Thursday, December 10, 2009


December 10, 2009
7:08 am

Temperature drops and I am not as warm as I’d hoped to be. It is a question of balance and hunger and need and want. It is never being settled no matter how much comfort and goodness and love I find. And it is the dogged determination that I cannot be beat. Will not give up. And that one day, all of us will benefit from the weight I collect, pile on, and carry.

But it is more than pounds and ounces. More than inches and feet. It is more than any measurement, color, shape or size. It is a combination of these things and these things are combined with even more—letters strung into words, heartbeats, gravity, the sky. But always, there is more that shakes loose, comes round, starts to rise.

It is a hawk that floats and holds to one spot in the blustery white sky. The icy air ruffles its feathers as it hovers over a patch of tall brown grass on the side of M-5. And I want to stop and watch, to know what it sees on the ground, but traffic is too congested and too fast and filled with people living from bumper to bumper, red light to red light, and nobody seems to believe that a hawk has meaning when it is frozen like that—wings outstretched and gliding in the December sky.

But it does. It must. Because I remember it. And it reminds me how good the cold can be. That we are fortunate to be warm with our bellies full and that there is nothing else we should ever want, dream of, or need.

But we do.

The cottage we stayed at for two days. Up north in October. Too cold to swim or fish or do anything at all, but one of the best weekends we ever had because we were away from the city, with each other, and there was nothing but the sound of water and sky. Birds and trees. And holding our new daughter and playing with our son, and me and SB curled up warm at night in the shabby little bedroom. Lightened by liquor and heavy with sleep. Each of us dreaming of how happy we’d be if only we had a place like that. Away from the concrete. Apart from the dying city. So we could live simply in a place that offers nothing, but quiet.

But wants change day-by-day, and the quiet—as tempting as it seems—holds the ache of great desperation. It has killed more men than any city. And so, we rest easy this night. We take stock and breathe and remember that it is more than all of this. More than all of us. And we are thankful. Because even as the temperature drops and I am not as warm as I’d hoped to be, we are together. Hovering with wings outstretched. Gliding in the December sky.

~ KJ

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


December 8th, 2009
6:15 a.m.

No sense thinking on it too much. It is here. It is what it is, and the only way to move ahead is to move ahead. There’s no time for reflection or deep thought because the things on the surface can kill much quicker than anything lurking beneath. Those things hidden and buried—those things simmering below the surface—they are the eventual killers. And while the surface is just as likely to kill you as the deep, the surface is a bigger threat. It is the part of life that wears you down, beats you up, but it is also the place where most of the good takes place. The difficultly comes in any attempt to recognize the good. More often than not, it comes unexpectedly, without warning, and if you are moving about the surface looking for good, it is likely you’ll be disappointed. That it will not be found. Your best bet is to spend 36 years of your life fighting for balance until you realize there will never be balance in the way you’d always believed. Never will life be balanced in your favor, and unless you medicate yourself with wine or God or cause, you’ll never find peace. There is joy. Daily happiness. In the embrace of your wife. In the smile and laughter of your children. In the purring of the cat. The wagging of the dog’s tail. But there will never be that deep, thorough joy that comes with having things your way.

And there is a reason for this. You are not a child. You’re a grown man and a grown man who is doing things right does not experience a life of pleasure and reward. A grown man who is doing right experiences joy in simple short fits, like bursts of shapeless color in dream, or finding a sandy bottom in a cold, rocky lake. Your aim is your wife and your kids. Your aim is to earn a living. Make enough money so ends nearly meet. And your aim is to be truthful and dedicated and faithful and loving. And none of it is easy.

You’ll encounter people who have advice. You’ll encounter people who claim they know. But there is—and there will never be—anyone that will know yourself, know your path, know your wants, needs, and desires better than you. While it is courteous to listen and understand and gather as much knowledge from others as you can, it’s important to remember that nobody knows everything and everything is not something that can be known. There are experts and counselors. Mentors and guides. But the biggest favor a man can do for himself is to stay focused and steady and work through as much of life as he can on his own while taking care of those he loves.

And so, eight days into December, I’m coming to grips with the stark reality that my life has taken a turn. I’ll not reach the heights I had imagined. I’ll not have the time I had believed I would have. But at the same time, I have an opportunity to go within. Grasp a firm hold onto the surface and lower myself, little by little, into the deep. To the place where things are hidden and buried. Like bursts of shapeless color in dream. And a warm sandy bottom under my feet.

~ KJ

Friday, December 4, 2009

two drink minimum

December 4th, 2009

Sleep and dream and work and family is not enough, so each night there is a two drink minimum to level out and bring back thankfulness. We’ve a nice house. Happy healthy kids. A solid relationship that is likely to only be broken by death. And with the way I’m packing on pounds, one could say I’m content.

And while I am satisfied with my marriage—being a Dad and husband— there is, and always will be, a deep dissatisfaction. A hunger. An appetite that drives. Gut that guides. Quiet desperation that reaches and pulls, begs and tugs, from just below the surface.

It’s a half-dozen clumpy squirrel nests. Two-thirds of the way up. In dark, naked trees. Homes of grass and leaves and twigs and paper wrappers. Exposed to cold night skies. Icy rain. The silent cover that snowflakes bring. Looking now, out the window at a sun fighting to light and warm the world, I wonder, where do all the squirrels go?

It is a beautiful thing to have thoughts that do not stop. A curious nature that has not yet died. But I miss the intimacy we used to have. My thoughts, these words, and me. There is so much good in these days of early waking and late settling. But it is hard when all of it latches on, sinks in, finds a place to fit, and I’m weighted a little more each day with the stark reality that I’m carrying more than bones and tissue and heart were ever meant to carry. Deep, meaningful things built to last and grow, rise and simmer, and that need to be shared. But all I can do is move ahead. Load my shoulders and keep my chin pointed to the sky. At birds and rooftops. Clouds and stars. All these squirrels and nests and dead Novembers and dying Decembers, and suns that fight the cold of this world. Because sooner than later, I will rest. Have my time. And I’ll remember these big, fast-moving days as the time when all I needed to be was the man I was. Working to keep the house warm, the bills paid, food in the pantry and fridge. In love with my wife. Raising my kids. Doing what needed to be done so that they were not burdened by anything but the simple act of living hopeful lives. From sleep to sleep and dream to dream. Over and over again.

~ KJ