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Heartbreak and Afterwards

December 1st, 2014 by Nicho

When you’ve had your heart broken…Well, at first, you look at it and question whether or not it’s really worth all the effort. You examine the remains of all that was you and gaze at the torn edges wondering if you could even begin to find how it all fit together in the first place.

After a while, you look around and see that others have done it. Inexplicably, these people have had their hearts torn apart but have somehow cobbled them back together. How did they do that?

So you gather a few pieces and compare the edges. Tears gather in your eyes as you view the complexity of it all. You knew your heart when it was whole, but somehow its completed shape, which you had taken for granted, escapes you. Even so, if you were somehow able to get it back together somehow, why would you ever put yourself in a place where it could so easily be shattered again?

But eventually, the pieces start to come together. Bit by bit it starts to take shape once more. You show it to others in an effort to see if they can give you a hint of how it’s supposed to look. Sometimes they give you hints and even offer to help. Sometimes they swat it away and now the pieces that once fit together don’t seem to fit anymore. You begin to understand why some artists never share their work until it’s been completed.

At some point, you’ve put together most of the pieces and something resembling a heart has taken shape. You shake your head at it because it’s nothing like what you remember. Somehow the lines are more jagged and the color from one piece to the next doesn’t match quite right. But it fits. At least you think it does. You feel better for the most part. So you start showing your heart again to other people.

Once, in what seems like ages ago, this was a simple thing. But now, as you hold your heart out, you are now acutely aware of the claws, sandpaper and thorns that some people have on their hands. You recoil, wondering how you had missed that before. Everyone has them, it seems. In horror, you hold your reassembled heart tightly to yourself. As you glance at the now sharpened world wondering how you could ever consider sharing it with anyone ever again.

You hear a soft crack and your eyes go wide. You look down and discover that your heart was beginning to break again. You loosen your grip and examine it. Small tears in the seams and cracks in the new exterior appear to you. As you struggle to understand how it happened, you look at your own hands. You see it now and you don’t understand how you didn’t see it before. Your hands have small thorns…patches of sandpaper…and even claws.

That’s when you begin to understand.

How else pieces stay together without the holes for the screws to hold everything together? How else could the rough exterior have been smoothed unless you had the sandpaper to do so? These imperfections are tools that you used to reassemble your heart. They aren’t so horrifying to you anymore as you accept that they are as much a part of you as your heart — indeed, they ensure that you can repair your heart when it needs it.

Now you rise and look upon the others and see that they are just as flawed as you are. They’re also doing the best that they can with their own tools. Many don’t know they exist, but some do. Some do use them to hurt other people, but others use them to comfort and console those that cannot do it for themselves.

I want to be one of those people.

I can be one of those people.

Let me show you.

Too Much

October 11th, 2014 by Nicho

For a long time, I’ve struggled with posting here. I used to think that it was because I’ve had writer’s block. But the truth is that I’ve had far too much to say, and the pipeline that I have is far too narrow to allow me to fully convey all that I want to say. I’ve struggled with it for so long. There is a veritble fire hose of words, a Niagara Falls of my thought process, that is stifled by my ability to convey it into text. Not to mention just a hint of self doubt that you’d even read my words and understand what I mean.

On The Middle East

July 31st, 2014 by Nicho

I know where I stand in the world. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s where I stand. Take note.

Hamas is a bunch idiot cowards. I say that because only idiot cowards stockpile their arms in what is usually the refuge of innocents; hospitals and schools that, by and large, house those unable to defend themselves. Only when destruction rains down upon you can you parade those innocents in front of the cameras. Only then can you complain that you are the victims. Shame on you.

Israel is in no better position. Hamas fires rockets upon you, targeting civilians to inflict maximum damage upon innocent people to propel their own missive agenda. So, in return, you seek and destroy targets that you know house the ammunition of your demise, only to kill children. Defending yourself has become a public spectacle of mass murder of the innocent. But when it all boils down, you made that choice. You launched the weapons that ended the lives of children too young to understand that they’re being used a human propaganda to be paraded to cell phone cameras to be tweeted and posted for the world to see. Sick? Yes. But you fired those shots in retaliation. To make a stand.

You should all be ashamed. No god, no matter how twisted or sick, would see this as anything but killing for the wrong reasons. Hamas, Isrealis — you’re all sick. It is long overdue that you recognize that. Stop judging those who support or decry you and instead look long and hard into a mirror. Face that horror that you have become.

I hope you, dear reader, understand the point I’m trying to make. I take no sides. I see only death and destruction for absolutely idiotic reasons. I see those that call out one side or the other as weak-minded, sociopathic fools. You want death to “the other guy”, regardless of the cost. Fuck you entirely. And fuck you for calling out those that would try to make sense of senseless killing as somehow traitors against you.

Fuck you both for targeting innocent children. You’re both a disgrace to humanity. You are both a dark chapter in the greater volume of human history. You will both be judged by history writ large for the murder you commit today. Not by one another — but by those who bear witness and weep for the innocent blood spilled over absolutely meaningless violence with no outcome but generations of sorrow and regret.

You will both bear the shame. Make no fucking mistake about it.

Full-Time, Full-Life Job

July 7th, 2014 by Nicho

I heard a story on MPR that was done by a 17-year-old father. He was recounting how his life had changed since the birth of his daughter a year ago, as well as that of his family. His father took off after three of his own sons became fathers around 16 years old. He had a brief telephone interview with his dad, who said that he was always a phone call away and if they felt he wasn’t around enough that it was their own fault for not contacting him. It also briefly touched upon the young mother’s life, who was 19 at the time of the child’s birth. She cried as she told of how her father was never there as she grew up. She spoke of how jealous she was of friends whose fathers picked them up from places and gave them hugs when they needed them.

Overall, the story was good. This kid, who initially had no clue how to be a father, is making steps towards being a real part of his daughter’s life. Good on him. But the real lesson, I feel, needs to be underscored — and it goes for both sexes.

Your job as a parent never ends; It changes, it evolves, but never truly ends. Even when you’ve successfully allowed your child to live for 18 years and get a diploma, you’re not done. If you end up walking away and leaving your children to effectively fend for themselves, you’re doing them a disservice beyond measure. This world can really suck — everyone knows that. But when you have a family you can turn to, it sucks a lot less.

Being a parent is no easier, nor is it any harder when your kid is 8 months or 18 years or any span between. The challenges are just different and you’ve got to learn how to adapt. You need to find a way to look at the world through those young eyes once more, when you were young, terrified, invincible and stupid. Remember that feeling of being utterly confused yet completely convinced of how right you were? Guess who’s going through that now. They need you to be their conscience, their sounding block, their occasional verbal punching bag and the arms that hold them close in understanding when they feel like the world is against them.

But really, is that much harder than waking up every 45 minutes to change a diaper and rock a baby back to sleep?

Is it any harder than trying to clean crayon scribbles all over your brand new painted walls?

Is it any harder than sending them outside to play and trust they don’t pull up your flowerbed but end up tracking mud all over the house?

Is it any harder than wiping their tears away when they’ve fallen and scraped up their elbows really bad?

Is it any harder than trying to get them to just sit down and do their spelling words for the umpteenth time?

Not really. It’s just different.

Even if your folks weren’t there for you, you can be better than them and be there for these young adults. Yes, they can grow up and be “adults” at different times. But that’s why I call it adapting — there is no manual for this.

If there is, it’s a simple one-line instruction: Be there for them.

Needing an Answer

June 18th, 2014 by Nicho

Recently news was made about the number of shootings that have occurred on school grounds since the Sandy Hook, CT incident. The reason for pointing it out was that absolutely nothing has been done to solve the problem. That really should’ve been the end of the story.

But it wasn’t.  Read the rest of this entry »

Mad Libs

June 6th, 2014 by Nicho

I loved Mad Libs when I was a kid. You know, those silly books of paragraphs that encourage others to find nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc, that are to be placed is deliberate spots so that the paragraphs take on ridiculous but mostly humorous resolutions. I think they’re great because most adults I know don’t even know what an adverb is, and these books actually force you to figure it out. All in good fun.

I brought this up because I use these to help illustrate my problem with religion. I know — quite the analogy. But follow me on this. Read the rest of this entry »

Hello Soldier

May 26th, 2014 by Nicho

To fully appreciate the sacrifices you’ve made, I fear that my only chance at understanding would have been if I had donned the fatigues, picked up a weapon and fought alongside you. Had I come to know the horrors of war through your eyes, only then would truly identify with what you feel. I want to understand. A small part of me needs to understand, but it can never be so.

It would be all too easy for me to get on my podium and speak of the injustices that you suffered upon returning home in the tone of pointed shame and anger of a country and a government that seems to forget you the moment you return home. But we’ve all read the stories in the news by now. I feel it would almost be self serving to recount stories of battles with the VA, the feelings of rage, the emotional isolation, and the struggles of finding a way back to normalcy. Or even to sullenly recount the lives ended too quickly on foreign soils.

Just know that the vast majority of the people you fought for are so grateful to you. Wars in all corners of the world, spanning decades of history, and seemingly endless attitudes towards the very meaning of the act itself that covers the broadest of spectrums. Your sacrifice meant something to us. It meant everything to us. Even if we didn’t understand or agree on the premise of why you left us in the first place, it meant something priceless. You fought for those who, for a myriad of reasons, did not or could not fight for themselves.

Thank you, soldier. Thank you for laying down your life.

Mad Plans?

April 18th, 2014 by Nicho

As I get older, I’m continually amazed at how quickly time passes. I just realized yesterday that I passed the two year anniversary of my divorce. (Divorcinnary?) It really doesn’t feel like it’s been that long as the actual 17-month divorce  process seemed to have taken much longer. But here it is, 2014, and my daughter is graduating high school, and my boys will be juniors next year.

What’s coming down the pipe is apparently momentous; My 40th birthday is less than two months away. I use the term momentous because, by all accounts, it’s all downhill from here. Truth be told, I never really expected to live beyond 40. I’ve been saying that since I was a teenager, much to the objections of certain family members who don’t like envisioning the concept. Not that I blame them, but even since seeing Monty Python’s Meaning of Life as a teenager, my own mortality has been somewhat of dark joke to me. (As a reminder to those who’ve known me for a while: I do expect to have Always Look on the Bright Side of Life played at my funeral. Don’t make me come back and kick your ass.)

But now I’m almost at that imaginary finish line. Forty is staring me down, waiting for me to flinch. I can see why folks get worked about this admittedly arbitrary number. It looks hungry, yet twitchy.

Regardless, I figured that I should make an event out of this. It isn’t often that I go out of my way to aggrandize anything about me — probably never. I figure this is as good of a time as any. So I took the week of my birthday off from work. My plan is to fill every day with something that I wouldn’t regularly do or have otherwise been putting off for some idiotic reason or another. For one, I’m getting a tattoo. This isn’t exactly an odd choice for the four decade mark; my Ex did the very same thing upon hitting the same birthday. But this isn’t so much about originality as it is new and fun experiences for me. (Not that being jabbed repeatedly with a needle should be in any way considered fun, but I digress.)

After that, I’m rather befuddled at what else to do. Call it a lack of original thought. If anyone has any interesting suggestions, I’d be delighted to hear them.

“Obama’s Deficit”

February 9th, 2014 by Nicho

After Obama was first elected in 2008, I made a vow or sorts to avoid public political commentary. I realized that after several years of doing this, I was about as popular at parties as a leper. And rather than helping people understand the sometimes quizzical nature of American politics, I was only rustling jimmies and upsetting people. Some of them were grotesquely stupid people, but they can’t help that. The point was that I really wasn’t helping much. I was only adding fuel to the fire. I was also at the point where I was ready to take my position in the political middle again. It was my hope that by having a solidly blue track ahead of us for the foreseeable future that the country would pull back from the Right Wing that it had been dancing on for nearly a decade.

So while I was retooling for a less confrontational existence, I let the world go on as it wished. It wasn’t easy, and I have to say that I did manage to become presentable in public gatherings again and even managed to rescue most of my sense of humor from the pits of caustic cynicism. Not that I could ever truly let that go, but I was much funnier before I let it engulf me. But something you cannot shake after delving into the depths of the political cesspool are the facts that you learned on your journey. And unlike many of the commentators out there, I prided myself in allowing all facts take root and letting my conscience guide me.  Read the rest of this entry »

Minnesnowda

January 26th, 2014 by Nicho

I have lived in Minnesota for my entire life. As much as those who visit have complained about the cold weather — indeed, those who live south of here have a misconception that it’s never warm — I’ve never had a problem with the cold. As I learned a few years ago during a particularly dry winter, not having snow for a few months of the year is unnatural to me. At the time, it actually plummeted me into minor depression. I proudly wear an imaginary badge on my chest that states “Yes, I’m from Minnesota, you wuss.” I think it ranks up with those who live in LA or New York City as a badge of bravery and is to be worn with honor.

All of that said, this winter has completely sucked the joy out of the season for me. As this month comes to a close, I cannot think of a January that has left me feeling more miserable. Even the novelty of the St. Paul Winter Carnival, an annual pilgrimage to the downtown area and beyond, has yet to intrigue me enough to get outside and enjoy the frozen festivities. All I want to do is stay inside, eat soup and chili, and hibernate like a bear. I have never felt this way. What’s worse, I never in a thousand years would’ve even thought I’d feel this way.  Read the rest of this entry »