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May. 11th, 2012

SBCCHris

Into the Woods

When I was a child, the woods were mystery, and home, and adventure. I was first Christopher Robin in the woods. I carried Pooh around from place to place, and observed things.

"That is a stream," I'd say to Pooh-bear, and he'd silently observe that I was indeed correct. Sometimes mom, or dad would tell me something more about my observation, perhaps that some people called it a creek, or a 'crick', or that many streams formed a river that went all the way to the ocean.

"All the way to the ocean?!" I'd exclaim. That was so far away. But Pooh didn't seem concerned, so it was alright.

Later in the woods I was Peter Pan. My baby sister was Wendy, and my tiny baby brother was going to grow up to be Michael, or the little one, what's his name. Anyway, we didn't want to grow up. We wanted to make mud pies and couch sheet forts on the swingset. Important stuff.

Nose in books as a tween I was Raistlin Majere, the sickly mage with hourglass eyes, or Jonathan Harker, collecting evidence of vampires, or a minuteman from the Revolutionary war, or a boy king of a forest kingdom.

I was a cub scout, and a boy scout, and a hairs breadth away from eagle. I could shoot a bow, an honest to god bow, one I'd strung myself with an arrow I had made and fletched myself and track animals and play hide and seek and paintball and always get a fire started at camp and pitch a tent and carve a stool and I was really, really quite good in the woods.

I knew where the dangers were. Knew the smell of animal urine around a den meant to stay away, and that certain plants stung, and that certain other plants made the stinging go away. I could walk in the woods for hours and never get lost, but if I did get lost, I'd know how to get un-lost, because my mind had created a hundred little landmarks without meaning too, and I'd only need one or two to get my bearings again. I had always respected the woods. I had never feared them.

Two Sundays ago though, my father's remains were found in the woods. Wednesday I visited the place where they'd found him.

From Lewiston Idaho you travel out to a place called White Bird, the local Sheriff told me. He was a slim man in slacks and hiking shoes and a plaid shirt. He had a beard like mine, well trimmed, a Van Dyke, but mostly white. His hair was mostly white too. He had a huge deputy with us too. Barrel chested, blonde haired arian looking guy. My wife was with me, eyes moist and sad, and my cousin Jackie, who is late sixties going on forty-five, but who looked as if she might shivver and blow away like a leaf from the emotion of the day.

I looked for White Bird on the internet when I first heard. It's hardly a dot on most maps. It's next to a place called, and I wish I were kidding, Devil's Canyon. Once you get to White Bird, you pass it, and take a logging road up into the prairie hills of Idaho. There are roadrunners on the road, stag and deer in the wood, and cows below in the plains. There are wild turkey and pheasant in the grasses, but none of them showed themselves to us.

The road went fifty miles into the hills, winding, gravel and dirt and we followed the Sherrif's utility truck and it's attendant dust cloud up and up and up into them. I imagined my father on the scooter he'd bought with his last few thousand dollars traversing the loose gravel on a street scooter. It would have been dangerous. It would, we think, have cost him all the gas the little Honda would have held. A one way trip.

Something caught my eye as we drove; it was a glittering stream. It was beautiful and natural, a babbling, crystalline glacial run-off. It turned black in my minds-eye.

At the top of the logging road was a massive pile of gravel, used for covering the road beneath. It was a bleak, reddish black pile of rock so barren that at first I wasn't sure what it was I was seeing. A few plants, blackened and dead, jutted out from it. They'd likely sprouted the year earlier, died over the winter and now were just warnings to other plants that they'd find no purchase. It was warm. Almost hot.

We got out of our vehicals, Jane's little Element and the Sherriff's huge grey pick-up. The skinny officer, officer Johnson, who had kind eyes began to lead us into the woods, off the road. The ubermensch kindly offered his arm to our cousin Jackie, who clung to it. Officer Johnson gave us a quick description of the area, said that the site was about a quarter-mile from where we'd stopped, and without much more ado, set a fairly quick pace off into the woods.

I followed almost immediately behind him, keeping up. Jane and my cousin lagged a bit. The ground was uneven and grass covered rocks making the path seem smoother than it was. There was a path, possible worn by investigators, but it seemed like a common place horses would be taken too. I saw hoofmarks and droppings from horses and deer. I realized I was wearing bad shoes for a hike. I'd brought my loafers, not my tennis shoes. They were back in Kirkland. It made me feel a pang of anger at myself that was overblown.

The path, I thought, might have been used by the turkey hunters that had found my dad's remains. It was certainly used by my dad. He'd taken that black Honda offroad. It was a little rough on foot with all of the reddish black volcanic rock around. At some rest stop I had heard the hills were all a massive prehistoric lava flow. He would have had a lot of trouble with the heavy scooter on a rocky game trail like the one I was following the Officer on. The rocks cut and rolled underneath my feet. The branches overhung the path, whipped me as I passed.

The officer was unsure for a moment where exactly to go, so he had us wait a moment while he scouted around. The turkey hunters, he'd later tell me, had left bits of toilet paper around to help show the police where to find my father's remains.

I think Jane squeezed my hand then. I murmured something about what the officer was up to. That was the first I'd noticed that the tall blonde cop was helping my cousin. I paused in the woods and I looked around. It was pretty here. Warm. Flowers dotted bits of prairie that peeked out from beneath evergreens. I noticed, not for the first time in weeks, the weight building in my heart. I examined it like you might examine the weight of a gun to see if it felt like it fit in your hand or not.

Then the officer returned, and we kept moving at a slightly different angle than before, and before very long I came upon him stopped near a small copse of trees. In the midst of those trees was a smudge... or a stain in the grass, almost a burn. The grass was yellow and black and looked slightly greasy in a vaguely man-shaped swatch. He explained that's where he had found my dad. He explained again for the fourth of fifth time the details he'd explained on the phone, and that cousin Jackie had explained to me that he'd explained to her. How he'd emptied his pockets of so few things, a nail clipper, a pack of cigarettes, thirty dollars in bills that were no longer fit to be used, and had, along with his glasses and clothes and windbreaker, in fact been cremated with him just a day earlier.

The officer explained again how there had been a gardener's spade with him that was a little dirty, and how they couldn't find his ID or the license plates from the scooter, or the key to the scooter, so he figured my father had buried those identifying things somewhere in the woods, and how he'd had deputies search the area and turn over rocks for hours looking, but they'd never found any of those things.

And I kept staring at the smudge for awhile, and then I went over and looked at where the scooter had been left. Then I looked at where his little blue bag of bug spray and thermos, the one they thought had been full of crushed pills and Jack Daniels had been left, and cast around in the grass a little, hoping uselessly to find something the police had missed, something he'd left for me to find. There wasn't anything.

Jackie and Jane cried, and I held them both, and I guess I cried a little, but nothing that released the stone in my heart, they were just a few moistened tears of sympathy. Jackie asked the massive officer to help her pull up a sapling by the roots to take home and grow. The small yearling tree she'd picked was impossible for him to yank from the ground. That sword was for a different Arthur. Jane found a tiny one, and pulled it up though, and gave it to her as we walked back. I collected a few spring flowers and pressed them into my wallet, just to have something.

Then we walked back. Somewhere along the path, the giant of a deputy pulled out another Jane-sized sapling Jackie, perhaps to make up for his earlier failure. When we got to the trucks, Jane wrapped the roots in paper towels and one of the officers drenched them with water from a bottle, and then gave Jackie an evidence bag to put the soggy, paper-wrapped sapling roots in. I just stared on a little dumbly at the whole affair.

We got back into the trucks and left. The woods were... just the woods. They hadn't changed. I had. I didn't see them the same anymore. The icon on my mental desktop was a different color. The woods were full of the opposite of wonder and adventure. They weren't a mouth, eating and spitting up and wriggling and dying and being fed upon. They weren't a gluttonus cycle of feast and famine.

They were just a bunch of trees.

Nov. 29th, 2011

SBCCHris

Missing: One Dad, Slightly Used

My dad is missing, or rather, he's being missed.

THis is his public face: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wayne_Shannon

In private, he's quick with a joke, and has perhaps the lowest self esteem of any man I've ever met. I like the funny part. The low self esteem part makes me want to punch him in the nose sometimes.

If he read the above, he'd decide it meant that his son hated him. I'd have to *beg* him to see otherwise, just like I had to beg, in tears no less, to get him to show up to my wedding, to shake my hand.

However right now I'm so goddamned angry at him, it would be what they call a 'tough sell' to convince him I loved him.

The truth is, for the first time in my life I am seriously considering just not having him in my life anymore.

I am tired of being abandoned by this guy.

Some background. He divorced my mother many years ago, when I was, say, knee-high to a grashopper. This was all because she'd had an affair with his then best friend, sucessfully hidden it, even though my sister was the result of the affair and she was shortly after pregnant with my brother via my dad already. Sound twisted? I had no idea. I was too young to know. I had a baby sister and brother and loved them, and they loved me. None of the other crap mattered to me then. It's one of the miracles of my life that we all stayed together and grew up together.

But drama. Divorce. Calamity. Judgement. It all marred my childhood, though I wasn't aware of how much until I started inventing my own drama.

My dad was not the bad guy in this story. He had a good job as a TV commentator, and he was fan-fucking tastic at it. He took on big car detroit before their were lemon laws, in a town owned by teamsters who will fucking kill you. We had death threats spelled out in flaming gasoline outside our door once, or so I was told. I was too young to know or care. Anyway the guy was good. Six Emmys won and four Ace nominations good. I remember wearing tiny tuxes often as a child, and hating it, and thinking the thousand dollar a can caviar was way too salty. Famous people knew my name when I didn't know theirs, or understand why they were famous, or even what fame was. Everyone in Detroit knew my dad's name, then everyone in Philidelphia, then everyone in California.

But by California, the dream was over. Perhaps seeing the miracle of my sister and brother and I loving each other and our mom and him unconditionally couldn't cut it anymore. I'm shocked it lasted as long as it had. These were some really stubborn people, my parents, to try to make it work after so many years of betraying each other.

See this is when my dad got mean. There were belt beatings and wooden spoons and to hear my mom tell it, times when he nearly choked her out. He was full of rage. She was full of shame. My ass hurt. They were bad times.

Finally my mom packed us all into an old brown doored station wagon with every toy we owned and drove us to Aunt Jackie and Uncle Bill's. I cried and cried. I hated it. I didn't understand. Dad had finally gotten a paternity test for my sister, and finally proved she wasn't his. He already knew of course, but he *hated* his old friend Al for sleeping with his wife, and if Al wanted to see his daughter, he was damn well going to make sure he was his daughter.

The truth set us free. To... roam from house to house for awhile. First Aunt Jackie's then my Dad's moms old house. Grandma LaVonne's house was so stained with nicotine from her smoking that the walls were noticably and un-evenly yellow. I liked the place. THere were figs outside and a rope swing. Still I missed my dad.

I was dooing poorly in school. But I was of gifted intelligence, so my test scores were rediculous. I got into every gifted class. I aced them all.

But we moved again and again and again, and eventually, there were simply months of math I had missed. I went from a school teaching multiplication tables to one months into long division in a week. I got frustrated, lost confidence. My math skills were forevermore tainted by that lack of confidence. In high school I'd fail algebra twice and make it up in summer school.

English? Any sort of presentation? I was still a prodigy, straight a student. It was like a dividing line in my brain. Science was the exception. I hated busy work, so would barely pass homework intensive classes, but ace the tests, leaving me with C's or D's depending on the ratio of grades related to worksheets vs. tests. Once my Science teacher Mr. Crowder pulled me into his office and said:

"Chris you need to apply yourself. You'd have an A if you ever did your homework. Unless you are cheating on these tests. How can I tell you aren't in fact?"

Frustrated, I drew a punnet square and mapped out big ans small H's to show dominant and recessive traits like so:

HH | Hh
---|---
hH | hh

"This is my parents," I said, circling the dominant double HH. "This is me." I said, circling the recessive small h. "I'm gene-recessive for homework doing."

You could have driven a truck through his open mouth. The asshole still gave me a D.

But time passed. My father would appear for awhile, a week or so every couple of years. He'd sometimes come through with a really impressive gift for Christmas. Once it was the Lego Monorail. That was epic. I was the toast of the block.

Most of the time no cards or anything. ButI didn't care - or I didn't think I cared. I didn't really know any better. After awhile his absence seemed like your average 'It's always been that way' kind of kid adaptation.

As a teen I was mad a lot, had anger issues. My brother and I fought, and I was bigger and older and meaner than him. I was a jerk. Your sadly typical angry teen. Nobody understood why I was so angry, least of all me. My mom kicked me out at 18. I lived in my truck and surfed couches with friends parents for a couple of weeks, then moved in with my Grandma LaVonne for almost a year.

That was honestly amazing. My grandma, turns out, was awesome. Grew up in the depression like most of her generation, wore mumus, had an ugly fluffy dog that loved her and wanted nothing to do with me. Muffin. THe dogs name was hand-to-god muffin. But she as funny, and kind and just amazing. My life sucked. My high school sweetheart moved away and dumped me within a week of college over the phone of all things. I was a burning cleche of weeping post-teen angst.

Then I began dating. I was horrible at it. I did all the guy things guys do. Dated based on looks and likelyhood I'd get laid. Wrote and rewrote other people's terrible poetry. Embraced my dark side. Got cool. Took up smoking. Lied. Cheated. Barely didn't steal.

Then I grew up. At some point in an email with my dad I told him off for treating me like a kid and giving me kid advice. I told him I was 25 and asked him what he had been up to at 25. That worked. Like a switch, he started treating me like an adult, and an actual relationship was born.

We talked about stuff. I emailed him about what was going on in my life. For a few blessed years, we interacted like actual people. When I got married, I had to practically drag him to the thing. It made me pretty angry how hard it was to get him to show up and eat some of the eight hundred dollar cake, but I was as happy as I'd ever been in my whole life, so my anger was transient.

Then his mom died, My Grandma LaVonne. She was in her late 80's, she had terrible Alzheimers. When she couldn't tell my father from the nurses, it broke his heart. I joined him at the funeral. He cried on my shoulder a lot. He gave my brother and I some of the inheritance money. She had left me some too. I loved that old lady, but my dad had lost his best friend. We started talking about moving him out to Seattle so that we could spend more time together, getting season tickets to go watch sports and shout at professional atheletes. He was interested, but evasive about the details.

THen a couple of months ago he called me, instructing me to delete old phone numbers and that some email addresses he'd had were getting turned off, that he'd been getting ready to move out of Grandma's house, where he'd been staying while he looked after her.

THen he disappeared. He turned off ALL of his phones. He moved addresses and left no forwarding address. He turned off all of his email accounts.

He's gone.

None of his family, his cousins, his sister, or anyone, save perhaps Grandma in heaven knows where he is. I don't know if he's ok or not. Clearly he didn't fall off of his boat and rise from the grave to turn off his email accounts.

But hes gone. Vanished.

Left.

I'm so.. angry at him right now. I know he planned this. I know he wanted this. I just don't have any fucking clue why. I miss him. Right now I also hate him.

This hurts.

So I'm missing one Dad, slightly used. Seen him around?

Apr. 7th, 2010

SBCCHris

Enhanced DL

I recently stood in line for *three hours* at the DOL to get an enhanced DL. They require you submit to facial recognition software, which coincidentally means that I had to take my glasses off. I had no issue with this, bu I will say that at least once a year someone that I have known for years will come up to me and say something like 'dude, I totally saw you at the beach in california/as a waiter downtown/etc...'. I'm often told that I have 'one of those faces' which makes me worry a bit.
SBCCHris

What would you do if I sang out of tune?

The topic of this is friendships. The train of thought began with the question: Why is it that the happier you are with your own life, the more petty people around you who are going through a rougher period tend to become? That in reminding those people that you aren't a fair weather friend they respond by either turning the jerk waaaaay up to prove you wrong, or in opening up and sharing a little of their pain and feeling a bit better about themselves, remembering why friends are good and you should treat them well?

I've decided that our own happiness can be a sort of occam's razor of friendship. Whatever happens when you are willing to share it with those who are not in such a good place offers a small, but needed proof for a solid friendship.

I think the same can be said of depression. When I've gone through bad times, people have gone out of their way to renew friendships to me by taking time out of their lives to let me know I'm supported and whatnot.

And again on the other side of this, in the past I've had people try to (and some succeed at) take advantage of me in a weak and possibly self-destructive state.

It's the highs and lows of life that often define who we are to people, how we handle them and what they are willing to expect/reject/accept.

In the end, it is not who I am to others that defines me, but it is an important part of my life. Am I a good brother? A good son? A good fiancee? Will I make a good husband, or perhaps father or even grandpa one day? And what about a good friend? To whom am I a good friend and to whom am I an aquaintance, buddy or 'ex' something?

The answer is, I have a handful of close friends, a decent circle of friends that I can pick up with after who-cares-how-many years as if the other just stepped out of the room, and quite a few friendly aquaintences that I might spend hours with every week but I won't be telling my darkest secrets too (or asking theirs) unless something changes. I value all of those kinds of friendships, they all have their place and each may evolve into this and that over time, which is fine.

Recently I've been thinking a lot about friendships, as getting hitched tends to make you evaluate things. These are just a few of my thoughts, many that I've had and voiced before, but are getting dusted off.

Mar. 29th, 2010

SBCCHris

The long (awaited) update!

So hi livejournal. Been a long time since I've written in you. A lot has happened in the time since.

Job - I'm working at Microsoft again, helping manage their websites. I do the homepage microsoft.com, the downloads page and a few others. The job is better, and my boss is both more instructive and kind than was the one over at Demand Media. The company culture is much more supportive and a lot les cutthroat. I'm on track for a Systems Engineering position, and when I get there, I'll have earned it, and actually know what I'm doing. The job can be demanding sometimes, and there is a lot of scrutiny on webpages like that from upper management, but my name is getting out there as a solid guy that can do the work that needs doing and is willing and able to learn, and I make enough to pay the bills. Right now, that's working out well. It's interesting working with native Indians so much, and I'm actually learning some interesting things about holidays, different regional foods and customs, and a lot about Cricket, a game that takes real stamina to play with 6hr long games in the 'reduced' form.

Family - My mom seems very happy with her guy, Dick, an older gentleman with three grown up kids. They've been together for a few years now, six I think. He's a nice guy, and makes my mom feel secure and happy, I can tell. She's planning a family reunion this year on Camano Island, which I might go to if I can manage. My sisters have had a year of unstable relationships, but in your 20's that's sort of what you do. Still they are doing better than I did at their ages, and things seem to have mellowed out for both of them now. My Dad and I have stayed in touch, and he's sent me some cool tidbits about my granddad and grandma on my Dad's side including some old-timey wedding photos of my grandparents and great-grandparents on that side I'd never seen before that are pretty cool. Andrew and I have been bonding over comics, the '65 and soon, him being my best man. That's right, if you've been living under a rock and hadn't heard, yours truly is getting hitched! Sorry ladies! :)

Personal Life - What can I say about Laura Jane Thornton, soon to be Mrs. Jane Schetzle? (She goes by Jane) We met over geeky games which we maintain, so were friends first. We bonded and became more by dancing, playing with a new kitten (Lolly, a rescue from a kitty halfway house run by parents of friends) that has joined my household, we played nerdy games together, we went to the beach together, I showed her all of my favorite restaurants and woodland places, poems and plays and jokes all while she finished up school at WSU and shared her stories and life with me. So many things in my life have fallen into place since I met her and we opened our hearts to each other. Big changes to my outlook, we became best friends, partners and love was just the most natural thing in the world to follow. I proposed to her late last summer, and she said yes. This year has been a whirlwind of planning, learning the quirks of each other's families and recruiting our nearest and dearest to share the day with us this summer. That's taken up most of my brainspace in the last year.

Friends - It's funny when you are planning a wedding, you pick the guestlist way early and family gets to come first, even though there are people you've met in life that are people you'd take a bullet for. I am blessed to have some awesome guys to be my groomsmen, and am looking forward to a rapidly approaching evening of steak and tux fitting. Friendships change, wax and wane sometimes though, and some people you can pick up with right where you left off years ago like no time has passed, while still others change so that you hardly recognize them. Friends that truly care about you will always have mixed emotions about a change like this in your life, but in the end, those that truly wish for our happiness have made sure to let me know, by just standing by to help whenever a leg up has been needed. I am looking forward to letting my friends know that Jane and I count on them to help us make this work in the long term, that we recognize we didn't get to this point in our lives without their support and love in front of all my family, by birth and by choice! And then to have booze and fly off someplace sunny for a bit. :) I am actually blessed enough to say that I have so many friends and close acquaintances that I couldn't possibly invite them all to the event itself, but Jane and I are planning to host a big barbecue reception later that summer and invite those we couldn't squeeze into the bleachers, so if you are missing an invite, please keep us on your radar for later!

Mind - I'm in the zone and ready to go. Put me in coach! There's stress from all the wedding stuff sometimes, like we haven't planned a this or a that yet, but the big things are all good, so there is space to breathe. I'm nervous, and have been dreaming of opening nights lately, but I know that when I see Jane in that dress, all the stress is going to melt away.

Body - I had been working out, but that stopped when the personal trainer we had turned out to be a crazy mixed martial arts fighter that wanted us to do high impact stuff that was a bit above our level. Treadmill, it's what's on the menu now. Gotta make the ladies jealous! Even so, I have a lady who loves me as I am, pudge or no. :) 

Spirits - Every shred of support I get from friends and family is a balm to the things that stress me out, from bills, to wedding expenses to whatever live sends our way, the best part is, I never have to face those things alone, because I have friends and family and my soon-to-be family Jane. I feel hopeful and optimistic, my tendency when drama occurs around me is just to sidestep it and move on and I'm making steady progress in all of the things that are important in my life right now, which is awesome. I feel like a kid again, except I'm a grown up with a grown-up life. I can't wait to see what comes next!

Anyway journal, (and friends) thanks for listening,

 - Chris

Dec. 2nd, 2009

SBCCHris

Frump

Of two of my best buds I had planned to ask to be in the wedding party as groomsmen, at least one is going to be at a gamer-shrew's birthday instead of our X-mas sweater shindig. Not sure about the other yet, alas.

Jun. 28th, 2009

SBCCHris

Here are my choice words.

You who were all hugs and smiles when she came back I can hardly blame.

She didn't lie to you about not paying the insurance on the car she'd wrecked, a car bought on someone else's credit. She didn't scream at the top of her lungs until the neighbors threatened to call the police because she was off her meds and lying about that. She didn't lock you in a bathroom for hours and punch and slap you. She didn't make you out to be the abuser even though you were the one with bruises on your abdomen, face, heart and soul. She didn't leave you so stressed that your eye would swell with hives any time a woman had a more than minor beef with you - A woman like your boss who would eventually fire you.

But don't you tell me to get over it. Don't you tell me to get over myself.

I'm probably never going to forgive, and I'm definitely never going to forget.

I'm getting over it. With the help of friends. I'm never going to 'get over myself' when it comes to never, ever putting up with that kind of abuse again in my life. That kind of person isn't wanted here, and if you choose to support that mess, neither are you.

As for the hugs and smiles crowd, all I can say is this: Be careful, she's a liar, a manipulator, and an abuser - and keep her the fuck away from me.

Mar. 6th, 2009

SBCCHris

Oh look! Cupcakes.

I wantz dem.

Jan. 24th, 2009

SBCCHris

DJ Fangdork Radio 4tw!

Clicky?

Dec. 25th, 2008

SBCCHris

How wings are attached to the Backs of Angels

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