Friday, March 28, 2008


March 28th, 2008

7:41 am

All this talk of spring. Birds. Greening grass. And we wake with three inches of snow.

Out of bed earlier than usual to write away this weight in my brain. All wound up. Shaking from the inside out. Letting it—the big IT—get the best of me. As always, it is with me. Nagging at my gut. Creeping through my veins. But all I can do is keep moving. On the right path. Dig deep. Touch the foundation. Recognize that this is part of the big picture. The whole scheme of things. And it could always be worse.

We have this roof. Food. Air to breathe. And one another.

It’s selfish of me. Waking so soon. Wanting only to be alone with words, my thoughts. But nowadays it is all I ask for. To be able to write with at least a sense of personal success.

But what’s the sense in belly-aching about it, Stevens?

You want to write? Stop being a sissy and write? You want to be alone with your words and create for the sake of personal success? Then stop writing about what you do not have, stop sitting there pissing and moaning about it, buck up, and write for success. Personal or otherwise.

So you got up early to write. Big deal. There are people waking up in three inches of snow on the street. Without a home. A family. There are men and women and children waking earlier than they ever imagined just so they can flip hash browns, sweep floors, scrub toilets. To pay the bills. Buy medicine. Make ends meet.

You have it made. And that is what you must remember. This wanting more is fine, but it is also what ails you. It’s important to want, but it’s important to push ahead with true desire so that you can produce quality in this life. Because that’s what this world needs. Quality. Integrity. Truth. You hit on it when you write truly, when you step outside yourself and “dig deep” as you like to say, but when you get vain, talking about how selfish you are for “Waking so soon. Wanting only to be with words…” well, that’s when you need to stop. Snap out of it. And get back at the heart of this thing. The big IT.

Thank God for that voice. Creating balance with a dose of reason. I was headed to a dark place. A familiar place, but because that voice came up and slapped me in the face, I feel better. As if a dark cloud has lifted and is working away at this cold.

There is no sense in belly-aching. No reason to get down. No reason to go on. Not now.

So, enough from me. Best to you.

~ K.J.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

a rainy day

March 27th, 2008

7:46 am

Raindrops and birdsong. Puddles and mud. Smells like spring out there. Reminds me of early mornings on The Ridge. Waiting for the school bus. That ball of dread and worry building up in my gut. Bus 87B, driven by bony old Gerry Wyman, thundering up the hill on Irwin Road. Headlights beaming through fog, glancing off wet power lines. The hulking metal mass cresting the hilltop and rolling down. Toward us. The three Stevens boys. At the end of the driveway. Waiting like little soldiers.

It was an awful feeling getting ready for and riding to school. A general lack of confidence, a sense of never belonging, and always that worry percolating in my gut.

Probably something every kid experienced. So I suppose that’s nothing new. But what got me thinking about school and being a kid and waiting for that bus was the sound of the birds this morning. Me, a thirty-four year old man, walking dogs around to the backyard for their morning ritual of running and shitting and pissing. Feeling that rain. Spring. Hearing sparrows, robins, blackbirds. Seeing them dart from limb to limb. Rest on power lines. Bob through the grass in neighboring yards.

Reminded me of home. On The Ridge. Dreading another day of social awkwardness and forced learning, wishing I could just stay there. At the end of the driveway. Watching and listening to our world. The mass of blackbirds across the road. Swooping round in waves. Perching on the broken-down barn. Wild rosebushes growing near the culverts in the ditch. Heads sagging. Petals dripping. The rain giving new color and texture to roadside gravel and stones. Blades of grass greening before my very eyes. Me, just a boy in the world, but knowing that smack-dab-in-the-middle of the season—of all seasons—is where I belonged. My body and mind, my senses, rooted firmly in the natural elements of the world.

It is something I’ve carried with me throughout my life. Growing up in the country. On The Ridge. Those rainy spring mornings. Hot and buggy summer days. The burnt orange autumn evenings. And the snow-white wintry days. A simple, natural way of life. Where it was obvious to see how things worked and came to be. If a person would only stop, breathe deep, and pay attention.

I’m miles away from that now. Life in the city. Metal and glass. Neon and concrete. Whole messes of people, swooping round in waves. Exit ramps, overpasses, six lane highways. Blazing along at an incredible pace. Stereos booming. Horns honking. A grand parade of social awkwardness and posturing fed by worry that has been building in the gut. Weighing us down. Making us afraid to stop and perch. Ever since we were kids.

I don’t know that there’s a remedy. I suppose it’s something we’ll always have with us. That ache for home. To return to the place we’re from. To sense there’s something more in simplicity. To know that when we strip away the layers, dig deep enough to eliminate all but necessity, we are all young at heart. New to this world. Wanting only the chance to stand in the middle of the season, drink it all up, and feel that we belong.

~ K.J.

(copyright © 2008 by k.j. stevens)

Monday, March 24, 2008


March 24th, 2008

12:24 a.m.

S.B. came down as I was finishing up yesterday’s entry. She was busy with laundry, but stopped to ask how I was doing.

“Great!” I said. And I was. We’d just finished up a fine Easter morning. Little Man’s Easter basket hunt. A big breakfast of omelets and sausage. We were nearing nap time. For all of us. And I had just realized that I was about one hundred pages into this book. This collection of journal entries, which I aim to call A Year in This Life.

“I’m about one hundred pages into our book.”

She knows the book. I mention it often. She smiled. Is pleased, I can tell. That I’ve been working.

It might not be bringing in the money we could use, not providing us the financial security a family needs for the future, but at least I’m at it. Trying.

She came over. Rubbed my shoulders.

“Did you write about all the crap with the house?”

Suddenly, I’d realized I hadn’t. I’d only written snippets about it.

“No, but maybe I should. Especially with the way things are going.”

“They’re raking us over the coals,” she said.

She was right. We’d already made one offer that wasn’t good enough. Been screwed out of our five-hundred dollar deposit. And made a counter-offer that would not be accepted by the listing agent until we faxed a pre-approval letter to her. With less than 24 hours notice. On the Saturday before Easter. She was getting rude and pushy. Threatening us with multiple back-up offers. What she didn’t realize, I suppose, is that we are not only customers, but human beings. People with just as many smarts and connections as her and her little real estate brain can muster.

We made a few phone calls. Had the letter faxed with half a day to spare, but figured it would not be the last blast of hot air we’d hear, or the last hoop we’d have to jump through. I wouldn’t have been surprised if we’d had received a call Easter morning, asking for us to produce fingerprints and hair samples of the Easter Bunny.

But we made it through without incident. Enjoyed our day. Talked about the house, but only a little. Very much aware that this deal could fall apart just as likely as it could fall through. And so far, today, we’ve not heard a peep. Not a thank you for putting up with us and meeting our unrealistic demands. Not a so sorry for your inconvenience. No we apologize for bothering you on the holiday weekend.

Strange, I think, how sick people get when they lose sight of others. When they think only of themselves and their own bottom line. Sad, how our world’s headed so blindly into ignorance and selfishness, how more and more people are living lives without roots, or a solid foundation. Frightening to see that words cannot be trusted, handshakes are shoved aside, and deals sealed in ink can easily go awry.

But all of that’s for another day. Where we are now is where we were at yesterday. In the basement. Me finishing up an entry. S.B. doing laundry. Our conversation about being “raked over the coals”.

“They are making it miserable for us, aren’t they?”

“They sure are,” she said. “Those bastards!”

“Bastards, indeed,” I said.

I sat a moment. Thinking about the house. The opportunity for us to start our little family off on the right foot. In our own home. Large city lot. Two-car garage. An upstairs. Nice kitchen. Two extra rooms that we could use—one for an office, one for a guest room. And I wanted to write about the house, how Little Man and I found it by driving around aimlessly one day. How the three of us had stopped at it and drove by it at least a dozen times. Silent. Just looking. At the house, the garage, the yard. Me and S.B. secretly hoping that finally, we’d get a break. That things would fall our way.

But I knew I couldn’t write about it. Not yet. We were only days away from knowing for certain, and a month from closing if all went as planned, but I could not write about it. Writing about things too soon is like talking about stories before they’re done. It’s bad news. A good way to jinx good fortune.

I rose up. Stretched.

“The book though…I think it’s good. Not something that millions of people will want to read. But it’s for you. And for Little Man. So when I’m dead and gone you’ll have it. He’ll have it.”

She smiled. I walked to her side. Started taking things from the washing machine. Handing them to her to put in the dryer. It was still new and amazing to me. That this beautiful, artistic, good-humored woman could ever possibly love me. That two people could feel so connected. Like they’ve known each other since the moment this place came about and was sent wheeling through the cosmos. That they could stray so very far from each other, but come back as if nothing had ever happened, as if their time apart were only seconds. Slight movements in time. Like fingers tapping out this journal entry.

~ K.J.

(copyright © 2008 by k.j. stevens)