably held me up once or twice.

A stupid meme.

A card.

A Christmas ornament.

Little things that remind me of the beauty I would miss if I ever picked up again.

Don't tell TGB, but, the best of all of that is when I wake up and she's sleeping and I get to just look at her face. That fucking face. That's when I thank god for one more day sober. One more day alive. One more day with this person.

Have a day.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

I Guess I Was Off By One Day

Yesterday I posted that it was the four year anniversary of us closing on Chez Martinez - our home in Mexico Beach. Facebook just reminded me that today is the anniversary.

Four years ago our home was a beautiful place in a beautiful town.

Today is a wet mess in need of a new roof and some new walls.

Our town is much, much worse off.

My friend asked me to write an essay for his book detailing how I am handling the stress. I've written thousands of words and it always comes back to one simple sentence: I am faking it.

Not in a fake it til you make it sort of way. No. I am faking it because the alternative is to crumble.

Sometimes I crumble anyway.

And I find myself angry a lot more. Contractors, the city, insurance agencies... sometimes it feels like they're all conspiring to make recovery as difficult as possible. I may know better logically, but when you are taking three steps back for every step forward logic seems like a fickle bitch.

Although, between you and me, the city is being a bit of a twat. They sent out letters, with no documented proof, stating that our home was more than 50% damaged by the hurricane (it wasn't) and now I have to jump through hoops to disprove what they - wait for it - haven't actually sent proof of.

Don't pity me. I knew going into this that there was going to be fights. I may have been naive in expecting the city to be more of an ally than adversary, but here we are.

Like everyday over the last couple of months I will dust myself off, remember that I am a badass, and start over.

When it happens - and it will - that it all starts to feel a bit too much, I will lean into my wife, squeeze my dog, scream a few expletives, cry, and then get on with it.

Four years ago today we closed on our dream home.

Nothing is going to steal that away from us.

Have a day.

Monday, November 19, 2018

November 19 again.

Anymore, on November 18th I go to bed knowing the next day is going to be different from the others.

This time I woke up, checked FB on the phone as I laid in bed and thought, well, at least he didn't live to see just how batshit crazy his oldest daughter has become. 

After twelve years I can laugh about things my dad is missing being dead.

The thing about death-iversaries is that they are so absolute that you can prepare for them.

What you cannot prepare for is the conversation with the Ssgt about her mom dying not even three months ago. You can't prepare for the surge of rage you feel when she tells you about the absentee dad who tells her she should be past it now, it's been three months.

You also cannot prepare to feel the loss anew as you explain to her that nobody but no-fucking-body can tell her how to grieve. And sure as shit, nobody can tell her when it stops hurting because it never does. It just changes. Slowly.

And one day that thing that made you cry, that song, that smell, that photo, that whatever, might suddenly make you smile. Maybe even laugh. That is all part of the grieving journey.

We both started to cry a little and we both instinctively knew we were safe. This other member of the club made it so.

This past year alone my best friend has joined the club. So have at least three other friends.

To them I say this: welcome to the club. Tell me about your dad, your mom, your uncle/aunt/grandparent who raised you.

And make no mistake, if you had a shit bio-parent and were fortunate enough to have your own Uncle Charlie it matters every bit as much. Anyone tries to make you feel like it is somehow less than losing a parent you send them to me and I will put a foot in their ass.

As I write this I am not sad. I am acutely aware of what happened 12 years ago today.

My dad woke up alive.

At the end of the day, he was not.

I had my phone turned off because I was watching the Chargers.

The next morning I had a full vmailbox so I called that same crazy sister and heard those words.

Those words we all know we are going to hear at some point in our life but, we live our lives as if they'll never come.

We pretend we can shoot that text, make that call, give that hug the next time we see them.

We forget that we are going to get that call one day.

Then it comes and for the rest of your life there are moments that will remind you, I wish I had done... but you didn't because you got that call before you could.

Okay, that last part was a bit of a tangent.

I need coffee.

Have a day.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The storm has passed

Apparently we've had some weather in Mexico Beach.

Our house is standing, but it is battered and bruised. I like to think Chez Martinez whispered to Hurricane Michael, do thy worst and then laughed in his face when he rolled out of town like a bully punched in the mouth.

Chez Martinez is a cultured badass.

At times it has been overwhelming. At times it has been inspiring. I always wondered what the Red Cross does with all the $10 texts and now I know. They feed us. They provide household necessities to us. They say yes anytime we ask for help of any kind. And they do it with a smile.

I have also been thinking a lot about a song.

I live in the deep south and, while this city has actually voted pretty progressively, we are still Trump country. But none of that has mattered. Hippies (yes, we have a few), blacks, whites, gays, Trumpsters... all of us have asked only one thing of each other: how can I help? Hell, I went from being the only Mexican in Mexico Beach to being the only Mexican who doesn't speak Spanish. Nobody has asked if they are here legally, nobody has told them to speak English, everybody has simply said thank you and offered them food, water and, an extended hand.

This is the America I have always known. This is the America that has always been great. This is precisely why America will always be great.

In the midst of all of this kindness and parking of political bullshit I keep hearing Frank sing to me...

Take a breath
Try these for size
I don't know
I've changed my mind

There is something good in us all. I wish more than anything it didn't take a tragedy like a natural bomb to bring it out in us.

I love you, awesome nerds.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

This song was playing in my head and these words came out

Just like most (if not all) women have a #metoo story, I think most of us men have a story of making a woman feel like less than. I am not implying that we have all raped a woman or, even been guilty of behaving so deplorably it rises to the level of causing a #metoo moment. I am simply saying that most men have, at some point, and maybe more than once, acted like complete and utter dumbasses towards women.

And if you, as a man, can say I've never been a dumbass towards women, I promise, you know a guy who has.

You should smile more.

My eyes are up here. 

Does that shake come with fries?

You get the idea now, right?

Or worse, we've been dismissive when a woman we know or, love shares her #metoo story.

Like most posts, I don't know that I have a point.

As a guy who has been a pig a time or twelve in my life,  I don't think it's asking too much of us men to shut up and listen.

I don't think it's too much to ask us to say, I believe you.

And mean it.

And behave accordingly.

We have to do better.

Have a day.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Representation Matters

A couple of nights ago I was watching the finale of So You Think You Can Dance and as the four finalists stood on stage, an immigrant, a Dominican, a Filipina and, an all American Blonde were standing there on stage, it hit me: this is fucking beautiful.

I get my balls busted for watching shows like SYTYCD and The Voice and a few other shows (as I should). And really, it started out as nothing more than an excuse to curl up on the couch with TGB.

But as the years have gone on and we've witnessed white-washing of ethnic characters in movies and tiki-torches being bust out the moment someone hints at a black Bond these silly little shows have come to matter a great deal more to me.

A Ukrainian kid who learned English as a second language as an immigrant was up there doing his thing.

A brown skinned Dominican girl who doubted herself blossomed into this fucking badass. I thought about my nieces and, in my head, told them be like her.

A pretty little blonde girl, every bit the girl next door, turned in some of the not-so-girl-next-doorest performances and reminded me that what you see is not the sum of what someone is. Her space was hers and she absolutely owned every inch of it.

And finally, that petite Filipina - the girl TGB expected to win from the get go - blew the doors off the competition.

As we sat there watching them pare down from four to three, then three to two, then finally on to crowning this season's winner I caught myself getting a lump in my throat.

The last performance of the night - a night when they bring back their favorite performances of the season - was my favorite of the season. A man fighting the ideal of what being a man means in the first place. A gay, black man.

Somewhere some kid is watching this show and seeing him or herself up on that stage.

That absolutely matters.

It's not just SYTYCD either.

On Ink Master, watching Oliver Peck encourage a gay, black tattoo artist to keep fighting because he encourages others who, just twenty years ago, would have been unaccepted in the industry matters.

Or The Voice taking people who look not the way you expect pop stars to look because, lord, they can sing.

These shows aren't just silly brain candy.

They do that thing Hollywood has struggled to do.

They represent the sum of us. They put what is best of this country on display. That is a beautiful thing.

TGB ended up being right, as usual. That amazing little Filipina won this season. And, while we know they couldn't hear us from our living room, we cheered because, fuck yeah!

Have a day.

Monday, August 27, 2018

A few lines of dribble

I have a difficult time apologizing for a thing I say if I believe that thing to be true.

Neil Simon shaped a lot more of my thinking than I would ever be able to articulate. #theaterkid

I honestly thought Robin Leach died years ago. I also thought he was in his 70s when he was doing Lifestyles.

I never wanted to be a dad but, sometimes I meet a kid and think, if I had a kid I would want her to be like you. 

Then I think, but, she wouldn't be so I would end up fucking hating her. That little bitch.

I think people think I am better than I am.

I wish I was as good a husband as people think I am.

My friend Shelby should cover Not The Doctor. With her voice I think it would be one of those rare covers I enjoy more than the original. And I FUCKING LOVE the original.

It's not a woman's job to fix your broken shit, man.

I voted for John McCain in two primaries.

Never voted for him in a Presidential General Election.

I've voted in every Presidential election since 1992 (the first one I could vote in) and 2012 was the first time I voted for a democrat.

Tomorrow is an election day.

I think about leaving the US a lot.

I think about California seceding a lot.

I wish.

I want to watch less football than I did last season but, I'd miss Charlie and Anthony so I probably will still watch.

I get paid to drive a boat on weekends because the last guy who did it wouldn't drive into a storm. It is expected of me.

Storms come fast and hard.

I wrote that sentence for you to giggle.

You're welcome.

Have a day.