02/02/2018: But it makes YOU feel better

Starting around the age of ten, until I was sixteen, I was abused.

I don’t mean sexually, just physical. And, it was not a secret. Everyone knew that my mom’s boyfriend would abuse my brothers and myself. Well, everyone but him. He thought that it was just “punishment”.

Once, he drug me down a flight of stairs and whipping me with a belt until my mom called his parents. That was just punishment for listening to my Walkman after he told me to go to bed. Another time, I was made to chew a bar of soap until I puked. Then, I was whipped with a belt for puking in front of my mom. That was when my pubic hair had started to grow in and I unconsciously scratched myself. To this day, even the smell of a soap bar causes psychosomatic reactions. But at least I did not get it as bad as my older brother. Once, he got his leg broken as a punishment. My mother and her boyfriend told the hospital that it was a skateboarding accident to avoid the police.

There are many more stories of the abuse, but I think I’ve provided enough examples for now. As a father now, I constantly fear abusing my daughter. Given the widely held belief that those abused will often also become abusers.

Before we had our daughter, my wife and I talked about my fear of becoming an abuser. Raising a child would mean that I would also have to punish them at some point. While positive reinforcement works when they do good things, they also need to be learn that bad behavior has consequences. Raising a child together means that both my wife and I have to be on the same page when it comes to when punishment is due. Allowing my wife to do all the punishment will only cause our child to see my wife as the “bad guy”. Our child would not learn that what they did was wrong, but rather getting caught by mom was the issue.

The key, I realized was to focus on that what I would be doing would be teaching. As a parent, part of my job to teach my child what is acceptable behavior. Even if what my child does makes me angry or frustrated, the punishment should not make me feel better, because it has nothing to do with my feelings.

My daughter is three years old now and she knows how to “push buttons.” But every time she does, I think about what my reaction is going to teach her. It is a difficult thing to do most of the time, but for her sake, I have to. Fortunately, for both her and me, that fear of crossing the line into abuse helps keep me in check.

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01/31/2018: Cat’s In The Cradle (Part 3)

I’ve never liked crowds. And I especially do no like crowds in small places. My dad’s house was not very big, so even with the limited amount of people there, it still felt crowded. To avoid the crowds, I went downstairs.

My dad had converted the lower level of the house after the last of his wife’s kids moved out. When my bother and I visited as pre-teens, we stayed in the guest bedroom on the lower level. When we were not out doing something, we often were in that bedroom. So, it felt like a second home to us. It was also the place where my dad committed suicide.

My attempt at suicide was overdosing on over-the-counter medication. My dad’s attempt was much more efficient; he shot himself. The spot he did it was in that spare bedroom. The rug had been removed from where he had did it, exposing the cement floor. Again, planned out to keep the bullet from causing damage to the house.

I did not want to stand around the bedroom, so I went into my dad’s office. The place looked like it had been ransacked. On top of the printer were print-outs of some of the email conversations that he and I had. One of his widow’s kids came in and noticed me looking at the print-outs. They said that they were looking for the missing $5,000. Again with the money. As of this post, I can say that have absolutely no idea where that money went.

When I was leaving my dad’s office, I ran into his widow. She and I never really got along, but I was not going to be disrespectful to her. She reminded me that I had promised to my dad that I would move to Seattle. Even though he was gone, she still wanted me to keep that promise. And, that she would like for me to come stay with her while I got established in Seattle. It would be helpful to her, now that my dad was no longer there. I figured that my dad’s death caused a change in her and maybe I should give it a chance. So, I agreed that I would.

Upon returning back to Walla Walla, I started setting up a timeline to move to Seattle. As my dad’s widow reminded me, I had plans to move, but they were a “someday” thing. My choice to set up the timeline came from more than the reminder from my dad’s widow. During my visit to Seattle, I realized how much I missed being around my brother and my nieces. Within six months of my dad’s death, in May 2000, I finally moved to Seattle.

My mother had moved to Seattle a few months prior to me. Her brother, David, had offered to move her and let her stay with him and his family while she got established. So, that left me with the house to myself. I got rid of almost ever thing. By the time I was ready to move, all my possessions could fit into a five foot by five foot square. Kris, a long time friend of mine, and his wife had offered to drive me (and my cat) to Seattle. As planned, everything I had fit in the back of the SUV that Kris had rented.

I ended living in the same guest room where my dad had killed himself. To cover utilities and food, I payed my dad’s widow $500 a month in “rent”. Within a few months, she and I started having conflicts again. Partly, because she had started dating. While I did like the guy she was with, it felt disrespectful to my dad. So, I found an apartment and moved out of my dad’s house in December. I have not seen my dad’s widow or her kids since I moved. Without my dad, I have no connection to them.

As for my mother, well, I could fill many blog entries about my relationship with her. But, I don’t want to. Despite trying to reconnect while I was in Seattle, it didn’t work. If anything, our relationship got worse. I finally decided to cut off all contact with her when she moved from the Seattle area back to Walla Walla in 2001. So, both of my parents missed me getting married and the birth of my daughter.

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01/30/2018: Cat’s In The Cradle (Part 2)

My brother was too broken up to give me all the details over the phone. So, we ended the call and I went outside. My mother was out there again, having a cigarette. I was trying to stop smoking, but given the situation, I wanted one. It was a nasty habit that I had picked up when living with my ex. She smoked at work and at home, so being around it all the time, I ended up giving it a chance. But, before I could ask my mom for one of her’s, she started talking.

As I mentioned in the previous post, the relationship between my mom and I was strained. And, a lot of that was due to the fact that I had found out about her lying and manipulations in order to keep myself and my brother away from our dad for most of our childhood. So, when she started rambling off about how my dad would still be alive if they would have stayed together, I almost lost it. I wanted to say, “he would have killed himself sooner,” but I instead said, “I’m going back to work.” The anger inside me was boiling up so much that I just needed to get away from her. So, I went back to work.

Of course, my supervisor was surprised to see me come back to work. He knew a little about my dad dying, just not all the details. I told him that I just needed to be distracted, so I would like to finish out my shift. He let me know about the company’s policy regarding family deaths and then let me get back to work.

Within a few days, I was boarding a plane from Walla Walla to Seattle. It would be the first time riding a plane. When we would visit our dad as teenagers, we would usually ride the Greyhound bus. It was a lot cheaper traveling that way, but took anywhere from eight to ten hours. I was an adult now and able to afford it, so I decided to take a flight.

My younger brother met me at Sea-Tac airport. His car was not very reliable, so he had left it at home and rode the bus to meet me. I was going to stay with him and his family overnight. During the bus to his apartment in north Seattle, my brother filled me in on what he knew about my dad’s death. It was a long ride, so we had time to talk.

There was no note from my dad, so no one knew exactly why he committed suicide. He had been sick a lot lately and even called in sick to work on the day he did it. The prior year, he had walking pneumonia, which had hit him really hard. We would find out later that he had a doctor’s appointment a few days prior to his suicide. What exactly happened at the appointment, not even his widow knows. We came to find out that there was talk about him having Guillain-Barré syndrome. Later, the neighbors told my brother and I that they heard him and his widow fighting a lot, right before his death. I also know that he had been battling depression all his life. So, it could have been that he was facing both a divorce and a debilitating disease, he finally gave in to his depression. But, without a note, we’ll never know for certain.

Most of the funeral was a blur. I remember my brother breaking down during the viewing. Remember getting up and speaking to a room full of strangers. I remember all the people, most of them I never met before, coming up to me and telling me how much I looked like my dad. And, I remembered that I did not cry. I would not cry over my dad’s death for almost ten years.

I can’t remember which one it was, but one of my dad’s widow’s kids offered to give my brother and I a ride to the funeral and to the gathering back at my dad’s house. After my mom and dad split, my dad married another woman who had kids. The kids were about ten years older than me. Despite them all living together, my did never legally adopted any of the kids. They had all moved out of the house by the time my brother and I reconnected with our dad. Yet, I remember my dad and his wife sometimes fighting, because she said that he treated my bother and I much better than her kids. But, there was much more going on there that I would rather not go into.

On the ride to our dad’s house, the eldest daughter of my dad’s widow told us that there was $5,000 missing from one of the bank accounts. She asked if my brother or I knew where the money went. My brother and I were dumbfounded by the question. Not only because neither of us knew about the money, but that we just left our father’s funeral and this was what she was focused on. We both told her that we had no knowledge of the money. This prompted her to talk about how her mom needed that money, so they needed to find out what happened to it. And, it prompted more questions. By the time we got to my dad’s house, I told my brother that I would rather walk than take another ride like that.

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01/23/2018: Cat’s In The Cradle (Part 1)

It was the beginning of November 1999. I had only been at this job for less than a month, when after returning from lunch, I noticed a note from my supervisor on my desk. The note said that I was log out of my workstation, grab my belongings, and come see him. Of course, my thoughts went to that I must have done something wrong and was being let go. A few people who I had started with had already been let go, so it was not a stretch to think that. Working in tech support was the greatest, but it was a step up from the short-order cook job that I had just left.

My supervisor was in his office when I got there. He told me that my mother had called and I needed to go home immediately. There was no further explanation. So, I left work.

The job I was at was about a mile away from where I lived, so I walked to and from work. It was also uphill, so getting to work was a lot harder than getting home. On my walk home, my brain was racing with trying to figure out what the emergency was. All I could think of was that something happened to my cat. There was a few times that my mom accidentally let him out of the house, and she could not get him to come back in. One time, when I was staying with my (then) girlfriend for a few days, he got out. No one had been able to catch him those few days. But, as soon as I stepped out of my car after those few days, he came running up to me. I was starting to get mad, hoping that it was not something as trivial as that.

When I got home, my mother was on the porch, smoking, as usual. She looked shaken, but I was not feeling sympathetic. The relationship between us had been strained at that point in time. The only reason we lived together is because she did could not afford to move and I was not cold-hearted enough to kick her out. He first words to me were to call my younger brother. Upon going into the living room, I noticed my cat, asleep next to the heater, which is where he liked to sleep when I was not in bed. I called my brother, and he told me, “dad committed suicide.”

For most of my childhood, my dad had not been around. There is a very long story, so I’ll try to summarize. He and my mother had a bad marriage, and divorced when I about three years old. The judge had awarded custody of my brothers and I to my mom with visitations to my dad. But, my mom ended up moving out-of-state, which made it difficult for him to visit. We still communicated via phone and letters, until around the time I was in 2nd Grade. That was when my mom’s boyfriend ripped the phone out of the wall and our mom would not let us talk to our dad. The next time we had seen him was when were teenagers. We had moved back in-state and mom applied for public assistance, which notified him. He ended up having to take her to court to make her honor the visitation agreement again.

Like I said, it is a long story, so I will just say that, through the court proceedings and after, we found out that our mom lied to us about a lot of things regarding our dad, in order to get back at him for divorcing her. The court withheld the original visitation decree from their divorce and told our mom that she had to allow us to visit again or would be found in contempt and jailed. This started us down the path to getting to know our dad again. And, within the next few years, we forged a very strong bond with him.

A little over a year prior, my younger brother and his family had moved to Seattle to be around my dad. And, I had made plans to also move within the next year. My dad and I had been talking via email, with the most recent being a few weeks prior to his death. There was no indication of his suicidal tendencies, but as I well know, the indicators are not always there. You see, in 1997, I had attempted suicide. If I had not received medical attention when I did, the attempt would have worked. To this day, we did not know the exact reason why our dad killed himself, but there are a few different reasons why we think he did.

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01/19/2018: Quiet in the echoplex

I’m trying something new.

About a month ago, I got frustrated. Rather, I’ve been frustrated for some time, but about a month ago, that frustration came to its peak. I had wanted to post something to Reddit. So, I typed it all out, formatted, spell checked, and then posted. A few seconds later, I got a message from one of the moderators that my post was removed. The message was that the post did not follow the one or more of the guidelines and had a list of all the guidelines. So, I read through all the guidelines and thought I found the one that I had not followed. I amended my post and tried again. A few seconds later, another message that my post was removed with the same automatic response that it did not follow one or more of the guidelines.

I could not figure out what the issue was this time. But, some of the guidelines were a bit vague, so I guessed that one of those may be the issue. I amended my post again and re-posted. And, a few seconds later, another message that the post was removed, due to not following one or more of the guidelines. I was getting frustrated, so I emailed the moderator who sent the message, asking for an exact violate, so I could fix it. The response was similar to the automated message that my post did not follow one or more of the guidelines. So, I rage-quit Reddit.

After calming down, I started to think about, why was I so mad that I could not make the post? It was not a life-or-death matter, just something small that others may or may not read. And, I realized it was not about how important it was for others to read, as it was about me wanting to add my opinion to an already ocean of opinions. The only thing that would benefit would be my ego.

With Facebook, Twitter, Reddit, Digg, the various message boards, and comments sections, it is easy to post your thoughts about anything you want. The thing is, maybe we shouldn’t. While being able to weight in on something or share information is good, there is a lot of things said that don’t need to be said. It is fine to share a life experience that others can relate to, but our opinion about a celebrity’s outfit or our politics is entirely unnecessary. Yet we do it, because it feels good. And, to me, it felt a little too good.

After all this thinking, I decided to severely reduce my posting on-line. I’ll still maintain this blog and will occasionally comment (about one or two a week) on posts on Facebook. Other than that, I’ve decided to remain silent.

So far, it has been difficult, but has got a little easier. One thing that I have noticed is that if I give it enough time, someone usually will make the same comment that I was going to make. Or, I spend a lot more time reading the comments, instead of trying to figure out how to respond. I’m going to keep this up for the next few months and maybe I’ll write a follow-up post. Or, I will get so accustom to not posting online that I’ll eventually abandon my blog. We’ll see.

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01/10/2018: I Don’t Fear, I Hate Them

When I in 4th grade, my brothers, my mother, and I moved into the YWCA in St. Joseph, Missouri. The house that we had been living in was infested with snakes. I do not know what kind that they were, only that they were venomous. I only know that, because they killed most of our cats. Actually, most of them were kittens. And, it was very painful to watch them die.

The first victim was my kitten, Mimi. She liked to meow a lot, so I called her, “Screamin’ Mimi”, which was the name of a popular toy at the time, just spelled differently. Mimi had become a victim when she attacked a snake that was under the table that my mother was sitting at. I don’t know if the snake would have bit my mother, because it never got the chance. Mimi killed the snake and survived. But, during the fight, something happened to Mimi’s eye.

Over the next few days, Mimi’s eye started to get larger. We were very poor and had little money as it was, but given the situation and her heroic act, we took her to the vet. The vet said that he had to remove her eye or she would die. So, we had them do it. Given what was about to happen to her litter-mates, it was a small price to pay.

About a week later, my older brother, Curtis, found Cory Kitten on the floor in the kitchen, crying and not able to move. He was orange and white, and was the one who ran around the most. We named him after this kid at school, who was a red-head and could not sit still. We did not know what happened, but thought it may be that he was just sick. So, Curtis swaddled him into a towel and had him sleep with him that night. By morning, Cory Kitten was dead.

Within a few days of Cory Kitten’s death, we found two more kittens, in the house, in the same shape as Cory Kitten, unable to move. Like Cory Kitten, they both died by the next morning. We knew something was wrong, but did not know what. Over the next few days, with the exception on Mimi, the remaining kittens either died or went missing. Finally, we found the kitten’s mother behind the couch, dead. The only cat alive was Mimi.

It was not normal for our mom to pick us up from school. So, when she showed up, we did not know what to think, especially since she had Mimi in the car with her. I don’t remember exactly how it happened or what she exactly said, but she let us know that our house was infested and that we could not go home. All we had was what was the clothes we wore to school that day.

Due to the circumstances, the YWCA let us keep Mimi. We missed about a week of school while we got settled in. Members of the Frazier Church helped get some of our clothes and belongings from the house. We had to wait outside while they would pick-up items with pitch forks, shake them out, then drop them outside, on the lawn.

I can’t remember how long we stayed at the YWCA, but I know that I was still in 5th grade when we left and ended up moving from Missouri. All of our belongings were packed into a U-Haul carrier on the top of the car. We never got the chance to ever step foot in that house again.

To this day, if I see a snake in the wild, I will kill it. Living in Washington state, we don’t get many snakes, so I have not had the opportunity. I’ve only been able to kill one of the three that I found. There’s not a lot of things in this world that I can say that I hate with a passion, but snakes are one of those things.

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12/22/2017 – Seven degrees

It has been some time since I wrote an entry. To help ease me back into writing, I am going to play a little association.

And that, is how Buck Rogers, Flash Gordon, Star Wars, DC Comics, and Marvel are connected.

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