July 2006

July 31st, 2006

To whom it concerns,

You're not going to understand what I'm going to share with you. Maybe when you're older or maybe...maybe not until after I'm long gone. And maybe you'll read these words and truly see the depth of feeling I put into them.

You may not remember but I entered your life as a psychologist and as a teacher. It was "supposed" to be a temporary arrangement. I helped your mom out with you and she helped me out with rent. I don't think anyone imagined we'd still be living together a year later, much less six. And now that I've realized we've reached that halfway point, that moment in time when you have six more years before you're off to college or what have you, I find myself feeling like this whole life thing goes way too damn fast.

Those nights I sat on your bed asking you if it was really what you wanted, those were some pretty serious evenings. At six or seven years old you didn't quite understand all the ramifications of our decision--and if you remember I wanted it to be something we decided together--but I know someday, especially after you have children of your own, you'll look back in wonder and you might even think I was one crazy fuck to do that.

How do I put this politely?

You were a challenge (understatement). And your mom too (uh-huh). And if that weren't all stressful enough there was all the time and energy I had to put into the endevour. Oh, and the money, the money! And though you are far too young to understand I lost many a relationship due to ours; more than one woman who thought it was oh so sweet and wonderful that a bachelor would give his life to a little girl would later realize what I'd made clear from day one, that because I gave my life to you that means I put you, not me or my happiness, first.

I think you're worth that.

Now I'm sure there are times you'd say I'm full of it. We've gotten into some pretty heated arguments and we don't always agree and it's hard with me being the adult and you being the kid but we were born when we were born, what can be done? The truth is, though, I want you to grow up an intelligent and emotionally balanced woman. I know it often seems like all I do is push and push and push and I'm just this critical old fart but the truth is every choice and decision I make is made because I am doing my very best to raise you to be the happiest and most successful adult and human being you can be.

I do my best. That's all I ask of you. And so I teach...

I try to teach you the lessons my parents taught me...and I do my damnest to teach you the lessons they neglected to share. I can't keep you from being heart broken or having your best friend steal your boyfriend but I can teach you to cope with your feelings and respond proactively to situations in a way I never had the skills to do. I can share with you insights, wisdom, and hopefully the strength to stand up and make the right choices when it's most important.

I want to teach you the importance of living consciously, living fully, and living with integrity.

There will be hard times ahead of us but we will do our best. You will become a teenager and though you don't admit to it you're already becoming attracted to them icky boys. You're going to experience the highs and lows of your new emotions and your going to push for more autonomy--and I'm going to teach you that autonomy comes with responsibility. And you're going to hate that because that's not what your friend's are taught and boy do you hate it when they their freedom comes without the need to demonstrate adequate maturity. So we're going to argue and we're going to challenge each other and then one day you're going to leave the house and strike it out on your own. Like me you will make some pretty stupid choices and like me you will learn from them.

Through all of this I will always be here for you to listen, to teach, and to help.

All my love,

July 30th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

We must have spent at least an hour sitting on the balcony. I don't recall having a watch or looking at the time but I do remember smoking a whole pack of cigarettes and going inside to grab a second one. It was night and I was either shaking from the cold or shaking from my emotions or shaking from the nicoteen. And you sat there quietly taking everything in.

Up to that point I had no experience with a conversation like that. In fact, that moment was a watershed for me. You could say you were my first. Sure, I'd stood up for myself in the past but I always came back like a defeated puppy. For some reason I stood up to you, I stood up to you and I said you could either get your shit together or I would have nothing to do with you.

I was confused and didn't know what to do wth you. I'd had a small crush on you for years but our paths had crossed only a few times. Then suddenly there you were wanting to be in my life. Sometimes you'd call me on the phone, sometimes you wanted to go out to coffee, and then there was that night where you showed up at my house late in the am hours. My roomate knocked on my door quietly and said, "Hey, there's a girl at the front door who wants you." Confused I went to the door and found you there fairly tipsy and instead of talking you literally jumped towards me, starting kissing and pawing me and shocked, I tried to get you to sit and talk but you didn't want to talk. This happened on at least two occassions, one of which you came into my room, pushed me onto my bed, started to undress, and as soon as I expressed interest in communicating with you, i.e. having an interpersonal connection, you freaked out and ran out of my room, out of the house, and I didn't hear back from you for a day or two.

I didn't understand. One minute you acted like you needed a friend, the next you were drunk and allowing some strange old man at a bar fondle your breasts. You were unlike anyone I'd ever known. You hated the things you did but you seemed incapable or unwilling to change. You seemed to cherish the fact that I was sincere but at the same time you took complete advantage of my vulnerabilities. One minute you were calm and thoughtful, the next minute you were a complete slut, and the next you acted afraid of everything and everyone, and you were always, always lying to me and everyone else I knew.

And so you drank. And you drank. My god, did you drink...

Up until that point in life I would have simply tried and tried and tried to work through things and find a place where we could meet halfway...and to be quite honest I never had many friends so the idea of giving one up, even one as screwed up as you were, was something that scared the hell out of me.

Now that some time has passed I've had many (arguably far too many) opportunities to perfect this skill; I now have a clear idea about what kind of behavior I'll put up with and what's crossing the line. I've had to make that choice with at least one alcoholic, a few drug abusers, many habitual liars, people with emotional disorders, and some who were simly manipulative and untrustworthy. It's never been easy but I find myself more adept at knowing when I need to reinforce my boundaries and walk away. Fortunately I've learned to do this without screaming, lashing out, and smoking a carton in an afternoon.

I don't ever want to do it again, though. I feel too old to continue to stand up for myself and say I'm not okay with being lied to, I'm not okay with being slandered, I'm not okay being used sexually, I'm not okay with you driving drunk. There's so much more I'd rather do with my life and now that I've learned to suck the marrow from it I have no time for people like you.

I know that's harsh but that's how it is.

And then I look back and I wonder. Of all the people I've had these conversations with you were the only one that sat there silently. You didn't argue with me. You didn't try to defend yourself. You just sat there and took it. Did you hate yourself? Were you afraid I'd do something stupid (i.e. of the terminal variety) if you said the wrong thing? Were you hoping I'd run out of energy to vent then forgive you? What was going on in that head of yours?

I don't know but I do know I must have hit home hard as the next time we saw each other, weeks if not months later, your stare was as cold as the night we--I shouted at you.

I'm not sorry for the things I said, you had no right to involve other human beings in your life until you had your head on straight. At the same time I look back and see how harsh I was and why. I was new to the process of giving someone the boot. I overcompensated because I felt too weak to simply say I was done because deep down I knew if I didn't blow up and make you never want to be around me again I'd be your lap dog a week later begging for friendship, hoping you'd magically kick the bottle, and so on and so forth.

I'll be the first to admit I was pretty fucked up too.

So I'm sorry you had to be the first. I hope my words, however harsh, have been a catalyst for you to build a ladder out of your miseries. You deserve every happiness. I believed that back then and I believe it now.

I hope you've learned to believe that too.

July 29th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I didn't quite understand. You see, I always stood up for you. When your daughter overreacted to you I stood up for you and I said it could be this or it could be that and we should be understanding and compassionate and communicate with you--fuck, I did this for years!!! I welcomed you into my home! I helped you move (twice!). I celebrated birthday's and Christmas's with you. I gave you my trust, my time, and my energy!

And for what?

There must have been a month or two where I was just angry. I have to be honest, it blew my mind that you were so oblivious to all the thoughtful things I'd done for you over the years. I could see how I was in a position to be the perfect scapegoat but goddamn, I never did anything to you but ask you to be a good role model for one little girl.

I honestly don't care what you think. You know why? Because you don't seem to understand that it's simply not acceptable for an adult to engage a nine year old in illegal activities. As a parent I won't accept such rediculous bullcrap however you might choose to rationalize it. I don't care if you're someone she just met or a blood relation, such behavior is not in her best interests and won't be tolerated.

We can both say we love her but loving a child is not giving them everything they want--that notion is not supported by your or my experience nor by science.

They both cried their eyes out that morning. Do you remember the one, the morning you called and lied to them both? My little girl kept asking why you couldn't respect simple boundaries and all we could say was we didn't know (and we don't as we don't have that problem with other adults). We did not slander you because the truth is, we don't know why you can't respect simple boundaries because it's goddamn simple: don't let her run off in public places unsupervised, don't engage in illegal activities with her, and (damnit) don't tell her it's okay to fabricate stories to tell her parents!

I'm glad you've found relative happiness with someone but that doesn't give you the right to negatively impact a child's life. I don't care if you slander and libel me until the cows come home but screw with a child's emotional well being and you're going to deal with me (and trust me, you haven't had a chance to *really* deal with me). The truth is you fucked up. You fucked up with your daughter and you didn't learn from those mistakes and you tried to make the same short-sighted mistakes with my daughter and the fact is I'm not going to stand for it. Negatively impact my life? Fine, whatever. I've given up money, freedom, relationships, and much, much more just so this little girl can grow up physically, emotionally, and psychologically healthy. I'll give up much more for her if need be.

What have you given up for her lately?

The door's still open. It's time to stop rationalizing, it's time to stop being a coward and grow up. The door has always been here. It's your choice to knock on it.

July 28th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

You came from a very different time than me.  The world was in a war for survival.  American knew the strength of humility and hard work.  And when people gave you their word it meant something.

I didn't understand that when you were alive.  You were just someone I could count on, whose smile and laughter could make my day, and who I thought was almost superhuman.  Sure, I always had this inkling that you liked my cousin better (now that I'm older I just see you both had a closer relationship because you saw each other every day) and there was one time where you spanked me without provocation (a memory that has always upset me), yet of all the memories I have of you those are the only two that aren't positive.

This summer Vipassana and I are taking a long motorcycle trip.  It's going to take us about a week throughout Oregon and parts of Northern California.  We're going to stop a few places where you'd taken me when I was five, out there in the Redwood Forest.  I'm going to see if I can find the place we stayed in the motor home, you know, the place with the little souvenir shop made out of a huge boat.  I think I know where it is because I went onto Google Earth and started glancing through the satellite photos north of Eureka and saw a place that looked like it had a boat on the ground in a parking lot and I thought, "That must be it!"  So I'm going to go there again after about thirty years and enjoy all the wonderful times you and I had together.

I come from a very different time than you.  The world is in a war of ideology.  America knows the ease of fast food and remote controls.  And when people break their word they're offended when being called on it.

I don't know if this is what you fought for but I thank you for fighting for me. 

July 27th, 2006

To whom it concerns,


You introduced me and excited me with images of huge creatures that once roamed the earth. You taught me the importance of patience and compassion through understanding.


You allowed me to experience the miracle of birth--yeah, they were chickens, but it was dang cool.


You expected a lot out of me and helped me challenge myself to do my best.


You read all my short stories and helped me make that private little school newspaper. You also showed me that stir fry is easy with a little patience and the right (fresh) vegetables.


You made the bullies do push ups...okay, maybe that just made them tougher!


Papa Smurf, Santa Claus, whoever you are, you were the archetype of the old, caring, grandfather figure who always had enough time to listen and care and accept everyone.

July 26th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I think I've come a long way. You might not necessarily agree. Hell, you probably don't care (to put it politely). Once upon a time you looked down on me (albeit politely). You never said you disapproved of me but you know, I'm not exactly an idiot. The fact that you never said, "Hey, hello, good to see you again, how are you doing?" sorta clued me in.

For years I loathed you. You were the epitome of everyone that had put on a straight face while I was around but was otherwise unsupportive. It didn't help that you were popular, talented, doing something exciting with your life while I-well, I was just learning to survive day to day. And worst of all I can't get away from you. Hell, last time I heard your name was in an interview on Oregon Public Radio and it ruined my whole afternoon.

Of course I know I ruined my whole afternoon by making you something that you weren't, that you aren't. The truth is you could have really undermined some of the most important relationships in my life but to my knowledge you never did. Sure, you never exactly welcomed me with open arms but you are really nothing but a scapegoat, one that I hated for years and one of the few I still unconsciously choose to hold onto.

Oddly enough I think that's actually a good thing. You see, the fact that I get so upset when I hear your name on the radio or see your face while I'm walking through a store after years and years and years have passed-that tells Aslynn that sure, he's come a long way but he still has a hell of a ways to go. You're not in my life but you're not exactly someone I can hide from and as such the wounds that come to the surface when your name is mentioned aren't something I can play the ostrich to.

Thanks. I think.

July 25th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

Sometimes I feel like the only strength I have available to me is the power of terrorism. I don't want to be a terrorist, though, I just want to wake up in the morning, take my shower, take the little girl to camp, go to work, learn something new, contribute to the world, socialize with my co-workers, come home, get some things done, have dinner, socialize, tie up the loose ends, meditate, and fall asleep. I want to just live and let live.

Somedays that's impossible, isn't it?

It's no wonder I close the shades and lock the doors sometimes (flashback to 7/23/6). So when the incoming attacks become frequent and seemingly inexaustible I dig a reasonably deep fox hole, put on my helmet, and hunker down for a spell. Sure, part of me wants to pull out the big guns and launch an offensive but to what end?

Cleaning the house you've bombed makes no goddamn sense to me.

P.S. Just for the suits that work at Homeland "Security" this has been, like, a metaphore. And that there was, like, a simily.

July 24th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I couldn't believe how negative you were. There you were, first time I met you, walking in the room, critisizing my clothes, the pictures on my wall, my music collection. I was shocked. I hadn't asked for your critique. It seemed my only transgression was that I happened to coexist in the same physical space and I sure as hell wasn't about to apologize to you for that!

On some level I felt superior to you. Hell, everyone I knew did in some way, shape, or form. You were nit-picky, gossipy, hypersensitive, and emotonally unpredictable. And yet as I look back I find that I was in no way superior; I too, had my emotional handicaps and in many respects my part in our lives was much more detrimental than your insensitive commentaries. And it wasn't until tonight that I've come to understand my part in things and see them in a whole new way.

I made you the enemy. I sought you out instead of taking responsibility for my behavior and as a result of that made you hated. I then abandoned you so I would not be hated. When I came back into your life years later you accepted me as a friend but there was always that barrier and I really never accepted it for what it was. I lived in my own world, I understood that I was not walking away, but I was insensitive to what I'd put you through years before, what dozens of people have put you through, and you had every reason to believe I was abandoning you. Trust takes time, doesn't it? I don't blame you for needing to protect yourself.

It sucks to be scarred.

I'm sorry for involving you in my game when I should have asked simply for what I really needed, that is, someone to listen. I thank you for being my friend in the best way you knew how. You are quite possibly one of the most intense people I've ever met. I hope you have found a way to focus that energy towards the betterment of your family, your friends, and our world. I wish you every happiness.

July 23rd, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I've thought about it long and hard and I must admit feeling a certain shortcoming when attempting to articulate my thoughts and feelings in a straight forward and unambiguous manner that you can readily accept. As you know I've sat down studiously choosing my words and have shared many letters with you over a period of weeks and months. I have sometimes spent days and weeks on these letters attempting to communicate and share where I'm coming from but without any success. The irony of this, to me at least, is that most of the ideas I've shared are as simple as "the sky is blue" and "I don't like anchovies" and "I like it when people communicate their thoughts and feelings directly instead of beating around the bush" and "I don't take kindly to being lied to." Needless to say it strikes me as more than a little frustrating when such attempt are met with blank stairs and I'd be lying if I didn't simply admit it pisses me off when you come back with further layers of obfuscation and two large pizzas with complimentary anchovies that you insist I can just "take off". You've left me in an uncomfortable position where I must make an emotionally difficult choice. Straight forward language has been ineffective and I feel I've all but exhausted my limited repertoire of English verbiage so I'm going to summarize my thoughts in the only way you appear to be capable of understanding: fuck you.

July 22nd, 2006

To whom it concerns,

When I was young you planted seeds. Your screaming and yelling and cursing caused everyone in the house to run in every direction and I was the oldest boy so I often found myself receiving the brunt of your outbursts while mom and my little brother scattered to the winds.

I loved you but there were times where I just hated you. I remember when I was five or six sitting around the kitchen table while you verbally abused mom and she cried. I was so upset by this that I promised myself that if you ever laid a hand on her I'd kill you--fortunately we never had to test that one out.

I was the good little kid growing up, the "smart" kid with straight A's and the like, yet when I wanted to I could out swear anyone. Should I thank you for that? And my empathy had its first growth spurt because I needed to develop the ability to predict and protect myself from your outbursts (the sooner, the better). Should I thank you for that?

For a long time I felt you were a terrible parent. There were times where you were completely unfair, blaming me for things I'd never done, yelling and screaming at me without cause, and the like. You talked at me much more often than you had a conversation with me, you yelled at me more often than you encouraged me, and when I really needed you listen to the difficulties I was having you weren't there for me.

Somehow we got through all that. Ten years later we've come to an understanding, have put the past behind us, and are closer than ever. Sure, now when you start cursing at your computer I not so subtly tell you to stop throwing a Goddamn tantrum, but other than that, "It's all good." And now that I'm a parent I can look at what you went through with a great deal more understanding and compassion.

Today was a prime example. My daughter went to a friend's house around 3pm and was going to be home by 5:30. While she was out Vipassana and I did some errands. We'd told our daughter that if she arrived home before we did to go inside and wait for us. So we get home around 6pm but she's not home. Having been stuck in some pretty heavy traffic ourselves we assumed that was the case with her and her friend and friend's parents. Time goes by and she's still not home. By now we've made several phone calls but we can't get ahold of anyone and Vipassana's getting worried. She drives over to the friend's house but our daughter isn't there; instead she meets someone else (whom we've never met) who says they'd gone out to dinner. She arrived home about an hour later, several hours after she was told to be home.

As you know we were already through something like this about a month ago. She'd stayed the night at a friends and knew to call home at 1pm so I could pick her up (that friend lived about a mile away). She called at 1pm and asked if she could help her friend move across the city. I said no, I was going to pick her up. She said uh, oh, uh, are you sure? The obfuscation was pretty thick and I was pretty sure she wasn't being honest with me so I finally just asked, "Where are you?" and she said Troutdale, a suburb of Portland over thirty miles from our house. Needless to say Vipassana and I were more than a little upset that an eleven year old ignored what she was told to do and made a decision to quite literally leave town. When she got home we sat down at the table and told her that such behavior was not acceptable and that she needed our permission, no if's and's or but's.

So we were pretty upset when she made a similar decision today. We clearly specified both to her and to her friend's mom that she was to be home around 5:30. So Vipassana and I discussed our game plan ahead of time and decided since she already knew the rules there was no need to go into it again. We decided to simply cancel our family movie night as a consequence of her choice (and though we haven't shared it with her we intend to limit her social excersions until she can respect our boundaries). We did not give her a speech, we did not yell at her, we did not threaten her in any way, we simply restated the house rules then ate dinner.

A few minutes later she confronts us...and the "fun" begins...

"Aren't you going to talk to me about what I did?" she asks.

"No," we responded, "We've already talked about it before and you know that you should have called us and gotten permission first, right?"

"Right...but aren't you going to yell at me?"

"No," we said. "We're just not going to watch a movie tonight like we planned so please just finish your chores and then you can play in your room."

So she went upstairs and every five to ten minutes she'd come downstairs. Each time she came down she became more and more argumentative, verbally abusive, and after about four or five times of this we said, "The way you're acting towards us is inappropriate. Until you can speak to us respectfully you need to go to your room." And of course how dare we, her parents, tell her she needs to talk to authority figures with respect so now her tantrum goes atomic and you know what, we allowed her to feel what she needed to feel but didn't become involved in her attempts at verbal sparing. So she started crying and yelling and screaming all the typical cliches, "You don't care about me! You don't understand me! You don't care about what I want!" and she started playing a song at full blast, the song she always plays when she believes everyone hates her and the world is unfair, yadda, yadda--oh, we must be such horrible parents (esp. given we bought her several gifts while we were out today!!!)! Her verbal abuses and mouthing off reached a fervor and we finally told her to go to bed.

Now I gotta say you got off lucky. Minus that one time I screamed that I wished my brother had never been born I didn't actively rebel until I was seventeen (and arguably becaise O was loosing my mind due to factors inside and outside the family). Here I am with an eleven year girl, a little girl who at six believed hitting and kicking adults was okay when she wasn't getting what she wanted, and although she no longer acts out physically there's still the psychological remnants of a little six year old that is willing to go ballistic if she can't get her way. Is this really what I signed up for?

I wish she knew how lucky she is. Some parents scream constantly at their kids. Other kids just get spanked or worse, have the shit kicked out of them. Our daughter, she gets logical consequences and we talk with her all the time so she understands and feels heard. A recent study was done in England and parents there give their kids on average 20 minutes of attention a day--we give our daughter hours of attention each day! We eat healthy food (for the most part), go out to do things (today was the farmers market and an SCA demo), spend family time together (movies, board games, house work), involve her in extracaricular activities (tennis, karate, fencing, soccer) and we keep our lines of communication open. And yet as parents we're always fighting against the early stages of her life where she was spoiled to death (something that has made her healthy social development difficult) and we're constantly struggling to teach her responsibility and values when the current cultural standard seems to be let your kids do anything they want as long as they're happy.

So I gotta bitch: has America lost its mind?

When I was a kid my friend's parents had rules and my friends and I respected them or we got into deep shit. When friends came to my house the same was true. And most importantly, parents respected each others rules without question. I didn't know anyone with perfect parents but that's how the world worked back then.

My experience now is parents with little to no psychological background gossip about each others parenting styles at the drop of a hat. I've had parents who show a blatant disregard for the boundaries that are set up for my daughter and parents who have implied it's okay for her to break the rules and even bend the truth a little as long as she's happy.

To almost quote a line from Shakespeare: Is this bullshit I see before me?

You know what I love about you? You respect our rules. You don't agree with all of them but you respect that we're the parents, that we're the ones that get to make the rules, and for that I respect you. Sure, sometimes you say you don't agree or give me advice and you know, I appreciate that because you don't come at me with some emotional diatribe about how you know better and how I should hug my daughter more or what not, you simply respect and understand that parenting is fucking tough and you continually recognize that my only interest is in raising her to be a healthy, responsible, and yes, happy, adult.

I can't say it enough, thank you. Thank you for supporting me when I choose to become her father and thank you for always being there for her. Thank you for giving her hugs and thank you for teaching her right from wrong. Thank you for tickling her until she almost pees her pants and thank you for giving me the mental and emotional skills to parent consciously instead of reactively.

My biggest fear is that no matter what I do I'll plant seeds that she'll use against herself and hate me for it, as I once did with you. My biggest reason to have hope is that you and I have overcome similar difficulties and are closer today than ever before.

Love ya, you old fart,

July 21st, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I have such a huge crush on you. It’s not something I’d readily admit and I’ve only shared this little secret with a few select people. Perhaps I’m too shy and perhaps I don’t know what your situation is and perhaps I just want to stay inside my comfort zone as opposed to enter into conjecture that might lead to disappointment. Or maybe I’ve spent my life chasing people I’ve been interested in whether for friendships, relationships, and the like, and I simply don’t have the time or the energy for such (often fruitless) adventures any longer. Or maybe I’m just an old man who reads books and gathers wisdom like some people collect stamps or antique furniture. And maybe I’m just content that you're my teacher.

Since we first met I’ve thought you were funny, witty, intelligent, thoughtful, amicable, and although I’m a little reticent to admit this outright, you are hot. In the distant past I’d be flabbergasted when I met someone who affected me as you can with a simple smile. Back then I didn’t feel even remotely attractive so there was always this insecurity, that I was completely out of my depth. By definition to be attracted to someone implies wanting to gravitate towards them but the insecurity acted as a catalyst so I’d find myself overcompensating for my insecurities and trying to act bigger and more “wonderful” than I really was. Last but certainly not least, my empathic sense goes completely haywire when someone like you is around and this leaves me effectively naked and vulnerable to manipulation.

The truth is if you asked me out I’d be beside myself.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t be flattered. That’s not to say I wouldn’t want to jump at the opportunity. That’s not to say I don’t think you’re absolutely fab. And that’s not to say I don’t think you’re without your quirks. The thing is, I just wouldn’t know what to do.

You see, I can give my heart and soul to someone but I already have commitments that most people are just incapable of truly understanding, much less accepting. I have a commitment to my adopted daughter and my best friend and the thing is I’d love to believe people really understand these commitments but no one really seems to. People come into my life proclaiming how wonderful, awesome, committed, and loyal I am and they find this enormously attractive--until they realize that because I’m wonderful, awesome, committed, and loyal I’m not going to simply walk away from my present commitments when it becomes inconvenient for them.

That is, quite honestly, one of the primary reasons I’ve chosen celibacy. Sure, there are times (oh, there are times!) were I’m lonely and I want to seek out a relationship but then I remember how hard it was finding a complimentary partner that really supported me while I was a single bachelor living on my own (I was not successful, by the way) but in comparison it’s a nightmare to try the same thing when I have commitments and loyalties that are well outside the social norm. So though there is this part of me that wants something more the rest of me is content to wait and learn. I may meet someone who’s supportive and good for me as soon as tomorrow, I may in ten years, or I may simply live out the rest of life learning and loving and growing in my own way as a simple aging bachelor. That life is as good as any, if I choose to make it so.

As with others I’d like to thank you. Thank you for making me uncomfortable. Without realizing it you push my buttons, make me feel a little nervous, a little insecure, and this gives me an opportunity to find subtleties within my own psyche that I’d like to improve upon. You challenge me to remain when I feel like I must move towards something I’m attracted to. Most importantly you give me the opportunity to accept the small pleasantries without becoming upset because I’m not getting the whole shebang--what a gift that gives me.

July 20th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I don't want to write tonight. Sitting down every day and putting all of my thought and energy into a sincere letter has been difficult for me. I just want to get in bed but I told myself on the last day of last month I'd sit down and write one letter a day no matter what.

Some days it's easy. Some days it's just a difficult excercise in commitment.

Funny thing is I was chatting with a friend about that today. He was telling me about staying with things and I summarized what I thought he was saying as, "Staying in the conversation." And for the most part I've been pretty good at doing that over my life; I don't mean to be cocky but I believe I'm more obstinant in this regard than most. I can thank you for repeatedly teaching me that lesson growing up, to stick with it and to never give up even if it just seems like you get nothing out of it.

You do.

There were a couple of times in my life where you sat down with me and told me to get back in the fight and give it my all. And there was at least one time where I completely ignored you. I didn't want to tell you I'd already shot myself in the foot, that I'd done some things I was ashamed of and there was no going back. I wanted to stay in the fight but you'd be right in saying I was a coward (although you'd never say or feel that, but I have no doubt you'd be dissapointed in me). Hell, I share so much about myself here but even this one thing...it's one of those few things I've only shared with one or two people.

And so over the years I've taken your advice to heart and I stick with things even when it hurts, I stick by people even when they step on me, and I keep writing even though it's past my bedtime and all I want to do is fall into a restful slumber because tomorrow is Friday and tomorrow night I'm going to see Clerks II and Saturday I may get to sleep in a little bit.

Thank you for reminding me of the importance of always being on the up and up. Wish I'd listened sooner but then God has a funny way of putting us where we're most needed. I think in your own round-about way you taught me that too.


July 19th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

You were my second and I was in love in a dreamy way I'd never experienced before. I was completely infatuated with you, melted every time we touched, and thought I wanted to spend my life with you.

And then you left and being young and inexperienced I assumed you were abandoning me. In retrospect I can now see that you spent hour after hour on the phone with me because you cared but didn't have too many options.

I'm sorry I projected so much onto you. And I'm sorry I expected so much. Maybe people can care about each other without ever coming close to remotely understanding one another. Maybe you spent hours if not days trying to figure out how to love me and maybe if I'd told you what I wanted and why, maybe if you told me what you wanted out of our friendship, maybe if I hadn't been so stand-offish the two times you'd traveled so many miles to visit, maybe we'd still be friends.

Thank you for reaching out to me when I felt enormously unattractive. Thanks for hanging out with me though you were popular enough to hang out with anyone you wanted. Thanks for listening to me that one night when I was fifteen and I was a thousand miles from home and lonely and tired--that was one of the few real conversations I had that summer. Thank you for reminding me that sometimes what's offered is wonderful if I'd just open my eyes and stop focusing on what I don't have.

May all your hopes and dreams, tears and sorrows, bring you riches.

July 18th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

I probably never told you there's a reason I don't have many friends. Some would say it's because I'm broken or I'm insecure; the irony of this, of course, is that when I was truly broken and insecure I was out there constantly looking for new friends and I kept my door completely wide open to just about anyone. And God, did I get burned! But now that I'm feeling more or less whole and only rarely do I feel insecure I'm not out there hitting the pavement, so to speak.

I'm fine.

I have become very conscientious about who I allow into my life. One might argue that this comes with age but the truth is simpler yet: the economics of time and energy. Put another way I only have so many hours and so much energy in a day and the more I've learned to use that time wisely the less time I have for, say, opening my life up to people who may promise the world but have little if nothing genuine or tangible to offer. As you know the hours of my day are almost exclusively devoted to:

  • The necessities: food and shelter
  • Getting the necessities: Work, work, work, and more work
  • Self Improvement: Art, Photography, Reading, Spirituality, Writing
  • Home Improvement: Lawn work, deck work, wood work, etc.
  • Parenting & Vipassana
  • Entertainment: Movies, reading, motorcycling

The question then becomes: what purpose is there to enlarge my social circle when I don't have the time or energy for such pursuits?

A few years ago I had the time. Vipassana suggested I hang out with you more often and at first I ignored her. I'd been burned and frankly, I wasn't ready to open myself up to someone again. Yeah, I liked you, yeah, I thought you were cool, and yeah, I had a great deal of respect for you--but at the same time I could see potential for conflict. In some ways our personalities were too much alike. We were both pretty intense and passionately emotional people. We both had some very strong ideas about how things should be. And even before we started hanging out we had our little tiffs--although nothing that couldn't be resolved by an exchange of chocolate chip cookies.

A little background:

You see, up until that point in my life I'd been burned by almost everyone I'd opened up to for a friendship, relationship, or what have you. Some of them had even driven me close to suicide. I had a lot of distrust and the last thing I needed was another potential flake. But I looked in the mirror and I didn't like making decisions based on how someone else had treated me--I don't like putting myself or anyone else in that box. So I said what the hell and took the leap.

And for awhile there I was pleasantly surprised. Things were great. But I gotta be honest, I had my concerns and felt myself pulling back and I sometimes felt the same from you. It almost seemed like we were two cool cats opening up a little and closing down a little, a subtle social dance that always seemed to prevent us from connecting in the way I felt we both wanted.

And then it happened. I'm not going to relate the tale here but for the record, it almost sent me into an emotional breakdown. I know you were being sincere but at the same time what happened hit all the wrong buttons for me, I'd been through the real thing so many times before I literally had symptoms of Post Tramatic Stress Disorder. Then when everything fell into place and I learned I didn't really have anything to worry about I didn't know what to do with all that pent up energy but damn I was upset.

And I kept that to myself. I slammed it deep down inside. The truth was I was really upset with myself for opening up to you. And I was upset with you for slamming all my buttons pretty damn hard (even though I knew you didn't mean to). And so I kept it down and I kept it down until one day it just all blew up all over both of us.

God, did I feel like a jerk. Still do, in fact.

And things weren't ever quite the same since, were they? I, for one, am not surprised by that. Maybe I should have shared how I felt ahead of time. Would that have made a difference? Or is it true that us guys aren't allowed to do something as simple as talk freely and openly about things like our feelings? It's not machisimo, is it?


You know what, though? I'm glad you're in my life. You're one of the coolest guys I know. I value your sincerity and your honesty (though sometimes I get the impression you're holding back). I've used you as a role model regarding how to relate to people, especially strangers--you're ability to easily hold a conversation has always impressed me. I also find myself learning from the traits we share in common although I'm not sure how I could explain myself in that regard without causing undue offense (so forgive me if I don't!). Thank you for backing me up, you're one of the few people who has consistently done that for me in the last five/six years of my life (rare and greatly appreciated). Oh yeah, and thanks for pointing out the classes; if I die I'm blaming you that I did so with a bloody smile on my face! :)

Take care, mate.

July 17th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

Do you remember the time we took our clothes off and ran through the alfalfa field behind your parents house? Yeah, it was all over fast when your mom started screaming from the deck but hey, they were adults, what did they know about having a good time?

You weren't like any friend I'd ever had before and arguably different than anyone I've known since. You were intense, talkative, and sometimes violently unpredictable. You loved sports, something I did not share in common with you, but your interest was so great you were the only boy I ever played a game of one-on-one football with.

I remember that hole in the floor of your bedroom that you could throw your dirty clothes into and they'd go down a vent straight into the laundry room hamper--I thought that was so cool. I remember you smashing your brother's remote control car with a hammer in a fit of rage and not being at all sure what he had done to incur such a wrath. I remember hiking up the hill in front of your house and finding that huge rock with the crevaces--do you remember the book we found and the toilet paper? I remember you eating cold pizza right out of the fridge and I'd never seen anyone do that before and I thought you were crazy.

Actually, that's not true. I knew you were more sane than most of the people I knew but most of the people I knew thought you were less sane than I knew. Whereas they often saw someone who was unpredictable, uncontrollable, sometimes agressive, I saw someone who was deep and though lacking a level of self control I took for granted I knew you were thoughtful and passionate in a way no other boy I knew was. Hell, every other guy I met had to put on their macho facades yet you would just say how you felt when you felt it. That's not something anyone else I knew was capable of doing. Even now, as an adult, I find this form of honesty to be sorely lacking from our society.

How difficult it is for so many to simply admit something as simple and unambiguously personal as how they feel.

Okay, so we had our wild times and I think I did some crazier shit with you than anyone I knew as a child but it was innocent fun. Yet parents and other kids often looked at us and talked and what have you and I'm sure my parents had their concerns. I know later when I started to act out they assumed I must have been having a chemical imbalance--as if that can be transmitted by friendship or proximity!

They did not want to hear the truth.

You taught me some important lessons. First, as an empath I can only pick up emotional conditions, not physical ones that effect the emotions. Secondly, that innocence is often misunderstood and judged by people who mistakenly believe in one superficial status quo or another. Thirdly, that most people are more willing to believe a comfortable lie that benefit a few in the short run over an objective truth that benefits all in the long.

Thank you for your friendship and the surprise phone calls from time to time. And thank you for letting me just listen; after all, you were always the talkative one :)

July 16th, 2006

To whom it concerns,

It took a long time for me to figure out what I could thank you for. Ten or twelve years of friendship followed by a decade of introspection and I finally have an answer. It wasn't necessarily something that jumped out at me and said, "Hey, here it is." Then again, nothing worth learning ever does.

For a long time I was angry with you. And who wouldn't have been? For most of my childhood I called you my "best" friend. Yet where were you through some of the most difficult years in my life? Did you give me a call to ask me how I was doing? Did you respond to my letters? Actually, now that I recall the last few times I saw you was when I knew people that could get you in touch with people that could get you little bags of weed.


The clues were there, I just wasn't paying attention.

In third grade you were going nuts for that one girl who was in the popular crowd and man, did you act like an idiot when you attacked the gym wall in some strange attempt to win her affection--yet for some strange reason I backed you up and painted you in a good light because I wanted you to be happy. Then there was that time in fourth grade when you picked a fight with my only other friend just because his dad was a trucker and your dad was an x-hippie. And how about that time in seventh grade when you just stopped hanging around me and when I asked what was going on you said, "You just aren't popular enough for me." And when you tried to steal my first and only high school girlfriend while I was on summer vacation I forgave you not only for doing it but also for lying to me when I confronted you. I was the loyal one, the understanding one, the thoughtful one.

And the admittedly "slow" one.

I was angry for a long time. I didn't see my own part in the relationship, I had these simplistic ideas about what friendship was and how people should treat each other and since you didn't do X and Y and Z well, you weren't a good friend and since I was an expert in what a good friend was I