Sunday, January 24, 2016

Upon the burning of a scrub brush

snick. snick.

snick. snick. 

I'd been told to throw the lighter in the trash, not to play with it because fire is bad. It couldn't be all bad though, right? Man had invented fire for a reason, and I was reasonably certain that arson wasn't even a thought at the time. 

Civilized disobedience would have its way, and I sat huddled in my sandbox, every bit as focused as the lonesome caveman sitting inside his prehistoric domicile rubbing two sticks together ferociously as his lady friend got ready to go help some other dude with something he was calling the "wheel." 

Did she have to wear that skirt? The leopard? 

snick. snick.

The lighter wound up being less successful than two sticks. Minuscule promises of flame flew as the spark wheel struck the flint, but either the fluid chambers were empty or the elements had rendered it useless. 

I found the lighter in the yard, and to this day I'm not sure how it got there. Might have been those idiot teenagers my parents were always griping about, smoking and being a bad influence on us "good kids." When I found it, I did the honest thing, I told mom about it, and had been given the above-mentioned instructions to throw it away. 

snick. snick. 

What did all fire need? Being an eight-year-old boy, I wasn't sure, but one thing I knew I needed was kindling. I didn't have to look far. Lying in the sandbox beside me was a scrub brush, bristling with dry fibers perfect for the ultimate starter fire. 

snick. snick. 

Sparks danced, but did not catch.

snick. snick. 

snick. snick. 

snick. snick. 

I grew bored and eventually gave up, Promethean visions no longer dancing in my imagination. Back to an existence without fire. 


When my dad walked in with a scrub brush burnt to the composite bristle holder, at first I didn't understand. 

"I found this in the sandbox, Travis. Do you know anything about it?" 

"No sir." 

Then my mother sang like a canary. 


"Yes ma'am." Because I had, eventually, thrown it away. And to be honest I had a hard time believing I had started the fire that claimed the life of this charred scrub brush. 


My silence damned me. 


Sometimes we forget things. I feel like I forget more things than most people, especially pertaining to my childhood. My childhood wasn't bad enough for me to forget it for any reason, I wasn't abused or molested or burned with cigarettes. 

But every now and again I'll see something that will trigger a memory, much like the story I've just told you. Today that happened. 

Let me introduce you to Exhibit A. 

Some of you may not know what you're looking at, but I did the moment I saw it. It's a cleaning brush that has had bristles burned off it. An inexperienced eye might not be able to see the tiny pigtails that indicate fire has been applied to the bristles, but I can attest, after having a cleaning brush waved around me as accusations and confessions flew, that's what has happened. 

Someone in this house has been playing with fire. 

Someone besides me. 

And I'm not sure why, but when I saw it I laughed. Setting aside the potential danger of it all for a moment, I enjoyed remembering something about my childhood. About the seriousness in my father's voice as he told me how I would one day burn the house down and kill us all if I didn't obey he and my mom. 

I could deliver that same speech to Aven—Aven if one day you read this I know it was you—but I don't think I'm going to. There's no telling when he did it, and honestly, I yell at him enough for things I can prove he did. 

But I think I'm going to replace smoke detector batteries. You know, just to be safe. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Twenty-One): My horoscope and if I think it fits me

I'm not big on the horoscopes. I don't put too much stock in astrology, and I was raised to basically act like it doesn't exist.

After thirty-three years of life though, I can finally look at one and not get the shakes and hear my mom's voice in the back of my head yelling that it's evil.

I'm a Scorpio, I don't know if that makes me compatible with any of you guys, but if it does, hit me up, we'll do Scorpio stuff together and wage a war on Libras, because Libra sounds like liberal and we don't like liberals.

Side not, this is when I was a Scorpio Scorpion, there's some irony there, I can appreciate that. 
That said, I'm playing along with this prompt if for no other reason than to complete my thirty days and get this challenge over with.

You should feel emotionally stable today, but you may feel a bit unsure of yourself when it comes to data. Someone is challenging your way of thinking and demanding that you take a step farther out on the fragile limb. You're happy on the part of the branch that's much thicker and more stable. Feel free to stay there if you don't feel comfortable taking a chance now.

So there you have it, there's my horoscope for today. So does it fit me? Let's break it down.

I should feel emotionally stable today — Well, I think I feel pretty stable most days, thanks to an antidepressant and a healthy mental exercise where I stand in front of a mirror and say, "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me."

I feel unsure about data — Not true. I love Data. Data was one of my favorite characters on Star Trek.

Someone is challenging...step farther out on the fragile limb — I don't feel like a lot of folks challenge the way I think, but if you do, I wish you'd say something. I have a particular person in my life right now who is trying to make me miserable, but I'm just gonna SHAKE IT OFF, SHAKE IT OFF, OOOOOOO OOOO OHHHH!

You're happy on the part of the branch that's thicker — Uh...duh. I weigh 325 pounds. If I get out on a branch, it's gonna be a thick one. More supportive. Speaking of, I'm going to try to go deer hunting this next week, and we're going to see if I can't climb a tree. I'll let you know. Or not, depending on if the branch snaps.

Feel free to stay there if you don't feel comfortable taking a chance now — Thank you, horoscope. Thank you for giving me permission TO LIVE MY OWN EFFING LIFE. I think I will stay where I'm at, because it feels good. This branch is thick, it's leafy and deciduous*, it has a coffee pot and good books, and I can bring my Xbox up here and plug it in to the built in television with wi-fi. So yeah, thanks, but I'm good.

*literally the only word I know in relation to trees, I think it means leafy.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

An open letter to the Gentleman who befriended my daughter in a Rib Crib

To the Gentleman who talked to my daughter at the Rib Crib:

Thank you.

I know my children are cute, but I often forget how cute until someone else tells me. When my daughter sat down next to you on the bench where patrons wait for tables, I honestly thought she'd get in your way. I was moving in to make sure she didn't bother you and I quickly realized that wouldn't be necessary. Instead, you turned to her and spoke to her like she was a grown up, and I don't know if you noticed, but she loves being talked to like a grown up.

Thank you.

In today's world, there's nothing simpler while waiting for a table than to pull out a cell phone and hop on Facebook or Twitter, or send a text to a friend. You showed my daughter that it's okay to meet new people, to joke with strangers as long as mom and dad are around, or to pass the time without a screen in your face. You held her attention by telling her stories and asking her questions about her favorite subject—her—and she giggled as she had to practically yell her answers back to you.

Thank you.

Because in a world where it's hard to trust new people, you showed us that there are still those out there who aren't evil. You complimented her purse and her blond hair. Your wife asked how our youngest child got his red hair, and my wife explained that it came from my side of the family. Truth be told, we adopted our children, and they don't take anything from our genes. We didn't want to bother you with that, besides, they aren't adopted to us, they're our kids.

Thank you.

Because I heard you tell her that I was a gentleman. All I did was get up when a woman walked in with a walker, and I really hope that anyone would have done the same. It's nice to be recognized for our actions once in a while though, and I want my daughter to look up to me, and I think what you told her will carry a lot of weight. Sometimes she needs to hear a stranger say her old man is all right.

Thank you.

Because you married a woman just as nice as you are. Because she asked us questions, told us how cute our kids are, and was just an all-around pleasant person to talk to. I'd love to hear the story about how you two met, and how you fell in love. I'm sure that she was attracted to your kindness and to your toughness. I'd like to know how many years you've had together. What you've been through. How many kids you have. I hope you two have many more years of visiting Rib Crib.

Thank you.

Because, somehow, we left the restaurant at the same time and you asked me, "Where's my little girl?" And then you stood and held the door open for my daughter and told her goodbye. You showed her you're a gentleman yourself, and you're also another person who was kind to her. If you knew the life she came from, you'd know how much that means to her.

Thank you.

Because on the way to the truck, my daughter looked at me and laughed, and talked about how you were from Boston, and how you kept saying your "cah was in the pahking lot." She said you told her your wife fought in the Civil War, and she thought that was hilarious. She said you were funny, and nice, and all the things young people are looking for in older people.

So thank you, gentleman we met while waiting for a table at Rib Crib. I didn't get your name, I don't know where you live, and I wish I had a little more time to talk to you. Maybe one day I'll see you again and I'll get to thank you personally. Maybe I won't. And just in case I don't, I want the world to know how much your small gesture of kindness meant to me, the father of the little girl whose heart you won.

Thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Nineteen): Five fears I have

Some of you are going to get a kick out of these, and some of you are going to think I'm an idiot. I have some pretty irrational fears, and I don't usually like discussing them with people, lest they, you know, think I'm an idiot.

Here we go though, in no particular order, five of my deepest fears.

One day I'll wake up and none of this will be real — I've worked hard to get where I am today, and I've been extremely blessed by God to get here as well. I am scared to death that none of it is real. This life, my wife, kids, my job, my degree, my moderate level of success, my family...none of it exists, I'm in some sort of fugue state, or, even worse, I was mentally incapacitated many years ago, and I've created my environment. I won't go so far as to say I'm scared I'm in "The Matrix" or anything that unrealistic, but I am terrified that nothing I have is real.

That I'll outlive my wife, my kids, or my brothers — No one wants to outlive their kids, I understand that. However, I'm petrified of outliving my wife or my brothers as well. I do not want to grieve the loss of any of these people. If something happened to Alicia, it would mean that I'd be responsible for not only me, but for three children. It would also mean that half of me—half of my identity, half of my sanity, half of my soul—would be missing. I have no idea how I'd cope. I watched my mom grieve for my dad, and I want no part of it. And in that same vein, I want to be the first to die of my brothers. I don't want to go through what my dad did, watching two of his brothers die before he did. When I really sit down and explore this, it boils down to selfishness, and I won't deny that I am a selfish person.

That I'll die in my sleep — I don't want to die in my sleep. I want to go out guns blazing, or pushing a kid out of the way of a speeding bus, or saving one of my students from something evil. I want to give my life for someone else. I don't want to go peacefully in the night, and have my family discover my cold body the next morning. I want to see it coming. I want to stare into the gun barrel, the fire, or the headlights and make a final stand, say something incredibly cool, and go meet my Savior. Dying in my sleep sounds like such a cop out. I have no idea why this is a fear of mine. No idea. But it is.

I'm scared of raising children who will one day return to their biological parents — When my children turn eighteen, they'll be legal adults who are allowed to live their own lives. Since we've adopted them, and since they have biological parents who are still alive, one day they'll be faced with a choice of whether or not they want to see them again, and then if that meeting goes well, they'll want to move in, or back to that town, or see them more and more. I'm so scared of sinking fifteen years of parenting and love into a child only to hear them say, "I'm moving out," and watch them walk away, knowing there is nothing I can do to stop them. This is something I pray about. This is something that sticks in the back of my head, and I'm sure Alicia thinks about it as well. It's one of the downsides to adopting, and there's nothing I can do about it. I think that's what bothers me the most, is that I'm not in control. I hate not being in control. Kids, if you're reading this before I get to show it to you, just know that I will never keep you from your bio parents, and I love you.

Canned biscuits — We've gone pretty deep in my psyche here, and I think I need to lighten the mood, so I'm giving you a genuine fear of mine that is genuinely ridiculous. I hate opening biscuits. I cannot press a spoon into the seam because the pop scares me. I'm scared to even peel the wrapping paper off of them because I think it's going to pop prematurely. When I peel the wrapper, I throw the can on the counter to pop it open, because then I'm in control of what happens. I also hate popping balloons, and will leave a room if too many of them are being popped. I hate things like that, they scare me, and I don't do being scared. It's why I don't do horror movies. Jump cuts make my heart skip.

Monday, November 9, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Eighteen): My favorite color and why

My favorite color is orange.

I like it because it's bright, like my personality and my future.

That's it for today, can't go too far with this one.

Love you guys.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Seventeen): A quote I try to live by

Happy Sunday evening to you people, I hope your weekend was pleasant.

Mine certainly was, because I got to pull my baby out and wrap my big strong hands around him.

I'm talking of course about Liam Beaston, my beautiful Desert Eagle .50.

He's gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous and I love him. 
But tonight's assignment doesn't call for talking about my guns. Tonight's assignment is a quote that I try to live by. 

Go ahead and get ready to laugh, because everyone does when I tell them where the quote comes from. 

The quote is by Albus Dumbledore, wise and wizened old headmaster of that glorious fictional learning institution, Hogwarts. 

Let me know when you're done laughing. 

Finished? Okay, here we go. Here's the quote. 

"Youth can not know how age thinks and feels, but old men are guilty if they forget what it is like to be young." 

I gave my principal this quote sometime last week, and told him it was a crucial part of my educational philosophy. I never want to forget what it was like to be a teenager, how I felt when a teacher captured my attention, how I felt when I was given homework, how my life outside the school affected my behavior in it. 

Just a few days after sharing this with Mark, I experienced a great deal of disappointment with some of my students. Mark talked me down off the ledge, so to speak, and I was grateful. After our talk, he looked at me and said, "Remember that quote you told me the other day? Don't forget what it was like to be a teenager." 

I think it's easier as I get older to talk about how "kids these days" act. Old men have been doing this for centuries, millennia. 

"Kids these days don't appreciate anything." 

"Kids these days don't have any respect for anything." 

"Kids these days need to be spanked more." 

I will admit that sometimes I am guilty of speaking ill of "kids these days." But I was a kid once, and I was an idiot. I was disrespectful when I could get away with it, and you were too. I slacked off when the pressure wasn't on, and you did too. I let my parents down, I let my teachers down, and I may have let you down, if you're a reader who was involved in my formative years. 

I cannot forget what it was like to be young, lest I be guilty of robbing my charges of their youth. I cannot expect my students and my children to think like me, or else I am guilty of adding yet again more weight to the already bursting-at-the-seams backpack of adolescence. 

So that's it, there's my quote. Laugh if you want, I'll understand. Love you guys. 

Saturday, November 7, 2015

#Write30 Challenge (Day Sixteen): Bullet your entire day

I'm not going to lie, this has probably been my favorite one so far. There's not much in the way of introducing this, so here you go, my day.

  • Woke up at 6:45. Way too early. Time change has me twisted
  • Pooped
  • Fixed toilet for children. Told wife we needed new innards for toilet
  • Put a customized shotgun on three gun sale sites
  • Got ready for Keeli's soccer game. Still haven't had coffee
  • Got told my shotgun had a "redneck paint job"
  • Aven found fourteen eggs in the coop
  • Tried to get Siri to remind me to bullet every fifteen minutes, prompting my daughter to ask what bulleting meant
  • Watched Akeeli and Drake do the "Watch me whip, watch me waddle" dance
  • Took meds at 8 a.m., one bottle was empty, and I made a behind the back toss into the trash can with it while no one was watching, I've still got it
  • Got breakfast at McDonald's
  • Went to soccer game. Ugh 
  • During halftime of the game, came across this quote: "If actions speak louder than words, then writing speaks louder than both - for writing is the action by which words are manifested." - Jake Weidmann
  • Left soccer game. Only lost by one point. 
  • Went to the hardware store, got stuff for a new chicken feeder. Also got bones for the dogs 
  • Came home and Aven and I successfully built a new chicken feeder, first try, I'm still blown away. First thing Aven and I have done in a while that we haven't fought about. 
  • While I was building the coop, I had a hater on Instagram throw some shade and try to start some beef. I sat for a while deciding on how to verbally eviscerate her, then deleted and blocked her from all social networks (probably the thing I'm most proud of today)
  • Rested for a minute then showered 
  • Got out of the shower, dressed, then Drake decided to hit me with some sort of fabric whip thing, so I chased him down and hit him back. He learned a valuable lesson. 
  • Left the house to go to my brother's, had a fight with Alicia on the way about guns and money
  • Got to my brother's house early. 
  • Poured my grandfather and I a couple fingers of Jameson
  • Griped about eating for the next two hours
  • Texted Kinman for a while, and I was thankful for that
  • Family finally all arrived and I got to eat! 
  • Played catch up with a cousin I haven't seen in a couple of years
  • Watched OSU beat the brakes off TCU
  • Watched mom set up "Minute to win it" games on the deck
  • Watched a few family members play with a cutie on my lap
Miss Hensley Grace
  • Participated in the games, only won one, you stacked pencils on the back of your hand then caught them, proud to say I've still got it
  • Left too early, but had to get home and study my lesson for tomorrow
  • Got home
  • Studied for my lesson and watched a gun deal fall through, so I changed clothes
  • Found the ASL video for Adele's "Hello" which led me to watch that video no less than twenty times
  • Finally picked up my laptop and blogged
  • Told the kids goodnight whilst blogging, you're taking time from them now, feel good about yourself?