November 28, 2014: Three Good Things

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As I promised my Facebook followers, I am moving this regular post here to my blog and letting WordPress promote it back to Facebook. At the end of the day, I list three good things that happened during the day. This gives me a positive thing to look back on if I ever think my life isn’t anything but pain and suffering.

Today’s good things:

1. My wife came home early from work, and I got to spend an extra hour and a half with her today that I wouldn’t normally be able to during the week.

2. I realized (and wrote about, in another post) that my checklist, when complete, is essentially giving me permission to go to bed when my brain is insisting that I do otherwise. On days like today, it’s especially important that I try to get everything checked off so I don’t feel like I’m missing anything by not staying up.

3. This is the one I’ve been waiting all day to talk about. Today I took the plunge and applied for financial aid to go back to school for my associate’s degree in social work. It will help me with my stated goal of returning to the workforce as a peer support specialist, plus it opens the door for a job as a caseworker and furthers the possibility of pursuing a higher education. I don’t know if I’m ready. I’ve spent almost thirty years of my adult life asking myself that question. I’m tired of asking and wondering. It’s time to DO.

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Thus Falls the Night

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I’m at that critical part of my evening where my mood is darkening. It comes with fatigue, the sense that I should have accomplished more with my day, and the feeling of disconnection as people I know are retiring for the night. My mind races, trying to find anything to do to keep me alert and awake and aware. There must be something to do in this apartment.

Dishes are done. The dishwasher just needs detergent and a turn of the dial to do its duty this evening. The counters are cleaned, the coffee is made for the morning and the timer is set.

The house is, for the most part, clean. I could, in theory, dust and vacuum, but it’s late at night and I don’t want to disturb the adjoining neighbors.

My checklist is designed, in part, to give me that permission to go to bed. As of right now, I’m missing yoga, a quick brush of the teeth, and my list of good things that happened today and I’m done. There’s no more list, there’s nothing else left to do today. I can sleep.

And yet I can’t turn my mind off.

Tonight may need to be spent with the relaxation app running. It’s a programmable sound machine that can add as many sounds as I like to create a safe space for my mind to focus on as I drift off to sleep. I can have a babbling brook amidst crickets and frogs, or I can create a loop of Chinese music with the wind blowing through the trees. I always forget that I sleep better with the machine on, but tonight, I might need to create that sanctuary for me to ease off to dreamland.

I wish my mind came with a switch. Hopefully yoga will help. I might surrender to a long, hot shower before bed.

Please, let me get some sleep tonight. It already feels like a rough, lonely night going in.

Friday Fiction: Feeding the Fire

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I’m up late (early?) again, and found myself considering my entertainment options, so here I am.

This may or may not be the start of a new feature on this blog called Friday Fiction. The idea is for me to crank out at least one new short story a week, to hone my writing skills. I figure that if I make it a habit, it’ll be more effective. So here’s the first installment of Friday Fiction, alliteratively titled “Feeding the Fire.” Hope you enjoy it.


He sat in an easy chair, contemplating the universe as filtered through a glass of scotch on the rocks.

So many lost opportunities in my life, he thought to himself. I could have had a career in the military. I could have gone to school. I could have been somebody.

He knocked back the scotch, got up, refreshed his drink and sat back down in the spot he left by the fireplace. There were a few flickers of dancing orange flame, but the fire was burning down to embers. It was the only light in the dimming room.

The dying fire was a focal point for his frustrations with life. What could he have become? How much more grand could his life have been without the job struggles, the financial failures, the hesitant starts and stops in his journey.

He was wracked with guilt about what could have been and filled with fear about what was to come.

Would he still be sitting by the fire, in that chair, drinking the same single malt ten, twenty, thirty years in the future? Would he be in a home somewhere? Would he be homeless, struggling to eat while dealing with some ravaging disease that he couldn’t afford to treat or prevent?

It’s late, he thought to himself. I should get some sleep.

But how could he sleep with such questions occupying his thoughts?

So many times, he considered knocking back the scotch until he fell asleep in the chair, highball glass dropped on the floor and half a shot of liquor spilled among the melting ice cubes, snoring his troubles away. It would be so easy to drink to forget.

It seemed that in the middle of the night, his prospects and his future was dying with the speed of the fire on the hearth.

He entertained the thought of putting another log on and stoking the fire again, but what would that achieve? It’s a lost cause, he concluded, before taking another slow sip of the Glenfiddich. It was expensive, and he wouldn’t dare have purchased it for himself. It was a holiday gift, in thanks for a successful project at work.

He sat for a time, just staring into the flickering flames and feeling the chill start to enter the room. The fire had nearly burnt itself out.

Then he had an epiphany as he gazed into the dying light.

The fire was a metaphor for his passion. Left untended, it would quickly burn itself out using all available resources. It needed constant refueling, and so did his passions in life. With the proper replenishment, it could burn indefinitely.

He permitted himself a half-smile, finished the rest of the whisky, then got up from his lounger. He walked down the hall and opened the first door on the left. It was dimly lit by the twinkling stars projected on the ceiling. He very softly kissed his sleeping four-year-old daughter on her cheek, then silently crept out of the room before she could wake.

He entered the master bedroom further down the hall and repeated the process with his wife. She was a lighter sleeper, and she stirred enough to mumble a sweet nothing to her husband before slipping back into slumber. He went around to his side of the bed, picked up his messenger bag, then crept back to the living room.

He put another log on the fire and poked the embers so the new log would alight and start to burn. Presently it did so, filling the room with both warmth and light.

He refilled his drink and rolled a laptop desk to the easy chair pulling his Macbook out of the messenger bag. He booted it up and opened Pages before cracking his knuckles in anticipation.

Feed the fire, he thought to himself.

His fingers lightly touched the keyboard and he began to write.

“He sat in an easy chair, contemplating the universe as filtered through a glass of scotch on the rocks.”