Friday, September 12, 2014

Good Things and Bad Things

"The way I see it, every life is a pile of good things and bad things.  The good things don't always soften the bad things, but vice versa, the bad things don't necessarily spoil the good things and make them unimportant" - The Doctor "Doctor Who"

As a die hard Whovian (Fan of Doctor Who) I could probably start every blog entry with some quote from the show that stuck with me.  But, I will go with this one, as it is one of my absolute, without a doubt, hands down favorite quote of all time, Doctor Who or otherwise.  The writers really hit the nail on the head in describing life.  It's this way for everyone.  It is standing out to me even more today as I try to sort through a kaleidoscope of changing thoughts and emotions in my head.

A wise man I respected and loved a great deal has moved on from this world to the next.  I know we are a world of many different beliefs but I believe without a doubt in my mind that he is in heaven, because men like him ... that's the only place they could possibly go.

This man, known to most as Gerald Kincaid, but to me, he was known as Grandpa.  Technically, if you want to be that way, he was my Grandfather-In-Law.  But, he was Grandpa.  Oh, how lucky I was to have been blessed to have him in my life.

On this day that he died, September 10th, 2014 he was 95 years old.  You would never guess it from talking with him or even being around him.  He was as lucid and whip smart as people I know who are decades younger.  He was smart, and intuitive and a man of incredible faith.  I can only imagine the sorts of things that he saw in ninety five years.  So much of the world changed in all that time and ... not so much for the better.  But you know what sticks out for me most? 

I believed he loved me. 

Given my fractured fairy tale of a life, happy yet pieced together in a strange way, I have often struggled with trusting people's feelings towards me.  It comes from a strange, disconnected relationship with the woman who gave birth to me, who didn't really love me the way she could have.  Yes, I know, "cry me a river", right?  Anyway, I've always been pessimistic in my thoughts.  It was easier to assume people didn't give a shit about me than to get attached and have my heart broken.

This wasn't the case with him.  From the moment I met him, he made me feel like I was part of the family.  He was always asking about me.  I'd be in the car with Dan when he'd call and he would always ask how I was because he had no idea I was right there with him.  When I would see him at his house he greeted me like it was the greatest part of that day. 


I loved to talk to him.  I loved to be around him.  I really and truly loved him.  I learned to cherish every visit that I had with him because ... I knew he was at an advanced age and since we didn't see them too terribly often, I knew each and every visit could be the last one.

I know that sounds awful.  But, I have lost 98% of my family.  One thinks that death is always lingering on the horizon when you've lost most of the people you can in your life already.  Anyway, I knew not to take one word he said for granted.

It doesn't take away from the fact that my heart shattered into about a million pieces yesterday when Dan called to say that he had collapsed and was rushed to the hospital, while paramedics actively performed CPR.  I knew.  I couldn't say the words, but I knew.  When Dan called back to say he was gone.  It wasn't news to me. 

I haven't really cried yet.  At least, before writing this.  I can feel my body reacting.  I find myself wanting to shove every thing I can find in my mouth, I'm short tempered and snappy, I'm easily ruffled and extremely sensitive.  It must be the tsunami of emotion being held behind the massive levy in my heart.  It will break, I can feel it.  If I wasn't sitting amongst people I'd probably be crying harder as I wrote this. 

As with most deaths, I found myself asking all those questions.  Why?  What happened?  What could have changed this outcome?  But, I know that no matter what happened.  This would have happened someday ... perhaps not yesterday or tomorrow, but we all have to say goodbye someday.  While driving to work, that Doctor Who quote came to mind and it was more fitting than anything.

Life is all good and bad, like it said.  We have happy moments and sad moments and elation and devastation.  It's part of the process.  It's why we have these things in our bodies called emotion.  We'd be robots if we didn't.  But, those good moments don't take away the bad ... and the bad certainly can't erase the good.  They work together, as strange as that sounds.  It's a push and pull, an ebb and flow.  The sun always rises, and then it always sets.  Even in the midst of the worst moments of our lives ... life continues to go on. 

My life is better because I had Gerald Kincaid in it.  I learned from him, and I was loved by him and by golly, I loved him back.  I will never hear a harmonica the same again.  I will never look at Walnut Creek on a map and not think of him.  I'll never be able to walk into that house where he was living and not look for him.  I wanted to call his cell phone so many times today so I could hear that voicemail that I fell for every.single.time.   I wanted it all to be a particularly bad dream, because the world couldn't have lost one of its purest souls. 

If I am lucky enough, he will be among my parents when I finally get to where I'm headed on the other side of that great big sky.  I look forward to being able to talk to him again someday.  Hopefully, not too soon because I'm not ready ... but someday.  We could all be so lucky.

What a great life he lived!  I won't see 95, are you kidding?  I'm not counting my eggs on 40 at this point.  My genetics suck.  But, such a life.  He inspired so many.  He was loved by everyone.  I wish I could be half the person he was. 

In the last few weeks, the world has lost it's laughter, it's sense of good fashion, and its strong faith.  Heaven is not only a funnier place, it's better dressed and Grandpa is teaching God a thing or two about the people back here.  Maybe he's showing him how to throw a better horseshoe game.  Or, teaching him the latest song on the harmonica. 

If there was ever a person to be met at the Pearly Gates by God himself, it's Gerald Kincaid, or as he will forever be known to me ...

Grandpa. 

I love you, sir.  You've change my life for the better and someday, I'll be able to thank you.  Rest well and know that we will never forget you back here on earth.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The First Amendment

If you are familiar with the U.S. and familiar with our rules, you 'll know right away that sitting right here and blogging the way I am is me making good use of my First Amendment rights. 

Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Expression, blah blah blah.

Oh such lucky U.S. Citizens we are, right? Yes ......... and no. 

The ability to speak freely is wonderful.  Everyone should be allowed to express their opinion.  But, within that comes judgment and criticism and gossip and repercussions.  Quite honestly, not everyone wants to hear everything that people want/need to say.  Words can hurt as badly as knives or guns.  Words sometimes cut through the thickest of skin and there may not be a visible exterior wound but, inside ... someone is bleeding out.

As a writer/author/novelist/whatever, I am setting myself up to be exposed to the public's right to free speech.  I am allowing myself to be open to criticism (constructive or otherwise) and this is something I need to learn to swallow like a bitter pill at times.  People I don't know may absolutely HATE what I wrote.  Hell, people I DO know could hate it.  This is all part and partial of the writing gig.  Deal with it, right? 

Right.

That being said, writers are emotional people.  We are artists and artists are sensitive, regardless of what an actor/singer/writer might tell you.  The toughest package often has the softest core.  We pour our souls into whatever media we choose.  I write.  I write from places inside me that people don't often see because I wear a mask of perfect contentment and happiness.  OK, I think I do anyway.  It's cracking and some of the dark light is shining through.  Anyway, my heart and soul is bled onto a page and ... it's bound to hurt if someone says something negative.

Don't get me wrong! Criticize me, please.  I want the reviews, I want the word to spread.  I need that.  I need honest opinions.  I need constructive criticism so that I may do better the next time.  I want and need that more than I let on.  I want reviews on Amazon and Shelfari and Good Reads. This is how books gain notoriety, how things travel the globe.  I need all of that.  I'm expecting bad reviews, I am hoping for good ones.  Expect the worst, hope for the best.  It's how I've always lived.  My Dad used to tell me that all the time.  Bring it on, I say!  Bring it on!

Only ... I never expected such negativity so close to home.

That is where I am struggling.  There's no comment about pride for chasing my dreams, for putting myself out there.  No uplifting remarks about what a huge step it is, what a wonderful gift I have and I should keep using it and putting it out there.  Nope.  Let's go straight to what's wrong with it.  Let's see if I can tear you down faster than you were building up the confidence to keep going. 

That's what hurts.  I feel like there's not a lot of support underneath me anymore.  The wind has effectively gone out of my sails and I am sinking faster than a brick.   I am hoping that this is only temporary and spurned on by the fact that I am EXHAUSTED.  I hope that after a good nights sleep I will awake tomorrow renewed and thinking "screw you" to those extremely close to be naysayers.  Because until recently, those words wouldn't have knocked me down so easily.  My walls are not as strong at the moment, the plaster is cracking and the sheetrock a little crumbly.  I'll sleep tonight, waking tomorrow with the full intention of cutting all the bad foods out of my diet so that my disease might go back to sleep again (it's stirring a little, I feel him) and the weight will continue to drop, and my outlook on my future will once again be as bright as the sun. 

I'm grateful to live in a country where I can say what I want, I can speak how I feel, I can go anywhere and do anything ... and I expect people to be able to say whatever to me.  I just expected a little bit more support to go along with it from certain people.  I understand their need to offer some critique, but ... a little support to go along with it would go a very long way!

I apologize for my venting, I needed to get this off my chest so that I might be able to work on project # 4 today.  I had so many ideas yesterday afternoon before I was blasted onto my ass.

Have a wonderful day everyone.