Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Lest I Forget Another


I forgot one anniversary this month, nearly forgot two others.

Been under a tremendous amount of stress. And no...not gonna be talking about this particular wave of stress. Gotta ride this one out somewhere other than here.

5 years ago today? Bennett had his head opened up and a tumor cut out. 15 years ago today? The lives of two people would be forever changed. One was mine.


The other? Jennifer, the woman who would one day become the mother of that very same boy. She met me for our very first date in a parking lot of a Meijer store after having encountered me in an online dating service and talking to me on the phone for around three weeks prior. The date moved elsewhere, I suppose that is noteworthy of mentioning. The parking lot was just a place to actually MEET. Neutral territory, as it were.

The rest, as they say, is history.

OUT.

Wayback Machine 001: Kung Fu' Fightin'


Welcome to what will be the first of many 'new' segments on this blog. I'm hoping to roll them out over time, and then just integrate them as regular...I don't even know what you call them in the Blogoverse...features maybe? The goal here is to have sustained, repeated content that I can rely on. I want to get this thing cooking in my life again. Been going through a LOT of changes lately, and this is just one small part of it...getting back to doing things that make me happy.

This makes me happy.

Wayback Machine will be revisiting old blogs I have written. They may have been written here, or on other blogs that I used to partake in like Grey Matters, maybe further back like Made in China. Basically I turn back the clock and re-post, but also add in some new commentary or insight into said content.

What once was old is NEW again. Love it. Figured why not? Since I have to go in and fix a SHITLOAD of broken photo links since some asshat stole my old creatusmaximus URL when I forgot to renew it and is squatting on it LIKE A SISSY BITCH and wants money that I am not gonna pay. Otherwise I would just renew the URL, load all the pics in, and everything would be RESTORED. But NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO....some turd needs to try and make a few bucks for DOING NOTHING...

I love America and free markets and all that, but squatting on a URL? That's just a shit move.

Now...let's get in the Wayback Machine...

Originally posted on blogzilly: Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Been friends with Jerry Macaluso since 1998, at least that’s the year he reminded me of in a recent note. Those were the early days in what might be considered my entrance into real adulthood. That's a whole nutha story since I was THIRTY at the time. I got started way late. (The career in toys was a fallback career that I was super lucky to get. I failed TOTALLY at breaking into the comic book industry. And I tried HARD. But after two years I had to give it up.)

But in the 98-99 period I began my career in an official way, by getting a job at ReSaurus, and also happened to start dating the woman who would become Mrs. Lilly. Interesting…the two ways we define ourselves, work and family, both getting their first real pushes in the same general period. Probably happens to most people that way. Maybe it is a maturity thing, you end up ready for real responsibility and ready for a relationship. (Interesting that my career and my family would remain so intrinsically linked, and both start to become undone by the other. After Bennett's incident and that Summer of Seizures & Surgery, there was no going back as far as career was concerned. We were bound to Ohio, and it to us. That meant the career would always be taking a back seat to the family.)

Anyway, I bring that up because it was actually Jerry who prompted me to start blogging again. (I did NOT remember that!) He is in charge of a new gig, called Pop Culture Shock Collectibles, which does not have its own website yet I believe, so that's a link to his MySpace page (MySpace...LOL!!! Obviously the link was broken.). In case you don't remember, Jerry was the founder and creative force behind SOTA Toys, a company which he has since sold, but whom I worked with a ton early on at ReSaurus, which is, in the late 90's, where our friendship really bloomed.

Pop Culture Shock isn't doing action figures (sadly), but the product is still as cool as it ever was, they are making 1/4th Scale Mixed Media Statues, from Street Fighter and Darkstalkers. Check out a couple of these bad boys below. (Pssst...I got to actually help on one of them! - I keep no secrets on this stuff NOW...I did a rough sketch concept design for the Cammy statue. It was only marginally good. The sculptor really beefed up what I had done. I recently located that sketch and will post it in the PCS Folder on my Creatus Maximus Facebook page.)




So, he and I talk a lot about Street Fighter, and a week or two ago I showed him some images of an Akuma Mini Bust that was sculpted at ReSaurus, but never got produced. And it was something that was probably never shown around much, because Capcom shut down the deal early, the sculpt was done, frankly, because near the end there wasn't all that much to do.

It might have occurred after I was laid off and gone to Palisades, since ReSaurus stuck around for a year (maybe two) plus after the first round of layoffs.

He suggested I show it, I told him I would, but that meant starting a new blog. What the hell, right? (I started this blog with the intent of it being entirely about toys and collectibles. Remember this was the VERY beginning of 2009. I was still hoping somehow to resurrect my career after Creatus Maximus had failed and there was still a soft option of leaving Ohio. I had NO idea that a couple of weeks after starting the blog that Bennett would start having Infantile Spasms and EVERYTHING would change.)

So here it is...I think Jon Matthews sculpted it, pretty sure Chris or Tony painted it.


Pretty cool huh? Always wished that Akuma had been produced. It was one of my favorite Jon Matthews sculpts.

Fast forward to late 2012...and Jerry contacts me and asks me if I am interested in working for him. I told him I couldn't do it, no way can we move because of Bennett, he has to stay here because of his benefits and a special deal he has worked out with the state - that's complicated. Jerry said it could be from my house, part time, and we'd work out the details later. Just wanted to know if I was in.

You bet your ass I was in!

OUT.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Dude...I Don't Know What To Say


I knew that this day would eventually come. It always does.

That day when you forget to honor someone's memory appropriately and you spend the next couple of weeks beating yourself up on the inside because of it. I have not mentioned the anniversary of Eddie's death on other year's in this blog, but I have always remembered it somewhere. Facebook, internally via some personal thing....SOMEWHERE.

This is the first year I fucking spaced and...did...NOTHING. And what makes me extremely sad and angry is this is the first year I see that on his Facebook page on August 12th? No one wrote anything. Not even me. FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK FUCK!!!!! I want to cry and scream and break shit over my face.

EDIT: I need to make something very clear, as I saw something unfold on Facebook and I want to be very specific here. My frustrations over Eddie's page are all about me and my own forgetfulness. I know that everyone, especially Eddie's family, but everyone who knew Eddie, honor Eddie's memory in their own way, and my expressions of anger here are directed at me. I'm mad at myself...my statement that no one wrote anything is misdirected. I am angry that I didn't. That's why I want to break stuff over my own face. I consider this my own personal failure. No one else's.

If there is anything I have learned here in the middle chapter in my Book of Life it is this...there is no Book of Life. No real one. There are no manuals, no guidebooks, no PDF's, no top ten lists of any kind that encompass everything that Life is going to throw your particular way.

Everybody is going to have a different experience.

Everybody.

So you do what you can to muddle through the mud and the muck, you do what you can to make the most of the joy and the laughter and hang on to that too, because you never do know how fleeting the good times will be. And they are just that...fleeting. No one tells you that when you are young.

And why would they? Who wants to be the guy who poops in the swimming pool? Not me. OK, maybe me. But not YOU, right?

It seems like, over the past oh, I don't know...let me count it out here...the past 40, maybe 46 years or so...I have spent my whole life making mistakes, and the rest of my life trying to recover from those mistakes. And that, by the way, is not really all that BAD, mind you. I have always believed that it is OK to fail. As long as you learn something from it, and move forward with some new knowledge and build off the fuck-up.

But wow...with the raw quantity of mistakes I keep making, and with that philosophy, one would suppose that I should be the wisest man on the planet, right? Instead, why do I always feel like such a fucking idiot most of the time? :) I guess once I figure that out, I can stop writing in this thing and go home.

No chance of that happening any time soon.

Eddie, brother, I forgot about you. My mind was so wrapped up in Bennett's MRI that I just fucking forgot. I'm sorry...I still have it in my calendar, I still knew it was coming because this year I actually went back to San Diego Comic-Con, the last place I ever saw you in the flesh and got to hug your squeezable self. And yeah, you came up in a LOT of conversations. Especially with Jerry and Steve.


I saw your brother. And I avoided him. I shouldn't have, but I did. I cannot believe what an open wound you still are to me. I can only imagine a teeny tiny infinitesimal FRACTION of how he feels. And yet to talk to him face to face? As much as it might help to heal that wound for me, for him too maybe what the hell do I know? But I am so afraid to do it. Freakin' coward I know.

Sorry about that too. I feel like I let you down, man. In more ways than one. I hope that somewhere, somehow...you can be cool with that eventually. And I hope that somehow...I can get my shit together about it.

By the way...Comic-Con without you? Not the same at all. It would have been weird for a lot of reasons, but not seeing you there? Made things very, very strange. And monumentally sad. You would have dug our booth position, right next to The Walking Dead booth. Of course that didn't help us NOT think of you all weekend. :)


If I still drank, I would have tied one on for you. But I don't. I found a quiet spot one afternoon and drew something for you instead...that's all I could do. Hope you liked it.

That's all I got. Talk to you next year bro...hopefully with my head REMOVED from my ass.

OUT.

Monday, August 18, 2014

My Social Media Skills Are Lacking


Though my parenting skills, at least tonight, are FRIGGIN' AWESOME.

I should always launch everything from here, and I forget to. Oh well...I loaded this into YouTube, then linked it to Facebook, then remembered there are people here who are aware of my existence on neither.

I have NO concept of how to manage Social Media. At all.

Anyway...having a good time with Bennett tonight...he is having a good evening, and I am trying extra hard with him. It helps that there are minimal distractions around.

His ride home was a mess. Total mess. Which is weird. I thought tonight would be a waste because of it. But I found something that helped me move forward and give it a bigger than average second try and, well...let's say there are more movies than this, but I'm saving them. ;)

OUT.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Clear with an Ever Present Danger


Just to get the news out there, disseminate it fast, yes Bennett's MRI was clean. No tumor regrowth.

And that creepy image up there isn't him. Weird though ain't it?

Getting the news that his MRI is clean? That's the part where I am supposed to celebrate. To high-five and say all the right things about how grateful I am. About how glorious God is for giving us more time with Bennett and celebrate His Wisdom and His Generosity. Here is the part where I am supposed to be jubilant. Reverant. Joyful.

This is the part where I fail everybody.  Where I disappoint. Everybody. God. My mother. My spouse. My friends. My kids. My neighbor down the street with the hideously ugly over-saturated lawn ornamentation. And myself.

I can't do those things. I can't BE those things.

Wanna be. I think. Sometimes. Maybe. Dunno.

I asked Jen a question during the drive home, kind of like Butch in Pulp Fiction. Strangely she answered much the same way Marsellus Wallus did. Though she had NOT just been violated in the bad place (the back of a station wagon?) and I had NOT just gutted some redneck with a samurai sword.


'So what now?'

'What now?' (DAMN I wish she'd said 'Let me tell you what now.')

'Who do we go to now for answers?'

'What answers?'

'About what is going on with him? His regression, the peeing in his pants again, the violent behaviors, his stammering, the fucked us shit on the right side of his brain that no one seems to be able to tell us shit about over the last five years? The fact that since his surgery he really doesn't seem to have come all that far, at least not the way we expected him to.'

'What way did you expect him to?'

Damn...she got me. Sometimes, despite the way we often get off track with each other, there is a mutual understanding of Bennett that we have that does attempt to help the other stay on course. Didn't matter in this situation though. I was way off the rails, and she knew it. I just kept going, flailing blindly by now, swinging at shadows, feeling like an idiot the whole time.

I didn't care anymore. I just needed to vomit words that had no meaning.

'I don't fuckin' know! Who do I go to for an answer on how to live this life? How to help take care of him? How to manage all this shit? Who do I go to that's going to teach me how to make all this shit...OK!?!'

I didn't have to say it, she knew what I meant. I knew it too. There was never going to be an OK for Bennett. At least not as far as I was concerned.

Ever.

I remembered something his surgeon said to us the day before he was going to cut open Bennett's skull and go after that tumor like a fat guy going after the last piece of pizza at a bachelor party. He said that surgery was a very direct thing, there wasn't anything vague about it. But there was a lot of fog and uncertainty after the fact when it comes to most surgeries, brain surgery in particular.


Oh. Perfect.

There was no way to know how the brain surgery would affect Bennett. What outcome he would have. How he would be afterwards. Just no way. But it was, in his opinion, Bennett's best option.

His BEST option.

I used the perfect line already, right?

And we had to go into it having specific goals in mind. We had to go into it with the idea that we just wanted to get rid of the tumor completely so that it had as little possible chance of ever coming back, and to kill the seizures...forever.

Nothing else could matter at that point in time. And frankly, I remember that point in time. I can go back and READ about that point of time. I was more tired then than I am now, and I am really exhausted now.

But the truths is...why SHOULD anything else have mattered?. I could not see the future. I didn't want to. I wanted that tumor gone, I wanted those seizures gone, I would have done anything to get them gone.

I'd have sold my soul.


Sometimes, it feels like this is exactly what I have done. This hollowed-out feeling, this emptiness that I feel when it comes to the wreckage that the entire experience has wrought on all of us, you can't escape it. Not when Bennett continues to struggle as much as he does. And I absolutely at that time would never have made any different choices. It is safe to say that those...actions we took were not choices at all, they were just things that we did, if that makes any sense at all.

I have no regrets.

DOGDANCING brought up something in a comment yesterday that she considered so delicate that she deleted it. I consider her one of my good Imaginary Friends so I asked her about it and requested that she consider re-posting the comment because I wanted her to know I was not offended by it. She was kind enough to reconsider, and did.

In it she wondered if I had ever wrestled with the 'dark thoughts of of wanting the tumor to be back so there could be an end to this journey? We don't talk about that as parents, because we get slammed. But I know those thoughts are out there. I can't be the only one who's thoughts goes there. Then have to spend a few minutes fighting within, wondering why my brain would go there in the first place. To finally talk myself into the notion that its not a selfish thought, but one of compassion? Parenting with mental health issues...why are there no books out there?'

My first thought is WOW...that shows some real guts to come out on a limb like that and post that comment. I respect it a lot. Not many people would have that kind of courage. Says a lot about a person, to me. My second thought is...I don't consider the thought to be dark at all. I consider it to be one of the most normal to have in these most awful and terrible of circumstances.

You never want someone you love to suffer. Ever. And if you think that perhaps they might suffer less by not being here? Sure, you might go down that road every now and again. And I have. It is usually triggered by one of his more violent episodes. And it is usually followed by being able to find me somewhere in the house, curled up in the fetal position, crying until I get one of those snot headaches and can barely see out of my swollen eyes.


Mainly because the tumor coming back is such an awful way for him to go out. Such an agonizing thing...I have to catch myself when I ever think that. I mean, what kind of Dad can I be? I'd probably choose meteor or something if I had options. Hence, the kicking myself in the face as often as I tend to do. For that and so many other things. Despite my defense of the normalcy of the thought process overall, Still, I don't know...I still would like to believe that somehow, someway...I could learn my way out of this.

And I haven't yet. So I hate myself for it. From time to time. Do I think I can? Learn from the harsher bits, the darker self so to speak and learn from the good parts of who I am, toss them in a blender and somehow pour out a better man?

Yeah I do, or I wouldn't allow myself to sit here, writing it all out, taking this journey, chronicling it. I wouldn't keep hacking away at it if I didn't believe that somewhere along the way I am going to find more small chunks of gold to put in my pocket, and that eventually there will be some kind of pot (mmm...pot) at the end of some metaphorical rainbow that I can dump all that gold into.

Hey, as long as there ain't no creepy leprechauns? I can live with that.

OUT.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Journey to The Center of The Brain


I struggle all the time with trying to categorize things. Why I find this an overwhelming necessity in my life I am unsure.

Perhaps it is part of my own mental...issues. My desire to seek order in a world I find chaotic. Or maybe I just need to know where things are, or how they fit, since I never felt like I belonged when I was a kid growing up, either in Middle School or moving into Junior and Senior High.

I blended, I was one of those hybrid kids. Not quite geek, not quite popular, not totally ugly but not stud-muffin material either. But I was able to, like ze ninja, move quietly from one group to another, or at least this is what I told myself, and somehow I guess I made shit work well enough.

I blow it in all kinds of ways now though.

As a father, a husband, a friend. And a lot of it comes down to just not knowing who in the Hell I am anymore.Where DO I fit in? Where do any of us?

For so long now, I have always brushed aside so many aspects of Bennett's disabilities. And I don't mean I forget about them and their immediate impact here. But I don't saturate myself enough with them. This might surprise you. Some would say I champion Bennett with ferocity.

I don't see it. I wish I did but I don't.

If I did, why can't I devote this blog entirely to him? Why cheapen it, sour it, SOIL it with talk about comics, Scarlett Johansson, or my butt? And why do I hide deep within myself and never really study the nature of what an Oligoastrocytoma is?

Tomorrow is MRI day. Cleveland Clinic.

It is the first time I have ever had real fear that his tumor might be back. The return to diapers. The regression. The word stuff. And the study of the tumor itself. Why can't I accept that there is a 30% or something chance that it will come back? Why?

Because there is a 70% chance that it won't.

I hate this hope. I HATE IT. And yet I have it. All the time.

This may make no sense to any of you. And it rips away at me. But it's the truth. Because it is both good and bad all at once. It forces me to be optimistic and always fight for him, but it never prepares me for any of the worst of the possibilities. It never allows me to categorize Bennett. It never allows me to figure out how he 'fits' into the big picture. Is he a child with Autism, is he a child who is a Brain Tumor Survivor, is he a child with Epilepsy who has not had seizures in several years, is he a child with an unknown condition on the other side of his brain as yet undiagnosed and unidentified, an anomaly that baffles everyone who sees it?

Or is he just ...Bennett?

He is, but not finding the right groups to join and ACTIVELY participate in, the right causes to champion, makes me a worse Dad for him. And that's the problem with all of this. How do I figure out how to be in so many places at once, especially when I want to explore different treatments and options, and need to spread myself even more thin than I already am?

Fuck it...I am just having a bad day. I get like this a lot when MRI day comes. Who am I kidding, I get like this a lot PERIOD. These are the ups and downs of trying to be his Dad. And I haven't even begin to talk enough about Carter...my God...for every step I take forward with him I fall five steps back.

I just don't know what the Hell I'm doing.

Sometimes, I write blogs like this, and I never hit post. I have a shitload of unpublished blogs, a sea of them. But I have to stop doing that. Even though these are just momentary lapses of reason, I have to purge them. Otherwise they jam me up too much on the inside, and I carry it around inside.

Part of what I am trying to do lately is just change how I do things, everywhere. A bit at a time. Not sure if it will help me or not. But I'm trying new things and seeing what sticks. This is part of that. Not my finest hour as a blogger. But was talking about my rectum for an hour better? Probably not. Which, by the way, was a disaster. Turns out I have blood clots back there. UNTREATABLE. 6-8 weeks minimum of just me and a healthy does of massive discomfort and pain.

Sounds a bit like par for the course. Don't it?

OUT.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Buttface


Yes, I know...you get tired of the butt stories. Trust me. I get tired of telling the butt stories. I especially get tired of the people who find this blog by keyword searches involving the word butt and various other words related to that word. And other less...subtle...words. Oh yeah, I know you're there you creepy perverts. I've seen the analytics. I've seen the keyword searches that lead you freaks to this place.

You fucking weirdos. Go back to your sex dungeons and rub Nutello on your pierced Iguana. Of course, we WANT to believe that right? Truth is, it's probably someone more like our CEO or our 3rd grade teachers doing the searching. THAT is truly more frightening than anything your imagination can conjure up.

But my freakish medical Hell continues, and since like Maximus Decimus Meridius I am compelled to entertain, why not share these fun stories with my Imaginary Friends? Lord knows, I don't have any real ones left. You wouldn't either if you walked around talking about your backside and other TMI type things that many fine folk just don't wanna know about.


Can I help that the nun at the Goodwill doesn't like listening to my stories? I mean c'mon man, have an OPEN MIND! Jeez...Besides, I didn't even KNOW she was a nun. I thought she was one of those Mermans or whatever you call 'em.Last nun I saw? Didn't look like that.

I've backed into this subject a couple of times before. Maybe more than that. Probably. Bottom line is this. I've got some problems with my septic system. And you know what? I'm not ashamed to talk about it openly. Some people might be. I'm not. One day I'll be openly talking about ED. And I don't mean the horse.

There is not a lot that I am ashamed to talk about. Getting my ass kicked. Trying on some women's clothes once by accident, Absentmindedly forgetting I was in a church when when I accidentally fell and just happened to, by total happenstance, have my clothes fall off and by total coincidence there was someone else of the opposite sex that by TOTAL sheer coincidence, the EXACT same thing happened to at the EXACT same time...I mean, I know the odds are extremely small but...it can happen, I was there, I saw it!

Why do I reveal these awful, awful things? Because I am a flawed human being. But at my core I know I am a good man, trying to do what's right, despite all my fumbles and bumbles, and at the end of the day there is that little tiny thing I always remind myself of (this one's for you, Richard!!!)...the man upstairs still loves me, when I am crass or vulgar or funny or late or self-centered or coarse or weird or confusing or poetic or giving or...you get the point.

Yeah I said it. So sue me. I guess I still have a little left in the tank after all.


Even when I blog about my butt because I am bored, have to sit on a special wedged around pillow and can't really get comfortable enough to sit upright and draw to do some of the things I need to get done I can find a spoonful of hope to wash it all down with. Ah...POSITIVITY. WOOHOO!!!

OK, so get this. Few weeks back I get a colonoscopy. No huge bad results, but I am told I have an internal hemorrhoid, an external hemorrhoid (Hey kind of like In Through The Out Door), and some kind of 'pore issue'. A what? I couldn't actually get a read on this one, but apparently it's like the surface of the moon down there. (The Eagle has LANDED!!!)

I asked, during my anal scoping (a procedure you have BEFORE you have a colonoscopy) if this was normal and was told it was, but it doesn't sound all that normal to me. But what happens is this...um...material can sometimes get lodged in these pores and over time build up. So that is what can cause the occasional abscess, which I had been getting lately as well as flare-ups on the 'roids. I asked why now as opposed to before, and the doctor said 'Well, Mr. Lilly, you really need to cut down on all of the anal sex.'

Now, some of you might think that is totally unprofessional. I don't.

This doctor had been talking to me about 45-50 minutes, had sized me up pretty good...made a judgment call about my personality, and didn't just go for a bunt single or a RBI double, he took a swing for the fences.

I laughed out loud.


I mean, you have your ass up in the air, exposed, you've got these strangers in the room (LAUGHING MY GOD THEY ARE LAUGHING), one of whom was really, really cute...and they are all zeroed in on your butt, your dingleberries...it's super, SUPER uncomfortable, and this guy had the savvy to analyze who I was and know EXACTLY what to say to make me laugh and make me feel at ease and know what would not offend me.

I consider that dude a friggin' genius, a risk taker and someone I will be seeing for my problems the rest of my life (if my insurance takes him, of course).

During the actual colonoscopy, Dr. Genius also reveals more of his super-enhanced intelligence. He inquires, while there is 17 miles of tubing jammed up my rectum, 'Hey Ken (by this time we HAD to be on a first name basis, don't you think?), can I ask you, do you have issues with prolonged constipation?'

I peer back, wincing...because of course I opted for minimal drugs because I wanted to experience the colonoscopy ENTIRELY LUCID so that I could be alert and aware during the procedure. I wanted to watch it on the monitor. It seemed important to me at the time that I know what was in there. IDIOT.

'How in the heck do you know that?' Note that I do not curse when I have cable in my butt.

'There is certain type of elongation and stretching in parts of the colon that is indicative of this type of prolonged constipation,' explains Dr. Genius. 'It may not be a problem for you now, but if it continues the colon starts to develop habits and it will get more comfortable as you get older with holding in. So when you need to "heed the call" whenever possible because not to do so could have long-term effect.'


I explained to him that anxiety does cause me to become constipated. Sometimes for days at a time. He did not seem surprised. No anal sex jokes either. Seemed very serious. In fact, I told him about an experience at the San Diego Comic-Con International around 2004 when I went five days without heeding the call because I was so anxious. I'm a homer, what can I say? I can't stand the idea of bombing Dresden in a strange toilet. And it is a problem.

'This is a problem,' said Dr. Genius. (See what I mean?) 'You must figure out a way to deal with this issue, especially at your increasing age. (Fuckhead!) Otherwise we could have big big problem on our hands at some point in future.'

Guess where I went around two weeks ago?

San Diego Comic-Con International.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. And while I have a whole post about that con lined up and how much the show itself has changed, what has NOT changed is how anxious I am about traveling to...well, anywhere. But especially to a convention. Even back when I was at Palisades I felt like a wannabe. I mean, the people around me? These are TALENTED people. I just do whatever it is that I do. But now? With my limited role being back in the toy industry after being gone for as long as I have?

Yeah...the anxiety started REALLY early. I held on to my poop like it was gold bricks, starting Tuesday, and I broke my personal constipation record. SIX DAYS. When I finally heeded the call?

'Big big problem.'

At first, I thought I had an abcess...it was painful, and I had some antibiotics leftover from one I had before, so I started up with those again, but this thing kept getting bigger, and bigger, and bigger. And the pain? Holy holy holy...Heaven and Earth are filled with Hydrocodone and Tylenol. As the week progressed, so did this...thing. But by the time I decided to act, it was the weekend, and I had to wait until Monday to see a doctor.

I peeked at it in the mirror prior to going. Hey, I was curious. I had to know. HOLY GOD. It was no longer just the surface of the moon. It reminded me of...you remember that Star Trek episode where Kirk, McCoy and Spock go down to some Mining Colony and they have to repair some alien with a sack of concrete?


Yeah...that alien.

But in the center of that alien, imagine a QUARTER-SIZED, rounded bump. It was just awful. What in the world have I done on this planet to deserve the things that come my way, huh? I just do not get it. I was so frustrated, all I could do, all I COULD do, was try to come up with something funny. So I decided to name him Buttface.

Had to see my regular doctor this time, as it would take WAY too long to see Dr. Genius. But it wasn't so bad, because this way I could kill two birds with one stone...I needed to ask him about a shoulder problem I was having.

We have a good relationship too. I guess I like doctors who are open to being real, because I tend to keep those. Stiffies I tend to discard faster than hour-old coffee. I was sitting in the treatment room naked from the waist down with one of those gowns on.

'Hey Doc...why is it you are the only man I see on a regular basis with my pants off?'

He laughed hard. 'Is that a good thing or a bad thing?'

I love this guy. Let's Call him Dr. Regular Guy. Dr. RG for short. Cause that's what he is...a Regular Guy. And I like that about him. He has been my doctor for, wow, maybe what...ten years at least. For doctors in this Age of Insurance Changes? That's impressive.

I give him the breakdown of what happened, for both issues, the shoulder problem (I can barely move it in two directions and believe it may be torn) and the...other stuff. Shoulder? He doesn't think it's a rotator cuff or anything super serious, but he will send me to an orthopedic for a full work-up.


As for the ever-expanding Buttface, Dr. RG explains that he believes it is the external hemorrhoid that Dr, Genius cited in his work-up, just aggravated to the Nth Degree. Though he suggests that I make an appointment to get in to see Dr. G when I can just to be certain since this his not his area of expertise.

I should have known that, because that WOULD be the logical thing, but I love jumping to the scariest conclusions.

Dr. RG prescribes a Special Compound, he calls it. He'll phone it in to the local Kroger Pharmacy, where they know me REAL well. NICE. And we talk about my lipids and my weight, which is actually down, I am under the 200 benchmark, 196, still with a ways to go to hit my wedding weight goal of 180, but it is really difficult to exercise with a disagreeable butt, unresolved curvature to my pelvis and a torn shoulder, an up and down Bennett. And a pissed off Buttface. Always something isn't it?

So the doc and I? We talk about the stress thing too.

I told him I was eating a mostly Vegan diet but not as strict or as efficiently as I knew I could be, and so the odds favored the fact that probably, even with that and the drop in weight? I doubted that my lipid numbers if we ran them today would be strong enough to justify keeping me OFF a cholesterol lowering medication. As much as I hate going on any new medication, as much as I keep wanting to get OFF medications I am taking, I told him I thought we should start the least invasive cholesterol lowering drug now, test in 4 months and really focus on the Vegan Way.

If the results of a new lipid panel are off the charts good? We'll back down on the drug, maybe convert to something more natural. If they are still in a questionable area? We'll know I have a problem that only medication is going to help me with for now.

Play it safe, not stupid.

That should be a motto or something. Probably is. Buttface would dig it.

Got dressed. Went home and pretty much thought that would be the end of the story.

WRONG.

I called the Kroger Pharmacy later that evening since I had not heard from them, and I have it set up with them to have a text sent to my phone whenever a prescription is available for pick-up. Apparently they can't make the Special Compound I need. They don't have the materials. Um...OK. And also, they can't refill the pain medication even though the doctor authorized an early refill. I asked why, and the answer was some long-winded reason I did not understand.

Dr. RG warned me about that. It's how they weed out the drug seekers. Oh well. It's just gonna have to throb I guess. I offered to show it to them if...no I didn't...I just wanted to skeeve you out if I hadn't been already.

'So how do I get this, um, Compound?'

'Well, didn't the doctor's office call you back? They said they would call you back.'

'No, they did not call me back. That is sort of why I called you. If they had called me back I would have received an answer as to how to get the Compound and would have had no reason to call you.'

Silence.

'Hello?'

'Well, maybe you should call them back.'

'Oh...OK, thanks. I hadn't thought of that. I'll give that a try tomorrow when they are actually open. Thanks!'

So I sat back on my special elevated pillow, trying not to put too much pressure on Buttface. He was really angry with me because of the driving and upped the pain and itch factors. Can't say I blame the poor guy. He was definitely getting the shit end of the stick. 

The next day, before I had a chance to call the doctor's office I received a call from a place called Uptown Pharmacy regarding The Special Compound.

Now, you need to understand something about Uptown Pharmacy. It is a very old Pharmacy in Westerville, Ohio. It is so old, that it is basically the only Pharmacy that still is able to make a lot of traditional medicines. Old school. They have forgotten more more about the art of making medicine than most grocery store pharmacies will ever know. They are the place to go when you want a medicine that will get medieval on your ass.

So to speak.

The name cracks me up. I picture a bunch of monks in robes, with Mortar and Pestle, but with the pulsating beat of the Bee Gee's Night Fever echoing through the halls of the Apothecary, and a single, shining disco ball, twirling in the center of the chamber. Going UPTOWN, baby! Woo-Hoo! Time to make the medicine!


Buttface tells me to get my head out from between my cheeks and pay attention to the phone call.

'Hello, Mr. Lilly? Hi there. We have your prescription, and we are missing two key ingredients. One is across town we'll have that soon. The other we had to order it will be here tomorrow. So we should be able to start working on the compound tomorrow which means you'll have it by the earliest tomorrow, Thursday at the latest.'

I'm thinking....Missing two...Thursday at the latest?...WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS COMPOUND!?!?!

I calmly thank the Evil Alchemist and hang up, but my fear over what I am to be sticking up my butt overcomes me and, hands trembling, I call my doctor's office to talk to one of the nurses.

'Well, Ken, they are making essentially a nitroglycerine cream. Did they tell you about the possible side effects?'

'Nitro---, Um...no they didn't. You mean like don't light my farts on fire?'

Strained laughter on the other end.

'No, there is a chance it could burn a little, and you may get some rather intense headaches.' (SUPER!!!!)

'And after application make sure you wash your hands thoroughly.' (WELL THAT'S A GIVEN.)

'Oh and one more thing...it is important that you use this cream SPARINGLY.'

'Waitaminute. You are aware of the size of this thing right? I was thinking of making a fake version of it like a puppet as a gag and doing something funny of it on my blog, you know, for laughs, and calling it Buttface...'

Strained laughter on the other end.

'...so if it is that big...how do I use it sparingly AND cover the whole thing?'

'I think the point is that they just don't want you to glob it on'

'OH I understand. No GLOBBING. Wouldn't want to blow myself up. GOTCHA, thanks.'

OK, I admit, I made that last part up a little. I didn't actually tell the nurse I was going to make a Buttface puppet. Buttface made me write that. But I did question the sparingly part. And she did say the globbing thing.

I am just...exasperated over this. It is the end of the day Wednesday, my ass hurts like Hell, there is still no Blow Your Butt to Bits Compound, I am uncomfortable, and they won't even give me anything for the discomfort because I, by my own admission, went off my prescription and took a few extra doses of pain medication and am a few days short, despite the fact that the doctor wrote a new prescription, called the pharmacy personally, RAISED the prescription amount, and I have no history of doing this.

'THAT'S BULLSHIT DUDE!'

Yeah Buttface, I know. I know. Sorry you have to suffer little guy. Though...you're not so little now, huh? My, you...you've gone and gotten yourself all grown up! Look how big you are. In fact...I've been thinking...you and me...we've been together a long, long time, and it's...well, it's just been real swell. But do you think you're ready to head out into the world, make a fresh start, and maybe start living your own life? Without attachments?

You think you could handle that big guy?

Waddya say, pal?

'Pfffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffffft!'

Yeah, that's what I thought.

OUT.

Monday, August 4, 2014

The Road Less Traveled - Got Change for Tolls?


TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

You've probably at some point in your life read that before. It's a poem by Robert Frost. I'm not what you call a literary guy. I'm no genius. I have some smarts, I can hold my own in a conversation if I have to. But honestly I would much rather talk about why zombies shouldn't be able to run fast than the inner meaning of poetry.

That's just me.

But I will. Talk about poetry. If the need arises. It has. And pre-apologies to those who come here looking for talk about Bennett, or toys, or titties. I just need to get my head clear, and I need to do it with some inner monolog, which in this case winds up being Outer Bloggologging. A really strange practice where I crack open my skull and chest and let the contents of my mind and heart spill out all over the computer.

I was thinking about decisions the past couple of days. About choices. And I pulled up this little ditty and read it again. And thanks to the Internet I did something I never was able to do before.

I researched the living shit out of it.

I had no idea that this poem killed a man.


See, Frost was good buddies with another writer, Edward Thomas. Now Frost's original intent behind the poem was not the serious nature that people have come to place on it. Originally, this piece was just supposed to be a sort of gentle mocking of indecision. Indecision that Thomas had shown on many of the walks that he and Frost had gone on together.

Well, apparently, Frost's poem had a lot of impact. Because when Frost sent an early copy of the poem to Thomas in 1915, Thomas, who I guess thought he was a bit of a pussy or something, took it very seriously and very personally, and he enlisted in the service in World War I. Guess he felt he had something to PROVE.

He was blown to bits in the Battle of Arras two years later.

That is some heavy, heavy shit.

I had no idea the scope of how much this poem has been analyzed. I found one page in my research that honestly I could spend a couple of weeks sifting through, but for me that would be time not very well spent. It would be interesting, but not fruitful for me. I don't need to know that much about it. I got tempted as I started reading, but I pulled out. Story of my life. KINDA get there....nope...gotta stop.

As an artist...(if you want to call me that, up to you)...I know what it's like to have people put their own meaning on your work. I used to make these sort of hybrid painting/photo/sculptures of my Step-Father and me. This was back in college. I would love to show you one, but this was before digital photos, and I never shot any of the work.

I was a horrible photographer. Not that I couldn't frame a good shot, but I have never been good at the tech side of cameras. I still suck at it. And developing? Forget it. So I videotaped some of it, and I still have some of the videotape, but I don't even have a VCR to transfer it over to a computer.


Anyway, as an artist, you have to put your shit on a wall and listen to people tell you what they think of it. Yeah fine whatever. I say it that way not because it bothers me to hear people say negative things. I say that because in a critique scenario, just like in real life, people just aren't honest with each other. They don't tell you what they really think, how they really feel. They keep all that shit corked up inside out of some unrealistic fear or desire not to hurt your feelings, and what they end up telling you is watered down horseshit that doesn't help you at all.

Or worse, they assign meaning to the piece that, quite frankly, just is not there. 'Oh yeah...I see what you were trying to say here...it's the eternal Father/Son conflict, and this Crimson color represents War and this Aquamarine represents Isolation...'

'The FUCK you say?'

'Have you seen my workstation? I can't afford any other colors you nitwit! I used Crimson because it was leftover from a set I got as a gift last year and I used Aquamarine because it was Buy One Get One Free at Dick Blick's you fuckin' idiot. Go smoke some weed. And bring me some. There's no eternal conflict here, it's about me, just ME. MY conflict with MY father. I'm not making some Universal Statement. It's a personal work, about personal things. And that's all. You don't need to look any further than that. Sometimes a banana is just a banana.'

'I don't see no banana.'

'Get the fuck outta here, shithead!'

Got real quiet in critique after that. I was pissed off a lot in those days. Probably should have kept my cool, huh? Eh...fuck him.


I wiped the paint off my hands with my shirt, pulled my hair back into a rubber band (yeah..it was a LONG time ago) and stomped out all dramatic and shit to smoke a cigarette. (Definitely a long time ago). Do you think, in that photo above, that my old man wanted people to think he won The Masters?

I really wasn't angry with the dude in critique. I was angry at myself. I was Edward Thomas...I had been at so many crossroads in my life up to that point, always making choices I thought were the right ones and inevitably kicking myself in the sack afterward. I spent half my life dodging decisions, the other half regretting the decisions I had made. I have a whole different blog that relates to that photograph above. Unfinished, just because I can't figure out how to tell the tale right.

Anyway, as I progressed, somewhere along the way. I started to get my head clear. I don't know when that was, but eventually, a person like that? You just can't carry the baggage around anymore man...you're arms just get too fucking tired. You start to learn that yeah...you can drop this, and this, and this...and it doesn't feel so bad after a while. I can handle things this way. Just because I've done it this way for so long doesn't mean I have to do it this way forever.

I think it was Tony Robbins who said 'If you do what you've always done, you'll get what you've always gotten.'

What I find most interesting about the Frost poem, other than the fact that it is one of THE most over-interpreted poems I can easily think of, is that there really are a lot of different ways to interpret it. It's sort of a reader's choice, to be frank, even down to how you want to interpret the 'sigh'. Since the author is gone, and hell since it is a poem, you can take whatever you want from it. And truthfully, the same could be said about any 'work'. Just like the dude who clearly had too many hash brownies before my critique. He was entitled to think all that shit. Like I said, my anger was just misplaced.


When I think of the poem, I think of the Cave on Dagobah. (Oh shit...Star Wars again? You fucking DORK!!!) I see the crossroads as a place of influence. Influenced by you, and what you bring to it. Not what awaits along either path. How could that not be so, if both paths are the same?

See, Frost describes both roads as essentially being equal. We think they are different, but they are not. 'Then took the other, as just as fair,...Had worn them really about the same,'

That sounds about equal to me. He only went down the one road because he felt like it. Not because one was more promising or better or would make him rich or give him a happy ending or heal him. It just felt like a good place to go.

The way I interpret it is this...it really doesn't matter then WHICH path you take. EITHER path is the road less traveled by. What matters is what you take with you. You determine whether the road is going to hold promise and adventure and things wondrous and profound, just as you determine whether you will carry all the dark garbage you've been carrying with you on your back all you're life with you as you walk along the new road.


This is the way Life works. Because I also believe that every road, EVERY path, has a crossroads, and new ones appear along the way all the time. No path is designed to go on forever with no way off. That would be sad and twisted and inhuman...and very unpoetical. I've never in my life conceived of anything as dark as one road, one destiny, fixed and inescapable with no possibility of change or growth or new adventure. Seems...wrong somehow.

Life is a series of making new decisions and learning how to be comfortable with making them, learning how to make peace with your demons, learning how to let go, how to continue to grow, to adapt and move forward. Life is coming across two roads diverged in the woods, and loving yourself enough, having the courage, finding the strength....to take the one less traveled by.

Because that? That makes all the difference.

OUT.

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Week (Kinda) in the (If You Want to Call It) Life


Cool picture of photo frames, right? I love filters in Photoshop. They can take an otherwise shitty, over-saturated image and turn it into something semi-tolerable. Why even have it there? It was the intro photo for what started as a blog I began to write almost a week ago about 'Fantasy Glasses', so I used a photo of me checking out new frames at the Eye Doctor.

Is this a post about choosing eyeglasses or what? Nope, it is all OVER the place. You can call this little part an intro written after the fact, because this post got so out of hand (even for me) I had to break it down, chop it up, throw parts out for another time and totally reconstruct it.

What a flippin' nightmare, but it has been that kind of week. Full of ups, downs, twists, turns, a ton of tears, scrapes, pain, epiphanies, self-doubt, success and yes, even me feeling like I learned, well a LITTLE something.

Some posts, if you ever have written blogs before...some posts just get away from you. So this had to turn into a Week (Kinda) in the (If You Want to Call It) Life.

----------------------------

FRIDAY: Glasses My Asses

Wouldn't it be cool if I could go down to my local Eye Doctor and instead of just worrying about picking out new frames based on vanity, I could actually get lenses in my glasses that filtered the way I see the world? Fantasy Glasses. See my life and those around me and the things that happen how I WANT THEM TO.

Better than X-Ray Specs, don't you think? Well, maybe not better, if X-Ray specs actually WORKED.



But that always annoyed me about the concept behind X-Ray Specs. Made NO sense. How am I supposed to see some hottie's underwear with X-Ray Specs? I'd see her skeletal structure or maybe her lung cancer, but her underwear or her boobies? Um...not with X-Ray specs!

You could argue that I don't really NEED Fantasy Glasses though. You could argue that this power doesn't exist in a lens, that it exists within me. But I'm too exhausted to tap in to that power anymore. Too beat up. The power might still be there, buried deep, but I am having a difficult time accessing it. What the hell happened to my REBOOT??? It was supposed to be easy. Press the button, listen for the sound, wait an eternity for the Welcome screen, and then eventually I start moving forward again. My life is apparently like my Dell Inspiron laptop. Besieged with bugs and in need of a LOT of repair. Or outright replacement.


I was reading a post by D the other day, about looking for the happiness in life, and it really stuck with me. I have often admired her ability to BE positive, I attribute a lot of it to her Faith, as I do much of the positive people I know in Life. And I may have talked briefly about some of my struggles of late with it.

I remember when, a couple of years back, I wasn't so shaky with it. I liked those times. I felt better. I also misquoted Einstein. But I was dumber back then too. I did less research. Now I research EVERYTHING.

I felt so much better overall. Often I say that my life is linked to Bennett, always linked. I look at the boy, and I wonder...were things that much better with Bennett? Or were things better with me? It's a question worth asking and worth exploring.

Of course, I was hip deep in charitable works. And I think that matters. I need to get back to that. Very much. I had a conversation through e-mail with my old partner in crime, and she was fine with me resurrecting the Mission on my own. I just need to figure out some particulars on the how and such, but I think if I can get it back up and going again it may help me redirect some of my negativity into positivity.

Bennett and Carter were still isolated from each other a lot back then. Bennett was still aggressive, though it seems to be worse now. Of course, the boys are still isolated from each other, though that is mostly Carter's choice. But Bennett has had his good months and his difficult months.

Filtered glasses. How fucking cool would that be? Or am I just kidding myself? Is it any different than just wanting to take the Blue Pill? Probably not.

It was on my mind a lot on Friday though when I went into the Eye Doctor in Sunbury and started to look at frames. I looked at a lot of frames too. Mainly because there was a ton of shit. The styles that are common today? SUCK. Most make me look super bad, and super old. The frames up in the very first photo, those Converse frames? I liked them. I would do a Lilly Frame fashion show, well, what the Hell, here's a smattering of frames. Start the music.



Whoa.

That is way too much Me-Face in one dose. Sorry about that. No wonder my family gets scared.

There were more, but suffice it to say, the red and silver are what I chose. I thought they had a sort of comic book feel to them. An almost superhero quality. The red, the silver, the white in between, very different for me. And lately I could use something heroic in my life, other than my admiration of the heroic antics of SingleDad.

Waitasec...photos? At the Eye Doctor? WTF? Allow me to 'splain. My vision sucks so bad I can't actually SEE glasses on my face when I go get new frames. So I have to take pics of my ugly puss then put my glasses back on and look at the pictures. I could not do it otherwise. It was this photo that ALLOWED me to choose the red and silver frames. Observe the dissection. Try not to be blinded by the glare off the dome. ;)


I made the choice, paid the extortion money, I mean the fees, and booked. I had a ton of shit to do on Friday, and I was nervous as Hell about the upcoming weekend. Jen was working both days. Two 12-12 shifts. Carter's birthday was tomorrow. Bennett had not been doing great lately. Neither had I.

I was not thrilled about the next two days to come.

----------------------------

SATURDAY: Birthday Blues

Carter's official birthday. Ten years. Wow.


HOW CRAZY BEAUTIFUL IS THAT PHOTO!?!? That was back when Life was full of hope and promise, and I was a budding young Product Developing dude at Palisades, we were on the rise big time, I was so full of ideas instead of shit...Man it was a block of years I remember feeling great A LOT.

Seems like only yesterday (and yet also a thousand years ago...someone explain that to me please) that he was just a little teeny thing, barely able to open his eyes. So cute and precious in the hospital. Now he's TEN, and he hates me. I don't blame him, I screwed up his life by giving him one messed up set of circumstances to deal with. But whew...to say the two of us aren't getting along right now?

Understatement. I do love the lad. I try to do what I can to shorten the ever-widening chasm between us. I fail all the time.

I am happy for the boy and his new-found Ten-ness. But I have to tell you. Feeling old. In human years and in Stressed Out Baboon Years. Bummed me out that we were stuck at the house just the three of us since Jen had to work, so I decided to bite the bullet and take them out and celebrate. In our own, routine limited capacity, but we do what we can.

We went to dinner, and Bennett was in a pretty good mood. Though that did have one distinct disadvantage for Carter. When Bennett is in a good mood, sometimes, he can express himself in a way that can be rather loud. His Disabled Happy Battle Cry I guess you could call it. He is happy while he is doing it, but decibel wise? It can turn heads. It really, and I mean REALLY, embarrasses Carter.

Carter then tries to Shush Bennett. Bennett doesn't want to BE shushed and this doesn't sit well with Bennett. So it can sometimes backfire on everybody.


From the restaurant we went to Kroger so I could get a cake, and more of the same, Bennett was in a zone...and while Carter actually mellowed a little he did in some cases make it worse because although Bennett was in the super awesome Special Needs cart (there is only ONE at the store, but the town is small enough that it is almost ALWAYS available when I go to the store), Carter would rile him up thinking he was entertaining him. He would instead get Bennett excited and then of course Bennett would get loud, and, you get the idea. It's kind of a no-win scenario sometimes. I often am better off with one not both.

The sounds don't usually get to me as much as the need to touch every thing we pass as we move down the aisle, and knock as many products off of every shelf that he can possibly reach. Depending on my own strength of mind at any given moment...I feel all sorts of things.

On the plus side, it really opens my pores. :)

For the most part, as attempted outings go, it wasn't the worst we'd had. It was manageable. But was it something I can look at and say I enjoyed? That it made me happy? I want to say it did, I entered into it with D's post in mind, trying to focus on it and trying to bring back with me something positive.

I found it wanting. I found myself going home feeling disappointed. What the fuck was wrong with me? Maybe it was fear? He hadn't had his major meltdown yet today. I knew it was coming. I feared it was coming at some point. And that was the truth of it.

I was scared and nervous and that tickle had been at the back of my mind all night. Truth be told, it is always somewhere around.

----------------------------

SUNDAY: Damage Assessments

I had no idea, none, that giving Bennett a piece of Birthday Cake at 6 PM on Saturday would set off the chain of events that it did.


But I've never seen a reaction to sugar like this. He ignored the cake part of the cake entirely and just went after the icing like it was crack. Licking it up as if it was the last bit of food he was ever going to eat. When he was done? He went right up to Carter's plate, jammed his fingers into the piece Carter was attempting to eat, and started to go to town on it, too.

If I had not gotten to the rest of the tiny cake that was there before he did, I am confident Bennett would have buried his face in it and we would have had a child covered in goo more than he already was. I had to pull him off of it like an Alien Facehugger. I feared he might spit acid.

The rest of the night though, which lasted until 4 AM, he spat and kicked and pinched and bit and screamed and did a lot more.

The photo just below, a composite from the weekend, includes damage to my right forearm though I could not fit some damage I had earlier in the week to my face. By the end of the day Sunday I was wearing my Special Needs Forearm Pads and frankly there are photos from this 'Birthday Weekend' that I just don't want to show anyone. I have a lot of less flattering photos, but mostly video, of Bennett doing some damage to not just me, but himself and various objects in the house.



That's the type of decision I have made before. I just don't want to show you. Anyone who is a friend of mine on Facebook may have noticed...I don't really post a lot of photos anymore. They are really hard to get. I don't easily get good ones. Though I do try.

Admittedly, sometimes I give up too easily in that regard.

I have a few bits of video I got, the folks at SBSA have asked me to try to get some more so that we can start studying it. In order to get more 'authentic' behavior recorded, I may need to figure out a way to install a camera system. I don't know the first thing about it, but the act of shooting the movies means I can't intervene, and I also am limited to not being able to be impartial about what is recorded and what is not. As soon as you interact with what you are shooting, heck as soon as you pull out the device to shoot the video, dynamics shift.

Not that I would show anyone here unedited footage anyway, but I need to get some posted, because I do want to show some of how Bennett is in these Hulk-Outs. I think it is important. I think educating people is as important as my whining. But I have to edit, somewhat, how my son is portrayed. There are certain ways I do not want him seen. I don't know if you can understand that, and I don't know that I can explain it, but it is what it is.


One week ago, last Sunday, Bennett was not too terribly aggressive during a get together we had for Carter to actually celebrate his 10th Birthday. But I want to show you what happens when I put on a pair of magic glasses, figuratively speaking. What happens when I try to forget about how hard our lives have become and live in the moment.

Here's the problem.

In order to actually create those happy moment photos? I have to do some serious cropping. Most of them, after I tried to find a few, would up with Bennett getting chopped out of every single one.

----------------------------

MONDAY: Writing Can Be a Pain

Funny, as I try very hard to get this post where I want it, now it is Monday evening. That is what happens to me and this blog. Stop. Start. Stop. Start. I have another post, unfinished of course, that addresses this very subject. About why maintaining this blog is so difficult. Reasons of managing time, resources, and the usual stuff I have mentioned in past posts.

One new wrinkle is because of a recent issue with pain I have been having. This goes beyond the hip thing I have discussed prior also. This is brand new and intensifying. It is coming at me from a lot of places. Shoulders, neck, back, hands...almost everywhere. Can't explain it.

No time to really investigate before going to San Diego Comic-Con. I've had pain in my fingers and hands before, but not like this. There are times I can't even get a cup for my coffee off the shelf in the kitchen without white hot pain shooting through my upper body.


That's...weird.

Another reason it is hard to be consistent with blogging is because of the amount of time I have to blog. I can only really do it in my 'free' time, which means non-work, non-other commitment hours, and that usually means during a time when Bennett is here, doing the things he does. He will go after my laptop if his mood suits him. I have nearly lost the machine a couple of times. Maybe that is what causes the screen to flicker?

Jen is home from work and yet we are still having a tremendously difficult time with him. Yet the reports from the school are that he had a pretty good day there. It originates here. Almost all of it. You can imagine how that makes me feel. And yet, I get it on the one hand. I know, absolutely know, there are barriers now that exist between every one of us in this family.

Bennett is Ground Zero. But each of us help to perpetuate the explosion. We need help. IN the home, from the outside, to guide and steer this. And not like we had once before. Because about a year or two ago we went down the road of having an in-home person come here to observe and evaluate. He did that. A few times. Then presented what I was hoping would be a treatment plan. It was a Word document that was titled Bennett Lilly Guidelines.

I began to read it, voraciously, like a man who had crashed on a desert island deprived of food for weeks and it was a piece of raw meat. It was essentially a broad list of some generalized things we should 'keep in mind' when it comes to Bennett's behaviors. Halfway through, Bennett's name changed to 'Cameron', and I realized at that moment what I was reading. It was like being punched in the stomach.


Just some cookie-cutter document that this fucknut probably used for all the people who he visited, he just changed the name on some of the lines, maybe took out a sentence or two that wasn't applicable, and spat it out for each new person he 'observed'. What bothered me the most was that I had really let my guard down that time, had REALLY trusted this one. That can happen when you let people into your home. You get DESPERATE to believe that they will be different. They will be special. Sometimes, they very well might be. It's rare though. Very, very rare.

It certainly was no plan of action, it felt more like a series of feel-good messages put together with a bunch of rubber stamps. Ironic that this same shitwit introduced himself and used a phrase I can't stand 'If you've met one person with Autism you've met one person with Autism!' I should have known something was up right then, punched him in the sack and tossed him out a window, shouting 'Yeah...and they're all named Cameron, asshole!!!'

I could have found this, for example...

Remain Calm and Optimistic - When interactions and situations begin to deteriorate, stay as calm as possible and optimistic that things will get better.

...on the Internet, without blowing my entire budget from the county for the year on Behavioral Health Services.

But that....that is The System. And The System has a LOT of flaws in it. I know a handful of amazing, AMAZING people in The System. And I feel terrible for them that they are trapped within The System. I also feel bad for Bennett because I know that often? The cream of the crop that he does encounter don't stay in The System very long, or get promoted out of his reach. But some have stayed, some are still involved with him. Those people deserve awards.

I on the other hand, do not.

I have such a hard time swallowing the abusive behavior he dishes out. It is so difficult to go from, for example, getting kicked squarely in the balls Monday afternoon at 5:45 or so while I was trying to keep him from going after Carter and then after had I managed to settle Bennett down he wanted me to engage him with him in a happy way with a video he was watching on YouTube at around 6:10 or so. I had to fake smile while tears were streaming down my face. And the really weird thing to me, the thing that is always hardest for me to wrap my head around, is that what was happening was completely lost on him.

He just had no idea that I was actually crying, and only pretending to be laughing and smiling.

Often, Bennett reminds me of a living, breathing bomb about to go off. Imagine the stress of living with that day to day. Not just for him, but for all of us. That's why I often refer to him as The Incredible Hulk. One never knows when that transformation might occur. You look for triggers, you look for signs, but it isn't even as easy it would be with The Hulk, since with him it is a fairly simple formula...Dr. Banner gets angry, the big green monster comes out.


With Bennett it is not always that cut and dried. There are some signs, sometimes...but not always. I've always believed in the statement 'Nothing happens for no reason.' Which of course means 'Everything that happens, has a reason for happening.' It is just difficult, and sometimes when you have a lot of emotional investment, nearly impossible, to find the reason. It's like those nutty, never actually explained symbols at the end of the countdown on the LOST number panel in the Swan station. I mean, the Swan was built by Dharma, we know this...so what the FUCK do the symbols actually mean when the 108 minute countdown goes past 0? I HATED THAT!!!

Bennett's signals can be as maddeningly frustrating to interpret as LOST is to understand (I say 'is' because YES I am a FREAK and am watching it for a FOURTH complete time...though I am learning all kinds of new things about it this go round. I should make that a regular post, it's freaking fascinating to have this kind of perspective, wish I had it on the boy), unless you look really really hard. Toss in the fact that you can't apply the same rules as you do someone with a brain that is 100% intact and functions normally. You just can't. Anyway...tough.

Personally? I don't believe the medications he is currently on are helping him as much as we hoped they would. Yet I could be wrong, I have been before. But right now I don't have a lot of alternatives, but I am poking around. I think we have had an on-again, off-again honeymoon period with Resperidal, and most of the honeymoon is due to the sedative effects. I have no way to prove this.

But I have no way to prove anything. ANYTHING. For all I know he could have severe stomach problems, as I have alluded to in the past in one of the private Facebook groups I frequent. Though his issues there seem to have abated, it is conceivable that pain causes his outbursts. You Google Aggressive Behaviors and Autism and you'd be surprised how often an underlying medical cause previously undiagnosed has been found in kids who can't tell you they are in pain.

Shit...it's late, and I haven't even made a dent in getting to the actual point of all of this...the PICTURES I keep meaning to get to. I haven't even gotten around to doing the actual CROPPING YET! UGH. Will this post ever even have an end? I wonder if I can set a record for longest post of all-time?

Too tired to do it tonight. Will have to be tomorrow.

----------------------------

TUESDAY: This Way and That Way

As usual, when I write these posts, I get distracted by our lives and thus the direction can become disjointed, fragmented. The real point of it was not necessarily about Bennett's medications, our inability to manage him properly, and certainly not my new frames for my glasses...it is how hyper-focused I tend to be on all the negative in our lives, and how much I would prefer to gravitate towards the positive.


And how desperate I am to find any way to do that. Even, as I wrote WAY up there at the top, desperate enough as to go so far as to metaphorically (is that a metaphor?) wish for Fantasy Glasses.

But I did want to try a little...visual experiment. To attempt and explain what happens at, say, an event like Carter's birthday celebration. To give you a better understanding of how things work, what happens as they unfold. Why the Fantasy experience that I seek, the tranquil or 'happy' experience that one  always hopes for at an event as commonplace as a small get together for your older son's 10th birthday, that is fairly...well, I'll say it...easy, for many people to reach, is not so easy as I wish it could be for me to get to.

So bear with me here, and take a look below at what I call an experiment using the Fantasy Filter and the Reality Revealed. These photos all come from that get together I mentioned above. Though it isn't so much of a Filter as a 'Cropper'...but I like alliteration. Sue me.

OK...waitasecond.

It's screeching halt time. I'm sorry that I have to do this...but I just had a bit of a breakthrough while I was editing the photos for the Experiment. I need you to hang in there, please.

This already really really really really long post is about to get a lot longer and will now have to do a lot more zigging, perhaps some zagging. As I was putting together the pictures, I have to tell you that I was shocked to see how glaringly obvious it is, once I got it all worked out in a visual format, to see at least one part of what the issue is with Bennett's increased aggression.

I'm not sure how to even handle the photos now. Post them here? On a separate page? I need to think this through. Hmm...what would work best. I need a minute to process that one.

The fact is, you don't even HAVE to look at the photos to get the jist of what I gleaned. They are helpful, but not necessary. They do make me wonder though...


How could I be SO MONUMENTALLY STUPID?

I mean, I knew this was a problem with Carter and Bennett, between the two of them. But I never really thought that it might have started to become a problem for everybody. But I think that it has to a degree.

Many people would not even publish this post in the state it is in, currently. They would go back, edit it, rewrite a bulk of it and chop it up. Not me, bruthas and sistas! I write in many ways like I think, and it is a curse and a blessing. My current boss once commented on how unusual my e-mails can be. I will say I will check on something, pause, actually write the words 'Hold on....' go check, and come back to the e-mail, as if it were happening in real time. I just could have sent the final e-mail.

So...I'm a weirdo. You knew that already, right? What can I say? Different strokes. I find that I enjoy recording the entirety of the process I guess.

But if I eliminated stuff that was unpleasant or didn't fit into a nice, neat little package, think of the stuff we would miss out on. Just look back at what I've written. Keeping Carter and Bennett isolated from each other. Problem avoidance. Look at the terms and words. I may use descriptive words like The Hulk or a bomb, etc., to describe Bennett. He can't hear me say that...but what does that say about me, psychologically? Depersonalization. Where is my head? While I am not saying I shouldn't use terms like that in this blog, I have to make note of every detail in this little self-analysis.

My text tone reminder on my phone to pick him up from school is the theme from Cops. 'Bad Boys Bad Boys...What'choo gonna doooooo?' I mean, he doesn't hear that, he's at school, but the truth is, while it might be cute or funny, could I BE MORE OF A DICKHEAD?

Am I depersonalizing him without even realizing it, in response to the actions he takes or took in the past, which in turn perpetuates new actions? I mean, let's be honest here...he is the one with the disability, not me. It's up to me to initiate a break in the cycle. I tell Carter this all the time...but I have I lost my own way? Has everybody else in the family started to do it too, without realizing it? And if they haven't gone that far, do they reach out to him enough? Do I? Or is he one of the Invisible People in his own backyard to his own family? Remember, he is smart, he keys into things, but he also needs some leadership, especially when it comes to communication.


And no one likes to be forgotten, ignored. I wonder...how many years did we factor in Carter's feelings at other kid's birthdays, including Bennett's, by making sure he had a gift to open? I think it went beyond six years. I asked Carter on the way to pick Bennett up today (yes, it is now TUESDAY as I peck away at this blog which was started on Saturday) and he said he thinks it only ended a year or so ago.

How often have we just said 'It doesn't matter to Bennett.' Who the hell are WE to decide that? How in the world can we KNOW? And why in the FUCK would we even leap to that conclusion? Why wouldn't it? And why wouldn't we err on the side of the fact that it DOES matter? My only guess is that this SHITTY world of watching your kids suffer daily just twists you in ways you can't possibly be prepared for.

The items Bennett attacks in the house. They are all items that have a connection to something one of us cares about. Attention Seeking. But not that simple. Possibly related to Anxiety. Definitely related to Emotional Connection. He walks right up and smacks Carter rather than try to engage Carter in any kind of exchange, period.

Why? Carter has ignored Bennett for so long, Bennett has learned that the only action that gets an immediate counter-response is to whack Carter. Lack of Acknowledgement Affects Re-Inforcement of Self-Image. When Bennett comes home and I get him a snack and take off his shoes, he goes from an environment where he had 100% one-on-one attention to, eventually, everybody doing their own thing.

Since he has little skill to do much on his own, he gets easily bored, and seeks out not just attention, but social interaction, validation, guidance, many things. It should be pointed out that he breaks one boundary OFF THE CHARTS when it comes to Autism. He is a Social Dynamo. He craves interaction the way he craves Birthday Cake. Maybe more.

I used to try harder, I used to do more for him. I do less now. Because I got sick of getting hit, got too worn out from being bitten or scratched. In a sense, I have started doing a lot of the things that I admonish Carter about doing. There are times when an almost resentful feeling builds up in me about the noises he makes in public, I have become irritated at the amount of effort he takes to manage and the amount of free time he takes away from my life. Worse yet I sometimes think I am distancing myself from him emotionally, and I think Bennett realizes this, and I believe, at least in part, that he is acting more aggressively because of it. And I think Jen has done some of this too, though not nearly to the degree I have.

Don't get me wrong. I don't think you can blame anyone here. And I am not saying that I suck or that Jen is a bad mother, because I don't believe that. We would, the both of us, take bullets for these kids. These are difficult, mind-numbingly difficult disabilities, to navigate. We just need help. And I know I needed a reminder.

This was it.

----------------------------

WEDNESDAY: Thus Spake Epiphany

Let me get these photos loaded...Probably best to do that here and now, so that I can at least get the sequence on here. IN a way you might look at them and say I am being too hard on myself. I don't think I can be too hard on myself when it comes to this stuff. More on that later. He needs champions. I am one of them, and I've been dropping the ball.

That's not me being hard on myself. That is me having the courage to admit I need to get my head more in the game.

Now, ORIGINALLY, it was going to go something like this...I was going to upload a photo like this one....


Note the label, upper right, that says 'Fantasy'. This is the version that is the 'Happy' or problem-free version of the birthday photo. Then the idea would be to then show the photo that relates to it, as the camera pulls back or pans to show...


...the Reality of the situation, with Bennett included. And there was a series of these images, all labeled accordingly. But you can see just by the one image what a different tone the image takes. How different it feels. Or maybe you can't out of context. But I decided to not go down this road, and instead only show the Reality sequence.

Mainly because it is the Reality sequence that opened my eyes to something that I just had not noticed at the event, and only saw once I had a chance to see these photos, which the rapid fire option the iPad has on it allowed me to capture. So best to stick with that, and leave the other Experiment on the cutting room floor.

Here we go.

In the previous picture you had a kid who had been ignored most of the party. According to Jen, that is not entirely true. I am over-exaggerating. I may be. But he doesn't really fit in, he can't really communicate, and I watch him a lot, in many situations he is in. It takes a very special, very motivated kid to take Bennett under his wing and guide him through events. I've seen it happen. But it doesn't happen often.

Sometimes Bennett does things that put people off. And I think that this accumulates with people. I know it does with me. How can it NOT with kids decades younger? Not all, but some. And it is never easy to factor in what a person with a disability NEEDS. Truthfully? That is the responsibility of the parents.


He'd been ignored a while, and not really guided to participate in the unwrapping. He was looking for something to occupy his brain. When he saw Carter unwrap a tennis racket, he saw something that interested him. He saw an opportunity and walked up and took it. I don't blame him for doing it. He wasn't being provided with ANYTHING else to play with or to occupy his time. He tried to get something on his own. In a way? I admire his direct approach.


If you notice? This is the only time at all that he was smiling...he had something he wanted. Something to play with, and for a brief second? His brother's attention, which he DESPERATELY seeks every day. He had that, for a very brief time.

The problem? Two-fold. One, the item did not belong to him and had just been given as a gift to someone else, so he was not supposed to take it. This was about to be told to him. Second, he has a violent history and there was a fear that he might use the item in ways it was not originally intended.


That fear came to pass. But notice what happens when he makes that choice. Not only is everyone in the picture frame suddenly paying attention to him, but everyone OUTSIDE the picture frame is also. What does that tell him? It tells him that this item has power. It tells him that possessing this item and brandishing it makes him matter. So, in the future, if he wants to matter, he should probably seek out this item again, because then it won't take as long for him to matter.

That may be a gross over-simplification. And probably is.


But I see a kid here who is dejected, and who is being ignored again. Now I get that you have to be careful about how you handle reinforcement. But there was no re-direct. No follow-up. Item removed, and he went back to being shunted to the background. No one said...'Hey Bennett, come over here and stand by me and let's watch Carter open his gifts.'

These photos should not even EXIST. I should have done that, and did not. Instead I was focusing on Carter, and ignoring what was now standing right in front of my DUMB-ASS FACE.


Still sad, lonely, and unengaged. These balls don't seem to matter to anybody. In fact, why is that? Why is it OK for me to have these in my hands, but it is NOT OK for me to have had the other thing in my hands? What must he be thinking at this point I wonder? How come no one has tried to take these away?


So he does the only logical thing. He sets them down (they are now behind him) and goes after the only thing he perceives that anyone seems to care about. Not to mention the fact that the textures on the tennis racket are pretty freaking stimulating to a boy like him.


While not happy, he is at least temporarily content. Bothering no one. And since no one is interested in what he is doing, I do not understand what happens next or why.


Somebody out of frame takes the racket away. Why? Carter has clearly forgotten about it by now. Whoever took it didn't decide at that moment that it would be a good idea to engage Bennett themselves. And they didn't then decide to guide Bennett over to the other children and try to lead them along with what they are doing.

Jen, while I was showing her these (because I think she thought I was attacking her family, and I wasn't and am not, that isn't what this is about) asked me if I knew the racket was taken and said 'He may have dropped it.' I don't think it likely. Not based on his facial expressions and not based on what follows.


What followed was overt. It was Bennett trying to push the youngest of his cousins into the table. Softly at first but eventually forcefully. I had no choice but to intervene, which is why at this point all photography at this point, outside, stops. From my iPad anyway.


It picks up inside the house, when I had him sit on the sofa. But what should have been a Time Out was instead something that he was very happy to have...attention from someone who interacted with him. You tell me? Is his demeanor a bit diiffferent? His body language? His expression?

I think so...


Especially considering that not five minutes after I took him back outside, I found him sitting alone, in a chair, next to the rest of the stuff that had been tossed aside.

His facial expression tells me all I need to know. I failed him that day. And have been on a lot of other days too. I'm not blaming any other person in the yard but me, how's that?

----------------------------

THURSDAY: And Now For Something (Not Too) Completely Different


One night this past week, I had a heart to heart with her about what I learned in those photos. Obviously there were a lot more than these, and I didn't do the full slide show, and we spent most of the time talking about what I believed and experienced. She agreed with me that we need to try harder with Bennett and set a better example for Carter. We went over a lot of stuff.

I told Jen that I believed that the mere fact that we allowed Bennett to wander that party and not help him engage with the other kids was an epic FAIL on our part as his parents. Even though instinctively the first thought was to suggest that it was Carter's birthday and the focus should be on Carter, she saw eventually that the sentiment only worked in a typical family.

That isn't us. Not any more. Isn't gonna be.

The disability cannot be ignored, it is a permanent part of our lives, and she understands that. I suggested that if in the future we want to enjoy that moment with Carter, then we need to get someone else at the function and ask them to take 20 minutes and be 100% on point with Bennett. Then get someone else and ask them to do 20 minutes. And so on and on. If it takes a chart? We use a chart. If that isn't possible, then it has to be one of us, 100% of the time. All in.

We do whatever it takes. We ratchet it up. Period. We start living every moment with the Truth that we are always going to be different. Because not doing it is making both our kids suffer more than they should.

I should know better by now. I should have remembered

But I have been a ghost lately, feeling so defeated every day when I wake up. I have just been going through the motions with him, not really living and learning and being what he needs me to be. That is a difficult admission to make. When he would come home, the meltdowns would occur, and I allowed the feelings of devastation they left within me to make me leave him behind, on his own. That's shameful. Shameful. Sure I would research stuff on his behalf, but I haven't really BEEN THERE FOR HIM.

What's worse? I've been down this Road before. Again. And again. And again. And every time, I don't even realize I am back on it. When does THAT shit stop?

I'll hide in work, games, self-pity. Anything other than engage in something positive with my disabled son.

It is this that makes me say things like 'I won't win a Father of the Year Award.' I am not being deliberately self-deprecating. I just wonder when I going to stop repeating this cycle with him, and accept him for who he is. Makes me wanna...well, it frustrates me.


On the way home one afternoon from picking up Bennett it was so...frustrating, confusing, eye-opening at the same time. I told Carter about all of this, starting with asking him questions related to how he might feel in situations like those Bennett is shown in with the framework of the pictures (the truth is that I think when you see them you won't think they are so bad maybe...I do because I am the parent and I see it...differently).

He said how bad he would feel. I told him what I think I learned about Bennett, about all of us, and how I was even more committed to trying to get all of us to realize and affirm that the key to Bennett is to treat him differently, to not let him be an Invisible Person. To not ignore him. I promised Carter, though I have had a variation of this conversation with him many times before, that if he made the effort with Bennett that it would take time but things would change.

We walked into SBSA, and he said nothing to Bennett. Bennett tried to take his hand as we walked out, Carter would not take it. Bennett said Carter's name three times in an attempt to get Carter to engage with him. Nothing. So on the way home Bennett instead started kicking at him. Carter responded then. Learned Behavior. For both of them.

Later I asked Carter what happened, especially considering all that I had talked about before we picked Bennett up. I asked him why he didn't take Bennett's hand, why he didn't say hello to Bennett? He said 'So you think the birthday thing is MY fault?' I told him no, I didn't think that nor did I say that. He was missing my point entirely. I asked him what he was thinking about the whole way home as Bennett would periodically try to kick at him?

'Minecraft' he said.


The apple doesn't fall far, huh?

But wow...how...single-minded he can be. How cold. I often wonder if Carter doesn't have something within him that keeps him from feeling certain things. Something deeper than just an age thing or annoyance of having a Special Needs younger brother. He sees a counselor now, but maybe not enough and maybe we need to ratchet it up a notch. I don't know how to fix this. It is a much bigger problem than I have the ability to solve, this conflict between them. One is ten with a chip the size of Cleveland on his shoulder, the other is six with a lot of disability.

What was it that the asshat who came to our home suggested in his Canned Guidelines? Remain Calm and Optimistic? As idiotic as that experience was, I would be a fool not to rape the document for anything useful, and I have. I'm trying to be.

Despite Carter's less than enthusiastic reaction to Bennett that afternoon, I decided to try something on my own. I turned it up not to 100 with Bennett, but from 0-25 as far as renewed effort. I wanted to see what kind of difference I could make in Bennett's afternoon/evening. I adjusted my attitude, my body language, my tone of voice, my approach to the things I do and my reactions to the things he does. Everything. By around 25%. Essentially it was like the reboot I suggested previously, just not limited to research, but now inclusive to the way I do things. Shedding some baggage I had allowed to accumulate. I molted. I didn't hit any laptop, device or chores. I focused on him more. The way I act can and will affect those around me.

He started the same way he usually does. He went station to station, trying to illicit some reactions. My actions were different. His reactions were different. Was he less aggressive? Yes. Was he extremely hyper? Yes. But things were definitely different.

But at least at the time I felt like, for the first time in a long time, with no drugs, doctors or anything, I was making some forward progress, just by writing in this blog, assembling some pictures, and taking some time to look at the results. For whatever reason, some things clicked in my head that did not before and I opened a door that was closed yesterday.


This was the main reason I started writing again, and knowing that felt good.

Are all of our problems now solved? No. Are there difficult times ahead? Certainly. I just feel better than I have in weeks about understanding my son, understanding myself, and it's a start. Bennett gets things on a level that I absolutely believe after these experiences, though I had a lot of doubts creeping in lately. I just wasn't looking deeply enough, and I wasn't pushing myself hard enough.

I was feeling confident, so I rolled the dice and took the boys to dinner. I've done it before. The same place I take them often. Bennett is usually quiet and reserved, sometimes he makes The Noises or other times he can lose it there. But because of the effort I had been making it was a little different. Even the people who work there noticed a difference. One in particular who was not waiting on us made a point to some to the table and say 'He seems so happy today.' Later, he had a few semi-onery moments in the grocery store, but they quickly abated. At home, a mini-altercation. He eventually cooperated with me.

Carter did not really enjoy the experience as much as Bennett did. But then again, there isn't a lot he does enjoy when Bennett is a part of it. That is a separate and unique problem. I can't solve it and this together. I also believe it will be difficult to make a lot of progress with Bennett without Carter being on board. In fact, I know it will be. Carter can tear down days of progress with five minutes of doing something out of malice or immaturity. He is ten years old. In his defense, he is my son, I get it. I just need an answer to it. And we can't keep ignoring the problem or just keep saying 'He's only ten years old.' I need something better than that.

Later that night, Carter was in the room as I was trying to have the three of us spend some time together. We were watching classic Sesame Street on Netflix. Bennett was reciting numbers and letters. He was laughing and smiling, dancing. He walked up to me and said 'I want hot dog pwease.' It was a turkey Hot Dog, but I hate feeding him that shit. That's another thing. I need to expand his palette. Refine and manage his diet better. But he is such a picky eater. He did eat salmon the other day. Much to my surprise. I think he would eat more fish if it were whitefish.

So...overall? For the most part it that night proved to be better. And while I don't have a photograph to show that represents a happy moment to mark the occasion, I do have a video. Taken at the restaurant.


Not bad for 25%. Wonder how things would go if it gets ratcheted up to 50%, or 75%? Or if Carter gave it 25%? I can only lead by example.

----------------------------

FRIDAY: There's Always Something That Keeps Me From Reaching That Mountaintop

Perhaps you were expecting an 'OUT' there. Would have been fitting. I was expecting one too.

But I made the mistake of allowing more time to pass. It is now Friday. It will probably be later by the time this is finished. I had not finished the editing of the photos, still have not as of the time I type these words (I need to add some incidental text). Maybe today I can publish this post. Maybe tomorrow. I don't know. I have some work to do, and today I have both kids alone again.

I should add a small detail about the other night that I left out. A small piece of writing that I wrote separately, in real time later that night about ten minutes after we stopped watching Sesame Street. But to be perfectly honest? I could write this about any day, at any time, especially since this is being published on a Monday and between the two days that I was trying to finalizing this and get it out here Bennett went so wild that he kicked the bedorrom closet doors OFF. Yes, I said OFF. There was more. What was the 'A' in the ABC? (Antecdent-Behavior-Consequence?) Being denied applesauce and instead being offered pudding.

That's where it STARTED...but like an avalanche, it built up to his 20 minutes of just...gut-wrenching destruction. Closet doors. Lamp. Fan. Self. Us. You name it, if he could get at it, he did. I am out of my league here, WAY out of it, and the waiting list we are on to get Behavioral help here in the home feels like it is three thousand miles long.

I think it is appropriate to close out this mini-novel with this part. Once you read it, Maybe you will too.

ANYDAY:

I am drenched in sweat. The older I get, I realize, the faster I get to a stink stage in sweaty. I should jot that down for future material. I have a new deep scratch on the top of my right hand.

Nothing happens for no reason.

And I do believe that. Still. And it WAS a better night. Overall. I regret nothing.

And for reasons that will likely remain unknown....Hell for all I know it was the turkey hot dog. Maybe it was because the episode of Sesame Street came to an end, or Bennett was over-tired. More likely it was something between Carter and Bennett and the fact that somehow in the kitchen there was a pinching incident on Carter I missed, some reaction by Carter to Bennett, and I made Bennett apologize to Carter. Bennett imploded. Maybe Carter did something to Bennett I did not see that Bennett felt like 'Why am I being singled out?' Maybe Bennett felt like his dignity was being assaulted.

I don't know. All I know for sure is that I spent the next twenty minutes playing the Deflection Restraint Game. I can't just hold him down, pin him to the floor, because A) everything I read says that is the WORST thing you can do and I believe it and B) that makes him much more upset, but I use a technique now that I am using as of my so-called epiphany with much less emotion and no eye contact. I don't even speak to him. I don't know if this is what I am supposed to do or not. I am on my own, doing what I can.

I can't stand it. Seems so...useless to me. Like I said...I read and I am told that it is the best way to handle this, but I have to be honest with you, it is the hardest thing I must do. It is hard on me physicaly, and he is only six. And he goes wild. SO wild. I need to get it recorded without me holding a camera. One to get it judged by an expert to see if I am doing it right. Two just to see if someone can tell me if there are things I am missing in his behaviors that might tell me something I need to know. But how? When he is running from room to room? Smashing things, hurting himself? Screaming at the top of his longs? How much longer until the police show up?

I don't know.

Though I will admit, tonight's meltdown was over a lot faster than most. A lot faster. I was able to find something within me, some switch I had forgotten about, to turn off or at least subdue a TON of my emotional responses. To mute them, that's a better term. They were still in there, how could they not be, I am his father, he is my son. I FEEL. I am human. But yeah...muted. That fits.

Not sure what that does to me long term but...well, yeah, I know what it does to me long term, I had to do that growing up. It messes the shit out of you on the inside. But I'm smart, I have the will to deal with that shit. I can and have overcome it before, I can deal with it again. And besides...this is a little different. Similar, but different. I'll do what I have to do.

The key is, it was over a lot faster. That was positive. Hang on to that. Celebrate THAT.

Christ...what a roller coaster of a night.

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What a roller coaster of a post. Not at all what I intended when I set out to write it a hundred years ago. Sorry about that. Like I said...this one just got away from me.

I don't know how I feel right now. There are times I watch him from my current vantage point over there on the sofa, calm, relaxed, nearly ready to fall asleep, I am on the one hand on the verge of tears, exhausted, wiped out, wanting nothing more than to stand up, close the lid of the laptop, walk out the door and never look back.

On the other I can't imagine my life any different than it is today, right now, in this moment. All my life, Pain and I just seem to be bound to one another. I don't know why, but I don't think doing that makes my Pain go away. And I don't mean the physical pain I am feeling lately, I am talking about something else, something deeper.

Waling out that door? I just trade my Pain in for a new kind of Pain. And since I love my kids...why do something so cruel? I believe some people are destined to carry Pain with them wherever they go, no matter what they do in their lives. For them, it is inescapable.

I think I am one of those people. So I just make my peace with it as best I can and try to, as you can see, carve a path for myself through the brush of this life to get to where I need to go.

On some days I am OK with it. On some days I am not.

I guess this past week? I was both.

OK, thanks for hanging in there, I know it was way too long. At long last, you get the 'OUT'.