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Normal.

I don’t know what “normal” is anymore. Some nights I wake up and I think I’m back at my dad’s house and he’ll be sleeping upstairs. Every single day, something will make me think of him and I’ll think I should give him a call, or I’ll expect a call from him. We’ve never gone this long without talking.

I still don’t believe this is real. I fully expect my dad to jump out from around a corner, moustache bristling as he yells “SURPRISE!”, laughing his head off.

I don’t know what I feel. One second I’m angry, the next I’m sad.. 99% of the time I’m just numb.
I haven’t really been able to work much since I got the news, although I have done some work every single day. I work out, but.. it’s just the motions. Muscle memory of what I think I should be doing. I have so much I want to do, so much I want to accomplish, to keep making my dad proud.. yet all I can do is sleep.

I know I’m not the first to lose a parent. I know the pain will fade in time. I know my dad would thoroughly kick my ass if he knew I was moping around like this. He’d tell me exactly what he did about getting my first car; “If you want it badly enough, you’ll earn it for yourself.” He knew about my goals; what I’ve sacrificed so far and how hard I’ve worked. He wouldn’t want me losing sight of that. In fact, if I listen, I can hear his great, big heavy sigh right now, telling me I should know better.

If I could talk to him right now, he’d probably tell me to go for a drive and clear my head.. but cars and driving make me think of him. I will always, always, always love the memory of revisiting the roads he taught me how to drive on, in his monster 1979 3/4 ton 4×4. After I got my license, I hit those roads over and over again in my first car, and then in my Talon. I took dad back out onto those roads in the Talon, to show him just what it and his son could do together. To see my V8, quarter miles for pink slips, straight-line loving dad actually grab the holy shit handle, reach with his foot for a brake pedal that wasn’t there and say “okay! okay! okay! JASE! OKAY!” – all with a (somewhat scared) smile on his face…

He wasn’t only my dad. He’s handled the role of being both parents to me for a long, long time. He was my best friend. A mentor. A safety net and a sounding board.

I don’t know how to say goodbye. I don’t know how to even comprehend the thought of goodbye. There’s no normal in my life that doesn’t include my Grumpy Dad texting me random things at 3am or going off about conspiracy theories. There’s no normal where dad isn’t back home, putting on his fake grumpy act and smiling when people saw right through it.

Anyway, it’s Friday, so here’s my Mama Cat and the happy cup. This was a normal thing I used to do. Now I have to find a way to get back to work, like normal.

Dad

My dad passed away on June 15, 2020.

I didn’t have time to fly home to say goodbye. I didn’t have time to even pack a suitcase. One minute his nurse was saying he was cracking jokes as always; the next.. he wasn’t.

It wasn’t supposed to end this way for him. He’d been through so much these last 3 years. The heart attack. Quadruple bypass surgery. He quit smoking. Changed his diet. Started exercising more. Made plans to return to work, and how he was going to enjoy his retirement. Then, the strokes hit. He was blind. Paralyzed. He fought back. Did the exercises his therapists gave him and asked for more. He wanted to get better. He would sneak in tiny steps when he thought no one was looking just so he could get that much closer to being himself again. He told me, over and over, that he knew he could walk, if only he could remember how to take that first step on his own again.

He never did.

I will always love my dad. I always knew I was loved, even when we fought like wolves going for the throat. I will value the memories. I will value the lessons he taught me, and I want to share two of the most important ones with you:

Be yourself.
My dad was absolutely set in his ways, and he taught me to always be true to myself and not care what anyone else thought. He taught me that anyone that truly loves me will understand, and if someone doesn’t love me, they don’t matter anyway. I’m grateful I learned this at a young age and kept it with me.

Don’t wait to live your life.
My entire life, I knew there was something up with my parents’ relationship. There were moments of happiness, but they weren’t happy. He sort of asked me once when I was really young how I’d feel if the two of them split, and I told him honestly that if it meant my parents were going to be happy, I’d be happy too. He changed the subject and I forgot all about it until over a decade later, after they’d gone through a horrible divorce and my dad told me that I was the only reason he stayed. This man sacrificed years of his own happiness to do what he thought was best for his son. I reminded him that I would have been okay with my parents splitting, and told him that I wished they would have – but I understood that he did what he did out of love. After the divorce, he kept reminding me how he’d always wanted to travel, but still wouldn’t do it. He always had reasons about why he shouldn’t, for years and years, until he finally did take a trip to Bali. In the weeks after his return, I don’t know if I’d ever heard him sound happier. He told me how he wished he’d gone long ago, but now he was going to go on a lot more trips. He would text me in the middle of the night the names of places we were going to go.

I will miss so many things about my dad. The conspiracy theories. The frustrated sighs he would give me when I’d tell him to eat better. The car talks. The race he never had against the Talon and I. His plans to move off grid in a geothermal setup. The safety I always felt knowing he was there looking out for me. The occasional dad wisdom in a random phone call or when he’d take me out for drinks and sinisterly watch his son get drunk and overly talkative. I’ll miss that feeling of calling my dad to tell him about achieving a new goal with my business or fitness. Any time I had a project that involved me designing a shirt, I had to get one made for him so that he could wear his son’s work too. He might not have always known what I was doing, but he knew that if I was achieving a goal, he was proud of me.

I am proud to be his son. I love you, dad.

Moments (Muse)

In our moment
     of Finally
She took my hand
    And led me
Answered the questions
    I should have asked
Removed the longing
    Scars from my back
Took me to her place
    I should have always been
Let me know every other
    Was my burdened sin
She pulled me close
    Like I’d always wished
Kept me near and
    Denied me her kiss
And if she smiled
    As she ripped my shirt
My heart forgave
    Who always came first
Then she removed everything
    Save her last secret
One last promise
    She’s never told it her best

But she pulls me in closer
Says she tells me the most or
  We need to have one more thing
  Closer and closer inside we bring
Our secrets our kiss our dreams
Release let yourself be here with me
Let the consequences fall the weight i’ll carry
   For once just let go, welcomed in
  Smile in our nights of forgotten

Dreams and I wake
 And I’m without you
Even in these dreams
 I can’t have you
I’m awake and alone
 And I can’t tell you
I know what you hide
 And I still want you

Give your secrets to mine
Awaken our dream
Say what you mean
I’ll promise from inside
I just want you
I just want you

You’ve never been my secret
I gave you my promise
Give you my word
Always my Only
Our moments are finally
Awake and we’re real.


   – JT
 March 31, 2020

Auntie D

it’s been a while since the sun came up
  i know i should be movin or be doin stuff
but like last night i’ll stay here awake
keep  killing time until goodness’ sake
and if you’re right and when i’m wrong
  you can say you knew it all along
cause imma lay here til i can go and get it
  like how we make it just to wreck it
now if i stay above and pretend i’m alive
  we have to do this with good inside
and so i’m calling

time for a visit with Auntie D
 every time I’m down she brings cheer for me
she makes up the stories of all i can do
 sometimes she helps me forget about you
yeah we ride in the sun in my broke down car
 she’s riding shotgun life can’t be hard
and i live for my visit with Auntie D
 wash down our smiles with budget beer
forget all the things we shouldn’t hear
 i’ve been told now to trust my Auntie D

they’re saying things i can’t be bothering
 i shut down quiet but they’re hollering
they say it’s not the way not how i used to be
 they don’t know the fights n voices here inside of me
they can’t hear the ghost of who i was supposed to be
 and i used to fight for good until it hurt
but win or lose all i made was worse
  say i was the king i used to ride on top
  i was waiting for that bottom drop
  and if i fell if all that love would stop
now if i say the truth my happy rides away
and if i know it nothing’s gonna stay

we line up for our visit with Auntie D
 when i’m down she brings cheer for me
makes up her stories of all i can do
 helps me forget about me and you
riding together in my brokedown car
 Auntie D beside me
and life can’t be hard
 we crack a beer
wash our feelings back
 life so serious
like a heart attack
 Auntie D will keep
all the demons down
 Auntie D the promise
in tomorrow’s shroud

and now i’m shaking trying to ease the pain
 these pains were new but now they’re old again
forgive me tomorrow when all i need
 is six feet of rope when i’m scared to bleed
and if i wrap this guilt around my neck
 well maybe this was my only track
and i asked for help before this end
 when Auntie D was my only friend
i asked for help but you wouldn’t see
 my Auntie D, controlling me

went for a walk with Auntie D
 told me to forget who i used to be
now i drink to the past
 when my future’s last
now it’s that thing i don’t admit to
 secret’s sworn you know i don’t do
come and visit say it’s good to see me
 save your thanks for prescription Auntie D


   – JT
1am, March 25, 2020

someday

let’s promise it better
let’s promise it first
we promised we’d never
our promises worse

some day soon
i’ll move on from these forgotten dreams
yeah some day soon
i’ll give up on the idea of you

i have lifted mountains
  moved worlds in your name
none of your others
  could ever say the same
and i have sold tomorrows
  buried loves under the dirt
we had made our promises
  but all they do is hurt

some day soon
i’m moving on from these forgotten dreams
yeah some day soon
i’m givin up on the idea of you

and i have kept my word
  and i’ve given them to your name
we were fallen first
  we forgot to rise again
and i have lived in midnight
  for a second of your time
but i die every cursed morning
  we betray our yours and mine

some day soon
i’ll have forgot these tattered dreams
ohhhh some day soon
i’m givin up on me and you


some day.


 —
   – JT
 12:16am, March 7, 2020

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