from Ian Gill

My daughter has a knack for asking questions that are difficult to answer. I’m told this is not an uncommon thing for kids to do.

The blue house near the trees We’ll be sitting there in the kitchen and she‘ll ask me something like, Dad why is the doorknob round? Or, Dad why does that crack in the table look like a flower? And I’ll look at the doorknob, or I‘ll look at the table, and then I‘ll look at her. And I‘ll try to think of an answer.

Well, I might say, maybe the workers who built this house was scared of squares.

Or, maybe the tree that gave us the planks for the kitchen table loved a flower once when it was young.

She’ll listen, and she’ll nod, and she’ll smile. Then she‘ll go back to eating her oats and her blueberries. It’s like a little game we play. She’ll ask an impossible question and I’ll answer with a little story.

One day she asked me, Dad what did you do before I was born?

We were sitting at the kitchen table. She was eating her oats and her blueberries. I was only partway through my first cup of coffee and completely unprepared for the question. This one seemed different than the others.

I sat there for a long time. I took a sip of coffee. I looked out the window at the snow melting on the railing of the back deck. It was a wet April day. The trees were still brown and the grass was still yellow.

I thought about our house. It’s a blue house near the woods, with closets and a garage and everything. When my stepfather heard we were moving into a proper house with closets and a garage, he decided this was as good a time as any to clear my boxes out of his house. So he did. And he shipped them up to us.

The boxes arrived on a palette. They brought it off the barge on a forklift. I went down to the dock to pick them up and there they were. About a dozen boxes wrapped in a web of shrink wrap. I brought them home and stacked them in a corner of the garage. And there they sat. We used to pass them on the way to and from the car. Coming home with groceries or heading out with backpacks and lunch boxes.

They stayed there a long time. Then one Saturday when everyone else was busy, I sat down in the garage with a cup of coffee and went through them. About half of them were filled with souvenirs. Postcards from friends and small rocks I’d collected from beaches. The other half of the boxes were filled with notebooks. Journals I’d kept when I was younger. I opened the first of the journals and read through everything in it. Then I opened the next and read through those, too. I read them all. And then I made a fire in the fire pit in the backyard. And I burned them.

I remembered all of that sitting there at the kitchen table with my daughter, who was waiting patiently for an answer to her question. I felt a pang at first. Regret and the thought that maybe I should’ve kept those notebooks. Wouldn’t they hold the answer? Wouldn’t they tell the story of what I’d been up to all those years?

But then the feeling faded. I remembered that those notebooks didn’t have any answers. They didn’t tell any stories. They were filled with thoughts. It turns out I spent a lot of my life before my daughter was born thinking. Mostly thinking about myself. And for some reason I wrote a lot of those thoughts down. They seemed very important at the time. But the thoughts of my younger self ended up not being very interesting to my older self. Or really very interesting at all.

And anyway, thoughts aren’t answers. Thoughts aren’t stories. Thoughts are just thoughts. Everybody has them and they don’t help us much.

And then (I’m not sure why) a line from a poem called My Hat, which I’d written years ago, came back to me. And I borrowed it as a way to answer my daughter’s question.

I looked at her, and I shrugged. And I said, I just kept waking up.

She smiled, and she nodded, and she went back to eating her oats and her blueberries. I went back to sipping my coffee. The rest of the morning came along, which led to the rest of the day. Which led to all the days since then, and now here we are. Still asking questions. Still telling stories. Still waking up.

#personal #essays


from Roscoe's Journal

Happy Birthday To Me

Today I am 71 years old, plus one day.

Yesterday I was so surprised to find a birthday balloon, gift bags, and a card waiting for me on the table by my chair in the front room shortly after I woke. Sylvia had set it all up while I was sleeping.

#SeniorLiving #personal #birthday


from Roscoe's Journal

sleep aids

... sort of.

Insomnia has always been something I've had to deal with. Waking in the middle of the night has become such a frequent habit for me that I've come to think of myself as a natural segmented-sleeper.

Often I'll put head to pillow by 10:00 PM or so, wake fully after about three or four hours, then spend another hour or two working at the keyboard or surfing the Internet before falling asleep again. With two alarms set, one for 5:00 AM and the second for 6:00 AM, to ensure I'm awake enough to start the coffee and wake up the wife and help her so she can be at work on time, I'm hard-pressed to get the seven or eight hours of sleep I need. Especially if my “insomnia break” lasts longer than two hours, as it frequently does.

If I eat too much too close to bedtime, my insomnia will be accompanied by a touch of indigestion. That's why the “Antacid” tablets are on the table near my bed. Chewing a few will sometimes help me fall asleep again.

And during the allergy season these insomnia episodes are often accompanied by purely evil sinus woes. Hence the allergy pills are kept close, too.

These over-the-counter medicines don't always put me back to sleep, but sometimes they do.

#SevenTwoProject #SeniorLiving #personal #health


from Rye Meetings

I spent a good portion of today going through my things and discarding what didn’t spark joy, or KonMari-ing. I was working on the papers section of that method. I dug up all the papers I carried with me and found acceptance letters from a few colleges along with orientation materials for one. I came across orientation materials for one college and acceptance papers from two others.

I had no use for any of the material, so I discarded it. It sparked disappointment, regret — not joy as Marie Kondo reams into the brains of all who read her work. I kept one acceptance letter, though. The acceptance letter addressed specific parts of my application. That made me feel pretty cool. It still makes me feel cool. Even though there was no guarantee I’d go to their small college, they felt like they could write me a personalized something. Truthfully, I’m a sucker for shit like that.

I don’t have the money to go to school, and won’t for a while. I’d give up a lot to be in a classroom right now with others roughly my age having my brain go a million miles a minute with questions, but I’m working on getting a car. This is not what I thought I’d be doing at this age when I was a wide-eyed high school freshman, but it’s better than what my life would’ve been if I had stayed.

I used to boil over with the opportunity to rant about what my father did to me. Whenever anyone asked me why I wasn’t in school, I’d tell them it was a long story. And before they’d even expressed further interest, I was off telling them the whole ordeal.

I’m not mad at him anymore. I can’t be mad anymore. I am so far removed from the time everything regarding my undergraduate education went down the drain — it isn’t productive to linger on it.

But I do believe, he fucked me over in a way a parent is not supposed to fuck over their child. And I won’t forgive that. I love him regardless because he is my father. That is something that will stain the record of our relationship, even if my stance mellows. Not a grudge so much so as a footnote.

I’ve got a little over three more years to go until I hit that glorious age of independence in the eyes of the FAFSA. I’ll be a dinosaur on campus. But that won’t matter because I’ll be sure of myself. 18-year-old me, as excited as she may have been to learn, would not be sure of herself at all on campus.

So I guess that’s something to credit him for in the end.

#Personal #Monologue #College


from Roscoe's Journal

Sent to me by a brother Knight in the Philippines.

Yesterday I received a text message from the Grand Knight of my Knights of Columbus Council here in San Antonio, TX. He told me about a temporary situation our Council is facing and asked me, as one of his officers, for my help. Of course, I told him I'd be happy to help.

This morning I found the above image sent to me by a brother Knight in the Philippines. It's the cover of a publication from his District pertaining to their mid-year organizational meeting. God willing, I'll be meeting some of my brother Knights of the Visayas Jurisdiction later this year when I'm in Cebu City.

Whether I'm here in South Texas, or 8,500 miles away in the Philippines, I'll be connected to and working with my brother Knights. It is comforting to know that.

#SevenTwoProject #SeniorLiving #personal #KnightsOfColumbus


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