These are the thoughts of a Texas transplant in West Michigan who makes his living as a newspaper reporter by evening, and a struggling novelist by day.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

note to self: grizzlies are dangerous

i know, i know. i just got off this thing a few hours ago. but i felt
i needed to catch you up on this afternoon's event, the watching of the
documentary "grizzly man."

the footage was amazing. this guy timothy treadwell (who didn't tread well at all it turns out), either had balls of steel or was off his rocker. i think he was off his rocker.

he handled the camera himself, as he was alone in the alaskan wilderness for months on end. there is footage of him handling a camera and touching a grizzly who'd come up to him.

it was eeirie, too, to hear him say he would not get mauled, bitten or eaten bya bear. he made this wild statement many times.

also creepy was after killing the bear who'd killed him and his girlfriend, the documentarian talked about how they carried remains from inside the bear of both people in four trash bags. nasty.

the indication, too, was that treadwell suffered some mental problems. he became really irate and would go off on wild tangents cursing the government (who doesn't, though) and the parks service. he's be like "f that and f them and fing assholes." he sounded like he spent too many days and nights alone out with the bears.

he talked about thebears (and to them) the way you or i would talk to our cats and dogs.

however, the documentary itself was fabulous. werner herzog did a great job of weeding through hours of treadwell's tapes to splice together with his own footage to create the doc. he created a sense of wonder with the treadwell footage, showing the beatuty of the alaskan wilderness and landscape and grizzlies out in the wild, carefully chosen words throughout and also a sense of dread, since you know this guy on film is dead, at the hands of the animals he loved.

according to the audio (the lens cap never came off the camera) while the bear mauled him, he kepting moaning. the bear had him by the head and created lacerations (and ME said). then the bear grabbed him by the upper leg area. he told his girlfriend to leave. she didn't and sounds from the camera indicate she was hitting the bear with a pan...before it was her turn.

werzog heard the tape, put his hands to his face, turned it off, and told the women who owned the tape to burn it. he became emotional.

highly recommend the doc. but not for the weak of heart of stomach.

gray socks days

jeez, it's going on what, 20, 30 days of no sunlight? i've lost count already. i'm more than sure it's been more than a month. i'm sure of it.

what's compounding the situation is both a lack of snow (after having feet and feet of it for the first half of december) and higher than normal temps. it's dreary out. it's one thing to have a dreary spring or summer day or days and other to have winter dreary days. spring and summer, even fall, have colors that bring some brightness to the gloom. but there ain't jack out now except leave-less trees and cold trunks and branchs.

i decided that this "cabin fever" type of feeling was getting to me so much. i'm starting to hallucinate. i had a horrible week at work. the four days seemed like double that number. the days dragged on and on. my focus was way off and i was quite pleased when friday night came on and i left home from work.

so i went out for a walk in downtown holland. in fact i did it twice. i swung around the sentinel building and went all the way down to the knickerbocker a couple of was cold facing the lake, but i needed to get away from the house for a little bit. i had my beatles to listen to on my discman and off i went. i encountered few people out. eighth street was pretty much quiet, with few people getting in my way. after about an hour out, i made my way back home to warm up some

the title of this entry "gray socks days" is not my own. it comes from dawn's dad. he used to refer to these dreary days like that. i'm sure if he was still living he'd have something to say about these shitty days.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

good news/bad news

my dad had his oncologist's appointment yesterday. unfortunately, the man had been hospitalized and had an operation for colitis, so my dad didn't see him and saw his assistant instead.

the appontment had been delayed a week since the doctor's office didn't have blood work for my dad. he was upset about it last week. so he and my mom went yesterday.

the good news: he got results back from several tests he took over the past two weeks. the tests were in his spine, brain and torso area. the tests showed the cancer has not spread anywhere else. that is good. once it starts moving around,things will begin to look really bad. so i was grateful for that.

bad news: his cancer marker went up from 2 to 4. my dad was very disappointed by this news. i could hear it in his voice last night when i talked with him. he really wants t be off the chemo. but it's not to be. he'll have two more weeks of it during the month of january. my dad was also bummed about the cancer marker going up. he knows it's not a good sign that after all this time it going down and down,now it's up a little. he still has one stubborn bastard tumor in his liver that does not want to shrink. that is the last one. it's incredible that one stupid thing like that is still holding on for its wretched, wothless existence. i don't understand the workings of these things and how the rest of the tumors can be irradicated but not this one.

how i wish the call last night would have been ifferent. it only.

Monday, January 02, 2006

ahab's what?

one of my favorite books is "moby dick," which i have read about three times. i am certainly no scholar on the enormous novel nor do i claim to be. i do love it, though, because it goes all over the map, so to speak.

this year, when i was at a loss for what to read next, i thought it might be time to start with the book again. then a coworker told me a few months ago that she was reading "ahab's wife; or, the star gazer" (by sena jeter naslund). it intrigued me because i didn't know ahab had a wife; he makes no appearance in the novel.

my intrigue gave way to simple curiosity. the more my coworker melanie talked about it, the more i thought i should read it.

after finally going through a few books that were ahead of it (and a failed read of michael richton's state of fear, which i had waited to read for over a year), i began reading it several weeks ago. it's an enormous book, over 600 pages, very moby dick-like.

and though i am less than 150 pages into the book, it's a very interesting period piece. the author has a good opening line, somewhat like melville's "call me ishmael."
the first line (paraphrased) of "ahab's wife" is "ahab wasn't my first husband nor was he my last." interesting way to harpoon a reader into reading it.

i don't want to give any of the book away in case anyone reading this should be curious enough to read the book. but i'll say it's a narration, first-person, of una, ahab's wife, from her life in kentucky to the high seas. though, at my point in the book, she's barely aboard a ship. i'm told there ae whaling chapters, much like moby dick. i say bring them on. i did not, could not is more like it, skip the whaling chapters of melville's novel, nor can i skip these chapters when i come upon them.

apparently since i'm not a "moby dick" scholar, i missed the short section where ahab mention's his wife. indeed, he does. and so naslund took this small piece of melville's literature and wrote a gigantic novel herself. what genius to do so. perhaps one day i can sit with the author and talk about moby dick and her book. i have a feeling that i will also be rereading naslund's book in the future and use it as a companion piece to "moby dick."

Sunday, January 01, 2006


i talked to my mother last night sometime after midnight eastern time and into the central time new year. and sometimes she gets philosophical and religious, both combined wit her make a bad combination.

after a decent conversation, which lasted too long anyway, she proceeded to tell me about my cousin eddie who married last summer. he was not a churchgoing boy (he's my age) and went with the flow. when it came time for mass, though, i do recall him going. but i guess in the past five years, its been that long since i've really seen him, he stopped going. however, he has since renewed his interest in the church and now attends with "his new wife." i think that's great,i really do. eddie's a really nice guy and i'm happy he found a woman to settle down with and have a family.

the problem with my mother's conversation is i am married, over three and half years now, and for me it was theopposite. after i married, i stopped attending church and then have stopped talking about church activities and functions. the assumption on my mother's part, and problem others in my family, is that dawn (who is a non-practicing catholic) influenced me to stop attending church and believing in any kind of higher being and to denounce the catholic faith.

well, while that may be a natural assumption, it's quite incorrect. the only correct part of it is that yes i stopped attending church after i got married. however, when i first got married i did go to church. then i stopped about five months later.

what my mother fails to realize is it wasn't dawn who kept me from going and believing in anything, it was me. my beliefs had already shifted to something else even while living at home before i got married. however, to keep the peace ever week, i kept going to church. but what i was really doing was going through the motions, attending every sunday and going to the days of obligation that catholics have to attend.

if anyone looked closely at me, he or she would have seen a shell of a person sitting or standing by the pews, shaking hands when needed, sitting when equired and kneeling at the appopriate time. that's all i was then. i hadn't gone to confession in yearss or, much less gone up to receive the host. these are things my mother should have seen because it was evident. if she chose to ignor these things, then that was her business. but that's the way it was for years before i met dawn.

it's not fair to blame my wife when it comes to this subject. she didn't force me to do anything. now, i can walk to church services and not even cross a street to do it. it's my choice not to go.

i guess i've reached a crossroads in my spiritual life. it's a time to pause and look around the paths before me before continuing. but in some strange way, i feel that i already am traveling down a spiritual path, granted it's one where i do not attend church and believe that god or jesus lies within the four walls of a building. that's silly. i am also on a path where i don't think jesus is the only savior of humanity. there are many others who also help achieve salvation.

so perhaps i'm traveling on a frontage road, parallel to vrious main roads. but i'm going just as fast as the rest and i will eventually get to my destination like the rest moving through those other paths. and it's kind of a fun path i'm on, too. it's much freer than others out there and it stil allows me to be spiritual in my way.


where are you now? does a heaven exist for you?
or do you simply fade away into memories past?
surely, you must know now what lies beyond the
mystery of life? the veil has been lifted and the scene
beyond exposed, your eyes now open wide to the mystery.

though wilbur, you did not accompany charlotte.
you frolicked, eat and slept above the rabbits,
never venturing past the bars, only glancing
at the kitchen beyond --- light years away.

a quiet lad, you rarely spoke,
seldom did i see you there among
the bedding, through the bars.

still, your presence was made and a loss you are
to the family, gentle beast.

the rabbits, too, fellow mates, cry for you,
for all chatted quietly when the house ceased
from activity.

what great chats you must have had and
only the two lads below know what transpired.
and they're saying nothing, going about their

so a bow to you dear wilbur. you brought
quiet cheer to those who feed and loved you.


yes, i know it's cliche to equate the new year with being grateful. but i guess i'm a cliche kind of guy, eh? so i'm going to do this.

its been a roller coaster year for my family, starting with my aunt's breast cancer diagnosis in the early part of the year and subsequent mastectomy in february to my dad's colon cancer diagnosis in june and his operation and ongoing chemo and to the death of my uncle later in the year.

in the midst of all of that, it would be hard to imagine being grateful about anything and that the year was soured by malady after malady. but there is always something to be grateful for, even in times of duress and pain and sadness. there's always time to set aside thoughts for the positive in one's life.

here is a short list of mine.

i am grateful for dawn. she's the backbone of the marriage, the one who fills my life with love, thoughtfulness, kindness and honesty (even when i don't want to hear it). dawn is the steady melody that keeps the tune snappy and steady.

i am grateful that my dad has responded positive to the chemo and has made it into the new year. despite changes in his life and the family's, here's hoping that this year brings a ceasation to the chemo and a him leading a more normal life at the ranch with mom...and maybe sneak a visit up here some time during the year.

i am grateful that i'm going to be an uncle again. emma grace is gorowing, yet still insidemy sister's belly for another three months. how precious it will be so see that little squirt. and to have such a beautiful occasion take place while my dad is going through his ordeal makes it even more wonderful.

i am grateful for a job, especially in times like these where jobs are scarce and hard to come by.

i am grateful for friends who make life fun and interesting when it slows down. Friends, both those i've left behind in texas and those i've made here in michigan, fill in those special moments with laughter, conversation and thoughts of life.

kit and katrina keep purring, my pets.
beatles keep rockin'