Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is a journey, into sound

Sept. 6 still seems a long time away.

In the meantime, I've been driving myself insane. Part of me wants to believe this is all in my mind. But the pain seems real. The difficulty swallowing, the hoarseness, the cough, the mucous, the swollen glands . . . they seem real.

My mind is playing tricks on me. I've replayed my funeral in my head a thousand times. I've spelled out my wishes to my wife. I've checked and double checked my life insurance policy. I'm preparing for the worst.

And, yet, it could just be a scratchy voice.

Do I believe that? No. I believe it's the worst possible scenario.

Is it Sept. 6 yet?

In so many ways, I just want to know. One way or the other, the not knowing is more difficult I think.


Friday, August 26, 2011

I remember the day my mother died, not because of the significance of losing a parent, but because of my reaction to it.

My mother had been sick seemingly my entire life. As far back as my memories go, all I see is this frail, pale woman with translucent skin and a soft voice. I know there were times when she wasn't sick, but even in those times, my memories are of a quiet, reflective woman. She was gentle with this easy air about her, not so much aloof, but more of a Devil-may-care freedom that allowed her to exist in a moment.

On the morning that she passed, I was in school when the voice over the intercom called me to the office. I looked at my teacher and said, "My mom just died." There was no way I could have known, but I did. After 11 years of watching and waiting for the inevitable, it had finally come. And I just knew it.

I never cried.

It was like business. I had lived it for so long, it was just another part of the process.

At the funeral, I felt out of place. All these people around me were crying. My father held my sister and I close, perhaps to comfort us, but I think it was more so we could comfort him. Although I knew I should cry, I couldn't.

It wasn't that I didn't care, or that I wasn't sad. In fact, quite the opposite. My mother and I had a bond I never shared with my father. Likewise, my father had a bond with my sister he never had with me. I was heartbroken. I was crushed. I was completely lost. And for that, at 11 years old, I shut down.

Nearly 30 years have gone by, and while there have been times along the way that a particular song or a milestone passes that reminds me of her and a tear forms, I've never fully grieved her loss.

I wonder how my son will handle my death. Will it crush him, or will he bury it inside and accept it as part of the deal we make with life. We only have a moment to be, and then it's gone.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Closet Smoker

I'm coming clean. I'm a closet smoker. Have been for 25 years. Not solid. There have been some breaks along the way; a few months here, a year there. But mostly I've smoked a couple cigarettes a day, maybe a pack or two a month since I was 15 years old.

It started about six months ago, this sore throat, a change in my voice. Gravelly and hoarse. And this terrible pain from my ear to my neck. Drainage, phlegm, mucus, a slight cough. Pressure in my chest.

I went to my internal doctor today. Yes, I know he doesn't specialize in oncology or ear/nose/throat stuff, but HMO . . . well, you know the story. So I start there, not hoping for answers, but hoping to at least start the process.

He sends me to an ENT doc and tells me to lose weight and stop smoking. Really doc? Really? That's your advice? Eight years of medical school and 30 years of practice, and your advice is to lose weight and quit smoking?

He tells me it could be throat cancer, though he doubts it. Or it could be an infection caused by acid reflux. Um, again, really? Fancy initials at the beginning and end of your name, and this is your diagnosis? Guess what, I have Google and Wikipedia . . . and I came up with the EXACT SAME FUCKING DIAGNOSIS!

Anyway, I'm on terminal hold (should I use terminal when talking about cancer?) with the ENT trying to make an appointment. Hopefully they'll tell me something the Interwebs can't.

Until then,

cough, cough, wheeze, wheeze.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Upon further reflection . . .

I've had several good friends tell me lately what an idiot I am.

The publishing world is not what it once was. I hold no illusions about being a world-famous author, but that shouldn't be my goal. It shouldn't have ever been my goal. Don't we write to tell stories? Who of us gets to make it rich in this racket?

Some people like what I write. I'm not a world beater. I'm not for everyone. But I do think I tell nice stories. Some of them funny, some of them bizarre, some of them from the heart. I don't write to a genre, although some of my stories are written in a particular genre.

So I've decided to push forward . . . as my own publisher. There's really nothing to lose, if I've already thrown in the towel. If no one reads me, or critics say my work is crap, I'm no worse off than I am now.

This fall, look for my first collection of short stories on Smashwords and Kindle. Shortly after that, I will publish my first YA novel, and then my first adult novel. If I'm inspired to continue, I plan on putting my second adult novel and second in the YA series out maybe by this time next year.

Thanks for your support and encouragement.