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.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

the first day

things started off last night with a few friends over fora quiet evening before "the ball dropped." there was chili, corn bread, chips and some sweets, music and reel clues.

it wasn't a big deal, really, just to spend the few remaining hours of 2007 with friends instead of being alone as we were the previous year (watching "schindler's list" no less at midnight).

we did scramble upstairs to watch as the new year came in on the eastern time zone. there were some kisses, hugs and some back slapping.

though quiet, i'm glad it was this way.

outside snow fell, making the night time light up as it usually does on snowny nights.

after a groggy morning. i actually stumbled out of bed at noon and lazying around for several hours, my brain started kicking in.

i called up linda and chatted with her and mom while emma grace howled in the background, something about not wanting to wear a shirt.

it snowed more over the course of the afternoon and we were supposed to go to evie's to pick up some stuff. so i set out to shovel, even though it was still coming down. by the time i finished, there was a thin layer of snow already covering the drive. oh well, it will make it easy when i have to do it again tomorrow morning.

off to evie's. it rurns out she had cooked some stuff, empanadas (chicken and beef), rice and chicken and some chicken in the oven. i got there with little appetite and thought i'd bring it home to eat.

then, there was music playing on a cassette player. it was some sort of panamanian music, festive and fast, with an accordion keepijng it going. on the table, was the bottle of tequila. evie wanted tme to take a shot with her for the new year. (i was skeptical before arriving.)

with themusic playing and the sweet smells of the food, i took the shot of el toro. i didn't drink it, i swallowed. tip the shot glass, let it slide to the back of the throat, then swallow the nasty liquor. oh was it sweet as te warmth of it spread through my esophagus and into my belly. so good.

well, that brought out the appetite that had bene supressed. i ate heartily, stopping intermittantly to dance with evie. all that was needed was some cuban cigars or cigarettes to complete the mood. i ate more. danced more. then for good measure i took a second shot. then danced more before we left.

such a lovely liquor. so good in shots, too. my new favorite liquor? perhaps. although i am partial to mojitos with its cuban (too expensive) or puerto rican rum. i told dawn taht i think i'd prefer a shot or two of tequila to a beer or two. beer tends to fill me up. the tequila just messes me up. although i think it just makes me happy.

now we're back home. it's still snowing. the drive is probably going to need more shovel work tomorrow morn. but as for tonight, we're inside and it's time to relax and settle in for the night. perhaps contemplate what lies ahead for me with my writing. i'm hope a lot. i am hoping the sleeping giant's trip to the toilet turns into a stretch and a hearty beginning to his day as he heads out the door.

we'll see.

Monday, December 31, 2007

the end of innocence

the year's pretty much done, 22 hours to go before 2008 rolls in.

i am glad to see 2007 go. it was a year filled with so much pain that it will forever remain embedded in my memory. it's the worst year of my 36 years, by far.

so much bad health and death wound its way through 2007. it seemed that recovering was impossible.

it started with dawn's friend and fellow teacher at glerum, who died in july, quite suddenly. it took dawn and many others by surprise. it was a loss to the west ottawa community and a loss ofa friend and peer.

more than a month later, my uncle elias died. he'd been in a nursing facility for several years after he'd suffered a stroke. i knew his health was bad, but he was stable, however, unable to move on his own. one sunday shortly after my brother and his family came to visit, linda called and said uncle elias was expected to die within a few hours. he did. that was uncle number two to have died, the second of my father's three brothers to die.

and in the midst of all that, trying to cope with his death, we find out we're going to have a baby. dawn was pregnant and it was the happiest/sariest/coolest time of my life. such a range of emotions that were involved with finding out. we couldn't believe it. then shortly after, there was a miscarriage. that put an end to that and emotions quickly changed to sadness and loss. and it's still hard to believe how things can change that fast from being pregnant to not being pregnant. it was -- and still is -- a very difficult thing to deal with.

than came what was inevitable. the death of my dad. we knew it was coming. by the fall, things just seemed to escalate and he got worse. our conversations became infrequent and i learned of his condition thorugh mom or linda. all of his trips to the hospital and his decline to a qheelchair (which he used only a handful of times), to not leaving the ranch. and eventually to our trip to texas to see him, tell him we loved him, say goodbye one last time. and so the trip extended to watching him die and being there for his death and the rosary and funeral and all of the whirlwind of emotions that went along with that, all the loss with only memories to remember how he was, what a good man he was.

the year's seemed surreal, being kicked and kicked again while we're down. and kicked again, dust rising andn setttling. and there were words said this year, feelings hurt, memories shat upon, indignities riled and the separation of relatives, the cutting away of bloodlines, never to be really reconnected again. such shame.

the year took full advantage of previous quiet years, going by without incident, undramatic, calm, like a serene lake, with few ripples spreading out over its surface on occasion, yet it remains passive.

this year, well, if we continue the water analogy, i'd say it was the equivalent of waves crashing onto a beach during a fierce hurricane, relentless and surging, over and over again until damage it done to land, property and life. yes, that's what this year has been.

yet is all bad?

no, one can't say a year contains only tragedy and death, loss and sadness. no, i'd be remiss to say that, even though it certainly took centerstage in our lives.

there was also life this year. in late november laura and todd had a baby, little nicholas robert. he arrived several weeks early and is only a cute, quiet baby. we saw him during christmas and i got to hold him for some minutes. i guess it was some consolation of what could have been for us. it felt good to hold an infant.

there has been closeness in my family, even though it's at the expense of my dad's death. i talk to my family quiet often, hearing what's going on. hearing little emma grace say, "dora!" in the background when she sees her favorite tv show. seeing emma, rena and ricky grow up this past year. we were luckly enought osee them three times in an 11-month period this past year. it was good to see them grow.

i call my mom more frequently. i check up on her and make sure she's ok. i think she likes it that i call. i know she does because she tells me. sometimes they are very short conversations, but still i hear her voice and she hears mine and that is good for both of us.

and what of friends? they are there. they are strong. they are in my heart. friends here in holland stand by me and our bonds became stronger this year, concern over my dad's decline always on their minds and how i dealt with it always at the surface. and those friends who live away? they, too, make me feel good. they are spread around the country, mostly in texas and in california. they call or write. thanks you friends for keeping me close to your hearts.

and my dawn? well, i think because of what's happened this year, we're closer. we've suffered together this year as a good couple should. together. but we've also grown, as if we've known each other for much more than our seven years. we are the best of friends. she is my rational side and my steady when i veer off into my odd states of mind. she is the person i annoy most. that's a compliment. i try to be good about no annoying, but i just can't help myself. next time, ask me to do a funny voice in her company. she'll love you for it. she is the one i make funny faces at and make laugh. she's the goofy girl who makes me shake my head and grin. she's the cool chick who still loves me after five years. i love you, too, dawnie.

welcome to adulthood, my friends.
"... let's hope it's a good one/ without any fear."