Monthly Archives: December 2012

End of Watch: 2012 Style


So another year has come and gone.  Here’s where I was a year ago and where I’m at today:

  • This time last year my hip hurt like hell and a month from now (last year), I couldn’t ride my bike anymore.  August came and I had surgery to get a new hip and I’m completely healed (physically, economically, it may be awhile, but I’ll take it!)
  • My daughter was on the down-slide of her senior year in high school…she’s now on a one month winter break from the art college she attends in D.C.  I’m amazed at the changes we both have gone through in the last year…she’s become quite the young woman and I’m very, very proud of her.
  • My son was a sophomore in high school and had just finished a successful JV football season.  He played Varsity this year and although he only started on special teams, he took advantage of the opportunities he did get on second string and will very likely be the starting safety next year on Varsity.  But that’s not the news.  This kid is now a STRAIGHT A student!  He’s worked his frickin’ ass off and he amazes me on a daily basis at his commitment and discipline.  He’s an awesome man and I’m loving watching him find his way.
  • Those things right here ought to be enough, but here’s a few more tidbits…
  • I found my passion for writing again and started this blog as well as the seeds of a memoir and a novel…who knew?
  • I’m still employed.  Admittedly in a job that I really don’t like most days, but I’m more than grateful to be employed and have a job that allows me to have health insurance for my kids and I and a solid 401K.  I also have a management team that really is pretty darn special and I’m very grateful for that.  However, it’s time to continue to reach out and find a way to make a living doing something a little less stressful (trust me, Retail is the most grinding job I have ever had…WAY more stressful than being a Fire Captain or Paramedic…my hat is off to all those who dedicate their live to this often thankless career)
  • College was just a dream this time last year, but a week from today, I’m going to camp out at the counseling office at the JC I signed up at to get some direction for this upcoming Spring semester.  I plan on taking just one class to get back in the swing, then dedicate as much of my time and money as I can to get an Alcohol/Drug Counseling certificate then on to a Bachelors of Arts in English…

So, in retrospect…not a bad year.  I’m blessed beyond my wildest dreams despite my selfish desires and I pray for continued humility, tolerance, love and discipline in the coming year.  Hats off to 2012…2013, I hope to tackle you one day at a time.

Merry Christmas


If you’re reading this…thank you.  I’m truly humbled that you’ve chosen to follow my blog and I’d like to wish you a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

Here’s my Christmas present to you:  Faith.

Find some.  Look in every nook and cranny you can but find some faith this year.  It can be Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, or whatever deity you choose, but seek one and develop a relationship with that deity.

I’ve been a God-less creature, consciously, for the majority of my life.  I was never taken to church as a child and frankly found organized religion to be divisive and polemic.  Better minds than I have thoroughly dissected this topic so I’ll leave that alone.

I found a higher power in my life a few years ago that doesn’t fit the traditional Judeo-Christian framework, but it’s one that works for me.  It’s a spirit that I pray to and have come to rely upon in times of need.  And it comforts me that there is some greater purpose in this existence than myself.

So that’s my wish and hope for you this year…that you are able to find an inclusive “God” in your life and through that, that “fear”, the root of all evil and anger, may leave you this year.

Love and happiness to all…

Just In Case Tomorrow Doesn’t Arrive…

take five design

Yay me.

Five years ago at this moment, I was sitting in the holding cell of the County jail awaiting release after my second drunk driving arrest.  The man next to me was talking to himself, and despite my utter and profound shame and self-loathing, I was struck with how damn unfair it was that this young man in his twenties, found himself in a place for criminals like me.  He was clearly very mentally ill, and whatever he had done, the penal system was not a place for him.  It was sad.

Then there was the guy laying on the floor, obviously a young gang member, who knew the ropes when it came to jail-house meals…he deftly ate what was edible and bargained with the mentally ill kid for the leftovers.  And the place smelled like butt.  There’s no other way to describe it.

I was released around 1pm that day after being arrested around 1:30 the previous morning.  I was in a blackout and driving over 120 mph on the freeway. I knew I was an alcoholic and I had tried to get sober for the past 9 years, but there was a part of me that believed I could control my drinking…that I could drink like other people did.  I just needed to moderate. I was able to put together 15 months of sobriety at one time during that period.

I was in law school at the time and I had just completed my first set of mid-term exams…I had done well and decided I deserved a celebration.  Two drinks I told myself, that’s all.  I swore to it and was certain I would keep it at that.  I had over 8 beers, one Crown Royal on the rocks, and a pint of Vodka in my car that night.  As I sat handcuffed in the back of a CHP cruiser, I decided that I had in fact lost all control over my ability to regulate my alcohol intake.  I also made the decision that regardless of my prejudices against a particular twelve-step program, my fears that it was a cult and that I would be brainwashed, I committed to joining it again and staying sober.  I realized at that moment how lucky I was to be alive but even luckier that I hadn’t killed someone that night.

I spent 40 days in jail for the second DUI and this blog title, “Conversations with the Moon” refers to my nightly sojourn outside at precisely 8pm every one of those nights to look at the moon and talk to my daughter Maddy.  We had agreed prior to me going in that this would be our way of communicating.  I didn’t want my kids to see me in the jail.  It was just something I couldn’t do to them.  So Maddy and I chatted every night at 8.  Well, at least I did…she was leading her own teenage life at the time, so you’ll forgive her if she had other things to do.

So here’s the deal, in case tomorrow doesn’t come, Mayan calendar-wise, wish me a happy sobriety birthday…if I make it to midnight tonight, I will be celebrating five years of sobriety.  It hasn’t been easy by any means, but I have grown in ways I could never have imagined and am eternally grateful for my sobriety and my sober and trustworthy relationship with my wonderful kids…



“We can’t accept events like this as routine…”

President Obama Visits Newtown, CT, Consoles Families Of Shooting Victims

The words of President Barack Obama at the memorial service for the victims of the Sandy Hook massacre.

This isn’t about guns.  And it’s not entirely about mental illness.  It’s about numbness…routine.  And it’s about will.

If we don’t act now in a responsible manner to evaluate the causes and conditions of these tragedies, in a realistic and brutally honest way, we will become numb to them again…and they will fall into the chasm of the routine.

First…guns.  I own them and I’ve discussed my thoughts on gun control in other posts.  Guns are not the problem.  Guns are tools, inanimate objects used by humans.  I’ll say this: if I thought for a second a ban of “assault” weapons would stop these mass shootings, I’d be the first person sounding the Klaxons.  It will not.  In fact, the majority of deaths caused in these shootings, by a two to one margin, were the result of handguns.  I’m not going to get into the semantics of what constitutes an “assault” weapon, but suffice it to say, that banning them will do nothing unless we are willing, as a nation, to ban all firearms.  An “assault” weapon is no more deadly than a Glock handgun or Barney Fife’s six-gun.  That is a fact.  The velocity created by rifles are deadlier, but simply because a weapon is called an “assault” rifle, does NOT change the core characteristics or end stage results of the projectile.  It’s smoke and mirrors created by honest and good people who are simply misinformed about firearms and who have chosen to vilify guns as the cause of these horrors.   I am a former NRA member who quit specifically because of their fanatical devotion to the second amendment and demonization of our current President.  I would sacrifice all of my weapons today if you can guarantee that ALL weapons will be destroyed.  No one can do that and as such I will continue to support efforts for law abiding, responsible citizens to own handguns and long guns.  The NRA is an antiquated political machine that has been hoisted on it’s own petard.  At the end of the day, I’m just tired of the debate, on both sides.  There is too much misinformation and paranoia.  And again, it will not solve the problem.

Second…mental illness.  At the root of all evil is an inherent dysfunction of the psyche of the individual that perpetuates these horrific acts, and yet as a nation, we continue to place profits and personal gain ahead of the will to fund mental health issues.  And then little kids are slaughtered and we cry that taking God out of schools is the problem.  We, collectively, are suffering from a mental illness called delusion.  We continue to turn our heads at the polling place when we are asked to fund mental health research and treatment, but are completely willing to vote for no more taxes.  We have lost the political will to take the action that can actually treat the maladies that cause these pathologic social issues.  And they continue.  And we become numb to them.  Routine.

Finally…will.  We have an opportunity to mourn now and to feel the pain at our core that another human being could so mercilessly gun down children and the immensely brave adults that lost their lives trying to save them.  We have the opportunity to cry and feel shame.  Shame that we have for so long turned our backs on these children and brave adults by forgoing the will to do the right things and make the hard financial decisions.  Now is the time.  If we do not act, these tragedies will become more frequent and more horrific.  That is not prognostication, that is fate.  Fate that we are creating through our numbness…through our own lack of will…through our commitment to the routine…

College…I Hardly Knew Ye…

I don’t have a college degree and it’s something that has irritated me for as long as I can remember.  In high school, I was a quasi-nerd and hung out with guys that were on the fast track for 4 year colleges and collected their BA/BS’s in the requisite 4 years.  I was career-oriented and on the fast track for the emergency services field.  I ended up with a 25 year career in that field.

So today, I finally got off my literal and proverbial ass and drove the 30 minutes to the same community college where I took my first college class (while a senior in high school) in, ready for this: 1978.

Save for 18 units at another local community college, and a brief semester in Law School (tested in as a “special student”) I have no real college experience.  I’m 51.  I’m giving myself however long it takes to get a Bachelor’s in, oh, I don’t know…maybe English Literature (subject to change).  In the short-term however I’m going to attempt to get a certificate/license in Alcohol and Drug Counseling and perhaps switch fields while I pursue my degree.  All of this while I write a memoir and novel and work full-time at a high-end retail establishment.  No big deal.

I’ve got one daughter in her freshman year of college in DC and a son who is a junior in high school considering West Point or the Naval Academy.  I can do this.  I’m terrified and excited, but my biggest challenge frankly will be me and my commitment… specifically to the discipline it will take to do this.

But I’m over the biggest hurdle.  I actually went to the college, got my old ID number from 1978, got a counseling appointment next week, and tonight I will apply online.

I’m 51 and I feel like a nervous kid again.  That’s a good thing.


Bathed in Shades of Gray

Photo courtesy

Photo courtesy

That Jovan Belcher of the Kansas City Chiefs murdered 22-year-old Kasandra M. Perkins is not in dispute.  By extension, that makes him a murderer.  Yet this murderer was memorialized by some this Sunday as the Chiefs played their regularly scheduled game against the Carolina Panthers.  Wisely, the Chiefs held a moment of silence for “victims of domestic violence”.  This man murdered his girlfriend and orphaned their infant child…he then forever traumatized his coach and other members of the team by shooting himself in the head…in front of those folks.

Here’s the thing.  A lot of his friends and family are in an unfathomable amount of pain tonight for an individual that has been otherwise been described as a fine young man.  This incident defines tragedy.

That he’s a murderer makes it very difficult to mourn his death.  At what point does the ‘degree’ of murder render the perpetrator worthy of sympathy.  He’s a good guy but murders his girlfriend.  Is that somehow “better” than the murder committed in the commission of a crime or the serial killer?  Probably but the element of qualifying the murder is somehow nauseating at its core.

On Sunday Night Football on NBC, Bob Costas used the tragedy to pontificate on the merits of gun control.  Costas quoted a Jason Whitlock article that explicitly stated that if not for the handgun, Belcher and Perkins are alive.  This argument, while understandable in the wake of the sadness, is patently wrong.  Again, we are blaming an inanimate object for murder.  We are giving a tool the ability to take a life while completely absolving the user of the tool for any wrongdoing.  It’s an easy argument to make at times like this but so inherently wrong that is consistently threatens to forever ignore the root causes of violence, especially the domestic variety.

I’m not naive.  I realize the that presence of a handgun ups the ante in any violent or tense situation.  But then again so does the politically correct hunting rifle.  Or the ever available kitchen knife.  Or more commonly the automobile.  If we are to eliminate gun violence we must eliminate all guns.  And that simply will not happen until complete control of the nations arsenal can be guaranteed…and it won’t.

The shades of gray surrounding this murder illustrate the complexity of our modern world on many levels.  Sadly, at the end of the day, a young man and a young woman are dead…and their child will grow up without them.  This didn’t have to happen.

I Speak For Service Workers Everywhere When I Say…

…quit being a dick.  Just stop.  You’re not better than we are, you’re not more important…just stop being the self-important fuck-stains that you are acting like.  It’s getting old.  Just stop.

I’ve been blessed (tongue firmly entrenched in cheek) to have been forced into the service industry after a long career as a first responder; early on as a paramedic, then most recently as a Fire Captain.  In that line of work, people were generally pretty damn happy to see you…or dead.  Either way, I don’t recall a lot of attitude from my “clients”.  In fact, if someone gave me shit, I was generally able to convince the cops to either arrest them or grace them with an attitude adjustment.

Now that I’m a Personal Stylist in the fashion industry (a really fancy way of saying I’m in retail), I don’t have that luxury…in fact, we are so accommodating of the pathos of our clients, it’s quite amazing that the vernacular hasn’t changed to “going retail” on someone.

Look, it’s not that tough to treat your waiter, or your stylist with respect.  Simply don’t be a douche and guess what?  We will go out of our way to help you and make your experience with us fantastic.  But come in and trash our displays while joking that “oh, huh huh, I’m probably creating more work for you” or come in and literally treat us with abject rudeness and disrespect and I promise you we will strive to make your lives as miserable as they already clearly are.

It’s not that tough to be kind and respectful to those of us in this world and if you do encounter a douche among us…go to management…it’s very likely we hate working with them too.  Just don’t generalize and treat us all that way.

Thanks…Happy Fucking Holidays…and just stop.

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