Category Archives: Family

Arrogance Of Circumstances

It is true my apartment, absent my presence and decorations, has the ambiance of a Yugoslavian prison camp.

However, I don’t remember riches being a prerequisite
for great ideas. My grandma Nellie had very little education and never a lot of money. Yet some of the wisest words and kindest gestures of affection came from her and spoke to my heart and mind. It’s true she often threatened to box my jaws or get a switch after me. Unlike others in my life, she didn’t do so unless it was one of those rare occasions I wasn’t listening to her. It was an amazing example and juxtaposition to experience her brand of loving discipline in comparison to my mercurial and unpredictably violent parents. Grandma was always poor. But the place and home I hold dearest in my heart throughout my entire life was a shotgun house built with tar paper and tin roof.

To discount someone or insult them based on the condition of their living space is to negate any possibility of being open to learning from any source. To do so is to inadvertently reveal an understandable but also snobby attitude. I’m living proof that profound things can come from the dumbest person. Besides, if you don’t have someone like me to roll your eyes at, it is tantamount to being iron-deficient.

My place is better for my presence. Weirder, too. Improved, though, simply because I don’t believe that one’s current living situation is necessarily a reflection of their personality or character. It’s true I sometimes forget this and catch myself making presumptions about those who live in such places.

Any of us can lose everything at any moment. Or have to start over.

Given that I’m poor, it’s a good thing that I live so much in my own head.

Love, X

PS The picture wasn’t originally in color. It’s of my maternal grandparents. They aren’t happy in this picture. Though I don’t trust my memory, I believe it was taken at the house near White Cemetery, the one that preceded the happy place that I recall with love and fondness…
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“I Can’t Believe I’m Here!”

The now and before coalesce together into memories.

Deanne used to drive me crazy. She was an animal person and never met a cat she didn’t love. That sometimes meant we had eight or more feral cats outside the trailer in Johnson. My job was to find homes for them, or pay the adoption fees to help ensure they’d find a home.

Deanne was kind-hearted but also brashly aggressive when she wanted to be. I knew better than to complain too much about buying a bushel of cat food and hauling it home.

I have dozens of pictures of the cats she “adopted.” Some of them, I do remember the names she gave them. She named them all.

The first picture is of her and a human cat. She loved that picture of her. We were at our favorite cabin and accidentally participated in a parade near Holiday Island.

The second picture is of her and Travellin’ Jack, a local homeless cat that initially hated everyone. Travellin’ Jack could jump 15 feet in the air. Deanne domesticated it, and I paid the adoption fee and went and met the new owners afterward. Jack ended up a couple of blocks over from where I would live next. I saw him a few times on my walks in my next life and always thought of her being responsible for him still being alive.

The third picture is of her and my deceased cousin Jimmy’s labs. She always sat where animals could reach and nuzzle her.

The fourth picture is of her discovering a cat near the library. She lost interest in the outing entirely to pet the cat until it was damn near bald.

The fifth picture is of her with a “few” snacks for the birds at the hospital. It could be 10 degrees, and she’d say, “Those birds need us.”

The sixth picture is the last one ever taken of her. She’s looking off into the distance.

The next picture is of us in Mexico on the first morning. She was the baby of the family and worked hard to get to be able to take a trip she never imagined she could. “I can’t believe I’m here!” she kept saying.

She’s been looking off into the distance now for 15 years.

I always drone on about forgetting the lesson she left me.

If you have a secret Mexico, you better get off your ass and do it now.

Any of us could wake up one morning to find that everything that once was is no more.

Don’t wake me up when September ends: make me appreciate the fact that time is limited, stuff is nonsense, and we need to stop anchoring ourselves needlessly.

“I can’t believe I’m here!” might be the best possible attitude you can have, even if your day is just drinking coffee and sitting on the couch. You’re here, and that’s a lot more than we should take for granted.

Love, X

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“Will” You Or Won’t You

This isn’t legal advice. It’s not illegal either. Obviously, I’m not an attorney. If I were, I’d bill you for simply reading this. Or, more likely, I’d sue you for sharing conspiracy theories.

I know you’re immortal and will live forever.

Planning ahead regarding your death isn’t going to cause a Final Destination scenario. Or it might. Either way, as an adult, it is up to you to do the minimum to help the people you love once you’re gone. You never know when a giant log might fall off a truck and take your head off.

That’s no way to roll!

Every year at this time, I think about my thirty-one-year-old wife dying unexpectedly. Or the expert pilot getting thrown out of his parachute and falling to the ground at my feet. Neither really thought, “This is it.” No one does. They know it could happen. They turn an unseen corner and darkness falls.

If you don’t have a will, you’re leaving the people behind with extra baggage they don’t need. If people don’t have access to your financial accounts or your phone when you pass, I promise you that you’re causing needless agony on top of the grief they’ll suffer when you pass. It’s also a great way to encourage family members to behave like contestants on “Survivor.” And trust me, none of them will be as good-looking as those phony participants.

A handwritten will is acceptable. One that’s witnessed is better. The best is one witnessed and notarized. Probate courts love those. It’s one of the best gifts you can give your friends and family. (Not quite as good as living trusts and automatic survivorship or ownership – but much better than no plan.) Once you have one, I recommend telling your family you have one and what the contents are. It will be invaluable after your death if there are no surprised family members or someone claiming you said otherwise.

If you’ve not completed a will because it costs a lot or is a hassle, you’re wrong. It’s neither. You can do one from home in thirty minutes to an hour. After that, get it witnessed at a minimum and notarized if at all possible. The best part? It doesn’t require a lawyer. Doing it this way isn’t for everyone. But if you don’t have one, it is very likely that it will work perfectly for you.

Now that I’ve said all that, I can’t think of why everyone doesn’t have a will in Arkansas. Or share their passcodes.

Rocket Lawyer is my favorite do-it-yourself service. There are others. You can sign up for a trial and try it out. It is NOT expensive or complicated. You can edit it, download it, and easily use it. If you need help, have someone you trust to come to assist you. That will also help if a family member questions the contents. I won’t bore you with horrific family stories that ended in huge fights, court battles, or worse. We’ve all heard or been involved in them. I’ve known several people who died without wills and then had other family members destroy each other over alleged wishes and property. The simple truth is that you cannot know whether your wishes will be honored. Money and emotions cause uncountable family rifts.

If you have a lot of assets or are rich (define however you wish), it’s very likely you already have a will. For the rest of us, don’t worry about lawyers screaming that you should always use a lawyer to prepare one. If you have the money for a lawyer, please use one, but know that most of them use common template-generating software to fill in the information you’ll provide. Lawyers take time and money. It’s better to get one and then worry about “doing it perfectly.” Get a basic will now that covers most of the bases. THEN, follow up with the next step, even though we both know you’ll probably sit on the couch eating from a bag of chips instead.

Trusts and automatic transfer of your property are much more desirable than relying on a will, which might trigger probate. If you use a lawyer or estate planner, he or she will, of course, fill in the blanks for you. It’s best to have your property and assets automatically transferred to the person or people of your choice without the need for additional steps.

I live in the real world and know that many people don’t think ahead. They falsely believe that they will have time later – or that those whom they leave behind will capably take care of it. That’s foolish. All of us must face the idea that today might be our last day to grace this world. A few minutes of your time will save countless hours of agony. If someone you trust doesn’t have access to your phone, your computer, and your accounts, you are causing them avoidable agony.

Now that you know that it doesn’t have to be hard or expensive to get a will (or take the time to visit a lawyer), what’s stopping you? Most lawyers know better than to bite you, even ones who live in Madison County. I hope you live another thirty years. And if you don’t, that you take a little bit of your life to make your passing easier on your loved ones once you’re gone. If you’ve got time to watch an hour of SportsCenter or The Bachelorette, you have time to make a will or talk to a lawyer, estate planner, or psychic.

RocketLawyer
LegalZoom
Do Your Own Will
Trust & Will
U.S. Legal Wills
Nolo’s Quicken WillMaker
Your preferred lawyer or estate planner
Random Guy On The Internet

PS: 90% of the things that you think are valuable are valuable – but only to you. Your death cuts the cord of connection. Reduce, give away, donate, and triage your stuff so that what remains is the essence of what you treasure. Simplicity is its own reward y’all. If the things you have are valuable in the real world, sell them and use the money to live the life you want or to help those who need a hand. It could be anyone’s last day on Earth. Buried treasures help no one.

Love, X
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Wait In The Truck / Southern Justice

There are a lot of bad men out in the world, whether they physically dominate or mentally degrade their wives and children. The smart ones are fiendishly clever in concealment; their masks in public are often adorned with a suit and tie, a quick smile, or an engaging personality. Growing up, I had to endure abuse. A lot of people knew it was happening. Few ever attempted to intervene. I understand the complicated issues at play for their failure. That kind of abuse, however, leaves most people with a shaky faith in their parents, their god, and of their ability to leave such trauma behind.

With that in mind, even though I am a liberal, I have always been drawn to the concept of southern justice. When someone does the right thing, even when the right thing is also terrible. It’s not revenge. It’s taking the light back from someone who isn’t worthy of its possession.

I’m not advocating violence.

I’m advocating action.

Sometimes action yields a terrible consequence yet remains the lesser evil.

Someone I know whose life suffered due to the presence of a human monster sent me this song.

It resonated exactly as expected.

Love, X
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Sublime Saturday

I didn’t take any pictures when I went to see Noah and his family at the graduation lunch get-together. As I was leaving, his mom asked if I took a picture with Noah. I was having so much fun joking and interacting that it didn’t even occur to me. She snapped a few of us hamming it up. Alissa (my cousin Jimmy’s widow) ensured that a couple of them got to me. Noah is such a handsome and smart young man. I’m not sure he can be related to the Terrys. In a weird coincidence, I bought him a “pastor’s wife” card instead of a graduation card and did my thing of making an ornate and hand-made picture-covered series of envelopes. He told me that he’s considering becoming a pastor. It amazes me that he has a plan at that age. His dad Jimmy and I winged it like lunatics when we were his age. Alissa’s girls were so grown up and superlatively quick-witted, too. I don’t know why people seem to be so concerned about the world being in their hands. Their confidence at that age gives me optimism. I felt like I’d never been apart from them and that’s a feeling that can’t be bought or measured.

The power was out at Fiesta Square for a while. Luckily, the food was prepared inside catering-style, so we were able to eat in the dark, using only the light coming in from the wall-to-ceiling windows. It rained like the dickens while we were there, too. At one point, Noah said he didn’t like the rain. I quipped, “It’s odd for someone named Noah to dislike the rain.” I also asked him to quote the first creation from Genesis: “Let there be light,” to see if the lights would magically come on in an amazing coincidence. The power was restored shortly before we left. In my opinion, the power being out was both fortuitous and beautiful.

Yesterday, it finally happened. Even though I don’t use an antibiotic ointment. I prefer to use the “Be A Man” method, which is to just wash the deep cut and go on about my business. The Bacitracin is in a very small tube. I dropped it and put it back up in my lower cabinet. I knew I should have moved it. I also ran out of full-size toothpaste and used a small tube of Colgate. After showering, I brushed my teeth. Or started to. Just as the brush hit my teeth, I knew something was wrong. PS Bacitracin leaves an odd film on one’s teeth when you brush with it.

My incorporated business, Pretxel Fish, got its first piece of mail a couple of days ago. I’m still unsure how I’ll use it. Can you imagine my life if I had a plan?

I’m out painting small hexagon tiles, even at 4 a.m. The smell of spray paint probably has become the new ‘smell of spring’ for the neighbors. I was introduced to the Habitat store in south Fayetteville, where an odd cornucopia of sizes and styles can be had for cheap. Lord knows I need more tiles! The fence is utterly transformed. It even surprises me to walk out on the landing and look out to the fence. It’s 75-100 feet of pure color and craziness now. It’s hard to imagine it before, unmaintained, faded, and without color. The neighbors woke up yesterday to see that the colors had doubled overnight. I wish each of them had lives that were transformed in the same way. Just because we live in an old apartment simplex doesn’t mean that we can’t douse ourselves in color. And drown in it if we need to.

Earlier in the week, I found the large metal X at Potter’s House. For $9. Something like that would cost $100 new. I wish I’d had it when I completed my built-in table in the kitchen. I didn’t ask permission to install it. I got the metal-covered wood tabletop, in perfect condition, from the dumpster in the hospital. I polished and stripped the single support pole. Though it doesn’t look like it, that table will support several hundred pounds. Not that my lunch is ever that heavy. I love finding ways to use things that are discarded. That the metal top accidentally goes with the surroundings was a bonus. I’d rather have a blue or red top but the landlords might get testy discovering those colors were a permanent part of the apartment. On the other hand, they don’t seem to mind my miscreant neighbors.

Everyone have a great Sunday. Whatever that might look like. Don’t do the thing obligatory things. Do the things that give you a little bit of tranquility, even if that thing is hoeing the garden and sweating, or being on the couch with your feet being rubbed by someone with enthusiasm.

The number of wrong-number texts has increased lately. Which I love. It gives me the chance to try out new ways to answer them and keep them engaged.

Love, X
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What A Life!

What a beautiful morning. Despite the rain and lightning moving in, I went outside and started hanging more painted tiles on my fence project. This week, I painted 20+ more tiles and a couple of dozen wood samples to attach to my out-of-control art project out there. It was sublime feeling the wind howl through the vertical slats of the fence boards and the light rainfall across my face and neck. I woke up with a reservoir of energy and enthusiasm. Nature repaid me with its light caresses as I stood there in the dark, loaded with washers, screws, and tiles leaning against the old boards. I know I looked foolish, standing there with no shirt on, smiling. The temperature dropped 10-15 while I was out there feeling the storm front coalesce above me.

I missed a couple of phone calls last night. I called my sister back around 4 a.m. She, of course, didn’t answer. I hope she’s fixing her hair. I know that such an endeavor will take her literal hours. Lord help all the people who don’t have their do-not-disturb turned on. Everyone lives a different life and schedule. I wake up with the same enthusiasm at 2 a.m. that I have at 4 p.m.

I thought about my cousin Jimmy’s son Noah. Jimmy died nine years ago, which seems like a lifetime ago. Noah is graduating as valedictorian of his high school class. I can’t help but imagine how proud Jimmy would be – and that Noah is going to college. Jimmy would want his son to be happy much more than he’d worry about finishing college. As someone who died in his early forties, Jimmy would be right to do so. So many plans, so many assumptions about the seemingly endless days ahead to love, laugh, and do the things that are within our grasp. It’s been quite a while since I’ve seen Noah. He’s grown unimaginably and has the youthful looks of someone who reminds me of a young Matthew McConaughey. I hope he keeps that handsomeness. Otherwise, he’ll grow into a jowly-cheeked Englishman like his grandfather, my Uncle Buck.

In the graduation picture, Noah is the one on the right. (ha!) The woman on the left is Alissa, my cousin Jimmy’s widow. They were married about a month before he died. I could write endlessly about the complexities of that, and of lives forcibly derailed by an unexpected circumstance. It’s a lesson I know too well. I’ll limit myself to saying that if you want something, grab that sh!t while you can. Tomorrow is never promised and plans for the future are all predicated on the false belief that there is always time and that youth is our protector. The other picture is from 2004 when Noah was a beautiful little baby. Jimmy and I had such fun watching Noah’s mind react to shenanigans. He smiled a LOT.

I included a picture of Noah’s mom from the first time I met her at my trailer in Johnson, in the part of my life I refer to as ‘the before.’ It didn’t work out with her and Jimmy. They had chemistry. Jimmy had many demons that would have made it almost impossible for her to make him happy. It’s no disrespect to Jimmy’s memory to share that truth. The Terry side of the family unfortunately is prone to shattering opportunities by succumbing to vices. Jimmy, like the rest of us, could sabotage the best things.

As the rain started, I looked up to the apartments. One of my neighbors had covered the railings with sheets. I went and pulled them down and took them to the dungeon/laundry room and stuffed them in the dryer and turned it on. When the neighbors exit and see that their sheets are missing, I’m going to say, “The Fayetteville police just issued another warning to advise everyone that the Infamous Sheet Bandit is up to hooliganism again. I saw him take the sheets.” I might as well use my act of consideration as justification for a little verbal pranking. I’ll let them think their sheets are missing for a couple of minutes before letting them know what I did. After the wife goes back inside to tell her family about the Infamous Sheet Bandit. It’s Fayetteville and such a miscreant may be indeed running loose on these streets.

I took a picture of my right hand a couple of days ago. Ribald interpretations aside (I’m left-handed, by the way), putting almost a thousand screws into boards in the last couple of weeks using only hand tools has given me an artists’ scar, one of tough callouses in the palm of my hand.

I rescued a really old tiny rocking chair from the hospital dumpster a couple of weeks ago. I don’t have the skills to make it beautiful. But I do have the enthusiasm to fix it and paint it and give it new life for a child I know. I so badly want to paint it a beautiful rich color. We have enough unadorned and practical things in life.

Though it’s not done, I also added another picture of my dead tree project. I put one living branch on it, as well as three bright songbirds. Since I’m a fan of sentimental metaphors, I like to think it symbolizes that even dead trees provide beauty, comfort, and the possibility of adaptation to whatever comes next.

Love, X

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The Laugh

I dreamed such vivid dreams last night. I’m not sure what fueled them.

Even Barb, Mike’s mom, made an appearance. She woke me up, laughing. She reminded me that I once thought 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. was early. She worked hard and one of her jobs started incredibly early. It was my ‘job’ that summer to get up and go to Mike’s to be with him and his brother after she left for work. In my dream, she handed me a cup of coffee and sat and talked to me. She’s been gone for almost seven years. Over forty have passed since that summer I was paid to babysit my best friend.

I dreamed of Jimmy and Noah. Time has skipped fifteen years somehow. i posted this clip because it starts with Jimmy’s infamous laugh. If Noah inherited anything, I hope it’s that.

Love, X

Amaranthine Memories

This is a post in two parts. I didn’t know how to separate them…

She reached out to me in November, her heart dreading what I might tell her. Sheena and Deanne, my wife who died, were once inseparable comrades in friendship and a little mischief. The early 90s were their heyday. Both Sheena and Deanne were outgoing and beautiful young women.

They’d lost touch. I don’t remember that Deanne told me why other than she often told stories about her friends and the shenanigans and moments she lived before meeting me. As anyone knows, the first few months of getting to know someone is a sublime pleasure filled with stories and insights. We immerse ourselves into the unknown universe of someone else’s life as we get to know them. Deanne was almost ten years younger than me. Despite that, she had a lot of stories to tell and a large family to fill the spaces of her life. I already knew her brother Mark thanks to our jobs at Cargill.

Sheena said she’d seen Deanne once in April of 2001 when Sheena was giving birth to her daughter. Deanne worked at the hospital and surprised Sheena with an impromptu visit. Evidently, it was one filled with smiles and quick words. Sheena did not see her again. But she always wanted to and wondered where Deanne was in the world.

As so often happens when we get older, we think about the people who once touched us. Some of them drift away purposefully; others drift for other reasons. The truth is that some people have a room in our hearts even when we no longer see them. It’s one of life’s bittersweet lessons.

Sheena found an obituary for Deanne. I’d dutifully left a trail of her life and some of her stories on Ancestry and other places. People need to be remembered. Sheena told me that she cried reading it, knowing that her hopes of reconnecting were gone forever. I felt an immense pang of regret on her behalf. Deanne would have lovingly hugged Sheena had she had the chance. She loved a good grudge, but she loved connections more. One of Deanne’s foibles was how quickly she could get irritated. It was a blessing to her in some ways, too, though. As I grew to know her, her ire often made me laugh. She’d punch me in the arm and laugh, too, once the ridiculousness of the situation became apparent.

Sheena ultimately revealed that their friendship probably ruptured because she had told Deanne that we were not compatible. Deanne made up her mind about me very early on. I’m not sure I was consulted!

Sheena reached out to me on Ancestry, and I shared my entire picture collection with her, thousands of pictures – and every picture I owned of Deanne. She was able to sort through Deanne’s short life, as told in pictures. Later, I shared a few stories with her, ones some people have never read or heard.

More importantly, I gave Sheena peace. I let her know that she should feel happy that Deanne and I found each other and stayed together, even when it wasn’t easy. We all do and say things when we’re younger – and often continue the same when we’re older. And if she said the things she said to Deanne with an authentic heart, she should not be accountable for sharing her opinion or truth. That’s the risk of being genuine with other people.

The truth is that Deanne and I weren’t compatible at first glance. Or probably second glance. In that sense, Sheena was definitely not wrong. Deanne was an outgoing, buxom, active soul, almost ten years younger than me. I had no clue she was interested in me. Until she insisted I come over for a homemade meal. Believe me, I was not the one wearing the pants at the beginning of the relationship. Call me oblivious.

Sheena got to see Deanne’s life because I am committed to sharing every picture I own with anyone interested. I’m just the custodian. I love pictures, and I love knowing that people always come full circle with wanting to see every picture of someone they love or loved. Avoiding the soapbox, I will limit myself to saying that unappreciated or unseen pictures do no one any good.

I still feel a bit of remorse for both Deanne and Sheena. They could have reconnected. Had I been aware, I would have asked Deanne to look past any past words and find Sheena again. I did the same with Deanne’s dad. Deanne doubted she could forge a new beginning with him. Through the years, though, I encouraged her to try from a new foundation. And she did. I still count it as one of the best things I’ve ever accomplished. More so because she died so young.

I hope Sheena found a way to fill her life with new souls. She seems like the kind of person who deserves it. Her words to Deanne so many years ago would have been received differently had I known at the time.
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After Deanne died, I didn’t have a big interval of time before I met Dawn, my ex-wife. Whether you can understand or not, I made the choice to plow through life and not let myself get overwhelmed with the loss. When we first got together, I had her meet Deanne’s brother and his wife. I wanted them to know that me getting on with life didn’t negate Deanne. Quite the contrary. I had to make a choice, one that wasn’t really a choice at all. Things could have ended very badly for me. If you’ve lived a life with loss, you can imagine what some of those endings might look like for me. There’s no shame in acknowledging them.

It’s not a choice a lot of people might make. I make no apologies, though. Dawn and I were together when we were very young. She’d had an intervening marriage, one that fizzled and ground down into apathy. We were happy to find each other again.

Deanne never was between Dawn and me. At least not for me. She wasn’t a ghost, but she was a catalyst and reminder for me, something that people misunderstand. When life snatches your optimism through mortality, there are a lot of impossible feelings. This amplifies when you consider how capricious life can be; anyone or anything can disappear at any moment. Deanne deserved more years to continue her journey. She was substantially different from the time when we first met. And that was a great thing to witness. I try to remember to be grateful for the years I had with her. The song always ends, leaving us with a melody we can replay in our heads through memories.

At the risk of repeating myself, one of my biggest mistakes in life has been to occasionally forget the lesson that Deanne’s death dealt me: life is for the living, obstacles will always punch, and love is never wasted, no matter how it ends.

It’s true I shared fewer stories about Deanne than I should have. I did make the mistake of not writing all the stories of adventure and mischief I had with Deanne. And also some about our hard times. We definitely had them. As Dawn and I disintegrated, she seemed to switch the narrative on me about how it was with Deanne. Whether that’s true or not is in the eye of the beholder. I made a choice – as did she. I’d make the same choice again because a choice to live and love is a positive choice; fearing another loss and avoiding taking the risk is a negative choice.

Someone reminded me this morning not to veer. Since she’s a disguised writer, I’m obligated to heed her warning.

Every love is forged with expansiveness and optimism. That we can’t navigate the treachery of daily living and one another’s messes isn’t a knock to love or vulnerability, though. The problem lies within us. Familiarity breeds contempt. We assign motive to actions or words, usually based on our faulty filters. It’s hilariously evident that most of us want the same things.

When love has drawn its last breath, it is easy to focus on the things that were wrong.

When a person draws their last breath, all the doors are shut forever.

Whether you are 31 or 71, the door is always about to shut. We just don’t see it coming. That helps us to forget how precarious our lives are. That same forgetfulness affords us the ability to live our daily lives but it also has the reciprocal defect of failing to focus on what lights us up.

For Sheena, for Deanne, and for anyone who no longer walks the Earth, we can do our best by choosing optimism over despair, deliberate risk over comfort, and for being ourselves, even as the world madly surprises us.

Deanne would tell us that all these years she’s been gone that she would hope we were squeezing the absolute hell out of whatever life has to offer – and shame on us if we aren’t.

She would have loved to be alive and make a lot of mistakes. We should be too. She’d be the first to call me out for being an idiot. And she’d mean it.

Love, X
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Never Veer

I love sharing on social media. I do. It’s personal, revelatory, and I try to be honest without stepping on people. I tend to step on myself the hardest.

I learned to play the game of Chicken with my crazy dad. Do you know what his secret was? NEVER veer, even if you’re going to get killed. He told people beforehand, “I’m not going to veer. I’m not kidding.” And he never did, even when it could have killed him. People learned not to play Chicken with Bobby Dean. Not in cars, not on tractors, not ever. Never veering is a stupid way to play chicken – unless your goal is to stop people from challenging you. There is no truth I will not confide if it is in my heart to do so.

I wrote very personal posts on the 23rd and yesterday. Both were honest and revelatory. The one from the 23rd was an admission that I’m as guilty as anyone about being a revisionist. I’ve not hurtfully crossed the line needlessly about anyone – including my ex-wife. That’s not to say I couldn’t. Two of the components of my post were to mention that I appreciated the good years, as well as to mention that I could have engaged in a flame war during the divorce, even though I bore the responsibility for the mess. It’s okay to need to gain perspective and distance. Even if it makes me the villain. It’s not okay to wipe away the good times, the good things, or the concessions I made to mitigate my self-made disaster.

With my level of humor and stark, combined with my willingness and ability to literally say anything, it would be manifestly easy for me to shatter a lot of illusions and break eggs. Even while still admitting I’ve behaved like a lunatic at times. I’ve been considerate after-the-fact. I can’t erase the past. It’s unwise to argue with someone who buys ink by the gallon, or with someone who will respond to accusations by admitting even worse truths himself. No one can win a “let’s share secrets” war with me. I will go there – not out of spite, no matter how someone pushes me to inflame or respond to fire with fire. It’s a fool’s game, especially after the final whistle has blown. The players should exit the field, hopefully with the goal of learning from what happened. Even if they fouled forty times during the game. An examined life always yields lessons.

People trust me not to reveal secrets they share. Believe me, one of the most satisfying aspects of social media is that many people have shared some of the most intimate things possible using it.

As you’d guess, I caught hell privately for the things I shared. Even the post about my wife who died brought out a level of accusation that surprised me. None of those accusations touch the truth, though. Everyone was kind, loving, and supportive to me for both posts. Well, almost everyone. And I love that. Worrying about the critics is another fool’s errand. Because I’m a fool, I’ve been guilty of that at times.

“You’re the villain in someone’s story” has always been true.

Equally true is that telling me I can’t tell my story isn’t going to end well. I’ll be respectful – but not silent. Trust me to be both honest and responsible.

If you play Chicken with me, I will not veer, now or ever.

Love, X