Storytelling is basically just art, flame, and spastic eels until the truth comes through.

This story is part of my long-languishing semi-fictionalized memoir of the “year of singleness” after my (now ex-) wife and I separated, and before I met Amy. I first wrote this bit up in response to a question someone asked about “people who look like they’d be amazing, but are actually terrible in the sack.”

It’s the genesis of a chapter in a book I’ve been working on since November of 2012. It’s not edited for tone or fit, but this is largely the story I’ll tell though I’ll tell it from a less blatantly direct perspective eventually.

Back in the dark ages of online dating, when flip phones and blue Nokia bricks were the smartest phones we had, I watched my marriage of eleven years flush itself down a swirling toilet of apathy, emotional betrayal, suppressed disappointments, and irrational acts of senseless interpersonal destruction.

My soon-to-be-ex-wife lived in the apartment exactly one flight of stairs down the sidewalk from mine. I had to walk past her window every time I went to or from my car. I was heavily invested in my delusion that she would suddenly “wake up” and run back into my arms and into my life. I did tremendously doormat-ish things, like cook her breakfast, pay her horse boarding bill, and clean the stall of an animal that pretty much personified the nature of our relationship: mean, angry, unpredictable, expensive, and generally ignored ninety percent of the time. All of which meant that I was obviously ripe for that bastion of emotional health and relationship nirvana: eHarmony. Continue reading

Waiting, Changing, and Fighting

People often ask me “How do you keep going?” It’s a silly question.

Quincy Behind Bars

My daughter is in the CICU at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta – Egleston, and if you want to know more about it you can follow on her fundrazr page where I’ve put far more details that I don’t want to type again. She also has a Facebook page with more pictures and updates and stuff.

If you know me personally, or you’ve read some of my past stuff, you’re aware that fourteen years ago I spent seven days in the NICU with my first child. He didn’t survive. It was very difficult.

An ICU stay with my infant child is pretty much my personal worst level of hell; it’s the nightmare I can’t wake up from. I can safely say I would rather entertain rabid howler monkeys with a sock-puppet made from my own scrotum than spend so much as one more minute in a C/N/PICU with my child. And yet, this is the ticket that I’ve punched, this is the journey that I get to make again. Continue reading

Hiatus

Life is funny. I have days where I feel like I’ve just about spent everything in me to shove some professional rock up some professional hill and for all that effort I made headway that MIGHT be measurable with a microscope if it’s REALLY powerful and you look REALLY close. I end those days tired, frustrated, and generally not in the best frame of mind. Yesterday was one of those days. It just sucked for no good reason, and it was a challenge pretty much from the moment the alarm went off until long after midnight.

But something else happened yesterday. Some friends of mine on Facebook said something really nice about my writing over there. It instantly lifted my whole day, and I was honestly touched by their kind words and the words other friends added to the conversation.

Late in that conversation another friend said “If you had a blog, I’d read it” which amused me because my blog is directly linked from my profile and hardly a secret. But I’m not much for self promotion, so there’s not exactly a huge glowing neon sign that says “Nick Blogs Over Here” with an arrow pointing this way. Still, I figured I should take the opportunity and I put up a link to this blog and to serialstoryteller.com so friends who want to read more of my writing know where to find it.

Then someone very kindly pointed out that the landing page is a bit of a mess right now, as I left off abruptly when NaNoWriMo started and I haven’t really been back since.

So, some explanation. This blog is sort of my “anecdotes from my life” which I try to keep humorous or at least interesting as I write them. There’s a lot of general stream of consciousness stuff as well, or just updates and picture sets and whatnot. But there’s also some stuff here that’s very personal, and that I’m honestly very proud of.

Someone asked “you wrote a LOT of stuff, and some of it is REALLY long, what should I start with?” and I thought that was a pretty good question.

I’m not sure what’s “the best” but off the top of my head, I’m the most proud of the following (in no particular order):

163 States of Compassion (a glimpse into my spirituality, which I’m hoping to see published this year in a revised form)
If you waxed this you’d get less smurf on your hands (my high-school wheels and the music that drove us)

The “What I’m Looking For” series (a sort of autobiography set against the lyrics of the U2 song of the same name)
especially Line 9 (how I ended up at Gem State…and how generations of fathers and sons affect each other)
an Line 12 (one random day in a college art class)
and Line 13 (my first time…sort of…it’s complicated)

Also, I reposted three posts from my older blog Dead Charming:
He Knows the Hour and the Day (about my Son’s death and the difficulty of divorce)
Something Old Made New Again (about the first girl I loved)
and How Sweet Life Is (the eulogy I gave for my Wenatchee Gramma)

Going forward, I’m focusing on my fiction writing, which I’ll be posting/working through over on serialstoryteller.com as the muse strikes. And I need the muse to strike because I have had some developments on that front and I’m basically committed to writing another 75k words of fiction between now and the end of July.

In the short-term, I suspect that mybadpants.com will be “on hiatus” like a middling sit-com during sweeps. I’ll be back here, writing more tales from a sometimes interesting life soon, but not too soon.

The 163 States of Compassion

“The silence of sitting will tell you everything you need to know.”

It was the kind of fortune-cookie bullshit you hear a lot of at Zen meditation retreats offered in Northern California by Northern Californians. Actually, that’s not fair. You get that kind of bullshit in Portland or Seattle or Denver or New York too, but this dose of bullshit was the first cohesive collection of words I’d heard in what felt like forever – and it wasn’t helping.

There’s this point in an intensive meditation retreat where you’ve been actively concentrating on your breathing and your posture and how your knees are now made of concrete and that the small of your back is the all-consuming heart of a great vortex of pain that is actually absorbing the pain from all living beings for hundreds of miles around you and compressing it into a perfect symphony of agony composed in a language of utter suffering that you will sing through clenched teeth until you finally embrace the sweet release of death.

I had passed that point something like a lifetime (or at least forty-five minutes) ago, and what I was not prepared for was a lesson on sitting in silence. I was ready to flex my legs, stand up, bend backwards until I cracked my back like a machine gun, and then reconsider the life choices that had led me to think a three-day retreat in the middle of nowhere between Ukiah and Clear Lake California was “exactly what I needed.”

Truth be told, I had no idea what I needed.

Zen and the art of divorce and self-discovery after the cut…

What a pain in the…chest

Enough time has passed that I’m no longer completely freaked out by this, so I’ll explain in some detail what I meant in my recent update by “heart attack.”

By which I meant that I had a heart attack. Like, in my heart.

Let’s start by hopping into the Way-Back Machine and going to a little time I like to call “the week after my birthday, on a Tuesday night in mid-April.” Or something. Anyway, let’s set the scene: It’s after midnight, we’re in bed, the lights are off, two dogs are snoring on each side of us which fills the room with the white-noise of safety, and I’m asleep.

I find myself being pulled out of my dream state by an incredible sense of generally decentralized pressure. As I’m coming to, my sleep-addled brain draws the conclusion that Roxanne, our 120 pound Great Dane, has climbed onto the bed and is attempting to sleep on my chest. I thrash about a bit as I try to push her off, only to discover that she wasn’t on me, or the bed, or even my side of the room…in point of fact she was on her own bed in the corner, and probably looking at me like I was insane.

Then I decide that I must have become wrapped up and bound in the comforter. Amy refers to this phenomenon as “being burritoed” and has accused me of doing this to her on purpose in the past, so obviously she was trying to get some kind of explanatory revenge…except that the comforter was in a wad down under my knees.

At this point I came to the only remaining logical conclusion: our mattress was possessed by a poltergeist…

Everything you ever wanted to know about diagnosing Congestive Heart Failure from the patient perspective…

Reactions

Sometimes I write something and I get a reaction that surprises me. Sometimes I’m simply surprised a long time later when someone remembers or comments on one of my past posts months (or even years) later. Sometimes I surprise myself by reaching out to someone who’s writing has evoked strong reactions in me.

In the last six months I’ve had one of each of these.

Last fall I wrote up a personal review of how Catherynne Valente’s Faryland stories had affected me and how I had come to feel about them. I hit publish, and I fully expected to hear a couple of responses from my regular readers and that’s it. Instead the review got linked by a couple of Sci-Fi/Fantasy aggregators and linked on a couple of twitter feeds, about five hundred people stopped by to read it, and it resulted in the following:

Tweet

I can honestly say that I had no expectation of ever writing something that the author of the book would ever see. I was honored that it affected her, and I spent about 48 hours walking about six feet off the ground.

On a more personal level, I’ve written about someone I grew up with and who was personally, emotionally, and romantically significant to me during my school years. I changed names, I protected the innocent, and I used to write under a reasonable vale of anonymity. Anonymity and Facebook are not friends. I’ve had several posts end up connected back to my Facebook profile in the last few months, and through a chain of events that person arrived here. And read everything.

And then sent me an email on Facebook.

Without betraying a confidence, I will say that the last thing she said was “but you should know I have never thought of you as ‘that weird kid I grew up with'”.

Which almost made me cry. Years later, years after first putting how I have always felt into words…finally something redeeming came out of that exercise. I carry plenty of demons around in my personal closet of dark-things-that-lurk-in-the-night; but now I carry one less.

The experience has deeply inspired me to return to writing about things from my own past, even if I find the writing uncomfortable. So the “What I’m Looking For” series once again has a chance at actually seeing completion.

Finally, I “manned up” a week ago and sent a fan letter of sorts to a blogger that I really admire and who moves me almost every time he posts. And to my complete shock, on my birthday, he emailed me back. He had encouraging words, he let me know he’d stopped by my own little outpost of creativity and liked what he read, and asked if there was more to come. And that was the final kick in the pants.

Yes. There is more to come.

[Word Count: 475]

What happened to that “Bad Pants” guy?

A part of me feels bad that I went to the effort of revamping the site only to post one book review (albeit a review of the best book I’ve read in a long LONG time) and then disappear again. I actually do have more to write; I have much more I want to say, and get out, and write through…but I’ve been a bit busy. I know, I know, we all say “I’ve been busy” and it is a kind of lame excuse, and I recognize that it is just an excuse, but as these things go I do have something to back up my continuing tardiness:

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!!!
New Home

We’re right in the middle of moving seventy-five miles out to Monroe Georgia…but it’s worth it. This is the last move I’ll ever make. I’ve spent the last week working my ass off and NOT getting the packing done. This weekend, the office, the storage room, the kitchen and the dining room will be packed. OS has busted out our bedroom and the kids rooms already, and she’s well on her way to having the tack consolidated and the living room ready.

If I can get my stuff “done” then I get to sit on my vacationing ass and write and play Skyrim. There’s a LOT of incentive to get done before the Moving truck gets here Wednesday morning.

If I don’t post again before the big move (and let’s be honest, I won’t), then I’ll just say “Happy Thanksgiving” and “see you all online from Monroe!”

Decide. Commit. Succeed.

In the early summer of 2004 more than a decade of poor health choices caught up with me. It’s was hard to think of it as a decade of poor health choices, and if you’d have asked me about my health up to that point I’d have described it as “fair.” Which would have been grossly inaccurate.

When I was in high school, I remember how frustrated I was that I could never gain weight. Perhaps that doesn’t make sense from a mid-thirties perspective, but when you’re seventeen and weigh a-buck-forty at five-eleven (and one-forty was probably after a heavy meal and wearing a winter jacket soaked in water…or concrete), all you want is to “bulk up.”

I ran everyday, I had “a runner’s body,” and I hated it. My best friend had a naturally broad build with a thick chest and strong shoulders. He looked like the cover model from romance novels…and it drove me crazy. My jealousy was both good-natured and palpable.

I ate everything. And a lot of it. When I was actively running regularly and working manual labor jobs for six hours a day, I estimate I was consuming somewhere in the neighborhood of 5000-8000 calories a day. And I didn’t gain a pound. Not one.

Some of the most embarrassing photos of my life…

1827 days

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In a few hours I will have completed thirty-five trips around the sun. This isn’t a tremendous accomplishment, for the most part I was just along for the ride and hanging on for dear life; and based on the average maximum age of the men on both sides of my family, I’ve got about ninety years in me, so I’m still a decade away from half way there.

Still, a friend of mine pointed out a few days ago that thirty-five is “the age when even the elderly don’t think you’re young anymore.” That kind of hit me.

Birthdays Past and a list for the future…

If you waxed this, you’d get less smurf on your hands.

The last time I wrote about the van I drove for two years in high school, mockingly dubbed “The Smurfmobile” by friends, I noticed that I only recalled fond memories. This amuses me because when I was driving it, I wasn’t fond of it at all. Not ever. Not for even one moment.

When I was sixteen, I didn’t think fondly of “my” van because it wasn’t even my van; it was my Grandma’s van that she had bought for her drapery business and taken all of the benches out of except the one in the back. It smelled like an old van. It LOOKED like an old van. And to a sixteen-year-old kid, it was about as cool as Dan Quayle. I was perpetually “borrowing” it, even though my grandma had no use for it and had her own little Subaru that she drove regularly, it never EVER was “mine” by any stretch of the imagination.

Yet, I had no reason to despise it. It never broke down, it never failed me, it never caused any issue that I can ever remember. It just trucked along like the old, true-blue trooper that it was.

Memories of a van, a bonfire by a lake, and the music of 1992…