Sunday, March 30, 2008
The Wall
(I wrote this for 3 Word Wednesday. This week's words were: Glass, Question, Token)

"Why won't you fight for us?"

I was somewhat taken aback by her question, or more accurately that she had said anything at all. After an hour and thirty-three minutes of going back and forth, airing all our grievances and leaving all that once was good buried beneath the bad, I had expected her to just keep walking. But right before reaching the door, she stopped, turned around and made one final stand.

For the first time, she began to cry, causing her makeup to run in dark streaks down her face. And in that instant she looked like an angel, completely vulnerable, pleading to me.

But I was never much of a fighter. I stared towards her, careful to never let our eyes meet, with a much practiced stoic look. The wall around my heart personified on my face. If I cared, I didn't want her to know. And I wasn't sure why.

Somehow that is what we had turned into. Silly fights over who loved who the most had twisted into an unspoken competition over who could care less. Kisses, the kind that sent my stomach into a storm of butterflies and left me gasping for air, had turned into nothing more than token gestures. And "I love you" was spoken more out of habit or obligation now than anything else. I didn't know how it started, but I knew too well this was the end.

I wanted to say something, but "I'm sorry" was the only thing that came to mind and seemed pathetically inadequate by that point. Instead, I sat in silence, watching the last of the embers die, three years reduced to ashes, and never being sure if this was a mistake.

And so, she left, slamming the door with such force that it shook my heart and rattled the glass in the window pane. But it didn't break. It used to, but I fixed that.

"The end is coming. She don't even feel it. It's a strange sensation. I'm almost happy. Well I believe that I'm just plain tired..."

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Nothing but chicks and basketball
I hope you all had a good Easter. Apparently, the word is out that I like Peeps, as I received no fewer than four packs of marshmallow chicks and bunnies this weekend. That's in addition to the one pack I bought myself before Easter, just in case everyone else forgot. I couldn't risk it.

In other weekend happenings, Jamie and I played golf Saturday, my first time on the links in 2008. I'm proud to say I only lost two balls, which as you may know is how I truly keep score. It's kinda like that peg game at Cracker Barrel. If you leave only one peg, "yore a genius." Well, if I lose only one ball, I'm... whatever the golf equivalent of a genius is, in my mind anyway. I'm not sure what losing zero balls would equal. But as that's pretty much like the three minute mile to me, I probably shouldn't waste a lot of time pondering it.

The highlight of my day, yea, my weekend, was holing a 25-foot par putt from the fringe on the 13th hole. It was a big breaker to the right. And probably the single greatest moment in my life since I hit a homerun in a softball game a few years ago, which didn't end up counting anyway because we'd already reached our alloted home run limit of one for that game.

Should it disturb me that I consider athletic acheivement among the greatest moments in my life, when I've not played any organized sports--other than the occasional softball league--since high school? Tell you what, let's not even analyze it. If we dig too deep, it could just become sad. And who would want that.

After golf, I headed over to Axl's to watch basketball. Ah yes, March Madness. When seeds and brackets aren't just gardening and hardware terms. When Bryant becomes the "other Gumbel brother" for two and a half weeks. And when your wife or girlfriend is babbling on about being upset, and your response to her involves the phrase "five-twelve."

I have Kansas, UCLA, North Carolina, and Texas in my Final Four. Out of curiosity, I was looking back at my March Madness post from a year ago. Oddly enough, two statements I made then are applicable again this year. And I quote: "The good news is, my Final Four all made it thru to the Sweet 16... The bad news is, my Cinderella team, Winthrop, lost in the second round."

The only difference is that Winthrop lost in the first round this year. Note to my 2009 self: Do not pick Winthrop.

I had three different stops to make yesterday for Easter. At Mom's, she of course still boils eggs. And dyes them. And makes us hide them and hunt them. In her living room.

I should probably mention here that there was no one under the age of twenty-seven among those gathered at Mom's. Anyway, you really have to get creative with hiding places, especially by the fourth or fifth go round. I think my best was when I unscrewed the light bulb from the lamp and replaced it with an egg.

Meanwhile at my Aunt's, I got into an existential discussion about the Easter Bunny with my nine-year-old cousin. I asked what seemed like a harmless enough question, "Did the Easter Bunny come to see you?" She replied with, "The Easter Bunny is fake. But my momma came to see me." She's nine! I was driving before I figured out the Easter Bunny.

I decided not to even bring up the Velveteen Rabbit. I know he's real.

"Closer than my peeps you are to me, baby. Shawty, you're my angel, you're my darlin' angel..."

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Friday, March 21, 2008
3WW: Indisposable
(Here's something I wrote for this week's 3 Word Wednesday. The words were: money, tangled understood)

It was somewhere around hour fifty-seven of his work week when he happened across a forgotten memory buried in the back of a desk drawer. It was a snapshot of her on a trip they took to King's Island when they were still dating. Immediately, the memories came pouring, filling up his mind.

Money was tight then. Rolling change to help make the rent. Buying a dollar and fifty cents of gas. So they had made the trip in one day to save the cost of a hotel. Leaving before sunrise, he spent much of the day in line for the rides leaning on her shoulder with his eyes closed. They bought a disposable camera for five dollars and got a man who looked like Dick Van Dyke to take their picture in front of the fake Eiffel Tower.

The hardest rain he had ever seen began to fall late in the afternoon and they ran laughing and splashing for cover. That is when he had snapped her picture, her hair soaking wet and her face just beginning to turn away from the camera when she realized what he was doing. She made him promise at least seven times he would throw the picture away.

Coming back to the present, he found himself smiling. One of those big goofy smiles that you hope no one has seen. He also realized they had not taken a trip in... he couldn't remember when. It had been several years. Years of sixty hour weeks. Years of too much working late and not nearly enough leaving early. They had plenty of things and money now. But staring at the picture again, he found himself longing for who they were then, when money was what they wanted and love was what they had.

All at once, in that office on the 5th floor at 6:18 PM on a Friday, his tangled mind was clear. The work he had been stressing to get done and that had seemed so important a few minutes earlier could wait. There were more urgent things to tend to. There always had been, he just needed to be reminded. Grabbing his coat, he carefully placed the photograph in the inside pocket, and started home.

She would be confused at first, no doubt, when he told her to pack an overnight bag because they were taking a trip. When they crossed the Ohio, she might have some idea. And when he finally showed her the photograph he had promised to throw away, he hoped she understood.

"Remember digging through your old purses in hopes we'd get enough change for an RC Cola or a pack of cigarettes..."

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Un-format-ted
This post is brought to you by the iTunes Store. Now with 145 selections from Howard Jones. The iTunes Store, because after all, it's just money.

Today is Post Your Top Ten Most Played iTunes Day. OK, not really, but it could be. We could make it that. It's one of our inherent rights: life, liberty, and the permission to create obscure seemingly pointless holidays. You think the person who created International Talk Like A Pirate Day cared what people thought or that no one seemed to be observing or wearing a patch over their eye? Arrrgh! I think not, ye mateys.

There was a bit of sad news musically in the world of Bone recently. The Format broke up. I know what you're saying, "Bone, who is The Format?" Well, they were a band.

So in honor of The Format, and also to mark this newly created holiday, I present Bone's Ten Most Played iTunes.

1. She Doesn't Get It - The Format (57 plays)

Looking back now, the odds were enormously long that our paths would ever cross. I was flipping channels one night and for some reason, or more likely no reason at all, stopped on Carson Daly, which I never watch. And there they were.

To say the song they sang was catchy would be like saying Steve Jobs has done OK for himself. I dare you to listen to it and not have it stuck in your head. If you've not heard of The Format, don't worry. Not a single person I ever mentioned them to had heard of them previously.

Their relative anonymity combined with their recent breakup left me feeling a bit like a line in the song: "It never caught on. I was the only one who got burned."

2. A Long December - Counting Crows (42 plays)

I was a little late to the Counting Crows party, as Mister Jones came out while I was still in my skin-tight-Wrangler-wearing-heavy-country-music phase of the early nineties. (No, there will not be pictures.) But I'm here now. I've always been lyrically inclined, and these are amazing. One of my all-time favorite songs.

And some good news: They have a new album coming out March 25th.

3. Just Like Heaven - The Cure (41 plays)

The Cure always had great melodies. Here, the lyrics rise like a mountain to meet the friendly musical clouds, resulting in a wondrous skyscape of sonic perfection. A little aside: I had the cassette single for "Love Song." And by had, I mean, have.

4. All Your Reasons - Matchbox Twenty (40 plays)

You might think that when the new album came out, I did nothing but listen to it nonstop, over and over and over. Hmm... I forgot my point.

5. Loss, Strain, and Butterflies - Tabitha's Secret (37 plays)

This song has the distinction of having the single best line I've ever heard that I have no idea the meaning of: "Did you know with the rain in your pockets you can change the weather."

I ponder it for hours sometimes. So far, I've come up with 36 possible meanings. I think it may have its origins in one of the five houses of Zen.

6. Hey Jealousy - Gin Blossoms (36 plays)

So for like ten years I thought they were saying "Hate Jealousy." So what?

7. How Far We've Come - Matchbox Twenty (36 plays)

This would be much higher if you combined the number of plays with the number of times I watched the video online when it came out. Or no higher if you multiplied the number of plays by the number of people my age at their concert, which I roughly estimate to have been one.

8. Valerie - Steve Winwood (36 plays)

"Valerie, call on me. Call on me, Valerie." Brilliant.

9. American Girls - Counting Crows (35 plays)

I once sang this song at karaoke.

No, wait. That wasn't me. Come to think of it, it wasn't even this song.

10. You Could Be Happy - Snow Patrol (34 plays)

Here's a little known fact: They are #1 on my list of Favorite Bands or Artists with "snow" in their name. Just ahead of the guy who sang "Informer."

"I am reminded why I don't do this. I fall in love far too quickly. I never want her to forget me. When you're gone, will you call? Will you write?"

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Monday, March 10, 2008
I think I'm turning healthy, I really think so
Update: Dad had to be hospitalized this morning with viral pneumonia, causing them to postpone his open heart surgery for a couple of weeks. Thanks for all your thoughts and prayers and words of encouragement.

At some point duing the past year, I fear I may have turned into a... healthy person.

A year ago, I was filling my grocery buggy with frozen burritos, snack cakes, and Doritos, which for some reason I thought were sort of healthy. I was ingesting Little Debbies like there was no tomorrow, and chasing them with one of the five Sun Drops I drank per day. And I was eating fast food five or six times a week. Then something happened.

I think it all began with the John Tesh-inspired Great American Coke Out, which is more accurately described as the Pretty Decent American Coke Reduction. Then a co-worker brought in some handouts the doctor had given her husband when he underwent bypass surgery. Included was nutritional information for several restaurants and fast food places. It was one of the most disgusting things I'd ever read not involving Andy Dick.

At that time, I had already been trying to eat a bit healthier. From that day on, I cut back to only eating fast food about once a week. My arteries and I are actually on speaking terms again.

Today, I check the label of most everything I buy. I look at fat content, cholesterol, sodium, even riboflavin. I haven't a clue what riboflavin does, but I know 10% of the RDA is better than zero. My eyes light up at words like reduced fat, low sodium, and no preservatives. And fat free, well, I'm not ashamed to say I get a little flush.

Recently, I was given a healthy cookbook, and now I try and cook a couple of times a week. I'm dicing, grating, preheating, and sauteeing everything in sight. It's been good, if not always easy.

Maybe it's because I live in a smaller town, or maybe it's because I live in the South, where ranch dressing coarses thru our veins and we fry everything from twinkies to pickles. But I've discovered that finding things such as frozen creamed spinach in low-fat sauce, 95% lean ground beef, or those little tiny edible corns on the cob aren't so easy to find here. Still, I make do.

Friday night, I made creamy spinach ravioli. Except I used tortellini. I figure I got a pasta ending in -ini, that's close enough. Normally when I cook, it tastes pretty good, but winds up looking like a decroded piece of crap. Never like the picture in the cookbook.

Well, for once, my dish turned out aesthetically pleasing. So I wanted to share it with you. Presenting Bone's first attempt at creamy spinach tortellini:



It's OK if you don't think it's pretty, just don't tell me. I'm proud of it. It's my baby. I'll be glad to send you the recipe. Or perhaps we could do a recipe exchange. I've been wanting to try a radish rose.

And you thought a bachelor's blog would be all General Hospital and random hook-ups with hot girls.

"Greasy cheeseburgers and cheap cigarettes. One day they'll get me, if they ain't got me yet..."

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Thursday, March 06, 2008
Routine?
(This was inspired by this week's 3WW prompt. The words are: rest, sidewalk, twice)

I check the front and back doors twice. I make sure the refrigerator is closed, as having all my perishables perish is my seventh greatest fear. I check the thermostat, touching it exactly five times. Then before I start upstairs, I look out the front window to make sure there are no burglars lurking in plain sight.

I sprint up the stairs, running from whatever may be chasing me. There are fourteen steps, so I skip exactly four to ensure that it takes me ten steps to reach the top. Ten is good. Ten is my friend. It's not too bad going up. A bit more of a challenge coming down, but of course, nothing's chasing me. Plus, I'm young and insured, and I've only fallen a couple of times.

Once upstairs, I check to see that the iron is unplugged, though I haven't ironed in weeks. I make sure the printer and computer speakers are turned off and that the office chair is pushed underneath the desk. Then I leave the room, completely closing the door behind me.

Next, I do whatever I need to do in the bathroom, with the last thing being to wash my hands with anti-bacterial soap. The bathroom door is always left open. I don't know why this is OK, so don't ask.

Finally, I enter the bedroom, again making certain that the door is shut. I switch the alarm clock to off and back to alarm at least twice, and also check the time. I set the sleep timer on the television for one hour and make sure that the volume is between 15 and 25. Basically, it can be any number which is low enough that it doesn't keep me awake and is not a multiple of thirteen.

On the nightstand, my iPod and Blackberry have to be placed on top of my wallet, and the chapstick tube has to be standing up. The remainder of the nightstand layout is negotiable.

Why do I do all these things? I'll tell you why.

Because there are two kinds of people in this world. Those who skip the cracks in the sidewalk, and those who display a blatant disregard for the karma of the cracks, thus inviting tragedy into their lives and the lives of those they love. So go ahead, laugh it up. Deride, if you must. But at least I can sleep in peace.

Hmm. Did I make sure the candle I haven't burned in three days was out?

"I can't sleep sometimes but I've been told, it's a lonely condition called growing old. Let me stumble sometimes..."

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Sunday, March 02, 2008
Scattered
I spent most of Friday at the hospital. Dad had gone to the doctor earlier in the week after experiencing shortness of breath. Tests revealed blockage in his heart, so they scheduled him for an arteriogram Friday. We were told they would either treat it with medication, insert a stent, or do open heart surgery, depending on what the arteriogram showed.

After several hours of waiting and being as nervous as I think I've ever been, the doctor finally came out to talk to us. The news was not good. All three main arteries have significant blockage, including one that is about 90% blocked. He said it was too much to fix with stents and recommended bypass surgery.

No.

I wanted to go back in time five minutes, before I knew. I wanted to go back to being seven years old, going fishing with Dad for the first time with a plastic yellow rod and reel that was never gonna catch anything, when I had blonde hair and he still had hair. And a snake swam by and Dad said we had to go and we ran to the car and didn't go fishing again for years.

But I didn't say a word. I just stood there and put on my strongest face, trying not to show how scared I had suddenly become. I looked at the X-Rays the doctor was showing us thinking there was going to be some mistake, but knowing there wouldn't be.

And then I thought about Dad still lying in the cardiac unit by himself, having just been told this very same news. And I felt very selfish.

Dad has to go in Thursday for some pre-op tests and it looks like the surgery will be sometime next week. I know he has to be worried sick, but he isn't showing it much. Though his memory about that first fishing trip seems to be a bit hazy, as he recounted it Friday saying I was the one who got scared and begged to leave.

I know bypass surgery is a common procedure nowadays. The surgeon told us there is a 98 percent success rate. And that seems very high until you're talking about the life of someone you love.

Someone suggested it may be one of the hardest things in life, realizing your parents are human and are becoming older and won't be here forever. Of course, neither will I. Neither will any of us. But it just doesn't sink in most of the time. I can be the strong one. I can hold back tears as long as necessary. But I can't make this alright. That's a hard thing to accept.

I've spent the weekend thinking about Dad. Thinking about entire weeks when I didn't make time to see him, and all the days I didn't so much as give him a call.

Dad plays guitar and is in a band and plays music somewhere almost every weekend. I haven't been to see him play in over a year.

He bought me a used drum set once in hopes that I might learn to play, and maybe even play with his band. I never practiced and he eventually sold the set.

A few months ago, Dad said he was trying to write some songs and if he emailed me the lyrics would I tell him what I thought and maybe help him some because "you're good at stuff like that." They all seemed like 60's pop songs to me, like bad Beatles lyrics. I told him they were OK and that was that.

Those are things I missed out on. It's not so much guilt as it is regret. The time is so precious and you can't ever get it back. I should go see him more. I know I should.

Life is just a whisper. Even the bad days truly aren't all that bad. Why can't I ever learn to cherish every single one of them?

"I'm wishin' my Dad was forty again. He would be young and I would be ten."

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