Sunday, August 31, 2014

Dear Mykayla

Dear Mykayla,

For 8 years now, I have waited for you.

I have sold guitars, healed injured muscles, graduated college, climbed mountains, written novels, run races, carried burdens, cried rivers, and overcome obstacle after obstacle, all in hope that you would soon arrive. All of this, to ensure that you would have a safe, secure place to call home and a father you could be proud of.

Your mother has waited her whole life for you.

She has worked tirelessly to build a foundation for you. In her own superhuman way, she has built a system of organization and precision that will allow you to have anything you want, if you are willing to follow her lead. She has chased her dreams, and only one has escaped her.

You.

Your mother and I have ached to see your face, to hold your tiny hands, to hear your sweet little voice. We have longed to hold you close when you are scared, to sing you to sleep when you have bad dreams.

For 9 months now, we have expected you.

From a single cell to the size of a watermelon, we've seen you grow. We've told you stories and played you songs. Our thoughts are always with you and being the best parents that we can be.

Little Love, you are the stars in the sky. Your time is coming soon, and we will love you to the moon and back.

Sleep well, little one. Tomorrow is yours for the taking. Or any day after you choose to make your birthday.

And you must never forget
your daddy will always love you.

Always.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Years Day

Well kids, we did it...The world did not blow up, there was no zombie apocalypse (honestly I'm a little disappointed. I even got a hatchet for Christmas!), and the end of all things did not fall upon us yet. So be it.

Before I get to what I want to write, I thought I would post an update for the few of you who actually know what The Nemesis Diary is...80,000 words, 50 chapters, and more than 250 pages later, it's still not done. What I can tell you is that it will be shortly. Stay tuned. Those of you who don't know what this is, feel free to bounce over to http://thenemesisdiary.blogspot.com and introduce yourself. No, Jared Donovan is not based on me.

Now that all of that business is out of the way, let's talk about what everyone talks about at this time of year: trivial and well-intentioned goals for the next calendar year. Let's spend more time with family. Let's fall in love! Let's lose weight! Let's be a better friend! Let's write a novel!!! (Easy, Steve...you're getting awfully close to something there...)

Yep, it's going to be one of those kind of posts...

For all the good intentions that we have, most of us tend to pick goals that are very difficult to be accountable for. Is there an imaginary bucket somewhere that every time I'm a 'better friend' I get a quarter? Is there a special Tootsie Roll fairy that leaves me treats when I have spent enough time with my family?

In most cases, I don't think there is a Tootsie Roll fairy (although there should be. I'd be a lot nicer I think). I don't think there is a bucket waiting for me to finish being a good friend. What there is and isn't aren't really what I'm looking for anyway. What I am looking for now is purpose. It doesn't matter what the goals we choose are, only that we pursue them to the best of our ability and be accountable for them.

Si vis pacum, parabellum. Latin, for 'If you wish for peace, prepare for war.' I was watching some movies the other night that inspired me to write this. The first film I watched was The Punisher, which is where I got the Latin. Not a surprising choice, I've watched it a lot over the years. I love superhero movies and I also love revenge stories (again, see The Nemesis Diary). But when I heard that phrase, it resonated for the first time. A call to arms of a sort...The next film I watched was Wanted, which is a great show also. But it ends with something that gave me the chills. It ends with the main character saying: I'm taking back power of my own life...what have you done lately?" Goosebumps, kids.

The reason this seemingly random-placed paragraph is in this post is because it is the filter through which I am viewing 2013. What have I done lately? That's what resolutions are all about!

I've failed miserably at some of my previous resolutions, and I'm sure I'll fail again. What I can tell you is that I will not stop trying. This is my word, this is my promise. The Steve you know is changing, evolving, and will not stop until my resolutions...not resolutions, promises are fulfilled. This is my call to arms, even if I am the only one who hears it.

So choose the favorite resolutions. Be vague, and follow through to the best of your ability. That's what most of us do. .

But...remember that you are accountable to yourself, and the only one who will know whether you kept your resolution is you.

But I'm taking back the power of my own life. No excuses; I intend to succeed. And 365 days from right now, I'm going to ask myself one question: What have you done lately?

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Let's Hear It for the End of the World!

Well kids, the world is ending in 2 days. Doomsday is upon us. Does that freak you out?

In case you don't know, I have a mild fascination with the idea of the world ending. Don't freak. Call it a social observation. People all react differently to the idea of it, and everyone seems to know how it's going to happen. Macabre as it sounds, it has always been very interesting to me to see how people think it all unfolds.

One of my favorite movies/series is The Terminator, because technology becoming self-aware is awfully good watching. Resident Evil, Zombieland, and The Walking Dead have all made a lot of money based on a zombie apocalypse. You can't go anywhere without seeing something about frickin' zombies these days.

Think of all of the freaky possibilities we have in front of us. The Mayan calendar that has been crazy accurate abruptly ends at 12/21/12. The I Ching prophecy from ancient China (circa 5,000 years old) has an odd pattern in its sequencing that was mapped out in the late 1980s ends on the same date.

Ever read The Bible? It doesn't point at the date, but I can't even tell you how many people have related the Book of Revelations to modern times to me. I've had people tell me that the Antichrist is everyone from Tom Cruise to Obama to Bono from U2. I even heard somone accuse Miley Cyrus. Hannah. Freakin. Montana. Crazy?

How about how the Oracle at Delphi and The Sybill from Ancient Greece have all related apocalyptic endings to the world with oddly familiar characteristics and time? You'll never guess the date they picked.

Not only that, we have astronomers predicting a polar shift at some point, potentially when the Earth is in perfect alignment with the other planets and the sun that only happens once every 25,800 years. Yep, I watch a lot of the Discovery and History Channels...But these are all real things I've seen on the 21 Days of Armageddon (I've DVR'd the crap out of this month...told you I'm fascinated).

That means if you want a scientific explanation, it's out there. If you want religion, that can be found as well. Go figure that they would finally agree on something then the whole world will end. Awesome.

Don't get me wrong; I don't want the world to end. Quite the opposite, actually. I happen to love my life. I am married to the girl of my dreams and I see my family on a consistent basis. I have a killer job, great friends, 9 guitars (ok that's bragging a little), and I even have a way to vent the inner workings of my brain to anyone who cares (yay blogging!). I am amazed on a daily basis by the things that I see in the world and by the people who live in it. I am captivated by some of the amazing technology we have access to, and the great things people are starting to do with it. I don't want Schwarzenegger to show up at my door asking for John Connor, but still.

The reason for this post is not to instigate panic or convince you one way or another that A) the world is ending or B) it isn't. My point is that time is fleeting, whether it ends in 2 days or not. The things that have happened across the nation over the last year have been mindblowing and horrific. The incident in Connecticut last week and the violence in Colorado over the summer have shaken me to my core. The storm that rocked the east coast is still very fresh in my memory, and Katrina still is easy to recall. A friend of mine had to go through the death of his 17 year old nephew who died tragically last week. I can't believe some of the things I have read in the news. Terrifying, awful, and utterly evil in some cases...But at the same time, it makes me think about the time that I do have and what I am doing with my life.

I personally am not overly concerned about the world blowing up on Friday. The Mayans didn't have a thing called Leap Year, which would put their 12/21/12 about 4 years ago. There have been a bunch of 12/21/12s in between their count and ours...once a century in fact, on December 21, **12 each. That's not my point. My point is we need to live our lives like THE WORLD ACTUALLY IS ending in 2 days. But I feel like we should live that way every day, whether tomorrow is the day the world ends or not. As I sit here, 'If Today Was Your Last Day' by Nickelback just came on shuffle...I'm a little creeped out by that particular wrinkle the universe sent me, but the point is driven regardless.

I am a strong believer in manifest-destiny; that what I put out into the world comes back to me. You can call it Karma if you want, or God bestowing blessings out to us if you want. I have my own beliefs, but so does everyone else. If we try to force the world to end in 2 days, I imagine someone will find something that could end it and interpret something to justify it. That's the way the world seems to go.

I don't know how the world is going to end or when and I don't pretend to. I write this now not to preach, not to bluster and posture for you. I'm not trying to offend anybody nor am I trying to stir up anything with anyone anywhere. I write this now because I think we could all use a moment to take a step back and remember what's really important. This is an opportunity to not take things for granted.

Is the world ending in 2 days? Maybe. But maybe it isn't. And even if it does, at the end of all things, what is important? That's your decision. It isn't too late.

Sb.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Wake-Up Call

One of my favorite quotes is "We must accept change as the rule, but not as our ruler." I love this quote because it reminds us that while we can't control that things change, we are in control of the changes we make. My last post was about seeing things differently, about approaching my own life in a different manner. I have tried to do what I committed to do, and have worked hard to make each day a new one and to start fresh each time I wake.

I recieved a post on facebook from an old friend. She is a successful independent writer/graphic designer/just plain awesome person. She had taken the time to create a cover for my novel The Nemesis Diary that I have posted at http://thenemesisdiary.blogspot.com. She has been following it since I started it a little more than 2 years ago, and consistently encourages me to finish it. First of all, I am completely blown away by that gesture. Thanks a million Keary :) Secondly, I have had more motivation to finish than I have had to do anything in a long while.

The reason I bring this up is because of the time of year we are in. It's no secret: I've been called a Scrooge for a lot of my life. I hate Christmas music (especially Mariah Carey), and I've never liked the claymation movies. More than that, I have always had a hard time with what people call 'the Christmas Spirit.' People use this term as a guise to be a good person for 31 days of the year, which I have always been against. There are 365 days in a year; 31 means very little in the grander stage of things. I hate the idea that people only need to be good to each other for 31 days. Call it what you will.

The reason I mention this is because I was completely rocked by what my friend did for me. She didn't have to make that graphic for me; I didn't even ask her to. It was exactly what I would want, don't get me wrong...but it was done completely out of the goodness of her heart. That is the change that I would like to make in my own life; to be able to do things that completely change the landscape of someone's life or mood and not attribute it to the time of year. I want to be able to make a difference through a gesture or thought, because I choose to.

I challenge you to make that kind of difference in someone's life. Today. Now.

Again, I am grateful for the wake-up call. My words could never express the gratitude I feel for a good friend taking the time to reach out to me. It will not go unnoticed.

 If you haven't read Eden by Keary Taylor, I highly recommend it and any of her projects. I hope to be half the author and person she is someday.


Sb

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Broken Iris(es)

It seems the busier that I get, the more I neglect things that I once deemed important. I find myself constantly screaming at myself inside of my head to stay the course; to finish what I've started. Unfortunately, the more I focus on tying loose ends, the more that I am staring at unfinished tapestries of what I thought my life would be by now.

Don't get me wrong; I get things done. I set goals and I achieve them. Just not in the order I have intended.

I spend a lot of time reading and revising countless projects, be it The Nemesis Diary or a snippet of a song or prose I cannot complete. Part of me wonders if I will ever be truly finished with this game of cat and mouse that I play with my grown-up life and my creative counter-balance.

But things change.

For one, I feel my vision is clearing. Literally. No, seriously, I had surgery on my eyes and I see better. Apparently I've been seeing things between 20/50 and 20/70 for quite some time. I elected to receive Lasik surgery in place of playing the glasses/contacts game. I have nothing against them, but I felt they weren't the right direction for me. I have been walking around without seeing things as they should be for a while.

I am starting to see I was missing some important things. My physical body was way ahead of my inner scope. Hopefully, this begins a domino effect. I have people in my life that have been neglected but not forgotten. I have friends that I love dearly who I have not spoken a word to in far too long. I have things I need to accomplish that I have left on the back burner.

I am not ok with that.

I'm far from perfect, and I don't pretend to be. But I'm tired of making excuses. I have decided to do something about the scraps of paper that permeate my office and the post-it notes inside of my head. I need more than listening to the voice in my head. Thought without action is willingly accepting your situation.

Let's just say I'm seeing things a little more clearly now.

Sb.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Never Forgotten

As everyone knows, today is the 10 year anniversary of the heinous terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in New York City and on the Pentagon. I remember very clearly that day. I remember where I was, what I was thinking, what I was wearing, the complete loss of appetite and desire to do anything but stare at the tv...But what I remember the most was the gravity it laid on my soul. What I remember most was my 15th birthday.

Today is now my 25th birthday. I am a quarter-century old. I have changed so much since that morning 10 years ago, but the gravity still sits as heavy as it ever did. Please don't get me wrong; this isn't about me being upset that one of the greatest tragedies of our time happened on my birthday. I'm not naive enough to think that it was a personal affront to me. But ever since that day, birthdays have been a little bittersweet.

One thing I clearly remember was the pain I was in. That year, I had spent the better part of the week coughing up blood and running a fever. I had a nasty little bronchial infection (the bronchial tube is part of the respiratory system i.e. lungs) and felt like I'd been hit by a truck physically. Each breath felt like needles sticking in my lungs and throat, and I was unbelievable exhausted. Then, the tragic events in the East...Suddenly, I felt like the truck came back and ran over me mentally. I was heartbroken at the loss of life and complete disregard for the value of each life that was taken. I was furious that someone could condone what was done, claiming it was what their God desired and that what they did was righteous.

I was horrified by the events of that day; scared to death to go to school when I got better. I had nightmares for weeks. The idea of getting on an airplane was terrifying. As many have said, I will never forget that day 10 years ago.

Now, the real reason I decided to post: I am ok with sharing my birthday with that day. That sounds bizarre, but I couldn't think of a better way to celebrate my birthday than to remember the fallen heroes from that day. For that matter, I am honored to do so, along with remembering everyone affected from that September morning. Heroes transcend time. 10 years, 20 years, 100...It doesn't matter. Those brave men and women gave their lives trying to save everyone they could. They are heroes. I am proud to share my birthday with them as a chance to remember them.

I'm sure you've all thought back to that day; where you were, what you felt...I pray we never forget. As long as I live, I pledge to always remember that day. Things change, scars heal, but the memory remains. Thank you to all those who gave their lives or sacrificed so much. You will never be forgotten.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

The Stranger

"Best to keep things in the shallow end because I never quite learned how to swim. I just didn't want to know...Close my eyes just to look at you; taken by the seamless vision. I close my eyes, ignore the smoke...Mistook their nods for an approval; just ignore the smoke and smile."
~A Perfect Circle 'Blue'

It's 5:00 A.M. and I'm wide awake. This isn't new for me. Not at all. But, for once, I know what's keeping me awake. I'm scared to sleep. Bizarre, yes?

It's kind of confusing; sleep is the naturally occurring state to which we go to restore and revitalize the beautiful machine that is our body. For some reason, my body doesn't dig it much. That's all right. I've dealt with it for a while and I'm surviving. What I am struggling with is this dreaming business.

I've had reoccurring dreams ever since I can remember. The most significant one (and one that is extremely reoccurring) begins with me entering a small restroom. The walls are grey, floors are black. Flourescent light on the ceiling, no toilet. Feels musty and dank. I walk to the sink and look up into a faded yet still reflective mirror. I see myself, except it's not quite me. Subtle differences; my eyes are more angular, features more sharpened. My hair is long (no surprise to anyone I'm sure) in both images, but this is where it gets creepy. I grab my chin and pull upwards, like I'm removing a mask. My reflection changes again, sharpening the edges. My eyes darken, and suddenly I have Jack Sparrow eyebrows. Again, I remove a mask. Same result (sharpened features, dark shades overtaking the light). Again, another mask. Then another. Then another. After a few moments of shedding my skin, I turn the sink on and rinse my face, then look into the mirror. I'm staring back at the same image I began with. Then my reflection puts his hands on the wall and starts screaming, but the real me stays silent. Eventually, the real me walks out of the mirror room.

Trust me. I have dream dictionary-ed the crap out of this sucker. I have heard a lot of theories, and they make sense. It's not the dream itself that frightens me though. It's more the unanswered questions that always come up after I have it. Why do I keep having it? What do I need to change in my subconscious? Blah, blah, blah. What it comes down to is that I think I am a stranger to myself. A subtle knockoff of the original. Close enough to recognize, but everchanging based on circumstance.

The worst part of this particular dream is something that caught me off guard recently. Is it really me who walks in to the mirror room or is it my reflection? And which of us is in control?

Go ahead. You try and sleep wondering who it is in your reflection, or if you are the Stranger yourself.