Monday, June 29, 2009

10 days...

10 days??? I'm supposed to post more often than that, right?

Well, I AM writing, just not posting...which I suppose is counter-intuitive when it comes to a blog. The good news is that my wife and I have been keeping busy: trying to fix some things up around the house, going on our first date in 18 months. * YOWZA* Ah, we just knew we needed to get out...and get some drinks in us and try to cut loose a bit. It was a nice time. Hopefully it reminded her why she likes me so much because I know it refreshed my memory.

In a related note: go see The Hangover...unless you're easily offended.... or under 21...

Of course this leads me to one of the topics I've been wanting to touch on, but haven't (and still won't really, because it's late and I have a 'credenza' to put together) : me and alcohol. Looking back on my life, especially high school and the 3 years before I started dating my wife(yes, theres a chunk of time between) I pretty easily came to the conclusion that I am some form of an alcoholic. I would like to say that I can control it, and maybe now I can (I hear emotional baggage laughing), but I certainly didn't in the past.

It feels nice to have regained access to that outlet for myself, and I'd like to think that between watching 2-3 hours of Intervention a week, and having a blunt and forceful wife with counseling experience I have a decent safety net. That or we'll both be on Intervention. Woohoo!

More soon...

Including (...?)
Battling the Basement


My son's shadow

The Quest

Action 8

Thursday, June 18, 2009

put on your sunday bonnet...

So I found myself involved in a discussion of God's existence in, of all places, a pro-wrestling message board. The gentleman posing the question,whom tends to lean toward the inflammatory, wanted to focus on the logical aspects of it all, but it quickly became a theological discussion, amongst other things.

For me, it became an extension of what I'd already been thinking about in terms of my spiritual beliefs (even before Joel, although that has certainly amplified my focus on the topic).

I grew up a Baptist. Although we didn't go to Church on a regular basis (usually just Vacation Bible School in the summers so my parents could have a break) God and Jesus were a pretty regular part of our lives. It was my grandmother on my father's side, a very firm believer in Christ, that first planted the seed of questioning religion. Now let's get this out of the way: when I say religion, I say it in regards to the rules and practices of a faith whereas spirituality/faith/belief refer to the simple belief in God. Many people see those two items as being hand-in-hand, but if they were, why all the different religions? So let's avoid any Holy Wars and state that I don't think any religion is particularly right or wrong...except Scientology. I mean, what the fuck?!

My grandmother pointed out to me, rather early in my life, that "you don't have to put on your Sunday bonnet and head to church every week to be a good Christian". A simple edict, but one that really set the tone for my religious beliefs as years went on. The rules of a church just never seemed to explain things quite the way they meant to, and too often I saw families torn apart over disagreements on those rules. It just never seemed to mesh with Jesus' teachings of love and compassion. My grandmother, however, whom I only saw in church during special occasions, certainly spent her time touching a lot of hearts and showing kindness and compassion to everyone she met, especially the black sheep. Of course, I must note that every evening, round about 6pm, my grandmother would start working on a bottle of vodka (sometimes lightly, sometimes heavily) and grapefruit juice. Me personally, I never found wisdom in vodka, just the contents of my stomach; so I like to think it just made her even more badass. You can draw your own conclusions.

So I decided a few years back that while I follow the teachings of Jesus, I didn't really want to call myself a Christian in the traditional sense. The interpretation just seems to limited. Take Heaven for example. Heaven sounds like a nice vacation resort, but if it's just a nice version of what we have down here, well that's a bit disappointing. I want Heaven to be mind-blowing; something beyond my imagination. I don't like the idea of Heaven being 'somewhere else', especially now. I don't like thinking of my son being somewhere far off. It just doesn't feel natural.

So as I tried to explain my thoughts on God to this message-board fellow, and I was thinking about the idea of God being infinite; having no end, no beginning; all that kind of stuff. You know, all of Existence is in fact God. Certainly if there is a Supreme Being, it would have to be all encompassing, right? Otherwise it has an end and beginning and there must be something it is living within...and then I have an aneurysm. So I take that idea and I start to think of it within the general Christian ideas of God, Heaven and Christ and I ... well, I don't want to say I realized something, because it seems kind of obvious in a way. So I guess it was more that I finally took the time to actually think something that had been in my mind for a while.

Religion is poetry: it is Man's way of putting into words that which he cannot naturally express. Sadly, I feel like I'm insulting poetry. We take our idea that there must be something more out there, and we put it into terms we are comfortable with. I at least feel this way about Christianity and any other religion that has lots and lots of rules (Hello to my Islamic, really, I have some). Not that rules are bad, but we are confining this vast idea to our own perceptions and feelings. It, again, just doesn't feel natural.

Just to say it: if you're of the mind that The Bible is the absolute 'word of God', well, it could be, sure. but keep in mind that one of the basic ideas is that man is imperfect (we ate fruit; we fell from grace) soooooooooooo if The Bible has been in our hands all this time, could it be that perhaps parts of it have been messed with somewhere along the way? History suggests this could be true (*eep!*)

Of course I am not contesting that the Christian God is not real, nor that Jesus isn't real, it is just that I can't bring myself to believe that things completely work the way our religion(s) defines them. I don't find comfort thinking of my son being somewhere far off in the arms of Jesus (no offense to Jesus. I'm sure he has nice arms). But the idea of just Existence; everything being a part of something...well that gives me comfort, because that feels like my son is still right here with us; a part of me, a part of my wife, a part of Jules too. I like that idea a whole lot better.

If you want to delve into this a bit more, and get some other viewpoints, click here to go to the topic that sparked this for me. I know, it's lame that it was on a wrestling message board, but I've found a lot of good things at this one in particular COUGHwifeCOUGH.

What is it Christians say when they can't answer something? God works in mysterious ways. ;-)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

At least we have Conan...

For the life of me, I can't recall a time that my wife and I sat and listened to The Beatles. Neither of us owns a Beatles cd, and we never hear them on the radio. I think we looked at one or two Wings songs for our wedding, but that's about it.

So I think you can see why our song list for our son's memorial was a little surprising:

Let it be - The Beatles
Sing For You - Tracy Chapman
When You Come Back Down - Nickel Creek
Imagine - John Lennon
In Loving Memory - Alter Bridge
You're Missing - Bruce Springsteen
Blackbird - The Beatles
Your Song - Elton John
One More Day - Diamond Rio
In My Life - The Beatles
Lullabye - Billy Joel
Forever Young - Bob Dylan
Godspeed - Dixie Chicks
Hey Jude - The Beatles

The gentlemen from the mortuary were very kind and had everything set up quite beautifully when we arrived. Joel was cremated and his urn, a simple bronze cube with his name and birth-date engraved, rested in the lap of the large blue puppy my wife fell in love with at the floral shop. No speaker; just a gathering for family and friends.
It was nice.

I still don't know what to think of Saturday.

Our son, 17 month old Jules, had a great time; running and playing with family. Seeing him have a blast usually means I'm having a blast, so perhaps you can see where my mind is confused.

Unfortunately, some of my family got caught up in the kids having a good time, especially at my In-Laws house afterwards, and honestly acted like the whole occasion was just some family reunion (something I had promised to my wife that my family didn't do at funerals). Admittedly, in my stupor I even got caught up in a bit of picture taking, at least of my son, and I accepted the (very) late Christmas gifts that some of my family brought Jules. Again, I just didn't think about it at the time; I just accepted them and moved on, not sure what to think. Now I know they were just trying to be cheerful/helpful, and my uncle even said to me, "we thought these might be helpful for Jules with everything else being kind of crazy right now." ( I used quotes, but I'm sure those aren't the exact words, but whose blog is this?)

The toys are nice...but maybe an ill-timed delivery?? and I hope I never see the pictures. Honestly. Maybe it is silly, but I don't want to remember that as a happy day. It was a hard and shitty day. At best, I will settle for remembering it as a solemn day.

I know myself well enough to have realized that Saturday was my reason to keep moving: a goal, something to get to. But with that goal now surpassed, the pain is a lot harder to deal with. Nothing to plan for; nothing that needs to be done for him; just very normal days to deal with.

So it's hard to walk in this alternate reality where everything in the world is normal and fine, except for my wife and I. It's just a weird, weird feeling.

But we have found some reprieve in humor (our most oft used coping/deflective mechanism). With our own jokes turning a tad dark, we've found help in the form of our favorite red-haired giant: Conan O'Brien. Our first Monday home was his first on the Tonight Show (something we'd both looked forward to for a time now). We haven't missed any of the 8 shows yet, and luckily we've been able to laugh through all of them.
So at least we've found one normal thing in this alternate reality; yes, we still have Conan.

Friday, June 5, 2009

What the hell is that name?

Firstly, I'm testing the 'email your blog post' feature because I'm new to this and, well, I can probably post more easily from work using email than  (Hey, I have a really long planning period, okay?)

So, the 'new' screen name: Rivalen.  No, I didn't grab it from Lord of the Rings or D&D.  It actually comes from the Arthurian legend of Tristan & Isolde; Rivalen was Tristan's father. Okay, so its pretty close to D&D...   Nonetheless, I didn't think "Captain Winkie's Dead Baby Blog" really captured the tone I'm going for.  Thusly, I've adopted the new sn.    The jury is still out on whether I feel that I, like Rivalen, have given up my son for safekeeping.

My wife first commented that she didn't want to hear anything about our boy, Joel Tristan,  being in a better place.  She never has been much of the religious type, and while I have, I have to admit questioning just what I do believe.  Not just now, but based on the fact of how much of my 'faith' is just learned behaviorl; routine from youth.  I definitely believe in the human soul and that there is a whole lot more out there that we do not know, and I certainly try to follow the teachings of Christ, I mean, he seems to have been a pretty good guy, ya know?  But right now, with all of this... I just find it really hard to think about religion or Heaven or even sweet baby Jesus. 

That will probably be a shocker to my family: no preacher or prayer service at the memorial.  If someone wants to pray, by all means I encourage them.  I know I find myself talking to God here and there, but never for long; it feels like talking to a dropped call.  At least it isn't like talking to my mother: at least God isn't there directly responding to what I've said with things that don't make sense or are off topic (and no, she has no dementia). See, I picked up a lot of avoidance skills as coping mechanisms from my mother.  Fortunately, I recognize them for what they are; unfortunately, she sees the equivalent of sitting with her fingers in her ears as a good strategy. She means well and she tries her best, but its all pretty self-serving at the end of the day.

Oh, I could go on and on;  trust me, there is a lot of pain wrapped up in this pregnancy even before Joel died.  Its just a real pisser that it is threatening to spill over to the day of his service.  I mean, no one likes my mother-in-law all that much, but why does MY family have to make such a big deal out of it?  *sigh* future blogs abound with that subject

Its a portrait of a life and a family flopping around like a fish gasping for air.  Its just a question of how (or if) we'll get back to water and start living again.   

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My new life

I don't have a new house, or a new job, or even a new pet.

My new life is all about living with a hole; living life knowing that there is something, some part of my world, that should be there but is not. Now I don't think I can ever fill that hole, but to keep myself from falling into it I've decided that I am going to try and be a bit more productive. Sadly, I chose a 'blog' as my first step in that process.

But they say if you want to be a writer, you have to write every day, so why not have an outlet for some of my gibberish? And now I can do it without being bombarded with App invites and 'vote for me' bulletins. Not that I'm knocking Myspace or anyone that uses it regularly and loves it, I'm just far too narcissistic for that. Sure, I'll still keep up with 'my peeps' via Myspace, but when I feel like blabbing, I like something a little more simplified. No offense; just a personal preference. (although facebook DOES blow)

UPDATE: ...I'm now on facebook...

So, "You can't get there from here...". George Carlin observed that it is a bullshit line because surely you can get anywhere from somewhere. With that in mind, this is where I will chronicle my impossible journey back to normal.

Inspiration for my blogging comes from two places: the first being my extraordinary wife who captivated and entertained me with her words, mind and humor before setting her romantic trap and revealing her beauty to me as well. She is probably thinking, as she reads this, that my vow to be more productive should get me away from the keyboard and back to finishing the trim around the house.

The other blog inspiration is k@lakly, author of This is not what I had planned. Her blog helped me understand that what has happened to my family, more specifically to my wife and I, has unfortunately made us part of an exclusive community. It isn't something to be desired, being initiated into "the club", but at least knowing that there are people out there who have been through this, people who fully understand, is helpful.

So this is my first step in trying to participate, in some small way, in that community. Of course, this is also self-serving; giving myself some small place to spill my brain and perhaps try to work some things out for myself.

UPDATE: When I started this blog, not very long ago, my original intent was to keep it private; to keep it away from the eyes of those who know me. Then I tweaked that a bit and thought it would be nice to share this with at least some people I know (plus, it's hard to hide hours of typing to your wife). Then through either a side-effect of my Internet clumsiness or an uh-oh on the part of Myspace, I realized that at least for a time my blog link had been very public. This doesnt change anything: I still intend for this blog to be openly personal. That means that yes, I may say things that make you uncomfortable or perhaps even hurt your feelings if you are close to me. Sorry about that, but I am currently under construction and you should watch for debris.
To further update, I finally just posted a damn feed to this blog on my facebook because I'm through keeping separate lives.

I'll leave you with something I know I'll never forget; a surreal moment that might also shed a little light about "the hole", "the club", and "the change" that I've talked about. Thanks for reading, whoever you are, if it's now or later, if you know me or not.

There was a rumble of thunder as she finally said the words we'd stumbled around all evening: "we lost the baby."